"Oi, Gau Ban! Wake up!" shouted Kyuo Ryu as she shook hard the younger boy that was sleeping on the bed.

"Ouch!" cringed Gau as his head accidentally hit hard the headboard. He looked up, expecting to see his older sister, Elle Lag dragging him out of the bed, but this time it was the red-haired Septia that dragged him out.

"Don't tell me that you forget," frowned Kyuo as she stared at the brunette boy, sitting down on the floor, looking dazed from his sleep.

"What's suppose to do today?" asked Gau drowsily repeating his early morning chant whenever Elle and Faury woke him up early.

His blue sleepy eyes suddenly opened when his lips was captured by a quick kiss from Kyuo's mouth. Looking satisfied, Kyuo smirked, "Now, you're wide awake." She turned around and exited his room before calling out, "Remember, you're supposed to help me set up the stall.". Gau stared back, sweatdropped.

Feorina had granted three days off for Kyuo. And she intended to make full use of the three days by setting up a drive to recruit new Septia members. She didn't want to be the last Septia member and neither did she want to lose the art of hunting beast demons. With her Tomoe perfect technique, her granduncle's guidance and 59th Cevar, Shadow Skill's support, she would certainly be able to impress the crowd to join the Septia team.

"I don't know, Faury, what I was doing at that time. Maybe I got too much alcohol in my head," complained Elle Lag, as she cleaned up the breakfast table when Kyuo and Gau left for town. "It's too dangerous for her to confront the beast demons herself," she confided to Faury as she wondered whether she should persuade the little Septia to change her mind.

"She got many people who would take care of her. She got you and Gau," assured the sorceress, winking her eye at her. Elle Lag certainly cared Kyuo like her own sister. And that meant Elle would have to bossed Kyuo around like how she did towards Gau. But unlike Gau, Kyuo seemed to have a backbone and a mind on her own. She prefered to fight back or disobeyed whenever Elle ordered her around, but very often Kyuo's own decision often put herself in danger but the others away from danger.

"I supposed so," sighed Elle as she left to get some water.

"Kyuo, are you sure this plan is going to work?"

"Relax, Gau. It's not like you're going to be in front of the Starruckus Beast, capturing him."

"That's what I'm afraid of. You're going to do it."

"Aww, that's so sweet of you. Relax. I practiced my Tomoe technique so many times. That demon won't even know what caught him. And I got King Iva Stola's secret tips."

"What if the demon hit on you?"

"Then you'll have a chance to strut your nice black leather suits that Faury bought for you. Come on, Black Howling, we need to set up a stall! Lowereginn!"cried Kyuo when she spied Low having a fierce eye-staring contest against a fat man. The fat man gave up and decided to find another spot when he saw the white-haired boy's friends approaching them.

"Look! I found this nice spot under the shade to open a stall," babbled Lowereginn as he greeted his friends. Gau and Kyuo nodded in agreement that it was a very good spot, as it was in the middle of the busy street.

"No problem," blushed Low proudly when Kyuo thanked him for his initiative and effort. The poor guy had to come up early in the morning to reserve the place for them to set up a stall.

"Right, let's start!" said Kyuo excitedly as Gau and Low finished fixing up the stall. Low then stood up on a box and shouted while Gau drummed an empty pot, attracting attention from those who passed by.



Not far from there, a man in his thirties sat in the restaurant drinking tea. The man was odd looking as his bald head was painted in orange and he was clothed in a Soulfan's red monk attire. His thick and dark eyebrows and long and narrow beard somehow gave him a regal air around him. Sitting patiently, the man sipped slowly, waiting for his friend. Soon a fat, dark- haired Soulfan hurried on to greet him.

"You found the Septias?" asked the former to the latter.

"Not really, Sir. They're not found yet," answered the man nervously to his comrade. "It seemed that Jin Stola's group was slaughtered last year by a beast called Moon King."

"Jin Stola is dead then?" wondered the grave-looking man thoughtfully while sipping his tea.

"Yes Sir. But it seemed that his granddaughter survived, Sir," replied his comrade.

