This is my first attempt at a Sengoku Basara fanfiction…I am nervous. I've written Naruto and Pokemon stories for six years and much as I love and know Sengoku Basara, I still feel like I'm stepping into a whole new land (perhaps there would be a similar, though more irritated/ruffled feeling for some of my readers who only know Naruto from me, and are now all like 'excuse me ma'am I came here for Sakura Haruno what is this non-Naruto junk').

That's too bad. I really want to write this ridiculous story about Yukimura Sanada and talking tigers. At the least, we can both hope that this wave of writing inspiration will carry over to something else and get me out of this pathetic summer slump.

I don't ordinarily care much for the "loud/passionate" characters, but I simply can't get enough of this huge mix of boss strength, fire element user, unfailingly/hilariously loyal and energized, naive and archaically polite, and adorable yet bishonen, perfect-uke-in-my-mind, half-shirtless BAMF. (And have you heard his dub voice? Hehe.) But anyway he's the story I wrote about him. Keep in mind that it totally ignores his actual backstory and youth, not that we are told what that is.

ALSO. I drew heavy inspiration from the trailer of The Last Guardian, an upcoming video game. Go Youtube to find out what that is.


The Twentienth of May, noontime


Tea leaves plucked in May had the sweetest taste. A drink brewed from them calmed the mind and sated the most powerful thirst. He had known this a long time.

The cook maid's brew today was surely made with May leaves; one generous mouthful told him so. Such a drink on a morning of peacetime, with pleasant birdsong and smiling folk around was a pleasure Shingen would never tire of. It, and all the smiles and hard-won respect and love of the common folk here should have calmed his mind now. It should have blunted that nagging spike in his mind, but he had no such luck. Lovely tea and grateful, generous villagers aside, he was buried in the past now. He had walked past a calvaryman carrying a scarf today made of a tiger's pelt. The sight triggered a memory he hadn't touched on for months. Or years.

"Heeeere! Send all the mares here!" screeched the trainer down the hill from their camp. He had probably been screeching a while, actually.

And while forty-one warhorses were corralled away on pounding hooves, Shingen sat alone by his tent with daydreams drifting in towards him. He heard a heavy and far-reaching growling in his mind. A monster's call. Over a decade ago, at the edge of Nagasaka's forest below the mountains, he had heard exactly that sound.

Over a decade ago, witnessed a monster appearing out of the trees, walking towards him straightaway and carrying a human child in its jaws. He became aware of her arrival by his men's overtly feminine shrieks as well as the horrified whinnying of their horses, each of which was barely half the newcomer animal's size.

The tiger had spoken her name, and the boy's. Yukimura, she called him, my only son. As though he were as natural and as much hers as an actual tiger cub. This is what his mind latched onto first, so he made the topic into his first words to the mysterious beast. How could this child be hers, he asked, and why did she bring the "cub" here to the land of men?

Her answer was a story spanning many hours. She told him a story of two sons.


Sons


The memory, the story, would begin with a child whose hands were pushed into dirt. He was on his knees and staring at the dirty knuckles of his hands. He must have been digging or playing earlier, but did not remember. His head was suddenly shoved downward by a heavy and very hairy force pushing on it. He pushed back, and the force pushed even harder. He fell flat onto his stomach and his old tunic collected yet another stain.

This force shoving him around was Farenth, a tigress, a creature he had long thought of as Mother. Though he knew who his human mother was, and his thoughts on her were all positive, in his mind this mother always appeared in that one's stead. He loved her more. Yukimura loved her.

Farenth, a tiger of abnormally dark orange in her pelt, took the greatest care in batting the cub around—cub, she called him typically, instead of child, instead of acknowledging him for human—or trapping him underneath a paw or tail, as any parent animal would with their young. Yukimura was larger than a more typical tiger cub, but weaker and not nearly as thick-bodied. He would play just as fiercely, though. And always with an unyielding smile, one that feline mouths could not easily create. Now he pushed her front left paw off and tried to dodge neatly away, but Farenth was quick, and curled around him. With a heedless squeal, Yukimura became trapped between her foreleg and neck. His noise faded into the quieter, pleased hum of a child as their parent embraced and adored them.

