Chapter 10 – Hidden secrets (part 3)


"Kaze Yousei, you are late."

"Gomenasai, Hogosya-sama." The fallen silver leaves flapped slightly.

A bronzed-armoured creature materialised. Its body was of a serpent, wings of the eagle attached to the scaly back; its emerald-studded helmet heavily covered its hideous face. In his hand, he flings a rugged body on the ground.


"I see that you have a sense of timing, Goei."

"At least, I'm not late, Hogosya," The voice was hoarse and thick like sticky mud. The serpent tail rattled. The eagle wings folded up neatly.

"Goei-sama, Hogosya-sama. The two Akatsuki Kamiga - bodyguards of Lady Yogen. What brings the two of you?" Kaze Yousei paused at the sight of the 2 cloaked figures approaching the milky white tree. They bowed to the armoured bodyguards and stand aside. "And who are they?"

"None of your concern. Do you have Fujin?"

"Of course, Hogosya-sama. He's with me."

"Then, let's begin."


Hogosya and Goei placed their hands over the Akatsuki symbol craved on their breast armours.  The air becomes dry and still. The remaining silver leaves dropped down to the roots. Their diamonds lining faded away. The lanky branches that were shaped like the praying arms of a woman spit open and lowered down to where Kaze Yousei is standing. The ground rumbled as roots shot out and forming a cross net barrier. Vapour steamed out of the bark and covered Kaze Yousei. 

The 2 bodyguards held out their hands, Goei uses his tail to pick up the rugged body. For a belief moment, there was a vague outline of fingers pocking out of the cross net barrier. The lanky branches deliberately opened a gap. Goei flings the body into the gap. Like there was quick sand beneath, the tree sank into the ground, leaving the body behind.

The hands started to bend its fingers and the limbs began to crawl up. The bony body shook as the hands touched the face. It gave a cry. The face turned, showing rotten parts of the flesh. The legs curved outwards, barely supporting the weight.

"What is this?" Bits of the skin peeled away as the lips parted. "What is this?" The outstretched hand trembled fiercely. "WHAT IS THIS?"


"Your body," answered Goei.

"Body? I have no body! I'm Kaze Yousei the immortal! How can I become human?"

"For the gathering of the Kami no hitos, you have given your immorality and your powers. Be thankful that your soul is not cast into the abysses. At least, you will return to where you came from."

"Since when, have I agree this? This is some mistake! Kami no hito? I'm a Kami no hito?"

"Don’t flatter yourself, Kaze Yousei. The Kami no hitos are already here."


"You just act as a medium for them to start the cycle. 2 more and it will be completed."

"I don't understand…"

"You don't have to, you are destined from the day you die. It's too bad that you didn't pay attention. Even a blind man can avoid danger better than you."


"That's enough talking. We have to get the other two," Hogosya waved his hand. The cloaked figures walked forward. "Finish him off."

"Hogosya-sama…" He went on his knees. "Please… I beg you…" The cloaked figures removed their capes.


"Shiroka! Suna Arashi!"

"Who would have thought that the mighty Kaze Yousei would beg like a wimp." Shiroka smiled.  "Just to let you know, Suna Arashi will take over your place."

"Ludicrous! A Sluth!"

"Not a sluth any longer, you worthless speck of dung," Suna Arashi kicked him in the stomach. Kaze Yousei coughed out blood and salvia. "It's time for you to return to the dust." She knelt down and scooped out a handful of earth at the spot where the white tree had sunken. The soil solidified into a curved dagger.


Kaze Yousei’s legs weakened beneath him. He knew how powerless he was now. The Akatsuki spirits had left him. A cruel realisation had come to him. The Akatsuki spirits were never controlled by the user. It was the user who was controlled by them. They chose the perfect host for their own purposes until they found no need for him. What better host could it be than a person who was blinded by the desire for power and strength? Kaze Yousei crumpled to a pitiful creature as Suna approached him. Pleasure of sweet revenge was in her eyes, her tongue licked the lips as if it could almost taste blood. Then with no hesitation, she buried the dagger deep into his chest. Kaze Yousei toppled backwards, gasping, the dagger still protruding from his chest. His face tightened with pain, then relaxed, the face tightened again. The eyes squeezed shut and opened. The hands grasped the handle in a feeble attempt to pull it out. With his last remaining energy, he said something, which was more than a whisper.

“You are me.” The hand slid away and he died.  

