Thirdly: Stop angsting now Koishii, I love you I'm better, rest does a body good!
And Lastly started writing original stuff again, mainly for radio drama... and Saishi I think I've changed my mind on who I'd want you to play... your personality is calling out for Keiji.
Author’s Notes and Acknowledgments
This story will be told from two different points of view, one from the view point of Keiji, the other from Yuki, this is their story, I thought it best to let them tell it. I am just the medium in this instance listening to the very loud voices in my head and writing down what I’m told.
Am I mad?
Perhaps, but then again most artists I know walk to the beat of their own drummers, I happen to have a drum and bugle corp. hanging out in my brain’s rather crowded greenroom.
Lucky me, the noisy bunch of hooligans!
So, now that the subject of my alleged sanity or lack thereof has been addressed, how about some actual precursor notes…
I’ve chosen Japanese names for the main characters for two different reasons.
The first because of the way it sounds in English. Keiji sounds like “cagey” and it fits the personality of the man so named. He can be quite cagey with a dose of loose morals on the side for flavor. He’s quite the ornery one. His surname Kojiro for no other reason than I liked these two names and how they sounded together. I’ve no other hidden meanings in the name of Kojiro Keiji, other than the sound association. And as with Asian names, the surname is spoken first, and given names are only spoken if you are familiar with the person you are addressing.
So if a stranger were to address Keiji, he would address him as Kojiro-san. The “-san” is added formally, like we in the English-speaking world would add “Mr.”
A friend or a close acquaintance would address Keiji in one of a few ways, Kojiro-kun would denote a friendly acquaintance, Keiji-kun a respectful friend or just plain Keiji. There is one other suffix, that of “-chan” which can be added to a name, this is rarely done to a male, it’s a “cute” reference for lack of a better reference. Women can get away with calling men such as Keiji “Keiji-chan”, and men can call women with said suffix. You should be very close to one another to use that last example, if you’re using it seriously, the “-chan” suffix in a nutshell signifies affection for the person to whom you are speaking.
Lastly, if you’re of high-ranking status, or a highly respected person the suffix of “-sama” would be added to your surname. In Yuki’s case, where they purposefully do not add the distinguished suffix to his name, he should be referred to as “Kanashimi-sama”. As all of his Brothers and Father are called. They slight him on purpose to add further insult to him.
Which brings us to Kanashimi Shiseiji or “Yuki” as Keiji calls him. Now Yuki’s real name does mean something in Japanese, its literal meaning is Sorrowful Bastard. His Surname Kanashimi is the family name and it’s meaning in Japanese is sorrow. Shiseiji is the Japanese word for Bastard. Which is what Yuki is, the bastard son of a rich Father and servant mother.
Needless to say the name was given to him as an insult.
Yuki means snow in Japanese, and this is the name Keiji gives to him in private as a pet name of sorts. Yuki’s hair is white, he’s not albino, he just has no pigment in his hair, he was born this way and seeing as Keiji would rather bite his tongue off than to refer to Yuki as a bastard, the nickname came from this physical trait. Keiji isn’t very creative, he’s the sort to name a dog, spot if he bothered to name the animal at all.
This will become evident as the story progresses, and seeing as this tale takes place in no world we know, and the only “rules” of name use come from the Japanese culture, I thought a brief explanation was in order. While some of the names and nicknames are derived from the Japanese language, the setting is by no means Japanese, and neither are any of the characters of Japanese descent. In short, instead of inventing a new language, I’m borrowing one already in existence, because a linguist I am not and I positively adore the Japanese language.
I won’t list the definitions of the other names chosen for other KEY characters mentioned in this book, they all mean something and were chosen carefully, with the exception of Inuoe, I just made that up because I liked the sound, Inu means dog, Inuoe has nothing to do with dogs, and other than being a trustworthy and loyal person, the similarity ends there. If you’re feeling adventurous, pick up a decent Japanese dictionary and have fun seeing what the other names mean.
