"Are you absolutely sure?" Irit asked.
"Yes." the messenger sighed, why couldn't the Head Captain just accept what he was telling him?
"We discovered it only an hour ago, Sir." the messenger repeated… again, "It seems that Second Princess Lillian's mansion has been rebuilt and there appears to be some people currently living there, we have not been able to identify who."
"Are there any possibilities?"
"It could be humans, Sir. Perhaps they bought the land and are currently living there?"
The Head Captain rubbed his temples. First Sylvia killed by Kagirinai and now this. A sudden and very horrifying thought came to Irit.
"Is there a chance that it could be… Kagirinai that's living there now?"
"K-Kagirinai, Sir? Why, why would you think that?" the messenger asked, unnerved.
"Think about it." Irit said, "Kagirinai killed Sylvia, for whatever reason, and now we find the Second Princess's mansion rebuilt and someone is living there, and it is all within a few days, don't you believe that's odd?"
"When you put it that way, Sir, yes, I do believe it is strange." the messenger shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.
"Take a message to Fifteenth Guard Captain Undroh." Irit said, the messenger stood at attention, "Tell him to come to my office in thirty minutes, armed and armored, with a small contingent of his best troops, no more than four. I have an assignment for him."
"I see you like the new clothes I got you." Hime turned around from examining herself in the mirror when she heard Kagirinai's voice.
"I love it." Hime smiled, "How'd you get so many clothes in here with me noticing?"
"I know people," Kagirinai smirked, "I've been making new 'friends' over the time you were gone."
"Like who?" Hime asked.
"Like people who'll do anything for the right amount of coin, or just want a good fight, or those who get me what I need to know in under a few hours of asking." Kagirinai shook his head, "Ah, the advantages winning against the underground's Scarlet Mauler Guild's Black Vurga will get you."
"Wait, Scarlet Mauler? The Scarlet Mauler Guild, one of the most influential and dangerous guilds? The one run by Blood Hand Terfea?"
"Is there any other?"
"And you beat Vurga, their best fighter other than Terfea?"
"Of course," Kagirinai pointed to his scar on his face, "How else do you think I got this scar? Playing with a kitten?"
Kagirinai gestured to the door and offered Hime his arm. She took it and Kagirinai led them out of the room.
"So how did you win against Vurga?" Hime asked.
"Do you want the long or short version?"
"I'll take the short for now."
"I finished him off with my bare hands. I would've killed him if Terfea hadn't gotten in the way. I broke his nose, fractured his jaw, ripped off his left hand's pinkie and ring fingers, crushed his right wrist, broke his foot, and almost split his collar bone apart." Kagirinai knew that was know simple feat, as did Hime as her eyes were wider than diner plates, "And he still wanted to fight even after Terfea said the match was over; those bladed knuckle dusters of his are something I don't want to face again anytime soon."
"Why were you even fighting him in the first place?"
"They tried to recruit me. I refused. They persisted, saying 'We'd be unstable with you in our ranks!'. Bullshit, one man does not make a difference, I may be strong, but I can be beaten if the opponent is strong enough. Anyway I eventually got tired of their constant hounding and challenged Vurga to a duel on the terms of if I won they would leave me alone but if I lost I'd join them. I won, of course."
"I see… That was stupid."
"So about those people that can beat you, how many of them are there?" Hime questioned.
"Very few, all but three live away from society and in secret, most people passing them off as legends and not really existing."
"And the three that are in society?"
"Those would be Summoner Irea, Magister Hela and the soon-to-be Second to the soon-to-be Queen Sherwood, Temlain Forsi. He's young brat, but strong as hell."
"You're strong enough to face one of the strongest Summoners of their generation and Hela who's one of the most influential and the only combat capable of the Magisters that works for the Royal Family?"
"Yes, and don't forget Temlain." Kagirinai said.
"Who's he? I don't remember him." Hime said.
