Hiyas! It's the next chapter, two days late! I'm sorry but the only computer that could go online was somewhere far away, helping my parents with some presentation.


Mt. Reikaku

Ryuuka readjusted the white cloth bag over her shoulders. She looked impatiently at the two bandits who were somehow behind her.

"And you call yourselves men?" Ryuuka asked, irritated, "I have to actually wait for you!" She was picking her way through one of the steeper parts of the mountain, the part that was the "wolf's throat." There wasn't even a trail there because the ground comes very close to upside down at one point. The entire way up the mountain is close to 90 degrees to the ground. Unlike Kouji and Genrou, who were desperately trying not to look very pathetic at the moment, Ryuuka was walking along as if she were on flat ground. Does she have spikes on the bottoms of her boots? They wondered.

What the currently sad-looking bandits didn't know was that Ryuuka was born with all the abilities of a cat. She could climb steep things, including trees, without breaking a sweat, withstand harsh, unyielding heat, talk to cats, jump almost twice her own height without extra boost, and had good hearing, very good sense of smell (she once identified the book a friend of hers borrowed from the library a month before she came in contact with it just from its scent), very good eyesight (AN: this I do not have), and a lot of other things that "normal" people do not have access to. Of course, being born as a human, Ryuuka could swim and did not have hairballs because she does not clean herself with her tongue. Nor was she covered in fur. Also, like Genrou, Ryuuka had long, sharp canines.

"Are you sure you're a girl?" Genrou muttered weakly after he stopped panting like a dog. "I can't believe she's of the same species as my ma." He paused, and corrected himself. "I mean gender." Then he glanced at a part of the thin, athletic girl where he shouldn't be looking at. "Never mind. But at least I can be safe from 'breast attacks.'" Genrou could easily climb the mountain at much faster rates, but he didn't want to lose the other two. This wasn't the first time he had to climb this trail.

"Excuse me?" Ryuuka asked warningly.

"…"

Kouji was panting a lot less, because his head was filled with strange pictures of small rubber (if that existed back then) ducks and little pink flowers. No he did not faint. It's just been so long since he last saw a girl who was not obviously in love with Genrou nor a demon. A girl who didn't look so much like a pig. He almost shuddered at the thought of that woman he had to help over a small creek at the foot of the mountain. He had felt the blubber droop and spread on his skin.

"See, your friend here is having a lot less trouble keeping up!" Ryuuka was saying to Genrou. After a while, the three teenagers climbed to the bandits' stronghold. The ground was much more flat and Genrou circled in front of Ryuuka with his speed.

"Hold on."

"What?" Ryuuka asked impatiently, "What can you expect me to do? I already know you hate women."

"I don't care if you're female," Genrou replied. "We can't let you just wander into the stronghold." He smirked slightly. "Who knows if you're a spy? You act less like a girl than—"

He was going to say Reirei, but he saw a quick flash of pain in Kouji's eyes. Also, he just couldn't bring himself to say that name again. Besides, it was partially his fault she died.

"Reirei?" Ryuuka asked as the other two gaped.

"How the hell does she know so much?" The two whispered to each other at the same time. Ryuuka apparently caught it.

"'Cause I just do. Got a problem with that?"

As the bandits stared in slight amazement, Ryuuka looked even more impatient than before. She squatted down and sprung into the highest jump she's ever made, and in her confusion crashed down right on top of Genrou.

"Damn!" She swore, "I was going to clear that giant tree that fell right there. I swear that was at least seven times my height!" (AN: cats can jump up to seven times their height, standing normally. This means a full-grown cat can jump onto a refrigerator with not a lot of ease, but they could still do it.) Ryuuka sat up and knew instantly this was the least graceful thing she's ever done. And also that there was something under her. She got up and allowed Genrou to get up as well. "Well wasn't that embarrassing!" She laughed uneasily, sweatdropping and her forehead going blue.

Later, the threesome arrived. Before Ryuuka could do anything, Kouji started yelling to himself. "Knock knock!

"Who's there?

"It's Kouji, with the leader and—"

"Do me a favor, and don't continue," Ryuuka said in an exasperated voice. Tasuki opened the gates, and Ryuuka invited herself in. "Wow! It looks even cooler than I ever imagined!" She exclaimed, losing all of her impatience.

All of the bandits inside quieted down at once. A few were smirking, and a lot more were undressing her with their eyes. "Whatcha got there?" One of them said, leering, "Someone we could play with?" Ryuuka slapped her own forehead with her right palm. She opened her bag and took out an instant camera thingy whose name I forgot.

Ryuuka whirled around for the second time that day. "Smile!" Kouji and Genrou automatically posed. "Finally, I get my own picture of these two. And right in front of the open gates, too! This is so cool! All the other pictures I have of them are from the internet which means that at least fifty other people have at least seen it before." Genrou looked at the colored picture suspiciously, and suddenly started yelling.

