Old January 26, 2010, 09:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Remember Right Now

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48 Immanis, Winter, Era XVI P.F.

Time was a cruel and unfeeling mistress.

The weather didnít turn cold here in Secyclion, no matter the season. For that, at least, Shiro was somewhat grateful. It was a strange universe, this island kingdom. It floated about on an everlasting and incomprehensible sea, as if the rest of Telath simply didnít exist but had been washed away by the pressing fingers of water. It was a terrible pity that such forgetfulness did not always seep to oneís own mind. It wasnít as simple as dunking underneath the crashing waves or even closing oneís eyes and pretending that the world was fading away into bleak grayness.

It was, instead, a reminder that nowhere was quite far enough to run from oneís self.

Fingers ran over the opposing palm as his green eyes traced their invisible line, letting them follow the creases and wrinkles written between the heavily calloused skin. He hadnít intended to become a messenger of death. He hadnít ever planned to take a single life, let alone the multiple souls that now dressed the end of his blade. He never foresaw himself becoming this wraith of the undead, this terrible avenger for a god he despised and a fate he cursed. He never thought himself capable of becoming a soulless, empty monstrosity that had no place in either the world of the dead or that of the living.

His blinking grew slower and more deliberate as he continued to run up and down the width of his hand. There were so many memories ingrained in the very fabric of his being. There were so many threads leading all to this self-same point, all demanding that he either follow them to the end or cut them off and set himself adrift. His eyes reopened and glanced back at the wavering sea, watching the sun lap off the curl of the waves and explode into a thousand different colors. Peace wasnít a matter of the condition of oneís soul; it was simply a name given to the sound of silence.

He didnít want to be here, but he also had very little choice.

The boyís eyes clicked up toward the distance building, watching the swaying of the windows and the gentle apex of the roof above. They were on the edge of the Red Isle here, somewhere far from the central beating heart of the city and its many districts. Though quiet, the colors and smells ever so native to the Secyclionians hadnít changed; they remained as strong and distinct as ever. Shiro still wasnít familiar enough with the islandís geography to give a name and title to his current location, but he had a feeling, an impulse, to be here.

Why? No one Ė let alone Shiro Shimizu Ė knew. The mysteries of life were not to be probed, particularly by one who did not wish to know the truth of the answer.
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Old February 20, 2010, 04:41 AM   #2 (permalink)
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A possible answer of why Shiro was were he stood presented itself to him in the form of cries of pain and protest. The noises did not come from far away, in fact by just turning his head Shiro was able to see the source barely one hundred metres away. Three large boys armed with medium sized wooden poles had a much smaller boy fenced in against a wall. The boy held a small blade in his hand, but the reach of the sticks were no much for the short weapon.

The fact that he was disadvantaged certainly didn't seem to get the kid's spirits down. Slurs and obscenities travelled as far as Shiro, they were oddly familiar, "I'll 'ave ye 'n all yer mates ye damned yellow-bellied curs! Come on curse ye, I been hit harder by ole wenches I 'ave!"

A resounding thwack could be heard by Shiro as one beefy boy cracked his weapon on the arm the lad raised to defend his head. The lad laughed and kicked the bully in the shins for his efforts. "Be that all ye've got ye fethin' filth?"

The three lads who were towering over the lad were obviously getting incensed more and more as words and insults flew out of his mouth. Things were looking messy for the kid.
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Old February 21, 2010, 11:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The scent of the hunt clung in the air. Any predator could have sensed it, from stray dog to feral cat to prowling Jalatian. It was a sense that had followed Shiro since his first arrival here in Secyclion. He had seen the debauchery surrounding the docks on the shore; he had witnessed first-hand the twisted insanity that beset the more private of its citizens. Depravity, it seemed, knew no bounds and knew no greater home than here on the Red Isle. Jorelites, some would say – chaotic anarchists who sought nothing more than satisfying their own pleasures.

In Shiro’s mind, they were all merely human.

His hands clenched instinctively while his eyes sought out the top roofline of the structure before him, tracing the tile’s line against the plainer stucco beneath. It was so different here than Narim had ever been, so strange and foreign. Yet here he was pleasantly and completely obscure. None would ever recognize his surname or the strange coloring of his eyes. A few might comment on the clarity of the strands of his hair but none would put time or cause to its appearance. None would care about the business of a young half-Kemite bustling about the crowded streets.

