Chapter 02:

Blue-Eyed Sinner


I feel the life is

Sorrowful and unbearable


I can’t flee away

Since I am not a bird

-       Yamanoue no Okura


I was filthy. Sullied. Unclean.


My feet could not walk fast enough, and I was almost tempted to run towards the temple as my skin seemed to crawl with unseen insects; digging and burrowing their way into my very pores and festering like maggots beneath the surface. It took a lot of self-control not to begin scratching and clawing at my flesh in repugnance. I needed to be cleansed and quickly.


“Welcome back, my child.”




I almost always forgot that the old geezer sat beside the temple steps; so primeval, wizened and motionless, he had literally become a part of the scenery. Of course it helped that it was nighttime, and anyone else could have made the same mistake of nearly stepping on him in their haste. His gray robes and shaved head blended so well with the ancient stone walls, I wondered how much longer it would be for a statue to be erected in his honor. It would fit in nicely with the other numerous carvings that could be found on the grounds.  Taking a deep breath to control my thudding heart, I knelt before him and closed my eyes just as he began muttering the familiar chants and prayers.


Sin is our enemy.


The sound of the kakei hitting the stone basin coupled with the priest’s musical incantations, were almost soothing to my troubled thoughts. I barely heard him lift the copper scoop and dip it into the blessed waters, but did manage to stop myself from shuddering when it was poured on my head.


The chill seeped into my bones. Icy cold, but necessary.


Through his grace can we be redeemed.


You could not wipe your face while the water cascaded down to your chest and soaked your clothes. It was considered impolite and against the will of Buddha. At the geezer’s quiet command for me to begin ablutions, I was finally allowed to lift my lashes to begin the ritual. Still on my knees, I moved towards the wooden basin where I washed my face, and hands, and rinsed my mouth, while repeating the necessary prayers beneath my breath.


We are but fallen creatures, and our spiritual life on earth is warfare.


“You may enter the temple now.”


Thanking him with clasped hands and a low bow, I rose to my feet and made my way into the impressive house of worship; a stupendous piece of architecture that was supposedly designed by one of my ancestors. Tonight – and on most nights – it was extremely quiet yet hauntingly beautiful. The moment you walked past the two house-sized lion statues at the top of the stairs and stepped through the massive red and gold doors, you were presented with an elegant indoor courtyard as large as several rice fields and at its very head sat one of the largest golden statues of Buddha in the country. It must have been at least ten feet tall for it seemed to overwhelm you at first sight. Surrounding it were the most beautiful flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors, over a thousand lit candles, and little gifts left by the locals as offerings after their prayers. The very floor you walked on, was made of the finest marble and granite; sometimes giving one the illusion of tiny diamonds sparkling especially during the day. Rumor had it that over a thousand artisans had slaved over each piece for over a year, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if that was the truth. Stone pillars, on which were etched stories of warriors from long ago, seemed to rise to the heavens for the roof was just that high. That in itself was another marvel of ancient Japanese artistry and design. As a child, I recall sitting in the middle of the courtyard as the sun filtered through the wooden slats for windows, staring hungrily at the ceiling with its paintings of brave and great Uchiha warriors. I wanted to become a part of history. I wanted to one day have my name carved into the stone walls of the temple and to be recognized for my immeasurable contributions to my clan’s legacy.


What legacy? Came the sudden but low voice of bitterness at the back of my mind. You know you have nothing left, so why bother?


“Welcome back, Sasuke-sama,” came the quiet greeting that had me stopping in my tracks – at least for a moment.


Kneeling and bowing so low, that all I could see was his waist-length raven hair, my personal page had appeared before I was even aware of his presence. Damn his knack for doing such things. I gave an inward sigh and tried to step around him.


“Is my dinner and bath ready?” I asked as I made my way to one of the smaller altars to light a candle, signifying my return to the temple.


“Yes, my Lord. Do you need me to…?”


