By the Saihitei and Cappie-chan
Yumiko sighed a bit as she rubbed her swollen head. It's pain was radiating down the back of her head, and to her spine; but thankfully, nothing seemed to be broken…Taking a deep breathe, she opened her eyes, and let the sky above blind her eyes. For some reason, the heavens seemed every more radiant then ever, as if pollution had never even taken place in the world, and it's color was so vibrant that it seemed to go beyond histories reach. From what Yumiko reasoned, a storm had just seemed to have washed over the country side, for great puffy cumulous clouds floated daintily over her head, their bottoms washed over with the deepest of gray.
Groaning, Yumiko forced her body to move, even though every bit of sense she had seemed to be screaming at her to stay stationary, and lying against the comforting red earth. However, Yumiko disdainfully ignored them, and urged her body to come into an upright position.
"Uh…" Yumiko groaned, grasping her head, now wet with perspiration.
--what exactly happened? The last thing she remembered was a blinding flash of red light…and then, suddenly, it had all gone black, until now.—
Looking around, she found herself in a totally unfamiliar place. Well…perhaps, it might have been familiar; after all, it did look like a typical pine forest. However, considering that she could have sworn she was just in the Tokyo public library, the feeling was unnerving.
The only thing that perhaps calmed her oncoming hysteria was the natural beauty that surrounded her. Great, ancient pine trees, almost the color of the red earth she was now seated upon, surrounded her, their pristine beauty and dignity almost caught her breath. Late afternoon sun, the color of strong tea, filtered in through its bright branches above—casting to world into a stained glass picture, the color of late afternoon.
Slowly, taking her time, she got up and stretched gingerly. It wasn't that she was not in good physical condition; no, all the training at the family dojo and shrine wouldn't allow her to be. It seemed though, that when she had hit the ground, she had hit it hard, and she could feel the bruises and cuts already begin to cause her frustration.
Where am I…? Yumiko wondered as she began to walk slowly through the under brush.
One things for sure…I'm not in Kansas anymore. Yumiko grinned a bit as she walked, however, after a half an hour of walking through the dense forest, her thoughts turned dark…I need to find some sort of shelter before dark…who knows what comes out of these woods at night…
The sun was now setting deeply onto the horizon, turning the sky flaming red…
"Chiriko-sama, where are you going?" a servant asked, her voice edged with worry. "Hopefully not too far…"
Chiroku looked up, smiled a bit, and then continued to neatly fold a small collection of clothes into a chest, "I'm sorry, Chung, I should have told you sooner. I am going to the capital…"
"B-But, we have expected guests soon!" Chung sputtered, trying to find some excuse for her young master not to leave. He was not ready for such adventures. Not yet.
"I'm sorry…but the constellations, they are aligned. Soon, Suzaku no miko will present herself. We do not want her in the hands of our enemy…I'm sorry, Chung, I should have told you sooner…It is true, I have known of this situation for much time…but…"
Chung walked quietly over to the small boy, and put her hand onto his shoulder, "It's alright…I knew you must go one day…just, be careful. Your parents worry…"
Even though they are long gone, they worry for you, young master
Chiriko turned around, his eyes glistening with warmth and understanding, "Yes, I will be careful. Be sure to inform the guests of my absence."
Chung bowed low, and dismissed herself…she had a feeling she would never see him again, or at least, not for a very long time…
Chiriko turned his gaze to the open courtyard, just visible from his room. It was a dry sort of heat covering the city, but soon, the ocean fog would cool. His eyes shifted to the large pomegranate tree outside his window, the young green fruits turning with the heat a hint of yellow. Soon, they would turn their true scarlet.
Chichiri silently jumped off the sun-baked rock, which had been his seat for about two hours. It seemed not to mind. Chichiri whistled a quiet tune as he grabbed his fish, which he hoped, would be enough for the bandits and such. Those guys had appetites, and of course, it was just their luck they had decided to camp by a nearly fishless stream. Chichiri just prayed, as he was very good at doing, that the men had managed to find something worthwhile in the forest. After all, it was dusk, and the animals were beginning to emerge from their hallows and nests.
"What the—" he fumbled as he found himself falling a bit, but quickly he recovered himself, and looked down at what had obstructed the path. Strange, very strange indeed. It seemed to be a young girl, and at that, a foreigner no doubt. She looked Asian, or at least from what he could tell from her hair—but her clothes, they were…strange…he had never seen such fine stitches and such fabric.
