At Pok:

Another plop could be heard as Kaoru, the King's favorite niece, threw another rock in the river.

"Take this! Ah! Did that hurt? It better!"

"What are you exactly envisioning, Kaoru?"

Taken by surprise, but sure of herself, she stood up straight and tall and replied,

"I'm testing the water."

"Oh… so you're throwing rocks at it to see if it can withstand your abused?"

"…I'm trying to see which rock would really hurt when I throw it at you!"

As soon as Kaoru finished the sentence, she turned around and threw a middle size rock towards her 'so called brother.' Aiming right for his forehead, but he dodged it and chuckled.

"It isn't funny, Okina!"

"To you maybe."

Okina went over to Kaoru and gave her a bear hug. Then, out of enjoyment, he ruffled her hair. Kaoru gave him an 'Aoshi glare,' which made him laugh.

"Somehow that looks real cute on you."

"…"

To that Kaoru marched away, not bothering to look back. Okina caught up and gave her a nudge, which she refused to acknowledge.

"Don't be mad at me. It's for your own safety."

"No, not for my safety, but for your own conscience."

"Now Kaoru, you know it's not like that. I was making sure that he was not dangerou…"

"He wasn't!" Kaoru cut in. "Why do you and everyone else think that I cannot take care of myself? Is it because you think I'm naïve? That man had no intention to harm me. He was being nice. You didn't need to ask him if he wanted a sword through his reproductive organ," Kaoru spat out.

"I said that after he asked you if you had a soul mate, Kao. He was looking at you with lust. To me, that's bad intentions. You're lucky it was me who brought you out the palace and not Sano…or worst, Aoshi." With the look on Kaoru's face he knew he was getting to her so he decided to cheat by adding, "plus, you are the only family I have. I never knew how it felt to have one until you decided that I was to become a swore brother. I just feel responsible for your well being."

With that sentence, Kaoru immediately melted and hugged him…tightly. "I know that you're just saying that to make me less mad and it's working. Lets head back before Uncle finds out that I'm gone." And so, Okina led the way back to the palace.


"Aoshi, where is that troublesome sister of yours?"

"…"

"Aoshi, I'm talking to you."

"Uncle, she's…" When I find out where she is, I'll choke the living breath out of her then revive her and do it again.

"She's in her bedroom, of course, like all young ladies should be, King Kuroki," replied Kamatari.

"…I didn't know you changed your name to Aoshi, Kamatari."

"I haven't, your Majesty."

"Then I was not talking to you. You have the tendency of telling me half-truths. And I know Aoshi would never do such a thing," responded the King. He turned, lifted an eyebrow, and looked Aoshi straight in the eye.

"…Uncle, Kaoru's …"

"Did you call, Uncle? I didn't know you wanted to see me. Sorry to have kept you waiting." Kaoru called out. The King observed that Okina was by her side and knew actually where she went. She has such a huge affect on Okina.

"I was about to ask you if you wanted to go out today…but it seems like you already used Okina and sneaked out of here. Therefore, I have nothing to say to you right now." King Kuroki turned when he found Kaoru hanging on to his left arm.

"Uncle, I was bored! It has been awhile since I was out of this cage."

Kuroki Ichiro knew where this was going, so he prepared himself for what she would say next. "And wasn't it five days ago you sneaked out and went to Tuwng?"

"…yes, but I left a note and took Sano with me! I even told you I wanted to see Tuwng's beauty." She noticed that her Uncle wasn't listening so she pouted. This always works. "And you love me." The King's resolved disappeared. She looks so much like Ami. So much like her mother.

"Then you won't mind going to Nom with the Prince and his Royal Council."

"Uncle! I don't want to go to a social. You know I don't want to go…unless I'm going to be involve in the meeting." With that statement, Ichiro's smile faded and looked at his niece with an emotion she couldn't interpret.

"Sweetheart, women are not allowed to be involve in any aspect of our regime. You know this and yet you ask. Don't go and disobey me."

"But Nom, Tuwng, and Sej let females in their councils. Why is it only Pak the only region that doesn't? It makes us look like we discriminate towards female and you know as much as I do that some females are the best in magic and protection spells." Kaoru rebutted, but as soon as the King was about to explode on his only niece, Kamatari budded in, "I think that's good enough, King. Kao knows you mean well."

Aoshi took that time to grab a hold on his younger sister before she can say anything else.

"Uncle…"

"That's enough, sweetheart," the King replied, "you can go with Aoshi, be a good girl, enjoy the view at Nom or stay here and practice playing the Zheng, like all the young ladies."

"…"

"…To Nom it is!" Kamatari replied.


"Kao, Uncle loves us. He doesn't want to lose anyone…anymore. You out of all people should know this." Aoshi lectured. Kaoru looked at her brother and sighed again.

"I know, Aoshi…but it isn't fair. Some women can be as good or better than some of the men we have in this court. I know he restricted women from being able to be involve, but Aoshi..."

"Uncle just doesn't want any more people dying from wars or fights. He saw a lot from the war ten years ago, Kao."

Black hair flowing, moving. Eyes as dark as the ocean depths. 'Aoshi, you must protect. This, all this.'

Aoshi closed his eyes. Wanting and reaching for his mother's touch. He can still smell her. Still feel her.

I will always be with you. Always…

"Aoshi…"

'How inconsiderate of you, Kaoru. Your brother is hurting while you are complaining! Uncle has suffered a lot. He just wants to protect me form harm, form anything that's dangerous. He saw two people, most dear to him died right in front of him…Uncle is just worried.'

An arm came around her then and Kaoru look up and saw Aoshi's vulnerable emotions right in front of her. They lost their parents in that war that lasted four years. How it felt like it was just yesterday when their father was teaching them how to center their power and how their mother would just look at her family with loving eyes.

Both siblings held each other to stop the tears from falling. There are no more shadows

to cast. No more places to hide…but they were happy…and most importantly safe.


At Nom:

The wind is picking up again. A storm will arrive soon. Though to Kenshin it might just be a terrible day. As Prince of Nom, he needs to start forming his alliance with other royal families. The Prince of Pok, Kamiya-sama, and his royal council will arrive in three days.

"Prince, would you like us to go over the bridge plan again?"

"No, I want the Head Chef to start preparing plates for our guests and my Royal Council will stay here to go over what needs to be discussed in this Council meeting. It is our utmost importance to remember that Pok has all the water ways to trade and that we must be a gracious host to them."

Kenshin was deteriorating from working so hard. Even though he is yet crowned king, King Hiko has already past the responsibilities to him. It was a matter of time before the ceremony will begin. And by then, Kenshin needed to swear in all of his Royal Council and have powerful and faithful alliances.

When the Pok's Council comes, Nom shall greet them.


Author's Note: Umm...so I accidentally post up the unrevised vision instead of this one so...oops? Fixed it! So yea.

Um...just little notes:

Tuwng= East (Magic: Earth)

Sej= South (Magic: Air)

Nom=North (Magic: Fire)

Pok= West (Magic: Water)