NOTE : This story is copied from my account on Quizilla, and is written in second person. This first bit is meant to be the prologue.
“Yes, I’m not sure who they are, except that they are mercenaries, but still, you might be able to meet someone!”
“Ruka!” you exclaimed in denial at her comment. You and Ruka, one of the servants of Nishizawa had a day-off so you were simply killing time by spending a day in the large crowded village. You weren’t the girly type, so all you were wearing was a combination of a light blue kimono jacket, light blue hakama and chartreuse belt. Not forgetting the sarashi inside the kimono jacket. Anyway!
“You’re turning 18 soon, Zu, an adult! You need to begin connecting to someone of the opposite gender.” Said Ruka, clasping her hands to her heart.
“What do you know about love? You’re 15.” You replied, crossing your arms, furrowing your eyebrows. “And anyway, I have my shoulders heavy already. I don’t need love to show that I’m growing up.”
“Oh, yeah, sure. Like ‘fools in love’ cliché.” Ruka sighed as you two sat down in a private parting in a tea house. It was lovely, because the tea house tables were divided into cosy private small rooms with red curtains. You were close friends with Saika, the elderly owner and her granddaughter Yui, who often comes to the palace to...watch you train the soldiers to fear.
“Hey, Yozora, have you heard of the Lord of the Western Lands?” asked Ruka all of the sudden in a whisper after ordering a dozen of mochi, six being purple yam and the other six being red bean along with Japanese bubble tea for both of you.
“Honey, I am an army commandant who is ordered to follow Nishizawa-sama whenever there is a matter connected to war. Of course I know who he is. We never got along though.”
“Why?” Ruka asked as if you had just slapped her.
“It-it’s different, I guess. I mean, some of the staff think I’ll have to take over for Nishizawa-sama if she ever passes away or steps down with no children, seeing as I’m practically closer to her than her alcoholic secretary Tsurigino.”
Ruka giggled at the thought of Tsurigino, in the village bar, living in a fantasy of girls and alcohol. And he’s just 19!
“Enjoy!” the waitress exclaimed happily as he served the food Ruka ordered onto the table. She bowed and left. So for the rest of the day, you and Ruka had a lovely tea, went through the shops to purchase new clothes, bought home dinner and went back to the palace.
“See you tomorrow, Zu!” Ruka waved as she went off to her chambers, which she shares with the other servants; five other servants whom are mostly older than her except for one who is 13. You shrug to yourself at Ruka’s childishness before making your way to your chambers.
Back to the real situation: Ruka had found out from Nishizawa-sama that a group of seven mercenaries will be visiting. It must the Shichinintai.
The next day...
“Yozora! Big, big day! Nishizawa would like you in the throne room.” One of the servants cheered as she slid past the shoji to your room, only to see you looking at the mirror, fixing the yellow belt onto your hakama.
“I’ll be there in a moment...” you said bluntly, fixing a bobby pin onto your sidebangs and making your way to the throne room. You had been ordered to wear something that makes you look...you. That’s what the noblewoman likes about young people; sticking to themselves.
When you stood outside the throne room, preparing to face Nishizawa and whoever else is in there because you can hear talking, you took a deep breath before opening the doors, leading you into a large room of gold tatama flooring with red edges, the walls embroidered with pictures telling stories of the Edo period and the Heian period, the edges of the ceiling decorated with animals of the zodiac. At the end laid two small, short and wide stairs, the top holding the throne where the noblewoman of the area sat, looking radiant in a violent furisode kimono, embroidered with butterflies, a cheerful smile plastered on her fair skinned face.
In the middle of the room stood five unfamiliar male figures, all of them standing up bravely. Funny...and Ruka said there were seven.
“Commandant Housen, they are five of the Band of Seven, also known as Shichinintai. The other three members are too large to come into the castle, but either way, this young man is Bankotsu, the leader.” Said Nishizawa proudly as you walked to her side to study the five men.
You had to admit, the leader, otherwise known as ‘Bankotsu’, was ... quite attractive in some way. Dark braided hair, tan skin...he was actually smiling at you, but you knew there was something else behind this mercenary. Zero mercy...
“Bankotsu-san, this is my army commandant, Housen Yozora.”
Bankotsu stood up, walked over to you and took your hand, “Pleasure to meet you, Shireikan-chan.”
(Shireikan – Commandant)
He whispered the name in your ear, feeling ticklish on your skin. How did he even know that name always offended you? And why did he take your hand, even though every person in the area knew you were practically more manlike than the male warriors in the West? You were right from before...there’s something else about this mercenary, including his subordinates, along with the other two members outside the palace.
It’s almost like a total eclipse, when you wonder why that dark thing is hiding the bright one.