Violet Roses

*Prequel to The Blue Spiral* Yukia's beauty is her own. Seventeen, master of the katana and heir to the bloodline blade, which has been passed down through her family for generations. But when she wakes up one night to see a beautiful violet rose on her bedside table, she knows something is wrong.

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“Aww, come on!”

“No.”

“Please?”

“No way.”

It was a rather gloomy day in the village of Konoha, and three young friends were aimlessly walking the streets. Well, mostly aimlessly.

“Come on, please?” Nakimura Jang begged.

"I said no,” Takigawa Yukia replied, rubbing her temple.

“Pretty please?” Jang tried again.

Yukia groaned. “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand, Nakimura?”

Hatake Sakumo grinned. “She’s calling you by your last name, J, that can’t be good.”

Jang pointed at Sakumo. “You, be quiet.” Sakumo held up his hands in mock surrender. Jang turned to Yukia again. “Please go out on a date with me, Yukia-chan?” he asked.

Yukia looked at Sakumo. “Will it ever sink in?” she asked him. He rolled his eyes.

“Aw, why not, Yukia-chan?” Jang persisted.

“One,” Yukia held up a finger, “because you’re asking so much. Two,” she held up a second finger, “because I don’t like you like that. Three,” she pointed to the overcast sky, “I’m not in a good mood right now. You guys should know what the weather does to me.” Sakumo and Jang studied their teammate for a moment, and saw once again the truth in her words. She looked much more tired and down in the dumps than usual. Jang laughed nervously and scratched the back of his head. Sakumo smiled and shoved his hands in his pockets.

“Sorry…” Jang said nervously.

Yukia sighed. “You’re forgiven. Maybe.”

“But will you consider it? Going out with me, I mean?”

Yukia hung her head in annoyance. “Or maybe not,” she mumbled weakly.

Sakumo nudged his friend. “Dude, leave her alone for a while. It’s really gloomy today. Plus, it looks like it might rain later today.”

“Joy, joy,” they heard Yukia mutter under her breath, straightening up and hooking her thumbs through the belt hoops on her jean shorts.

Jang nudged his friend back. “Just cause you’re in love with Yukia-chan too,” he said with an evil grin. Sakumo punched his shoulder. Jang rubbed where he’d been hit, still grinning. Sakumo turned his head away so they wouldn’t see his slight blush, and looked at the stalls. Despite the gloom, many people were out and about. He saw many people he recognised, including Takigawa Kei, Yukia’s older brother.

“Yukia!” Kei called out and waved. Yukia looked up tiredly.

“Onii-san,” she said in greeting. “What brings you here today?”

Kei stopped in front of them, grinning, and hooked his thumbs into his jean pockets the exact same as Yukia. “Always so formal, onee-chan.” He sighed, pretending to be annoyed and disappointed, but unable to keep a straight face. “I’m your brother!”

“By one year.” Yukia raised her eyebrows. “So why are you here?” she asked.

Kei sighed, resigned to the fact that Yukia wasn’t in a gaming mood. “Okasan sent me to look for you. She made this long speech thing that she wanted me to tell, I think, but I narrowed it down to: she wants you for training.”Yukia looked at her brother. Kei held up his hands. “Hey, you know I can’t remember things like that! So sue me!”

“Maybe I will.” The corner of her mouth turned up.

Kei pumped a fist in the air. “Yes!” he shouted. A few people turned their heads, Kei oblivious. “I did it! It’s a gloomy day and she can still joke!” He put his hand in front of Yukia. “High five!”

Yukia raised her eyebrows and touched her finger to Kei’s palm before walking past him. “Let’s go then,” she said. Kei just stood there and his hand dropped.

“Seriously?” he asked, turning to look at Yukia’s back. “Leave me hanging on the high five? Seriously?”

“Seriously,” they heard Yukia call back. “I’ll see you guys later!”

“Seeya!” Sakumo and Jang said in unison. Kei caught up to his sister and the two boys were left alone in the street.
“Training?” Jang wondered aloud. “On a gloomy day like this?” He looked up at the sky. “Well, who knows how that’s going to turn out.”

“I hear ya,” Jang agreed. “She was totally out of it just then.”

“Well, she still seemed alright…” Sakumo trailed off.

“I know!” Jang said suddenly. “Why don’t we follow them and watch Yukia-chan’s training?” He nudged Sakumo. “I bet it’ll be interesting.”

“If she’s training then we should leave her alone,” Sakumo argued.

“Oh well!” Jang grabbed his friend’s arm and dragged him along after him. “I wanna see who she trains with!”

“Kei, probably,” Sakumo said as he tried to break free from Jang’s grip. “Let me go!”

“Nope.” Jang continued to pull his friend along. “You’re coming with me, and that’s that.” Sakumo sighed in resignation.

They continued to walk unseen behind Yukia and Kei. Yukia was still gloomy, and she was rubbing her temple as Kei continued to be his usual cheery self. He chatted away about nothing in particular, and Yukia seemed to be ignoring him.

Then they reached the gate of the Takigawa family estate and the two boys stopped and hid. They made sure they had full view of everything that was going on, but were careful to remain unseen.