"Tell Rani Rai to fetch her to me. You must not fail," ordered the bald monk. The other only bowed in reply and quickly find the others.

"You should have seen long queue of people lining up to register after Kyuo captured the beast with her Tomoe technique," glowed Lowereginn in pride as he recounted the event to Elle Lag, Shadow Skill again.

"I was palpitating when she nearly failed to do so," grumbled Gau to himself as he drank his drink at a corner, next to Dias. Dias heard him. His drink was not spiked with alcohol unlike the others who decided to have a small alcohol party to celebrate Kyuo's success. All of them except Gau and Dias were too drunk . Faury was now on top of Elle for messing her hair. Feorina however was snoring lightly, pillowing Dias lap while Dias watched them with an amusing smile.

"So, I guess I can call you Instructor Kyuo, eh?" teased Elle, slapping againt Kyuo's shoulder after she managed to pry herself out from Faury's clutches. Kyuo who was drunk, suddenly found herself sprawled awkwardly over Low's lap. As she rose up clumsily, her eyes met Low's. Without a warning, Low bent down and kissed Kyuo's mouth hastily and forcefully. And Kyuo responded by kissing him hungrily.

"Hey!" shouted Gau.

"Good for you, Low!" sang Elle and Faury both drunk and were slinging their arms at each other, swaying to their right and left, and cheering aloud at the couple.

Dias was shocked while Gau was furious at the sight of them. Immediately Dias caught Gau's arm as he saw Gau about to step in and break the couple.

"Leave them alone. You should know how Low feels about Kyuo," Dias replied with a knowing smile.

"Lust? Or love?" wondered Gau aloud. His head was knocked by Dias's knuckles.

"Ouch!"

"Of course love, silly. Then why do you think Low's spending most of his time training and following Kyuo," whispered Dias annoyingly. "Look!"

Elle and Faury soon dozed off onto the table to sleep while the valle and the Septia cuddled each other and snoring like a baby. Dias secured Feorina in Gau's arms. "Help me and take them to their beds. Low can stay in one of the guest rooms," ordered Dias as he helped Elle to her room. Gau sighed as he saw Kyuo lock in Low's arms before he took Feorina off.

Gau tucked Faury into bed as she mumbled incoherrent words in her sleep. He and Dias had to drag the Sui Reme together as she was heavy for Dias to carry. Nearby Dias stood by the window.

"Black Howling. Come here," called Dias quietly as he signaled his hand towards Gau. Gau stiffened. It was normal for Dias to refer him as Gau, but to call him Black Howling? He moved towards the window.

"Do you see what I see?" asked Dias cautiously peering through the window.

In the moonlight, Gau could see five boats approaching the Green Octopus Inn. "I see a group of people. About 20 people."

"It's strange for 20 or so people coming in the early morning to seek rooms and hospitality," mused Black Wing as he strained his eyes to see more clearly. "Unless…"

"they planned an attack," finished Gau worriedly. Low and Kyuo who were too drunk were still downstairs. He raced downstairs, followed by Dias.

"Hurry! You carry Low while I help Kyuo," cried Gau as he took Kyuo in his arm. Dias Lag agreed and helped Low to stand. Suddenly the door opened. Both turned and saw a beautiful woman scantily clad in silk standing by the door. Behind her stood four burly and fierce-looking men in the dark.

Her eyes swept around the room, surveying the surrounding before falling at the two men who were helping the others. She recognized the taller man as Dias Lag, Black Wing though she was not sure whether he had remembered her. They had met in her master's temple when Dias Lag tried to overpower the beast but failed. It was there that his health started to deteriorate because of the beast's curse. Rani Rai's brows arched as she saw a red- haired girl lying limply in a brunette boy's arms. The main purpose of their visits.

"I'm here for Kyuo Ryu, a Phantom member," Rani Rai announced airily as she sat on the table languidly.

"What do you want with her?" questioned Gau as he unconsciously drew her closer to him.

"I'm willing to pay a handsome sum for her!" said Rani Rai as she absently swept the food remains from her leg, ignoring Gau's question.

"Are you nuts! Do you take Kyuo as any other beast with a price tag?" asked Gau hotly.