He couldn't leave her…after all, a girl, unconscious, in the woods, at night? That only spelled disaster, and more likely than not, a tramp of hunter would find her, and decide to have 'fun'. In any case, perhaps whenever she decided to wake up, she would help him with the cooking. No doubt the girl was hungry, and the bandits didn't take much to cooking. He nearly had to force them just to peal the yams. Grumbling a bit, he slipped the fish into his hat—allowing them to disappear into the void. They would be safe there—after all, knowing magic did have its advantages.
Carefully picking her up, aware of her bruises, he began to make his way back to camp. What would Tasuki and Kouji say? Or rather, do?
"Chichiri~!" a flame haired man roared, a mixture of happiness and anger painted carefully onto his face, "Where have you been?! Damn it!"
The blue haired monk sighed a bit, emerging into the light of the fire, "As you can see, I got a bit sidetracked, no da."
"I'll say!" a fellow
bandit grinned a bit, admiring the girl which was now laying on top of the
"Kouji…! Just help me get her down, no da!" the monk grumbled irritably towards the insensitive and sex driven 'number two' of the clan. The man with the scar rushed forward, followed by the man with the flame colored hair, which seemed more concerned about the girl, rather than her physical attributes. Of course, he was not totally unaware of them.
"Where the hell did you find her? Who the hell would be out in these woods, at dusk!? That's practically suicide!" the blazing haired male roared, exasperated as he felt her brow with a pissed of expression on her face, "Well, we can't wait for her to wake up!"
Grabbing a bucket of nearby water, he gingerly turned it upside down, the icy brew covering Yumiko's body. She awoke with a start, spurting water and coughing.
"What the—What happened?!" She began, and then, looking up and finding herself surrounded by about fifty or so men, her mouth closed, and she gripped her clothes tightly. Out of the frying pan, and into the fire…
"I…" She began. Damn. Figured that when she had decided to pass out, a bunch of sexually frustrated men had decided to pick her up.
"Don't worry about them,
no da." Someone said behind her.
Turning her head, she found an almost cat-like smiling face looking towards her…
"They don't mean any harm. They just haven't seen a woman in a couple of weeks, that's all, but Tasuki and Kouji will keep them in line, no da. You can cook right?" the man asked smiling his ever-continual smile.
"Uh…yes, I can. But-where am I? Who are you?" Yumiko answered, although now, confused beyond any reasoning. This monk referred to a 'Tasuki' and 'Kouji'—whoever they were, hopefully they would have some breeding…or at least, manners. She shivered a bit, but then nodded to the man, who was still smiling at her. Obviously, to these men, life was: dinner first, questions later. However, she felt about a hundred pairs of eyes roving her body, and embarrassed she got up suddenly, wrapping her arms around her. Although the night was cold—she still had no idea where she was…and even this brought shivers up her spine.
She grimaced a bit, although she had never been one to rely on the kindness of strangers, it seemed that she would be forced to. After all, she had been born and raised in Tokyo. A place where rapists, perverts, and crazy people rode the subways; and got a kick out of feeling high school girls up. But now, it seemed, she had no choice. It was either accept their rugged hospitality that involved cooking; or else go back to the dark woods, filled with things she did not want even imagine.
"Yes, I can cook." Yumiko repeated, fumbling a bit as the blue haired and ever smiling man dressed in garb of a Japanese monk, took her hand and led her away from the crowd.
"We can talk while we clean these fish, no da. I hope you don't mind that…unless, you cant to cut up all those stolen vegetables over there." He said, motioning to a barrel full of a variety of different kinds on a loosely constructed table.
"Stolen vegetables?" Yumiko questioned nervously.
"I myself don't agree with stealing myself—sometimes it's easier just to ask, no da. But, it seems that stealing is just in a bandit's job description." He said, smiling as he hacked the head off the fish.
"So, that's what these guys are…" Yumiko said, a bit amazed as her eyes looked over the group of about fifty men—practicing their swordsmanship, beating drums, talking, laughing, drinking, or just sleeping—the past time of a bandit, so it would seem.
"Yes, they are bandits. Really, the guys aren't so bad. Most of them are fathers, and just trying to get by for their family, no da. The crop harvest was pretty bad this year, and Kutou has been resorting to stealing some of Konon's crops. Basically, these guys are just trying to get by, no da."
Kutou? Konon? Bad crops?
"Uhm, excuse me…?" she began, stopping her pealing of yam, "But who are you, and where am I…?"
