Chapter one: Unexpected visitors

'plink' 'plink' Ryoma opened his eyes, only to see, once again that nothing had changed. he was still there, he was still in pain, and he still had no hopes of living. Ryoma didn't move, movement only caused more and more pain. Ryoma only ever moved his eye's. looking around, he was still surrounded by the same people, his father, Echizen Nanjirou, his fathers partner, Hanamura Aoi, and a number of their workers. Ryoma was still in the thick green liquid and he still had the I.V. stuck in his arm's. Hanamura still looked at Ryoma with a possessive glint in her eye's, and his father, looked desperate and cold. His father didn't care at all about Ryoma. His Father only cared about finding his mother, and he was willing to go through any lengths. Even lengths that there is a VERY small chance of working and even loosing his youngest son's life just to attempt it.

Waking up, Ryoma was confused, why would he have a dream about the past? Ryoma wanted to forget his past completely. Ryoma then realized what made him have that dream. It was the rain. It sounded very similar to the I.V. drips. Ryoma shook his head, as though to shake the very memory from his mind.

Ryoma forced his body to wake up, to take in his surroundings, the rain was already getting harder. There wasn't supposed to be rain in this season. There hardly ever is, so Ryoma knew that this rain was not natural... Getting off of his small cushion he called his bed in the corner of the room, he pulled his waist length raven black hair back and tied it with a small piece of string, his bangs hanging over his eyes making his eye sight slightly blurred. Ryoma walked across the cold rock to the entrance of his home. It couldn't be called much of a home though. It was just a little cave in the side of the mountain next to a waterfall. It was very dangerous there so there were no visitors, and there were legends of inhuman creatures inhabiting this side of the mountain. There were supposed 'big winged creatures' that would often drink the water of the pond below, so that made almost positive that no one would come near here.

Walking into a little circular room, Ryoma walked around and started moving things to higher ground in the cave. It was just a precaution because Ryoma didn't know when, or if it would flood, but there was always a chance. When he moved everything he could, Ryoma got some rope off the wall and started tying down the things he couldn't move by himself, like the solar powered refrigerator, and heavy couch, and solar powered stove n' oven. When he was finished, Ryoma got some buckets and walked toward the opening of the cave when he heard a strangled cry of help.

Setting the buckets down, Ryoma ran towards the sound to see eight people being trapped by two large 'mini' waterfalls that had veered off the path that they originally flowed. Running back in his home, Ryoma grabbed the strongest rope he had and ran back to them. "HEY! Hey you, Can you help us?" one of them asked with his spiky hair starting to get wet and plastering to his face. Ryoma nodded and going as close as he dared to the roaring fall, Ryoma tosses one of the ends of the rope to one of them and they handed it to a tall, well built brown headed man.

Ryoma then turned around and tied the other end to a fairly steady rock and held on to it as they came across one by one. The first was a fairly tall one with brunet hair and brown eye's with wire frame glasses. his hair was already stuck to his face, but even then, you could tell he had a handsome face. When he was fully across, the brunet turned and started helping his companions across. The second one to cross was a another man, who looked of the same age as the first one. This one was considerably shorter than the other though, but his expressions were slightly creepy. For as long as he came across, not once did he open his eye's.

The third one who came across, was a boy with red hair and he came across the rope the fastest. He even looked like he was having fun, coming across. When he was finally over, another crossed. This one had one of the oddest hair cuts Ryoma had ever seen. His hair was very short all around his head, but at two spots that they overshadowed his forehead, almost framing his eye's.

The fifth one was tall but he kept bending his back, and going 'ffssshhhuuuuu~' with an odd expression on his face. The water was coming down harder now, and even the green bandana on the fifth ones head was starting to slip. Grabbing his bandana, he quickly came across, and waited for the other three to come.

The sixth one was much taller than the bandana guy and he had short spiked hair. He was the one that had yelled to him for help. He was a loud one by the looks of it. He kept making remarks about not loosing to the 'mamushi.' when he was finally over he decided to gloat to the bandana guy. Ryoma couldn't hear what was said but all of a sudden, they were yelling at each other. "WHAT DID YA SAY, MAMUSHI?" and the bandana guy said "YOU HEARD ME ASSHOLE!"

