Live by Honor, Kill by Stealth (Birth of Stealth Assassins)

Scroll 1: Tatsukichi Chronicles

The Night Sky. Partly Cloudy. Frogs Croaking. Crickets Cheeping.

"How can I ever forget the night when I lost my father? How can I ever prevent my father's death from happening? Why that shinobi did attack my father in the first place? The thought of it just aggravates me to only think of such silly questions. But to me, I thought of it personally. I was sleeping in the middle of the night when it happened, and ever since that event, the fate of my future changed…"

.:::3rd Person POV:::.

Above the hills, a middle-age man stood a few feet away from the village that was in neighbor with the House of Gohda. He wore a black ninja suit with a mask over his mouth so his identity will not be revealed. He was focused on the mission that he was assigned from his Master; to kill a drug dealer that has been causing trouble for the innocent villagers. The mysterious figure stealth his way towards the entrance, discreetly keeping him out of sight by hiding in the shadows so no one can see him.

Peeking inside the crack of the wooden door, the figure spotted a man with black long hair tied in a very loose tail, wearing his dark blue yakama and white socks. Everyone else was sleeping, but the stranger expected his target would be awake.

The intruder slid the door slowly so it would not make any sudden sound, sneaking in the house. A candle was lit up in front of the man that was just sitting there, but since the back was facing him, he was not sure what kind of activity he was attending to at this time of night. It did not matter anyway; the mission was to kill him.

Kneeling down, the masked man crawled his way towards his prey like a predator ready to strike. As soon as he advanced towards the man to reach a few more inches, he finally draws out his katana, Izayoi, and prepared to finish him with one blow.

Before the intruder could, he noticed the victim forming a slight smirk as he raised his blade. The victim must know that he was behind him…!

The black-haired man turned around and blocked the intruder's attack with his own katana, asking, "What are you doing here?" The intruder noticed his victim's onyx eyes were glancing at the entrance of the corridor. He must be worried about something from the back of his mind. The attacker disdains his wandering thoughts and pushed the blade to his opponent, adding more force gradually without giving a reply. He didn't need one anyway since it wasn't the attacker's priority to start a conversation. He was only assigned here to kill him and nothing more. The victim pushed the blade away, making the attacker raise his blade from the sudden force and position a defense mode.

.:::Tatsukichi's POV:::.

I was in my room, sleeping peacefully in bed until I heard the clashing noise of two katanas. I shot off of my bed from hearing the noise, wondering what was going on. Rushing out of the room, I looked down the corridor and notice a dim light from a candle lit from the main room, noticing two shadows lurking from it. I tip-toed my way to the door so my head can peek out from it. Who came into the house? Why is this stranger attacking my father? I observed the situation and noticed my dad was looking at me with the corner of his eyes. They look as if he was assuring me that everything is going to be okay, but half of me knew that he was lying…

He slowly stood up with his short bangs covering his eyes and continued, "I'm warning you to get out of my house. Now-!" Before he could say anymore, the attacker took no hesitation to rush in and stab his stomach. His eyes widen with shock, coughing blood out of his mouth after shaking for a moment.

As soon as the man pulled away his sword, my father's body fell on his back with red blood oozing out of his wound. "F-Father…" I muttered, biting my lips as I felt tears coming out of my eyes. I was only 5 years old during this time. Why that man did kill my father? The only family member that I had left!

Walking out of the doorway to reveal myself to the stranger, my body shook not by fear, but by anger. Clenching my fist, I screamed out from the top of my lungs, picking up the katana my dad used and run towards the stranger. Only one word came out of my mind:

Revenge.

.:::Shiunsai's POV:::.

As I noticed a small young boy running towards me, I draw out my sword defensively before he could swung an attack on me. I kept on blocking every throw the boy gave me, noticing how strong it was. I was actually shocked when I first saw him; I didn't know that the man I killed had a son.

I almost felt pity for the boy, not only because that I killed his father, but also because he has no one to supervise him. I can tell from the look in his eyes; Hatred, Vengeance, Melancholy, Loneliness…

Every blow he threw at my sword gradually becoming weaker and weaker, considering the fact that the boy was becoming exhausted, but he never stopped. I got to admit that he had a good stamina to keep it up, but not for long. I only waited for the boy's attack to become limited so I could start talking some sense into him. His blows finally slowed down and turn into a complete stop…

.:::Tatsukichi POV:::.

I continued throwing blows at the man who attacked my father, but the slower I become, the more I realized that attacking this man for vengeance was not working…As I stopped myself from delivering anymore, I stood in place, lowering my father's katana and panted heavily with my shoulders raising up, then down repeatedly. I heard the man sheathe his own katana back. After a moment of silence, I felt the stranger's hand clasp on my shoulder, quickly reacting as if he was going to attack me by taking two steps backward.

I glanced up at him with suspicion as he begins to talk, "Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you…"

His tone sound reassuring, but I didn't believe him…

So I protested, "But you killed my father! Why should I believe on what you say?"

He chuckled slightly and replied in a calm voice, "It's my duty to not harm the innocent-"After hearing such nonsense, I repeated, "YOU killed my father! What did he do to deserve this?" The man stayed silent for a while, as if he didn't want to reply for a logical reason. I calmed down a bit as I thought about it twice; his current actions make himself appear to be a normal person just like everyone else.

