Hey there every body! It's good seeing you all after my short two week break...what?...it's been over 2 MONTHS! You left me in the cryochamber for over 2 months! Oh someone is definitely going to hear about this when I get back to the spa...but in all seriousness. Hello one and all, it has been quite a while hasn't it? My excuses are many and unlimited but I won't bore you with them, I'm just going to say I'm sorry and I SWORE I never would let Tao die. I've never broken a promise before and I won't start now. So without further ado please enjoy the next chapter in Tao and the Art of Love!

Disclaimer: I own nothing

Chapter 10: Dog, Wolf, and Vampire

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~REBEL 10: START~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kagimaru's steps were swift and powerful as he stomped out into the forest, his hands clenched tightly as he thought about all of the events that had been leading up to his explosion. Sometimes...sometimes he didn't know what to do with Tao! Sure he dealt with her one plenty of occasions when she was acting childish but this was a new level, she had latched onto him like some sort of leech and wouldn't leave him alone! She was a distraction in combat, she was a pest when they were together, and she wouldn't let him have a moment of privacy to use the bathroom by himself! It was absolutely infuriating!

She was constantly fretting over him like a worried mother so much that she got herself into even worse trouble than she had before! Whatever attention Tao used to pay to her surroundings she instead used to focus on him, how long can ANYONE take that kind of annoyance while watching out that their annoyance doesn't get herself killed! He held out as long as he could, he did his very best to be patient and let the damn thing run its course but it never had! And that comment...oh that single comment! Blaming him for her actions, placing problems upon his shoulders when it was only of her doing! It was so much that even his legendary temper couldn't take it, his patience broken like glass and his anger exploding with the force of an atomic bomb.

And he had blown up.

Right in Tao's face.

And she looked like she was about to cry.

Damn it.

"Ugh..." Kagimaru groaned, his steps coming to a slow halt before he leaned against a tree, a single hand covering his face as he grumbled, his mind processing what it was that he had just done. Sure Tao was aggravating lately but...she was still Tao and he still cared about the careless Kaka. Tao's last comment hadn't helped him, that was sure, but he could tell that he was glaring...just by the fear in her eyes when she tried to protest him leaving. And then Tora...that stare she gave him, that chilling confirmation of what he had just done to Tao...it almost made him feel sick again. His free hand fisted tightly, fingernails digging into his palm as he slammed the heel of his hand into the tree at his back, "God damn it..."

It events like this that he wished he had the power to turn back the flow of time, rewind the world a few minutes into the past so he could fix everything he had just messed up. Tao was pissed or crying, a thought that made his heart clench and twinge with pain at every imaginary sob. Tora would send him disappointed looks, her observant eye and natural intelligence scolding him with a silent look. Certainly the Elder would no longer respect the man who...who had just completely and utterly messed it up with the girl he loved. A fresh pang of guilt and grief raced through Kagimaru as he thought about it, his fingers clenching painfully around his face as his fisted fingers slammed into the wooden trunk once more. Tao could be undoubtedly annoying, she could run him ragged with her playful nature, and her limitless energy was exasperating beyond anything he had ever known. Yet, he couldn't deny the way his heart lit up every time he saw her, how much he cared and loved for the Kaka girl. Her bright attitude, her smile, the way that she was always so excited to see him, he loved it and he loved her.

And he had just completely yelled at her.

To her face.

For being herself.

Kagimaru sighed as his temples began to throb and his head pulsed with pain, why did he have to yell like that? Why? Why didn't he just ask her to stop, it had worked before so why couldn't he do it again? Hell, anything would have worked even bringing her out to lunch on the condition that she give him some free time had a better chance of success than yelling at her! Leaning his head back Kagimaru's grip loosened and he started to lightly massage his temples, the back of his skull thumping against the tree as his fist did the same. Well there was only one thing to do at a time like this, fess up to the facts of his mistake, meet back up with Tao and Tora, then see how badly he was going to be torn apart for this one. Given that all members of the Kaka clan were gifted with foot long steel claws the prospect seemed to be more literal than figurative when he thought about it. With a sigh Kagimaru removed his hand from his face, opening his eyes only to be greeted by a pair of steely grey eyes, a piercing gaze set below a single quirked eyebrow.

