A searing pain had erupted from her shoulder, blooming and lacing its way down to her stomach like wildfire brush. Another pain, in her forehead. The combination of these horrid ailments, unknown in origin, brought her to her knees from her previous upright stance on their journey. Lights flared behind her eyes, rendering her blind as the pressure in her head intensified the pins and needles racing up and down her side. A feral cry broke loose from her lips, hands torn between clutching the hurt in her shoulder, or claw desperately at her forehead to still the headache.
The boy, Ryuko, merely watched in silence.. She seemed to be in such distress.. Though some hidden part of him, his demon inhabitant more than likely, told against the thought of saving her, the thought of applying poultices and cool water to her problems.. He wanted to help her, wanted to make her quit, wanted to see her smile again.. But still, his dead limbs would not move.
Another scream ushered itself from Sayaka's throat, her bag being thrown off. She rolled onto her side, trying to apply pressure to the ache and satisfy it.. But to no avail.. She tensed for a moment, blind eyes looking down at the ground upon which she lay..
Blood, a veritable lake of blood pooled around her.. Arrowheads and stones broke the thick surface at random intervals.. Arrowheads lodged in her side, rocks thrown at her head.. She was being shot at! Stoned to death! She clenched her eyes shut to dispel the image. No luck! The haunting continued, tormenting her relentlessly.
Finally unable to ignore it any more, he stepped over to her, grabbing both shoulders.. And with red eyes blaring like flames in a skull, he shook her harshly.
"Nothings wrong with you, you stupid little wench! You're not injured, you're not in pain. So get over it, less I beat it out of you as I should have when this shenanigan began!"
She widened her eyes, sight returning as she broke through unknown waters.. She stared at him, saw the red eyes. Speckled hues focused on his iris' for a moment, contemplating.. Before she ignored it, speaking in a quiet voice.
"..Tell me.. Where did the blood come from? The arrow heads? The stones? Please Gods, tell me.. What happened..?"
Ryuko, or rather his inhabitant growled in an annoyed tone, rubbing his forehead.. If only he could let her see the third eye, let her understand who he was and that he was not to be messed with.. But his orders were clear. 'Locate and secure the key, and bring her to me unawares.. If she even has an inkling as to what she is capable of, the entire plan is ruined.. She's no longer your lady love, she's your job.'
"..They all must be a figment of your stupid imagination.. Now come, get up and walk again. We need to close more ground before nightfall or else we'll be sleeping on rocks and pine needles forever. Personally, I don't enjoy it. You on the other hand, seemed right at home.. What did you sleep on in that pit of a village? A piece of limestone covered in gravel?"
She sneered at him, kicking his shin as she helped herself up, grabbing her bag. They had been on the road for a solid three weeks now.. Supplies were running low, morals even lower.. And the irritating switches in mid conversation between Ryuko and what she assumed was the 'idiot', as she called him, was getting steadily on her nerves. How could she carry on a topic with someone she cared about, even just out of respect.. When suddenly he would switch and her every ideal was downtrodden.
Hissing and touching his injured shin, he turned his face upright, staring at the sky.. Before he spread his arms.
"THIS! This is what I get to look after. I'm not some babysitter you know! Give me pity, give me mercy! ANYTHING but her!"
He took pleasure in the fact that she glowered at him, pouting again.. It was true. She was indeed the cause of his flashbacks, that mane of dark blonde hair flashing like burnt gold in the setting sun. Impish face contorted with pure hatred..
Bare feet in icy water, splashing through the waves as it ran uphill. One eyed demons flying around the shed, flying around their heads as her delighted laughter filled the air.. Peals of bells.. The way she looked with love in her eyes, the tears of blood that sprang from them at her death.. Sayaka...
"What do you want?"
"Sayaka. You said my name again.. If you don't want me to reply, don't say my name like that.." She huffed, crossing her arms.. Looking around... Before beginning to steadily walk, heading the desired direction.
Bested again by a mere child.. It made his skull burn with fury when she caught him off guard, flustered him, made him fall over his own words like a tottering fledgling. How he hated her... The silly git..
Their march continued, his red eyes searching ahead of them for any sign of danger or attack.. Least of all anyone who would question their antics. He hated to admit it aloud, but there was a village nearby. They would restock their supplies, they would catch a bite to eat, they would stay at an inn and bathe the worries and problems. Tell the girl? Oh hell no. He'd never hear the end of it, with her need for constant conversation and sound.
