((A/N: Shusaku's gonna be alive in this, okay? :D))
It had been years since Taro became a ninja. He found his mother, but had to leave her again. He became a very skilled archer and swordsman, for Lady Oda no Hana was traveling and teaching him. Hiro, Taro's friend, was also on his journey.
"Where's Shusaku?" Lady Oda no Hana asked out of the blue and Taro winced.
"Errr..." Taro stammered. Shusaku, his mentor, told him that he went to Taro's hometown, Shirahama. Suddenly, Taro could smell the pine oil and sea salt of Shirahama. Tears threatened to well in his eyes. Taro could imagine the smoked fish he and his mother devoured happily and the dried seaweed that was a crucial ingredient for Taro's favorite food-- sushi.
"Taro?" Lady Oda no Hana slapped him hard.
"Huh? Wait, wha--" Taro started but was interrupted by another slap. "Um, where Shusaku is.. he went to Tokugawa--"
"Don't say that name!" Lady Oda no Hana cried. Taro felt guilty. He was Lord Tokugawa's son, destined to become shogun, leader of Japan.
Taro had killed Lady Oda no Hana's father, Lord Oda. As a child, Taro grew up in Oda's territory, believing Oda was a very giving man, providing his villages with all they needed. Apparently, Taro drained all of Oda's blood. He had looked like a shriveled-up, life-size Oda doll.
See, Taro was a ninja. And apparently all ninja were vampires.
"I'm sorry," Tar apologized. "Shusaku went THERE... just to visit."
"I understand," Lady Oda no Hana mumbled, nodding. Taro yet again was infuriated with himself.
Lady Oda no Hana is probably mad at me! he thought. Dang it!
"Huh?" a familiar voice behind them asked. "Someone say my name?"
Lady Hana unsheathed her katana. Hiro crouched in an attack mode. Taro instinctively whipped out his bow and drew an arrow.
A man in the shadows was staring at them. Taro could only make out the whites of his eyes.
"Who's this?" asked Hiro.
The man sighed. "Don't you recognize my voice?"
"It's Shusaku, dumb butt!" Taro shouted.
"Shusaku!" Hiro cried. "Where were you? Taro froze. If Shusaku said the truth, Lady Oda no Hana would be furious. He traced the air by his hip and wrote the kanji characters for castle. Shusaku's mouth half-smiled and he replied, "Tokugawa's castle. I was just visiting."
Lady Oda no Hana and Taro both exhaled in relief. "I thought..." Lady Hana trailed off.
"You thought what?" Shusaku questioned.
Lady Hana "That you were going to betray us... and..."
Taro laughed. "Shusaku would never do that!"
Oda no Hana sighed. "Yes, that's true. I'm glad my worries washed away."
"Why don't we have a party?" Hiro suggested. "For Shusaku's return."
Taro shrugged. Although Shusaku had only left them for ten days, everyone was worrying about him. 'Why not?"
Lady Oda no Hana smiled. "That's a pleasant idea. I know a village nearby we can go celebrate at."
"Perfect," Shusaku said. "How far is it?"
Taro couldn't hear Lady Oda no Hana's reply. The roars of the waves were too loud. She just finished her sentence as the water calmed.
Shusaku grimaced, but shrugged. "Great. Let's go."
"Wow!" Taro exclaimed, just as Hiro repeated his words (only Hiro said it spelled backwards. Pwahahahaha)
Taro, Hiro, Lady Hana and Shusaku arrived at a lively village. Somehow, he thought the town looked vaguely familiar. The smell of pine oil, lavender and cinnamon tickled his nose. People all around were biting off smoked fish on a stick.
Yes, Taro thought. It does seem familiar, but... why?
Taro shrugged it off as they arrived at a seafood restaurant.
"Welcome!" a woman greeted.
"Good evening," Lady Oda no Hana said and bowed, even in her tight blue kimono.
"Please remove your shoes and put on these tabi slippers," the woman instructed and they did as told.
"This is great!" Hiro clapped happily. "This looks like the restaurant we used to go to as kids, Taro!"
Taro nodded. "It does look like that place!"
Hiro, Lady Oda no Hana and Taro were grinning, laughing and ordering delicious seafood, but Shusaku had a grimace the whole time.
In the middle of eating sushi(and wasabi), Shusaku pulled Taro aside.
"Taro," he said in a low voice. "I need to tell you something."
Taro blinked. "Can this wait? Hiro's going to hog all the wasabi."
"No," snapped Shusaku. "We have to talk NOW."
Taro crossed his arms and looked at Hiro and Lady Oda no Hana, who were laughing and eating. "Fine," he said finally. "Let's hear it."
Shusaku hesitated for a second. "Taro, listen," he said. "The village you're in currently isn't safe. YOU'RE IN SHIRAHAMA, JAPAN. YOU HOMETOWN."
Before Taro could say anything, Shusaku turned away. "And your other father. Lord Tokugawa. He's been murdered."