Azentaro wandered the small path. He didn't know why his parents walked so slowly. Well, it couldn't be helped anyway, they were always quiet and reserved, almost a typical father and mother; and he respected that.
The journey had been long. It was far too long in his opinion. He didn't share his father's patience. Staying at inns and sometimes the occasional shrine was okay, it wasn't anything thrilling or degrading; it was simply a place to sleep. Although, it would have been so much faster if they took another form of transportation other than their own two feet. But his father, being typical, had gone for the more frugal way.
Azentaro just didn't care for all the walking, especially because he was so much faster than his parents. He didn't stop and enjoy the scenery, rather found it boring and monotonous. He brushed a stray strand of black hair out of his face and looked down at his sandaled feet.
Lately, however, he couldn't shake the weird suspicion that something wasn't quite right with this whole situation. His father was always quiet and –to a sense- mysterious, but lately he could sense he was somehow up to something. The details of the whole trip were left out of conversations when he inquired, and all he had figured out was that they were visiting friends. The whole thing made him apprehensive.
Of course, his father left no clues for him to substantiate his suspicion, but that was almost expected. His father was just one big enigma sometimes, Azentaro thought; the man wore glasses and didn't even need them... oddness.
Azentaro shook his head idly, trying to clear his mind from wandering too much. He should be concentrating on the road...
He stopped and noticed he was in the middle of a small thicket of woods. Great. How'd he end up here? This had happened several times during their trip, but he always managed to find his way back to his parents. He couldn't have walked that far away.
He began to try and retrace his steps and find the small road again. He walked for several more minutes until something caught his attention in the distance. He heard grunts and yelling. It sounded like a girl in distress.
He went towards the noises, which seemed to be in a small clearing. He reached the outskirts and saw a girl being attacked by a wild-looking man with a pony-tail and a tattered, gray kimono cut short at the sleeves.
The girl was in red and didn't seem to be doing too well. In fact, it looked like she was losing. She backed away from the man and blocked a few blows he tried to hit her with. The man in gray did a weird cartwheel thing, and tried to kick the girl in the side.
She dodged by leaning to the side awkwardly, almost falling over. The man was quick though and started to swing his hands in to hit her face. She blocked and pushed back against his arms, but fell down into the low grass.
The man seemed to reach into his sleeve as if to maybe grab a knife.
Azentaro couldn't just let the girl be killed, so he jumped into the clearing to help her. He pulled out his bow and arrows that were attached to his back and pulled back and fired at the man's head.
Amazingly, the man seemed to sense it and leaned back almost in a perfect ninety degree angle. How that was even possible for the human backbone, let alone an old man's backbone, was beyond him.
The girl screamed loudly and fell back, her figure now hidden in the grass. The older man whipped back up and turned to the source of the arrow, pointing a very annoyed finger at him.
"Hey asshole, watch where you practice, huh?!" The man exclaimed, glaring angrily at Azentaro. The man's eyes squinted as if he recognized him, but that was impossible since he didn't even know who this crazy old man was.
"I wasn't practicing." Azentaro replied smoothly, trying not to show any emotion.
"So you were aiming at me on purpose then?" The man growled dangerously, his feral voice full of dominance and anger.
"Hmm." Azentaro answered and they stared at each other as a cool breeze blew through the field.
Both opponents faced off, waiting for the other to make a move-
"Argh!" Azentaro choked as something lunged at him from behind. He barely realized it was the girl he had been saving... and she was choking him!
"You bastard! Why were you trying to kill my father you jerk!" The girl screamed as she struggled on his back. Azentaro fell to his knees, the girl still on him, strangling him to death.
"I... ga-was trying to... save... augh!" Azentaro managed before there was a slight shift of wind and he noticed a pair of familiar, sandaled feet in front of his face.
The girl had stopped and was face to face with a seemingly very sharp samurai sword. The gleam of the flawless metal shined into her hazel eyes. She followed the long sleek line of metal to a very stern-faced, pale man.
He was older, with long black hair that had two streaks of white on either side of his face. His dark eyes were framed by delicate glasses sitting atop a slender nose.
She couldn't help but be memorized and intimidated by this man. He had a cocky placid look that just made her want to resist. She noticed as a tiny hint of a smirk twitched on the man's thin lips.
Just when she wondered where her delinquent father was to protect her against this samurai, she saw him idle up and put an elbow on the samurai's shoulder as if they were pals! What was going on?!
"You have a pretty rude son, ya know. He tried to put an arrow through my head." Her father said mockingly, pushing off his shoulder to fold his arms haughtily.
The samurai raised an eyebrow and lifted his sword away from the two and sheathed it. "That's odd."
He father scoffed. "Why's that?"
"That he missed," the samurai glared up coldly, giving a perfectly timed pause to add, "It is a rather large target."
"What was that, you stuck-up old geezer!" He narrowed his eyes and went to grab for his sword, and realized it wasn't there. He recovered quickly, however, and jabbed a finger at his chest. "You just be glad I left my sword at home today, or you would be dead."
"I highly doubt that." The samurai replied.
"Oh yeah? Don't push your luck, bastard! In a sword fight we all know I'd win!"
"Let's go to your house to retrieve it and settle this."
"Sounds good to me asshole!" They both turned and began to walk away at a brisk pace.
The two teens were left staring at the retreating figures. The girl was still perched against the boy's back, him on his knees, one of his arms rubbing his throat. It was when he noticed the warm body still on him that he began to feel strangely uncomfortable; well, that was the word he chose to describe his current, foreign emotion.
She realized it too and jumped up from him and put her hands on her hips as she stared after the fading figures. "Fathers are idiots." She huffed angrily. She looked down at the guy she had been strangling moments before. "C'mon, dummy, dinner's almost ready."
She began to walk away, her hands behind her head, trying to hide her blush. She hadn't missed the fact that he was quite handsome, almost a spitting image of the older man with the sword.
He paused a moment, still stunned. "W-wait! Who are you?"
The girl stopped and turned her head and glared at him with fierce, intense eyes that made him catch his breath. "The name's Aya. Remember that!"
He stood and straightened up, fixing his collar, his own small blush veiled by the fading light of sunset. "Azentaro. You'd do well to remember mine too."
Their eyes met and they knew that this interesting introduction was only the preface to an even greater experience they would surely share with each other in the future.