Surprise raced through Kagimaru like a jolt of lightening, his body jumping back with a yelp and the back of his heel catching on the edge of an upturned root sending him into a sprawling mess on the ground. "Oh dear," a sudden voice spoke, the tone calm and regal with a current of formality that ran below every timber of the beings speech, "are you alright?"

Kagimaru groaned as he slowly started to raise into a sitting position, one hand reaching to his lower back to rub at the now sore spot as he spoke, "Yes, I think so."

Without another word Kagimaru found himself with a white gloved palm thrust into his face, the action swift and deliberate as the voice rose again, "I am terribly sorry, I was curious as to why you were so far out into the woods and mumbling to yourself incoherently. I apologize for startling you so much."

Kagimaru stared at the gloved hand for a few moments before accepting the friendly token, "It's alright, there's no harm done. It's just a bit of a personal crisis is all." With a sudden jerk Kagimaru found himself on his feet once again, the rapid rise draining the blood from his head and causing him a few seconds of dizziness before focusing on the being before him. The man that stood before him was of common stature, his height reaching around Kagimaru's if just a bit taller. His eyes were the same cool steel grey that had shocked Kagimaru and his hair was a matching shade, the long locks trailing down from the back of his head in an immaculate and long pony tail.

His skin was wrinkled and worn, the mark of age which was only accentuated by the finely trimmed grey beard that rested upon his chin. However it was the mans dress that raised the most questions with Kagimaru, his impeccable suit and golden chains causing Kagimaru to wonder exactly what a man with such a formal air and dress was doing so far out in the woods. Before he could ask the man smiled slightly, bowing his head in a form of respect, "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Valkenhayn R. Hellsing, servant to the house of Alucard."

Feeling rather inadequate at the mans formal introduction Kagimaru did his best to imitate the man, "Um, it is very nice to meet you Mr. Hellsing, uh, my name is Kagimaru and I am a bounty hunter."

Valkenhayn rose from his bow with a sharp snap, his posture stock straight and proper to an unimaginable degree, "Well Mr. Kagimaru, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance as well. Now, if I may ask, perhaps you can help me with something?"

The man's formal voice spoke in urgency, his tone of worry and confusion bringing Kagimaru's next words spilling from his mouth, "Sure I guess. What is it?"

Valkenhayn gave a short sigh of exasperation, a look of annoyance crossing his features as he glanced about the forest, "I have been looking for an associate of mine and she has yet to appear. She was supposed to deliver something of great importance and it is becoming quite late." To accentuate his point Valkenhayn reached into his pocket and fished out a simple watch, the golden circle linked to his jacket by a chain of the same lustrous metal. Glancing at the watch for a moment Valkenhayn sighed once again, clapping the device shut and slipping it back into his pocket.

For a moment those words rang through Kagimaru's head, familiarity slowly leaking into his mind before it came all in a rush, "Would you perhaps mean Torakaka?"

Valkenhayn's eyebrows suddenly raised, a slightly hopeful tone working its way into his voice as he spoke, "Oh? You know of her?"

Kagimaru smiled slightly, nodding to Valkenhayn's visible relief, "Yes, are you the associate we have been picking leaves for?"

Valkenhayn returned the friendly smile and nodded slightly, "Indeed that would be me."

"Then let me lead you back to where I left Tora," Kagimaru said with a slight jerk of his head back the direction he had come from, "I just came out for a little bit of a...break." Kagimaru's voice dipped in tone as he spoke, his once friendly demeanor falling to a more depressed and sorrowful emotion. Despite his sudden change in tone Valkenhayn said nothing to the younger man, only regarding him with a curious gaze before Kagimaru turned to lead the way.

