Chapter 7 - Lurking


Asa Hikari sighed impatiently. Leaning against the trunk of an old Yuig Tree, she sighed once more. Before her was the sea, spreading colours of blue & green in an amazing kaleidoscope manner. It was stained with streaks of bronze provided by the setting sun. Cotton-candied clouds floated against the darkening sky. A light sea breeze blew against her chiselled face, filling her senses with the smell of hidden secrets of the sea.


She sighed again, folded her hands in her lap and lowered her head. How long was she going to stay here? To the sea and stay there. That was what her mentor, Yoru Hukurou, instructed her to do. Stupid arrogant old greezer. She stood up and stretched her restless body. What kind of errand is that? Walking towards the waves, Asa kicked showers of soft sand upon the shells and the ropes of seaweed that were brought by the waves earlier during the day.


Wait. That was all she was told. Wait. For what?


Yoru Hukurou may be a little loose in his brains, definitely one of the signs of being too old, but he would never do childish pranks on his students. There was something in his eyes. Something that made him looked fearful yet satisfied. Who or what could she be possibly been waiting for? Looking up at the sky for the stars to provide her with the slightest indication of the most suitable reasoning of that nutty greezer’s request. But there was none. Only an inky black sky.


Asa stared into its blackness, for moment it looked like a dark velvet rope pasted over the light of the day. Covering it with its silent beauty. A quiet and peaceful night …


Her thought was left unfinished as she spotted a simian figure floating upon the unusually still waters. It took a few steps forward and slump into the waters. This weird movement was repeated a few more times before it stood completely still. Asa’s right hand moved slowly until her fingers closed around the jaded hilt of the dagger at her waist. Almond eyes fastened upon it. A prickling tension was felt at the back of her neck. She couldn’t see anything else besides that creature. At least, within the limited range of her night vision.


She stood stiffly while the sea breeze continued to ruffle her greenish flaxen hair. A scent of incense was present, she smelled evil. Whatever that foul being was, it was looking at her. It was waiting for her.


So was Asa.


But nothing happened. Just the silence. There was neither the sound of the waves nor any night insects. The softness of the sand had become hard and rough beneath the soles of her bare feet. Without looking, Asa knew that she was in the creature’s domain now. She wondered whether there was more of that creature. Whether they were standing behind her, waiting to attack the moment she dropped her guard. On the other hand, they could be testing her to see if she could pose a serious threat to them. Perhaps if she continued to stand still, they would grow impatient and just leave her.


A faint murmuring was heard. Asa frowned. It seemed to come from a very near and yet far place. It sounded like words and not yet exactly words but it was something audible. Its sound was echoing all around her. Asa felt nauseous about it. She carelessly loosened her grip upon the dagger.

In a trice, a claw shot out from the darkness. Asa turned and sliced it off with all her might. For the first time, it howled in such a high-pitched manner that was almost deafening to bear. Hot air blew up about her. It smelled of rotting corpses and smoke. Asa could feel their crushing presence hovering all over her. Not allowing fear to take control of her, Asa clasped the hilt with both hands, fingers tightly locked within each other, she chanted, “Axen doe ie ta. Axen doe ie ta. Ka by yodesu. Protectors of Akatsuki Clan, whom thou have sworn, mine ancestors and their descendants. I ask thee to banish these foul creatures of the dark. Not for mine glory but for the greater good.”

Cold light exploded from the jagged edges of the dagger, hammering its beams into every direction. Asa covered her ears to protect them from the continuous howling of the dark creatures as they twisted in agony until they had become ashes and disappeared. 

The light softened in mist and Asa could see the familiar landscapes of the bench. The one you are waiting for will come soon. Then, it disappeared, leaving Asa all alone.



Shiroka entered Lady Yogen’s dimly lighted chamber and knelt in front of the silk curtain. Her pale face totally covered by her silver-laced hood. Her dark eyes shifted towards to the shadowy images standing against the stone cold wall swaying in a deliberately slow motion. Like her, they were also cloaked and hooded.  


The sound of running water was heard. “I trust that you have recovered completely.”

“Yes, my lady. However, I must begged for your forgiveness for failing to kill Recca Hanabishi.”