“I’ll be fine without your help, Haku...for now,” I interrupted with a curt nod to the boy, who by this time had risen to his feet. I swear he looked more like a girl with each passing day. It didn’t help that he was in a pastel-colored kimono, something our ‘great leader’ had ordered the pages to wear. Haku, in particular, seemed to garner the attention of men who entertained effeminate boys as sleeping companions for his beauty was the talk of the community. I shuddered to think of how many filthy old men had taken advantage of him over the years, but who was I to feel sorry for him? After all, when I was younger, I too had suffered through such advances.


Shun all desires of the flesh.


It was a mantra I took to heart after spending a month, at Ryoan-Ji, studying under the great priests of the holy temple. According to the Great Book, the flesh had its temptations, but once you were pure of heart and soul and cleansed of all earthly desires, you had the power to resist no matter what came your way. Perhaps that was why no one dared to touch me after my return. I welcomed no physical contact unless absolutely necessary…like say the apprehension of sinners while on duty….or Haku’s assistance when getting dressed.


Otherwise, if anyone dared to lay a finger on me…they barely lived to see the next day.


Dinner was a quick affair as I knew I had a lot to do this evening. As Haku served me, I engaged in polite conversation; or rather he did most of the talking while I ‘hmmd’ and nodded where necessary. On a particularly lazy night, he’d serenade me with his shamisen, but even he knew that tonight was not conducive for a performance.


Thanking him for a good meal, I immediately made my way into one of the many caverns that graced Byaku-Shinkyou, where a private onsen waited patiently for my return.


It was my haven away from it all; my thinking place if you will. In here, I could focus on my thoughts and grade myself on how well any particular day went in regard to my work. Did I apprehend enough sinners? Did I record each one’s sin appropriately and exact the appropriate punishment? Were they worth saving through purification? Or did they deserve to go through the darker ritual of Gudan?


After a quick bath, it was with blissful gratitude that I waded into the soothing waters; it’s temperature just hot enough to open my pores and complete the purification process. The crawling sensation of disgust I had felt from the moment I entered that bus, was wiped away as I closed my eyes and allowed my mind to wander.


Ah, you must forgive my rudeness for not introducing myself properly. My name is Uchiha Sasuke. I am nineteen years old and first captain of the elite watchdogs; a police force created by my ancestors and a role we have taken seriously to this day. We are the harbingers of peace and stability; the voice of authority that was looked up to and respected. There was a certain pleasure one derived from patrolling the streets and knowing you struck either fear or admiration in those you met.


Power can be quite intoxicating.


Unfortunately, if there was one part of my ‘official’ duties that I loathed with a passion, it was the unnecessary trips to and from bus stations around the country to monitor the new crop of sinners. It was a tedious task in more ways than one, all thanks to Orochimaru’s ‘brilliant’ idea of surveillance. I knew he was only using me – no, not just me per se – but the members of my clan for our special abilities. You see, we Uchihas have been blessed with the gift of sight and in some cases, foresight. You could relate it to being a psychic, but it was much more than that. We could see the truth within a person’s heart especially if they were sinners. It allowed us to weed out those who would be purified and those who would be taken in for Gudan. In a way, it made us formidable; this ability to place judgment on a person from just the way he spoke or behaved.


However, thanks to the way we were being used these days, it was an ability I was beginning to hate just as much as the trips I was forced to take. It had come to a point where just hearing a knock on my door, signaling another meeting with Orochimaru, had me gritting my teeth with simmering fury.


We are nothing more than instruments to him.


On that cool afternoon of my assignment, I had knelt before him in his living quarters – which was actually a large room where he conducted his daily businesses -  hands clenched tightly into fists on my thighs as I watched him read the scroll on which was listed bus stations we (I was flanked by two other members of my clan) were to head off to next.


It was always the same with this man; the waiting as he took his sweet time before getting his damn point across. It was an opportunity to really appraise him, to take stock of a man I hoped to kill someday.


