Mizuki : LOTD Vol.1 Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The Mizuki Siblings & the Tale of the Barbarians and the Elemental Mages


“Baby brother, please wake up.” A familiar female’s voice called out to me and woke me up from my deep sleep. I opened my eyes to see my older sister, Sheena Mizuki, leaning over me. She was damn near face-to-face with me. The princess’ slanted, brown eyes were looking down at me, and she had a worried look on her beautiful face. Her flawless brown complexion lit up from the sunlight that was shining through my window. My sister must have pulled back my black curtains to let the sun shine into the room. She did that to irritate me as usual by blinding me with the intense rays. A cute, relieved smile spread across her face when she noticed that I was awake.

“Praise Arigon. It’s about got damn time that you decided to wake up. I thought you might have been in a coma because you were sleeping for such an extended amount of time. You actually scared me for a second,” Sheena expressed with a nervous chuckle. My sister then wiped the little sweat droplets from her forehead with the back of her hand. “Woo,” she released and caused me to narrow my eyes at the sneaky, backstabbing, deranged, sore loser who stood before me.

“Anyways, good morning, baby brother,” she said sweetly.

I discharged a sigh as I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. “What do you want, Sheena?” My voice was thick with sleep. I cleared my throat trying to fix my ability to speak.

Sadness immediately took over the princess’ features. “Well—” she started. I cut her off. “I hope you don’t think that I have amnesia or something because I vividly remember how you caught me off guard and beat the crap out of me,” I informed her and shot her a seething glare.

My sister stood straight up and then brushed back her long, straight, black hair out of her face. The rest of her locks rested just a few inches from the middle of her back. She smirked at me before speaking. “Well, you shouldn’t have insulted my technique like that,” she accused me and folded her arms across her chest. “You know how I get when you compare my techniques to Balloons’ techniques,” she added grudgingly with an annoyed expression.

I sat up in my king-sized, memory foam mattress, red sheeted bed and yawned. “You have some serious problems that you need to work out,” I said serenely.

Sheena unfolded her arms. “I don’t have problems!” she roared and shot me a death glare.

“Well, what would you call it? You beat your little brother halfway to death because he hurt your feelings somehow. Maybe, it was because he said that his master’s move is ‘faster but not stronger than your technique,’” I said while referring to myself in third person. “How did I insult your move again? I think you were hearing things, you crazy broad,” I added. Sheena frowned and looked down in shame. “You’re right. You almost got seriously injured. Good thing that you have tough skin both literally and figuratively. I say that because most little brothers would be very mad at their sisters, especially if they did what I’ve done to you,” she said with sadness in her tone. “Oh, I’m mad at you, but I’m smart. Trying to retaliate would only lead to me getting my ass kicked again. I can’t beat you,” I said hopelessly and lowered my eyes. I figured this approach that I took was the right approach because Sheena would now feel bad for me. I knew she would automatically apologize to me and would give me a rematch to try to get even with her. The only thing I needed her to do was to take my bait and pity my shortcomings in our last bout. Then, I was going to pay her back for what she had done to me. I was basically smiling devilishly on the inside while retaining a saddened demeanor on the outside.

Sheena took notice of my sadness as she immediately bowed her head. “You don’t know how you would fare against me now. We haven’t fought against each other using hand-to-hand combat in a little over four years. I’m pretty sure your sensei and Uncle Ryuya taught you something big within those years just as I did,” she said with her head still down. “But, I’m so sorry. Please, forgive me,” she added sincerely and sadly.

I looked at Sheena. My devilish smirk was now visible on my face. “I don’t know if I can forgive a sister who beat the crap out of her own little brother, especially a sister who actually allowed a personal vendetta to overcloud her judgement. I’m so ashamed.” I looked away from my sister piling up the guilt on her.

“Fine. I will give you a rematch. You can fight me one-on-one. This time I won’t hit you with any cheap shots. Okay?” she said and did exactly what I wanted her to do.

A brief triumphant grin spread across my face. “I see,” I said and pet the teen’s head in a matter of approval. “I forgive you, big sister. I really like the sound of that deal. I might actually get lucky and finally beat you,” I said slyly.

Sheena raised her head and looked at me with an amused smile. “Don’t get ahead of yourself now, little brother,” she said as her normal persona returned. “I’m just giving you a chance to redeem yourself. You beating me is still impossible,” she added, and she chortled behind her hand.

I was now dumbfounded by the princess’ words. I sat there with my mouth agape for a second before I responded. “Ah, come on now. You just said that you didn’t know how I would fare against you in a hand-to-hand battle, and now you’re saying that I still can’t win. Dammit, woman! Make up your mind,” I said with a trace of irritation in my tone.

My sister smirked smugly at me. “Well, it will take you way more than four years to catch me in terms of strength,” she said nonchalantly.

I frowned at her as I shook my head from side-to-side. “I don’t like you,” I stated softly.

Sheena giggled at my remark. “You love me though,” she said in a cute voice.

I sighed. “I’m starting to regret that,” I muttered.

My sister smiled and blew a kiss at me. “Aw…I love you too,” she said condescendingly with a wink.

I made a disgruntled face at Sheena. I needed a way to get even with her. I noticed her nightgown and two things specifically. I pretended to gag and held my hand over my mouth.

“What the hell are you wearing? Where is your housecoat? I don’t want to see your tiny milk muscles and cleavage,” I gestured my head toward Sheena’s breasts.

My sister immediately pushed me back onto my bed with a flustered huff. “Shut up, Shawn! My amazing Double D cups are not small, you bastard. They are huge, and they have such a hyperbolic feel to them as well. They’re so soft, yet resilient, so respect my tatas, you asshat!” she spat venomously.