"That's right, he started getting a name for himself about a year after you disappeared." Kagirinai mused, "He put the down the Demon Axe guild with only ten troops, he killed two hundred of there low ranking members and imprisoned fifteen of their lieutenants, and publicly executed their leader and second-in-command after capturing them."
"The Demon Axe guild?" Hime asked, "I remember them only being a medium sized guild that was written off as not being a threat."
"They got involved in under-ground arms dealings and smuggling Rekit ore, they signed their death warrents the moment they started smuggling the ore. Many things have changed these long years." Kagirinai said as they reached the bottom of the stairs in the main foyer.
"I see that they do."
Hime sniffed the air, something tasty was being made, "Do I smell food?"
"A nice little surprise I found this morning when I woke up." Kagirinai smiled.
Kagirinai led Hime to the kitchen, he opened the door for her and she stepped through.
"Ah! Ojou-sama, your Earl Grey is ready, I was just about to call!" Sawawa said as she saw Hime coming into the kitchen.
"Sawawa? You're alive?" one surprise after another with this new present.
"Of course!" Sawawa replied happily, "I'm not so dense as to not figure out why the mansion kept getting destroyed or that there was a bomb under the floor boards here in the kitchen!"
Hime stared at Sawawa with surprised eyes. Kagirinai laughed, "Keep your mouth hanging like that and a fly or three is going to sneak in."
Hime closed her mouth quickly, she cleared her throat as an attempt to regain a small bit of her pride as a princess.
Sawawa giggled and set down a tea cup and saucer on the table and grabbed the kettle off the stove and poured Hime her Earl Grey.
"Ojou-sama, dozo." Sawawa smiled.
Hime paused for a moment before a small smile graced her own lips, things might have well been normal, like nothing had changed.
"What is it, Head Captain?" Undroh yawned, "You know I don't like being woken up so early!"
"It's nearly eight a.m., Undroh." Irit said, "Everyone else is up by now."
Undroh looked at Irit with half-lidded and drowsy eyes, "What's your point?"
Irit sighed in frustration, "I have an assignment for you."
"What is it?" Undroh yawned.
"You are to investigate a mansion that has recently been rebuilt at the same spot as where the Second Princess's mansion used to be."
"What? That's it? It's probably some no-good humans that rebuilt the old place, why do I need to go?"
Irit leaned over his desk, his hands folded together and stared at Undroh with a deathly serious expression that seemed to wake Undroh up a bit more as a cold shiver ran down his spine.
"This is of the utmost secrecy, Undroh." Irit said, "Not even Her Majesty can know about it."
Undroh straightened up and despite his still half-asleep look, he was attentive, "What is so important about this, Head Captain?"
"I have reason to believe that Kagirinai Tsuwamono may be one of a few people inhabiting this new mansion." Irit said in a dark tone. The four men behind Undroh went completely still.
"I see," Undroh said, he raced through possibilities in his mind, reasons for Kagirinai for being there-strategic advantage?-to mock the royal family?-to make people believe the Second Princess was somehow still alive?-did he just want a nice home?
"Whatever his reasons," Irit continued, breaking Undroh's train of thought, "If Kagirinai truly is there then we must have proper confirmation. So your task is this: investigate the rebuilt mansion and gain confirmation as to the presence of Kagirinai Tsuwamono within the residence. Are these instructions clear?"
"Yes," Undroh said with a tired yet strangely hard tone, "Crystal, Sir."
"Nice day, today." Kagirinai said aloud as he leaned against the railing of the small balcony and looked at the clear blue sky. Laying at his feet was Riza. She gave a small grunt of acknowledgment, preferring to sleep more than anything else.
"Hmph. Still lazy as hell, move once in a while." Kagirinai snorted, Riza looked up at his one good eye, she snorted and laid her head back down. Kagirinai rolled his eye at Riza's behavior and went back to looking out at Sasanaki. His eye trailed down unconsciously to look at the road that led up to the mansion and he spotted five figures coming up the road.
