The Rune of the Red Branch and the honor of death match. Two may enter, and only one may exit. All other obstructions and interruptions are excluded outside the boundary, preventing all interference.

Spread across the Hidden Mists shanty towns where the poor and destitute were driven to starvation and persecuted for their birth, the Rune of the Red Branch was a trap only Shirou could activate.

Requiring magic to cast, Shirou had designated himself as the adversary, and all who first stepped into the boundary were the challengers.

Silently, the body of a Mist Shinobi crumpled to the ground and decayed under the curse of the Forked Knife, a mystic code imbued with ailing properties comparable to Rin's Gandr bullets.

Like Shirou had thought, most Shinobi unaware of Magecraft were susceptible to its dangers regardless of Chakra.

In fact, the sense of foreboding from ignorance in a shinobi world where competence was measured by intuition and experience, was debilitating for intellectuals. Rather, it was the bold and the courageous aspects weeded out from Jounin-Level Shinobi that would have played a more substantial role.

Facing the death of a comrade, the rest of the Hidden Mist's patrolling Shinobi unit froze in apprehension, cautiously trying to determine what had happened before taking any action.

"Is it a sealing Jutsu?"

"What about a Genjutsu?"

"I told you already!" One of them screamed in growing bewilderment. "Chakra, he's not using Chakra!"

It was the one concept that had to be stressed.

Facing Shirou, the Mist Shinobi had to wrap their minds around the concept of an invisible barrier preventing all but one from moving forward, and that one person would be unable to retreat if disadvantaged in battle.

Nevertheless, Shirou knew the moment wouldn't last long. Shinobi were the main military personnel of the Great Hidden Villages, and the mental fortitude of their elites wasn't something that could be easily shaken. Rather-

"I'll report back to the Water Shadow. Perhaps it's a new Bloodline? Or even if it isn't, we have to take precautions against it."

Presumably the weakest member of the Mist Shinobi retreated back to share intelligence with the central power of the Hidden Mist.

Concern flickered in Shirou's eyes, but he had no choice but to keep his expression impassive. He'd surrounded the area with Red Branch Runes, but the condition of being ready to fight in continuous one-on-one duels with progressively stronger Shinobi was daunting in its own right.

Therefore, before the extent of the Red Branch Rune's capabilities were distinguished by the Hidden Mist, he had to save everyone and conceal himself from a broader search.

Yet time was required given the number of those living in the Hidden Mist's shanty towns.

What he needed now was deterrence.

Shirou's expression hardened.

One may wonder why he'd put in so much effort for people who had nothing to do with him or his immediate family, but after living in this world, he'd come to a realization.

Blood, violence, cruelty, and above all the calculation of lives into mere numbers and casualties in a Shinobi's mind- this world was too jaded to the point where the actions of charitable individuals would first be questioned rather than appreciated.

Shirou glanced back at Mei and the other residents of the Hidden Mist Shanty towns that he was protecting, and reaffirmed himself.

For those who were starving.

For those who were persecuted.

For those who couldn't defend themselves.

What those gazes and expressions amid destitution silently conveyed to him was nothing else than a cry for help.

What Shirou pursued was a type of Justice born from his ideal, and if that made him naive or foolhardy, then he'd just have to power through until he could make this world see reason.

The next Shinobi of the Hidden Mist finally stepped forward. From his demeanor and hardened expression, he was another man testing the waters.

Shirou watched his adversary, and noted how the man didn't immediately move to assail him, but instead focused more on testing the parameters of the Red Branch Rune. He tried to flee or ignore combat, but his body moved on its own and prevented him from leaving.

The man's eyes sharpened with trepidation before narrowing on Shirou.

"Who are you?" The man demanded while raising a chakra infused sword.

Shirou didn't answer. His identity was something of a sensitive matter, and his father had stressed the importance of information. No doubt, the name 'Shirou' would be highly circulated throughout the lands of Whirlpool bordering Mist.

He needed to adopt a new name in Hidden Mist that would invoke a certain degree of infamy and local deterrence without making the ruling body too hostile. Rather, the goal was to appear appreciative enough to be coaxed by Hidden Mist into becoming one of its Shinobi.

To have a trade, one must possess something that the other would want.

And Shirou as a Shinobi and a resident of 'Hidden Mist' certainly qualified.

Shirou had seen first-hand the history of Mist through the knowledge of the seven swords and knew what would be effective in showing worth. He'd already revealed a connection with Mist's Seven Swords, but what if he was in possession of other weapons that could rival or exceed their capabilities?

"Trace On."

His words were not an introduction, but a declaration.

Pulling out a sealing scroll, Shirou unrolled it and used the smoke it produced to conceal the weapon he Traced.

In his hand appeared a blood red spear who's runic inscriptions appeared vein-like and pulsating.

The sudden onset of bloodlust was on another level that immediately suffocated the area. The howl of a hound seemed to echo in the air, eyes concealed in the mist appearing bloody crimson.

The atmosphere hardened with tension, the expression of the Mist Shinobi shattered as cold sweat began clamming up their palms, but the most glaring change was Shirou's demeanor.

Tracing didn't only replicate the history of a weapon, but the skill and experience of its wielders.