Sheena folded her arms underneath her chest, which was covered by her black and red nightgown. It fit loosely on her hourglass shaped, five foot seven inched frame. I figured my little, inaccurate statement would have irked the hell out of her, and I loved it. My joshing was erroneous because every woman on my mother’s side of the family had big boobs for some odd reason, but nevertheless it was fun picking on my sister. It didn’t matter whether my insults were true or not. I just loved seeing Sheena’s facial reactions afterwards; they were always funny as hell.

I sat back up with a huge beam on my face and released a small chuckle. “Sheena, your boobs are huge. I was only playing with you. You’re blossoming into a beautiful, voluptuous young woman. You’re our mother’s daughter after all, and the fruit hasn’t fallen far from the tree. I mean look at our mother’s and Aunt Nagome’s milk muscles. They’re enormous.” I held my hands in front of my chest. I created a large downwards gap between my chest and hands, gesturing the size of E cup breasts. Sheena giggled and smiled gleefully showing off her beautiful white teeth.

“I guess,” she said softly while shaking her head from side-to-side.

“But, honestly, did you have to tell me how soft they were? I don’t want to hear that nonsense, woman. What do you do? Do you just stand in the bathroom mirror butt naked while fondling yourself like a weirdo?” I asked accusingly.

Sheena frowned. “I see what you’re trying to do, and I won’t let you outwit me. I commend you for your futile efforts, baby brother, but payback is going to be something special. Just you wait,” she promised with a scheming smile as she rubbed her hands together briefly.

I sighed in defeat and shook my head from side-to-side at my sister’s devious behavior. “If you say so, and since you saw straight through that one, I’ll just get you next time,” I promised with a confident smile.

“Mhmm. Sure you will,” Sheena said with a wink and a small giggle.

I chuckled slightly at my sister’s response and then parted my lips to speak. “Anyways, I’m really glad that today is the first day of our summer vacation, but I wish that I could have an ultimate vacation away from this God-awful castle,” I said resignedly. I already knew that my wish was about to come true. However, I was too scared to tell Sheena about my little getaway plan. It was way too soon to let her know about it. I wanted to tell her about my upcoming departure when we prepared for our sparring match. As stupid as that sounds, I already knew that when my sister finally found out about my plans she would try extra hard to kick my ass. The thought of Sheena going all out made me excited. I wanted the princess at her absolute best because I knew that it would hurt her twice as bad if I pulled off an incredible upset victory.

“The castle is not that bad,” she briefly responded as she sat down next to me. Sheena then looked around my room. She stared at my black, 70 inched, flat screen television. My T.V. sat between my two black entertainment center towers. There were multiple entertainment systems and multiple box disc cases that decorated each of the six shelves. I even had two personal black and red gaming chairs along with a black couch. The couch was for watching movies and chilling with a cute girl. They were all in front of the T.V. My gaming chairs completed my perfect gaming setup. Sheena then looked at my black, marble, six drawer dresser, my massive walk-in closet, and my black, single drawered nightstand, which included a black-on-black lamp. She finally turned and looked in the directions of my personal en suite bathroom and my red painted walls.

I figured out the reason why Sheena looked around my room. She was going to give me a speech about how lucky I was to have all of these materials in my private suite. I could feel the lecture coming, and my annoyance was going to surface because of it.

“This room is bigger than most people’s houses,” she said while turning around and crawling across my bed. She laid down on the right side of my bed and looked up at the ceiling.

“This is the life,” she exhaled and smiled. “You’ve styled your room like a civilian and got it custom made the way you like it, so why complain?” she questioned.

I looked over at her and shook my head. Well, that was subtler than I thought it would be. She didn’t even try to lecture me. “If you say so. I guess you’re right,” I smirked.

“I know I’m right.” Sheena yawned and shifted her weight to get more comfortable in my bed. I decided to lie back on my bed as well and rested my hands on the back of my head. My feet were still touching my room’s black marble floor. I closed my eyes for a bit to relax with my sister for a few minutes. During these free, silent moments, I started to think about Sheena’s position and my so-called privileged life. My sister and I were only a year apart, but she seemed so much older than me at times because of her maturity level, as inconsistent as it was at times. The people in the castle still treated her well because of her position as the first Princess of Arigon, the legitimate heiress of the throne.

My sister however was a nervous wreck in the royal court. She always was afraid to be herself around everyone at the palace because of her high position. She was beautiful, inscrutable, and even calculated. Sometimes, I couldn’t figure her out, and she acted older and more polite than necessary. She frequently was in the company of the royal inquisitors and continuously tried to impress those jackasses. I overheard a few of those bastards having a conversation about Sheena being just like our mother, although my sister wasn’t as carefree and irresponsible as our mom. That wasn’t a terrible thing though. However, Sheena and the queen were at the same end of the spectrum with relentless and irksome positivity, which must have been the reason why everyone was so worried about the young princess. They wondered if my sister would be responsible enough to handle all of the queenly responsibilities and the authority which came with the throne. Other than that, she basically fit in with all of the irritating Ibuki clan’s nobles almost effortlessly. The Ibuki clan was well-renowned for being filled with masterful elemental mages. That tribe had an innately strong bond with nature itself. While almost every member of the Dragon-folk on our planet, Dragaroth, had a connection to a specific element that corresponded with his or her clan, this family had a unique link to multiple elements, even stretching to all ten of the world’s attributes in certain special cases. Long ago the now elementally proficient tribe was filled with just a bunch of normal mages who lived their lives as devoted protectors of ancient dragon eggs, which were laid by a dragon goddess named Arigon. Over the first eight months of incubation, many enemies came to fight the Ibuki clan over the possession of the eggs. The Ibukis defeated every last one of the opposing forces until finally a neighboring tribe named the Mizuki clan came to claim the eggs. That household was one of the most feared clans on Dragaroth. Legends speak of their ferocious gazes and powerful eyes.

