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Writing Challenge 2016-04-26

Theme: a kidnapping and a castle

Characters:
Akashi (Kuroko no Basuke)
Shuten (Samurai Troopers)


Shuten clutched the sword tight in his sweating palm, wondering how it had come to this.

Before him were a dozen soldiers, just waiting their captain’s order to cut him down. Behind him stood the crown prince; cold and intimidating even with death staring him in the eye.

“Come now Shuten,” Purred Makoto, his green eyes languid, “We don’t have to be enemies. I have no quarrel with you. Just step to the side and we will let you go free. ” Shuten’s hand tightened on his weapon as Makoto’s eyes sharpened on him. “Actually, I am handing you what you have always dreamed of. Once he is dead, you will be king.”

For a moment Shuten froze, it would be a lie if he said he hadn’t dreamed of it. But it had been a pale shadow compared to what he truly desired.

“Where is the king?” asked the soft voice of the prince.

Makoto’s gaze moved behind Shuten, an evil smile upon his lips. “In a hole somewhere,” he said with a casual shrug, “once the old man began begging for his life, he was of no more use to me.” He watched the prince like a snake cornering a mouse; fully intending to play with his prey before devouring it. “I expect you to be much more entertaining.”

The king was dead. The prince did not react, Shuten was surprised to feel his heart clench at the news. The man who threw him into the garbage, refused to admit he even existed, and even ordered his death, was gone.

Now he would never call him son.

“Why?” Shuten asked, feeling a little numb, “why would you offer me the crown?”

Makoto shifted his gaze back and Shuten’s skin crawled. There was something in the man’s eyes that enjoyed the pain and suffering of others. All people were just toys to be used and discarded on his whim.

Again with the off-handed shrug, as if it was of no real importance. “Why not? I don’t want it. All I want is to crush the Akashi, to destroy them utterly. What better irony than to put a whore’s bastard son on the throne.” Makoto watched Shuten, his face relaxed, but Shuten could feel the sharp blade of his stare. “Just step away from the Prince and it is yours. His personal guard has already left him, you are all that remains.”

Shuten could feel all the anger and bitterness he felt living on the streets, fighting for every scrap of food. His red hair declared, to all who saw him, the taint of his heritage. It made his struggle so much harder, no one wanted to employ the King’s bastard and risk his royal wrath. It removed any assistance he might have received and earned him enemies he didn’t deserve.

It almost led to his death. He sat in a prison cell awaiting his appointment with the heads-man for killing a man who tried to kill him. The unfairness ate at him. He found out later that there was a price on his head, from the King himself. He was to be punished for just being born.

He had given up hope, watching the sun rise on his last day. Not that his life had been much, but he still hated to part with it.

When a man stood outside his cell he didn’t even look up. “Shuten, would you choose to serve?”

“What?” he asked in confusion.

“I am Nijimura of the castle guard. I have been given the authority to remove you from here for training. Would you serve the kingdom?”

Serving the kingdom was just another way to say his life belonged to the King. To live or die as was needed at the whim of the father that hated him. A part of him thought that perhaps this was the King reaching out to him; saving his life. He was almost ashamed at how quickly he jumped at the chance. But honestly, to die with his pride or live in servitude, what choice was there really?

The next five years were spent training with the army. Until his skill earned him a position as a guard in the castle.

After two weeks at his new duties, he saw the Prince for the first time. A young man of barely fifteen, he was cold and intimidating. Their eyes met for a brief moment before he dropped his eyes properly to the floor. His presence was immense and Shuten felt like the younger, instead of six years his senior.

It was a couple months later that the small flame of hope in Shuten’s heart was finally extinguished. Standing guard outside the side door of the Kings private rooms, he was privy to a conversation he had no business listening to. Someone had left the door ajar, but Shuten did not move, keeping still as his training demanded.

“Seijuro,” the King said, anger clearly ringing through the open door. “I will not have it. He is to be removed immediately. Return him to the prison and finish what I ordered over five years ago.”

The response came quickly.

“No.”

The word was spoken with quiet calm, ringing with steel. Shuten could not see what passed, but the King did not respond.

Shuten stared straight ahead, letting the knowledge of how much he was hated sink into his heart.

The door swung open, but Shuten didn’t react.

“Shuten,” vaguely he turned to the commanding voice. The prince’s red eyes drilled into him. “Come.”

That day he entered the prince’s personal guard.

They were not close. No private conversations, no bonding moments, but a position of extreme trust. His frightening half brother saved his life and then placed his own in Shuten’s hands.

Makoto now offered him the entire kingdom and all he had to do was lower his sword. He would be a liar if he said he didn’t consider it. But the moment passed quickly, between one breath and another. Sacrifice the only person to ever care for him, so he could rule a people who despised him.

He didn’t speak, only lifted his sword more firmly before him.

Makoto laughed, “Disgusting.” His eyes were dark and soulless, “another Akashi to break, the more the merrier.” He waved to his men, “don’t kill them.”

Shuten watched the men laugh and move forward. He felt a brush of warmth at his side.

“Enough,” the prince spoke from beside Shuten; his eyes fixed on Makoto. The man attempted to move away, but stumbled and fell to his knees.

A shiny blade lay against Makoto’s throat, held firmly by a pale hand. The men froze in shock, the man wielding the dagger having appeared out of nowhere.

“Thank you, Tetsuya,” the prince said, he turned his gaze to the remaining attackers, “lay down your weapons.”

As the swords touched the ground the room filled with more guards and soon the danger was past. The room emptied and only the two of them remained.

“Shuten,” the prince said, “my first act as king is going to be naming you my heir.”

Shuten blinked in shock.

“From this day forward you are Akashi Shuten. Father was wrong, but I will correct what he has done.” The red eyes were softer then he could ever remember seeing them. “Come, there is much to be done, Brother.”

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