The Immortal Warrior frowned, brought his finger to right below his eye and concentrated. His vision became tunnel-like for a few moments before it showed the five figures in clarity four of them were simple Baboon-men and dressed in the standard Royal Guardsmen uniform. The one in the lead was different however, he was a Sloth-man, oddly enough, Sloth-men were known for their laziness and unwillingness to do anything productive. The Sloth-man was dressed similarly to the Baboon-men, but with two big differences there was a large pauldron on his left shoulder that was emblazoned with the Royal Family's crest and his helm had visor that was lifted up and a small row of spikes along the top of the helm that went from the front to the back.
'A captain.' Kagirinai thought, this wasn't good, this was far from good. Things weren't supposed to be going to this way! Hime was dead to everyone save a few that knew the truth in this time, the battle for the crown was done with the moment he killed Sylvia, a captain of the Royal Guard should not be coming here! It would ruin everything!
A white mist slowly moved in around Kagirinai and it wrapped around him and within a few moments Kagirinai was fashioned in his combat outfit, his mask over his face and his sheath on his back. Riza looked at him before dissolving into mist and reforming into Kagirinai's sword.
'They will not ruin the life I have waited nearly ten years to have!' Kagirinai thought with anger, 'They will not have it! They will not get Hime involved with that vile and wretched battle ever again!'
"I'm getting annoyed with having to walk so much…" Undroh moaned, "Will any of guys carry me the rest of the way?"
The four guards following all ignored his request.
Undroh sighed, he was tired, starting to feel hungry, and hated having to walk so much,; why did he join the Royal Army and get himself up to being a captain again?
'Oh, right, because my mother was an exception to our kind and actually worked and made me do all of this crap…' Undroh thought miserably.
"Not another step further, maggots…", a dark voice growled.
Undroh and his men stopped, the men out of surprise and fear, and Undroh for a chance to stop walking.
"And?" Undroh asked tiredly, "Who may I ask is speaking?"
"Someone that will kill you if you don't leave, right now."
"Is that so?"
"I will kill you, Ser Captain. Do not make me repeat myself. Leave."
"As much as I'd like to and go take a nap, I can't. I was told to investigate the dwellings at the summit of this, incredibly tiring, hill."
Kagirinai appeared in front of Undroh, "I warned you, Captain!"
Undroh stepped back in surprise and terror at the sight of Kagirinai suddenly appearing before him. Kagirinai loomed over Undroh close to a full five inches. Kagirinai's one red eye glared at Undroh through his mask full of barely surprised rage. Kagirinai slowly started to reach for his sword of his shoulder.
His voice was full of rage, cold, and dead all at the same time, "I am the eternal void."
One of the soldiers started to slowly back away in fear, "I am the perfect steel."
Two of them turned around and fled, "I am the undying sword."
The final soldier was frozen stiff, shaking in his armor, "With my sword in hand I will reap the souls of my enemies and protect my Mistress."
Undroh remained still, slowly reaching for his sword at his side, "I am Kagirinai Tsuwamono!"
"Your ends have come!" Undroh and Kagirinai's blades left their sheathes at the same time and clashed with a shower of sparks.
"As lazy as I am," Undroh said looking into Kagirinai's single eye hole in his mask, "I'm not just going to sit back watch you kill my men and me."
"So a Sloth-man can be willing to work at something should they so choose." Kagirinai stared back into Undroh's eyes.
The two kicked away from each other, disengaging their locked blades. The two took their stances, Kagirinai took the same one he had been in when he had fought Sylvia's servants and killed her. Undroh took stance that spaced his feet evenly apart and placed his sword in a defensive downward angle.
"The Adamant Style," Kagirinai appraised, "A mainly defensive style meant to block and deflect attacks from single and multiple directions both, covering even one's blind spots and then dealing devastating attacks to the opponent to end the fight without much effort. How very typical of a Sloth-man."
"I take it you've fought against this style before?" Undroh questioned, "And I am un-offended by your comment."
"Enough, talk." Kagirinai said, "Let our words and feeling be brought out through our blades!"
"Very well." Undroh nodded. He did not move however, one who had trained in the Adamant Style never made the first move.
