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The Reawakening

Chapter Text

“Goodnight, my prince,” Rokusho said, gently smiling at his charge, whom he had wholeheartedly devoted his life to. Kabuto, the prince in question, gave him a slight smile in return.

“Don’t stay out too late on patrol. It’s been getting colder and colder these days,” he advised.

Rokusho nodded. “Will do,” he returned. Kabuto nodded and closed the door with a soft click. Rokusho knew all too well just how poorly he handled the cold, even with years of training. Turning, he snuffed out the last light beside the prince’s room and headed toward the exit.

Suddenly, a young Medalorian‒probably a soldier of low rank‒ran from around the corner and skidded to a halt in front of him. “Commander Rokusho, sir!” She gave a short bow, remembering her manners at the last second. “Unknown forces have been spotted on the eastern horizon!”

Rokusho’s demeanor stiffened. “Has the king been alerted, yet?” Any mirth from his prior exchange vanished, replaced with his usual seriousness. “We must alert him and prepare the royal family for protection if needed.”

“Not yet. I thought it best to inform you first, sir, since the scouts report that they are armed. I will report to the king right away.” With another bow, the soldier scurried off.

Rokusho turned to urgently wake his soldiers. They roused quickly, but they could not disguise the anxiety which spread wordlessly through their ranks. Rokusho hoped that it wouldn’t severely distract them from the threat at hand as he prepared his troops to march out and meet the unknown forces.

Advancing in the moonlight in a thin veil of mist, the encroaching platoon looked almost ethereal. Their polished ivory armor seemed to glow, and Rokusho could feel the tenseness amidst his soldiers only grew with each step. The opposing force bristled as soon as the Helms drew close, but a large Medalorian in front swung out their naginata-like weapon to stop them.

“State your business marching into Helm territory armed and unannounced!” Rokusho thundered. For once, he was thankful for his notoriety as the Lunar Knight, as he saw a few of the opposing troops exchange glances.

“I’ve heard the tales, but I didn’t think the legendary Lunar Knight would be this hostile to his own kind,” the leader said coolly.

The pale white armor with dark detailing finally struck him. Though these designs were different, more evolved, and more imposing, the motifs were still there. These were undeniably Scissors soldiers, forces from a kingdom that the Helms had decidedly quashed and absorbed over a decade ago.

Yet… something told Rokusho that these were no ordinary Scissors soldiers. They must have resurged in strength for a reason , he concluded. “I have no desire to fight if a fight is not necessary, but I would venture that you want to take back what you lost when the Scissors kingdom fell and anything else you can get your hands on. Is that right?”

The leader’s expression changed to a sneer. “There’s not enough of us left to take a whole kingdom. That’s what your beloved king did to us, to our entire people.” They raised their weapon, pointed gracefully at Rokusho’s chest. “I have no qualms with running you through if you try and stop us. Do you really feel nothing for your own people?”

At the rise of the weapon, Rokusho’s stance changed, and he stepped back. “My people are the Helm people, and I will not allow you to cause any harm here!” Without looking away, Rokusho ordered his troops, “Signal the castle for Code 2! Prepare for battle!”

At the shout, the Scissors soldiers jumped into a fighting formation with utmost fluidity. One of the Helm soldiers shot a signal flare into the sky. After a few tense seconds, the castle signaled back.

“They destroyed our way of life and killed almost everyone! Now, we are here to exact revenge on the one who ordered it!” the leader shouted and stepped into an offensive stance. While the Helms remained still, the rest of the Scissors soldiers began to run in a wide arc, their great speed turning them into moonlit beams. A cry of pain rang out as one of the outer Helm soldiers was stabbed through their chest with a gold-tinged blade.

Even with extensive training, the rest of the Helm soldiers had hardly any time to react before the battle began. They started firing, though they were already at a disadvantage in close combat. Rokusho rushed forward to break the arc and make his way to the leader. All pleasantries were over, and it was his time to shine. He felt adrenaline course through him at this new challenge: a remarkably adept enemy that could match his own speed and his own skill with the blade. He managed to fell a couple of soldiers, but he had to admit that they were unlike anything he had ever encountered.

Suddenly, the long blade of the naginata crashed against Rokusho’s. He winced as he saw its shimmering gold surface tarnished with black fluid. The leader’s and his eyes met, their icy stare of hatred sending an involuntary shiver down his spine. Then, the naginata flipped and swung upwards, attempting to catch Rokusho’s chin with the blade. He barely stepped out of the way in time. He then heard the rapid pattering of feet behind him and tried to turn around‒

A wave of pain through his side told him that he hadn’t been fast enough. Though nonfatal, the long slash near his midsection caused him to go dizzy for a moment. When he looked back up, expecting to see the blade pointed at his head, he was shocked to see that the leader was nowhere to be found.

In fact, all of the Scissors troops seemed to have vanished into thin air, as if with the mist. The clamor of feet he’d heard were Helm reinforcements arriving too late to the remainder of his forces. The leader of the reinforcements looked out at the well-trained group that had been overwhelmed in an immensely one-sided battle, wide-eyed and in awe.

“What happened…?”

With difficulty, Rokusho stood, clutching at his wound. “A warning.”

Chapter Text

It took a few days for Rokusho to recover, during which Kabuto spent nearly all his free time in the infirmary with his knight.

“Were they really Scissors soldiers? I thought you were the only one left,” he prodded, concern clearly laden in his voice.

Rokusho nodded. “Stronger armor, faster, and better-armed, but unmistakably Scissors,” he explained, “I was lucky to have gotten out alive.” Kabuto winced at that sidenote.

Rokusho continued, “What I don’t understand is how they left... They fought and killed like mortals, but when reinforcements came, it was as if they just... disappeared. I am no fool who believes in magic or apparitions, but something ominous is afoot.”

Kabuto ribbed, “Are you sure you didn’t lose so much blood that it got to your head?”

Rokusho looked rather grim. “It was because of me those good people lost their lives last night. A repeat attack must be avoided at all costs.” He looked up. Kabuto was silent as well.

The prince placed his hand on Rokusho’s shoulder and said earnestly, “We’ll get them next time.”

A suspicion dawned on Rokusho, and he asked with narrowed eyes, “You’re not thinking of coming with me on the next encounter, are you?”

“Well, yeah! You lost a lot of guys!” Kabuto’s breath caught when he saw Rokusho grimace, but Kabuto continued, “You need someone to have your back and level the playing field. Those guys… They’re probably going to be tough to beat with just the average fresh-out-of-the-mill replacements.”

“Kabuto,” Rokusho chided.

A sigh. “Besides, it was really annoying to just be huddled with everyone, on the edge of my seat and not knowing what was gonna happen to you...” Kabuto looked at Rokusho’s wound, guilt in his eyes.

“Kabuto…” Rokusho repeated. “You’re someone whom I‒the kingdom‒” he corrected, “‒cannot afford to lose. You absolutely will not come with me. Even if I wanted to, the king would have me killed for putting you in such danger.” He sat up straighter, wincing slightly as he aggravated his wound. “And besides... They weren’t just ‘run-of-the-mill soldiers,’ they had families, and friends, and people who cared about them. If I can’t take care of my squadron, then I don’t deserve to command them. I... may even go alone next time.”

Kabuto’s eyes widened. “No way! You can’t just take no one! You already got that little token!” He gestured vehemently to Rokusho’s bandage. “They could kill you next!”

“And,” Kabuto added before Rokusho could protest, “if you do go alone, people in the castle might think that you’re colluding with them.”

“Hmmph…” Rokusho crossed his arms in thought. Kabuto was right, and said Medalorian smiled smugly at his own ingenuity.

Kabuto continued, “If they come again, you can’t face them as you are. You’ll definitely be… We’ll leave another commander in charge. You didn’t take the entire army, after all. Just… stay on the sidelines and think of a strategy. No on-field stuff.”

Rokusho frowned. How could he do that? He was the only one who had a half-decent chance against them close-up. However, a direct order from the prince was unquestionable.

Quietly, he turned his head to face the window opposite where Kabuto was sitting, now watching a few young Helms play in the nearby courtyard. He couldn’t help but think about what the leader had said.

They destroyed our way of life and killed almost everyone! Their voice echoed in his mind, and for one painful moment, he imagined the children out there as children of his own kind… Soon to either be killed, or forced into growing up too soon.

After all, he’d never gotten to play like that.

Within a few days, Rokusho was well enough to return to his quarters, though his range of movement was still limited. In his room, he thought ceaselessly on how to defeat the imminent follow-up attack, replaying the battle from that fateful night over and over in his head. He soon grew restless and began moving through the motions of battle, despite the pain protesting against him when he started moving too quickly or extending too far. He knew Kabuto would have had a fit if he saw him, so Rokusho kept his activity private. He wasn’t completely silent, though, as he let out a pained grunt and breathed heavily. He cursed himself for being so inept, and he cursed his wound, too. He needed to heal faster! The next attack could happen at any moment!

He was deep in consternation as he heard a knock at the door. He straightened immediately, sending another wave of pain through him. It was none other than the prince who poked his head in.

Rokusho immediately tried playing innocent, greeting the prince, “Ah, Prince Kabuto… I was just deliberating over the battle...”

Kabuto let out a long, suffering breath. “I’m right next door. I can hear you overstraining yourself.”

Rokusho sighed as well and looked downward. He must not have been as quiet as he thought...

“I cannot idle like this. If they attack again and I’m not well enough to fight back, we’ll be overtaken!”

Kabuto chuckled a bit. “Rokusho, you’re being hyperbolic. You may be our best knight, but that doesn’t mean that the others aren’t almost as good. And our defenses are impenetrable!”

