The Ice Shadow

Akemi was born into Kori no Mura, a cold village with a dark history, and is current heir as Korikage.
Her Father is strict and she is rather disliked by her peers, in fear of her strong abilities and unpredictable behaviour.
But like most ninjas, Akemi's life is far from going to go smooth sailing. There are her hurdles she needs to jump, decisions she needs to make, and her her own path she needs to follow.
But will she be able to follow the path she oh-so desires?

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14. Chapter 13

"My Lord, I do not feel comfortable about joining Akemi with Tsuyoshi and Mai and having them as a squad." Akuma glanced ahead at him at the Korikage, who had his hands laced together and resting his head on them, thinking deeply, "I've seen what they are capable of...and what your daughter is capable of. One way, someone is going to get themselves in a dangerous place, and for some reason I don't see that as being Akemi."

Throughout Akuma's unusually long statement, the Korikage nodded at regular intervals, contemplating whether his opinion is valid or not, "Go on."

"I have last year's squad vacant of one squad member and she has already been acquainted with one of them. I think she has far more potential with them rather than with two children who are frankly very immature in personality would not allow Akemi to flourish into who she is truly capable of being." 

"When you mean last year's squad, you mean Yukimura, Yuuko and Nakamura, Eirwyn?" the Korikage raised his head from his hands and looked back up at his former student.

Akuma nodded, "They'd be happy to accept her. After the graduation exam, Yuuko couldn't stop speaking about Akemi. And as for Eirwyn, she's a very mothering being, she will take Akemi under her wing."

"...bring the girls in."

 

"Lord Korikage." both girls bowed before their respected leader.

He bowed back with a simple dip of the head, "Thank you for coming on such short notice girls. Take a seat, we need to discuss something important.

Both obeyed, simultaneously sitting on stools that were placed behind them.

"We need to discuss Lady Akemi and her future for the village." 

"Lady Akemi?" Yuuko's eyes widened a fraction, obviously curious, "Have those little shits been causing trouble for her? I'll break their faces!" that curiosity suddenly changed to anger with the clench of a fist.

"Language, Yukimura, thank you very much." the Korikage rolled his eyes at his more hostile genin, but brushed it aside quickly, "But yes and no. Yes they have caused a lot of trouble for Akemi in the past, with them being academy classmates she unfortunately could not avoid being the target for their trouble making. But no, nothing has happened just yet since the graduation."

"Hmph...that's good news...for them." Yuuko leaned back in her stool and folded her arms.

Eirwyn, who to this moment remained silent, cleared her throat delicately, veering her gaze towards Yuuko and then back at the Korikage, "So, what is it that you need to discuss with us, my Lord?"

He glanced at Eirwyn swiftly, as if briefly forgetting what they were to discuss before sighing and pressed his back into the seat he sat in, "I have a request to ask of you girls." he paused briefly, watching each girl to ensure that they were paying attention, "Akuma and I have decided that to benefit Akemi, it would be best for her to be a part of your squad, instead of forming a squad with her two classmates."

Both girls froze, their eyes rounded.

"I-is that something that can really be done?" Eirwyn asked, her voice raspy as she tried to comprehend what their leader had asked of them.

Yuuko scoffed, "Well I don't see a problem with this. Even if it hasn't happened before, it would be nice to have a third. Especially if it is someone like your daughter. She is definitely a prodigy of this village, I'd be happy to be her comrade."

Eirwyn remained silent, gulping silently as small beads of sweat rolled down her brow. She avoided eye contact with anyone, but she decided against retaliating. Especially against Yuuko, she knew she would have no chance of winning.

The Korikage smiled slightly, closed his eyes and pressed his nose into his clasped hands as if in prayer, "Hmm that is a good answer." a sense of relief washed over his pale features, "Then I shall speak to Akemi and let her know that you are ready and waiting for her. You are dismissed."

Both girls bowed and left the office.

 

I awoke submerged in my fluffy blankets to be welcomed with a gentle breeze brushing past my lace curtains and gently caressing my hair as if to reassure me that I was safe and sound. Stretching and surveying the room, I came to the conclusion that, yes, it was still my own, so it wasn't a dream. I am still here. And not in that terrible cell. Sighing in relief, I twisted my body around and slipped out of my bed, into slipping my feet into a pair of warm slippers. Pulling on a silk kimono, I opened the door and descended the stairs.

