In the outskirts of Eva Province, a young man and an eighteen-year-old boy were driving a wagon pulled by a donkey. The young man sang an old folk song from overseas as he drove the wagon. The teenager groaned and asked, “Can you sing something else or stop singing all together old man?” The young man stopped singing and pouted.
“You really shouldn’t call me old man, Yuma,” stated the young man. The boy, Yuma, groaned and said, “No matter how young you look, I know that you’re still an old man.” The young man groaned, but smiled when he saw Eva Province in his line of sight.
“We’re almost to Eva Province,” stated the young man. Yuma glanced at Eva Province and heaved out a sigh.
“Why can’t we go to Go Province again?” asked Yuma. The young man paused and suddenly looked like the world had crashed around him making Yuma sigh.
“Come on Master Goran, cheer up already. Him closing down his store was probably because he couldn’t run a business,” stated Yuma in an attempt to cheer up the young man, Goran.
Goran looked at Yuma with a tearful face and said, “But he wasn’t there either to tell me why.” Yuma smirked and added, “All for the best.” Goran groaned looking away from Yuma.
“You’re such a heartless assistant,” mumbled Goran. Yuma stuck his tongue out in a mocking way in response.
As Goran and Yuma entered Eva Province, Megumi was in Aoki Hiro’s old study looking over past and present documents of Eva Province. Keiki was in the same room leaning against the wall with an impatient look. Megumi sighed and looked at Keiki.
“If you’re so bored, why don’t you go into the market place?” asked Megumi in an annoyed tone. Keiki shook his head.
“I am not letting you out of my sight,” stated Keiki. Megumi groaned and went back to working with the documents.
Keiki noticed the blood stain on the floor near Megumi’s feet and frowned.
“How can you even work in this room when you know that corrupt official’s severed hand was in here?” asked Keiki in disgust. Megumi grinned.
“Well the room was already cleaned even if there are blood stains on the floor still and it would be a shame not to use the room when it is still usable,” explained Megumi. Keiki scoffed and crossed his arms.
“You’re just stubborn,” mumbled Keiki. Megumi chuckled as she circled a sentence in a funding document.
The door to the study suddenly opened revealing Naohito with a smile.
“Megumi, my fri…”
Naohito, suddenly, slipped on the floor and fell toward one of the book cases. Megumi immediately grabbed Naohito pulling him away from the book case. Naohito smiled at Megumi thanking her.
“You really should be careful,” stated Megumi. Naohito nodded and then looked at his hand.
“My luck was good for a few days, but suddenly disappeared. I wonder why?” Naohito asked himself. Keiki scoffed and said, “You’re just clumsy and how long are you going to hold him, Megumi?” Naohito glanced at Megumi and noticed that she was indeed still holding him around his waist. Naohito’s face became red as he pulled away from Megumi making sure not to lose his balance.
“Thanks again, Megumi my friend.”
Megumi nodded and then asked, “So did you need to see me about something?” Naohito nodded as his face returned to its normal shade.
“Well Chiriko gave you permission to explore the market place.”
“Really?” asked Megumi. Naohito nodded again and added, “Chiriko believed that you needed some time off after working three days straight.” Megumi smiled.
“That’s generous of him, but is Reiji getting a day off too?” asked Megumi. Naohito shook his head.
“Chiriko needed Reiji to help him with some documents for today, but he may get some time off later this evening and maybe tomorrow.”
Megumi showed a disappointed look and said, “I am willing to work, until Reiji gets a day off too.” Before Naohito could say anything, Keiki grabbed Megumi’s shoulder making her flinch and said, “Megumi’s just joking. He would love to take today off.” Megumi pulled away from Keiki glaring at him.
“And since when did you become my second voice?” demanded Megumi. Keiki glared back at Megumi.
“Well, you’re being stubborn by not accepting this rare gift,” retaliated Keiki. Megumi and Keiki were soon in a glaring battle. Naohito laughed uneasily as he went to Megumi’s side.
“This is a rare chance for you to go out and Reiji would feel sad if he learns that you refused the day off because of him,” reasoned Naohito. Megumi placed a hand on her chin turning away from Keiki and said, “That’s true.” Megumi nodded and then bowed to Naohito.
“Please let Chiriko know that I will be in the market place for the remainder of the day,” informed Megumi. Naohito nodded with a smile.
