Crown of Thorns

The war was something that she never desired, but her birthright as a daughter of the Yagari family forced her to be a part of it. She killed level Est and slowly destroyed herself until the night her life was saved. Salvation was a distant dream, but maybe it was closer than she had originally believed.

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20. A Wandering Mind

Empty. The house was no longer a home. Ever since she had gone he found himself wandering the halls. He didn't know why he did it. Maybe he was trying to find her. That didn't make any sense though. She would not miraculously appear. Shiriko was gone. His sister was gone.

There was no one now. It was only him.

The last time that he was alone both his sister and father had been gone on a hunt. That had only lasted for a few days. Then, Shiriko had returned. She had strode into the house. Her hair was messed up and she looked tired. She was always so very beautiful though.

He could recall the air of confidence that she possessed; her joyful attitude. She would greet him and there was always a smile waiting for him. It was never like their father. Their father would always be frowning. The man barely spared him a word before he would either lock himself away within his room or leave almost immediately after his arrival. Shiriko would talk to him. Almost always she would prepare a meal for him. She was always putting him before herself. When she had finished everything within the house she would go outside and work in her garden until the time came when they trained together.

That was the last time that he had been home alone. That had been one of the last moments of normalcy.

He still recalled when he had returned home after that fateful mission. Shiriko had not been the same. She had been broken. The smile was gone. His father had done that. The bastard Kenta had done that. He could still picture when he first laid eyes on the man that was now his sister's husband. Hatred had bubbled up within him and he had wanted to harm Kenta. At that time he had not yet known that his father had arranged a marriage between Kenta and Shiriko. When he had found out though, it had taken everything for him to not go and kill Kenta immediately afterwards. He had carried a knife on his person though. He had hidden it. More than once he had almost drawn the weapon and slayed Kenta where he stood. Something had always stopped him. He still did not know what that was.

Kenta should have been killed. He had his chances, but he had never acted up on them. If he had maybe Shiriko wouldn't be gone now. She wouldn't have been swept away. His sister would be free. She would still be with him. He had missed his chance though, and there was nothing now that he could do.

Several times it crossed his mind to go and find her. It would be simple to track she and Kenta down. However, he always discarded that thought. As much as he may want to go and get her back he couldn't do it. He had angered her. He had betrayed her with his words. She would not want to see him again. It did not matter how much that he wanted to see her. If she wanted nothing to do him then she would turn him away. That possibility was frightening. To lose her completely... There was also the chance that she was happy with Kenta.

The thought of her being with that man turned her stomach. It mattered little to him that Kenta was her husband now. Shiriko had not wanted the marriage. He had seen that fact written clearly on her face. Yet, feelings changed. Not too much time had passed yet, but enough time had. The chance existed that her heart had softened. She was always good that way. Her heart was open. She may have very well let Kenta in. They could be planning for the future now. It was very possible too that she was carrying his child. From what he had come to know of Kenta the man had not seemed like one who was willing to wait.

He forced his thoughts away from them. There were other things that he needed to think about. The house needed to be cared for. The garden needed to be tended. He couldn't let the garden die. She had created that from nothing. It had been her heart here. It needed to survive. However, he did not have her ability. The garden was already starting to whither. When he went outside to weed and water it he would find that the leaves were wilting. It seemed that with Shiriko's leaving the garden had known and it had lost its will to survive. To see that hurt, but he wouldn't give up on it. He would make sure that it would flourish just as it had under her care.

"Toga."

His father's arrival had startled him. Looking at him, he did not bother to mask his surprise. His heart pounded in his chest. When had he come home? He did not think that he would return any time soon. His father had left the day after the wedding in response to a new assignment. Quickly, he forced his surprise aside and adopted an indifferent demeanor. His gaze turned back outside, looking through the window that he had stopped by at some point.

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing." He didn't care that he sounded child-like. That didn't matter at all. Now that his father was home he wanted only to be alone again.

Frowning, he stared at his son. Toga was walking away from him as if to escape. That wouldn't surprise him. He knew where his son's mind was. He knew who he was thinking of. "You need to stop this, Toga."

He stopped, but didn't turn to face his father. "What do I need to stop?"

"You know what I'm talking about. She's gone. You need to forget about her."

"She was your daughter."

"And she was your sister. Only that. She can be forgotten."

Now, he was beginning to see what Shiriko saw. Now, he was starting to understand. Their father was a monster. That was why she did not want him to be like that man. The man never cared about them. They were only tools to be used to honor his name and to carry on the bloodline. The only person that he had ever cared about was their mother and she was dead and buried. Their father had been left with them; children who had only served as disappointments.

He, Toga, was the first born son. As such he should have been the apple of his father's. There was much weight that was placed on his shoulders. Expectations were high and obstacles were placed before him. He overcame them all. In him his father had the perfect child. He was the hunter that could surpass his father's own abilities. His father placed him on a pedestal. That pride diminished though, after their mother's death. His father had seen the evolution of his feelings for his sister. It was obvious what Shiriko was to him and what he wanted her to be. She was the forbidden fruit and he fell from his father's grace because of it.

Shiriko, his second born, had never wanted to be a hunter. She was skilled, but she lacked the will to use them. His father's efforts to transform her into him had failed. She was too caring. Her heart was with the earth. The garden had blossomed because of her care and love. She took joy in each day. The rain was not a storm, but a soothing shower to her. The clouds were pictures instead of just fluff. The night was her blanket. She was like their mother. She cared about more than the sword. Killing vampires was not her life. There was more to her. Her heart was open to more. That was her first fault. Her second fault was that she was female and was therefore weak in their father's eyes.

"I suggest that you move on, Toga. She will not be coming back."

His father's tone was final. He heard the retreating footsteps and only then did he turn around. Following him with his eyes he felt a surge of hatred. As if sensing this his father stopped and faced him.

"What is it, Toga?"

Silence. That was his answer. There were many things that he could say to his father right now. There was much that he wanted to say. He wanted to curse his father. He wanted to make him suffer like he was. None of this he did though. He knew that his father wanted some sort of reaction from him. As much as he may want to do that much he would not. He would not let his father win. The bastard had done too much already.

"Toga."

Not bothering to respond to his father he turned his back to him and walked to the end of the hall. Descending the stairs, he then made his way to the front door. A piece of paper drew his attention. It was a letter. His name was on it so he grabbed it on his way outside. It was not until the house was out of sight that he looked at it. His sister's name was not on the envelope like he had hoped it would be. Tearing it open he read the contents. It was another assignment. He shoved the paper away within his coat pocket. This was good. He needed to hurt something.

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