“Au contraire. You have done well. Recca Hanabishi is no longer a concern to us.”

“But, I don’t understand. Your ladyship has given me strict orders to kill him. Why is your ladyship sparing his life?”

“From Nichi Hato, Hanabishi is in coma. His life hanging,” pausing for a moment, “on the line.”

“Then, what about Yanagi’s healing powers?”

“Her powers are as useless as she always has been! It’ll take years before Hanabishi recovers if he managed to pull through. But still, he’s totally helpless without his flame.”

“Then, what about Kurei? He’s still possess the power of the flame.”

“Yes, yes, I know that. He’ll be taken care of. For now, your duty is to help out with the preparation of the 4 Kami no hitos. That will be all.”


Shiroka bowed and walked away. Her fist tightened. The more time we wasted on the Hokages, the more they will become stronger.  She glared at the shadowy figures. They went soundlessly, their movements smooth and swift, their hideous forms seeming to be gliding towards the silk curtain.


In seconds, they had disappeared from view.    



A new day had begun. The sunrise brightened up the skies with its glorious copper-red rays. Seagulls greeted each other as they soared to their places among the clouds. One of them flew across the beige sands, following the trail of footprints until it found a couple – Tokiya and Umi - strolling besides the rather quiet morning waves of the sea. The seagull glided across them and up into the clouds, somersaulted and down to the nearest breakwater where the couple had settled. It perched quietly on the rough surface and nibbled on the bits of seaweed as it listened to the sound of a flute. The sound was sweet and smoothing. A summer love song.

The waves applauded at the finishing note. The young composer, Umi snuggled into Tokiya’s embrace. He whispered a few words into her ears while caressing her arms in an up & down motion and finally pressing his lips onto the soft flesh of her neck. Although the embarrassed seagull had witnessed such scenes many times, it peeled its eyes away and tired to pay its attention on its neighbouring crab, who seemed to have an excellent view. Disapproving of this, the seagull flapped its wings, flew high up into the skies, then, swooped down to the sand, scooped up a thick rope of seaweed and promptly dropped it upon the crab.

The seagull took a turn and flew above the ever-flowing waves, where it spotted a familiar couple – Raiha and Fuko - both dressed in sport attire. Their relationship was not so intimated as the previous couple but there seemed to be an awkward tension between the two. From its point of view, they were heading straight towards the breakwater where the previous couple was still engrossed in their passionate kiss. Flapping its wings harder, it flew past the former couple and onwards to the breakwater. Not wanting the passionate couple to be caught off-guard; the seagull gave a warning cry, which suddenly went off-pitch. However, the sound was effective enough to snap the lovers back to reality.

The seagull snarled and turns his neck around. In front of him was a claw of a crab, holding what could be a part of the seagull’s tail feather. For the extremely upset crab was hiding quietly beneath the seaweed, waiting for the seagull to return, where he could take its revenge. His joy was short-lived as the seagull began to kick showers of sand at him.

Unfortunately, this rather comedic scene was left unnoticed by the either of the two couples. The only audience was the other passing-by seagulls who wondering why their friend was behaving in a disgraceful manner.        



Beneath the Akatsuki Fortress, deep under ground, lies a garden furnished with flowers and trees that had lived beyond the age of men.  So bountiful and intense was their fragrant scent. Their divine beauty would put anything to shame. In the middle of the garden stood four trees aching towards each other.

The first tree was milky in colour; its bark was satiny and flawless. Its silver leaves were shaped like a clove lined with specks of glittering diamonds. Lanky branches shaped themselves like the arms of a woman in prayer motion, held high above its crown. The second tree was coiled like an emerald snake’s body, scaly and cold. There were vines flowing down from its crown with bunches of ruby-coloured fruits hanging on them, its size no bigger than the size of a pea. The third tree was made up of crystal-clear water. Yet, it maintained in a form of an oak tree. The last tree was thin and shrivelled, red bark with violet asymmetrical leaves. When touched, one could feel the intense heat penetrating through his body. At the point of the intersection, laid the statue of the full moon, with strange flowing mists hovering in all directions.

