Strength of Heart

The next chapter!

at this point Natsumi isn shocked that Ziku is proficient with the weapon. The only thing is that Ziku doesn like using them. Next lesson is ninja tools including: shuriken, kunai and the Kusarigama. This lesson proved just a little difficult for Ziku because he couldn aim the shuriken to hit targets, but with kunai he was able to easily deflect attacks. The shuriken lesson took 3 months for Ziku to even hit a target, he wouldn stop until he was able to hit it. When he finally hit it he was so excited and even burst into tears. Last lesson was the bow and arrow. Ziku was distraught over the idea. Natsumi grabbed him smiling as she told him life doesn get easier, not everything we do is easy. The difficulties we face are what divides people, most people give up and quit when it gets too hard, but those who are strong enough to keep trying, those are the people that go far in life. Ziku looks at her and then looks down, then he goes to pick up the bow and arrow. Ziku undergoes difficult training only to not be able to hit a single target with his arrow. When he misses he smiles and just keeps trying. Every time Ziku hits a target Natsumi makes the distance from him to the target further. All together for 100 meters it takes Ziku 4 months. Add on another two for him training to hit a moving target.

Finally Ziku is done with his weapon training. The next step for Ziku is to learn how to use his speed. Natsumi demonstrates how fast she is by doing an afterimage technique and flash step. Ziku is mesmerized by the speed of his mom. She also shows him how fast she can evade attacks and her speed on feet.

Ziku: ” So cool! ”

Natsumi: ” Is it hard to believe Im not even half the level of speed your father was at? ”

Ziku: ” Really? ” Dad must have been so fast! ”

Natsumi: ”Yeah, your dad was just amazing. ” She says this smiling.

For awhile its just awkward silence. Then the silence gets broken by Omoi.

Omoi: ” Hey Ziku! ”

Ziku turns to look as he sees Omoi and Mina. Ziku gets excited and runs towards Omoi jumps in the air and hugs him. Omoi is confused and doesn like hugs so he grabs Ziku and pulls him away.

Omoi: ” What are you doing. ”

Ziku: ” sorry its just….. we barely see each other and it seems like months go by until the next time I see you. You
e my best friend and I want you always by my side. ”

Omoi blushes and turns around.

Omoi: ” Hey, cut that out. Its embarrassing. ”

Mina and Natsumi just start laughing. Then Ziku tells Omoi that there is a little over a year until the academy. Then they both get excited and decide to spar. Before they fight Ziku closes his eyes and breathes in. Omoi looks and doesn move because hes confused. Then all of sudden Ziku makes afterimages just like he saw his mom do and they all surround Omoi. Omoi thinks about attacking but he can figure out which one is the real one. He tries to punch one, but then he hits air and Ziku kicks him making him go flying until he hits a tree. Ziku runs over to him to ask if hes ok. Omoi rubbing his head and then looks at Ziku and smiles.

Omoi: ” You
e teaching me that before we go to the academy. ”

Then they both start laughing. After it gets dark Ziku asks if Omoi could stay the night and Mina says yes. Ziku and Omoi stay up late just playing, at first they had a pillow fight just throwing them around. Then Omoi goes back and forth putting on clothes making costumes and pretending like hes a hero. Then Omoi slips on his cape and falls and they both start laughing wildly. After awhile they get tired and try and go to sleep.

Omoi: ” Hey Ziku. Why do you want to join the academy? ”

Ziku: ” In all honesty, I just want to be like my dad. I don care about being the strongest like he was, I just want to make sure I can protect my mom and the village. ”

Omoi: ” That sounds like you. ”

Ziku: ” what about you? ”

Omoi: ” Im only joining because you are. I don care about being the strongest either, you
e my best friend in the world. Honestly you
e my only friend and I wouldn trade your friendship for anything. ”

He doesn hear a response and then he looks over and sees Ziku sleeping. He laughs and just stares at Ziku.

Omoi: ” I really wish we are friends forever, I don know what Id do without you. Im afraid this world will try and tear us apart. What am I saying nothing will ever break our bond! ”

He smiles and closes his eyes to sleep.

Kame awakens and goes outside to just watch the sky. Not having either of his parents and living with his aunt has taken its toll on him. Kame notices a paper flying around, he tries to grab it as it takes him into the woods. He keeps following it, but then it lands in someones hand. Kame looks up and notices a tall man. The man hands him the paper and lets him read it. Kame smiles wanting to join the academy. The man identifies his name as Kenshi.