"That's not me! That one's a fake! I' m the real me! Me and me alone! There's no other me! Never! Yagh!" He yelled, swiveling his head from side to side as he looked at the picture then at Ryuuka and Kouji, who had slithered up to her get a better look at the camera and the photo. Yes I'm half-plagiarizing the manga. Got a problem widdat?

"What is this thing?" Kouji inquired, "It doesn't look like anything I've ever seen before. Believe me. A lot of people accidentally pass here when they get lost with rare and expensive things."

"I'm not from around here," Ryuuka responded, which was the definite truth. "This thing is sort of like…it makes pictures of the person or thing captured in the light that comes out of this end. It should be the mercury. You don't need to know what that is, just that this thing makes portrait-like things. You better know what those are."

"Yeah I do. That explains what Genrou and I are doing in that flat sheet thing. It's apparently a lot more accurate than anyone I met who paints portraits." Ryuuka smiled up at him. Kouji was a lot nicer than she expected! A lot taller, too. She was one of the taller ones in her class back home, and she still has to look up at this very good-looking blue-haired bandit.

"Oops! Did I forget to tell you my name?" Ryuuka grinned. "Silly me. I'm Ryuuka Tamura, from eastern Hong-Nan."

"The border with Kutou?" Kouji exclaimed. (Genrou: 'Scuse me?) "Those are a really heartless bunch, from what I've heard."

"How dare you ignore me, your great and powerful leader?" Genrou yelled in a mockingly angry voice. "Who do you think you are, just coming in here like—like—like…?" He suddenly couldn't think of what to say to Ryuuka. "Who gave you permission to do whatever you want? You're still supposed to pay us a toll, coming in our mountain without permission! You don't look poor so don't use that excuse."

"Shouldn't you be lookin' for something?" Ryuuka asked innocently. Genrou's hands automatically reached for his tessen. It wasn't there. Genrou's face went into an anime version of The Scream.

"WHERE'S MY TESSEN?!" Genrou went a little white.

Ryuuka reached behind her and took the iron fan out too slowly for Genrou's liking. "I believe Hakurou would have been much more careful with his treasure?

"How the hell do you know everything that goes on here?" Genrou inquired. "Our names, the routes, Reirei, and now even Leader!" (Kouji: He told you not to call him that a bit before his death.) "What don't you know!"

"Hmm…I don't know Knei-Gong's real name. Not that I care anyway." Kouji looked slightly insulted. Ryuuka tried to ignore that. But, like she always does on instinct, she started the "Owarinai Sorries." (AN: I don't know what "apology" is in Japanese. I think it's "gomen," but that's obviously not the noun version.) Kouji looked slightly taken aback at the redhead's sudden flood of apologies.

Tasuki looked like he just wanted to shut the girl up and kick her out. Ryuuka, being the very bright girl that she is, noticed that he did not want to stare at her face all day and said, "Do you mind if I go outside for a bit of fresh air, Hou Jun-Yu?" (AN: I know this is a lot of ANs, but in case you actually care how I obtained Genrou's Chinese name, well, I got it from an originally Japanese manga. I can't read Japanese, only Chinese! Or kanji. It's the Japanese adapted version of Chinese, but they don't really change too much.)

This time Tasuki didn't even bother to look surprised, and put a finger to his temple. "Go, just go already."


Ryuuka looked at Kouji again and jumped onto the branch of a tree. " I'm going to try this again first," she declared.

She was able to control how she landed this time. Ryuuka realized that coming into the world of the manga had given her the power to jump higher than she's ever jumped before. Then Ryuuka did a few back flips in mid-air and hopped off, landing on her feet just as a cat would. Only she had two feet and the weight was not as equally spread out. "Ouch," she muttered. Seven times five-foot-nine was not very close to the ground. Small shock waves shot through her body, visible to outsiders. "Gotta work on that sometime." Ryuuka wobbled, staggered, and fell flat on her face. "Ouch again." Her voice was muffled since her face was buried in the dirt. Kouji hurried over and pulled her face out of the ground.

"You okay? Never mind that. You don't look so okay." Ryuuka grinned sheepishly.

"Hah ha. You really don't have to follow me out here. I'm fifteen already," Ryuuka laughed weakly, still trying to recover from the shock and pain. "Yeah you're three years older than me. Still doesn't mean I'm helpless."

"Why don't you try that later when your feet stop stinging?"

"Alright I will. I just don't understand why you care so much."


I got really bored when I was typing this last part. Maybe next time I won't write so many ANs, so sorry if it annoyed you and let me know if it did. Please bear with my grammar and stuff, because English sure ain't my first language. Let me know if it was boring, and let me know if you want me to change anything. Suggestions are welcomed! So please review. Thank you.