"Good morning Akemi." Taichi turned to give me a wide grin as he flipped a golden brown egg onto a plate next to the stove, "Sunny side up. Enjoy." he handed me the plate which consisted of the egg accompanied with two slices of toast.

Smiling back to him, I accepted the plate, thanking him with a quick dip of the head before taking a seat at the breakfast bar. After cooking his own breakfast, Taichi took the stool next to me, immediately digging in to the pile of eggs that he gave himself, "So, you're going to meet your new squad today, huh?"

I raised my eyebrow, "The squad that I have known since I was four years old? Goody..." I rolled my eyes and sighed quietly, "Wait..." I paused, "What do you mean by new squad?" I turned to my brother as he froze mid bite with a mouthful of egg and toast.

His irises moved from his plate to meet my gaze, "....oops..."

"Can't even keep a secret, Taichi?" a deep but sleepy voice muttered from the doorway into the kitchen. Both of us snapped our heads towards the voice, sweating. Father was leaning against the doorway arms folded and eyebrow raised. He was already dressed in his robes and was holding onto his hat in one of his hands, but he didn't look like he was ready to work for his eyes had dark rings from lack of sleep.

Taichi gulped his food down before scratching the back of his neck with a sheepish grin spread across his face, "Heheh...my bad." he turned down to face the counter, "Oh would you look at the time. I've...gotta go." he picked up his headband which he left on the kitchen counter and swiftly turned out the back door, leaping over the garden fence.

Father sighed, shaking his head, "He still hasn't learnt to keep his mouth shut." his face had a bemused face however. Definitely in a good mood today, "I suppose you're gonna want an explanation then." he pulled back the stool that Taichi abandoned and sat down next to me. I chose to remain silent but nodded my head, "Well...Akuma spoke to me last night just after you graduated the academy. He told me that he didn't feel comfortable about putting you in a squad with Mai and Tsuyoshi. Thought that you were *ahem* too good for them and that they would drag you down. Of course I felt the same, but hearing it from one of my most loyal shinobi as well, I knew that it would be for the best that we separate you from your classmates and put you with a more appropriate squad. That squad would be last years graduates. You already know one of them, Yukimura Yuuko and the other one is Nakamura Eirwyn. They were happy to accept you into their squad." Father checked my face for a reaction.

I bit my lip, looking down at my feet, which appeared to be more interesting than looking at my Father, "And you believe that's a good idea?" I wasn't entirely sure whether to feel excited or extremely nervous. This is the last thing that I was expecting.

"I do." Father replied immediately, "Both girls are some of the highest achieving shinobi in the village, both very capable of abilities that could match yours. I believe that you would benefit much more if you were to be trained with these girls doing much more challenging tasks, rather than with Mai and Tsuyoshi who, yes are very powerful, but not ready to train at the level that you are at. Plus don't you think you would benefit from being in a squad that would not slate you for everything you did? Eirwyn and Yuuko are very mature when it comes to being a squad and working together."

I hesitated for a second, but nodded. He definitely has a point.

Father stood up from the stool, a stern look on his face, "Good answer. Come, they are waiting for you."

 

"I dunno Yuuko...are you sure having a third would be good for us? We've been a team of two since we were four years old. It just seems...odd that after ten years that's all gonna change for us." Eirywn muttered, fidgeting in the snow looking for some roots to add to her collection of ingredients.

"Of course I'm sure. I think having someone like Akemi in our squad will benefit us big time. It's about time we had someone with leadership skills. Maybe that way we can be more organised on our missions." Yuuko replied, pulling herself up with ease on the branch of a tree, "One hundred and eleven...one hundred and twelve..."

Eirwyn pulled out a kunai from the belt she had tied around her waist and cut an exposed root from under a pile of snow, "You think we need a leader?"

"Woo~! One hundred and twenty!" Yuuko swung her legs forward, launching herself off of the branch and landing neatly in front of Eirwyn, "I do. Like you've said, we've worked together for ten years. We treat each other too equally to the point we can't see either of us as a leader. I think having a newbie join the group could help us finally adopt a leader." she picked up a giant scythe with a glorious silver blade and ran her finger over the sharpest point of the blade, "Anyway, you haven't seen her in action, I have. She is incredible. Definitely Korikage material."

"Hmm.." Eirwyn examined the root she cut and nodded once, "Ok, I believe you. I just need to see her for myself before making a judgement."

Yuuko gleamed from underneath her mask, "As sweet as always Eirwyn."