Rahai arrived at Misayate Street a little too late. The street was deserted and had a ghostly silence. He could felt that a fight had happen and he had come too late despite the flawlessly cleanliness the place was. He narrowed his eyes and examined the place. Letting his ninja instincts to guide him, he sensed Fuko, Tokiya and Umi’s presence and a few formidable individuals that he feared that they were from the Akatsuki Clan. The atmosphere was closing into him, like a giant pair of hands swooping down to hold him and squeezed the life out of him. Raiha turned at all angles and looked for any possibility of an enemy whose threatening presence sent chills down into his soul. He tried to shake off the negative feeling but it cling on to him like pesky leech. Then, he felt something hard beneath his feet. Bending down, he picked up a curved white object. He looked up and saw objects of familiar shape. Placing the curved object on his arm, he gasped. Fujin had been destroyed! Spinning around, a foreboding feeling bedded in him that Fuko had been taken prisoner. Night was setting in and the last coppery rays of the sun were fading away into the dark, cooling the stale. Raiha shivered; he knew that he could do nothing more than to return and hope that Fuko would be alive by the time he had found her.

That night, Tokiya Mikagami had a nightmare. He dreamt of him standing in a room with Mifuyu holding him in her arms, fighting back tears, trying to be brave. Two men were standing before them. One of them walked forward, revealing his face from the shadows. It was Meguri Koyoza. The several ear rings dangled on his left ear, he smiled ravenously at Tokiya. Without warning, he threw a dagger at him. Basic intuition told him to dodge but he couldn’t. Fear had paralysed him. Mifuyu threw herself over him, using her own body as a shield. The dagger sank deeply into the tender flesh. She fell into his arms. Tokiya felt the warm blood over his hands.  He felt his hands holding something tightly in his grasp. It was Ensui. Out of blind rage, he plunged it into Meguri's stomach. Instantly, Meguri fell motionlessly onto the ground, face down. Tokiya knelt down; he turned over Koyza’s body. To his terror, he saw Umi staring back at him.


“Umi? … Umi!” He quickly held her in his arms. She looked like an angel, white and pure. Her chestnut hair shone brightly against her bloodstained dress.

“Tokiya,” blood flowed out from her mouth. “You’ve killed me.” She lifted her hand and touched the trembling boy’s face. “But I forgive you.” Her hand dropped onto the ground, disintegrating into iridescent blood, covering him completely. Her blood tasted both sweet and coppery in his mouth. Meguri Koyoza's words echoed in his horror-stricken mind.


Taking the path of revenge is hard way to live. Ensui requires the blood of your enemies and soon, you too will be covered with blood as well. But it will not be just you; the woman you loved will die as well.


Tokiya’s eyes snapped open, his body jerked up straight. Beads of cold sweat trickled down his skin. The sound of his breathing heaved heavily against the night’s peaceful silence. He pressed his forehead onto his palms, still trying to relieve himself from that dreadful nightmare. When stability returns to his mind, he remembered Umi and looked around for her. She was lying next to him sound asleep. The blanket outlined the curves of her body. Tokiya hesitated for a moment, then reached over and shook her shoulders gently. She rested restlessly and aroused, rubbing off the sleepiness that stubbornly cling onto her. With a sudden awareness that she was somewhere unfamiliar, she sat up straight and her eyes darted across the surroundings before settling onto Tokiya’s slightly amused face.


“Where are we?”

“I am not sure,” Taking a second look, “it seems like we are in somebody’s house, a kendo training dojo perhaps.” Crawling over to the other bed to get the lamp that was burning comfortably in the darkness. He held it up and used the light to help him confirm his assumptions. It did. Looking back at Umi, who had the same thinking as him. What do they do next?


“Maybe, we should leave this place,” suggested Umi, tying up her hair.

“I’m afraid it’s too dark to do that. It’s even worse that we don’t know where we are.”

“We can’t stay here and wait.”

“You are right there…” He walked towards the door and tried to open. “Darn, it’s locked. Guess we have to stay here for the night.” He smiled at her. “But don’t worry, Umi. I’ll be here to protect you.”


Umi smiled back to ease herself. “Arigatou. Especially for what you did today.”

Tokiya shook his head, “iie (No), it’s you who have helped me. If you didn’t undo the spell, I’ll be an iceberg by now.” Umi lowered her eyebrows,; distress covered her entire face. “Umi, what’s wrong?”

