A time of uneasy peace had settled over the nation. After a two-month-long battle, the rivaling city of the Helms, the Scissors, had been defeated, the once-great city either near-razed or abandoned. With this defeat, the rest of the territory was almost too easy to gain control of, countries either writing quick treaties out of fear or rebelling, all of the latter being quickly snuffed out.
In the middle of the chaos were survivors: those who had hidden or ran during the conflict and were lucky enough to not be captured or killed. They lived on the fringes of the world, often learning many tricks and trades to be able to make it in the growing underground of the Helm kingdom.
One such survivor was a young Scissors civilian, having been orphaned during the war, named Rokusho. Despite his bright white armor and rubylike red eyes- a matter of honor for the Scissors, despite how little a tactical advantage it provided- he was a talented thief, and after the war he had wisely moved into one of the Helm cities, using a makeshift hooded cloak to hide his identity. He stole whatever he could, sold it off to other refugees who weren’t as daring as he, and used the money to keep himself alive.
After an unfortunate run-in with a Helm kingdom guard and the stipend he had to pay as a result to keep his identity from being revealed, the money he made proved to not be enough.
Desperation was what led Rokusho to his next decision. He certainly was an adept strategist, and with a little luck he thought he just might be able to make it- and so, he set his sights on the castle. If he could steal something of value from there, it would set him off for a long time. He left what little belongings he had- nothing worth keeping anyway- and set off.
He carefully observed the castle walls from a safe distance, keeping track of how often the guard changed, what openings there were, and the areas that went relatively unobserved. He waited until nightfall a few weeks in to make his strike, easily passing through the wall without conflict. A more animalistic instinct took over, now that he had no information to go off of, and he dived into a bush, dimming his eyes to the point where he was most likely unseen. His cape, however, snagged, so he tossed it aside. By the time anyone found it he’d be long gone.
He darted forward like a bullet the moment no one was watching, safely seeking cover within another bush, gauging his surroundings once more. Waiting for another opening, Rokusho quickly scaled the inner wall and landed with a soft thud on cobbled stone. This area looked more like a yard, with evenly-trimmed grass and a set number of little trees and sculpted bushes. Only about 5 or so meters away, the castle’s massive stone body was laid out like a slumbering beast, constructed of smooth stone and dotted with small windows. The Medalorian silently swore, for it’d be significantly more difficult to hide in this area. Luckily enough, it appeared to be less-strictly guarded than the areas he had already passed. With a couple swift movements he-
A tower he had missed against the black sky now shined a blinding yellow light down on him, causing Rokusho to instinctively shield his eyes, backing up against one wall. In an instant, he was surrounded by guards, an especially armored one holding a long spear to his neck.
“How did you get in, Kuwagata?” she demanded, keeping her tone level despite the rather derogatory term thrown. When Rokusho gave no response, she nodded to one of the other guards, never breaking her gaze on the white Medalorian.
“Go get the king. He’ll know what to do with this little spy,” she ordered, and the indicated guard hurried off.
After a few tense minutes, a regal-looking Medalorian strode out, right arm equipped with what appeared to be some kind of firearm. It took Rokusho all of his resolve to not panic at that very moment, but he managed and kept an unwavering farce.
“Attempting a break-in? I thought your people were supposed to be smart,” he said, voice dangerously calm. “Although I suppose an example must be made so that no one else attempts this.” He raised his arm and pointed his gun at Rokusho’s chest, and at that moment his facade cracked. He cowered, not even thinking to use his sword to defend himself. All he could do was just close his eyes and wait--
“Wait!” an unfamiliar voice shouted from somewhere off to his left. Rokusho sensed the king retract his arm, and looked up to see who it was now.
Of course, there wasn’t much he could see in the dark, but he could at least make out a pair of green eyes and a goldenrod-colored armor set. The new figure hurried forward and grabbed onto the king’s arm, who seemed mostly surprised.
“Kabuto, I told you to stay inside. This person could be a danger,” he said, focusing more on the other than on Rokusho, eliciting the guard captain from before to resume her position of holding the spear uncomfortably close.
“But dad..!” Kabuto pleaded in response. From his mannerisms, Rokusho could tell he was probably about his age, maybe a bit younger.
“Look at him! There’s no way he’d be able to hurt us!” Inwardly, Rokusho was a little offended, though considering his unassuming figure and his current position, Kabuto certainly wasn’t incorrect.
“Please, dad, give him a chance-” He was cut off by his father calmly raising his hand to indicate Kabuto to be quiet.