Even though I still didn't trust him, something in the back of my mind said that I should…I'm not really the type of person to judge a book by its cover, but what occurred just moments ago made me. It was like waking up from a nightmare or something, but I already knew that this was reality, and I should face it. Even if it was hard for me to move forward, I guess it shouldn't be that bad.

I remembered my father told me about this, and it was a good thing that I listened. Where would I be if I didn't?

Well…dead, of course.

I looked up at the man with curiosity, still waiting for the answer to my question. He acknowledged me calming down with a small smile, followed by a nod. Resuming to his impassive state, the man replied "Your father was an illegal drug dealer. He harmed many innocent people in his business, so I was assigned by Lord Gohda to stop him."

I listened intently, not knowing the fact that my father was actually doing such things like that. I've noticed that he has been acting suspicious lately, but it was still troubling me.

"Why didn't you try talking him out of it?" I asked the stranger.

"Lord Gohda already tried reasoning with him, along with the authorities, but he persisted" said the man.

After another moment of silence, I felt kind of disappointed of concluding situations by myself. It was really useful to question the other side of the situation, but why do I still feel depressed?

The stranger look down at me, then asked, "Do you have anyone to stay with?" I could tell that this man was concerned about me. I answered simply, "No."

He thought for a moment, leaving me curious on what he was thinking about. Does he have an idea for me or something? "Tell you what, I can bring you in my village and become my pupil."

Become his pupil? Where was he getting at? I thought of his offer for a moment, thinking of what occupation that he had. Well, considering the fact that we didn't hear him coming to the house, and his type of fighting skills, I concluded that the stranger must be a shinobi. Perhaps becoming one wouldn't be such a bad idea. I always like to fight and spar in my free time. Glancing up at the shinobi, I gave a nod with agreement as I answered, "Sure, why not?"

The man smiled and reached out his hand to mine. I reached out my hand as well, grasping his hand shake on it as he said, "Alright. My name is Azuma Shiunsai, by the way." I nodded and introduced myself as well, "I'm Tatsukichi."

Since this man displayed himself as a benign, humble person, I supposed that for now on, I have to call him Shiunsai-sama considering the fact he is officially my sensei. Everything seemed to change so fast, which made me think about my situation even deeper. Perhaps this was fate? I was uncertain to believe if it could even be fate, but if it is, then so be it.

During our travel to Shiunsai-sama's village, I realized it was not too far from my previous residence; his village was located at the end of the thick forest in the mountain side.

We reached a wooden gate that was guarded by a middle-age man, wearing a light armor and dark-blue attire. The guard's attention focused on Shiunai's arrival, immediately opening the gate for us to enter. As soon as we did, I heard the gate close behind us, bringing my attention towards the scenery of the village. "Welcome to the Hidden Azuma Village. This is where you will be living for now." Shiunsai-sama introduced as we continue walking.

I observed the prodigious surroundings, noticing the village consisted of small houses made of sturdy wood spread from the entrance and scattered till they reached the semi-high hill. From a distance, I noticed above that hill was a wide house with an entrance that appeared to be a dojo of some sort. On the right side of that building was a medium size house, assuming that part of the building was served for other different purposes.

From my left side, the scenery was half-based of an environmental surrounding, except the area contained a few up-hills of different arenas that appeared to be the training grounds. The first level consists of a few target signs and small trees scattered around the semi-medium field. The second level was a bit higher, containing three platforms displayed as rising blocks, walls, and other obstacles. I assumed that is one of the areas that I will be training at.

Turning to my right side, the scenery had even more environmental surroundings; a large waterfall over a river, and a wooden-built bridge leading towards a bamboo forest.

[11 Years Later]

It's been many years since I lost my father, but for some reason, it's hard to believe that the killer of my father is now my sensei. Although half of me could not forgive Shiunsai-sama for killing my father, the other half of me wanted to cooperate with him. I'm not really certain of my reasons, but I assumed that it was my instincts that told me to half-heartedly forgive him.

Currently, my age is now 16 and comparing to the past, I've became stronger. Master Shiunsai notes that I'm excellent and more adapted with taijutsu (hand-combat) when facing enemies. Even though I was also skilled in kenjutsu, my master advised me to only use that fighting skill against worthy and challenging opponents. It did not really matter to me since I am use to using my hands and feet; they were already strong enough, not that I'm bragging or anything…

He also commented that I had great mental control, which was the second half of my training. He points out that mental control is one of the most important keys of being a shinobi, warning that if I have difficulty with controlling my emotions, it would just make not only my self esteem weak, but every other system that keeps me being a shinobi.

After passing the final test, my master totaled the duration of the whole course to 12 minutes. Out of the past generations of the Azuma Clan, Master commented that I beat the record, which made me half proud of myself. The other half goes to my sensei since he was the one who trained me in the first place, so my whole thanks and gratitude was towards him. I met him behind the waterfalls, which was the ending point of my course.

My Master handed to me a red scroll with the Azuma Crest embedded around the sash that was tied around it. "Congratulations, you are now officially an Azuma Ninja. Your name will be now known as Tatsumaru."

.:::Preview:::.

"Don't tell us that you're going to bring him with us too!"

"Are you questioning my judgment?"

"Supervise him and make sure he becomes successful in his training. Do you understand?"

"WAAAH! WAAAH! WAAAAH-!"

"Yes, Shiunsai-sama."

"Baka!"