Avoiding the main roads to Kechi, Yuna makes her way through a forest following her instinctual sense of direction and memory of the fishing village's location. It's a relief to feel grass sway around her ankles and flatten under her bare feet again. She forwent shoes once she was deep enough in the trees, taking full advantage of the lack of humans around. Being alone feels odd now when before it had felt like the only natural way to live. A soft snort sounds behind her, reminding Yuna that she isn't completely alone. The samurai mount she'd taken when fleeing with Sakai follows loyally behind her as she moves under the fluttering green canopy. The horse, a dark bay stallion she hasn't bothered naming (naming things is another human practice she doesn't really understand), maintains a careful distance at her back, as it is prey and through instinct knows Yuna is anything but. She purposefully doesn't ride him for that reason, as it would only make him uneasy. Plus she prefers walking, it would frustrate her to no end to lumber along on a horse's back, she can't fathom why humans love it so much. The sigh of the breeze against her cheeks and the earth cool and soft under her heels, coaxes more complex thoughts to the forefront of her mind.
Yuna doesn't know exactly what to make of Jin Sakai. In lue of her suspended judgment she figures she should decide how she wants to address him before he meets up with her. Sakai calls her by her first name, but that's because it's the only name she gave him. Yuna doesn't like that calling him Lord Sakai could possibly give him power over her in their partnership, as calling him Lord would assume a class gap, so making up her mind she settles on just Jin. Power or not, she doesn't know why he feels more like Jin to her than Lord Sakai, doesn't know why that difference is so important, but it is. Its significant.
As she's half transformed, Yuna allows her tails to rub together a little as she thinks this over -- an old habit. The release of energy forces her horse's mane to stand up as static zings through the air, while also subsequently sending all the forest animals within a mile radius skittering away from her in a desperate scramble. She hadn't truly created lightning, but almost. Yuna desperately misses working a storm, the kind that reminds humans that they aren't the worst that's out there, and instills trepidation in other yokai warning them not to cross her. She misses having her own territory, a century earlier she was as wild as yokai come, fierce and alive and free. Not evil not good, just simply apart of nature. Storms followed in her wake where ever she went, the lightning she would create so brilliant, so dangerous, it made every living thing stop to take it in whether in fear or awe or both. For a decade or two she had been so inclined to designing storms, that she claimed an entire mountain as her own and covered the area in unending perpetual storm. Her storms brewed so low and thick over the peak that you never could manage to see the top. The humans that lived in a village at the foothills of her mountain had erected a shrine to her, praying for rain and protection. She had been even younger then than she is now, more simple, and she'd been flattered -- pleased that the humans properly recognized her might and hoped to fall in her favor.
Yuna had always loved maintaining a territory, or more so protecting those who fell within it whether they be human, lower yokai, or creature. There was something so natural about it, so instinctual that she couldn't put it to words even if she tried. Throughout her years, she'd always chosen a village or two to hold guardianship over, until Taka. Taka is the first human to have her undivided singular protection. Loyalty isn't just a human trait, but for yokai it means so much more. Yuna sighs, though it comes out more like a whine as she's suddenly hit with an overwhelming feeling of longing. She yearns for Taka -- for her pack. His absence strikes her so keenly it aches.
It takes her only an hour to reach Kechi from where she left Jin in the forest by Castle Kaneda. She'd run at a quarter of her true speed, limiting herself in an attempt to spare her mount who had struggled to keep up. She would set the poor beast free if she could, but in order to keep up appearances she'd have to deal with the inconvenience. Though it's something she's grown used over the years spent protecting Taka, in all honesty she's not felt like true yokai since she'd accepted guardianship over him. As she makes her way into the village proper, having paused before remounting her horse to retake her human shape and also slip her shoes back on, Yuna notices that something is off. The collection of dilapidated huts harbor humans that reek of fear.
