The Wandering Wind and the Fox of Fire:

Tails of a Samurai

By Taranea

Chapter 1:

Sonic took another slow step forward, his sprained ankle painfully reminding him that he wouldn't be running again any time soon. Nevertheless, it would take more than that to spoil his day – maybe he'd even find a healer in the next village. A fresh spring breeze was ruffling his quills and clothes as he walked through the cedar wood, carrying with it first hints of the summer season which would bring the rain again. A small smile crossed his face as his black nose twitched at the familiar, loved scent. No, it would have to take more than a simple hurt joint to ruin his mood…

"No! Please, stop hurting me, I'm, I'm begging you…!"

Such as wanton cruelty to a child, for example. Sonic's eyes narrowed as he heard the high-pitched wail, followed by a shriek and a sob of what sounded like a young boy or girl. Now ignoring the pain in his ankle, he quickened his step to reach the clearing up ahead where the sound seemed to be coming from.

"What is going on here?" he demanded in the authoritative voice his class adopted so easily and which he still longed to discard – but he had to admit, sometimes it came in handy.

The three figures, which appeared to be surrounding a small, crouched furry ball on the other side of the clearing, turned around. They were birds of prey, two males, one female, and dressed in the washed-out rags one would expect of thieves and thugs. Their leader, a hawk of brilliant green plumage and a worrying spark in his icy blue eyes immediately dropped into a belligerent, challenging stance, crossing his arms and spreading his tail feathers.

"Nothing that concerns you, takashi, scarecrow. We're just taking care of a problem here."

"Oh, really? Allow me to help," Sonic replied with slight sarcasm, his tone indicating ever so subtly that he was ready to become the *mother* of all problems if he so wished.

"The day we enlist the help of a filthy rônin is the day Storm here grows a brain," the female of the group, a pastel-purple swallow in a short white kimono-like jacket sneered. The clothespiece called uwagi barely covered her upper thighs and Sonic briefly thought she could have been pretty, if it hadn't been for the cold in her turquoise gaze. Now his own eyes darkened. True, the insults were partly correct. He was indeed a rônin, a masterless, unemployed samurai, and the entire hedgehog looked like he'd seen better days. His wide, dark blue hakama pants were stained and torn at the hems, a tear here and there suggesting the wearer had been living it rough for a while. His own white, wide-sleeved uwagi tugged into the pants around his slender waist was already grey from the dust of the roads and his unkempt blue fur added to the appearance of a straggler. The only signs actually separating him in appearance from the rag-tag group currently facing him were the two swords at his side indicating his status, their sheaths looking well-used and battered but not old or neglected. Apart from that, the hedgehog's entire form looked slim under the folds of cloth, but whether that stemmed from being well-trained or malnourished was hard to tell. As he stepped forward though, his emerald eyes held not a single hint of weariness but instead glinted fiercely.

"I'll let that pass. Stop harassing that kid and leave now."

Sonic knew there were dozens of his peers who would already have drawn their sword and slashed the living daylights out of the three birds for their lack of respect, but unnecessary violence against other living beings ranked scarcely lower on his hate-list than bullying a small kit. He craned his head a bit to get a look at the fuzzthing at least so he would have an idea of who exactly he was trying to defend, but the bulk of the third member of the group was blocking his view. In fact, the chest of the grey albatross who had been called Storm was too broad even to be covered by his clothes. The hedgehog took another step forward, careful not to put too much weight on his injured foot, and immediately attracted a response.

"What the hell, you're hurt? You're trying to take on three others when you're all alone and hurt?" The girl swallow now sounded incredulous, but actually faintly amused.

"Shut up, Wave," the hawk with the wild head feathers and apparent leader of the group snapped her into silence. "He's still got swords, alright?"

"Yeah…" now the female called Wave sounded distinctly calculating. "And tell you what, I bet we could sell them for some decent money."

"Hmm…generally samurai like him hang onto their swords more stubbornly than mothers to their newborns, but I think you have an idea there…" the voice of the green bird took on a hint of newfound interest. "How about it, rônin, give us your swords and we'll let you live."

Sonic pretended to consider. "Will you leave the kid alone if I do?"

"Hell, no," Wave scoffed. "Can't you see what he is? We were just about to finish him off before you came along and got your pointy nose mixed up in things that are none of your business."

"Oy, my nose isn't pointy!" Sonic immediately shot back defensively, having to resist touching its tip as if to make sure it wasn't. Then again, noses and ears were a favourite body part of mammals to ridicule if you were a bird, so that had had to be expected. Sonic shifted into a more battle-ready stance. "You insulted me, threatened me and hurt a kit," he warned, "So I'm giving you one last chance to leg it before I invent KFC six centuries early."

"No idea what you're talking about. But I do know you need to learn some humility when addressing the Yakitori Rogues – Group Name Pending," the leader of the group cleared his throat as if he'd just realized himself that statement needed some work. But he was entirely devoid of humour when he then waved a feathery hand at the grey albatross.

"Storm. Kill that spiky thing."

To be continued...

Hi! New li'l story here, hope you like! :D Japanese overflow will stop next chapter, I promise, but I just couldn't resist the idea of a Sonic tale in medieval Japan. XD Right now updating from Nice, where the weather is awesome, but the jellyfish...hurt. A lot. Ow. But, still alive, and writing. :) Would love to hear what you think of this, if you read, please review? If there's interest, updates will be soonish...;)