Dicas de leitura:
Text between double quotes ("") stands for speech and thoughts of the characters.
Text in italic is used for thoughts of the characters
Text in bold is used to indicate intensity in speech.
It was a really cold night. There was not a single animal to be seen in the area, only trees and grass covered with snow. A terrible storm was breaking over the region of Ezo Island, causing even the gigantic trees to sway in the wind. The only sound that could be heard was the churning wind. In the people's eyes, the gods were furious about something. Only an old man could be spotted facing all the blizzard.
"I need to hurry!" he said.
He rushed towards a little house made of bamboo and straw. He had long white hair and his eyes resembled jade, shining with the light of the torch he held in his right hand, which illuminated that long, endless darkness. He also wore a gray kimono, along with a black hakama at his waist and a hatchet. On its handle, there was a carving of a dragon.
Around the man's neck, a scarf swayed rapidly in the wind. In his left hand, the old man held a small, bloodstained parchment.
"Almost there.." he said, adjusting the scarf around his neck.
As he got closer to the small house, he started to hear a female voice screaming desperately.
"No, please! don't do this, he's just a baby!" cried the woman.
As soon as he heard the screams, the old man dashed towards the house. Once there, he quickly opened the door and a horrible scene unfolded before his eyes. To the left, there was a woman who passed out on the floor. She had fair skin, black hair and wore plain, worn clothes. In front of him, there was a girl with white hair and green eyes, who looked like a young female version of himself. She had given birth to a baby and was lying on the wooden floor beside the fireplace in the center of the small house. The girl's face was pale, and her eyes were very tired. Finally, on the right side, there was a priest with a dagger in one hand, while on the other hand he held the baby, whose hair and skin were so white they could be mistaken for snow.
"Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle" prayed the priest, with a terrible face. "Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil..."
Quickly, the old man threw his ax at the priest, fatally striking his back and causing him to drop his blade.
"Damn you!" the priest screeched, coughing up blood.
Noticing that the priest was about to fall to the ground, the old man ran towards him and grabbed the boy for himself.
"Calm down child, it's okay." he said, stroking the boy's hair.
The boy calmed down surprisingly quickly, so the elder placed him in a hastily-made crib of straw and rope.
"Wait just a second, okay?"
Then he shouted to the priest who was dying on the ground:
"Damn it! I saved your life from those samurai, and then you try to take my grandson's life? Who are you to decide this child's fate?"
"A child? Do you really think this is a child? You're saving a demon, you idiot!"
The priest coughed up blood again and then covered his mouth. Meanwhile, the old man walked towards the pale girl.
"Daughter! Sorry... I'm late! How do you feel?"
"It's okay, my father... I feel like I don't belong in this world anymore."
She vomited more blackened blood and proceeded:
"Father, I have sinned. Now I must pay for what I have done, I must pay for my sins. So please take good care of my son. Don't let anyone hurt him. Teach him the values of honor and justice. Don't let his hands take on the crimson hue of blood."
Her father started to shed tears.
"Is this really necessary?" he cried out desperately, looking upwards. "My little girl, how could you do something like that again? Don't you love your own children?"
The priest took his bloodied hand from his mouth and blustered:
"You will have what you deserve! You will pay for your sins in Tartarus! May God have mercy on you."
"Shut up!" shouted the old man angrily.
The girl brought her left hand to her father's face, wiping the tears that were streaming from his eyes.
“Do not hate the Creator, he is not to blame for my mistakes, for the sins I committed.”
"You're right," said the old man, wiping his eyes.
The girl coughed up blood again.
"You may rest in peace, my daughter. I will take care of this boy with my own life, until the Creator also takes me out of this world." He looked at the crib "What will my grandson's name be?"
"I thought of Ishida. It means stony plantation. He will have a very strong mentality and no one will change his goals. Like a field in which no one can plant."
"Right...so it will be Sasaki Ishida. A beautiful name, my daughter. It's a very beautiful name."
"Yes..." said the girl, losing her consciousness, "goodbye, father..."
She was dead. Her father closed the girl's eyes, running his hand over her emaciated, frozen face.
"Rest in peace..."
At that moment, the midwife, who had passed out, regained consciousness and slowly opened her eyes.
"What… What happened here?" said the woman, looking at the chaos around her.
The old man took the rosary that was previously with his daughter, saying:
"Forgive me father, but I promised to take care of this baby's life."
The old man then got up and walked towards the girl, unsheathing his sword.
"Forgive me," he muttered, with a serious look in his eyes.
The midwife, noticing a strange behavior in the man, tried to move away but was unsuccessful, thanks to the wall.
"What... What are you talking about? What will you do to me, Mister Sasaki?" she said in a desperate tone.
He stood in front of the woman who begged to leave and killed her, piercing the center of her forehead. He then drew back his sword, now colored in brilliant red. After watching all of that, the priest also took his final breath.
"You… you are a… Monster."
The old man's hands were shaking. He had just taken two innocent lives.
“Am I doing the right thing?” he thought, dropping his sword.
Suddenly, the baby started laughing very sweetly. Then his grandfather walked towards him. Upon arriving at that makeshift crib, the old man got very frightened! The boy's eyes were golden and shining like the sun.
"Has it already started?! I need to hurry!"
He took the bloodstained parchment and unrolled it. In the center, there was a circumference containing the image of the waxing moon, inscribed into a pyramid.
