“Sir.” Tayaka walked in without knocking. “It’s time.”
The older man looked up. His hair was as white as a dove’s wing, thick and soft and styled perfectly. The noise he made hearing the announcement seemed frozen between derision and disbelief. “What do you mean?”
He speared Tayaka with a look indicating that anything less than the birth of the Eraba Rata would be rewarded with execution.
Today, Tayaka would live. “Mantambie delivered him in the village.”
A snowy eyebrow arched. “You’re certain?”
Tayaka was no fool. “Sir, I verified the pedigree.”
Kenoi nodded approvingly. “Wait a week before making the offer. Let the difficulty of their position hit home. The process will flow more smoothly.”
Tayaka nodded. He did not bother to mention that the paperwork was ready, and that the offer had been designed by Kenoi over six years ago. Preparation was key, and there was nothing more powerful than paper, save the pen that would sign it.
A week later, Tayaka found himself in the slums of Laterre, a village filled with noise and dirt and desperation. The people flowed together, too busy with their personal complaints to notice that they were rubbing shoulders with different colors, different creeds. Everything receded to the needs demanding to be met. Food, clothing, clean water, everyone required them, but only those who deserved them would earn them.
Tayaka knocked on the door, flanked by two large men whose names he mistook.
The bolt slid back, allowing those inside to see who knocked. “Hello?”
Tayaka spoke. “Mr. and Mrs. Daisuke?”
“We can’t talk. We have a new child, and…” Mr. Daisuke spoke with the voice filled with exhaustion and excuse.
“That is exactly what I am here about.” Tayaka said, with his perfect hair and salesman smile. “I would like to make you an offer that no other can have.”
Mr. Daisuke was too tired to consider the problems with his approach. He opened the door and blinked in surprise when he saw not one, but three Hideaki standing on his doorstep.
“What is happening?” Mrs. Daisuke asked, warily, from the other room. She held a sleeping child to her bosom.
“Please, allow me to explain.” Tayaka said, briskly. “See, it seems you have given birth to Eraba Rata, the Chosen One.”
The look Mrs. Daisuke gave her son was pure delight mixed with hope, but Mr. Daisuke looked terrified and sad. A practical man.
“You understand, the Eraba Rata is such an important resource..” Tayaka trailed off dramatically. “I can’t leave him here, when we can offer him such a better life.”
Mr. Daisuke looked relieved, but Mrs. Daisuke looked horrified. She blurted, “He is meant to stop the likes of you!”
Tayaka wore a hurt expression. “We are offering you a chance to save your son, Mrs. Daisuke. We know where you live. Do you think it would be better for us to see your son as an asset, or as a threat?”