Back then though, this famed family was nothing more than brown skinned, barbaric warriors. They resided in the north in a place dubbed “Land of the Dragons” where most of the grand dragons and all of their children lived. The influence of the Mizukis’ visual prowess allowed them to tame all of the dragons that inhabited the area. This potent ability fueled the family’s ambition and led to multiple successful campaigns throughout Dragaroth, which allowed for continual conquest of the planet with their overwhelming power. The Mizukis clearly arrived as the most ruthless and most powerful tribe that the Ibuki clan had ever encountered.

The happenstance of the two families meeting caused a massive battle for supremacy over the power residing within the eggs. The combined might of the enslaved dragon army and the Mizukis’ visual gifts gave the barbarians the clear advantage. The Ibuki clan would have surely lost the encounter pretty readily, but with the remnants of their strength the Ibukis conjured one last defense, as they tried desperately to stop the opposing family’s combined assault. However, the protectors’ defense shattered. The invaders’ fused attack was too much for the defending tribe. Coincidentally, before the final blow struck, Arigon herself suddenly returned and swiftly decimated the eye wielding warriors’ merged visual combat Art, thus saving her eggs protectors’ lives. The display of the goddess’ devastating power easily dispatched the malevolent dragon riding army. The surviving Mizuki clan members fled for their lives. The deity then tended to her eggs. Once she made sure that her eggs were safe, Arigon looked down at the remaining Ibuki clan members. All of the men who were present on the battlefield were slaughtered leaving only the women left standing.

As thanks for being in her service, she blessed the strongest and most capable woman on the battlefield with the Mark of the Genso no Megami (Elemental Goddess), better known as the Crest of Arigon. This anointment caused Linea Satellizer Ibuki to be crowned the first queen of the nameless land. The dragon goddess also blessed the entire Ibukis family’s lineage with nobility and power. In most cases, the Ibukis’ newly acquired power would only connect to a certain baby girl born within 20 years before the death of the current ruler. The newborn would bear a duplicate Crest of Arigon. This infant was automatically recognized as the next queen and would inherit a fraction of Arigon’s power from the current queen’s crest. Once the future monarch was of age, she would undergo intense training to become a nearly unstoppable, godly, avatar-like force whose sole purpose was to become one of the twelve Zodiatic (Zodiac protectors of Dragaroth).

After one last mighty roar, Arigon gathered her eggs. She then returned to the realm of the dragon gods and never was seen again in that mortal land. After that day, the Ibuki clan has always lived in the land that Arigon used to rule. To show respect and recognition to Arigon, the family created the Great Town of Arigon (better known as the Arigon Queendom) named after the mighty dragon that they had served under all those millennia ago. Well, that era was exactly 48 queens’ lifetimes ago. The 50th bearer of the crest was born 15 years ago with that lucky soul obviously being my sister. Sheena had been preparing to become the future monarch for as long as I could remember. Her sole purpose in life was to get ready to take over the throne and end our mother’s reign as queen. This was a major problem for most of the noble Ibuki family (Well, the second branch to be exact). They hated the fact that my sister was blessed with the mark. They were vehemently opposed to this prospect because Sheena and I were both half-Mizuki and half-Ibuki. In addition, it almost seemed as if those specific Ibuki clan members refused to serve under a girl who had the mixed blood of the very clan that they once feared and fought against all those many years ago. Albeit, I always thought that ancient story about the ostensible goddess, Arigon, anointing this mystical godly power to the future queen of our nation was merely a fabrication to make the Ibuki clan look even more superior than they already did.

On the other hand, that potentially bogus anecdote would explain the duplicate Crests of Arigon that my mother and sister had branded on their respective bodies. The prehistoric story also elucidated why it absolutely sucked to be a male in that family. But, still, I doubted that everything went down how they said it did. There had to be more to that ancient tale. I was sure of it. A land where gods used to roam the world with the mortals of the past always seemed a little farfetched to me. I mean if that was the case then where are those so-called gods now?… I ended my mental monologue when I suddenly felt my sister shifting her weight on my bed. She stretched her body as she spoke to me.

“Man, this bed is so big and comfortable that I almost fell asleep,” Sheena said, and a heavy yawn protruded from her mouth.

I opened my eyes and looked up at the ceiling with a smirk. “Your bed is actually bigger and softer than mine,” I reminded her.

“That’s true and all, but still your bed is quite comfy. I could lay here all day,” she yawned again and shifted her weight once more.

“I guess,” I answered with a calm smile.

Sheena giggled for a second before responding. “Say, little brother. Can you explain the basic functions of Chi and how it works?” she asked randomly as hell out of nowhere as usual. “Well, I know you know the basics about Chi. You know how to build and fire it with no problem. That’s probably the limit of where you’re at right now, right?” she inquired keenly interested.

I frowned at my sister’s absurd questions. I swear she was getting as random as Izzo, the sensei and older brother of my friend, Madarame. He was really bad with his out of the blue, pop quiz questions. Now, my sister was following his example, and that wasn’t a good thing.

Then again, over the years, I learned that it wasn’t wise to argue with my sister’s randomness, and it was easier and less of a headache to go along with her annoying teacher-like antics. I let out a heavy sigh of annoyance before responding to the princess’ questions. “Well, of course. Every living being has a form of Chi within them. To put it simply, Chi is what gives life. In terms of the body, Chi is what differentiates a corpse from a living being. A strong life force makes us totally alive, alert, and present while a weak life force results in sluggishness and fatigue. You can increase and develop your Chi to overcome illness, to become more vibrant, and to enhance your mental capacity. Basically, with the access of Chi, we can control our minds, bodies, and souls. Further mastery of this method permits us able-bodied Dragaroth dwellers to control the seven major Chi points in our bodies allowing us to fire and use our natural energy as weapons. We can even convert the beforementioned into a few beneficial protective aura techniques as well.” I summed up what I knew about Chi.

“Very good. At least we won’t have to cover that part, so let’s move on to the more advanced form of Chi, and what is that called, my dear little brother?” she asked.