"Who are you and what do you want with her?" asked Dias Lag coolly, repeating Gau's first question.

"Call me Rani. I need to talk to her. It's urgent."

Dias gently put Low on the floor. "You're not by chance the Rani Rai from the Soulfan temple of Afizoor, are you?" he frowned.

"I'm impress. You have a sharp memory."

"What do you want with Kyuo?" asked Dias Lag again as he stepped in front of Gau and Kyuo who was sleeping soundly in Gau's arms. He knew that Rani Rai was a dangerous sorceress, and like Darkness she was not a human, but yet she chose to side with Soulfan and not Juliannes. Low's sudden loud snore caused Dias and Gau sweatdropped as they took a defense stand against the Soulfans. Apparently, Rani was not amused.

"Not your business," scowled Rani impatiently.

"Kyuo's like a sister to me. Everything that is Kyuo's business is my business," claimed Dias as he prepared to strike his Black Wing.

One of the five men who stood silently beside Rani decided to speak out, "Let's just grab her and leave. We're more powerful than them."

Rani hushed him with a wave of her hand. "Silence, Ipa! Force is always my last resort."

She moved towards Kyuo as Gau walked backwards till his back was on the wall. "Don't worry, I'm just going to wake her up." Rani touched Kyuo's head tenderly, causing the effects of the alcohol and sleepiness to wear off. Kyuo woke up, finding herself at the arms of Gau.

"Gau? You can put me down," said Kyuo, looking red when she realized where she was.

Putting a knee onto the ground, Rani and her men bowed in respect as Kyuo stood up.

"We pay homage to Kyuo Ryuu, Jin Stola's grandaughter, Myer's daughter," announced Rani. She rose up. "Can we discuss privately?" asked Rani to Kyuo. Kyuo nodded as she led the sexy woman to her bedroom, leaving the six men and a boy staring at each other in the hall. The second of the five then cleared his voice, breaking the tension among them. "Mind if we bring our comrades in for a warm drink? We'll pay the bill." Dias nodded as he carried Low to bed while Gau proceeded to get the beers.

"Firstly, what's the guy who carry you just now?" asked Rani Rai as soon as they entered in the room.

"Huh?" said Kyuo.

"Is he your boyfriend?"she asked again.

"No," blushed Kyuo at the prospect of Gau being her boyfriend. She had come to the point of understanding that he would never have any romantic inclinations towards her because of his clueless brain and insensitive heart. It seemed that fighting and Elle were everything that he cared about.

"Did you engaged in something that's between a girl and a guy, you know…Uhm, how should I put it, yes…Did you mate with a guy?"

"What?"

"Did you sleep with someone?" asked Rani, staring hard, her face showing no expression at all.

"What?!!! You think I'm a whore?" screeched Kyuo as she stand suddenly, preparing to attack the inconsiderate woman.

"Well, are you?" questioned Rani loudly. Kyuo striked her face hard.

Rani touched her red cheeks, soberly. "Well, that shows you're pure. I'm sorry I had to provoke you. I rather not examine you physically."

"Who are you? And what do you want?"

"I'm here to tell you about your father!"

"About my father?!"

Elle yawned as she proceeded to the kitchen for breakfast. She woke up in the early dawn, as the effects of alcohol had quickly died off. Still, her head had suffered severed pounding and ache. She stopped slowly when she heard voices at the eatery. Early in the morning? wondered Shadow Skill as she tiptoed towards the noises. Slowly opening the kitchen window and peering through, Shadow Skill saw about 10 to 20 people sitting around the table. Gau Ban and her brother seemed to be serving them food and drinks. Without Feorina and Kyuo around, Dias cooked a simple meal in the kitchen for the guests. Elle chuckled a little when she saw her brother donning a pink apron and a scarf over his head.

"Aniki, what's with the Soulfan's monks doing here?" Shadow Skill asked after laughing at the funny sight, remembering suddenly that the guests had happened to be a good fighters.

"Now, Elle, Don't go creating troubles. These peoples are proper customers here. They paid a handsome sum for meals and stay-in rooms here," Dias responded as he stirred the pot of soup for the customers.

