Rurouni Kenshin Fan Fiction / Yu Yu Hakusho Fan Fiction / InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Blood and Gold ❯ Of Blood And Gold; Prologue ( Prologue )

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Fandoms: Yu Yu Hakusho, Inuyasha, Ruroni Kenshin
Author: SilentTearsofFeatheredWings
Beta: Anyone interested?
Chapter Title: Of Blood And Gold
Chapter Summary: Sesshoumaru sees his father for the last time. He meets up with his mother and announces he is leaving, but her parting words echo his father with frightening similarity, only she adds a baffling hint that serves, as he believes, no more purpose than to infuriate him further.
Genre: Oh, don't fret over the initial somber attitude. A little pun here, a pun there, and some more amusement will accompany.
Pairings: N/a
Rating: It's clean, nothing to rate here.
Warnings: N/a
Song(s): N/a
Disclaimer: You've got to be freaking kidding me. Do you honestly think that if I owned anything of value (not just in regards to copyrighted works) that I'd be sitting here wasting my life away by warping and twisting someone ELSE's proud works to suit my own demented desires? Hell, no. Therefore, with the thusly presented information, I don't freaking own jack squat, let alone Rumiko Takahashi's Inuyasha, Nobuhiro Watsuki's Ruroni Kenshin, OR Yoshihiro Togashi's Yu Yu Hakusho. I'm merely taking some characters reeking havoc, chaos, mayhem, and total discord.
___.:Of Blood And Gold; Prologue:.___
A man stood, tall and regal, a top a hill with his back to his son. He faced the moon on the horizon casting a silver glow on the landscape, making the fine sand appear white and the gentle ocean mimic the starry night sky. The two were so similar, if also so different. Both had long silver-white hair that complimented their tall figures. However one wore his hair in a high pony-tail and other let his hair flow unrestrained. They also wore similar pelts, but in different ways. The young wore his over his shoulder, and the elder wore his as a cape. The power of daiyoukai heritage surged through and around them charging the already tense atmosphere. It fueled the billowing wind into a sharp gust that caressed the two, twisting long silver looks and playing with white pelts.
Finally the younger spoke, his voice cool, emotionless, "Father, do you insist of going?" clearly he was unbothered by the sight of his own sire's impending demise. For the blood dripping with a soft "plick plick plick" left no doubt that the elder daiyoukai would not survive another great battle. A great battle such as her was about to face.
There was a faint pause before a sultry voice, deeper than his son's baritone, a bass, rumbled forth to question the question, "Do you intend to stop me, Sesshoumaru?"
"I will not stand in your way. However, before you go, you must entrust the swords Sou'unga and Tetsuseiga to me."
"And if I refuse, will you kill me, your own father?" at the slightly mocking tone, the younger, now known as Sesshoumaru, remained silent and unwilling to reply. In the silence, the wind rustled again and the father continued, his solemn voice calm, soothing even under the right circumstances, "Do you desire power so much? Why do you seek power, my son?"
The question irritated Sesshoumaru, causing the normally stoic facade of smooth pale skin to shift in a faint show of a frown. The man before him may be his sire, but still a part of him rose up trying to question what place the man had to ask such a thing. The muscles relaxed, but his eyes narrowed. He brought a pale hand, ivory and glowing under the moon's loving gaze, and gently placed it over his pelt. With confidence, even arrogance, he spoke clearly, but not loudly, "The path I walk is the way of supreme conquest, and it is power that will reveal the way for me." His tone was condescending, to him nothing in the world was more obvious, and no other answer would be more logical.
"Hmh," knowingly, the father tilted his head down ever so slightly and smirked. His son would learn one day, be it the hard way or with easy compliance. Sesshoumaru would never comply, and the man knew that though he would be gone long before the day his son learned, this conversation would not be forgotten. When the boy was finally released to see it, the path fate and destiny entwined for him, he would fall to his knees. The young daiyoukai would reflect, and his mind would review this conversation. This conversation where he refused to see the truth that was so clearly there. Sesshoumaru was the protector.
Still smirking, the elder raised his golden-eyed gaze, a warmer version of those the 'boy' behind him held. "Supreme conquest... Tell me, Sesshoumaru, have you someone to protect?"