His hands were tiny on her, but Farenth's cub embraced her, too, till his hands sunk into her fur. There, and all around him, he felt the live vibration of her purring into him.

She lifted her head, but Yukimura kept his hands clutched at her pelt. "A very fine fighter you are. Why, had I not grasped you at the last moment, one whisker from the chance, you would have ripped my fur from my body."

"Thank you, Mother! I was trying my hardest to avoid your quicker leg, but it got the best of me."

"Indeed."

"Indeed!"

There was no questioning the roots of Yukimura's aged, polite speech. Perhaps hearing such talk in a young one of no more than nine years was what made the mother's expression amused. She smiled as she looked at him, all youthful, energetic limbs and torn, too-old clothes, and then she smiled as she lifted her head to look away through the trees. Beyond their vision, they knew, was a long series of hills. And in between them, smooth footsteps. "I hear my other loves returning from the hills. Rith brings a surprise for you."

The human child leaned as far up his mother's leg as he could in his current pose. "What does he have? Mother!"

"Hush, there. I doubt he wants you to know, else it will not be a surprise." It seemed only seconds till his waiting for the newcomers was over, and Yukimura was clambering up onto Farenth's spine to see through the trees. A moving stripe of sun-color was coming through the eternal earthen brown of the old tree trunks. The easy movement of the legs and motionless tail told him that it was Canth. But Yukimura called him Father.

Whenever Canth appeared in the child's vision, there was always a huge, ever-building bloom of deep admiration inside him. Perhaps predictable for any child who saw his father walking strongly towards him. This was the most powerful, most honorable creature in his eyes. But before he could close the final distance between himself and Canth, the other newcomer forced himself out from between the elder's legs and ran towards Yukimura. Yukimura ran to meet him, and was knocked flat onto his back with a thump onto hard dirt that ought to have been painful .

"Rith! Rith, my heart hurt so much when you left! You're not going any other place now, are you?"

Rith was the final family member, and the only cub of the two in this scenario that had actually been made and birthed by Canth and Farenth. He was the size of a young pony, and his manner, puppylike. And his words—"I missed you, too, I could fill almost ten whole trees with how much I missed you, and Father and I crossed four whole rivers before we got to the special field to visit his mother, but, but look what I have for you look!"—swift as an eagle.

The tiger cub placed his paws on either side of the human boy's chest and used this leverage to drop closer to him. He plopped an object from inside his mouth onto Yukimura's chest. It was, surely by great effort on the excitable cub's part, hardly wet at all. And when Yukimura reached for it, his unintentional strength nearly knocked Rith off of him. But the cub held fast to the ground and both young ones observed the thing together: a flat piece of stone. Crystal, reflective. A natural mirror.

The two cubs were awed by it. "It must be the most beautiful thing in all the land." murmured the brunette youngster.

Rith lifted a paw to touch it. "Look. The back side makes reflections too. Look!"

Canth huffed once, a short but powerful sound, and his son's paw stopped in mid-air where it was. "Rith, let your brother see it. You have prodded and gaped at the mirroring piece for two days."

In instant agreement, his cub said, "Uh, mm, Yukimura, you hold onto it for a while. You can sleep with it if you want. You can stare at yourself while you're falling asleep, it's weird."

One strong and snakey movement had Yukimura out from under his brother, and striding up to Canth. The top of his spiked and ruffled head was not even at the height of the great feline's chin. "Father, this is an astounding thing. Where'd you come upon it? Did you have to travel to a far-off land? Or up a tree?"