Before he took a single step a sound drifted to Kagimaru's ears, a familiar vibration that he had come to recognize from Tao and all of her searches for food...it was the sound of a nose sniffing the air. He was about to turn around and question Valkenhayn about the source of the odd sound but he was suddenly stopped. Looking to his shoulder Kagimaru found the pale gloved hand of Valkenhayn resting on his form, the grip a touch too tight as the once friendly man spoke with a strained voice, "Wait a moment Mr. 'Kagimaru' but I do have another small request before we leave."

A bit confused and more than a little worried Kagimaru was turned around by Valkenhayn's hold on his shoulder, his voice only just barely resisting its persistent tremble as he responded, "Uh...s-sure, what is it?"

Valkenhayn's lips drew back into a tight smile, his narrowing steely grey eyes hardening to match the strength of their color as he spoke, "Would you care to spar with an old man? I would like a test to see if my skills have become too rusty..."

Kagimaru blinked a few times in confusion, the dangerous look Valkenhayn sending him screaming danger and death to those who saw it, "Are you su-"

Out of sheer instinct Kagimaru dove to the ground, his body falling flat to the floor as a massive current of wind blasted right above his head. With a thundering crash the tree behind where Kagimaru had been standing was reduced to splinters and above Kagimaru stood Valkenhayn, the once impeccably dressed human leg becoming something of a wolfs paw complete with a set of vicious tearing claws. Kagimaru's eyes snapped open as the foot transformed back into a human shape, Valkenhayn quickly standing once more at perfect attention, "You do have similar movement speed but you certainly lack the attitude, I suppose progress comes with practice."

"Wha...what?" Kagimaru uttered, fear giving rise to a burst of adrenaline as he easily leapt quite some distance away, "What are you talking ab-OH MY GOD!" Before his eyes Valkenhayn seemed to vanish, his body seeming to fade from view into the mists of the forest around them. However, in Valkenhayn's place was a large wolf-like creature, a snarling beast of fang and claw with deep set eyes glaring at him with full intent to kill. In the blink of an eye the beast lunged for Kagimaru, teeth and claws bared for a bloody battle. With every ounce of speed he could muster Kagimaru drew his twin knives from their sheaths, his hands just barely moving with enough speed to draw them up and guard against the wolfs lightening strike. Kagimaru grit his teeth as his feet dug deep into the earth, the powerful full body slam pushing his defense to the full limit by the growling wolf.

With a snarl the beast hopped back, reverting into the impeccable Valkenhayn without so much as a wince of effort, "And the weaponry is also rather impressive. Though, I suppose a few more tests should be enacted to see if my theory is correct."

As Valkenhayn settled into a fighting stance Kagimaru did the same, his mind swirling with thoughts onto how he managed to get into this position in the first place...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Spatial Rend~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Oh ho ho! Well Mr. Reaper, you seem rather spirited today," melodious and cruel laughter floated through the air, a full and pale moon hanging above the flushed crimson of a thousand eternally bloomed roses. The owner of the voice was a petite young looking girl, extraordinarily long blond hair and pale complexion clashing with completely radiant bright crimson eyes. Atop her head were two bows, each of the darkest midnight and rising up like a pair of rabbit ears on either side of her corn silk locks. Her body was swathed with a dark dress, an elegant gown of Victorian fashion and beautiful construction. Strewn across the dress were brilliant crimson accents of crosses and bat like wings, white fills only serving to emphasize the beauty of the ornate wear.

Her feet were clothed in a pair of dark boots, the balls of her feet spotting long platform stilts while the rest lay flat against her sole and heel. In her hand she clutched the handle of a curious umbrella, a dark creation that appeared to be styled to look like a massive and caricaturized cat. At last, by her side fluttered a rotund pink creature, a pudgy bat like thing with wings that could barely hold its engorged body in the air.

