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Sairento Kage: good bye

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Sighing softly Tseng leaned up against the broom he held in his hand, his face turning into the unforgiving midday sun. It was blistering hot for a spring morning; it honestly should be illegal for the sun to be this bright and this warm this early into the season, the cherry blossoms were not even in full bloom, yet it felt like the dead of summer.

Clutching the edge of his large kimono sleeve he drug it across his face hoping to eliminate some of the moister that was building on his cheeks and forehead.

For the millionth time today the young 16 year old cursed being forced to wear the traditional heavy shrine attire. Granted he had gotten away with just wearing a kimono under his hakama, thankfully that was only because his father was out at the palace at the request of lord Godo.

His father was a real tyrant when it came to how his children acted and dressed. Even though the times were changing and the outside continents were starting to push their way into the lands his father was set in the ways of the ancestors.

Leaning against the side post of the shrines front most torii he ran his sleeve back over his face. He wished if nothing else that he was allowed to at least tie the massive sleeves back like those that helped at the shrine. No he had to set an example for the patrons that came to visit the shrine to worship since he was the only son of the high priest of the largest temple in Wutai.

His sister would become a Miko when she came of age, though now was saved from that all as she was just a young girl of five years. Sighing softly Tseng moved back towards the main hall, knowing his next set of chores would be awaiting him there.

Was this really the life he was going to lead for the remainder of his days? To wander aimlessly around his family shrine; cleaning, storing 'priceless artifacts', bestowing blessings on pilgrims?

Setting his broom back into the storage closet just off the main house his fingers absently brushed over the katana at his hip. Since he was old enough to walk he had been wielding a sword, he had been called a child prodigy his skill with a sword easily surpassing the masters by a young age. The long steel had felt so natural in his hands and still to this day it merely felt like an extension of him.

By the age of 13 he had earned black belts in every martial arts his father had forced him into learning, his Sensei more than willing to nurture his natural gifts.

Tseng snorted his black eyes darkening; his skills were going to waste. He could very easily be a guard in Lord Godo's elite fighting force even though he was still considered a boy that had yet to pass his rites into adult hood.

No instead his father had forbidden it, he was to remain here as a stupid priest of the temple. A fighter only in looks and should the outside force simply known as the oppression finally declared war. They all knew it was coming, the Shinra Electric Power Company had been laying claim to every open land on this planet to harvest the very life stream that kept this planet alive. They were a power that no one had seen coming, their military was massive and well trained though lacked the honor that the Wutai army possessed.

So far war had been avoided as talks have remained peaceful, though he knew from the gossip of the pilgrims from the castle that the talks were breaking down.

Shinra wished to place a mako reactor on their land to help draw power for what was claimed to be the floating paradise, Midgar. Shinra so far had not been opposed in its conquest of the world, Wutai was the first to offer any sort of resistance.

They were not going to escape from this unscathed and he honestly wanted no part of it.

Shutting the storage door silently he folded his arms into his large sleeves just as he had always been bred to do. He was the good son, always doing what his father wished of him and never disobeying.

A dark frown pulled at his lips before he quickly pushed those thoughts behind a mental wall. He had been bred to be silent unless spoken till; he was to remain unseen unless dictated by his father. That was how all children should have been raised, perfect, obedient.. an emotionless doll.

Schooling his features into a perfect emotionless mask, Tseng headed up towards the main hall knowing the other priest would be there waiting for him. Rounding the second torii he sighed seeing a piece of paper stuck to the bottom of the support post.

Knowing he would get the cane if he did not pick the paper up he unfolded his arms and plucked the paper up from the ground. Turning the paper over to see what propaganda this was this time his eyes slowly widened seeing English alongside the traditional characters of the Wutai alphabet. He was not the most fluent in English but the language other than the mixed up grammar was easy to follow.

It was a printed almost poster, on the front it showed several men all standing in a dark blue sleeveless high neck shirts, dark blue baggy pants, combat boots with thick leather belt with some form of insignia on it. All of them were holding some form of sword, whether it be massive buster style swords of katanas.

JOIN SOLDIER, SHINRA'S NEWEST ELITE FIGHTING FORCE

Blinking Tseng looked over the information provided on the poster. Training was all included if enrolled in the SOLDIER cadet program, the program was a yearlong and if you passed all the qualifying test you graduated into the prestigious rank of SOLDIER 3st class.

He had heard about this from the few easterners that had come to the temples while on dignitary trips to the castle. The program was only a few years old but already it was booming with young boys dreaming of becoming hero's. That was exactly what these boys were becoming; the word of SOLDIER had spread across the world how they were almost super human in strength taking on monsters solo that no normal man would go after.

Staring down at the poster he erased the face of the burly man at the front of the group, his own face appearing there instead in his mind's eye.

This might be what he was looking for! These were warriors that battles with swords and materia, they were their own man not having to obey repressive parents and free to move about as they pleased. Sitting down on the steps leading into the main hall he allowed his dark eyes to travel over the poster, a small frown crossing his face.

Leaving Wutai to join Shinra, the very company that was trying to over throw their country and uproot their way of life. He would be labeled a traitor just like other boys that had run off for Midgar, dishonor awaited him if he left to join SOLDIER.

