The Auction: The Next Step

This took him a while for waiting. But at last, he saw his sister, allowing him to set aside his largest and biggest fears so far. She was rather beautiful, given some clothes to send her off.

 

Somewhat silent on what had happened. “Not much happened there.” She gave an awkward smile while they were nowhere. Afraid mostly because of what had happened so far.

 

Perhaps there was something. She did not look starved, not beaten. Just a little exhausted, possibly forced to sit around in fear. As well as Misaki, who was a lot more dignified in terms of what it had done.

 

It didn’t seem to be physical, but far from being anything lacking. There wasn’t anything said. Other than they knew implicitly that it was close. They could have almost died. At any point right now.

 

They could have lost their head. And that the reason why they were released were mainly because of Kazuho. Somewhat of a sworn enemy and of course spared them. Knowing that they were entering an agreement.

 

And making it as clear as possible that he had much power and should not be underestimated at any point. He was a member of the dominant clan in the country. And aware of the sort of power that he had wielded.

 

And of course a demonstration. Not that they were planning to leave as he had a good plan. Either way, they would gain some benefits from it. While also knowing they were unable to escape the reality as it was. He was dangerous, and that had never been truer.

 

Regardless of the sort of backing, he had with the Shogunate. Sasaki was a little hesitant but knew that he could not avoid working with him. Avoiding the man was difficult, and he showed that he had a robust backing.

 

That meant that he had to be careful. Even as they were together against another more dangerous enemy. Someone who could genuinely threaten them in that sense.

 

And one whom he had a bone to pick against in the first place. And one whom he did. Just as he felt that he should inquire a little more about the Daimyo Senwari as well as his daughter.

 

And to see where this would lead him. It was too dangerous to trust anyone. And since he had almost lost them, and put himself into his debt. Debt that he could and would not be able to escape. At least anytime soon.

 

These were more worrisome than monetary debt. For they were favors, most of whom were granted to him in exchange for something else. His loyalty and support I’m this venture.

 

A bonus is given that he could figure out the truth. Especially after finding out. It was stretching it thin, even as his own identity as Kazuya helped to solidify. A child who grew up right in the center of all these intrigues. Not away from it, or hidden.

 

But at the front, and suffered a devastating loss. Most would remember the two heads on display. And the sort of comments thrown at them. The Shogun did not lift a finger but had done nothing to make it worse. Suppressing all other forms that they could have tried.

 

Within a month, well after the crowds lost their taste and demand for bloodshed. They were taken down, even as little was known about what happened to them.

 

This was a suggestion that something had happened to them. That perhaps deep down they knew that it was a political move and she was not guilty. He did not want to owe Kazuya, even as he had done ill against his father. But whether his father had indeed played a part was a mess.

 

And he figured that if it ever were come to light will give rise to the downfall of their clan. Something that they could not afford to. And to figure something out.

 

If they did not, they could be eliminated if they were ever found out. As much as he could rightly see that there would be no vengeance exacted on his part, having no interest in grabbing power.

 

Or at least somewhat on his part. The fact that he is still hiding and the awkward meeting he had. Being someone who wanted to grab power would have had more to say. Currying favor, even for someone like her. She still held a great deal of influence and sway.

 

An imperial princess and that meant that she was likely to be able to manage. Even if she was all but estranged from her family. But she still held considerable influence and respect of her sister in law, who was now the Empress of Kyokuhi.

 

And also, his paternal aunt. None of this would be easy, as he was powerful and well connected. And that meant he needed his caution.

 

——

 

Kazuho returned back to the place with Masami seating on the floor. “Next time, at least tell us that you’re gone.”

 

“It was somewhat important and last minute.” He did agree. But he had his own reasons why. And probably should head inside. “Because I opened the door to see Sasaki, either unusual way. And he had said that the shogunate had made the decision to well, interrogate his sister and h

Satou Misaki.”

 

“Is it because they likely assaulted you?”

 

“It seems definite although I asked them to release her. Because she is still useful, and for the most part, they likely would have gotten her around.”

 

And anything important would be said. Even as he turned his head around. Just to see the new guards assigned to him. “So, how does this have anything to do with this?”

 

“Well, that forced me to explain what I have been up to and why it is preferable. The woman is not after my blood, and neither is Sasaki. Although I can’t assure it now either.” And meant that he should be choosing to be careful while around them. And keeping his mind and eyes full while around them.