This last Canth found very amusing, and the radiating sound of his laughter as he denied both of these made Yukimura's legs vibrate. The father bowed his head slightly and his cheek brushed along the brunette's head, warm as family. His answer was "It was in a cave, dear Yukimura," and he promised to tell more later. As he trotted to greet Farenth, both cubs stood back to let their parents meet and purr together. A mated pair of tigers shared a most startlingly powerful bond, a love that confused and sometimes intrigued cubs, and would shame many a human coupling. The brothers approached only after they supposed there'd been an ample amount of seconds for the pair to touch and feel each other. And once they were close enough, Farenth swiped her tail over their necks, trying to make them turn another way.

"Mother! I want to ask Father about where the stone came from! I have to know."

Rith slapped his front paws down and dropped his front half lower, furthering his image of a playful dog. "Please, please tell him, Father! It won't be as good if I tell it so please please please and then may we go swimming?" Yukimura gasped at hearing this delightful idea, but quickly, almost embarrassingly, returned to staring imploringly at the adults.

Their mother only repeated her tail sweep. "You may go swimming immediately. Canth and I must stay and discuss a very important thing." Two unwavering little voices tried to change her mind, but she stood up and began to walk past them. She curled her tail around Yukimura's leg briefly, and kissed the soft and smooth head of her newly returned young. "He will tell the story of that mirroring stone later in the day. But now is a time for the adults to talk, and I fear it is more important than a good, grand story. Go play." She continued to walk on, Canth following with similar gestures to the cubs, and they were soon gone.

Their disappearance from the grove created a fierce wave of defeat for Yukimura, whose instincts for victory and perseverance were already growing. His brother had no such problems, and pushed lightly against the taller cub's shoulder. "Bring the stone and we'll go down to the river-with-lillies. That one will have the migrating black fish by now."

Swimming and fishing were far and away from his mind now. His parents drifting farther out of sight with each timed pawstep, Yukimura felt dissatisfied, and weak. If he was only big enough to tackle Farenth and win a game of pretend-fighting, he could perhaps force them to stay here and tell him the tale instead of talking about other things. But Rith wanted to go swimming now. And swimming was fun. So in seconds the cub's mental trials were over and he pulled his brother's tail. The striped cub squealed and whisked around, and they both ran through the trees toward the favored swimming spot.

Had Yukimura's hair been long at that young age, there would have been no need, but at that time, whenever he ran with his family he always imagined—strongly and easily, like it was fact—that there was a furred tail streaming out behind him, which all tigers had.


Days passed and Canth did tell the tale of how he collected the mirroring stone when he was exploring an old hill ridge with Rith. There were many fears in his mind these days, but he did not let his anxieties infect his storytelling. The tale was mysterious and grand and the cubs had many questions, even Rith, who had been present for all events of the story. ("But I wasn't looking when that happened! Tell that part again!")

They lived for weeks more with uninterrupted happiness, absolutely oblivious to their parents' new behavior: the almost constant gazing over the horizon with their fur on end, and holding the cubs close between them at night. The one occasion Yukimura took note of it, he mimicked his mother and stared fiercely at a far-off tree just as she was. There was no prey or item of interest over there, but he continued to stand ready till Farenth laughed.

The night after Yukimura had stood like a sentry with her, Farenth stood up, the cubs asleep on a collected mash of leaves and shed fur, and looked her mate in the eye. He stood up slowly, and they moved away up the hill. Their footsteps were utterly silent.

Canth flicked his tail carelessly to signal his surety that the cubs slept on. He sat down on his haunches and said, "The migrating birds all agree and attest to that place's safety. They urge us to move on, and to stay there."

"I hope these birds lie, my love. Or they are crazed with their fear." His mate murmured back. Her whiskers pushed through his as she turned her head. "I cannot comprehend what they ramble about as they pass by. If they are right, why is there not greater chaos throughout the land? Creatures running for their lives? Men running for their lives?"

Like a water beast rising for air, Rith's consciousness collected just enough for him to hear this last sentence before he sunk down into sleep again. He curled his tail close and dreamt of humans running. Canth and Farenth continued to whisper, until the moon had climbed another tail-length through the expanded black night, until they at last made a decision that had clawed at their minds for endless weeks. They lay with their cubs again and slept. Tomorrow, they would travel a long way.


