The camp they came upon was small, old village with children everywhere. As they passed through edge of the buildings, Kaoru could feel the wards that were in place; it caused a shiver to go down his spine but he kept walking, watching all of the children.
Usually Kaoru would expect kids to be running and playing with no care in the world. But as he looked around, Kaoru realized how bad it was for younger twins now. There were little girls drawing the water from the well and little boys chopping the firewood. There wasn't an adult in sight.
As Kaoru walked through the village, each face turned to stare at him with dull eyes. They took in his bloody cloak but none seemed surprised at all. Kaoru looked away and focused on following Daichi into a small building.
Kaoru paused inside the doorway, glancing around nervously as Daichi approached the table in the middle of the room. Around it sat several other young men just like Daichi, talking quietly.
"Hello, fellas," Daichi greeted, pulling down his hood. "I brought Kaoru with me. He's the one I told you about." He turned and gestured to Kaoru before sitting down at the table.
All of them looked at Kaoru with scrutinizing eyes. "This is the one with so-called legendary powers?" one of them laughed. "He's so scrawny."
Kaoru scowled but didn't say a word. Daichi laughed as well. "Come on, don't you see that he is covered in the enemy's blood? And it was only his first time really using his powers! He has potential, I promise you."
"Alright," A white-haired boy said with a smile. "I believe them."
"Of course you do," the first boy complained. "You go along with everything Daichi says!"
"He's always right!" he shot back.
But then door opened fast and Kaoru was bumped into by a small body. He turned to see a little girl, maybe about seven, walking quickly into the room with tears streaming down her face. "It's Rika!" the little cried in hysterics. "She killed Rizu! I think she killed Rizu."
Daichi stood, a grave look on his face, and paced across the room and picked up the wailing girl, folding her sobbing form into his arms. "Dammit," he growled. "Not again!" He turned to Kaoru. "Come on Kaoru, I have to take care of this."
They flew out into the village, bursting past the children once again. "Where was she? Where's Rika?" Daichi asked the little girl as they walked briskly down a dirt path into a different part of the housing.
"By the daisy field," the girl sniffed before reburying her face into Daichi's shoulder.
Daichi slowed and pulled the girl from her clutches on his shoulder. "Go play with the others," he commanded of the girl as he set her down. "I'll take care of it all." Then they left her behind, rushing out further away from the main building.
They walked into the thick of the trees again, but not yet leaving their protective ward. The low sun glimmered across the leaves. "They should have been out here," Daichi growled in frustration. "But the damn daisy field keeps luring them out here."
They arrived into a clearing of the forest and the floor was covered in thick patches of daisies. Their white petals flitted in the light breeze. In the middle of the clearing sat a girl with long yellowed hair. She was up to her chin in the flowers.
"Rika," Daichi whispered, approaching slowly with a careful hand out in front of him. "Rika, what happened?"
At first the girl didn't move, didn't speak. Kaoru followed Daichi closer still only to see blood lightly spackled against the undergrowth around the girl. Then she turned.
Kaoru's breath caught at the sight of Rika. She was blood-stained across her face, hair, and the front of her shabby clothes. Her blue eyes were tinted with just a hint of crimson. "I killed her," she said distantly.
Going a step further, Kaoru saw the body of another girl lying beneath the daisies. He quickly looked away.
Daichi sighed before leaning down and picking up the body which was so little in his arms. Her short black hair covered her face. "I'll bury her," he said slowly. "Rika, you have to come with me."
She stood on wobbly legs and bowed her head. "I know."
Their small procession made their way into the small village again and immediately, Rika ran off. "Do… Do you need me to go get her?" Kaoru asked warily.
Daichi shook his head and they kept walking. "She will be judged later for her actions. She won't be hard to find."
Kaoru was horrified. "But she's only a child! She can only be eight or nine."
"And this is her fourth killing," Daichi said in a hard tone. "She won't be brutally punished. It happens to all of us, but she will have to be isolated at the very least."
Perplexed, Kaoru stared forward as they walked. "What if I end up like that?"
"You won't. I'll make sure of it. All you need is a little awareness and self-control… I'll teach you."
Kaoru wasn't so sure. The blood-lust he'd felt while he'd killed those men today was unbearable, completely irresistible. He wondered how anyone could control themselves in that kind of situation, let alone a nine-year-old.
They came upon a small grassy area; free of trees, but there were rows of upturned dirt and each were marked with sticks as markers. "It's not like the graveyard in my old village, but it gets the job done," Daichi softly said, laying the girl down at the end of the row.
He picked up two shovels and passed one to Kaoru. "You might as well help me. It will be nice to have company for once."
So they got to work. The grave was deep but not very wide; it was just big enough to fit the girl in comfortable. "The gods be with her," Daichi whispered before pouring the first bout of dirt onto her dead chest.
It was the first time Kaoru had seen a grave in his life.
Please check out my new story, The Knives In His Sleeves.