Seiji never asked to be born. He never asked for a life fuelled by fear, hatred and contempt from those around him. Demonspawn, they called him, monstrosity, an abomination. Seiji never asked to be born with bony wings protruding on his back, Seiji never asked to be born an inconvenience to his mother who always treated him with kindness, a mother for whom he lived and breathed for in the hope that one day he could return the favour and that she would be proud to call him her son.
It was said that a Demonspawn had an aptitude for blood magic, a forbidden art that granted immortality to its user, so dangerous and horrifying it would bring destruction upon any living being if mastered. Although it was scarce, blood magic would manifest itself when the host turned fifteen and a brand of dried blood would appear on the wielder's nape.
When the villagers didn't notice this mark on Seiji, they sighed in relief.
What they didn't know was that Seiji's blood magic manifested when he was ten.
The villagers treated Seiji's mother with pity. They never once pointed fingers at her and said that she was cursed. His father, however, was a whole different story. He received the brunt of the blame. They said that he was would spell doom if allowed to live. For this reason, he was murdered. Seiji would never forget the day he saw the burnt, charred remain of his father.
Seiji was eighteen when he first realised that his mother had been deceiving him all his life. He got home a little earlier that day and happened to overhear his mother's conversation with her friend in her bedroom. She claimed that she harboured no love for Seiji and that she enjoyed the fact that the village pampered her, showering her with gifts of pity for taking care of an abomination. Seiji froze in front of the door. When she said that she was planning on selling Seiji to a wizard for a large sum of money, Seiji's whole world fell apart just like that. The only person who loved him was nothing but a liar, a trickster, a scum.
So why did he persevere through the cruelty? Why did he try so hard to live despite being mocked, abused and spat on in the streets?
That night, Seiji murdered one-hundred and twenty-one people and left the village in an engulfing blaze of hellfire.
Seiji's growth seemed to stop at some point. Even after two hundred years, his skin was still flawless, all the wounds inflicted completely healed, leaving no scar. Food was something he enjoyed but didn't require, so money was no issue for him.
Seiji used to enjoy stargazing but after living for so long under the same sky, even that became stale. So, he looked for something else. Equipped with no hobbies of his own, Seiji resigned himself to an eternity of nothingness. He started looking for a way to end his pitiful existence.
But even when he buried a metal pipe through his chest, when he severed his own head, he always woke up whole. With no one he could trust and nothing to distract himself with, it seemed that the real hell was the very Earth he stood on, and the real demons were the people who walked on it.
Seiji first learned the game Go when he saw some travellers took a break under a tree, near a beautiful lake that sparkled under the sun. Isumi and Waya, their names were. Both men were frightened to see a half-demon watching them from afar but Isumi didn't budge even when Seiji approached them. Either by fear or foolhardiness, Seiji wasn't sure but he didn't care. The game interested him far too much to worry about such trivial matter.
When Seiji expressed interest in learning about the game, both men froze but nodded. Waya much paler than Isumi.
Isumi and Waya were Seiji's first real friends. For a time, he travelled with both of them. Isumi was skilled with his bow and Waya preferred to let his fists to do the talking. Seiji mostly stayed in the back line, casting his speciality magic: ice. He saved both their lives numerous time but nothing could ever save them from the inevitable death of old age. They died alone, without any friends to mourn them except for Seiji. Being friends with a half-demon came with its own downside, it seemed.
For another two hundred years, Seiji secluded himself in ruins, terrorising poor treasure hunters or travellers who tried to trespass. One day, he decided to play a game. When someone stumbled upon him, Seiji would request a game of Go. If they managed to get the better of him, the may leave, but if they lost, Seiji would kill them. Eventually, there was no one left who could best him in this game and once again, Seiji felt empty inside.
Until a man by the name of Touya Kouyou appeared before him.
Sai was born as the only son in the Fujiwara family, his father a king and his mother a queen. Despite living a sheltered and extravagant lifestyle, Sai grew up as a fine, elegant man who was kind in his action and gentle in his words. He wore his silky hair long, letting it drape on his shoulder and let it sway in the wind. However, he never once stepped foot outside of the castle. His parents warned him about what horrors awaited him and that he shouldn't tempt fate, that he should stay safe under the protection of his knights.
His parents had been nothing but kind to him so he saw no reason to mistrust them.
The castle was a grand place, never once a dull moment. He was always accompanied by lovely servants who helped him throughout the day. His favourite individual to talk to, however, was the king's advisor, Yun. He was an intelligent man, calm and composed, always ready to indulge Sai in thought-provoking conversations. Occasionally, they would drink a cup of hot tea while playing a strategy game of Go. Yun expressed awe at Sai's natural talent and how quickly he improved despite only learning it for a few years.