And there are other words besides names I will use to describe characters in this tale, and that is again, because they sound richer than the English equivalent. Let me direct you again the Author’s prerogative.
The short Dictionary of terms:
Hanyou: Half Breed, Demon and Human Mixed Child
Youkai and Humans generally do not mix, this is a pretty much a separate and certainly not equal society. Humans being weaker and less powerful, make up the bottom link in the food chain. To have human blood makes you dirty if you’re a Youkai. The only humans who get any respect are those who are strong, cunning, quick, beautiful or all of the above.
Unlike the Japanese Youkai legends, that will have Foxes and Dogs, and wolves, and anything under the sun type Youkai. The Youkai in THIS world are generally beautiful, pointed eared, and possess at lest a bare minimum of magical attributes. The more magic one possesses, the higher up the food chain you are. They are in short the equivalent of Modern Day Hollywood elves in appearance.
I ask you all to suspend disbelief, this is just a story, a modern day faerie tale, nothing more.
Why did I choose the Japanese language and culture of name usage?
I like it, and that’s the author’s prerogative and my very unhealthy obsession with said culture and even more rabid devouring of anything Anime.
I’d also like to say some thanks to some very special people in my life who share my passions, my joys, my ups and downs, and faithfully encourage me when I’m struggling with confidence issues. This is dedicated to you, and inspired by you.
First to Lorena, because she inspires me to improve myself and leaves me usually in awe of her own talent. My aspiration to be the language usage diva she is becomes the fire under my "asterisk" to improve. Next to Rowan, my dear brother… you smart-ass. You keep me laughing, and you know very well Keiji is a little bit you and a little bit me… Jami, because you can tame the peacock, you rock. Christine, because you are a fighter, and even in the face of moral majority you can blow a big fat old raspberry and still keep us laughing, and you look great in leather, bitch. May none of us be “normal” how utterly BORING.
Next to my parents, who taught me to be the individual spirit I am by example.
To all my friends I’ve met on-line through whatever medium, and those whom I’ve gone on to meet in-person and grow even closer to, I’d have to add another 400 pages to this if I listed you all here individually, but know each and every one of you make me smile, and you’re always appreciated.
And last but certainly not least… Rick. What can I possibly say? You enrich my life, you support me, and you nurture my soul. There aren’t enough words in any language to say thank you for your love and support.
I hope you all enjoy my fable…
Series Title: Sheath and Sword
Chapter 1: Born of Chance
Author: D. Fablespinner
If there is one thing in the world I hate more than assholes, it’s working for them. Well I guess I don’t technically work for them, but when you’re in my line of work, the trail you leave should be as ambiguous as possible.
My name is Kojiro Keiji, and I traffic in secrets, in short I’m a spy. Although if you want to get right down to it, I’ve done my share of killing in the line of duty, so maybe an assassin with a brain would be more accurate.
Whatever, I don’t like to think about it much, I’m damn good at what I do, and I like the person I do it for, so I guess it’s what I’m supposed to do in this life.
My current mission, with any luck won’t involve killing, I really don’t like to do it, but when push comes to shove a guy has gotta do what he’s gotta do to survive.
I’ve done that since the day I was born.
It’s not easy being a Hanyou in a city of Youkai. Who was my father? Not a clue, my mother? Some poor human trying to earn a living in rich Youkai’s beds on her back. She lost the gamble having me, she died giving birth. I was lucky somebody cut me free of her actually.
They kept me around long enough until I could walk and scrounge for my own food, then turned me loose. I thank them for that much, it’s pretty obvious if you look at me I’m a Hanyou. My ears are a dead give-away. Not quite human, not quite Youkai, but something in-between.
But looks damn good on me. My looks served me well as a kid, got me in doors, got me fed, got me a lot of things you don’t learn from books. Got me noticed by my now employer, Inuoe.
I was about fourteen then, and well let’s just say when you become the favorite bedtime partner of the future King, it opens a lot of doors.