No one was sure of how old he was, for he looked exactly as he did when I was first introduced to him almost fourteen years ago. He wasn’t particularly tall, but his choice of clothing – mostly robes that emphasized his lanky build – gave the illusion of being majestic and intimidating. His skin was so pale, it was practically white. I did know he had a fetish for the geisha lifestyle, and there were times when he’d powder up himself to appear even more ghost-like, but otherwise his flesh was translucent and quite baby smooth to the touch; a grotesque anomaly. I believed it was his eyes that were his most mesmerizing feature. Slit and akin to those of snakes, they could flash a dark shade of green when extremely upset, or fade into pale ambers when aroused or pleased. There was a constant hunger within them; a fervor that could devour you if you stared into them for too long. If we Uchihas had the gift of sight, then Orochimaru had the gift and then some. It was extremely difficult to read his thoughts, but he almost always seemed to know exactly what you were thinking, and many a time had he mocked me with his predictions on what I would do next. It made my role of acting as his pawn even more difficult. I knew he was no fool. He must have realized how much I loathed his very presence as much as he needed me.


It would be a slow death, I decided; the kind where I’d torture him until he literally begged for his life to be extinguished and even then I wouldn’t give him the luxury. However, I knew this was something I could not accomplish rashly. I would bide my time until the moment was right.


But dear gods, it was becoming harder every single day, and I realized that my fury towards him and those he surrounded himself with, was only transferred to the sinners that trudged through those gates on a daily basis. To me, they were nothing more than commodities – expendable commodities – hardly worth my time. For their crimes and sins, they deserved whatever they received. For each sentence of death I delivered, it was his face I saw in their place.


Yes indeed, a slow and pain -


“Toshu-gu,” came the quiet statement that jerked me out of my bitter thoughts.


I raised a brow in confusion; wondering if I had heard correctly. “I beg your pardon?”


“Lord Orochimaru said you would be going to Toshu-gu,” came the softly-spoken, yet snide reply from the white-haired man who was literally Orochimaru’s shadow.


Kaguya Kimimaro - another beautiful young man whom Orochimaru favored in more ways than one.


I curled my lips into a sneer, which was rewarded with a smirk on his lips. I watched as he knelt beside his seated master and poured some more tea into the empty cup. His actions were genteel…effeminate. He spoke very little and when he did, it was always in something regarding Orochimaru’s commands. Dressed as Haku, in a light blue kimono that revealed his pale, hairless chest whenever he moved, I sighed inwardly at the tell tale bruises on his chest; evidence of yet another ‘passionate’ encounter with his master. It was enough to make me hurl at the thought of what activities the men engaged in. However, for all his attempts to act like the submissive partner, Kimimaro was one of the strongest fighters I have ever met. For many years, he had been my sparring partner at the dojo, and I could tell you first hand how painful his blows could be whether it be in kendo or in taijustu. I was yet to officially kick his ass, which was why he could act like this to me.


“Toshu-gu…is in the South,” I stated firmly; hoping they would realize that it was going to be a two-day journey…four days in total. I was definitely not ready to spend four days on some filthy bus filled with sinners I’d love to kill with my bare hands.


“Yes, it is,” Orochimaru agreed; finally looking up to give me a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Kidoumaru tells me that the new crop of sinners need immediate purification. The stench of their sins…their very presence pollutes the air of the sacred land.”


My skin was already beginning to crawl. “Yes, but why -”


Orochimaru – who had been resting his chin on a raised palm (as if in boredom all this time) -  held up his free hand, which revealed long black-polished fingernails that seemed to gleam beneath the light.


“Before you begin complaining, my dear one, remember your oath as an elite first captain.” He licked his lips slowly with that long tongue that always made me shudder with revulsion. “You have to lead by example, or have you already forgotten that little fact?”