Combat was a department that Sai lacked. He possessed no raw strength or agility but he had an inhuman concentration ability. Once he decided to focus on something, hardly anything would be able to distract him. This made him an excellent candidate for divination and shamanism. These two arts were very closely related, making it simple for Sai to learn and master.
Hikaru never had trouble fitting in as a child even in a ship full of burly men and influential women who spent half the time drunk. He was always springy, ready to tackle new challenges and learn new life skills due to the fact that he looked up to his father. On the battlefield, Matsuo was a force to be reckoned with. He was a pirate first and foremost, but he was also a battlemage who could shift the tide to his favour - literally. Because he's a water-focused battle mage who handled his mace like it was an extension of himself.
His father was adored by the crews who would die for him without a second thought, and Hikaru considered Matsuo's charisma and strength as a goal to work towards. Due to his tendency to try his best to make his father proud, the crew developed a soft spot for Hikaru whom they considered as their little brother.
Life really couldn't get any better for him.
Half-elves were not exactly the most respected of race. Most of them were put into slavery, employed as servants or whores. They were always living in poverty, no roofs over their heads. It was a bitter fate that they suffered and Akira always watched them with pity, even being one himself. It was such an odd contrast to full-elves who were the picture of elegance, respected as hunters or diplomats.
Akira was placed on the Earth without any knowledge of the identity of his parents. While it was upsetting, Akira didn't have a choice but to keep going for giving up was a term unfamiliar to him. It was a cruel, cruel world, but at least he wasn't completely alone in this predicament.
Akira had eyes that were sharp as an eagle, ears as sensitive as a dog and feet as agile as a fox. This made him the perfect hunter. He would constantly scour the woods and hunt small animals which he then took back to the village to share with others. The half-elves loved him and would constantly mend his weapons, provide him with old books to read and other small gifts.
Hikaru was twelve when he discovered that he didn't have any talent for magic and it broke him to think that he would never be able to be a strong magic user like his father. For weeks, he was inconsolable, and he locked himself in his room to try to prove himself wrong - that he had his father's blood coursing through his veins, that he was perfectly capable of doing what his father could, that he could be a hero just like him. Hikaru loved his ship and her crews that he never gave up hope that one day, he would be a sufficient replacement for his father.
His father whom everyone loved and cherished, who was able to stir the battlefield with his prowess and charisma, who was everything he strived to be. He didn't want any other outcome. He wanted to learn magic so he could be just like his father, adored, feared, respected.
However, he couldn't, could he? Not when not the gods didn't bestow upon him a single drop of magical ability.
It was when Akira was thirteen that he started hunting bigger, fattier animals. He was in the middle of studying a deer and its habit that he lowered his bow. From behind the bushes, a fawn and a doe emerged. They shared berries, they drank together from the river and they played together. Akira's heart surged with warmth at the scene. Suddenly, he felt longing. His friends were kind to him, but none ever filled him with satisfaction and contentment. If Akira killed the stag or the doe, the fawn would be without its parents just like him.
Ah, how could he ever do that? How could he even think of tearing a family apart?
The crew and his father was surprised to see that their little boy had the agility of a fox and the unpredictability of an orca that they struggled to keep up with him. All those chores that Hikaru did around the ship helped with his stamina tremendously that most of the time, the adults would tire before Hikaru did even when they weren't the ones doing all the jumping around.
On his fifteenth birthday, Hikaru received a scimitar forged just for him. He called it Stormbringer.
Sai absolutely adored desserts. He would have them all day all night if he could! The head chef never had any shortage of idea, it seemed. Every night, it was always a different dessert, perhaps similar to the ones previously but never without a twist. He loved his life in the castle. He wouldn't trade it for anything else.
The more time he spent in nature, the less inclined Akira was to return to his village. Out there, he was liberated from the prejudice towards half-elves that a race selfishly dictated. Among the trees, Akira could be by himself, away from prying eyes and away from humans, away from politics. How refreshing it was.
As a pirate, Hikaru loved travelling. He enjoyed discovering hidden gems hidden around the world and under the sea where his father would cast one of the spells that enabled them to breathe underwater. Inside the ship wreckage, they found treasure, they found oddities, and they found mysteries. Every day was a holiday for him, especially with his family aboard the ship. He could never ask for more.