"Protect?" Sesshoumaru voice was lightly colored with confusion. He looked to the side, and towards the ground, an uncharacteristic and childish show of uncertainty. It was gone faster than it came, and he looked up, eyes, though cold and hardened to emotion, blazed with fire. He stared fiercely at the back his father head, his voice strong with his soul-searing conviction, "The answer is no. I, Sesshoumaru, have no need of such." he raised his hand and poised to attack, but froze.
Laughter slowly erupted from the pale lips of his father. The man turned, giving his son a profile view, as his bass voice uttered the final words the other would ever hear from him, "And do you, Sesshoumaru, see 'such' as the downfall of your pursuit of conquest?" his golden-eyes spoke of a secret, a power waiting in some distant idea. "Perhaps instead of your ignorant and foolish ideals of using power to conquer, you should think on how to protect the power you obtain."
With that, the elder inu daiyoukai transformed and leapt into the air, his final mission: to die protecting his family.
Sesshoumaru watched the disappearing silhouette with a quiet simmering sense of fury hidden underneath the emotionless countenance. Told fool had to be out of his mind, or even more foolish than he believed. Protect power, what was that nonsense? Little more than an ignorant belief only paving one's way to death, as far as the young inu daiyoukai was concerned. He was certain to make knowledge of this, even if only to the billowing wind, "Foolish." he turned and walked the opposite direction his father had gone not paying attention to the increasing wind.
He did not fly, he did not run; his pace was steady and unhurried.
He halted in mid step, soft laughter caressing his ears momentarily. The sound was jovial, light on his ears. A frosty gaze searched for the source of the sound, only to come up empty handed. It came from all around, the sky, the earth, the trees. It just floated on the wind teasing and tantalizing his sensitive elfin ears. Said ears twitched a bit every now and then while he turned his head. He let his eyes fall shut to mute one sense and allow much stronger focus on another. Still the laughter surrounded him. There was just no way to tell exactly where the light and pleasant sound came from.
The wind swirled around him, leaving Sesshoumaru with the vague sense of a nymph dancing merrily. Likewise the chiming laughter that had distracted him seemed closer as well. It was carried on the wind, and the next thing to know was dead clam and silence.
There was no wind, no sound, not even a drifting scent. Golden eyes opened into narrow slits. He stood still, waiting. What for, not even he could honestly say, but he held his place. In fact, he gave new meaning to the word 'statuesque'. He very well could have been a painted statue. Perhaps he wanted to be, for a sound slowly rose and he continued in his immobility. It was indistinct, very soft and subtle. For a moment, Sesshoumaru thought to be mistaken that it was the laughter again, but the humming never separated into distinction beyond the rhythmic melody, as increasing volumes sometimes do.
It was a simple tune. Once it leveled out it was neither soft, nor loud, to his heightened senses. Had he not know better, he would believe that it was an angel, or perhaps a goddess, dancing around him with the wind as she sang. Eerily, the wordless song felt like...him. He could not form another explanation, but he was filled with the sensation that the song was woven and played solely based on him; what he was and who he was. Or more rather, the melody teased him of whispered promises in the future. Something to come, something that stirred restless within him. Not unease, but apprehension, excitement, eagerness for...conquest. No, not conquest, that was his rational supplement to the feeling, a feeling that was akin to blood lust. Blood was spilled in battles, and he would never loose a battle, so it was only logical that he believe that this...avidity was for his awaiting journey, and the climb from the son of the great dog general, to his own title, whatever it was to be.
He did not think that a secret lingered just beyond his comprehension, but not his awareness.
Finally, Sesshoumaru began walking again. His steps resumed as if he had never stopped. The tune continued on, but he saw no threat, and did not feel that attempting to track it thoroughly was worth the bother. He had a fortress to visit, a conversation to be had, and an expedition to begin. His father had been a general of the west, but his mother was the actual ruler, hence why he shared the crescent mark on his brow with the woman. His father had no such mark.
The moon's pale glow waned with the passing hours, and the young demon continued without disruption and still without haste. The song did not, however, or perhaps it did. Mayhap his mind picked up where the song ended, and he was unaware of the change. Of course, no daiyoukai would ever succumb to such a thing, which left only the possibility that the occasionally gusting winds continued to haunt him with his song.