“It’s called the Chi Stream. The Chi Stream has a prominent influence in our bodies, and its first few functions is what I just covered, which is using it as a self-defensive protection mechanism, building, and firing it in a projectile form. There are seven major Chi spheres that are embedded inside of all capable lifeforms’ bodies on Dragaroth. The spheres span across a network from your forehead to your chest to your stomach to both of your hands and finally to the bases of each your feet. The Chi Stream flows around and within these spheres allowing us to access and develop powerful and unique abilities. Any more questions, Miss Mizuki?” I mocked with a silly smirk on my face.

“Very good, and shut up. I can play teacher with my little brother if I want to,” she defended. “Humph! Meanie,” Sheena scorned with a flustered huff.

“Well, yeah, when we were kids. It’s kind of weird now,” I laughed.

“Oh, shut up, and no, it’s not. For your information, I wasn’t just being random and playing mindless kids’ games this time,” she claimed.

I grinned at that along with a small chuckle. “I know. You were trying to be slick and make sure that I knew my stuff for the upcoming entry exam for the Knight’s Academy, right?” I inquired. I almost threw up in my mouth after I asked that question.

“Bingo. I didn’t think you would figure my schemes out so easily this time,” she admitted.

“Don’t worry. I won’t fail the knight’s exam. I got this,” I lied with an annoyed look on my face. Good thing that Sheena couldn’t see my distasteful expression. If she did, then she would have seen that my response was bogus because I wasn’t planning on taking that stupid test anyway. Hell, I probably would fail it on purpose in hopes of avoiding the headache of becoming Sheena’s knight.

The princess let out a breath of relief. “That’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to seeing you as my knight. It’s going to be fun and very adventurous,” she said with a giggle while shifting around in my bed with excitement.

I put my hand on my forehead as I tried to hold back my annoyance. I decided to go with the subtle approach and discharged a frustrated sigh. “Yeah, sure,” I answered bitterly.

Apparently, my sister didn’t notice my resentful tone as she continued our conversation. “So, what exactly is this brilliant idea of yours?” she asked.

A puzzled look grew on my face as I raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about now, woman?” I answered her question with a question of my own.

“The ultimate getaway from the palace that you brought to my attention earlier. What are your plans? What do you want to do?” she clarified.

I couldn’t tell Sheena about my getaway plans at the moment, so I made something up. “I don’t know. I just wish I could get away and like go on a vacation somewhere for a few weeks with you, Taraj, Jason, Mari, Wari, Unique, Kommon, and some of our friends I guess,” I told her.

“And your little girlfriend, Ashina Madarame,” Sheena teased.

I turned over and looked at the princess with an irritated expression. My sister was looking back at me with a wide smile plastered on her face. I frowned at the sight of my sister’s mug and took a deep breath to calm myself down just before I responded to Sheena’s aggravating ass. “You know darn well that I don’t like that tomboy, Madarame girl,” I said through clenched teeth.

“Hmm…Sure you don’t. I don’t know why though. She is a little cutie. Plus, you guys are always with each other,” Sheena pestered and displayed a sly smile. “Oh, shut up! She just follows me and you around along with Ashira (well, when Ashira is actually here that is). That girl spends more time in Lumière venturing off to the unknown with Uncle Atreus nowadays. Hell, come to think of it, when Ashira is actually here in Kohryu, she spends more time training in the woods with her gramps and pestering Mari every chance she gets way more than being around us and her older sister. I guess times have changed. Hmm, but anyways, speaking of Ashira, she is a little cutie. I may holla at her one day,” I replied and smiled.

“Oh, please. You’re not about that life, Shawn. You’re too afraid to talk to her,” Sheena teased. “Whatever you say. If I can talk to Christian-sensei, then I can easily talk to Ashira,” I countered.

Sheena frowned. “Please, don’t mention Spaniel’s Ears’ name,” she flatly stated. The princess sat up abruptly and then stood up.

“Why not?” I asked following Sheena’s lead. The bed was in between us as we faced each other.

“Just don’t. You’re always going on about her. It’s getting annoying,” she said. “Sheena, listen…” I started.

Sheena crinkled her forehead as her nose nostrils flared up. She was anticipating what I wanted to talk about. Her stance displayed aggravation. It was almost as if she knew that I was about to say something that she didn’t want to hear, so I decided to leave it alone. “Never mind,” I sighed and shook my head in defeat. “Anyways, let’s hurry up and get washed up. I’m about to tell the servants to start on our breakfasts. Also, do you want me to call some male servants up here?” Sheena asked while not giving me a chance to answer as she went on. “They can help you with your bathing. It has to be the male servants because I can’t call your personal maids, Tarica and Eleanor, to handle this task obviously. They’re teenage girls, so that scenario is most definitely out of the question.” She dismissed that thought with a stern expression. I shook my head and grunted in utter disappointment as my sister continued. “I also bet your pajamas smell badly since you didn’t take a bath after last night’s training session,” she sneered. I looked down at my black beater and my black basketball shorts. I then looked back up at Sheena and frowned, as I finally responded to her suggestion. “No, I’m good. I can handle my own bath—” I paused as I remembered something major. “Wait. Who put my pajamas on when I was unconscious?” I nervously asked.

“Lym and I did of course. We tried to be as discreet as possible. If Mom found out that I went too far in one of our sparring matches again, then I would get grounded for the entire summer, so please keep our little bout a secret between us,” she begged, put her hands together, and bowed her head. Sheena’s response sent color to the tips of my ears and down my neck. My face quickly became as red as an apple. I was embarrassed and furious at the same time.

“What?! You two did what? What did y’all see?” I shouted as panic overtook my tone.

Sheena lifted her head and looked at me. She lowered her arms as amusement took over her features. “We didn’t take your underwear off or anything like that, so calm down,” she giggled.