"Hello?" Yuna makes herself known as she slows to stop before the first hut. She softens her voice to sound less threatening and gives herself an accent that she remembers the people in this prefecture have in order to make herself more trustworthy, make her seem like one of them.
"I mean no harm! I am only looking for someone, my brother!"
There's a couple more beats of silence before villagers start emerging from their homes. They observe her wearily at first, suspicious, fearful eyes watching her dismount. She lets them approach her at their own leisure, best not to scare them off. Like coaxing a rabbit into her den, she remains still and patient.
"Your brother?" A man asks coming forward in front of the rest. Yuna remembers him as the headman of the village, he offered to trade supplies with Taka and her when they passed through before the Mongols attacked.
"Yes," Yuna says, giving a small bow of respect, "He was taken by Mongols a day ago, if you remember, me and my brother passed through here to trade."
The headman gives her a once over and she watches as recognition fills his eyes.
"I remember. They took some of our people as well." He gravely informs.
A woman standing in the gathered crowd behind the headman collapses to the ground in tears. An elderly man to the woman's right sinks to the ground beside her, attempting to quietly console her.
"I'm sorry for your losses," Yuna murmurs unsure how to react (as human emotion was always such a puzzle to her), but knows what she can offer these people, "I plan on rescuing my brother, I can rescue the people who were taken from you as well."
"What makes you think you alone can do this?" The headman despairs, not unwilling to tell her what she wants to know but simply lost on how she could manage this.
"I have a," What is Jin? A friend? A partner? "I have a samurai, one of the only to survive. He owes me his life, he will help me."
The headman and villagers standing behind him all look mystified at this, like the idea of a living samurai is something of myth and legend. Now that all the samurai are dead, Yuna supposes he kind of is.
"He is going to meet me here soon, but we will only have a chance if we know all you know."
And with that they begin to provide her with all the information that they have.
After maneuvering cautiously around a Mongol outpost he reminds himself to deal with after meeting up with Yuna, Jin hears screaming through the trees. He urges Sora into a full gallop, fearing that the sounds were coming from where he is meant to meet up with Yuna. When he recognizes Yuna's voice among those of the distressed he pushes Sora harder. He comes racing into a clearing, Kechi village a knot of chaos in the swaying forest that surrounds it, and watches as Yuna sinks her katana deep into the neck of what looks to be a Mongol scout. There are two more dead Mongols at her feet and as the third slides off the length of her blade, his body adds to the pile.
"Yuna!" Jin calls as he dismounts a still moving Sora, quickly making his way over to Yuna and the huddle of villagers cowering behind her.
"Jin!" Yuna freezes a beat when she notices him, "You found me!"
Something about the way she acknowledges his presence feels...significant, somehow. Though Jin doesn't know why.
"You handled that well." Jin praises unnecessarily as he comes to a halt before the bodies at her feet. Yuna levels a look at him in response and Jin can't help how a corner of his mouth ticks up at her expression. She looks less then impressed.
Dismissing his comment with a flick of her bangs she admits,
"I should've heard them coming, I let myself get distracted."
The quiet sobs from the villagers a few feet to their left give away Yuna's 'distraction'. Jin is glad she was here to protect them, a bit surprised though since she was so against assisting people back when they escaped the fishing village near Komoda.
"These people saw Mongols marching prisoners upriver, they had a blacksmith with them." Yuna informs him.
"Sounds like it. They were taking him to a camp near the Kaneda inlet."
"I know the place." Jin notices that Yuna is speaking differently than she had when they first met. She's gained an accent of some kind. Did he just not notice before?
A man approaches them and Yuna introduces him as the headman of the village who helped in providing the knowledge she just shared. Jin thanks the man, ignoring how the entire village gawks at him like he has wings or something.
"This is the samurai you mentioned?" The headman asks, and Jin automatically picks up that the headman has the same accent Yuna has.
It's a very distinct dialect, he surely wouldn't have mistaken it if Yuna had spoken with it before.
