The woman looked in on the four children. They were sleeping peacefully...for once. The dark haired boy, the oldest, was curled up in a ball. The covers were pulled over his head as if a shell against the night. He was a still sleeper like he didn't want to be noticed.
The white haired boy was sleeping with an easy grace. He was stretched out on his stomach, leaning his head on his arm. His snow white hair fell around his peaceful face. The woman knew that at one sound, he would be awake and alert, ready for anything that would come at him.
The blue haired boy was lying on his side Body tensed, fingers curled into claws. His eyes darted behind closed lids and his fingers
scrabbled against the bed. He twisted his head and bit the pillow, a low growl rumbling in his throat.
The woman shook her head and looked to the youngest's bed with a fond smile. The redhead was a happy, playful child. She frowned as she saw his covers pulled up over his head. That wasn't like him at all. Was he distressed about something? Gliding over to the bed, she pushed back the covers. There was nothing there but pillows. The woman's eyebrow twitched in irritation. She looked up, narrowing her eyes at the open window. That boy…
"Suzaku! Get back in here!" she screamed.
Suzaku flexed his wings and glanced over his shoulder at the mountain peak. Taiitsukun-sama's command bounced off the clouds all around him. He didn't want to go back! The stars were so pretty tonight. Tomorrow, he would have seven constellations all to himself. A whole bunch of pretty stars.
He would just pretend he hadn't heard her. The eleven-year-old god smiled and spread his wings. The warm air lifted him higher and higher. The clouds swum below him like little fluffy sheep. He wished Taiitsukun-sama would let him sleep out here. But she was afraid he would sneak off and visit the mortals. It wasn't his fault. He liked mortals!
"Suzakuseikun! Byakko help me if you don't get back in here-"
"No I won't!" Byakko called cheerily.
"Go back to sleep!"
"Yes, Taiitsukun-sama," Byakko said and giggled.
"If I have to come after you..." the creator snarled. Suzaku winced. Taiitsukun's punishments were not to be taken lightly. He changed into his phoenix form, flicked his tail and circled back to the palace. Taiitsukun-sama was glaring at him from the window, black eyes glittering with ice. Oooh boy. She was mad. He sighed… Well, if he was going to be punished anyway.
"I CALL THE SOUTH!" he screamed. Then, tucking his wings close to his side, streaked down through the clouds.
"SUZAKU!" Taiitsukun-sama bellowed.
Seiryuu's eyes flicked open as his younger brother's words tore through the air. What? No! The south was his! He would have to claim it before that bird brain of a brother did. Spitting out his pillow, he jumped to his feet and barged past her out the window. She was so startled she only stared at him for a few seconds. Before she had the chance to react, he jumped. As he fell, he shifted effortlessly into his dragon form. That little bird was dead!
"SEIRYUU!" Taiitsukun-sama snapped. The god winced, knowing that she was probably going to kill him later. But this was far more important. He fell through the clouds, scanning for his youngest brother. A flash of crimson streaked by to his left. Seiryuu snapped his head to the side, opened his mouth and let loose a blast of bright blue chi.
"AAAH!" Suzaku screamed as the blast sent him into a helpless spin. "TAIITSUKUN-SAMA! SEIRYUU'S BLASTING ME AGAIIIN!"
"She won't do anything unless you go back!" Seiryuu spat at him, "and if you were smart you would! The south is going to be mine!"
So Suzaku wanted to be stubborn? Fine! The twelve-year-old god aimed another blast toward his brother's rear. This time, the phoenix dodged it. He wheeled into a cloud bank and was lost from sight. Seiryuu wasn't going to bother following him. Suzaku was too good a flyer. But where Suzaku had the tricks, Seiryuu had the speed. Chuckling to himself he renewed his swim through the air.
Byakko sat up, scraping his hair from his face. Seiryuu and Suzaku were all ready gone. That wasn't fair! Not at all! Why should his little brothers get first pick? He should get first pick. Sure he wasn't oldest, or the most powerful, but he was the prettiest. Tail flicking irritably; he padded toward the window, golden slitted eyes carefully watching the creator. He tapped her on her shoulder. When she turned he slipped into the place between her and the window. Her head snapped around like lightning, catching him. Her hand reached out for him. Byakko smirked and back flipped gracefully out the window.
"BYAKKO!" The heat in her voice ruffled his tail fur. She was not happy. Well, with any luck, she'd be so tired after punishing the brats; she wouldn't even get to him.
The thirteen-year-old changed into his tiger form, bounding across the clouds. Now, where was that blue brat? He didn't have the arial skill of Suzaku, nor the speed of his dragon brother, but he had something they didn't have. He was smarter then both of them combined. In retrospect, that really wasn't saying much. Suzaku suddenly swooped down to glide beside him.
"What are you doing here?" Suzaku asked. "I thought you said you didn't care what you got."