That was precisely the reason why Shiro was still here. He sopped it all up like an actor soaked in the applause of the crowd. He was addicted to this sense of being unknown and forgotten, as if his life didn’t matter and he was but an insignificant piece of the crowd. That was what Shiro wanted to believe and what he had told himself to believe. That was what he so desperately hoped was true.

The yelling somewhere off to his side was enough to cut such a mental tirade painfully short. Reluctantly, green eyes wandered off toward the source of the noise in a half-interested, mostly uncaring glance to take in the trio of boys apparently intent upon beating sense into the skull of their forth partner. He had seen such scenes before; in truth, Shiro had most often played them out personally. Being shorter and smaller than the majority of boys his age had severe disadvantages – if one opted to view the situation that way, anyway. He preferred to think of it as opportunity – mainly to teach such to never attempt to push him around again.

Arms crossed in front of his torso as he turned to fully face the quartet, still staring. Shiro wasn’t precisely angry and he certainly didn’t care to enter the middle of a foray that had precisely nothing to do with him. Still, it was loud – and disturbing whatever sense the half-Kemite had been trying to gather about his reasons for being at this particular locale. For now, he was simply content to watch it all play out. Shiro Shimizu wasn’t a hero and he certainly wasn’t a savior by any means. His internal sense of justice had yet to be crossed.

So he would wait.
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Old April 12, 2010, 12:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Life was rarely fair.

But such was of small comfort as the boy lashed out again with his knife, stepping forward towards the closest bully as he moved. Narrowly avoiding the first of the wooden poles as it was thrust towards his head, the shaft caught a glancing blow against the diminutive boy’s shoulder. The hand holding the knife struck down sharply, cutting into the bully’s hand where it held the pole. A smirk of victory that was short-lived even as the sound of the bully’s cry of outrage and pain was released.

The second makeshift polearm lashed out towards the victimized youth, striking him across the side of the head and sending the boy to the ground with a pole-axed expression. The third polearm striking down in an over handed blow at the boy’s leg, prompting a crack as the wooden pole broke from the force of the blow. Murmuring, barely holding onto conscious the adolescent flailed weakly with his knife. Barely managing to even maintain a grip upon the blade.

“Now who’s laughing you bloody Dorin fether? Eh?” The mildly wounded bully swore, spitting upon the prone boy before delivering a swift kick to the ribs. Retrieving the youth’s fallen knife in his one good hand after discarding the pole. Kneeling down beside the youth, it was only as he went to give the boy the kind of smile that went from ear to ear and lasted the rest of one’s admittedly very short lifetime, did he freeze.

Twisting suddenly to face Shiro, suddenly aware that the trio was being watched.

“What’re you lookin’ at, Rodenti-for-brains?!”

NotePicking this thread up at the request of Shiro
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Old April 18, 2010, 11:05 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Then it happened.

Such snaps of control to abandon and shifts from apathy to powerful shows of passion and rage were very rarely able to be measured, even by those that directly experienced them. But moments before, he had been stagnant, uncaring – curiosity had drawn his leaf-colored eyes toward the collection of youths, but interest had stopped there. It wasn’t his concern, but beyond that, he simply didn’t care. There was no reason to bother. He wasn’t human anymore, as Agar had said – perfectly devoid of the emotions, empathy, and moralities that so defined mortality. He wasn’t a part of that. He couldn’t be like that.

Maybe it was the flash of the knife, then, that had drawn something out of Shiro’s unfeeling exterior. Maybe it was the wound the bullies inflicted on their would-be target. Maybe it was simply a sense of boredom that demanded something to find interest and worth. Or maybe it was nothing at all – another act committed by the boy for no apparent reason, no true conclusion, and simply to take part in his contradictory nature of self that none, let alone his own mind, could begin to understand.

This snap took expression in a lowering of the corners of his mouth, a tightening of his jaw, and fingertips pressing hard into the soft lower regions of his palm. He didn’t move toward the fight; he remained stationary, as if slowly shifting gears from his state of inactivity to one of action with great deliberation. It wasn’t thought, though, that propelled his body right now; it was impulse. Shiro could feel the sense of disdain rising up through his being; he sensed his desire for judgment pound heavily with the beat of his heart. The decision to interact, to connect, to intervene, had been made; now it was merely a matter of playing out the consequences to whatever end.

