Kingdom Destiny

A kingdom frozen in time.
"Are you strong enough?"
A princess raised in our world.
"Are you weak enough?"
A guardian fighting strife.
"For both you must be to survive."
In the Kingdom of Kessho, Kingdom of Diamonds.
"Destiny awaits..."

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8. CHAPTER 8: Bloodshed


     

     “Try again, and this time, do not forget to breathe.” He demonstrates in an almost slow motion, delicately drawing a long silver tipped arrow, and loading it onto his ivory bow. “Just focus on the target, whether that be a squirrel or the heart of the enemy, if you focus and shoot with a smooth movement, the arrow will almost never miss your mark.”  In one fluid moment, he stretched the bow back on the string and let go. The arrow hitting the target practice board just outside the bull’s eye.

     “Emphasis on almost I suppose. Give me that arrow, i’ll try again.” Mitsuki huddled in her fur long coat, made of the finest, softest and warmest fur of the majestic cunning Ula. One of the greatest predators of the land, her fur prized as well as its decadent savory meat.  She watched as Toshiro run back to the target, retrieve the weapon and run back, all the while trying to keep the falling snow from entering his insulated white dress jacket. Especially made to tailor the many warriors during the snowy winters, it features fur lining, from the Ula, and gloves retractable from the sleeves. “Remind me why we had to practice outside? Why do I have to learn how to shoot an arrow in the first place? We barely utilize them.” she kicked up some snow and watched the crystal flakes fall majestically back to the ground.

     “It is more quiet out here, without all the noise of other men training. Besides,” Toshiro cleared his throat, his ears turning a brighter shade of red. “It is more enjoyable training you when there is no distraction, my comrades are much too curious about you.”

     “You mean Aluin and Wynton? They are some of the noblest friends I have ever met, you are lucky to have them.” She loads the silver arrow onto the bow, breathing deeply.

     “Yes, but being noble can only go so far, they are still men after all.” His voice deepens and his eyes reflect an emotion never before seen by Mitsuki. Her arrow shoots far beyond the target, a sigh of frustration escapes her lips. Toshiro chuckles, a grin breaking the moment she had seen in his eyes.

     “Well, I say enough to this silly shooting of arrows.” She reaches over and picks up the dark ebony sheathed sword off the snow covered tree stump. Probably felled by a long gone traveling group of nomads. “How about I learn to use this? It seems much more useful than a simple arrow.”

     “Oh no, swords are much too sharp to be handled by you now. Until you can handle a simple arrow, no swords.” Toshiro arches an eyebrow at her apparent excitement in the sword art. She knows not of the burden I carry because of that sword, and she must never experience it.

     “Fine, but first,” She packs the bow in its light blue sack, “I want to get home, it is getting too cold for this!” Toshiro smiles and nods in consent, he walks through the now ankle deep snow to retrieve the practice target and arrow a little farther on.      

     She has changed in the short time here, how long? 2 months, yes. She seems to have adapted quickly, feeling right home. He folds up the wooden red and white target. Not surprisingly though, this is her home. He bends down to pick up the stray silver arrow.

     “Toshiro!” Mitsuki’s voice tears through his thoughts, that terror-stricken voice telling him this was far graver than he could see. He drops the arrow and turns to run. But a dagger, level to his throat, blocks his path.

     “You better not move, or i’ll slit your throat faster than you can think.” The voice behind him presses the knife-edge to his windpipe for further emphasis.

     “Coward.” Toshiro spits at the ground before him, his eyes taking in the scene. Mitsuki gagged and bound by her arms lay at the feet of two bearded men in great need of a bath, but both were dressed in complete white. To blend with the snow… “What do you want of us?”

     “Is it that hard to figure out? We want whatever goods you folks have, we’ll be on our way shortly. My lord.” A raspy laugh echoed in Toshiro’s ear as his eyes widened. “Go on men, loot what ever value they have.” He waves his free hand and the other two started to rummage through the various sacks and took out the weapons.

     “Hey! Look at this! Mighty good sword no?” One of the bandits ogled an ebony black sword, marveling at its great value. Toshiro inhaled sharply. My sword! Oh why did I not keep it strapped to my side? He closes his eyes and sighs, I am sorry Mitsuki, it is better for them to take what they want and leave. Better than to shed blood.  

     A cry of pain and the sound of a body falling to the floor made Toshiro focus his attention to Mitsuki once more. A bandit writhed on the floor holding a bloody nose, the other dodging a side kick from the princess. Exactly as she was taught. Toshiro certainly could not help but feel a sense of pride. It was eradicated as soon as it came however, when the fallen bandit grabbed her ankle and pulled her to the ground.

     A sudden burst of anger tightened his chest, and surprisingly, he forced it back down. No, I must not lose control. It will be okay, everything will be fi- His thoughts interrupted by the bandit’s nose getting kicked in with the princess’s foot, she quickly stands back up and attempts to kick the other bandit. He dodges once more, pulling his arm back in preparation to retaliate.

