The following day from the sour adoption announcement from Sonmyō Tsuchiyo, Yama wakes up feeling slightly better than before. There is no one to greet him when he wakes up--so he sees this as an opportune moment for some self-reflection. Everything that has transpired recently slowly begins to hit him, these extreme and emotionally-charged events that have ensued over the course of less than a week. He begins to think about what he left behind in the Land of Sword(刃の地/Kannoji). Flashbacks of the minute good times spent together with his friend's race through his head, just as quickly as they disappear, he recalls all the bad times under Mother. The severe physical, mental, verbal, and emotional abuse was too much for any one child to endure. Flashes of the beatings, hungry nights, and days spent outside shout into the foreground of his mind. He begins to remember why he decided to leave in the first place--in order to get away from the minuscule life he held under tyranny. True freedom and power are what he sought, the ability to make the place a world where no one would endure the pains as he.
Making his way to the window, he bites his lip.
[Holding his head down and his hand grasping his bottom lip and chin he remembers all of the dangers that actually exist in the world. His reality began to set in on him, despite essentially fending for himself his entire life. Yama had never truly been apart from his friends for any extended period of time; stemming from his severe abandonment issues, Yama always stayed with them. When he thinks about the hazards Kidan and Naname may have encountered on their journey he falls into a manic-depressive state.]
“T-the Demons… the Beasts, the Spirits…”
He sighs sorrowfully.
“There are so many things that could have happened by now..”
“They shouldn’t be alone… there are too many things that put their lives in jeopardy!!”
Continuing his self-dialogue, he snaps himself out of his frenzy.
"Yama takes a deep inhale.
He exhales and closes his eyes.
[In an attempt to feel the flow of Chi(気) swirling throughout the world, hoping to find an inkling of Kidan and Naname’s spiritual trail. Yama breathes in deeply and begins to focus. In the darkness of his shut-eyes, he can feel a quick zooming sensation. Being an amateur at Chi(気) sensory techniques he is not actually able to perceive them; as they are on completely opposite sides of the continent. However as he is doing this, he can feel assurance in his heart. A feeling that comforts him, letting him know that Kidan and Naname are at the very least, alive.]
Yama turns around to face the door and raises both of his hands in high spirits.
“I can do this.”
“We can do this...”
“All I have to do is acquire power and follow my ambition, how hard can it be-”
The door flings open and Aori enters the room.
“Yama! Good morning!!”
Yama looks to her confused. As she is oddly cheery.
“We move in today huh?”
“Yes! That’s why I'm so excited!”
“Don’t you see Yama? This is what we have been waiting for.”
“This! Is what we wanted.”
Yama looks at her in slight agreeance but given the situation, he cannot admit it.
“Yea.. yea… he still doesn’t have a free pass yet.”
“Let’s see what the house looks like first.” He finishes with a chuckle.
“Haha, let's go!”
Yama gathers what little things he had in the room and tidy's the bed before he leaves. They run out of the room and into the hallway. Making it a few rooms down the hall before they are quickly stopped by the Medi, Re.
“No running in the halls kids." She says sternly but with a sweet tone.
"You could hurt yourself or others.”
Ignoring her warm command, they continue to run outside of the hospital and into the streets of the Western Village(Seibuto/西部里). Yama interrupts.
“Do you even know where you’re going?”
“Of course, we went to the mansion earlier remember?"
"But we also went when you were sleeping.” She says with her tongue out.
“I see.” Yama says plainly.
[As they run down the street Yama notices the flags and decorations around the town. To his left and right all he can see are restaurants, stores, weapon shops, armories, anything a powerful land would have. The town was bustling and there were many people on the clean iron-stained streets. Horses, cows, and other animals are scattered throughout the crowd, pulling carts of goods. The slight smell of feces in the air is overpowered by the fresh scent of mountain and pine. “The air is much fresher here.” Yama says to himself. They pick up the pace and as they arrive at about the halfway point they come across an intersection. Unbeknownst to Yama the Western Village is subdivided into smaller communities and territories.
[There are 5 subdivisions within the Western Village: “Miki” The area they have just left where a portion of shops are located and most educational/health/communal related activities. “Bujo” The area furthest in the mountains where those who decide to live more traditional stay. “Kuun” The poorest part of the village (essentially the slums) in which outcasts, fugitives, and those useless to the village reside. “Shon” The marketplace of the village and the closest to Miki This is where most trade takes place whether it be domestic or trans-continental. Lastly, there is “Iwa” the main hub of the village where most of everyone lives, and at the center lies the Sonmyō mansion. The village is like a spiders web encased in a cracked egg. There is every bit of life in between each of the districts.]
“What’s with these signs?”
“Hmm, well I just learned about it too but.. basically.”
“The village is divided into 5 parts, Miki, Bujo, Kuun, Shon, and Iwa.”
“We are going to Iwa where most people and the Sonmyō stay.”
“I’ll tell you about the other places later.”
Satisfied Yama replies.
