Yamato was beginning to sympathise with the ordeal that women had to go through when it came to formal wear. Although the uchikake he was wearing was a bit more lightweight than others, the amount of layers he was wearing was almost enough to make him sweat. Thankfully the wedding kimono came with a fan, which he was utilising to its fullest capacity.

Makoto, his lieutenant, was nervously adjusting his hair ornament, and this would be fine if the dangling pieces didn't constantly brush against his cheek with each anxious twitch.

"Sako," Yamato snapped.

Makoto immediately pulled her hands away. "Sorry, sir."

"It's 'ma'am' now," Yamato reminded her. "Remember, I'm Miyako Hotsuin."

"Yes, si- ma'am," Makoto corrected herself. She looked quite uncomfortable, even though she was wearing the less formal hōmongi. Makoto, being a soldier of the Hotsuin family, was far more used to wearing hakama than any formal wear like kimono.

Yamato continued to fan himself, patiently waiting while the Terminal was being set up. Normally there wouldn't be a wait, but after almost two hundred years of feuding it was needless to say that the Hotsuin's Terminal was no longer connected to Kageyama's – in fact, there were traps and other things to remove in preparation of it.

Why did it choose today of all days to be sunny? Yamato supposed it was nice weather for a wedding, but it made those wearing the heavy formal cloths feel ready to combust at a moment's notice. At least he was wearing very little make up. Yamato had inherited the pale beauty that all Hotsuin possessed, a beauty that needed very little help in enhancing. The only make up he had was some around his eyes to give him a 'smoky' effect, whatever that meant.

"If," Makoto was looking a bit lost, like she wasn't sure what exactly she was supposed to do in this situation. That was understandable. She was born a soldier and would die a soldier. She had no place in celebrations like these. "You look very beautiful, s- ma'am."

"Thank you, Sako."

"Mistress Hotsuin," a young voice spoke up, and both Makoto and Yamato turned to one of the miko – her pale hair and visage denoted her as a member of the branch family. "The Terminal has been connected. We are ready to send you to the Kageyama's."

"Finally," Yamato sighed, snapping his fan shut and tucking it into his obi. "I was beginning to die of boredom. Lead the way."


The room that held the Terminal was underground. The air was cool, yet slightly stale, and it managed to appear too cavernous considering it was only a short distance beneath the Hotsuin estate. The very atmosphere prickled with energy, seals and traps both old and new in constant activation.

In the very centre of the room was a strange metallic contraption. It was a Terminal, and many of the spiritual powerful families possessed them. No one really knew where they came from, for the information was vague from any source regarding them, except that everyone seemed to agree that an Al Saiduq gifted them to humanity, whoever that supernatural being was.

It ran on lightning, so there was always an electricity seal placed upon it to feed it the energy it required, and five trained soldiers of the Hotsuin had to activate it with their spiritual power to send people through.

Yamato's zori tapped softly against the stone floor as he strode confidently over to the Terminal, maintaining the dignity of a Hotsuin: male or female.

Makoto trailed after him, and they stopped before the Terminal.

"Mistress Hotsuin, we have sent others with your necessary items to receive you," the young miko said, her tone flat and distant. "They will ensure your arrival will be safe."

Yamato nodded to show he had heard, and very carefully brushed his fingers over the charm around his neck. It was a subtle illusion charm, nothing strong enough to trigger any wards that the Kageyama may have. The illusion was weak, but it was simply to cover up any masculine aspects of himself; such as his Adam's apple. He was dressed like a woman, could adopt a womanly voice and womanly mannerisms, so the weak illusion worked with that to just make them ignorant of the fine details.

Of course, if Yamato stripped naked it would not disguise his privates. He had something else for that.

"Sako?"

"The charm seems to be working to full effect, Ma'am," Makoto replied. "I think we are ready."

"Wonderful," Yamato said with faux-cheerfulness. He clasped his hands together, his lips curving into a gentle smile of feminine purity – however his grey eyes remained cold. "Then let us get this ordeal over with."

The miko bowed and moved away, and in the next instant, the Terminal began to glow.


"Nervous?"

"Kind of," Hiro laughed, adjusting his five-kamon kimono anxiously. He had been told that he was to end the feud between the Kageyama and Hotsuin families (a rather infamous feud, although nobody really knew what started it, something about a dragon and stealing a stream, or something strange like that), and that was pretty nerve-wracking business.

He supposed he should feel upset that his wife was chosen for him, but he had expected that since he was very small. He was part of one of the most powerful families in Japan, so he didn't exactly have the luxury of choice when it came to finding something to father an heir with. It was sad, but he had been at peace with it for a long while.

"I heard that the women of the Hotsuin family are incredibly gorgeous," Daichi sighed, looking a bit dazed as he went off into his own fantasy. "I saw one once – she was a branch family member, but she had the most beautiful legs I had ever seen! They're all built like deer!"

"That doesn't really bring up an attractive image, Daichi," Hiro laughed.

"You get what I mean! Trust me, you're a very lucky person to be married to a beautiful woman like that," Daichi said solemnly.