He waited, saying nothing, doing nothing. He stared with arms crossed harshly over his short chest and a critical stare emanating from chiseled, hardened olive features. A wayward strand of white hair fell dangerously over his right eye, shadowing what pieces of the face beneath it could. Shiro paid no heed. His attention was fully and completely attached to the situation before him now; nothing else mattered. The decision to reconnect had been made – for good or ill, and for no reason that the half-Kemite truly cared to fathom.

It wasn’t until the boy made comment toward Shiro that the latter moved, turning his gaze from the group as a whole to the singular daring spokesman appointed by audacity – or perhaps foolishness. His hands clenched more tightly across his skin while his expression turned into a full-fledged frown. He said nothing as his chin jutted out toward the fallen boy, adding in a slight incline of his entire head. The motion forced another strand of hair to fall out of its confining hood before his gaze resettled on the boy that spoke – heavy, pointed, and boring, as if the very intensity of Shiro’s eyes could dig a hole through the other child’s heart.

“Everything.” One word was given in answer. Only one word was needed. Nothing else remained to be said. His hands tightened again, this time encircling the circumference of his forearms and pushing hard against the flesh, directly up to the bone beneath. He wasn’t at action yet. It wasn’t the moment yet.

Not yet.
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Old April 28, 2010, 08:32 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Spinning the knife in one hand, for all the bully’s bluster, the youth apparently could use the weapon. Rotating the weapon not unlike a sai, the blade rested along the flat of the boy’s wrist with his index and middle finger each curled around the narrow guard of the knife. Rotating it in a counter-clockwise spin with a flick of his wrist before rotating it back down again to rest along his wrist. Changing the grip at the last moment, the bully continued the motion a few times more before the counter-clockwise spin was no longer brought up short but allowed to complete the whole circle; readjusting the spin with his little finger with a tap at the dull edge of the blade.

“Looks like to me that everything is seeing far too much, Tri-Anklios-wit.” The youth scowled, tearing his gaze away from Shiro momentarily to look at the fallen boy. Twitching faintly; an arm stretched forth in the Half-Kemite’s direction with his fingers revealed to now be pointing in the wrong direction entirely. A fragment of bone revealed, breaking through the skin at the back of the victim’s hand. And still the other two continued to work over the unconscious youth; laying into his ribs until the crack of bone breaking could be heard.

Continuing the spinning of the knife, the leader of the trio’s other arm remained all but limp by his side. Sneering at Shiro, a malevolent twist of the sociopathic boy’s lips was pulled back into a rictus that, possibly, was meant to be a smile. “Hand over all your money midget and nobody has to get hurt. Call it a see-too-much tax, eh?” Spitting to the side before his grin widened; revealing a mass of stained, broken and missing teeth. “Nobody else that is.”
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Old May 7, 2010, 12:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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They were getting closer.

Hands clenching tightly in unconscious rhythm remained as the only sign of movement the boy allowed. Eyes narrowed and expression even, Shiro returned the other boy’s verbal barbs with silence and utter lack of response, still watching with arms crossed tightly. He ignored the words and even ignored the motions, still simply staring. His gaze didn’t waver or move even as the other boy did, watching stagnantly as he descended back toward his helpless target.

It wasn’t justice that had moved him closer. It wasn’t a desire to right the wrongs of the world that had caused Shiro to take interest. And it certainly wasn’t pity at the sight of the broken bones and torn flesh that birthed the spark of indignation still smoldering in the depths of his eyes. Action and reaction, events built into a singular, affected line – they were all but a mass of probabilities thrown together into a single hat and rolled around, colliding with each other in ways that resulted in connection, care, or, sometimes, conflict.

This was but the latter – a chance outcome from a chance encounter built around a chance circumstance.

He said nothing as warning. At the same time as his hands dropped, Shiro’s lower body also sprung into motion, propelling him forward. One hand outstretched far in front and to the side, aimed directly at the wrist at which the other boy had been holding his blade, though with no real intention of grasping it – only the appearance of. The opposite curled into a fist to come wheeling about at a wide angle, hoping to utilize the distraction the other side of his body would offer. His opponent would most likely prioritize his weapon over the unarmed side of his body and thus be unprepared to deal with the Kemite’s actual offensive attack.

