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Akamatsu Den

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It was a quiet day in the village of Akamatsu everyone was doing their part around the village trying to help out and make sure there was enough food. Most recently they'd been experiencing a drought and many of the crops were unexpectedly dying off. Many of the people in the village no longer had a way to pay for their land nor their food due to this. The lack of income was hurting most of the villagers and desperate times started falling on everyone who lived there. For many of the family's they were required to sell things that they owned. For some it was a much heavier price, their own flesh and blood. Their daughters and in the very desperate of times their sons. Still that didn't stop those who were left over from trying to enjoy themselves.  A group of kids run by laughed and giggled as they head into the fields. One of them happens to be a little girl with soft blue hair done up in a bun and braids with purple eyes.  

"Hey! Wait up, WAIT UP!" She cried out and tried to keep up with them. She was wearing a typical peasant girl outfit, since her nice ones are supposed to be kept for special occasions. 

"C'MON, Elf Girl!"

"Yeah, keep up, weirdo!" the boys teased.

"C'mon, Ying-Feng, keep up!" The one boy took her hand and lead her to the fields where they started to play a little game of kick ball.

While she smiled and had fun the girls foster parents discussed what to do about their situation. "We have to sell her off... It's the only way..! The only way we can survive.  The longer her ears are pinned that way, the more they will take the shape of that of an elf. We may be able to sell her for much more! She'll have a roof over her head so long as she does as she's told. It won't be a glorious calm life but still, at least we will be settled. Perhaps we could even have a son to replace her! Girls are a dime a dozen. At least we'll get SOME use out of her!" The father added.

"Yes, a weakling little girl like her? She doesn't even know her place! Look at her running around out there getting filthy with those boys. How many times have we told her not to do that? Insolent whelp! Perhaps by the time she is 8, her ears will be fully developed.."  The mother narrowed her eyes. 

"TCK, We don't have that kind of time! We need that money now or we'll starve to death! I wish there were some way to increase the growth rate..! If she were older we could sell her off to slave traders..." Grumbling the father stared out the window himself disgusted. "What did we do to deserve such a brat of a girl anyways? She can't even serve us well..."

Meanwhile Ying Feng laughed and jumped around, chasing the boys over to the area where the cabbage normally grew.  

"I really wish the cabbage would grow...! I miss my mom's vegetable soup..." The one boy spoke up.

"Oh, me too, me too!"

"Stop it you guys are making me hungry!"

Ying-Feng listened to the boys closely wishing she could help. Out of almost nowhere, a feeling in started to rise in her. She couldn't explain it, but she some how felt the seeds below her. There were tiny little life force readings! The plants wanted to grow but were too weak from the heat and drought.

"Hmnn..." Not exactly knowing what she's doing she placed her hands on the ground and focused. A golden symbol started to appear on her cheek as her hands started to glow the golden color as well. "HNNNGGGH..!!! GROW!!" The little girl grit her teeth as a small area of the Cabbages started to sprout and grow to full size! When she seen them, she collapsed to her knees bit smiled at what she did. "LOOK, LOOK WHAT I DID! Now you have cabbageses, OK? No need be sad anymore!" Still smiling, she looked at the boys who stared at her as if she were a freak.

"SHE REALLY IS AN ELF!!"

"Did you see what she did there?!"

"What kinda weird freaky girl is she?!"

"I'M GOING TO TELL MY DAD!!"

"MOM, DAD!!!! THE FENG GIRL DID SOMETHING WEIRD!!! MOM!!! MOM!!!"

The commotion ended up getting the attention of many of the villagers as Ying-Feng just knelt there looking exhausted and sad that they weren't happy.

"H-how did you...do that...Ying..?" The one boy who'd been polite to her before questioned. 

"I...I dunno, Katsu.. I felt it...an' made it grow..! They had little lives in them.." The little girl tried to explain. Unfortunately, her parents had seen what she'd done as well and decided to take advantage of this situation. 

"Did you see that?! She made the crops grow! If she can do that...we can charge the others a fee and make her grow them all for everyone! We'd be able to live pretty wealthy then! Heh, looks like the brat will come in handy after all..." Smirking the father ran outside to her. "Ying, can you do that again..?" At the same time the rest of the villagers gathered around and started throwing questions themselves about what happened there. Many of them wanting to know if she did that and if she could do it to their crops.  

"I...I think...so..." Ying shyly replied as her father picked her up and held her. She was happy about this! It was the first time her father had ever really been happy with her. The first time he ever really treated her well or her mother.

"If you want her to do it for your crops, a fee, will be in need! As you can see it appears to tire the poor girl.." Her father pretended to care. Katsu could see right through it however and frowned. He hoped he was only imagining it.

As time went by Ying continued to do whatever her father asked her to. If crops needed to be grown, she'd push herself to the point of exhaustion, just to try and make him happy. She liked the attention and love he gave to her for doing this and never wanted it to end. However, when she couldn't proceed and passed out, the customers would get mad and call him a cheat in which he'd take his anger out on Ying.

"YOU'RE PATHETIC! YOU CAN'T EVEN DO ONE MORE?! WHAT GOOD ARE YOU, YOU USELESS BRAT!!" Throwing her down she broke out into tears and took off out the door running to find her friend. 

"KATSU! KATSU...!" The little girl cried until she ran into him and hugged onto him tightly. "P-papa's being meeaann..! He....he doesn't love me anymore...!! J-just cause I can't..."

