Disclaimer

Hikaru no Go isn't mine, the characters aren't mine, the original idea isn't mine. I only add up the spices and hoping the taste would come out delicious.


Amidst the green surroundings of Middle East, one figure came out from the shadow of the trees. His clothes were dull and worn-out. His face which was hidden by the shadow seemed so pale. But when he was coming out to the light and smiling, no one will notice that dull, neither that pale. No, anyone would have felt the change in the atmosphere as fast as the cloud blown by the wind, so that the sun wouldn't be hidden anymore. The sun-colored bangs framed his face and the black hair, tied by a white tie and blown by the wind, was only complimenting it all. His eyes were big and green, reflecting a mysterious, unknown dark-green somewhere.

He then touched a noticeable red earring on his left ear and the smile was even brighter.

"At last… I came here… Sai…"

The last phrase of the sentence was carried by the northern wind.


It was dark, cloudy, and stormy night when he was born. The wind was strong than never was nature had showed before or after, and the rain was terribly strong, becoming more and more like raging squall by every second. The howling sound filled the air and houses kept crackling until they could be heard by the entire kingdom. The rich forest was participating by shaking its every leaves. Every single animal was nervous and hiding at their safe, warm nests. And every person in the land entered their houses and prayed to the Ryuu-ou, he-who-controlled the wind and the rain.

Touya Akiko didn't give birth to his son by ease.

It was long hours for her husband, Touya Kouyo, who was waiting for her and their coming son in the same room. A night before he had a very strange dream. He didn't remember it, but he knew that dream was very important, and it had something to do with his soon-to-be son. He knew very well that the power to change the weather or to lessen the pain his wife endured was well within his hands, but he didn't do anything to interfere. He didn't dare to, because as well as he knew how far his power could make the difference, even the single bits could alter one's destiny. And it could very well be his son's, as it was signed by the feeling he had after his previous dream.

So he was just silently watching and ordered the same for his wife's mother, who was there to help the birth, some of his students who helped guarding the front door, and his shikigamis.

However, a man suddenly came that night. Dressed in onmyou-styled clothes, that man was very beautiful. But Touya Kouyou couldn't feel his presence neither sense his aura; it was like a ghost from netherworld. No one knew where he came from, who he really was, or even why he came in the first place. It was even just a vague memory of Touya Kouyo's, and he strongly suspected that he only remembered because of his expertise and the power of his magic, because no one remembered anyone coming. As one of the strongest onmyouji in his time, he should have felt if someone or something from the Spirit world appeared. But he didn't feel anything about the gate to that otherworld being formed, or vanished. The stranger became more mysterious as the time went by.

Touya Kouyo still thought about it sometimes, but the more he thought of it, the more he couldn't grasp the memory. All he knew that right after the appearance, the process was quick and blurry. The baby was born, and the sound of baby's cry was exhilarating. The younger woman in that room was exhausted from the pregnancy, but she was content to bear with it and very, very happy to at least held her son at her own hand.

At that time, nobody realized that the beautiful man had gone, or that the storm had stopped. But they somehow were astonished by the moonlight, shining to the newborn baby, and the brightest stroke was shining right at the balling hands on his chest.

No one opened those hands – as no one could be – for days. But when they could check it at last, in it was a soft colored stone, like the color of moonlight. Only the insides always move in green and blue shades. Many believed it was caused by the light, but some people noticed that it was like a storm. Like the storm from that night was trapped inside the ball. Touya Kouyo placed that stone on a threaded pocket and always put it around his son's neck.

Akira never knew the story of his birth, though.


Touya Akiko knocked the wooden part of the door. The night had been warmer than the previous months of winter, and the moonlight was shining brightly. In this middle of the night, everyone should be asleep by now, but not her dear son.

There was no answer from the room she knocked, so she knocked again and called, "Akira-kun?"

She could hear the sound of movement, then the door was sliding open, revealing the person behind it. "Mother?" the person whose face she knew so well appeared.

"Yes, Akira-kun," while excusing herself, she stepped inside. "It's already midnight. Why don't you rest?"

"Just a little longer, Mother. I promise I won't wake up late, but I need to read more…" Akira shifted his eyes, stubbornly. His voice trailed off.