 

“So, in a way, they have likely destroyed the trust?”

 

“It won’t interfere with this, given that I gave them too many reasons to not disagree. But it would interfere for future ideas.”

 

“Are we going to be working with them often?”

 

“I’ll avoid it. At least now but previously it seemed likely.” Though now that was all but impossible. Even as they kept themselves somewhat skeptical of this.

 

And he knew that the Sasaki would not be warm. He was quickly the cause of all this. Even as he disagreed and did agree with the measures. It may have ruffled some feathers, but to the shogunate it was necessary.

 

He also knew that this was out of some interest and afraid of what was going to go onto right now. This was nothing which they could have tried.

 

And he knew politically they needed to do this right now. To be trying to do as much as it was possible and trying their best.

 

“So, shouldn’t they be supporting you?”

 

“Better to let them think that I’m allied with them. He still has that card. And that is one which will stay his other plans for getting rid of me. Since the shogunate has a much better reach than he does. Even with the Saitou under his control. Since he has become the most dangerous man above the Shogun. Who has always been dangerous but saw a diminished lack of power.”

 

“Wouldn’t that make him less powerful than the Shogun?”

 

“In raw power no, but in limitations and legitimacy, yes. He does not have any ability to act out randomly. As he is also playing a dead man or carefully undoing the exit, he did a couple years ago.”

 

One which then suggests that he likely has been in the background playing as well. And thus getting rid of anything that could threaten him.  

 

Just as he had his own smirk. Knowing what to do. A gift from him to solidify his interest. Forcing Daishin out would be an easy thing. As long as he had the right rumors to do so.

 

And that meant something specific. Something that would get him to come out. Something that would get him to notice him. It didn’t matter as it would be easy enough to convince them that he was telling the truth.

 

Just as he knew that Misaki was not going to do anything. She was guilty even back then. She had not shown her indignance or her loss of pride. The fact that she was not so meant that she had a hand. Acceptance of what was going on.

 

But he did want to show them that he wasn’t chasing a shadow.

 

——

 

Sachiko had been surprised to receive this visit. It was in the late night and thus took a while for her to do this. As much as it was unexpected. She was dressed in fur for it was cold.

 

And he took the entry from the back. They had a promise, and it seemed that they would need to rely on each other. She knew who was her father now.

 

“There is something I want you to do. Leak in his direction that you think that Kouya may join this round.” It was a truth that he was indeed thinking of doing so.

 

He wanted the man’s attention to him. Even as she found it indeed strange. But the manner of this entire meeting had to be cautious. Do it wrong, and it will sully her name. But he was careful, and he likely bought it off.

 

“I entered with Kaede, at least she managed to get to a secret tunnel which we may use. At least for something like this.”

 

“So, how is she? I heard that she was aimed and targeted by my father.” She had ensured that there was no one else. Making a relationship with Kagura who had come here and a new maid. Whose name was Azami?

 

A necessity without Kaede here as her primary servant. And how much she missed her. Kaede had been powerful.

 

“Aside from the fact that they are still hunting her, not so much.” But she was still very much in danger. And unable to really escape his house. Even now, Masami was keeping guard while dressed as a servant. As it would be more comfortable.

 

And allowing them to control it. “I see.” She knew that something had been done to cross her father. There was no denying any of that. At any point right now. Before they could finally do as they wished. “I will do that for you. Provided you take great care of her.”

 

“She’s my friend. And despite all, she is still startlingly useful.” He had to admit it. Not that he wanted to throw her out at all. She was still recovering, although getting better. Enough to even think of drinking.

 

He left, having done all that she needed to at this point. And more than enough for her and him. Apparently. And best to go now, simply because it was possible and more comfortable to do so. As they could have done so at this point.

 

He slowly left the place as he could. While she picked up the paper to write a letter to her father. He was drawing this attention to himself, perhaps for some purpose. And she guessed that it was likely to convince or maybe get the chance to have them.

 

She wrote the letter while they could have. Or at least while they could have tried while they were nowhere. She had a wish to be free, and in a way, he was helping her work towards that.

 

And she wondered whether he knew about the auction to bid and sell the same thing that they could have tried. Or at least done right now. And allowing them to do as they wished. Allowing them to really give this a shot right now.