“Not impenetrable,” Rokusho said in a half-grumble. “I got in. And there’s no guarantee that they can’t do the same.”

This warranted another chuckle from Kabuto. “That’s true, but security’s been tighter since you’ve gotten here, and we’ve gotten better. Just… rely on us more, okay? As much as you’d like to be, you’re not a one-man army.” Kabuto smiled at him assuringly.

Rokusho didn’t have any choice but to half-smile back, slightly relieved at how calmly Kabuto had actually reacted, though the worries still plagued him. He admitted aloud, “I just… I don’t know what to do.”

Kabuto nodded, understanding Rokusho fully. “Yeah, that’s like you. When you don’t know what you’re supposed to do, you try to spread out in all directions. If something’s bothering you, you’re restless until you figure out what it is. What I’m asking you to do is just tone it down. You’ll be doing yourself a favor, I promise.”

Kabuto shifted his stance and beckoned Rokusho in a large gesture. “C’mon, let’s take a walk. You’ll feel better by the end of it, I promise.” Rokusho paused, then sighed and smiled at his friend.

“Alright. That… does sound nice.” He followed Kabuto out the door. They strolled through the large hallways and courtyards, taking more than enough time so Rokusho wouldn’t strain himself and making pleasant small talk along the way. The knight relished in the company of his old friend, not having quality time to do so for a long while.

Chapter Text

Rokusho returned feeling a bit of warmth in his chest from the excursion. However, as he entered the room and closed the door, a sight awaited him that completely destroyed the feeling.

The leader of the Scissors warriors sat on his floor cross-legged. A low table was set up in front of them, with a small tea set on its surface and a pillow on the floor opposite from the leader. Rokusho immediately assumed a fighting stance and drew his sword, but the leader simply held up their hand.

“I didn’t come to harm you or the prince. See? I haven’t even brought my weapon with me. I just want to talk.” They accentuated their words with a gesture, showing that they were indeed unarmed. At least, so far as Rokusho could see...

Rokusho kept his stance up. “Why shouldn’t I call the guards, or slice you up myself? You are not only a trespasser but a murderer,” he asked coldly.

“Because I won’t cause you any trouble. As soon as we’re done, I will leave peacefully. I somewhat felt that last night wasn’t the best of introductions... Tea?” They gestured to the set in front of them. “I promise it’s perfectly safe,” they continued, taking a sip from their own cup. The faint but gentle scent of the tea somehow felt familiar.

Rokusho quickly analyzed the possibilities: the Scissors leader could be looking for some hidden detail that would slip and allow them to complete their mission, they could be genuine and want to talk, or they could be stalling for time as their followers slipped into the castle. Rokusho stayed where he was. Even given these possibilities, he asked, “How did you get in here? And more importantly, how did you and your friends leave battle so seamlessly and without a trace?”

After another sip, the leader replied, “My soldiers were once street rats like you, scraping by to survive. We banded together to make it easier to keep living. One day, we decided to visit the mass grave, dug for the bodies of the Scissors who’d died trying to protect our once great kingdom. It was on a misty night when ghostly figures came before us and pleaded with us to exact vengeance for them. In turn, they promised us power beyond mortal measure and a life in which we’d no longer need to claw by while those around us flourished. Of course, we took up this mission, and we became what we are right now… with other-worldly assistance, if you will.”

Rokusho narrowed his eyes, his common sense telling him that this story was obviously fabricated, but given the nature of the Scissors soldiers’ sudden appearance and disappearance, there were no better explanations.

“Seeing that you are also a Scissors, we extend our hand and ask you to join us in our mission to put our dead to rest.” The leader offered their open hand expectantly.

Rokusho shook his head. “I must decline. Even if our ancestors desire vengeance, they were not the ones who saved me. The Helms did.”

“Ah, so the rumors are true.” The leader retracted their hand and then stroked their chin in thought. “You and the young prince are as thick as thieves. Once a Scissors, always a Scissors, it seems. Loyal to the bone.” They allowed themselves a chuckle. “Do not worry. We will not harm your prince. He is innocent of the crimes of his father. What we want is to kill the king, the one who ground our once proud kingdom down into nothingness. What do you say? Shall you do this favor for your father and mother, who died for you?”

“This I cannot let stand. Even if the king is guilty, he is still my benefactor.” And Kabuto would be devastated , he added in thought.

“I see. So we are destined to clash again…”

“Perhaps there is a peaceful way. If you were to approach the king peacefully, then maybe he would‒”

The leader set down their teacup abruptly. “The souls are restless and call for nothing but bloodshed and vengeance. None of this peace!” They stood, and Rokusho tensed. “If you are so willing to give your life to the ones who brought us down, you will die a traitor.” At this, they turned and vanished, only a wisp of mist left behind.

Rokusho looked down at the table, the teapot still hot with steam rising out of its spout and two empty cups sitting on opposite sides of the table. Was there anything else he could have done? Would he tell anyone? What would he say?

The warm teapot continued steaming in silence, offering no answer to his onslaught of questions.

Rokusho set up the table and tea set that the leader had brought. He paused before turning to dispose of the tea, an earlier thought continuing to nag him. Why is this smell so… familiar? Finally, after much hesitation, he dumped the cup’s contents, quietly watching the liquid slowly seep into the dirt.

He shook his head. He didn’t need another mystery wracking his brain. Nonetheless, he lifted the opening of the emptied pot to his face, taking a deep whiff of the mysteriously nostalgic scent once more.

Rokusho turned, carrying the teapot in front of him, supposing he should probably wash it and put it away. A cool gust of wind blew past him, causing him to drop his horns slightly. He made his way to the lower level near the courtyard, where a small washbasin was placed. A few Medalorians watched as he filled it with water, scrubbed the inside gently with a rag, and then dumped the water out.

As he finished, he idly wondered what stopped the Scissors from simply popping in on the king to kill him. With their newfound “powers,” it would be a cinch.

Something else was amiss, something that the leader hadn’t told him. Rokusho set the teapot aside and resolved to start patrolling, despite his less-than-optimal condition. He was in no position to fight, but maybe he could answer some of his own questions. He also wanted to check in on Kabuto, just to make sure he was alright.

After a few minutes of half-hearted patrolling, Rokusho couldn’t take it anymore and walked back to his and Kabuto’s quarters. He made sure to put the teapot in his own room first‒on the off-chance that Kabuto asked, Rokusho didn't want to explain any of what had happened.

He first knocked on the prince’s door and found there was no response. Normally, this wouldn't be a concern: Prince Kabuto often slept in, and Rokusho would usually be the one to wake him. However, this time, the knight’s mind filled with nothing but worst-case scenarios. He hurriedly pushed open the door, not even bothering to stay quiet.

There, sprawled out on top of the bed, was Kabuto, sound asleep. Not even Rokusho barging in had been enough to rouse him, and he snored peacefully away. Rokusho closed his eyes with a quiet sigh, letting his shoulders droop in relief. He sat on a stool beside the bed and rested his head in his palm. Kabuto stirred a little‒evidently, the door being jarred open was enough, even if a little delayed. Rokusho felt a bit guilty for waking him.

“Heya, buddy...” Kabuto shifted over to face his friend as he opened his eyes. “What’cha wake me for? Thought we had a week off from trainin’...”

Rokusho shook his head. “N-nothing. Forgive my intrusion, my prince.” He bowed his head, internally relieved that Kabuto was so casual with him that this wasn’t considered too bad a transgression. “I wanted to… just be with you, if you’ll allow it.” It wasn’t a complete lie, more of a sentimental half-truth.

Kabuto smiled sleepily. “Sure, Ro.” He took a long peek at his friend and scooted over. “Why don’tcha sleep? Ya look awful.”

This gave Rokusho pause. It was true. Despite the mid-afternoon sun warming him through the window, he was exhausted. Since the night of the attack, he hadn’t had a good night of sleep. Yet, he still thought it impudent to sleep in such circumstances. He still had the weight of his conversation with the Scissors leader on his mind. “Kabuto…?”

“Hm?” came the half-asleep reply. Kabuto probably wasn’t awake enough to process what Rokusho had to say, but the knight still felt he needed to get something off his chest.

“I wanted you to know that… you’re the most important person in my life, and I’d do anything for you. To me, you’re worth ten thousand times more than my own life.”

“... I know.” There was a bit of sadness in Kabuto’s voice. “Why’re you sayin’ this, now?”

Rokusho closed his eyes, feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays. “There may come a time when I’m no longer able to protect you, when I’m no longer with you. I just... wanted you to know before that happens…”

The next thing Rokusho felt was Kabuto’s hand against his cheek. He had to stop himself from turning his head to rest Kabuto’s hand on his muzzle, so he settled for a quiet sigh.

“I’ll call the elite castle guard for the day. Ya really should get some sleep,” said the prince softly.

Rokusho still wasn’t entirely sure, but it was becoming harder and harder to resist. The sun was so warm, and Kabuto’s voice was so soothing…

Before he could snap himself out of it, he was fast asleep, resting his chin on the bed. As the knight slept, Kabuto removed his hand from Rokusho’s cheek. Kabuto stopped himself from squeezing his knight’s hand, his breath catching at the thought of Rokusho realizing. Instead, Kabuto settled for gently brushing his fingers against Rokusho’s, gazing at his exhausted knight with shining emerald eyes.

“I wish I could tell you that you’re wrong. My life is no more important than yours… You mean so much more than you realize,” Kabuto murmured before slowly falling back asleep.