Akiko sighed. "You and your father. Both of you are always drowning in the book and magic practices. Hh…" She sighed and shook her head in an affectionate disbelief.

Akira only smiled hearing his mother's comment. He couldn't deny it anyway.

And then his mother placed both of her hands on Akira's cheeks. "Well, then. Just remember to rest once awhile, alright?"

Akira touched the hand on his right cheek softly. He smiled. "Yes, Mother."

"Remember to have enough, or I will forbid you to read scrolls again if you drop sick, alright?" Touya Akiko returned her son's smile and gave him her last message before stepping out the room. Both men in her life sure were stubborn, and she knew it too well, so she didn't even bother to persuade her son. "Akira sure is growing these past 16 years…" she hummed. She recalled the time when their eyes were still at the same line, comparing to the difference now, and closing the door to the study room Akira had been using.

These oh-so-familiar thoughts made her a bit lonely.


Akira still felt the lingered warmth on his cheek. He sighed. He knew that his mother was worried of his workaholic behavior lately, but he couldn't help it. Not now, when those scrolls' content was getting more intense.

Now that Akira thought about it, his family had always been onmyouji as far as the family history recorded. Also, the current head of the family, his father himself, was a Meijin, one of the highest ranks in magic world. His family also practically lived in a temple, on a hill at the east side of the Palace.

About a month ago, he already finished the basic and advanced shikigami test by his father. It was a bit hard to materialize the shikigami into another shape aside from that of human's, but he succeeded nonetheless. Before telling him what the next stage of his study was, his father, Touya Meijin, told him that he was having an important mission given by the Dai Tenno himself to check a strange occurrence in North-East. It seemed that a portal to the spirit world was opened, and it was a strange matter, since almost no portal was opened for the last decade. The only onmyouji who could deal with portal matter were an onmyouji at his father's level or had had the qualification to be at his father's level.

Then his father suddenly entrusted him to make the kekkai for the library, thus entrusted himself with the library. It wasn't like he never came to the library before, but it was so sudden that he became cautious. And then Touya Meijin told Akira to read the ancient scrolls about Ryuu-ou.

Came back to where he sat before, Akira looked at the pile of scrolls he had read and he hadn't read yet. The kanji and sentence forms were very old. And while he wasn't a stranger with those kanjis, he wasn't really familiar with it either. So even for a scroll at one meter's length, he needed at least three hours to completely read that. If only there were only short-length scrolls. Like, five meter scrolls were very common in compare with those.

The dim light from Glowing Stone imported from South was enough for him to continue his leisure in reading at night, not to mention the bright moonlight.

The moonlight. Akira loved the soft, pale green glowing of the moon, while reading. With the sound of bamboo pile knocking the stone in a beautiful rhythm, and water flowing, he could stand reading even for many nights, non-stop. But of course, his mother would never allow him to.

And he had lost count of the scrolls he had read.

He already concluded that according to many sources, Ryuu-ou could be associated with either the four guardians or the original three elder gods. And somehow, he believed the three ones deep in his heart more than the four guardians. He was fascinated by the Three's legends, but something was off. He could find a lot of scrolls about Ryuu-ou, as it was the most worshiped god in this land, and sometimes Kirin appeared, though not going too much into details. But Ho-ou was rather difficult to find.

He found a line that, "The Ho-ou is often intimately associated with the Ryuu. The two are portrayed either as mortal enemies or as blissful lovers. When shown together, the two symbolize both conflict and wedded bliss." But other than that, there were none related topics to the Ho-ou either. He didn't quite understand the reason, because if Ho-ou was so important with Ryuu-ou, then why was it so hard to find?

Even the line, "portrayed either as mortal enemies or as blissful lovers, both conflict and wedded bliss" was very confusing. How can one be portrayed as mortal enemies and blissful lovers with another at the same time? He had been thinking about it, and only found himself in a stronger urge to know more about Ho-ou and Ryuu. Their connection. Their relation. Their part in the history and legends.

And then right before his mother knocked the door, he found one short scroll, about two meters long, with the two first large kanji representing "Ho-ou". He turned out so excited, somehow, and he was carefully opening the scroll, wanting to savor every word written on it.

