9 ✲ The End of a New Beginning ✲
The image of his mother's impeccable smile flashed before Kurogane. It was immediately followed up with her horrific death along with the intruder, who left the front door of his burning house – the ambiguously horrendous steps echoing through Kurogane's mind. The louder it got, the tighter his fist shook.
Once he remembered the robed figure he saw in the forest, it was enough to put him in a state of realization – driving him to intensely frown as he looked forward.
(I won't let it end here. Things are no longer the same! I have something to move towards – a goal to accomplish. If I can't stain my hands with blood over pieces of trash like these... then avenging mother won't be possible.)
Kurogane profoundly drew his sword out, ready to fight back at all costs.
(Damn this city... damn it all and its inhabitants...!)
Kurogane jumped upwards with immense speed, raising his sword with his left hand to strike the larger man before him.
The larger man's heart stopped. Kurogane's darkened glare topped with his blistering, raging eyes put him in the state of shock. At this point he was already sweating, too terrified to even raise his own weapon. The rest of the men experienced nothing less, awestruck from what they were witnessing.
"Ooh lookey, what do we have here?"
Suddenly, the moment was interrupted as someone from a distance spoke out loud to all of them.
"You probably figured it out by now, but those people won't have what you're looking for, so don't bother wasting your time on them, young man."
"Who in the hell?" muttered Kurogane, turning to identify the source of the voice as he pushed the larger man backwards with his feet upon impact.
It was an elderly man – the same one that saw Kurogane in the alley earlier during the day. He appeared to be walking from the left, directly towards Kurogane and the all of the surrounding thugs.
The elder was bald and had a long, thin white mustache that hung downwards past his chin, which also had a small goatee attached to it.
He had a bold, serious look with wrinkles on the usual parts of an old man's face. His eyes looked as if they were closed and were followed up with his thick, bushy eyebrows.
The full cream colored robe topped carefully with a buttoned, maroon-colored vest made him stand out from the common folk. As intimidating as he seemed, he was short in height – around five inches less in comparison to Kurogane.
"You talk big for an old, pathetic geezer. Shouldn't you be tending to your garden or something?" said the larger man, angrily looking at the elder from the distance.
"I may be old, but I'm proud to not be from what I like to call "the scum of society" said the old man, walking slowly but steadily from a distance with both hands behind his back. It was as if he were out for a stroll.
"Besides, weren't you about to piss yourself just now?"
He chuckled to himself a little as all of the men started to get annoyed.
"Now then, this is between us and our fine sir here, GRANDPA. Care to go home already? We snapped enough twigs today," said the larger one.
"I believe I won't be doing that. You really should learn to respect your elders, chubby."
The frustration had reached a breaking point, and they could no longer stand the elder.
"GET HIM!" shouted the smaller man.
"Move aside, I'll take care of this worm," growled his large partner.
The larger one then charged forward, attempting to strike the elder as his henchmen cleared the path.
"LIGHTS OUT YOU OLD HAG...!"
Upon launching a full fledged swing, it came to everyone's surprise that not only did he miss, but that he was also being physically restricted by the same, seemingly feeble elder.
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The old man had moved slightly toward the side, just enough to dodge the strike. Through some unexplainable means, he also gotten a firm grip on the large person's wrist.
Desperately trying to break free, he continued to struggle, still unable to do budge whatsoever.
"Hmm, your bones are quite strong. It might take me three seconds to snap them instead of one." said the old man while smiling.
What made things more appalling was the fact that he still had his other hand behind his back, which showed how little he had to try.
The old man began squeezing and Kurogane along with the others started to hear the sounds of the victim's bones demolish in a slow, painful manner. It was enough to make the individual drop his weapon due to the immense pain.
The large man screamed as loud as he could and helplessly begged for mercy.
"I-I'M SORRY, PLEASE.. PLEASE LET ME GO! I BEG OF YOU! I MEAN IT!"
"Then take your leave, you're boring me."
The old man then let go without showing the slightest amount of care or strain.
All of the thugs had their eyes widened out of fear and immediately ran away, squealing like frightened animals.
"IT'S NOT WORTH IT.. RETREAT!"
Kurogane looked at the old man with an awed expression.
(This person… He's definitely someone out of the ordinary)
As soon as the coast was clear, the elder dusted his hands and turned to Kurgoane.
"Very well then, now how about you come over to my place, young man?
"Sorry, but something doesn't seem right about you. I'd rather not," said Kurogane while turning around and beginning to walk towards the opposite direction.
"What a shame, I could be the only one here who would legitimately be able to help you."
"I can find someone on my own if I need to."
"Maybe so, but how much longer will it be till you realize the city folk won't give you what you seek?"
After pausing briefly, Kurogane frowned, drawling out his sword as he turned around, pointing it straight at him.
"I'll take your offer, but if I suspect anything, I won't be holding back."
"That's okay. I know where you're coming from, but just have a little faith in me. Although you wouldn't be able to do much to me anyway," replied the old man, now with a rather calm smile on his face.
(My best option is to see how much I can attain from him for the time being. As of now, I don't see myself finding a better alternative.)
Sighing to himself, Kurogane closed his eyes and placed his sword back into his sheath, although keeping his hand on the hilt tightly. He didn't know what else to do other than to give the elder a chance, as he had done nothing aside from helping him just now.
"Let's go then, I don't have time to waste."
"No problem, allow me to lead the way."
The old man chuckled and nodded as they both headed towards his home in the midst of the sunset.
(I hope I don't end up regretting this decision..)