Keiki smiled saying, “Finally a trip to the market place.” Megumi groaned glancing back at Keiki.
“You just wanted to go out,” stated Megumi. Keiki nodded with a proud smirk.
Megumi walked pass Naohito toward the door saying, “See you soon.” Naohito nodded watching Keiki and Megumi walk out the door.
When Keiki and Megumi were walking out of the residence with their bags, they saw an extravagant carriage approaching. Keiki scoffed and said, “I thought Hime and Sumire already left Eva Province.” Megumi rubbed her chin and said, “They did and that carriage doesn’t even belong to the Red Lotus.” Megumi stared at the carriage and suddenly turned pale.
“I know that carriage,” muttered Megumi. Keiki raised an eyebrow at Megumi.
“You do?” asked Keiki. Megumi nodded grabbing Keiki’s wrist. She took off running down the opposite direction away from the carriage dragging Keiki along. Keiki stumbled and glared at Megumi screaming, “What the Hell is wrong with you?”
When Megumi and Keiki were out of sight, the carriage stopped in front of the official’s residence. The carriage door opened revealing Yumi Goh in a golden threaded Kimono with her long brown hair held up with a golden pin. She stepped out of the carriage as she looked up at the residence.
“I’m finally here, Megumi.”
Megumi and Keiki finally stopped running when they reached the market place. Megumi sighed as Keiki breathed heavily. Keiki glared at Megumi yelling, “Was it really necessary to take off running?” Megumi nodded and looked at Keiki with a troubled look.
“If you had an idea who was in the carriage then you would take off running too,” stated Megumi. Keiki was filled with confusion wondering who was in the carriage that would make Megumi make such a troubled look.
Megumi regained her composure and said, “Well let’s explore the market place, while we have the chance.” Keiki nodded as he followed Megumi through the market place.
As they walked through the market place, many of Eva Province’s people stared at them with troubled looks. Keiki looked around noticing the people’s looks and said, “What’s their problem?” Megumi noticed the looks too, but realized that the ones staring in fear were looking at Keiki. Megumi glanced back at Keiki and noticed that the Nue Mafia crest on the sword was visible. Megumi groaned and walked back to Keiki making him raise an eyebrow at her.
Megumi immediately yanked Keiki’s sword away making him gasp and ripped the Nue Clan crest from the sword. Keiki turned pale and asked, “What are you doing?” Megumi stuffed the crest into her bag and then tossed the sword back to Keiki.
“You don’t need to flaunt your name while we are together,” stated Megumi. Keiki looked at the place where the crest was before on his sword and then glared at Megumi yelling, “How dare you tear off the crest?” Megumi waved her hand at Keiki as if she didn’t care making Keiki’s anger rise.
“You’re a demon!” yelled Keiki. The stares on Keiki that were filled with fear were now filled with pity making Megumi chuckle.
Megumi suddenly spotted a stand with different patterned cloths and made her way there. She examined each of the cloths and then looked at the female owner.
“How much for the red cloth?” asked Megumi with a warm smile. The female owner blushed with love struck eyes.
“As much as you want,” replied the owner. Megumi nodded and asked, “Would you accept ten silver pieces for the cloth?” The female owner nodded. Megumi smiled thanking the owner, while taking out the said amount. The owner squealed taking the money from Megumi.
“Thank you, my angel,” said the woman making Megumi puzzled.
Megumi took the cloth and walked to Keiki saying, “I got a good deal for the cloth.” Megumi paused when she saw the look of disgust in Keiki’s face.
“What’s with you?”
“You’re an enemy to all women alike you player,” stated Keiki. Megumi groaned and punched Keiki’s arm making him flinch.
“I don’t want to hear that from a guy who repeatedly hit on my sister,” stated Megumi. Keiki glared at Megumi and yelled, “At least I only loved her and didn’t bounce to another girl!” Megumi and Keiki were once again in a glaring battle.
Megumi and Keiki suddenly noticed that a lot of people were heading to a wagon with eager eyes. Megumi and Keiki looked at each other and then headed toward the wagon filled with curiosity.
The minute they were at the wagon a crowd of people surrounded them. Keiki was pushed away from the wagon, while Megumi was dragged toward the wagon. Keiki stared at the crowd of people with wide eyes and then noticed that Megumi was nowhere in sight. Keiki gasped and tried to enter the crowd, but was immediately pushed back making him fall to the ground. Keiki cursed under his breath.
