Night had always been something of a calling, but it wasn't one she ever found truly pleasant. Instead, it was accompanied by the bitterness of a cold professionalism that resulted from a childhood she was far from inclined to share.

Her name was Akame. Simple as that. There was no need to refer to herself with a family name as her parents themselves had sold her and her little sister off for profit.

Then again, she could understand why they had done so to a certain extent just by looking at the current state of the Empire, the world's Super Power boasting vast territories and riches. Fertile lands, rich natural resources of fruit and berries, and even idyllic lakeside establishments, had created an extensive panorama of an ideal kingdom.

Yet it was a lie.

No matter how true it may have had been before, the current Empire was in an incurable state of decline. Money was being squandered, people starving on the streets, and corrupt politicians and officials profiting for backhanded deals and misconducts. Civil strife was the best way to put it, and the current situation was already beyond that.

A Civil War against the head of state.

The Empire against the Revolutionary Army.

The worst offender was the Empire's Prime Minister himself, Honest, the direct advisor of the young and naïve child that had taken up the role as the next emperor. She didn't even know this child's name, but it didn't matter as the Emperor himself wasn't the problem.

It was the fact that the Emperor blindly trusted his Advisor, Honest.

Through this fact, a number of atrocities the past Emperors would never have had allowed to occur remained ignorant in the eyes of the child who was supposed to rule the Empire.

She sighed thinking over her current situation, but more importantly, it was because she couldn't see a future other than her own death.

She was an assassin, a profession with almost a full certainty of death. She was part of the Revolutionary Army under a separate covert division called Night Raid under the command of one of the Empire's defected commanders, Najenda.

Her group's task was to handle reconnaissance and assassinations within the capital of the Empire and retrieve any Teigu that they may stumble upon.

Tiegu themselves were called Imperial Arms, items imbued with special properties that enabled them to perform tasks and abilities generally impossible. They could both be living or inanimate, it didn't really matter for the most part. What did matter was that their relative strength was dependant on the remains of the Danger Beasts they were created from. The stronger the Danger Beast, the more lethal the Teigu created.

Having made forty-eight in total, a number of Teigu had been lost over the years due to conflict, but generally the more Teigu one side possessed, the greater advantage they would gain. In this case, this was directly related to the core strength of the Revolutionary Army, and as such had significance for Night Raid to directly contribute.

She herself was the owner of one.

Murasame, the blade whose cut meant certain death.

A katana-type weapon. It was a sleek black in colour, and anyone cut by it would receive a poisonous curse that spread throughout the victim's body. Thereby stopping the heart in a matter of seconds.

The number of people she had killed by its edge was already enough for her to have had grown numb. There would be no redemption when she died. All that would be waiting for her was a hell suitable for the sins she had committed in her life, yet she didn't care at this point.

She landed softly on the forested ground of the worn path created by wandering merchants and travellers, and slowly draped a hood over her head.

It was in the middle of the night, the moon above shining down from the forest canopy. The sound of insects and scurrying rodents echoed around, causing her ears to twitch every now and again as she was accustomed to detecting subtle movements. The again, she could just be over reacting, but as she was now, she understood that even in the darkness, the silkiness of her dark hair reflected a dull glow under the light of the evening. Even with her hood up, her hair still spilled down from the sides, long tresses of untangled and straight locks swaying with her every step as she maintained a downward gaze.

She knew that the town she was approaching was relatively remote, making it unlikely for anyone to recognize her, yet she was still being cautious.

This was a relatively new town created near the very borders of the Empire and directly near the states of Wakoku. As such, wanted posters and general news of the Empire hardly ever made its way to such a remote location, yet perhaps that was the reason it was founded so far.

Najenda had explained to her that the man who established this small town at the border was a former general before the start of the Civil War with the Revolutionary Army. In a way, by choosing to live so far from the Empire it was clear that this old war veteran wanted him and his family to stay out of the Empire's corruption and Civil Strife.

Unfortunately, this wasn't going to be how it would play out.

Unhurriedly, she once again glanced at a piece of paper before reaffirming the tracks left behind by her target. They were small things like foot prints, and general information gathered from local passerby's.

His name was Edwin Pollus, a man that had once been subordinate to the founder of the border town, though from rumours alone she understood that the two broke off on bad terms.

