Chapter Seventeen ~ Presence Revealed

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A stain begins to spread across the pants of the man I had appeared directly in front of. My eyes are dead and I speak in a monotone, ignoring the piss that was soiling the man. "They are with me," I murmur.

"I... I, uh, of course! I apologize!" he mutters quickly. He tosses the wallet back towards Kento. "Here you are, young man! I... I apologize again, Claw." And with that the man takes off.

I watch him go, pretending not to notice as people slinked back inside, closing doors and shutters and leaving the street abandoned. I then turn to the three genin. A sharp glare shuts them all up, though Aisa seemed to understand that their were far too many listening ears here to say anything.

"Come," I order, sweeping down the street with the genin in tow.

I stride right into the mayor's mansion. I had made my presence known in this village; might as well get the most out of it. As soon as the guards see me they turn around and leave the area. Striding through the doors, I enter the study where the mayor resided. He spots me almost immediately, and doesn't mention my small entourage.

"Claw," I detect the nervous tremor in his voice and internally smirk sadistically at it. "What can I do for you?"

"I have been informed that you are currently serving a band of bandits who happen to have a rather valuable artifact on them," I reply.

The man swallows audibly. He was dangerous, crafty, and cunning, but he knew when he was outmatched. "Yes."

"Where are they now?"

"Upper rooms."

"And the artifact?"

"With them."

I nod and turn away. "What could the Rising Phoenix want with an old artifact?" the mayor wondered.

I turn and glare. "The whims of the Rising Phoenix are for me to carry out, not question. The same applies to you, considering the chest of gold hidden in your floorboards that the Rising Phoenix was kind enough to gift you."

The mayor nods once. "Right. I'll leave you to it, then."

"Keep your men from wandering upstairs for at least twenty minutes," I order. "Lest they be caught in the crossfire."

"Of course," the man murmurs. "Very kind of you, Claw."

We make our way upstairs.

I don't give the genin an orders, hoping that they would be able to pick up on, "When I attack, you do" without any prompting. And so without any warning, I slam the door open and step inside.

"What the hell!" A man immediately shouts, springing up. "Who the hell are you?"

I don't answer, opting to scan the room instead. "One of your men is injured badly," I note. "That is why you took shelter here."

"What of it?" Another man growled. Ten men, one injured, four of us. A fair fight, then.

I allow a purposefully bloodthirsty smile to flash across my face. "It was the mistake that got you all killed."

The man looks confused, and grasps his thick blade tighter. "Got us ki--aghh!"

The man makes a gurgling noise as I tear through his throat with one of my blades.

The entire room freezes for half a moment before bursting into action. I'm running and slicing and doing my best to protect the genin as they fight with me and all too soon its over and with a start I realize a part of me missed being the Claw.

All that power that came with the image, that came with being a part of something bigger than yourself...

And then the fighting was over and I returned to myself.

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