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Sacred Rituals

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Fifty Years Before

Azumi had finished decoding all three of the scrolls Orochimaru had given her. She sat back in her seat, stretching hard and rubbing her face. She had barely slept. "How does he live like this?" she mumbled, wondering how her father could effortlessly go days upon days of working in his labs and not sleeping. She stood up and did a couple of stretches before heading into her bathroom and taking a quick bath.

Once she was bathed and dressed, she gathered the scrolls, placed them in the basket, organized and filed the pages with her translations, then headed down to the labs to give it all to Orochimaru.

"You finished them already?" he asked when she walked in. In his normal fashion, he had not turned around when she entered. He was not surprised that it took her less than a week to decode three texts in a language she had not seen before. There was a reason he had told her to do it. It was a gift he knew she had. One he needed to start cultivating.

"I did," she answered, setting the basket down on a worktable. "Now I know what you're working on." She saw another basket with another three scrolls waiting for her. "How do you just stay awake working all the time?" she asked. "Just these last few days were brutal on me."

"Discipline and determination, my dear," he answered. "Something you will hopefully be learning very quickly." Azumi rolled her eyes and picked up the new basket of scrolls. "Before you get started on that, I need to ask you a favor."

'Another favor?' she thought. "What is it?"

"Two nights ago, Kabuto brought in two humans on the verge of death. They had been attacked out in the forest. Both of them are male. They are brothers, ages twenty-nine and twelve." Azumi frowned, wondering where he was going with this. "I turned them. To save their lives." Azumi gasped softly and her jaw dropped. Her father had vowed that he was never going to turn anyone after the hunters wiped most of their kind out. "Now we have two newborns who need to be taken care of and helped through the baby stage."

"I see," she hummed. She had been taught how to deal with newborns but she never actually dealt with any newborns before. "Where are they?"

"One is in the lab across the hall and the other is in the lab two doors down."

"You separated them?"

"I had to. The younger one attacked the older one."

"Right," she hummed, setting the basket down. "Then I will go check on them. I will be right back." She turned around to leave.

"Ah, Azumi," he said, stopping her in the doorway, "these two are your brothers now. Treat them as such."

"Of course," she nodded. She headed out across the hall to meet the first of her two new brothers. Very cautiously, she entered the lab, looking around until she spotted a very tired-looking, light blue-haired man sitting on one of the worktables. "Hello," she said softly. It startled him and his head shot up to look at her. "My father told me that he turned you to save your life." He looked down and nodded slightly. She approached him slowly, not wanting to scare him. A sudden heightened emotion like that could easily send him into a frenzy. "How are you feeling?" she asked.

It took him a few moments to answer and she waited patiently while she gathered a couple of things on a small table beside her. "Hungry," he said after a while, "and...tired."

She nodded, figuring that would be how he felt. Being turned would take a lot out of someone. They were drained until an inch of their life and then underwent the painful process of having cold vampire blood injected into them. The recovery process was just as long as the newborn stage. He was going to feel like this for a while.

"Are you craving blood?" she asked.

Another moment of silence went by before he answered. "Yes," he said with a nod.

"I am only allowed to give you a little bit," she told him, turning to reach into a heated cabinet underneath another table. She pulled out a small glass jar with a dark liquid inside. Her other hand reached for a pint glass and she transferred the warm contents of the jar to the glass. "Hopefully this will satiate you for the next few days," she said as she turned back to him to hand him the glass.

He stared at it for a few seconds before hesitantly reaching out to grab it. She took a step back and watched him as he drank the blood quickly. She handed him a handkerchief to wipe his mouth and then took the glass from him. "Thank you," he said softly.

"There is no need to thank me," she said. She noticed a long gash on his forearm and frowned. Gently taking his hand in hers, she pulled his arm closer to inspect the wound. "How did this happen?"

"My brother...attacked me after your father turned us," he said. He watched as she grabbed a few things to cover the wound up.