“You remembered…” She looked away. “I was hoping that you wouldn’t.”

“Why?” He went closer to her. “Why wouldn’t you want me to remember?”

“Because I don’t want you to be involved in this,” tears streamed down. “It’s because of this that I always be condemned for. Everybody hates me because of that. You will too.”

“That’s a whole lot of rubbish. I love you, Umi and nothing is going to change that.” He held her in his arms. “Oshiete kudaisai (please tell me).”


At the Akatsuki Fortress, the sun had long sunk into the darkness and an impenetrable hush covered the place. The passing wind brushed across the fields and did not dare to approach the stone walls, as if it was anxious to pass the walls undetected. The moonlight shimmered around the dark tower, radiating its heat into waves. Within the fortress, the Akatsuki warriors went about their tasks in deadly silence, all wrapped in their cloaks but filled with purpose. At the tower, Hogosya stood at the window looking out on the darken glass field. He stood with his hands clasped behind his back, rigid within his armour, empty of feeling that he has long cared for.  The exterior appearance of his meant nothing to him. What was inside him mattered; it has given life to him.  The cold eyes glittered at the prospect for day when the prophecies would come true for the Akatsuki Clan. No more will they had to suffer the 600 years of humiliation of defeat by the Hokages.  When that day come, they would become supreme rulers and would surely make their foes suffers a thousand times over. Hogosya tried to smile faintly but its felt stiff and fake. Many things are needed to be done yet so little time.

Shiroka had shown her displeasure greatly in her eyes. Who could blame her? Her pride was like the mountain that refused to shaken by any earthquakes or other natural forces. However, the pride comes before the fall. The battle with her brother, Kurei had become too personal for her. The rage was clouding her judgement. Kurei would play an important role later. The time for the siblings to meet again had not been cast. Until that time, she could make herself useful with Suna Arashi. Lady Yogen had chosen her to take over the late Kaze Yousei. Kaze Yousei, the imbecile to think that the Akatsuki spirits were under his control. Spirits never let anyone control them for any dreamful purposes. 

Yet, there was one thing he did right before his timely death.  Fuko Kirisawa, the Hokage girl. Yes, she could be very useful indeed. Her loyalty and faith in her friends would be her doom and theirs as well.

He pursed his lips. That little time that he had was all that was needed to set the events in motion until the Hokages found out that they were too late to stop the course. Break them up bit by bit. Never allow a single moment to let them join together. Break them psychically and emotionally. Break them their burning spirits into pitiful bits of sparks.  The first thing is to provide them some distractions, something else that keep them occupied. If that distraction could cause their deaths, it would be better still. For that to start, there must be somebody to begin with.

Closing his eyes, Hogosya considered the most potential person that would suit that position. Someone whose mind is at the brink of collapsing into an abyss. Someone who knows the meaning of deceit, lies, deception and the most delicious one of all, betrayal.  He was considering that matter for a very long time. The moon had rose high in the darkness, a scythe against the black, the stars dimmed around it into pin prickles of greyish silver. Hogosya lifted his head up and nodded finally.


Let Kurei and Kagero be occupied into trying the find the connection between Akatsuki and the Hokages. Let them learn of the treacheries that their forefathers did. They could be able to find them all if they live long enough. Give Kurei something to toy with, to confuse him and frustrate him especially now when he has learnt about his twin sister, Shiroka. With Eikai ball destroyed, that unquenchable thirst to know what happened to his mother, Reina would drive him to the point where Shiroka could slip in easily and finished him. The power of the phoenix must be returned to its rightful owner.

The girl, Kirisawa. Let her stay in the dungeon for an extremely long time till she would be no longer able to count the days and nights. Until her waiting becomes desperation.  Knowing her hot-headiness, when the time is ripe, allow her to escape. And of course, something for her to take with her departure.


The others seem so insignificant.

But they had to be deal with anyway. Any allies to the Hokages must not be overlooked.


Last but not least, the one that will set the motion going – Tokiya Mikagami. Who better than he who knows what was it like to have someone dying in front of him. Trusting someone with your life who ends up being the one who destroyed his previous life. Not knowing about his whereabouts until now. Revenge still cling onto him but is slipping away little by little because he has found love – Umi Haruna. Yes, the lost sheep of the Akatsuki Clan.  Like he had planned, Mayonaka would have already told her about her brother and the past which she hoped to be forgotten. No, dear Umi. The past will always catch up with people no matter how hard one tried to run from it. Yes, the revenge in Mikagami’s heart must be rekindled and burn uncontrollably. Let the pain of revenge consume him so greatly that he will lose his soul and will. Then, he will be completely in the Akatsuki’s hands forever. And Umi will be the key. Let Goei and Mayonaka take charge of that.