When the traveling began, the adults did not tell their children the purpose, merely the fact that it was an adventure to a place they had never been. The children were, literally, none the wiser, and took every opportunity to explore and poke at every interesting new tree or bush or creature before their parents caught up or passed them by. They passed four days in this manner. On the morning of the fifth, the human cub woke up before any of the others, and stared curiously at the thin pink stripe resting on the horizon.

His fondness for red colors prompted him to scamper up the nearest tree, and see the color stripe without the shield of tree branches in the way. He had no claws like his family did, but pulled himself up with the strength and dexterity of his limbs alone, and by scraping his palms. Once seated on an acceptable branch, Yukimura watched the stripe expand and burn upwards till it became a small lake, and the sun began to chase after it. For his young mind, a sunrise was a scene of power. Like Canth walking. Like an honorable battle.

"Wake up right now, Yu—! Um. Oh." A long leap below, Rith was staring over his father's hind legs, where his brother should have been sleeping. His lips pushed downward in an exaggerated frown. Yukimura tried to shout to him but could not very well stop laughing. "Mother. Mother, Yukimura isn't here. Yukimura, where'd you go!"

Farenth shot upwards like angry flames, roaring, head lashing, so quick and fierce that Yukimura jumped and lost his balance. He cried out as he fell and the tigress below caught sight of him. She shrieked his name so loudly that birds tore out of their trees in fear. And before the human cub could climb back atop his branch, Farenth had jumped up the tree and grabbed the back of his tunic in her mouth. Yukimura let go of the branch immediately and stayed still as she carried him down. His chest was tight and cold the whole way.

He was set back onto the ground, shaking, and then Farenth walked around till she faced his eyes. "You mustn't do that, Yukimura. If you want to explore, you must do it when we're all awake and can see you."

She paused when it seemed her cub was shaking like a volcano near erupting. He noted her pause and did indeed burst out, "I'm sorry, Mother, please forgive me! I just wanted to be up in the tree and see the sun come up! I wasn't running off or exploring things, I swear! So please forgive me!"

"You're forgiven," rumbled Canth from behind his mate, and Rith grinned at his brother's ever-fervent shouting. "But do not do this again."

"Why can't he even go up a tree, Father?" Rith asked. He stood on his hind legs and pressed his paws into his father's shoulder. "It's just a tree. And it's practically the closest one to where we were sleeping."

Neither cub was wise enough to recognize the tigress' pause. "Because we can't trust these new lands," Farenth answered after a moment. Canth only nodded as a response, and began to walk. "Now stretch your limbs, it's time to walk on. If you are hungry, I smell many good fruit trees in this direction." She lightly tapped her tail on each cub's head as she passed by them, and led the way through the trees again.

The other three followed her, though it was only a scant minute before Rith leaned far up towards Yukimura's ear and whispered urgently, "We can't trust these lands! Not even a little. So be very careful."

Looking back, his brother murmured, "Then I sat…in an untrustworthy tree?"

"Yes, it was probably really untrustworthy."

"It seems very sad that not even a fine old tree like that one can't be trusted."

Rith flicked his ear, unsure to process the comment as truly regretful, or a "talk like an adult" joke. He pulled away from this mental crossroads by looking at his feet. "We probably can't even trust this grass. I don't trust that blade of grass. Or that one. Or that big one."

Gasping, Yukimura pulled the other cub's tail. His face was distressed. "You almost stepped on that rock! You can't trust it!" Rith squealed and dashed away. "You can't—Rith! Stay away from that bush! Who knows what's hiding in it!"

Canth snorted just ahead of them, but both he and the tigress kept an eagle-sharp watch. They were unbothered and alone the rest of the day. They noted that all the birds had gone.