While those two were fighting, one of the two people still on the other side of the rope came across. This one was easily the tallest one in the group. He had thick glasses that you couldn't even see his eye's. His black hair was plastered to his face making Ryoma unable to really get a good trademark on the man. He was easily the fastest even though he was loaded down with many bags.

The last man, who had been holding the rope started making his way to the other side. He was slower than the one before but he had a sword of some sort and he was very loud yelling 'BURNING.' when he was finally over they finally registered that Ryoma had saved them. Turning around they looked at Ryoma, who was tying the rope together. Ryoma quickly noticed that he was being watched and looked up.

They were all staring at him do so, Ryoma quickly stood and motioned for them to follow. They did. Walking back to his cave he practically ran. He didn't want to be out in this storm much longer. The storms out here could get treacherous. When they finally got to the cave entrance, Ryoma headed in first, and waited for the others to follow. When they did Ryoma lead them to the part of the cave he lived in.

When they got there all eight of his visitors were looking around and then back at him, with his beautiful long raven hair and ratted clothes (Ryoma didn't like to wear his good clothes since most of his clothes are messed up) that didn't match. Ryoma knew what they were thinking, it was obvious in more ways than one, Ryoma ignored it and motioned to his table. There weren't enough chairs but there was enough places to sit relatively near there. When they started putting their bags down on the floor and sitting down Ryoma turned and went into another room where he kept his clothes, blankets and towels. He grabbed nine of everything and after he found the right sizes Ryoma took it and rejoined his guest.

Reentering the room they all fell silent. Ryoma put everything on the table and started handing them clothes and stuff. When they were all passed out Ryoma motioned to the bathroom for everyone to take a shower and change. All the while Ryoma didn't say a word. When everyone was finished the brunet with glasses walked up to him and said "Thank you very much for saving us and letting us borrow these clothes. My name is Tezuka Kunimitsu. Nice to meet you."

Ryoma nodded with a light smile on his face and bowed, showing that he understood. Ryoma didn't want to talk. He was scared to. The last time he spoke… Ryoma didn't want to even think about it. Not long after one by one they started introducing themselves.

First came the boy with the creepy eye's. now that his hair was dry it was light brown and seemed to frame his head "my name is Fuji Shusuke. Nice to meet you." Ryoma nodded and bowed, Ryoma felt slightly creeped out by this Fuji person. Why wouldn't he open his eye's? was he blind? Ryoma kept asking these kinds of questions in his head, thou he had no intention of voicing them.

Next was the brown headed man who held the rope whule everyone got across and kept yelling 'BURNING' when he was coming across the rope himself. "ah… uh.. N- nice to meet you… I my name is Kawamura Takashi.." he slumped away sheepishly, embarrassed from when Ryoma bowed to him. Ryoma wondered what in the world happened to the loud man from before.

The third one came up, and it was the spiky haired boy who had called to Ryoma for help. "my name's Takeshi Momoshiro. Everyone calls me Momo. Nice to meet you." Ryoma nodded again and bowed to him. He seemed very nice, but his earlier outburst kept Ryoma wondering…

The fourth one was the boy with the odd haircut. "nice to meet you. My name is Shuichiro Oishi. Thank you for saving us." he then stepped back for the next one to come forward.

The fifth one who stepped up, was the tallest of the bunch and was one of the fastest to come across the rope even with all the bags that he had. "my name is Sadaharu Inui. Nice to meet you. May I ask what your name is?" Ryoma didn't say a word, and smiled a light smile, completely blowing the statement off.

The next one was the hyper redhead that seemed to think that it was fun to go across the rope. He bouced up to Ryoma and said "nice to meet you. My name is Kikumaru Eiji. So you don't have a name? cool~! That means that you can name yourself! What do you want to be called?" Ryoma didn't answer and it wasn't even the fact that he was scared to talk. Ryoma probably wouldn't have been ably to say anything even if he did talk, out of sheer surprise. When Ryoma was silent Kikumaru went ahead and said "well since you don't seem to care I'll name you! Your new name is… Ku~!"