Beneath the statue stood Shiroka, holding the Karyu globe in her hand. She could feel the fiery inferno of the 8 souls. Their rage against their captivity. She shirked at their sense of helplessness and proceeded to insert it into the red-coloured bark tree. The tree instantly sucked it into its core. Within a split second of silence, fire bright red arced from the roots to the crown at monstrous speed, its heat withering the surrounding grass. Shiroka, unaffected by the heat, pressed forward, the brightness reflecting in her dark eyes. Slowly, the flames diminished into tiny red tongues and died into steam.

Stretching out her hand, she boldly touched the tree. Barely touching the surface, an incredible force raced through her arm and into her body, filling her strength and power beyond her mortal control. Her mind was in pitch darkness. She gasped in shock, too stunned to release her hand. Images began to form themselves clearly before her, her pulse becoming steady, her heartbeat slowing down. She released her hand and looked around. Nothing had changed. Everything was exactly the way it was. Even the grass surrounding the red-coloured tree had sprung back to life, showing no physical evidence of being withered.       


Shiroka looked down at her hand, pondering over her encounter. That energy, that power. Can be that the Hokage have advanced that much during the last 600 years? The power that she felt through her body. It was amazing, incredible. It made her feel supreme!


“Incredible, isn’t it?” hissed a voice. “Pity, though. It was almost perfect.”

“What do you want, Kaze Yousei?”

“Impressive. You could sense my presence. Not many people could do that.”

“A being without a physical body doesn’t necessary mean that he is better than a being with one.”

“Sharp tongue, I like that in a woman,” The leaves rustled in agreement. “True, I’ve lost my physical body a long time. But eventually, I’ve benefit more than my loss. Unlike people like you, I need not food, water, sleep and most importantly, air to survive. I need not that because I have gained the most perfect and ultimate status of men. I’m an immortal. I’m the air that you cling on so dearly to live. I’m the one who controls the elements of air. I’m the one who has the power in deciding who live and die. I’m the master of all Akatsuki air creatures & spirits.”


“Except for one spirit that you do not have. Fujin.”

“I would have if Goei-sama didn’t stop me!” Kaze Yousei scowled. “He and his constant sayings of the 4 kami no hito. Hidden Akatsuki blood. If what Fuko Kirisawa is the chosen one and that! Nonsense!”

“Is that what really happen or is it something else?”


“What do you mean by that?”


The grass and flowers swayed. The ponds rippled.


“If I could remember, your usual way of getting what you want is less messier and more much faster than your last fight with Kirisawa. Slow killing is not really, shall we say, your perfect style of killing?”



“You were not able to gain full control of Fujin as easily as you did before with the previous spirits that you had encountered.”


A purple leaf snapped. Its pieces fell next to Shiroka’s feet.


“Spirits allow themselves to be ruled over either by their own free will, being defeated or when their present masters are killed by someone else. You couldn’t get Fujin to come to you by its own free will since it has chosen Kirisawa to be its mistress. So, you tried to kill Kirisawa. You fooled her into thinking that Fujin attacked her. But the fact is that the Fujin that Kirisawa saw was not Fujin but a mere, pathetic hallucination that you created! You tried to kill Kirisawa through that but you couldn’t because the real Fujin was protecting her!”


More leaves snapped into pieces but Shiroka remained firm in her stand.


“But that’s not the best part. The part that hurts your pride the most is that you,” forming a curt smile, “could not break the power of the moudough that held Fujin captive.  The reason is that you need a physical body to do so. And you don’t have one.”


“SHUT UP!!!” screamed Kaze Yousei. “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”


“Pity, though. You were almost perfect for a Kami no Hito. Almost.”


Kaze Yousei sent a twirling whirlwind at her but a wall of flame sprung out and absorbed it.


“What the heck? The 8 souls of the Hokage?”


From the wall of flame, formed 8 figures, their eyes lifeless their mouths opened in silence screams. They stretched out their frail arms like tormented ghosts, hoping to grab onto something that could pull them out from their suffering.


“Behold, the famous Karyu. They are in pain because their souls could not unite with the spirits. They had shed too much blood. Don’t be frightened, Kaze Yousei. This will not happen to you. What we need now is a something that could bind their souls & spirits together. It has to be something pure, unstained by blood. And I think,” Smiling, “I know what that perfect thing is.”



