LbN: Sho is Sojo. Dude's got a ton of different names...

"Sagami!" Misao yelled, waving. She ran over to her bodyguard for the day. "How are you?"

"Fine. And you, princess?"

"Tired. And you don't have to call me 'princess', Sagami."

"If you say so," he said with a small smile. "So, are we starting our lessons today?"

"Lessons?" she asked as they walked toward the house.

"You asked me to tell you more about Lord Kyo."

"Oh!" Misao smiled remembering their conversations. "Actually…" she paused, wondering how to phrase her next question.

"Yes?"

"Could you…tell me what happened to Tarou and his brothers?" she asked quietly.

He stopped and turned to look at her. "I suppose," he said grimly. "They were five when it happened…"


"Tarou!" Sho yelled. "Where are you?"

"Here, Master Sojou!" Tarou peeked out of the room to Sho's right. "Is there something you need?"

Sho smiled and ran a finger down Tarou's cheek. "Go find your brothers. I'm going to help you train today."

"Really? Wow!" Tarou yelped, smiling brightly. "Alright, I'll be right back."

"Meet me in the training room." Sho walked quietly away. He looked at the clock in the padded room. The others wouldn't be back for another hour at least. He smiled for the first time that day. He stared out of the window as he waited.


"Master Sojou? We're here." Tarou and his brothers bounced into the room. The other two were giggling over something or other, but all of Tarou's excited attention was on him.

"Tarou, sit in the corner," Sho said. "Saburo, come here. Jiro, stand behind me; we're going to test your reflexes."

Tarou sat in the corner, trembling slightly. He watched Jiro taking a battle stance, but he was still worried. He loved Master Sojou, but he was scared. He'd never fought the older Tengu before. "Keep your feet moving, Jiro!" he called. "Just like Master Buzen taught us."

He watched as his brothers just barely dodged Master Sojou's sword and spells. He yelled when the former clan leader landed a blow to Saburo's head.

Saburo fell, bleeding from a cut on his forehead. "Ow!"

Sho kicked him hard in the ribs. "Get up. Are you telling me you can't take one hit?"

Jiro shot a small spell at Sho. "He's hurt, Master Sojou! Let him catch his breath!"

"Did you just shoot a spell at me?" Sho asked quietly.

"J-just to get your attention," Jiro said, backing up a few steps.

Sho kicked Saburo again in the ribs, and once in the mouth.

"No!" Tarou yelled. He stood up and ran to Saburo.

Jiro shot another spell.

"No, my favorite," Sho said, picking him up. He tossed him into a wall and threw a spell at Jiro.

Tarou looked up from where he lay. He struggled to sit up and saw a spell knock Jiro off his feet. He crawled over to Saburo and began healing him.

"NO!"

Suddenly he was lifted away from his brother.

"I was hoping I get to train you alone," Sho said, holding him in the air by magic. "All you had to do was stay out of the way until I dealt with your brothers."

"Please, Master—" Tarou choked. Tears fell from his eyes.

Sho set him down. "Are you ready?"

Tarou looked around fearfully. His brothers were still bleeding on the floor. "Master…please…may I heal my brothers first?"

"No."

Tarou jumped away from the spell he threw at him. He slipped in Jiro's blood and fell. He felt himself choking again as Sho lifted him into the air and threw him against the wall. He gasped for air.

"Ahhh…you're feeling better again…" Sho said.

Tarou's vision was blurry, but he could see Saburo standing, facing Master Sojou. "Sa-Saburo, don't fight him." He got up, wobbling towards them. It was too late. "No!"

Saburo fell over, bleeding from his stomach.

Concentrating with all his power, he built up the strongest spell he could. "Stop!" he yelled.

Tarou was lifted into the air once more, and this time, the choking sensation was overwhelming. He struggled, but couldn't get away.

"Little Tarou…my favorite. You really need to learn when to obey. You— Ack!"

Tarou dropped to the floor and looked up to see the rest of the vassals standing around them.

Zenki still had his hand outstretched and was standing over Sho. Sagami was holding Jiro and Buzen held Saburo as Hoki tried to heal them.

"It's not working," Hoki said.

"We have to call Kyo," Zenki said, gently picking Tarou up. "I've got him in a binding spell. He won't be able to break it unless he has help."

"I-it hurts," Tarou said, shivering.

"It's okay, Tarou," Zenki said. "Just hang on."


"Here we are," Sagami said, holding the gate open for Misao.

"So…how did they…?" Misao asked.

"What? Survive?" Sagami finished her question, following her into the garden. "We wrapped their wounds and healed them as best as we could. Kyo returned shortly after us, and worked with Hoki to fully heal them. Hoki's a pretty powerful healer, but he needed the clan leader's power to help him."

"My lady!" three voices called.

Misao smiled and kneeled to hug the three boys.

"Will you stay with us for tea?" Tarou asked.

"Of course," Misao said, smiling at the boys' happiness.

"They're smiling more and more now; even after Sho's…er…brief appearance," Sagami said.

Misao smiled and followed the triplets into the Tengus' house.

LbN: Send reviews!