Headed by a Snake
38 Why Must We Fight?
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Headed by a Snake
Author :CouchSurfingDragon
© Wuxiaworld

38 Why Must We Fight?

Pale recognized the dark-haired boy as one of the ninjas under Yoshio's command. The ninja pulled down the cloth covering his face, revealing himself as a boy around the same age.

"How did you know where I was?" The boy pointed his sword and demanded in a voice full of wounded pride.

"Sorry about that," Pale laughed with embarrassment. "I didn't actually know where you were, I just kinda guessed someone was there?"

The ninja narrowed his eyes in a glare. Silence reigned in the forest. Even though this was the first human contact Pale had in quite possibly weeks, they both remained wary of each other.

"Truce?" Pale broke the silence.

The boy lightly shook his head, "No."

"Let's share information," Pale insisted.

The boy hesitated, carefully observing Pale. Steadily, the boy stood straight and reluctantly sheathed his sword, "Yeah. Let's..."

Pale stood up as well, relaxing his spear, "Do you... know what this place is?"

"All I know is this place reeks of magic-- Our sect would call it a Forbidden Land... Have you come across anyone else?"

Pale shook his head sadly, "I haven't."

Eyeing the boy up and down, Pale continued, "What... happened to you?"

Pale's armor wasn't in the best condition. But still, the black haired boy's dark leathers had been marked by dozens of cuts and slashes, as if attacked by beasts.

"We... We went back for Warrior Yoshio when he called for aid... There were... Spiders made of white stone... Blue crystals upon their bellies. And they were the size of wolves or jackals. They leaped through the air and disappeared like ghosts... And there were smaller spiders, but still each, the size of a fist, who made webs..."

The boy stared into the sky's reflection in the water, clearly traumatized by his experiences. "How did you get here?"

"Entered a cave, got pulled down into a hole with white walls, and ran on a road of stars until I broke through one of the pools on the ground. You?"

The boy shrugged, "Kinda different, but kinda the same-- Fell through one of the puddles."

The boy took grew quiet for a moment, then suddenly, his entire body shivered.

"Are you okay?" Pale asked.

"Che. The cold got to me just for a second, Outsider. Was that your question?"

For every few suns suns that rose and fell, Pale noticed the temperature growing colder and colder. The temperature didn't bother Pale as much as it worried him about the potential future.

"I guess. Was that yours?" Pale shot back.

The boy puckered his lips, before betraying a short snicker. Pale couldn't help but giggling. Seconds passed before the two tacitly agreed to stop. The laugh echoed too eerily. It didn't feel safe in this place, at all.

"What's your name?" Pale asked. The hostility between them had lightened, if only slightly.

"Eh? It's rude to ask for someone's name before giving your own." The boy frowned, crossing his arms.

"Oh, I apologize. My name is Pale."

"You really didn't know? Well, alright. My name is Muto Baketsu."

"Wait, so Muto is your family name, right?" Pale asked. He remembered the Muto was the name of the family that Yoshio kept saying he was part of, "Why is your family name first? Doesn't it go second?

"What? No, the family name goes first,"

"Oh, that's weird-- That's not how I learned it."

After some hesitation, Baketsu offered, "Maybe it's different for Outsiders?"

"Yeah. Probably..." Pale hesitated, his expression growing serious. "What does your family have against Taree?

Baketsu breathed in steeply, "It's kinda complicated..."

Pale pursed his lips and opened his arms, pointing at the land of crystal trees, pink skies, and puddles everywhere. "I'm not in a hurry, are you?"

"Well, alright." Baketsu sighed, "The Ivory Judge sect is suffering a calamity, the--"

"What's a calamity?"

"Uh, it's a big problem. I don't know what it is exactly, but the Kimura family is trying to save the sect."

"That doesn't sound that bad."

"--Hey, stop interrupting!"

"Oops, sorry." Pale sat himself down obediently, spear in his lap, lamenting the loss of his log. He glanced back to check on Taree, still peacefully asleep on her tree.

Baketsu sat opposite of him, his sword placed on the ground at his side, "The problem is that the Kimura family is trying to save the sect by breaking tradition to do so. They want to bring in Outsiders to solve an internal problem."

Pale nodded solemnly. Pleased that he wasn't interrupted, Baketsu continued.

"Now, the Muto family wants to stop them from going against tradition, saying that it will lead to the sect's downfall. See, involving Outsiders has a lot of potential problems. They might be able to help us, but we risk spies spreading information about us. Other sects or maybe even enemies we haven't made yet might want to steal our treasures, forcibly learn our knowledge, or might even try to enslave our people."
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Pale paused a moment to ensure Baketsu was finished, "So... Why do -you- need to kill Taree?"

"I have to because that's what the Muto family ordered me to do," He frowned, unwilling to argue. "Won't you back down? You don't really have anything to do with this."

"I... I can't give her up," Pale admitted. "I believe in her... So we'll have to fight."

Baketsu groaned, clutching his head in annoyance, "Augh, this is so stupid! Why do we have to fight?!"

Pale calmly leaned back, his gaze meeting Baketsu's, "I think we have to fight because I need to show you that I believe in Taree. And... I want to see how much you believe in your family."

Baketsu leaned forward, "But will that change your opinion?"

Pale shook his head, "No, I don't think so."

"Then what's the point of winning?!"

Pale slowly got to his feet, "I don't think winning matters... But it's important that you see how hard I can fight. And I think it's important that I see how hard you can fight."

Baketsu stood up, snatching up his sword and acknowledging Pale's gaze. He averted his gaze downwards in thought, "Yeah... We're both fighting for what we believe in."

Pale offered an empty hand, "I can't lose."

Baketsu grasped Pale's wrist, "Neither can I."

Simultaneously, the two turned and walked a few steps before turning back. Pale readied his spear, pointing it forward. "Ready!"

Baketsu drew his sword, tossing aside the sheath. Performing a light bow, he yelled, "Warrior Pale! Allow me to reintroduce myself: I am Muto Baketsu of the Ivory Judge Sect and by my blade, I will defeat the enemies of House Muto."

Pale nodded, "I am Invictus Pale of Guild Invictus and by my spear, I will allow no harm to come to Kimura Taree."


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