After Night Comes Dawn
A bolt of lightning crashed down from the skies above. The white crack seemed to distort reality as it made its way down to the earth, illuminating the dark, clouded world for a split second. Preceding, and succeeding the crack was a pummeling rain that seemed to consume the world. The rain flowed down swiftly, and the drops came, one after the other—tap, tap, tap. The raindrops poured down from the dark skies, crashing down upon my house’s roof. As one would expect, the bolt of lightning that had just crashed down was quickly followed by a blast of thunder. I was scared, there was little that I could do, and voices were fading, some slowly, and others very quickly. There was nothing I could do. I was crying, the tears blurred my vision as I sat within my house on the upper floor, and watched, as blood trickled down the bodies of many. I was but a young boy, at the tender age of four, and already, death was abundant before my eyes. There was little that I could do, and little that I could hope to accomplish with my age and my small body; I could do nothing, nothing but sit and wait. My parents were in a short distance from me, fighting off people, protecting themselves, protecting me.
The people attacking were varied, there were men, there were women, some were tall, and others stout. I cannot remember the number of people that my parents had killed that day, and I had no clue what was going on. The people were cloaked; a veil of darkness hid their faces, and the only things that were truly visible to me were their swords, the Japanese long sword, the Katana. And then, another lightning bolt struck. The crackling white once again illuminated the world. The light filtered through the window and crashed onto the blade, illuminating it. The sword glimmered, a mix of silver, and a crimson red. The bolt placed light on the blood that had been shed by the warriors that had already died, and seemed to emphasize the small amounts of blood that my parents had lost. “Darn! We’ve become rusty…” my father said the words angrily as another man came at him. The man’s sword crashed into his creating a very loud sound. The sound radiated through the room, and into my ears, voiding any other sound. I tried to concentrate on my father’s voice for comfort, but was unable to do so. Thunder crashed down quickly, destroying any remnants of my father’s voice.
“Why are you here?” My mother asked, as she moved her Katana to counter the other man’s blade. The blades came together, and then quickly came apart. My mother retracted her blade and quickly brought it down upon the other man in a diagonal swing, going from right to left. Another voice disappeared, giving up and fading away to nothingness. A crimson red poured out of the man as he fell to the ground. It did not seem that the attackers had any intention of answering my mother’s question, and the battle simply continued to rage on with no visible victor. After many more violent exchanges between the people and my parents, I began to hope. It was a warm feeling, one that was stronger than any that I had every felt before. I felt that it would be alright, that I would survive, and make it through. The hope was strong, and it seemed that my parent’s strength was unwavering. Their bodies moved fluidly, their motions had once been rough, but they now moved fluidly, naturally. The hope felt nice, it assured me, and comforted me as I sat in the corner of the room.
My mother’s elegant arm cut through the air, bringing the long metal blade with it. The sword quickly came through the air; its aerodynamic shape helped it cut through the air. It soon crashed into the opposition’s blade, and my mother gritted her teeth. Her teeth were clenched, and her long black hair shifted as she spun around, bringing the blade the other way, and cutting the man with a horizontal swing from left to right. The other people had numbers, but it seemed that my parents held the advantage in strength and skill. A bloody crimson spilled out from the man and crashed into my mother’s clothing, staining her attire. She was wearing her pajamas, they were a very plain white with no design whatsoever, and that only intensified the red. My father was dressed similarly, but his pajamas were the color black. The bloodstains upon his clothing did not look so bad. My father had short black hair and a very tall stature. He was not far too muscular, and had a stern expression upon his face. They had attacked in the middle of the night, as we were sleeping, and my parents were forced to defend themselves with this attire. I was still very confused.
As another person was cut down, more people infiltrated the building through the black of the night. They charged up the stairway entering the small room. The room had a wooden floor, and white walls. It was the bedroom, where the we slept together. Life had been peaceful, and now this. Throughout the room were small candles that gave only very little light, and, in this dark room, my parents came to a shocking realization. “You…” My father said very audibly. His voice was filled with disappointment, and tinged with joy. “Why you… of all people?” The words were said, and my mother continued for him. “Didn’t you agree to let us go?!” The battle was brought to a standstill as the man that his parents were conversing with walked in to the room. He told the people to stop, himself, and so they did. It seemed that this man was their leader. “I’m sorry.” They man said the words apologetically, sincerely. It seemed that he did not like what was happening either. This only confused me more. “They’re orders, I can not disobey them.” The man said the words sternly, as if he held no emotion. The man finished his sentence before he rushed towards my father.
