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Senkō

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1933

"Otou-sama?" (Father?) A beautiful seven-year-old girl asked her father, slightly perplexed because of the news her father just told her about.

"Shikata nai," (It can't be helped) Her father answered without any hint of expression on his stern face. "You will not go to Mahoutokoro, it was out of my control as to why you didn't get an acceptance letter to study there. However, it doesn't mean that you won't get another letter from the other wizarding school. You still have hope, let us see what will happen when you turn eleven."

"Yes, father," she replied with the same expression his father had at that moment, tried to mask any feelings that might burst any moment.

"For the time being, I demand you to hone your skill in everything, especially swordsmanship and magic. I expect a lot from you, Akane. Being versed in letters and arms, a person from the Akamatsu family must excel in all fields. Do not disappoint me," his father ordered her in a deep sharp voice. Surely, such voice power makes his servants cower in fear and oblige faster than you can say pumpkin juice.

"Hai, otou-sama," (Yes, father)

"You may leave now,"

She bowed her head politely then turned to leave for her chamber keeping in mind to slide the folding screen closed. The outdoor corridor or engawa seemed spooky in the night, the moonlight reflected its shine from the luminous giant pond right beside it to the entire garden area. Out of all part of her massive traditional Japanese mansion, this garden seemed to be her favourite.

Aside from its beauty and peaceful atmosphere, the place silently recorded the memory of her deceased mother. She used to feed the Koi fishes and have a relaxing conversation with her mother here. She slowly walked to the pond then stared deeply at the black pool, her heterochromatic eyes of deep blue to black and violet shimmered in the dark.

The colour of the pool made it seemed as if it was bottomless. She imagined herself being drowned endlessly within it. Drowned and drowned until she couldn't breathe from the tightening pain inside her chest. Death seems nice. She averted her gaze from the pool and started to walk to her chamber.

She changed her attire to a comfortable sleep gown and lied down on her queen-sized bed. If you have money, why bother to buy futon when you can buy a cloud-like big bed? Besides, it's not like her family was super traditional. Her father was a bloody rich yakuza, a legendary yakuza who could kill without hesitation.

Ever since she was born, watching her father's men being hurt, tortured, or killed was not a problem. Well, to her father at least. Her mother always tried to keep her secure and secluded from the yakuza world. Once again, her thought wandered to her mother. To Akane, her mother was the most beautiful woman she ever laid her eyes on.

Her mother was France, that was why they used English more frequent, the name La Lumière meant light. Her mother was her light. Meanwhile, her father's family liked to name their children after The Sengoku Period's samurai and powerful leader.

Erina La Lumière Akamatsu, her mother, was her shelter. She kept her grounded and reminded her to turn on the light every time she gets caught in the dark. But the truth was, her mother was the only light in this dark and cruel world. She felt so lucky to still have a big brother, Date-Masamune Tōshirō Oda-Nobunaga Akamatsu, he was the strongest man she ever knew.

His bright personality lit her world, they cared for each other deeply. He would die for her. He would do anything for her sister. Her father beat him once when a four-year-old Akane almost drowned in their lake, they were playing cat and dog, running around in the vast lake area. She tripped a large stone and fell into the lake, her brother dove right in and saved her.

His father was furious, he beat her brother and gave him a scar from his katana across his face, her brother was eight years old at that time. Since then, Date always feels guilty and becomes more protective. She drifted off to sleep slowly and welcomed her nightmare like she always does every night.

***

The sun slipped in through the translucent paper on her sliding panel and window. Despite the mansion being so traditional, Akane's mother designed it to have a slight Europan style by adding some windows made of glass here and there, she said that it would be refreshing. Akane took a bath and started to plan what to do for the day.

She thought about the letter and frowned. It's strange... The Akamatsu lived in Kyoto, it would be logical if Mahoutokoro sent her a letter of acceptance. The wizarding school takes students from the age of seven and have them board at the age of eleven. It made her worried, what was the reason behind it? Was she a squib? Was she not qualified? She tried to calm herself and gathered some positive thoughts, maybe her father, Oda, was right. Maybe she had to wait until she reached eleven to get a letter from another wizarding school.

