The sun slowly dropped behind the mountains as the sky darkened into the night. People, of young and old, entered their homes, and reunited to tell their adventures and misadventures for the day, unlike me, who sat by the side of a nearby river.
I slowly touched my left cheek, where a scar of mystery lay. All these years, I wondered and wondered, why such a horrible mark had been bestowed upon me. I had been asking my Otousama and my Okaasama the reason for this, but they keep on hiding a secret that has never been revealed to me.
I am quite young, sixteen years of age, with a life that might be quite interesting to follow. My name is Recca. I live in a village wherein all people ar trained in combat. We are called the Hokage, the ninja clan of the Flame Shadow. The name is quite true, for our clan is always hidden, always shrouded in mystery with the mysterious madougu we make, while being known to be the masters of the flame, casting and controlling it with our bare hands.
I have the same power, which is passed on from generation to generation, determining who will be the next one to lead our clan to victory. It is like a way of choosing a leader with the mere belief in destiny and fate.
I had been trained since birth for the formidable task. Not that I lived my life like some great emperor, but tested in combat and at the same time leadership. Sometimes, lessons were hard, yet they were there to be learned in order to give my best.
Every Hokage ninja must be trained in combat and live a life bound by rules of honor and justice. That is my goal.
I stood up and slowly walked towards our compound, the largest one that can be found in the village. My father, the twenty-sixth leader of the Hokage, Ohka was standing outside, talking grimly to a familiar man. He was Kamiya-san, my father's right-hand man. They gave me furtive glances as they talked.
As the next leader, I knew I had rights to know what was going on. I approached them and tried to get hold of the conversation, but my father stopped me before I can even take a step.
"Go inside, Recca. This is not for your ears to hear," Otousama said coldly.
I obeyed his command. I felt a little disappointed with the treatment I recently received. Although I was firmly trained that I can't get everything I want, I still disliked the fact that at this point and time, secrets were still kept from me.
Okaasama was happily waiting for me inside. On the low table, the food lay waiting for people to eat it.
"Welcome home, Recca," she said. She knew my daily habit of meditating by the riverside every late afternoon. She said that even my father did that, and it was good that I always look for time to clear my mind.
But that conversation my father was having with Kamiya was clouding everything up again. A Hokage ninja was trained to believe in intuition and dreams, but at the same time be rational. Intuition told me that they were talking about me, and on the rational side, the glances and the cold treatment I received.
"Let's wait for your father," Okaasama said. "He is still talking with Kamiya-san."
"What are they talking about?" I asked. Okaasama returned to me a strange look, and said, "I don't know."
She knew what it was, but she wasn't going to tell me, anyway.
A few more mimutes passed, and my father entered the house with a grim look on his face. We ate dinner quietly without our usual conversation, then went to bed.
My mother told me about the day I was born. Otousama was busily monitoring the plantations outside when Kamiya-san brought him the news of my birth. My father, tripping with rush and excitement, came in, and named me Recca, saying that the flame raged inside me, the meaning of my incessant cries.
That was what I knew about my birth. But I heard that my father had another wife named Reina, who gave birth to another son, four years my senior.
On my second night, Reina paid a visit to me and my mother. She said that her son, named Kurei, was to be the next leader, and if my mother had any hopes of having me as the next one, she was wrong. She then presented a gift of skulls, which was like horrible omen upon me. My father came in and saw this, scolded Reina for her arrogant behavior and told them to leave.
On my seventh night, my hand started to glow with a tiny orange flame, the mark of the next Hokage leader. It was a terrible event to have two flamecasters in a generation, and one of them must be killed. My mother shuddered in terror.
But before my father can inform the elders of the village about this, it had been reported that Kurei had died of a rare and sudden disease which had infected him after their visit to us.
Those were only rumors I heard when I was around six years of age. I asked my father if they were real. He told me that it was neither true nor false. After he gave me that answer I went off and sat in a corner, feeling guilty that somehow, Kurei's death was caused by mt birth. And with that guilt, a dream came to me every night, a nightmare of an older brother dying came to me. His face was always clouded, but it was obviously in misery. When my training began after my seventh birthday, the nightmare disappeared.
My early childhood days included playing and fishing with my closest friends, Suzume, the daughter of Kamiya-san, and Tetsu, descendant of the sixteenth flamecaster, Nadare. We usually challenge each other with petty combat and I always end up as the winner. Suzume was close behind, and she almost defeated me once.
We grew up into adolescence, though not as close as we used to be, going under training for the future. I, to be trained as the future leader, Tetsu, as my right-hand, while Suzume, with the ways of a woman, and possibly, to be my future wife, something that I always objected to.
Suzume was the last person I'd think to be female. She acts like a man, and usually, bullies males even older and larger than herself. A butch. It was also unusual for a female to master three madougu and be higly adept with it: the Fuujin, the Onitsume, and the Shinryou Shintou. I have a feeling that Suzume was under pressure to prove herself worthy yo be my wife, for she always said that if she defeated me in fair combat, I will have to chose her as the bearer of the next one in line. She never did, but my father and the other leaders have their eye on her.
On the other hand, Tetsu is an ideal warrior, although his mind does not prove as useful as his power. His size towers over the rest of us, and shows more brawn than brain. With this characteristic, it is unlikely for Tetsu to be chosen as the next right-hand, but they say that his family line gives him great potential to have more brains. He is adept with two madougu, the Kuchibashi and the Tetsugan. He also uses the Doseinawa, but it rarely lends its powers to Tetsu.
But truly, I was never that close to anyone. My two greatest friends also wanted to be my two greatest rivals. I am more of a solitary person, with my next move usually unpredicted. Sure, I played with Suzume and Tetsu, and shared a part of my current life with them, but my inner self was always hidden. They all knew a brawny, and impulsive, but cunning Recca, but never the thinker.
And beyond my deepest dreams, there lay a vision of a lost brother, whose face is always clouded with mystery...

~Tsuzuku de gozaru yo~