The man then quickly moved in to confront my father. My mother moved as well, as if she understood what was going on. My mother changed her position, and moved next to me, standing beside me. I wiped my tears, and looked at her. Through the thick scent of blood, I could smell my mother’s soft scent. I had become so accustomed to it, that I could pick it out, despite the thick blood that was layered on top of it. “Everything is going to be okay, okay?” My mother whispered the words into my ears softly. Her tone of voice was comforting, and she tried not to be too loud. I did not say anything and I could not say anything. I was far too shocked from the night’s events. We had gone to sleep as per normal, and I had woken up to footsteps as well as the distinct sound of metal crashing. “Daddy will protect us, so rest easy.” Once again, I could do nothing but nod. It was the only response that I could give in my current state.
My mother moved in to hug me, and that she did. She wrapped her arms around my frail body and pulled my up into a standing position. My body could not react, I was frozen by fear as the man charged at my father. Somehow, this man felt different from the rest, he was different. He felt different, he looked different, and my parents saw him as different. The fighting had stopped because of him, and the fighting had once again started because of him. “I thought you said you would let us go! We just wanted to raise a peaceful family!” Following the words was the loud crash of metal. The two exchanged blows, and their swords connected. They left their swords upon each other, pushing them forwards, trying to gain vantage. Neither of them was able to thus far. “Once again, I’m sorry.” The words were said, and this time, they held some emotion. After the words were uttered, the blades were retracted. The two pulled back, and once again came at one another. I was still lost in confusion, unsure of what was happening. The man whom had just entered had blazing red hair, and a harsh face. His voice was rough, and he somehow looked sad. It was something that would be hard to notice, but I, whom was trying to be objective, had noticed. He was in pain.
Drawing back, my father brought his blade upward, and quickly brought it crashing down. In concert, a bolt of white lightning struck down from the skies. As the ground countered the lightning—stopping it in its tracks, my father’s blade too was brought to a stop. A loud crack was made when the two blades hit, the other man had brought his blade up, holding the blade horizontally over his head. The two blades seemed to make a plus sign or something similar. Following that, thunder sounded, and the two broke apart once more, only to swing at each other again. This time, the blades touched for but a split second before moving apart to strike again. It seemed that the battle was about speed, if my father could not react quick enough, he would lose. On the other hand, if the other man failed to react nimbly, he would lose. My father was fatigued, and it seemed that he was somewhat rusty. “Rusty?” I thought o myself, asking myself the question. I did not know much about my father’s past, but it seemed that he held experience with a sword from the past. It was mere speculation and held little background information to back it up.
My mother continued to hold me as the fight happened. She had complete trust in my father to survive, and simply continued to hold me. She was knelt down, and her arms were wrapped around my body. My head was just slightly above her shoulders, allowing me to both breathe and see the ensuing battle. As it went on, it became clear that the other man had the advantage in the battle. My dad was beginning to wear out, and it was happening quickly. I could see the other man, and I could clearly see his expression breaking. His composure, his body, his technique, they were refined and held no difference, but the expression upon his face was faltering. Tears began streaming out of his eyes and onto his face. My father had noticed this too, but did not stop fighting.
“This is… this is not how I wanted meet you again. After all this time… Sempai…” The words were uttered as the man’s blade pierced my father’s body. “It’s far too late… Please… just assure me—assure me my so–.”
He said the words weakly and was cut off by death. At this moment, my mother stood. “I’ll give up peacefully, just assure me that my son will live.” My mother said the words quickly. She turned towards the man that had slain my father and gave him a stern look. “Kazuki—please. That’s my husband’s last wish, and that is mine as well.” The words shocked me. A revelation occurred in my mind. They’re going to die! Though I had experienced hopelessness, I had never come to that conclusion. My father’s body was dropped down onto the ground, limp, and gone. His voice had faded and had disappeared. “I know Elis, I know. I won’t harm your child.” Tears streamed down his face as he said so. It seemed that he was heartbroken. He walked forwards regardless, moving towards my mother. Tears streamed down my face, as I was finally able to talk. “Mommy! Don’t die!” The words were said loudly, screamed, at the top of my lungs. I remember feeling pain in my throat after doing so, as if the words had cut right through. My mother turned to look at me, and gave me a simple smile. There was nothing else—just that.
