The Daimyō’s Palace, Kazedama, Land of Wind, EN.
Rasa’s attention was drawn away from the Daimyō as a door was pushed open to the left of the ornate throne. Torio turned, focusing on where Rasa was looking.
A young boy, followed by a servant who had his hand on the boy’s shoulder, had just walked into the room, headed towards the throne.
“Ah, Miyasato, over here,” Torio said, confusing Rasa.
He’s blind, Rasa realized as Miyasato changed directions sharply, turning to his father’s voice. Rasa had not noticed his eyes at first, initially distracted by the servant holding on to Miyasato’s shoulder. The servant clearly acted as a guide for the boy, making sure he didn’t run into anything.
“Father,” Miyasato said, giving a bow. He didn’t turn to Rasa or the Shinobi with him, only staring blankly at Torio.
Torio walked up next to his son and turned him toward Rasa.
“As I’m sure you can tell, my son is blind and has been since birth.”
“My name is Miyasato Sakamoto; it is a pleasure to meet you.” The boy extended his hand in front of him, although not toward anybody specifically. Rasa smiled as he stepped forward and took the boy’s hand.
“It is a pleasure to meet you as well, Miyasato-sama. My name is Rasa.”
“You are the Kazekage? My father has told me much about you.”
“Yes,” Rasa answered, getting a small nod from Miyasato. He looked up, noticing Kanade appear in a swirl of sand next to Miyasato, her eyes focused on something behind him.
Rasa turned quickly, finding Gaara staring intently at Miyasato. There was no killing intent coming from Gaara, which was unusual, but he located the sealing tag in his pocket nevertheless. His men did the same, each spreading out slightly, prepared to restrain Gaara if necessary.
“Who are you?” Miyasato asked. Rasa shot a brief glance at the young prince. Miyasato had turned his head slightly, looking more in Gaara’s direction. Rasa looked at Torio, but his friend appeared unconcerned by the situation. Kanade, however, had her hand on the war fan strapped to her back.
Miyasato bowed slightly. Gaara’s eyes narrowed, and Rasa drew the seal from his pocket. He hoped his son wouldn’t be foolish enough to attack the prince, but it was possible.
Gaara folded his arms in front of him, “You’re weak.”
Sasori stepped out of Gaara’s way as the red-headed Jinchūriki walked toward the open doorway. Rasa signaled for the Elite Shinobi to follow Gaara.
“I assume you have a place for us to stay?” Rasa asked, receiving a nod from Torio.
“Kanade, please make sure they find their rooms,” Torio ordered. Kanade nodded before vanishing in a swirl of sand a second later.
“My apologies,” Rasa offered. Torio waved his apology away, understanding.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve taken precautions concerning your son. His reputation is nothing to be scoffed at.”
Torio still had his unbandaged hand on Miyasato’s shoulder, who looked across the throne room blankly.
“I’d like to go to my room,” Miyasato said, getting a nod from Torio.
“Riko-san? Please take my son back to his room.”
“Of course, Torio-sama.”
Miyasato accepted Riko’s grip on his hand and followed the servant out of the throne room. Rasa turned back to Torio, skepticism on his face. Torio raised an eyebrow.
“He’s not blind, is he?” Rasa asked.
Torio sighed, “We will talk later. Please, review the accommodation I have prepared for your son and see if it is acceptable.”
Rasa hesitated before nodding, leaving the room by the exit Gaara had taken.
He had to ask a servant to point him to where Gaara was staying, unable to sense him, which was disturbing. Walking briskly down a corridor, he spotted a palace guard at the end of the hall. The guard bowed before opening the door ahead of him, and he was instantly able to sense Gaara inside. Rasa wasn’t sure why a Chakra Signature Blocking Seal was necessary, but clearly his son’s room had one. Stepping inside, he could see the other signature he’d detected in the room.
“Rasa-sama, I was just making sure my buddy here was settled in.”
Seated on the bed was Gaara, staring at him blankly. To the right of the entrance, leaning against a wardrobe was Asurami. Rasa had met him before, just over a year ago.
“Asurami-san, it’s good to see you again.”