"We haven't even met her! For all we know they could be sending their ugliest woman," Hiro pointed out. He smiled a little, "not that it would matter if she was. I just hope she isn't…boring or, anything like that."

"Well-" Daichi began, but was cut off when the sliding door was opened. A maid gestured excitedly. "Master Kageyama, your bride has arrived!"

"Let's see then," Hiro sighed, exchanging smiles with Daichi before following after the maid. They were led to the meeting hall where all guests who arrived from the Terminal were relocated to. The maid opened the door and stepped aside, bowing to him as he stepped into the hall.

His eyes immediately fell on his father, a man who bore a striking resemblance to Hiro, with the exception of his eyes. Hiro's father, Tetsuo, had married a foreign woman with great spiritual power, which had caused a great ripple throughout the assorted families. It was that woman where Hiro had gained his brilliant blue eyes from. Sadly, his mother had passed away a few short years after he was born, having caught an illness after his birth that lingered poisonously.

Tetsuo beamed, his expression as open and friendly as his son's. "Ah, here he is now, with his friend, Shijima. Hiro, this is Miyako Hotsuin, your bride. She is from a very prominent family."

Hiro knew. His father had practically talked his ears off with how he was to be extremely careful around the female Hotsuin heir. The Hotsuin family were a spiritually powerful clan whose expertise lay in spirits and assassinations. They could summon violent demons and completely dominate their will, they could make volcanoes erupt, the sky rain fire, and plagues to crawl out of the earth to devour all crops…well, those were exaggerated rumours, but within them was a seed of truth.

"You will be marrying a tigress," Tetsuo had told him, "so do not let your guard down lest she swallows you whole."

Hiro stepped forwards, his eyes falling on the Hotsuin bride for the first time.

Daichi hadn't been exaggerating: she was beautiful.

Miyako was quite tall for a woman, and her shoulders slightly broad, but her entire body was slim and long-legged, as delicately built as a young doe. The dark colouring of her wedding kimono emphasised her startlingly pale skin, almost making it glow subtly in the light, and made her seem even more petite (and somewhat flat in the chest area, although it somehow worked together quite well).

There was also a beautiful red and white flowers ornament in Miyako's hair, red beads hanging down past her ear. Taking all of this in, Hiro's soon-to-be bride was a stunning creature of pure beauty – especially when he examined her face; sharp cheekbones, narrow eyes with dark, thick eyelashes, and thin lips. Her hair was a bit uncontrolled, but it somehow fit her.

Miyako's eyes were steel grey, and cold and sharp as any blade however, and Hiro had the faint feeling that he was being evaluated as he gazed into them. He didn't break eye contact with her, and there was a heavy pause where Hiro and Miyako simply sized each other up.

Hiro smiled brightly, offering a little bow to her. "A pleasure to meet you, Mistress Hotsuin."

"Yes," Miyako murmured, her voice low and husky. It was strangely deep for a woman's voice, but not uncomfortably so. "I suppose it is."

As Hiro straightened up from his bow, he found that Miyako was smirking at him, as if profoundly amused over something. She was like some ice spirit, cold and malevolent, yet Hiro wasn't offended by it. He found himself grinning back.

Well, he had been worried that he would be married to a boring woman, but it seemed that that wouldn't be the case. This Miyako Hotsuin, she was clearly very dangerous.

And exciting.

"Well," Tetsuo broke the sudden silence, clapping his hands together. "We should hurry on with the ceremony! It's about time this silly feud ends, hm?"

Miyako's cold eyes flashed slightly, and when she smiled, it was a grin that would be most likely found on a housecat before it crunched off the head of a rat. "Indeed. Let us not waste time with trivialities."

As everyone began to bustle, Hiro watched as Miyako's female attendant – an equally tall, dark haired woman with a stern face – lean in to murmur into the Hotsuin heiress's ear. Miyako merely flicked her away dismissively with her hand, and the dark haired woman obediently backed off with a demure, "Yes, Ma'am."

Cold grey eyes landed on Hiro, and those thin lips curved into that housecat smile again.

"We will meet again shortly, Kageyama," she said, her eyes fluttering slightly as she deliberately dropped any respectful titles. "I hope we will enjoy a full and long life together."

Miyako's voice carried a hint of laughter to it, and Hiro had guessed that she was making a very casual, thinly veiled threat. He wasn't at all perturbed though, and merely smiled in response. "I hope the same. It would be a shame if one of us became a widower at such a young age."

Instead of being disgruntled at the rebuttal, Miyako instead looked greatly pleased. "Hrn, a spine. At least you are interesting," she remarked to herself, and before Hiro could question her, she walked off with strong, predatory strides, her female assistant following in her majestic wake.

Beside him, Daichi let out a shaky whistle. "That…is one poisonous woman. Beautiful or not, I doubt you'd last past today, Hiro."

"I think I'm fine," Hiro said, smiling happily. "I think she likes me."

Daichi just stared at him. "You are insane."

"Probably."

Hiro knew it to be true though. At the very least, he had passed some sort of test with Miyako. He felt that it was a wonderful start to a situation neither of them really wanted.

If anything, it'd be interesting while it lasted.