I’ll cut out his tongue first. That’s what I’ll do. Cut it out, dangle it in front of his eyes and watch him choke on his blood –


“I have not forgotten,” I said aloud, bowing my head in submission and apology for my rudeness.


It was with bitterness that I began my journey. It was with anger that I suffered through forty-eight hours of absolute boredom on my way there; only allowing myself to be occupied with a booklet of passages from the Great Book. It was with trepidation that I stepped out of the bus once it arrived at the station, and my abhorrence was complete when I saw the officers I’d be traveling with let alone the pathetic group of men who were doomed for whatever fate had in store for them.


I went through my duties quickly; introducing myself to Officers Abumi Zaku and Momochi Zabuza, before going through the list with them over a barely edible lunch. I had heard of Zabuza’s reputation, but never actually seen him up close and personal. He was ruthless and unforgiving of those who sinned against the High One. His sense of righteousness put him on a pedestal, where he believed sinners were not worth his time. I would approve of his zealousness in purification and the purging of such filth, but there was something about his personality that put me off completely. Zaku, on the other hand, seemed to only want to ride on Zabuza’s coattails; wiling to do anything to make his commander happy. What a brown-noser.


As I sat in the dingy, hot office reading names and signing beside each one in acknowledgment, I could vaguely hear the sounds of conductors, officers, and prisoners being ushered into waiting buses. We watchdogs were situated all over the country and Byaku-Shinkyou could be considered the headquarters. In the beginning, only members of the Uchiha clan could actually become officers, however, the times had changed and now anyone who was worthy of wearing the black colors signed up. It was not an easy process. Getting accepted into the force was a year long rigorous test of mental, physical and emotional strength, so one couldn’t really blame those who did get accepted for being so smug and big-headed. It was one of the most honorable professions anyone could brag about.


Rokushou Aoi – 34 - Multiple burglary, sodomy, gambler

Shigure – 22 - gambling, shoplifting

Oboro – 17 – car theft, alcoholic, in debt

Mubi – 18 – car theft, alcoholic, in debt


Apparently Oboro and Mubi were related. Typical. I rolled my eyes at the stupidity of some of the crimes listed. Petty thievery, gambling, alcoholism. All vices that would be purified once they got to Byaku-Shinkyou. However, the crimes began to get worse as the list continued:


Kagari – 42 - multiple rapes, sodomy, alcoholism, drug trafficking

Hidan – 25 - drug trafficking, human trafficking, multiple rapes, serial murderer


Good grief. Did these people have no shame? And yet, there was at least one person on the list who looked like he hadn’t done a lot:


Uzumaki Naruto – 19 – first-degree murder


Not murders – with an ‘s’ – but just a lone murder. Poor bastard. I’d almost feel sorry for him if it wasn’t for the gravity of his sin. The taking of another life when not chosen for the purging rites of Gudan was unforgivable. This Uzumaki Naruto did not deserve to live.


As for the journey back home, let’s just say it was one of the worst yet. Usually my trips took a day or less, so I was lucky not to deal with too much. I could withstand sitting beside a sinner and keeping my mouth shut for the duration of the trip. If they did try to engage in conversation, a cold glare usually did the trick or I’d pretend to be mute and deaf. I chose the mute and deaf routine for this particular journey, but I wondered if I should have done more with some of the things I witnessed. For instance, slapping Zabuza for his blatant abuse of power. I knew it was a tactic to get the sinners to be more submissive, but there were other ways of wielding such authority. The beating was unnecessary and made me furious. However, I knew I could not give my position away, though I made a vow to make note of his foolish act.


In addition, there was something else that had bothered – well not so much bothered, but irritated me during the trip. It was the blond-haired, blue-eyed young man with the whiskered scars. I made it a point of duty not to associate names with faces, as it gave the illusion that I cared for these scums of the earth. It was the worst thing you could do as an officer. You had to maintain a certain distance if you hoped to perform your duties well. Even engaging in one-on-one conversation – no matter how little – could be the difference between doing an excellent job and finishing with a sub par performance. Needless to say anything below excellent was not in my vocabulary.