 

"ARE YOU SERIOUS?!" Mai snapped at her sensei as he stood before the two graduates very calmly, "WHY SHOULD WE HAVE TO SUFFER JUST BECAUSE AKEMI CANNOT DEAL WITH BEING IN OUR SQUAD??!!"

"As I have already told you, I think that moving Akemi to a new squad would benefit the three of you. You can't say that you have never had a problem with the girl." Akuma replied, not even flinching when Mai stood directly in front of him.

"TCH! Of course I have a problem with her. She's a freak! She has a dangerous demon inside of her, how can I feel safe around her?!" Mai's face turned dark, her psychotic temper flaring to life.

Akuma lifted his head slightly to make himself look even taller compared to the small black haired girl, "As far as I am aware, this has been going on long before that incident."

"...the little bitch." Mai muttered through gritted teeth.

Tsuyoshi, who remained quiet throughout the ordeal suddenly made a loud cry in irritation, "That's enough Mai!" he snapped, all attention suddenly turning to him.

"...w-what did you say to me?" Mai stuttered in disbelief.

"I am fed up of you talking ill of Akemi! Yes I was no better myself at one point, but this is the future Korikage we are talking about. She is going to be ruling over all of us one day! We cannot have an attitude like this towards her. And anyway I have discovered that she is actually a good person."  Tsuyoshi hung his head down, waiting for Mai's response.

Mai let out a loud gasp before it turned into a raged scream, "YOU'VE BEEN TALKING TO HER?! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?? AFTER EVERYTHING WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH!!!"

"What have we been through together, Mai?! Nothing! You know nothing of what I've been through. But I cannot say the same for Akemi." Tsuyoshi snapped back, his fists clenched together.

"...Y-you've been consoling in her...haven't you?" Mai froze in place, her whole body shaking, "HAVEN'T YOU?!"

Tsuyoshi looked at the angry girl, his face completely calm of all emotions, "Yes. I have."

".......I'm going to kill her..."

 

I followed Father through the village towards a barren forest, of which held a moderately sized training area. Standing just to the edge of the training area stood two girls, who at first had their backs to us, but soon turned around when they heard us approach. The first girl was Yuuko, the girl I met yesterday. She wore the same attire, but instead of having bare back, she had an abnormally large scythe complete with a sharpened blade and chains wrapped around the handle. The second must have been Eirwyn, and to my shock she couldn't have looked any more different to Yuuko. She had long blonde hair tied in a high ponytail which draped down to her waist. She wore a plain white qipao dress which reached just above her knees, the edges and trim of the dress a light blue. Underneath she wore dark blue leggings to cover her knees and upper thighs. Along with this she wore the traditional dark blue sandals and silver arm guards which covered her lower arms. Her eyes shone a sea blue and her cheeks had a rare, rosy gleam which matched her pink lips.

"Good morning ladies." Father stood before the two girls, his hands hung to his sides.

"Good morning, my Lord." both girls responded with the traditional bow that all shinobi put into practise when they stand before the Korikage.

"As you are aware you have a new addition to your squad starting today. Lady Akemi will be joining in with your missions as of now. Akemi, these are your two new comrades, Yukimura Yuuko and Nakamura Eirwyn." Father gave me a gentle nudge forwards.

Biting my lip again, I looked at my new comrades. They seemed a lot taller in person, especially Yuuko who looked like she was close to six feet tall. Being a premature child I always had the disadvantage of being smaller than my classmates and those of a similar age to me. I looked up at Father who was giving me the look as if to say 'well what are you waiting for?'

Quickly, I turned back to the girls and bowed down low, "Nice to meet you, Yukimura-san, Nakamura-san." I stuttered, "I-I-I hope that we can become good friends as well as comrades." I blushed, a bluish tinge dusting my cheeks as I raised my head to look back up.

"Aww~! You're so sweet, Akemi-chan, but there's no need for formalities. Just Yuuko and Eirwyn will do, after all we are equals." Yuuko tilted her head to the side, her cheekbones showing that she was smiling. Eirwyn just smiled politely, but didn't say anything. I frowned up until Yuuko added, "Don't worry about Eirwyn. She's not the biggest talker when she doesn't know you."

Eirwyn shrugged her shoulders, but her eyes sparkled in a way, showing that she was clearly easy going.

Father cleared his throat at that point, breaking the silence, "Anyway, now that you are all acquainted, I am going to assign you to a simple mission just so Akemi can get an idea as to what to expect as a shinobi. Here is your scroll." Father reached into his pocket, but as he did Okami called out to me.