"Shut up Rabbit! What the hell is the big idea dragging me here!" snarled a new voice, a rough and roguish tone that seemed to grind against the very air which the owner breathed. The voice belonged to a single man, his glaring heterochromic eyes boring into the young woman with vibrant emerald and bloody scarlet. His hair, a fine silver coloration, lay upon his head in a myriad of spikes and spires, unkempt and frayed in contrast to the girls finely combed and groomed tails. His clothes were of simple black, large hakama pants and form fitting shirt covering his skin with a fine trim of pure white lining the front of his upper body wear.

It was his jacket that caught the most attention, a bright crimson coat that seemed to be eternally bathed in blood and the marks of battle. On the back of one hand was a single red orb, a large bead implanted into the very limb but seeming to not hinder its movements in the slightest. The final and most surprising aspect of his garb was the massive sword that lay at his back, a gigantic slate grey copping blade lying nearly horizontally at his lower back.

"I have been rather bored as of late Ragna," the first voice sang, royalty seeping from every trill as it danced upon the soft wind, "and as repugnant as you are, even you can provide some decent entertainment from time to time."

The comment seemed to strike home, the man known as Ragna growling deep in his throat before letting lose with a violent snarl, "Rachel you evil blood sucking rabbit! I'll tear you apart so you stop fucking with me all the god damn time!" The grinding of steel against steel reverberated in the air, Ragna drawing his gigantic sword as easily as one would pull a twig from their pocket. In seconds Ragna had his blade clutched in a single hand, his one handed hold on the sword not hindering for a second as he struck, "Dead Spike!" From the tip of Ragna's sword came a face of demonic nature, a pitch black beast outlined in the darkest crimson seeming to sprout from the very ground like a monster freeing itself from the chains of hell.

In response the girl known as Rachel merely smirked, "Gii?" Swallowing with fear the little pink blob like bat appeared before Rachel, his body morphing into the shape of gigantic X. With a solid clash Ragna's attack met the pink shield head on, the vibration of metal on metal ringing along side the little bats howl of pain. The second the attack vanished so did Gii revert to his normal form, a silent whimper in his voice as he took his place beside Rachel once again. Rachel's lips pulled back into a coy smile, ruby irises glinting in the moonlight as she softly chuckled, "Oh? Perhaps I was incorrect about you providing me any lasting entertainment."

"Why you little..." Ragna growled, his fist clenching tightly around the handle of his blade and preparing for another assault on the red eyed beauty. However his attempts were quickly cut short as the wind began to pick up, a gentle breeze swiftly turning into gale force winds and causing him to shield his eyes and strain to hold his place among the shearing air. Slowly, the wind began to calm, the hurricane force settling to the same gentle breeze from before. However, with his eyes free to open Ragna found himself alone, Rachel had vanished from the spot in which she had sat only moments before.

"I do believe it is time for you to dance little man," Rachel's voice rang, the direction bringing Ragna to face the air behind him. Hovering quite contentedly was Rachel, a haughty smirk dressing her lips as she gently floated down upon her cat like umbrella. This brought no bit of surprise to Ragna, the light weight Rachel always seemed to be able to float through the air as if she had wings herself. However, it was the fact that one dainty hand extended out to him that caused a trickle of sweat to slip down his brow and drive his body to move in the opposite direction.

In seconds the sky came to life with electricity, thunder echoing across the land as lightening fell. Every strike of lightening brought a new yelp from Ragna, his heels being chased by the pounding lightening as another graceful laugh weaved between the echoing thunder. Despite his impressive speed Ragna could feel every strike grow just a bit closer, every jolt of electricity licking the back of his neck before scorching another patch of fertile earth. Gathering up every last bit of strength and speed he could her growled to himself, drawing whatever power he could for one last ditch effort at victory.

On the face of a dime Ragna turned, just barely missing another lightening strike aimed for his total destruction. Determination welled in his eyes as he raced for the slowly sinking Rachel, her hovering position much lower than before as her melodious laughter coming to a swift halt. A dark grin overcame Ragna's face as he leapt with all of his might, his body flying through the air and missing yet another strike of lightening as he charged. In his hand his blade began to change, the monolithic sword morphing from a cool steel grey to a dark raven black, a monstrous bloody scarlet outline covering the edges of the blade as he howled, "It's over Rabbit! Inferno Divider!"