Thankfully, over the past decade, that side of our relationship has dwindled and is over, we’re much better friends than lovers. And Now that he is the King, not wise for either of us to continue.
It suits us fine that way, he’s become my best friend, and I’d die for that man. He saved me from a life of crime, and lets me commit crimes with his stamp of approval.
Pardon me a moment while I grin like an idiot. Ah yes, life is good.
With the exception of having to do jobs like this, being a King, means you have a lot of enemies, and not all of them make a grand show of it, I listen to every rumor, and I follow up on them all.
That’s why I’m out here, in the middle of butt fuck nowhere, on my way to the Kanashimi prefecture. The whole bunch of them stink like manure covered in gold dust perfume and pretty words. They suck up to Inuoe with every breath they take, then turn around and stir the shit when they think no one is looking.
I’m looking, I’m in every shadow, and in every ray of sunlight. I’m a Hanyou, no one notices me. I’m beneath them, servant class. No one notices the servants or guards.
Again, lucky to be a Hanyou when you do what I do for a living.
But my new employer, is one of the worst bastards I’ve ever had the displeasure of pretending to work for.
The word cruel doesn’t even begin to describe this son of a dragon dung-eating whore. Eldest Son, Kanashimi Jaaku, beautiful and nasty, like a jeweled snake.
I’m tagging along in his entourage as he returns home from the capital. He and his brother, second son Akui, the pair of them aren’t worth my spit, but they are dangerous, they are gorgeous, and charming, and all together too clever for my liking, or Inuoe’s. So here I am, part of the three new “for hire” guards coming out to watch over some dangerous person whom we’ve yet to hear anything about.
I don’t fucking care, I can act as well as the Kanashimi brothers can, better actually, I actually can fool the people I’m trying to bullshit.
Never kid a kidder guys, rule number one. I so can see through the smoke you’re trying to blow up Inuoe’s ass.
“Pretty Hanyou, who’d you fuck to get this job?”
Have I mentioned lately I hate idiots? There will be one less guard for hire if this human trying to look tough in front of his new boss pisses me off. Be grateful you didn’t say this when I’m not busy being Inuoe’s eyes.
“Better watch it Takenaka, Pardon him Kojiro-san.”
Funny, I don’t remember giving either of these piss-ants my name. Wait a second, ah I remember you. You tried that line with me before yourself, and met the fast end of my fist.
“Wise choice. I see you learned from your mistake Maboroshi-kun. Ask him to tell you his tale, Takenaka-kun sometime.”
Ah, sometimes a smirk and a cocky wink are so much more effective than glaring. I’m so good.
I should have been an actor, I missed my calling. Know your audience and what sells them, people are so easy to read it’s scary.
Good, we’re here, my ass is about to fall off if we’d have had to ride any more today. I miss my horse. This sway-backed excuse for a horse is pathetic, no offense lady, but you should have been retired years ago.
What I wouldn’t give for Inuoe’s massage techniques about now, damn I’m jealous of your wife. But Chikara is a good match for you, and swings as many ways in the bed as you do, oh to be a fly on your bedroom walls. So I won’t be too bent out of shape over it. Well emotionally bent, physically… yes. My ass hurts damn it, let me off this god forsaken pack animal and into a hot bath already.
Ah, great looks like I get my orders now… Here comes the bad news, and coming from Kanashimi himself no less. Fuck.
“You two humans, report to the barracks. You, Hanyou… follow me and don’t talk.”
Fine whatever, I bow like the good little flunky I am and skip after you. Want me to bark and wag a tail too?
“You have good recommendations, and I see you can create a containment barrier, that is why we hired you. Your duty is to guard one and only one person. And let me warn you, every other guard before you has died…”
Great guard a psycho Youkai, BORING. I can do more than a barrier and I am not telling you that. Gods preserve me, where in the hell are you leading me? This looks like some sort of torture chamber. And knowing you it probably is you sick fuck.
“… Do not let his looks fool you. Shiseiji is a killer.”