Akemi! Duck! My reflexes obeyed immediately, just in time as a silver glint whizzed past my head. As I straightened my back, Okami's instincts kicked in, my eyesight surveying the area around me. My ears picked up a faint frazzling noise. I turned to the source of the noise to see a label like piece of paper tied to the kunai that was embedded into the tree, "Everyone, make to  the trees!" I shouted, pointing to Father and the girls. All three nodded quickly, still trying to come to terms with what was happening. We all jumped directly up into the branches, not stopping until we were near the top. A loud explosion disrupted the peace below, both trees shaking furiously. Using my chakra, I gripped on for dear life onto the thinner trunk of the tree, until it finally subsided. I finally managed to catch my breath, believing that I was safe for now, "Is everyone Ok?" I asked the others, who were still startled by the sudden attack. They all nodded as they too caught their breath.

"What the fuck was that?" Yuuko asked, looking directly at me, "How did you know to react so quickly?"

"It was a paper bomb. Someone threw it towards us. It was clearly no accident." I replied, looking back down at the ground which was still smoking, "Come on, I think it's safe for now. Just stay alert in case there are any more attacks." the four of us cautiously hopped down from branch to branch, trying to think about why what happened happened.

"Was it an act of treason? An assassination attempt against the Korikage?" Yuuko asked, as she landed on the ground and surveyed the area.

"I don't think so." I replied, picking up the remnants of the weapon which was a mere tip of the blade which was lay on the ground just before a massive gouge in the tree the kunai was in. The explosion was that powerful, it caused a massive hole to form in the tree, That definitely cannot be correct. If someone were to attack someone as big and powerful as the Korikage, wouldn't the attack be more planned? With more skills, more tactics and more weapons? And what's more, why would anyone in their right mind try to attack the Korikage with other shinobi present? No...this definitely isn't an act of treason, this is definitely something else, "This was a clumsy attack, clearly caused by a rookie. If it were treason, it would have been performed by a highly skilled Jonin who would be able to combine a mass effect of attacks rather than just use a single kunai with a paper bomb tied to it."

"So it was just a prank?!" Yuuko snapped, clenching her fist in front of her face, a vein popping out of her head.

I shook my head, "To risk something as dangerous as put the Korikage in danger would be very stupid. I don't think it was a prank. The attacker definitely knew what they were doing. They are trying to hurt someone.

Father took hold of my shoulder suddenly and pulled me backwards in time for three more kunai to come whizzing out of the blue. All three barely grazed my body before they embedded their way into another tree.

I don't understand...is the person they're after...me? my breathing suddenly became heavy and quick as I tried to regain my cool, which had left me, along with any colour that was lurking in my skin.

Yuuko let out a sound, one that sounded almost like a hiss, "Alright you little shit! Get out here and try to take us all on!" she pulled out the scythe from the strap on her back.

"Get back Akemi!" Father pulled me once again as a line of shuriken aimed for my chest and face.

They really are after me...I'm going to get killed...

"Akemi, you need to keep on full alert. We're under attack, we need all the help we can get to uncover the perpetrator." Father explained, turning his head slightly to look at me, as I hid safely behind him, "Ok, Yuuko and Eirwyn, scatter and try to sniff out our spy, Akemi and I will stay here and see if they come back."

"Yes my Lord." both girls instantaneously scattered into the trees.

Everything remained silent from that point onward, the odd rustling of dying leaves and dry twigs sounding every so often. Each time I jumped, clutching tighter onto Father's robes.

He put his hands on my shoulders and knelt down to my level, "Don't worry Akemi, no matter what happens, I will keep you safe. I won't let anyone hurt you while you are in my care." he smiled brightly.

I stared in awe, How is he so calm at a time like this? There is someone attacking us and he can turn his back and speak to me like this? So it's true, a real shinobi can face death calm. And yet I am clearly incapable of such things...

Okami sighed quietly.

"Feeling better?" Father asked, patting me on the head.

I took in a deep breath and nodded with a brave smile, "Yes. I am ready to fight."

Father chuckled under his breath, "That's my girl."

 

"There you are, you little runt!!" I heard a crash in the trees and a terrified scream. The voice was from Yuuko and the scream must have been from the attacker. Footsteps crunched through the snow in mine and Father's direction.

"Akemi, get ready." Father stood to my side, readied in a battle stance, keeping me a couple of centimetres behind him, but not blocking me from the scene altogether.