"...Ying.." The boy frowned and hugged her close petting the top of her head. "I tried to tell you before... He was only using you for your powers. You're going to have to tell him no..! Stick up for yourself...! Be a.....a..MAN!" Nodding firmly he hit his chest a little. "You're such a strong spirited girl and... I ..I know it's been 3 years since your powers manifested, and I've been standing up for you all the time, But,  You're 8 now... and I won't always be around! I can't just drop what I'm doing and help you. So...be strong!" Katsu informed her the best way he thought he could. They'd been best friends the whole time and he did only want the best for her.  On the other hand, he himself wanted her to get used to that idea. He didn't have the heart in him to tell her that the next morning he'd be gone from the village forever. His parents couldn't afford anything any longer, so he needed to be sold for them to survive. He wouldn't be able to help her anymore. Though to save her from more tears that day he just smiled and spent the rest of it playing with her to make sure she was happy before he left. They played in the field, around the river, and  with the farm animals that were left. He'd ride her on his back and laugh if he tripped with her. 

"Th-thank you for playing with me, Katsu! I...I'll see you tomorrow, k? We'll play more, k? I had LOTS of fun! You're my best friend!" Waving to him Ying went inside with a smile.

" ...I'm glad, Ying..." Hearing Ying's parents start to yell at her he quickly ran away so he wouldn't have to hear her cry again. The last thing he wanted to remember was her smiling face and that laugh. "...I'm sorry... You'll have to be strong...on your own.."

The next day Ying woke up early and almost completed all of the crops and tree's she'd been given to regrow. However, she still managed to fail, having used up all of her life force energy. "S-So...dizzy...Papa..! C-Can't..." She'd woken up at 7AM and it was now Noon with no food at all. She looked around the spinning world as it quickly grew dark and she found herself passed out. As she woke up again the room and everything was blurry. She'd been passed out for only an hour and just managed to gain a little bit of strength back. "Hnn..W-What...happened...?" Sleepily she took her tiny hand and rubbed her eyes through the baggy sleeves. 

"YOU STUPID GIRL! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY YOU COST ME?!" Her father shouted as he grabbed her wrist, smacking her across the face. "You can't rest until I tell you to!! You LISTEN to what your father tells you to do! Do you want to see your mother and I starve and suffer?! IS THAT IT?!

Ying stared at her father in shock at first, having only just woken up she didn't know what had happened. Falling back on the floor she whimpered, her eyes trembling out of fear. Those tiny hands of hers shaking, as did her bottom lip.  She remembered the words that Katsu had told her just the day before. "Hnnnn..." Whining she sniffled hard and tried to hold back from crying.  "...N-NO!!!" She cried out.

"YOU'RE GOING TO GET BACK OUT THERE THEN, AND FINISH THE JOB!!

"But I'm TOO tired~!!" She whined and whimpered.

"What did you say?! You'll listen to me or else....!"  Picking up the scared girl by her collar he lightly shook her.

"N-NO!! I DON'T WANNA!! I'M TOO TIRED!!" Kicking off of him, she dropped to the floor and scrambled over toward the door. When she reached it the first thing she did was run straight for Katsu's home, trying not to cry. As she ran the tears she held back still managed to blur her vision, causing her to nearly run into several different things. Not to mention the poor girl was still exhausted, having done all of that and still having not eaten. "KATSU!! KATSUUU...!!" Upon reaching his home she'd ran inside sniffling. "W-where is Katsu...?"  Ying then became surprised to find both of Katsu's parents sitting there at the kitchen table and crying.  They were surprised themselves to see Ying there and calling for Katsu. 

"Y-Ying...? What do you mean where's....Katsu...? He...he was sold off this morning! Didn't...he tell you that?" Katsu's father questioned.  

Ying's eyes widened as her mouth gaped open in shock.  A sharp gasp escaped the young girls lips as a shock-wave of terrible fright, anger, and despair swept over her.

"N-NO!! YOU'RE LYING!!!" But she knew they weren't. Still she escaped through the town calling out for him desperately. The other kids all stared at her as did the parents. Some felt bad for her, some figured her just to be an idiot and a cry-baby. When she could no longer search the village, she started out to the main road and not knowing which way to go, she just took a guess and darted for it. "K-KATSUUU!!"  She cried out, her voice echoing down the road as she prayed that the boy would be close by and hear it. Not caring about the hunger in her belly or the tiredness that plagued her, she continued down that road for an hour until she reached the Shoryu River. "H..hnn.." By this time her steps were more like staggers as she swayed back and forth aimlessly.  "K-Katsu..."  Her voice echoed into the wooded area as she wandered along the shore line of the river.  "Katsu...." The tiny voice whispered before everything started to go blurry again and she found herself passed out on the ground. 

Unknown to her a boy who'd been gathering what little water he could for his family was close by. "Hmn?" The young boy had heard the voice calling out for someone and decided to check it out.  "Hello?" His voice called out as he looked around. "Hello?!" He shouted a little louder, until he noticed the young girl laying there on the ground. Gasping he had quickly run up beside her and shook her. "Little girl...? Little girl..! Hey...! Hey! Wake up!" Frowning at not getting a response the boy put his head to her chest and listened. "Hmn..she has a pulse but it's weak..! I've gotta get her to Father quickly..!" The boy with the sky blue hair and reddish brown eyes picked her up into his arms. "Don't worry, You're safe with me! My Dad will know what to do..!" With her in his arms he ran off toward home, leaving the bucket of water there by the side of the river. Later he would go back and fetch it but for now, he needed to get her to a doctor.