“How can I be calm when I just found out that my sister and her female knight undressed me when I was unconscious?!” I shouted.

“I don’t see what the big deal is. We used to take baths together all the time when we were kids, not to mention that Lym had seen you naked back then as well,” Sheena reminded me while trying to hold in her laughter.

“The key word is ‘kid’. I was like four years old when we last bathed together. Now, I’m a 14 year-old young man. That was ten got damn years ago!” I shouted while Sheena began laughing hysterically as she backed up towards the black, wooden medieval inspired door of my room. “I’m not going to tell on your passive aggressive, infuriating, selfish ass, but in our match I’m going to smack your royal ass with my Dragon Palm technique so hard. Then, it’ll be bruised for the rest of the summer!” I threatened with a stern expression.

“Yeah, as if I’ll allow you to hit my rear end with that absurd, degrading technique of yours…Anyways, as long as you don’t tell mom about what happened in our battle, then we’re good. Lym and I couldn’t just leave you in your dirty clothes, so you could be a little bit more considerate. You should be happy that we didn’t wash you up in your sleep. That would have been hilarious and gross at the same time,” she laughed loudly.

I growled at my sister. “Sheena!” I shouted through bared teeth.

The princess quickly grabbed the golden doorknob and opened my room door. “After our little rematch, I will train the hell out of you. I want to personally make sure that you become my ideal knight. Catch you later, little brother. Love ya,” she laughed once more as she walked out the door and closed it behind her.

“Ugh!” I groused. As I laid back down on my bed, I was really irritated and traumatized by the fact that Sheena and Lym didn’t even respect my privacy. My sister did the kind, yet disturbing act of changing my clothes while I was unconscious to save her own ass. That was really crazy, selfish, and rude of her. The thing that really caught me off guard was how Sheena was acting when I mentioned Christian-sensei’s name. I never understood why she hated my teacher so much. I knew that my sister was going to be extremely mad once I broke the impending news to her. She didn’t know that I was leaving the castle to go over to my sensei’s house later on that day. I figured that two whole months of an intense training boot camp was my only chance to get away from this godforsaken castle, especially after the nonsense Sheena spewed out her mouth about me becoming her ideal knight.

That dreadful fate was thrown upon me because of the result of that so-called battle all those millennia ago. Since all of the Ibuki men who were stationed to protect Arigon’s eggs perished in that purported ancient battle against the Mizuki clan, the remaining men of the tribe who were posted back at the Ibukis’ village lost their opportunities and the rights to receive the Crest of Arigon. Because of that misfortune, they couldn’t ever ascend to the throne as kings. That decision was totally unfair and asinine. Being punished because of the failures and the stupidities of our ancestors was a load of B.S. If only those other jackasses who were stationary in the village (doing only Goddess knows what) had actually helped out in that got damned hypothetically ostensible ancient battle, then maybe we men of today wouldn’t be stuck in this unfair jurisdictional system and with the absurd traditions that had been forced upon us.

The only meaningful purpose left in the Ibuki men’s lives was nothing more than existing as shields and livestock. Marrying, protecting, and impregnating the Ibuki women in hopes that the wives would bear at least one baby girl who could possibly take the throne in the future. I didn’t want to become a knight and get stuck in this castle for the rest of my life. I most definitely didn’t want to be forced into a loveless marriage. I was already engaged in the past to a girl named Gwendolyn Noelle Ibuki. That annoying, unsolicited circumstance was the result of the bond and chain of an arranged marriage that was planned between our respective parents ever since I was in my mother’s womb (well, when everyone discovered that I was an unborn male). And, to be honest, over the years and despite the initial unwanted marriage, I actually started to care about and even started to somewhat love Gwendolyn. I think. However, due to an unfortunate series of events, in the end, our entire arranged marriage ended up being a big heartbreaking mess, and I ultimately made the rash decision to call off our engagement. Gwendolyn on the other hand didn’t humbly oblige my unpopular decision, and as a result she made an unnecessary scene by throwing a temper tantrum. She had been extremely salty and hadn’t spoken to me since then. I didn’t want to go through that massive headache and heartbreak again until I was ready and old enough to deal with it. Consequently, I wanted to be free to choose my own path in life, and that was one of the reasons why I was planning on talking to my mother about enrolling me into the Arigon Fang Military Academy.

I really desired to join the academy after my summer break to study to become one of the Fangs of Dragaroth. It always had been my dream to travel the world, to journey beyond these castle walls, and to even pass beyond the borders of my homeland, Kohryu, the Province of Earth. I wanted to see everything that this world had to offer. The Arigon Fang Military Academy was a school for mercenaries and military forces which focused on training to protect and maintain order in the Arigon Queendom and throughout our country, Sol, the Dragon Nation.

Sol was an enormous country made up of ten different elemental provinces and three minor islands. Most of us young folks renamed all ten of the elemental provinces. We called them counties for short and distinguished each by their individual elements or by the territory’s singular given name. It was easier that way and less of a got damned headache. Each county had multiple towns, villages, geographies, and cultures that I needed to experience during my lifetime. The Fangs of Dragaroth or Fangs for short were able to travel all over Sol, and they were even giving access to travel to the other eleven Zodiatic countries on Dragaroth.

The fact that I could possibly travel around the world sealed the deal for me. I couldn’t be bound to this place like Sheena. I refused to let that happen to me. Don’t get the wrong idea. I was incredibly grateful for everything that I had in this old castle. I just wanted to become my own man. To pull that off, I knew that I had to do a lot to convince everyone that I was skilled enough to become a Fang. As I mentioned before, I had a secret trump card ability that I had been sitting on a little over a month then. Maybe, that mysterious, newfound ability of mine could help me prove my skills and worth to everyone in the royal court if I somehow mastered it. In addition, my mom wasn’t like all the other royal folks. She would understand my reasons for wanting to become a Fang. Only two problems that I possibly could have run into because of my unpopular decision to become a Fang were Sheena and Madarame.