I narrowed my eyes and tightened my grip around a kunai I kept in my pack around my waist. I held it up before me and used my arms to block my body, my vital areas, here we go...I am ready to fight.

Suddenly, a mass zipped out from behind the trunk of a tree and charged right towards me. Holding my kunai in a tight grip, I remained still but my feet firmly planted to the ground, waiting for the clash of impact. But Father was ready as well, near enough grabbing into the blur and latching onto something tightly, causing the mass to stop dead in it's tracks and cry out in complaint.

"L-let go of me! Y-you hulking sack of..." the voice, clearly female was familiar, with wavy black hair and slim body.

I lowered my weapon, "M-Mai...?" I thought I could sigh in relief but that's when she snapped her head towards me, revealing psychotic eyes, sparkling in the daylight, pupils tiny and clearly angry.

"YOU!" she suddenly screamed, still straining under Father's grip, "YOU DID THIS!!"

"D-did what?" I whispered, taking a couple of cautious steps back, "What are you talking about?"

Mai just continued to glare at me and then chuckled, making a swift hand sign with her free hand. I heard a loud crackle behind me. As I turned around, I saw it, numerous paper bombs were stuck to the trees, all on fire and ready to explode. I barely had enough time to react, instead I remained rooted in place.

"Milady!" a gruff voice shouted out, and a heavy weight gripped a hold of my waist and leaped to the side, taking me with them. We both collapsed into a pile of snow, the weight landing on top of me, but refusing to let go.

"UGH! WHY CAN'T YOU JUST STAY OUT OF MY WAY?!" Mai screamed out, "GET OOOOFFF!!!" I heard a loud thud, but I couldn't quite tell what was going on.

"Milday...are you Ok?" the mass on top of me asked, shifting out of the way so I could move again.

I groaned loudly, turning around so I was lying on my back. My vision was a little blurry at first, but soon I managed to see what was above me. A hand was reached out to me, gloved in black and purple.

"Y-Yuuko?" I muttered, rubbing my head, I must have hit my head...

"Yup." the hand before me clenched quickly then reached out to me again, "Now, you gonna get up? I think you're safe now. Eirwyn is here too so you have some bodyguards. That psycho isn't getting anywhere near you."

I shifted my eyes up to see if I could see Mai. I turned my head when I heard a loud complaining grunt coming from my left. There I saw her sprawled in a heap on the floor. She was shifting ever so slightly every couple of seconds, clearly desperate to get up. Instinctively, I took Yuuko's hand so she could hoist me to my feet, just in case Mai tried to sneak attack me while we assumed she was immobilised.

"Ha! Nice and light." Yuuko complimented as she pulled me a little to hard to the point I was lifted off my feet for a couple of seconds. Gently, she gave me a brush down before giving me the nod of approval, "Much better. Now, I'm gonna put this bitch in her place..." Yuuko turned to glare at Mai who was managing to regain her balance, clutching onto her arm.

Slowly, she moved her hand away from her arm to examine the damage, "You bruised my arm...y-you PSYCHO!!" she screamed at Father who was standing just nearby, his expression calm but his body language wary, "I'm gonna kill all of you!" she suddenly let out a glass shattering laugh, reaching into her pack and pulling out a scroll, dark black in colour.

Yuuko let out a small gasp, "You little bitch!! You stole THAT scroll?! I'm gonna have you for stealing one of the village's sacred scrolls."

"OH REALLY?! JUST COME AND GET ME!!!" Mai opened the scroll and immediately the snow settled around us started to get picked up by a vicious storm that suddenly whipped up. The village became shrouded in darkness, shinobi and villagers alike emerging from their homes and other buildings to see what was the cause of such a sudden storm.

I turned to Father then back at the village, shinobi were running towards us, "Father, what are we going to do? They're going to kill Mai!"

He turned down to me, looking rather remorseful, "I'll try to hold them back for as long as possible, but I'm afraid if Mai doesn't stand down soon, there's nothing more I can do. The safety of the village is my priority. Unfortunately I cannot turn that down for a single person.

I turned to Mai, Oh Mai...why did you have to become like this? We could have been friends, if only you opened up to me and just told me what was on your mind....that's it!

"I'm going in." I shouted over the wind which was still picking up power to the point that the weakened trees around us started to groan.

"WHAT?!" Yuuko and Eirwyn exclaimed as they watched me go forwards.

"N-no! You can't go on your own!" Eirwyn exclaimed.