Chapter Text

Rokusho was the first to wake up, and he nearly fell backwards when he realized what had happened. How could he be so foolish?!

He stood, making sure to remain quiet enough to not wake the still-sleeping prince. He silently left the room, making a quick check of the area around their quarters. It was late in the afternoon now, and the sun was beginning to turn deep red as it hung low in the sky. There weren’t any people out; it was probably near dinnertime for the royals and therefore time for any visitors to leave.

Rokusho glanced up toward one of the top spires to check if the watches were on duty, yet. For an instant, he thought he saw a dull flash of white in the tower. Not one to risk it again, he climbed to the top floor of the closest pavillion and climbed out of the window, nimbly making his way to the rooftop. Careful not to slip on the gabled roof, he stepped over to the outside of the tower. It wasn’t the best of positions, but he preferred it to climbing into the tower the proper way and possibly stepping right into a trap.

His wound, though healing, burned in protest, but he gritted himself through the pain as he looked about. He readied his sword, eyes scanning for any abnormalities. How could he have fallen asleep when intruders were darting around the castle?! Carefully, he picked his way back down, ignoring the strain he put on his tender side.

This time, Rokusho took up his patrol wholeheartedly, searching and searching as the sun began to set. As he passed by his fellow soldiers, he ordered them to tighten their patrols and spread the word. They were to report anything suspicious immediately. After Rokusho had left them, he finally spotted another white blur leap from the side of the castle to outside its grounds, where the foliage growing in the outer perimeter obscured the Medalorian’s form.

Quickly, Rokusho leapt after them, making careful steps so as not to alert his quarry. He was not best-suited for stealth, but his efforts seemed to be enough as he tracked the Scissors spy into town. He could see that the spy cloaked themselves to minimize the shine of their white armor, much like how he had when he’d first attempted to breach the Helm castle on his own. The spy took a winding path, a smart move but futile under Rokusho’s keen eye.

Still unaware, the spy led him down below, into the waterways running underneath the Helm capital city. The shallow, rushing water disguised the sounds of splashing footsteps as finally, Rokusho felt he was beginning to make some headway.

He slowed as he began to hear echoing voices, not wanting to come too close or draw any attention. He only edged close enough to be able to make out the voices. Pushing his back up against a nearby wall, he tried to hear over the sound of rushing water.

“... iscuss… … eed the ni… … ow him… ere? Did he…” The voices had hushed to a whisper as the spy arrived, making it even harder to hear anything. A gust of wind blew past him. Wind? There wasn’t any feasible cause for it down here…

“Come in, Rokusho. We’ve been waiting for you,” he heard a louder voice call. It was the leader’s. Behind him, one of the soldiers appeared, holding their blade in one hand but not raising it.

Rokusho hesitated. If he tried to run, he would surely be apprehended and likely killed. Finally, he stepped inside and into the dry portion of the tunnel, where the rest were seated. The first thing he noticed was the fact that there were only five Scissors soldiers, including the leader. A seat was prepared for him, and so he carefully sat. This time, he noticed the leader gripping the handle of their naginata.

“Frankly, I’m surprised. I know how loyal you are to your kingdom, but you’ve seen me vanish right in front of you, and yet you still followed my lieutenant down here. However, it is of no matter. I felt that we should offer you one last chance. We are not murderers by heart, you know, and it would be even more horrible to kill one of our own. So, I’ve come to sweeten the pot. Assist us in the king’s assassination…”

Rokusho quietly drew his blade, but still listened.

“... And the rest of the kingdom stays untouched. If you do not… then the prince goes with him. I can tell how much you care for the prince. Surely, this is a fine deal?” Rokusho tensed and nearly jumped at them for the threat. However, he resisted the urge, feeling an immense knot form in his stomach.

“Why do you care so much about my allyship? With these powers you have, you should have no problem dispatching the king,” he asked, trying to keep the hostility in his voice as low as possible.

“Too heavily guarded. Even if we got close enough, we would be killed upon reappearing. And, as you might gather, we’re trying to keep our numbers as high as we can. What we need you to do is to create a large enough distraction to give us time.” The leader rested their chin in their palm, gazing at Rokusho with a surprisingly peaceful expression.

“Why do you need to appear to attack?” Rokusho questioned. A couple of Scissors soldiers raised their blades and changed their stance, but the leader waved them off.

“An observant one, are you? I suppose I shouldn’t’ve let that detail slip...” They paused a moment before continuing. “I suppose I… expounded upon the truth a little bit. What the spirits granted us for this mission were these.” Reaching behind their back, they retrieved a small object that looked somewhat like a flattened cube, with raised corners and a faint green light in the center. Before Rokusho got a good look at it, they closed their hand around it once again and returned it to its original place.

“It’s ancient Scissors technology, there was a small cache near the gravesite, hidden from any intruders by a tight grove of trees, likely so that their enemies would never be able to use it. They were used for covert missions and are what allow us our cloaking ability.” Even if he’d wanted to, Rokusho was unable to speak. The Helms had never had any technology like this…  “If we are to be friends, I should at least let you in on our little secret, hm? Not that telling your Helm friends will do any good, anyway. As evidenced by our first encounter, we’re much too fast for your gun-toting soldiers.”

“That doesn’t answer my question,” Rokusho replied. “I didn’t ask how you were cloaking, I asked why you needed to uncloak to attack.”

The leader sighed softly and leaned back in their chair. “Part of it is soldier’s honor. We want our opponents to know who killed them, as well as giving them at least some chance of surrendering.”

Rokusho couldn’t keep from retorting, “It is clear that nothing of this plan, or you, is honorable in any sort.” This insult warranted a Scissor blade pressed up against his throat, so he stopped himself from lashing out further.

“Hm. Well, I suppose that is something you’ll have to reason out for yourself, then. How do you know we even need to?” After a tense, short pause, they spoke again and waved off the soldier threatening Rokusho. “Did you like the tea? I was a little sad you didn’t finish it, though I suppose I cannot blame you. It’s an old Scissors recipe. This land doesn’t have the right herbs to make it, though.”

A thought suddenly struck the knight. “If you need me to help you with the king, how can you make the threat against the prince as well as an alternative?”

“Now that,” the leader mused, “is an easy answer. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a prince such as Kabuto will be as unruly as children are wont to be. We have all the time we need to plan, to observe. No matter your security, there will always be cracks. We only need one moment, one opportunity, one slip-up. The prince is not as highly guarded as the king, and we know that the more he’s locked in by guards, the more he will push them away, even if you’re the one guarding him. He will find an opportunity to slip out, and when he does…”

Rokusho held a cold, icy glare at the leader’s level gaze, indignance and fury boiling within him. He held himself back from answering immediately, even with the full offense of threatening to even so much as touch Kabuto.

After taking a moment to reign in his thoughts, he looked calculatingly at all of them. Since there were only five he could see, the others were either holed up at other hiding spots or watching the castle in shifts. The two that he’d managed to wound along with other casualties were likely still recovering. He doubted that they would actually be foolish enough to go after Kabuto first. If they even revealed themselves before going after the king, guards would immediately flock to protect him and the rest of the royal family. However, if he were to refuse the Scissors’ offer, they probably wouldn’t let him leave alive. His only option would be to deceive them somehow, though he would need to ensure that the Scissors soldiers wouldn’t catch on. No telling Kabuto, the king, or even the other guards, either. He’d have to find some way to foil their plan all by himself.

“Very well…” he said reluctantly. He didn’t really have any other choices, and it was better to stay alive and think of a plan than die brazenly.

“I’m glad we were able to convince you.” The leader smiled, but the smile seemed halfhearted. “I wish we had been able to meet on better terms. I think we might have been good friends under different circumstances... You are free to return, but don’t bother sending any guards down. By the time they get here, we will be long gone.” The leader stood, gripping their naginata, and gave Rokusho a polite bow. Rokusho stood and left, feeling a horrible, sickly feeling in his stomach the whole way back.

Kabuto moved his hand over to the side of the bed, subconsciously expecting it to bump against a familiar face. When instead it met only cold air, he awoke. The prince groaned as he sat up.

He would have much rather preferred waking up with some company, but it didn’t surprise him that Rokusho had chosen to head out before then. Kabuto looked out the window at the setting sun and realized as his stomach growled that it was about time for dinner. As he made his way to the royal dining hall, he looked around at the patrolling soldiers to spot his knight.

“Where’ve you gone…?” he mumbled. Rokusho had been through so much in just over the course of a week, and Kabuto couldn’t help but worry for him, especially after what he’d said before they fell asleep together.

As Kabuto entered the dining hall, with its massive wooden table and high, arching walls, he playfully knocked the hand of one of the diners while passing by.

“Hey!” his cousin protested as Kabuto chuckled.

“Heeeey, Bee,” Kabuto teased, and his cousin Metabee scowled at him. Kabuto looked around the table. “You know where Dad is?”

“He’s busy with some meeting.” Metabee shrugged. “Woulda figured you’d guess that much.”

Kabuto let out a quiet sigh. “Ya seen Roku around?”

“What am I, your personal tab-keeper? I don’t know!”

With a strained remnant of a smile, he stated, “Just checkin’. “ At that, Metabee resumed his dinner, and Kabuto walked to his seat in disappointment. He ate with a troubled heart, his mind elsewhere, worrying about his childhood friend. He pondered fruitlessly, What’s been going on with you…?