“Yukia-sama,” their doorman bowed deeply to Yukia. “It is a pleasure to have you home again.”

“Hn,” was all Yukia said as she walked passed.

“I guess she’s still in a bad mood,” Jang muttered to Sakumo. Sakumo remained silent, and kept watching.

“And you too, Kei-sama,” the doorman bowed to Kei as well. Less deeply, the boys noted, but deeply nonetheless.

“It’s great to be home,” Kei announced, following his little sister into their home. The doorman followed them in, carefully closing the door behind him.

Sakumo and Jang crept out from their hiding place and followed them in. The jumped up onto the roof, keeping out of sight. They knew that they would probably be seen at one stage or another, but they didn’t care. Sakumo in particular was now incredibly curious about Yukia’s surroundings.

It was true, what Jang said earlier, although he didn’t admit it.

They flattened themselves on the roof when they saw a very powerful figure stepping out from the house. Dark indigo hair that was tied up in her hair by a silver ribbon, and the clothing of a samurai, with a sword at her waist. “Yukia-sama, Kei-sama,” she said in greeting. “Thank you for coming.”

"Of course, Isuzu-sama,” Yukia replied, kneeling on one knee before the lady.

“Thank you for finding her, Kei-sama,” the lady turned to Kei and nodded her head towards him.

"Of course, Isuzu-sama,” Kei answered.

Sakumo’s eyes widened at hearing this. He swivelled his eyes to look at Jang, and one glace at his friend told him they were thinking the exact same thing: The Takigawa Isuzu, the Isuzu-sama of the distinguished Takigawa clan, was Yukia’s mother!

“Yukia-sama. It is time for your training,” the lady spoke to Yukia once again.

“Begging your pardon, Isuzu-sama,” Yukia’s head was bowed as she spoke, “But would it be a problem to train at a more… welcome time? You know what the weather does to me.”

Isuzu-sama nodded. “I do know what happens to you on days like this, and this is exactly why I am training you at this time. You need to learn to push your boundaries, Yukia-sama.”

“Of course, my lady,” Yukia answered, standing up. “I will get my sword.”

“Meet me at the sakura trees,” Isuzu-sama said as Yukia walked away. “Kei-sama, come with me.” Kei stood up, and they both walked a few steps before disappearing. Yukia walked inside, shutting the door quietly behind her.

“We need to find those sakura trees,” Sakumo heard Jang whisper. They carefully and silently got up and ran along the rooftops, looking for the Lady Isuzu and Yukia’s older brother.

By the time they found them, Yukia had already joined them, and Isuzu-sama was speaking to her daughter. They flattened down on the rooftop again. “If you are to inherit my blade, you need to know how to fight against it, as well as with it,” she was saying. “Today you will be fighting against it.” She made three hand signs: Tori-Mi-Tori, and five exact replicas of her appeared in a circle around Yukia. Sakumo’s eyes widened. As Isuzu-sama drew her blade, her clones did too, all at the same time. Sakumo felt Jang stiffen beside him, and glanced sideways. But Jang wasn’t looking at Isuzu-sama, or even at Yukia.

He was looking at Isuzu-sama’s blade. Sakumo looked at it closely. It gleamed silver, even without any sunlight being allowed through the clouds. It seemed to have a shine all its own. And on the surface of the blade, were names. The last one on the list was clearer than the rest: Takigawa Isuzu. Sakumo froze.

The Lady Isuzu was wielding the Bloodline Blade.

“That’s impossible,” he heard himself whisper. “That blade was lost to time decades ago…”

“I know,” Jang replied. “But maybe their family was holding onto it this whole time. And Yukia-chan’s next in line.”

The real Isuzu-sama lifted her blade and held it in front of her face, and the clones copied. Yukia’s hand went to the sword handle at her waist, and she drew her own blade, holding it in front of her face, the same as Isuzu-sama. They bowed. Isuzu-sama pointed her sword at Yukia. The clones attacked.

Yukia slid her right foot back and drew her right arm backward, getting into her usual battle stance. The first clone to get close to her was the one back and to the right of her. She swung her blade around, and the sound of metal meeting metal echoed throughout the trees.

Sakumo watched in horror as the mother and daughter fought. Yukia and to twist and jump and duck to avoid blades piercing her from all directions. The first clone disappeared when Yukia flipped her sword around and pushed it under arm into Isuzu-sama’s heart. The next one disappeared when Yukia grabbed her sword the other way again and swung it forward, the clone to slow to stop it from meeting her neck. The third went when Yukia jumped, flipped, and landed behind it, sweeping her legs around so the clone fell, and Yukia’s blade meeting her neck like the second.

Sakumo only realised something was going wrong when he realised that Kei was nowhere to be seen. He went to jump up when something squeezed his neck and his head slammed against the roof. He couldn’t move. The same happened to Jang, and he tried to move his head. “Going somewhere?” came Kei’s voice from near his ear, and then he was thrown off the roof, and the ground came hurtling towards him at tremendous speed. He landed with a thud, and heard Jang land next to him.

Kei pulled them onto their backs, and they saw Yukia staring with horror and surprise all over her face and in her eyes. “Sakumo-kun?” she whispered.

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