Hello guys! Thank you for stopping by! ^_^
Hehe, for those who hasn't known me yet, I'm lunar9ueen, a shipper of tear-jerking stories and Saito x Chizuru pairing. I can't get enough of this cute couple O_O I don't understand why this couple doesn't develop well in Hakuouki fandom...Well, that's people's choice. I can't do anything about that XD All I can do is making more stories for them! They deserve more attention! And honestly it's hard for me to imagine any other girl being with Saito but Chizuru...
Enough rambling. Anyway, a bit of quick explanation: In this story, Shinsengumi works for Aizu and Shogunate as shown on anime and games~ but I decided Satsuma-Choshu (Satcho) has been an alliance since the beginning to make it simple, because I don't want to include too much politic here. And they works for Emperor.
As the chapter's title said, it's the prologue~ but it will be filled with important clues that leading to the main story XD
Ugh...and I've always put this warning everytime I start a new series...English is not my first language, so forgive me if you find some mistakes. But I've tried my best in English :O After all, I use other people's language and I have to respect it, ne? ^_^
Let's enjoy the first chapter of my third Saito x Chizuru series! ^_^
CHAPTER 1: PROLOGUE
Red, orange, and yellow shades were dancing together, leaving a great shock in Chizuru's widened eyes as she stared at her house which was burning in ferocious fire.
She didn't know why such terrible thing could happen. Her mother asked her to buy some food supply in the nearest town this morning, just like usual. Even she could still remember her parents' gentle smiles when they told her to be careful and not coming home late. Yet tonight, instead of warm dinner, what welcomed her home was only the crimson flames, licking and breaking down a house that used to be the place where she had grown up.
Not wanting to lose any seconds, Chizuru ran towards the door. There was no time to worry about how high the temperature was, or that the heat was even more tormenting inside. A painful cough escaped her throat when the black cruel smoke started to suffocate her. Yet she kept moving forward, didn't give a crap about it.
If her parents were truly trapped, she was the only one who could save them. They lived alone, far from humanity. That meant there was not even a single neighbor who could give her a hand.
The reason why they chose to live in such lonely place? Well, it was because they were not an ordinary family...
...Even so, they were happy, at least until this tragedy occured.
"Father! Where are you?! Mother! Please answer me!"
Screaming in desperation until her throat refused to produce any voice, Chizuru managed to avoid some scorching wood that almost smashed her small body into pieces.
Breathing was already difficult. Inhale. Exhale. Blurred. Her sight was getting blurred while the smoke began to fill her lungs and the fire gave some painful burn on her skin.
She almost collapsed due to breathing difficulty, fear, and exhaustion...and almost surrendered when she found out that the entrance door had been blocked by cruel flames. But suddenly, between her already subconscious mind, she saw her parents, laying down in the middle of fire.
Not having strength to even shout a single word anymore, immediately Chizuru headed towards the only precious people for her. She had to save them. Maybe they just lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen or terrifying heat...
Sadly, it was not the case. Chizuru slapped herself and didn't want to believe her eyes upon looking at her father and mother, laying on a pool of blood, surrounded by vicious flare.
"NOOO!" She heard her own voice and her rough breathing, whistling like a broken melody. And as if the worst luck was mocking her, a wooden block crashed down between the girl and her beloved parents, separating them apart forever.
Chizuru fell on her knees, tears rolling down her cheeks. How would she was supposed to live now? Silently wishing the fire to bring her along with her parents, suddenly realization hit her...
...Right. There was great amount of blood in this supposedly peaceful place. And of course, it meant fire was not the cause of her parents' death.
Perhaps destiny was too cruel, or too kind, because it answered her silent question as soon as it appeared. As she inhaled enough carbon dioxide within the burning place, abruptly she saw a shadow—resembling a man, walking steadily behind her parents' corpse as though nothing happened.
Against her will, Chizuru's eyes fluttering shut. She couldn't breathe nor walk, yet that shadow passed the scorching wooden block, approached her on purpose—or so it seemed.