Then, he cut the tip of his own right thumb and drew some symbols on the boy's body, using the dripping blood.
"You will not pay for your mother's sins!"
He placed the parchment on the child's abdomen and the boy began to scream, until… The lights went out! Darkness took over the house and the entire region. For a few minutes nothing could be heard, until a door opened in the middle of the murk and a very old man entered the place.
"Get up! This is not bedtime, Ishida!"
The boy jumped on the straw mat where he slept and his grandfather asked, worried:
"Calm down, what's going on?"
"it was..it was just a nightmare..i guess" said Ishida, breathing heavily.
"Well... while you were sleeping, I prepared your food. Eat and come meet me in the rice paddies."
"Right." replied Ishida
The old man left, closing the door.
"What was this?" said Ishida, looking around.
He was confused, until he smelled a delicious scent that was all over the place. When he looked to the left, he saw a fireplace in the center of the house. It had recently been put out and contained a wooden skewer with a hooked fish exhaling smoke, indicating that it was still hot.
“Was that a dream?”
Cherry trees have bloomed several times since the birth of little Ishida, who was now 13 years old. His white hair still remained, but the golden eyes were gone after his grandfather's strange ritual. They became pitch-black, like a void. They lost that glow which they once emanated.
After eating, the young man opened the door of his house to find his grandfather. As he was about to close it, a rock was thrown at high speed towards him, but he caught it just as it would hit his cheek.
"Damn it! What's wrong with you? Your reflexes envy me." A boy's voice could be heard coming from some bushes nearby.
Ishida dropped the stone and closed the door.
"Good morning to you too, Kotaro."
The boy jumped out of his hiding place and, as he landed, smeared his bare feet with dirt.
He clapped his hands on his simple brown kimono so the stuck leaves could come off.
"Good morning, Ishida!" he said while smiling, putting a hand on his fine black round hair, "hey, I heard something really bad this morning! Looks like the collectors will be returning."
"Why? We've already delivered the amount they asked for. We'll starve if we hand over what we have in the fields." Ishida questioned, worried.
"Let's ask your grandfather, Ishida! Maybe he knows something, right?"
"Yes, here we go. He said he's waiting for me in the rice paddies."
They walked towards the center of the village. Wooden houses with lamps at the ends of the roofs were established along the road. There were also some villagers talking along the way, all of them with a worried expression.
"Hey, Ishida! Today my father is going to teach me a little about sword techniques! I'm really excited!"
"Really? My grandfather doesn't want to teach me. I've asked him many times, but I've given up. I'm training alone with a small ax I found in the forest."
"Maybe he's afraid, due to the king's law, eh? About villagers having weapons."
"It could be, but I feel it's something else. My fear is that the village will be attacked and I'll be completely useless." Said Ishida
"Yeah, even though it's forbidden, I suppose he should teach you, right? At least some defense techniques."
"I'll talk with him tonight, trying to appeal to the possibility of the village getting attacked, and then I can say it's a training for self-defense, not that I want to fight or kill some bad guys." Ishida gave a light laugh.
"It's a nice plan huh!" Kotaro replied, laughing too.
After arriving in the center of the village, they saw a girl on the left picking plants in one of the houses. She was so beautiful! Her hair was long and black as night and her eyes were blue as the sky. Her skin was fair, even glowing in the sun. She wore a red kimono with golden flower details, attached to a black sash.
"Look, it's Yumi!" Kotaro pointed his finger at the girl. "You'll talk to her, won't you?"
"No, we have more important things to attend to now, I don't want to waste time."
"Okay, you're right."
Example art (illustrated by Iarlei Braga).
They turned right and carried on until they came to rice paddies, which stretched for several miles. There were many people working in the fields, all wearing rounded straw hats to protect themselves from the sun.
"I can't see Mr Kenshin," Kotaro stated, looking around with his eyes closed.
They stared at the fields for a few seconds.
"There." Said Ishida, signaling with his finger.
Kenshin was far to the right, across the rice paddies. He was talking to a strange man who carried a rounded object on his back.
"Wow! How did you recognize him from this distance?"
"What? It's totally clear."
"Your vision envies me, huh" Kotaro replied, looking at Ishida.
The two went to the right.
"It hasn't rained for two months, I think we scared the harvest spirits."
"The worst thing is that winter is coming. If it doesn't rain again, we're screwed." Ishida said "We won't have enough food to withstand the cold."
"Why do they need more rice this year?"
"Someone might have stolen some cargo or something." Ishida thought.
"Yeah, maybe that's what happened. Anyway, I think Yumi has gotten used to the people, right? It's been about… two years? Since you and your grandfather found her."
They turned left and continued on, into the rice paddies.
"She helps a lot with the work, I think she's enjoying the place." Ishida remarked
"She's been helping that lady who lives outside the village, Miss…"
"Miss Myoga?" Ishida suggested.
"That's it! It looks like she's sick." said Kotaro
"I think so, too. We'll ask her about it."
When they approached Mr Kenshin, they saw that the man he was talking to was carrying a side bag with the symbol of the Ezo kingdom stamped on it.
"...These are the orders" reported the stranger, in a serious tone.
He wore a brown kimono, along with a black cloak over his shoulders and, on his feet, geta-style sandals. His face was hidden by a tengu mask and his whole body was covered in bandages, making him a mysterious person with a dubious personality. Finally, there was something like a parasol attached to his back by a hinged pole. The equipment could also be taken for a shield.