     Anger once more implores Toshiro. He grits his teeth in the effort to control it, subdue it. Stay down, you are not allowed to come forth.

     “Quite a fighter you got there, too bad you can’t help her.” The man behind him chuckles, enjoying his helplessness. He closes his eyes as the bandit’s hand comes down on Mitsuki, more out of necessity than anything else. He would only become more furious at the sight.

     Her shriek of complete and utter horror and pain, however, forces his eyes wide open. The bandit’s hand was not empty, it held a dagger.

     Now she lies on her side, her lifeblood quickly flowing out through the wound. Staining her coat, the pure white snow becoming bloodred.

     And any self-control Toshiro might’ve had vanishes.

     He slumps against the bandit’s arms, letting himself fall to the snow. His eyes closed and his breathing shallow.

     “I expected him to put up more of a fight, shame on him. And he called me a coward.” The man kicks the snow up, throwing his make shift dagger to the white fluff of the ground. He had no more need for it, considering he had many others to choose from now.

     How convenient, exactly what I need...

     “We got everything loaded up, let’s go already, it’s gettin too cold for thi-” He stopped in mid-sentence, his comrade’s eyes wide in disbelief. Blood spilled out from his mouth, a certain dagger sticking out sideways from his neck. He falls, revealing a smirking guardian behind him, his eyes dark brown and bloodthirsty.

     “Never be too confident that your opponent is down,” He taunts the thieves with a wagging finger, as if talking to a child, “always double check. Now who do we have here who would be as bold to mess with me?” At this a scowl appeared on his face, twirling the bloodied dagger with his hand.

     “Uh, no need to fight us Toshiro, we’re just gonna leave now.” The bandit with the broken nose shifted backwards, wincing at his apparent familiarity with the guardian. The other bandit glared at him, obviously reprimanding him for such a mistake.

     “Oh, you do not understand my fellow soldiers, you no longer talk to Toshiro.” He bows with sadistic grin on his face. “I am Moriya, the Guardian.” He straightens up, testing the knife’s weight in his hands. “From your silence I deduce that you do not understand. No worries, most who meet me do not live to tell the tale anyway.” He flicks his wrist, sending the dagger spinning through the air until landing with a thunk in the bandit’s chest.

     The scream from the bandit seemed to be cut short as his life stopped as soon as he started.

     “Don’t kill me!” The other thief started in disbelief at his fallen comrade, sweat pouring from his face. Utter horror and fear.

     Moriya simply walked right up to the man, up close one could see that the bandit was no grizzly bearded man, he was a young man of only about 15, tears streaming down his face. As Moriya came closer he lost all strength in his legs and fell to his knees, unable to move.

     “I recognize you little boy,” Moriya frowns as the memory comes to mind. A simple servant, whose father had been one of the generals, later attempted a failed coup d’état, and ran away after his small army was captured or killed off. “You have grown in those 3 years… and no doubt your father,” He looks over at the dead man with the dagger in his neck, “No doubt he has heard I later replaced him as general.”

     “Just please don’t kill me… Please, please.” The poor boy covers his head and sobbed silently. His head jerks up as he gets lifted up on his feet, a strong grip holding him by the collar.

     “So let me ask you a question, no, a conformation. Your father saw me here and decided to execute a friendly theft, and in the process kill me just for revenge’s sake?” His voice deepened but stayed calm and calculating, measuring every bit of emotion in the boy’s eyes. He throws him down in the snow, putting his foot upon his neck, holding him down gasping for air. “And do you know who you stabbed!? That girl is more than you thought she was!” He presses his foot down, slowly suffocating the boy. “You thrust a knife into the princess you fool! You painted her red with her own blood and made her drown in it!!” His voice cracks from him screaming, his dark brown eyes wide and seething with fury.

     “I… Didn’t know, i’m…Sorry!”

     “NO! You are simply afraid of dying, and die you will! This will teach you to never-”

     “STOP!” A shrill sob cut through Moriya’s words and he released the boy as he stumbled back in shock. “Just stop! I’m alive so please stop this massacre!” Mitsuki clutches her side to staunch the blood flow and tears stain her face as she pleads with her guardian. “Toshiro just come back.” Her words barely above a whisper.  Moriya closed his eyes, and tears began to fall. He looks off to the right, where the thief had run off to, already a disappearing figure. He kneels and stares into the eyes of the scared princess.

     “You just had to see me this way did you not?” he smiles sadly as she flinches back afraid of him.

     “G-go away, just leave! Just go!” She stares in disbelief as she sees his eyes, once a richest shade of brown, flash deep bright green and close. His body falling heavily to the ground in a dead faint.

     Mitsuki opens her mouth, to shout for help. But instead screams in terror at the bloodstained snow, at the dead, and her fallen guardian.

                                           And

                                           She

                                           Can’t

                        Stop.     

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