The monk looked at her, and blinked, "You really don't know?"
Yumiko shook her head. She was absolutely blank. No clue, whatsoever.
"Well, my name is Chichiri, I am a monk. And you are in the empire known as Konon, which is in China, no da."
"I think I need to sit down…" Yumiko said a bit startled. And as she did, she murmured aloud, "How did I get here? And why do Chinese people know how to speak Japanese…?"
The monk, now clarified as 'Chichiri' gently touched her shoulder, and said humorlessly, "I don't know about the first one…but I can tell you that Japanese is sort of a must know language here. We get a lot of business from Japan, and anyone would be a fool not to know a little bit, no da. But most people know it fluently, because they figure, what's the point of knowing how to speak a language, when you only know enough to get by, no da?"
Yumiko looked up at the man, and smiled a bit. He seemed to at least keep his humor. She brushed aside her hair. As much as she hated to admit to herself—she might as well continue with the vegetables, after all, what if the clan decided to kick her out, where would she go? How would she get back home? And how would she find answers to her questions?
Yumiko had continued to peal the potatoes, and then she continued on to the carrots, and then the onions, which she only had to chop. However, as she cleaned and cut the soon to be dinner her eyes every once in a while glanced up to survey the bandits and the terrain. All of them seemed to be amiable, and friendly—if not a bit rough…
In between her glances she chatted with Chichiri, who seemed not to mind her persistent questions, about where she was, and how she might have gotten there. Yumiko realized that she had been very lucky indeed to be taken in by a monk, for after all; men were all the same the world over, ne? And that meant usually they wanted just one thing out of females…
"So, right now, I am in Konon…?" Yumiko inquired.
"Yes, we are on the border…but we are making our way towards the capital. Supposedly Tasuki has some business to do there, no da." Chichiri explained.
"…But there are other kingdoms, right? I heard you mention Kutou…" Yumiko pressed. For some reason, the subject matter interested her. As if she was connected some how to this forested terrain.
Chichiri's smile faulted for half a second, however he quickly recovered, and answered her promptly, "Yes…Kutou, Kutou is Konon's enemy, no da. However, it was not always like that. The four kingdoms are ruled by their respective gods, it was too bad that the dragon—Kutou's god—is such a fearsome divinity."
Yumiko thought silently to her –Four gods…just like that Chinese book…perhaps that's where I am…in the book?
"A-Anou…" Yumiko began.
"Hm?" Chichiri murmured as he dumped the vegetables into a big boiling pot of water.
"Nothing…" she sighed. How could she tell him that she was from another world? How could she prove it? Angry with herself, she stuffed her hands into her coat pockets, which until now she had forgotten she was wearing. Although it had been mid-summer in Japan, at times the rain sent a cool draft throughout the marble halls of the public library. Yumiko's stormy eyes widened in surprised as she quickly extracted her portable CD-player. She had completely forgotten about it…! After all, recording and filling books into the new computer was extremely boring, and listening to music always helped her get the work done faster, and with not as much of a grind on her sensory…She searched around in her other pockets, and found her wallet [filled with a few pictures, and about 2000 yen, and chewy candy], and a missing earring, onto which a glass bead was place, along with her silver ring which she had taken off when they were waxing.
Yumiko reasoned though, that she could not just yet reveal this fact, and so carefully she placed the items back into her pocket, and began to stir the soup as Chichiri had directed her.
Once again she had taken to looking up and around the camp, and as she did so she felt a presence she had felt before, as if someone was looking at her. She scanned the area, and found the owner of these feelings she was experiencing. It seemed to be the man with the flame colored hair, which was staring at her as though she should not even exist on the planet. His eyes only held anger and hatred towards her, and Yumiko felt herself become guilty under his stare. After all, he had every right to look at her that way—she was a freeloader, and she was disrupting the peace. I will leave tomorrow morning, early. I will find someone who can help me…
"Chichiri…?" Yumiko questioned softly, her gaze now back on the man with the flame colored hair.
"Yes?" the man questioned, looking up from his seat where he was polishing his staff that jangled with the classic rings about it.
"Who is that man? With the reddish hair?" Yumiko asked, nervously pointing to him.
"Reddish hair? Oh! You mean Tasuki, no da." Chichiri said surprised, "It's actually not as red as it looks now, it's just the fire that does it to his hair—in the day time, its more auburn colored. Why, no da?"
"Well…he is sort of glaring at me, like he is thinking of ways to murder me." Yumiko whispered, embarrassed.