Besides, if you learned 'Dark' magic in Mahoutokoro, they would drop you out in an instance and hold a trial at the Japanese Ministry for Magic. Students are presented with enchanted robes when they arrive, which grow in size as they do, and which gradually change colour as the learning of their wearer increases, beginning a faint pink colour and becoming (if top grades are achieved in every magical subject) gold. If the robes turn white, this is an indication that the student has betrayed the Japanese wizard's code and adopted illegal practices ('Dark' magic) or broken the International Statute of Secrecy.

Dark Arts always fascinated her, she wouldn't do it cause it went against her moral, well, maybe she would, but she only craved for knowledge. Her strict father made her strive for perfection in every field. Perfect in almost everything. That sounds impossible and inhuman but she wanted it. She suddenly got some ideas on what she would do today.

She may be a seven-year-old but her father always gives her a hell of some training. Since five, she played the piano, violin, and some traditional Japanese instruments. At six, her father introduced her to the Akamatsu family's martial arts and swordsmanship, not to mention magic control. Since then, she practised in the dojo until her body felt about to crack at any moment. At seven, she learned how to cook and craft a lot of things manually (without magic) to improve a natural survival skill.

She rubbed her body with strawberry soap and washed her hair with raspberry shampoo and conditioner. She rinsed her body and hair then got up to brush her teeth and dried herself. She wore her family's martial art uniform and pulled her hair up into a bun. She walked to the dining room for breakfast. Her father and her brother were already there.

She took a seat and politely wait for her father to start and then followed. After they finished their meals, Oda asked them to follow him to the garden to have a chat, Japanese table manners didn't allow them to talk during meals.

"What is your plan for the day, Akane?" Oda asked her daughter softly. She knew his father cared deeply for his family, he built his empire for them, he would sacrifice himself for the sake of his family. Sure, his way might be brutal and depressing sometimes, but he felt remorse and guilt. Especially when he gave Date his scar. He gave him a rare sword the day after and tried to be nice around him. Mother was furious, the ruthless and merciless yakuza boss feared her. If he had a weakness, then it would be her.

"I will practice in the dojo as always, father. I think I'm going to challenge Aniki (respected big brother) for another match," she answered and smirked a little, eyeing her cute handsome brother. He only rolled his eyes.

"That would have to wait for tomorrow, dear. Today, your brother needs to buy school supplies for his first day at Mahoutokoro. He will soon turn eleven, yes?" his dark black eyes shining at her. His eyes resembled the starry night sky but it brought chill like a midnight air. It hypnotized her with a sense of tranquillity.

"Oh, I understand, father," Akane tried to hide her disappointment and turned to face his brother. He had a sharp feature, deep midnight blue eyes, and straight raven black hair with a handful streak of silvery blond on the front right side from the root to its tip. That was the famous trait that her family had. Her father's hair was pitch black. Her mother's hair was silvery blonde as she was a Veela.

"I've ordered some of my men to guard you, son. Please be careful," Her father sternly warned her brother. Date only nodded his head and excused himself to get ready.

"I'm going to work in the city. I'll order Hideyoshi to keep you company. I should be going now,"

"Yes, father, please be careful too," he turned and leave her alone in the garden. Akane went to the dojo and waited for Hideyoshi to come. She took a wooden sword and went to the centre of the room. She took a deep breath to concentrate and prepared herself in a stance. Suddenly, a wooden sword was swung at her direction. She jumped flying backwards and noticed a brown-haired bulky man who was ready to attack her.

"Hide! That was rude!" She knew something was coming at her, she knitted her eyebrows in focus. The man grinned wickedly at her. He had a super huge built and intimidating face.

"You have to be prepared every second, hime-sama (princess)," Hideyoshi lunged at her and swung his sword down at her. Before his sword even managed to go half its way, Akane ducked her head swiftly, she went low and used her lightning speed to go forward. In a split second, her body was behind him, she stood straightly, exhaled slowly and relaxed. There was a crack sound then Hide's sword split into two pieces.