 

Finally, before allowing her to do as she wished. Or anything which she could have. At least at this point.

 

———

 

The next couple of days had mostly been him and them finally putting the last vestiges on it. And perhaps a chance to finally check where they could have done is at this point. And allowing them for this situation at last.

 

She was most seating at the edge. While watching Kazuho come out. Having mostly recovered from the injury a couple days back. And seeing him work as hard as he had.

 

And of course, taking and basking the chance. And also having them suggest that he rescued her. A certain sense of truth, but no doubt to his own benefit at least at this point.

 

And he seemed to have enjoyed the situation so far. When they could have right now. And tried to do as they wished. After he had planned it out. Primarily because he could have. At least while they could do so right now.

 

Slowly putting everything down on paper. While doing it. And also waiting for someone to attack him. “So, did you think he was responsible for the previous attack?”

 

“Yes, to an extent. And why in my room, two guards refused to leave the room.” He had spent it mostly resting or reading, mostly the former in the first couple of days.

 

“Wouldn’t it have been terrifying?” She asked.

 

He shrugged. While still placing it, having gotten all of his affairs in order. This took such a long while before it was even possible.

 

Even as he took a sip of water. Refusing to answer this question. Seriously. At least right now. He didn’t know what to really answer for that.

 

“Well, I was used to it since I grew up as a child and ward of the Shogun.” And so used to the loss of his privacy. Used to the idea of putting on a show, as opposed to other methods of trying something.

 

“Is that why you don’t want to return?”

 

“Yes, I didn’t really like being paraded around. Not very much at all. But it was only one of the many reasons. That and everyone is out for my blood, many suspects that I would turn well since my mother is still a traitor. With no sign of her name ever being rehabilitated.”

 

“I see. That makes sense.” Even as she was absorbing the idea that his mother had died. “So, who was she?”

 

“Danica de Felici.” He said it. A name that he never thought he would have supposed anytime soon. One which he quietly suggested it at the end of the day.

 

Such was the nature of the name. So much so that he was able to do as they wished. Allowing them to really see the changes and what they could have done about it.

 

She blinked. Clearly not knowing much. Not many did, as long as they were not from the city. Being outside, it had meant that this was largely ignored. Nothing which they could do much about.

 

“I see.”

 

“Well, she had her head on display. Just as I saw it. What will be done with me? I don’t know. But there will be many who would be out for my blood for what happened to my mother. Although I do admit that I am furious. I also know that that is sheer stupidity.”

 

Politics was a cruel world, one where familial ties meant nothing. And even children could become political figureheads. Just like he had. By accident without even knowing how or why it was so.

 

And thus he knew full well of it. And why he remained away. “And that means they are doing this out of concern for your safety.” He gave the nod. Mostly against those who were trying this.

 

“I had to convince them. And this was the best way to do so.” Just as he had finished writing it. And noticed what was happening. The sound of gunshots.

 

—–

 

Masami leaped into action, with her swords. Lunging at them before pushing them to the ground. There was two of them. Even as Akane handled the other. She reached into the mouth to remove the pill.

 

The poison used to commit suicide when necessary. And preferable even. Before she handled the other with ease. Just as she saw Kazuho stepping out later. While rope was tossed and uses to tie them up.

 

Far from the most natural thing when it was a man, but she had taken him by surprise and used her weight to ensure that he could not stand. And her hairpins to pin his hand down on his fingers. Something that she knew was incredibly painful.

 

She had tied one of his hands. Before forcing the other to the back with it. And ending it with a dead knot. Before getting him up to start walking.

 

And interrogating what was happening. “I did that the last time I was here. So, I take it as a good exchange.” He nodded. At this point, it was an agreed form.

 

Before they were inside. And needed to be kept from anything. And of course, trying. Kazuho had seemed to have adopted the choice to mostly interrogate them in the study. Masami ended up sharing her room with Kaede. While Shinrou had chosen to take in Mutsu. And of course, with Kazuho sharing his with Mamoru. And another for any of them to rest.

 

The rooms here had not been enough and crowded out so fast. It wasn’t exactly that either as it was big. Just different from a mere month ago when it was still only the four of them.

 

Although useful for keeping warmth, mostly in the cold winter weather of the place right now. Where it was freezing, and she admitted that it was worthwhile. Just as they had spent a lot of their time staying around.

