Spirit's Anvil Chapter 1 Synopsis:
Read and find out.
Mostly a discovery-write piece.
*NOTE to earlier readers. The title of this fanfic has been changed to “Spirit’s Anvil” from “The Four Others.” Some of the main character’s names have also changed from Mizu to Kosame and from Enko to Youta. Some other things may have been tweaked from earlier versions as well.*
I can’t believe they’re alive, Kosame thought, cleaning the blood off her long blade with a soft, oil-soaked towel. She sliced her swords through the air a few more times before sheathing them at her belt. She stepped over four sliced rouge ninja bodies, three men and one woman. They had tried to get the jump on her for no reason other than their own entertainment. Probably.
Not today, assholes!
She undid her messy hair, shook it out, and then retied it back into a bun with a red, sturdy ribbon made from a phoenix’s feather, a gift from her childhood friend, Youta. The ribbon was indestructible, or so he had said. He did get carried away with his words occasionally, even if he refused to believe his friends telling him that. Kosame smiled at the thought.
And then there was Tsuchi, Youta’s cousin. Sweet, good-natured, shy, cute. Kosame laughed inwardly when she remembered all the times Youta had embarrassed him by barely doing anything. Those two . . . .
And after all these years, it turned out that they hadn’t died with the rest of their clans. They were really, truly alive and today was the day they’d be reunited.
And Kaze . . . . He was alive too!
I know just before we got separated, we were on rocky terms, she thought, but I’ve missed you, little brother. It’s been such a long time. Are you as anxious to meet again as much as I am?
Please be excited.
I wonder if you’ve changed since the last time we saw each other. Have I? I’m sure we both have to some extent, but . . . .
Kosame adjusted her black armored shoulder pads. She wore a black short sleeve shirt, loose and puffy around the sleeves, beneath the armor. The shirt's collar rose passed her chin and just above her mouth. It did not fit snugly to her like a sweater, but instead appeared like a large loop around her face to provide extra protection. The shirt was light, but made with remnants of black dragon scales, a harder material for arrows or kunai to penetrate. Weapons could still pierce through the scales, but it would take more attempts before they finally broke through the collar.
Red phoenix ribbon was tied around her waist and her large, baggy dark shorts were covered in black armored pads. She wore black armored wrist pads and her two long blades were sheathed at her belt.
Her sky blue eyes shone brightly behind the black and red clothing.
She looked up as her mentor, Izumi, fell into step with her. Kosame couldn’t help but smile at her instructor’s terrible bed-head. She resisted the urge to ask her if a bird had nested in her hair the night before, primarily because it was too early in the morning to get a smack on the cheek for being a smartass.
Izumi had taught her everything she knew and had told Kosame that she had high hopes for her. Kosame didn’t believe her at first, but as her confidence and relationship grew with her mentor, she started to see it too, however, Izumi had no problem humbling her if her head got too big.
One time, Kosame’s success had gotten to her head and so she had decided to go out and look for a fight, one that she may or may not win. She didn’t care; she just wanted to bump some heads with some newfound overconfidence. She found some bullies and then picked on them.
When Izumi found out, she had beaten her and then refused to feed Kosame anything for the rest of the evening. She told had told her that you didn't defeat bullies by becoming one yourself. Some had berated Izumi when they found out the punishment she given her.
Kosame never left her side. There were some things outsiders would never understand. Izumi had been there for her when her clan had been slaughtered. Izumi had saved her. If it hadn’t been for Izumi, Kosame would not have found out that Youta and Kaze were still alive.
Izumi was her mentor.
Izumi was her friend.
Izumi was good. She was. Is.
Other people don’t know what they’re talking about, Kosame thought. I’m strong now because of her. I owe her everything.
“Yes?” Kosame asked. “What is it?”
“I see you left without telling me and made some new friends.” She jabbed her thumb to the four bleeding bodies on the ground.
“I’m sorry; you told me where Kaze and the others would be and I couldn't wait. This dead group here just got in the way on my way there. I left you a note to tell you I went on ahead. I thought—”
“Then you wake me up to tell me face to face where you're going, not leave a stupid note. I know you’re excited sweetie, but this is the first time you’ve been in this area. We don’t know what kind of enemies lurk within the territory.”
Kosame nodded, but said nothing.
I handled it just fine on my own, she thought.
Izumi sighed. “Well, we’re up now. Might as well head over to them early.” She pulled out a rolled up map from her bag and then spread it out. She pointed to two locations. “We’re here and they’re supposed to meet us there. It should be just a little over two miles. We should—”
Kosame sprinted off, but then paused when she realized that Izumi hadn’t followed. She glanced over her shoulder and then waited for her to catch up. “Sorry, I was—”
“Excited, I know. There’s also nothing wrong with taking it one step at a time though, remember that.”
“Why would anyone want to wait around for things to happen when you can make them happen on your own?” Kosame asked.
Izumi sighed. “You’ll understand when you’re older.”
“I’m sixteen; I’m an adult.”
“Of course you are.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means what it sounds, kid. Now shut up before I decide to turn us around.”
“Well, I’m faster than you, so I could just run away anyway.” Kosame glanced to Izumi’s bad knee when she realized what she’d said. “I’m sorry—”
Izumi walked past her. “Come on,” she said, expressionless, “your friends are waiting.”
The sun was rising. Thousands of bushy trees shaded the lush forest grass. The air was thick with the scent of pine needles and bark. A gentle breeze rushed across their faces, relieving them from some humidity. Birds sang.
Wait, no they didn't. Why weren’t birds singing? They always sang in the morning here, or, at least, that’s what Izumi had told her.
Smoke. Thick smoke. Nearby.
It’s not what I think it is, Kosame thought. She glanced to Izumi.
Izumi’s eyes darted around as she scanned their surroundings, fully alert.
It is what I think, she thought.
They stepped out from behind a cluster of trees and there stood a wooden cabin, part ash, part smoking, and part still on fire. Blood smeared across the forest floor. Scattered enemy bodies sprawled across the forest floor, some fully intact, others in pieces.
Two bodies were different than the rest. Unlike the other dead ones that were spread across the grass and wore black clothing and masks covering their mouths and noses, two bodies’ faces were plain as day. Izumi's friends and the mentors of Kosame's missing friends.
One man had long dark brown hair and a strong, stocky build, while the other was slimmer, but still muscled and had short dark hair. The second man’s waist was severed from his torso.
Izumi screamed and then ran forward. She knelt by the severed man. She shook their shoulders as if they were only asleep and if she shook them hard enough, they would wake and tell her this was some kind of joke. A sick joke, but judging by what Izumi had told Kosame about those two men, she wouldn’t put it passed them. Still, this definitely was no joke. It was real.
They way Izumi had described them, the dead men looked like Tsuchi’s and Youta's mentors, but where were Tsuchi and Youta? And not only that, but Kaze and his mentor were nowhere to be seen.
“What happened?” Kosame finally managed to ask in a hoarse voice.
After a minute more of Izumi crying over her head comrades’ bodies, she glanced up to Kosame. “I don’t know,” she said, “but when I find the bastards who did this, they’re dead.”