Goei.. that wretched animal from the underworld. A mere soldier who followed orders while he, the brain had to think and plan for the future victories. How could there be anyone having the same status as him? After all, he did defeat him in a dual. However, Lady Yogen was in need for a host to let her spirits survive in the human world. It was ill luck that Goei was chosen by her when he himself had schemed so hard to become who he was today. Goei, a creature whose body could shape into any animal shape or form that he liked. He may have the monstrous strength but not the brains that go along with it.


For a long time he stood at the window and allowed himself to dream of the future.


Umi felt her tongue unwilling to move as she forced the lump of reluctantly out of her throat. Like Tokiya, she too knew that the sooner they know the truth about each other, the more advantage they will have against the Akatsuki clan. They knew too much already.

“My parents have always been living happily with each other despite the disapproval of my grandparents. My father used to tell my brother and me about how he met my other. He said that he found her at the sea. He was fishing at that day and fell asleep under the afternoon heat. He woke up a few hours and saw someone walking upon the seawaters. Father described her as a shapely woman with hair blue as the seawaters and her eyes green as the darkest seaweed. He fell in love with her immediately and asked her if she would like to come with him. She agreed and soon, they married. My grandparents weren’t pleased with his decision since he knew very little about her background. Since mother wasn’t a local, they had bad impressions of her and wanted father to divorce. But father refused and took very good care of mother. She gave birth to my brother some years later. Father told me that when she was pregnant with me, that she often had nightmares about giving birth to me. She said that her past will catch up with her and I’ll be the one taking her place. Both father and brother didn’t believe her. As soon as she gave birth to me, she died. Father was devastated by her death and died soon after. My brother was left to take care of me.”

“When I was around 5, brother took me to the riverside for a short walk. While we were resting, my brother told me to stay put while he buys us some drinks. I was playing with my doll when some children came over and bullied me. I cried and yet I was angry with myself for letting them getaway. Then, somehow, from the riverbank came out a huge wave. Like a hand, it grabbed them and nearly drowned them. I heard my brother’s voice calling to me. I looked around and found myself in his arms, his face was all covered with sweat and he looked extremely worried. He told me that he was shaking me to snap me out of a trance. Some weeks later, he decided to send me to some other relatives in Tokyo. He said that he would be able to get a proper job to support both of us. I think that what he intended to do is to find out more about the Akatsuki clan. He wrote letters to me every now and then. Till recently, I haven’t received a single word from him. I’m scared, Tokiya. What if he is captured by them?”  

“In his past few letters, he kept on asking me whether anything strange happen to me. He always reminds me to stay away from the rivers, canals or the sea because he was afraid that I might do something or something would happen to me.”

“But you did something to Ensui during the fight that Akatsuki man. The moment you touch it, Ensui immediately responded. This never happen before.” Tokiya took out Ensui and held it out to her. “Try touching it again…”


Umi reluctantly opened her hand. Her fingers spread out wide over the bluish ore of Ensui. They both waited for a few minutes but happen nothing. They looked at each other.

“Nothing…,” murmured Tokiya. “How odd…”


“Yes, Umi.”

“What’s your connection with Ensui?” Umi said, half hesitating. “I mean, that man, Mayonaka. He said something that triggered you badly.”


Tokiya bit his lip. It was his turn now. Breathing in deeply, he told Umi about Mifuyu’s death, his meeting with the Hokages, Kurei and Mori Kougan. He also told her about Kai, being his senior and who had told him about the murderer of Mifuyu – Meguri Koyoza, the man he trusted. The last whereabouts was that he was at SODOM where the Hokages had their final showdown with Mori Kougan. Fate was against him as it had let Meguri slipped from Tokiya’s fingers.


“So, are you still thinking about killing him?”

“At first, I wanted to now I’m not so sure. I just wanted an answer from him. Why did he kill Mifuyu? Why? That’s all I need to know.  It has been the answer that I have been searching all my life.” Tokiya’s face stricken.” And why did he bother to take me in as his student? Kai told me that Meguri wanted to use revenge as a motivator to enhance my skills but I feel that there is something more to this. The answer can’t be so simple. There has to be more…”

Umi put her arms around him. Tokiya held on to her like she’s the rock standing in the sea of uncertainty that could wash him away anytime. The night was fading and sunrise lit up the skies. Morning shadows were beginning to form on the wooden floor.