 

And allowing them to do as they wished. When they needed to think about it right now while they could be trying at the very least.

 

And inside, she went in with Kazuho. Giving them the chance to really sit down. While removing anything that they could have done to kill themselves. With him placing himself before while they could have at this point.

 

And allowing them to do as they wish right now. And letting them know me here. “Talk.” He told them. Holding his brush, signifying his dominance over the situation now. And where he could go on from here.

 

And demanding them to do so. Not threatening. “I’m sure you know who I am.” They did since they were hired specially to kill him.

 

And the chance for them to do as they wished. He sat before them and far apart. They were dressed in black. But he instead not ask. The man always picked his mercenaries with caution. Avoiding any of which would draw attention to him.  

 

And always ensured they would be willing to commit suicide. With the resources at his disposal, finding willing henchmen had never been easier. Or at least less inflammatory.

 

And why he had mounted such a fast resistance against him in such a short amount of time. It was an end to his ways. And to ensure that even if failed nothing would happen.

 

He kept a close eye. In case the man thought it best to give extra precautions. Something that Masami mostly confiscated while holding them. Before bringing them here.

 

“So, where are you from?”

 

“Kaisei.”

 

“Are you a native there?”

 

“No, my family were poor immigrants.” He raised his eyebrow. Perhaps knowing full well what sort of people found themselves there.

 

“Well, my family was exiled to the newer regions.”

 

“Must be freezing there?” He asked. Knowing just how cold the place could be at any point. From what he knew.

 

“Kind of.” The man turned to the side, where they now we’re here. And allowing them to do as they were able to do as they wished.

 

He didn’t offer anything of leaving. But not keen to kill them either. Even as he smiled intending to move forward from here. And thus allowing us to do this because they could have.

 

——

 

Sasaki had come mostly out of curiosity. Given just how he had been a little apprehensive. But here he was having solid proof of what was going on. Even a chance to do it was one done in good faith. At least right now.

 

Where he was now doing where he wanted it at this point. With Misaki and Enyou, who had opened her fan. Mostly forgetting how close they were when it came to losing their world back them. Just a little more, and it was indeed the end for them.

 

Inside, where he entered the room with Kazuho and two tied up assassins by his side. And clear how he had done so. Leaking his name out to the right people, suggesting that he was still here. So that it would make a ton of sense while they were here now.

 

And then killing them off when it was the right chance for them to have done so. At least right now. When they could have at the very least.

 

“Speak of who you work for.”

 

“Daishin, the man hired me since I came from Kaisei to look for work.”

 

“I also came here.”

 

“More of Kaisei further north, since the entire region is rather barren to the point that most simply call it an empty wasteland. Apt for the Ezo to make their home, in exchange for the better territories of the South to be given to us.”

 

And that it allowed them to do as they wish right now. “And a suitable place for exile, since there is nothing there. Except for a lot of bears, and also allowing them to really have few chances of survival. It’s cold, most aren’t used to the weather. Some survive, but most would not.

 

And allowing them to do as they wanted.

 

And the explanation was easy enough. To really do it. There was no point in hiring any of them. And they indeed did seem to be worried about him. Even as little was to be said about what was to be done with them.

 

He dodged it. Not giving them a chance to question it. Even as he asked it. And provided a concrete solution to who they were and where this was going. And allowing them to do as they wished at this point.

 

They left, having had a chance to really see who his opponent was. At least so far. And to know that it was something that he was best at. While keeping in mind just what was happening right now. And allowing them to do as they wish.

 

And to know that he was not chasing a ghost. Either way, he had to agree that he was with Kazuho on this one. The man was responsible for the death of his father. That was the truth, after all. Nothing could be said about it.

 

One that allowed him to really think about it right now. And allowing them to really go and move as they wished now. Misaki had walked with him. This was another affirmation that they were right to be together. But far from the best that they could try right now.

 

“Either way, it seems that he is committed to this.” Albeit difficult for her to buy into. But he had stepped into it and pretended that it did not happen. Or instead found little reason to think that it was best for them to do it at this point.

 

He nodded. Agreeing with it wholeheartedly as they could. And their goal was the same with him. He had done what he could to ensure their trust. It was their time to really return it.

 

And allowing them to really go on.

