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Chapter 25: The Gaze of a Slighted Man

The brutish man did not even see the arrow coming. It penetrated the soft skin of the back of his neck, before tearing through his throat and peeking out the other side.

He paused his sword mid-swing, and frowned deeply, looking terribly confused.

Reaching toward his neck, he made contact with the arrowhead, and his fingers came away covered in blood.

He swayed wildly as though drunk, his eyes bulging in his head as a look of fury started to possess him.

He took his sword, summoning the last of his strength, and moved toward Morohira.

But the wound was too deep, too debilitating, and he only managed to mouth the word "how", followed by a spurting mouthful of blood. He fell to his knees, and the sword fell from his grasp, before finally, he landed face down in the dirt, with a stream of blood trickling out of his neck.

It was a messy end for a man who fancied himself above the law and came as a shock to all those that followed him.

They had worn twisted grins that had risen up as a result of the depraved pleasure in which they indulged, and the powerful feeling they felt in suppressing someone else. Now such a look had been replaced by slackened faces. Faces full of uncertainly.

They were men that had fancied themselves as powerful, but it was but a guise given to them by the existence of Kyougoku. A man that they submitted themselves to.

Now that such a man – who they had deemed to be all but invincible – had been killed so suddenly, without any warning, they were at a loss.

Fear was the first emotion they felt when the shock began to subside, and they glanced at each other for reassurance.

The man with the spear seemed to be the most panicked. He moved behind Fuku, forcing her into position through the utilising of his spear shaft about her neck, and voiced his doubts to his comrades.

"What the fuck do we do!? Who the fuck was that shooting? The city guard? We're fucked… We're fucked I tell you! Why did I trust Kyougoku… He said we would be fine. Did I not warn you? I told you this was a bad idea! We should just run… Get out of here. While we can!"

The man restraining Masaatsu – having forced him to the floor once more – feigned calmness, though his face was slick with sweat, and his voice was unsteady.

"Fool! Stop panicking. It's obviously just one man. The village guard patrols in pairs. So what if Kyougoku got fucked? There's still four of us."

The two remaining men nodded at that, seeing the sense, and the man with the bludgeon spoke up.

"Yeah, yeah. Fuck the baldie. We'll deal with this archer, and then we'll have the women to ourselves, ain't that special?"

The Miura family were sharing glances, knowing full well who it was.

Even with a bludgeon at her throat, Rin's tears were still drying up as she dared to hope, and put her faith in Gengyo.

With her free hand, and the attention directed away from her, Fuku adjusted her kimono at the chest, and looked toward her husband.

Morohira's face was that of a tiger waiting to pounce. He knew his moment would come, and the second that it did he was determined to tear apart those before him.

This all happened in less than a minute, but Gengyo was already on the move. He had a strategy laid out in his head, and pushing his body to its limits, he sprinted through the forest, around the perimeter of the house, choosing his next target.

Once the line of sight was good, it took him but moments to release his next arrow, and then he was on the move once more.

They heard a whisper on the wind, much like that of earlier, and flinched in fear, using their hostages as shields.

But such tactics were of no use against a man as accurate - and as determined - as Gengyo, and with a smooth sound, like that of a knife through meat, another life was taken.

Masaatsu had known instinctively in his heart that he would be first, and as soon as he heard the rumours of an impact, he freed himself from a now weakened grasp, and dove forward seizing Kyougoku's sword, whirling around to threaten all that looked toward him.

Blood stained his kimono, with the source not far behind. A man – the wielder of an axe – lay motionless, with an arrow through his ear, and a face etched with a permanent expression of true fear.

He understood his role, and Gengyo's aim, even without prior discussion.

He swung his sword aggressively toward his enemies, only aiming to incite fear within them, as he used his words to do the true damage.

"Do you now see? The village guards have come. It's over for you – unless you run."

His words cut at a fresh wound, as the already terrified and directionless men became furthermore fearful.

It was the spear wielder who spoke up once more.

"He's right! Please, let's get the fuck out of here!"

He was ready to flee at a moment's notice, but given his weak character, he felt even more fearful at the prospect of fleeing alone.

The man with the bludgeon that spoke earlier felt the same fear as his comrades.

"Yeah… But the women! I've not come all this way, and suffered all this to go back empty-handed! So what if it's the village guard? We can handle two of them, easy. We'll just sit it out and wait for them to run out of arrows – then we'll take em!"

With Rin as close to him as she was, and her scent in his nose, he was overflowing with lust. He was far from a handsome man, and had never bed someone as pretty as she, and so was filled with a deadly reluctance.

The last man still said nothing, merely continuing to restrain Morohira with all his might, and whimpering ever so slightly.