"Really?!" asked Elle as she put on her apron. Money was always her favourite topic next to drinking. Her eyes open as wide as a saucer when she saw a rough, shining diamond as big as a thimble on his palm. That was two years of wage for any ordinary Kurudan soldier. Elle nimbly took the over the pot. "Let me help out since I work here."

"No." Dias shook his head firmly. "The last thing that we ever need is for them to see a doctor for food poisoning. You go and help Gau to attend the customers."

"Oh, Aniki. I don't want to serve them. Imagine the 59th Sevalle having to wait upon a Soulfan. Surely you don't want to have a fight here, eh?" moaned Elle, putting a pouting face.

Dias sighed. "Alright, wake up Feorina and Faury. I'm sure they have more common sense and courtesy to deal with them."

"This is your beds," said Gau as he placed the mattresses, pillows and blankets in the room. The five men who came earlier with Rani Rai specifically asked for an empty room opposite to Kyuo. Low had already wake up and decided to go the Kurudan palace after being summoned by King Iva Stolla. At first Gau did not like the idea of assigning the room to Ipa, Ria, Imub, Aradu and Awayn, but after some persuasion and Ria's assurance that they did not meant any harm against Kyuo, Gau finally agreed to do so. Gau also realized that he could keep a watch over Kyuo and the five men as his room was just next to her. Kyuo's meeting with Rani Rai was taking a long time as it was now almost noon and Gau wondered whether he should knock the door to see if everything was alright.

"You're a very strong young man," mused Imub, the tallest man who watched him balanced the mattress and the blanket.

"And a very attractive one I must say. Lean, good looking valle," drawled Ria, appreciatively.

"I choose to disagree. The one that Mr Dias Lag carried this morning was way more like a warrior than this one," argued Awayn who was lounging by the window.

"Perverts!" snorted Aradu as he turned his back towards Mr Awayn and Mr Ria and sighed.

"Hey!" cried the other two almost simultaneously.

"We're only appreciating beauty" protested Awayn as he waved his hands up, trying to prove his innocence.

"Not like someone who seized every opportunity to visit brothel houses in Ashliana!" continued Ria, piping.

"Why, you!" Aradu fuming as he wrestled Ria onto the ground. The two fight like two angry children, kicking and punching at each other although they looked like skillful warriors. Ipa snorted while Imub sweatdropped before breaking the cat-dog fight.

"Forgive them. The two, no three really don't know how to act even though they are the Guardian Warriors of Afizoor," apologized Mr Imub, glancing angrily at the smug Awayn who was just sitting down.

"Who or what is Afizoor?" asked Gau curiously.

Before Imub could reply, Kyuo's door was opened and slammed hard. Kyuo was out of the room, but Gau could see from the opened door that Kyuo was brimming with anger. He moved towards Kyuo but she cut him. "Don't ask. I don't want you around now!" she screamed. She ran down the stairs and nearly banged Elle who would have nearly spill the warm water if it wasn't for her evasive action.

"What's with Kyuo?!" asked Elle when Gau went near her.

"Don't know. Must have something to do with her," Gau remarked, pointing his finger at Rani Rai who was now discussing privately with her five aides.

"Let me go, Screbb Lowereginn!" said teary-eyed Kyuo, as she tried to wriggle herself out from Low's fast grasp. Low drew her closer to his body, hugging her.

"Tell me, Kyuo. Who and what did they do to hurt you? Wipe your tears away, my dearest maiden and tell me who is the culprit so that I might teach him a lesson," said Low furiously as he stroke Kyuo's hair. Kyuo's muffled sob had shredded his heart to pieces and Low badly wanted to kiss her tears away. It was outside the Kurudan palace that Low met Kyuo crying piteously. The poor girl huddled herself alone in front of the palace gate as the palace sentries refused to allow the girl to enter the palace for personal matters. Low gave the sentries sound beatings for the harsh treatments that they gave to Kyuo. Despite of that, Kyuo refused to stop crying.