For starters, individuals with blue eyes were a rarity in these parts, and I had only heard of one clan – while pouring through the history books – that had members with such eye color. Did that make them special? Not particularly, but it was definitely uncommon. His were the first pair of blue eyes I had ever seen and even from where I sat, they reminded me of azure skies on a beautiful summer day at Byaku especially whenever I went hiking around the mountains.




…the scenery, not his eyes. So we are not confused as to what I am trying to say.


Secondly, I did not like the way he seemed to keep staring at me whenever possible. It conjured up memories of the many men that Orochimaru entertained at his private parties; men who would want me as a companion for their trips back to their homelands or to keep their beds warm. I was lucky in that Orochimaru wanted to groom me for himself, for he always laughed and told the sick fools that I was not to be touched or taken.


However, unlike those men whose eyes were filled with fetid hunger, this blue-eyed sinner’s gaze was…dare I say …warm and inviting. It sickened me to think that in addition to whatever existing sin he had committed, he was also trying to engage in one of the worst. Homosexuality. It was one of the reasons I hated Orochimaru, for here he was preaching about purging and purification of such sins, when he was the number one culprit of said sin! He had justified his actions by using the high priests as back up for his acts. His choices in bed fellows were only made possible by visions from above. For him to be strong in his faith, the weakness of the flesh had to be appeased; not with the flesh of the weaker sex (females), but strengthened by the communion with the male form.


There is a beauty in such couplings, Orochimaru had tried to convince me. You achieve a state of nirvana; a peak of knowledge when you finally give up yourself to someone who can truly understand you. There is a merging of souls; a communication of minds through the touch and feel of flesh upon flesh in the most intimate of ways. Though, he insisted, that the acts of the sinners brought to Byaku were selfish and filthy for they did not purify themselves before and after the act.


So purification makes it okay to engage in sodomy? I had asked with as much sarcasm and skepticism as I could muster.


And the simple answer to that? Yes.




He was making excuses, and he knew it.


I was never more grateful for my month long stay at the temple. My eyes and heart were more than enlightened, and I did not need to engage in revolting acts of sexual intercourse – with male or female – to achieve nirvana.




I was startled into alertness with my lashes flying open at the sound of the soft voice. I had completely forgotten I was still soaking all this time. It was Haku again, on his knees beside the onsen and with a concerned expression on his visage.


“You were in here for such a long time, I was getting worried,” he added as I gave a nod of understanding as well as a small smile of reassurance.


“I’m fine. I guess I was more tired than I thought.”


“Orochimaru-sama has sent for you,” he said quietly. “Do I tell him you’re still taking a bath?”


Great. Reporting time. I sighed heavily and stood up to begin wading out of my sanctuary. “I’ll see him now. No use delaying the inevitable.”


“Yes, my Lord.”


I accepted the towel he provided, hardly feeling ashamed that he was seeing me in the nude. He has been my personal page for over a year now, so he was already used to this. I entered my private quarters, which was a rather large room but contained only a futon that was neatly made and my writing desk on which sat a photograph of my family, with Haku trailing closely behind.


Once dried, I knelt before the mirror Haku had set up, allowing him to groom me in readiness to meet Orochimaru before we headed off to the pit for the purification process. As he rubbed some sweet-smelling oils on my skin with an expertise that never failed to amaze me, I stared at my reflection with a light frown.


My family.


I no longer had a family.


In an unforeseen attack on the Byaku-Shinkyou – when I was about five years old – my parents were murdered brutally before my eyes. How had I been spared? Only because of my mother’s quick thinking as she had hidden me in the basement just in time, for no sooner had she shut the trap door did those heathens burst in to execute her in cold blood.