He was not unaware, as the melody died with the rising sun, regardless if it was all in his mind or dancing on the breeze. It was only a short time later, just after the sun was perched upon the eastern horizon, that the fortress-like ancient castle was fully revealed in all its grandeur. It was the place of his childhood, few knew it quite as well as he did, so the extravagance was lost on him. Well, it was not lost, for he knew well how lavish it was, and did indeed find it of great, if a bit excessive, beauty. He was just accustomed to such and therefore saw no over whelming awe as many others did.
A woman met him at the door. She was a beauty in her own league, leaving no doubt exactly who her son too after. She bore a deep blue crescent moon on her fore head was present on his as well. Both had magenta stripes on their cheeks, but where she only had one that curled slightly over each cheek bone, he had two straight ones on each cheek. He was only slightly taller than she, but their hair was of equal length and matching color, like their eyes. Golden irises locked onto each other, but neither backed down. His were cold and metallic, eventually they narrowed in extreme annoyance, whatever animosity he held for his father was replaced by something else all together in the presence of his mother. Who was, perhaps, the only person that he would ever bow down to. A fact he neither took kindly too, nor did so passively.
At the small display of aggravation on her son's face, the woman smirked. She lifted her hand and lightly patted his cheek, as though he was still a young pup. He retaliated by knocking her hand away and growling slightly. It was hard to catch, but he even bared his teeth for the briefest moment. As if offended she huffed and turned to the side closing her eyes, "Really, now, Sesshoumaru, I thought I raised you with better manners than that human-loving father of yours. He was not the ruler, and neither are you until I deem it so." her hair swayed a bit, and her brought her arms up to be tucked into the sleeves of her kimono. Pointedly, she turned her back and began walking deeper into the building. It was a silent and somewhat rude gesture, but the command was not lost on him. He followed, his shimmering anger held back.
They turned into a room of moderate size. It held a red and cream coloring theme, with the primary colors being tans, and off-whites, and cream colors, but shades of red accented it all. There were several sitting pillows, most of them off to the side or in a corner ready to be used at a moments notice, and a few tables positioned separately in the middle of the room. One of these tables had pillows on both ends, and a tray of warm tea. A servant waited nearby to serve her lady and young lord. She was a little thing, short hair framing cheeks still slightly chubby from adolescence. Her small figure quaked a bit, the hostility of the male was quite intimidating, but the lady seemed completely composed! The girl internal wept and wished she could be so fearless.
“Unless you wish to make an open attempt for alpha, you will cease frightening my staff.”
She was rewarded with an indignant huff, in which he unknowingly reminded everyone that he was still in most way a pup. Both stepped up the prepared table and took their seats with enviable grace. There was a moment's still pause before the young servant girl squeaked and hurried over. Bowing deeply, in apology, fear, and respect, she tried to hide, or more preferably completely cease her alarming quivering as she carefully served the two. Dark, dusty brown hair curtained around her face, providing a barrier of no protection, but still alleviating a minor amount most unfounded fear. The scent still permeated her, however, and Sesshoumaru made obvious his displeasure of the smell. He turned his head and leaned back slightly. His aim in life was to be powerful, known, and respected. Of course he would always in counter fear, sometimes it would be the only way he would be able to garner the respect he demanded, and sometimes it would be an unfortunate by-product of his achievements.
To be truthful, he personally could not find it in himself to enjoy the scent of fear, at least not on any females. On males it just annoyed him, but when a woman was afraid he, well most canine males in general, were over whelmed with protective instincts. For him, being of higher class and rank, these protective urges were a fair bit stronger than others; as a potential alpha even more so, but the fact that any female should fear him was a personal affront. He was honorable, more so than almost anyone else. He would not touch a woman with ill intent or without her permission at all. That was low and disgraceful. The young daiyoukai Sesshoumaru was far above that, and inwardly he grumbled that it should be obvious he would never lower himself to the standards of others.
When the servant stepped back, Sesshoumaru straightened back up. The girl hurriedly bowed and scurried to her previous spot out of the way. The lady was merely amused, and it showed as she smirked at her son. "Come now, you know better than to be rude. It is your own fault she's terrified out of her mind of you. If anything, I do so think you should apologize." she spoke, with mirth in her mock condescending tone, yet she still seemed to be serious.
"I will not lower myself to..."