“What is the name… of your child?” The man said the words softly as he approached. The man tightened his grip on his Katana, and my mother replied. “Yoshiyuki. You promised me not to kill him. Yoshiyuki… don’t die.” She said the words, and the man nodded, and stood still. The exchange was done. The man’s expression tightened. His expression returned to a simple stern one, and he quickly drove his Katana into my mother’s body. Blood leaked out of my mother’s body, onto the man’s blade, trickling down. I was frozen stiff; my mother’s words had simply hit me so hard. “Why me? Why would they die… for me?” I could not understand. I was simply unable to comprehend why my parents would do such a thing. No answer came, and as the men left, my mind slowly began to shut down. I was three; I had not known anyone other than my parents. I had yet to enter any sort of school, and yet to meet others my age. My parents were the world, and the world had just crumbled beneath my feet. My mind went into a state of doubt, a state of confusion, a state of horror.
“I want to die.”
The words were thought, and quickly canceled out by my mother’s words, and my father’s words. “Yoshiyuki… don’t die.” I recalled my mother’s words as I fell upon my butt, collapsing onto the floor. “Then… what? I want to live?” I questioned myself, confused of what to do. As the opposition was leaking, one of them commented. “Really, I think we should just kill that boy too.” The man whom had made the promise quickly rebuked, and that was the end of it. I now sat in the room alone. There were plenty of weapons scattered upon the floor, many instruments of destruction that could be used to kill myself. I sat alone, in my bedroom with the bodies of my parents, and many of the other people whom had died in the confrontation. “It’s too painful… It’s too painful!” My mind exclaimed the words, and my body jumped up in crazed frenzy. My body began to vibrate visibly. My arms began to flail madly, and my mind seemed to be going mad. After around half an hour of that, I began crying. Crying endlessly, streams of water flowed down my cheeks and trickled down onto the floor. “My parents… are dead.” And with that, I collapsed, onto the floor. As I lost consciousness, I could tell that something was leaving me. I could not tell exactly what, but slowly, I was becoming mellower about the situation. I was losing all sense of sadness, along with all sense of joy. The events of the past suddenly grayed out, and so did this moment now. Things were losing their color, “I’m going to live.” I decided, the thought was almost monotone. As the thought was uttered, the lost the last of whatever I was losing, and fell asleep. As I did, memories burst within my mind. They were not my memories, but rather my father’s and my mother’s. They were much younger in the memories, and I was not yet born. They were fighting, and my mother was a field medic. They were fighting.
Slowly the skills that they utilized were absorbed into my mind, one after the other. Their appearances, their fluid motions, their skill. Those things went into my mind, filling the void that had just been created. Coming after those memories were a few words. Someone else was speaking the words. It was not my father, nor my mother, and certainly not myself. “There is something instilled in us called the genetic archive. There is a part of our genes inherited from our parents, and it holds their skills, holding their potential. This gives the child the potential to achieve these skills at a much faster rate, and then advance them further. It allows us, as humans to become stronger than the past generations, and maybe one day, gain enough skill to defeat those nasty magicians. It is awoken by training the skills that lay asleep in the archive, or through a traumatic experience.” I at the time was unable to understand the words, but soon after the words were uttered, I awoke from the dream.
The surroundings were different and almost surreal. At this moment, I had figured out what I had lost. I had lost my emotions. I felt nothing. No joy, no sadness, no pain. I was neutral. I gave no reaction as I saw the scattered bodies upon the floor, and gave no reaction as I passed my parents. A man soon walked into the room. The man was big, and jeered at me. Analyzing his face, I realized that he was overconfident, and I would use that to my advantage. The man had a weapon in his hand, and I was without one. “For now anyway. I thought. I moved back, retreating from the man and moving to a storage room that held weapons. The archive had told me where it was. Moving to the area, I picked up a small dagger. “Oh? You feel like you’re a big boy with that thing huh?” The man said, jeeringly. I gave no reaction, my emotions already lost to the abyss. “Just die.” The man was confused by my words, but also bemused. “Though I know how, my body just won’t…” I thought. My body certainly was not conditioned to perform the acts that my father had. “Well, with this bumbling idiot…” I thought the words as the man approached. He was walking slowly, stomping loudly. He wasn’t being delicate at all, it seemed that he either wasn’t trained very well, or was simply too overconfident. Approaching me, he jumped on me. The path of his blade was clear, and I easily sidestepped it by moving over to the left. I moved my right arm, thus lifting the dagger up, and piercing his body. Gravity pushed his body down, and I left the dagger in, moving aside to escape being crushed. “Let’s go then.” I thought with neutrality. I left the man to die as I collected a few other items that were necessary for survival. It was time to go.
 Sempai is a Japanese honorific given to someone whom mentored you, or someone whom you respect.