The Shinobi had not changed much. His dirty brown hair was still cut short. His clothes were changed, now wearing the uniform of a Daimyō’s Guard as opposed to his dirt-colored camo suit. Rasa thought perhaps he’d put on some more muscle since joining Torio’s Guard, though Asurami was still tall and lean, like most of his clan.
Asurami took off his mask, and Rasa was once again able to see the rare Kekkei Genkai the man possessed.
It only happened every couple of generations, and even then it was rare. The left side of the man’s face was scaled, with a rattlesnake-like pattern on it. Both eyes were yellow with vertical pupils, and his tongue was slim and forked like a snake.
“I was surprised when I heard you joined the Daimyō’s guard,” Rasa commented as he looked around the room, noticing the lack of windows. It was richly decorated, but very secure. He could feel the iron in the walls, at least two inches thick. It was a decorated jail cell.
“I got bored chasing down bounties, and the offer had been standing for a while,” Asurami replied casually, his forked tongue darting out and testing the air before vanishing. Pushing off the wardrobe, the snake shinobi looked at Gaara, who glared in return.
“Settled in here, Gaara?” Without waiting for a response, Asurami walked toward the exit. “Okay, great. If you’ll follow me, Rasa-sama?”
Rasa nodded and followed the man out of the room, the palace guard closing and locking the heavy metal door behind them.
“I assume you are in charge of security for Gaara?” Rasa asked. Asurami acquiesced.
“Yes, I have the most experience with your son, and I think I understand him well.”
Rasa sighed and agreed with the Snake Shinobi. “You may know him better than I do, to be honest.”
When Asurami had come to Suna, before becoming a part of the Daimyō’s guard, he’d been hunting down a professional criminal. Whoever had hired Asurami failed to keep the mission secret. The criminal learned that Asurami was coming for him and fled through Suna, heading toward the border.
Asurami asked Rasa to send someone with him to help, fearing running into a trap. Rasa chose to send Gaara. His son had not been on a mission in some time by then, and civilian death tolls were rising. It had been better for everyone to get Gaara out of Suna.
It had taken them a week to locate and kill the criminal, and during that time, Asurami had come to understand Gaara somewhat. Mostly through fighting, as the Jinchūriki had tried to kill him multiple times. Rasa had warned him about the possibility in advance though, so he’d been on guard.
Asurami shrugged, deciding not to continue.
“I have two criminals who are to be executed within a few days nearby…”
“I’ll have Sasori give you one of the seals.”
“Thank you. If you’re going to Torio-sama next, he’ll most likely be in the kitchen.” Asurami offered.
“Don’t be surprised if he’s taken over the whole kitchen by himself. Really pisses off the servants when he does that,” Asurami called after him.
As Rasa entered the adjacent hallway, he barely heard the last of what Asurami said. Something about the servants complaining about Torio doing their work for them, and how useless it was to complain. Rasa wasn’t paying attention.
Fortunately, he’d gone by the kitchen earlier, so he didn’t have to ask for directions this time around. The palace had not changed its physical layout in the last eight years; however, the decorations were quite different and did not match his memories of the place. He’d never really liked the palace anyway and had seldom spent much time here before becoming the Kazekage. He had spent even less after becoming the Kazekage.
Arriving at the kitchen entrance, he had to get out of the way of several servants carrying large plates of food. They all apologized, turning and walking sideways as they rushed past him. Catching the closing door, he slipped inside.
He was still wearing his Kazekage robes, so he stopped just inside the entrance when he noticed bits of food and fluids on the carved stone floor.
Scanning across the crowded room, he located Torio near the back, standing next to one of the chefs. They looked to be conversing intensely about the bubbling pot of stew in front of them.
Rasa couldn’t hear them over the commotion of conversations, and motion in the kitchen. Contemplating what to do, he heard Torio’s voice suddenly over the noise.
“Fine!” Torio yelled in exasperation. “Do it your way. It’ll be entirely your fault when it’s terrible!”
“As if! If it’s the best stew you’ve ever had, you’ll just take credit for it, Torio-sama!” The chef yelled over his shoulder as he returned to stirring the pot.
Torio turned to him and waved, making his way slowly through the crowded and hectic kitchen. A moment later, he stepped up the small stairs to the room entrance, next to Rasa.
“Apologies, I didn’t notice you’d come in,” Torio said, gesturing towards the doorway. “Let’s go somewhere calmer to talk.”