With a triumphant grin Ragna spun in the air, the feel of flesh against blade drawing a satisfying chuckle from his throat. In a flash he could feel strength return to his limbs, exhaustion evaporating as he drained the very life force from his target. Say what you want but sometimes he loved his gifts. Spinning in mid-air he turned to face Rachel once again, his fist at the ready to deliver a destructive straight punch to send the haughty girl flying...only for all color to drain from his face and for his bones to shiver with dread.

"Well now Ragna, that was not very kind of you," Rachel smiled; her completely unhurt form floating behind an X shaped Gii, "I do believe it is time to teach you some manners. Baden-Baden Lily!" The scarlet bat wings of Rachel's dress rose out from her form as her arms spread wide, the earth beginning to tremble as the roar of thunder became too much to bear.

Ragna swallowed his tongue dry and his throat parched as a single word crossed his lips, "Shit." The world around Ragna became bathed in electric white, a massive bolt of lightening covering his entire being from head to toe in its unspeakable might. He felt every nerve in his body sing, every muscle spasm from the jolting lance from the sky. His voice screamed out but was quickly choked back as he winched his eyes shut, he couldn't show her weakness, he never would...

Just as quickly as it had begun Ragna was released from the thunderous attack, his body falling to the ground with the grace of a ragdoll as Rachel hovered above. She watched with curious eyes, waiting for the moment his body would hit the ground, flopping down and declaring her victory over the silver haired man. Suddenly Ragna's body jumped to life, his form tucking into a quick ball and spinning in the air, landing on his own two feet and glaring up at Rachel with a heated gaze. His entire body steamed from the attack, hissing vapors rising from his skin as white electricity danced along his skin, "Hm...Perhaps you aren't as weak as I so perceived."

Instead of the growl she was expecting Ragna only smirked, his sword wielding arm lifting up before stabbing the pointed blade into the ground with violent force, "Alright Rabbit, no more play time!" His one hand clutched the wrist of the other, the hand with the bright ruby gem on its back, as he stared up at Rachel with a violent grin, "Restriction 666 released, dimensional inter-"

Before he could even finish his words were suddenly cut short, a small hand pressed up against his lips to cease his further jabber, "One moment Ragna, as much as I would love to play with your toy it seems that something else has caught my interest."

Blinking a few times Ragna watched as Rachel took her hand away from his mouth, surprise at her sudden ceasefire drawing more ire than the battle itself had, "Wait what! You drag me all the way out here then just forget about me? Hell no! I'm not putting up with that Rabbit! Restriction 666 released, dimen-"

Once again Ragna found himself with Rachel's dainty fingers pressed over his mouth, however this time the tips of her thumb and forefinger had pinched his mouth shut, his lips held together with surprising strength as Rachel seemed to stare off into the distance. In his silence Ragna glared, mortification and rage burning in his heterochromic eyes as Rachel did her best to ignore the burning glare on the back of her head. Soon enough Rachel released Ragna's mouth, turning to him with a graceful twirl and an odd glint in her eye, "It seems that Valkenhayn has discovered a rather interesting phenomenon and since you seem so adamant to finish our little game then why do you not accompany me?"

"What the old butler guy?" Ragna asked with a gruff growl, memories of the insults at the hand of that man drawing a fresh streak of anger in his blood. Stacking that on top of his indignation at the hands of the small girl in front of him it was almost enough for him to start another battle.

"Yes, Valkenhayn is indeed my most loyal servant," Rachel said with a small smirk, "Much better than the dog of a man you are Ragna."

Ragna's eye twitched angrily, a vein throbbing to burst on his brow as he spoke, "Either fight me Rabbit or take me back! I've got important shit to do and you're just messing it all up!"

"Oh?" Rachel said with a coy smile, a single eyebrow quirked at the taller man, "And what were you to do should I say this phenomenon has something to do with your little 'quest' hm?"