Megumi managed to travel through the crowd after maintaining her balance, until she finally reached the front. When Megumi looked up she saw that the wagon had an assortment of foreign goods hard to come by in Yulan. Megumi smiled in amazement and approached a basket filled with sweet mangoes. Megumi sniffed the mangoes with a smile.
“These mangos are perfect,” commented Megumi.
“Of course they are.”
Megumi flinched and finally took notice of Yuma, who was handing a well-made kimono to an elderly man. Megumi stared at Yuma for a long while and asked, “Are you the owner?” Yuma smirked and said, “I’m just an assistant, the real owner is my master.”
Yuma nodded with a smile, but then his smile faded when he noticed Megumi’s aquamarine eyes. Yuma’s eyes narrowed and asked, “Can you tell me your name?” Megumi nodded and said, “My name is Megumi Yoh and yours?” Yuma gasped backing away.
“Is something wrong?” asked Megumi with a puzzled look. Yuma’s eyes were wide as he pointed a finger at Megumi.
“Megumi Yoh as the one from the Yoh family who lives in Go Province?” asked Yuma nervously. Megumi nodded and asked, “Have we met?” Yuma suddenly showed an angered look.
“Are you telling me that you don’t even remember me?” screamed Yuma.
“Well you didn’t even tell me your name?” stated Megumi bluntly making Yuma shake in anger.
Goran suddenly peeked from the wagon and said, “Yuma, please serve the customers before they…” Goran paused when he saw Megumi. Goran was silent, but suddenly burst into a smile running out of the wagon toward Megumi.
“Megumi!” cheered Goran as he wrapped his arms around Megumi. Megumi flinched at the contact. She pushed Goran away roughly making him fall against Yuma. Megumi stared at Goran and asked, “Who are you?” Goran gave out a whimper as Yuma helped him maintain his balance.
“You don’t remember me?” asked Goran with a teary eyed face. Megumi stared at Goran long and hard and suddenly remembered a time when she was six and she was still running her lottery. She met a traveling merchant, who helped her in her time of need.
“Goran?” asked Megumi. Goran smiled brightly and said, “You remembered me.” Megumi then looked at Yuma and said, “So that means you are Yuma?” Yuma nodded and said, “Pretty cold of you to forget.”
“I was only six at the time,” retaliated Megumi. Yuma was about to yell at Megumi, but paused when he noticed that the customers were getting impatient. Yuma groaned and looked back at Megumi.
“I have to take care of the customers, but don’t you leave just yet,” stated Yuma, before running back to the customers.
Goran chuckled and said, “Yuma is such a hard worker.” Megumi nodded in agreement. Goran glanced at Megumi with a smile and asked, “So why are you all the way in Eva Province dear Megumi?” Megumi glanced at Goran.
“I’m here for business.”
Goran eyes seemed to sparkle.
“So you decided to become a traveling merchant?”
“That’s just great. If you decided to become a traveling merchant when I first met you, I would have made you my assistant.”
“So who is your teacher or are you traveling on your own?”
“Are you selling well?”
Megumi groaned and yelled, “I am not a traveling merchant, Goran!” Goran looked puzzled as he asked, “So why are you here?” Megumi heaved out a sigh pushing a strand of her hair behind her ear.
“I’m here for my training as a future official.”
Megumi nodded. Goran turned pale making Megumi flinch. Goran grabbed Megumi by the shoulders saying, “Why are you becoming an official? Is that why your stand was closed? Please reconsider!” Megumi groaned pulling away from Goran.
“I need to become an official.”
“But Why?” wailed Goran.
“Don’t whine like a child,” scolded Megumi. Yuma threw a wooden brush case against the back of Goran’s head making Goran look at him.
“If you’re not busy then get over here and help me,” ordered Yuma. Goran nodded and then looked at Megumi.
“I need to help Yuma and if it isn’t too much trouble, can you help out too?” asked Goran. Megumi crossed her arms and asked, “I can, but are you sure?” Goran nodded and grabbed Megumi’s arm dragging her to the wagon.
The minute Megumi was in front of the goods, Yuma glanced at her and smirked.
“How about we see who sells more today?” challenged Yuma. Megumi smirked back crunching her knuckles.
“It has been a long time, Yuma,” stated Megumi. Yuma and Megumi looked back at the customers with their best smiles.