“Despite all this,” he said into his shoulder. “I want you to know that I love you.”

Umi moved so that she could see his face, her eyes searched into his and did not look away.  “I love you too.” Tears were in her eyes. “And I don’t want to lose you.”

“And I don’t want to lose you, either.” He brought Umi into his arms and let her cry upon his shoulders. Tokiya felt himself breaking apart. Then, he pulled away from her. “And I promised to be with you forever.”


He kissed her and held her against him, memorising the touch and feel of her till it became part of him. The thought of losing her was totally unbearable.  The lovers were still in their embrace when the door slides open. A girl stepped in. Her face was chiselled with almond eyes and blond hair. She was taken back at the passionate scene before her, biting her lower lip; she gave a deep throaty sound. That broke the love spell between the lovers.  Tokiya instantly held out Ensui. The girl held out her hand in peaceful gesture.


“Relax, I’m your friend. My sensei has brought you here. My name is Asa Hikari. Welcome to Hokkaido.”


Yoru Hukurou was known as a wise man by all those who had known and been with him. For those who have seen him for the first time would think otherwise. His appearance was like a hermit. Messy locks of grey ash hair were pushed back behind his ears, showing his weather beaten face. His shrivelled body donned by clean brown clothing. Wispy smokes twisted and turned around his thin pipe that was hanging out from the tip of his mouth, his narrow eyes settled on Tokiya and Umi who were sitting across him. From time to time, he stroked his goatee with bittersweet amusement. Who could have thought that he would live to see the children of those who should surpass him instead? No doubt, these children bear resemblance to their late parents; their souls were living through them. The spirits told him that they would be coming to seek the answers that he alone had. The time had come to tell them the truth whether it was for the better or the worse. Now, whom should he begin with? Maybe Umi… since it is gentlemanly to start with the lady.


“You have come to learn more about your mother?” Yoru began, thinking that would add dramatic tension to the atmosphere as long as he could keep this face expressionless.

“Yes,” Umi leaned forward, too eager to learn more.

“Then, you would have already known that Akatsuki blood flow through her veins as they are flowing through yours,” Deliberately taking a long sip of green tea from a porcelain cup that Asa had placed next to him. “Your brother, Itsuki, has inherited the same blood as you. It is either a blessing or a curse but that it’s up to you to decide your fate. It has been the same for me, Asa and Tsurugi as descendants of the Akatsuki clan. We too bear the sins that our brothers and sisters are afflicting upon the Hokages.”

“But I thought that the Akatsuki clan wants to destroy the Hokages because they already wiped out your clan 600 years ago,” Tokiya feeling suspicious. “Why are you helping us?”


“Not all flowers from the Sakura trees are fresh and pretty. Some are budding and some did not blossom, as it should while others whither away. It is same with us and other people. Some are good and some are bad and others are in-between, always shifting to one side or the other depending on the situation. The reason that we are on your side is that we do not approve of what our present kin are doing. That is why your mother left, in hopes to live a normal life.  It was the spirits that guided her to your father even though the happiness was short-lived. Nevertheless, she lived happily. I met your parents a few times before you were born. Itsuki is probably too young to remember. Your mother was afraid that her children would possess the same powers that you have. Sad to say, her fears were confirmed.” Yoru sighed heavily. “Because of that, the Akatsuki wants you and Itsuki. You two inherit the element, water that is vital to the ceremony of uniting.”

“The ceremony of uniting?” asked Umi.


Yoru nodded. “It is the ceremony of uniting the 4 essential elements that have kept the balance of this place. Earth, fire, wind and water. But these elements are pure and cannot survive the sins of men. Therefore, 4 kami no hito are chosen as hosts for them. When the four united, they will bring about the One, who will purify the world.” He grunted. “Their meaning would be…”

“The destruction of earth which is their definition of cleansing,” interrupted Tokiya. “This phrase has been heard many times and I don’t think that I will hear the last of it.”

“kek…” Yoru spat. “At least you should allow me to say it.” He inhaled his pipe. “Sometimes, you are like your father though your features are similar to your mother.”