I could still feel the hot drops of my mother’s blood seeping through the wooden panels and onto my forehead and cheeks, but I dared not cry out for I knew I would be caught, and I was too much of a coward to fight at the time. I knew my older brother had gone out to fight, but he too never returned, and so I assumed that he had been killed – his body then burned like the other members of our community who had dared to put up any resistance.


For two long days, the battle raged on, and I could only remain in my hiding place like a frightened mouse; caught between crying and begging for death to take me. In fits of sleep, the cruel images of my father being shot repeatedly; his body dancing like that of a frenzied puppet before collapsing to the ground, haunted me. I was lucky not to see my mother being decapitated, but the sound of her head falling and rolling on the floor was enough to have me screaming silently for many years to come. I didn’t even want to think of my brother’s death or to compare the putrid stench of burning bodies to him.


It just didn’t make any sense. What had my parents done to deserve that? Byaku-Shinkyou had always been a peaceful place for members of the community to worship or go to the dojo or to celebrate festivals. We were well-loved by everyone so why did that have to happen? Why?! It is a question I keep asking myself even to this day.


I was eventually discovered by a surviving member of my clan – almost three days after the fights had stopped (I was still unable to leave even when I could see and hear nothing after those initial two days of fighting). I was severely dehydrated and in need of food. Too weak to even think of much, I could only remember seeing that long, pale face belonging to Orochimaru leaning over me with a sad smile and tears in his eyes.


“You poor thing,” he had said. “To have to witness such ugliness. It breaks my heart.”


He had caressed my cheek and planted a cold kiss on my forehead. “Not to worry, my dear Sasuke. I will continue your father’s legacy and rejuvenate Byaku-Shinkyou. It will become a place of purification for the sins of those who have done this grave injustice to your family. We will punish all those who dare to raise a hand against the will of the Great One. This will be our new role as the watchdogs of this country...your new role. Do you accept it?”


I must have agreed because his words hit me harder than I would have thought. He was right. He was so damn right. The sinners. It was all their fault. My life had been ruined because of those bastards. A community that had once been peaceful and welcoming to outsiders had been destroyed by a bunch of ungrateful, filthy scums of the earth.


They all deserved to die. Every last one of them.


“Your arms, Sasuke-sama.”


I rose to my feet and held them out to the sides on autopilot; allowing Haku to slip the black kamishimo over my head and to smooth the sleeves down my arms.


I would later learn that Orochimaru had sent his army of fighters to curb the uprising, and since my brother wasn’t around to take over the role as head of Byaku-Shinkyou, and I was still just a kid, Orochimaru had installed himself as the leader with the blessings of several daimyo. It turned out that over eighty percent of my clan had been eliminated in those two days; not just here, but in different uprisings all over the country. It was as if whoever had planned the attacks had hoped to cripple the power of the Uchiha, and they had succeeded…for the most part.


For those of us who still existed, we knew we owed our lives to him now. It was a knowledge he was quick to point out whenever we dared go against him for anything.


And goodness knows it always left a bitter taste in my mouth.


Done with my uniform, Haku now knelt before me with his head bowed and arms outstretched as he presented my two swords. Though I had the option of attaching my pistol, I preferred not to use that weapon. It felt too bulky...too noisy. I was more comfortable with my blades, and as I tucked them within my obi, I felt more in control though one thought continued to plague me even as I slipped my sock-clad feet into my slippers.


Byaku-Shinkyou was rightfully mine.


And yet I could do absolutely nothing about it. Orochimaru’s power exceeded beyond the gates of the community. He had the backings of the lords and the emperor himself, I’m sure. If I even thought of starting an uprising, I knew he would not hesitate to eliminate the rest of us. Whether I liked it or not, I was now considered the head of the once proud Uchiha clan, and whatever move I made now would be scrutinized with much intensity and suspicion.


I had to play my cards right, and continue to bide my time.


“Welcome back,” he greeted as I knelt before him once ushered into his private domain. I winced inwardly for though he had said I could enter, he was still being dressed by Kimimaro. The last thing I wanted to see was Orochimaru naked. As if I needed any more horrific images to fill my mind.