I sighed and turned over in my bed as I heard the anime-themed ringtone of my cellphone going off. I wondered who it was as I reached over to grab my black, five inched, red cased touchscreen phone. I looked at the picture of Jonnie Graves, my childhood best friend, and his name and number as they popped up on my phone screen.

I answered the phone. “Hello? What’s good, bro?”

“Nothing much. What’s up, Shawn? How are you?” Jonnie asked.

“Pretty good. I’m about to take a shower and head downstairs to get something to eat. Sheena and I are about to have our little rematch,” I told him confidently.

“Rematch?” he asked curiously.

“Yeah,” I answered and explained what happened last night to him.

“Wow, you two are still morons after all these years. I see that nothing has changed either over these last two years,” he said with a snicker.

“I know. I know, but what can I say? I will kick her ass this time,” I boasted with extreme confidence.

Jonnie sighed. “If you say so, man,” he said and added in a small chuckle.

I chuckled as well. “But I know you didn’t hit me up to hear about me and Sheena’s sibling squabbles. What’s good on your end, man?” I asked.

“Well, I just landed in Arigon not too long ago, and all my luggage is being dropped off at your aunt’s house as we speak,” he informed me.

“Huh? You’re in Arigon?” I sat up honestly surprised by Jonnie’s announcement.

“I guess you didn’t see my text from last week. I texted you informing you about my special independent training that my mother had planned for me. She got me a job at your aunt’s business, Nagome’s Café. My mom wants to see if I can take care of myself and make my own money before she sends me off to the Arigon Fang Military Academy this fall. Basically, your aunt is my new caretaker,” he explained.

I briefly looked through my text messages and saw that I had overlooked what Jonnie texted me. I literally forgot to read it because Sheena and Madarame were both bothering me at the time. “Wow. My bad, bro. I totally forgot to read your message,” I laughed nervously.

Jonnie sighed once more. “I figured as much,” he said sounding disappointed. “I bet Sheena and Ashina distracted you when you clicked on it, so to shut them up you clicked off the message and paid attention to them instead, which in turn made you forget to reply to my text message,” Jonnie quickly deduced and hit the nail on the head.

I sighed and looked down in shame. “Pretty much,” I replied thus confirming the Graves boy’s guess.

Jonnie chuckled. “I swear you haven’t changed in the least. Those two are your kryptonite. It has been that way since we were kids,” he recalled.

“True. True. It’s sad, but Sheena is my sister while Madarame is my best female friend. I guess I have a soft spot for them,” I admitted.

“Exactly, you poor, soft sucker,” he joked.

I smiled. “Oh, shut up. Those two always used to sucker you into doing things that you didn’t want to do as well,” I shot back.

“True, but sometimes unlike you I say, ‘No,’ to them,” he made a point.

“True,” I laughed in agreement.

“Not to mention that I haven’t spoken to Ashina since I beat her in that tournament two years ago,” he brought up. “I was just looking at the picture not too long ago when I was on the airship that you, Ashina, Ashira, and I took at my tournament victory ceremony,” he added.

“Yeah, I know. Madarame can really hold a grudge. It absolutely makes no sense how she is in that regard. Hopefully, you two can patch things up now, although you’re going to have your work cut out for you. You can still try I guess,” I said to try to give him a glimmer of hope.

“Yeah, that picture is my phone screen saver. It’s a classic mostly because of the look on Madarame’s face. She was ready to end your life that day,” I laughed.

“Maybe. Who knows? This is Ashina we’re talking about after all, and I know. She really wanted to murder me that day,” he agreed with a sigh.

“Yeah. Yeah. Like I said previously, you may have your work cut out for you with that girl. She’s still as mean as ever. Hell, she’s probably even meaner now. Madarame is a got damn handful,” I informed him.

“Oh, hell!” Jonnie said with a grunt of frustration. “This is truly going to be a pain in the ass,” he added.

“Indeed,” I agreed with a weak smile as I decided to change the subject. “Well, on a side note, it’s a good thing that you’re back. You can meet up with Sheena and me at the bridge to Rue Island. I want you to see Sheena and my match later on today. I will authorize everything with the guards, so they can let you through without any problems,” I informed him.

“Sounds good. I still have until 2:00 p.m. to prepare for work, so I will head to the shopping district to get a bite to eat first since you’re about to shower and eat yourself,” he said.

I looked at the time on my phone screen it was 10:19 a.m. “Alright. Sounds good. Let’s meet up around noon,” I told him.

“Okay. That’s less than two hours away. See you then,” he agreed. “This’ll give me a little bit of time to hit up the arcade,” he added with a little bit of excitement in his tone.

“Yup. Oh, and before you go, I want to talk to you about the Arigon Fang Military Academy. I’m planning on enrolling there this fall as well,” I informed him.

“What? Are you sure? I thought your family wanted you to enroll into the Knight’s Academy this fall,” he said seemingly surprised by my statement.

“They do, but I don’t want to be a knight. I know you figured that out awhile back. I don’t want to be tied to this place for the rest of my life,” I told him matter-of-factly.

“I feel you. Yeah, you told me a numerous amount of times throughout the years about how you hated the idea of becoming your sister’s knight,” he confirmed.

“Well, there you go then,” I cheered with a smile.

“But do you think your mother will allow something like that to happen? It goes without saying that you will be joining the military once you join the Arigon Fang Military Academy. To be honest, it isn’t an ideal place for a prince,” Jonnie responded and voiced his concerns.

The smile exited my face as I let out a light sigh. “I’m not sure about how I’m going to convince my mother, but I will figure it out when the time comes. I will join the Arigon Fang Military Academy in four months no matter what,” I guaranteed half-heartedly.

Jonnie discharged a sigh. “So you basically don’t have a plan,” he concluded.

