Reaching out with his ki sense, Kenshin tensed. Snatched Yahiko’s yellow collar. And moved.
Diving out of the sun-
“Coming thrrrough!” Feathers and fur caroled through the space they’d occupied, a long red paper streamer snapping in the wind of their passage.
Thirty feet away, Kenshin set the startled boy down and watched the hawk-beaked creature swoop back into the sky, streamer flapping from his right foreleg, followed at a slightly higher altitude by a smaller sibling with a more tattered streamer of her own. Bodies the size of great cats, each with four strong paws, golden-brown feathers-
-And attitude, Battousai growled. Don’t forget attitude.
Sessha might say, look who’s talking.
Heh! And we know why, don’t we? I’m a predator, and we both know it. There’s not a one of these white-wearing idealists I couldn’t take down. Pure, matter-of-fact pride rang through that thought, mingled with a breath of wistful hope.
Relaxing his grip on Yahiko’s gi, Kenshin frowned. Sessha’s not letting you out for a sparring match. Sessha’s a civilized person, that I am. Sessha’s not a hitokiri anymore!
I’m not an assassin anymore, Battousai thought, roughly gentle. But hitokiri wa hitokiri. We know that. We’ve known it since Hiko started teaching us.
“Whoa!” Yahiko shaded his eyes to peer up at soaring wings, grinning with delight. “Those are the gryphons? Kaoru?” He looked her way, where Megumi was pawing the ground with laid-back ears, and grumbled under his breath. “Great. Busu’s Mindspeaking again.”
“-Oh no you don’t!” Kaoru smacked a fist into her palm, quick anger coloring her cheeks. “Jerven thinks I don’t know the difference between war-training and wing-tag,” she filled in at Kenshin’s questioning look. “He knows he’s supposed to keep to his own training area, or stay over twenty feet, like Lytha is! Like he didn’t notice the archery range?”
“I’ll take it from here.” Kerowyn stalked out into the sunlight, frowning into the sky. Arched a brow. Glared upward.
“One knows the Gifted were not always trusted in Edo, but you should give your teacher’s skills more respect,” Kenshin told the youngster in an undertone. Inwardly he held himself still. Kerowyn was blazing her ken-ki to the skies, all fury and impatience. He was glad he wasn’t on the receiving end of her Mindspeech.
“Huh!” Yahiko scowled. “Real samurai don’t read people’s minds to figure out what they’ll do in a fight!”
“Nor does Kaoru, that she does not,” Kenshin said firmly. “A trained fighter does not think of what he will do, Yahiko. He simply sees, and senses his opponent’s ki, and moves. No Mindspeaker could read that in time.”