And that sword in his hand, dripping a terrifying amount of fresh scarlet blood.
"You..." Chizuru let out a cough while trying to maintain her consciousness, though it didn't give a positive result. All was blurred, but she could still give that mysterious figure a glare as he went even closer to her.
"You're the one who murdered my parents, aren't you?"
But that was the last thing she managed to speak as her soul betrayed her by falling asleep in this critical moment. There was no answer either from the figure, and Chizuru didn't know what he would do upon facing a defenseless maiden. Such a bastard would surely do something bad after burning down her house and killing her family.
All that hatred slept within her weak body. Still, before she fully closed her eyes, she managed to see something important, a characteristic that she would never forget in life...
...That bloody katana. He wielded that cursed thing in his left hand.
"So, she's that famous Yukimura heiress?"
"The last pureblood female oni, huh?"
"...She seems like a normal girl to me."
In a very weak movement, Chizuru opened her watery eyes. She smelt unpleasant burnt aroma from her torn kimono, and felt how difficult breathing was in her current condition.
Attempting to get up and speak, the girl was not able to do anything. The only thing she noticed was, she was laying on a thin bed in a dimmed-light room, while some weird people looking at her in curiosity as if she was a rare animal or such.
Repeated words like 'female pureblood oni', or 'the daughter of Yukimura family' from them was replaying over and over again like a chant, both in the reality or within her hazy mind...she didn't know anymore.
"Humans, don't you dare to lay your filthy hands on her."
All of a sudden, Chizuru saw a blurred shadow of a giant man, which revealing itself as a gigantic red-haired man. Behind him, there was another man holding a gun and a bald old man, who had the most normal look between the trio.
"A-Amagiri-sama..." One of the men who surrounded Chizuru before gulped as he let the newcomers to replace his place. The same went for the rest. It looked like they were ones of respected people here.
However, Chizuru could just glimpsed at them with her dull brown eyes. Her lips refused to say any word, and her limbs had betrayed her as well. Only her eyes that could —somewhat say something unclear through the pearls of tears.
"Well, Kodo." The man with gun shrugged as he turned his eyes away from Chizuru to the oldest man. "You'd better heal her quickly, or else Kazama would kill us all upon seeing his bride's condition."
...What is he saying? Bride?
The man called Kodo bent down and examined Chizuru's eyes—that looked empty without the radiance of life. Although Chizuru could only lay down helplessly, she could tell that a father-like calming smile lined Kodo's lips.
After several minutes of examination, Kodo stood up and glanced at the two men, "Amagiri-sama, Shiranui-sama, her condition will take a while to heal. She inhaled too much smoke and not to mention, some burn wounds. Probably she suffers from the shock too."
A nonchalant sigh was given as an answer by Shiranui, as the said man stared at the bunch of trembling people who surrounded Chizuru before, whom he called a group of 'humans.'
"Are you sure you're not the one who almost killed her? Do you know how precious she is?" Shiranui gave them a death glare while asking.
"Of course not!" A man answered Shiranui's question—or threat, in wavering tone. "We just came to ask Yukimura family to join our force by Kazama-sama's order, like always! But what we've found there was a burning house with that girl laying unconsciously outside!"
A shot of pain struck Chizuru's brain. How could she was outside the house?
"Yukimura family..." Amagiri muttered quietly, more to himself. "They were pureblood, yet they chose to live in peace. What a waste...for their lives to end that way."
Tears falling down Chizuru's cheeks upon listening to it. Yes, now she was all alone. And the reason why her family wanted to live in a lonely place was because they refused to join the war. As long as Chizuru knew, oni was a secret existence, only a few people knew about them.
She remembered the story told by her parents about a long war that had happened in Japan, especially Kyoto. The worried townspeople always talked about that as well everytime she went out to the town. War, war, and war, the endless topic which leading to an unknown future.