"You truly are The Senkō (Lightning Flash)," his expression remained shocked. Akane just shrugged her shoulder and smirked.

"Prepared every second, huh? I can even do this in my sleep, Hide,"

"One more!" He growled.

"No, let's go meditate in the waterfall," she stared at him, she was bored. If she says no, it means no.

"Fine," he sighed in defeat and followed her to the waterfall to the lake area at the front of the mansion. The entrance of the mansion ground consisted of a lot of stairs, a river that streamed from the lake to the waterfall, some Sakura trees, and a bridge.

They descended the stairs leading to the waterfall carefully as it was slippery. Akane walked right beneath the waterfall, sat crossed leg on top of a rock, let the water streamed down on top of her head and her shoulder, and closed her eyes. Hideyoshi soon followed her movement. Akane loved to meditate for it helped her to get rid of negative thoughts and shut down her feelings.

She concentrated her mind to feel the water all around her, she imagined herself being one with the water. How it moved calmly then crushed against some rocks in the river with ease as if the stone is a life obstacle. She centred her mind to the death of her mother when she was five, the heavy expectation her father gave her, all the scene when her father's men died gruesomely in front of her, and the scar her brother got from her father.

She imagined herself going further from the memories of all her sorrow and pain. Like water crushing some stones to move on. She felt the energy surge inside her, the cool sensation of the water spread inside giving her a calm and peaceful feeling. She focused her mind and set aside unwanted voice around her.

Soon, she could feel every heartbeat of the living thing around her, she could see everything so clearly even though her eyes were closed. She could see every tiny bug and hear its heartbeat. She could see and feel the water inside all of the trees and plants around her. She could see the sakura petals falling slowly from its branch on to the river.

After what seemed like forever, Hideyoshi shook her gently out of her meditation. The sky had turned into a pinkish-orange before she realised it. She sat up slowly and followed Hideyoshi back inside the mansion. Her uniform soaked entirely and decided to clean up for dinner.

"Have you mastered the wind element, ojou-sama (Young Lady)?"

"Yes, I have, that's why I have the speed of a lightning bolt,"

"Ah, sou (right), then I shall be going to my quarter, it's always nice to train with you, maybe I'll beat you someday," he smirked to her smugly, "if you master the water element before you turn eight, I'll give you a present, how does that sound?"

"Keep dreaming, Hide. Thanks for today. Sure, meet me again tomorrow in the lake, I'll show you my water element training result," Akane smirked back at him.

"Heh, fine then, goodnight, ojou-sama," Hideyoshi bowed politely and turned to leave. She walked to her chamber then brought her kimono (traditional Japanese garment). She decided to take a bath in her onsen (Japanese hot spring).

Once she got there, she placed her fresh clothes inside the cabinet. The hot spring was very quiet as it was built only for her. The humid air warmed her body instantly. She took off her uniform and undergarment then dipped her body in the onsen. Sigh escaped her lips as soon as the warm water hit her porcelain skin.

She wondered what Hideyoshi, her bodyguard, would give her as a present. She hoped that it would be a package of sweet or a rare katana (Japanese sword). She then got an idea to test her ability. She sat up straight, stretched out her right arm in front of her, and pointed her palm towards the water.

She focused her mind to move the water. Suddenly, a small water tornado took shape in front of her, the water streamed around its core fiercely making some tiny droplets of water tremendously scattered across the room like a gust of wind. Akane's raven black hair flew wildly, the silver streak was glistening from the light which reflected through the water droplets.

She shaped the water into a sphere ball and blasted the water all around the room. The blast had shaken her body a little before it turned into steam. Once again, the room filled with a warm haze from her water magic and the onsen hot water.

"HA! I DID IT! I knew I was awesome but I didn't know I was THAT awesome," she pumped her fist in the air in victory then stepped out of the water and went to the joining bathroom beside the hot spring. After she had taken a shower, she dried her body and wore her kimono. She stepped out of the onsen and went for the dining room.