It was like she was afraid of silence, afraid of being alone. Constant chatter, asking questions, and expecting answers. ANSWERS! From him! Like the twittering of a bird, the constant alluring manner of a harpy. Going against better judgment, he turned his pale face to her retreating form, hurrying his strides to catch up with her. Clearing his throat, he broke the news.
"..There's a village up ahead for supplies.."
"And there is supposed to be rather good dining."
"..Yeah, that's nice."
"..And we're staying at an inn with a hot spring tonight.." He flinches, bending his arms and closing his eyes as if warding off a blow.
"..An Inn..? And a hot spring..?"
Oh Gods, here it comes..
She quite literally pounced him, hugging him tightly around the neck as she laughed joyously. She let go almost immediately, turning and dancing, heading at a faster pace along their route. All along, she merrily chanted to her hearts content about the spring that awaited them.
"..What have I gotten myself into.."
The time passed quickly at the madcap pace she had set in her eagerness, leading them to the gates of the village in due time.. Correction, city in the making. Rows of low roofed shops lined crushed shell roads, cloth ceilings of restaurants hugging the curves of the snakelike road. Machiba. Hub of a growing civilization in the mist. A center-marker of the town itself was a large shrine, experimenting with multiple layers heading upwards. The wooden structure creaked with the movement of the wind.. But never seemed to fall from its specially placed pedestal of stone and water tubs.
The shops that etched the landscape of the bustling place were such fantastic colors as never were seen. Reds of different degrees speckled the area in view, hocking their wares.. Wooden toys, pottery, candies, baked goods, clothing, bedding, silk and cotton, spices.. Restaurants waved the scents of their fresh foods out from under the cloth flaps of their roofs. Roasted pig, beef stew, beef bowls, chickens, fish of all kinds. Noodles, rice, duck and other wild game. Each of these foods were woven together with the intricate scent of foreign spices, the scent of sake, the scent of soy sauce..
A multitude of public lodging all boasted different things.. From free in room meals, to acupuncture. From free doctor visits, to deluxe hot springs. Even honeymoon suites. The supplies were had as they walked to the center of town. A bowl of ramen with chicken and fish chunks in it calming their hunger as their trek neared its end for the weary day..
Their selection? A deluxe springs package, due to her insistence.. There went the food money for two weeks.. The room itself was quite nice, large futons dominating one side of the room. A covered table with a hard top sat in one corner, holding a tea set and bowls.. It turns out food would be served in the evening hours. A set of robes, made of some kind of soft material by locals lay across the tables corner like a giant snakeskin. Bath kits in terracotta bowls sat by a set of slippers near the lowered floor near the entrance.
"This place is amazing.." Sayaka cooed, taking in the details of every minute thing. She'd never been in an inn a day in her life.
The boy still had no control, dulling red eyes irritated as he dropped their supplies.. He checked to make sure there were plenty of tea leaves.. Before picking up a robe and bath kit.
"I don't know about you, but I'm going to clean up.. I don't care about others opinions of my appearance, but I've a craving for warm water. Creek baths just don't do it.." The last syllable was a snakes hiss, crisp and venomous.
Sayaka, alone for a moment, looked around.. Listened at the door.. And then delved into his bag. She was never allowed before to look at his things, and would take her chance.. Aside from their supplies, there was a map, sidelined with an odd looking scripture.. A small chain, bangles of gold and silver arching in designs lay at the bottom in a slightly charred coil. A lock of blonde hair.. He had a sweetheart? Go figure.
When her fingers touched the last item, a cold shiver ran up her spine. It seemed to be a form of cloth hand covering, as some houshi wore with their holy uniforms. On the back, just below the loop that would fit over the middle finger, was a triplicate symbol of an eye.. Inscriptions laced along the edges in a delicate weave. Purple cloth, black interior. The words that rang from her lips were foreign to her, but seemed to make complete sense.
"Why does he have my glove..?" She paused.. Blinked.. "Wait a second, mine? No, this is his.. Isn't it?"
The faint tap of footsteps in the hallway made her yelp, panicking and throwing the items back into the bag, tossing it back against the wall. She picked up her kit and robe, scampering out of the room and to the women's side of the spring itself. She'd rather not get on his bad side, especially now..
The water was warm as she disrobed, scrubbing her body and hair and rinsing before dunking a cloth in cold water.. Entering and settling against the wall. She sunk in to her chin, eyes closing in bliss.. This was true heaven. The faint spurt was cold water triggered on a Chinese 'Deer Frightener' was welcome, the changing temperatures soothing her aching muscles. Despite herself, she purred.
