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~The Great Escape~

It was dusk and a small group of black-cloaked horsemen were travelling eastwards to the coast. The group, led by a tall, broad- shouldered, redheaded man, was travelling at top speed to avoid being captured by the army. The reason for their escape...they had with them someone important whom the army wished to capture...and execute.
As they reached the shoreline, the leader of the group turned towards a plump, white-headed gentleman and said, "There's not much time, My Lord, the boat will arrive in 10 minutes."

"Oh Sakuragi, I thank you and your men for saving my life and making me see for myself how my people are suffering. I know now that the people are loyal to me. They are sick of this General Taoka and they wish for their King Anzai back. But you...have made powerful enemies. When I'm back on the throne and if you should need me..."

At this, King Anzai took out a red, ruby ring and placed it on Sakuragi's palm, saying, "Send this."
Looking at the ruby ring, which seemed as if it was on fire and was burning brightly on his palm, Sakuragi replied, "I thank you for your gift, but I think you have made more enemies than I have." Suddenly, he could hear a faint rumbling in a distance, which was immediately followed by a slight tremble of the earth as the army's horses thundered their hooves upon the ground.

Sakuragi immediately gave orders to his men to protect the king while saying to the king, "And now if you please, I shall be king for the day." Understanding his plan, the king and Sakuragi hurriedly changed cloaks and hats.

As he ordered his men to pick up speed so as to reach the boat quickly, a young man suddenly spoke up, "Sakuragi, if I'm killed while performing this mission, remember, you are next in line to inherit my fortune." Sakuragi only nodded his approval before the man continued, "And remember, take care of my brother, Kaede."
At this, Sakuragi lifted his head and answered, "I'll pledge my life for him, don't you worry." With that being said, they bided each other 'God speed' before going their separate ways; one to safety, the other to distract the army, which was coming ever closer.

Knowing his way around the country, Sakuragi drew the army's attention towards him as he raced northward towards the cliffs. Reaching the foot of the cliffs, he began to lead the army high up onto the rocky grounds near the peak. There in front of him was a small cavern entrance and into this he entered, followed closely by the army. As they entered, the cavern began to quake dangerously because of the horses' pounding hooves. No one will doubt it if the cavern collapsed within a matter of minutes!

Fortunately, as if there was a map of the cavern implanted deep within his head, Sakuragi zigzagged his horse swiftly and was able to lose the army. Then, seeing a light at the end of the cave, he followed it out the mouth of the cavern and into the fading light of the setting sun. His horse being lighter and faster than the army's troop horses, Sakuragi urged his horse to climb higher upon the rocky cliffs until they have reached the peak before the disappeared behind it.

Meanwhile, the army frantically tried to look for the escapee within the cavern but there was not even a single sign of him; not his cloak nor his horse's hooves. While trying to figure out where he could have disappeared to, they noticed that the cavern was slowly engulfed in total darkness as the sun began to set behind the horizon. Having no other choice but to leave, they turned back and retreated out of the cavern, empty- handed.

Feeling enraged for letting their escapee go free, they were about to return to camp to report the bad news when they heard a loud neigh high above them. Instinctively, the whole army looked up...and saw him. There, posed high on the highest peak of the cliff, silhouetted against the setting sun, was Sakuragi disguised in the king's cloak and hat, and sitting upon his grey horse. With a wide grin upon his handsome, tanned face, he lifted his hat and flashed his red hair that was further highlighted by the sun's rays.

Seeing him so arrogantly showing off, the army was further enraged when they found out their mistake at last. To think that he was NOT the real king and was only an impostor. They had once again let the king escape freely! Disappointed and angry, they were about to make a dash for the impostor when Sakuragi saluted to them gracefully, reined his horse to a hind-leg stand before riding off over the cliff and disappearing into the dusk.

Author's note: Don't worry, there's still more to come. Send your reviews. If you don't like it, I'll erase it immediately!