“All the sinners have been accounted for,” I stated flatly; keeping my eyes firmly on the low writing desk with its sheets of documents he must have been going through earlier.


“And how was the journey?”


“Momochi Zabuza must be reprimanded.”


“Oh?” It was drawled and tinged with amusement, which let me know that he must have already known what had happened. I looked up and was not disappointed to see the expression on his visage. He was literally grinning with mischievous intent.


I grit my teeth and forced myself to continue. “The officer abused his power, and I feel he ought to be reminded of the appropriate way to deal with sinners at the right time and the right place.”


“I see.”


He smoothed out the robe – which was of a heavy black material like brocade adorned with gold embroidery. He moved towards an ornate stool - his footsteps barely audible on the tatami mat – and peered at his reflection in the mirror while Kimimaro began to brush his hair in gentle strokes. The worship on the white-haired man’s face was irritating. I’d bet if Orochimaru told him to go hang himself from the great oak tree at the front of the temple while completely naked, Kimimaro would gladly do so without bothering to ask why. Talk about blind devotion.


“Would you like to be the one in charge of reprimanding him, Sasuke? You look like you’re eager to do so.”


I didn’t want to, but with how annoyed I felt right now, I was willing to bring some pain to someone. “If you want me to.”


This response elicited a loud laugh from the older man. “If I want you to,” he repeated before eyeing me  with amusement. “You are so easy to read, my dear one. Now tell me…any of the sinners in particular interest you?”


The blue-eyed sinner.


I blinked at the sudden random image of the blond one and shook my head in dismissal. “No one in particular.”


Orochimaru’s lips quirked a little. “Really? So they all deserve the purification rites?”


“A few deserve Gudan,” I said carefully, trying to remember which ones my ‘eyes’ had noted as possible candidates for the purging festival.


What was Gudan, you might ask? Consider it the next step from purification rites. It was a festival held in the community where sinners who were beyond purification and forgiveness were made to perform several death-defying acts before being released from their worldly attachments…by public execution.


Depending on which daimyo was invited to be entertained, executions could range from beheading to firing squads; anything to get the fans (locals) excited. My first act of Gudan had come when I was twelve-years-old. It was the first time I had ever beheaded a human being, and though I had been scared shitless at the notion of missing (and goodness knows I had practiced long and hard by slicing off melons for hours on end), it had all gone rather smoothly. I confess that I did almost pass out at the sight of the stump left after the head had rolled into the pit (you could still see veins and vessels pumping with blood), but as the crowd had roared and began to chant my name; exhilaration and a sense of accomplishment had taken over.


Though I didn’t partake in the festivities all the time, a part of me had come to enjoy my chosen role as executor; for in that moment-when the doubt would creep in and my heart would waver-all I had to do was think of my parents and brother…


And then nothing else mattered.


“It will be a good night for purification, don’t you think, Sasuke?” came the question that jarred me from my thoughts.


I nodded absently and fought hard not to cringe as Orochimaru walked up to me and cupped my chin gently. I suffered the abrasive texture of his fingernail tracing my cheek and then my lips tenderly. I could hear his breathless sigh of longing, and a part of me rejoiced at his physical anguish. He wanted me, but did not know how to reach me. Kimimaro on the other hand, could only scowl in displeasure at his master/lover’s betrayal. Must suck knowing the man you loved wanted to bed others while you watched helplessly.


“Shall we, my dear?” Orochimaru invited with a final caress of my lips before turning away to reach for his staff. “The sinners await.”


We followed his gliding form; and I say gliding because he seemed to walk that way. You could not see his feet – thanks to the robes – and he literally appeared to be walking on air. As we stepped into the much cooler confines of the caves that would literally lead us into the bowels of the earth (it wasn’t called ‘the pit’ for nothing), we walked past a seemingly endless row of guards, who had to bow in recognition of their master.