Aizu and Satsuma-Choshu alliance, or known as Satcho. Two biggest clans that had been always fighting like there was no tomorrow. While Aizu Clan supported the Shogunate, Satcho wanted to make the Emperor as the only government. This difference of faith had killed many victims without any clear result.
And demons, or oni...Chizuru knew that her kind could only be counted by fingers in this era. But she also heard that some oni had given a hand to Satcho Clan due to their great help for the ancestors of demons, when oni and humans were fighting against each other. It was a very long time ago, Chizuru didn't know the details...
...Still, she knew that Yukimura family, one of pureblood clans left, had refused to join the war because of their belief that bloodshed wouldn't solve any problems. And even though her parents never told her, she knew that sometimes some people—most likely from Satcho, often came and invited her family to join the force.
Sometimes, she thought that her beloved father and mother told her to go to the town on purpose, because they didn't want Chizuru to meet those strangers. But several times, when she came back early, she often saw them from a far, leaving their house. And judging by her parents' stern expression, all of her deductions would fit.
Probably, she was in Satcho Headquarters right now...one of the men before said they came to her house like always, just to see a burning house, ordered by someone named...
A flash of memories invaded her mind ruthlessly, making her want to howl from being afraid of losing herself. Still, there was no voice came out. The shock and sorrow were too much for her frail heart to bear.
"Relax, relax..." Chizuru felt Kodo wiping off the cold sweat from her forehead. "I know it's not easy to have both of your parents passed away at once."
Inhale. Exhale. Painfully and heavily. Finally after some moments that seemed like eternity, Chizuru's lips parted open and managed to speak out an almost inaudible whisper.
"They were killed...by...you?"
For a second, a thought that Satcho was the one who killed her parents crossed her dizzy mind. Maybe they were tired already of Yukimura family's continuous refusals.
Upon hearing her question, Amagiri sighed slightly before answering, "We are demons, we're not like humans who would kill their own kind. And to think that the victims were pureblood family, it's impossible to put the blame on us. Pureblood is highly respected. We would never do such low thing like killing them."
Chizuru gulped, still laying on the bed. Amagiri was right, pureblood demons were rare existence and there was no way another demon could kill them. But abruptly she noticed something in Amagiri's previous words. Her eyes widened a bit as her throat generated another shaking whisper, "...Are you...demons?"
A proud smirk played on Shiranui's face while pointing his finger to himself, Amagiri, and Kodo, "Well, just three of us, although not a pureblood like you." But all of a sudden, a disgusted expression replaced the smirk as he turned his eyes to the rest of trembling men, "And they are low creatures we call as humans. Too bad we have to work with them just because of their kindness in the past. Like hell actually I wanted to join this bunch of dog—"
"Shiranui," Amagiri cut his comrade's speech while gazing sharply at him. Shiranui just let out a 'tch' as response. It was obvious he didn't feel comfortable working together with humans.
The young maiden couldn't think of anything more. Her mind was too blank, her heart hurt like it wanted to vanish and let her body empty, only leaving a flash of left-handed figure who most likely was her parents' murderer...Probably if she joined the Satcho, they would help her to find this bastard? After all, she had nobody left and Satcho Clan would surely treat her well after helping, or bringing her along with them...But such thing would betray her parents' wish, who always thought that war could never bring any good solution.
She almost lost herself. She didn't have any destination in life, as she could only see a foggy dark path ahead. Yet Kodo noticed that and stroked her hair, telling her to calm down in silence.
"Speaking of which...," Amagiri looked at his surrounding, "Where is Kazama?"
"Who knows?" Shiranui answered nonchalantly, "Maybe he just went out to get some fresh air? Although it's too bad that he was not here to welcome his bride."
Again. Another 'Kazama' and 'bride' thing. Just what were they saying? This headache tortured Chizuru even more.
