Chapter 48: Grave News

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Tiger was in the garden, at the koi fish ponds, playing and training with her three pets - Christo, Astra, and Blizzard, while Tamie was spending time with Byakuya at the balcony and was writing down notes about the traditions of the Blade Warriors. She then caught a glimpse of Kokuyo training in a sword battle with a young, twenty-five-year-old, black-haired, blue-eyed boy. They both used their katanas well and furiously sparred as if their lives were on the line.

 They both used their katanas well and furiously sparred as if their lives were on the line

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"Huh? Who's that guy battling with the Magister?"

"Ah, that's Sasori. Sasori Matsumoto," Byakuya replied once caught the sight of the two duelists. "He's Kokuyo-sama's younger brother. If anything happens to Matsumoto-sama, Sasori will take his place as the Overlord of the Blade Warrior Order. He is a strong Scorpio of the Rooster spirit and the Sworder Sub-branch of the Artist Class just like most of us here in the Order".

"Oh, the Sworder Sub-branch? But I heard that there are only five sub-branches of the Artist Class - the Painter, the Writer, the Builder, the Singer, and the Player".

"No, it is only in the west where they don't practise swordsmanship. Here in Kenshin, Blade Warriors are often Sworder Class, the sixth sub-branch of the Artist Class, and we use sword arts as our power boost".

"Wow, amazing..."

Tamie contemplated the battle of the two brothers. Sasori was on the offensive, furiously attacking the opponent and yelling and swinging his sword with all his might.

"He's still too young..." Byakuya chuckled, "He uses strength over his wits".

"Is he on good terms with his brother?"

"Hmm, not much... Sasori thinks he's more fit to be the leader, so he has some issues with his brother".

"No, I mean Kokuyo-sama..." Tamie glanced at Kokuyo who cold-bloodedly parried elated Sasori's attacks and was on the defensive, not giving a pin for the opponent's inner rage and excited spirit.

Byakuya sighed:

"Matsumoto-sama has had his bitter times in life. He is a complicated person. He suffers from mood swings if you've noticed..."

"Yes, I've noticed, that's why I asked. He was so strict at first when we entered, then suddenly grew happy when found out I was his favourite author, and then grew raged in a second and harshly spoke to Tig... She can't forget his words even now..."

"I am sorry for my magister's such behaviour. He can indeed be too harsh sometimes... no, a lot, actually. He is quite strict most of the time. He rarely smiles and rarely speaks about his emotions. He has a great sense of duty and he strictly follows the Code".

Kokuyo made a fast move with his hand and caught Sasori off-guard, bringing him down in one swing.

"Wow, that's one great trick! I must write it down for Byakuya to use," Tamie scribbled down a note. Byakuya chuckled seeing her enthusiasm.

"He'd love if you used his battle style in your book".

"You know what? I'll rather use the whole of him in my book!"

She scribbled more notes down. Byakuya widened eyes:

"You're going to include Matsumoto-sama as a character?"

"Yes. I bet he'll be happy!" Tamie ran down the balcony, rushed out in the yard and approached Sasori and Kokuyo who had finished their duel.

"One day, I shall beat you and make you give me the leadership!" Sasori gnashed his teeth.

"You lack precision and attentiveness," Kokuyo sheathed his katana and walked off, "You'll never make it to the leadership level like that. Only strength is nothing. Remember the rule of Kokoro". 

"Don't go around teaching me, Kokuyo-sama!"

Kokuyo stumbled upon Tamie on his way.

"Ah, Tamie?"

"Kokuyo-sama, I've decided to include you as a character in my book. Will you please allow?"

"Oh, is it possible?" he brightened. Tamie giggled at such a reaction of his.

"Sure! I need as much realism as I can get".

"I'd be glad to become your character!" Kokuyo smiled happily. In that sincere smile, Tamie noticed how much warmth this guy truly held...

 In that sincere smile, Tamie noticed how much warmth this guy truly held

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"Hehe, then I guess it is decided!"

However, even this happiness couldn't remain eternal - in all of a sudden, the Blade Warriors brought in a stretcher where there was unconscious Shiba lying, and Riza had accompanied them, tears gushing from her eyes. Seeing such a commotion, everyone - Tamie, Kokuyo, Tiger, and Byakuya - rushed up to them.

"Ah, Shiba!" Tamie and Tiger ran up to the stretcher and looked at crying Riza, "What happened?"

"H... He's dead!"

The girls froze on the place.

"No way!" Tiger grabbed the boy and shook him: "Shiba! Wake up! Shiba!"

But he gave no voice, for he was no more. Blizzard, seeing one of his favourite order members had left this world, sadly yelped and howled at a full voice, mourning his dearest friend. Tiger began crying, and so did Tamie and Riza. Byakuya got extremely sad for such grave news.

"Bring a coffin," Kokuyo ordered to some of his subordinates. "He must be sent back to Rosenweld where his family can mourn him properly. You," he turned to tearful Riza, "tell me everything you found out on the reconnaissance mission".

"What kind of attitude is that?!" Riza flared up at such cold remarks of his, "We lost our friend! All you care about is the mission?! Leave us be!"

Hearing such harshness of the foreigner towards their Magister, the Blade Warriors got incensed and grabbed their katanas, but Kokuyo raised his hand and made them stop, and then turned around, facing his back at Riza and her friends:

"I am sorry for your loss, but... people die, and this world still runs. Those who are alive must take care of things_"

"You fiend!" 

He halted and glanced back with a strict gaze. Tiger was shedding tears, her eyes all red. She sobbed and ran off, her pets after her. Byakuya crossed arms - such a heavy situation... Tamie watched Kokuyo with an astonished and worried gaze, while Riza angrily sneered and ran after Tiger to calm her down. Kokuyo sighed and turned around, leaving the place silently.

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