Bastard? The dude’s name means BASTARD? Nice. My inner heebie jeebies are tingling, time to ask pertinent question here.
“Begging your pardon Kanashimi-Sama. Just so I know what I am protecting you from, what are Shiseiji’s powers and who is he?”
Nice little subservient bow.
Fuck, maybe I should have stayed silent, Jaaku looks pissed.
“First, you are not protecting me, you are protecting the household’s lesser talents. Get that clear, I can crush anyone here.”
Right, wounded your ego, boo hoo macho man.
“Second, Kanashimi Shiseiji lives only because our father deemed it so on his death bed. He is a disgusting and foul shame. A mistake our dear father made one night while drunk. His mere presence sends our esteemed mother into tears. He is a disgrace and is treated as such. Give him no pity, and no respect. Your job is to make sure he never upsets this household. Contain him in this wing at all times. He must never leave the North Wing. His powers are botanical in nature. Beware crawling Ivy, he likes to try and escape by strangling his guards with Ivy. I’m tired of wasting Humans on his trivial little games. Perhaps a Hanyou will fair better.”
“I will be on my guard Kanashimi-sama. Thank you.”
Fuck me, this smells foul, I’d try to bust out too if my only crime was being born a bastard, oh wait, I was. Prick. I don’t trust anything with the name Kanashimi stuck to it, we’ll see what bastard boy is like before I decide.
“He’s in there at this hour. Your shift never ends, servants will aide you, sleep when Shiseiji sleeps, eat when he eats. You will shadow him, I suggest you contain him when you sleep in case he wakes up first. Do not expect conversation, Shi does not speak.”
Oh… My… Pinch me… I just died… Oh Mercy. Silent or not, WOW. If you look like your mother I can see why your father slept with her. Sproing, down boy!
Okay, now to feel you out a bit, handsome. Those perfect blue eyes you have are following everything, especially the departure of your brother. You don’t hide your fear well, immobile face, but your eyes are afraid, curious. Let’s see if I can’t solve this little puzzle here. Not all my information needs to be gained verbally after all. Let’s see if being friendly helps first. I’d rather be nice to you if given the choice. I think this place has enough bastards running around inside. I hope you’re not one too.
Damn do I have to call you Bastard? That stinks man.
Introductions I guess are in order.
“My name is Kojiro Keiji. I guess I’m your new companion.”
Oh ho, an eyebrow quirk, you weren’t expecting that were you?
“Can I get you anything?”
Two points Keiji, zero for Beautiful.
Okay so you can shake your head, I want you to do more than that.
“I’m sorry if I seem bold Kanashimi-sama. And I don’t wish to intrude if you prefer to be alone. Is there somewhere you’d like for me to be until you need me?”
“Stop what Kanashimi-sama?”
Whoa, for such a small man, you move lightening fast. Why are you covering my mouth I wonder.
“Please, shhh. Come with me.”
Hardly more than a whisper, what’s going on here?
This room is freezing, where’s the wood for your fire? You have nothing in here, I had more living on the streets. Talk to me, tell me.
“They’ll kill you if you are kind to me. Stop. Please.”
Mind games, I fucking hate mind games. This however doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I’ve seen your brothers in court.
“You’d rather I be cruel?”
“I’d rather you not be here at all. One less life I must see end too soon. How did they tell you I killed the others? The same Ivy story?”
“Interesting. Yes actually, strangled.”
“Jaaku uses the same story on everyone. I’m no murderer.”
“I didn’t think you were.”
“You’ve just met me, I could be lying.”
“True, but your eyes are speaking truth.”
“No, just experienced with people. And do you mind if I sit while we talk my lord? I’ve ridden all day.”
“Please sit, and stop, Shiseiji is what you should call me, I’ve no rank here.”
“I’d rather have my tongue ripped out than call you a bastard. Compromise?”
You have a beautiful sigh.