"I don't," Byakko said with a sniff. "I just want the south now, that's all."
"Well the south is mine!" Seiryuu growled.
"Not if I get there first," Byakko said, completely unruffled by his brother's threatening tone.
"You won't!" Seiryuu let loose a blast of chi.
Byakko jumped over it, fell through the air, and landed perfectly on the branch of a tree. Above him, Suzaku screeched in pain. Byakko watched absently as his littlest brother flashed by him, spinning end over end and ultimately crashing into a thick cluster of trees. Shaking his head, the young god leapt back into the air and resumed his run.
Genbu slowly opened his eyes. What...what was going on? He looked around the darkened room. His brother's were gone. Probably to claim a country! He scowled and kicked the covers off him. He was the eldest! The first claim was rightfully his!
He shuffled to his feet and plodded to the window. There was no need to rush pell-mell as he knew his siblings must be doing. There was a much more direct route. Taiitsukun-sama was by the window, rubbing her temples. She did that a lot lately. Maybe he could sneak past her. He clambered up on the windowsill, nearly losing his balance. He glanced back at Taiitsukun-sama to see if she'd noticed. Her ice black eyes were boring holes into him. Ooops.
"Umm. Konbanwa, Taiitsukun-sama." He sweatdropped. "It's a nice night isn't-" he was cut off when she shrieked and booted him out the window. Changing into his god form, he pulled himself completely inside his shell. Taiitsukun-sama was mad. Why should she be? They were only staking out their territory. Of course, it was the middle of the night, and she had promised they could do it fairly tomorrow. But that couldn't be the reason she was mad...could it?
He continued to fall through the air. It was so dark inside his shell. Coiling his snake head around his tortoise head, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
The south was coming up. Suzaku pumped his wings, desperately trying to keep ahead of his brothers. Seiryuu was so fast and Byakko wasn't above sneaking behind him and nipping at his tail feathers. Genbu was probably on the trail now too.
Being the youngest, he had to work for what he wanted. It was so hard sometimes! They were all stronger then him. The borderline of the south whiz by under his talons…but the race wasn't over yet. In order to claim this country they had to go to the capital and announce the claim in front of mortals.
"Do you know the palace's south window?" Byakko asked, coming to run beside him
"Y…yes," Suzaku said, hoping the tiger didn't decide to bite him.
"Who ever gets in there first wins. That's where the throne room is!" Byakko pulled ahead. Seiryuu was just a distant speck. Suzaku clenched his talons. He had to go faster! Faster! He flapped with all his heart thrown in it. He wouldn't lose! He would- not- lose!
The city came into view, and with it, the palace. With a start, he realized he was ahead. Just a little more! The window was open, lantern light streaming out, inviting him in. He stretched his neck out, pulled up his feet as far as they would go and narrowed his eyes. The south was as good as his.
The emperor shivered. Something was giving him the chills. There must be a chill in the air. It was just the time of year for cold snaps. He gestured to a servant to close the south window. The servant complied. There were three sequential thuds and the palace vibrated. The emperor jumped to his feet, heart slamming in his throat.
"What was that?"
"A demon!" The empress cried, face pale. He sat back down, tried to appear calm, and patted his wife's hand gently.
"It's probably just the wind, dear. Don't worry."
"Itaiii," Suzaku moaned. He hurt. He was plastered against the closed widow, with the dragon's heavy weight against him. Byakko must have hit too.
"Seiryuu," the tiger gasped. "Your scales feel like rocks!"
"Get your claws out of my back!" Seiryuu yelled.
"Get offa me!" Suzaku whined. There was a whistling sound and all three looked up. A huge black object was hurtling down toward them at incredible speed.
"AAHHH! GENBU! CHANGE COURSE! CHANGE COURSE!" Byakko screamed. Genbu stuck his snake head out of his shell.
"Nani? Oh!" He stuck his head back in, removed his arms and legs and started paddling frantically. It was too late. Suzaku closed his eyes. This was really going to-
Byakko rolled to his feet and stared, concerned at his little brother. Suzaku was flat on the ground, wings spread out and feet sticking straight up in the air. He reached out and tentatively poked the phoenix with his paw.
"Do you think he's still alive?" Seiryuu asked. Byakko rolled his eyes.
"Of course he's still alive, moron," Genbu said, "he's immortal!"
"We'd better get him back to Taiitsukun-sama," Byakko said. We'd all better get back to Taiitsukun-sama. Changing into his boy form, he reached down to pick his brother up. The phoenix suddenly sprang to life. Baykko felt sharp talons dig into his shoulder as Suzaku used him for a launching pad.
"Hey!" Byakko cried.
"Cheater!" Seiryuu yelled.