"The blood you just drank will help speed up the healing process," she explained. "But for right now, I am going to put something on it and cover it up for you." He nodded and she did exactly what she said she would, applying a cool gel to the wound and then wrapping silk around it. "What is your name?"

"Log," he said.

"Log," she repeated softly with a nod. "My name is Azumi. What is your brother's name?"

"Mitsuki." He frowned a little. "Have you seen him yet?"

Azumi could see that he was worried about his little brother and shook her head. "Not yet. I can go check on him now for you." She paused for a second. "He is probably coming down from the frenzy he was in when he attacked you. If he is stable, I can take you to him when I'm done checking on him."

The smallest glint of hope shined in his eyes. "Please," he said.

She nodded and backed out of the lab. "I will be right back," she said before disappearing. She made her way to the lab Orochimaru told her the other brother was in and just as cautiously as she entered the lab with Log, she entered the lab with Mitsuki. The boy looked exactly like his brother but the tired look was replaced with something more feral. This one was going to be a bit difficult. He was sitting on a stool, chained to the workbench in front of him. As soon as he saw Azumi, he started to thrash. He thrashed hard enough to knock the stool from under him and fell to the floor.

Azumi walked up to the boy that was hissing and growling as she approached. He was terrified and he had every right to be. He was almost killed and then turned into a vampire. She reached into a heated cabinet for the jar of blood. Forgoing the pint glass, she opened the jar and set it on the table then kneeled down behind him. Through his thrashing, she grabbed onto him and pressed his back against her chest, hooking her arms under his and holding him in place as still as she could get him. While holding him, she stood up with him and tightened her hold as she maneuvered them closer to the table so she could grab the jar. He started to calm down the closer the blood got to his face and then reached for it with his own hands. She let him take it and held him while he drank the blood, not breathing at all between his hard gulps.

"Feel better?" she asked softly when she heard his gasp for air when he was done. She took the jar from him and set it on the table. He nodded. "I'm not going to hurt you." He tilted his head back to rest against her. "Are you going to hiss at me if I let you go?" He shook his head and she slowly released her hold on him. As soon as he was free, he turned around and wrapped his arms around her waist, hugging her tightly. She ran her fingers through his hair and reached for a handkerchief with her other hand to wipe the blood from around his mouth. As soon as she tossed the handkerchief back onto the table, she felt him begin to sob. She wrapped her arms around him to hug him back.

"Where' brother?" he asked through his quiet sobs.

"He's nearby," she assured him. "Do you want to see him?" She felt him nod against her. "Are you going to attack him?" The fact that he was able to start crying and speak meant he was no longer in his frenzy but she just wanted to make sure. He shook his head. "Then I will bring him in here for you." She gently pried his arms off of her then wiped away some of his tears before she left to see Log in the other lab.

He looked up at her, immediately getting off of the table he had been sitting on. "Is he okay?" he asked.

"He's fine now," she told him. "Come with me."

She led Log to the lab Mitsuki was in. Mitsuki gasped when he saw his brother, trying to move closer to him but being held back by the chain attached to the table. Log compensated by heading all the way into the lab to hug his brother. While they hugged, Azumi undid the chain that bound Mitsuki to the table, deeming that he was now stable enough.

"Thank you," Mitsuki said softly, looking at her when Log let him go. "Who are you?"

"I am the daughter of the vampire that helped you," she answered. "Which makes me your sister. My name is Azumi."

"Our sister?"

"Are you the only child?" Log asked.

"No," she smiled. "I also have an older brother. His name is Yashamaru but he is not here. He lives in a smaller apartment just on the coast."

"So you're a vampire, too," Mitsuki hummed.

"I am. I was born one. So I have no idea what it's like to be human. Just like you have no idea what it's like to be vampires. So I am here to help you through it all until you think you got the hang of it."

"You're much nicer than the other guy."

"My father?" she chuckled. "He can be a bit...brutal at times. But he means well and he only wants the best for everyone." She ran her fingers through his hair and smiled. "But don't worry. You won't be seeing much of him anyway. He never leaves his labs."