Date greeted her with a beaming smile, he seemed very happy today, she might want to ask him later about it. Her father was nowhere to be seen, probably going to be back late, that's one of the consequences of his job anyway. Perhaps, he was 'collecting' money from the clubs, shops, and casinos which he owned.

Or, he might 'take care' of some intruders from the other clan who dared to trespass his city. Yes, HIS city. He even managed to hold a tight grip on the Muggle police station and Japan Ministry for Magic, in case he needed 'help'. Regarding her father's absence, the siblings could speak freely during meals without minding manners. Akane sat across from her brother then started to eat.

"Aniki, what gets you in such a good mood today? Had a nice shopping?" she asked her brother curiously.

"Exactly! The shopping area for the wizarding world is so different from the Muggle's! There are a LOT of nice goodies! I bought some school books and supplies AND I just bought a cat, do you want to know the name that I gave her? I named her Senko," he smirked at her as he ate his dinner. His deep blue eyes twinkled with enthusiasm. Akane felt happy for her brother yet her worries seemed to be back as she thought about how happy it would be if she got a letter of acceptance in the wizarding school and went shopping for school supplies with her brother.

"Seriously? Could you come up with a better name?" she tried to mask her worries by feigning irritate. Her brother seemed to notice her flat tone and frowned.

"Are you okay, sunshine?"

She sighed, "Ikanaide, onii-sama (don't go, big brother)," she bit her lips trying to hold back the tears, "I can't help but to wonder why I didn't get an acceptance letter, am I not qualified? Even if I would get a letter from another school, I don't want to go there alone, Date! I want to go to Mahoutokoro with you!" the tears streamed down the little girl's face, her brother stood up then came to her side and hugged her.

"Shh... It'll be okay, sunshine. You're the brightest witch I've ever known, you will get a letter eventually. Let's be patient and wait for it, okay? Probably, Mahoutokoro hasn't sent you the letter yet, they take students from the age of seven, right? That doesn't mean they won't take you even if you're past seven, let's just wait until you're eleven. Besides, I'm not going anywhere, Mahoutokoro is not a boarding school. While day students, wizarding children are flown back and forth to their homes every day on the backs of a flock of giant storm petrels." her brother wiped her tears gently and pet her head slowly.

Akane nodded her head and hugged her brother, "come on, I want you to see me using my new wand," her brother locked his arm with her hand as he pulled her up and guided her to the garden.

"What's your wand like?" she asked Date. He pulled his wand out from the kimono folds and hold it in front of her. She took it and felt the energy pulsating from within.

"It feels powerful," she acknowledged the wand.

"It is. The core is Veela hair. The structure was made from snakewood. I don't know how that's possible. Salazar Slytherin's wand was made from snakewood," her brother knitted his eyebrows in confusion.

"Who's Salazar Slytherin?"

"Who's Salaz-? Are you kidding me? Salazar Slytherin was regarded as one of the greatest wizards of the age, respectively as a Parselmouth and as a skilled Legilimens. Slytherin was one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry along with Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw, as well as the namesake of the Slytherin House,"

"Parselmouth and Legilimens? Like our father?"

"Uh, yeah," he seemed nervous and averted his gaze to the pool, "so, let's see the new spell I've learned this afternoon!" he changed the subject but Akane just shrugged it off.

"Draconifors!" he yelled an incantation as he slashed his wand at a garden lamp. An orange light was emitted from the wand. Soon, the lamp turned into a small dragon.

"Wicked! You have to teach me that spell!" she beamed at him then turned to face the dragon, "hey there little friend, what's your name?" she asked the dragon in a cute voice.

"I don't have a name, Dovahkiin" the dragon's voice boomed at her.

"My name is Akane, not Dovahkiin," she replied the dragon in confusion. Date immediately transformed the dragon back to a garden lamp.

"Hey! I was talking to him!" Akane frowned at her brother slightly annoyed because of his action.

"Ahaha... I know, let's just go back inside, it's late," he nervously laughed and turned back inside without waiting for her answer. She huffed and ran to catch up with her brother.

"So, when will your school start?" Akane asked her brother with a heavy feeling inside her heart.