"Yes, he will help in saving your people and my brother." Yuna confirms though she seems a little anxious to leave now that they know where to find her brother.
Suddenly bowing deeply, the headman and the villagers give Jin their respect. Jin returns it with a generous bow back. Offhandedly he wonders if Yuna was born here? In this prefecture?
As they prepare to leave, Yuna asks,
"Did you find any samurai to free your uncle?"
Jin pauses with his foot in his stirrup as Yuna mounts up beside him. Yuna's accent is gone. She's speaking now how he remembers she did. Jin notes that the villagers are all a fair distance away, wouldn't be in hearing range. He easily pulls himself up and places his weight in the saddle, everything in Jin sharpening in quiet alarm at the realization that she must have adopted the accent in order to more easily get the villagers to speak to her. Her accent was so flawless it had fooled the native villagers. He doesn't quite now how to feel about that; a talent employed harmlessly in this instance sure, but the possibilities for deceit? Endless. The budding trust he had been nurturing towards her diminishes completely as he formulates a response.
"Not yet, but I'm still searching."
"I'm sure you'll find someone soon." She says as she clicks her horse into a trot.
Jin doesn't respond. They ride for sometime in silence, but Yuna must sense a shift in Jin -- already too aware of Jin's patterns than he's comfortable with, because she then subtly reminds him why she and her brother are worth his time.
"Taka can help you," Jin doesn't miss the attuned intelligence in her tone, "After we save him."
When Jin only nods at her in response she tries something else.
"Hard to believe I might see him soon." She attempts to appeal to his compassion, maybe hoping to garner sympathy.
It's not that Jin believes her intentions to save her brother to be ingenuine, in fact he finds it admirable of her. He just doesn't trust her. Jin figures he can not trust her and still have civil conversation though.
"He's lucky to have you." Jin indulges her, meaning what he says despite his reservations.
"He might disagree." Yuna breathes out on a laugh.
"That's what siblings are for."
After a pause, just the sound of their horses trotting below them filling the air between them, Yuna picks at the first of his many layers of privacy.
"What about you? Any brothers or sisters?"
Jin quickly mulls over the pros and cons of sharing personal information with her, and ultimately ends up deciding to tell her information she already knows.
"Lord Shimura is my only family."
Undeterred she presses on,
"What will you do when he's free?"
He wonders what she's trying to do. In any other instance he'd simply see it as her trying to know his character better. But with what he recently witnessed, he finds himself second guessing her every action. She hadn't even tried to hide her change in accent, hadn't even bothered to address it. It meant she either didn't think he noticed, or she didn't care if he did. Jin had a feeling it was the latter, which made him even more unsure of her. So he answers her question with something vague, something he's already shared, but not a lie.
"Take a breath because then I'll know there's hope for our island."
"You feel that strongly?" She sounds slightly stricken.
"I've watched him win victory against impossible odds." Before she can ask him something else, he turns the questions on her, "And after your brother is free? What then?"
"Honestly," Jin glances at her from the corner of his eye when she pauses. Unable to read her tone of voice he tries to chance a peak at her expression, "I haven't had time to think about it."
A non answer, about what Jin expected.
"You're riding well, how are your wounds?" She changes the topic while also cleverly reminding him that she saved his life.
Jin wonders if he is reading too much into things but he can't help it. He was raised to always be honest and honorable, she really has set him off balance.
"Mostly healed," Jin answers, "Your bandages did the trick."