One more day passed. Yukimura lay and rested on his father's back, directly between the shoulders. The mirroring stone, the importance of which had seemed to decrease once this trip had begun, was still firmly in his hand. Rith was in the same position as his brother, resting on Farenth. Both of them missed the sight of the transition land, where the forested hills turned naked and flat, and cliffs and natural towers of rock replaced them. Small clouds of mist repeatedly passed over and through them, like scavengers tracking their path. Farenth and Canth did not dare speak to each other.

After an hour, they crested a rare hill and stopped there to rest, dropping directly down to the ground so as to not drop their cargo. As they lay down, both of them flicked their eyes up and fought a startled lash of their tails. From here atop the hill, they could see their destination clearly. The sight of it drained them: their trip was over, and the danger, gone. Weeks' worth of anxiety, of watching their backs, was finished. Farenth laughed, and either that sound or Canth's sudden wriggling of his back woke Yukimura. The boy's light groans were rather loud next to the tiger's ear. He moaned, "Did we arrive yet?"

"Nearly. Have you slept well?"

"…Father, is someone watching us?"

Canth sighed contentedly. "Not at all. I know what you are feeling, Yukimura, and that is behind us now. We've reached a good and safe place."

"Safe," he murmured, shaking off the last bits of sleep. Yukimura rose up, standing on Canth's neck, and stared straight ahead. Canth could feel the boy's entire body go still as stone. "This is the safe place? What is it?"

"Ruins of a castle."

Far below Yukimura's memories was a half-remembered picture of a castle, something from another life, which he couldn't translate to words. This castle was not like the one he had seen before. This was a single, far-off structure with many holes and windows. One massive and almost pyramidal hill, pocketed with openings and surrounded by many other towers and bridges of rock, and all of it smothered by mist. It did not look all natural; perhaps some group of tunneling creatures had made the doorways and the bridges, and for that reason it connected vaguely with his old memory in the back of his mind, but he hardly recognized this. The castle was too far away to run to, but Yukimura ached to run to it anyway. His hands curled with a desire to touch the stone, and look at everything.

A rumbling laugh from Canth made the cub stumble and nearly fall off. "That's where we want to be! A few more hours at the most, and we shall arrive at the very steps of it."

"You can run about and explore all you want here," Farenth assured him, and Rith, who had woken up and was gaping on top of her. "It has many rivers, as wide as the ones at home, or wider. Many green fish, I'm told."

"Green ones." Rith breathed. He stood up and nearly walked down his mother's head before she suddenly inclined it to stop him.

"Then…are we going to stay here?" asked Yukimura.

His father answered, "For a while, yes."

"Then let's hurry and go! We might even find more of the mirroring stones here. I'll get one for each of us! Rith, would you help me find more stones?"

"Yeah! A hundred of them!"

"What ruckus you younglings make." Farenth sighed. She stood up again, one paw lifted and ready to go. "Indeed, we'll be off now. Rith, hold my pelt with your claws. We'll run from here." With one squeal from the cub and a shout of elation from the other, the two took off running with their tails flying behind them. The blast of wind over skin and fur, and the furious motion of rocks and bushes speeding past them was exhilarating. Yukimura had little skill, or interest, in holding in exhilaration. He imitated his father, attempting a roar that came out as some type of child's warcry. Canth kept his amusement to a hardly audible chuckle.

The journey was swift and their footsteps hard on the harsh ground. The castle grew closer, and to the young ones' eyes, taller, all the time. Hardly an hour after taking off from the hilltop, Canth's prophecy came true and the four of them stood at the bottom of a set of stairs leading to its entryway, wide as two trees. Piles and perfect pillars of stone were all around them, some burdened with vines or old roots, and the scent of river water was close by. It was quiet, sunny, and according to the adults, very trustworthy.

Yukimura clambered off the adult tiger's back and started up the stairs. He stopped and turned around after the first five steps. "What's wrong? Aren't we going up?"

"I am! Wait!" Rith cried. His dismounting from his "steed" was much less graceful, and he scrambled to be on the same step as his brother.