Chapter Text

When at last he returned to his bed, Rokusho tossed and turned all night long. For once, he longed to be on night patrol, if only to have something else occupying his mind. He had no idea what to do. His decision had been one of desperation, not cunning. It had utterly killed his appetite, so he had decided to head to bed rather than join the others in the banquet hall. Kabuto, and possibly the king, would chew him out later, but for now he was unsure if his nerves would even allow him to walk there, much less put up a facade of normalcy.

In frustration, he squeezed his eyes shut, wanting to clear his mind, only to have those thoughts haunt him. His fingertips itched to claw himself inside out for what he’d agreed to. In the dark, he smelled something. Something familiar.

When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was a shadowy wooden table, its surface peppered with dings, as if continually whacked by a child’s toy sword. On top of it sat a teapot filled with steaming tea and three teacups. Rokusho looked up to behold two white, wispy figures sitting opposite from him, one with their hands clasped on their knee and the other pouring tea into each cup. At first, Rokusho thought they were the Scissors soldiers, reminding him of his troubles even in his sleep, but he quickly dispelled the thought. The forms solidified, their details and features not completely concrete, yet unmistakably…

“Mother, Father,” Rokusho greeted neutrally. The shifting figures remained in place, not answering. “Are you helping them, too?”

“You’ve grown,” the voice of his father stated, seeming unsure of how to speak with his own son, how to start conversation after so many years of being dead and never having visited before… or maybe visiting in his young son’s dreams only for that troubled boy to forget.

For a second, Rokusho looked away. Despite them being no more than wisps of smoke, it still hurt to see the parents he had lost so long ago. His mother started to reach out to him but drew back, as if having realized their separate planes of existence barred them from contact.

“To answer your question…” Rokusho’s father sighed, shifting slightly. “No. We have not been helping those on their quest for vengeance. However, I cannot blame the spirits who guided them for being angry and wanting revenge. It hurt the innocents the most, those who never signed up for any war. Your mother and I were both active figures. We understood the possibility of death. Every civilian who was killed did not. They are not wrong to want revenge.” Rokusho was about to protest but couldn’t find the words. He was torn between two worlds: the one that raised him and made him who he was and the one that he was meant to have lived in, the one that had been taken away from him and from every single one of those soldiers that he had begun to despise.

Rokusho squeezed his palms together until he finally made a choice. “I understand… I hope you can forgive me, but I must protect…” It was difficult for him to form the words for Kabuto… his charge? No, Kabuto was more than that. His friend? His family?

“We know, son. We thought you might say that,” his mother interrupted gently. “We also know that we fought for something that we stood for and died for it. We know that times change, and we know that you wish to also fight for something‒ some one that you cannot afford to lose or hurt. We know that you would rather not use violence, and for everything… we’re proud of you. We’re proud of what you’ve become.”

Rokusho felt a warmth spread in his chest and smiled. “I… I missed you,” he admitted.

“We’ve missed you, too.” Rokusho could practically hear his father smiling back.

Rokusho’s smile faded as he remembered his current situation once more. “I… I don’t know what to do, how to prevent the king’s assassination.”

This time, his mother piped up. “Inform the king. It will prove your loyalty‒that you would go so far as to act as a double agent for him in the face of such danger. Plus, it gives him more cause to double his guard.”

His father chuckled. “I simply find it somewhat funny that now, long after our deaths at his hands, we are strategizing a way to keep him alive in spite of our own people.” Despite his father’s amicable tone, Rokusho felt a spike of guilt through his chest.

He continued, “I just wish that you and these Scissors could come to a peaceful compromise… Our race has been nearly stamped out. You should preserve and share what is left of the Scissors kingdom you hold…”

Rokusho explained, “We’ve spoken multiple times, and I do not wish for a fight, either, but it seems that they’re set on their ways, just as I’m set on mine...” Rokusho looked down, lamenting that he hadn’t yet thought of a peaceful solution.

“I’m sure you can think of something,” his mother chimed in. “You’re a smart boy.”

Rokusho half-smiled a bit in embarrassment. “Not that I’m not happy to see you, but… why have you come to talk to me right now? What brought you here after so long?”

His father picked up one of the nebulous teacups, apparently taking a sip. “Well, with what’s been happening with the other remaining Scissors, we decided that it wouldn’t be a bad time to come and see you.”

Suddenly, the chimes of a clock sounded, making Rokusho jump. The forms of his parents saddened. His mother explained, “Though we’d like to spend more time with you, I’m afraid we can’t stay too long. The living aren’t meant to meet with the dead for more than a while.” She looked at him with a knowing nod. “You’re going to be a fantastic knight, my son. Even more so than you are now.”

Rokusho’s vision began to fade all too soon, and he heard his father echo, “We love you, son.”

Rokusho looked down sadly as everything faded to black. “I love you too.”

Unsure if it was imagined or not, he felt a few tears run down his cheeks.

When he awoke, Rokusho sat up in bed for a few minutes, wiping the wetness at his eyes. The sky outside was gray, reflecting his muddled, fuzzy emotions. The dream from last night still stuck out in his mind, and he held onto it desperately. He couldn’t afford to lose a single moment.

He still had no idea what to do. He had no idea when he would be called upon to help with the assassination, though, so he had to work quickly.

His first stop was to the letterist’s shop. Pulling his hooded cloak over his head, he quietly made his way to the pavilions outside the castle gates. He knew that in all likelihood, he was being followed, but he still kept moving forward, hoping that whatever soldier was watching him wasn’t good with crowds.

He stepped inside the quiet little room, making sure to shut the door securely behind him. The female Medalorian working behind the counter, who had a dragonfly-like kit, looked up as soon as he walked in.

“Ah, Sir Rokusho! Whatever can I do for you today?” she asked, hurriedly shuffling some papers left on the desk. Rokusho pondered for so long that the letterist asked again, “Uhm, Sir Rokusho? Hello?”

That was when a thought struck the knight, and he finally answered, “I would like to write some letters.”

Chapter Text

As the days passed, Rokusho excused himself from patrols, which stunned some of his fellow soldiers, but they didn’t question this uncharacteristic behavior. They knew very well how hard Rokusho worked, and they could stomach losing one knight for a shift.

Rokusho’s armor-clad feet took him further from the castle than he usually went before stopping in front of a monastery. Life hummed within its stone walls, full of hushed prayers and rhythmic chants. The air that rushed past him once he stepped through the gate was soothing and welcoming, despite his unfamiliarity with the place. It was a nice change of scenery as he wandered over the cobblestone, passing by the lush gardens tended to by diligent monks. It was as if he’d stepped into a completely different world.

Not to lose sight of what he’d come to do, the knight procured incense from some of the rather friendly monks and burned it upon a lone altar in one of the prayer rooms. He knelt before it, a bit unsure and unfamiliar with praying. In the end, he simply used the mannerisms he used when addressing his superiors: head bowed and hand lifted to his chest.

“... For my mother and father, as well as those Scissors souls who reside in both life and death in unrest, I wish upon you... peace.”

“Well said,” came the Scissors leader’s voice. “Though not really in accordance with tradition, it’s nice of you to pay penance.”

Rokusho looked up as the Scissors leader approached and knelt by him. “I had a feeling you would come join me,” Rokusho commented. “I can arrange for you to meet the king directly under the guise of visiting diplomats. I can also order the guard detail to patrol elsewhere so you have an opening. We’re under high alert, so I’d have an excuse to do so.” He kept his voice low, only loud enough for the fellow Scissors to hear.

“That’s good news. You know, a couple of days ago, when you went to the letterist’s, my soldiers and I were worried about your tie with the Helms getting in the way of our plan. I hope you’ll understand why we needed to look through your mail, though I’ve never taken you for the type to send the prince such rich poetry.”

Rokusho, a bit embarrassed, simply replied, “Take it as you will…”

“So now… I have a good understanding of exactly what Kabuto is to you, and I understand why you can’t afford to refuse us. I really do apologize for using him as leverage against you.”

Rokusho closed his eyes, head down, “At the end of the day, everything I do is for Kabuto.”

“And I assure you, if you help us with this task, he will be with you for a long time to follow. We hold no animosity toward him,” the leader replied.

Rokusho thought of making a protective threat, but, considering his current position, thought better of it. Instead, he stood, a little lightheaded for a moment from the incense.

“I do have a question,” he said. “Why did your troops approach completely in sight? You would have given yourself the upper hand passing unseen.” Rokusho looked up at the leader, who gazed forward now at the memorial shrine in front of them.

“I wanted your king to know his enemy. It may not be a strategic move in your eyes, but I assure you, we have had no trouble getting past your increased security. Besides, this way, he knows to distinguish you from me. This way, you have the largest chance of coming out blameless.” After a short pause, they hummed. “Still… would you like to come with us after this operation? I fear they may connect the dots about our collusion. I know you must hate us, but we can offer you a home. A home with your own kind.” The leader stood. “I wouldn't normally tell this to someone working with us, but you’re a special case. We can't afford to lose even more of our people.”

Rokusho didn’t answer for a minute. He didn’t even look in the leader’s direction. He simply stared at the billowing wisps of smoke rising from the incense burner and thought back to his parents’ wishes to avoid any violence, entirely.

“Then why continue fighting like this? You don’t have to do all this. I know that given the circumstances, it seems preposterous, but sometimes it’s better to let the past remain in the past. There are other ways to put the dead to rest.”

“Like what?” the leader said with slight annoyance.

“Go home, rebuild, thrive, flourish. Continue teaching the next generation of Scissors. If you kill the king, then the next head of the Helms will surely come after you, and you’ll continually be on the run. This path you’re taking… there is no good future to it.” At last, he turned to the leader. “If you abandon this quest for bloodshed, then I promise to do everything I can to help you and the others.” This he meant in earnest. If there truly was a peaceful way, he would do everything he could for it.