Kenshi: ” You want to join the academy huh? ”

Kame nods.

Kenshi: ”Hmm lets see if you can first. Lets go ask your parents. Where do you live? ”

Kame points.

Kenshi: ”How about you show me? ”

Kame starts walking and Kenshi follows. They get back to where Kame and Jaken have been living. Jaken comes outside to greet them, but she doesn take to kind to strangers as she pulls Kame away and ask what Kenshi was doing with him.

Kenshi: ” Don worry, I found him chasing him after a paper near my home. When he looked at the paper he saw that they are starting an academy for the youth. He got excited so I assume he wants to join. ”

Jaken: ” No. We are not fighters. As it stands now I won even be able to afford anything like this. ”

Kenshi: ” I see the both of you are struggling. Ill be willing to train him and provide him with everything he needs. ”

Jaken: ” But why? What do you want from us? ”

Kenshi: ” Nothing. Im not doing it because I want something. Im doing it because I have nothing. ”

Jaken: ” What do you mean? ”

Kenshi: ” Growing up I had nothing and no one. That is until I met someone that changed my life around and gave me a purpose. I see myself in Kame. I see something in him as well. Hes made for this. Allow me to train him and make him stronger. ”

Jaken stares at Kenshi and then she looks at Kame who just has a blank expression. She thinks to herself that maybe Kenshi can make both their lives better, and turn Kame back into the cheerful and full of spirit boy he once was. Hesitantly she agrees.

Kenshi: ”Great! We have 9 months left, but thats all we need. Training begins tomorrow Kame be ready! ”

Kame smiles again. And this is the first time Jaken has seen him smile. Its the next day and Kame rushes to get dressed and hurries outside. Already arrived is Kenshi.

Kenshi: ” We will begin with Muay Thai. ”

Kame just nods and gets into a stance.

Kenshi: ” Natural stance. You were made for this. Now let us begin! ”

Kenshi shows him basic techniques, how to guard and some efficient combos. After watching him, Kenshi notices that Kame is a natural with martial arts and that he has a bright future ahead of him. After 6 months of training, Kenshi thinks its time for their first spar match. While they
e fighting Kenshi can tell that Kame has improved a lot and he notices Kames ridiculous strength. Every time he dodged an attack Kame either broke a tree, a rock or made a crater in the floor. Jaken just watches, she doesn understand, she thought that she knew what was best for the both of them by keeping him isolated from the world. She never would have thought that what he needed was a kind of father figure to train with him and make him stronger. Already she is noticing a difference in how he acts and a major personality change. For one hes smiling more. Its like fighting brought who he really is out and he broke out of his shell.

Only 3 months remain.

Kenshi: ” I think you
e ready. ”

Kame: ” Thank you. I idolize you in every way. You turned my dream into a reality! ”

Kenshi: ” No problem kid. Don worry Ill be training you until you move on. Promise me when you get stronger you won forget me haha. ”

Kame: ” I won . Now I just wait 3 months and we see what happens. I am so ready to show everyone what I am made of! ”

Kenshi smiles as he starts to think how its only been 6 months and hes built a strong bond with Kame he even kind of sees him as his son.

Ziku is staying over Omois house as they both decide to go into the village and walk around and browse. As they are walking through, Ziku bumps into a kid. Ziku immediately apologizes, but the kid just walks away.

Ziku: ”Hes cold! ”

Omoi: ”Yeah he seemed weird. ”

Ziku: ”No, like hes actually cold! When I bumped into his shoulder he was freezing! ”

Omoi: ”Woah. What we get for living on the outskirts of the village, we are new to everyone and how they act. ”

Ziku: ”Yeah. Lets head back. ”

When they start walking back Ziku starts to hear a melody. And it gets louder. He starts to walk toward it, Omoi tries to stop him, but Ziku just keeps going. Omoi has no choice but to follow. Ziku just stops and starts staring, Omoi ask what hes looking at as they both see a girl standing on the edge of a cliff. Ziku calls out to her.

