Seeds of Hope
The night sky was pitch black. The air was thick with the stench of blood. The mood was tense however not with the fear of death, but with the fear of failing the task given to them. The task of failing in the extermination of the great Saika Faction.
None of the solders really took any true pleasure from the task given to them. In fact none of the solders wanted to really be in this predicament. Despite their reservations, however they systematically began wiping out the both villagers and Saika Faction members left and right. That’s how the Oda clan worked after all.
The Oda, one of the most brutal and merciless clan within the feudal era of Japan. One this night the Oda had come seeking the immediate surrender and full cooperation of the infamous faction after a failed assassination attempt on their leader Nobunaga Oda. The self-proclaimed demon king himself was here to show he meant business. Though the Saika Faction did indeed surrender, it wasn’t good enough for him. In one effortless motion Nobunaga raised his shotgun to their leader and shot him in the chest, killing him instantantioniosly. That was when he ordered it, the slaughter of every living person in the village.
“Burn it too the ground. Kill any who try to flee. They choose to live as mercenaries they’ll die as the scum they are.” Nobunaga causally said.
It was that simple to him. To order the slaughter of countless men and women who had done nothing wrong to him. Sure the Saika had tried to kill him but what of the villagers they lived with? Did they deserve to die like this? Were they guilty by association? Nonetheless Oda’s retainer’s and followers did what they were told, with a sick pleasure.
Mitsuhide was laughing as he slaughtered the fleeing villagers. He smiled even laughed as he took the lives of people who didn’t do a thing to him. Ranmaru tried to tone out the situation by just eating his seeds, not looking at the carnage around him. As the chaos ensued the man who ordered it took in the sight, his face remaining passive as villagers begged for mercy and received none. Next to Nobunaga stood his wife No-hime and their youngest son Kai.
Kai was the youngest and last of the heirs of the Oda clan. Being only 17 he had already been battle enough times to defeat even some seasoned veterans. However this, this was no true battle though history would call it such a thing. He called it what he truly saw it as, a massacre. His brown eyes scanned the bloodstained village as the solders moved around continuing their duties. His short black hair began to flow with the wind along with his black lightly armored trench-coat with the Oda symbol on the back. He had on silver colored gauntlets that extended to his forearms, with lightly armored silver and black armored leggings, and finally a light armored chest plate.
He held his sheathed long sword in his hand clenching it tightly as he helplessly watched the people suffer. He understood that in times of war people were not to be forgiven and even punished. He could even agree with his father’s action in attacking the Saika clan itself but outright massacring them was well beyond any justification. But what could he do? Standing up to his Father and the Oda clan was nothing but suicide he knew that from years of watching it happen. Unlike the rest of his family more importantly his brothers, he wasn’t scared into submission.
He couldn’t take it anymore, he needed to get away from here. He began to walk from his families’ side, he didn’t want to stick around for this farce any longer. As he made his move to leave an all but infamous sword was in front of him. In one quick instance his resolve was shaken by one simple act.
“Where do you think you’re going boy?” Nobunaga spoke his.
“A..away from here. This “battle” is over.” Kai responded. Nobunaga said nothing and keep his eyes in front of him, watching as the solders set houses a blaze signaling the launch of their final act.
“No. Not just yet.” There was a small tense pause before Nobunaga continued. “I have a task for you boy, go in the village slaughter all those who would remain before the fire consumes them. Or when they flee…” He turned and looked Kai in the eye, “We shall!”
He wasn’t sure how long he had been walking inside the village. The fire surrounded him on both sides as he went deeper and deeper into the town. He had no true destination in mind, he just wanted to be alone in the village that was destroyed because his father could. He felt a bit of guilt swell within him.
Maybe I could’ve done something to stop all this needless slaughter. Maybe I could’ve stood up too that Jackass and stopped him..
The thoughts swirled in his head of things he should’ve done but he knew the truth. Even if he had tried to stand against the tide he would’ve been swept away just like everyone one else who came before him.
He had counted at least 15 burning huts and homes as his journey for survivors continued.
Just as he was going to count another hut off he noticed the fire hadn’t hit it yet. From the looks of it, somehow it had been skipped over completely. Curiosity had gotten the best of him and he decided that an investigation was needed. He made his way to the large hut cautiously in times of war he knew to always keep your guard up.
As he walked inside the large hut he could see why it might have been considered a store house. There was a good amount of food and supplies here that any army would love to have. Logic told him that this was where the Sakai clan keep their supplies. The Oda would love to get there hand on these things, it would bolster there army and make them more fearful. That was the last thing anyone needed, he was going to burn in down before anyone could get these.
When he got to the door something else caught his attention within the room. A barrel full of bullets for their weapons seemed out of place. True he knew nothing of how the Sakai did things but with other barrels in corners out of the way this one just stood out. He tipped the barrel over and uncovered a hidden panel which he then opened up to look inside.
Inside huddled together were villagers and Mercenary alike hiding and hoping for the best. They looked up at the young boy with terror evident in their eyes. Kai himself was shocked, he didn’t expect there to be a soul left alive here. He had seen so many slaughtered that he had refused to even hold up hope that there were any survivors but here they were. Right in front of him at that. He looked at the people inside unsure of his next move.
One on hand he could serve his father’s wishes and eliminate the last of the Sakai Faction here and now and kill his humanity. On the other hand he could show mercy too them and have them once again become a thorn in the Oda’s side. No that was likely never going to happen, not after tonight with the ease they had been defeated and cast out. Even if they did rebuild it would take them years before they’d truly be a threat to anyone.