Ragna's eyes narrowed sharply, his heated glare being lost on the smug girl, "What are you playing at Rachel?"

"Oh me? Why nothing at all," Rachel laughed, turning away with a twirling flare. A simple flick of her wrist and a black portal suddenly appeared, a large oval of midnight have hovering just inches above the ground, "However, might you come along to find out if I speak the truth or not? Hm...One wonders if you have the mental capacity for such complex thought."

With that Rachel walked into the portal, the large oval remaining despite her departure from the area. "Oh god dammit," Ragna growled as he raced into the portal, the pitch black door of nothingness vanishing the moment he stepped on through.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Spatial Rend~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kagimaru grunted as he blocked another strike from the well dressed Valkenhayn, the elderly man betraying his age by giving Kagimaru one of the hardest fights of his life. For the first time he could remember he had not once gone on the offensive nor risked a counter, instead he simply guarded until his muscles ached and his boned burnt with pain. With a flipping kick Valkenhayn easily leapt away, his posture simply flowing into his next attack as he spoke, "What is the matter boy? Has the transfer been too much for you?"

Kagimaru hissed as a powerful leg sweep caught him by surprise, Valkenhayn's blazing foot spinning around for another pass at his ribs. With a lucky twist Kagimaru dodged the burning kick, his body just barely dodging around spinning attack and instead jumping away to resume his blocking stance, "For the last time, I have no idea what you are talking about!"

In the blink of an eye he found Valkenhayn well within his guard, the elderly butler glaring at him with eyes of the coldest steel, "A likely story Yuki." In an instant Kagimaru felt a fist at his chin, a powerful uppercut from his elderly opponent sending him sprawling into the air. The pain had only began to register from the vicious punch when Valkenhayn was beside him in the air, punches and kicks punishing his momentary lack of focus on their accelerating battle. With a swift spin Valkenhayn's leg transformed, a three clawed wolfs hind leg striking Kagimaru across the face and sending him flying head long towards the trunk of an ancient tree, "I'll be sure to scribe it on your head stone."

Kagimaru could only grimace in pain as he watched the tree grow closer, his body sailing head first for the unyielding wood. At this angle there was no doubt it would result with his neck broken, a sickening snap announcing the end of his life and his existence. It would be over relatively fast, his vision fading to black as his heart would slow to a stop...no. No. NO. He couldn't die here, there was no way! There were far too many things to do! He still needed to help the Kaka get back the sky! He still had to find Litchi and help her to find her way back! He still...

His fist clenched as he thought about Tao...

The same Tao he had hurt...

The same Tao he would leave if he died...

The same Tao he could never fix things with if he died!

His muscles began to quake as his anger and determination grew, all the while ignoring the bubbling burn that started to sizzle along his back. The length of his scar began to glow the faintest green and his ocean blue eyes gaining the slightest tint of emerald. Slowly his flesh began to shake, a sickening aura of power gathering around his body as he flew.

Snarling deep in his throat Kagimaru swiftly tucked into a tightly wound ball, his body spinning in mid air and landing on the tree foot first, "I. Won't. DIE!" Kagimaru looked up to find Valkenhayn charging at him in full wolf form, teeth bared and claws brandished with full intent to gut him like a fish. Yet, for some reason the world seemed to move just a bit slower, everything seemed to be passing by just a bit more sluggish than before. It was because of this that he proceeded to launch himself at the howling lupine, two blades held at the ready for his next strike.

Claw met steel and teeth met flesh, Valkenhayn's glistening white fangs turning a bloody crimson as they sunk into the muscles of Kagimaru's arm. Kagimaru winced in pain but that couldn't suppress his enraged smirk, his hand relaxing its grip on his jagged blade and allowing the claws to pass. A quick twist of his body and the claws were no longer a threat, a guttural roar rising up from his gut as he balled his lone hand into a tight fist, "Back OFF!" Kagimaru let loose with all of his strength, every ounce of power he could summon fueling his attack as he caught Valkenhayn in the side of the head with a powerful hook. Kagimaru's aim was straight and true, his hard knuckles zoning in on Valkenhayn's temple with deadly accuracy. The second Kagimaru's fist met with the side of Valkenhayn's head his mouth reacted on instinct, the muscles reflexively slackening as hardened bone dug into the nerve centers of his skull.