"Ho-ou often represented fire, the sun, justice, obedience, and fidelity. Ho-ou appears very rarely, and only mark in the beginning of a new era. This mythical bird appears only in peaceful and prosperous times, and hides itself when there is trouble. As the herald of a new age, the Ho-ou descends from heaven to do good deeds, and then it returns to its celestial abode to wait a new era."

"In many respects, there are much confusion between Ho-ou and Suzaku."

He knew Suzaku, the guardian of South. Suzaku is the red bird and has a fire element, so it wasn't a weird thing they have so many resemblances.

"Ho-ou can sing in the sweetest musical melody in the five original harmonic notes, and it is said that their tune was the basis for ancient musical scale."

Sweet melody… Akira wondered how the melodies would sound like. He was so captivated in his thoughts to not realizing that the scroll had reached its end.

He sighed, and re-tied the scroll. How come that he was so captured by the Ho-ou? Although it was indeed suspicious, that the entity as large as Ho-ou came very rarely in the literature. Not to mention that it was so important in its relations with Ryuu-ou too.

Akira would like to research some more, but the image of his mother repeatedly showed up in his mind. He sighed contentedly with a hint of smile. He never wanted to disappoint his mother.

As he walked to his room after he built the kekkai for the library, the moon shone to Akira and he himself. His black hair reflected the green light, shining a beautiful dark green color.

But he didn't realise it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The dream was surreal.

"…"

The silhouette stood up before him. The air was tense.

"…-dono…"

He could feel the magic pressure the figure had. It was so strong he hardly breathed, rivaling his father's, whenever Touya Meijin opened his inner conscious.

"…Akira-dono…"

Akira felt the air scratched, pierced him like a thousand swords.

Who was this shadow?

The figure smiled, Akira could feel it. He could almost see the face...

..Almost…

The hair was long, and the ear… it had an earring pierced onto. And the lips were moving, shaping a word, or a name. Akira tried hard to listen.

"…Akira-dono…"

"Wake up, Akira-dono."

Akira brought back to the real world. He felt his body shaken repeatedly by someone. He moved his gaze to the left, where he felt a presence.

"…Isora?"

The young man sighed gratefully and smiled. "It's so rare for you to wake up this late," Isora added with a slight worry.

"I apologize. It was so rare too for me to dream like that," Akira answered, reassured the young man beside him.

"What was the dream about?" Isora asked as he gave the casual yukata for Akira to change.

For a while, Akira only exchanged the cloth he wore without talking.

"It was about…"

Isora waited patiently.

"I can't remember," Akira admitted as he tried to relive the dream.

Isora smiled as he helped Akira tied his obi. "Then it must be an important dream."

Akira chuckled and said, "Why did you say that?"

"Just a hunch… was what I wanted to say, but you won't be satisfied with that, right?" Isora said. Akira was done with the clothes, so he started to tidy the remaining clothes. "You still remember the image, but you don't remember the overall details. When the time comes, the prophecy or anything which had shown up in the dream would appear, but you won't remember where it came from. There'll be another time when you remember," he said mysteriously. And then Isora nodded to Akira. "The breakfast is almost ready. Your mother is waiting for you in the dining room," he said and then left.

Akira thanked Isora, and drowned in his own thoughts. He tried to remember the dream, but it was so vague. All he could remember was a shadow, with a presence of a very strong magical power, and a name voiced out.

Sai, yes, he thought it was the name.

Sai…

"Akira-kun, do you know that your father will come home soon?" asked Touya Akiko. She cleaned the plates and bowls which were already used for the breakfast.

Akira drank his warm green tea, and replied, "Is that true, Mother?"

"Yes," she answered without looking at her son, and started to wipe the dishes, "Last night a shikigami told me. Your father is on the way home," then she sighed and placed her right hand on her cheek before continued, "Why does he always use the manual way? It's not that hard to just warp into his own home, isn't it?"

Akira blinked. "Well, Father has always been strict to everyone. His pupil, his acquaintances, his family… but he is strict to himself the most," he said amusedly.

"But he is a member of the Council, isn't it? Surely he can use his authority to break some rules…" Touya Akiko knew that this conversation didn't go anywhere, but this pent up feeling inside her needed to be out, even if it was by whining to her only son.

