The last three days had been amazing, and Shinta felt revitalized. He loved spending time with his new friend. They were walking the streets when Silas stopped and pointed at a cafeteria. “This looks cool, it’s a ninja cafe. Let’s go in here?”
Shinta nodded, not caring much, and followed his friend. He froze when they stepped inside.
The cafe was ridiculously decorated in what was supposedly a ‘ninja style’ but was clearly aimed at tourists; The staff was dressed as ninjas, a variety of fake weapons adorned the walls, and it even offered a ninja crash-course for its visitors. Fun, but nowhere near authentic. Except for the large ‘wanted’ poster framed on the wall.
Shinta felt the ground fall away beneath him, his breath hitching as he stared at it.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Silas said, tugging at his sleeve in the direction of the table their ‘ninja server’ was guiding them towards.
“I… I can’t… I—” Shinta said, before fleeing from the restaurant.
“Is everything alright?” Silas asked, worried.
Shinta gulped in the fresh air as he gave his friend a bright smile. Or something that had to pass off as one. “It’s nothing. I…” He couldn’t say anything. If he were to tell the other boy about his past, he’d come to hate him and he couldn’t afford to lose him. He barely knew the other boy, but he didn’t want to estrange the one person who’d pricked through the dark veil that had hung over his existence.
Silas looked over his shoulder at the end of the street, where he could still make out the cut-out sign of a ninja. “Is this because of your past? I thought you’d appreciate it, having been a ninja yourself—”
Shinta’s eyes widened as his heart dropped before racing. “—Who told you?! What do you know about my past?!” He cursed when Silas stepped back at his snapped response. “Sorry, I…”
Silas shuffled his feet, clearly uncomfortable around him. “Eclipse told me you were part of a ninja Clan when you were still human? One that specializes in killing by poison?”
Shinta’s nails dug deep into the palms of his hands, closing his eyes in defeat. Of course, Eclipse would’ve told his fledgling about his past. He wasn’t the person to keep secrets. “Wait, when did he tell you this?” he pressed.
Silas shrugged. “The first day I met you. Some of the other Clan members made weird comments, so I asked Eclipse about it. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry or anything…”
Shinta’s head shot up as a thought hit him.
He learned it that first day. He knew, but didn’t treat me differently…
“He told you I’m a killer? And you’re okay with that?” he asked skeptically. He loved the boy, and in many ways they were similar. But there was one fundamental difference; Silas didn’t have the lethal instinct he had. Silas truly was the happy-go-lucky boy he portrayed. No hidden personas.
Silas shrugged. “I can’t really imagine killing for a profession, but I guess you must’ve had your reasons. Either way, it’s of no concern to me.”
Shinta guffawed, followed by maniacal laughter. He tried to stop but found he couldn’t. He’d been prosecuted for his heritage his entire life. Had to go to extreme lengths to get people to trust him once they found out about his past, yet this young Changeling simply accepted him for who he was. Just like that.
“Are you okay?” Silas asked after a while, obvious concern now in his eyes.
Shinta nodded and wiped the tears from his eyes as giggles still escaped him. “I’m sorry… it’s— I’ve never met anyone like you. I’m not sure if you’re too gullible for your own good or too innocent, but I love you all the more for it.”
“I’m sorry about the cafe…” Silas said. “I didn’t expect you’d get spooked by the whole ninja theme.”
They had bought food at a street cart and were now sitting in a beautiful park, enjoying the afternoon sun.
“It’s okay, it’s not your fault. And it wasn’t the theme that freaked me out. In fact, that was probably the biggest mis-depiction of our kind there is. But did you see the poster? That one was real. And the face on it is mine. A bad drawing, but still. It was a ‘wanted’ poster, offering a hundred mon—a vast amount of money for that time—for the head of any Fuuma member. They circulated all around Asia even years after the Clan’s demise. I haven’t seen those in decades but to run into it now… It caught me off guard a little, that’s all.”
Silas was quiet for a moment. “I can’t imagine how that must’ve been. I only learned about those times in books, yet you lived through it. You’re living history.”
Shinta looked away, plucking at blades of grass between his feet. “The weird part is, I remember it as if it was yesterday. What?” Shinta asked when he saw the other boy’s pensive eyes.
Silas shrugged. “I… I guess for the first time, I’m realizing this whole vampire thing isn’t going to wear off, is it? I’ve never given immortality much thought, but now… I don’t know,” he said, at a loss for words. “How the hell am I supposed to adjust to that?”
“One day at a time,” Shinta said, showering the younger boy with grass. “Come on, let’s find something more exciting to do than feeling sorry for ourselves.”
Silas jumped up, ready for action.
Eventually, they found the action in the back room of a casino. Tokyo was known as one of the safest capitols in the world but, like any city, it also had a darker side. A Chinese Triad-run gambling den was a prime example. Once the owner noticed they had money to spend, he was quick to invite them to a more ‘interesting game’. ‘Interesting’ apparently was Chinese for ‘high-stake, knives-out, mahjong’.