When someone thinks of a palace, the first things that come to mind tend to be “massive in size, expensive, and filled to the brim with decorations and items that cost a fortune each.”
Rasa certainly hadn’t expected to find the third floor of the palace completely barren, only a few torches here and there. The trappings and decorations he remembered all gone. Even the walls were stripped to the paneling and supports.
Every door in the corridor they were walking down was open, the rooms beyond hardly lit or not at all.
“I’ve never had any use for the third and fourth floors of this place, so I had everything in them sold and used the money for other things,” Torio explained as he limped along beside Rasa. He nodded, agreeing with Torio’s decision. He had always wondered why the previous Daimyō hadn’t done the same. The man had not cared for material items either. Nobody ever came up this high in the palace anyway.
As they reached the closed door at the end of the hall, Torio waved his hand, and it swung open ahead of them. Rasa shook his head and chuckled, amused by the little trick. It had become prevalent among Shinobi a few years past, started by the Puppeteer Brigade in Sunagakure. It was so overdone that it was rare to find a civilian impressed by it.
They stepped out on a surprisingly well-lit balcony, the vast palace gardens sprawling out before them dozens of feet below. The sun was slowly setting across the mountains in the north, casting a warm light over the palace. The cooling night winds had reached Kazedama and were a welcome relief from the hot day.
Torio sat in one of two chairs on the balcony with a small wince, offering the other to Rasa, who politely declined.
“I don’t recall the garden being this… beautiful,” Rasa commented. The garden hadn’t seen a lot of care in the previous Daimyō’s reign, but it was full of exotic life now. Each section had different plants, the colors contrasting with each other exquisitely.
Torio laughed, “I wish I could take credit for that. But it’s not something that interests me. No, that is all Miyasato’s work, a hobby of his.”
Rasa looked over at Torio, his brows raised expectantly.
Torio nodded slowly, “Yes, Miyasato isn’t blind.”
Looking back at the garden, Rasa spotted several servants moving along the trails, lighting up lanterns.
“So that was the Byakugan.”
The quiet seemed to drag on, and Torio could tell Rasa was trying to figure out how something so impossible was possible.
“I’m sure I don’t have to explain how confidential and secret this is, but I shall anyway. You will not speak to anyone about this.” Torio’s tone made Rasa straighten his back, recalling the memories of his friend giving orders to the Shinobi under him, commanding respect and obedience. It was no doubt a command, the second one Torio had ever directly given him.
The first had been during the end of the Second Great Shinobi War, Torio’s impeccable leadership being the sole reason they had won the last battle. Rasa’s throat constricted as he recalled the horrific stench of that final battleground. The bodies of hundreds of his comrades and foes strewn about him.
“Of course,” Rasa answered sharply.
Torio sighed, his posture deflating as he sank into his chair. Rasa left the balcony and took his seat.
“I don’t possess the Byakugan, and to my knowledge, I don’t have any Hyūga heritage,” Torio began. “Furthermore, the Byakugan, to my understanding, is either something you have, or you don’t. I couldn’t find anything to suggest that it might be a recessive trait.”
Rasa propped his elbows to his knees, folding his hands in front of him as he propped his head.
“Miyasato isn’t your child,” Rasa said after a minute’s silence. It wasn’t a guess.
Torio nodded, “I don’t know who his father is either.”
Rasa took a deep breath through his nose and leaned back in his chair, “Yura cheated on you?”
Torio stared at the floor and didn’t respond for a few moments. “I only found out about it when she tried to have the child aborted secretly. The Captain of her guard came to me and requested that my guard follow her, as she’d dismissed her guard without explaining why and he was concerned.”
“And you kept it secret because you loved her and couldn’t stand to see her reputation destroyed,” Rasa guessed, getting a silent nod.
Torio took another deep breath, “I placed her under constant guard, and made sure the baby was brought successfully into the world.”
Rasa heard his friend’s voice crack ever so slightly.
“She loathed me, Rasa. I could never figure out why. She refused to tell me who the father was.” Torio shook his head, finally leaning back in his chair, adjusting his bandaged arm carefully. “As you know, she became ill and died when Miyasato was three, and he doesn’t remember her.”
