“Are you sure about this?”
“Alright. I shall tell you everything, then.”
Shirokiyami moved, trying to stop Sakura, but Taiyou firmly held her close to him. He could tell that this was the greatest sign of a struggle she had ever displayed. If he had yielded even a bit, she would have escaped from his arms. He hugged her even more firmly so as to prevent that from happening. He was after all more powerful than Shirokiyami. She fidgeted a bit more before halting altogether.
“Tengai Ruri. That is her real name.”
“Ruri, hm? A fine name.”
“It’s written as ‘wanderer’ (流離) and pronounced ‘Ruri’. This was decided before she was born.”
“To elaborate further, this name was decided before her parents even met.”
Sakura sighed, her expression slightly changing. This was probably the first time sympathy had shown on her face.
“What are you talking about?”
Taiyou blurted out.
“We’re talking 150 years ago. One man in the Tengai lineage had a dream. It was apparently very vivid.”
“You don’t say…he was an oracle?”
“And the vision the man had was of taking in the plate of every woman down to the fifth generation. One who could not see, one who could not speak, one who could not hear…He took their plates in the designated order.”
“And then she was born…?”
“It be like a game, ja.”
Kohaku’s voice sounded a bit unpleasant for once.
“And why was there a need to do that?”
“More like her objective. You know of her power, yes?”
“…And that’s why he did all this?”
A heavy silence drifted over the living room. Not just Taiyou and Kohaku, but Aoba, Akiha, and even Juurokuya were unable to say anything. Time drifted by, and the only audible sound was that of everyone’s non-uniform breathing.
“And the reason why her sister hates her.”
Taiyou gave a start. He remembered what they had been getting at this whole time.
“Her name had also been decided beforehand.”
A long time passed. Or maybe it hadn’t actually been that long. But that was how everyone in the vicinity felt. It was the sort of silence that follows when someone is telling a ghost story.
“The name of her sister was also already decided.”
“So their names were both decided at once.”
“So that means her sister also has some sort of power?”
“That is actually the main issue in question.”
Sakura said with a “pffft”.
Her eyes were not happy. Only her mouth twisted into a smirk.
“Tengai Yuri has no powers. Other than her name, she is just your average girl. On the other hand, Ruri was intentionally made to be the greatest master in the world…I assume you are beginning to see where this is going.”
“She be given an odd name without any rhyme or reason for it, ja.”
“I do see why she would hold a grudge.”
“So she’s basically like the dregs left over from sake.”
Aoba chastised Akiha.
“But yes, that is how one percieves the other.”
“Indeed. I be not surprised that she feels she got the short end of the stick. Since she actually did.”
Taiyou looked at Kohaku.
“There be no way to resolve this, ja. At least, no way to remove the grudge.”
“…Are you sure?”
“Well, I do understand how you feel.”
This time, he looked at Sakura. She was smiling, except this time it was a cruel one.
“I am the same, after all. Have you forgotten?”
“Youran, Adashino, Sakura…Don’t you think there is quite a difference between the daughter of a legal wife, concubine, and that of a mistress? I, too, am someone who has had the short end of the stick. I didn’t even get a good name, let alone power. So I very much understand her feelings. I also happen to know full well how those feelings of ill will do not disappear.”
Shirokiyami opened her mouth, speaking in a tone that was even more feeble than usual. Even her struggle from earlier had disappeared without a trace, and she lay limp in Taiyou’s arms.
“I won’t let you. No matter what. Even if it means…yes, even if…”
He took a breath before speaking.
“Even if it means killing her.”
Shirokiyami’s body stiffened in his arms. There was power in Taiyou’s words. He clearly meant what he said, and she felt that transmit itself.
“Well, me thinks that ye need not go so far.”
“Yeah, why should you have to sully your hands, Taiyou?”
“Just send her away somewhere else.”
This time, Taiyou was the one who was surprised.
“Hey, any ideas?”
“I say ye give the lass enough money to play around in a foreign country. Then she won’t hurt any more scallywags.”
“True. From what I’ve seen, it’s fine as long as she doesn’t show up again.”
“Any other ideas?”
“First, let us prioritize what must be done first. If all we need be to ensure that the lass does not appear in front of her again, there are plenty of ways to do this. It needn’t require bloodshed. I can still count more options than the fingers on both me hands.”
“Then it’s a cinch!”
“Yeah, and then after that…”
The three of them looked at Shirokiyami in Taiyou’s arms all at once.