 

—–

 

Sachiko convened them again. Taking a while before this was entirely possible. Knowing the importance and how her father needed her to have her unify them. Even when it was far from easy at any point.

 

Talking to them was a necessity. Assure them, and their agendas. Having spent most of it talking to a variety of them, or gathering information about why they were here.

 

One of them was to see a better world. And at last, uncovered the plan that he had. To find a democracy. No more rulers and also, to remove the Imperial family at all costs. Even when they did not have any power.

 

She did not think much about it. Remembering the agreement she had. And little about the way that this affected them. She remembered what she ordered at the end of the day. At least right now.

 

And allowing them to do it right now. She looked up at them. Keeping what they needed to go straight. And of course the role she would play with them. All she wanted was her freedom back. A chance to leave this place.

 

It was hard to say that Daishin neglected her. She was allowed to read and learn anything from anyone at her specification. Her mother rarely did anything about that. And allowing them to really do it while they could now.

 

She was allowed to learn and figure things out. He had given her that rein. Something that she took advantages of to read about medicine, science. And a little of the various countries while she could.

 

“We are heading off to Fukusei, to avenge our father.” She took a smile. “And you know how important it is that you have been to me. Patient while I learned what I needed to take over. And now I have this in ready. To head to the city to find the reason why..”

 

She had suggested that her reasons for entering were to investigate the mysterious nature. But also there was a lot more. And things this they needed to do. To also examine it.

 

And then pitch to them. As it was not necessarily crucial for them to really know them for what they wanted to do at this point. They could hide it or mask it.

 

As many would do, since this was a secret. And most importantly, this was a competition. And to many, it meant that they would be trying to get rid of them by any and all means. If it was possible.

 

Whether they could have tried wanted they wanted to do so as they could be at this point right now. When they tried to do so right now. When they have or wanted it now.

 

“I hope that you will continue to remain loyal to me.” Even as they saw no reduction, but a reduction in their activity. Other than checking into the various political events and movements right now. They mostly changed it and refused to really do much about.

 

They nodded right now. Clearly knowing what was happening at this point. And allowing them to really do as they wished while they were nowhere.

 

They saw it as she was taking over. Since her father was focusing his intentions on investigating them. And for them, it made sense as their situation was precarious. While her brother was mostly left alone.

 

Even as he was an elector. The shogunate’s had six Daimyos who swore fealty to them, and an Emperor who agreed to install them. The latter was mostly forced and the former bought.

 

And why they were famous. Each time a Shogun was to ascend, it was done with them, an assurance. For the shogunate was never hereditary, just that most of their candidates were always of the same family. And either a brother of the last family or one who was dead.

 

And their assurance was necessary. Even as protests were rare, and rebellions uncommon. With the most important of them, being able to do as they wanted or as now.

 

An elector could be a woman, as it happened before. And later on, saw some of them being replaced by heiresses. Even now, it was the same. With her children adopting her surname and be known as part of her clan.

 

And eventually, some suggested that the Shogun could be headed by a woman. Even as many women of the family played influential vital roles in the family. Bringing them into the power center.

 

As well as the formidable woman. And from what she knew about Kazuya now, meaning that his mother was one. Losing her head politically, but ensuring that few knew what happened to them. And preventing them from becoming political figureheads.

 

With Kazuya mostly staying away. Even as his uncle seemed to have found him rather agreeable and wanted to protect him. And also, the influential figure that was his grandmother, Anna Helena Petrovna. The daughter of one of the greatest female monarchs and exerted her power with the same discretion.

 

Either way, it was a sign to see why, later on, they created much more similar standards. With marriage also being so, since most Tokumoto men had been rather passionate. Choosing their own matches and often not feeling the need for a concubine.

 

Although as she learned from Kazuya, it was also more economical. More wives often meant more children, and more children indicated that they spent more time worrying and arranging marriages. And why even when his mother only had three, his father shrugged it off.

Why seek things that were not meant to be. And too many children as they said could bring a country to its knees. Looking towards the almost collapse of the Liang Empire. With his fifteen sons, most of whom squandered their birthright. And got into fights.

 

That the winners were the two sons of a woman that he had never paid much attention to. She left, knowing what was beyond them at last. It was a game where only the best won.

 

And in most cases, she couldn’t say where she laid. Since both would benefit her, and she could leave at any time.