"Next week. Let's have a sword match tomorrow, yeah?" he smiled at her, that cute boyish smile would swoon any girl.

"Sure, I bet I'm going to beat you, I've mastered the water element today," she broke the news at him proudly. He only chuckled and ruffled her hair, "It's a million years too early for you to beat me, sunshine," he replied her smugly.

"Yeah, yeah, if you say so, let's see it tomorrow," she kissed his cheek and bid him goodnight.

***

"997, 998, 999, 1000..." Akane counted each time she swung her sword. The morning air felt cold against her skin despite the sweat that just rolled down her forehead. She loved her morning like this. Just her and her sword. The Akamatsu family's ancient martial arts had been passed down from generation to generation.

It consisted of three martial arts: One, the empty hand martial art, basically a mix of Aikido and a bit of every other empty hand martial art, the family called it 'Tendo' it meant 'Way of Heaven', the name was similar to a religion in Japan.

Two, the sword-wielding martial art, similar to Iaido which emphasized being aware and capable of quickly drawing the sword and responding to a sudden attack but the family's version extended it to a santoryu, a style of sword fighting where the practitioner wields three Katana, one in each hand and one in the mouth.

Three, archery, not really an original from her family but just the traditional 'Kyudo'.

"Ojou-sama," Hideyoshi greeted her, "ohayou gozaimasu," (good morning) Akane turned around to face Hideyoshi and Date. They seemed ready to practice. A morning routine they always had. However, it would be only Akane and Hideyoshi starting from next week as her brother would have to go to school.

"Ohayou, Hide, Aniki," she greeted them back.

"Ohayou, Akane. So, before you demonstrate the water element, you have to show your capability of mastering the wind element first, I'm going to charm this leaf here to fly wildly in midair, your job is to cut it with your sword into small little pieces, are you ready?" Date hold a leaf in his hand in front of her.

"Bring it on!" she took a stance and pulled her sword backwards, ready to attack. Her brother muttered a spell and the leaf started to fly around swiftly in the air. She frowned in focus, took a deep breath, and felt the wind energy guiding her movement. A few swooshes sound of her sword later, the leaf was cut into tiny little pieces in the blink of an eye. Her brother shouted a freezing charm to inspect it closer. Hideyoshi whistled at her. Date grinned proudly and pet her head.

"Well, let's see your water element training result now, shall we? I've set some traps in the mountain, your task is to go to the shrine, take the scroll I've placed inside, then go back here unharmed, I'll give you time limit until before lunch is started," Date ordered her. She nodded and started to run in the direction of the mountain behind their forest.

The shrine was located on the mountain halfway from the peak. It was extremely far for a little girl but she was a powerful swordsman. She had a strong sense of smell. She could detect everything from a far distance only with her nose. She focused her mind and concentrated to find any danger while she kept running.

Her eyes widened in realization at the sudden strong scent of a trap. She jumped avoiding a trap rope then ducked her head before a fleet of blade flew past her head. She imagined herself like water, flowing around rocks like it was nothing. Her pace became swift and silent. Not a single sound came from her. She didn't even make any unnecessary movements.

Once she reached the shrine, the cold mountain air hit her hard, she didn't realise it at first because she was too focused on her task. The smell of fresh mountain morning air and forest made her happy. She walked to the water reservoir beside the shrine and splashed some water on her face. She went inside, closed her eyes, placed the palms of her hands onto one another, and silently prayed to her ancestor.

Tremendous energy overwhelmed her body, releasing any dark and negative spirits from within. She opened her eyes, took the scroll, then turned to left the shrine for the lake. She was tracing back her path while avoiding any traps that seemed to be changed. When she reached the lake, Date and Hideyoshi were having a match. They stopped their match instantly in utter shock once they noticed her presence.

"THAT WAS INCREDIBLY FAST!" Date exclaimed with his jaw hanging open.

"Well done, ojou-sama, I shall give you the present then," Hideyoshi laughed proudly at her.

"I told you. But, what is this scroll about?" Akane handed the scroll to her brother. He took it from her once he recovered from his shock.