Then again, it didn't really matter.

After the Old General had left to live a secluded life before the start of the Civil War, Edwin had taken the Old General's place for the Empire. Edwin alone commanded a unit of the Empire's forces to kill numerous allies in the Revolutionary Army before incurring injury.

The man had never been the same since, but his threat level never dissipated. Now that sources had verified that Edwin had moved alone out of the Capital and towards this border town, Night Raid couldn't let this chance go.

Therefore, Akame was sent.

Her eyes maintained her vigilance as soon as she entered the town. People were bustling about on the dirt road and many were in a drunken stupor.

She furrowed her brows, her red eyes straining to follow the correct pair of tracks left behind from the man she had been following for several hours. It was a dirt road, and there were numerous pairs of foot prints to track. Wasting only a second longer, she quickly came to a conclusion.

As she expected, it was impossible.

Frowning, she couldn't help but sigh.

Generally, when night came most of the roads and streets would be devoid of individuals, but the current situation was almost equivalent to the Capital's night life. There were too many people.

It wasn't long before she understood why.

The Old General that had founded this town had passed away, leaving the town's succession to the eldest son, Shirou who many locals approved of.

Akame however saw things differently. It was normal for the son to take after the father, but this Shirou was known for another name in the town.

A local Healer.

A miracle worker at that who could save others from the brink of death.

There had even been a story where a man had taken a sword through the chest but turned out fine the next day.

She pursed her lips, the motion causing dimples to form on her cheeks.

This story was incomprehensible for a swordswoman like herself, for she understood just how long a sword's stab wound would take to heal. Not even counting the days required for recuperation, the damage done could at time be irreparable, the swordswoman never again being able to move in the same way.

To say that it had only taken a day for a full recovery, Akame would never believe that. What she would believe instead was that the Old General may had possessed a Teigu with healing capabilities before the Old General had left the capital.

Silently, she took note to inform Najenda of the matter upon her return as it was a likely assumption.

Still, she had had her priorities, and right now it was locating Edwin.

Glancing around her and waiting until the crowds had thinned, she silently took to the rooftops, deciding to move at random in search of any clues.

Her efforts would prove fruitful though after a grueling three hours of constant surveying.

Footprints. Deep and etched with a particular design at the soles of the feet. A criss-crossed pattern that cemented itself in the mud leading to a single home down the street at a distant part of the town.

She paused, mentally analyzing the map of the town she had inadvertently developed in her three hours of scouting. If she understood things correctly, then the building Edwin had gone to was the Old General's home.

Regardless, her expression remained blank, a cold yet alluring beauty unknowingly attracting the enamored gazes of some of the drunken youths nearby. But when next these youths blinked their eyes, Akame was already gone.

She could understand why Edwin would want to visit the Old general as the Old General had been Edwin's mentor, but she also knew that the two were on bad terms still.

It just didn't make sense to her, but it didn't change what she had to do. She had lost Edwin for good couple of hours and she needed to investigate to discover some clues to his whereabouts.

How troublesome.

Mentally, she couldn't help but wonder why she couldn't have had been a bit faster to intercept Edwin before he had arrived at the town. Everything would have had been easier. A single opponent in the dead of the night.

A one vs one scenario.

It was truly regretful that it had instead become a game of cat and mouse.

She knew it was hopeless to mope on the matter, but a part of her would rather be eating her dinner at the moment rather than doing her current assignment.

Still, she was a professional and quickly made her way towards the building. It was old, yet larger than the others for it was the town Lord's manor. It was constructed mainly of fashioned brick and stone and insulated with a type of packed clay that was spread out in a layer beneath the outer thatch.

Just when she entered the actual premise, she suddenly stiffened.

A chill seemed to travel down her back, goosebumps spreading across her skin.

"What?" She muttered to herself in confusion, staring at her unsteady hands.

It was a feeling of trepidation and apprehension that she had not felt in numerous years.

Not since the forest of Danger Beasts, and it unnerved her.

She quickly dug her feet into the ground and halted, a weariness flashing across her features even as a cloud of dust drifted over her due to her sudden stopping.

It was almost like magic. There had been nothing in front of her, but it almost felt as if she had passed some kind of barrier surrounding this plain, if rather large manor.