Canth huffed and shook his head. "Of course we're going up. I only assumed you would scamper up there before the two of us did." He strode up the stairs, taking three steps at once at a very lazy pace. Farenth was just after him, her dark orange pelt a fierce contrast to the pale-as-bone steps.

"No, we'll go together." Yukimura said, collecting himself. He set his stride to match his parents'. "Rith and I won't take that away from you, Father. Everybody will climb at once so we can all see what's at the entrance at the same time."

"Ah, my son," sighed Farenth. "I like that idea. Oh, everyone, look—nearly there now." Yukimura could nearly sense her twining her tail around his father's. He wished he had a tail to twine. He felt it was really the only piece of being a tiger that he was for some reason lacking. But this longing lasted only a few heartbeats. He could see the big black rectangle of darkness that was the castle entryway. Not many more steps were left before the actual end of their trek across the land. He counted them. He counted backwards from twenty, using his parents' paw steps as markers. The entryway yawned bigger and bigger.

The last step was tricky, as his feet tried to go up as though there was one final, invisible step at the top. But here there was only space. A rectangular hole in the face of the castle that opened into circular room, specked with dust, leaves, and the remains of humans—boxes and crates. Yukimura asked permission to go inspect the human things.

"Bring back something interesting," Farenth told him, and both he and Rith dashed madly to the pile of treasures. There were four crates the size of Yukimura, which alone were astounding to see, for his memory had blacked out simple human creations like crates, or even crafted wooden boards. The things inside—clothes, blank scrolls, bottles—were all but alien creations. The cubs touched them like they might spray poison at any second.

The adults sat on the edge of the stairs, looking out at the path they had come by. From here, only halfway up the main building of these ruins, the view was wonderful. "I'm glad to know the birds weren't lying. This place really is peaceful." Farenth remarked. "I smelled the odor of a stag here, just before we arrived at these stairs."

"I did as well." Canth replied. "I smelled the red fruits, too. The ones your dear friend Halth once brought to us. I'm confident there won't be any hungry bellies here."

"Certainly not. Hm, what's that?" The tigress leaned her head down and sniffed an almost-square object that Yukimura was holding up to her. "Yukimura, your hand is bleeding." But he attempted to assure her he was only barely nicked by a stray piece of wood, and that this was more important. Using his wonderfully dexterous limbs, her son opened the square object for her. It was a box and inside lay a small piece of wood with hair on its end, and on the underside of the top, a picture. It was a picture of a tigress, lying by a riverbank and staring at her blurred, contorted reflection. The picture itself was like a reflection of life. Only creatures who were like Yukimura could have contorted their instruments to make something so striking.

"The creature who made this is very talented." Yukimura stated. "Why, I'm really envious of them. But I love the picture, too. I think he made it with this thing." He gestured to the paintbrush inside, but none of them knew how to name or describe it.

"There's no need to be envious." His mother told him. She leaned down closer to her son's level.
"You have excellent limbs for this sort of delicate work. If you want to make such things, you will have some time to practice tonight and tomorrow. Canth and I will be leaving now."

"But we haven't even been here a minute," Rith shouted. "The sun hasn't moved one bit!"

The brunette cub lowered his painted box and nearly dropped it. "Mother, did we walk for five days just so stay here for a few minutes?"

"The two of us did." Canth answered in her stead. "Part of our plan was to keep this bit a surprise. Farenth and I must journey out again, east this time, but not far. We are going to meet a friend, and perhaps bring him here. And while we set about this work, the two of you have the run of this castle completely to yourselves. Every room and rock and obstacle is yours to claim."

Yukimura's reaction, they predicted. "You mean that?!"