Shirou may not be able to accurately meld and use the Chakra within him properly, but it was different when he was following a template that didn't run primarily on Chakra.

"I'll have your heart."

Even Shirou's way of speaking had grown more feral.

Pointing the red spear forward, no one could properly describe what happened next.

Sensing an ominous premonition, the shinobi across from Shirou attempted to dodge as Shirou thrust the spear forward, but like fragments of glass breaking, tension was replaced by incomprehensible terror.

"Hiding in the Mist Jutsu!" The experienced Mist Shinobi with a keen sense of danger immediately tried to obscure himself.

However, it was as if Shirou's eyes could still see him. No, it was the smell of magic and chakra he emitted.

Leaning low, Shirou lifted his spear and batted aside a flurry of kunai and shuriken.

The clang of metal echoed in the silence, but Mist Shinobi was feeling sluggish.

The more he attacked Shirou, the colder his blood ran.

Gritting his teeth, the mist Shinobi formed hand seals and formed a water clone before charging at Shirou from the front and back. Raising his chakra laced sword, he stabbed from the front, and cut horizontally from the back.


With beast-like reflexes, Shirou vaulted over the tip of his own spear, shifted his center of gravity, and leg sweeped, kicking the Mist Shinobi beneath the chin.

How Shirou had determined who the real one was didn't matter as spittle flew and the main body of the Mist Shinobi cursed and re-hid in the mist.

Backhanding the water clone beside him, the clone burst into a spray of water.

The Hidden Mist Shinobi felt goosebumps forming over his skin. As the fight progressed, a blood red aura began to grow eerier and eerier as the density of magic energy was building.

'What is that?'

Brows furrowed and a sinking feeling began to develop in the pit of the stomach.

The red aura had grown palpable over the spear to the point that it was affecting the entire area. In the midst of it all, Shirou took a stance, eye gleaming.

And then he thrust.

Panicking, a Water Jutsu was hastily formed to intercept an attack, but-

That was it.

That single motion using the full body rotation of his legs, arms, and shoulders to stab forward, and the Mist Shinobi suddenly gasped as a name reverberated in the dying haze of his vision.

A hound had sunk its fangs towards its prize.

"Gae Bolg."




A spear that should not have possibly reached, had hit, and a man who had clearly put up a defense with a Water Jutsu was struck breathless, hands falling limply to the side.

A hole had appeared through his chest, torn pieces of flesh and heart tissue splattering around him.

Blood gushed out and spilled over the dirt.

The Bloody Mist.

It was another name for the Great Hidden Village of Water country.

"W-What happened?"

The question echoed even as Shirou twirled the red spear in hand and gestured for the next adversary to come.

"It's that spear," the remaining Mist Shinobi quickly analyzed, but none stepped forward.

Courage had waned and snapped amid the ferocity of blood and steel within the fog. The glint of taunting bloodshot eyes appeared more demonic than human.

"It pierces the heart," Shirou said in the silence, taking the leisure to explain. "It never misses."

Several Mist Shinobi grew contemplative as the astute tried to discern why Shirou would try to explain his weapon's ability to them?

It clicked a second later as the answer was simple.

A soft heart.

Given the nature of the unexplained barrier forcing one-on-one combat, and a spear that could instantly pierce the heart when used, the outcome of vain death was clear.


That was the silent message and warning.

In one-on-one combat, that spear was unmatched.

Change was brewing in Hidden Mist.

Filthy bloodline user.

The leader of the patrolling Hidden Mist squad raised a hand, and the rest of the unit including him slowly withdrew.

There was much to think about.


Mei Terumi stared at Shirou in deaf silence, ruminating over all that had happened and what Shirou's actions symbolized as a Bloodline wielder.

Shirou let those bastards live.

She was sure that Shirou could have killed them all, but the fact he didn't meant he was considering reconciliation with the non-bloodline users…

Mei pursed her lips.

Everything Shirou had done was an open rebellion to the current direction of Hidden Mist and the persecution of its Bloodlines.

Regardless of what Shirou was doing, even someone like Mei could understand a single point.

Even if the remaining Bloodline clans worked together, they were still going to need a leader, and based on how fervently Shirou had been stared at in the prior market, the answer was already obvious about who would be pushed into the role.

Mei subconsciously pursed her lips and furrowed her brows in her inner unwillingness.

She didn't feel very happy. Not at all.

The position of leader was the most dangerous in any rebel uprising, and she could see that the only reason a fellow teenager would be nominated as leader rather than anyone else was to subvert attention.

They would use Shirou. Worse, Mei knew Shirou well enough to understand that he would gladly be used in order to fight for a better future.

His naivety in the Shinobi world was going to be the death of him.


It was at this moment that Mei came to a resolution in her heart beyond her childish dreams of a better Kiri.

If Shirou was the light that could gather the hope of Kiri's citizens, then she would be the shadow that melted the snakes and vipers that sought to use his sentiments for personal gain away.

She swore it on her first crush.

She'll try to send a message to Yagura for cooperation.

Change would begin with their generation.

Thanks for reading! It's been so long since I've updated this that I had to spend the longest time remembering what I was trying to do with it.

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