Shinta had warned his charge about the risks, but his new friend had only grinned mischievously. “If you won’t tell Eclipse, I won’t either.” And that had sealed it.
They had a good time; winning round after round, even though Silas had no clue about the rules of the game. The boy was engrossed in it, oblivious to his surroundings. Shinta could practically hear Toshiro groaning in his ear. His brother would not have approved. Lucky for Silas, he wasn’t alone, and Shinta was fully aware of their surroundings. From the number of people in the room to the number of hidden weapons each of them carried.
After the third round Silas won, the mood changed, and smiles turned into death glares. It had gotten to a point where even Silas noticed the tension and, after a last round, he got to his feet, all smiles, ready to leave.
But when they made for the door, they found it blocked with three muscled men. More moved in behind them, blocking their escape routes.
“Hmm, gentlemen?” Silas tried. But their hosts no longer seemed to speak or understand English.
Here we go, Shinta thought.
“Silas, when I say ‘go’, I need you to run as fast as you can through that door and into the street. Don’t stop running until I tell you to. Oh, and keep your head down,” Shinta whispered, knowing the other’s Methuselan hearing could still hear it.
“There are three guys in front of it!” Silas hissed in return.
“I’ll take care of those.”
Before Silas could reply, Shinta threw three throwing needles at the bouncers blocking the door, making them drop like potato sacks. “GO!”
Instead of following his charge, Shinta turned around to take out the other three in the room first, before going after his charge at breakneck speed.
Shinta was well aware that the people in the room with them hadn’t been the only armed men in the casino, and sure enough, within seconds, bullets whizzed past them. He hated humans and their guns, and missed the old days when a fight still meant a proper blade.
Silas made a sharp left, leading them into an alley that was fenced off at the far end. “Not what I would’ve picked, but no worries,” Shinta said, leaping on a garbage container, reaching back to pull his friend up before scaling the fence as if it was nothing.
Again, bullets rained, but luckily they managed to avoid them all. A gun fired by a human wouldn’t be able to kill them, but it still hurt as hell. Right in the middle of the chase, Shinta’s phone buzzed, and when he recognized the ringtone, he cursed.
Had it been all fun and games, he now became painfully aware that most likely Eclipse—and Feilon for that matter—would not be as pleased with him. He suddenly remembered Feilon’s warning when they left.
“You may not be his personal Makhai, but during this trip, his safety will be your responsibility. Consider it a practice run for a future position as a personal Makhai.”
If he ignored the call, it would only make the Royal Vampire suspicious, thus he answered it.
“Shinta? Where the hell are you?! Where’s Silas?”
“Ah, he’s fi—Ah! No, this way!” Shinta hissed as Silas was about to hit another dead end. “Sorry about that, everything’s peachy, but we need to… hmm, I’ll call you back later, byyeee.”
It took them several long minutes of running before they finally shook off the Triad members.
Silas doubled over, hands on his knees, as he tried to catch his breath.
“Are you okay?” Shinta asked, hoping he hadn’t blown his duties completely and gotten the boy shot.
“That was awesome! Did you see the expression on their faces?!” Silas said, trying to laugh as his breathing was still hitching. “And you, my friend, were amazing! You took out six of them!”
Shinta grinned. “You weren’t bad yourself either. You’re pretty fast!”
They were stepping into the tea room Eclipse told them to meet him at, when dread seeped back into Shinta. The vampire did not look happy and a wave of restless Mana washed over them, making the hairs on his neck stand on end. He was going to be in trouble.
The expression on the irate vampire’s face did not bode well, and without a greeting, he demanded to know what they had been up to the past hours. Silas, the innocent child—bless his soul—told Eclipse everything in full-color. Shinta thought it was endearing how he’d made him out to be a superhero, but Eclipse wasn’t as impressed.
“You were supposed to watch over him, not get him into trouble! He’s more than capable of managing that on his own,” Eclipse addressed him.
“Oy, don’t blame him!” Silas said, getting angry with his Master. “He got us out, and kept me safe! Even when they started shooting and chasing us, he told me what to do. He took three of them out with these flashy ninja moves. You should have seen it; It was awesome, like a Jackie Chan movie!”
Eclipse raised his eyebrow. “You actually listened to him? As in, followed orders and such?” he added, as if unsure his fledgling knew the meaning of the word ‘listening’.
“He didn’t give me any orders. All I had to do was keep up with him, stay behind him, and keep my head down. Even I can do that,” he boasted.
Eclipse looked from his still adrenaline-spiked fledgling to Shinta, who tried to look guilty. “You two are incorrigible,” the vampire said, but couldn’t hide a small smile.
And with that, Shinta could breathe again. He was sure he would still hear it from Feilon, but Eclipse’s opinion mattered to him. He’d be devastated if the man would hate him over something he’d considered a game.