“There are several men, about whom I’d like to discuss further, if you please.” Kimura had no time for pleasantries or idle conversation when he met with the clan leaders, “Our first serious threat to our lives is Sugizo. I have yet to encounter him face to face, but I believe his mental illness is not the result of being blood born.” Kimura looked at Inoran, “The man was unhinged before your unfortunate encounter.”
The private meeting Kimura had requested with the other clan leaders, was meant as an opportunity for him to voice his concerns over certain individuals, Sugizo being the most critical.
“Sugizo is psychotic, and possibly more dangerous than either Ryuichi or Yoshiki. I suggest he should be destroyed upon sight.” The tone of the immortal’s voice put to rest any questions the others may have.
“Raymond Watts,” Kimura continued, “should be kept informed on what is happening here.”
Sakurai looked surprised, “May I ask why?” He wasn’t aware that Kimura knew of the Englishman.
“Mr. Watts will eventually play a larger role in the future.” The men shared concerned looks, “How far in the future?” Reo asked.
“During the final weeks of the war, he will be someone’s savior. Who that is, is unknown at the moment.”
“There is one other than needs to be protected at all costs; Isshi, the Onmyoji.”
“Why? He’s technically not a part of any clan. We typically invite him out of courtesy, as he does have some unusual powers.” Inoran explained.
“Isshi will find another immortal, though unlike any of us. His appearance will not be for some time, and I believe he will be somewhat of a modern era Onmyoji.”
Morrie was growing weary, “Any more impending doom you wish to burden us with?” Kimura smiled sadly, “If Hyde can not be convinced to move into a clan house, he will die.”
This statement brought a heated argument to the meeting, the leaders conflicted about forcing the diminutive immortal to change his solitary lifestyle. Kimura sat silently, letting the bickering continue unchecked for a few moments.
“Gentlemen, please.” Kimura held his hand up, “I have one last thing to say.” He waited until he had their full attention. “While this gathering was pleasant as it was informative, there should not be another. I am certain that none of you would want to put your loved ones in danger.”
“Danger?” Reo scoffed, “How are they in danger? There is more than enough immortal power under my roof.”
“That is exactly my point. To destroy us all, it would take just one consorted effort between Ryuichi and Yoshiki to burn this ryokan to the ground, with a single thought.” He waited until his statement sunk in.
“With all the conveniences of the telephone, it is much easier and quicker to stay in touch with one another. I am not, however, saying that we could not meet at all, but we would be prudent to limit our gatherings. Of course, as fathers, some of us would need to monitor phone calls between the young ones.” Kimura winked at Sakurai.
“I agree,” Inoran added. Though normally quiet, his mind was filled with fear… fear for Rin. “At least as far as Rin is concerned, we live close enough to Morrie and Sakurai, for our young ones to visit frequently, though,” he looked at Kimura and Reo, “it will be more difficult for your families.”
“I’m sure Kyo will keep Ayato in line, until we can meet again.” Reo chuckled.
“And you will keep Akinori in line as well?” Sakurai teased his friend. A snort from his friend was all the response he needed. “I’m sure we can figure out something that works. However, I do agree with you, Keizo, having all of us under one roof could be disastrous.”
“I saw you huddled up with the other young ones, what new schemes should I prepare for?” Sakurai and Uta sat in the back of the large sedan, letting Kai take over the driving duties on the way back to Tokyo.
The gathering of the clans had concluded, and it was announced that it was the last meeting of immortals, all under one roof. “It’s simply too dangerous.” Reo stated firmly. His words instantly caused panic with the younger members, Uta jumping to his feet, “You can’t do that!” he shouted.
“Uta!” Sakurai snapped, reaching for his hand. “No…” Uta snatched his hand away, “How am I supposed to see Ayato, or Eiji? This is totally unfair.”
“If you would let me finish,” Reo glared at Uta, who cowed under the ancient’s intense gaze. “If individual clans wish to meet, they do so at their own risk.”
Sakurai took Uta’s hand, pulling him back into his seat, “Do not say another word.”
“It’s not really a scheme, we just want to stay in contact with Eiji,” A rude noise was heard from the driver’s seat. “Yukke and Eiji became good friends,” Uta explained, but before he could continue, Kai interrupted. “Someone should warn Kimura-san.” Uta ignored the comment.
“I can’t say what will happen with Eiji or Issay. I did advise the man to move, whether or not he does, there’s no telling.” Uta wasn’t satisfied with the vague answer, and remained quiet for the remainder of the journey back to Tokyo.
“How long are you going to shut me out? Are you confident enough to hunt alone?”
“It depends. How long are you going to keep me isolated from my friends, and yes, I can hunt alone if needed.”