Suzaku grinned to himself. He wasn't a cheater. He was just very determined. He loved this kingdom...and love conquered all. He straightened himself out like an arrow and smashed through the window. The humans stood and stared at him. Landing took some doing, but he managed without one stumble. As tall as a man and as long as four oxen combined, he knew he made an impressive sight. He looked every human in the eye. They were his people. He had watched them from the clouds many times. One by one they dropped to their knees.
I AM SUZAKUSEIKUN. He said in his best god voice. The emperor and empress bowed at that. I CLAIM THIS PLACE TO BE MY KINGDOM! ~SO BITE ME SEIRYUU!~ he finished in a voice only his brothers would hear.
Byakko calmly walked away from the palace. Oh well, so his brother had won, so what? It was no big thing. He padded onto the river and slid across the water, jumping over late night fishing boats that were on it. The fishermen didn't see him. They couldn't if he didn't want to.
He needed a good country. It didn't matter which, just a good one. Soon he came upon a large desert in the western lands, beyond that were thick rainforests. Hmm…this place wasn't so bad. The greenery was perfect and the barren desert was quite a challenge. There was no palace as such, just the immaculate mansion of the most powerful tribal leader. That would be perfect.
Making himself visible to the mortal eye, he trotted in, watching in amusement as the guards stared. It wasn't everyday they got to see something so beautiful. The tiger came to the central room and flopped down, licking his paw absently. Not a few seconds later, the tribal leader burst in, ungroomed hair flying about his face.
"What...what to you want? Why are you here?" the man stammered.
I AM THE GREAT POWERFUL BYAKKOSEIKUN. THIS LAND IS MINE, HUMAN. I HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO BE HERE, he said. After a few moments of startled silence the tribal leader bowed. Byakko smiled. He might not be perfect but he was damned close.
Genbu plodded through the mountains, yawning every so often. He was so tired. He just wanted to find a country and go back to sleep. The snake part of him was still angry though. It hissed and twitched all over his shell. The tortoise part of him was more then a little annoyed with this.
Eventually he came to a place spiked with mountains. The cold settled the snake down and made the tortoise even more tired. Snow crunched under his paws. This must be the north. The north was fine. The mountains would make a perfect bed.
First though, he had to announce his presence. He plodded into the palace, ignoring the people who screamed and scattered from him. They were his people he supposed. At least they were now. A man darted out in front of him waving a pin threateningly...or was that a sword?
ARE YOU THE EMPEROR? Genbu asked.
"Y...yes," the man stammered. He looked like he was about to wet his robes.
GOOD. I AM GENBUSEIKUN. THIS IS MY LAND. GOOD NIGHT. The people continued to scream. The snake part twisted to look back at them. SILENCE!
Once they had shut up, he pulled himself inside his shell and fell asleep.
His brothers had left, but Seiryuu was too angry to move. Suzaku, the weak one, had gotten the southern kingdom! He'd just have to do something about it.
"IT'S NOT FAIR TAIITSUKUN-SAMA! THIS WAS MY
KINGDOM! I CLAIMED IT! HE CHEATED!" Seiryuu roared to the heavens. Taiitsukun-sama didn't answer. For once, the creator was silent.
"Hey lizard breath!" Suzaku yelled, poking his head out the damaged window, "You're disturbing the peace. How can I put this nicely? Hmm. GET LOST!"
"TAIITSUKUN-SAMA! I KNOW YOU SEE IT'S NOT
FAIR! SHOW ME WHO'S RIGHT!"
A small cloud covered the moon and a bolt of lightning jotted down from it and struck Seiryuu in the rear.
Suzaku nearly fell over from laughing so hard Seiryuu glared at his brother then stalked away. He stomped above the country; knocking birds every which way with his switching tail. As soon as he stepped over the north's boundary he realized it was all ready taken. He roared in frustration and stalked to the east; the only place that was left.
The east was the biggest and richest, but he didn't want that. Well he was sort of stuck with it now. He stalked up to the palace and commanded the doors open for him. They didn't and he walked into them.
Growling in pain and anger he smashed the doors down with his claws.
He took a step inside, slipped on the waxed floor and knocked out one of the walls. The dragon picked himself up. Today was not his day. It was all Suzaku's fault! He found the throne room with little effort and smashed open those doors as well.
I AM SEIRYUUSEIKUN!! Seiryuu growled fiercely. The people stared at him with wide eyes in pale faces.
Seiryuu snorted, stupid humans. He dug his talons into the floor and scraped them across it. The shrieking sound made the humans cower and cover their ears. He snarled at them. He had wanted the south! Not this puny place. He would make them work hard to get what he wanted. They were just mortals after all.
Notes: This story is all ready DONE. But it's old so I'll have to go through and update it. ^^: It shouldn't take too too long to finish it, but then, you never know. For those reading my other works, yes they WILL get done but I don't have a lot of time to do them in. ^^;
Special thanks to Moonsong
Standard disclaimers apply