Rasa remained silent, noticing that Torio was nervously spinning the wedding band he still wore.
“So, I claimed Miyasato as my son, and he is unaware that I’m not his biological father. I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can, but I worry this evening is the beginning of the end of that.”
“What exactly do you mean?”
“Miyasato is clever, brilliant even. I taught him how to unlock his chakra at five, as is customary, and he figured out how to use the Byakugan a few months afterward. Since then, he has seldom turned it off.”
“So, can he see us right now?” Rasa inquired curiously. He hadn’t noticed any Byakugan blocking seals.
Torio nodded, “Yes, but I laid down several rules for him. Not eavesdropping on my conversations was one of those.”
Rasa was skeptical, “Do you think he follows that?”
Torio just shrugged, turning and looking out at the mountains, the last bit of the sun vanishing. “The seals required to prevent Byakugan sight are a closely guarded secret of the Land of Fire, and on top of that, the Uzumaki invented them.”
Rasa understood. Torio had a lot of visitors as the Daimyō of the Land of Wind. Diplomats, other leaders, Shinobi, and Clan Heads, among others. Occasionally, Uzumaki would come to Kazedama to purchase specific plants for their sealing.
The Uzumaki Clan had an eerie ability to sense seals, especially those that their clan designed. At the very least, it seemed like they could sense them. It was best not to risk it. Uzumaki were famously protective of their work.
“Because of those complications, I had to take steps to keep Miyasato safe. That’s why he’s never been seen by anybody outside the palace. Miyasato isn’t even his real name.”
Rasa raised an eyebrow, surprised. “I can understand keeping him out of the sight of the public, the Land of Fire would have a huge problem with someone outside of the Hyūga clan having the Byakugan. I don’t understand, however, why you have him go under a fake name?”
“Do you remember Yabūchi?”
Rasa nodded. Yabūchi had been the Daimyō before Torio’s predecessor and had been a complete disaster, unfit to rule. He’d constantly given his Shinobi orders which put them at risk and were nigh impossible to follow. He demanded things that only benefited him and harmed the Land of Wind. This over-sized palace had been built on his orders and filled to the brim with useless, expensive decorations.
“Even though that man was awful, my predecessor was the complete opposite. Nevertheless, he grew up in a similarly rich family here in Kazedama.” Torio left the thought unfinished.
There wasn’t much Rasa remembered about Yabūchi, having been very young during the Daimyō’s reign, so he waited for Torio to continue.
“The difference, Rasa, is that my predecessor went through the Academy and became a Shinobi, and Yabūchi didn’t.”
Rasa tapped his fingers on his chair’s armrest, “You want Miyasato to become a Shinobi?”
Torio nodded, “Yes, it helps with character, maturity, leadership, strength, and will allow him to defend himself… His life won’t be easy.”
“So how do I play into this? You mentioned an attack in my summons. How long ago did it happen? I haven’t seen anything that points to an attack here on the palace.”
“I did, yes.” Torio seemed to psych himself up. Rasa narrowed his gaze. “The first attack was just over two years ago. They came after only me the first time.”
Rasa sat up abruptly, “Why am I just hearing about this now?”
Torio could tell his friend was upset; it was evident from the complete lack of emotion in Rasa’s voice. He hadn’t seen Rasa get visibly angry many times in their friendship and hoped today wouldn’t be another.
“Secrecy,” Torio drew a deep breath, looking away from Rasa. “At least, that’s all I can think of. My best guess is they are after me because they have somehow discovered my Kekkei Genkai—”
Rasa stood sharply, “That’s impossible!”
Torio shook his head miserably, “Someone must have seen me use it, Rasa, someone we missed.”
He didn’t look up as Rasa began to pace back-and-forth on the balcony.
“The group is good, very good. We hardly managed to beat the first attack, a team of ten.”
Rasa stopped pacing, coming to a halt at the railing. Torio heard timber cracking as Rasa crushed the balcony railing under his hands.
“Kanade can give you a much better explanation than I can. She’s led the defense since the first night. My previous Captain, Yayoi, died defending me that night.”
Kanade had appeared when Torio spoke her name, standing behind and to the left of Torio’s chair. Attached to her back were two huge folded up war fans.