“What would you like?” Megumi and Yuma asked in unison.
In the meantime, Reiji was in one of the studies with Chiriko helping him organize important parchments. Reiji filled one shelf and nodded in approval before looking back at Chiriko.
“This side is done,” stated Reiji. Chiriko nodded and said, “Good job Reiji.” Chiriko then handed Reiji another set of scrolls and said, “Now please organize these.” Reiji nodded taking the scrolls to an empty table.
“Megumi was right when he said that you were a fast learner,” said Chiriko. Reiji smiled with a light blush on his cheek.
“He gives me too much credit,” stated Reiji. Chiriko chuckled as he headed to another shelf of untouched parchments.
The door to the study suddenly opened revealing Naohito with a smile on his face.
Naohito tripped over a chair and went flying into a shelf head first. The shelf fell over disorganizing all the parchments Reiji had finished organizing. Reiji was pale, while Chiriko ran to Naohito’s fallen form.
“Are you OK, Naohito?” asked Chiriko. Naohito nodded lifting up his head with a bleeding gash on his forehead. Chiriko gasped and began to look for something to cover Naohito’s bleeding forehead. Naohito covered his gash and said, “Bad luck, big brother.” Chiriko ended up tearing his sleeve and wrapping it around Naohito’s bleeding gash.
“We better get you a doctor,” said Chiriko. Naohito nodded in agreement. Chiriko glanced back at Reiji, who was staring at the fallen shelf with a blank look.
“Can you go get the doctor?” asked Chiriko. Reiji nodded after getting over his initial shock.
Reiji headed toward the door pass Chiriko and Naohito, but suddenly collided into someone. Reiji maintained his balance, but the other person ended up falling to the floor. Reiji looked down and saw Yumi sitting on the floor groaning. Reiji gasped and immediately helped Yumi to her feet.
“Are you OK, young lady?” asked Reiji. Yumi nodded and looked Reiji straight in the eyes.
“Are you the official in charge of Eva Province?” asked Yumi. Reiji shook his head and said, “I’m an official in training.” Yumi frowned.
“That can’t be right. My big brother said that Megumi Yoh was the Official in training here,” stated Yumi.
“Megumi Yoh is training here too,” stated Reiji. Yumi cheered and looked around the study pass Reiji, but only saw a fallen shelf and Chiriko leading Naohito to an empty chair.
“Where is he?” asked Yumi in a disappointed tone.
“Megumi went to the market place for his day off. Do you need to see him right away?” asked Reiji. Yumi nodded and said, “I’ve been longing to see my fiancé.” Reiji’s eyes widened as did Chiriko’s and Naohito’s. Reiji gulped.
“Who are you young lady?” asked Reiji nervously.
“Yumi Goh of Go Province.”
“And you’re Megumi Yoh’s fiancé?”
Yumi nodded and added, “He’s the only one for me.” Yumi turned away from Reiji and said, “Well I should head to the market place to find Megumi.” With that, Yumi took off down the hall.
Reiji stared at her retreating back with wide eyes and then back at Naohito and Chiriko, who seemed to be in shock.
“I’ll get the doctor and make sure that Yumi Goh is safe in the market place,” stated Reiji. Naohito nodded, while Chiriko still seemed to be in shock. Reiji ran down the hall after Yumi leaving Chiriko and Naohito in the room alone.
Naohito placed a hand on his wounded forehead and said, “Megumi never mentioned a fiancé.” Naohito glanced at Chiriko, who was still as a statue, and asked, “Do you think Megumi meant for it to be a secret?” Chiriko shook his head still pale.
“I have a feeling that Lady Yumi might be like Lady Hime, but at a more extreme level,” said Chiriko. Naohito nodded and added, “I hope you’re right.” Chiriko nodded hoping that he was right too. Naohito and Chiriko couldn’t understand why their hearts hurt so much.
In the market place, Fai Dong explored the stands looking for anything he could use in his bar. Fai sighed and placed a hand on his neck. Fai began to frown when he felt the mark Megumi placed on the nape of his neck.
“Why won’t it disappear faster?” mumbled Fai. Fai suddenly noticed the crowd around a merchant’s wagon and made his way there, wondering if the merchant sold foreign alcohol. Before he could take another step toward the wagon, he heard someone call his name in a familiar sing-song voice. Fai groaned as he looked back.