"Kazama-sama is..." As an answer to her silent question, Kodo was willing to explain to her. Chizuru was grateful to him. It looked like he was the only one who actually did care about her. "...the lord of oni, a rare pureblood like you. He has always wanted your family to join us. And when he knew that they have a daughter, he wanted to take you as his wife. Two purebloods united as one would produce an even stronger heir..."
Upon seeing a worried and confused expression on Chizuru's face, Kodo attempted to calm her down, "Don't worry, Kazama-sama is a kind person. He's going to be a good husband and—"
"Kodo." Suddenly Amagiri let out a stern voice, "You're not good at pretending."
As Amagiri continued his words, Chizuru swore that Kodo's face turning pale.
"Speaking of pretending, Kodo...I've heard a bad rumor about you."
Trying to stay calm, Kodo was about to retort. But Shiranui's next words had silenced the old man.
"Oh, that rumor? Even I know about it." Shiranui furrowed his eyebrows as he spoke, "I heard you're actually working for Aizu Clan as well. Perhaps your status as a rare doctor trained in western medicine has taken their interest to include you in their secret project? I once heard that they wanted to make a kind of idiot corps that could rival the oni's power."
"O-of course it's not true!" Kodo stuttered, though for Chizuru, Shiranui's monologue had hit the bull's eye. Kodo looked even more uneasy when the two demons looking straight at him in suspicion.
Shiranui shrugged and walked away from Kodo, "Well, we still don't have any proof. But if it's true, Kodo...you know what Kazama might do to you, right?"
The doctor couldn't say anything to object. Yet he must say thanks to Chizuru, who didn't understand about their rambling. Instead, she kept thinking about her murdered parents and succeeded in changing the topic that cornered Kodo without her realizing it.
"...Do you have any idea about the person...who most likely has killed my parents...?"
"Like hell we know!" Shiranui shouted in annoyed tone. Obviously he was actually not interested in babysitting a wounded and traumatic girl, just if she was not a rare pureblood female oni.
But as soon as realization hit him, Shiranui gave it a deep thought, "Wait...could it be?"
"Someone from Aizu Clan," Amagiri closed his eyes as he was thinking of the same thing, "It's the most logical explanation. Perhaps they knew about Yukimura family's existence and decided to annihilate them, not even knowing that they're not the ones of Satcho soldiers...Or they just wanted to kill all demons without any exception."
"But who else knows about demons' existence? I thought nobody knew about us outside Satcho!" Shiranui questioned in bewilderment and slight anger.
"Ever heard of the Aizu's elite force?"
"You meant the new stupid group formed not too long ago?"
"Yes...I heard they have several secrets, and were supposed to hold Aizu's most dangerous missions. But I'm not sure yet, since we're lacking proofs."
"If I'm correct, their official name is Shinsen—something."
While the two comrades talking to each other, Chizuru's brain kept spinning as if it wanted to explode. Just who on earth killed her parents? She just wanted to know about that. She wanted to listen to the exact answer, not just a foggy prediction. At first, she thought it was Satcho, and now they said it most likely the Aizu Clan. Both deductions had no proof...She didn't know what to believe anymore. Perhaps the culprit was just a mere group of thieves? Ah, she was too exhausted to even think. It was better for her to follow her parents to another world.
"Amagiri-sama, Shiranui-sama." Kodo let out a voice upon realizing that the demons' conversation had tormented the frail maiden without them knowing it. "Can you leave us alone? As a doctor, I could tell that my patient needs silence and relaxing atmosphere to completely heal."
The doctor tried to keep smiling as Amagiri and Shiranui stared at him. But upon looking at Chizuru's condition, they understood that they had no choice but to follow Kodo's order. Quietly, they stepped out of the room with the Satcho men behind them.
"Kodo..." As he walked, Amagiri spoke in a low voice, "I hope the rumor about you being a double agent is not true."
Kodo's face turned pale once again. But thanks to Shiranui, who said something like 'Who cares about that? Just make sure that girl is already in one piece when Kazama comes back!', the doctor didn't have to answer.