"Did Gau Ban hurt you?" frowned Low as he failed to comprehend the reason behind Kyuo's sadness. Kyuo shook her head. "Nobody wanted me,"

For once Low wanted to squeeze some sense out from Kyuo, an act he often felt towards Gau Ban. But he couldn't because he had fallen deeply in love with her and no valle nor sevalle would do such a thing to the damsels that they vowed to protect with their own life. Of course, he could seize this opportunity to proclaim his undying love for her.

"Of course not. Everybody cares for you. I love you," he said, nervously laughing. Hopefully she gets the hint.

Kyuo looked at him oddly. "You love me?" she asked slowly, disbelieving at first of what she had heard from the handsome white-haired man.

Low gulped before confessing, "Yes I love you. Then, why do you think I gave you a kiss last night?"

Before Kyuo could speak any words, Low hid her to a shaded corner, clearing the path for the palace guards to pass to the palace with the Starruckus Beast that they had captured. The demon beast pranced around and rattled the cage when it passed Kyuo and Low at the corner.

"Captain!" shouted Low as the team captain was about to pass through the gate. Pointing at the two beaten sentries, Low told him to change them. "I managed to chased the man who did these to them," he lied, giving an acceptable excuse about the state of the two sentries. After making sure that the restless Starruckus Demon was safely secured in the demon beast barn, Low then went to find Kyuo. However he could not find her as she had seemed to left her hiding place. By the time he returned to the barn to check the demon beast, he found it resting docilely.

"It is true, then. They say that Lady Shadow Skill have exceptionally a lot of muscles in her brain and exceptionally little of brain cells," laughed Rani Rai as she sat together with her five close companions for lunch. The other Soulfan monks sat on the other table for lunch as they knew that there was going to have a fight between the temple priestess and the female Sevalles and did not want to stand on their way. Although Imbu knew that Rani Rai was able to hold on her own against Elle, still he could not take any chances for Rani Rai to get hurt. And she was susceptible to grave danger, against the Sevalle if she was not careful. Ipa, being the short tempered one, showed signs of wanting a battle like Rani Rai and though Awayn, Air and Aradu sat quietly eating their rice, their bodies were tensed up, waiting to strike at any first sign of attack. Dias noticed their preparedness and touched Elle. "Elle, don't. They're customers here."

"Right!" agreed Feorina. She did not dislike the Soulfans, but she could do a lot with the diamond now . Anybody with money was welcome to stay in the inn and nowadays the Kurudans did visited Green Octopus Inn a little, causing her little earnings.

Elle still fumed in anger. That woman had evade her question again and had insulted her intelligence. "For the last time, what did you do to Kyuo? Or do you want me to blow your head up and splatter it's content on the wall? " Elle asked menancingly. The memory of Kyuo running away crying, insisting to take the boat away even though Gau offered his help was too much for her to accept. Rani could have hurt her, or perhaps put a spell on her since Faury admit that Rani be dangerous as a socceress. Even Dias agreed that at some point, Rani could hypnotize people. But since Faury the peacemaker refused to confront the temple priestess, Elle was going to do so. But little did Elle knew, that Faury was formulating plans to beat Rani on her own. And like Elle, Faury took Kyuo as her own sister and was planning to rescue her in any trouble that might be spelled by Rani. So she was going to keep quiet and let Elle to stir up troubles so that she could watch how Rani's powers worked. She had never witness Soulfan's sorcery; it was thought to be a legend among the Sui Remes in Juliannes. The Soulfan's magics worked differently than the Sui Remes'. But Dias was not going to allow her to do so. Too much of lives were at stake and a war might be announced between two country if the Soulfan monks were found slaughter by the Sevalle of Kuruda.

"Gau, help me," directed Dias as he dragged Elle out of the room. The younger boy obliged and took Elle's other arm. They left the room quickly. A few moments later, Faury and Feorina could heard Elle's playful voice complaining, "Awww, you don't have to chain me, aniki….Okay, okay! I'll put my best behaviour, if you set me free...Yikes, furry bunny! Take it away!! Take it away!!"

Rani almost choked her food. Imub looked at her concernedly as Rani coughed out food onto her plate. The room tension was broken easily by Ria and Awayn's laughter who was then followed by the other's who were laughing at the poor state that Rani was in.