Chapter 1 Kaede's Flight
This story switches P.O.V's alot so please be patient. If you find spelling/grammar mistakes please just leave a review saying so.
Thank you! InsanePhoenix
I was born as Kaede Daiichi of the village of Muto. In Muto I lived a hard life with my family. Actually it was only me who had a hard life but it was the only one I'd ever known. I was the only daughter, I had six elder brothers, and I was also the youngest so I wasn't likely to inherit much when my parents died, indeed I would have been amazed if I did. You see where I come from it is not how intelligent, strong, brave, or fearless you are that matters, instead it was of what sex you were born and if you were born first or second, for instance if I had been the Firstborn and thus the heir to whatever riches my parents had, I would be pampered and spoilt especially if I was a boy, if I was a girl then I still would be spoiled but it would be my husband who inherited not me. But I was not the Firstborn I wasn't even male, no I was a female and the youngest child as well so instead of being given pets and expensive toys I was given the servants tasks. I had to fetch the water, clean our family home, take care of the pigs and the pets that my brothers got tired of but wouldn't let be skinned and cooked. When I was older I also had to wash and mend the clothes, skin and dress carcasses, and cook all the meals. My only friend was Kondo my dog. Kondo was the runt of one of my brothers' dogs' litters and so like me, unwanted. But when the gardener would have drowned him I said that I would care for him and feed him. Nobody cared what happened to him so I was allowed to keep him.
One spring day in my 18th summer, I was out in the woods that surrounded our home gathering wild growing plants for the evening meal. I loved running through the woods as it was the only time that I ever felt free. But as I was soon to find out it was just an illusion of freedom.
When I was about a mile from my home I thought I saw a flash of silver on the ground at the base of a giant old oak tree so I went over to see what it was. When I reached the tree I saw that it was not a coin or eating utensil as I had first thought but an arrow head. I looked around on the ground near it and saw a broken shaft nearby. I bent over to pick it up and heard a whistling sound from above my head, I spun around and saw an archer aiming at me and drawing his bow. He looked me in the eyes and drew his bow back even further. It was then that it fully sank in that he was going to kill me. I turned around and fled into the dense forest behind me, dodging branches and trying to make it hard for him to aim. I heard sounds of pursuit so I ran faster into denser brush. By that time I was completely lost and near hysterical. I hid under a weeping willow whose branches touched the ground forming a barrier between me and my pursuers. I held my breath as they passed and as I waited I began to plan what I would do next. I decided that first I needed to see what had happened to the rest of my family and if they knew of an attack. The men passed me and ran off in the direction that I had been going in and while they ran after what they thought was me I ran out of my shelter and walked quickly but quietly through the bushes and trees until I got to the secret way to my home. It was a long overgrown animal trail and the entrance was through a fall of rocks so I didn't think that the men would find it.
When I got to the estate I followed the gardener's trails to my room. Kondo was there waiting for me and he was very excited but I made him sit and stay still.
"I need to tell my family something, stay here and don't bark or we're both dead." I told him anxiously, I didn't want him to die.
I ran through our residence using the servants' stairs and hallways in case the warriors had already invaded our home. When I finally reached my parents room I stopped at one of the many spy holes to listen and see if it was safe. What I heard and saw shocked me to my core.
There were more strange men in my parent's room but I couldn't see if my parents were in there.
"Do you think we got the whole family?" asked one of the warriors.
"If we didn't get them in the first sweep we will get them next time." answered one of his fellows.
"If they're not all dead by dawn you'll be hanging on the walls instead. Now Lord Daiichi I understand that you would prefer to live, am I correct?" The voice that spoke chilled me to my bones. It was a cold cruel voice that I could believe belonged to someone who had committed many evils in their life; the thought glued me to the spot with terror.
"I….I… I would like to live if it is at all possible Great Lord, but if you are going to kill me would you please make it as fast as possible. I don't wish to linger on a world where I am not wanted." I was astonished to hear my father saying this. The very man who beat the servants for falling ill was begging.
"What makes you think I am a male Daiichi? It is not just males who are capable of the planning this operation took. It is not just males who can fight. Women are not the helpless creatures you take us for, my lord. We can think for ourselves, but you never took the time to notice that did you? You just rode through my village and slaughtered all the men who fought you and took the rest for slaves. Then you and your men raped all of the females in the village and thought nothing more of it. My mother was only 15 when you raped her, my lord. I grew up in slavery because of you and your men, and I have no doubt that any female children of yours fared no better."