"'…Such a level.' Yes, I know." the smile faded and the woman leveled him with a displeased glare. He was impudent as ever, much like his father, the foolish hound. A few moments of silence passed where she sipped her tea, and thought vaguely about how the general was likely never to return. A baser part of her regretted the loss of such a skilled male, but she did not mate him, and he was far more attached to the human princess he was dying for...literally. All they would have ever shared was pleasant fuck. The more logical side was a little miffed to loose a skilled warrior. After all, he had been the pride of her territory since she found him as a pup shortly after becoming the alpha. He had followed her from a patrol of a border where some concerns had arisen, and she later discovered him in hiding, though asleep, in a pantry. The staff had gone to bed and she actually liked to go and prepare her own meal once in a while.
She opened the door, and was actually surprised to the young kid deep asleep with some half eaten food still in his hand. He was rather thin, and looked a little worse for wear as well. But despite that, she could see something in him. Something promising, so she knelt down for a bit of a closer look a muddied form. It stirred a tiny bit, little elf-ears twitching, but he did not wake. After a few moments, she had an epiphany. A young orphan boy had just wandered into her midst. She could take in and train him, teach him, and mold him as she so saw fit. Yes, he was a promising sight, indeed.
The boy did finally wake, as she picked him up. His eyes were wide, the golden hues full of fright, but she merely gave him a soft smile and carried him out of the cooking area. Her smile didn't calm him much; in fact he was torn between awe and terror. She was beautiful, graceful, royal, and yet she was holding him, and the look on her face was as if she was a dog with a prize winning bone. But, there was just him! What on earth could she be thinking? Did he really want to know? His poor mind conjured far too many awful scenarios where she tortured him to death through various slow and painful means. Somehow, each image turned out to be worse than the last, and eventually she was holding and whimpering trembling mass.
At that point, she stopped and sighed. She had been carrying the boy with one had, and so the other came up to rub her forehead as if willing away an ache. Her voice was gentle as she spoke, looking right into his sunny yellow eyes, "Quit your fear. I've have much in store for you. Such as a bed, proper food, training, teaching, and other means that are far from the torture you are undoubtedly frightening yourself with."
The boy merely stared at her, blinking a few times before he gave a tentative smile. The uncertain gesture was a welcome on, and she continued walking once more. Finally, they reached a room. There she set him down and told him it was now his room. She left instructions that he was to stay there until she retrieved him later on. Once he confirmed her order and she was sure he would stay there, she left. So much for making her own meal, now she had to get some to make him clothes, and set up a schedule for training and teaching. Pausing for a moment, before rounding a corner, she glanced at the closed door behind which was her new pet project. Her work was cut out for her, but it wouldn't be too hard.
The lady chuckled happily as she shook her head and came out of her reverie. The boy had grown up into a wonderful specimen of an inu-daiyoukai. He even gave her another magnificent example a male for a son. It was such as shame how things would end, but it was no use crying over spilt milk. As far as she was concern, the man had been more than a century her minor, but never maturing beyond youthful wiles. His foolishness was to be expected.
What was not expected was the initiation of conversation by said son that was as impudent as his father.
"What, pray tell, or may I ask, has you so good humored?" Sesshoumaru's smooth voice droned in a boring drawl meant for nothing more than his mother's ire.
Her laughter feel short, to be replaced by a huff. "Perhaps some of us find that revisiting old times of the past a refreshing reprieve from these times at present." She snipped a bit, but ended up shaking her head with a small smile once more. Oh, she truly despised when he did that. It was rather unreasonable but she could not help the wash of rage at the bored tone, monotonous and dead, spoken with that dreadful drawl making everything being said seem to last forever. It just completely destroyed her calm, cool, collectiveness. Ironically, anyone could play off the same tone and drawl with no influence over her. Anyone save for two young men; well only young man now. "Alright, alright, Sesshoumaru, come now and tell me what brings you home. You seem somehow to always have a reason for everything you do. I pity you, some spontaneity does wonders for a soul, even better when done for something you know is the worst reason to ever be spontaneous about." Her eyes were dark, but glittered with life was still many, many centuries in coming. The woman may rule the lands, and do so well, as a matter of fact, but in her deep heart, and in the eyes of her son she would never be more than a mischievous pup.
That sparkle of mischief in her eye was not easily disguised, not even amidst the glitter of her mirth.