Ziku: ” Hey! ”

He startles her and she trips and falls off the edge. Ziku runs to try and catch her. The girl is falling, but Ziku jumps after her, dives and catches her hand. He can get a grip on the cliff and they both keep falling. He brings out the sword from its gage and stabs into the side of the cliff. They stop falling. Ziku lifts her up on his back and tells her to hold on. She clinches on tightly and closes her eyes. Ziku starts climbing up using the sword to pull them up. He gets to the top and Omoi pulls both of them up.

Omoi: ” You guys all right? ”

Ziku: ” Yeah, Im fine. ”

Aiko: ” Yeah, me too. Thank you for almost killing me, but also saving my life. ”

Ziku: ” Im sorry its just, I heard this melody in my head and I…. ”

Aiko: ” A melody? ”

Ziku: ” Yeah, when I followed it, I ended up here. ”

Aiko: ” Before you two showed up I was humming one of my favorite songs my mom use to sing to me before I went to bed. ”

Omoi: ” It sounds like Ziku heard you humming and it brought us here. ”

Aiko: ” I don understand, how were you able to hear me? ”

Ziku: ”Im not sure, I just heard this beautiful melody and it called to me, next thing I know I ended up here with you. ”

They all just sit there looking at each other.

Omoi: ”Ziku we should go, its almost time for dinner. ”

Ziku: ” Yeah, umm I apologize umm… ”

Aiko: ” My name is Aiko. ”

Ziku: ” Aiko. Thats pretty. ”

She blushes as she watches them walk away. Then Ziku turns around and they both make eye contact. Ziku smiles at her and waves, Aikos face turns red because shes blushing a lot and she awkwardly waves back. Ziku and Omoi get home and Mina has already prepared dinner. They eat and then go to bed.

Omoi: ”You ok Ziku? ”

Ziku: ” That girl. I can stop thinking about her. Like why was she there alone? ”

Omoi: ”I don know it confuses me too. ”

Ziku: ” The whole day, all I could think about is her and Im not sure why. ”

Omoi: ” Could we talk about this some other time, Im actually really tired. ”

Omoi ends up falling asleep and Ziku soon after. The next day it seemed like they had forgot all about the girl and Ziku goes home. More time pass and its only a week left until its time to start the academy. Ziku tells his mom that hes going to go to the river. When he gets there he sees the girl again. He calls out to her, but when she turns around he sees tears falling from her eyes.

Aiko: ” What are you doing here? ”

Ziku blushing, then goes to sit down next to her.

Ziku: ” I come here sometimes to just think. My father took me here when he came back and it immediately became my favorite place. ”

Aiko: ”Oh, I see. ”

Ziku: ”Why are you here? ”

Aiko: ”I never knew my real parents. I live alone, never had anyone. But whenever I go out, I could tell the villagers see me differently. My hair, my skin makes them afraid of me because its different, I guess people are afraid of things they don understand. They treat me like Im some type of disease and at times I just don want to live life anymore. ”

Ziku: ”Im sorry you feel this way. But hey, it doesn matter what the village thinks. As long as you know who you are and who you want to be none of that matters. You
e weird, but I can tell you
e special. ”

She just stares into Zikus eyes.

Ziku: ”Oh, you should join the academy! ”

Aiko: ”Im not a fighter, Im weak. ”

Ziku smiles at her and says: ”No you
e not, theres something about you that just feels special. You don have to be the strongest, you could be strong and unique in your own way. ”

Aiko stares at Ziku then wipes her tears. She starts to blush.

Aiko: ”Are.. Are you going to be in the academy? ”

Ziku: ”Yep, me and my friend Omoi. ”

Aiko: ”Ok. Ill join. ”

Ziku: ” Great Ill see you there! ”

Aiko: ”Thank you Ziku! ”

Ziku: ” You
e welcome… umm… Im sorry I forgot your name. Im terrible with names. ”

She laughs and says: ”Its Aiko. Don forget! ”

Ziku: ”I won ”

Ziku waves at her as hes leaving and she waves back. He heads home, but the whole way home hes smiling. When he gets home he tells him mom all about Aiko and how he changed her mind and got her to join the academy along with him and Omoi. Its night time and everyone is heading to bed. More time pass as all the students have the date set and are ready.

Ziku: ”One week! ”

Omoi: ”One week! ”

Kame: ”One week! ”

Aiko: ”One week! ”

All of them in different places, but thinking the same thing as each and every one of them is excited for the next chapter in their lives!

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