Chapter 3: Invitation
Sweat was beading down the leader’s face and he positively trembled in fear. Not that Yasusada could blame him. The mischievous, playful Mikazuki from before was gone and replaced with a cold, expressionless beauty. He was utterly serious now.
Only the barest hint of rage could be detected from behind those stunning eyes which were currently boring into the leader with a fierce intensity, but it was enough to keep him frozen to the spot.
Mikazuki could be frightening when he was in a mood.
Mikazuki when angered…
He repressed a slight shiver. Dangerous would not even begin to cover it. Yasusada had never been more glad that it was not directed at him.
“Of c-course we weren’t trying to mess with you two young lords. We merely w-w-wanted to, ah wanted to… that is invite you out for some fun…”
“Oh? I’m having fun right now.” Mikazuki said silkily, letting his hand drift to his side to gently caress the sword that was hanging there in a deliberate gesture. Anyone could see the faintly veiled threat behind that action as he continued to run his fingers over the blade.
“P-Please…” the leader’s tone now held a desperate edge.
“We m-meant no harm. Please just l-l-let us g-go…” He was practically cowering by now, the last part barely coming out as a faint whisper.
It was almost too much.
Yasusada could hardly reconcile this whimpering man with the loud and cocky one from before. Apparently his own men also had enough of looking at their leader grovel on the ground, judging from their incredulous expressions.
Or perhaps they were just idiots who did not know when to back off.
“Aniki! Why are you on your knees in front of these brats?!” One of them called out. “Let’s capture them!”
“Shut up! You don’t know what we’re up against,” the leader growled.
Either they did not hear the warning in his words or they were bigger fools than Yasusada thought, the men merely cast a dismissive glance in their direction before bringing up their weapons as they charged forward. Two of them headed straight for Mikazuki while the remaining two came toward him.
He took a deep breath and calmed his mind, calling out to his blade as he did so. There was a rush of power through his body and the world around him sharpened into focus. Yasusada reached out and firmly grasped the hilt of his blade, balancing its familiar weight in his palm.
A special blade belonging only to a chosen few and said to be nearly indestructible. It was light, swift and powerful with a sharp edge that could cut through almost everything and never dulled. Only one in a thousand men would be born with the ability to manifest and master the use of such blades.
These rare individuals that are known as Swords.
Swords are born with a natural affinity for steel and talent in swordplay even from a young age. The blades come later and only begin to manifest in boys between the ages of ten to twelve. The appearance, feel, style of the blade would be like a personification of their Master and made to fit them perfectly.
If Mikazuki’s silvery blade was light and stunning like the moon, then Yasusada’s blade would be swift and fluid like the river.
Ever since his blade manifested five years ago when he was twelve, it had felt like it was a living part of him, like a piece of his soul. It felt good to have it in his hand once more, knowing that it responded to him in a way no other steel could.
Yasusada gripped the hilt tightly now, turning around to face his attackers head on. The blade made a slight swishing sound through the air as he swung it with practiced ease.
He dodged the blow the first man sent toward him and raised his blade to parry the sword his companion was carrying. The blade met with little resistance as it sliced through the other man’s sword cleanly, as easily as a knife cleaving through butter.
With a hard jab from his elbow, he sent the man staggering backward with a yelp, one hand clutching his abdomen. Spinning around, Yasusada proceeded to fend off the first attacker and turn his sword into useless scraps of metal in the span of a breath.
Eyes wide and scared, the man scrambled away from him in a hurry.
It was a shame really that he had to disable those swords. They had been decent swords with fine craftsmanship. Nothing compared to his blade of course, but still. It had been quite well-made for a sword belonging to an average run-of-the-mill thug.
Yasusada turned a critical eye onto his attackers who had retreated to the far end of the alley. Now that he had ensured that both men had no way of attacking them and no longer posed any threat, he relaxed slightly. Sheathing his sword, he turned around to look at Mikazuki.
He was standing in the midst of what looked to be a litter of broken metal pieces strewn messily at his feet, the moonlight highlighting his lone profile.