“Your childish compassion will be the death of you. However, I do see your point- and he made it this far, it would make little sense for these holes in our defense to go unmended. Killing him now would be a waste of information.” He paused, mulling the problem over. After what seemed to Rokusho to be an eternity, he sighed.
“Take him to the dungeon,” he instructed the guard. The captain seemed taken aback by this but made no audible comment. She only lifted him up by his arm and began to walk him in a certain direction. Despite the rough handling of the guard, Rokusho managed to shoot a glance over his shoulder at his savior, and for the first time, their eyes met, but for only an instant.
Due to the events that had just transpired, Rokusho was kept up by various fears- how had this gone so wrong? Calming himself, he began to look about. The prison looked like a tower, the ceiling being about five or six meters overhead. The walls were made of rough, natural stone, and the only light was from a small window about four meters up, indicating to the Medalorian that he was underground. Rokusho began to walk the perimeter, looking for a possible way out, some kind of weakness that would lead to his escape. When he found none, he simply paced, trying to keep panic at bay and thinking about how he was going to get out. The walls were slightly damp when he touched them, so climbing was pretty much out of the equation because of the risk of slipping. The door was probably made of wood at its core, but all he could see was an iron barrier- making any attacks made against it near-irrelevant.
Eventually, from a mix of frazzled nerves and exhaustion, he just about passed out on the cold floor of the cell.
Rokusho was awoken the next day by a couple of pebbles hitting him in the face. He sat up, looked around, and found they were coming from above, from the window he had noticed earlier. A few young Medalorians had apparently spotted him and started to harass him, but with a couple waves of his sword in the general direction of the window, they ran off, giggling to themselves. A sliver of sunshine illuminated a large section of the cell’s floor and wall, and he had managed to fall asleep on the edge of it. Now he retreated to the wall underneath the window, where a dark shadow still loomed.
He quietly thought for a while, almost managing to doze off again, until he heard a couple quiet knocks at the door. After a pause, the door opened slightly, and the Medalorian from before- Kabuto, if he’d heard the name right- wormed his way in. He stopped the door from closing again with a small stone. Rokusho blinked in slight surprise at the abject lack of security. It would be easy to knock him out and escape, but-
The thought cut through his mind before he could even complete it. He’d never make it out of the castle, and this time he bet he would be killed immediately, and, as much as he was uncertain about him, he couldn’t possibly raise his weapon against the person who had nobly saved his life, even if the decision was made out of childish ignorance. Besides, he was armed.
“Hi!” Kabuto suddenly spoke, snapping Rokusho out of his trance. There was another pause: Kabuto waiting for Rokusho to return the greeting, and Rokusho simply not knowing what to say.
“So, you’re a Scissors? Dad said they’re pretty rare nowadays.” He continued, appearing to gauge Rokusho. He still didn’t respond.
He was somewhat put off by just how childish Kabuto was. This was a child who was allowed to be a child, without the fear for his life every day. When the Helms attacked his native kingdom, his parents had been on the front lines, meaning he had to grow up quickly if he had any chance of survival. His lowest moment, in his personal opinion, was the day he found out he was an orphan, entirely on his own. From that day, he swore to never show weakness like that again. The pure difference of how Kabuto and Rokusho had grown up created a large gap between them, despite how close they were in actual age.
He turned away and looked at the wall, pretending to study it. He wanted to be left alone, but Kabuto was not one to be deterred.
“Not much of a talker, huh?” he asked, crouching onto his haunches to get a better look at the other Medalorian. Despite the obvious danger, he was curious about this newcomer. Based on how Rokusho looked, Kabuto figured the other had to be only a couple years older than him. Carefully he reached out and touched Rokusho’s pauldron, causing him to jump.
“Can I at least know your name?” he asked once he was sure he had Rokusho’s attention. After hearing it, he looked at the floor again.
“It’s not important.” He said, speaking for the first time since arriving. “Please leave me alone.” He turned his torso away, refusing to look back up at the other. With a resigned huff, Kabuto stood and left without another word. Rokusho made no move to stop him.
He was back the very next day, this time instead of propping the door open he actually had a set of keys, and kept his distance a bit more.
“Dad still says you’re dangerous.” He chuckled slightly, crossing his arms in confidence. “But I bet I can take you. You’re not much older than me, after all, and I’m pretty good.” Rokusho made no movement despite the insult, and soon Kabuto got bored and left.
Rokusho was still not rid of the prince the following day, though this time he brought something with him. It was a small container full of liquid, though the thick packaging made it hard to tell exactly what it was. Kabuto set it beside Rokusho, drawing his attention.
“They’re not gonna feed you down here, so drink up. You look hungry.” Again, he made no move to grab it or kick it away- despite Kabuto’s observation being completely right, he hadn’t had anything in days- and simply looked at Kabuto.