A man the same age as him approached him with a smile on his face. The man had long brown hair tied back into a ponytail and wore dark clothes commonly seen in Eru Province. When one looked closely at his eyes, they could have sworn that his eyes were the same color as blood.
“What are you doing here, Ju-Long?” demanded Fai in a harsh voice. The man, Ju-Long, chuckled and replied, “Is that how you treat your partner, Fai?” Fai groaned and turned away from Ju-Long.
“I don’t know why you are here, but I suggest that you stay away from me,” stated Fai taking another step toward the stand only to be blocked by Ju-Long.
“Ah Come on, Fai. We are partners in our profession,” stated Ju-Long. Ju-Long placed a hand on Fai’s chest, where his assassin mark was, and added, “Besides, I need your assistance in killing a target.” Fai groaned shaking his head.
Ju-Long pouted and asked, “Why not? We made a deal that when one of us needs assistance, we would help.” Fai frowned looking away from Ju-Long.
“I just can’t.”
Ju-Long noticed that mark on Fai’s nape and frowned.
“So the rumors were true. Someone has done an Obedience Vow on you.”
Fai covered the mark with anger clearly in his eyes.
“That’s right. I can’t do anything unless my MASTER orders me,” stated Fai. Ju-Long shook his head.
“That’s too bad, but I do need your help,” stated Ju-Long. Ju-Long smirked and glanced at Fai.
“Tell me who marked you and I will take care of him.”
Fai’s eyes widened and asked, “Are you serious?” Ju-long nodded and added, “If your so called master is dead then that mark will mean nothing and then you can help me out.” Fai smiled and took Ju-Long’s hand into a handshake.
“I accept your proposition,” stated Fai. Ju-Long chuckled and pulled his hand away with a smile.
“So who is the bastard?” asked Ju-Long.
“His name is Megumi Yoh, an official in training. He’s young, but is unbelievably strong, so be careful.”
“No problem,” replied Ju-Long. Ju-Long looked at Fai’s mark again and began to chuckle.
“No offense, but that mark looks like a failed attempt at a hickey,” commented Ju-Long. Fai groaned and tried to punch Ju-Long, but Ju-Long dodged laughing.
“It’s just a joke, Fai.”
“It’s not funny!” yelled Fai making Ju-Long laugh more.
Ju-Long glanced back at the crowd of people around the cart and asked, “So what’s the deal with the cart?” Fai walked pass Ju-Long and said, “Thanks for reminding me of what I was doing before.” Ju-Long raised an eyebrow as he watched Fai approach the cart. Ju-Long looked up at the glare of the sun and then decided to follow after Fai before leaving to assassinate Fai’s “Master.”
Fai pushed through the crowd, until he finally reached the front of the crowd.
“Can I help you sir?”
Fai flinched and looked up only to meet with Megumi’s face.
Megumi stared at Fai and clicked her tongue.
“What are you doing here?” asked Megumi in an annoyed tone. Fai glared at Megumi and yelled, “I should be asking you that! Why the Hell are you working at this stand?” Megumi turned away from Fai and said, “I’m just helping out an old friend.” Fai felt like Megumi was already looking down at him.
Fai glanced at Megumi’s side and saw Yuma glaring at him.
“If you’re not buying anything then move along,” ordered Yuma rudely. Fai groaned glaring at Yuma. Fai made a note to kill Yuma when he got the chance.
Megumi looked back at Fai and said, “Well I expect that you came to the wagon looking to buy something, so what are you looking for?” Fai scoffed.
“I was looking for some foreign alcohol, but I bet a poor stand like this doesn’t have any,” stated Fai. Fai was about to walk off, but Megumi suddenly grabbed his arm making him look at her.
“I think we have something you’ll like,” stated Megumi making Fai raise an eyebrow. Megumi pulled out a clear bottle of clear liquid from the wagon and showed it to Fai.
“What is that?” asked Fai. Megumi held her hand in front of the bottle.
“This is a white wine from overseas: Shiho. It is made from the vines of white grapes and morning dew with a dash of purified honey. It is aged for two years before being served to the people. It can be drunk pure or with a desert. It is the right amount of sweetness for any occasion.”
Fai stared at the bottle and asked, “Can I have a quick taste?” Megumi nodded opening the bottle. She poured the wine into a small wooden cup and handed it to Fai. Fai took a sip and felt his taste buds dancing. It was sweet, but not too sweet. Fai smiled placing the cup back on the table.
