Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2006 6:51 am
Location: Denver, Co
Authors Note ~ Greeting! This is actually my very first story to be posted here at TJHF so, haha, I must say I am nervous. Still, I've been starting back up to my old fan-fic habbits on AEG's L5R forum of late with a small series of fics for each clan set in the backdrop of Naseru's death, etc ...
Still, thats all well and fun, but every now and then I want to do something else not completely focused on the Empire as a whole - sometimes smaller stores can be just as profound, or at the least intresting.
Here we go!
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Ikuro sat on the hill overlooking his house in the forests of the Phoenix lands, it's tranquil beauty filling his heart and mind with a peace that ran deeper than anything physical. His connection to the land, the scent of it, its very presence, it made him feel apart of something larger than himself and as a simple son of a vassal to a local shugenja, he was small indeed. Still, when looking out at the forests, the rivers, and the sky above, he felt strong.
Ikuro raced down the hill, his tiny legs hardly supporting him as his momentum built stronger and stronger. With a laugh he rolled himself down the hill like a log and came sprawling against the brook that ran into the clearing of trees, it's loose and wet soil hitting his skin sharply. With a little jerk he pulled himself up and raced across the brook swiftly, laughing as his feet stepped against the slick rocks.
The young child raced headlong into the forest, his senses overwhelmed by scent of nature. He swore, at times, the very forest could speak to him. Ikuro raced between the trees and indulged himself in the senses of the world about him long into the time of twilight when he at last noticed the hour.
Ikuro had run far into the woods, much farther than normal, when he finally realized he was indeed lost. Ikuro wasnt afraid at first because even if it was dark he was still in the woods he loved so much, still surrounded by trees, water, and beauty.
And something else.
Ikuro sensed it slowly at first, dismissing it as a odd feeling from the fact he hadn't eaten all day. Still, slowly, he began to believe the mysterious thing he was sensing was not his imagination but a tangible presence. He recalled his fathers old stories, stories that were used to frighten him into doing chores, stories about the wicked Phoenix who ages ago had practiced their black arts in the forest. As Ikuro wandered he came upon a large clearing, a great plain where he could see the brilliant moon overhead in the black sky. The lack of stars did nothing to settle Ikuro's sense of growing fear.
Then he saw him, the figure in robes, standing in the fields center looking up at the heavens. Ikuro wanted to shout out to him but something inside made the child's heart tremble. Then, before he could even decipher why he felt so worried, the man in the distant field had seen him.
"Do not fear little one' the figure shouted calmly. "I am simply admiring the sky. Are you lost? Where is your father and mother?"
Ikuro walked towards the man, his body feeling colder and colder. he'd never stayed out so late before and he knew unless he got home quickly his father would be furious at him so he answered the stranger softly.
"I...I'm lost!" Ikuro shouted. "I have lost my house!"
"It is very late little one' the figure said. Ikuro tried to see the mans face beneath the robes but could not however his voice sounded calm and serene, like his fathers master. "You should always remember where you came from when you travel. It will help you to always know where you are so you are in essence never lost. Do you understand?" he seemed to say almost whimsically.
"Um...I...dont." Ikuro answered, walking now ever closer to the figure.
"I am not from here originally." the man said. "My ancestors were. I still visit this place on occasion to always remember where I came from."
"Do you miss you mother and father?" Ikuro asked now almost close enough to see the lower portion of the strangers beautiful face beneath his green and blue robes.
"I used too, long ago. I got lost in these woods just like you have and I came upon a stranger. Do you know what he told me?" the man said, a grin slinking across his face.
"No!" Ikuro answered enthusiastically. "Did he tell you how to get home? Did he help you find your mother and father and your house?"
The robed figure bent down to his knees and held out his hand to the child, his skin smooth and as white as porcelain in the moonlight. Ikuro wanted to reach out but something in his told him to hold back.
"You have no need to be afraid, little one. My name is Akaramu, what is yours?" he asked gently yet all the while never lowering his hand.
"I am Ikuro." he answered,
"Ikuro... may I ask you a question?" Akaramu said. Ikuro nodded slowly, not sure to be amazed or frightened of the stranger. he smelt of the land, of nature, yet something in him seemed at odds with the night. He almost felt like the uneasy sensation Ikuro had felt earlier. Still, Ikuro was alone and had nobody to talk with and he was getting afraid.
"Do you hear the land like I do?" the man asked.
"You hear it too?" Ikuro exclaimed almost in shock. Ikuros' father had long forbidden him from talking about the voices he heard, especially in the presence of his master, the shugenja named Hoshin. Hoshin's face scared Ikuro, especially his eyes. Ikuro never knew why his father served the shugenja but whenever Ikuro and his father visited he was told never to speak, not ever.
"I hear it all the time little one." the face hidden in shadows smiled. "It tells me things, like that you were lost and that I should wait here for you."
"Really? I just know when the forest is happy, and that I know how things around me feel."
"That is the first path to understanding life, little Ikuro' Akaramu said slowly. "...but did you know there is more?"
"Oh, most certainly. I'll tell you what. Since the land told me you'd be here would you like to know what else it says to me right now?" Akaramu asked. Ikuro nodded enthusiastically.
"It tells me....it tells me I can show you anything you want to know about the land. I can show you how to not be lost any more. Would you like that?" he asked sweetly.
Ikuro almost shouted yes aloud but something in him choked his answer down. Why was he so hesitant? He looked into the darkness of the mans robes and still his face was hidden.
"Do...I know you?" Ikuro asked.
"Yes, you do." Akaramu said revealing his hood. Before the little boy's face was his fathers master, Hoshin with his brilliant yet frightening eyes that blazed with a unwordly light. " I did not mean to lie to you Ikuro. Your father wouldn't want us to talk. I know he never wants you to talk to me because he is afraid."
"A...afraid?" Ikuro asked
"Yesss...' Hoshin hissed. "I knew the moment I saw you that you were special, that the kami talk to you. Your father was jealous of your abilities but I have come to guide you to your new home and to be your teacher little one." he smiled
Ikuro wanted to run away, he so desperately wanted to run, yet a new sensation was building inside him: excitement, excitement at being able to at last talk to somebody about his voices, to become smarter, to not be told to remain silent at all times. He had wanted companions that weren't trees and rivers.
He wanted a real person to be friends with.
"Will...will you be my friend?" Ikuro asked with wide eyes.
"Oh, my child, you and I will be so much more than friends. I know others who will teach you, train you. You will have so many friends you'll never miss your father and home again."
Ikuro took his hand and into the darkness they walked, the moon's light eventually leaving them as they went deeper into the forest. As Ikuro looked back to the empty field, to the moonlight and the last glimpse of his old life, he heard Hoshin whisper to him.
"I am Chuda Hoshin, your new master."