Log tilted his head a little, squinting slightly. "How old are you?" he asked.

"Are you asking because you don't know whether to consider me your older or younger sister?" she smirked. He nodded, a sheepish smile forming on his lips. "I am seventy-seven. I am still a very young vampire which is why I still appear to be in my early twenties. Our aging process slows down significantly when we hit adulthood so I will look like this for a little while. But…" she chuckled softly, "if it makes you feel better, I'll settle for being a younger sister to you."

"Maybe once I get used to all of this," Log chuckled.

"I'm still the youngest," Mitsuki grumbled.

"There is nothing wrong with that," Azumi smiled at him. "Now since you are both stable, I can show you to your rooms." She held her hand out for Mitsuki to take and then nodded for Log to follow.

She led them out of the lab and upstairs to the main level of the castle. They went up the left side of an imperial staircase and walked to another staircase that led up to the level with the family's bedrooms. "I will take you on a tour of the place tomorrow, she told them." She gestured down the hall, opposite the direction they started to walk in. "My room is all the way at the end of the hall. You two will be getting your own separate bedrooms with your own bathrooms. Just about every room in this place is private. The only thing that's shared is the kitchen. We have a few humans living here." They approached another door. "This is the first room. I will let you two decide who gets it." She opened the door for them and let them step in to look around.

The first thing Mitsuki did was go to the window to look at the view. He nodded and looked at his brother who chuckled. "Alright, you can have it," Log said.

"Then your room will be the next one over," Azumi smiled at him, nodding for him to follow her. She led him to the next bedroom and opened the door to let him step inside. "The door all the way at the end of this side of the hall is my father's—well, our father's room. He rarely ever occupies it so if you ever need him for something, just go straight to the labs. He is almost always in them."

"Thank you, Azumi," Log said.

"You're welcome," she smiled. "And don't hesitate to ask me for help if you need it. We want this to be a safe place for you two to call home." She backed out of the room. "Get some rest for now. I'll be by tomorrow to help you two with the rest of what is about to change in your body composition."

Log yawned. "I want to ask what that means but I suppose I'll find out tomorrow. Goodnight," he chuckled.

"Goodnight," she smiled, closing the door as she left.

Mitsuki was standing in his doorway as she passed by. He ran up to her to wrap his arms around her in another hug. "Thank you," he said softly.

"There's no need to thank me," she smiled, running her fingers through his hair. "Go get some rest. I'll see you tomorrow." Mitsuki nodded and headed back into his room. Once his door was closed, Azumi headed back down to the lab Orochimaru was occupying.

"How are they?" he asked.

"They're doing fine," she answered. "Mitsuki is no longer unstable and I showed them both to their rooms."

"Glad to hear that." Orochimaru turned around to look at her. "Normally, I wouldn't leave the responsibility of caring for newborns you didn't create to you, but I am much too busy," he said apologetically.

"I understand," she nodded. "I don't mind it. It's not like I'm doing anything else," she grumbled.

"Well, I suppose with the Uchiha boy gone, you wouldn't leave as much. I understand you hate to stay inside but it lets me rest easy knowing you're not going to possibly cross paths with a hunter."

"You don't rest," Azumi smirked.

"You know what I meant." He sighed and pulled a stool up close to him. "Come sit," he said. "I need to take measurements of your gap so I can send them to the artist who's going to make the prototype." She did as he said and sat in the stool. He grabbed a couple of tools and she held her mouth open while he took the measurements.

After a couple of minutes, he pulled his hands away and she closed her mouth.

"You already found someone?" she asked.

"I did. And because this is going to take a few months, he will be staying with us while we work on this. So on your way up, ask Kabuto to set up one of the empty rooms as a guest room. He will be here next week."

"Sure thing," she hummed as she got off of the stool. She picked up the basket with the new set of scrolls. "I'll have these to you by next week," she said as she left.