"Kikumaru…" said Tezuka behind them, warning Kikumaru to calm down. Kikumaru quickly complied and went to sit next to the one called 'Oishi' and started acting scared. Then the last one came up to him. He seemed a little quieter than most, other than his and Momoshiro's little spat in the rain. "I'm Kaidou Kaoru. Nice to meet you." then he slumped away, right back to where he was before in the little corner of the room.

Ryoma then went to a little basket and got a small pencil and started looking for a peace of paper. Inui, who noticed this, went to one of his bags and got a small notebook and handed it to Ryoma "here, please use this" he said as Ryoma took it.

'Nice to meet you, all as well. If you don't mind me asking, why are you here? There are never people in this valley other than me'.

Ryoma then passed the note to them and they read it. They seemed surprised that Ryoma could write and they seemed even more surprised by how beautiful his writing was. The tall man named Tezuka spoke up. "we are… explorers. We heard or the legends that there were 'winged creatures' that used to roam this valley. There was not supposed to be rain, or we would not have come today. May I ask… why are you here? This valley is supposed to be abandoned and lifeless of all human's."

Ryoma took the paper and wrote his reply.

'This rain is not natural. There is hardly ever rain in this reign at this time of year. As for the legend, I am not sure of. I have heard of it but I have not seen any here.'

Ryoma completely ignored his question as to why he was there. He didn't want anyone to know. They would just leave, and eventually forget about Ryoma. That is what would be best. If was safer for everyone.

They noticed that Ryoma didn't answer the question as to why he was there but let it slip, trying not to pry on Ryoma's personal affairs. "so there are no 'winged creatures…' how do you know the rain is not natural? Surely there are random showers here as well as everywhere else."

Ryoma shook his head, and wrote,

'There is not any rain around here that I don't know of. If it was going to rain I would have known. There is life here, so just by watching the animals you know when its going to rain. They always head to higher ground since the river above and below always overflows and creates disaster. they didn't go to high ground this time. And there might have been 'winged creatures' here once, but I've see none in the time I've lived here. You can look though. There are several small caverns and high up caves in this valley.'

Reading this, they seemed to become slightly excited and said "there might be fossilized remains that we might can get a hold of and analyze. Does everyone want to stay and explore?" he turned toward his comrades and asked. They all nodded in unison. "when will it be safe to camp in the valley?" he asked Ryoma.

Ryoma shook his head and wrote

'not anytime soon. The rain is going to make the ground too soft and the animals too excited. You might be attacked, or worse. You can stay here if you like, but I will need help getting food for all of you… I don't eat meat so you have to get that yourselves there is a market right outside the valley'

Why not enjoy the company while he had it? Ryoma watched as Tezuka read it, when he was done reading he looked up and said "thank you very much. I believe that we will take you up on that proposition. Where is this town?" Ryoma nodded and wrote

'The closest one is right out to the left of this cave the way you came, but be careful and do not mention that you came here. If you do you will be chased out of the village…'

Tezuka nodded in understanding and said "okay, I'll be careful. Will you be coming with us to town?" Ryoma shook his head. There was no way Ryoma would ever step in that town again. Ryoma knew from experience what would happen if people found out that they came from the valley. Ryoma himself was chased away from there. "how will you get food?" Tezuka asked, wondering how the child survived in the valley by himself.

Ryoma once again took the paper and wrote

'I have a small garden a ways away and I get food from there. The animals can't get to it either since its hidden and blocked off.'

Tezuka read it and nodded. The rest of the group was sitting down and watching their exchanges quietly, not much making noise. Then, gggrrrooowwweeeelllll~, came a sound. Ryoma looked around to see Momo holding his stomach and he said "sorry sorry, I haven't eaten since lunch." Ryoma smiled and turned to the kitchen, in fact he was hungry himself, so he started gather supplies. He got the pot, ladel, and a knife. Then he went back to get the bucket and went outside, knowing fully that his every move was being watched by the newcomers.

