Packets in hand, Jadeite and Nephlite made their way to the manor's stables. The manor itself was a splendid piece of work, one of the better ones either had seen- which was saying a lot since they all came from noble families and were the Prince's guard.
"So Neph, you think Princess Lita is going to be easy to bag?" Jadeite taunted as he waited for their horses to be prepared. He was thinking of Princess Rei himself, wondering how long it would take for her to run after him like all the other girls did. Out of the four Shitennou, he was the most…what did you call it? Appealing. Yeah, he thought, that was it, smiling confidently to himself.
"As a matter of fact I do!" Nephlite answered animatedly. He was already looking forward to the chase, which he hoped would be a good one. He had always liked girls who were independent, and from Artemis' description of this Princess, she was just his type.
"What do you say we make a small wager then?" Jadeite asked coyly
"I'm listening." Nephlite answered eagerly.
"When I beat you to the goods, you will have to wear a dress to the ball Darien is throwing." Jadeite stated triumphantly.
"Fine…But if I win, the same goes for you." Nephlite countered and the two men clasped hands to finalize their gamble. Both Jadeite and Nephlite couldn't wait to see their opponent in a dress; it would be epic and hilarious.
The two men then mounted their horses to begin their journeys. The two day ride in different directions did not, however, mean the two men's way was easy. Nephlite rode west to the thunder planes. He passed several small cities, just as Zoicite and Kunzite had, but they offered no comforts for him. The plains people were rough and a little wild even. The men of the cities watched him with a wary eye, as eager for him to move along as Nephlite felt himself. But even under these circumstances of his travel, Nephlite couldn't seem to stop thinking of the woman he was looking for. The packet Artemis had given him was now worn from Nephlite's unrelenting traveling. The pictures he had to go by were of an exotic woman with long wavy brown hair and fierce eyes. Nephlite found himself remembering times he had looked into the same set of chocolate brown orbs. He remembered times when the fire in them was so fierce he felt he would burn up if he held the gaze; he remembered times when the lightening from the sky would reflect in those eyes, showing him a glimpse of the true power deep inside, but he remembered most vividly the times when love shone from those eyes with such passion he was sure he was gazing upon a goddess. Those eyes were Nephlite's travel companion, and finally after two full days of he came upon the outer perimeter of Domus Relevo.
Not knowing what to expect, Nephlite dismounted his steed and took him by the reins, guiding him silently towards the heart of Domus Relevo. He crept as slowly as possible using what little cover he could find to his advantage. Nephlite covered as much ground as he could this way until he was finally forced to begin his journey in the complete open. He knew the lightening plains were home to many people and very few of them friendly. No incident found Nephlite, that is, until he heard a sound coming from a nearby lake. The sound was enchanting that he couldn't help but follow. Silently he crept towards the stream and then he saw her, a woman of such beauty he couldn't look away. She was sitting at the lake's edge, resting her body on her arms with her feet playing in the water. Nephlite was so caught up in the moment he was unable to stop the whistle that escaped his lips, causing the woman to snap her head in his direction, her brown eyes full of the fire he remembered so well.
* * *
Traveling North, Jadeite had less trouble with the natives. He had little trouble winning over the people of the towns he passed, but perhaps not for the reasons one would assume. The towns of the north were known for one of two things, their Red Rooms or their Fire Temples. One was as equally important as the other. The Red Rooms housed the town's courtesans and from these courtesan's night time excursions, the Fire Temples would select their protégés. Therefore, a young noble man traveling unaccompanied by a woman caused quite a stir among the Red Rooms and Fire Temples alike. The young courtesans would have loved nothing more than for Jadeite to bestow his attentions upon one of them and either bed them and have a child with them or take them away from their life and make them a noble lady. The Fire Temples would have loved for him to get a child on one of the courtesans because of the power they felt the child would possess. Jadeite was surprisingly uninterested in the Red Rooms; his interest was solely in the Fire Temples. Under any other set of circumstances Jadeite would most definitely have given his attentions to as many courtesans as they threw at him, just because he loved it. But this time, however, he had seen a woman so stunning that he could think of nothing else but her. The packet Artemis had given Jadeite was not full of information and pictures like Nephlite's was, it held no interesting facts like Zoicite's did and it certainly did not give a detailed account of Princess Rei's day to day agenda. No, it held only two things inside, a large photo of a woman with large violet eyes and long raven hair that was blowing about her and a note from Luna that read:
"Jadeite, this is Princess Raye. She is currently at the last Fire Temple to the North. Templum Incendia is where you will find her. I'm sorry this is all the information we can give you. Please, Jadeite, don't mess this up! ~Luna"
There was something about the way both Luna and Artemis had requested that he "not mess this up." that had Jadeite on edge slightly. Also, unlike any of his companions, save Darien, Jadeite didn't have any memories to speak of. He didn't remember eyes swimming with so many different emotions, he didn't remember the feel of silky hair in his hands, and he didn't remember long meaningful talks of philosophy, nothing like that. All he could remember was a stinging sensation on the back of his head, which by all accounts was strange.
