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He'd never been so embarrassed in all his life. Granted, all his life was only a little over seventeen years, and he'd been embarrassed often in the last fifteen of them, but still...! He hefted his sword across his shoulders and trudged along, willing the shame to stay back in his mother's village where it belonged. of course, there were a few other things he had with him that should have stayed in the village, but that was a whole other story. But the long and short of it was he was both banished and running away.
Not that he'd had a lot of choices to start off with. Shadow Youkai were matriarchal, after all, and the only reason he'd been allowed to stay as long past fifteen as he had was simple: as a sword master, it was his duty (and supposedly, also his pleasure - but not it was best not to get into that) to instruct his younger sister on how to use a sword, specifically the clan sword that had been handed down through several generations of his family. Never mind that Ayaboshi had no business even looking at a sword, she was the heir - the Lady Ayaboshi - and it was to be hers.
Nito winced in memory. Or it would have been hers if it was still in the village. He wondered if anyone had noticed it was missing yet. He needed to put some major distance between him and the village before they realized. When they did, they'd be after him with a vengeance, brother of the heir or not. Stealing it may not have been his brightest idea to date, but he'd been unable to resist it, like it had been calling just for him.
Either way, whether it had been calling to him or not, it was with him now and there was nothing to be done for it. It certainly wasn't like he could very well go back and return it to the shrine, not and come back with his head still attached. And since he was rather attached to his head... All the same, he wasn't breathing easier till he was well away from the life he'd known before. He'd put a good bit of distance between the village and him in the past few hours, and dark was only a matter of minutes away; it would be safe to stop for just a few moments and catch his breath.
Sometimes he thought the goddess his mother so desperately believed in must actually like him, male or not: stepping through the thick trees to the side of the road revealed a stunning lake, the likes of which he had never seen. Adjusting the Kageken in the pouch at his side, he had just knelt to drink when he caught sight of movement on the far side of the water. He couldn't make out who - or what - it was, but he wasn't taking chances. A hand on his blade, he slipped silently around the lake, absently skimming around leaves and branches, anything that might make noise.
Maybe the pair were not assassins, after all; for a Shadow Youkai, he wasn't exactly the most stealthy; but he wouldn't put it past the tribe - or more specifically, his mother - to hire outsiders to murder him. For an absurd minute, he couldn't decide which would be worse, to be killed by someone he did or did not know. In the back of his mind, the Kageken whispered of death and blood and a thousand different ways to kill a person before they could even scream, but he pushed all that even further back when the woman turned to him, summoning the silly and perhaps stupid smile that had gotten him out of many a jam back home, mostly by confusing the one threatening him into thinking there was nothing but fluff between his ears. "Hi!" The male turned as well, and something inside him twitched. It would be bad if the answer to his question would be 'yes', he could tell that now. "Are you assassins from my mother's tribe?"