Eiji had been giving Issay the silent treatment since they had left Kyoto, his eyes red from crying through the tears and promises made by his new friends.
“Do you honestly believe they are your friends? I am keeping you safe, and away from those that will eventually stab you in the back,” Issay said hotly.
“I’m not you!” Eiji regretted his words the moment they were spoken, “I mean…” he stuttered.
Issay knew exactly what the boy meant, and so the silent treatment continued.
“We are just letting you know what Kimura said, so of course we wouldn’t force you.” Tatsu had been chosen to approach Hyde with Kimura’s concerns.
“Is it not already enough that I live in the city, must I move to a clan house?” Hyde said sharply. He felt as he’d been blind-sided by the information, as it felt to him, like an ultimatum.
“How is Kimura so sure about this portent of doom, that will cost me my life? No Tatsu, I will not be coerced into living in Morrie’s home. Please extend my apologies.” With a curt bow, Hyde walked into the dark.
“I told you he wouldn’t agree.”
Inoran stood in the street in front of Clan Aichi’s house, his eyes watching as Heath’s motorcycle roared away, with the most precious of cargo, Rin, holding tightly to her older brother.
It had taken Rin the better part of a night, to convince Inoran to let her return to their home, if only for a few nights. “Are you unhappy at Atsushi’s home?” Inoran asked, after a long drawn out speech by Rin.
“No, not at all. I just want to come home for a few nights, I miss you all so much.” At this point Rin was sitting next to Yusuke, leaning hard into the older man.
“Inoran, let her come home,” Heath chided his clan leader, “it would be nice to have our family together again.”
“Fine,” Inoran chuckled, “I will speak with Atsushi.”
“I want to ride with Heath!”
In the one hundred years since he was blood born, Aoi had never experienced the crushing weight of loneliness, he felt at that moment. The realization that he would live for eternity without someone to love, was driving him into a deep depression. The feeling of not being loved, or having a pure love in his life, had him contemplating suicide.
Apathy was his companion as he went through his duties at the theater every night, and resentment walked him home, waiting to throttle him with the anger he kept buried, as he watched the mated couples go through their nightly routines. Aoi mumbled simple replies of ‘you too,’ in response of ‘rest well’, by other clan members as they retired to their rooms.
Lying in bed, waiting for sleep to claim him, Aoi’s mind churned with the ‘what ifs. What if he found a mortal companion, like Miya had found Shinya, could he coerce them in to being brought into the blood? Who would be their maker? Morrie? Or could he bring them into the blood as a spouse? Should he search through the regular women customers who frequented the theater, in hopes of finding one that would be willing? A million different scenarios played through his mind every night, but left him with no answers.
He knew the current unmated immortals were mere children, “…all too young.” Asanao and Hyde were not even on the list for consideration, as was Heath, he knew the man still held feelings for Yusuke, and would never agree to leave Inoran’s side. Perhaps there were immortals in the country that lived much like they did, and were also unmated, but how to find them, who were their makers?
The single thing that Aoi was thankful for, was that the clan gatherings had come to an end. He would no longer be tortured with being in the company of so many happily mated couples. “Just have to accept it…”
“So modern and convenient,” Ryuichi commented dryly, as he and Yoshiki hovered above Reo’s clan house, watching as the assembled immortals drove off in their cars. “They have forgotten who and what they are, surrounding themselves with humans, who they can trust, and believing that they are blending seamlessly into society.”
“Have they not succeeded? Have the various government officials not turned a blind eye to their existence?” Yoshiki knew this would anger his maker, and he was not wrong.
Ryuichi was on him in an instant, grabbing the immortal by the throat, “Are you praising them? You dare to compliment them?” he spat.
Yoshiki laughed as he slapped Ryuichi’s hand away, “I was merely pointing out the obvious; they have adapted and survived.” The other ancient glared at him, “Exactly the reason they all need to be destroyed.”
Regaining his composure, Ryuichi asked the important question, “How many do you have that are loyal and coherent enough to carry out instructions?”
“Between here and America? Twenty or so, more if you count the crazed rogues I have hidden. You?”
“Approximately the same, though mine were chosen for their intelligence, along with their brutality.”
“You’ve always been a snob, master.” Yoshiki snorts, “When shall we begin, and who will be the first to fall? Are we aiming to make an initial statement?”
Ryuichi thought for a moment, then a sly smile started to cross his lips, “We don’t.”
“What do you mean, we don’t? We don’t what?”
“We don’t make a statement. We will wait patiently for a month or so before we strike. As to who we should target? I don’t believe it matters much, though I’d like to leave the leaders for the last. Nothing will give me more pleasure and joy than to watch those arrogant bastards cry out for their loved ones, as they burn.”
Yoshiki grinned maliciously, “So who do you have in your sight?”
The year was 1927.