Disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis or Kyou Kara Maou. And I'm far from making any money on this fic.

AN: Long awaited chapter 3, I guess… So sorry for the delay!

Chapter 3 - Pillar of Support

"Are you comfortable?"

Ryoma frowned and listed off a few things in his head before answering the question.

1) He's not in Japan anymore.

2) His back hurts.

3) He is riding on a horse which is doing a number on his bum.

4) And he's forced to wrap his arms around the man's waist, holding on for dear life.

"No, I'm not." he finally responded.

Tezuka coughed to mask the smile that threatened to appear on his face. "I apologize. You must have a lot of questions."

Ryoma grit his teeth at his sore bum. "You think?"

They rode up to a house with a stable where they were met by another tall man dressed in white robes and with a bowling ball haircut. As they approached, the man stopped immediately before them. "Your Majesty."

"Hn. And who are you?" Ryoma asked bluntly. Another weird character, he thought.

"I am Oishi Shuichiro, vice-captain of the guards," he said. "Welcome, Your Majesty."

"Your Majesty, please dismount slowly," Tezuka instructed.

"Huh? Okay," Ryoma slowly got off the horse. As soon as he did, he felt several nerves pinch his back and his sore bum ached more. "Geez...I don't know how you guys do it."

Oishi took a knee before Ryoma. "We've been awaiting your arrival for awhile now, my liege."

"Like I was telling the captain, drop the liege thing. Just call me Ryoma. You're creeping me out," Ryoma repeated. He stretched his arms out. "Horse riding is definitely not my thing."

"Huh?" Oishi gave him a questioning look. "Is this the first time you've ridden a horse, my liege? I mean Ryoma..."

Ryoma sighed. "Yes it is. I never expected to ever ride one. Then again, I never knew I'd end up in a place like this either. Wherever this is." He gave Oishi and Tezuka a suspicios look. "Just what is going on here really?"

Oishi looked confused. "Just what sort of training has the prince been getting in the other world?"

Tezuka interrupted. "Nevermind that for now, Oishi. We have other pressing matters. Atobe got to him first."

Alarmed, Oishi turned to Ryoma. "Atobe! My liege, did something happen to you?"

"Let's see...Considering where I am at the moment, I think quite a bit of things happened to me," Ryoma bit back. The insane situation is starting to really get on his nerves. If he gets called liege one more time...

"Wait a second! Tezuka?" Oishi faced the captain. "How is it that he can understand us? I thought the oracle said-"

"Your Japanese sounds fine," Ryoma cut in. "What are you talking about?"

"This isn't Japan, Your Majesty," Tezuka explained.

"No kidding." Ryoma gave them an annoyed look. "So did I get kidnapped and get brought to Germany or something? You all look a bit like foreigners to me."

Tezuka shook his head. "You're not in Japan nor Germany, Your Majesty. As indicated earlier, you are now in Seigaku."

"And just where the hell is Seigaku?"

"Not on Earth," Tezuka simply said.

"What!" Ryoma explained. "Are you out of your mind?" He took a step back. "I must have hit my head on something when I fell into the river. This is just crazy...No way..." He sudenly clutched his head. "My head's starting to pound...again..."

His body started falling and his vision started to fade. He vaguely heard Oishi reach out and call his name before he lost conciousness completely.

---

Slowly, Ryoma opened his eyes and found himself settled on a bed. Groaning, he sat up and realized that he was quite naked as the blankets started to slide off his shoulders.

"What the hell..."

He quickly pulled the blankets up to cover himself.

"Take it easy. You passed out from a fever. We had someone wash your clothes. They're drying now."

Ryoma turned to find Tezuka sitting next to his bed. "Eh? I didn't feel feverish earlier."

Tezuka pushed his glasses up his nose. "Probably not, but since you went through a body of water to get transported here, your clothes got quite soaked. Couple that with the lack of understanding for your current situation, I think the stress got to you."

"Che!" Ryoma turned away from him. "So I'm really not on Earth anymore?"

"Correct."

"From the looks of things, I don't even think it's the same century," Ryoma surmised. "No electricity, horses, pitchforks, and not to mention your clothing."

Tezuka stood up and walked toward the fireplace in the corner. "You are correct, Your Majesty."

Ryoma sighed and fell back. "Tell me this then. Why exactly am I here? Mind you, I haven't really absorbed all of this yet, but I'll try to adjust my perspective."

Tezuka crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall. "To put it simply, you are to be the next Pillar of Support for Seigaku."

"Pillar of Support?"

"You are His Royal Highness, Ryoma Echizen, the next person to guide and rule over Seigaku."

"But I'm not even of this world!"

"That is of no consequence. The oracle has dictated that you were the chosen one."

Ryoma watched Tezuka carefully. "You sound like you don't believe it yourself."

"If the oracle has dictated it, I will accept it."

"Hn... So are you supposed to be my bodyguard now?"