Jin remembers his time in a natural spring he'd found on the way to Kechi, how he spent the bathing session admiring the neat perfect stitches, the lack of infected wounds, and most oddly how even his oldest scars seemed a touch softer, some having disappeared altogether. His body held no lingering pain, not even chronic injuries he'd had since childhood -- a tweak in his left knee, a sensitivity in his right collarbone as it hadn't healed right after breaking it, an ache in his lower back whenever it rained, and many more -- had all melted away too. Jin should have had injuries added to his person after Komoda, not have pain old and new alike negated entirely! He had two arrows lodged in his spine for Inari's sake, not to mention almost dying three separate times. It had confounded Jin that he got away essentially scot-free, just a few of his worst scars would remain after the bruises faded. It made him hate himself a little, that he managed to survive intact from that beach while all the samurai in Tsushima had choked on ash, blood, and sea water. What made him worthy enough to out live them?
"You don't share much about how you feel, do you?" Yuna's observation wrenches Jin out of his thoughts.
"I suppose you're right," And reciting the ideals on which he was raised, "My uncle taught me that a samurai masters his emotions, like you master a horse or a blade."
"That's a hard way to live." Says the thief.
"It's not supposed to be easy." Says the samurai.
The two eventually reach an outcropping on a cliff that overlooks the inlet where a Mongol outpost has been erected. Dismounting their steeds, they crouch low behind a fallen tree to observe the hastily built walls of the outpost. Jin is a little reluctant to admit that Yuna's knowledge combined with his own makes them quite the pair. Their ability to pick apart the weaknesses of the outpost may come from different experiences and upbringings, but their knowledge is equal in value. Their skills compliment each other, like yin and yang. Jin doesn't know how he feels about that.
"If something goes wrong they'll kill the prisoners," Yuna warns, and before Jin can protest she adds with a firm shake of her head, "I've seen them do it."
Jin wonders how she knows this, if she has attempted a rescue on her own or watched one fail.
Leaning in to gain Jin's full attention Yuna emphasizes, "We have to go in quietly."
"Like thieves." Jin accuses honestly, tone gentle but unyielding.
He takes care in watching her as she processes this. Her keen features reveal nothing, but as she tilts her head in a way that kind of reminds him of a curious cat -- no more like a fox, Yuna rebuffs him with,
"What's wrong with that?"
This time its Jin who has to guard his expression as he continues to slave over his efforts in trying to understand her. How is it she keeps stumping him? Each time Jin thinks he finally has a grasp on who she is, finally has put her in a neat box ready for judgment, she changes the rules on him. Jin knows she loves her brother, but she also dishonors the fallen by scavenging battlefields. She refused to worry about saving people in the village where they first met and escaped from, yet she saved the people of Kechi. She deceives so easily, and yet is undeniably earnest. Yuna is a walking paradox and Jin fears he won't ever truly understand her. His Uncle always told him to never put his trust in people he doesn't understand.
Unable to come up with a direct response, Jin decides to fall back on what he knows. His code is unchanging, a mantra, a safety net -- something to cling to.
"Before the samurai this island was ruled by criminals. We changed that by creating order and delivering justice in the open. We live by a code of honor, and sometimes we die by it. Warriors like my father who just wanted to give us a safer home --,"
"I want the same thing," Yuna interjects, her face empty of judgment but full of something that looked startlingly similar to pity, "But we have to fight back."
Jin stares at her, skin itching and head spinning at what it is she's asking of him.
"I, I promised my Uncle I'd never break our code." Jin insists, trying not to look away, fighting against the uncertainty and turmoil roiling in his gut. He knows who he is. He knows his code. He knows. He is samurai.
But as she's made a habit of doing, Yuna surprises him once again.
"Then bend it. To save my family and what's left of yours."
Jin can't bare to look her in the eye any longer. Those eyes threatened to...to do something, and Jin didn't want to figure out what. Simply being near her felt like the very matter of his being was being shifted, rearranged to her fancy. He'd never felt so unearthed, so far removed from his own control before in his life. He is Lord Jin Sakai of Clan Sakai, he'd never been second-guessed in his life. No one had ever questioned his code like this before, perhaps that's all this is. All this shock is only a natural reaction to her audacity.
"Let's get a closer look, see what we're up against." He manages to say after a beat, making to move down the incline closer to the outpost.