Valkenhayn let loose with a whine of anguish as he was thrown off of Kagimaru, his wide eyes and surprised expression a testament to the damage Kagimaru had done. The moment Valkenhayn touched the ground he reverted to his human form, a low grunt signaling his contact with the cool earth before bounding across it in an unceremonious bundle. Kagimaru watched all of this with a pleased smirk, the emerald power along his back beginning to froth as the fang induced wound on his arm ceased to bleed.

Valkenhayn quickly rolled up to his feet, springing up with a slight mark on his brow and only a small bit of dirt on his uniform to show for it, "Humph, all this time and only one strike against me? Pathetic." Despite the swift recovery Kagimaru only chuckled, the arm which had been bitten rising up and showing the nearly healed wound knitting before Valkenhayn's very eyes. With a dismissive sneer Valkenhayn smoothly dusted off his gloves, his body lowering into an attacking stance with full intent to kill, "And yet you would continue?"

Clenching his fist even tighter Kagimaru pointed out with one finger, gesturing to Valkenhayn with it as he spoke, "Bring it."

The air between the two grew heavy with power, rage pouring from both opponents as they attempted to stare the other down. Steel grey met icy blue, shards of green slithering toward the pupil like so many snakes...

"Valkenhayn! That is quite enough!"

Valkenhayn swiftly snapped to attention, turning on his heel only to come face to face with his master, Rachel Alucard with Ragna the Bloodedge standing slightly behind her with an annoyed stare. Seeing Ragna a momentary glare escaped his eyes but it was quickly repealed, instead his body bowing low to Rachel as he spoke his next words, "Yes Madam Rachel. As you wish I shall do." Rising quickly from his bow Valkenhayn swiftly moved to stand directly beside Rachel, his body at stock straight attention with a head held high despite the streaks of mud upon his clothing.

Glancing between Valkenhayn and Rachel, Kagimaru stared in confusion, his clouded and muddled mind trying his very best to make sense of it all. Back and forth, back and forth...master and...master and servant...she called...called him off...threat is...over. Shaking his head a single hand went to the front of his skull as he dropped down to one knee. The energy along his back quickly calmed, settling into its dormant state while the slivers of serpent ivy slipped away from the clear sapphire.

"You there," a voice called out to him, a hazed sound that seemed to come from the end of a long stone tunnel. Glancing up with his hand still on his head he found the short one approaching him, Rachel walking up to him and speaking with her natural haughty tone, "Pray tell, has my servant harmed you in any way?"

Deciding against his better judgment Kagimaru shook his head, swallowing the pain and bruises as he groggily spoke, "No...I'm alright."

"Good," Rachel said, her free hand snapping out and slapping Kagimaru across the face with tremendous force sending the young bounty hunter to the ground in shock. This was more than enough to wake Kagimaru from his blurry haze, confused ocean blue eyes glancing up at the very cross looking young girl, "I will be kind enough to inform you that no matter how intriguing of a phenomenon you may be I shall not allow one such as you to harm my servants in any way without proper punishment. That is my duty and mine alone. Do I make myself clear?"

Blinking a few times in surprise Kagimaru reached his hand up to feel his cheek, the burning red mark and power behind the slap telling him one and only one thing, do not get on this girls bad side, "Y-Yeah...crystal."

"Good," Rachel said as she returned both hands to her cat like umbrella, the chubby little bat by her side hovering quietly as she looked down her nose at him, "now stand so I may have a better look at you."

Not wasting any time Kagimaru jumped to his feet, his height easily outclassing Rachel but as the saying goes, big things come in small packages. Standing in his normal position he watched with curiosity and worry as Rachel began to circle him, those eerie crimson eyes of her staring into his every feature, almost as if she were looking through his body and into his very soul. Only every so often did she seem to hum and make sounds of curiosity, a single quirked eyebrow accompanying the sound before both left just as quickly as they had come.

