I took a deep breath before stepping on the soil beyond the gates. From this day on, I would be an apprentice of the swordsmanship school, run by the Haki clan. So far, I had only learned of three clans. Namely, the Haki, Foaane, and Senwan. Among these three, I chose the Haki, simply because its school was farthest away from home. As for why…that would have to wait.
“Excuse me, um…” I cleared my throat and tried again, not daring to meet the eyes of the lady standing in front of me. “I’m Jiro…”
“You’re the new apprentice, right?” the blonde lady asked. “If so, just put your identification here.” When that was done, she gave me a warm smile. “My name is Kameko, in charge of the administrations of the school of this clan. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me anytime.”
“Thank you, Miss Kameko.” I bowed deeply.
“Master Kaemon should be meeting you shortly,” Miss Kameko said. “Please take a seat and wait until he arrives, Jiro.”
“Thank you.” I sat where she had gestured.
Before long, the door of the dimly-lit office opened, and in stepped a tall man, whose shadow alone was enough to tower over me. The first feature I noticed about him was the death glare in his night-dark eyes, which seemed to burn through every speck of dust in the air, traveling straight to me. In the next moment, I realized that it mustn’t have been a glare. It was the intense gaze of a stern, serious man. The firm figure had long, silky black hair flowing down his back, with the top half tied with a white ribbon, the rest set loose. A sheathed katana hung at his belt, ready to be pulled out anytime. He marched in into the room with the manner of a proud warrior, his eyes locked on mine the entire time.
“Kameko,” the man said in an authoritative voice, “Is this the new one?”
“Yes, Master Kaemon,” Miss Kameko replied. “Jiro, meet Master Kaemon.”
In my daze, I had nearly forgotten all my manners. At Miss Kameko’s words, I jolted upright from my seat, taking a bow as deep as I could manage with my back and legs straight. “I am sorry!” I apologized as a result of the delayed response. “I am Jiro. At your disposal, Master Kaemon!”
The master stayed silent for a moment, as if evaluating how worthy I was as an apprentice. “Be alert at all times, Jiro,” he said to me. “Come.”
I tried, but failed, to catch a taste of any emotion in his voice. Nevertheless, I called, “Yes, Master Kaemon!” and followed him out the door.