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

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 he did his language was stiff and formal. She didn't think she'd ever heard him laugh or seen him smile at all, even when he was a child.

Beside Taro, holding a longbow with relaxed familiarity was the second oldest, Akira. Contrary to Taro, Akira was always smiling mischievously, just like he was at her now, as though he'd just caught his little sister doing something naughty. But he'd always been this way, teasing and proud. Unlike his other siblings, Akira had been born with white hair which had only served to make him look more beautiful. Under the moonlight, his siblings would be his equals, but the moment it disappeared, he would be the only one proudly showing how the moon had blessed their family so many generations ago.

"Gomen ne, Tsukiko-chan!" Akira said, not sounding sorry at all, "Taro-chan and I came to check up on you. We didn't think to find you playing."

He referred to the cowering group of bandits behind her still, one who was probably close to passing out considering how faint his muttering had become. Akira waved an arrow at them with a cold smile, "You might want to consider disappearing before I decide to join in with Tsukiko's game." With a whimper, they awkwardly dragged their injured companion away, not even casting a longing glance at the abandoned caravan that had caused everything.

Akira sighed, "That's no fun."

"Enough, Akira." The deep voice that now spoke made Tsukiko shiver. Taro took no notice.

"Did you find what was causing the water blockage, Tsukiko?" She ignored her trembling and shook her head as she sheathed her daggers.

"Forgive me, Brother. I had planned to investigate what I found by the riverbed when I heard the bandits attack this caravan." The family must have been at the river by now where she had t...

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