"This is what we're here for?" The crimson coated Ragna muttered, crossing his arms over his chest with a deep set frown, "Some random guy in the middle of the woods?"

"Quiet Ragna!" Rachel snapped, glancing at him quickly before turning back to Kagimaru, the young bounty hunter familiar with the name but not having a death wish any time today, "He is quite intriguing and I would ask for you to politely not interfere...then again, you are not much for politeness or intelligence for that matter now are you?"

Kagimaru couldn't stop a slight snicker slip past his lips, something that didn't escape Ragna's finely tuned ears, "What the hell are you laughing at!"

Kagimaru coughed slightly, trying his best not to move as he spoke, "Nothing, nothing." Giving Kagimaru a snort of dismissal Ragna did nothing more aside from sending the brown haired man a hooded look as Rachel continued her examination.

"Interesting," Rachel suddenly spoke, stepping away from Kagimaru with a curious gleam in her eye, "it appears you are rather new phenomena, something different."

Kagimaru stared in confusion, reaching up with a free hand and scratching the top of his head with curiosity, "I'm sorry but I don't understand."

Without warning Rachel turned away from Kagimaru with a swirl of her dress, her voice coming out true and clear as she walked back to her butler and Ragna, "Worry nothing of it Kagimaru. However, I do suggest that you do not waste whatever time you have left..."

"Wait, how did you kn-" Before he could even finish his thought they were gone, a massive portal of darkness swallowing the three whole and leading them into parts far unknown. For a moment Kagimaru stood around in confusion, his head spinning with thoughts and questions that he almost couldn't bear it...

"HEART GUY!" Turning on a dime he quickly found himself pounced be a creature in a cream colored jacket, the loud and utterly unforgettable voice of Tao calling out with every last bit of enthusiasm she could ever have. Softness surrounded his head as he was buried in Tao's clothed cleavage, the soft mounds of her breasts squeezing his face tight as her arms held him close, "Heart Guy! Tao was so worried nya! We heard Heart Guy yell and we tried to find Heart Guy but Tao kept getting lost and we couldn't find you nya! Tao is SOOOO happy to see Heart Guy again!"

The whole while Kagimaru's hand valiantly tapped on Tao's shoulder for release, her suffocating embrace cutting off his oxygen until the world began to fade and everything turned to black...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Spatial Rend/Roar of Time~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One by one the three appeared once more in the field of roses, each one with a different expression on their face. Ragna's features hovered within the realm of annoyed to bored, his eyes staring off as he thought about what had just transpired in the forest. Valkenhayn stood as still as he could, his eyes closed and a severe expression locked upon his lips. Rachel on the other than had a sliver of a smile on her lips, her deep crimson pools glinting with a peculiar shine as she thought of their unique encounter.

"So what? That's it?" Ragna asked, his hands raising above his head as he quirked an eyebrow, "That's what was so god damn interesting to you?"

In response Rachel simply chuckled, glancing over at Ragna with an infuriatingly calm smile, "Oh dear, Ragna certainly even you could feel it?" Given the confused and aggravated look he sent her she sighed theatrically, shaking her head as she spoke, "So naive...you bore me now Ragna, you are free to go. Until we meet again." Ragna's eyes grew wide and he began to shout out a reply but he was suddenly gone, a pool of raven black swallowing him whole and transporting him to another plane in the blink of an eye.

Silence held for a few moments before Valkenhayn suddenly spoke, his head bowed low as he considered his next words carefully, "Madam, I do not wish to appear presumptuous but what exactly was that...'Kagimaru'?"

For a moment Rachel's smile slipped, a slight tint of sorrow veiling her otherwise luminescent scarlet eyes, "Just another phenomena Valkenhayn, nothing more and nothing less."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~END~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well how did it go? Like it? Hate it? Drop me a review and please tell me what you think! Have a good one now!