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes, what did she know now? It was sure to bite him in the ass some day. Regardless of suspicion, he dropped his gaze to his yet untouched tea. And with deliberate slowness, he picked the ceramic cup up and lifted it to his pale lips for a tentative sip. His movements reflected contemplation, and the alpha's mirth flickered a bit towards annoyance. Her smile fell into a small pout.
"I am here to announce a prolonged, extended absence once I leave again."
She blinked. Slowly. Her mirth faded and she tossed her head back and to the side, her voice almost nonchalant as she replied, "Whatever you wish. I will not stop you." She waved her hand dismissively and straightened her back even more than it already was.
At her dismissal, Sesshoumaru stood. He pivoted on his heel, and he had only just taken a step when, the rustle of shifting fabric reached his ears. Behind him, his mother had stood unexpectedly and was gliding forward. She paused beside him, smiling softly and patting his cheek. He smile turned wicked, and she gave a nod to the forgotten servant girl who rose and slipped out of the room via a side door. "But before you leave, you will do one thing: Follow me." And again she lead him from the sitting room, down few hallways and to another room. There were tatami mats set out and she indicated one for him, "Sit, I wish to meditate."
Thinking nothing of this request, Sesshoumaru took a seat, easily falling into a cross-legged position. His magenta colored eye-lids slid shut, hiding the frosted gold of his eyes from sight. He tuned his mind inward, as his mother shifted around heading to the other mat. His ear twitched a few times, but he did not consciously register any sound. What his subconscious guard heard was of no threat. Silence surrounded them for some time, only disturbed by the sudden whoosh of air and sliding wood at the door was opened almost clumsily by none other ha the servant girl from before. Both male and female inu had snapped to attention and turned to look at her. She seemed to squeak under the dual penetrating stares and scrambled to the lady hastily. She was trembling again, worse this time. Her thoughts were almost audible and when she was dismissed she was even quicker to escape, thanks to any god that would listen flying through her poor brain.
“Honestly, Sesshoumaru, it is really quite ridiculous to be so intimidating. Just look what you're doing to that poor girl! She's new, and if she leaves because of you, you'll be finding a new servant.” Never once did his mother look at him as she spoke. Again her voice was caught between mock scolding, and absolute seriousness. Her tone was light and jovial, and yet Sesshoumaru new that she was making a promise. He grumbled as her sharp eyes lifted to him. They were serious, despite the smile on her lips. “Go back to meditating.”
He wanted so strongly to growl. He settled for a counted deep inhale and exhale through flared nostrils, and a quick quip, “Perhaps I would not be so 'intimidating,' as you so put it, if you hired staff that wasn't already of such a frightened nature.” He let his eyes fall shut once more. The last sight that graced his vision was his mother's exasperated frown. And he methodically relaxed his muscles, focusing on nothing else as he fell once more into meditation.
He was quite completely unprepared for what was, and most likely probably would be for some several centuries to come, the shock of his life.
The young inu daiyoukai had no more gotten back to his meditation, and that infernal tune played! He had been vaguely aware of his mother moving about, but whatever he expected, it certainly was not to hear that melody flow softly from a wooden flute. His eyes flew open, as his body jerked. His usually aloof countenance was UNusually flabbergasted! His eyes were rounded, most of the golden irises showing, and his pupils slightly contracted. Even his jaw fell slack, parting his lips. His mind started to conjure the notes as she played them, and he regained facial control. Needless to say, meditation was quite out of the question.
She finished the first verse and pulled the flute away. She bore a haughty expression as she wordlessly held out the scroll for Sesshoumaru to take. He glanced between her and the scroll, like it was some sort of awful, vile thing that would massively defile him with just the slightest brush on his person. He did take it, though, with a brief scrunching of his nose. True enough the paper was fairly worn, but it was quite clean, obviously very well kept and read often. He unrolled it slowly. The kanji writings were old. Extremely old. As he read, he found himself frowning as he deciphered whatever it was that was waiting. On the plus side, the calligraphy was absolutely stunning. Not a mark out of place, no accidental drops or mistakes. Perfect, complete perfection that made him feel he shamed his own name.
The female inu daiyoukai waited a few moments for him to finish. When he looked up, she could practically read the questions running rampant circles in his mind demanding priority over the others. Before he could even begin the motions of asking, she held him silent. The flute, which had rested silent and still in her lap while he processed what was likely one of the oldest scripts of all, was lifted in her elegant hands. She nodded to the scroll indicating that he should follow along, before she restarted the flowing melody. The words, almost difficult before, seemed to take on a new meaning, becoming clearer and easier to read.