The leader was silent for a moment. “Please understand that I wish it could be that simple. I wish that peace were an attainable option for us. But this… must be done.”

“But why?! Why must this great tragedy be repaid with more bloodshed?!” Rokusho replied in desperation, not noticing how snappy he had been until the leader gripped their weapon angrily.

“If we were to back down, the spirits who we swore to avenge would be even angier! And think‒ does this king deserve to live? Did he treat you with any semblance of kindness when you arrived? A refugee from a land he destroyed, himself!” The shout echoed throughout the room. Though this holy refuge was considered more or less neutral territory, the noise made Rokusho internally wince. Hopefully, the monks were out of earshot.

Rokusho looked at them sadly. “It’s true. Had it not been for Prince Kabuto’s good graces, I would not be here right now… but people change, mostly for the better. They may do things that are completely irredeemable, but I’d like to think that they also strive to do good afterwards to atone for what they’ve done.” He touched the leader’s shoulder. “I know it’s a big thing to ask, but it’s not too late to allow him to atone for himself instead of letting this die in blood… You’ve shed more than enough of it before you’ve been able to even see the king.”

The leader shrugged Rokusho’s hand off and stepped back, holding their naginata a bit more defensively. “This is something unrepentable. What would this king even do? These Helms have done nothing but take. I would be surprised if the king even understood the idea of losing his home like he did to us.” They turned and began to walk out, calling over their shoulder, “You will still be there when we call upon you. You know what the consequences are if you don’t.”

“Hmph…” Rokusho looked back at the spiraling smoke of the incense as the fire finally began to die down. “... I apologize for my… acquaintance’s behavior. This is no place for such words and actions.” He bowed his head before leaving on a different path.

Chapter Text

It was just barely before midnight, and the moon hung high in the sky. Rokusho carefully made his way back to the castle and to his room without waking anyone. He slipped under his covers and tried to make himself comfortable only to find that once again, he couldn’t sleep.

He growled and sat up, shoving his sheets aside and quickly donning his gear. If he couldn’t sleep, he might as well work. He almost threw open the door out of frustration, but he stopped himself just in time. After leaving his quarters, he stalked down the hall to check with the night guards who were posted at the nearest intersection.

“Anything to report?” he inquired.

They both shook their heads. “No, sir,“ one replied. “All is quiet, so far as we know.” The other visibly stifled a yawn. Rokusho felt somewhat guilty for having them work in extra shifts, but it couldn’t be helped. With the latest threat looming over Helm Castle, they needed to keep watch with extra vigilance.

“Thank you for your hard work.” Rokusho bowed cordially, and the soldiers returned the bow before the knight resumed his walk. He didn’t exactly have any place in mind. He just wanted to stay busy, since he was too restless to sleep. Before he knew it, his feet had taken him to the castle gardens, and his thoughts immediately took him back through time, the twinkling stars drawing his gaze. He and Kabuto used to meet in the gardens all the time back when they were just children. Now, not so much… Greater responsibility and commitments had forced them to stop returning to this peaceful place.

Stunned once more by the night sky’s beauty, Rokusho could do nothing but watch in awe, the reflection of shining stars sparkling in his own ruby-red eyes. He wondered what those many stars thought as they observed the world, only able to watch in silence.

He sat on the soft grass and closed his eyes. What would the Scissors warriors do once they found they’d been double-crossed? He hoped Kabuto would be able to get out in time… He let out a soft sigh. The cool night air was more comfortable than the stuffiness of his room. Since the leader had appeared in his room a few days ago, he had kept the window closed out of paranoia.

He looked out across the fields surrounding the castle. The landscape was bathed in soft, silver-blue light from the moon. He knew that by sleeping here, though, he would be shirking his duties as captain of the guard.

Just a while , he told himself, sighing. He thought to the stars, I won’t sleep. I just want your company… The knight gazed upwards silently, his pale armor glistening in the moonlight.

“Hey,” came a familiar voice. Kabuto appeared from around a tall bush, walking over and sitting down next to Rokusho. “I haven’t been back here in a while… with you,” he added, first looking at his knight then to the sky.

Rokusho hummed in response, not much for small talk tonight.

Kabuto gave him a worried look. “Couldn’t sleep, huh?”


Kabuto sighed. “Same thing as usual?” Rokusho nodded, and Kabuto awkwardly sat there for a moment. “Y’know, if there’s anything bothering ya, you can talk to me about it. We’ve known each other since we were kids, after all.”

Rokusho paused. Kabuto’s offer was genuine, but practically, it wouldn’t be becoming of him as a knight to lean on his own charge. He appreciated the gesture, though. “... Thank you.”

Kabuto flopped backwards so he laid down fully and pillowed his arms behind his head, still staring up at the sky.

“D’ya remember when we first came out here together?” he mused. Rokusho looked over at the prince.

“Aren’t you cold?” he asked. Kabuto shook his head. Rokusho looked back upwards, leaning back on his arms. “I do. It was so long ago… it was shortly after you freed me, yes?”

“If I’m rememberin’ right, yeah,” Kabuto replied.

Suddenly, the prince smirked deviously, an idea popping into his mind. Carefully, slow enough that his friend wouldn’t notice, he reached his arm behind Rokusho. Then, in one swift motion, he knocked Rokusho’s left arm out from under him, causing him to fall. He landed on the middle of his back with a loud “Oof!”

Kabuto let out a snort. “Looks like you gotta catch up on your sleep, Roku! You’re losin’ your touch!!” At that, he laughed.

Rokusho attempted to look nonplussed, but the effort was spoiled by a grin. “Well, I can’t argue with that,” he said good-naturedly, trying to enjoy this moment. He let out a quiet breath. “Thank you, Kabuto.”

Kabuto beamed. “Don’t mention it.” At that, he gave Rokusho a playful nudge. “Oh, yeah! You gotta tell me what you want for your next birthday! It’s comin’ up, y’know! And it’s gotta be perfect,” the prince added mischievously, placing his hand on his chin.

Rokusho gave him a bewildered look. “That won’t be until quite a while, Kabuto… It’s unlike you to be planning anything so far ahead. Besides, I have no desires other than your safety and wellbeing.”

“Nawww, don’t give me that! Anything you want. For my best friend.” Kabuto gave another nudge. “Do you want any books?” Rokusho couldn’t help but smile. He knew Kabuto wouldn’t back down until he got something. Might as well have fun with it.

“No, I can’t think of anything.”

“Any weapons?”


“How about a shield? That would be cool!”

“No, thank you.”

“How about one of those handkerchiefs you give to women, and they swoon for you?”


“You’re right, that’s not like you… What about a hot date? I’m sure any girl would be head-over-heels for you.~”



Rokusho couldn’t help but chuckle. “The best gift of all is knowing that you’re my best friend and that you’re happy,” he said with a smile.

“Awww, that’s mushy stuff,” Kabuto replied, gently punching Rokusho’s shoulder.

“I mean it! And besides, even if my skills are remarkable, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still of commoner blood. People want to move up in the ladder, not down.”

“Maybe, but you are the head knight. Plus, if what I’ve been hearing is right, you’re kinda a looker, too.~”

“What you’ve been hearing from whom? The elderly?”

“Girls in town! You’re pretty famous here, y’know?”

At that, Rokusho made an embarrassed hum, scratching the back of his helm. He didn’t quite know how to take compliments. Kabuto once again nudged him.

“You haven’t said nooooo!~” he said in a sing-songy voice.

“It was implied!” Rokusho quickly retorted.

Kabuto chuckled, looking back skyward.

“Man… I dunno what I’d do without a buddy like you, y’know?”

“Hm?” Rokusho blinked. He hadn’t expected the conversation to shift to that direction, not that he minded.

“You were the only person even remotely around my age. And what you said a couple days ago made me think… That someday we might not be around each other, anymore.”

Rokusho looked at him sadly and nodded. “I suppose I’m lucky that I happen to be that age.”

“It’s more just… I never had that many friends. My cousin’s alright, but we fight a lot and don’t see each other often. Other than a couple of the people working here, I’m kinda alone.” He let out a halfhearted chuckle. “But who am I to feel bad?”

“... Do you feel alone?” Rokusho couldn’t help but feel guilty. Given that they’ve both had their own duties to take care of, they undoubtedly had to spend their time apart.

Kabuto sighed. “Yeah. I guess.”

“... I’m sorry. Perhaps we could spend more time together… Would that help?”

“Maybe? It just… may not be feasible. We’re both pretty busy.”

Rokusho looked at the soft grass at his feet. Kabuto was right, but there had to be something

As Rokusho quieted in thought, Kabuto piped up, “Say… what was with that poem you sent me through the mail? Couldn’t you have just given that to me yourself?”

A bit sheepishly, Rokusho replied, “Well… even though I didn’t think of you as a poem person, I thought you might have liked it… A-and I wanted it to be a surprise.”

“I did like it. It was cute.”

Rokusho blinked in surprise, feeling his face grow hot. “Oh, really? I-I’m glad you did!” he stammered. At the moment, he couldn’t bear to even face Kabuto. Was he really this bad at taking compliments?!

Kabuto smiled at him. “Yeah, of course! You’re an awesome writer.”

“Thank you…” Rokusho smiled shyly and looked at the prince, again. “Say… that gives me an idea. If we can’t meet in person, why don’t we just write letters to each other? We can take as long as we want composing the letters, and all it takes is just dropping it off at the letterist’s. When we can’t see each other, we can just read past letters, so it won’t be as bad being alone.”

