Chapter 2: The sustaining one
Standing behind the head of the clan, Mineo popped the question many people wanted an answer to. “Imai-sama, what are we going to do?”
Tetsuo remained quiet as he scanned the village surroundings over from his office that was located in the highest building in the village. Looking at the people struggling in their normal daily lives, he couldn’t imagine what it would be like for them if the village was war-torn.
So far, they had made it through most of the hardships with the help of the Sakurai-clan. They had a lot to be grateful for and suspecting them of setting up an ambush wasn’t the right way to show this. If the Sakurai-clan really had any feelings of malignity for the Imai-clan –enough to wish for the fall of the clan –then there was nothing holding them back.
But there was no such sign from their side. They were helpful as always and had felt no animosity towards the blunder Hisa had made at the banquet. Yet, the uncomfortable situation boggled Tetsuo’s mind…or maybe it was just his guilty conscience.
The Sakurai-clan had never asked anything in return for their favors (though Tetsuo always made sure to provide them of resources and medical help), but the only time Eiji did ask for something, Tetsuo had turned him down.
Hisa’s hand in marriage for his son.
It had been a difficult decision, but Tetsuo wished for her happiness more than anything else in the world because he felt like he owed it to her mother –his daughter-in-law. She had died in childbirth without even experiencing a time of peace during her marriage with his son. He had promised her peace and prosperity with no wars to destroy lives, but that had never happened until recently and thus Tetsuo felt that the only way to fulfill his promise to his daughter-in-law was by doing for her offspring what he couldn’t do for her.
But that decision was made a long time ago and perhaps the time for reconsideration had come. After all, they couldn’t afford to lose their alliance.
Tetsuo sighed with a heavy heart. Only if things could be a little less complicated in life…
Seeing the grim and silent Tetsuo, Mineo wondered what he was thinking but his unspoken question was answered not long after.
“Mineo, I have a mission for you.”
“Marriage…?” Hisa sat down on her bed, trying to process some of the news.
Aya sat down next to her, “I heard Imai-sama and Takahashi-san talk. He’s out on a mission to the Sakurai-clan already.”
“Grandpa didn’t even consult with me first!” Hisa’s frustration died down when she felt her statement was a little too powerful given the fact she was the cause of all of this.
By nature, she wasn’t really the kind of person to stick up for herself or her beliefs and had gotten a lot of things served to her on a silver platter just because she was born ‘lucky’. Hisa knew like no other that she wouldn’t have survived for long had it not been for her position in the clan. But what always made her feel insecure was that she hadn’t earned it from the start and she couldn’t live up to it either.
Even the only ability she possessed was inherited and not earned through hard work. It wasn’t completely her fault, she did try very hard, but all to no avail. When they finally accepted her incapability to master physical skills, she disappointed them with her flawed vision-telling ability.
Thinking everything over, she wondered if this was the only way to prove herself a worthy heiress? Marrying a powerful man and having him take care of her clan? It didn’t sound right, but it was what a clan would expect from a leader of the next generation. With power came responsibility and since she couldn’t protect them in any other way, she had to do this.
Even her name carried that message; Hisa, the sustaining one… the enduring one…
Giving it a good final thought, she decided it was her duty.
Hisa glanced at the ninja before her. They all seemed strong, but she couldn’t tell their rank because they were dressed as regulars covering up their the tattoos that symbolized their ranks.
It was probably safer to travel like this without drawing too much attention. She had to admit, the Sakurai were smart shinobi.
All looked no different than a commoner except for one who was still dressed in his ninja-gear. She swore she’s seen him before, but she couldn’t recall it that fast.
He was probably going to follow them at a close distance to keep an eye out for unexpected attacks and in case they got outnumbered.
“Kazu, wait for 10 minutes before you follow.” One of his teammates said.
Kazu? Was that his name? Kazu.
” Un.” He grunted in response. Not much of a talker probably.
As she unknowingly kept observing him, her eyes widened a little as she suddenly remembered. She held back the urge to shout ‘AH! It’s you!’ and pressed her lips together recalling what she had thought of him on the night of the banquet (and her stupid vision).
Even without the moon highlighting him in the darkness, he still looked as powerful as she could remember. He was covering his face, but that was normal for a ninja of his caliber and occupation. A Dark Opal hunter. If he was that high she assumed the others would be about the same rank or a rank lower, the Ruby Moon.
When he turned his gaze to the ground, Hisa absentmindedly paid closer attention to him until she guessed he did that to see her without directly looking at her. He had probably taken notice of her shameless staring, which was meant to be a quick glance to see who’d be escorting her. Realizing this, she scolded herself mentally and tried to find a way to deal with the awkwardness.
Right on time!
“Mineo-oniisan?” She met his eyes that were the same dark color as his hair. ” You’ll be going with us?”
” Ah? No,” he smiled sheepishly and gave Kazu a quick side-glance. ” I will catch up later.”
Even though he had only moved his head for a fraction of a second Hisa had caught him doing the small action. She assumed he’d either be going with Kazu or he’d be behind him. Her clan probably wasn’t as trusting as they appeared after all and were going to make sure she would arrive sound and safe.
She kept her thoughts to herself, not wanting to make another blunder and smiled. ” I see. I will see you there then.”
Mineo nodded in response returning her smile.
Hisa and Mineo both turned to look in the direction the loud voice was coming from.
“HIME-SAMA!!!!” The voice whaled again.
” She heard you the first time!” Yoroi’s irritated voice yelled before a loud ‘ thud’ was heard and Hisa and Mineo assumed he hit Bekkou again. “Everyone did!”
“Hime-sama be safe!” Bekkou sniffed and fell to his knees before grabbing the lower part of her dress. “It’s all my fault!!!” He sobbed.
“Get your boogers off her, fatty!” Yoroi grabbed collar and pulled him back.
Hisa smiled and Mineo gave a silent laugh as Bekkou curled up in a ball. What a disaster these two were…
As Hisa looked at the gates to her village, her smile faded. This would be the last time she’d be here as a part of the Imai-clan.
Next time, she’d be here as a Sakurai.