“I am willing to pay fifty silver pieces for one crate of this wine.”
“Don’t insult me. This wine is from overseas and takes two years to perfect. One crate is worth five-hundred silver pieces at least.”
“I’ll give four-hundred than.”
“Five-hundred or no sale.”
“Four-hundred-ninety should be enough than,” stated Fai his form shaking.
“Fine,” stated Megumi pulling out a crate of Shiho wine from the wagon. Megumi handed the remaining wine from the bottle Fai drank from as well and added, “Plus this bottle: five-hundred silver pieces.” Fai cursed under his breath and began to count the silver pieces from his bag.
Fai heard Ju-Long laughing behind him and frowned. He glared back at Ju-Long as Ju-Long laughed.
“That guy sure got you,” laughed Ju-Long.
“Shut up, Ju-Long!” yelled Fai and then slammed the silver pieces on the table in front of Megumi.
“Thank you for your purchase,” thanked Megumi with a seller’s smile. Fai glared at her taking the crate of wine.
“I’ll kill you,” whispered Fai. Megumi stuck her tongue at him and whispered, “Not as long as you have that mark.” Fai scoffed and was about to walk away, but Ju-Long suddenly ran to the stand and stood in front of Megumi.
“The way Fai glares at you is very interesting. Are you Megumi Yoh by chance?” asked Ju-Long. Megumi nodded.
Ju-Long chuckled and said, “Well my name is Ju-Long Kong, Fai’s friend, nice to meet you.” Megumi narrowed her eyes and whispered, “Are you in the same profession as Fai?” Ju-Long nodded and leaned toward her face.
“I need Fai, so I will tell you now that when night falls, you will need to watch your back.”
Ju-Long chuckled pulling away from Megumi. He was about to walk off, but Megumi suddenly showed him a dagger with a silver handle.
“Would you like to buy this dagger for your profession?” asked Megumi. Ju-Long stared at the dagger and asked, “Why would I want that?”
“Well you need to move fast and this dagger is made with light metal and so it moves swiftly and silently. It is also quite sharp.”
Megumi nodded and grabbed a mango from the basket next to her. She tossed the mango up in the air and sliced it in half cleanly with the dagger. The mango landed on the table. Ju-Long stared at the sliced mango and then back at the dagger in Megumi’s hand that barely had a single drop of juice on it.
“It is made for fighting, so are you interested?” asked Megumi. Ju-Long smiled and nodded reaching toward the dagger.
“I want it,” stated Ju-Long. Megumi pulled the dagger far from his grasp and said, “It would cost you seven-hundred silver pieces.”
“Seven-Hundred?” whimpered Ju-Long. Megumi nodded and then held up the sliced mango.
“If you buy five mangoes, I’ll cut the price.”
Ju-Long nodded taking the cut mango and four other mangoes.
“With the mangoes, twenty-five silver pieces and with the cut price of the dagger, three-hundred-fifty silver pieces, the total is three-hundred-seventy-five silver pieces, is that OK?”
Ju-Long nodded and began to give the said amount to Megumi. Yuma and Fai glared at Megumi with the same thought in their head: Megumi can sell anything.
Ju-Long ran to Fai with a smile and said, “I got a new weapon.” Fai groaned and said, “I can’t believe you fell for his sales pitch.” Ju-Long paused and hung his head down.
“He sure got me,” stated Ju-Long. Ju-Long then twisted the new dagger in his hand and added, “Might as well use this dagger to end his life when night comes.”
When Fai and Ju-Long were no longer in sight, Megumi stretched up and glanced at Yuma.
“Selling sure is fun,” stated Megumi. Yuma groaned and said, “I still think you have a devil’s tongue.” Megumi chuckled.
Megumi sighed recognizing the voice of Keiki. Keiki ran to Megumi glaring at her.
“Do you need something, Keiki?” asked Megumi with an annoyed expression. Keiki slammed his hand on the table and said, “It took me so long to reach the front of this wagon and I find you selling goods? I thought you already gave up being a merchant!”
“I did give it up,” stated Megumi.
“Then what are you doing?” demanded Keiki. Before Megumi could say a word, Goran wrapped his arm in front of her making her flinch.
“Megumi is just helping me out, young man,” stated Goran. Keiki grew pale and inched back.