The two men who had charged toward Mikazuki only moments before were now slumped unconscious on the ground next to the remains of what used to be their weapons. Yasusada could just pick out various pieces which once belonged to a sword and some throwing knives.
Their leader had taken the opportunity to get away from Mikazuki and was now gazing at him warily, watching him with a mixture of fear and trepidation. He was slowly inching backwards, towards the exit, his eyes darting back and forth between Mikazuki and the small space between the walls.
“We’re not done yet, you and I,” Mikazuki said icily as he glided forward, holding his blade in a secure grip. “Don’t think you can just leave like that after you tried to hurt one of my own.”
Yasusada thought he heard a whimper.
Mikazuki lifted his blade and –
A beautiful, clear voice resounded through the air, much like the tinkling of bell chimes in the wind. Out of reflex Mikazuki responded to the voice, slowing the blade’s descent before it abruptly jerked to a stop. Yasusada and Mikazuki both snapped their heads up at once to look at the newcomer who was currently perched lightly at the top of the wall.
He was a wispy, ethereal-looking thing with hair the colour of freshly fallen snow and flawless white skin. Two golden orbs peered out at them, twinkling with mischief.
“Don’t you think that’s enough?” the stranger continued. “They look pretty beat up to me.”
Mikazuki scoffed. “Definitely not! They almost hurt my Yasu.” He eyed the pretty boy carefully. “And who are you?”
“Tsurumaru Kuninaga at your service! And you?”
“I’m Mikazuki…” A pause. “And this is Yasusada.”
Yasusada gave the boy a slight nod and received a friendly grin in return. If Tsurumaru noticed that Mikazuki had left off both their last names, he did not comment on it.
“Well Mika-chan and Yasu-chan, I see you’re both really talented with the sword.”
“Mika-chan?” One eyebrow arched upwards questioningly while Yasusada echoed a “Yasu-chan?”
“Yup! And you can both just call me Tsuru if you like.” He smiled brightly.
While they had been conversing, the thugs had taken that as their chance to escape. The two men Yasusada had fought with earlier sneaked past quietly to drag their unconscious comrades towards their leader who stood waiting near the exit before making a hasty retreat.
Mikazuki scowled. “Don’t think I didn’t notice them leaving!”
Tsurumaru blinked at them innocently, staring at them with wide, rounded eyes. “I’m hurt Mika-chan. Do you honestly think I would do that?”
Mikazuki gave him a pointed look.
“Well okay, I would.” Tsurumaru conceded. “But only because you looked like you were about to finish him off.”
“He would have deserved it!” Mikazuki huffed. “Besides, I was only going to teach him a lesson,” he added almost like an afterthought.
“Right,” Tsurumaru looked unconvinced. “And it would have been a pain to clean up.”
“Really!” Mikazuki insisted.
“Okay okay I believe you,” Tsurumaru said, raising his hands in surrender. “If it makes you feel better, I have men on them right now.”
“Your men?” Yasusada asked with a quizzical expression.
“Yes, they’ll be spending the night – and a few more after that I believe – in prison,” he replied cheerfully.
The edges of Mikazuki’s lips curled up slowly into a smile, and Yasusada could feel a similar grin tugging on his lips. That devious little imp. He liked him already. “Oh yes,” he hummed. “Lovely accommodation you have there for their likes.”
“Of course! Who do you think I am?” Tsurumaru huffed with a mischievous grin. “But enough of that. Actually, I have a proposition for the both of you.”
“A proposition?” Mikazuki and Yasusada both chimed in unison.
“Yes,” Tsurumaru lowered his voice and leaned in closer, his eyes unusually serious for once. “Would you like to join the Touken Danshi?”
As you may have noticed (and as alluded to in the previous chapter’s notes) the scene that takes place here is told from the perspective of Yasusada when previously it was told from Mikazuki’s perspective. So I had to split the scene to make it more coherent because I didn’t feel like rewriting the entire thing. I wrote about 5 chapters back then so there may be more (minor) “head-hopping” issues in the upcoming chapters, but I’ll definitely avoid making this mistake when I continue writing new chapters ⊙▽⊙