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.


8. Talk of Marriage

Someone was watching her. She could feel the weight of eyes on her. Shifting in discomfort, she searched blindly for her crossbow with one hand. It was no where to be found though. Where had it gone? She always kept it close at hand. She tried to open her eyes, but found herself unable to. The gaze was intense and she felt the first signs of panic. She needed to stay calm. Whatever was watching her was moving closer. She felt its slow,confident approach. Her eyes opened and she stared up at the dark sky above her. The presence was gone. She took several heavy breaths, feeling as though she had the breath stolen from her.

Toga glanced at her. There was alarm in her eyes. He felt immediate concern for her. She had been sleeping peacefully and there had been no sign that she had been having a nightmare. "Are you alright?" She nodded. "I would have woken you, but I did not realize that you were having a nightmare."

She glanced at him before diverting her gaze. "I was not asleep," she said quietly before rolling over onto her side. Her gaze was focused on the darkness that surrounded their house.

He did not pursue the topic. There had been a finality in her tone that said that she had no desire to speak of the subject any further. What she said was a bit disturbing. It was not a good sign to have waking nightmares.

What was out there. There was something or someone. That, she was certain of. Who or what though, she didn't know. A part of her was compelled to search and find the answer, to find what it was that she had sensed. Another part though, kept her where she was. Fear. It was an emotion that she knew, but had suppressed for the past several years. There was no place for it in her life. She was in no position in love. Yet, she was more than happy to remain where she was. Her instincts were warning her not to pursue whatever it was that had been watching her and she was more than happy to comply. There was no sense in concerning Toga either. "You should sleep, Toga."

"I am not tired," he said, looking at her again.

She turned so that she was lying on her back again. "Do not lie to me dear brother," she said, a smile quirking the corners of her lips.

He released a heavy sigh. "Yes, sister." He gave her a smile before lying down. "If you continue to be so matronly you will find it difficult to find a husband."


Curling up slightly, he held his abdomen where she had hit him. "My apologies," he said after coughing.

"I have to be to take care of you and Father." She glared at him for a moment before her expression lightened. "Perhaps I do not want a husband."

He looked at her, a bit surprised. While he knew that she had never expressed outward interest in marriage, he had thought that she would one day wish to settle down and have children. Then again, he did not know everything that he thought he did about her. "Why not?"

"You know how hunters are. Those men out there are narcissists and care only about hunting. They consider nothing else about life." She caught the look that he gave her and laughed. "You are not like them, Toga. Yes, you have your moments, but you have managed to maintain your sanity."

"Should I consider that a compliment?"

"Yes, you should." She turned her gaze back to the dark sky. "It would me much simpler if any of the suitors were like you, but they are all self-loving bastards." She became silent rather than say other things about the male hunters.

He turned his head, his face turning a light shade of red, following her comment. "You have had suitors? I was not aware that father was attempting to find a husband for you yet."

"He has not been. Father is allowing me a chance to find a husband on my own. I have no interest in any of those that have approached me."

"I see."

"I would much rather remain without a husband than be tied to a man who cares for no one else and nothing other than hunting." She glanced at him and gave him an apologetic smile. "What of you, Toga? Have you found a huntress that has managed to turn your head?"

He glanced at her before looking at the sky again. "Yes... I have."


"I can not be with her."

"Why not?"

"It is forbidden."

"She is already married or betrothed?"


"Then you should pursue her."

"Father would not approve."

"He is not the one who is searching for a wife. If you care about this woman than you should tell her so. Do not let formality or father stand in your way."

Turning his head, he looked at her. Saying nothing, he simply gazed at her. "I suppose that you are right," he said after several minutes.

"Do not delay too long. You do not want to wait too long and risk losing her."

"I will keep that in mind."

She smiled and turned her gaze away. "I am serious, Toga."

"I know that you are." His gaze lingered on her for a time longer before he turned onto his side.

"Do you know when Father will be returning?" she asked after several minutes of silence between them.

"I do not."

She frowned ever so slightly. It would not surprise her if he was gone for multiple weeks. Such a thing was not unusual for him and she was rather certain that he was avoiding this house. He had been for several years now. She understood, but at the same time she didn't. However, she couldn't count on him to return for hunters lived short lives and one day she would not see him again.

"Do not let Father force you into marriage, Shiriko."

His sudden statement surprised her and she pulled her abruptly from her thoughts. "I will try, but you know that I can not promise that."

"Trying is all that I ask."

She smiled and nodded. "You can count on me to do that, Toga."

"I know that I can."

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