Akira placed the now cold glass at the table. "I think the fact only make him even stricter to himself. Father always tells me not to misuse the magic, and reduce using it as much as I can, except for exercises. That's just the way he is."

"Ara… But he is also strict to you, his own son. He always pushed the importance of control with you…" the sound trailed off. Her face was turning up red; embarrassed for unclear reason, and hurriedly changed the subject, "Oh, the sun is already high. I have to tell one of the shikigami to repair the outer wall of the south side… I apologize. Excuse me, Akira-kun."

And after Akira nodded at her too, she went quickly, although not brashly. Akira left out one-two chuckles. Did his mother peek when he was practicing with his father?

He stood up and walked to the outside while thinking about control. Yes, his father always pushes the importance of control to him. Now when he thought about it, his father never this "pushy" to his own pupils, then why was he different? He sensed there were something more than just being father and son.

The door slid out and he was stepping at the outside when he realized that Isora was already waiting for him.

"Master," called Isora.

Akira frowned. Isora had been his subordinate for years, but Akira always thought that their relationship had grown into something which resembled brotherhood, or close family. Isora had never called him "Master" for years. It must be something very important. "What is it?"

"We have to talk in a quiet place."

Now that was weird. Akira thought the whole temple was quiet enough that one could hear a pin dropped in the opposite side of the temple. With naked ears.

As if being able to read what were in his master's mind, Isora added, "Where there could be no other ears or eyes."

Akira nodded, now considering his subordinate's words seriously. He looked at the man with his iconic sharp eye, "I understand. Let's enter the library. I'm putting up several layers of kekkai before we talk."

He walked first, and Isora followed him without making any noises. When they were reaching the library, he asked if Isora would enter before him; he had to put up the kekkai. Isora followed that without asking further questions, and entered the library.

Now, because the library was near the center of the house, it was not that far to the Tree. It was a big, hundreds years old tree. The branches resembled dragons, flying and reaching for the sky. And it was the center of all magic flow in this whole temple. Except for some technical issues, you have to build a kekkai to any part of the temple from this tree.

Akira stepped and reached the Tree. He placed his hand onto the Tree and closed his eyes.

He could feel it, as he opened his inner conscious, layer by layer, and seeing the flows. He could even feel the presence of a great, old spirit—although only pulsing silently and calmly—within the Kusanoki tree itself. After asking for permission by touching the tree's aura with his – and receiving none rejection, he began to build a kekkai repeatedly, strengthening the existing kekkai; imbued it with his own power. Within the tree, he also could sense any magical power—if existed—in the temple. There were several his father's shikigami. Some of them were sweeping at the front yard. Two of them were with his mother at the south.

…And a great presence was in the library. It had black-colored aura, and formed a human shape – the presence was so controlled it was so dense and thick black. Akira even predicted that the magical power was suppressed. He tried to ignore the fact for the time being, and started tilting his inner eyes upwards.

The sky was clear; there weren't many clouds, but it would be within several hours. The rain—not snow—was one of the signs of the coming spring; that, and several of his father's shikigami were heating the snow in the temple. They wouldn't do that before the air was filled with the change of a season's warmth. Too much energy would be wasted if there weren't enough warmth to be used at the melting process of the snow.

After the preparations, Akira walked to the library, and then shut the door close. He set up the light and sat down in front of the Isora. Isora had already been there, sitting politely with his feet folded and his eyes closed.

"I'm sorry it's a bit messy. I've been reading about Ryuu-ou," Akira started, knowing fully well that the person in front of him would not start a conversation.

Isora gave a small nod. "I know. Your father has consulted that to me first."

That was weird. He barely saw Isora talked to anyone except him, but his father had actually been consulting something with Isora? Furthermore, it was about him?

But Akira couldn't bring himself to talk or ask something about it.

When a few seconds have passed without neither of them starting a conversation, suddenly Isora opened his eyes and started talking.

"Master, I have to start from asking you a very important question."

"Go on," said Akira.

"Do you know who you really are?"

In the dim light, Akira said nothing. What was it with the sudden question?

"Alright, then, you didn't have to answer. Now the next question is: do you now who is the real me?" asked Isora, with such straight eyes.