"We should wait until it gets darker." Yuna's logic hits him like a thunder clap. Of course they should wait for cover of darkness, but the fact that this is second nature to her only serves to aggravate Jin more.
Honor and codes -- typical samurai nonsense, Yuna scoffs internally as Jin and her sit a few feet apart from each other, waiting impatiently for the sun to fully set, if an opponent decides not to play by the samurai's rules then the samurai are well and truly fucked, no wonder they were so easily overtaken at Komoda.
She resists the urge to roll her eyes at the folly of man. Pride and ego is all that their precious honor consists of, each new century humans disguise it as something different but its all the same. Yuna would be bitter about it if she cared more, but fortunately she doesn't. It's times like these she thanks the gods she's yokai. Humans are so prone to self-sabotage its sickening.
Yuna expects Jin to start becoming increasingly restless as time rolls slowly on, as most humans don't do well with remaining still for extended periods of time. Especially warriors. But to Yuna's mild surprise Jin impresses her with his patience and self control. Maybe for once a human actually practices what they preach, all that talk of mastering his emotions earlier making an appearance now. Jin sits with his long legs crossed and his forearms resting gently on his knees. His eyes lay closed and he breathes in a decidedly practiced manner. Maybe its part of some sort of samurai meditation ritual. Yuna leaves him be, listening to his heart beat as she sharpens her dagger and makes a few more arrows from the kit she has in her satchel.
Outwardly Jin seems to be at peace, but the stench of overwhelming human emotion wafts off of him like smoke from a fire. There's too much there for Yuna to pick apart, wolf and inu yokai have the noses for that kind of thing not kitsune. It only frustrates her as she sits and works on her arrows, grateful for something to do so she doesn't snap and end up knocking him out cold so her nose can go back to being unassaulted.
"Your accent," Yuna tenses when Sakai breaks the silence, "In Kechi,"
Yuna waits for him to continue but he doesn't. Keeping her hands steady she continues working, not taking her eyes off of the feathers she's splitting. His words shutter between them like one of the quivering feathers in her fingers, she lets them resonate in the air another beat before responding.
"What of it?"
Sakai pauses, takes a measured breath, "I was unsure if I had mistaken it."
As Jin's eyes are still closed, she allows herself a small self-indulgent smirk. Clever samurai, he's just as observant as she thought. Making his suspicions known like this is definitely meant as a clear warning though.
"You hadn't mistaken it." Yuna confirms simply.
She feels Jin fight against the urge to stiffen beside her. It makes her smile wider.
"I see. What a unique talent."
"It is useful yes."
"Useful..." Jin trails off.
Yuna hears the cords of genuine alarm strum under the tenor of his voice and she reminds herself she shouldn't play with him too much. This isn't Taka, Sakai doesn't know her. Yuna internally laughs at the idea that Sakai could ever truly understand her, his code wouldn't allow him to.
"Jin, look at me," She says and wipes the mirth clean off her face.
It takes Sakai a moment but he does comply, although cautiously. He may be sitting next to her, but in that moment he feels miles away. Once she grabs hold of his gaze, she doesn't let him look away. Yuna thinks of what this lifetime has held for her and lays it before him as earnestly as she can manage.
"I do not have the luxury of wealth and status like you, I have to fight to live -- to survive. Anything that gives Taka and me a better chance? I don't hesitate a second to do it." Jin's eyes hop between her own, no doubt scrambling for a foothold so Yuna gives him one, "Trade prices are cheaper if they believe you're from the region. That's why I can speak with different accents."
"So not only do you steal but you deceive at will as well?"
"There's no room for honor in survival." Yuna rebukes firmly, still not allowing him to look away from her, completely unafraid of Sakai's judgment.
She watches as, oddly, panic appears and sweeps like a brush fire across the twin mirrors of his eyes. Her eyebrows knit a tick in confusion at such torment.