“Aren’t you Goran?” asked Keiki. Goran nodded with a smile. Keiki looked at Megumi with an uneasy look.
“Are you sure you want to be around this guy?” asked Keiki his voice beginning to shake. Megumi glanced at Goran and then back at Keiki with a smirk.
“I see, if I remember right, you pissed off Goran when he came to Go Province when we were children and he nearly sent you to the next world,” stated Megumi. Keiki gritted his teeth stepping back.
“That was the past, I’m a lot stronger now than that old man,” talked back Keiki. Goran smile grew wide and said, “Is that so, young man?” Keiki didn’t know why, but when Goran smiled it seemed to be filled with malice. Keiki gulped and then grabbed Megumi’s hand yanking her away from Goran.
“We’re going now!” exclaimed Keiki as he started to drag her away. Megumi yelled out protests, but Keiki’s fear seemed to overcome her strength.
Goran and Yuma watched Keiki drag Megumi off with wide eyes. Goran crossed his arms with a pout.
“Why did that young man take Megumi away when Megumi was selling so well?”
Yuma remembered Keiki when he was small and chuckled.
“I would be running too if I got you angry,” stated Yuma making Goran confused. Yuma suddenly fell silent and clenched his fist.
“Stupid Keiki took Megumi before we could finish our bet,” mumbled Yuma. Goran chuckled and stated, “Chances are that Megumi would have still beaten you.” Yuma glared at Goran daring Goran to say another word of insult.
Goran glanced in the direction Keiki and Megumi went and placed a hand to his chin in thought.
Why try to become an official?
Keiki and Megumi stopped near a dango stand with Keiki breathing heavily. Megumi glared at Keiki as Keiki held her wrist.
“Was it really necessary to run?” asked Megumi in an annoyed tone. Keiki nodded with fear still in his eyes.
“Goran is a demon in disguise,” muttered Keiki. Megumi sighed and looked at Keiki’s hand that was still wrapped around her wrist.
“Was it also necessary to drag me along?” asked Megumi. Keiki glanced back at Megumi and took notice of his hand holding Megumi’s wrist. Keiki gasped yanking his hand away with a blush against his cheek.
“I needed to bring you along because I have to stick with you,” stated Keiki looking away from Megumi. Megumi shook her head and glanced back.
“I guess I shouldn’t continue selling for my day off anyway,” stated Megumi. Keiki nodded in agreement. Megumi heaved out a sigh with a look of disappointment in her face.
Megumi looked back at Keiki and said, “Let’s check out the other stands.” Keiki nodded and began to follow Megumi.
Megumi turned a corner back to the market area, but then stopped in her tracks when she saw Yumi walking in her direction looking around with eager eyes. Megumi gasped and turned around ready to run, but collided into Keiki making them crash into the ground. Keiki groaned and then glared at Megumi.
“What is wrong with you?” demanded Keiki. Megumi covered his mouth forcing him to his feet with a troubled look.
“I need to get out of here,” whispered Megumi making Keiki puzzled.
Megumi hung her head down with a sigh at the sound of the feminine voice. Keiki looked behind Megumi with a puzzled look and saw Yumi looking toward them with eyes that seemed to sparkle. Keiki grinned as Megumi’s hand left his mouth.
“I get it now,” stated Keiki.
Yumi immediately embraced Megumi from behind with a smile on her face.
“I missed you so much,” cheered Yumi. Megumi sighed and glanced back at Yumi.
“How in the world did you know I was in Eva Province?” asked Megumi. Yumi giggled rubbing her cheek against Megumi’s shoulder.
“Big brother Sakuya told me of course,” stated Yumi. Megumi groaned knowing full well that Sakuya still hadn’t given up on her marrying Yumi.
Keiki chuckled and said, in a mocking tone, “Yumi loves you so much Megumi.” Megumi glared at Keiki sending chills down his spine.
Reiji appeared from behind the corner and gasped when he saw Yumi embracing Megumi with Keiki watching them with a snicker.
“Lady Yumi really did find you,” stated Reiji. Megumi glanced at Reiji and asked, “So you knew she was here too?” Reiji nodded and added, “She came to the residence first before coming here.” Megumi groaned trying to push Yumi away.
Keiki looked toward Reiji and asked, “Aren’t you supposed to be working today?” Reiji nodded looking back at Yumi.