Akira didn't hesitate to answer this one. "You are a person who has always been with me since I was little, claimed that you are my subordinate since I can remember, and serve me well," he replied. "But then, I often think about your look that never changes. It just like you are not…" he trailed off. The next words just didn't feel quite right to be openly voiced.

"That's because I'm not," said Isora. Akira gave him a puzzled look, almost could feel the smile in the other man's voice. "I'm not human."

Akira didn't seem to be surprised; he had felt it since a long time ago. He nodded. "I pretty much suspect that. But how did you get under Father's watch?"

"Once in a long, long time ago, Master told me that I shouldn't tell you this before you know by yourself. But many signs have appeared before you, calling and reaching the time which almost comes, and Master should be prepared…" Isora left it hanging, trailed off before continuing anything.

The heir of Touya family tried hard to remember. Akira shook his head and looked into Isora's eyes. Those eyes were like sea… similar to his own eyes – but when Akira's eyes was a poetic combination of sky blue, sea aquamarine, and moon green, Akira could practically see the sea mirroring his subordinate's eyes – with the waves repeatedly slapped the shore, the white foams were formed, and the salty air...

Once again, he shook his head, tried to focus. "I couldn't recall that I have told you to do that before."

"You will remember, but I suppose it does not mean this exact time…" And suddenly, Isora smiled, "I came here when you were only several days old. I was supposed to come to you when you were born, but the magical power of the Council was a bit stronger than I thought. And I had to come without being noticed."

Akira wanted to ask what his subordinate meant, but he guessed that it was better to let Isora finished the story.

"And then, I arrived. At first, I thought I had to explain everything to your family, especially the representation, who was by any means your father. Not the whole thing, of course, only the proper basics. But when I met your father, they weren't necessary at all," he said, "Your father said that as long as I don't interfere with his duties as a father, he won't ask or disturb our relationship either."

What duties Father has as a father? What is our relationship? Akira tried hard to focus. But Isora said too many things at once. Too many familiar yet never unheard before things. They never touched this subject before. Scratch that, Akira never even knew Isora and his father had had any civil conversations before.

"I remember when I was younger; there are several occasions that I couldn't hold my tears any longer. You're the only one who could find me and somehow stopped me from crying any longer. I am grateful for that," said Akira, recalling any unique past events he shared with his guardian.

Isora smiled at that and said, "It is my duty. The sky turned into storm whenever you were crying."

"Yes. I wonder how such a coincidence always happens like that." Akira didn't notice the change of expression at the face of his subordinate, like Isora wanted to tell Akira something.

"The stone on your neck…" Isora said after swallowing whatever it was that he wanted to say at first.

Akira's hand reached the inner side of his yukata, showing the ever soft-glowing stone. "Oh… this? I remember it always glows brighter whenever I'm crying."

The hand on Isora's lap was clutching tightly, Akira noticed, as to assured himself. "Many people said that a very great storm was trapped inside and sealed by the stone."

"I believe that too. It's such a magical stone," Akira replied to that statement.

Isora was looking straight into Akira's eyes and said, "That is the fact, but not the whole truth. The truth is that the stone was sealed by the storm. Because if it was not, the light would be too bright, as it was the Tide Jewel, one of undeniable signs that you are the-"


A young man walked in the outer south side of town.

"I'm hungry…" he growled. No, scratch that, his stomach growled. He didn't have any money, but it was so hard to ignore his stomach's biological needs. It had been a few days since he ate anything proper.

The children in the road were playing cat and mouse, running after one and another. Their parents must have permitted for them to go outside because the weather was warmer than before.

The spring had come indeed.

Many people went outside to their rice fields and gardens to till the ground and sow the seeds. The whole surroundings were green, and some sakura buds showed in their trees' branches.

"Kyahahaha… a!"

BUMP!

The young man almost fell backwards, but he only lost his balance for a while and stood straight almost immediately.

"Gomen, ne… onii-chan, daijoubu?"

A little girl, couldn't be more than five, was something which disturbing his balance. He just wouldn't. Ever. Mention this to anyone.

"Aa… I'm alright," he said and smiled.

For a second, the girl was stunned by his smile. It was indeed beautiful, rivaling the morning sun peeking from eastern hills. Anybody would think that the sun was the one imitating his brightness, and not the otherwise.