"I survived Komoda." Jin hushes to neither of them in particular -- a confession to the universe, his expression a disjointed mix of emptiness and horror.
It clicks after a moment (and only because she's spent a significant time with humans in the past few decades) and Yuna understands. Despite everything though, she finds herself fighting against the instinct to comfort him, to assure him he's still the same man, that honor hasn't yet abandoned him. But Yuna doesn't know Jin Sakai, not well enough to say those things to him and know them to be true. So she doesn't speak at all, only watches Sakai crumble into himself and struggle to get a hold of his emotions. It's like observing two bears wrestle for territory, each opponent evenly matched.
Yuna wonders which will win out in the end.
She takes mercy on him and turns her attention back to her arrows, giving him the illusion of privacy. His heart beats like a hummingbird's in his chest, the desperate sound echoing in her ears coaxes genuine concern out of the little stash she has for humans that aren't Taka. She can almost hear Taka scolding her for just sitting there and not saying something, but Yuna would rather be silent than lie. Her brain sort of splits in two as she considers the happenings of the afternoon. One the one hand she knows Sakai's more mentally vulnerable now and therefore easier to manipulate, but on the other hand the thought of taking advantage of him doesn't please her. In fact it straight up irritates her to consider it. Now, more than a little peeved at the way this whole thing is going, Yuna is relieved when the sun sinks all the way past the horizon.
"It's time." She urges as she packs up her arrow kit and prepares to make the trip down into the inlet.
For some frustratingly unknown reason, Yuna finds herself resolutely put out by Sakai's silence beside her. He can't even look her in the eye. Normally Yuna considers it luck when humans have the restraint to keep their mouths shut and their eyes down, but the quiet in Jin is making the hair on the back of her neck rise. It's heavy with pain and sorrow and confusion. What would a human do to comfort another human? What would comfort Taka?
"Taka," Yuna begins uncertainly, not quite sure where she's going with this or what she aims to accomplish, but she presses forward as Sakai begins to lead them down the incline, "He's been through a lot, even before the invasion,"
"But you took care of him." Sakai whispers as they shuffle down the hill, both dropped in low crouches as they slowly approach the outpost walls.
His words, even spoken as softly as they were, ring like bass bells in Yuna's ears. She watches the broad muscles in his back shift as he moves and can't look away from the casual display of physical prowess -- the yokai in her recognizing power.
"Someone had to," Yuna hopes that whatever complicated human sentiment she is trying to emulate is getting through to him, yokai speak with their bodies not their words, "He hated when I stole but it was that or starve, I didn't have a choice."
"I didn't choose to be a samurai either." Sakai responds without missing a beat.
This rebuttal slightly confuses Yuna. It feels a bit like they're speaking different languages, its how Yuna always feels when trying to connect with humans -- even Taka sometimes. She wishes humans weren't so reliant on the spoken word, it's such a primitive tool of communication! Why limit yourself to sound when you have sight, smell, touch, and taste at your disposal? Plus she is at a further disadvantage as a kitsune, who are easily confused by words. Trying to understand Jin Sakai is made impossible by the oratory puzzles he keeps putting in front of his emotional will. Luckily Yuna regains her footing in the conversation when Sakai continues,
"Going against my instincts, my code --,"
"It's better than getting wiped out by the Mongols. We have to fight back, any way we can."
Sakai remains quiet after that, unable to argue with her logic. Though Yuna wonders why she turned Sakai's 'I', into a 'we'. Since when did she plan to fight back against the Mongols past rescuing Taka? She hears his heart beat increase as they approach the wall along with all the sounds of the base. Yuna is about to direct Sakai to a small space in the logs of the wall to squeeze through as its dark and humans struggle to see at night, but he impresses her by catching sight of it on his own.
"Through here," He hushes as he weaves himself silently through.