“Oh, that would be nice! I’m not nearly as good ‘s you are, though,” Kabuto responded somewhat sheepishly.

Rokusho smiled. “Nonsense! I would be ecstatic to read anything that you write to me, Kabuto. We’re friends, after all.”

“Awh, that’s sweet… I’ll try my best to write somethin’ you deserve, buddy.”

After a few more minutes of quiet talking, Kabuto sat up and stretched. “Wanna head inside, or are you happier out here?” he asked. Rokusho was trying to count all of the stars he could see but looked over as Kabuto spoke.

Rokusho thought for a moment. “I’ll head back inside… The cold is getting to me, anyway. Are you planning on going back, as well?”

“Hm, yeah. You should really get some sleep, alright?”

Rokusho nodded. “I apologize for waking you and making you come out with me.”

“Whaaaaat? You didn’t make me do anything. I didn’t even know you were here when I came out. C’mon.” Kabuto stood to his full height and offered his hand to Rokusho. Graciously, the knight took it and let his friend pull him to his feet.

They walked back together in comfortable silence. Rokusho felt an uneasy twinge in his stomach, however, when he realized his whole encounter was probably under the Scissors’ observation. He sighed quietly enough so Kabuto couldn’t hear. He hoped this whole ordeal would be over soon…

Chapter Text

The next day was the day, as he and the Scissors leader had agreed. The knight swallowed a lump in his throat as he took up his armor and sword, going about patrol as he would normally, greeting his second-in-command, “Good morning. Have all the preparations for the king been made for today? I heard he was visiting someone important.”

“Good day, sir. We still need to finish things up. I was just heading over to help.” The soldier gave a cordial bow, then turned, walking off. Rokusho watched her leave and sighed.

It would be important to keep a close eye on Kabuto. If this were to go off well, hopefully it would be an unnecessary precaution. Regardless, he felt the need to be close to the prince, just in case. Quietly, he made his way over to the prince’s room.

“Prince Kabuto? There is an important meeting today, and I am to accompany you during.” Really, he never wanted to leave the prince’s side, so, with luck, the plan would go off without a hitch.

Kabuto’s sense of ease as they walked down the hall to the main meeting room was almost unnerving to Rokusho. “Aren’t we gonna get breakfast first?” he asked, confusion laden in his voice. Rokusho had to stop for a second. Then, he turned to face the prince.

“I’m afraid not, my prince. With luck, this will be over shortly, and we can continue on our day.” No matter how hard he tried to make himself sound natural, the words still felt strange coming out of him. Kabuto noticed, as well, and stopped.

“Somethin’s up, isn’t it?” Panic flooded Rokusho’s body. The leader hadn’t said anything about Kabuto finding out about the arrangement, but he imagined it couldn’t be good. Something caught his eye outside.

“Actually, go ahead and go to the dining hall. It was irresponsible of me to deprive you of food. I will catch up to you soon.”

Kabuto raised an eyebrow. Rokusho tried not to let his nerves show through. This didn’t count as betrayal, right? Still, he felt nervous leaving his charge alone. After a moment’s hesitation, Kabuto began to walk towards the dining hall. When he was out of sight, Rokusho looked back out of the window. One of the Scissors soldiers decloaked, just for an instant. He was still under close observation. Rokusho closed his eyes, just for a moment. Then, he continued onward to the dining hall.

Kabuto waved at him, but Rokusho first checked the clock. He still had a little bit of time before the king would be in position. If his suspicions were correct and everything went smoothly, then hopefully‒

Kabuto lowered his hand awkwardly. “... Ro?” The prince looked at his knight with worry, unable to be anything else but concerned. “What’s going on?”

Rokusho snapped out of his thoughts. “Nothing, my liege…” At least the Scissors couldn’t follow him all the way into the dining hall, or at least he hoped so.

Geez , Roku… I haven’t ever seen you this worried since that time we first caught you trying to sneak into the castle.”

“Yeah…” Rokusho couldn’t help but draw parallels between his attempt and the Scissors’ upcoming attempt. He quietly sighed. He wished there was a way for everything to go smoothly without violence, one in which everyone could walk away in peace. He wished he could be there to attempt to persuade the Scissors to leave without taking any regrettable actions. However, that would entail leaving Kabuto… Perhaps it was possible for him to make his way over and leave someone else with Kabuto…?

Kabuto’s hand lightly colliding with Rokusho’s forehead snapped him out of his trance.

“You really don’t look like you’re feeling alright, buddy. Why don’t you head back to bed? I can get another guard to escort me for a while if this meeting really is that important.”

Rokusho thought a moment. He supposed that if someone else watched over Kabuto, then it would draw away the Scissors who were following after the knight. If he could confidently leave Kabuto to his own devices, then his plan just might work… After all, what would the Scissors think if he were planning for the worst? As if he were already expecting the plan to go wrong? It certainly wouldn’t give them much confidence in their agent.

With hesitance, Rokusho conceded, “Very well. I will... go rest.” He tried to arouse as little suspicion as possible, but he was probably failing. He saluted stiffly and began the trek towards… well, destiny’s fighting grounds, to be poetic. His unsure steps were muffled by a long, luxurious rug which covered the smooth white stone flooring. By now, the rest of the castle guard were in their positions and the Scissors right about to strike, if they hadn’t already.

His mind raced. The cloaking technology they use is truly ancient… Maybe it needs some cooldown time before it can be used again? And if they’ve been sneaking around here for as long as it seems, they must be nearly out… That was the theory he’d had stewing in his mind since the Scissors leader told him about the tech. Even if he were wrong, there would still be hidden guards at the ready.

Rokusho stopped at the large wooden doors that led into the meeting room. Everything should be in position.

His second-in-command had disguised herself as the king, while some of his best soldiers disguised themselves as advisors. That day at the letterist’s, Rokusho had sent the poem to Kabuto as a decoy to distract the Scissors soldiers. He knew that they couldn’t go through all of the letterist’s deliveries without being noticed, so he wrote to his second-in-command and the king under an innocuous name to both inform them of the situation and of a plan. The plan itself was rather rough, so he and his most trusted fellow knight smoothed out the details in secret before she reported them to the king.

Rokusho halted briefly at the cacophonous noise of gunfire, muted only by the heavy doors leading to the meeting chamber, where he beheld four guards standing by in case any Scissors broke loose or in case those within the chamber needed back-up. The guards looked at Rokusho and nodded.

“No word on who’s winning in there, but I imagine that it’s us. No calls for backup have been made,” one of the guards informed him uneasily, seemingly itching for a piece of the action within.

Rokusho nodded as he stared at the heavy wooden doors. What should he do? What if the Scissors had turned the tides of battle? Was Prince Kabuto safe? He clenched his fists in frustration.

After what seemed like an eternity of clashing blades and gunshots, the sounds of battle stopped, and Rokusho could hear the muffled voice of the Scissors leader, though he couldn’t make out the words. After a pause, Rokusho threw open the doors, looking over what remained of the Scissors soldiers, who knelt in shameful defeat, their weapons cast aside. A few lay on the ground with numerous gunshot wounds, severely injured but thankfully still alive. The sound of doors opening drew the attention of the room’s occupants, the Scissors leader glaring daggers at Rokusho. The Helms accompanying him filed in from behind, holding up the less wounded Scissors at gunpoint to make sure they didn’t try anything unwise. Rokusho whispered to one of the soldiers, who stepped forward and removed the small cloaking devices on the backs of the Scissors.

“The Scissors intruders have been subdued,” Rokusho’s second-in-command stated, “What shall we do with them, Sir Rokusho?” She said this with a tinge of pride as she allowed herself to relish the victory.

Rokusho breathed a quiet sigh. “Take them to the holding cells, and send in some spare doctors, while you’re at it.” His second-in-command straightened in surprise, but she complied, as well as the other Helm soldiers, who divided themselves to escort the new prisoners as well as tend to their own casualties.

Rokusho walked to the Scissors leader, who was wounded with what appeared to be a very direct shot to their side, a token analogous to what had happened the night they arrived. Despite the painful-looking wound, the leader still glared at him with fiery eyes. Wordlessly, Rokusho knelt and slung the leader’s arm over his shoulders, lifting them with a grunt, careful not to upset the wound too much. In a momentary glance to the side, Rokusho caught a glint of surprise in their eyes, but he looked forward again and continued. Step by step, onward, always onward.

“You- you are nothing but cruel! How can you do this to my men and not have mercy enough to give us an honest death?” the leader seethed, clearly struggling with the words. Rokusho readjusted his support so it was hopefully not as painful.

“It is as you said before. We can’t afford to lose more of our people. With the information that you and your soldiers hold, the memory of the Scissors will continue to burn brightly.”

“Do not align yourself with us. You cannot know what we’ve all been through since you- you’ve been so coddled by the Helms…”

Rokusho shook his head. “It’s true that the war happened while I was still young, but that does not erase who I am.”

“You complete and utter fool,” the Scissors leader muttered, also shaking their head. They looked back at their own soldiers, battered and hurt but still alive, and those soldiers looked back at them, unsure what to do, afraid. The leader eyed Rokusho again, the knight who continued to carry them carefully, they who threatened his precious charge so willingly. It was then that they felt as if they had been shot once more, their mind completely thrown for a loop as they tried to comprehend him. Upon first impression, Rokusho just seemed like some one-track-minded soldier who only cared about the Helm prince, a child who had become completely blinded by his life debt. Now, however… they saw Rokusho as something else, though the Scissors leader couldn’t put their finger on what, exactly. They fell silent. Without control, most of their words vanished.

