65 The Patriarch“s Return - Headed by a Snake
Kimura Daigo, Patriarch of the Kimura family, stepped foot into his own home after weeks of absence.
The other members of the Kimura family rejoiced at his arrival.
"The Patriarch has returned!" "Welcome back, Patriarch!" "Patriarch!"
Daigo was pleased. When he'd left, the impending Calamity had hung over the family's head like an axe ready to fall. Seeing his entire household, full of gloom and hopelessness, he vowed to grow stronger. He needed to do all that he could to rekindle the spark in the Kimura family, to drive them to seek success, to flourish within the sect.
He gave passing greetings to his loyal family members and immediately made his way to the central hall. He would shoulder the burdens of his Ivory Judge sect by himself if he had to.
"Uncle Kakui," Daigo addressed his Uncle and Chief Advisor. "Summon the Elders."
Daigo sat imposingly on the central throne. He had changed into the flowing golden robes of the Kimura family, heirloom blades worn on his side. He wore his flowing, silvery hair in a high ponytail held by sticks, dashing and wild, like the heroes of legend. He flashed a masculine smile at Kagehisa Yumiko, his gorgeous wife, who swooned exaggeratedly with her hands to her heart, "My husband is so manly!"
Elder Kakui gave a light bow of obeisance, "Of course, Patriarch. What shall I tell them?"
Daigo grinned widely. To answer the elder's question, he allowed some of his aura to leak through unrestrained.
Elder Kakui stumbled back a step in surprise, "N-n-nascent Profound Realm?!"
"That's right. I've been in the Otherworldly Formation for nearly a year and have finally broken through, increasing my speed and strength several-fold."
"Patriarch! That's wonderful news!"
Daigo's smile hardened and turned grave, "I know I have given our family hope with my return... Where before, it was an impossible task, I now believe I have a 30% chance to succeed. But I will need your help, Uncle, along with that of the other elders. We will resolve the Guardian Beast's condition together..."
Daigo stood up and clenched his fists, releasing his aura, "For the fate of the sect!!"
Elder Kakui furrowed his eyebrows with a wry smile, "Patriarch... that."
Yumiko gave a polite bow, "Dear husband, the Guardian Beast's issue has already been resolved. For several suns now, the Guardian Beast has made several appearances. The sect's morale is high and the younger generation is improving their martial arts rapidly."
Daigo's smile twitched. The biggest tribulation the sect had suffered in his lifetime had passed and he had no part in its liberation. A slight part of his heart ached that he wasn't the foretold hero of the Calamity... But ultimately, he decided he was happy as long as his family is safe.
He released a deep sigh of tension and plopped back down into his seat. He reached out to hold Yumiko's soft hand, "Thank you, dear wife."
"Patriarch, shall I still summon the elders?" Kakui offered.
"No need," Daigo shook his head. "News of my arrival should have already reached them..."
Daigo steepled his fingers and crossed his legs, "Instead, I wish to see Shiroma, Akira, and the Mahoutsukai, Seiji Hojo. Now that I've had my breakthrough, I'm confident in... dealing with them."
Kakui looked troubled, "Patriarch... Those 3 in particular..."
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Daigo raised an eyebrow, "Don't tell me you've been fooled by them, Uncle. It was quite obvious they've been working against us for some time now!"
Kakui laughed nervously.
Yumiko squeezed Daigo's hand and smiled gently, "Dear husband, what Elder Kakui may be trying to say is... those 3 have taken an extended leave of absence and have yet to return."
"Oh... well. Surely, they grew worried of my return." Daigo nodded slowly in understanding, "How uh... long have they been gone for?"
"Nearly a week now, dear husband."
Daigo adjusted himself in his seat... "What a strange coincidence. Very well... How is... my daughter?"
"--Our daughter," Yumiko gently corrected.
"--our daughter." Daigo coughed. "Before the Otherworldly Formation opened, I sent Taree to try to recruit a large or medium mercenary company in Aviard to assist in defending the family."
Elder Kakui broke into a radiant smile, "Yes, Patriarch! She has performed admirably! The Outsiders are quite strong. From what I understand, they played a large part in the Guardian Beast's convalescence."
Daigo applauded, "Yes! How many mercenaries have joined with our Kimura family? 200? 100? Several dozen battle-hardened elites?"
"Five men and two horses, dear husband."
Daigo choked on his own saliva, coughing violently. Yumiko massaged her husband's back, firmly and swiftly.
Daigo nodded contentedly, wiping tears from his eyes, "It seems... Taree has a good eye for people, then? ...I hope to groom her to be the next leader of the sect... I believe it is near time for our lovely daughter to journey outside of the sect and experience the world."
Yumiko smiled with closed eyes, "Little Taree has made one of the Outsiders her little boyfriend."
Daigo felt as if a bolt of lightning had struck his heart, "Wait, WHAT?! Uncle Kakui, IS THIS TRUE?!?"
Elder Kakui wiped the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief, "That--"
"Speak to me of this man!! How old is he?! What sect is he in? Who are his parents?! Is he strong??"
Kakui bit his upper lip, "He's... he's young. Very young. I don't know his lineage but he does have... peculiar features. And he's quite strong for his age."
Daigo stood up from his chair, "I will see to this young man! He must be tested! I wish to challenge him in Mortal Kombat!!"
Yumiko squeezed her husband's hand with a bit of force, "Be nice. I have given the boy my blessing."
A cold deluge of dejection washed over Daigo's spirits. Rarely was his wife adamant in her decisions. And when she had her mind set, no matter how strong he was, he would not risk antagonizing his wife. He had no wish to be on the opposite end of her bow's deadly precision. And he had to sleep.
He coughed as he sat back down, "O-okay, then. I... look forward to meeting him."
Yumiko giggled lightly in amusement.
Daigo struggled to change the topic, "How is... my-- our son, then?"
Elder Kakui pursed his lips, "Patriarch... Several suns prior, Young Master Tamaki was kidnapped."
The battle-hardened patriarch stood up with a wicked grin, "Ah, excellent news."
He was growing frustrated that he hadn't yet found a problem he could act upon.
"Uncle Kakui, arrange for two squads of warriors and archers to accompany Yumiko and I. I'm sure this is the Muto family's doing, as only they would be so brazen to kidnap my-- err... our one and only son."
Daigo grinned with a radiant smile, "Come, my love, and bear witness to my blade! On my honor, I will save our son before the sun falls!"
Yumiko had covered her mouth with her hand, stifling a laugh.
Daigo gazed helplessly at his beautiful wife, his excitement immediately faded, "Dear wife... Is your foolish husband missing something?"
"Little Tamaki has already been rescued. I'll have him come home for dinner."
Daigo slumped back into his chair.
He glared up to Elder Kakui, who could only smile apologetically.
"Dear wife... I'm hungry."
Kagehisa Yumiko kissed her husband on the cheek, "I'll have the kitchens prepare a feast for dinner. But you can sate your hunger on some of the smoked meats."
Daigo's stomach threatened to growl, "Smoked meats? Since when has our family dabbled in smoked meats?"
"It's a favorite of the Outsiders and is growing in popularity in the sect."
Daigo returned a warm smile as he stood to hug his wife.
"The Outsiders, our saviors?" He mused. "Then please, my love, indulge me."
Yumiko returned his embrace, "Welcome home, dear."