Yuna is suddenly reminded how much of her favor Sakai holds, she pushed quite a lot of her power into him -- through him, in order to save him. Some of her life force lives within him now, its how he was able to heal so inhumanly fast. Healing was her intended gift, now it seems improved eyesight has manifested too. While it makes sense that a human cannot remain unaltered after having that much yoki touch their soul, Yuna finds it curious that these abilities are appearing seemingly without Sakai's notice and deliberate cultivation. What other gifts might manifest in him from her favor? Many older kitsune warned her of giving away too much favor if she ever chose to bestow any in the first place, because once you give the power away you can't ever take it back. For when the power leaves the body, leaves her control, and is put into another, it becomes their power. Only the strongest and purest human souls are able to retain the yoki that flowed through them when yokai favor is initially granted, let alone cultivate abilities from it.
It strikes something new in Yuna, makes Jin Sakai even more of an anomaly than he already is. She's apart of him now, whether he knows it or not, and Jin is apart of her. Yuna wants to sink her claws into something as the sensation that rolls through her body then makes her feel like she's inbetween shapes -- completely untethered. Unsure what she's feeling and more importantly what it means, she opts to deliberately ignore it, attempting to not be alarmed that its not human emotion she's struggling with this time but her own yokai instincts. Yuna tries to let it sluice off of her like water as she gracefully steps through the wall after her samurai. Once they're both inside Sakai leads them to the nearest cover which happens to be a large pile of stacked timber. Settling momentarily, the pair are alerted to their first target as a Mongolian guard a yard or two away scuffles a few pebbles under his foot.
The Mongolian has his back to them.
Yuna immediately knows what has to be done, and at the same time figures she'll have to take care of it herself considering how well convincing Sakai to be stealthy went last time.
"If they see us, they'll kill the prisoners," Jin hushes under his breath to her, his eyes never leaving the guard's back.
Yuna figures he's telling her this more for his benefit than her's, but she feels like being patient with him considering her recent thoughts.
"Then we'd better stay quiet," She murmurs back and as Yuna quietly unsheathes her dagger, Jin finally turns to look her in the eye, "And open their throats."
His eyes scream at her once their gazes meet, scream of things too messy and too scattered to identify while his face remains a stone mask. Sakai's scent shifts back to the noxious cloud of emotion it had been on the cliff side earlier.
He is part of me.
Yuna shuffles closer to him at the coded display of distress.
He is mine to guide.
She lets his eyes ravage the calm between them, lets him work through his conflict. He has no choice, and watching him fight that realization makes Yuna want to ease his turmoil. She can't, but she wants to, and she wants that to bother her...but it doesn't. In one deliberate, smooth motion Sakai grasps the hilt of his tanto and unsheathes it. His calloused fingers adjust around the soft leather of the tsuka as he steels himself for what must be done. To her surprise Jin turns to look at her again, his eyes searching her's though Yuna doesn't exactly know what for. On instinct she gentles her expression and simply nods her head in encouragement. Yuna is slightly stricken when he nods back, shamelessly taking any comfort from her that she's willing to give. Yuna's glad the moment only lasts a second because as Jin sets out from their cover and towards the unsuspecting Mongolian soldier, her instincts decide to go all queasy on her again.
This time her heart beat rises in tempo with Sakai's as he gets closer and closer to the guard. They throb together in the night -- separate halves of a twisted whole, and Yuna swears she feels Sakai's anguish as he proceeds to gracelessly stab the Mongolian solider in the back of the neck. The kill is messy, uncoordinated, and frantic. Sakai keeps sliding his blade into non lethal places on the guard's body, and at first Yuna wonders if he is doing this on purpose but the thought quickly dissipates as her samurai wrestles the dying soldier to the ground in a pathetic jerking heap, desperately trying to end his life. Once the Mongolian is dead, Sakai pushes the heavy corpse off him and lies on his back with his face to the sky unable to stand. When he closes his eyes in utter defeat, Yuna finds that nothing short of death could have stopped her from going to his side.