Stepping towards the cave entrance, Ryoma sat the bucket down and pushed the bucket under some running water at the opening, and waited for it to fill. When it was finally full, Ryoma picked it up with both hands and very carefully walked back into the cave. The bucket was heavy. Ryoma was only 4ft 11in tall and his muscular strength was lacking greatly.

When he finally got it into the 'kitchen' Ryoma grabbed a cup and started pouring water into a filter to clean the water. When all of the water was filtered, Ryoma took it and put it on the oven, to start boiling it. While the water was heating, Ryoma went over to the refrigerator and started getting fruits and vegetables. Then Ryoma remembered something and walked back to the table.

'is there anything that anyone doesn't like?' Ryoma wrote, before he started cooking. They all shook their head and gibbering about where they were going to start the next day. Ryoma went back and got a few flavorings and spread the food out. There were carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, celery, corn, sweet baisil, and a few more things. When he started cutting the food, there came a voice behind him that said "do you need any help?" Ryoma turned around to see Tezuka and nodded. He got him a knife and pointed to a few vegetables.

When everything was cut, Ryoma started putting the food in the now boiling pot. Then he put in the flavoring, so that it wouldn't be too bland. While the food was cooking, Ryoma sat in the living room and watched the others plan and talk. Ryoma kind of liked this atmosphere. There were other people, who was jus talking around him like any other person. There was quite a bit of staring, but it was out of curiosity rather than calculating and cold.

Ryoma curled up in a ball and closed his eye's, listening to the words of his guest. They were still going over thing for when they set out. Smelling the food, Ryoma got up to check it. Getting a small bowel, Ryoma poured a small amount into it to taste. It was ready.

Getting bowels, Ryoma filled nine and carried them to the table on a tray, with silverware and chop-sticks. Ryoma also noticed that he was low on a few items. Ryoma decided to ask them to pick up a few things when they went to town.

Walking back to the table, Ryoma was surrounded with them grabbing bowels before he could even reach it. Sitting down, Ryoma put his hands together and praywd then started eating his own soup, and everyone else was complementing him on his cooking skills. While they ate, they asked Ryoma questions.

"do you have a father?" Inui asked, a notebook in his hands. Ryoma nodded, and took a bite of his soup. "does he live near here?" he asked, and Ryoma shook his head. He didn't like this topic. Not at all…

"Ne, Ku, what do you do for fun?" Kikumaru asked, Ryoma took the paper and wrote, 'I play with the kittens sometimes. The place where I sell fish to get money for things I can't get myself always has kittens and other animals. Other than that I work in the garden and clean.' and passed it to Kikumaru, who read it and said, "that doesn't seem very fun… oh! How old are you?" he asked, seemingly struck by inspiration. '12' Ryoma wrote, a little shy by the fact that he was that young. "oh, Ku you sure are young… me, Tezuka, Oishi, Inui, Fuji, and Taka-san are seventeen. Momo and Kaidou are sixteen. Ryoma blushed. He knew that they were older than him, but he didn't know that they were that much older.

When he was finished eating, Ryoma went to check outside to see the sky. By the looks of it, it wouldn't stop anytime soon and the wind was picking up more and more. Going back in, Ryoma went to a box in his room and got his winter shield from the cold and went to put it up. "do you need help?" they asked and Ryoma shook his head and went back to finishing. All he had to do was put the plastic shield up and tie it down and he was done.

Yawning, Ryoma put the dishes in the sink and boiled water to wash dishes. When he was waiting for the water to cool, Ryoma showed them where to sleep and if they needed more blankets where to find them. When they said their thanks again, Ryoma smiled and shook his head, not needing any thanks and he went back to washing dishes so they could get to sleep.

When Ryoma finally finished the dishes, he himself went to bed. Exhausted, he sunk into his cushion, covered up and fell asleep almost immediately…