Hayubei... Hayubei... Come here."
A small leafboat floated down stream, racing down what she believed to be white water rapids. Bouncing over small stones. She turned to her father with an eager smile on her lips and stumbled her way to him.
With one arm he lifted her, and brought her deeper into the glade, brushing aside some foliage to clearing their view to the rest of the lands of her people. The Tanabes.
"Far across our plains lays a creek so large that it spans as far as the eye can see. It is called the ocean Bei Bei. And one day, I will take you there to sail the waters of our ancestors.
"But Dah, I like it here. Lady Chu and Master Yung will be sad if I leave."
Her father smiled down at his thoughtful daughter and kissed her chubby cheeks.
"Then we will stay as long as you wish, dearest. As long as you wish..."
"Yui! Wake up!" Hayubei slowly opened her eyes and yawned heavily. She looked up at her little brother curiously. Why was he waking her up at such an hour.
"What is it, Kas?"
"I think there's a monster outside..." He protested innocently.
She sighed heavily. "I'm sure you're just imagining things, just go back to bed."
He tugged heartedly at her covers. "Please, Yui... Please..."
"Ah! Fine." Lazily getting out of bed, she rubbed her eyes and followed him down the hall to his room.
But he lead her past his door and brought her to a window by their kitchen. And pointed outside.
"Do you see it?"
She squinted out into the dark. The afterglow of the moon, bathing everything in a pale white sheen that silhouetted a figure in the distance moving towards their chicken coop.
A thief? She thought. No one has suffered the like on Tanabe land in some time. It seemed foolish to do so, especially when everyone knew everyone else. This had to be an outsider.
Hayubei reached out and retrieved a ceremonial sword from a shrine dedicated to their father. She was no longer the young lass she was many years ago. She brushed her hair back and tied it in a knot at the back as she wrapped thin leather bands around her free hand.
"Stay here Kas, if anything to happen to me. Go to Master Yung's."
He nodded and hugged his sister. She bent over and embraced him happily. Before she returned her gaze out the window. She silently slipped out the side of the house. The blade familiar in her hands and distant memories surfaced.
"Hold firmly to the blade. Don't lock your wrist and allow give. To avoid injury." Demonstrating, he held the blade of their forefathers in his free hand and strike briskly and cleanly while allowing the flow of the attack to pass through his whole body.
He handed the blade to her. And she followed suit, but struggled with her form. She remember him tapping her feet with his own to adjust her stance and directing her as she began to learn the way of the blade.
Now she would put it to some good use.
She no longer could see the culprit, but heard him in the nest. His footfalls hitting the wooden floor and the cockling of the chickens within as the intruder was interrupting their rest.
Yui set herself up. Outside the entrance. She had a choice here. To call out to him in warning or to take him by surprise. She decided on the former on the off chance that it was just a hungry neighbour.
"You are trespassing on Tanabe land, stranger. I suggest you come out and leave my chicks alone."
There was silence for a moment.
Then a flash of a blue as a garment briefly passed through her gaze at the side of the entrance. She struck out at it and cut some as it pass by. But the thief had leapt over her attack and rolled onto the pastures just outside the coop.
She followed swiftly. The intruder turned and in the moonlight she caught glimpse of her rival.
It was a young man with dark blue hair. Cloudy grey eyes and pale white skin. His features soft and smooth like an opal. He had something about him that was strange. It gave her enough pause for him to strike back surprisingly.
He kicked out with a spinning flourish. He was also holding to a staff of some sort that made an odd sound as he moved. She ducked beneath the blow and slashed out with her sword, hoping to maim him only enough to keep him incapacitated.
"Who are you?" Yui asked as she squared up with him once more after missing the strike.
"I am Ahan. River god to your people, my father is Aha and my mother is Akana. They would be very displeased with you mortal if you were strike at me again."
She hardly believed his words although there was an old legend of a river god that guarded the Tamsin river that ran through Tanabe land.
"What were you doing in my coop."
"I was hungry and there were no offerings at the temple. So I hoped to retrieve some fresh eggs from the great warrior Omaru. But it seems he has passed, which is sad."
"How do you know my father?"
"He served in protecting this land long ago from an ocean invasion of the Moors. To think a desert people would cross and ocean to attack islanders it seemed absurd. All heavens know of your father's deeds."
Hayubei was confused why was this river god on the mortal plane should he not be tending to protecting the river.
"Why are you here Ahan, if what you say is true. Then you should be in the heavens with the other Gods watching over the lands."
Ahan put his hands behind his back while slowly pacing backwards for a moment. His gaze never leaving hers. It was hard for her to meet it, but she did so confidently anyway.
