Short Story: The Heir

My father wants me to take his place.

I say that because he lost his life earlier today…

In fact, we lost our entire village. I’ve been out searching for somewhere that me and the others could stay all day. It’s my job to do such a thing, as the new leader. It just feels so off…

I’m one of the youngest. Yet they’re all so keen to follow me.

All but my brother.

He seems very jealous that I took father’s place, when he’s the eldest. I don’t much understand his anger, we are twins, after all. Is it really that different? If he had taken father’s place, I would have accepted it peacefully.

That doesn’t matter so much now, though.

My name is Atichi, I am the Sunset Clan’s new Grand Master. I live in such a small group of the clan because they are my elites, they are bred and trained to be as skilled as I am, and we are to seclude ourselves in a small group.

That’s just how it works.

I’ve found myself in a town out of the woods, perhaps there is some sort of an inn we can use here. Or at least food to purchase, our survival matters even more than relocating, of course.

This town isn’t so big. Just a few streets of big houses, all very neatly boarded with wooden boards to create some neat patterns on them. The concrete that builds them up seems to be rather clean and solid.

I finally see someone that might be able to help me! I dash closer quickly, hoping that my attire won’t frighten her too much. Just a black suit covering my body, exposing my arms with three lines of paint on them.

The iconic orange scarf and mask on my face. But at least my red hair is exposed, as well as the orange feather stuck in it at the top.

“Excuse me!” I call out, raising a hand in a friendly gesture to try and get her attention. She was a young lady with a pair of buckets set on her shoulders, carried by a long stick.

While she at first looks a bit alarmed, her eyes shift to look kinder. She’s quite pretty, honestly. Lovely dark hair and despite the dress not showing her figure well, it has a certain innocence to it.

“Do you know where I would be able to purchase goods in this town?” I ask her carefully. “Food, more than anything.” I add carefully.

“Oh, yes.” she nods. “There’s a farm house just along this road,” she points out to the direction she’s talking about. Further down a street of houses I can start seeing a huge red structure, no doubt a barn house. “The farmers are always selling food.”

“I see. Thank you for your help.” I bow to the young woman respectfully as I wander off in that direction. The streets in this town are very bustling and busy, perhaps under the lovely blue skies of such a nice day?

It’s nice to encounter such a happy place, after having fled from my own home being destroyed.

I reach what is no doubt the grounds of the farm… The ground at my feet feels different. Less structured, more natural. I walk on real soil and grass here. It’s almost refreshing, in a strange way.

There’s no doubt that the house over there near the barn must be where I can find the farmers. It’s not very big, but it looks comfortable enough. There’s a big window at the side I can see, it’s open to take in all the fresh air of this fine day.

Just before I head that way, I notice some rustling in the bushes around me…

I sigh to myself. “Come on,” I instruct. “I know you’re all there.”

As I had expected, it was those of my clan. They all wore the same black suits and orange accessories as I did, some wearing masks, some not. It was all down to choice really, and I happen to prefer my mask being on.

“Sorry, Master.” the eldest ninja of the group, Renzar, says playfully. “I couldn’t help but follow, and so, the others did too.”

“No matter.” I shake my head. I don’t think it’s such a bad thing they followed me. What if something happened? They only had my safety in mind when doing such a thing. “This place, I should be able to purchase food for us.” I tell them calmly. “So wait here.”

As I had intended to, I make my way to that cosy little house just by the barn. It’s a bit unsure if anyone is really in there, so I knock my hand on the door gently.

In no time at all, the wooden door opens up before me. Not quite what I expected, a young woman wearing overalls is at the other side of the door. She has very lovely brown hair, very long. And under her overalls on her torso is a bit of a messy white shirt.

“Oh, hi!” she greets unsurely. “What can I do for you?”

“I have come seeking food for my people.” I explain to her briefly. “I have a good amount of gold to offer you for all the mouths I wish to feed.”

She nods her head, a little more confident than she was when she first opened up the door. “Do you just want… General food supplies, then?” she asks.

I nod right back. “That would do great, yes.”

“Then, wait right here.”

I wait patiently as instructed… This place is very nice, I catch myself thinking. There’s the forest over there, the lively town just over there… And on the other side, a huge plain of grass. There’s a hill with a tree growing on the top, so it seems. It looks pretty nice, too.