“Anything but Lord then. No terms of respect where they may hear. You’re safe in this room, I have the walls filled with the ivy growing outside, it dampens sound and keeps it warmer. They don’t allow me fire for my hearth. Your room is next to mine there, your hearth will be stoked for you.”
“So you can control the plants then?”
What a smile.
“Yes, but I promise your neck is safe Kojiro-san.”
Your whole face changes when you smile. Damn I think I’m in love. Inuoe was handsome, you’re just divine. I’ve never seen pure white hair on someone as young as you are. I’d guess no more than twenty and that’s pushing it.
I think I just changed my mind about this job, I’m going to like it here, and I think I’m gonna get a shitload of information for Inuoe sitting on my ass and just keeping my ears open.
There is nowhere to sit in this room other than your bed, and that looks about ready to collapse as it is.
“Where was my room again?”
“Through that door there.”
Connected rooms, okay whatever God is being good to me.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
“Can you sound proof it too with your ivy? It looks a sight warmer in here, and there’s a couple of chairs in here. Care to join me?”
“Your room is already sound proofed, and thank you. I’m not afforded many creature comforts.”
“So I noticed.”
Ah, straight to the fire, I knew you’d go there. You looked half frozen, let me up the ante. One blanket wrapped around one pair of shoulders coming up.
“Warm up, I’ll bolt the door.”
“Thank you Keiji-san.”
Damn, I’m going soft for pretty blue eyes. Or I’m just horny because it’s been a long time, whatever the case I need to focus here. You won him Keiji no getting too attached. He could be a bastard.
He’s crying, fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck, fuck. And that’s genuine too damn it.
“Hey, hey. What’s wrong?”
“Too good to last. Get out while you can Keiji-san please. There’s no helping me.”
No, no, you’re not leaving here yet, get back by the fire.
“I’ll be the judge of that. You don’t know me yet. I could be a pretty tough bastard for all you know.”
“My brother doesn’t hire anyone strong. He hires people to torture me with, and he hates Hanyous. No offense meant.”
“None taken. And trust me. Okay? I don’t plan on dying here.”
“I hope you’re right Keiji-san.”
“I know I am.”
God dry your eyes already, take my shirt, anything. Just please stop crying. Silent tears are the worst.
What’s that look?
“Hurry Akui’s coming.”
“How do you know that?”
“The plants warn me. Thank you. I’ll be in here, whatever happens, do not come in here! PROMISE ME!”
“Just promise Keiji-san!”
You sound desperate, and you look terrified!
I know I’m going to regret that promise.
Your mask was back in place before you shut the door. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sound worse in my life, than the sound of the whip, and so much more, and you not uttering a sound.
It must have been a century before I heard him leave and I was able to come to you.
And now I want to be sick as I clean you up. You never screamed, you never cried out, and what he did to you was something even living on the streets for most of my life I never had to deal with.
Your own brother, I swear one day I’ll kill him with my own hands. He’s sick.
“Dear merciful gods, how long has he been doing this to you?”
I didn’t realize I’d said that out loud until you answered.
“All my life, Keiji-san.”
And I mean that from the bottom of my Soul.
Your hand on my cheek, is perhaps the gentlest touch I’ve ever felt.
“No. I’m sorry Keiji. You shouldn’t have to bear witness to this. Leave me, I’ll be fine.”
“This is not fine, and this is not going to happen again.”
I’ve made you cry again.
“I can deal with Akui. I cannot bear your kindness. That is what hurts me.”
I want to hold you, I want to protect you. You have no one.
“I will never hurt you. Trust me… Yuki.”
“What did you call me?”
I feel you shiver as I hold you against me, and I know now that from this day on this is where I want you to be.
Snow, you remind me of snow.
“Sleep Yuki. I will protect you. I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep. But thank you.”
You’re probably right, but I sure as hell am going to try. I’d be no better, no worse than your brother if I didn’t at least try.
Your only crime was being born, if no one will help you, I will.
Just as Inuoe helped me. It’s my turn.