“Waiting for the truth for 10 years and more can make a man too impatient… Yoru, you should tell what you know about Meguri Koyoza,” said a middle-aged bald man, who wore a huge fur coat, walking the room. “It has been a while, Tokiya Mikagami.”


“Kukai from Ku?” Tokiya stared wide-eyed at him. “You are here, too?”


The monk laughed and sat beside him. “Yoru called me about your arrival. I was surprised at first but I always knew that you would come here to Hokkaido.” Seeing Ensui in Tokiya’s hands, “Seems like your thirst for revenge is still there, Tokiya. How long will you hold on to it?”

“As long as Meguri Koyoza is still alive,” Bitterness began to set in Tokiya’s voice. “He’s here, isn’t he?”

“Unfortunately and luckily for you, he’s not here. In fact, I haven’t seen him since SODOM.”

“Then, what is the purpose of me doing here?”

“Plenty!” Yoru boomed. “Revenge has already clouded your mind. If you think that you are here just to avenge your sister’s death, then you are so wrong. Revenge is not what brings you here. It’s Umi that you are here!”

“Umi?” Tokiya frowned. “How is she involved in this?”


“Isn’t she?” croaked Yoru, puffing out smoke from his mouth. “Doubt has its place in you. Suspicion, anger and fear too. You want revenge but you fear its consequences. You yearn for truth yet doubts have taken your judgment. If impatient overcomes your mind, you will not be successful and you’ll be hurt even further, including those around you.”

“That is for me to decide.”

“Decide? You are wavering over any decisions. You hate Meguri Koyoza for lying to you about Kai and Mifuyu and you are still confused about the way he took you in as his student. The man who cold bloodedly killed your sister is also the same man who took care of you till you are old enough to take care of yourself. Deep down, you are having a dilemma and it will tear you apart. This is what the Akatsuki wants from you. Don’t fall into their trap!”

“I have nothing to do with the Akatsuki.”

“Oh yes, you are! You are Meguri Koyoza’s student who has mastered Ensui. Not everyone can do that. Moudoughs are indirectly created by the Hokages through the methods used by the Akatsuki. Ensui is an extremely powerful Akatsuki spirit because it takes the blood of its opponents despite it uses water as its strength. Ensui gives out and draws in life. If you are not careful, Ensui will take hold of you. Do not think that the maudough will hold it forever. Ensui desires to be free as much as you want to be free.”

“Then you better start explaining and stop going around in circles!” Tokiya hissed.



At TresBreu restaurant, Kurei, Neon, Raiha, Kagero and Koganei were busily analysing the Hokage scrolls that the Uruha organisation had collected years ago. Luckily for them, the scrolls were so well preserved that they were able to read from it. So far, they had traced the Hokage’s history back to the period of the ‘Survival’. This period was a crucial time for the Hokages ancestors because there were many formidable clans that desired to make a name for themselves. However, they couldn’t for some unknown reason. The same unknown reason.  

Kagero briefly looked at the faces of the foursome, serious, too serious. That couldn’t be helped since so many things had happened that had caught them off guard. First, Recca. Then, Fuko, Umi & Mikagami.  Fujin may be lost forever, so could be Karyu and Kurenai.  Why? Why did Akatsuki need them? What’s their plan? Their purpose?


Too many questions and so little answers.

She wondered how would each of them cope with the pressing situations. For years, Kurei never knew that he had a twin sister, Shiroka. Now, he’s forced to fight again. It would be against his own flesh and blood. Just like between him and Recca. Now, both brothers had reconciled and buried the hatchet. Now, history had repeated itself but on different terms. How was Kurei going to reach out to her? The Akatsuki clan would probably brainwashed Shiroka to the point that their words were her basic foundation. It would be Kurei’s most difficult and painful battle to deal with. For he had to go back to the past once more, after that, hopefully, he could finally go forward to the future. At least, he had Neon with him. Neon, pregnant during this troubled times, would she have the mental strength to go on for herself and her child. If the worst comes to the worst, their child could be in grave danger.

Raiha. How long was he going to hide his feelings from Fuko? Since SODOM, Fuko wasn’t entirely herself. Yes, though she smiled and laughed, inside she was crying. Her heart screaming for him to tell her he loved her and wanted to be with her. Raiha was silent and strong, and yet rather stupid in the matters of love. Now, Fuko had been taken prisoner and who knows what would happen to her. Nevertheless, there was still hope for him. Soon, there would be a day that he would finally pour out his emotions and feelings for her.