Then he asked with a very pathetic face, "Little girl, do you have any fooooood…?"

And the "spell" was broken. The little girl now realised how dirty his clothes and his body and his face, how rusty his sandals, and how messy his hair was. She now cried, "Maaamaaa…!"

"Sh… sh… little girl, don't cry, ne?" His hand wanted to reach the girl to make her calm, but the girl ran away somewhere.

He sighed. Was his appearance that scary?

While thinking of that, he walked, once again to the even outer side of the town. He arrived in a small branch of river, and tried to wash up his dirty face. The mirror image from the river showed his face.

"Uwaaahh… so dirty… no wonder that little girl was screaming. Why not screaming from the first time she saw me, that's a question," he said to himself. He seemed to be used to talk to himself alone.

He washed the face, the hand, and the hair. He took the white tie off his hair, and then combed his hair by his own finger. It was a bit sticky, but for an instance it wasn't so messy anymore. He slipped a few of his sun-colored bangs behind his ears, and washed his face once more, brushed it harder than before.

In the exact time, his stomach growled again.

"Arrrghh… I want rameeeeennn! A bowl of hot ramen! Why can't I get even just that one! GAH!"

Then a face appeared before him.

But he already lost his consciousness.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It was warm.

The sound of something knocked into wood in a rhythm was calming. Maybe a knife?

Slowly, he opened his eyes. His tongue tasted funny. It tasted like the smell surrounded him. Herbal. Ew.

He didn't know whether he voiced that "Ew" or what, but it seemed to be like that, since the sound of the knife stopped and a voice reached his ears, "Oh, you've woken up?"

He forcefully snapped his eyes open, and asked, "Where am I?"

"Um… you're at… the south district of Kyo. I found you unconscious near the bank of the small river. You're practically exhausted," a young man answered and began to cut something again.

"Oh, well…" He tried to rise and bring his body to wake up and positioned himself as he sat down, wincing from the dizziness in his head.

"What's your name? My name is Tsutsui Kimihiro."

He scratched the top of his head before answered, "Shindou. Shindou Hikaru."

"Shindou-kun. My father is a doctor, but he's out to a patient. So I'm replacing him," Hikaru jerked off to that statement, "Eheheh… don't worry, I'm experienced. And it's not hard to make a potion for relieving the stamina. But, I think what you really need the most now-"

Hikaru's stomach growled again. Tsutsui chuckled.

"-is food. Here," finished Tsutsui whilst giving Hikaru a bowl of rice gruel. "I'm sorry it's not ramen."

Hikaru shifted his body unconsciously, slightly embarrassed. "You heard that."

"Well, you practically yelled it."

Hikaru took a spoon of the white almost-liquid before his nose. It smelled like some herbal.

"I added some medicine," said Tsutsui like he knew what Hikaru was thinking about. Hikaru's eyes were fixed upon the food he was going to eat. He wanted to throw it away, but one's hospitality shouldn't be wasted.

"Gulp… Itadakimasu," Hikaru determined to be respectful.

He didn't expect it to be tasty. But it was. In no time he had emptied the bowl. Tsutsui took the bowl and gave him another one.

"It's great," Hikaru mumbled. The rice gruel slipped through his throat easily.

"Mom's recipe. I have some more, so eat until you're full."

Hikaru complied without hesitation.

Tsutsui only put the dishes somewhere in the kitchen. Maybe he would clean up later, Hikaru thought.

"Woah! Those are really nice, thanks!" chirped Hikaru.

"You're welcome. By the way, where do you come from?"

Hikaru used a small grass as a toothpick. Wait. Where did it come from? Hikaru looked at his side. Ugh. It was one of the herbs.

"I'm from southwest, near the mountain range. I was on my journey when I reached this town and passed out."

"Why don't you hunt a bird or a wild rabbit when you're in journey? There are plenty of them now that it's already warm," asked Tsutsui.

The two-tone haired boy looked at his hands. "I don't feel well to kill any animal with my own two hands."

"Do you only eat veggies and fruits?" Tsutsui asked.