“... I never got your name,” Rokusho mentioned.

“Ah… huh?” Surprise after surprise continued to flow in, it seemed. Might as well answer, if only to pass the time and dull the pain. “Under General Patina, I was Siege Commander Juno. But I haven’t been called anything but ‘Commander’ for a long time…”

“Juno is a nice name,” Rokusho replied. “What would you have liked to do had the war not come?”

Juno hummed, not having reflected upon the idea in a long, long time. “... I would have liked to be a teacher,” they said earnestly.

Rokusho nodded. “Very noble.” He wondered briefly what his father was like in Juno’s eyes, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask. It didn’t seem like the right moment for that. “How is your wound?”

Juno scoffed. “I’ve suffered worse before. I’ll live.”

Nonetheless, Rokusho said, “I’ll see to it personally that you and your troops are fixed up.” Juno didn’t know how to respond. Rokusho, sensing the silence, continued. “If you can prove yourself safe, I will personally recommend you for a teaching position in the city. I can help your troops, as well. Just… please don’t keep this violent mentality. It hurts to see what remains of my people suffer this way.”

The leader nearly rolled their eyes but resisted, thinking. What else could they do? What options did they really have?

As the entourage of Helm soldiers and wounded Scissors soldiers made it to the dungeon, Rokusho eased Juno down in a large holding cell with the rest of their compatriots. As promised, Rokusho stayed as the doctors came to patch them up. Once the last Scissors soldier had been treated, he turned to go before Juno spoke up, “What will happen to us all? Surely, the king will not be as merciful as you.”

Rokusho turned back around, contemplating his words carefully. “I will do everything in my power for you all. You have my word. In return, I ask for you to never come back with ill intent, again.”

Juno was silent for a bit before musing, “You know… for a kid, you aren’t so bad.” This earned a smirk from Rokusho as he turned once more and left, off to see the king.

Chapter Text

“What the hell just happened?!” Kabuto tailed Rokusho as he made his way to the king. Undoubtedly, the commotion that had just blown over was now the talk of the castle. Kabuto, wanting in on all the juicy bits, swarmed Rokusho excitedly. “C’mon, Ro! I know that you at least know!”

Rokusho smiled a little bit. At least his friend’s enthusiasm could never be curbed. “I apologize for keeping you in the dark, my liege. It was for your protection, nothing more.” He took a deep breath before recounting the events that had happened. “I was visited by the leader of the Scissors troops a while ago, and they roped me into an assassination plot on the king. It took a lot of stress, but I eventually formulated a plan to switch out the king for my second-in-command, due to their similar height…” He let out a long sigh. “It was a gamble. Anything could have gone wrong…”

“Hey, it didn’t. I’d say that’s pretty good.” Kabuto put a hand on Rokusho’s shoulder.

Rokusho gave his best friend an uneasy smile. Though the source of his stress had been dealt with, his battle was still not over. “I am glad to see that you are safe, Prince Kabuto, but there is something more I must do.”

“I’ll go with ya,” the prince offered.

While Rokusho appreciated it, he said lightly, “It’s quite alright, my prince. I’m just meeting with your father.”

“Oh. Well...” They came upon the king’s study, where the king had stayed while his decoy had engaged the Scissors in the meeting room. Kabuto paused in front of the door. “Are you sure you wanna go in by yourself?”

“I’m sure, my liege.” Rokusho was careful to use correct honorifics when addressing Kabuto, since the king was right inside and may have been able to hear. Despite the likelihood of the king being in a good mood, he was always a stickler for due respect. “It’s… rather personal business.”

“I get’cha... Good luck, buddy.” Kabuto patted Rokusho on the shoulder before he finally knocked and went in, the heavy doors slowly swinging back shut.

The king sat at his desk, hands clasped as he welcomed the knight, “Ah, if it isn’t the Medalorian of the hour.”

Rokusho bowed. “My liege, it is good to see that all has gone according to plan and that you are unscathed.”

“All thanks to you. I value your loyalty to us over your own people, Sir Rokusho. It was a bit… surprising.” The king thrummed his fingers against the surface of his desk. “Your second-in-command came in earlier to report, and she told me that you made some promises to these intruders, to these would-be assassins. Would you mind telling me what’s going through your mind?”

Rokusho paused, knowing that if he could convince the king that it would be beneficial to let the Scissors soldiers go, then he had a chance. The king was not much for pathos, but he was quite strategic-minded. “My liege, I humbly implore you to let them go. Apparently, even after so long, there is still bad blood from your conquest of the Scissors kingdom. If you show an act of charity to this dying people who feel that they’ve been wronged, then the enemies you had gained might hold off their ire.”

The king thought for a moment. “Even after their assassination plot, you still wish to save them? I suspect this idea might stem more from personal feeling than you may want to admit,” he mused aloud. Rokusho felt his stomach tie into knots. There’s no way the king would‒

“But,” the king interrupted his thoughts, “you are correct that conquering the Scissors brought us much unwanted attention from their allies, who we are still dealing with. I recall debating with my advisors over a similar dilemma so many years ago, when you were first brought into the equation… Though, political formalities aside…”

Rokusho gulped. If the king decided to banish or kill them, he could only stand by and watch.

“You are the one who saved my life, and I thank you for that. Not once have you wavered in your loyalty, and I know it to be genuine, as I’ve seen it in your eyes. You have sacrificed much for the sake of this kingdom and my family. I also know you to be true to your own beliefs. Yet, despite your loyalty, you still plead for the lives of those who have threatened harm upon me and my son. This fact is enough to affirm me of your conviction.” The king paused for a moment in thought. “You’ve never failed us, and I will relent against my better judgment to give you the choice of their fate. Think carefully, as their lives now officially lay in your hands.”

Rokusho let out a small gasp before remembering himself and bowing before his king.

“Thank you, sir. I am honored that you would give me this responsibility. I will have to think upon it before deciding.” With the king’s nod, the knight left the room.

Responsible for the fate of the Scissors survivors? It was better than having the king decide it, but Rokusho still felt overwhelmed. They would need somewhere to live, and someone to look after them… though also giving them the opportunity to leave for another allied kingdom if they chose.

He also wasn’t sure how much faith to put in these would-be assassins. They had already killed several Helm soldiers, and they came very close to doing the same to the royal family. Letting them into the kingdom could put the king in greater danger. With a sigh, he went to find Kabuto. Even if the prince didn’t know what to do, he would at least help him clear his mind about the situation.

A lone Scissors scout landed just outside a small grate, making sure no one spotted her as she revealed herself. “Commander, are you there?”

There was some noise before the scout beheld the visage of their commander within the prison cell. “Yes, what is it?”

“I have the location of the prince. How should I‒” She was interrupted with a hand held up to cut her off.

“We will not be going through with the threats of our deal,” Juno said. “Let’s…” They sighed. “Let’s put our faith in another of our kin.”

“What? You mean the knight? He’s practically a Helm!” she uttered in disgust.

The commander shook their head. “You did not see for yourself what he did. It’s true that he is not one of us, but he is a completely different breed of Scissors.” Juno touched their chin pensively.

“Well… fine.” The scout looked around again, knowing that she’d be caught soon if she didn’t leave before the patrol looped around. “I can… I can try to get you out!”

“No, that wouldn’t do. Many of us are wounded, including me, and even if you did find a way to get us out without alerting the entire castle, we wouldn’t be able to escape.” Juno closed their eyes. “Just stay out of sight outside the castle for now. We have little choice but to place our faith in Sir Rokusho.”

With hesitance, the scout nodded. “Yes, Commander.” She darted away and out of sight, and Juno sighed again. As they looked around at their soldiers, beaten but not broken, they ardently hoped that things would turn out for the better for all of them.

“And that’s what happened,” Rokusho said as he finally finished explaining everything to Prince Kabuto, who looked at him in awe, eyes twinkling.

“Holy shiiiiiiit!” Kabuto held either side of his head with his hands, mind completely blown by the enormity of it all. Rokusho gave him a reproachful look for the foul language but said nothing. “Man, that’s some tough stuff. I’d say that if you want the Scissors to go free, maybe you should tell ‘em to go back to Scissors lands. Then, you help ‘em rebuild and try to make good relations with them. But then there’s the risk of them coming back even stronger than ever before...”

“I was thinking that it might be better letting them decide their own fate… If they wish to stay here, they may, and if they wish to leave, they may. It would also… help split them up. I don’t want something like this to ever happen again, and while I think the leader understands this, I don’t have as much faith in their underlings,” Rokusho explained. “Going to their homeland would be nice, as they could indeed begin to build anew. Even with the threat of them rising up again, it’s wrong to keep them here regardless of their desires.” He leaned against the wall, finger to his chin in thought, then sighed. “I suppose I should go discuss it with the lead‒ I mean, Juno. They have a lot of sway over their soldiers.” Rokusho began the walk to the dungeon, instructing Kabuto to not follow him.

“I’ve gotten some news, Juno.” He quietly stood outside of the cell door. Juno winced as they moved but still came up to respond.

“News?” they replied.

Rokusho nodded. “The king has decided to leave your peoples’ fate in my hands.”

“And?” Juno shifted nervously, though trying not to show it.

“And I wanted to know what you want for your followers. You’ve been with them the longest, and I presume you know what would be best for them. This is your fate we’re talking about, after all. It would be unfair for your fate to be decided for you.”

Juno paused, soaking this in. “They… They wish to be free of the strife their lives were riddled with after the fall of the Scissors empire. But seeing as there’s no way to reverse time…” They looked down.