"What about the untrustworthy lands?" Rith gasped, lifting his front paws up into the air. "You, you said we can't trust anything in these new places. But you also said we were going to a safe place, but I still don't, um—"

"The castle is perfectly safe, my sweetling." Farenth touched her face to the cub's forehead and nuzzled it. Both cubs could feel the powerful vibration of her purring. "There can be no bad things here. It is protected by a very strong force that only lets in good creatures. Like us, and the deer and the fish. You may have them for a meal, of course." The two brothers gasped and shuffled on their feet at the idea of catching their own fish, all alone (a deer was too fast for them, probably).

Before they could dream up any scenarios in which they could take down a deer on their own, Canth walked around them. His very movement demanded their attention, always, so they quieted. "You will be alone for this night and most of tomorrow. When we return, all of us will live here for many days. Until the danger has passed." For a reason unknown, the cubs did not ask what the danger was. If they had, their guardians would not have told them the truth.

"Are you going…right now?" the youngest asked.

"Yes, right now. Come say goodbye to me."

Yukimura set down his painted box and threw his arms as far up and around Farenth's neck as he could. It was pleasant, feeling his arms sink into her fine fur, and the press of her head softly nuzzling against his. He and Rith traded positions, and he felt the even stronger force of Canth purring against him. "We'll be fine while you're gone, I promise. I'll keep Rith safe no matter what."

"And he'll keep you safe. Since you both occasionally need assistance to keep from cracking your heads on rocks."

Yukimura giggled at the story he was remarking. That day still embarrassed Rith, who hissed and turned his head away. "No injuries like that. We'll be good."

Canth pressed his head into Yukimura's scrawny chest, and curled his tail around him. They held each other. "My son, I love you. And I beg that you do have excellent adventures here without injuries."

The two adults pulled gently out of their young's embraces, and began to descend the steps, moving their legs in tandem. The cubs watched them for some very loving and grown-up gesture such as tail twining, or purring into each other's necks, but no such thing happened. The two stared ahead, walking evenly until they touched the dark earth again. Their walk turned to a strong lope immediately, and they veered left beyond a small cliff and two grey stone pillars. The cubs waited perhaps half a minute before simultaneously whipping around and running towards the human boxes.

Yukimura jumped and landed inside one; the impact and his weight shoved the container nearly a tree-length towards the wall. It scraped the stone floor and rolled once, till the sudden stop made the passenger and all the contest spill out. Yukimura sat up, his hand buried in a pile of ripped paper. "Did you see? I made it roll over! I did!"

The puppylike version of Rith returned. His front half was bowed low to the ground while the back half remained up, and his toes curled in as he struggled not to laugh aloud. "Well did you hear me screaming? I thought you'd smash the wall and break the box and have head injuries!"

"But you were laughing."

"Because you were rolling!"

"Well, rolling is fun. You know, if you like, I can set up the other ones so you can jump in and roll, too."

"Do it, do it, do it, let's do it!"

"'Kay, let's get that one ready! Ow! Move!"

The first day passed.


The next afternoon, the cubs contemplated their sleeping place. And their fishing place. The first was a chamber branching off from the entrance room, in a nest composed of collected leaves, some plucked hair from Rith, and a soft, crimson tunic from the smallest human-crate. And their fishing spot, a good walk to the right of the entryway stairs, was now bearing a hundred ugly battle scars in the dirt, due to all their occasions of falling in the river and having to claw their way out. Neither place looked very impressive.

Yukimura was dashing out fearfully, not wanting to upset his parents or present anything sloppy to them. Their bedding looked like a rat's nest and their fishing spot was no better. Yukimura was not having this.

"We could put more dirt over all the claw marks." Rith suggested.

"Then it will look like an anthill! We need to fill in all the scraped parts, that's the only way."

"You want to clean it that way? Refill every little slot?"

"Yes, we must or it looks terrible."

"Ughhhh!" Rith rolled onto his back, and then to his side. And then the other side. "Cleaning like that, that's the worst. You're the worst."

"How can you be so lazy? It needs to look good for Mother and Father and the friend they're bringing," Yukimura insisted.

