Chapter 14: Setting a Path
To call him a man would have been out of place, because he was more monster than anything. Not just because he so coldly told, one sibling to take out another, but also because he truly was a monster in all shapes and forms. From his head four short black horns protruded through a forest of bushy white hair, that fell down to the sides of his head, over long and pointed ears. His eyes were large and red, with iris that nearly engulfed their sclera, separated by a long thin nose that had three spikes going down its bridge. Though he neither smiled nor glowered, rows of sharp teeth could be seen in a mouth left agape.
“S-sir?” Tsutomu finally freed himself of his aghast, and said the only thing his mind would allow him to say. “You’re joking right? She’s my younger sister.” He turned to his commander who took a seat on the trunk of metals, and looked from him to her.
“Yes I can tell, from your scents alone. That doesn’t change that I want you to attack her.” He said, and now Julie and Lee joined Tsutomu in their surprised, as they looked at the formerly dressed monster, who sat with tan hands intertwined. “If you don’t, I will.” He said as he rose to his feet, and Tsutomu averted his eyes, unsure as to what he should do. “Then so be it.” The monster said, and before Tsutomu could object, he was off, with his eyes locked on Sakuya’s face.
His fist was pulled back, as his frightening speed cut the distance in a second, and as he was ready to throw it forward, he stopped as he saw Takeshi step in the way. For a moment, he stared with surprise, till his mouth shut and turned up into a smile and his fist shot forward and left Takeshi wide eyed. He took a few steps back now, as the young fighter lowered his guard, and now Sakuya’s eyes turned to him, as she tried to determine what had just went on.
“Takeshi, are you alright?” She asked, and heard an audible gulp come from her brother.
“I couldn’t keep up. Every time I determined which way his attack was coming from, he was already attacking me from a different direction.” Takeshi turned to Sakuya, and she felt her heart sink as she saw the helplessness in his eyes.
“And if I hit you, it would have done plenty of damage, despite you being a benefactor.” The monster said, and Takeshi lowered his head as he failed to find an argument. “But give yourself a pat on the back; I never met anyone who could keep track of my fist.” He said, but Takeshi didn’t hear him beyond the voice of utter defeat. “The girl couldn’t.” He added, and now Sakuya lowered her head as well.
“Come on Commander Illius, you don’t really want Tsutomu to fight his sister do you?” Julie questioned the commander, who look toward his long black nails and swung his hand as if to cut something.
“Yeah, Commander Slaak, I doubt Sakuya is a criminal.” Lee added to the objection, and without looking toward them, Illius crossed his hands behind his back.
“I don’t recall saying that she was a criminal.” He said. “Tsutomu, you have three seconds.” He warned his subordinate who looked from him to Sakuya, still unsure about his course of action. “Three.” He started and all eyes turned to him. “Two.” He continued and all eyes turned to Tsutomu as Illius swung his hand again. “One-.” He started, but stopped as Tsutomu’s sword came from its sheath, and the hapless spectators watched it cut through the air.
Illius words were enough to have Sakuya on guard, and made her ready to block as Tsutomu sword came down. She jumped back as she tried to figure out her brother, but was force to swing her sword again, as he came forward for a stab. Again, she blocked as his sword pulled back, and he spun his body around, and again she dodged as the sword cut through the air and this time hit the ground. Once more, she tried to figure her brother out, but gave up all attempts, as his sword rush passed her face, and made her realized his was in peak form.
“Don’t hold back Tsutomu.” Illius ordered him, and both siblings realized what that meant, as Tsutomu pulled his sword back and held it up straight.
“Bleeding sword style.” Tsutomu said as blood began to run from his blade’s tip, making Sakuya hold her sword horizontally before herself.
“Bleeding sword style.” She repeated, but unlike his, her sword bled from its hilt.
“Bloody guillotine!” They said together as they wrote in the air with blood and launched crimson guillotines toward each other. The translucent blades met halfway, only for Sakuya’s to be torn apart, leaving her open for the attack.
Holding up her sword protected her from serious damage, but still Sakuya found herself victim to its force as she felt her body rock. She was just recovering from the attack when she noticed Tsutomu charging again, with bloody circles written into the air. She was ready to block his sword as he slayed the distance, but found herself dodging crimson rings instead, as his charge stopped and his attacks shot forward. Carefully she avoided them all, but failed to avoid one other thing as Tsutomu descended upon her, and cast his blade against her neck and his shadow over her form.
“She’s not as strong as Tsutomu.” Aeriane grimaced as she looked at her friends, and saw a miles between the gap in their power. “Why are you making her do this?!” She roared at the sitting man who hadn’t taken his eyes off the fight.
“Will you really make me kill my sister…?” Tsutomu could barely restrain his anger as he realized the position he was in, and wondered if he could attack his commander and still remain in Irra’s Court.
“No.” Illius said. “I just wanted to see how well she could fight. She’s not nearly as honed as you are, getting defeated in merely two moves.” He evaluated Sakuya, and left her further defeated as Tsutomu returned his blade to his sheath.
“Was that really it…?” She hung her head, and Illius tilted his as he walked over to her.
“As you know, Tsutomu, Lee, Julie, during our mission I had to briefly leave the capture to you three as I was called into that city’s police station. This way because the Court had a meeting last night, and didn’t want me to miss out on it, even though I was away.” Without turning to them he addressed his subordinates, who listened as clearly as Sakuya did, trying to figure their commander out. “Nuanda spoke to lengths about many things. The Town Stealer, The Sword of Aughus, a scholar who connected the two, and she mentioned a number of names.” He went on and now Sakuya’s group could see where this was going.
“So what if our names were mentioned, Sakuya didn’t do anything wrong!” Jasmine exclaimed, and shrunk as Illius’s large eyes set down upon her.
“You’re right, and that was the point. She didn’t do anything wrong, and it wasn’t likely that she would. That’s why I submitted an idea. With what we learned about the Town Stealer, we would be focusing our efforts on capturing him, but the sword of Aughus would still be out there, and his men would still be looking for it, and if not them, then the men of that scholar’s mentor.” Illius continued. “So why not have them go after it as well as covert agents. Not necessarily a part of the court of Irra but working so closely with it that we can assist them while they search; that way if there are any double agents, that mentor and the Town Stealer won’t get any info on the Court’s movements.”
“You’re late; we were already going to look for the sword.” Sakuya said and Illius nodded.
“I’m sure you were, but now two things are different. The first is that you can depend on Irra to assist you when you need it and…”
“I know that I’m weak.” Sakuya finished the statement, and again Illius shook his head.
“Yes, so you know you need to get stronger if you want to go on with this mission. “ He said as he gestured for his underlings to follow him. “Next time we meet, I shouldn’t need Tsutomu to test your strength.” He left her with those final words as he led his team away, and Sakuya felt low.
She had silently realized that Tsutomu dwarfed her in power; that it was for that reason that he was suggested over her, but now she had to truly admit it to herself and decide what she needed to do. For a moment, the defeat had grasped her, but the looks of support her allies gave her as she look toward them, told her to hold her head up and set out again. Illius said that he shouldn’t need to test her strength next time they met, and she was going to make sure that he was right…