Rokusho thought for a moment in silence. “What if we were to help you all rebuild and make a better life for yourselves? I know it’s not as good as giving back what was taken, but it seems like the best we can do.”

Juno looked back up at him. “I doubt your superiors will be happy with letting failed assassins go free. What message will that give for any other enemies to the Helm kingdom?”

“How about this? You all return to Scissors homelands, we help you rebuild with me overseeing things, and in return, you submit frequent reports as well as help that part of the region prosper. Once infrastructure is bolstered, you will help educate however many children you can, particularly those in need.”

“So that means…” Juno parsed their words, turning over Rokusho’s proposition in their mind. “We help anyone else who was displaced by the war prosper in return for you letting us go.”

“And,” Rokusho added, “The Helms could set up a trade route along your way, once things improve for you.”

Juno looked away, thinking. It really was their best solution. Here, they would be treated as less, perhaps even persecuted for their attempted assassination. They didn’t, after all, know how far Rokusho’s authority over them extended.

“I... I will speak with my teammates. Thank you, Sir Rokusho,” they said humbly, giving a careful bow. Rokusho bowed back.

“It would be an honor for me to return to our homeland, as well. Let me know when your followers decide. And… thank you, Juno.” After final agreements, Rokusho turned and left the dungeon, idly running a hand along its wall.

A queasiness formed in the pit of his stomach.

This place still held bad memories for him.

Chapter Text

“So, the plan is to let them go back to where the Scissors territory used to be?” Kabuto asked as soon as Rokusho got him up to speed. The knight nodded.

“The first supplies and settlements will be cared for by the Helms. Hopefully, the land will someday be ceded to them.” Kabuto almost snorted.

“Good luck convincing Father of that argument. He just barely allowed you responsibility over their lives, remember?”

Rokusho allowed himself a small smile. “I won’t be trying to convince the king. It takes a while for a city to be built, after all. I imagine by the time they’ve grown enough to be independent, you will have been crowned, my prince.”

“Heh, you’ve really outdone yourself, y’know? I’m blown away!” The prince turned to Rokusho. “But in all seriousness, this is a really great thing you did for them. Even I’m surprised. I hope everything works out.”

Rokusho nodded. “Thank you, my liege.” For a moment, they held each other’s gaze quietly. They both knew that the amount of faith Rokusho was placing in the Scissors’ hands was risky. If anything happened, like another rebellion rising up in former Scissors territory, Rokusho would be the first to blame. Rokusho gulped down the lump in his throat and tore his gaze away, closing his eyes and clearing his throat. “I hope everything turns for the better, too.”

Kabuto placed a gentle hand on his knight’s shoulder. “Hopefully now, you can get a good night’s sleep, yeah? You really need it…”

“You worry too much about me.” Rokusho gave a tired smile.

“What kinda friend would I be if I wasn’t worried about my bestie? Plus, you give me plenty to worry about.”

At that, Rokusho chuckled sheepishly, a hand lifting to rub the back of his head. However, the grip on his shoulder tightened slightly, and all mirth within him quickly receded. He looked up at Kabuto, who looked back with surprising gravity.

“Don’t go running off alone, alright? I know you’re chivalric and all that, but we have an entire army to help you. And I’m here to help you, too. Not because I’m the prince, but because I’m your friend. I don’t want you dying somewhere while no one knows where the hell you are. What if you hadn’t been so lucky and you’d died in those waterways? You’re not the only one with reason to worry!”

Rokusho was stunned into silence by Kabuto’s sudden severity. As he looked closer into the prince’s eyes, he realized that his own antics had taken its own toll on Kabuto’s mental state.

After a moment of silence, Rokusho gave a respectful bow. “Of course, my prince. I will try.”

The prince nodded. “Well, I’ll try to keep supporting you, too. Have to keep my knight happy, after all.” He gave Rokusho an affectionate nudge, eliciting a small chuckle from the knight.

“I would tell you it’s my job to do that for you, but I have a feeling that wouldn’t convince you… Kabuto.”

“Kabu’s just fine, buddy.”

“... I’ll consider it.” At that, Rokusho gave an almost imperceptible wink, so slight that the prince had to do a double-take. “You take care.”

“... You, too. Don’t take too long, ya hear?”

Rokusho nodded before bidding Kabuto his final goodbyes and turning to head to the front of the group of Scissors. Juno waited for Rokusho with an air of expectancy, tapping their foot restlessly. “Ready to go?” they asked quickly, with only thinly veiled impatience.

Rokusho could understand why; the Helm capital only held ill memories for the Scissors, and he felt that both Helm and Scissors wished for their speedy departure in the still tense air.

“Yes, Juno.” Rokusho looked out upon the brilliantly rising sun, its rays bringing warmth upon the new dawn. With it, Rokusho hoped, would also come better tidings.

They set out for their long journey to the edge of the Helm kingdom, where the Scissors would hopefully build a new life. It wouldn’t be the same, but it was still home. Rokusho would have been lying if he’d said he also wasn’t looking forward to returning to his homeland, at least for some final closure. He looked at Juno once more, words stirring in his head but unable to speak. At last, he said, “I know not what the future holds for the Scissors… but I do genuinely wish the best for all of you, despite what we’ve gone through. I don’t want us to fade away.”

Juno closed their eyes for a moment before responding, “I cannot be sure either. There aren’t many of us left, but those few who have survived either want to help preserve our culture, or… integrate into new ones.” They paused, mulling their next words over in their head. “If we don’t have a future as Scissors, I want to preserve some record of our past.”

“A museum?” Rokusho suggested, looking over at Juno. Juno nodded.

“That’s what I was thinking.”

“It would be difficult… given how the Scissors were nearly completely erased, but it would be a worthwhile endeavor. I’d very much look forward to it, and I’ll help however I can. Perhaps with this museum and new agreement, you’ll be able to find more of our people.”

“That’s a very… optimistic hope,” Juno commented, “Though I suppose hope is all we can go by, at this point.”

Rokusho nodded. The road ahead would be rough, but he preferred this outcome over the death of those remaining survivors or the death of the king. The knight looked back at the other Scissors, who followed eagerly. Rokusho saw everything in their weary expressions: some fearful, some still bearing resentment, some uncertain, and, most importantly, some with a glimmer of hope. He looked forward once more, leading the group towards their new future, whatever it would bring. It might not have been his group to lead, but it was most certainly one worth protecting.

Chapter Text

Juno looked out upon the group of Scissors, etching each of their faces into memory as they’d done time and time again. To forget any of them would have done them great injustice for fighting so doggedly for retribution. The rapid turn of events over the past week, however, still left Juno reeling. They gripped their naginata and ventured a glance towards Sir Rokusho, whom they still regarded as somewhat of an outsider, as he worked with the other Scissors members. Juno could understand his actions, but they still couldn’t wrap their head around them. Was sparing them truly an act of mercy or a life sentence? Juno couldn’t answer.

That was something to be revealed in due time.

As Rokusho continued leading them, Juno kept their pensive gaze on him. He obviously cared deeply about his charge, the young prince, more than he let on. It wasn’t any of their business, of course, but they were wise enough to sense a certain spark between the two. A small pang of sadness crept into Juno’s chest, fearing what the future held for those two. If anything happened, Juno likely wouldn’t be able to help in the least. Despite the uncertainty that the future held, they still felt some gratitude towards the strange Scissors knight.

“Rokusho,” Juno finally interjected.

“Hm?” Clueless to Juno’s musings, Rokusho slowed and looked up from a map. “Yes?”

“If you need any help… we might not be able to do much, but let us know,” Juno slowly offered.

Rokusho gave a polite nod, not quite expecting it. “Thank you. I appreciate the gesture.” He quickly resumed looking at his map before starting off again. Help with what? He wondered. He was already dedicated to helping them build their future home. Despite this, he gave a grateful smile to the commander.

“One last thing... “ Juno added after they had already taken a few steps, turning back to face Rokusho once more, “While I was serving under General Patina…”

“Yes?” Rokusho responded, unconsciously folding the map in his hands. What was Juno getting at?

“While I was under Patina, he mentioned… having a son. It wasn’t very often, and he only mentioned it in passing, but he always seemed… proud.”

“... So you guessed correctly.” Rokusho said with some measure of incredulousness. His father was still somewhat of a sensitive topic, especially when brought up like this.

“Well, you just confirmed my suspicions,” Juno replied with a small smirk, “but I had thought so. You were able to out-strategize me, even under such duress, and… you have his eyes, Rokusho. When you confronted me in the grand hall, with mercy, I saw my own superior staring back at me.”

Rokusho’s ruby eyes glistened brightly as he stared at Juno. He felt something he couldn’t quite describe... Like the world moving gracefully about him as he reflected on Juno’s words, which had struck him deep at the core. He let go of a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding to wonder, “Is that so…” The young knight looked off into the far distance with a hopeful smile, having momentarily forgotten the task at hand.

Juno couldn’t help but mirror his smile. Though he usually acted maturely, Rokusho was exceedingly young, even in comparison to the other survivors, so young that Juno felt somewhat guilty for causing him so much grief. Despite seeming a bit odd, he gave Juno hope that the future was bright for the Scissors and for younger generations to come.

Once more, Juno beheld that starry-eyed knight, who held the map with both of his hands, pressing it close to his chest as he was lost in thought. “Come on, Sir Rokusho ,” Juno gently reproached, lightly tapping his forehead and snapping him back to reality. “We’ve still got a long way to go.”

“R-right!” He skipped ahead briskly, with a bounce in his step and a warmth in his heart.

Thus, they all resumed their long journey, onward to the many trials ahead.