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Young Adult
白髪の少女 | The Girl with White Hair
by Bexx Matthews

During the day, blood-relatives of the Shiraga family may appear to just be ordinary hunters, but under the moonlight, they become white-haired warriors; a beacon of hope and protectors of those under their care. 17-year-old Tsukiko is the youngest of the current Shiraga generation. Perceptive, gentle-natured and dedicated to family, she is the very image of what a protector she be. But when her clan is attacked and thrown into disarray, Tsukiko suddenly becomes taken with the idea of revenge against the Emperor. A life for a life. And he took many lives that night... "Sounds interesting!"

Chapter 1: On the Mountain

The mountain was quiet that night.

Tsukiko had always been sensitive to her surroundings, the prickle of a colder wind that meant winter was on the way or the aroma of the first tiger lily blooming in the summer. Tonight felt the same. It wasn't uncommon for the mountain to be quiet, but what engulfed her senses was complete silence; something that made the spring air heavy and sick.

In just a few moments the moonlight would rain down upon the dried river, where Tsukiko sat cross-legged, in d...

Chapter 2: Family

Tsukiko kept her position until her brother excused her.

"You may stand, Tsukiko." She did so carefully and slowly, still hesitant to meet his eyes. Of her three brothers, it was the oldest, Taro, that she was most frightened of and it had been a fear that had only grown the older he became. He was now in his twenty-eighth year and loomed over everyone - even their father, who had been the tallest man Tsukiko had ever seen. Taro's serious nature didn't help, he never spoke unless necessary and when...

Chapter 3: Ambush

The way back to the village was long and painful. Tsukiko led the way, her brother's bow in hand with an arrow knocked, resting against the bowstring. Her eyes ploughed through her surroundings as she kept her form poised, ready to strike at any assailants that tried to take advantage of the situation.

But so far, no one had come.

They hadn't come across the traders that they had saved in the clearing, but Tsukiko found herself caring less and less about them as time went on. Ryuu's harboured...

Chapter 4: Blood of Blood

The Shiraga Clan had taken sanctuary in a secluded area that was home to a grand waterfall that obscured the sounds of any type of village. At first it had only been the descendants of the first Shiraga generation, but over the years it had become the home of any family that had cut ties with the Emperor. Now, seventeen years later, over fifty clans now lived in hiding with the Blessed Family, and as proof of this they had combined their family name with the Shiraga name. Tsukiko's family tied everyone t...

Chapter 5: Beneath the Moonlight

And so the fighting had begun. Tsukiko could hear it; the clash of steel, the grunt of effort from both parties. Her father and brothers were putting up a good fight.

It was growing dark. Soon the moon would be here, and when that happened, the Shiraga family would be able to fight with their full strength.

They just had to survive until then.

She hoped the other villagers would be okay. It was their job to protect them all, but she wouldn't put it past their opponents to play dirty an...

Chapter 6: Alone

The next time Tsukiko set her eyes upon her brother, the blackness of his hair had been washed away; replaced with the pure white that showed that he was Blessed.

This was the blessing that no longer protected her. She confirmed it herself with disappointment. Her hair remained black.

All it had taken was one cut to lose Her Grace.

Ryuu's eyes widened when he noticed, "Why hasn't..." But she shook her head, "My hair was cut. But I can still help."

He straightened up, now able to m...

Chapter 7: The Rogue Shinobi

After an hour of shuffling through darkness, Tsukiko finally found an end to the low, dark tunnel. Her arm had screamed in protest every step of the way, and the makeshift bandage that she'd tried to make out of the remaining scraps of her haori had already been stained red. She'd forgotten what pattern had been sewn into it. She silently apologised to the village elder, who had been the one to gift it to her.

The village elder.

Tsukiko wondered if her body had been one of the charred remains...

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