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1Brave New World [Solo|Plot] Empty Brave New World [Solo|Plot] on Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:31 pm



The three armored figures marched silently in perfect lock step behind their charge, faces hidden beneath heavy steel helmets. Flakes of snow frosted their pauldrons as the long road they walked was bathed in sunlight, the sun rising above a distant mountain peak before being swallowed by clouds. Tezuka shivered, pulling his cloak tighter around himself as far as his restrained hands could reach. A sharp tug on the chain they were wrapped in forced his hands back to his sides, the ebon-haired boy turning around and fixing a steely bright-green glare in the samurais' direction.

"Eyes ahead," said the tall man in the middle as he inched his katana out of its sheath, flashing light off its smooth steel edge. His two companions followed suit as the entire party stopped for the altercation. Three long blades remained halfway sheathed, their wielders prepared to cut their charge down with an iaido. But the crimson-cloaked boy was cowed by their threats; with a scoff Tezuka stomped away down the road, his captors watching carefully for a moment before sheathing their blades and following after.

This was not the birthday gift he had expected to receive, chains and guards and exile. The child of nobility deserved his place amongst the army of Tetsu no Kuni. Or so he had thought. Instead of the acceptance he pined for his entire life, the approval of his peers he hated but so desperately needed, exile. Roused from his bedroll before the sunrise Tezuka was ready to pledge himself to the Taishō, don his armor and become a true samurai. Now, less than an hour later, he was carrying his only possessions on his back into the Elemental Nations.

Iwagakure. The Land of Earth. As the nation that bordered Iron Country, Tezuka recalled what little he knew about the ninja village. Supposedly nestled deep in the mountains, its leader was called the Tsuchikage, and its shinobi wore boulders etched into their headbands. It was not a lot of information on the country he would be stuck in for a while. Despite the rage and hate stewing in his heart, heating his blood to uncomfortable levels, he couldn't show it. Not to these samurai, rude as they are; they were simply following orders.

Hotaka's armor was as proud and eye-catching as it's wearer was, the Kamakura heir wearing the crimson cloth between steel plates that Tezuka envied. No one else in the clan's forces stood above him but his firstborn brother, and even then only by an inch despite the decade-long age difference. Behind that emotionless, perfectly disciplined demeanor the man was bursting with satisfaction at Tezuka's departure. Already planning to remove any trace that Tezuka had been here at all. Another spike in temperature pulsed through the young man's blood at the thought; had it just been the two of them there, this road would be painted with their blood. Their father was shrewd enough to send an entire team as an escort.

The other two were much shorter than either of them, one clad in such thick steel armor it almost disguised her thin limbs and slim build, but who they were wasn something Tezuka could only guess at.  Nameless figures wearing armor decorated with the floral patterns of the Kamakura clan he was once part of.

The group traveled down the lonely mountain pass in silence, no words shared between the stoic samurai and their charge. The road they walked was a relic of an ancient fued between the samurai of Tetsu and shinobi of Tsuchi, once a trail into the deep wilderness beyond Iwa used to move troops. Now it was little use for more than a shortcut into the Elemental Countries for those being discrete.

Ahead stood a crumbling stone arch between the narrowing mountainside, the border of Tsuchi no Kuni. A land Tezuka had determined to visit at least once in his life, though adorned in the armor of those walking behind him. Beyond he could only see the path forking into the distant craggy mountains and the sun peeking between distant storm clouds.

The samurai came to a halt just before crossing beneath the arch, the chain held by Hotaka pulling his half-brother to a stop with them. A moment passed as Tezuka held his arms out for the woman to unlock his restraints and the tallest men shared a long stare.

"Tezuka," the noble-born samurai began as he fished an ornate brown envelope from his pockets and held it out to the mentioned teen. Said teen wrenched the envelope from his brother's fingers and inspected it. Dried purple wax was pressed with the Kamakura's clan seal: a letter from their father. He couldn't even think of the man yet, the letter swiftly tucked into his own pocket as his brother continued. "You are hereby stripped of your status among the Kamakura clan and forbidden from entering the lands of Tetsu no Kuni from this day forward. Failure to heed this ruling will end in your death, from execution or otherwise." Hotaka was silent in what Tezuka knew was satisfaction. "Do you understand these terms you must abide by?", he finished forcefully.

"You're wrong if you think this is the end," Tezuka growled at the armored man as he crossed his arms. Hotaka merely lifted his head at the comment, harsh brown eyes peering out at the teen from his helmet. "For your sake, it had better be" the samurai spat back and turned on his heel without a look.

On each side of where Hotaka had stood were the two shorter samurai, hands rested on their katanas as they shared a look missed by the angry teen before regarding him. Tezuka's eyes burned into his brother's back as it moved further and further away. A clearing of someone's throat broke the boy from his glare and shifted it to the remaining male samurai. The armored figure nodded cordially, surprising the tall teen before it was quickly returned, and turned to follow after the team's commander. Tezuka turned to the woman remaining, giving her an expecting look.

She moved her hand from the weapon it rested on to her helmet, pulling it off and freeing a long black braid that pained Tezuka to look at. Megumi held her helmet in hand as she stared up at her fiancé, deep blue eyes piercing through his bright green that clouded with tears. The boy's arms ached to snake around the woman's waist and hold her against him, but instead sat frozen at his sides. She smiled at him when he failed to think of things to say, gaping like a suffocating fish, but it was her sad smile. Not the gap-toothed grin she always had just for him.

"Come with me," he begged her, but Megumi shook her head. From afar Hotaka and the third samurai were watching impatiently but neither of the two paid them any mind. Tezuka wiped a hand across his eyes, taking long and deep breaths to calm himself down, and pulled it away when he was sure they were dry. The smile he saw now was wide and bright; Megumi took the wet hand in her armored one and squeezed reassuringly.

"You were right, this isn't the end. We'll be okay." When she pulled her hand away a smaller envelope was left in Tezuka's hands, wrapped securely with a black ribbon. Before he could say more the helmet adorned Megumi's head and dipped with a farewell, the woman turning to quickly reach the waiting samurai.

Tezuka watched them leave from beneath the stone arch, envelope still clutched in his stone-still hands. Minutes passed before the boy could tuck the package into his backpack, weighing if he should return back down the mountain path anyways. He threw out that idea; Hotaka would be all to happy to enforce the clan's ruling, and Megumi would argue to use his head.

Behind him, the sun slid out from a heavy grey cloud to warm his back before it faded behind another. Holding his backpack straps Tezuka looked towards the road he was to follow into Tsuchi no Kuni. The stones that once paved it were weathered out of shape but the other remained level, rocky on either side to signify where it had once stood. Morning was only just beginning to end and there was a long way to walk before the mountain path diverged into one of the more used main roads.

Defiance grew in Tezuka's stomach as he passed an emotionless face over this foreign land; this was not over. If they denied him a life among the samurai, he would carve one out among the shinobi. His mother's bloodline coursed potent through his veins and this was her world. He would learn all he could from these ninja and return to Tetsu no Kuni when no one could hope to face him. When he could take the life he wanted.

With his head held high and his eyes burning with determination, Tezuka began to walk down the ancient road towards Iwagakure.

WC: 1547
[Exit Thread]

Katon D > C: 1500/1500
Discarded WC: 47

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