Tezuka adjusted his glasses again. "That is correct."

A knock interrupted their conversation. "Your Majesty?" Oishi's voice called from the other side.

"Come in."

Oishi entered the room. "How are you feeling? I have brought your clothes back. They're dry now." He lay them on a nearby table.

Ryoma glanced his black uniform. "I'm doing fine, thanks. Could you guys leave for a bit? I would like to get changed now."

After Tezuka and Oishi left, Ryoma quickly put on his uniform, relieved to be fully clothed again. Once he was done, he exited the room and met up with Tezuka and Oishi.

"So what now?"

"Are you sure you're feeling better now?" asked Tezuka.

"Yes, much."

"We need to get going then." Tezuka turned to Oishi. "Are the escort troops ready?"

"Yes, we can leave now."

Ryoma raised an eyebrow. "Where are we going now?"

"We are going home, Your Majesty. To Seigaku," said Tezuka.

"I thought we were at Seigaku already."

"Back to the castle, my liege," Oishi clarified. "Everyone's been waiting for your arrival."

---

Ryoma was thankful that he had his own horse to ride. He really didn't feel comfortable riding behind another man. Also, the captain of the guards, Tezuka, made him a bit wary.

He glanced his sides and observed the soldiers flanked around him. He noticed all the side looks they gave him, uncertainty on their faces. He let out an exasperated breath. 'I can't blame them. What am I really involved with in here?'

Soon they came upon massive brick walls with an equally imposing wrought iron gates. Ryoma looked on either sides and noticed that the walls stretched far out on each side. "Where are we now?"

Tezuka gave him a quick glance, but provided no reply.

The gates before them started drawing upward, and slowly Ryoma could hear loud noises from the other side. He suddenly felt sick as he saw glimpses of what lay beyond the gates and walls.

"What is that?!" he muttered quickly to Tezuka on his right.

"Your welcoming subjects," Tezuka replied. He coughed again to suppress the smile that threatened his face.

As their troop marched inside, the path before them was lined with hundreds of people, chanting out for Ryoma. They waved their arms and beamed their faces with smiles as his horse passed them.

"Hail to the prince!"

"His Highness, the majestic one!"

"Seigaku is finally saved!"

"The saviour's here! Long live Ohjisama!"

Ryoma cringed and decided to keep his eyes focused on the road before him. The more he took in his surroundings, the more overwhelmed he felt.

Finally, after some time, they came upon a huge castle. At the bottom of the castle steps stood three gentlemen, seemingly awaiting his arrival as well. As soon as he dismounted the horse, Tezuka led him towards the small group.

They all took a knee before him and kept their heads bowed low.

"That's really not necessary," Ryoma said, annoyed. This royalty stuff is really starting to wear on him.

The furthest one to the left gave a slight chuckle and rose up.

"Saa."

He definitely was shorter than Tezuka's 179cm frame. He was more like Ryoma's 164cm height. Okay, more like 167cm, if Ryoma wanted to be truthful about it. He had light brown hair and kept his eyes closed.

"Fuji Syuusuke, my liege," the man before Ryoma introduced himself. "From the Bielefeld faction, your loyal supporters." He opened his eyes and gave Ryoma a direct stare. "Welcome, Ohjisama."

The cerulean blue eyes that bore through Ryoma bothered him. Also, Ryoma couldn't help but notice the slight sarcasm he heard in the man's voice as he addressed him.

The one next to Fuji suddenly launched himself at Ryoma and gave him a glomp.

"Hoi-Hoi! Fuji's so serious! Nevermind him, Ochibi!"

Ryoma didn't like this redheaded glomper one bit.

"I'm Kikumaru Eiji, from the Christos faction!"

"Eiji!" Oishi shouted from behind. "Don't glomp His Majesty! He just arrived!"

"Sorry, sorry Ochibi!" He backed out his 171cm frame and bowed several times before Ryoma. "Welcome, Ochibi Ohjisama!"

Ryoma groaned.

The third one, next to Eiji, also wore eyeglasses like Tezuka. At 184cm, he was, however, taller than Tezuka. "I am Inui Sadaharu. From the Elisiore faction, also your loyal supporters."

"Where are Momoshiro, Kaidoh, and Kawamura?" Tezuka asked Inui.

"They are currently in the city, providing security and ensuring that chaos does not ruin our Prince's arrival," Inui explained. "They will be back later tonight. I will make sure they have an audience with the Prince when they arrive."

"Very well," Tezuka said. He turned to Ryoma. "Your Excellen-"

"I said call me Ryoma." Ryoma shot him a look of frustration.

Fuji cocked an eyebrow.

"Ryoma," Tezuka repeated uncomfortably, "please follow me this way. I will escort you to your bedchamber so you may get some rest."

Ryoma sighed and just followed after him without another word.

He has had a very long, weird day after all.

---

TBC