He closed his eyes tightly and prayed to the gods for the first time in his adult life. He begged for them to forgive his many sins, and to allow him to live. He promised to live out of the rest of his days as a good man – a charitable man. And save those before him. He would even spare those here, if only they should choose to let him live.

But though the gods may have heard his words, they did not believe them, for when he opened his eyes he let out a shriek.

His final comrade with any degree of reliability was collapsing forward, an arrow protruding from his left eye.

Rin fell with him, trapped under his heavy mass, and filled with an overwhelming sense of disgust as his sweat and blood-soaked her back, and coated her skin. She wriggling fiercely, managing to free herself, before bending down and snatching the club.

She saw the corpse of Kyougoku in front of her and brought her bludgeon down toward his back with all the strength she could muster. It landed with a satisfying meaty sound, and she nodded to herself, before using the sleeve of her kimono to clean her face with a fearsome intensity.

The wickedness of Kyougoku had left a deep impression on her, and she wished to rid herself of all traces of their interaction.

She then turned around with a savagery in her eyes, threatening the two remaining criminals with her club.

"You idiots! That's not the village guard – it's someone far scarier!"

She paused for a second, overwhelmed by a concoction of relief and intense anger, and her tears filled her eyes as she used all the strength she could muster to shout out.


The men shrank back at her words, with the same timidness of a house cat. They felt nothing at what she said, but the intensity of her words accelerated their already racing hearts, and they wanted nothing more than to run for their lives, though they knew full well how exposed they would be.

Their inaction was fatal, and another arrow claimed another life, this time finding its way into the right eye.

With Gengyo constantly on the move, firing his arrows from different angles, the hostages they held as protection were effectively useless.

Morohira stood up slowly, cracking his neck as he played with the axe in his hand. His gaze was murderous as he glared menacingly at the man that held his wife.

He spoke slowly, and calmly, but his words were dripping with a blood-curdling ferocity.

"Release – my – wife."

The man didn't need to be told twice. The fearsome trio of wronged souls in front of him, all clamouring for his life was enough for him to forget the danger that fleeing presented.

He stumbled backwards, away from his captive, dropping his spear in the process, and ran raggedly into the forest.

The father lifted his axe, aiming it just right, before sending it hurtling toward the exposed back.

It landed, though not exactly where he had aimed. The man fell to the ground sporting the brand new fashion style of an axe in the head.

Though Morohira's throw had not been the one to claim this man's life. A split second before it had landed, an arrow had pierced the man's heart, sending him stumbling straight into the path of the axe.

The old man glanced in the direction that arrow was released from, tutting slightly, feeling a little dissatisfied at not being able to exact his revenge.

But when he saw the haggard figure of his son strolling toward him, bow over shoulder, quiver in hand, and face stern, his feelings were replaced with an acute sense of relief.

All watched his figure steadily grow closer – dancing in the light of the flames – in silence. The state of their spirits was unsettled, as all sorts of emotions raced through their hearts, watching their little Tadakata, who all had thought to be a weakling, march toward them, having saved all their lives.

Rin was the first to break free from the pack, and she ran toward him, tears flowing once more, plunging herself into his warm embrace.

He held her tightly, resting her head onto his chest as he gently stroked her head.

Though he had saved her life, he felt a deep guilt, having let her be exposed to the darkness of man.

"I'm sorry Rin…"

He said through a breaking voice.


She looked up from his chest, revealing the wide smile that was decorating her face.

"You saved us… From that. From all he would have done… I'm so glad… I'm so glad you're my brother Tadakata."

The rest of the family watched on their interactions with smiles as Gengyo looked up from his sister, and toward them. They nodded at Rin's words, feeling much the same way.

They did not say much, for words could not do their feelings justice.

Rin separated herself from Tadakata still holding onto his sleeve, and the family turned to look at the still blazing fire that was devouring their home.

Their emotions toward it were strange. Though there was a hint of sadness there - having watched their family home that they had spent so many years in be burned to ashes - there was no hint of despair. They all held a hope. Not in an idea, but in a person.

Morohira started to chuckle to himself, observing the flames.

Masaatsu raised an eyebrow.

"What is it?"

"Well… It seems the Miura family lives on, haha."

There was no humour in it, but the thought itself still provoked an odd tickling that soon had the whole family's faces lit up with smiles as they giggled.

Nick_Alderson Nick_Alderson

Hello, how did you find the first real combat scene of the novel? I hope it wasn't too short. Thanks for all the support this week - we received even more powerstones than last week! Thank you very much to everyone who's been supporting this novel, and thank you for reading ^_^



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