To Dream of a Tale and to Tail a Dream

By Emilou

Chapter 1: The Meeting

The restaurant looked like a combination of a café and a bar. It was dark and gritty like the dives one would see on a cop show where the criminal element liked to hang out, but at the same time, it had a homey feel to it with its high, round tables and soft, soothing music in the background.

It wasn't the sort of place Robyn usually went to, but she had been told this was the restaurant she was to meet the others. She knew it because of the flowers in the planters in the window as well as the ceramic mushrooms, which looked cute and quaint if it wasn't for the neon sign flashing "OPEN."

Walking inside, Robyn set her green eyes on one large table in the back, seeing that her friends had already arrived. Cye, Kento, Ryo, Rowen and Sage sat on one side of the table together, but they weren't alone. The rest of the table's seats were taken by three tough-looking men whose ages varied from late twenties to early thirties, or so Robyn guessed. The final member of the group was a young woman who looked younger than Robyn, but sat with a calm maturity that was beyond her years.

When Robyn saw the four persons at the table that she didn't know, she had a sense of déjà vu. She could have sworn she had seen them before, but couldn't say exactly where.

Once they spotted her, the five teenage boys indicated for her to join them. Cye stood to fetch an extra chair while the others made room around the crowded table.

"You're late," Ryo told her, pointing to his wrist-watch.

"Sorry, I was caught up in something," Robyn apologized as she sat down. She tried to remember just exactly why she was late, but her mind suddenly went blank. She remembered she had been running for a long time. Was she running away from something? Or to something?

Not that that was important. Now that she was in the relaxing atmosphere and in the presence of friends, she didn't need to worry about that.

Seeing that everyone had already ordered drinks, Robyn craved something to drink. She looked around to see if a waitress was nearby, but the rest of the restaurant was empty. Perhaps she had to go to the counter to order one.

"So, these are them. The Warlords," Kento said without any preamble, gesturing to the three older men. "And Kayura, as well. This is Cale, Sekhmet and Dais." As Kento talked, he shuffled a deck of cards in his hands. He did this almost self-consciously, not looking down even once.

Robyn wished he would stop fiddling with the cards; the noise was distracting.

Kento sat next to Cale. When he introduced the scarred Warlord, Robyn felt apprehensive. It wasn't when she considered Cale by himself. He looked tough and scary with his pale scars and dark features, but by himself, Robyn didn't feel worried. It was when took in the picture of Cale and Kento sitting together that made her nervous. It was a strange feeling, and she immediately pushed it away. After all, Kento was her friend. He would never hurt her.

Robyn realized she had been staring at Cale, his intense gaze met hers. He watched her in an interested way.

The one called Skehmet sat next to Cale and was smoking a cigarette calmly. He regarded the teenage girl with half-closed eyes. Next to him was Dais, who watched her with a broad grin plastered unabashedly on his pale face. Even when Robyn looked away, the white-haired man kept smiling in a strange way. Kayura, who sat next to Robyn, was the only one to reach out her hand to shake during the introduction. However, their hands never met as the young woman started sneezing and had to pull out a large hanky to cover her nose.

"Sorry, allergies," Kayura explained in a stuffed-nose tone.

"It's nice to meet all of you," Robyn said politely, bowing her head to each of them and feeling uncomfortable under the gaze of the four strangers. "Are you in town for the day or. . .?"

"We are in town for the weekend. It was nice to see the Ronins again," Kayura said with a smile before sneezing again. When she looked up, she glared at the older men. "Isn't it?"

Cale, Dais and Sekhmet muttered their agreements, but Dais was the only one who looked the part with his startling grin still plastered on his face.

"And who are you?" Sekhmet asked, smoking coming out of his mouth after each syllable. His expression was a mixture of intrigue and worry.

"I'm Robyn," she told them with a small smile, noticing that the Warlords looked to have alcoholic drinks in front of them while Kayura had a glass of orange juice. She wondered once again if the restaurant really was a bar. Then again, she wasn't carded to get in.

On the other side of the table, Rowen sat with his face in one of his hands, looking tired. It was no wonder, with Rowen's late nights and his horrible sleeping habits. In front of the blue-haired Ronin was a steaming cup of coffee, which he stared into lazily.

On either side of Rowen was Cye and Sage. Cye, who sat next to Robyn, was enjoying a cup of tea. His mother liked to drink tea, but preferred European types rather than Japanese style. Cye had inherited the taste from her and had a tea cup in front of him as well as a few empty sugar packets. Sage liked tea on occasion, but preferred herbal tea. Robyn often teased him for having the tastes of an old man in that aspect. He now had a Japanese style tea cup in his hands and sipping it delicately as if in a formal tea ceremony.

Like Ryo did a moment ago, Sage looked at his own watch. Then he turned around and called out, "Can I get some more tea?"

A waitress, who seemed to appear out of nowhere, had two cups of tea on her tray as well as a coffee pitcher. She gave one to Sage and the other to Cye, lingering on the former as she cleared away the dirty tea cups. After she topped off Rowen's coffee, she asked if she could do anything else for the group.

Robyn was about ready to order a soda, but seeing the tea and coffee made her really want something warm to drink.

"Do you have hot chocolate?"

The waitress replied that she did and rushed off to the kitchen.

Wanting to know more about Kayura and the Warlords, Robyn asked, "You have armors just like the Ronins, right?" When she looked at Cale again, she felt a chill run down her back. Hoping to feel reassured by Kento's good nature, she moved her eyes on the dark-blue haired youth, but only felt the chill grow even worse. Why was she feeling like this? She rubbed her arms as if she were cold just to do something with her hands.