I find myself turning back as she returns, pushing in a wooden trolley with shelves of food stacked onto it. Raw meat that we can cook of a few varieties, some vegetables and fruits…

It was perfect.

“This is wonderful!” I can’t help but exclaim, even clapping my hands together eagerly. “This is exactly what I had been hoping for.”

“Oh, that’s great!” she chimes eagerly. “So this should come to about fifty gold…” she tells me as she points loosely to the supplies set ahead of me. “And well, if you need any help getting it around, let me know.”

“Perhaps I require some storage… Some bags?” I ask with a shrug of my shoulders.

“Yeah, sure. We can do that.” she nods.

It all seems agreed on, I reach into the sack attached to my belt and pass her the gold that she had requested. She counts it up ahead of me to be sure, and is thrilled to reveal that she counts the right amount.

It seemed right as she’d started packing it up into some sacks…

We both heard a loud noise. It could have been a clumsy thud, but no, I’m accustomed to sounds. That was an intentional noise. The noise of a sword slamming through wood!

“Oh, no…” she grumbles to herself.

I stop trying to figure out just where that noise came from, and look at the woman unsurely. “What was that?” I ask her.

“We’ve been dealing with these thugs. I think they’re back.” she tells me quickly. “They keep coming here, taking our money, taking our food… It’s terrible.”

I can’t just stand here while I know this! Me and my whole elite squadron are right here. It’s about time someone stood up for this farm, I tell myself firmly. My fist clenches tightly. “Wait here.” I instruct the young woman.

I dash out to reach the others, to instruct them of the plan quickly. “This farm sees an attack!” I tell them quickly. “Form up and surround the scoundrels. We shall scare them off together.”

“No killing them?” My brother Ardini asks impatiently.

“Not unless you have to.” I tell him sternly.

We rush in together, but in the blink of an eye we disband into different directions to surround the area as a unit. Renzar and I approach them by ourselves, a pair of men with simple swords currently vandalising, and stealing the crops.

“Excuse me, gentlemen!” Renzar calls out first. He’s a bit easier to hear, since he’s of the ninjas that doesn’t wear his mask so much. He has white hair, but tips of orange at the bottom of it. It’s a little long and tied on his head as mine is. “Those don’t belong to you. You’d best stop now.”

“Who are these jokers?!” one of the raiders barks irritably. “Nice outfits, you wannabes.” he brushes us off with a lazy gesture of his hand. “But unless you want to get yourselves killed, you’d better scram!”

They were those kinds of thugs. Thought they were stronger than anyone, apparently. We didn’t allow them more time to damage the farm.

I toss down a smoke bomb onto the ground at our feet, and in a single movement not only Renzar and I, but the whole group surround the thugs and have a bit of fun smacking them around.

Shoving them from one to the other, giving them a good punch, anything to show them how outmatched they truly were.

It never went on for too long, we stopped.

As soon as we did, they scurried off as we’d thought they would.

Moments later, that young woman in overalls crept closer to see those foul men rushing away and an entire group of ninjas standing where they were previously damaging her farm.

It’s easy to see in her face that she doesn’t really know what to make of this situation. She’s trying to speak, but the words aren’t coming out. What is she to say?

Eventually, she lightly hits her head to kick herself into gear. “You really chased them off!” she grins eagerly. “O-oh goodness…” she wanders closer, admiring all of us before locking her eyes back on me. “Hey, what’s a group like this doing out here? You seem a bit of a big group to be travelling…”

“We lost our home, just last night.” I tell her briefly. “We are searching for a new home… But I came to you to feed my people first. We can’t hope to find a home if we aren’t even alive.”

She takes in my words thoughtfully…

“I want you all to wait here until my father gets home.” she tells us, she seems rather excited now. Her hands don’t really know what to do with themselves, her fingers wriggling around so happily. “I’ll tell him what you did for us… Maybe we can at least give you somewhere to stay for a little bit!”

I never expected anything of the sort… My eyes have grown wide with surprise. But such surprise soon suppresses into a calm, thankful joy.

This was possibly the most fortunate time to have helped this young woman.

This is sort of a warm up for me, for a new story I’ve got in the works. I’m excited about it and just haven’t really started it yet, and this is almost how it will kick off.

Maybe a bit before, but…

This was just to further boost my hype! It worked, heh.

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