“I’m a prisoner. Why are you being so kind to someone who should be your enemy?” That caused Kabuto pause, and eventually, he just shrugged.
“You didn’t look like much of a threat when I first saw you, and why should I be afraid of you now?” Now it was Rokusho’s turn to fall silent.
“You don’t know if that was an act. I could’ve been faking it to gain access to the castle,” he proposed.
“If you had wanted to get in, you would’ve done it already. Dad says I need to be more careful ‘cause you could’ve easily gotten out the first day. Besides, I know you won’t hurt me.”
“And why are you so sure?” Rokusho’s eyes glowed with an almost orange inner fire, a trick he had learned to intimidate others into backing down. This time, however, it didn’t work.
“Because I saved you. You Scissors are all about life debts and that kinda stuff,” he said. Despite being inwardly offended at the stereotyping, he couldn’t deny that it was true.
“So you’ve got me. I am already entirely at your mercy, so what do you hope to achieve by this?” He asked, meeting Kabuto’s eyes once more with a level stare. Kabuto thought for a bit, then got up and made his way to the door.
“I’ll leave you alone now, but... “ He trailed off, seeming unsure for the first time since they had met. “I kinda wanted to see if, y’know…” He didn’t finish his statement before awkwardly leaving the room, closing the door behind him with a loud thud!
Rokusho sighed and inspected the bottle beside him once again, lifting it up in his hand this time and trying to see what was inside. A darkish liquid sloshed around, showing some evident viscosity in how it moved. He opened the lid and sniffed it, still trying to discern any danger from the bottle. It appeared to be safe enough, giving him a sense of nostalgia from the familiar scent. After checking it over once again, he finally took a small sip of the liquid. It was clearly low-quality, based on the taste, but at least it was fuel and would keep him alive for at least a little bit longer. He took a few more sips and saved the rest, stashing it away in a pile of dusty rags on the floor.
It was a couple days before Kabuto came back this time, though Rokusho didn’t particularly care, choosing to instead sleep a lot of the time. The next time someone did enter his cell, it was the captain of the guard.
“The king wants to see you. Come with me,” she said flatly, beckoning Rokusho. Once he was outside, he saw two other guards raise their weapons against him, so if he even tried to attack he’d be quickly stopped.
She led him out to the courtyard, where the king and Kabuto stood, the prince waving to him as he was lead out in front of them.
“I want you to show me how you got in,” the king said, eyeing Rokusho suspiciously. Rokusho couldn’t help but cower slightly under his intimidating stare. With an air of regality, the king then turned and began to lead the way. The two guards were dismissed, the captain taking their place behind Rokusho. Kabuto followed behind the king, clearly bored with the task already.
Despite his position, Rokusho couldn’t help but enjoy the sunlight against his now dirty white plating. He hadn’t been outside for about a week and a half now, and the warm, fresh air was certainly enough cause to celebrate for him.
They walked around the inner wall, and Rokusho, still at gunpoint, pointed out where he had scaled the wall and where he had discarded his cloak- apparently, nobody had seen it, as it was still beside the bush where he left it. Next, they traveled to the outer wall, where Rokusho explained how he had watched and waited for the guards to shift so he had a clear path to get inside.
Rokusho noticed something out of the corner of his eye- a figure, disguised against the shadows nearby. He thought nothing of it until it lunged.
“Watch out!” the white Medalorian shouted. Suddenly, in a flash of movement, Rokusho darted towards Kabuto and raised his sword- stopping a dark-suited figure from reaching the prince. Three claw-like blades crashed against Rokusho’s own, providing enough time for the captain to leap forward and fire, hitting the assassin squarely in the chest. They were blown back a few meters, weakly twitching a few times before falling still. The royals were quite taken aback at the scene, Kabuto even stepping back a few paces.
“My apologies,” Rokusho said, sheathing his sword once more and trying to ignore the death he had just witnessed. No one responded, everyone too shocked to pay attention. The captain kept her guard up but didn’t make a move against Rokusho.
“An assassin,” she stated gravely. “I somehow didn’t see them. I apologize, my liege.” With a small heel turn, she bowed towards the king, taking her eyes off Rokusho for a second. The latter had no idea how to react. He had saved the prince, just as the other had done for him, but would he be punished for the sudden movement?
“It is alright, Captain. Keep your eyes on the prisoner,” the king said. Rokusho was surprised at how merciful he appeared to be. Was this really the same person who had ordered the destruction of his home..? The captain quickly stood and refocused on him, appearing slightly embarrassed.