Again he looked at the now helpless people. Their fate was truly in his hand both sides knew it. His eyes scanned the dark room they were gathered in. He wanted a way out, he didn’t want to make this decision it wasn’t his to make nor was it the Oda’s. He looked toward the back corner after he caught the glimpse of something orange.
To surprise it wasn’t a cloth or an oddly color object, in fact it wasn’t an object all it was a person or more specifically a women. She looked like she was the same age as him if not a bit older but only by year or so. His attention stayed on her for some reason. There was nothing unparticular about her that he could she that made her stand out. Maybe it was the fact that she was a beautiful women, or the fact that he wanted a distraction from the current situation. Or in the moment he had been looking down on her she had looked up at him, tears in her eyes but no quit nor was fear evident. No he didn’t see that at all, in fact all he saw was anger and revenge burn in her crimson eyes.
Smirking to himself he stood up abruptly startling them, his decision had been made.
He didn’t have much time to work so he needed to move fast. After he had told them of his intentions on helping them flee he hurried and checked for a clear path for them to escape. His father would send a search party to find him soon he was sure of it. He only had one shot of making this work so he needed to make it count.
He lead them to the edge of the now fire engulfed village. The Saika were a group that stuck together he’d admit that. Though the older villagers and some of the children and women were having trouble moving and dealing with the heat no one abandoned them to save themselves. No, instead through their rush to edge he observed them clinging onto on another, helping each other. Was this what a family was like? Nearing their destination he turned forward looking for any signs of the Oda.
Once he had lead them out of the village and safely into a nearby forest he saw them smile and begin to rejoice. They had done what few had ever done, survive the Oda’s first strike. Though he wanted to let them live in this moment basic in this victory he knew he couldn’t they could celebrate once they were somewhere safe.
“Listen up!” Kai exclaimed. “I know you want to celebrate your survival but now is not the time, you need to get out of here. I have no doubt they’ll be breaking off contingent units to pick off any stragglers.”
Some looked at him with fear in their eyes he could see it. Others were happy to be alive, her, she was unsure of their next move. He didn’t know what it was about her, but he felt like she was going to be trouble to his clan in the future. That was exactly what he was hoping for.
“What are we going to do?” One of the villagers cried out.
“We have nowhere to go, they’ll kill us in no time.” Another one chimed in.
Again his focus went from the people back to her, how was she going to respond, what was she going to do. If she was ever to step out of the shadows now was the time to do it. However nothing happened. She wanted to say something that much was clear, at least to him it was, but she was hesitating holding herself back. Was it fear? Indecisiveness’? Was he wrong about her? Either way he wasn’t going to leave them out to be slaughtered.
“If you wait here and cower you’ll die for sure,” he spoke again. “A word of advice, the river bank you use to get your water. Follow it down stream for a while. It should eventually take you into the ocean. From there you’ll be on your own but I can promise you the Oda won’t be following you there.”
They looked unsure of what to do. They wanted to trust him, but he was the enemy right? Yet he saved them, so wouldn’t that make him a hero? With no other choice available to them they all slowly made their way toward the stream and out of sight.
The girl was one of the last ones to go. She looked at him, her eyes still carrying a bit of the hatred from earlier. He couldn’t blame her honestly. In the span of one night her entire life had been changed completely and now she was being forced from her home. Hate is probably the only emotion that fit the circumstances right now. His work was done however, he needed to get back before anyone grew suspicious.
“Who are you?”
It was low but he had heard it. He turned around to see the women right behind him looking at him intently.
“Does it matter?” he answered back turning away from her.
“See. Knowing my name isn’t as important as escaping with your life. Now go they’ll be coming soon.”
“… Its just as important.”
This caused him to stop completely. Again he looked at her, what was wrong with this girl she seriously needed to leave now. But he couldn’t help but ask,
“My…my father was the clan leader until tonight. The one thing he always taught was to never forget to repay those who did you a good service.”
“You’re mercenaries, why would your father teach you something like that?”
“You won’t truly understand our costumes but I think he taught and practiced that because he himself didn’t want to lose him humanity to the wars he constantly fought in.”
“Though I’m not ready to be a leader yet, someday soon I’ll have to be. When that day comes, I want to be able to properly thank the person who saved my clans life.”
A moment of silence passed over them. The other mercenaries that stayed behind with her were becoming antsy with the lack of words now. Didn’t want to lose him humanity to the wars… Those are wise ideals to have even these days.
She looked at him in both shock and terror. The other mercenaries’ rushed to her side to protect her from him.
“See knowing my name is a bit counterproductive isn’t it.”
She moved through the mercenaries toward Kai. As she approached him he turned completely around so they’d be face to face. As they stood there looking into each other’s eyes a moment of calm passed through them. It didn’t matter that his family had murdered hers’, or that she wanted to kill every last Oda. In that moment she was simply thanking the person that saved her life.
She reached into her hip pouch and pulled what looked to be a star shaped pendant out and offered it to him bowing her head.
“Please as a token of my appreciation take this as payment till further notice.”
He admired the green texture of the pendent. Unsure of what type of rock it was he slowly reached out and took it.
“Thanks, though I doubt I’ll live long enough to collect that future payment you’re talking about.” He jested.
She smirked at him then looked back at the other mercenaries and nodded her head Signaling them that it was time to leave now.
“One day we’ll meet again Kai, I hope you’ll be in good health.”
“I have no doubts about that umm…wait you never told me your name.”
She had turned away and started walking away into the forest. “It’ll secret for now.” She said disappearing out of sight.