Chapter 2:
Coming Together

Shiroken continued traveling at a quick pace. He knew that he was getting close and he didn't want to lag behind. As he was walking he heard two voices up ahead. A man and a woman. He stealthily approached to peer through the bushes and see if it was who he was hoping for. Looking at the girl, he could see long blue hair down her back. From the description he had, Mirai had short blond hair. Slightly deflated that these weren't the ones he was looking for, he turns to continue his search.

...

"Hotaru-sama, did you see that?"

"Yeah, don't worry about it. It was just some guy. Let's keep going." With that, the two continued onward on their quest. Hotaru was still unsure of what she was going to do when they found the one they were looking for. Or even how to recognize someone when she didn't know what they looked like. Truthfully, she was still afraid of what would happen. This person was said to have killed high level mazoku without even breaking a sweat. But despite her fears, she knew she had a job to do and it was nice having Vaughn with her. It would just be better if she had some help.

Then she remembered something. "Vaughn, have you ever heard of a Lina Inverse?"

"Not recently, but I do recall that she disposed of your predecessor."

Just as I thought."I think we should find her. For help, that is. I really don't think I can do this on my own and if she is as powerful as the legends say, she should have no trouble with this guy."

"Whatever you say, Hotaru-sama. Where do we start?"

"I have no idea."

...

"Oh, you're awake now."

"You stayed up all night?"

"Yeah, you have to be careful on the road. You can't let your guard down for long. Would you like something to eat? There's a stream nearby, we should be able to catch something." With her nod of agreement, Zelgadis and Mirai got up to get breakfast ready. Mirai went to catch some fish and Zelgadis started the fire.

At the stream, Mirai began to remember some of her stray thoughts from the night before. Zelgadis wasn't bad looking and he seemed pretty nice. I wonder how old he is. She was so immersed in her thoughts that she almost let the fish get away. After she caught a couple of fish for each of them, she started out back towards camp. Up ahead on the road, she saw a man dressed all in green. He was walking pretty fast and whipping his head around as though he were looking for something. Since her father had always taught her to help a person in need, she called out to the stranger. When he turned to look at her, his dark green eyes lit up. He must really need some help.

"You look like you lost something. Would you like some help looking for it?"

"Actually, I think I just found what I was looking for. Would your name, by chance, be Mirai Gabriev?"

Startled that a strange man knew her name, it took a moment for her brain and mouth to cooperate enough to give an answer. "Uh, yes?" she supplied hesitantly. "Why? Who are you?"

"Oh, sorry, I've been rude. My name is Shiroken Leanel and Queen Amelia of Seyruun is very worried about your well being. I've come to find you. Please, allow me to escort you back." He flashed her one of his most charming and sincere smiles.

She was caught up in that smile and almost agreed to do anything he liked, but her quest was too important. "I'm sorry. You'll have to go back without me. I'm not returning until I find my mother."

"Well then, My Lady, I must insist on journeying with you. I cannot in good conscience let a beautiful young maiden such as yourself travel these roads alone." He moves to stand to her left and takes her arm. "Together, I'm sure we'll find your mother in no time." Mirai moves to gather up the fish and Shiroken stops her. "No, no, My Lady, allow me." He takes up the fish and follows Mirai back to her campsite.

Mirai had been so caught up in the strange new companion that she forgot to mention to him that she wasn't traveling alone. This became quite evident when she noticed both of the men looking to her for explanation of who the other is. "Oh, yeah, uhm Shiroken, this is Zelgadis Greywords. Zelgadis, Shiroken Leanel."

"So you're the mysterious companion that I heard was following this kind lady."

With suspicion darkening his eyes, Zelgadis looks to Mirai for some answers. Who is this strange man and why did she feel the need to bring him back to her camp. He began to wonder if Mirai was the type to gather strays into her group often.

...

"Where am I?"

Looking around the room, the petit sorceress could see... virtually nothing. It was nearly pitch black. She had just woken up with a splitting headache and things were not looking up from there.

"Hey, if there's anybody out there, Untie me NOW!" This last comment was after she had discovered the chains locking her down on her bed. After nobody had answered to her bellows, she decided to try and get herself out of the mess, as usual.

Life really hasn't been treating her well lately. She was having marital problems and then her husband up and dies. He choked on a chicken bone, for L-sama's sake. That was not the way she wanted to solve their problems. So, she sends Mirai to stay with Amelia and sets out to rediscover herself. Something she had been meaning to do before anyway. After checking into an inn one night, she is now here; which definitely not the same room she went to sleep in. Tied down to a bed, with a headache, and she can't see ... and now her magic isn't working.

Well, it's definitely not that reason.Her magic was not working and she had no logical reason for it. "Can things get any worse?"

...

"Mirai, I think we need to talk." Zel looks at the new stranger. "Over here." He pulls her over to the trees on the edge of their campsite. "Who is this guy?"

"Shiroken Leanel." The answer was quite obvious.

"..." It took a moment for his compusure to return. "I know that already. But what do you know about him? He could be dangerous."

"He came from Seyruun. Auntie Amelia's worried about me and apparently sent people off to look for me. However, I'm not going until I find my mom, so, he has decided to come along and help look. Stop worrying and be nice." The conversation apparently over, she turns around to gather her supplies and set back out onto the road.

"Is there a problem with my coming along, Mirai-dono?"

"Nope. No problem at all. You just got to hold your own."

"Oh, don't worry, I'm quite capable." Shiroken glances over to Zelgadis. With a flash of his dashing smile, Zel is even more sure that he does not like this man. "Shall I take your arm, my lady?"

...

Hiding away in the shadows is a small group of bandits awaiting their approaching targets. These bandits weren't very smart, even by their profression's standards, otherwise, they would have noticed that this wasn't the best of groups to get involved with. All three of the travelers were wearing swords, and judging by their clothing, one of them most likely knew magic as well. Yep, the bandits just aren't too bright. So they are waiting for the group to move closer before they attacked.

"This'll be a piece o' cake."


In the grand tradition of Blue Seed's Omake Theater; Lodoss War's Playing Around and Fushigi Yuugi's Fushigi Akugi; I am proud to present...

Parodies

"Oh, you're awake now."

"You stayed up all night?"

"Yes of course I did. Someone has to keep watch on your- I mean for bandits." Phew, that was close.

"It sounded like you were about to say something else."

She's on to me. Think, think! I can't let her know I was staring at her while she was sleeping.

"Well, nevermind. Shall we get breakfast started?"

Safe!