Chapter 1 - Ranzou no bakeru

I remember his face like he was my own brother, He didn't always have that eye patch though, it got there far before he formed the Kuroya.

Yep, got the little thing plucked right out by none other than myself, looking back, it was kinda' funny. He had trained me every day since he had found me, First using one Katana, then I gradually began to boast two, and by the time I had joined the Kuroya I had attached them together at the ends so that I could use both katana to their full potential. But by the time I was able to even pick up one katana without flailing about, his eye had been long gone, sacrificed to my first attempt at an uppercut.

Looking back now, I have to say.. Jyuzou's training was pretty brutal, I don't blame him for my loss of memory, but I'm pretty sure he had a say in who I became from the time we met.

Anyway, Jyuzou ordered me to lead Omo- I mean, 'Ayame' to Hakogake, dunno why, but I did it anyway. She followed me like a dog chasing a bone. It confused me though, the way she looked, made me feel like I was choking or something, I hated it. Couldn't wait to meet back up with the others. By then Futaba had been bitching about something, I can't remember and I'm positive it didn't matter. Pft.. Prissy little bitch, I wanted to break her little arm in two and give her something to complain about for once, but it was clear Hitoha wasn't gonna let that happen any time soon.

Even after listening to Futaba's mindless ranting, I couldn't get that girl out of my mind, Ayame. There was just something about her that gave me the creeps, I think it was mostly because she was one of few females whom I wanted to stay away from completely.

So I laid low for a few days, tried to figure out what was going on with me, until Futaba told me she had captured the Azuma ninja, Ayame. I have to admit, it kinda made my heart skip a beat, that girl was closer than I needed her to be, way too close for comfort. I got out of there, headed out for another mission of Jyuzou's. " Find the woman known as 'Ogin' and kill her, I believe they also call her 'Lady Razor.' " He had said. Of course, I would have been thrilled to be able to track her down myself, but like I said, my head was pretty messed up. I tracked her to a playhouse and tried to cheer myself up, putting on a show for myself by planting a knife into her chest, she didn't scream though, which kinda pissed me off.

In the middle of it all, that girl showed up again. Most likely to 'save' the old lady before I could finish her off. I remember her drawing her two blades, and thinking Man, this could be my only chance to get this braud off my back. So, I fought her off for a while, but.. I couldn't bring myself to finish her off. I left before the fight could end.

I decided not to join back up with the others, I leaned against the gates of the Shishiya boarder and closed my eyes instead. My head felt like it would implode. I could see the light of a fire through my closed eyelids, flickering off and on like a thousand drunken lightning bugs. The screams of dying villagers being consumed by clouds of rising smoke. And... The face of a little girl, her eyes so filled with fear, a patch of fire threatened to take her, until a little boy pulled her away and out of the demolished leavings of her charred home. Her small faced covered in dirt and charcoal smudged by her tears. I opened my eyes, sweat settled on my forehead, and all of a sudden, I could remember.

I hurried to the beach of Hitou, hoping to find the other members of the Kuroya there, hoping to confront Jyuzou at last. But when I got there... all I found were the weapons of the others. All, except Jyuzou and Shou's, encircled as graves on the beach.

I lowered my eyebrows and ripped away the black feathers of my coat, letting them drift away to the wind. After that, I planted my duel katana into the sand, beside the others and left to find Ayame.

When I finally caught up to her, it seemed as though she was preparing to leave. I wondered if she had forgotten, or... If she had ever remembered, and, without thinking, I grabbed her shoulder. I could feel her quiver and I realized, it scared her... To even think about it. I disappeared in time to see her draw her blades. And watched as she sheathed them again. She said something as she left, something that marks me, even now. She said it was 'Time to go home.'

I smiled, because the part of my story, the part I haven't written yet is: Ayame, my little sister, had finally found a home. I was the one who had pulled her away from the fiery remains of our burning village when we were little. I remember carrying her through smoke, and finally seeing the blue sky. I remember feeling dizzy and falling down, into what seemed like endless darkness. When I finally woke up, a strange man was there, watching me. He told me his name was Jyuzou, and I was lucky to be alive. I searched the village for her, until my legs throbbed and the smell of smoke made me vomit. I realized, she had left me. Jyuzou offered to take me back to his village, and train me, and I bitterly accepted. I never would have thought she had been taken in by another village. Thinking about it now, she must have thought I was dead anyway, lying there in my sleep. She must have been so scared and alone, with all the charred bodies scattered around her, I don't blame her now, I think.. I would have left too, if I was in her place. But, since I didn't know that, I gained a strong hatred for her, my little sister, who had abandon me in the mess of our dying home. I focused all that malice into my training, until I couldn't remember my home, until I couldn't remember Omon at all, and I became one of the Kuroya; A soulless, honourless, murderer. My twisted senses allowed me to develop a fondness out of the cries of women, most likely left over from the hatred I had for my little sister.

But I knew then, she had a home. A place to rest her head. I nodded and left then, knowing that my sister was still alive.

After a few years of hard work , I became second to Lord Ogawara. Honing my skills, I retired the bitter name Ranzou, and became a shadow known only as Shigi. I still use those feathers I ripped away, only as a distraction in my arsenal. Alongside the pig Ogawara, I entwined myself into Ghoda's lands, fighting away Rikimaru and his students. I'll keep doing so, I think, If I continue to, I'll eventually run into Ayame again, and she will eventually remember, who I am, and who she was.