Finally, as the sun was beginning to set on the second day of Jadeite's travels, he saw Templum Incendia on the horizon. The magnificent structure stood glowing orange against the sunset, giving it the appearance of being made from fire. Jadeite pressed his horse onward to the building, preparing himself for whatever awaited him inside.
Once he arrived at the doors, Jadeite pulled a long rope to alert the habitants they had a visitor. Within a few moments the large double doors were opened, revealing the woman Jadeite had come looking for. The two stood looking at each other for several moments, and then Jadeite instinctively reached out and pulled the raven haired women into his arms and kissed her deeply. The kiss only lasted a few moments but those few moments were indescribable for Jadeite. He felt happy and scared all at the same time. Jadeite felt the woman melt into his arms ever so slightly giving him the feeling that he wouldn't mess this up. He knew he could love this woman like no other man ever could and he knew she was meant to love him the same way. Jadeite finally pulled away and spoke to her, slightly dazed and feeling manlier than ever before.
"Well hello, Rei, I'm Jadeite. I do believe you've been waiting for that." He said arrogantly, a pleased smile on his face as he looked within the fiery violet eyes that he felt drawn inexplicably towards.
"I have most certainly not been waiting for you." Rei snapped, her eyes furious, and then she reached back and slapped Jadeite very hard across the face, in an all too familiar way.
"Hey!" Jadeite exclaimed while rubbing the spot on his face where Rei had just slapped him. "What do you think you're doing? You're supposed to be swooning." He grumbled the last part
"I can assure you that swooning is the very last thing I will be doing when a strange man comes to my temple and takes it upon himself to kiss me without my consent! You are lucky a slap is the least you got." Rei answered with a fire in her voice Jadeite hadn't ever heard in any woman before. Hell, usually the women he kissed were already attacking him in the hopes of more of his kisses. "Now I'll give you one chance to explain yourself before I char your beautiful face." Rei warned while forming a small ball of fire in her palm. His eyes widened slightly, and he felt slight fear go through his body. She wasn't to be messed with.
"Alright, alright!" Jadeite held his hands up in surrender. "I am here for you." He stated honestly, quite sure that Rei wasn't like any other woman he had ever met. He could just tell that she would know if he was lying, and that he didn't want her to think he was a liar. He felt the need to make her feel…trusted and loved.
"Why" Rei questioned allowing the fire ball to grow in size.
"I have a locket, I need to give it to you and you have to allow me to open it with the key I have. I know it doesn't make any sense, trust me, it doesn't to me either. There are four other couples doing the same thing right now." He shrugged at her skeptical look "Supposedly we have lived countless lives together, in love and somehow we have defeated an evil and it is coming back. Artemis says there isn't much time." Jadeite answered quickly, his eyes never leaving the ball of energy in her hands. He knew to fear her.
"Why should I believe you?" Rei asked, only this time the ball of fire disappeared. He silently thanked the universe at the idea of not having his beautiful face burnt to a crisp.
"You already do, or you wouldn't have let that fire go out." He said knowingly, "I know you are nearing your trials, we must speak to your elders and have them begin immediately." Jadeite informed
"Follow me." Rei instructed and disappeared into the temple.
* * *
"Avert your eyes, Sir." The ice cold voice of Princess Lita warned and Nephlite, in an unusually wise moment, complied.
Lita stood up, dressed herself and put her sandals on her feet. She then pulled her hair up and away from her face before turning back to the man who had intruded on her peace.
"Now, tell me who you are." Lita commanded
Nephlite turned to meet Lita's eyes, the familiar lightening power sparking within them let him know now was not the time to trifle with her. "I am Lord Nephlite. I have come for you. If you will lower your guard for a moment and allow me to give you this locket and open it with the key I have, we will both understand all that we need know." Nephlite spoke reasonably.
The spark in Lita's eyes dimmed but did not disappear with her next words. "You came for me? Is that your way of wooing me? Let me see this locket." She demanded. Nephlite bit his tongue and produced the locket. It was a heart shaped locket with a lightning bolt striking a beautiful grey pearl. He stepped forward only a few steps, forcing Lita to meet him half way, and held the locket out for her. Lita stepped cautiously forward and touched the locket, her fine features slightly sharpening, then took it from his hands and looked it over and over before finally clasping it behind her neck gently.