It was something that Kagirinai knew well, he slowly circled Undroh, hoping to find some small flaw in his stance he could exploit, other than a slight imbalance that both of them hade due to the sloping terrain, he found nothing.
He knew from past experience that many fast attacks could overwhelm and Adamant Style fighter after a time, but it would take too long and would tax his own stamina as well. A small number of heavy and strong attacks could have a chance to smash through their defense, but if didn't then Undroh could easily counter-attack and heavily injure Kagirinai.
Kagirinai new he'd have to keep Undroh preoccupied with his attacks and not give him a chance to counter-attack before he found a way around his guard.
Kagirinai was in front of Undroh again by now, he stopped circling the sloth-man and took another look at his stance, he spotted something this time, it was how Undroh was holding his sword. He seemed to be trying to keep the base of his blade closer to his body than he should have been.
'Let's see why that is.' Kagirinai thought. He dashed forward and aimed to have his blade collide with the base of Undroh's. Not allowing that to happen, Undroh dropped to one knee and swung his sword upward and the middle of his blade connected with Kagirinai's. The masked warrior backed away and stabbed at base of Undroh's sword yet again. And, again Undroh avoided the attack by sneaking the tip of his sword underneath Kagirinai's deflecting the blow.
'One more time will finalize it.' Kagirinai darted behind Undroh and swung his blade at close range, and in a way that would only leave Undroh's best option to block, would be with the base of his sword.
He didn't, instead he used exact center of the flat of his blade to block. Kagirinai heard Undroh grunt as he no doubt strained a muscle in his arm from such poor choice of trying to keep his arm straight while blocking in such a way. It confirmed Kagirinai's theory, the base of Undroh's blade was its weak-spot.
Kagirinai pulled away again, chuckling as he did so, "You've lost, Captain."
"I'm still standing aren't I?" Undroh snorted.
"Not for much longer." Kagirinai sprinted at Undroh. The captain was momentarily surprised by such an act, but was not deterred in his defense. Then Kagirinai did something he could never have foreseen.
Kagirinai's right hand shot out and latched onto Undroh's sword, the blade cutting into his palm and making it bleed, steam rose from the wound as he closed.
'An Immortal Soldier!' Undroh thought with horror.
While Undroh was distracted by Kagirinai's rapidly healing wound, Kagirinai's left hand flipped his nodachi into a reverse grip he planted it between Undroh and his sword's base. Sudden realization flashed through Undroh's eyes as he knew what Kagirinai was going to do. The white haired man pulled his sword down at an angle and snapped Undroh's sword into two at its base.
Undroh stared at his broken blade and then at Kagirinai then back to his blade.
"You've lost." Kagirinai repeated himself as he walked away from Undroh twenty paces and brought his sword up, "Empty Soul Style: Judgment."
Kagirinai swung down and the energy in his nodachi was released and arced forward and split Undroh in half.
"Another soul has departed." Kagirinai said as he sheathed his blade, he looked at the last soldier that had not fled, "Take a message to your superiors and soon-to-be Queen."
The terrified soldier swallowed heavily and nodded, too scared to refuse.
"Tell them that if I ever find even another trace of anyone of the monster realm anywhere near this manor again, uninvited, it will mean war with Royal Family itself, I will not tolerate any who dare try to threaten my Mistress's new life away from your damning battle."
He stared straight into the soldier's scared eyes, "Begone. I do not wish to look upon you any longer."
Kagirinai turned on his heel and started up the road to his home as the soldier turned and ran for his life.
'No one will ever take you away from me again, Hime. You never wanted to be a part of the battle for the throne, and I will see to it that you are never a part of it again.' Kagirinai thought with dedication.
Another thought occurred to him without him realizing it, 'Nor will any of our future children ever have to even know of the battle that you were once involved in, none of them will.'
Done! Finally! I'm very sorry for being rather inactive for so long, things got a little hectic with life and what-not. Hopefully I'll be able to write a bit more frequently now, even with school starting up again in two weeks.