- - - - - - - - - The Water Watcher - - - - - - - - -

Chapter Four - - - - - - - - - -

Balsa POV:

I was not happy. I was antsy but kept it all hidden beneath a stony frown. It was times like these- times when I wanted so desperately to hide something- that I hated how well Tanda knew me.

"He's going to be okay, Balsa," He told me smiling.

I nodded. "I know." And I did. I knew for certain that he would be alive the next I saw him. This must be what a mother feels the first time she sends her child out for an errand in town. "I just… It doesn't feel right without him here. We've been together for so long and have been through so much. And he's just a kid, Tanda."

Tanda smiled gently and took me in his arms. Normally I wouldn't permit this, especially when we were in a crowded marketplace like we were at that moment, but part of me- a small, lonely part of me that I tried so hard to hide- knew I needed this right now.

"Whenever you start worrying, just think these words. 'He's with Hero. He's with Hero.'"

I sigh. "That's what I'm worried about."

He looked at me curiously and confused. "Why would the fact that he's with a skilled fighter with the means to protect him be what's worrying you?"

"Because Hero has a tendency to keep things from people because she thinks it's better if they don't know and she likes to fix things all by herself. If she gets herself into trouble, who is going to protect him?"

He just laughed quietly. "For some reason, I think that Hero is entirely capable of getting herself out of any mess and getting back before Chagum even notices."

"And what about the Nyunga Ro Im?" Torogai asked as she came up behind us with her arms full of supplies. "You two are missing the big picture. If Hero is hurt, then not only is Chagum in danger, but so is the whole world."

Tanda rolled his eyes. "Thank you for making us feel so much better, Master."

Torogai shrugged and started eating a star fruit. "I try."

Tanda's POV:

I watched Balsa as we headed back to the hotel to prepare to follow a lead to the assassin's hideout. Her long brown her falling easily over her shoulders and her slim hips swaying as she walked with astounding elegance. She still hasn't answered me.

I know that until this whole matter with the assassins is solved, I cannot ask her again. That's okay. I already know her answer.

I can see it in the way she looks at me over the table when she thinks that I can't see and in the way the watches me chop wood and mix medicine. She's thinking. She's trying to decide whether, with her life style, it would be responsible to start a family. She's trying to decide if I'm as dedicated to her as I claim.

I sigh and look at me feet as we continue on, not able to get the fantasies of a life with Balsa as my wife out of my mind.

Hero's POV:

It was a struggling getting down the side of the canyon, even for me, who had spent so many years living in a cave that was carved into the side of a mountain. I reached the bottom and spotted the pool of blood that I guessed is where the boy landed. The canyon wasn't as deep as it looked from up above, what with all the fog. A fall like this wouldn't kill a person his size. Maybe a baby, but not a five-year-old. Even the horse only had a broken leg and was struggling to stand.

I walked over to it and whispered soothing words in it's ear before tying up it's wound and helping him balance on his three good legs.

If the boy wasn't where he'd fallen, there was only one explanation. The wolves had gotten him.

Before I go on, I should tell you something about me. I'm weird. No really. As hard as it is to believe, it's true. I have a wolf's sense of smell and a deer's hearing. Well, I'm weird for other reasons too, but these are the big ones. I don't know why, but for as long as I can remember I've had extraordinary smell and hearing.

That's how I knew where they'd taken Kalt's body.

I followed my nose and the sound of two fighting wolves and found just what I was hoping for. Their cave.

Leaving the horse outside tied to a rock, I crept up to the entrance, but, being wolves, they all ready knew I was there.

Kalt's POV:

"Kalt? Kalt? You okay, kid?"

I opened my eyes to the voice. And groaned in pain. When I finally got my eyes open, they widened in fear. Before me stood a blood soaked girl with a face-splitting grin on her face. "AHHH!" I screamed, in both fear and pain.

She just grinned wider. "Calm down. My name is Hero. I've come to save you."

I looked at her closely through all the mud and blood. "You… you're that girl who tried to save me on the cliff."

She nodded and crawled over to me. She started feeling my shin and looked concerned when I howled in pain. "It's broken. You're hand is too. It's already the size of a grapefruit. You're lucky those wolves didn't eat you before I got here. Looks like one of the tried to though. You've got these teeth marks on your leg and they're bleeding profusely. Look at that! It's kind cool."

I sat up as best I can, then fainted at the sight of all that blood.

Hero's POV (last POV change of the chapter. There seemed to be a lot this time):

I made sure to take a quick dip in the spring before heading back. I had to wash off all the blood so that Chagum didn't get suspicious. I carried the kid on my while pulling the horse along behind us. It turned out that there was a small rode not far from where I'd climbed down and nearly killed myself so that it was easy to get back up. Go figure.

Anyway, it was just cracking dawn when I walked into the hotel. The old lady at the counter looked at me like I was insane, but I ignored her. I could hear Spirit's insane laughter all the way down the hall.

When I opened the door, Chagum was already awake and Kimble was sitting on the floor beside him, but Spirit was laughing in her sleep.