“Moshi moshi. TresBreu restaurant. How may I help you?” answered Fuko.


“… … I see, and your name is?”

“IT doesn’t matter what my name is. I DEMAND TO SEE THE MANAGER!!”

“Raiha!” whispered Fuko, holding the phone at least one metre away from her. “Help!! It’s a complaint call.” 

“Konnichiwa. This is Raiha. May I help you?”

“Oh, the typical merry-go-around method. The problem with kids nowadays. No sense of standard.”

“I apologise for the delay. Please explain your situation to me, “Grabbing a pen and a sheet of meno pad. “I would like to be able to help you.”

“Well, the beef set you sent me an hour ago is terrible. It’s burnt on the outside and raw in the inside. The rice is dry. The miso soup is salty. The vegetable is overcooked… I’m a regular customer of this restaurant and I expect the food to be up to my expectations…”

“I apologise once again, Mr…,” scrolling down the list of take-away orders. ”Mr Takashima”

“About time, you people got that name right.” 

“To compensate you for that beef set, we sent you another one plus a free green tea ice cream and strawberry shortcake within the next 45mins. Will that be fine?”

“I suppose so…”

“Then we’re set. I’ll send your beef set including the free dessert within the next 45mins. Is there anything else I can do for you today, Mr Takashima?”

“No, that will do.”

“Good. And I apologise again for any inconvenience we caused you. Thank you for calling.”


He hung up the phone. “Alright people, one Beef set for Mt Takashima from 452 Ringo Lane! I want it delivered him within 45mins.”

“I don’t know how you handle him, Raiha,” said Fuko, shaking her head. “I’ll be deaf by the time he’s done.”

“As they say, the customers are always right.”

“Guess so.” Looking around, “Where’s Tokiya?”

“With Umi, on delivery.”


“I let him go. Besides it’s not good for her alone during regular delivery hours.”

“OH?” Raising her eyebrow. “I also did delivery hours on regular basis all by myself, you know. Why wasn’t I accompanied?”


“Err ….that’s besides the point. I mean … errr…”

“Daijoubu. I know what you are trying to say. I mean ….,” Softening her tone. “Tokiya has been a lot happy since he met Umi. He really is in love with her.”


“That’s true,” Walking into the tiny office, “By the way, any improvement on Recca’s condition?”

“Hard to say. The doctors said that if Recca pulls through tonight, there’s a better chance. Yanagi is trying her best to save him. ”

“So ka…,” Pulling out a drawer. “Kurei & Neon are still gathering information about the Akatsuki Clan. So far,” taking out a file.  “Little bits and pieces. Most of the Ninja histories have been destroyed during the wars in Japan.”

“The latest info?” She leaned against the opened door.

“The usual,” flipping the documents. “The most feared Ninja Clan 600 years ago. Mysterious. Often referred as slaves of the Devil because they believed that they sold their souls to gain their supernatural power.” Looking about for something that he could use to write with. “Like most clans, they strongly believed in the elements ….”

“Earth, Fire, Wind and Water,” cut in Fuko, handing him a pen from her pocket. “Yeah yeah.  Stereo, isn’t it?”


“…. Humm… Mr Raiha,” said a worker, “Pardon me for interrupting but there’s someone to see you. It’s a she.”

Fuko gave him the raised-one-eyebrow-look. “I don’t know that you have other female companions.”

“I don’t.” He scribbled. “Here, you take care of this, will you, Kenji? Thanks. Come on, Fuko. Let’s see who this she is.”


Sitting at window-side tables sat a dark-skinned lady, probably from Africa. She was dressed like some Las Vegas bargirl. Her dark brown hair was tied up into a ponytail. A golden scorpion-shaped medallion was tied around her neck. Bronze bangles craved with the ancient scriptures overburdened the shapely tanned arms. Her face was like the desert snake. 


“Irasshaimase. I’m Raiha, assistant manager. This is Fuko Kirisawa, she’s my …”

“ Suna Arashi.”  Purring like some saucy pussycat. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Raiha. You are not from this area are you? Giving a very flirtatious smile, waving her hand over an empty seat.”

