Kyuuzou stopped as the bamboo sword was over his head, and slowly let it fall.
Something was coming. Something bad.
He walked over to the rack where the other swords were and couldn't get rid of the feeling. In fact, it felt even worse. Nevertheless, he managed to walk calmly through most of the house, politely greeting his mother and older siblings. As the feeling became worse, though, he started to trot, and clambered into his hiding place that no one else in the family knew about, and that he was certain no one would be able to find. even if they did, it was far enough back for him to be lost in shadows if he was very quiet.
The feeling intensified until it was almost unbearable, and it was almost a relief to hear one of his older sisters' scream. He heard the light tread of feet, and the gurgle of breaths taken away by swordstroke. He heard the thud of bodies hitting the floor,and heard his mother pleading with the assailants not to kill her children, spare her children.
Her pleas were cut short.
He listened, and hid in the darkness.
He heard the metallic hum of swords slicing through air,and the clear ringing of them making contact with another. He assumed that was one of his older brothers. He heard another pair join in the combat,and assumed that was the other. He listened, and felt a mild tinge of pride that his brothers were fighting back. He heard them kill, and then be killed. In the silence that followed,he heard measured, authoritative footsteps,and knew that was his father. He listened in on the conversation, mildly intrigued as to why all this misfortune would befall his family. As he listened, it appeared that his father was simply on the wrong side, though he had up until very recently been considered an ally. Apparently he would not change with the times, and so was to be eliminated. After a few, very few, moments of civil conversation, his father and the leader of the assassins began to duel.
He closed his eyes and listened,and pictured every move in his head.
There was his father, with his twin katanas, and the faceless assassin, holding both a katana and a shortsword. His father had been hit--he could smell the blood. In retaliation, he soon smelled the assassin's blood begin to coat the floor as well,each of their movements become slower as they injured each other, but each had enough skill to not be killed by the other. It was a stalemate. He suddenly heard a gasp, a muffled curse, and a dying breath as a body hit the floor.
His father was dead.
Another of the assassins had snuck up on him as he was preoccupied and had killed him.
"bring all the bodies here," he heard who he presumed the leader commanded.
There was much shuffling about, and the ugly thud of bodies being dragged. There was a silence as Kyuuzou imagined him counting.
"There's one missing."
"What? But those are all we could find!"
"They have a youngest son! Find him!"
He heard murmurs of assent, and so stilled his breathing to almost nothing. He would not be found. Not by those that killed his family. He had no desire to join them in the afterlife.
He knew they searched thoroughly, and well. A few times they came close to discovering him, but it was then he held his breath and tried to still the frantic beating of his heart. Each time they passed him by.
"nowhere! we've looked all over the house, and he's nowhere."
"He must have escaped when he heard us. Very well. Come, we must leave. Take the bodies so that we may cremate them."
Kyuuzou heard them leave,but remained quiet, still, until a half hour had passed without any sound, any feeling of danger. Slowly, carefully, he took a back way out of his hiding spot, exiting out into the main dojo. He took a deep breath, clearing his lungs of the stale air that he had been hiding in, and knew, somehow, that if anyone else had done that, they would have felt queasy.
The air was thick with the stench of blood, fear, sweat, and steel. It was bitter in his mouth, and made him frown slightly. He slowly stood, legs tingling from disuse, and looked around.
There were blood spatters on the wall. That must have been where the assassins flicked the blood off their swords. One panel was knocked down, blood soaking into the weave. There were other blood spots on the floor before him,some large, some small. That must've been his mother, his sister, and the younger of the two brothers. The larger one must have been his oldest brother. The largest, newest-looking puddle must have been his father, since it was lined in the shape of a fallen man. Beside that red silhouette were his father's twin katanas.
Kyuuzou walked over to them, ignoring the blood that seeped between his toes, creating footprints in his wake. he stood in his father's red shadow, the hem of his hakama staining slowly. He bent down, and with an effort, picked up one of his father's discarded swords. He held it in both hands, his arms shaking from the weight, his fists barely curling enough around the handle to hold it steady. He heard a step behind him, and pretended to ignore it, gripping the sword in a way that he had seen his father do. At another step, Kyuuzou whirled around, swinging the sword as hard as he could, slicing the attacking assassin three quarters through the abdomen. The warrior looked at him in something akin to shock, and with an effort, Kyuuzou pulled the sword entirely through the man, blood splattering on Kyuuzou's face, clothes, and hands, while the man's internal organs slithered onto his feet. Kyuuzou looked at the dead man impassively, almost curiously.
Was this how easy it was to kill? Was this how a dead man looked? He knelt down next to the man, and looked into his eyes, and saw the anger, fear, and shame at having been killed by a child in there. He heard another step behind him, and turned again, sword in hand. Behind him was who he assumed to be the leader from the way he held himself and the way he looked upon Kyuuzou.
"You have killed one of my men. You truly are a samurai's son. Tell me, how old are you?"
The leader was shocked. he would have assumed Kyuuzou to be older, to take the death of his family and the fact that he had just murdered someone in cold blood with a little more emotion. Intrigued, he asked,
"How do you feel about killing him?"
The boy shrugged. "How should I feel?" he replied, and looked up to meet the leader's gaze.
It was that that decided him.
"What is your name?"
"Kyuuzou, I am now going to continue your training in the fighting arts as both a samurai and an assassin."
Kyuuzou was unmoved by this remark. He moved away from the dead man and found his father's sheathe. With some difficulty he sheathed one sword, then picked up the other and put it in as well. He tore a strip of cloth from his hakama and used it to create a sling that he tied the sheathe to, and looped it over his shoulder. He looked at the leader, and his entire posture said,
The leader laughed, and pushed the boy towards the door, Kyuuzou quickly recovering his balance and dignity.
He was not going because he admired the warrior.
He was not going to learn how to avenge his family.
He wasn't even going to learn how to fight.
He simply went because it was fun to kill.