Dais, who was still smiling, answered her question. "Yes, we do. Mine is the armor of Illusion, Cale's is Darkness, Sekhmet: Venom and Kayura's armor is named Corruption, although she hasn't owned it long. It used to belong to a man named Anubis."

"They don't sound like very pleasant names," Robyn told him, her nose wrinkled.

"What do you mean by that?" Sekhmet asked her slowly, then taking a drag from his cigarette. His question wasn't an accusation; his tone was neutral rather than negative.

Robyn shrugged, wishing she hadn't said anything about the armors. "Then Ronin armors are named after the elements. Torrent. Wildfire. They sound natural. Your armors sound so. . ." Her sentence ended abruptly because she couldn't think of something other than "evil".

"Those aren't their original names," Sage informed them. "They used to be called something else, but when Talpa got his hands on them, he renamed them, corrupting them for his own purposes. He would have done the same to our armors if he had the chance." He sipped his tea sagely, living up to his name.

Seeing the logic in this, Robyn nodded before asking, "Who is Anubis?" She had heard the name before, but her information on him was lacking.

"Let's not talk about grim subjects," Dais told her, his smile growing wider. "You wanted to meet us, so what would you like to know?"

Then Cale spoke for the first time. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I dreamed about you last night."

The five Ronin Warriors turned to the bearer of Darkness, glaring at him defensively. They all leaned closer to Robyn as if protecting her.

"How else is she suppose to take that statement?" Kayura exclaimed, giving Cale a disapproving look much like a child would give her father for telling a dirty joke in front of her friends.

"Oopse. You said the wrong thing, Cale," Daise teased, his grin becoming so big it might split his head in two. He winked his one eye at Robyn.

Cale swore under his breath and looked away. "It's not what you think. All of us were there, too. It was a very strange dream."

Robyn already felt uneasy about Cale and even more so after that revelation. If it was one of the boys, she would have liked to hear about it and had a good laugh. But with Cale, she grew nervous under his attention.

Trying to lighten the mood and hopefully move to a different topic, she said, "You probably just dreamed about a red-head," she brushed it off. After all, how many red-heads lived in Japan? The one in Cale's dream must have been a coincidence.

"No, it was definitely you," Cale confirmed with a nod.

Before Robyn could change the subject to move away from her discomfort, Rown added, "I had a weird dream with Robyn in it last night, too." His earlier fatigue wearing off a little.

"Now that I think about it, so did I," Cye said before taking a sip from his tea.

Soon, everyone was admitting to having dreams last night, all of them starring Robyn. And they all admitted that the dreams were among the strangest they had ever had.

At this point, Robyn squirmed under so much attention. The coincidence of having everyone have a dream about her was so surreal that she thought about ducking into the bathroom for a minute to catch her breath. Then she remembered that she had a strange dream last night. As she could recall, she really liked the dream. There were some really funny parts, but also some scary moments. However, most of the details of her dream seemed to be beyond her. The more she concentrated on the dream, the more it pulled away from her.

Robyn was pulled away from her reminiscing as everyone else at the table wanted to tell about their dream first. They finally decided to draw straws to see who would go first. Robyn almost laughed at their behavior. A few were almost childish as they pouted when Kento drew the longest straw.

Robyn looked around for the waitress, hoping that she would bring her the hot chocolate she had ordered. It would have been a small comfort in such a strange situation. The one good thing was that Kento was first in line of a whole lot of bizarre.

She was sure that Kento's dream would entertaining, but was perturbed that she still felt anxious whenever she looked at him. Not to mention how he was constantly shuffling his deck of cards was becoming obnoxious. She wished he would put them away.

With one last shuffle of the deck, Kento stopped moving his hands and took a deep breath as if he were going to start telling his dream. But instead, he pointed away from the table.

Robyn followed Kento's finger to see what he was pointing to, thinking he was showing something that pertained to his dream. All she saw was a door, probably leading to the restrooms.

"That's where you'll see my dream," Kento told her with the usual laid-back grin on his face. With that, he went back to shuffling his cards.

Robyn felt a mixture of annoyance and confusion as she looked at the door, then back to Kento. He was looking at her so expectantly that Robyn was sure he was playing a joke on her. Thinking that she might as well get it over with, she stood and moved to the door. She opened it with mild interest, thinking that something would be behind it. Nothing. Before she could look back to Kento to give him a board look, the floor tilted toward the open doorway. She screamed in surprise, clinging to the door frame. Her fingers slipped and she fell into complete darkness.

After a minute, it didn't feel like she was falling. In fact, once she noticed the sensation of falling was gone, she could feel something solid underneath her shoes. Wondering where she was, Robyn stretched out her hands tentatively. Her hands came into contact with a stone wall. She felt relieved, clinging to the solid wall as if it would stop her from falling again.

As she was feeling around the wall and moving along it, her hand scrapped roughly against a sharp rock, and she cried out in pain.

A hand shot out of the dark and wrapped around her mouth, pulling her down to the ground. "Shhh! Don't make a sound!"

(Author's note: Robyn does not belong to me. She is a character belonging to Ghost of the Dawn, who has given me permission to use her in this fanfic. If you would like to read Ghost's fanfic that tells about how Robyn met the Ronins, Ghost of the Dawn is in my favorite author's list.)