"Ugh!" I groaned, causing both boys to look at me oddly. "How do we make her stop?"

"Hero!" Chagum exclaimed.

Kimble looked a little teary-eyes as I laid Kalt on the bed that I hadn't used last night. "He's alive… Oh thank god..." And ten Kimble passed out.

"Wow, this family's weird. They both passes out within the span of half an hour."

Chagum just watched me for a second as I sat down across from him and stole his cup of tea. "What happened?" He asked. "Why'd you take so long?"

"The canyon wall was hard to scale with a kid on my back and horse behind me, so I had to look around for a couple hours to find a way up."

He gave me a look that said he didn't believe me, but never said anything, because right then, Spirit woke u, gasping for breath and grinning sadistically. "He's here!" She crawled over to Kalt quickly and kissed his cheek, and then all of her giggles subsided. "Finally! I thought I was going to laugh myself to death."

We were all quiet for a moment while Spirit regained her composure.

"Hey," I said. "I've been wondering. What exactly is a four-year-old going to do with a mate? Do you two hafta… you know?"

She titled her head in curiosity. "Have to what?"

"Never mind. How do you two create the egg?"

"Oh, we already have! His aura and mine mix together and the result becomes an egg." She held out her hand a small blue orb of light sat on it gently. "See?"

I sighed in relief. "Great. I was worried. But why isn't the egg inside of you?"

"Because I'm not the Guardian, stupid. I told you that I have to carry the egg for fifty years didn't I?"

"Oh, you meant literally 'carry'. I get it now. Makes sense, I guess." I looked over at Chagum and saw him looking at me incredulously. "What?" I asked.

"You've one strange girl."

I smiled and hugged him tightly. "But you all love me anyway!"

"Hardly…" He muttered, just loud enough for me to hear it.

I grinned even wider and let him go, just in time for one of the brothers to wake up.

"What happened?" Kimble asked, sitting up and holding his head.

"You were being a pansy and passed out from happiness," I told him. "Now, before you go fainting again, we should probably treat your brother's wound. If you're as tipsy at the sight of blood as he is, maybe you should leave."

He paled slightly and nodded. He looked at his brother one last time before brushing some hair from the boy's eyes and leaving the room. Chagum and I crawled over to the sleeping five year old and I began to unwrap the makeshift bandages I'd given him.

Chagum wince slightly, but looked up at me when I'd finished. "There's not blood and the wound is already taken care of."

"I know, but guys like that get on my nerves. When I'm here this becomes a 'No Pansy' zone, so he had to go."

"Where did these bandages come from? It doesn't look like any of them came from your clothes."

"That's because I made them from my chest wrappings. I keep them wrapped so that boys don't ogle them. You not notice they were bigger than before?"

A blush overcame his face as he looked away, forcing himself not to look and check what I'd said. "Honestly, I wasn't looking."

I laughed. "Don't worry, I'm kidding. I'm just trying to mess with you. I had some rags for occasions like this in my rucksack."

"Which part were you kidding about? The part where you took off the wrappings, or the fact that your wear wrappings in the first place?" He asked, still not looking.

I smirked. This was kinda fun. "You wanna check, Chibi-tan?"

He shook his head vigorously. "NO!"

I laughed. "I'm wearing wrappings."

Spirit laughed as she crawled over beside us. "You two are so funny. So, when do we leave? We still need to get to Inuei."

"Do Pansy 1 and Pansy 2 really have to come with us?" I asked, whining slightly.

"Well, no, but usually they like to. Most fathers want to meet their first child, I'd assume."

"If you can call him a father. All he had to do was show up and POOF there's a baby. Father's have it so easy," I sneered quietly. "Well, either way, they're not coming with us."

Spirit shrugged. "I can always come visit him after I settle in at Inuei."

"That's the spirit, Spirit. Now let's go before he wakes up."

Jinna was beautiful this time of year. "Oh wow!" I exclaimed. "I forgot that this was the time of the Pride Festival!"

"Pride Festival?" Chibi-tan asked, stepping up beside we as we stood in the entrance to the city. "What's the Pride Festival?"

"Well, people from all over come to compete. There are a whole lot of different competitions and the person who wins the most gets to have a ball held in their honor at the end. Oh! Can we stay? Please, please, please, please, please?"

Chibi sighed. "I don't see the harm in staying for the festival. How long is it?"

"It's five days long, counting the ball."

"Alright. What kind of events are there?"

"Well, there's wrestling, cooking, animal shows, beauty contests, eating contests, horse races, foot races, swimming, kite flying, singing contests, dancing contests, archery contests, swords fighting contests, knife fighting contests, and stuff like that."

Chagum looked a little dazed. "Wow. That's a lot of events. What are you going to do?"

"I'm not sure yet. Mostly the first two days are full of events that were thought up for men, and the second two days are for the woman's events, so I'll probably be doing most of my competing during the first two days."


"What was that?"

"Nothing! I didn't say anything!"

"Thought not. Alright! Let's go get a hotel room and prepare for the greatest five days of the year!"

"She's really pumped up about this isn't she, Spirit?"