Rokusho quickly shook his head to rid himself of the thoughts. If this was to be his home now, there was no use in holding animosity towards the king.
“You.” The king directed his attention towards Rokusho. “What is your name, young one?” Rokusho wasn’t sure how to respond. He probably couldn’t withhold the information with total security to his life.
“My name is Rokusho, sir,” he said, unsure of how to address the king. He awkwardly bowed, as well.
“That name… Would you happen to be related to the Scissors general, Patina?” the king asked, musing over the events of the war. Rokusho winced at the sound of the name.
“He is… was, my father, sir.” The king looked rather intrigued at this.
“Very well. We’ll head inside. Take Rokusho back to the dungeon, I need to think about what we’ll do with our little intruder.”
Rokusho breathed an unseen sigh of relief as he was led back into the all-too-familiar cell. Anxieties began to fill his mind about what his fate would be. Surely if there was a reason he was alive now, it would be overruled by the fact that he was the son of one of the most powerful Scissors generals around. His brooding was interrupted by a visibly excited Kabuto bursting in.
“That was so cool!” he said, making Rokusho jump. “Awh man!” he continued, sitting next to Rokusho- too close for comfort, but he made no comment.
“I had to,” Rokusho simply responded, unsure of how else he would’ve. “I owed you a life debt.”
“Well yeah, but still..! And your name’s super cool too- why were you so embarrassed by it?” Kabuto asked, cocking his head curiously at the other. Rokusho sighed.
“It’s not that I was embarrassed- it’s just…” He looked at Kabuto with a sad glint in his eyes. “My name is the only thing left that’s truly my own. Everything else has either been taken from me or destroyed.”
Kabuto fell silent, not expecting the reason to be so… poignant. He sighed and pulled his legs a bit closer, looking up at the prison walls.
“Y’know… I could probably argue for you so you could stay here. Well- not here- like the dungeon, but just kinda at the castle.” Rokusho glanced over at the other, somewhat surprised.
“And why would you do that?” he asked, keeping his voice level.
“Cause that’s what friends are for, right? Keeping each other from getting executed?” Rokusho blinked in absolute bewilderment.
“Why would you want to be friends with me?” he asked, voice quiet. Kabuto shrugged.
“You’re pretty cool, and I haven’t had a real friend in a long time. I can’t go outside of the castle much, and there aren’t any kids my age here.”
“So you’re settling for a failed thief from a dead kingdom?”
“‘S better than nothing, right?”
Rokusho sat back and thought for several moments. Finally, he spoke again.
“We’ll have to see how it turns out. If I’m to be executed, you won’t have a friend for very long.” At this, Kabuto stood.
“Right, I should see what Dad’s doing… Oh! I brought you this!” From somewhere on his person, he produced another small bottle of fuel. “ Sorry that I couldn’t get anything bigger. The cook gets suspicious if he sees me take too many.” He chuckled, then began to back up. “I really should go now, though. I’ll see you later, Rokusho!”
“...As for what should be done with the prisoner, I honestly cannot be certain.” Kabuto arrived just in time to hear the king’s latest statement. He sat quietly and listened.
“The way I see it, we have two options. We could either execute him and be done with it, or welcome him as a potential citizen. After all, we still have to keep our image. If news of his presence here gets out, possibly being one of the only Scissors left- and being a descendant of Patina, no less- executing him would be a bad idea. As long as this is kept under wraps, however, we essentially have control over the boy’s fate.”
“Was Patina considered royal by his nation? Would the severing of his bloodline offend any other nations?” one advisor asked. The king shook his head.
“If there were any repercussions, they would’ve occurred with his death, not his son’s. Besides, Patina was a war hero, not a noble. Rokusho, therefore, shares the same common blood.” He sat back, deep in thought.
“If Rokusho could be accepted as a citizen, possibly even a warrior, it could actually help improve others’ view of us.” The surrounding citizens looked a bit confused, so the king continued.
“We conquered the Scissors city present here. They were a relatively peaceful people with many allies, meaning we now have more enemies. Fear is one of the only things holding back a rebellion right now, and as time passes, that fear will recede. But if we have a Scissors survivor as a warrior here, it would indicate that we aren’t monsters, and may help to ease relationships.”
“Surely, any rebellion could be easily subdued by our armies- why is this survivor so essential?” another advisor piped up.
“He’s not, that’s why I’m still debating over it.”
Suddenly, from his seat at the long table, Kabuto stood up.
“Father, I think you should let him live.” All eyes were on Kabuto now, but he didn’t let the attention deter him.
“And why is that?” the king replied, looking Kabuto over.