It wouldn’t be much at first – just a thrust toward either the side of his ribcage or neck, depending on how far the other boy reacted and moved. Still, the momentum of the wide swing should have been enough to allow Shiro an easy time of sweeping around in a half-arc toward the back and just out of the obvious range of his opponent’s view. Even if only granted a split second of unobserved time, it should have been enough to formulate a strike to the center of the boy’s back where his spine began to curve concavely, throwing him forward thoroughly unbalanced.

If.

Probability and chance weren’t factors in combat – at least not ones to which Shiro paid any heed. It was action and then reaction – not equal, but expected. There was a clarity here and a simplicity to existence that he found relaxing…

…or would have if he could have ever noticed.
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Old May 18, 2010, 04:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Eyed widening in surprise at Shiro’s less than suppliant manner, the youth gave a guttural shout of surprise as he reacted towards the feint. Slashing at Shiro’s hand as he stepped forward to meet the apparent assault. Realising even as he slashed and Shiro’s outstretched arm retreated in the flow of movement that there had been a simple error in trying to knife the Half-Kemite’s hand rather than aiming right for the face as would have been prudent. Still the blade managed to graze the very back of Shiro’s hand, drawing a tiny scratch across the back of his middle finger and index fingers knuckles.

Over-extended, the assailant found his other side wide open for Shiro as he moved. Having free reign to decide just where he wished to deliver the first flow and even a second as the bully stumbled a pace forward from his own momentum. To the professional eye, the youth had zero concept of balance or footwork in a scuffle and only a simple knowledge that hitting something with the pointy end of the knife delivered quite prompt results.

Flowing behind him, the accosted youth spun in the opposite direction. Reeling from Shiro’s strikes as he lashed out in a wide half-circle to try and knife Shiro again. Moving far, far too slowly, the bully’s knife skittered from his fingertips as he was struck in the back. His body continuing its spinning motion, leaving him to land upon his twice-wounded side – once by the earlier victim’s knifepoint and again through Shiro’s strikes.

“Get him you fethers!” he cried to his two companions, whimpering as he pulled himself along the ground and towards the fallen knife.
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Old June 2, 2010, 12:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This was much too simple.

Mind turned acute and body supple by the surge of adrenaline rushing through him, Shiro’s eyes began to glint a brilliant, almost pale green with intensity’s fire. His hands flexed to relax once while he paused to measure the results of his attacks. The peace didn’t last more than half a moment, however; within the space of a single thought, the Kemite boy was already restarting his balance by spreading his weight evenly across both feet and sweeping studious gazes toward both the fallen boy and his more reluctant companions.

He didn’t jeer or, in truth, show any emotion at all; there simply wasn’t time. Satisfied that the threat of the other boy’s sad excuse for a weapon was eliminated for the time being, Shiro propelled himself forward in fast strides to cut off the boy’s path of travel to the knife. A foot swept almost vertically in the air, aimed with toe pointed toward the stumbling head. At the latter’s yell, the Kemite swiveled a quick glance behind his shoulder at the others before his brow furrowed more deeply and his gaze hardened.

The most painful idiocy always came from ignorant pride. None of them looked to be capable of anything more than preying on the helpless and the weak. They had no business in this style of combat, and any twig of sense in their heads would have asserted that fact painfully clearly. Shiro still didn’t particularly care about their motives, but once started, the boy would finish; such dedication was his one saving grace in an otherwise disreputable, forgotten life.

He glared at the self-appointed ringleader again, saying simply, “I wouldn’t,” before shifting his attention back to the other pair. His hands were already spreading in preparation for an attack in any direction; his eyes were already roving the scene to spread their gaze intermittently among the three. Another slow shake of his head sideways compounded the meaning behind his words.
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Old June 8, 2010, 03:33 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Common sense had an interesting ability to be quite uncommon when one looked at the populace as a whole. It was almost as if the world went out of its way to prove that intelligence wasn’t multiplicative or even merely additive. In many cases, sheer stupidity managed to overwhelm any sensible notion that a collective could ever formulate. Common sense dictated that three against one should have been an easy case. Uncommon sense dictated however that when three people went and caused trouble against a stranger bearing a sword, bad things were bound to happen.