Clearing her throat, she began. “The initial attack was sudden and unexpected. We hardly noticed their presence in the palace just seconds before they attacked. The group is extremely skilled at staying hidden, almost invisible to sight, and chakra sense.”
“Do they have a name?” Rasa asked, releasing his grip on the railing as he calmed down. It angered him that Torio hadn’t told him about this threat. He was the Kazekage, damn it, this was his job. Still, losing his temper wouldn’t help anything now.
“We don’t know their name, but we have been referring to them as the Assassins for now. As Torio-sama said, the first attack was targeted at him. We did hundreds of searches and found nothing. Three weeks later, they struck again.”
Rasa had calmed down enough to sit back and listen intently, his face an emotionless mask.
“During the first six months, they attacked about every three weeks. Since that time, the time between attacks has steadily grown.” Kanade sighed, “We have never been able to tell which one was the leader out of the group of ten that attacks each time. All of them wear pitch-black ANBU-style clothing underneath a large, similarly colored cloak with a large hood. We’ve not once seen any of their faces either.”
Rasa’s face clearly voiced his disbelief. “How is that possible?”
“Suicide,” Kanade deadpanned, “We’ve killed a large number of them, even caught a few alive, however they all suicide before being identified.”
Rasa shook his head, realizing what Kanade was talking about, “It’s probably a seal above the heart, which they can activate willingly, and most likely, it activates when they die, completely incinerating their body almost instantly.”
“I’ve seen this before, when I was younger. I went on a mission to hunt down a missing-nin, who had several subordinates, Chūnin-level missing-nin mostly. All of them had that seal because their boss didn’t trust them,” Rasa said, getting a nod from Kanade. It made sense, it ultimately prevented them from being tortured for information, or even identified.
Torio chuckled dryly, “It gets worse.”
“One got away during the first attack, and when they attacked again, they went after both Torio-sama and Miyasato-sama. There were ten of them again, divided into groups of five. It was one of the strongest attacks we’ve had from them. We were ready; otherwise, we would have lost.”
Torio nodded in agreement, “I was forced to use my Kekkei Genkai to kill them before rushing to Miyasato and helping the guards.”
Rasa was stunned, and Torio could only smile grimly.
“The Assassins are extremely strong and patient. We had hoped they had given up since they hadn’t attacked in nearly four months before this last attack. However, with this latest one, they attacked eleven times in two years. Usually, they’ve attacked in groups eight to ten Assassins.”
“Why haven’t they attacked with any more Shinobi?” Rasa asked.
“You’ve not been here for some time, Rasa. In recent years, the other four of the Great Five have put their embassies very close to this palace.” Torio explained, and Rasa instantly understood.
“They don’t want the secret of your Kekkai Genkai getting out any more than we do,” Rasa said, thinking aloud. Torio just nodded.
“Do they know Miyasato has the Byakugan?” Rasa asked. Kanade shook her head.
“So far as we know… no. That’s a possibility, though. We believe they are going after Miyasato because they think he has Torio-sama’s Kekkai Genkai. If not that, then to use him as blackmail.”
Torio sighed, chuckling to himself, although there was no joy in it. “I think you can understand my case now, Rasa. The Assassins are just as paranoid as we are about another country learning of my Kekkai Genkai. Which means, I can’t do something that might make another country suspicious.”
Rasa finally let his anger go, “You didn’t call me because a reason would have to be obvious that held up under scrutiny. I only got Gaara under control this year, and it wouldn’t make sense for me to leave Suna before then. So, you summoned me here under the pretense of attending Miyasato’s birthday.”
Torio nodded, smiling wryly. “Yes, although you should also try to enjoy the party.”
“You were also called because the situation changed last week. For the first time, the Assassins attacked with a group of eighteen. We lost five of the Daimyō’s guard, and thirty of the Royal Palace Guard. Torio-sama was badly injured, and we only won due to his Kekkei Genkai,” concluded Kanade.
“What do I need to do?“
Thank you for reading this story! It was finished on 5/27/2020!
This chapter of the story was publicly posted on: 11/8/19
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OC Creators of OC’s in this chapter:
- Kanade (Created by Grimtruth)
- Asurami (Created by Grimtruth)
- All other OC’s created by Blackright709