“No, I’m just temporary…,” sitting down. “It’s the summer and school is out,” he drummed his fingers onto the table. “My friend owns this place and he needed someone to help him out for the time being. My real job is actually a teacher.”

“un… that’s sad.” Dark seductive eyes scanning from top to bottom.


“So, what can we do for you, Miss Arashi?” asked Fuko directly. 

“Let’s see,” Lighting a cigarette. “My niece’s birthday is tomorrow and I just to give a birthday bash. You know 10 years old kids. They simply love such things. My sister wants to be traditional yet slight modern touches to it. Her neighbours suggested this restaurant to her. But the poor dear has so much things on her hands.” Releasing a line of lavender smoke. “So, I offer myself to help her.”


“So,” Raiha waved the smoke away. “What do you wish to order then?”


“Nothing much. 30 of Tres Breu Kids’ Meals – 10 Beef, 13 Chicken, 5 Ebi, 2 Fish, 30 strawberry sorbet, salads, coke….”

“Chotto Matte kudasai! You want all that tomorrow?”

“Yes,” twirling the cigarette between her thumb and index finger. “Why? Is this too much to handle?”

“No no no not at all. Tomorrow will be fine,” spoke out Raiha before Fuko could object. “Just sign in some forms and everything is settled.”

“That’s what I like about you the moment I saw you. Decisiveness. No hesitation.” Bending forward, revealing some of her generous bosom.  Raiha stiffened. She whispered into his left ear. “Maybe if you have time. Perhaps we could see each other some time. My number will be written on the form, call me, will you?” Her serpent tongue licked the tip.


Blood was boiling beneath Fuko’s veins.



Tokiya drove his bike down the narrow street, turned right and stopped. Placing his foot down onto the hard ground, he took off his helmet. A gush of sea breeze whipped his ponytail to one side.


“Are you sure we are at the right place?” asked Umi, taking out a map from her jacket.

“Un-huh,” Leading his finger across the dotted line, “Maybe there’s a house somewhere near.”


Umi’s eyes wandered over the empty street. Her eyebrow arched at the sight of a nearby rubbish dump. Among the heaps of rubbish, stood a greyish-blue dove, pecking at a piece of leftover bread. Strange place for a dove to be. The dove seemed to be aware of her thoughts, stared at her. Purple into crystal blue. For a faint moment, Umi thought she saw the eyes of a human rather than a bird. A tight squeeze was felt upon her left shoulder. Crystal blue to greyish-green.


“There’s a house at the other end, maybe the owner could help us.”

“Un…” Following Tokiya’s lead, she glanced back but the dove was no longer there.


Tokiya pressed the doorbell. The sound of the lock clicked, the door gave way. In leather jeans and a loosely buttoned linen shirt, stood a slender, well-built man, probably in his late 20s. Dark hair streaked strands of sliver swept back from his narrow and sharp face. His smile was as hard as stone. In a husky tone, he said, “Yes?”


“Pardon us, sir. We are looking for a place. Its address is 1090 Misayate Street. We were wondering whether this is the place,” said Umi, keeping her best to keep her face straight.


“Sorry, sweetie. Wrong address,” Silent eyes examining her male companion. “If you were to try Misyado Street, there’s house with that number.”

“Thank you, sir. Sorry for bothering you,” replied Tokiya coldly, taking Umi’s hand.


“Well,” Umi took a deep breath. “That man could work as a model.”

“Yeah right,” grunted Tokiya, starting the motor.

Umi giggled, “You’re not jealous, are you?” Tightening her grip around Tokiya’s waist.

“Nope. It’s just that I felt something the moment I saw him.”


“I felt an incredible sense of unknown force within him. It’s like he has a total control of the surroundings. We better get the hell of out here ASAP.”  

“Hokage Ninja sense or plain jealousy?”


Tokiya gave no comment. He felt a distributing tug at the corners of his brain. That man is not an ordinary human all right. That silent grey eyes. The way he was looking at him. Even now, he felt his presence all over him. Silent coldness. He felt a sudden chill within him yet warm. An uncomfortable warm beneath the cold.


The dark-haired man peeped through the frail curtain; silent eyes sparkled with excitement as he watched the couple drove away.


“Tokiya Mikagami.”