'But, does honor mean anything if you are miserable? Is there really anything here for me?' he already knew the answer to that, no there was nothing here for him. Nothing but a life of boredom as a priest, he knew what his life would entail from this point on. He would take over as head priest when his father reached a certain age, he would marry a bride of his families choosing, bear a son that would take his place and uphold their families honor.

That, that was no life, not for him at least. He wanted to be so much more than just a priest; he wanted to make his mark on the world even if it was just a small mark.

Folding up the poster he shoved it into the sleeve of his kimono, his father would be returning soon and he would have to be ready to bolt if this turned ugly as he suspected it would.

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Sitting with his legs curled under him, Tseng looked up from his dinner.

Like every night his family sat around the low table in their dining room, the servants that helped to run the shrine had brought their meals to them and left bowing. His father sat at the head of the table, he wore the traditional priest robes, ugly hate included.

His father was a strong proud man, though his age was showing though the graying of his long black hair and beard he still held the air of importance around him. His father lowered his bowl his piercing brown eyes meeting Tseng's.

Instantly Tseng averted his gaze, he really wished his mother and sister were allowed to eat with them. Women were not allowed to eat with the men of the house, they would wait their turn until they were done. Even though that was how he was raised he hated it, Tseng always viewed women as beautiful creatures that deserved every ounce of love and respect a man did if not more so, but they were treated like second class citizens by most of the older population.

His mother, she was absolutely beautiful he had inherited most of his looks from her giving him a more feminine look to his face and body then most boys his own age. That was one reason his father was always so distant with him, he viewed the beauty as a flaw.. another way for him to dishonor the family.

Steeling his nerves, Tseng gently set his chopsticks down against the small holder next to his plate and raised his head to look at his father.

"Father?"

Slurping loudly his father looked up his brown eyes narrowed. "I have not spoken to you first, why do you break the silence of our meal?" his father's deep voice was as cold as ice. No this man held no love for him or his sister or mother; it was obvious in his mannerisms.

"Father, I will not be following you in the path you have chosen for me. I have no intention of becoming a priest and taking over the family temple." Tseng kept his voice strong even as he watched anger building in his father's eyes. His every instinct was telling him to just shut up and bow his head submissively and hope he would not be black and blue tomorrow. Pushing those instincts back he kept his eyes up holding his father's own.

"What is this nonsense you are spewing Tseng, you will become a priest of the temple it has already been arrange. You will take over the temple by your 17th year of life, along with your bride, she will be thirteen and ready to become your wife."

Tseng blanched at this, thirteen? Was his father serious?

"Father I can't marry a thirteen year old! She's a child!" he shook his head reining in his emotions, his perfect mask falling into place blanking out all emotions on his face.

"No father, I will not marry a child you have chosen, I will not become a priest.. I'm leaving.. for Midgar.. tonight. I'm going to join the SOLDIER cadet program, somewhere that they can use my skills that you forced upon me."

Tseng felt his resolve wavering as he watched the pure rage building up in his father's eyes. Faster than even he could blink Tseng felt the hand connect with the side of his head. Instantly bright lights flashed in front of his eyes causing his vision to swim and dance in front of him.

Swallowing the blood that was pooling in his mouth from his punctured cheek where he had bitten down, Tseng lifted his head that emotionless mask still on his face.

"You dare to utter those foul words in this house, you are an utter disgrace." His father even though absolutely lived would never resort to cussing; he was too well bred for that. "You have dishonored your family and this temple. Now I will look past this little talk if you return to your rooms and return to your duties tomorrow."

Shaking his head Tseng slowly pushed himself up even though he felt beyond dizzy; he may not look it but that man had a killer backhand. Swaying slightly on his feet Tseng moved over to where he had stashed his bag under one of the decorative tables in the dining room.

It wasn't a large bag, it just had an extra set of clothes and some personal possession he could not leave behind.

"I'm sorry father, but I have made my decision." Swinging the bag over his shoulder Tseng picked up his families heir loom katana that he always carried with him and strapped it into his belt.

"You walk out that door Tseng, you will be dead to us!" his father was on his feet his face turning purple in his rage.

Stopping at the door to the main hallway Tseng paused his hand on the door frame. "I was already dead to you.." he never looked back at his father as he walked out of the room gently shutting the paper screen behind him.

Moving past the room his mother was in he could hear both his mother and sister crying. Closing his eyes he quickened his pace, if he saw them his resolve would break and he would never leave.

'I'm sorry momma..I just can't do this anymore.'

Reaching the front door he gently slid the paper screen open and stepped out onto the gravel path that would lead to the first torii and to his freedom. taking a deep breath he wrapped his fingers around the solid metal of his katanas hilt he prayed he was doing the right thing.

Keeping his eyes closed he allowed his feet to propel him through the first torii, he had stolen a bunch of gil from the shrine not knowing how much he would need to travel clear across the world to get to Midgar.

Hitting the street he sped up his pace knowing he had to get to the dock if he wanted to make the ship leaving for the eastern continent.

He was doing it, he was really doing it! Adrenaline started to pump through his veins as he raced down the dirt roads of Wutai. He was leaving this god forsaken place for hopefully a better future.

As he reached the docks he took a deep breath and headed over to where a man was selling tickets. Seeing he had grabbed more than enough gil Tseng boarded the ship heading for his new future never once did he ever glance back at what he was leaving behind.

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AN: short chapter I know but it's 3 am and I really couldn't think of much else to write. Hopefully another chapter will be up shortly.. I promise I am working on snow day.