I was astonished to hear of what my father and his men had done to the poor women of the village. I could believe that my father would commit such an atrocity but the men? Some of the men in father's soldiers are good people and I don't believe that they could do such a thing. I moved to another slightly more concealed and better positioned spy hole to have a look at this woman who dared to defy custom.
I had to bite back a gasp as I looked at the woman holding a sword at my father's throat. She looked as if she could be my twin. There were slight differences but you couldn't refute the family connection.
"I do have a daughter but I doubt she would sympathize with you, you whore. She is a girl who is as bound to this family as is possible. Not from loyalty but because I hold everything that she loves. I have her dog and I have her mother. Well at least I had her mother, you seem to have taken care of that for me" Daiichi was slowly turning a deep red as he spoke these words.
"I am not a whore and my soldiers have orders not to harm any women in any way." Her voice sounded like chilled venom as she was saying this and I could see her fighting not to take off my fathers head. But that was the least of my concerns. As I turned around to get to my rooms I saw that the archer who had tried to kill me was standing right behind me.
"You had better come with me," he said, "The lady will want to see you."
"B….b...b…but you tried to kill me!" I whispered frantically. "What makes you think that I'll come with you after that?"
He sighed, "I'm sorry about the woods, I thought you were a male because you were wearing breeches. You heard the lady, we have orders not to harm any women in the residence so I won't hurt you, I give you my solemn vow"
I looked at him uncertainly. The lady had said that none of her men would hurt any female but there are always a few who disobey orders. But he had given me his solemn vow not to harm me and he could have taken me to her by force already so I had to take a chance that he would follow his orders.
He saw in my face that he had won me over to his cause. "Come on if we hurry she wont kill your father." So we made our way to the door and I waited as he knocked.
"Come" said the woman in the room.
We entered the room and as we did so the man I was with gave a low bow and introduced me. "Lady Kaede is the daughter of the man at your feet my lady," he said to the woman. "And this lady, Kaede, is Lady Embra Shirakawa." as he was saying this he bowed even lower.
I took the hint that she was a woman of power and should thus be respected so I gave her the most respectful curtsey I could without falling over. "My lady," I said fighting to keep my voice neutral and not show my fear. "I have never met you in my life and I am greatly saddened by that omission because I believe that we would have gotten along well. I apologize for the actions of the men who followed my father as they have no choice in what my father orders them to do. He has told them that whatever he does to enemies they must do as well. I cannot excuse my father's actions as they where his own and not mine so I hold no responsibility for what he did. But if you have a problem with me or my manner then I would be grateful if you would inform me of the error so I may correct it." By the end of my little speech I was trembling because I thought that she would punish me for being disrespectful. I stayed in my curtsey with my head down waiting for the whiplash reprimand and the order that would be my death.
"Ha hah hah hah hah hah. Your daughter has more balls then you do. It must be killing you that you're loyal daughter just insulted you and showed more courage then you in the same breath. She's terrified and yet she had the balls to stand up and say in front of the woman who ordered her family killed that she was disappointed in you. And then she protected your men and let you take all the responsibility. It must be eating you up inside. Well die comforted by the fact that you're most true heir, the one who will lead your family to greatness is standing before you beside her sister. We, Kaeda and I, will lead our families to power and together we will show all the men in this world that women can be a force to be reckoned with." Lady Embra said this all with a gleam in her eyes that boded no good for anyone who got in her way.
I had no intention of trying to rule the world. And I didn't want to be the target of assassins for the rest of my life. I had to escape, and quickly. I wanted to be respected for who I am but no the way that Lady Embra wanted. I wanted people to respect for the good things that I might achieve in my life, not for being a tyrant or a power hungry woman.
I turned and curtseyed to Lady Embra, "As much as I am deeply honored to be held in such high regard by one such as you, I must ask that I be excused. I fear that all the excitement that has happened of late has tired me. I beg your lenience and ask if I may go to my rooms to rest." I tried to flatter her so that she would not think that I was trying to run but I wasn't sure if it had worked. I crossed my fingers behind my back and dared to hope.
"Alberic take Kaede to her chambers and keep watch over her rooms, we don't want anything unfortunate happening to her."
As the archer escorted me to my rooms I tried to find a way out. The only option that I could see was to travel with Lady Embra and her men and try to escape. It didn't look like much of an option at all.