Lashing out at the ringleader’s head; his hands rose deftly to ward off the kick. Failing in part, Shiro’s foot managed to clip the bully’s jaw before his leg were encased with the boy’s arms. Latching a hold of Shiro tightly; pulling his weight down sharply as he gave the cry of; “Now, get the son of a Hayan!” he exclaimed, pulling his weight forwards to try to throw Shiro’s sense of balance off and force him to fall backwards.

Incited by their leader’s bravery, and their initial victim having been thoroughly disabled, the other two glanced towards one another. Gaining some measure of bravery through the assurances that they would be in this together. Until at least self-preservation and the revelation that discretion was the better part of valor kicked in. Until then, the odds began to tilt ever so slightly away from Shiro. Each one worked their way to place themselves on either side of the Half Kemite. Striving to ensure that Shiro could never keep both in view at the same time without turning his head.

Stepping forwards, the makeshift polearm was held by the man on Shiro’s right; working with an inelegant trust towards Shiro’s ribcage as the second rushed forwards as if to crash tackle him.

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Old August 12, 2010, 12:18 AM   #11 (permalink)
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He spent too long devising insults.

Annoyed, the boy’s face hardened again as he braced himself for the impact of foot against jaw. Satisfied that his blow had landed, Shiro was unprepared for his would-be victim’s own counterattack and thus forced to merely brace himself for the anticipated loss of balance and subsequent fall. His elbows moved backward just enough to try to ensure that the flat portions of his arms would collide with the ground first, keeping both hands and joints as far away from impact as possible.

It wasn’t exactly planned, but it would do. His green eyes flashed furiously again at the bully’s compatriots that had foolishly ignored the Kemite’s demand and approached anyway. They would have to be dealt with, too, then. The forceful collision of ground against his back and the resulting pain that erupted along the length of his spine was enough to bring Shiro’s attention back to the matter the furthest forefront in his mind – the boy who still currently held possession of the half-Kemite’s foot.

Twisting, Shiro used the extra balance and leverage offered by the level ground now underneath his short, stocky form to push himself upward with a tightening of his entire torso and thrusting his legs, halfway intending to point the toe end of his foot back into the bully’s jaw or, at the very least, unsettle his grip enough by the suddenness and ferocity of the movement to retract his legs and thus free himself. Another quick sideways glance dared to measure the boy closest to Shiro’s left.

Idiots – untrained, stupid, and probably just bored and picking on someone on the wrong street this brightening. Yet none of that stood as excuse for igniting the half-Kemite’s temper. That was a cost that they still had yet to pay.
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Old August 19, 2010, 12:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Clipped a second time across the jaw as Shiro performed a text-book break-fall, the leader of the trio’s eyes defocused immediately before rolling into the back of his skull as a third kick impacted against the man’s face. A thin trickle of blood pooled from the corner of his mouth and there was the sound of bone and teeth being rearranged on the inside of the bully’s mouth as the cartilage of his nose broke in turn. Within but a handful of seconds, Shiro had managed to give the first of the trio a rather severe concussion.

The series of movements prompted a touch of wariness within the third of the trio of who had been moving to tackle Shiro. Hesitating instead as he aborted the means of assault and instead moved to retrieve the leader’s fallen knife instead. Misgauging the distance between himself and Shiro badly given that there was no more than two feet from the Half-Kemite’s foot to where the knife now lay.

“You bastard!” came the cry as the polearm carried by the second of the thugs was swung up over the man’s head as he cleared the remaining distance between himself and Shiro. Holding it high for a few precious seconds as he adjusted to the weapon’s weight distribution before bringing it down in an over handed arc with the very tip of the blade directed at Shiro’s sternum. His stance however was poor with his feet placed far too close together so that the polearm was being used more like a sledgehammer than a staff.
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Old September 15, 2010, 09:40 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Foolhardiness could not easily substitute for talent.

There wasn’t much finesse in the boy’s own skills; what limited organized training he had been privy to had died the moment his father’s illness had begun – that fateful tick of the clock that brought the start of the slow, eternal unraveling of every thread of his all-too-fragile life. Still, there was a headiness present that the trio of ruffians obviously lacked born of an existence long spent on the edge of a knife, never daring to tread too strongly, quickly, or fiercely for fear of falling over the edge. As small as it might be, there still existed some sense of control to Shiro’s movements – and that, for now, stood out as a slight advantage that was growing with every passing second.