By now, all this motioning towards the figure and whispering had caught Tasuki's attention, so now he focused his gaze on the two, his amber eyes narrowing every so slightly.
His figure had stiffened—what exactly were those two talking about over there? Why was Chichiri laughing…?
"Oh, don't pay any mind to him, no da." Chichiri chuckled, "He just doesn't like women much."
"Really…? I wonder why." Yumiko pondered a bit, "Maybe it's just me?"
"Oh, no, not really, no da. The only thing I have heard is that there was some girl in his past that broke his heart. Now, he just doesn't like women…" Chichiri shrugged a bit, and returned back to polishing. Yumiko digested these facts a bit more, and then went back to stirring the soup, which would soon be ready.
Every once in while, Yumiko looked up unconsciously towards the Tasuki, hoping that he would have given up on trying to make her explode by his stare. He never gave up, and until the meal was served, his gaze never strayed from her form.
"You seem pretty engrossed." Kouji grinned as he speared a piece of fish and put it into the nearby fire. Gingerly he patted Tasuki on the back, shaking him a bit.
"What the hell did you do that for!? Bastard…" Tasuki grumbled angrily, "Can't a guy get any rest around here!?" Slumping against the side of the hill, he crossed his arms, and glared angrily at his friend, who was watching his meat brown—apparently Kouji found it very interesting.
"Sorry—you just seemed a little dazed." Kouji whistled as his grin became even wider.
"Bastard, what the hell are you mumbling about…?" Tasuki swore as he threw a rock towards the man with plum colored hair.
"Mah—your sensitive tonight…!" Kouji continued, taking his fish, and biting hungrily into it. It seemed to taste good. Settling back onto the large rock Tasuki was perched on, he leaned back and offered a bit to his friend.
"So what do you think?" Kouji questioned after a moment.
"Of what?" Tasuki asked angrily as he glared into the fires flames.
"Of her." Kouji said motioning to Yumiko who was now ladling out soup to the fellow bandits. "The men seem to like her."
…Who wouldn't? Half these men haven't been laid in half a year. All they want is sex. Tasuki thought sadly.
"She is a female. Of course they are going to like her." Tasuki sighed, running a hand through his hair, and then grabbing the remnants of the fish from Kouji, and finishing it before he could say anything.
"…Thanks." Kouji grumbled, glaring at Tasuki. However, the two settled back into a quiet reverie as they watched the group interact with the mysterious girl.
"I think she is pretty hot." Kouji commented after a while.
"You think that then." Tasuki grumbled a bit, taking his dagger out of his pocket and polishing it carefully.
"Your in a bad mood tonight, aren't you?" Kouji questioned glancing at his friend, who seemed to have made his scowl permanent.
"No! Shut up!" Tasuki snapped angrily, "I just am not trusty of women, especially ones that are out in the middle of the woods at night time! Any idiot knows that!"
A few moments of silence.
"Well, maybe she is not from around her. I mean—look at her clothes. Have you ever seen such small stitches? My god, it must have taken someone a year to make that! I bet she is rich…she probably has a lot of ryo on her…" Kouji pondered a bit.
"Don't even think about it." Tasuki said, "We are not going to rob her—that would be as low as something people from Kutou do…"
"True…true…" Kouji sighed scratching his cheek a bit. After a moment sidelong glance at Tasuki, he said a bit softer, "You should go talk to her, or something. After all, you are the leader."
"Chichiri seemed to be doing just fine." Tasuki grumbled, his eyes narrowing for a fraction of a second, "In anycase, if I do…I can bet what's gunna happen. Every time I am friendly—or even talk to a girl, the whole clan goes into hysterics! Damn it!"
"…We can't help it you refuse to talk to girls much. We just like to celebrate the possibility of an offspring!" Kouji explained, laughing a bit.
"Shut up! You go talk to her!" Tasuki roared as he pushed Kouji off the rock, and then kicked him towards the direction of where the girl was (currently chatting with a fellow bandit who was the skilled archer of the group.) Kouji turned back towards Tasuki, grinned a bit, and walked towards the girl, whistling a light song. Kouji just loved turning the tables on Tasuki—it was one of his favorite past times.
AN: Well, that's the end of chapter two, I hope this fic is turning out okay. Remember, Kai is being written by another person, so you will have to go find the Demon Violinist…unless she made the new name, Saitehei or whatever. ^_^;; please, review. Or, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org