I could practically hear him face palming himself. “You know how I am. I come up with stuff on the fly,” I admitted thus confirming his deduction yet again.

“If you say so. At least you have four months to come up with something. Just don’t do it at the last minute,” Jonnie warned me.

“I know. I know,” I said and shook my head from side-to-side.

“I still can’t believe that you actually want to become a Fang,” he said still in disbelief.

“I know you remember back when we were kids when we used to talk about becoming Fangs and traveling the world together,” I reminded him.

“Yeah, I remember, but that was always wishful thinking due to your position. I always thought that it wasn’t possible,” Jonnie admitted. “But whichever path you choose, you know that I’m here for you,” he added supportively.

“Thanks, man. That means a lot,” I said with a smile.

“Anytime, boy-boy,” he replied with a snicker.

I chuckled briefly at my friend’s silliness. “Oh, by the way, before I forget, I’m heading to Mariya and will be staying there for two months. I’m going to have an intense training boot camp with Christian-sensei, so after today we won’t be able to hangout until probably August,” I informed him.

“It’s fine, man. Do what you have to do. Just bring your video game system with you so we can play a few co-op games on our downtime,” he suggested.

“Alright. Sounds good, but we will talk about this later, bro. I have the entire summer to talk to you about becoming a Fang and how I’m going to pull the whole thing off,” I told him. “I also better get ready before Sheena trips,” I added.

“Alright. Catch you later,” Jonnie said.

“Yup. Yup,” I said and hung up the phone. I smiled at the thought of being reunited with my best friend after two long years away from each other. I then let out a light breath as I looked at my phone. I immediately noticed that my sensei left me a picture message. I clicked on the selfie picture to see a woman with a beautiful, olive complexion and long, wavy black hair, which had natural brown highlights. The young woman’s hair was parted in the middle and went behind her ears and fully down her back. She had sexy, full lips, which were covered by nude lipstick. She even had a skin mole that rested underneath her right eye. Her mole looked like a permanent tear drop, and it only added to her appeal. This radiant beauty was none other than my teacher, Christian-sensei, and to me this woman was the epitome of beauty. She was in Arigon smiling near a candy shop with the deuces up. Underneath the picture read: “I’m in Arigon right now. Let me know when you’re ready to leave.” I smiled at my sensei’s beautiful picture and started to text her back. “Your ancestors did an amazing job with you. I would like to thank them for allowing me to witness such beauty and strength in this realm. Peace, love, and light to you and yours,” I replied.

A few seconds later she responded. “Why thank-you. That was very nice of you to say. What are you doing?” she asked.

I texted back. “You’re welcome, and I’m preparing to go to Rue Island. Sheena and I are about to spar with each other. I think you should meet up with us. We could use your supervision,”

She replied. “Sounds like fun. When do you want me to meet up with you two?”

I texted my sensei back. “Around noon. I’m about to take a shower and get a bite to eat.”

She replied. “Okay. See you soon,”

I texted back. “Alright, beautiful,”

Christian-sensei sent me a smiley face. I returned her smiley face and laid my phone down on my bed. I stood up and walked towards my bathroom. I looked at the circular black clock mounted on my room wall. It was now 10:27 a.m. That fateful day was Friday, June 13: exactly a day after our school year had ended. My summer vacation was officially starting. It was around 11:30 p.m. when my sister and I had that little unsolicited test the night before, and then the realization of my crushing defeat finally hit me. I discovered that I was unconscious damn near 11 hours. Hell, basically close to 12 hours, especially if I added the time frame it took for me to finish my so-called training session I guess. That got damn Sheena! I couldn’t wait to have my revenge. Other than thinking about kicking my sister’s ass, my upcoming getaway from the castle and my conversation with Jonnie crossed my mind as well. I really needed a stress reliever. I just hoped that Sheena didn’t mess it up for me. With all of this on my mind, I opened my bathroom door. I casually closed the door behind me as I prepared to take a shower to get ready for my day.

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I stood before my full-body, black mirror and looked at my appearance. Staring back at me was a handsome young man who possessed identical eyes and the same skin complexion as my sister, Sheena. I had short, flowing, brown hair parted in the middle of my scalp. My brown complexion however made me standout because most people around me had lighter skin, and they often pointed out that I really didn’t fit in with the Ibuki youth’s cliques.

Most people (the second branch of the Ibuki clan to be exact) were wise enough to not directly say the problem was in fact my skin color though, but I already figured the reason behind most of their irrational shunning was my complexion (well, besides the terrible fact that I lacked the ability to use elements unlike the rest of those jackasses). But, anyways, my half-Mizuki blood was the secondary main reason why they didn’t want to be bothered with my company. It really didn’t bother me though because I liked being different from the pack. Plus, I had other family members in the royal court who had the same skin pigmentation as me, or their respective brown complexions were not too far out of the ballpark. I was just one of the eight children of the immediate royal family who were born as brown skinned members of our respective mixed clans. We all stuck out like an octet of sore thumbs, and I was okay with it. I was going to remain myself no matter what.

My height however was also a problem for most. I stood around 5-foot-5 even. Yes, I had a short stature. The taller noblemen and those tall for no reason, amazon-like Ibuki girls who were around my age often made fun of me because of my height. They called me, “Short Stack,” and other horrible short people names. However, the other girls and women around the nation who had good taste in men said that my muscular, well-built frame and my good looks made up for what I lacked in height. If it wasn’t for those remarkable and reassuring compliments, then I would have felt self-conscious about my height. Then, again, the fact that Sheena and my best friend, Madarame, my sensei, and even my ex-fiancée, Gwendolyn, were taller than me always somehow broke through my “I don’t care what you think about me,” armor and pissed me off from time-to-time.