Kagero scanned the words and symbols. She never knew that there was so much information about the Hokages ancestors. The details were so precise and accurate. Their way of life, their teachings, their skills and techniques. They could really use the information to their own advantage. Maybe, each of them could enhance their own power and hone their skills that would even the odds… In her own thoughts, she spotted a symbol so distinctive that she gasped loudly.


“Kagero, you found something?” asked Kogenai.

“Yes, look at this!”





“That’s the Akatsuki symbol!” Kurei leaned over, took the scroll from Kagero and read.  “Though the elders have agreed never to let it be in the records, my guilt compels me to do so. What we did to become who we are today was a sin. A sin that would come back to us one day, whether it is sooner or later.  10 years ago, the Akatsuki clan was the most feared ninja clan because of their supernatural power that was given to them by the heavens, so as they claimed. At that time, the Hokage were a small clan, battling among others in the name of survival. However, one of our leaders, Kuroika, managed to make their high priestess to fall in love with her. The Akatsuki elders were against the match but when they saw how happy she was, they finally agreed. Through sweet words and deception, Kuroika tricked the priestess in teaching him how control the Akatsuki spirits and use them. Completely taken in, she blessed him to have the power of the flame and a protection cast to protect him from being burnt up by the flame since he was not an Akatsuki. On the eve of the wedding day, Kuroika cunningly gave drugged sake to the Akatsuki elders and anyone who knows about the supernatural secrets. When the drug began to take toll, he summoned up his flame and burned them to death, including the high priestess. Then, we came in and killed the rest and destroyed thousands of scrolls and books that contain valuable information on the Akatsuki history and magic. That night was an evil night. The sight of it still shakes me.”


“With 2 men, Kuroika mysteriously created our weapons, the maudoughs. With them, we began our conquest. Nights after nights, we did nothing but kill and kill. Burning down villagers, annihilating the strong. Within 2 years, we became the most feared ninja clan. Though the successes were great and abundant, Kuroika soon down with a strange illness.  His skin was blackening, his lips crackled and dried. He always complained of being hot despite the cold bitter wind. At nights, he would murmur in many dialects. There were times he cried out the priestess’ name in his sleep before waking up in cold sweat. The elders gossiped among themselves that maybe Kuroika did truly love her and was paying for her crimes for deceiving her. Then after months of the strange illness, Kuroika decided to go the mountains where he heard that there were Akatsuki survivors. So, he went, taking with him a small bundle of food. Summer, spring, autumn and winter came and there would no sighs of his return. So, in the end, it was decided that he was dead and so his eldest son was chosen to the next leader…”


“So, now at least, we know why Akatsuki has a grudge against us,” Koganei chirped. “But what does the symbol mean?”


“The crescent,” Kagero pointed. “It’s the basic symbol of their power…” Frowning, “Those three circles. Doesn’t it look like the three circles for our Hokage symbol? Furthermore, the next drawing looked like a wing…”

“3 circles of the Hokage symbol… a wing…” Kurei pondered. “Ah! Could it be? This symbol represents fire. Recca’s Karyu and Kurenai!”

“If that’s so, then the rest would mean the other 3 elements, earth, wind and water,” Koganei followed his lead. “Darn! How stereo these clans are!”

“Most clans based their power based on the 4 basic elements. After all, it is these elements that nourished this planet,” said Neon. “But which one represents earth, water and wind?”


“The Akatsuki has Fujin,” Raiha finally spoke. “So, it leaves earth and water. Mikagami and Umi are missing. Maybe, Mikagami’s Ensui had something to do with the water element. What about earth? Who else is related to earth?”

“Domon…” Koganei pointed out.


“Not likely,” Kagero responded. “If they want Domon’s Ring of Saturn, they would have done it already. There must be more to this. Otherwise, our Hokage ancestors wouldn’t have taken the trouble to destroy their works. In our context, earth represent strength, like the Ring of Saturn but in their context, it may represent something else…”


“Hey! What the…”

“What is it, Koganei?”

“Somebody sent me an email…” Clicking on the buttons. “It’s from… Kukai?”

“Kukai?” Puzzle displayed on Neon’s face. “What does he want?”

“He wants us to catch the next train to Hokkaido.”

“Hokkaido?” echoed everyone.