I turned back to her, "I must. Her problem is with me. I cannot let her grudge towards me hurt anyone else." turning back, I took in a deep breath, Okami, lend me your strength.

Yes.

 

It was like stepping into a new dimension. The closer I got to the centre of the storm, the storm got stronger, the snow pummelled me harder and and the wind nearly dragged me back out. But I had to get to Mai.

"Mai...MAI!!!" I tried hard to shout over the howling winds, "MAI COME ON OUT!!! THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!!!"

"Akemi..." I just about heard a quiet voice respond, using Okami's hearing.

It was coming from just ahead of me, "MAI!!" I ran ahead until I saw a solid figure just a few feet ahead of me in the thick snow. Mai was kneeling on the ground, arms wrapped around each other and her head down, hair billowing all over the place, covering her face, "MAI! What were you thinking?"

"...I don't know..." was her only response.

I narrowed my eyes as the snow only got heavier, making it even harder to see, "Then why are you trying to kill me?"

"...I hated you..."

"Why?"

"...I don't know..."

.....

"You are taking Tsuyoshi from me..." she looked back up at me, and to my shock, there were tears being whipped from her eyes and evaporating into the storm.

My eyes widened a fraction, "What do you mean?"

"He hates me..."

I shook my head, "No he doesn't. Why would he be by your side after all this time just to hate you. He clearly sees the good in you."

She smiled slightly, "I bet you don't."

I hesitated for a second, "I haven't seen the good in you. You've hidden it from me. But if you stop now, I will help you. I will see the good in you."

A small chuckle escaped her mouth, "It won't be that easy..." she picked up the black scroll with a shaky hand, tossing it over to me.

Catching it in one hand, I steadied the wispy parchment paper and read it as best as I could. I froze, "You've got to die?!" I shouted back at her.

Mai nodded slowly, the sad smile not leaving her face, "That's the only way to make the storm go away. Otherwise the whole village will be engulfed and obliterated. Just like an apocalypse." she let out another giggle, "Let's see how much of a shinobi you really are Akemi. Kill me. Save the village."

Biting my lip I shook my head to try and hold back some sudden tears that started to leak down my face, "No...I can't kill you. You're my friend!"

"Your friend?" Mai looked at me in disbelief, "Liar."

"NO! I'm not lying! We've survived the academy together all these years, of course you are my friend!"

Mai's frown suddenly turned upside down as she looked back down at the ground, "Wow...that makes me feel bad for trying to kill you...what a fool I was." her head swayed side to side, "But that doesn't excuse us from the point at hand. Akemi, you need to kill me, for the sake of the village."

"No she doesn't" a third and familiar voice approached us.

Mai gasped, her eyes wide and her arms going limp, "Tsuyoshi-san..." she whispered, looking behind me.

"Mai..." Tsuyoshi stood in front of me, "I'm sorry. I couldn't see the pain you were in. You needed my support for years and I just wasn't giving it to you."

What does he mean? I wondered, staring on ahead at the event panning out.

"How long have you been like this? How long have you had anxiety?" he asked the fragile girl, who started to shiver.

Mai looked back down at the snow building up around her, "For as long as I can remember...and when Akemi started talking to you, I was so worried you were going to leave me...I couldn't have that...not the one that means so much to me."

 

Tsuyoshi shook his head sadly, "I wouldn't leave you, Mai, you know that. Never." he knelt down before Mai and wrapped his arms around her shoulders to keep her warm from the bitter storm, "You know what needs to be done now, don't you?" Mai let out a loud sniffle, burying her head further into Tsuyoshi's shoulder, "Hmm..." Tsuyoshi turned to me, "Akemi...I'm sorry it had to end this way." he slowly moved one of his hands down to his pocket and revealed a small black capsule. He then turned to one of the weakened trees nearby and tossed the capsule towards it.

Suddenly, I knew what he was doing, "NO!" I shouted, running forward to try and reach the couple as the capsule let out a ferocious bang and a flash of white light. 

But I felt a rough force push me backwards, sending me backwards a good ten feet, crashing to the ground. Looking up and ahead I saw it all. The tree groaned loudly as the roots started to snap away and detach itself from the ground. It began to tip forwards, gravity pushing it that way.

"TSUYOSHI! MAI!" I screamed, reaching out to them as the tree grew nearer and nearer to the ground.

Tsuyoshi looked up at me. He smiled. He raised his arm and waved. Mai looked at me one last time. I'm sorry...she mouthed.

A loud crash broke over the sound of the storm. 

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