Arc X Chapter 11
It was still snowing. It was still fucking cold to the point they were freezing their arses off. And they were still wandering though a frozen hell of land.
The Land of Snow was frankly an inhospitable place with an atrocious reputation well deserved, but their little expedition into foreign lands proved necessary and their suffering worthwhile. Conquest and imperial ambitions were naturally a painful affair. They never came easy, yet her fledgling realm thirsted for ever more land, ever more resources.
Together and under Asami's protection, their carriage travelled along snow dusted roads, heading for their destination. It was a long and arduous journey.
Her precious Yuki-chan was even freezing. Her imouto was apparently not used to the sharp drop of temperatures, despite hailing from the Land of Iron. Not the most convincing story ...
Yet, Yuki was shivering and shaking to an unnatural degree, while clinging to her nee-san the entire time. Fortunately, her nee-san was there to pet her and keep her warm with an arrangement of kisses and cuddles. Yuki insisted on the effectiveness of the methods employed.
Whereas Asami was less convinced and less inclined to share Yuki's optimistic assessment, but who was she to argue with her imouto.
Certain voices in the back of her mind suggested Yuki was merely simulating to extract kisses and cuddles, but such appeared unlikely. Her beloved Yuki would never deceive her, would she? A nefarious and shameless plot of this calibre were unlike her.
Asami rewarded Yuki's cheeks with a tender kiss. Tightly packed into a thick protective cocoon of blankets, she was safe and healthy.
Meanwhile, Koyuki met their open display of sisterly love with suspicion. Her raised eyebrow betrayed her bewilderment.
"Something the matter, Princess?" Asami beamed.
Koyuki fell silent. "... ... ... Not really."
Asami continued petting her Yuki like a new born kitten. "I see, as cold and uncommunicative as usual, Princess."
"... I take that as a compliment." Koyuki snorted before facing Snadayu. "How long until we arrive at the castle?"
"Depends, Lady Koyuki. Two, three, possibly four days depending on the weather. Also we decided to take a little detour."
Koyuki disapproved. "How so? I thought we are taking on the castle."
Asami answered. "No need to rush, Princess. Sandayu and I discussed the matter beforehand. We advise against heading directly for the castle. Not yet. Confronting Doto right now appears ... counter-productive. Doto can wait for the time being. He is not our top priority."
Kokyuki frowned. "... and what about your promise?"
"I will honour my word when the time comes. The time for revenge hasn't come yet.
We intend to meet up with the Asama clan and their allies. Sandayu assured me of their loyalty. They will pledge their support for our cause. We must secure local allies first. We must expand our power base to guarantee a smooth and seamless transition of power following Doto's demise. We don't want any nasty surprises.
We don't want to risk a power vacuum and plunge the land into a potential civil war. What we need is a quick and painless ascension to the throne. Your legitimacy shall not be questioned, Princess. That is why we need to approach the clans first."
"..." Her elaborations and her spacecraft silenced Koyuki for good. No comment from her highness.
Even Sandayu deferred to her judgement ...
The ground trembled and the air rumbled. Something big was approaching.
"AVALANCHE!" The coachman shouted.
Asami dismounted in a hurry, and indeed, it was an avalanche coming for them. Snow. Ice. Cold. Avalanche. Almost a déjà vu. Only difference, this time the culprit wasn't her. She was completely innocent.
Princess Kokuyi panicked at the sight of their impending death. "We are dead ..."
"No need to worry, Princess. We are fine. No need to panic. Calm mind and serenity."
"But ..." The avalanche was getting closer, dangerously close. Someone should better do something soon.
"Calm mind and serenity."
"... the avalanche ... "
"CALM MIND AND SERENITY, Princess." Asami summoned her chakra. Her purple chakra answered her call and coalesced into a concentrated sphere.
Her index finger aimed at the avalanche and her left eye closed. An accurate shot. Minimal use of force. A well-placed detonation should suffice to divert the avalanche.
Her sphere fired and produced a pulsating purple beam of galvanised fire. Her pulse connected and exploded upon impact, shifting the axis of the avalanche. It worked, and the masses of snow spared them, flowing around them.
"Told you so, Princess. No need to panic because of some snow."
"... impressive. Truly impressive. Breaking our ambush just like that. You must be a skilled a kunocihi" The sound of hands clapping resounded across the Arctic plain.
Three ninja appeared from the horizon. Two men. One woman. Their plates betrayed their allegiance, Yukigakure.
Sandayu warned her that Doto employed the service of mercenary ninja, but she would never have expected that a ninja village would turn against their legitimate daimyo. It appeared that Yukigakure would have to be reminded where their loyalties lie.
"And who are you?" Asami narrowed her eyes. In the meanwhile, Yuki emerged from her cosy blanket fortress and joined her precious nee-san.
The ninja smirked. "We were already expecting you. We are ninja. We serve the one and only ruler of this land, Lord Kazahana Doto ..."
That remains to be seen ...
"... You are harbouring a person of great interest to our lord. We recommend handing her over immediately for your own sake, or ..."
The enemy ninja adopted a combat stance. The fools were prepared to fight, prepared to die. "Or the consequences will be ... unpleasant ... ... ..."
Asami burst out laughing. "AHAHAHAHAHA ... Hahahahahaha. Ahahahahahaha. Ahahaha. Hahahahaha."
The enemy leader obviously disapproved of her hilarity. His head fumed. "What's so funny?
"My sincerest apologies, I couldn't help myself. Are you really ... Are you guys, a bunch of paltry ruffians with delusions of grandeur, seriously contemplating to threaten me? Me? Oh my, how dreadful~. I am veritably shivering with fear~." Asami smirked, patronising and condescending as ever.
"It's as if a chicken is challenging a dragon. Comical, amusing, and highly suicidal. Seriously, what do you guys want? Just get lost and stop pestering me before I change my mind."
The enemy leader gritted his teeth. "Enough. You have spoken your last word."
Asami beamed. "I strongly doubt so~."
"You ..." The leader clicked his tongue in anger.
"Yuki-chan, ... do you remember your lessons~?"
Yuki stared at her nee-san with a slight sense of confusion before nodding. "I do."
"Marvellous~. Take care of the rabble for nee-san~. " Asami encouraged.
The ninja. "What?"
"Don't worry, these lowly peasants shouldn't pose much of a danger anyway. Regard them as an adequate training opportunity. Practical combat training so to speak of." Asami reassured her imouto.
"Understood." Yuki clenched her fists. Her time had come earlier than expected. Nee-san believed in her! It was time to put her training to use and purge nee-san's enemies with righteous fire!
Yuki readied her kunai and charged the enemy with full conviction, blind fanaticism, and love! For the glory of nee-san! Attack!
"The girl won't stop messing with us, Nadare. I guess we must teach her and her imouto a lesson", the female ninja snarled.
"Apparently, Fubuki. Not that it matters." Nadare, their leader, seconded her opinion.