Shiroka entered Lady Yogen’s dimly lighted chamber and knelt in front of the silk curtain. This time, she did not cover her face but her dark eyes shifted towards to the shadowy images standing against the stone cold wall swaying rather rapidly like they were excited.  She did not like what she’s seeing and feeling. The scent of exotic flowers in the chamber was becoming thick and heavy, making the air too thin to breathe. The small spring from a horn-shaped statue was flowing in distorted shades of crimson. Something was going to happen and happening soon.


“Shiroka,” said a voice of running water. “Do you sense what I sense? Do you feel what I feel?”

“Yes, my Lady,” replied Shiroka, her face bowed low.  “The Ceremony of Uniting is upon the Akatsuki Clan...”

“What do you know about the symbol of the Akatsuki Clan?”


“The circle,” Shiroka began, with a tint of impatient, “The circle represents the smooth and free-flowing of our way of life. There are no edges or corners that would defeat us. Unlike clans that rise and fall, our will continue to live on through the different stages of man evolution. The crescent shows our devotion to Tsuki (Moon in Japanese), the light of the night, our mother, our source of strength. Within the circles, there are 4 other symbols arranged in a triangular formation, small but significant. On the bottom left, Fire, on the right, Wind, the top, Earth and in the middle, Water.”


“Yes, but can you decipher the meaning of these symbols? Why are they drawn this way?”

“That…” Shiroka struggled, “I’m not certain.”

“Of course, you are,” The voice heightened. “You were never told about it. Then, let me tell you so that you could pass on to the others.”


“Fire, it’s a contradictive force. It always opposes itself. The 3 circles represent the 3 circles of the Hokage symbol. The wing represents Kurei. Though they are brothers, they are against each other. The flames they possess truly demonstrate this. For never in the history of magic that phoenix gets along with the dragons and visa versa. Even the flames themselves bring both aid and suffering to their masters. The Karyu may have strengthened Recca to the point beyond his own imagination. However, he ever dies of regret, he’ll become the 8th Karyu dragon. As for Kurei, although the Phoenix enables him to keep his promise to Kurenai, it didn’t relieve him of the pain of being unable to save her.”

“Wind. The only element that is the closet to the heaven above, the only place that men can never reach. That’s why they always stretch their hands up to the sky. It’s their expression of their futile attempts to touch heaven. Carefree, wild or subtle, the wind will always go wherever its heart desires. Its final destination is never determined.”

“Water. It has neither shape nor form. Similar as Wind, it flows on and on, never ending. Water is the worshipper of Moon for it always reflects her upon its surface. Its effects of its devotion are paid off as you can see by comparing its size with the others.”

“Lastly, Earth. It depends on others desperately from the beginning of time. Fire gives it protection from the cold, Water quenches its thirst and Wind is the very air it breathes. Yet, Earth’s main nourishment is the blood and bodies of men and animals. It will turn them to dust and builds its strength layer by layer upon their corpses!” Lady Yogen paused. “To hide its ugly self, Earth cleverly clothed itself in all its colours of the rainbow and beyond. Now, do you understand, Shiroka?”


“Yes, my Lady,” Swallowing hard. “Earlier today, Goei said that the Kami no hitos are already gathered. If they are already gathered as he said, why do we need to get Karyu, Kurenai and Fujin?”

“They are already here but they need something from this place to act as conducting medium for them the Ceremony of Uniting begins. Their gifts must be something that exhibits the hearts of mortals. Fire is like the soul of the mortals. It burns within them. Like Karyu and Kurenai burns within the Hokage brothers. The Wind, like Fuko & Fujin, is carefree and spirited because of the freedom they have. Yet, too much of that freedom would make the Wind arrogant, just like Kaze Yousei. Like Wind, Water has endless boundaries but it has self-discipline and composure. Yet, the depths of Water are unfathomable and dark. Mortals think of Earth as strength but Earth is frail and weak. As I have said…”


“…it is build upon the blood and corpses of man and animals,” finished Yoru Hukurou, his eyes smouldering at the future’s prospect, “So, do you understand, Tokiya Mikagami? Whether you like it or not, they’ll come for you.” Turning to Umi, “And for you as well.”


“Shiroka, you’ll work together with Goei & Mayonaka. I want Tokiya Mikagami and Umi Haruna. The girl must be brought blemished and unspoilt, for she’ll fulfil her destiny…”


“Umi, your destiny is a destiny that you cannot defer from no longer…”


“For she is…”

“For you are…”


“Heiress of Akatsuki, Shinpiteki Seudouya.”