“He’s harmless. He wouldn’t hurt anyone without a good reason why, I think. At least, he won’t hurt me. He could be trained and become a great help in your army. Besides, he’s my friend.” the young Medalorian said defiantly, standing his ground despite a slight waver that came into his voice as he said the last sentence. The king was silent for a couple minutes, then finally spoke up.
“I’ve made up my mind. Captain, prepare a room in the barracks, I’ve decided to place Rokusho into training. As long as he has the potential to become a useful character and not just dead weight, he’ll live.” The captain nodded and began to leave, stopping on her heel just as she was about to leave the room.
“Sire?” she called out, catching the monarch’s attention. “We have no resident swordfighting teachers here, and I doubt Rokusho will be very skilled with a ranged weapon, taking his lineage into consideration.”
The king again sat in thought for a while before speaking again. “Send a message to the Felyne Empire requesting several teachers in exchange for our own. Learning a different style of warfare is always an advantage, and if Rokusho succeeds, he may very well become a teacher, himself.”
After the meeting was over, Kabuto hurriedly dashed to Rokusho’s cell and told him the news. It was the first time that Kabuto had seen Rokusho smile, even if it was only a slight grin of relief. And so, within a few hours, Rokusho was completely moved to another home on the castle grounds, this one significantly nicer. The exchange went well, the Helms and the Felynes still holding on to an aging treaty that assured peace (though the Felynes and the Helms were beginning to rival in size. A more permanent solution would have to be found within the next few decades to prevent an all-out war). And Rokusho’s training soon began, his safety now assured by the Helm castle.
A week later, the night after a particularly intense training session, Rokusho was laying on his small bunk when there was a sudden knock at the door.
“Hey, Ro! Ro, are you in there?” He heard Kabuto’s excited voice muffled through the door (He didn’t recall ever requesting that Kabuto use a nickname, but in this case, he didn’t particularly care). He stood and opened the door, visibly tired from the training.
“C’mon, I’ve got something to show you!” he said quickly and grabbed Rokusho’s hand. He dragged the white Medalorian out of the barracks and up a small, grass-covered hill illuminated by moonlight on the far side of the castle.
“This is my favorite spot to watch the stars- I thought you might like it too.” Rokusho was enrapt. He’d never been moving slow enough to actually sit back and look up at the sky since he was very little, back at his old home. He was filled with a sad nostalgia at the sight.
“Ya alright there?” he heard Kabuto say from beside him, and he was broken out of his trance. He offered Kabuto a small smile to reassure him.
“This is nice. Thank you,” he said, barely above a whisper.
The two stayed out for much longer than either planned, only enjoying the sight of the stars above.
As Kabuto and Rokusho matured, their personalities began to grow and change as well- though their close friendship stayed throughout the years. Kabuto grew more independent and rebellious, picking up swears to a large degree. Rokusho’s manners refined alongside his skills, and he soon rose through the ranks, soon becoming a fully-fledged knight, as well as Kabuto’s bodyguard. He had even earned a title for himself because of his preference of night for attack and became known as the Lunar Knight to anyone who wished to challenge him. The two went to see the stars less and less as they aged, neither having the time to do so anymore.
Rokusho’s eighteenth birthday came and went, a surprising amount of celebration having been held by the castle in his honor. After the celebration, Kabuto approached him in the main hallway a bit away from the main celebration, where Rokusho leaned against one wall- appreciative of but somewhat uncomfortable with the attention he was getting.
“Listen, Roku- can I ask a favor of you?” he asked, visibly nervous. Rokusho was somewhat curious as to the oddly uncharacteristic demeanor of his friend but didn’t bring it up.
“Yes, my liege?”
“Cut the honorifics, Roku, I’m your best friend. Anyway… do you think ya could… y’know…” He gestured vaguely to Rokusho’s sword. “... Teach me how to swordfight? I should really learn if I’m gonna be king someday, myself.” the surprises just kept coming, it seemed. Rokusho smiled gently in response.
“Of course. We should be able to schedule lessons in swordfighting easily enough. Though you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve never been a teacher before.” The prince lightly punched his friend’s upper arm.
“Nahhhh, you’ll be great! Besides, we never hang out anymore. It’ll be fun.”
And so lessons began, starting on a weekly basis and eventually moving up to daily as Kabuto seemed to begin enjoying them more and more.
Until a couple years later, when the prince was soon to approach his eighteenth birthday, when he began coming late, sometimes skipping lessons entirely. At least, so he had heard. Kabuto still attended his sessions on time. But as Rokusho somewhat expected, one day he didn’t come, so Rokusho set off to fetch him.