Nephlite grinned crookedly and took a step forward with the key.
"I did not give you permission to open it." Lita spoke forcefully, putting up her hand between them, holding him back.
"I'm sorry?" Nephlite stumbled "But you put the locket on, surely you intend for me to open it." He asked cautiously.
"Perhaps. I will allow you to open the locket, if you can defeat me in hand to hand combat." Lita answered taking her defensive pose.
"You want me to fight you?" Nephlite asked exasperated. He was answered by a round kick to the gut. The two immediately began to fight, each wanting nothing more than to prove his or her own point. The battle was straining, to say the least. Nephlite and Lita sparred with each other until neither could stand up straight. Both out of breath and sweating, Nephlite finally held his hands up in surrender. "I yield. You are a great fighter Lita. I'm honored to have fought with you. Can we please sit and possibly talk for a few moments?" He asked searching Lita's face for any sign that she would attack him again, and praying to whatever deity might have been listening that she would concede.
Lita took a moment to decide what she would do, before turning on her heels and making her way back to the water's edge. She removed her sandals again and sat down, motioning for Nephlite to do the same, which he did gratefully. "Tell me more about this locket." Lita requested while fingering the beautiful piece of jewelry.
"I don't know much about it actually. What I do know is, when I open the locket, we are both supposed to remember everything about each of our past lives." Nephlite sighed, running his hands through his long brown hair and shrugging. "Apparently, we have done this before, countless times. Artemis, the man who's wife introduced us all to the idea that we are who we are, told us part of the story. I would try to tell you, but I think that if you will just let me open that locket we will both understand better." Nephlite turned towards Lita, offering the key to her in his open palm. Lita took a long look at the key and then she scooted closer to Nephlite and raising her head so he could see the locket more clearly. "Nephlite," Lita began, using his name for the very first time "I hope for your sake I don't remember anything terrible." With that statement Nephlite reached out for the locket slowly, he lifted it up and slowly put the key inside the small opening by the lightning bolt. Seconds later he turned the key and both Lita and Nephlite were surrounded in white light that sparked and fizzed all around them. When the light and sparks faded the two looked at each other, as if seeing the other for the first time. "I remember." They said in unison.
* * *
Rei and Jadeite made their way quickly through the halls of the temple. "When we are admitted to the elders, do not speak unless you are spoken to. You know what, on second thought; just let me do the talking." Rei ordered. "Hey what happened to men being the superior sex?" Jadeite whined to the fiery priestess. She turned around and raised her hand to smack Jadeite again, but he flinched away.
"Men were never the superior sex, the fact that you thought that should be evidence enough as to who was and is truly the superior sex." She said, the fire in her eyes beginning to form in her hands.
"Hey! Put that out." Jadeite ordered firmly. "If we are ever going to make this work, you are going to have to stop that." He informed as he began to walk again. Rei stood there open mouthed for a second before she began walking again.
They made it to another set of large double doors and Rei stood in front of Jadeite as she knocked. Seconds later the doors opened and the two walked slowly in to the large chambers. "Priestess Rei, what brings you at this time?" An old bald man asked from behind a large fire. "Master, this is Lord Jadeite. He has some information for me, a locket really, that is supposed to reveal my past lives. He also says that a Lady Luna and Lord Artemis have arranged for him to be a part of my final trials." Rei spoke while bowing to the master.
"Yes, I am aware." He said. "You are?" Rei's head snapped up. "Master?" She asked stunned.
"Yes we were contacted. Now I assume Jadeite has shown you the locket?" the master asked "Yes." Rei answered simply. "Did you accept it?" he asked now smiling broadly. "No, I felt it best to have you look at it and be sure it wasn't cursed." Rei answered practically. "Well I suppose you should accept the locket." The master suggested. Rei turned to Jadeite, who took a step towards her with the locket in his hands, ready to put it on her. The locket was amazing. It was shaped like a heart with a burning arrow piercing it. The flames were made from a beautiful red stone and really shone like fire. Rei lifted her raven locks and Jadeite secured the precious piece of their past around her neck. "Now, Rei. Your challenge is to trust this man. That is your trial. You must allow him to open that locket without hesitation." The master spoke matter of factly. Rei looked at him in disbelief, she had never been told to trust a stranger, especially a man. She took a deep breath and looked at Jadeite once more. "You may open the locket." She said softly. Jadeite closed the distance between them and pulled her almost inappropriately close. Then he reached out to touch the locket and reverently placed the key in its place, right in the middle of the flames. As soon as the key was turned, an almost searing heat enveloped the two and a bright red light shielded them from everyone as their every memory was brought back to them.