"Of course not!" Hikaru barked, laugh touching his eyes and mouth's corner. "I love ramen. Beef, pork, chicken, miso, oh! The seafood one is unusual, but tasty, also…" and the list continued.

Tsutsui groaned softly, though ignored by Hikaru, until the glassed one lifted his left palm in front of Hikaru's face. "…okay, stop. I understand, there's no need to hear them all. So you can eat meat but you cannot kill for food," Tsutsui managed to extract Hikaru's list in a sentence. Hikaru nodded, looking at Tsutsui as he repositioned his eyeglass and asked, "Why do you come here? You're young yet travel alone this far. From mountain range in south to this Kyo is rather far, don't you think? Where's your family?"

"Whoa, whoa! That's too many questions at once!" Hikaru groaned. He looked at Tsutsui's fixated eyes and sighed. "Let me answer one by one," Hikaru sprawled his body on the mattress and started replying, "The Shindou is still in south, and I don't travel alone before these past months. There's a clan that worshiped Kirin took me on their journey, and when they reached a large river crossed our road, we took separate way. I can't imagine how your lithe body could took me up here too, so don't say I'm too young, okay?"

Tsutsui took and put up the glasses which fell down when Hikaru talked, and said, "I'm not the one who brought you up here! It's my friend Kaga, but he left before you regain your consciousness, and –"

"First!" cut someone, "You have a small body too, Stranger. Second! I don't remember you ever be my friend, Tsutsui, and third! Never demand me to search some medicinal herb again with your poor drawings!" the one who came thundered and thumped a piece of paper against Tsutsui's chest. It almost fell down, but Hikaru reached it.

And he looked at the picture in it. Some abstract lines from ink were splattered across the paper, forming supposedly branches and leaves. The abstract ones. "Err… what is this?"

"It's this one fool's drawings. And he wished me, the Great Kaga, to find an herb like this! How can it be! I need thousands of lucks before I could find it!"

"Kaga, you've met Shindou Hikaru, and Shindou-kun, this is Kaga," said Tsutsui, introducing each other.

Kaga grunted, "I've met! You mean I've wasted my energy to bring him here!"

Hikaru chose to ignore the protest and offering his bright smile to the redhead, "Thanks! You've helped me!".

"...well." Kaga's mood seemed better when he opened his paper fan and used it at himself. "I accept your gratitude."

"Shindou-kun, where will you stay in this town?" asked Tsutsui, who practically ignored the presence of Kaga, back into focusing on the new stranger in his house. Not that it was rare.

"I don't know," Hikaru shrugged.

"Eh? I thought you already… Don't you have any relations here?" Tsutsui asked again.

Hikaru shook his head, "Nope. It's the… first… time I've been here."

Something's off, Tsutsui thought. He seems hesitating for a while before said "first". If that's the case, well then…

"Why don't you stay here? You don't have to pay. You're still my patient anyway," said Tsutsui.

"Eh? Can I! Thank you so much!" Hikaru shouted happily, pulled Tsutsui's hands and moved it up and down. Tsutsui smiled it off and told him that it was fine.

Kaga bent closer to Hikaru and whispered, "Be careful. You're the first patient Tsutsui ever had, and it seems that he wants to do his experiments to you."

"Eeeehhh!"

"Kaga!" Tsutsui shouted, blushed to his hair roots.

Hikaru laughed gleefully.

It was peaceful.


Someone knocked at the door.

It interrupted whatever word Isora almost told Akira. Akira gulped; looked almost like he just came back from a Trance. Like his soul had been wandering off somewhere before whoever the one knocking cut the vision.

Akira sighed and braced himself to speak. "Yes?"

"Akira-kun?"

Oh, it was his mother.

"Yes, Mother?"

"Ogata-sensei has come to wait for your father, who will arrive at a couple hours," said the voice behind the door. "He said he wanted you to be his company before your father arrives."

Isora touched Akira's hand before saying, "We shall talk later."

Akira nodded and faced the door again, "Alright, Mother. I'll go to the guest room in a few minutes."

"Alright, then I will go see the southern walls again."

"Thank you, Mother."

"You're welcome, dear," said Touya Akiko. Then the voices of footsteps were fading away.

When Akira looked back to see Isora, the young man had long gone, leaving the library empty except for Akira and his scrolls.