Waiting for the group's footsteps to completely fade away, Kodo finally could keep calm. He smiled to Chizuru while mixing the medicines right besides her bed.
"What's your name?"
Chizuru let out a cough before answering weakly, "Yukimura...Chizuru..."
The smile didn't leave the old man's lips. After boiling the medicine, he poured it into a cup and helped Chizuru to get up.
"Chizuru...as they said, I'm not good at pretending," Kodo positioned the cup on Chizuru's hands and helped her to drink it. Suddenly, a comforting warmth flew into her body. She was so grateful to this kind doctor, who somehow reminded her of her late father.
Feeling that half of her strength had returned within her body, Chizuru managed to speak more clearly than before, "What do you mean, Doctor?"
However, Kodo shook his head, "No need to be formal. We're still relatives. While your family is the main branch, I'm from the lesser one. That's why I'm not a pureblood...Still, I have the same faith as your father and mother...Though maybe, theirs are much stronger than mine."
Chizuru listened to each word closely, even though it was hard to trust. But she didn't have anyone now...and this old man was the only person who treated her nicely. This dilemma almost made her going insane.
Yukimura Kodo gave her a serious look as he explained more, "Listen, Chizuru...I know it's difficult for you since you just had a very unpleasant experience. But what they said before about me is true...I'm actually working for Aizu. I'm their spy here, regardless I'm an oni who's supposed to work for Satcho. Call me a traitor, or whatever you want, but the only thing I can tell you right now is, this place is not where we belong."
Taking a deep breath, Kodo carried out his next words, "I'm in the charge of Aizu's secret project called 'Ochimizu'...I will explain all of these crazy things to you later. It's a cruel thing but its existence is necessary. Now Amagiri-sama and Shiranui-sama are already suspicious, I don't have any choice but to leave this place as soon as possible."
"...Why did you tell me all of these?"
Upon hearing the confused girl's sudden question, Kodo looked even more serious as if a heavy weight was burdened on his shoulder, "Because I will be your father from this day onwards. After all, we're still a family...I just can't let you fall to Kazama-sama's hand. He's a sly and cruel demon. He despises humans though he also works with Satcho. Maybe his presence was also the reason why your parents refused to join Satcho..."
So, even there was internal conflict within the demons themselves. This thought made the guess that perhaps the murderer was someone from Satcho couldn't be reduced to zero.
"Now, we would flee to ask for Aizu's protection."
...But there was a possibility that the killer was someone from Aizu as well, wasn't it?
Within her subconscious condition, Chizuru felt Kodo helping her to walk. Together, they went to the corner of the room, to a hidden door which led to a dark underground tunnel, which seemed that had been prepared by Kodo just for today's runaway.
"Your recovery might take time, but I'm sure Aizu could provide us with a safe place."
Half walking, half swaying. Chizuru was not able to hear Kodo's each word clearly any longer. Before she knew it, they had reached the end of tunnel and the abrupt midnight's freezing air bit her soft flesh mercilessly from inside out.
"Can you walk?"
A weak nod was given as an answer. Still, Chizuru demanded more explanation after this. One step at a time, Chizuru and Kodo walked silently, leaving the Satcho Headquarters. Between blurry images, Chizuru couldn't help but think that maybe this 'Kazama' had come back and was furious due to his bride's disappearance.
But like hell she was bothering about it. She just needed some good rest. After that, she would find the bastard who killed her parents. Chizuru was not the girl who usually held a grudge, but such horrible thing...she could never forgive the culprit.
Too many bad things happened in just one night. Chizuru was about to collapse and lose consciousness as she heard Kodo's voice between the harsh wind.
"After you fully recover already, I'm taking you to Shinsengumi. They would protect you for sure."
Phew...*tired after writing such dark chapter D8*
Anyway, I hope you liked and enjoyed this prologue ^_^ Please leave a REVIEW! It means a lot for me! XD