Once freed from the now-delirious boy’s grasp, Shiro moved quickly to regain what he could of his balance and, preferably, actually stand up again from his current awkward position spread along the ground. His peripheral vision caught the quick, jerking movement of one of the boys toward the fallen knife, serving as silent warning. The other side of his eyes’ cone gave hint that his partner intended his attack from above, moving a weapon made unwieldy by the sheer size comparison of polearm to body.

The slowed, awkward attempt at an arc gave the Kemite plenty of time to vacate the area of the swing, rolling sideways over to the edge of his hips and purposely toward the blade, bringing him within striking distance of the second boy’s intended destination. Shiro’s foot stretched out to kick either blade or the boy himself – whichever was in the way at the moment the blow landed – before using the sideways momentum to bend his feet underneath and try to right himself upward and straightened.

His gaze moved quickly toward the polearm once more, trying to gauge the other boy’s next path of attack and respond accordingly. Shiro had no intention of facing the weapon head-on, but dodging it enough times would, with all luck, reveal the prime opportunity of a target slightly off-balance and somewhat unawares for the Kemite boy to sneak past the other’s feeble attempt at defenses and make matters much closer and significantly more personal.
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Old September 22, 2010, 10:13 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Freed from the grip of the first attacker, Shiro moved with ease to avoid the cumbersome over handed strike from his next combatant. The tip of the makeshift polearm impacted against the ground directly where Shiro’s chest had been but seconds beforehand. As the wood touched against earth, at a point approximately one foot from the tip of the weapon came a splintering sound. The wood itself had broken, not enough to be severed completely from the length of timber, but still revealing fine cracks that would only grow with further usage.

“Hold still!” The polearm one cried in frustration, stumbling to avoid his own unconscious and bleeding comrade. The awkwardness of the series of movements giving Shiro that little bit more time to control the flow of combat as his foot kicked against the fallen knife just as the third of the group of thug’s tried to pick it up. Lashing out, there was a cry of shock and pain as Shiro’s kick had managed to bend two of the third thief’s fingers all the way back until the fingertips of his index and ring finger were touching the back of his wrist.

With that, the one with the newly broken hands simply lay there on the ground. Staring intently at his fingers that were bent back at such an unhealthy angle. His face paled with his breathing noticeably beginning towards hyperventilation.

Two down, but the one with the polearm was still yet to be dealt with. Moving clear from his downed leader, the thug brought his polearm around clumsily before him. Initially working to thrust the broken edge of his weapon directly at Shiro before swinging it up above his head in a second attempt at a downwards strike towards him…
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Old October 22, 2010, 05:36 PM   #15 (permalink)
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There was no time for sympathy or pity or even disgust. They had all stepped into this makeshift battle of their own volition and they would all pay the penalties that decision occurred. Shiro was keenly aware of his own physical limitations as the fight progressed, already feeling the tender patches of skin where bruises would be sure to form and discolor underneath the layer of flesh. He was already fully sensing the approaching end of his strength and awareness, threatening to overtake his thoughts with its induced confusion.

His sense of hearing told Shiro that another of the boys had fallen incapacitated, most likely for the remaining duration of the fight – which, from appearances, shouldn’t take much longer. He grimaced. Every moment was costing him too much energy. Pointedly ignoring the other boy’s commands to remain in place, the Kemite dodged quickly to his left and moved in a semicircle toward the combatant’s side as fast as his legs moved.

Counting on the added weight of the oversized weapon and the boy’s lack of skill in its use, Shiro waited until the boy raised the weapon above his head and reached the very top of its arching motion before rushing forward in a springing step. Pushing heavily off his opposite toe, the half-Kemite lowered his head and, aiming a rounded shoulder at the center of the other boy’s chest, tucked his bent arm in and pushed forward, using every ounce of momentum his quick motion and weight was able to carry.

His opposing foot caught up in stride and slid forward to slow his movement, having completed the transfer of his own speed onto the other boy. The direction of his push combined with the added, ungainly weight of the polearm above his head should have been enough to upset the boy’s balance and, ideally, send him sprawling backward – or at least having to catch his weight with shaky steps. Shiro intended to follow quickly behind and either finish the job of pushing him downward or stay close to bar any attempts the boy might make to right himself or attempt a defense.
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