"I ran away from my parents. It's is so boring where I come from. We are tied to our duties as deities with no chance to entertain ourselves besides messing with the lands beneath us. I have stopped 3,030,541,038,038 droughts in my time and 6,457,398,208,175 floods. I have given promise to rain for crops and been home to many creatures that have become friends along my river banks. But it is lonely when people fear to talk with the Gods."
"I have no such fear."
He smiled pointed at her several times.
"You, you are different daughter of Omaru."
"My name is Hayubei. But people call me Yui."
"Very well, Yui. Would you be as kind as to let me in your home and share a meal. I am absolutely famished."
She looked him up and down one more time. Now she could see that his garments sparkled iridescently, his hair flowed like as if beneath water and his eyes were shifting like the passing of clouds. There was no doubt that she was dealing with a God.
And though brave she was, she wouldn't pass an opportunity to know about her father and his past. He never divulged in it when she was growing up. She would let the beggar God in.
"I have a brother named Kasaba or Kas. Do not frighten him."
The two of them made it into the house. And there, young Kas was hiding beneath the table.
"Kas it is safe, this Ahan. He is my um... a friend." She passed a hesitant glance Ahan's way who met it with a wink.
Kas got out from under the table and looked with awe at Ahan.
"Is he your boyfriend?" Kas asked.
Yui blushed heavily at the thought.
"NO, Kas just a friend who is hungry now come sit. I'll make breakfast."
A moment in the pantry then in the kitchen. She fired up the spit and put a kettle to boil. She and Kas had been living on this farm for many years now. She tended to the pastures and the animals while Kas maintained the coop.
"You didn't hurt any of my chickens Ahan? Did you."
"Of course not, I was only looking to try some eggs. I'm not one to harm innocent creatures. In fact, I didn't even eat any of their eggs. Your sister found me first."
Kas smiled happily and jumped up and down in his seat.
"Ahan knows about our father, Kas. Ask him to tell a story." Advised Hayubei from the fireplace.
Kas eyes widened.
"Yes, yes. Please Ahan tell us about Dah." Kas requested with an eager light in his eyes.
"Very well," He cleared his throat and began to tell an old tale.
"A long, long time ago. There once was a Kingdom amongst the dunes known as Sandmoore. It was located in an oasis at the center of the Sadeev desert. These people were holy warriors. Guided by a heavenly angel known as Lerra. She was the goddess of the sky and heavens.
One day these people known as the Murians. Were fooled by an angry goddess posing as Lerra. That goddess name was Akana. And she was super pissed with her husband Aha. You see Aha was the god of the rivers and Akana was that of the ocean. But one day tending to the streams he met a beautiful mortal woman named Nell. A creature of the woodland realm. A healer. A human mortal. It was forbidden.
So in anger Akana raised all sorts of heavenly hellish skyfall. Blizzards, lightening storms, monsoons, hurricanes, tornadoes and droughts the likes of which suffocated the Murians.
Seeking passage to new lands the Murians sought to find fresh lands to graze to bring back fresh water and supplies. And this is where your father comes into play.
The Murians found your father's home undefended. So they came in raiding boats in the thousands. The Tanabe scouts luckily caught sight of them early on and fortifications were made. No one believed they would survive. The invading force was immense.
But your father, he held his resolve. Rallied those close to them and trained vigorously with the townsfolk. Men and women alike became in days time formidable warriors. No one knows for certain how your father did this. Nor is their much knowledge where he learned these traits himself.
But needless to say, when the day came. He held the waves of Murians back at the very front. As time passed with every engagement leaving the invaders more wounded and dead then their victims. Eventually, your father talked them into a treaty. One which stands to this day. A tribute is sent out to aid the Murians and in exchange a trade route had been established.
Your father had stopped the bloodshed of needless thousands on both sides of war."
The bubbling of the soup, stopped him from continuing as Yui served out a bowl to each of them.
"Were you there?" Kas wondered.
"No, but the story was passed down to me."
Ahan ate his soup quietly while eyeing both Yui and Kas.
"How is it that you've managed to make it as long as you have without your father."
"We are not alone," Yui replied. "The other villagers accommodate us. As much as we help out with the community. No one is made to suffer unneeded endless duties. Everyone should have time for themselves."
Ahan smiled at that.
"I'm strong like sis. And I can take care of myself." Kas huffed his chest to prove it.
The sun outside was starting creep from beyond the horizon. As their meals were finished.
Ahan made his way outside and both Kas and Yui made to see him off.
"Thank you, Lady Yui and Master Kas."
"It was a pleasure. Come by if ever you need anything." Yui replied.
"But stay outa the coop okay." Kas added.
Ahan nodded and walked out onto the prairie.
A few paces off, out of earshot and he looked up to the heavens.
"Well brother, I did as you promised. You should be proud of them, they've grown quite a bit. There's nothing for you to worry about."