She simply couldn't explain it.

Her years of experience were already warning her to not take another step forward as she was already in a state of confusion, but she had a mission to complete.

Her breathing steadied, a sharp glint entering her eyes as she asserted that she herself was no pushover. However dangerous it could be, at least she was confident in her ability to escape.

Tentatively she proceeded forward, her vigilance increasing by the second.

It was only when she discreetly slipped inside the premise that she somewhat relaxed. The pressure that she had been feeling was somehow greatly weakened at the moment. Looking around her, she saw a fairly normal room with fur-lined furniture and an assortment of child's toys still clattered on the ground.

Her expression softened seeing them, but she then shook her head, trying to clear her mind.

She was there to find clues anyway.

She muffled her steps as she began peering around.

There wasn't anything of note, and she quickly decided that the best course of action was to search another room, but instead of leaving, her hands swiftly hovered over the hilt of her sword.

It was a pair of bronze coloured eyes.

They lay still, yet their steady gaze became piercing in the darkness of the room.

She hadn't noticed them at first, but that was due to the ease in which they seemed to blend in with the surroundings. In fact, if not for Murasame thrumming softly, she wouldn't even have had noticed.

She swallowed, her gaze however still remained passive.

It was part of the training program that changed her life.

Why show emotion when it wouldn't matter in death?

There was no use for anything like that in the environment she had been raised in. Instead of panicking or expressing surprise, it was better to mask indifference to deter the opponent's mental state and confidence.

Signs of fear would only hasten death.

Silence.

Not a word was spoken.

Only the sound of a blade being drawn.

Murasame thrummed in her hands, the Imperial Arm emitting a certain aura about it that she had never seen before. It was almost as if it was reacting to the steady gaze that shifted towards it. Black tendrils of magic-like aura extended out from it, tinged with red in a provoking manner.

Sweat began to moisten her palms, but her grip on her sword remained as tight as ever.

The man in front of her clearly wasn't her target, but this man brought a pressure that was unimaginable.

From the information she had attained, she had already assumed that this man in front of her was probably the newest Lord of the town. The son of the Old General of the Empire.

Shirou if she recalled.

She knew that her situation wasn't good. There was no way that she could just explain that she was looking for Edwin after intruding into another person's home in the middle of the night.

Thus, she said nothing, silently contemplating to herself of the chances of knocking Shirou out and then making her escape.

As Shirou was simply a civilian despite the aura he possessed, she was almost certain of her own success. She had trained for years and experienced some of the harshest of challenges. For a civilian without combat experience to best her, she would truly be a joke if she lost. To begin with, she herself knew that she was rather socially awkward and wouldn't want a full conversation unless necessary. Therefore, if knocking him out cold could solve her current problem, then so be it.

Her muscles tensed, her intent manifesting in the gleam of light that shone on Murasame's blade.

However, there was something in the way Shirou was looking at her that caused her to hesitate. He was too calm, expression unchanging even as she lowered herself into an attacking stance.

Alarm bells were already ringing in her head, but she was stubborn and wanted to stick with the decision she had already made. Her body had even already begun to inch forward,

Only his voice stopped her in her tracks.

"I suggest you don't move," he said evenly. "You may regret it afterwards."

?

Her brows furrowed, but she understood at the next moment when she felt a prick near the back of her neck, causing her eyes to widen as a still wind parted her hair.

It was all too familiar.

A sensation that was hard not to determine.

The cold point of a blade.

Yet it was impossible.

She was confident that she would have had detected it if anyone were to sneak up on her. She had trained too long for her not to. Even till now, no one she knew possessed that level of skill.

Slowly, she turned around, her body feeling numb as she stared long and hard, a dull expression making its way onto her pale face followed by a seriousness that couldn't be explained in words.

For a sword remained floating just behind her head.

Many of them hovering in the dark.

In the end, just what kind of Teigu was this?

It was the only explanation she could think of before fully realizing her situation. She wasn't certain of her chances of winning, but there was no need to take a risk against an unknown Teigu whose wielder may not even be an enemy.

It was just that the situation was really just too awkward, and she would rather not explain.

Still, helpless to avoid a confrontation, she could keep her silence no longer.

"This is a misunderstanding," She conceded unwillingly, sword sheathing and voice monotone.


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