The fact that time would always flow forward was a constant in this ever-changing world they lived in. The sun would always rise and set. Spring would always come, then summer, autumn, and winter. Years would always pass.
What would become of Raikou in the years to come, she wondered.
She quickly shook her head, burying the worries deep within as she gently held one of the sleeves of her kimono, feeling the almost leathery fabric and remembering the man who had made it.
A flicker of his smile, his warmth, only to rapidly remember blood and pain and his face distorted in anger.
Raika shivered, hands clenching to fists as she let her arms drop back to her sides, brown eyes fierce as she banished the memory from the forefront of her thoughts.
Sounds up ahead caught her attention, and as they passed a bend in the road a wagon came into view, its axle broken, and old man and a young boy, likely father and son, working to fix it. The old man's hair was grayed and scruffy, his eyes a bright, clear blue, his build well-muscled as if he worked some skilled trade such as blacksmithing or carpentry. He was garbed in a simple white muscle-shirt and black denim pants, a blue denim jacket overtop. The boy, meanwhile, had long black hair tied in a ponytail, quiet, attentive blue eyes and a more slender build, probably no more than thirteen years old. He was garbed in a similar manner to his father, with the addition of a green-checkered bandana covering his forehead and the top of his head. The father raised his hand in greeting, and Raika did the same, approaching.
"Need any help?"
"Nah, nah, miss. Should just take a little time before we can get movin' 'gain. I hear there's bandits in these parts, though, so take care of yerselves, yeah?" the elder man nodded, grunting with the effort of trying to heft up the wagon high enough for his son to fit a crate beneath it as a prop.
Wordlessly Raika approached and crouched, putting a shoulder under the wagon's back and helping lift it just enough with a grunt, waiting until the crate was properly in place before gently letting the wagon back down.
"Ah, er, thank ya kindly, miss. Yer stronger than ye look."
Raika chuckled softly at that. "Are you sure you don't want any help? We're travelers headed north, out of the forests. If nothing else, the bandits might be more cautious to attack a larger group, right?"
The old man hesitated for a few moments before slowly nodding, wiping his hand on his pants before offering it. "Name's Watanuki. My son over there's Hikari."
The boy nodded quietly in greeting before bending down to inspect the axle.
Raika gently took his hand with a warm smile. "Raika."
The boy bumped his head on the wagon, clutching at his injury with a soft groan, while the man simply returned her smile and nodded. "Well met." Then he turned to her companion, offering his hand once again with a smile.
(Kudos to Arzur for making the pic! ;D )