139 Naomi“s Guiding Hand
The revelation that Saigo had just made was quite the shock to Taigen and Baiken, and Zoey was also a little startled by the information. She had not expected Max to be somehow related to the Asurai clan. No doubt there was a deeper story here.
Max as well was clearly not sure how to react to the discovery that he had a grandfather. In his life the only family he had known was his mother, and she had never mentioned that she was originally from the Asurai clan, so he could only wait for the old General to explain.
It took Saigo a few moments to collect himself before he told them the story.
When Max's mother Naomi had been born, the clan had quickly realized that she was a talented child. As she grew older her ability to see the future started to manifest, and problems started to appear. The information got out that the Asurai clan had a child that could predict the future, and this sparked a number of attacks against the clan.
It wasn't long before the Asurai were beset on all sides by enemies that only wanted the girl who could see the future. All of this came to a head when a noble faction joined mess and sparked an all-out attack on the Asurai. In one night the once prolific Asurai clan was reduced to a shadow of its former self. Forced to flee their ancestral home, the survivors could only do their best to survive after that fateful night.
As for Naomi, she disappeared in the battle and was presumed dead, or worse. General Saigo had lost his wife and daughter in that night and had mourned for months before once again taking up the role of General to help the Asurai clan survive.
In the years that followed, the Asurai had tried to reclaim their ancestral home and had failed many times. The final attempt barely over a year ago had cost them the lives of many clan members, including the parents of Taigen and Baiken. Now they were here, stuck in a canyon with no way out while their numbers dwindled away. A slow and painful end.
But now that Max had arrived with Zoey, the story had received another twist. Naomi had not died, and had not been captured. She had somehow escaped and even had a child that was already twelve years old! Max had never known his father, and Naomi had never mentioned him, so that was still a mystery. Unfortunately Naomi had passed away before Saigo even knew that she still lived.
Zoey could not help but wonder if Naomi had truly been able to see the future and had somehow taken the actions with her own life that had led to this exact moment. Perhaps she had seen all the possible futures and had chosen to work towards the one that ended well for her son and her clan. Despite the suffering both Max and the Asurai had gone through, it was possible that from here on, their futures would not be so dire.
And then there was Zoey. What was her role in all this? Was she supposed to be some sort of savior for them? She had helped Max because of their connection and similarities, but could she really help the Asurai clan out of their predicament? It was possible… but was it sustainable? Zoey sunk deep into thought as the conversation around her continued on.
"Naomi must have known, she must have seen this all, it's the only explanation," Ssaul was saying to the group. "You and Baiken may have been too young to remember, but Saigo and I witnessed her talent on a number of occasions, and she was always accurate with her predictions. If the clan leaders had only listened to us when we warned them, perhaps it would have never come to this."
Saigo nodded thoughtfully. "Even as young as she was, Naomi was a brilliant child. She would not have acted without a purpose."
The white-haired General looked at Max who had a look on his face of trying to come to grips with what he had learned about his mother. Saigo felt a pang of sadness and regret for the boy. He could only guess how much Max had suffered in the time since his mother's death.
"Max… I wish I had known, I wish that somehow I could have been there for you and your mother." Saigo said sadly. "But agonizing over the past will not bring those moments back… I must cherish the time I have with my only grandson."
Once again he knelt in front of Max and looked the boy in the eyes. "I have no right, save by blood to claim this, but if you can accept this old man as your grandfather, I would be honored to pass on the traditions and techniques of our family to you as my heir."
After a moment, Max nodded to the General, giving his agreement. The others in the tent smiled as Saigo placed his hands gratefully on the boy's shoulders, tears glistening in the old man's eyes once again.
"What will you do now?"
Max's words brought the serious atmosphere back to the tent. In the excitement of finding out that Max was the General's long lost grandson, they had almost forgotten that they were still held prisoner in this canyon. They still had to contend with the beasts that would return for them, and there were the Wolves of Brumau behind them as well. They were still far from safe.
But what could they do? They had tried to escape before, both on the Frenach side and on the wasteland side of the Bulwark, but had been met with disaster each time. Even Ssaul and General Saigo were out of ideas.
All eyes fell on Zoey who was still lost in thought.
Somehow all of them had a feeling that if anyone could get them out of this predicament, it would by this mysterious, masked girl named Zoey.