The little girl from the village bashed into Koumori. She pushed Koumori to the ground. Kiw and Nan sweat dropped as the little girl, arms strong, smile on her face, picked Koumori up and hugged him around his neck. From the way they were looking it almost seemed like she was choking him.
" You made it!" Koumori couldn't feel his neck attached to his wretched head. Only she stopped squeezing his neck and started squeezing his arm, it hurt so much! " You're alive!"
" Ow!" Koumori yelped. " My arm! You're breaking my arm!"
" I prayed that you would return, and you did. There is a God in the sky."
" Let go of my arm! Agh! My arm!"
" Hey Koumori, who is this?" Kiw laughed. " Is this your girlfriend?"
" Do I have to answer!?" Koumori growled. " I was better off in the mountains."
Kiw and Nan both laughed at Koumori's suffering. Maybe Koumori and the girl would get married. Kiw couldn't help but laugh at that. But while Kiw was thinking about how Koumori might get married, he always noticed a tear in Nan's clothes. And under that tear…
" Nan, what's that under your clothes?"
" What? Oh, it's nothing."
" It's not nothing. Let me see."
Kiw reached his fingers through the hole of Nan's shirt and ripped her shirt off. He felt like a man reached into his mouth and struck a nail through him. Under those clothes, ninja, he saw a lot of bandages, used to hide something only members of the "opposite" had.
" Nan…You're a…you're a girl."
Nan quickly covered her chest with her clothes. She was embarrassed letting Kiw watch her, look at her with those eyes, the eyes her people gave her, the same eyes that told her " you can never be of our kin."
" I feel safer wearing big clothes. It's true, I am a girl. In my country women aren't allowed to go into battle, and if they ever caught us fighting we would be executed immediately. But my father is gone, I'm an only child, and my mother is ill. I needed something outside our village to save her."
Nan expected Kiw to be mad at her. He was keeping secrets from her, they didn't know each other long, but knowing something like this now would make it impossible for him to trust her. What Nan didn't expect…Kiw was laughing.
" It's funny." Kiw giggled.
" What's so funny? You don't think it's weird I'm a girl, do you?"
" It's not that. You just remind me of someone from my childhood." Nan punched Kiw 's shoulder. Kiw rubbed his shoulder sheepishly. " Ow! That really hurt."
" Your welcome. If we're going to be looking for these gems, or whatever the hell they're called, we better start with Cedar. That's the closest place from here."
Lady Kaeda was sitting in her hut with a woman, pregnant, her large belly evidence of that, wrapping leaves around her scorched hand. The leaves were from Kaeda's threshold. Kaeda's mind wasn't on the woman. She was thinking about Kiw, her friend, her sister as well, two people she had loved.
" Lady Kaeda, what's wrong?"
" Huh?" Kaeda turned around and looked at a man, Bard, standing in the light. " Oh, Bard, I didn't see you there. When did you get here?"
" You've been detained in this hut for two days. Something's bothering you, my lady. What is it?"
Kaeda didn't think there was something wrong—she spent most of her time in the hut all the time—she was a medicine woman, a hunter, and shrine maiden. Kaeda smiled.
" It's good to be young. You can be whatever you want. I wish I was young again. If I was younger I could be a demon slayer like her. As for Kiw, my dearest friend, I want to know what he'll become."
Inuyasha and Kagome were standing on the top of a long flight of stairs. Below them were the rest of the group. Kagome sensed a wicked aura on the bottom of those stairs. She was scared.
" Inuyasha, can we hold hands?" Kagome asked.
" Huh? Why?"
" I just feel...I'm scared."
" Ha! You're scared. How stupid are you, Kagome?"
" Grrrrr. Do you want me to say—"
" Inuyasha, Kagome, where are you?" Sango shouted.
" Up here!" Said Kagome. " We're coming down!"
Inuyasha and Kagome finally held hands together. It was just as Kagome predicted. Inuyasha's hands were very warm…he needed to do something about his prehensile feet. Kagome and Inuyasha walked together down the stairs.
Accompanying Kiw the swordsman and Koumori the half-bat demon on their travels was Nan, the she-ninja. They were traveling on road riding in a hay basket. Koumori was sleeping soundly in the hay part. Kiw and Nan were at the front. Kiw had his hands on the reins.
" It was nice of Koumori's girlfriend to lend us her cart," said Kiw.
" Do you think they'll get married?" Nan asked.
" Who knows? It's none of our business."
There was a lot of light shining overhead. Kiw looked up. He could see small birds fluttering in the sky. Kiw imagined in his mind what it would be like to materialize and become a bird.
" There's an incandescent light out tonight," he said.
" It's so beautiful," Nan said.
Nan leaned her head on Kiw's shoulder. A momentary hush falls over the symphony of night sounds. Kiw turn towards the trees with a growing look of wariness. The others, sleeping, show no response. Kiw knew Wind was still out there. But was he aggressive?
" My name is Kiw. My age…I don't know. Where I was born…I don't know. I don't know anything about the people I knew, who I was, or what my life goal is. All I know is with this friendly demon, this ninja girl, I don't care."
To Be Continued—The Gem Cycle 2