But his desire to do the most tedious possible work did not in the least appeal to his brother. Rith rose up, as lazily and sloppily as possible, and started to drag himself away. "They said they'd be here in the afternoon, and that's right now, so obviously they're gonna be late. I'm tired and I wanna take a nap, Yukimura. We can clean the fishing spot later. Come take a nap with me, or I'll be cold."

Sleeping alone, especially after they would always sleep near their parents' warm fur, did seem very unpleasant. Impressionable as ever, Yukimura saw the sense in gaining more energy from a nap and doing tedious work later. He jogged after Rith, who was now climbing a hill that came very near the top of one of the smaller stone towers. The towers were all flat on top, like platforms. They were tantalizing objects for creatures who could climb. The brothers had halted at the spot from which it would be fairly easy to make the leap from the hilltop to the tower. And from there to another tower. And from there, across a thick vine to another one.

They spent the rest of the day doing this, and spent another night in their rat's nest. The second morning, Canth and Farenth still had not come, so they finally finished Yukimura's plan to clean up the fishing spot.


It was the seventh day, and they spent most of it on the top of the entryway stairs.

Outside the castle ruins, it seemed misty, and quiet. They passed unimportant comments and observations between each other for a few hours. The mist was thick. Later, they could look for that castle room with the blue walls again. There weren't any birds around today. They were each too frightened to say anything of great importance.

Both of them rolled onto their backs and watched the uneven ceiling of the entryway room. Rith's tail moved around slightly. "I think later, we ought to try to find the room with the good view again." Yukimura suggested. "Not the one below us. I mean near the top, with the big, big window, and the drawing on the wall."

"I think that drawing was supposed to be a bird." Rith murmured. "'Cause birds can fly in and out of there really easy. That could be…the signal that that's the bird room."

"We should call it the bird room, too."

"Wanna go there?"

"We have to stop and get something to eat first."

"Yukimura, I want a green fish. I know I had some before, but I want another!"

With a slight scrape on the ground, Yukimura rose up with his brother, and they ran down the stairs. On the northern side of the castle was another set of stairs, leading higher, and from there many tunnels and halls led to rooms in the castle that they had slowly been exploring during their time here. A journey to the bird room was their next adventure. The matter they would not speak of was buried underneath it, for now. Now, it was time to move. The two of them went up the stairs into the ruins and ran down a hallway. The sound of their footsteps and laughter choked the hall for a moment, and disappeared.


Guess what, this turned out longer than I wanted. And to think, I had originally planned for this to be a oneshot. Pfft.

Comments! 1) "Wow, you sure messed around with Sengoku Basara canon. Damn." …Yeah. I sure did. Despite how absolutely different it is from what the actual anime is about, I simply adored this idea of Yukimura living with talking tigers and having adorable adventures with a tiger "brother" while the parents are mysteriously, ominously, missing. So here it is.

2) "Is it just me, or did all the tigers have a name that ends with "-th"?" Yes, you're right. I took this idea from a certain book series where all members of a certain…group…have names that end in –th. A thousand internet hugs to the person who can tell me what book series this is. Your hint is that it's several decades old.

3) "So what's the badness that the mom and dad tigers were so afraid of?" Not telling. You'll see soon enough.

4) Perhaps most important of all "why the f**k is Yukimura being raised by tigers?" Lol, you'll notice how no one mentions that in the entire chapter. As you can probably guess he's "adopted," but when you're among family, do you really discuss very obvious things like where an adopted sibling came from? You just know that; you need not open discussion about it. I'll mention the truth later. Somewhere.

5) I'm really, really hoping the writing inspiration that got me to write this will be strong enough to write something else, too. God knows Airborne needs a good push. Not to mention some oneshot contest prizes.

6) THE 'CASTLE' IS BASICALLY THE SAME AS THE ONE SEEN IN 'THE LAST GUARDIAN' TRAILER, AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE. GO SEEEE ITTTT.

Below this line, I'm just doing a formatting test to see what FF will do with certain way ways of typing, please ignore me.

L O N G...A G O.