"..I wonder what that glove was, though.. Those three eyes.." She spoke this aloud quietly, thinking back to the fragile design. She raised a hand, rubbing the center of her forehead in an irritated manner, as though it itched from a mosquito's feeding. The spot she rubbed pulsed faintly, but she paid it no mind.
"Yes. The last of its kind. The people of three eyes. Demons."
"Oh.. Thank yo-... AUGH!" She screeched, having turned to thank the bearer of good news.. Seeing no one else but Ryuko, looking over the top of the barrier. Not for long though, as the dish of her bath kit collided with the side of his head.
"You're a murderous fiend, why make yourself a lecherous fool on top of it!" She screamed, ducking down once she'd struck out, shocked and embarrassed.
"HEY! You're the one who went through someone else's bag you twit!" He yelled from the other side of the barrier, rubbing his wound.. "You were never supposed to find that.."
"And why not, huh? What's the big deal?"
He sighed.. A sad sound.. "..Because you're the Sanjiyan Unkara.. You're one of the last of the race, the guardian to the three eyes.. You're their greatest pride and their demise. A dying race."
"..Oh yeah, and I suppose a jar of sake is going to fly up my nose and reproduce rapidly into its own distillery." She snorted, shaking her head in disbelief.. Freezing when he returned. He all but leapt over the fence, landing on her side of the water. Red eyes flashed dangerously, a third eye slowly opening on his forehead.
The iris was catlike at first, before it adjusted to the light, blinking, staring at her blankly, waiting for a reaction.
Her reaction was not what he had expected.. He'd foreseen girlish screaming, flying objects, a stabbing, a kick to the groin.. Instead, she simply stared, mouth slightly open. A pink blossom of a rose, parted with the sunlight rising. A thin line appeared on her forehead, and began to open into an eye... But stopped, was held shut. A ward of sorts, three lines holding the eye shut, glowed.. Thank the Gods they'd remembered to seal her!
She seemed lost in her own memories..
Chasing a dark haired boy through a field of flowers, sandals being kicked off on a hot summer day.. wading in the stream and catching the minnows that came to nibble at their toes.. The white demons, fluttering around in a ghostlike manner.. The door slamming open, and pain.. Blood.. She heard screaming that was not her own, heard a fight.. Then sweet surrendering to the darkness..
She only returned to the present when a sharp slap interrupted her thoughts, eyes wide in shock. The red welt on her right cheek was already stinging, numbing her entire face.. What WAS that..? She looked to Ryuko, the red eyes holding a worried look.. Him? Worried? Never.. But the face was the same.. The boy in the flowers..
She stared for another moment.. Before she simply stood, abandoning her bath kit, pulling on her robe and running for the room. Dinner and the hot tea was overlooked, her direction leading straight for the futon. She burrowed, still wet, in the blankets. She pulled the cloth up over her head, her face to the pillow to catch the hot tears that spilled from her eyes.
"...I'm sorry that I had to slap you.. It was for your own good.. I'll tell you about the Sanjiyan later, when you can handle it without causing a scene.. I promise.."
A weight sliding into the futon next to her own, the rustle of blankets. She wanted to speak, to ask questions.. To yell at him, to hurt him.. Though she found she could do nothing. She was horribly tired, and her mouth tasted metallic and foreign.. She closed her eyes and slept, surrendering once more to the sweet darkness.
"Someday, Ryuko.. We'll leave here.. We'll become human.. "
"I'll help you in any way I can, Sayaka.."
"Will you stay with me, no matter what?"
"I'd even become a Wu for you.."
"..I love you, Ryuko.."
"I love you too, Sayaka.."
Yup, another chapter at long last. :D I work best when I get reviews, for reviews make me more encouraged.
In answer to the reference to Stephen Kings "The Dark Tower" series, yes I've read it. No, I did not take it from there. I didn't read it until after I wrote this chapter.. Ironic, ne?
I'm not sure how long this story will be, as there are going to be three in the series, I hope. Thank you my loyal readers, for reading and encouraging me with your kind words. I hope this newest chapter stands up to your expectations.
Once more, these characters belong to me, and are copyrighted by me. The 3x3 Eyes storyline, as well as the references to it belong to Yuzo Takeda-sama. WAH! don't sue meee! I'm just a poor student!