“Okay! See you later when I get home!” he called as the clock tower rang, leaving a pair of girls waving as they headed opposite ways. Buildings blurred as he dashed farther from the village where he lived and watched as his home shrank along the sun setting horizon.
Long branches pulled at his clothes, slapped against his chest, scratching and scraping his skin as he pushed through the thick forest between his home and his mentor. For five of the many hours in a day, he went to train. One hour with the officials and then he snuck past the border to be taught by Inari. The shape-shifting kitsune god that watched over the village, who was powerful, and wise. The god’s fox servants surrounded their ruler, as the dark haired boy rested on the forest ground after another day of training. Although she was the guardian of village, Inari only permitted Minoru to learn and accompany her, as she did not have patience for those who were not strong. Inari watched as the boy’s eyes grew murky in his thoughts from her throne, displeased by her student’s lack of focus on his mentor.
“Minoru, what thoughts capture your mind so that you leave your teacher in silence?” Inari’s monotone voice demanded, “Answer my question or leave my presence at once.”
“I’m sorry,” he sighed, “I was just thinking; about things of the past, my family & Yẽsuna.”
“The daughter of a criminal, the girl with the tattoo under her eye.” Inari confirmed. After she had spoken a fox approached the goddess’s throne, she stood and turned to leave.
“You’ve spent enough time here. It is important that you return to your home immediately.” She ordered.
From outside his home he could hear Yẽsuna and his younger sister sing, words formed as he entered inside finding his friend searching the kitchen and his sister sitting at the table, reading over her music sheets.
“Wishing you were somehow here again, wishing you were somehow near…” Yẽsuna’s voice leading the song, as his smiling mother entered the room and walked over to Minoru’s sister.
“Sometimes it seemed, if I just dreamed, somehow you would be here.” Kami continued.
“I’m so proud of you Kami! You’re so smart!” she exclaimed, tightly hugging her daughter. Minoru and Yẽsuna were cleaning out leftovers at the doorway watching the doting mother, when suddenly they felt a hand on their shoulders. They turned to find Minoru’s father, who had returned from his trek, searching outside the border. Going outside the border was forbidden, but he did it to keep his daughter smiling. Kami loved anything from their world’s history; books, music sheets, paintings, etc. Leaving his gift on the table, he turned to the teens with a stern look on his face.
“It’s late! Minoru! Kami! Take Yẽsuna home. Mayu is probably waiting, worried sick!” he ordered scooting them to the door.
In the darkness of the night, the three walked together along the stretched path until they felt the ground beneath them violently shake. The buildings around them trembled as smoke filled up the air around them. A flood of people spilled onto to streets panicked; they pushed and scattered separating the trio. And as quickly as they came; the mass of people disappeared, hidden in the shadows and out of sight.
“What’s going on?” Yẽsuna asked as they regrouped. Suddenly, a group of large men with covered faces appeared from the smoke; noticed the group of teens, and charged towards them.
“It’s an attack!” Minoru shouted, “Kami! Run!” The three sprinted away from their pursuiters, each in different directions. Kami ran as fast as she could until her route was blocked by a large mound of rubble and debris. Their footsteps becoming louder and closer; she scrambled up the remains. With each step, her footing slipped on the loose pieces and she slid further from escape.