Once I finished looking at my face and physique, I looked at my attire. I wore a pair of black jogger pants that were fitted with red strings. I matched my joggers with a red beater. A black and gold curved sword sheath was strapped on my back. The sheath’s brown strap was fastened across my chest as the black hilt of my sword peeked out from behind my right shoulder. My entire getup matched my red socks, which were almost covered completely by the corresponding black and red sneakers with red shoestrings that graced my feet. I dressed more like a civilian than a royal figure. I was often reprimanded by the royal inquisitors alongside my mother’s personal advisor solely because I didn’t fit in with the rest of the noble folk for my choice of improper attire.

Sheena and I were from two different worlds when it came to our interactions with the rest of the royal court. The royal inquisitors got on my nerves to the point that they made me want to run away from the castle when I was a kid. However, my mother always took up for me, told them to shut their traps, and let me be, which in turn allowed me to do my own thing and say, “To hell with them.” I took one last look at myself, and I made my way to my door to prepare to meet up with my sister. As soon as I was about to walk out of the door, I heard my phone ringing. I immediately let out a tired breath, and I slowly turned around and looked at my device with an annoyed expression. “Who is calling me now?” I asked no one in particular. I then lazily made my way over to my phone and looked at the screen. I saw a picture of a blue scorpion and Madarame’s name and number plastered at the bottom of it.

I sighed before I answered the phone. “What the hell do you want, Madarame?!” I asked rudely.

    “Really, Mizuki? That’s no way to greet your bestie,” she chastised me. Her voice was filled with aggravation. “Don’t make me come over there and kick your ass!” she spewed angrily.

    “Uh huh. Sure. You know I’m just messing with your hotheaded ass. Let me rephrase that for you. ‘Hey, Madarame. What’s good, my baby?’ Is that better?” I asked and chuckled.

    Madarame snickered. “I swear I’m going to punt you like a football when I see you. You play too much, Mizuki, but what are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m about to head downstairs and have breakfast with my sister,” I answered.

“Is that so? Lucky you. My sister hasn’t even been back from Lumière for a complete three months yet, and now she’s gone again. She left last night, but this time she’ll be in Kohryu at least. So, there’s that. Ashira is going to be training with my great-grandfather for an entire month in the Elder Woods, and my dad is away on another damn mission as usual,” she informed me.

 “Damn. An entire month with the old man? Poor girl. She must be really motivated to train that long in those woods,” I supposed while ignoring what Madarame said about her father.

  “Well, Ashira is my family’s star Chi Bender, so I guess they’re pulling out all the stops for her. She’s training almost as much as I do nowadays,” she explained.

  “I see. Well, workaholics do run in your family. I mean look at Uncle Atreus. He’s working the hardest,” I mentioned absentmindedly without even thinking that it would piss Madarame off.

  “If you think that basically abandoning your family is working hard, then I guess he fits the bill!” she spat. I let out a heavy sigh as my ranting friend continued. “I mean I haven’t seen the jackass for about two months now. I swear I hate the fact that he’s a Fang. He needs to resign and become a knight!” she fumed.

    I held the phone away from my ear for the entire time that Madarame yelled. Once she paused, I immediately put the phone back to my ear and quickly interrupted her next wave of pure, unadulterated rage. “New subject before you blow a fuse. How is Izzo doing?” I asked with a chuckle thus ending her usual “I miss my daddy” rant.

  Madarame let out a heavy breath to calm herself down before continuing. “He’s doing okay. He’s coming by to escort me to Arigon. I need to pick up my two reserved games today,” she divulged.

“Straight up. Which ones?” I asked.

“The first game is Mizuki Dragon Warriors Volume 1,” she answered.

I frowned. “That game title reeks of failure, and seriously that name is my last name. I smell copyright infringement. Who the hell made that game?” I asked with a trace of annoyance in my voice.

“I don’t know. I forgot the names of the developers. The only thing I remember is that they are two random glasses wearing nerds. The game is based off of an old discontinued novel that came out over nine years ago. The novel was overpriced because the two geeks published the book with a terrible publisher and couldn’t control the price of their own paperback. Because of this, the book really didn’t do well in sales. Therefore, they pulled the book from the online retailers and bookstores and turned it into a video game. Anyways, the combat looks decent, and it’s a beat ’em up. So, I said, ‘Screw it. Why not?’” she admitted.

“Wait. Why didn’t those asshats just make a reboot of the series? They could have found a better publisher or went indie with the project and changed that stupid subtitle name. Why didn’t they just do that instead of making a stupid beat ’em up?” I questioned with a raised eyebrow.

“How the hell should I know? I just wanted to play a new beat ’em up game, so stop asking me all of these got damn questions already,” Madarame replied with a bite.

“You will buy anything I see,” I laughed and shook my head from side-to-side.

“Hey. Shut up! I’m also picking up Ultra Draken Fighter 5. It’s coming out today as well, so there,” she mentioned.

“Damn. I forgot about that game. I’ve been falling off lately when it comes to video games. I guess I’ll get it one of these days,” I told her.

“Yeah. You need to get it together. You stay slacking, Mizuki, and this is why I kick your ass in so many different video games,” she boasted.

“Yeah, I know. I’ll get it together eventually, but I’ll call you back later on. I don’t want to leave Sheena waiting any longer. You know how she gets,” I said as my stomach started to growl.

  “Gotcha. Well, catch you later, Mizuki,” she said.

“Yup. Yup. See ya,” I said and hung up the phone. I tossed my phone on my bed and laughed at the fact that Madarame was getting the updated version of the very game that Jonnie beat her in at the tournament. This new edition of the game might have been the key to make them stop loathing each other or could have made Madarame stop hating Jonnie I should say. It would have been less stressful on me if both of my best friends were on the same page, so I had to figure out how to bring those two together. I put a hand on my chin and pondered about how I was going to get Madarame’s mean, stubborn ass to talk to Jonnie again. Many ideas ran through my mind as I made my way to my bedroom door to prepare for breakfast and later on my epic sparring match against my sister.

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