“Ah, so that’s where we were…”
[They take the road towards Iwa and Yama begins to notice more houses than land and shops. In the background, he notices the towering mountains. As they head towards the mansion they start slowly moving upwards due to inclination in the road they’re headed down. As Yama gets higher he looks around and notices mountains surrounding him on all sides, glimpsing the sun. He is amazed at the stunning beauty, the calming feeling that the lush green trees invoke in his spirit. He feels at peace.]
[Looking behind him he can see the village expanding further and further.]
“It’s so big” He shouts at Aori as they run.
“It’s wonderful isn’t it!” Aori happily replies.
[The expanse of the Western Village is very large, there’s a verifiable reason as to why it is divided. Since leaving in the early afternoon from the infirmary, as they make their way towards Iwa, the sun beings to set gradually. Nearing the mansion the sunset can be seen below the hill that they are running on.]
They stop and stare.
[Aori lifts her arms to the sky in complete joy. As she does this, Yama looks to her, content at her happiness. He looks her up and down. Towards her feet, he can notice little sprouts and roots rising up through the ground. He keeps it to himself, noticing the growth in Aori’s power.]
“Let’s hurry up.” Yama says with a smiling. Aori nods in agreeance, and they continue off.
[Reaching the peak of the hill they notice all of the homes of the villagers, and looking forward ahead they can see another hill.]
“It’s just atop that hill, we’re almost there!” Yama groans in exhaustion.
“This place is too big.. No moree.”
Aori replies sternly, “Don’t be lazy... think of it as training.”
Yama rolls his eyes, “Mhmm... training.” and thinks of an idea.
“If you want this to be training… how about we race?” He smirks.
Aori looks to him intrigued.
“Race, you say?” “Hmm..”
“Are you sure you’re ready, you still have never been as fast as me.”
Yama shrugs the comment off, “Please.”
“I’ll show you just how fast the wind blows.”
Aori laughs smugly.
“Not as swiftly and as graceful as the leaves fall.”
Yama smirks. “Bet, let’s get started then.”
Yama and Aori take positions of speedy beasts on all fours.
“Ready?” Aori says.
She pauses for a moment, as there is a slight, intense, vibration felt through the air.
They dash off at incredible speeds.
Taking long strides Yama steals the immediate lead. However, Aori is soon neck-to-neck with him as she performs short-burst dashes. They gain onlookers from the crowd and are cheered on.
“Go! Go! Go!!” Aori hears.
“Damn, those kids are quick!” Rings in Yama’s ears.
[Aori swiftly gains the lead and is about 3 strides ahead of Yama. In order to cut this distance, Yama decides to take to the rooftops. He extends his legs and pushes hard with each leg as he jumps on the rooftops and continues with the added velocity. Aori sees him gaining speed up from above so she takes to the rooftops on the opposite side.]
[They look to each other from across the rooftops and get revved up. Aori dashes harder with some of the tiles on the roof crack bit by bit; although no sound of feet can actually be discerned from either of the two. The broken tiles, however, can be heard. Feeling his defeat near, Yama pushes vehemently, slightly dislodging the tiles.]
[The Sonmyō Mansion is within sight, just a few more strides until the finish line. The houses clear off as they get closer to the outskirts of the mansion. Yama and Aori jump off the roof and continue their fightful sprint to the finish line. At this point, the children have reached speeds of around 36 miles per hour. Aori lets out her battle cry and Ryukyuko can hear it from within the mansion. The finish line approaches, Yama and Aori are 6 seconds away from deciding the winner. They push towards the end with all their might,]
6..... 5.... 4... 3..
[Yama and Aori realize a couple of seconds before they reach the end that they are moving too fast to stop themselves safely. They close their eyes and prepare to crash into each other and the gates just as they are abruptly stopped with a soft clasp to their hands; Yama's left. and Aori’s right.]
“What are you guys doing?” Ryukyuko plainly asks.
They land on their ass and groan.
“Owww!” they shout synonymously.
“Why did you interrupt our race Ko-kun” Yama says whiningly.
“A race? Haha, I just heard Aori screaming.”
“You know you’ll never be faster than light right? Hahaha.” He goes on laughing.
They both look to him sternly.
“You’re nothing.” Aori hatefully says in a playful tone as they all burst out in laughter.
“Glad you guys are finally here though.”
“It took you long enough.” Ryukyuko says.
“Do you know how big this place is?” Yama replies.
“I’m surprised we even made it.”
“It doesn’t matter, we are here now.”
“Where is Ka-chan?” Aori states.
“She’s inside. Eating, of course.”
“The Sonmyō wanted to see you first though.”
“Fine.” Yama says.
[The children make their way inside the massive estate once again. The first time having viewed it from the front at this angle. From the outside, the building is surrounded by lush, dark and light green trees and shrubbery. Birds, exotic insects, and small critters can be heard living in harmony in the vastness of the front yard. The estate itself looked 5 stories high from the outside, lined in gold and topaz. Finest cut marble and stone, it was a marvelous sight and one Yama had never seen before. Several windows and columns surround the house. At the very top, the symbol of the Western Village stood in its vibrant glory. They make their way inside and to Yama's fuzzy remembrance he notices the well-lit rooms and hallways. The house is filled with drapery and decorations. They are greeted by one of the other maids who introduces herself as “Ru.” She leads them to the Sonmyō’s office.]