As time went on, Sai grew more and more curious of the outside world. Whenever he asked his parents about it, they always laughed him off and said, "We will take you out there when you are ready." But when would it be? Sai was eighteen, and he had never been more ready before. He wanted to see just what beauty lied outside the castle gate, but he had a feeling it would be a long, long wait.
Sai never once thought about sneaking outside. He didn't wish to disgrace his parents and make them lose trust in him by acting behind their backs. Sai believed in honour, in doing the right thing, in following the set of rules laid out in front of him. He wanted to follow in his parents' footsteps. One day, the throne would be his for the taking, and he wanted to make sure that he would be a good enough replacement for his beautiful parents.
Akira never thought that he had a quality that wild beasts and animal alike found attractive. The first time he encountered a wolf, he almost resigned himself to his impending doom, but it never came. When he dared himself to look up into the animal's eyes, they were bright yellow, gleaming in the dark, full of curiosity. It tilted his head to the side as if asking who Akira was. Without thinking twice, he slowly extended his arm and the wolf approached him. Unexpectedly, it nuzzled his palm. Its fur was rough under his touch, but it was warm. When he woke up the next night, he saw three wolf cubs curling next to him, along with the mother that he encountered last night.
There was a game called Go that one of the ship crews taught him. A game of strategy that Hikaru never thought he would ever lose himself in, due to his preference to be in the thick of the battle instead of scheming. It probably helped that he thought the board as a vast ocean and the stones as his friends, his family. He would spend hours upon hours of his free time in Go and had stunned everyone with his natural talent. They quickly realised that this little boy was going to grow up to be a man to be feared much like his father. Because it was one thing to be able to fight, and it was a whole another thing to be able to strategise.
Hikaru didn't remember his mother's face or what she sounded like. In fact, he didn't remember her at all. She died giving birth to him. Although it upset him to know that he would never meet her, he decided to live for the both of them. Despite this resolve, Hikaru would often find himself longing for a mother figure at night. He had so many friends, yet he was so, so lonely.
Life at sea meant that Hikaru had no friend of his age. Yes, he loved the crew and how they pampered him all the time, but sometimes, Hikaru wished that there was another like him. Perhaps one day?
If Akira had to pick a favourite animal, it would be all of them. He loved being in their company, adored how they never judged him for his race or story. They were always there for him, ready to comfort him the way everyone should aim to act around others. He didn't regret not returning to the village, even if he doomed everyone to a life without him, the sole hunter of the group who provided extra food to those in need. Here in nature, he felt at home.
As far as Sai was concerned, his parents were kind, just rulers who treated the citizens with fairness, just like how they treated him. There should be absolutely no reason why... why... why they should be lying in a pool of blood in their rooms. They were the most benevolent individuals ever to walk this Earth. Why would anyone be so cruel as to remove two people who were nothing but a positive influence? Why?
Dark eyes, red pupils and body that was enveloped in a black shroud. Purple hazy mist coiled all around it, it reeked of death and misery and agony and suffering, and Hikaru wanted to run away. All the strength that he could muster was only enough to crawl. He was helpless in front of Death; he was helpless even when Death sliced his father into small pieces, limbs to limbs, bursting him into what Hikaru wished he could forget but never would. The gory image was ingrained, etched and carved into his eyes, into his soul, into his very being. It was a horror that no teenager should ever go through, but that was what pirates and fighters do - they danced with death every day, and this was a fitting ending.
So even when Death, covered in the blood and viscera of a man he once called father, Hikaru couldn't move, he couldn't cry, he couldn't scream.
Death didn't come to him. He wished it did.
Sai escaped unharmed through the secret tunnel that led outside, accompanied by his most loyal and trusted servants. He only managed to take some gold that should be enough to last them a few months.
Those assassins shouldn't be left unpunished.
Sai's insides boiled with anger and resentment, loathing aimed at those who dared to destroy his happiness, his picture-perfect life. He swore to whatever god was watching to, one day, exact revenge and take back the throne that belonged to the Fujiwara. No guilty should be left unpunished.
When Hikaru turned eighteen, he lost his father to Death. That was the point where he realised that life was such a fragile thing and even the strongest was bound to fall and that there was always a force stronger than what you could possibly be. Three days Hikaru spent in his room, remembering, respecting, fearing. When he walked out, there were no more tears. Someone needed to bring the crew together, steer the ship, keep the legacy going. Hikaru took it upon himself to lead. This was the only way he knew how to respect his father's memory. Hopefully, it would one day bring him to Death, and he could only wish that then, he would be a strong enough man to do to Death what it did to his father.