Waiting at the doors leading into the underground venue were two other high-ranking officers Sakon and Ukon – twin brothers who had been in service for Orochimaru since they were children apparently. They bowed in greeting and held open the doors for us, where we had a bird’s eye view of the den of iniquity below us.


No matter how many times I had been in this cave over the years, the effect was still the same. Though Orochimaru had built this himself - stating it was the first step for these lost souls to begin repentance - Nature had done most of the work. Massive stalagmites (which tended to give an ethereal glow when the lanterns were doused) dangled stiffly from the roofs of the cave or erected from beneath one’s feet. There was a dank smell of ancient rocks; thanks to the countless purification rites over the years. Unseen underground pipes were designed to spout water at a speed of over 30 miles per hour; hard enough to knock the wind out of your sails. If you were lucky to survive it, you deserved to be purged of your sins. However, it went without saying that we had lost a few sinners over the years just from this rite alone, while some had severe injuries. Either way…it was a necessary evil. It had to be done.


Below, they milled about like zombies; dazed, confused, and unsure of what was to happen next. I almost felt that pang of pity for them. However, there was something …or rather someone missing. Perhaps it was because he was the only blond in the bus or perhaps it was because of those eyes which would have been noticeable from way up here.


Where was he?


“There is someone missing,” I whispered just as Orochimaru was about to give the signal to the guard in charge of turning on the water system.


Orochimaru raised a brow of consternation and eyed the pit below. “There is? Perhaps he didn’t make it.”


That would be a shame if that was the truth. I knew the walk from the entrance to the pit was incredibly long especially if you had been denied food and water for two days, but he hadn’t seemed that weak on arrival. A part of me had hoped that he would have survived long enough for the ritual of Gudan. The pleasure of loping off his head was becoming more appetizing by the minute.


“Ah, I think that is him now?” Sakon motioned with a finger as we all turned back to notice the latecomers. One was already a purified member of the community, whose name I did not care to know, and the other was the blue-eyed sinner whose name I did not want to know either.


He was limping, so that might have been the problem – all the same, he had barely settled into the pit, with the others, when Orochimaru gave the command and all hell promptly broke loose.


Their screams of terror, fear, and pain bounced off the sacred stone walls and echoed hauntingly with the rushing sound of water. Imagine if you will a waterfall suddenly being unleashed in such tight confines. It was mesmerizing with its intensity. I watched dispassionately as they selfishly tried to drown the other in an attempt to survive, and though I wanted to keep them all in my sights, I still found myself eager to see how the blue-eyed sinner would manage. At first, he seemed taken by surprise at the first douse of water, but he proved to be quite adept at managing to control his breathing the sixth time around. Unfortunately, even the strongest of men would eventually crumble, and I was disappointed at how pathetic he looked when it was all over.


Had I actually been rooting for him in some way? Perhaps. I did not want him to die just yet. My goal of being his final executor was firmly implanted in my mind now. I would speak to Orochimaru about it. I wanted to be a part of the Gudan festivities this year and that hunger was fueled by what he did next.




Usually at this stage, no one had the strength to even move a muscle even as Orochimaru rambled on about the purification rites, but this man…this man was different. While others lay spent and defeated, I could see his stubborn determination to at least get onto one knee. However, it was the expression on his features... in those blue eyes – that were now darkened – which had me smiling in appreciation of his feelings at the moment.




Sweet. Beautiful fury. I could practically taste it from here. It oozed off him in a wave that seemed to scorch me; eliciting an excitement I had once thought jaded over the years.


Yes. I wanted him to feel every bit of it. I wanted him to realize just what awaited him in Byaku-Shinkyou. If he thought he could get away with his sin in the outside world, in here, I would assist in making him pure again as he prepared for his journey to his next life.


Not to worry, you blue-eyed sinner. I promise to make your death as painless as possible.






Chapter 03

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