“Go ahead.” Ru states as she bows.
The children enter the room and are warmly greeted by Sonmyō Tsuchiyo.
“Welcome home!” He says with a smile.
Aori smiles but Ryukyuko and Yama remain stone-faced.
“You have been gone quite a while.”
“Are you all healed up now? Let me see.”
Itama calls Yama closer towards his seat behind his desk and examines his arm. Yama feels irritated.
“It’s fine. Thanks.” He pulls his arm away.
“Well, that’s good then.” Itama states.
“Because tomorrow you will be starting all kinds of training at the Academy.”
“Physicality is a big part of it, you need to be in top shape!”
Yama smirkingly laughs.
“Heh, maybe you should have considered that before breaking it in the first place.”
Itama looks to him and says nothing.
“Well, I’m glad you are here.”
“Go get something to eat and I’ll have Ruri show you to your rooms.”
They all bow, ending the conversation.
“Thank you Great Sonmyō” Aori states.
“Thank you.” Yama and Ryukyuko say in unison.
Itama nods his head in acknowledgment. The children walk out of the room and are quickly greeted by Ruri. “Hey, Ruri!” Yama says excitedly. “Glad you see you’re much better!” Ruri says with a smile, as she leads them to their rooms.
“As promised you all will receive your own rooms.” Ruri says.
[They approach Yama’s room first which is a few halls down from the office. He opens the door and sees a large amount of space in the room. A large bed lays next to the window covered in blankets and soft pillows. Next to it sits a soft carpet at the base of the bed and a dresser on the side of it.]
“This is great!” Yama shouts with a smile. “I love it!”
[Ryukyuko and Aori cheer him on with a hug. Since none of them ever had their own space to grow. This is a monumental moment in their lives. Small tears drop from each of their faces.]
Ruri is touched as she hugs the kids warmly, “There, there.”
They sit in the huddle of emotion for a bit before continuing to the dining room. There they meet Ryukyuka in the middle of a feast. Several hot dishes are present at the table.
“Hey, guys!” Ryukyuka says with food in her mouth.
“W-what took you guys so long.” She says while swallowing.
Yama immediately bursts out laughing.
“Hahaha, I should’ve expected this.”
“What’s so funny.” Ryukyuka says with her mouth full.
“Don’t speak while you eat.” Ryukyuko interjects.
[Ryukyuka ignores them and continues to eat her food, at the table, there are plates full of meat and fruits with salad and rice. Everything looks incredibly appetizing, and they all quickly sit down to enjoy the food. It’s been a couple of days since Yama has eaten good food, he enters a moment of bliss. They all eat quietly for a bit before Ryukyuko breaks the silence.]
“I don’t want to go to the damn Academy tomorrow.”
“Why can’t we just train in bed.”
“You’re so lazy, haha.”
“I’m pretty excited for it.” Aori jumps in.
“We’ll finally get actual training and education.”
“I suppose.” Yama agrees.
“I just hope it’s not a lot of work.”
“And you call Ko-kun lazy haha.”
They all laugh at the joke and feel entirely at peace in this moment.
“What time will we be up?” Yama asks.
“We’ll be sleeping by ourselves..”
“I might need help waking up.”
“It’s time you start waking up yourself Yama.”
“New life, new changes.”
“Nooo.” He whines.
“I really won’t wake up; I need help!” He grabs Aori’s clothes.
She removes him.
“No. You need to do it. I won’t be able to wake you up in the future in case of an attack.”
“You have to learn now.”
“Don’t be so extra about it, you always think of the worst-case scenario...”
“Fine. I’ll wake up by myself.”
Ryukyuko and Ryukyuka laugh.
“It’s not funny.” Yama replies.
[The children continue to eat before finishing their food in a few minutes. After eating, they all show each other love, say goodnight and make their way to their rooms. As soon as Aori gets in, she quickly realizes that she hasn’t taken a bath. When she opens her door to go to the washroom, she is surprised to see everyone outside of their rooms as well.]
“I need a bath.” Aori says plainly.
“Me too.” The rest of them say in unison.
[Ruri the housemaid hears the disturbance and asks the children what’s wrong. They inform her that they haven’t showered and she immediately guides them to the washroom. Ruri brings them a towel as well as a change of clothes. The children bathe together as they always have, in the steaming hot water. Feeling relaxed by the open-air washroom, the children are able to let loose. While relaxing with her eyes closed, Aori opens them and looks at Yama. Analyzing his body with no innate intention, she quickly notices the small pitch-black dot near his heart. Having seen Yama shirtless countless times before she feels as if she would notice such a blemish. However, she pays it no mind and continues to relax with her eyes closed.]
“I wonder what Nana-chan is up to right now, I hope she’s okay.” Ryukyuka abruptly says.
Calmly and with assurance, Yama replies.
“I’m sure she’s living just as good as we are.”
“If anyone would find a way to avoid living the way we used to it’s her.”
“She’s fine, I know she is.” He says with a sparkle in his eyes.
“Mhm!” Ryukyuka nods with a smile on her face.
[“She’s fine...” Yama finishes to himself.]