Disclaimer: I don't own Saiyuki, just wish I did!!

Special thanks goes to kenren thaishou for having encouraged me to rewrite the whole fic when my computer crashed and I didn't have another copy of it. thank you!! :p

Here goes. a bitter sweet story. hope you like it!

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The Ice maiden

They called her the ice maiden.

Her companions stood in awe of her; the villagers were terrified of her. Few people outside the inhabitants of the temple had ever seen Shunrei. She was said to be as beautiful as a goddess, with hair as golden as the sun itself, but with azure eyes which were as cold and expressionless as the river which flowed near the temple where she resided. She had no friends; she stood alone, proud and aloof.

She had been hidden from the world since her mother, a noble woman, had brought her to the temple, when still an infant. At eighteen years of age, Shunrei was already the high priestess of the temple.

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A dark haired youngster with striking amethyst eyes stood waiting for his turn to be added to the list of new recruits for the temple's army.

Hiroshi was a good swordsman and never missed when using his bow and arrows. His parents had died recently; he had no ties, and as he had no wish to cultivate land, he had decided to enlist.

Time passed, and the young man quickly got used to the daily routine. Hiroshi got on quite well with the other soldiers. He was good-hearted, though rather reserved. His superiors trusted him, as he was intelligent and loyal.

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After a day's intensive training, the soldiers would gather round the fire and stories would be told. By far the most popular were the stories about her, the ice maiden. She had become a living legend, and tales were told about her looks, her voice and her lack of human emotion. Hiroshi often wondered whether it was really true that she was so beautiful and cold.

Being a mere soldier, he never had a chance of ascertaining for himself whether they were only tales, until that day.

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Sometimes he felt that he had to get away from the camp's atmosphere and would often go for long walks along the river. There he would be alone.

That day, deep in thought, he had wandered into the temple grounds, a place forbidden to men.

Suddenly, he saw a slight movement in front of him. He gasped.

The setting sun gave a slight tinge of red to her golden locks as they rippled in the breeze. The white robes she wore could not hide her shapely body and her elegance as she leaned on the trunk of the sakura tree.

His violet eyes met her blue eyes for an instant and he nearly reeled back at the sheer force hidden in them.

Shunrei beckoned to him. She was curious about his young man who had dared look upon her. Hiroshi moved forward slowly, unable of tearing his eyes away from her. The girl blushed slightly as she felt the intensity of his gaze.

He smiled at her as the colour rose in her cheeks. So the ice maiden was not so emotionless after all. He staggered back as she slapped his face. "Don't smile at me!" she hissed, making as if to leave. She paused and looked at him. "I will be here tomorrow at the same time." She left and never looked back.

Hiroshi remained until the trees had completely hidden his view of her. He did not know whether her words were a warning not to return, or perhaps, an invitation to meet her again.

He didn't care. He was going to return, even at the risk of arousing the ice-maiden's wrath.

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And that's chapter one! Please continue reading..

P.S. does anyone else have trouble when trying to use italics? They don't appear when I upload!! :(