"This is Kaze to Mizu no Makimono (Wind and Water Scroll), once a practitioner has mastered those two elements, the scroll shall be 'bestowed' upon him/her. Now, you have to get into the lake until the water reaches your waist, take your sword with you, cut your palm a little, drop some blood into the water, and close your eyes. We're going to do a little ritual for the spirits of the Wind and Water Elements," Date instructed her and placed the scroll on the ground. Akane walked into the lake until the water reached her waist. She cut her palm slightly and dropped a little amount of blood into the water then closed her eyes.

"To The Great Water and Wind Spirits, Sui, Fu, I call upon you to guide and guard this apprentice in her task," Date hissed in Parseltongue. The scroll opened itself. It floated in the air and went above Akane's head.

It whirled several times then turned into water and wind, it wrapped around Akane's body gently as it shone blue and white light. A big blue circle appeared in front of her, some strange and foreign language written circularly on the circle, The Akamatsu's family crest rested on its centre, right above and beneath the crest was respectively the Fu (風) and Sui (水) kanji, it rotated for a few seconds then disappeared in a burst of bright light. Akane jolted her eyes open. Her eyes shone white for a moment. It went back to normal as she regained her consciousness.

"How do you feel, young miss?" Hideyoshi asked her slowly.

"Fantastic," she replied him with a grin.

"The spirits of the Wind and Water Elements reside within you, they will guide you whenever you need help or whenever they sense danger, you can talk to them for advice sometimes, not always, but they will be present in your head in crucial times," Date explained her about the spirits. She tilted her head to one side in confusion.

"I will look like an idiot if someone sees me talking to myself,"

"No, sunshine. You talk to them in your head telepathically," her brother laughed at her, "let's go inside for lunch, shall we? Hide, thank you for today," Date turned to leave them and went inside.

"Young miss, this is the present I want to give you," Hideyoshi handed her a black box with a drawing of a dragon on the lid, "your mother left this to Aniki for you, Aniki wanted me to be the one who gave it to you. Erina-sama said that I had to give it to you once you had mastered the wind and water elements, she strictly ordered you not to lose it," Akane's eyes slightly frowned at the mention of her mother, she took the box and opened the lid. A beautiful silver necklace.

The pendant was circular. There were two dragons with Sui and Fu kanji respectively on its head circled the pendant. They seemed to be chasing each other's tail. Between the heads and the tails was her family crest or mon (emblem) separating the dragons from eating each other's tail. At the centre was a Yin Yang symbol. She took the necklace from the box, unclasped the lock, circled her neck with it, and clasped the lock back.

"Thank you, Hide," she sadly smiled at him. Hideyoshi bowed at her and excused himself.

***

She tossed and turned in her sleep, the same nightmare came back to her every night, tears rolled down her cheeks, her sweat made her nightgown soaked wet. A bald man with scarlet eyes and snake-like nose was laughing hysterically at her, his black robes reached down to bind her limbs and her neck, it strangled her body like a ragged doll.

She tried to breathe and struggled against him, a big snake slithered around her, the man threw her to a pool of blood, she tried to swim up but a hand grabbed her leg and dragged her down, further into the abyss.

Her vision changed into a memory. A memory of her mother. Her mother smiled down at her softly yet a single tear rolled down her cheek. "I'm sorry," her mother said to her. Her mother's face was blurred and changed into the bald man's face. Strangely, he said the same two words with sorrow in his eyes, regret and remorse were expressed clearly in his face, "I'm sorry,".

Akane jolted awake from her sleep. She panted breathlessly and tried to calm herself down. She stood up slowly, her knees were shaking. She walked to her walk-in closet, took off her nightgown and changed into something fresh. She walked outside her room, wandered around aimlessly until she reached the garden.

The sun was almost up, the orange sky in the east slightly contrasted the west sky that still dark, the birds were chirping loudly as they flying around. Akane hugged her body with her little hands, the morning air chilled her a bit. She looked at her reflection on the pond, sadly reminisced the memory of her mother in this place.

"I miss you, mother, I'm sorry too. But, you're in my heart as long as I live, I love you,"