“A child born of Blood and Gold,
Whose heart and soul are hard to hold,
May see a time of fear and hate
But will suffer life with troubled fate.
“She will sing a song of time again
Her music is magic, she needs not a band.
But as destiny will have it, her life is at stake,
There is one guardian now tied to her fate.
“Still so young, but he will never grow old,
The power at his hands is now untold.
Her time will come, she will be born,
Until then, young guardian, do not feel so torn.”
At that point, his mother stopped, laying the flute once more across her lap. She stared at Sesshoumaru, and though he looked up in her general direction, he more looked through her, thinking on the strange poem. He felt a vague recognition, not déjà vu or anything, just suddenly the tune and is lyrics seemed to find their right place in his mind. “It is a prophecy.”
He did not ask, he already knew. But his mother nodded anyway. She watched as he stood and looked down at her. He wore a slightly confused, searching look as his golden eyes glitter like the mineral. After a moment, in which it was impossible to tell if he found an answer or not, he looked at the scroll still in his hand. He took great caution to carefully roll it back up, then held it out for his mother. She closed her eyes, lowering her head the tiniest a bits, and shook it. Some of her silken white tresses slid over her shoulders, draping around her face like a sheer curtain. She lifted her golden-eyes, so identical to her son's, and spoke, “What will you protect?”
Sesshoumaru was again surprised by her words, and by how her usual playful persona was subdued and helped back. What was this? Had he not made it clear earlier? He had no need, not desire to protect anything. With a withering glare he threw the scroll at his mother, missing intentionally, but getting it close enough the hair over her shoulder was swept back to the other side. With a distinct growl, he replied, “Useless.” Promptly he pivoted on his heel and stalked from the room.
Shaking her had once more, the beautiful lady rose, scroll and flute in hand. She stepped out of the room, looking down the hall where her son was still storming away in his silent, brooding, unemotional way. However, this was her home, he had certain privileges. One such being that if she so chose, no place in the massive building was more than a second of travel. It only took a bit on concentration and quick chant in her native tongue, and she was back at the entrance waiting for Sesshoumaru to arrive. He did a short time later, stilling angry, and still growling.
He walked up to her, standing only a few feet from, and yet still practically towering over her frame. Though still very tall by human comparison, the female was not exactly a tall demoness. Of course, neither could she be called short. She held out the scroll, silently indicating for him to take it, as she said, “Keep this.”
He scoffed tossing his head back a bit and moved to step around the infuriating woman. But before he could get past her, a slender, yet amazingly powerful arm barred his path. Looking at her face, he was met with an exasperated and slightly annoyed glare. “I am not giving to a choice.” Fury rekindled anew, her jerking the roll from her grasp, tucked it inside his haori and pushed her arm back so that he could leave. He was ignorant to her triumphant smirk and the knowing look in her gaze as she watched him disappear.
As he walked off, she questioned the idea of his conversation with his father. She had no doubts at all, that that was where he had returned from. Had her precious general perhaps had some certain words with the now irate demon? Of the subject of protection, he had been the only to come close to comparison in the need to protect the clan, defend the keep, take care of the family-pack. It would not surprise her that the general would tell Sesshoumaru to protect. Ah, the poor boy. But her sympathy was shallow indeed, for she highly doubted that he even realized that they were trying to help him. She suddenly let out and exasperated, weary, and strained sigh. Her mind already saw the day he would be forced to protect something, regardless of his desire to or not. She shook her head and looked to the sky, part of her mind prayed for her son to learn some grace aside from that of physical movement, and yet another part of her mind questioned the ancient immortal beings as to what great plan they had put into motion.
What was there that was so important to protect? She did not know, but she knew time would play it all out.
*~A/n: Yeah, I know, Secrets Behind Too Much Power needs work. However, I'll have you know that I AM working on it! I'm going back and pretty much rewriting the chapters. There are so many things I need to fix, and want to change... So yeah. I have NO clue when I'll get that done, and this story... Well, I have high which I cringe. Yeah, although on this one I do have more of a story planned out! Sorta. I have a direction and an ending. What happens in between is surprise to everyone! Even myself.