A beep, a flash, and the photo was taken. There on the rectangular screen of the camera the image of a sour looking, mocha faced boy, crushed by the grip of a slender almond eyed woman was shown. The woman, in her red kimono, towered over the boy. Porcelain skin, black hair held in a sloppy, yet appealing bun, and a statuesque poise all contributed to this woman's regal air. The youth on the other hand, was dressed in typical attire. A sky blue hoodie, and tan cargo shorts. The strange duo stood before a statue of a royal guard, who held the tattered headband of a defeated ninja. The giant marble edifice was created as a testament to the Royal Guard of old that helped fend off the ninja threat.
“Do you have to take so many pictures Kai?” The boy grumbled before he threw on his hood. With a sort of loathing he eyeballed the crowds that began to gather on the streets. For the first time in years, the rain in Ame had let up. It was a beautiful night. The kind of night where a calm and warm summer’s breeze gently caresses your cheek. Paper lanterns floated on the skies, and fire flies danced about. Yet somehow, he felt uneasy. Something in his gut told him things here weren’t right.
The boy wanted to go home.
“Come on Taro. Quit being such a downer.” Kai-Lan flicked him on the forehead. Taro just turned red and sighed. “Wow...more people are showing up huh,” She gave the boy’s outfit a distasteful look. “Maybe you should have cleaned up a little more? Especially those shoes...” One sharp looking finger pointed at his worn out red high-tops. He swung around on his heel, away from her.
“They’re from mom. I like them.”
Kai-Lan did a sort of dreamy smile. “You’re sentimental, aren’t you?”
“Shut uppp..” The boy cooed.
“Come on, the parade’s gonna start soon! The Lords themselves are supposed to come out!” She grabbed Taro by the wrist and started running. He was too weak to resist her.
* * *
“Come try our delicious grilled eel! Sir! Would you like to try one?”
Solo turned to see a starry eyed little girl standing outside a hastily made eel stand. Despite the heat coming off the grill she stood in front of, the girl was still full of life. She grinned wide at the tall man and pointed up towards her father, who poked his head out the stand. He handed the wanderer a stick with the fattening thing stuck on to it. Solo smiled weakly, he hated eel--but it was the least he could do. “Eh..how much?” He was trying his best to sound cheery.
“400 ryo sir!” Both of them cheered. The vagrant’s mouth dropped.
“400?!” He screamed in agony. The father and daughter just kept on smiling.
“Finest eel in all the land! That’s underpaying honestly.” The little girl informed Solo in a tone full of condenscent. She was a shrewd business woman already.
“Damn you’re good. Here.” He chowed down the entire thing in one monstrous bite--it was actually delicious.
Solo didn’t know it, but around that same time, the father had pulled the same stunt on a pair of roughnecks. Their layered clothing caked with sand indicated that they were from somewhere in the Wind Country. They weren’t as accepting of the price as he was though.
“How about we just bust up this stand instead old man?” The two men from the Land of Wind shared a husky laugh. Solo couldn’t help but realize how cliche this whole scene was as he stole a glance at the girl again.
“Please sir, can you use that sword to help papa?” She pointed at sheathed Saika that hung from his back belt loop. Solo smirked.
“Three free servings and I’ll do it.”
“You’ve got yourself a deal.” Solo adjusted his tie. With both of his hands shoved into his pockets, he calmly walked to the other end of the booth, where the brutes were. “Excuse me...”