“I was sent out to get a doctor for Lord Naohito and then watch for Lady Yumi’s safety. I already sent the doctor back to the residence, so I just needed to watch over Lady Yumi.”
Reiji noticed Megumi’s distressed look and added, “If I knew Megumi would be troubled, I would have done something to help Megumi instead.” Megumi shook her head smiling at Reiji.
“You didn’t know so it’s fine, Reiji.”
Reiji nodded with a small blush on his cheek.
Megumi finally managed to slip away from Yumi and looked at her with a stern look.
“I thought it made it clear during the Qualification Exams that I refuse to marry you,” stated Megumi. Yumi frowned and hugged Megumi’s arm making Megumi flinch.
“You always say that, but I refuse to give up. You are the only man I want to marry,” stated Yumi. Megumi frowned.
“You only want to marry me because Sakuya told you to,” stated Megumi. Yumi shook her head seeming close to tears.
“That’s not true!” wailed Yumi making Megumi flinch.
Reiji managed to pull Yumi off of Megumi, while Keiki pulled Megumi toward him.
“I don’t want to deal with drama right now,” stated Keiki in an annoyed tone.
Megumi looked at Yumi in Reiji’s hold and said, “Even if that isn’t true, I still refuse.” Yumi looked down with a solemn look.
Megumi looked at Reiji and said, “Please bring Yumi back to the residence to rest.” Reiji nodded and watched Keiki and Megumi walk pass him. Reiji looked back at Yumi and said, “Let’s head back, Lady Yumi.” Yumi looked at Reiji with hurt in her eyes.
“I’ll rest for a while and then speak to Megumi again.”
“Why do you want to speak to Megumi again when he looks so angered?” asked Reiji as he released Yumi. Yumi smiled with a tear running down her cheek.
“Megumi has been rejecting me for years and it always hurts, but when he does smile at me, I feel like I am in heaven. I want to always be beside him even when it hurts. That’s how much I love him.”
Reiji smiled and said, “Then rest for now, Lady Yumi.” Yumi nodded and headed for the Dango restaurant with Reiji behind her. Reiji stared at Yumi’s back and remembered the heartfelt words Yumi spoke. Reiji clenched his fist knowing that Yumi really did love Megumi, but he also knew that Yumi’s love for Megumi would never come true.
Megumi and Keiki entered the market place again silently. Keiki glanced at Megumi and asked, “So are you going to deal with Yumi when we get back?”
“Knowing Yumi she would speak to me again very soon even before I return to the residence,” stated Megumi. Keiki chuckled and said, “That’s true.”
Megumi and Keiki looked forward and saw Yuma approaching them with an annoyed look. Yuma stopped in front of them with crossed arms.
“Where in the world did Keiki drag you too?” asked Yuma in an annoyed tone. Megumi crossed her arms with a scoff.
“None of your business.”
Yuma groaned. Megumi placed a hand to her chin and asked, “Are you done selling for today?” Yuma nodded and said, “The crowd calmed down after you left, so I decided to look for you in the market.” Megumi raised an eyebrow and asked, “Why?”
Yuma dumped five hundred silver pieces into Megumi’s hand.
“Master Goran wanted me to give you your share in the sales. He wanted to give you more, but we need the money to continue traveling.”
Megumi nodded thanking Yuma. Yuma then showed a serious look and asked, “I can tell that you still enjoy selling, so why did you close your stand and don’t you dare tell me that it is none of my business?” Megumi remained silent with a frown on her face.
Yuma groaned and grabbed the front of Megumi’s shirt.
“Why won’t you tell me?” demanded Yuma his anger rising. Megumi looked away from Yuma.
“I need to become an official for my revenge.”
Yuma’s eyes widened as he released Megumi’s shirt.
“Revenge, revenge for what?”
Megumi adjusted her shirt and said, “Revenge for my family.”
“Did something happen to your family?” asked Yuma. Megumi nodded, but was silent.
Keiki clenched his fist knowing that it was hard for Megumi to speak.
“Megumi’s mother and Mikan were murdered,” stated Keiki in a low tone. Yuma gasped and then asked, “What about Satoshi, is he OK at least?”
“He was kidnapped.”
Yuma clenched his fist and asked, “So how would becoming an official help you?”
Megumi looked at Yuma with determination in her eyes.
“I can look through the files, find the bastards that did this and then find Satoshi and kill those bastards,” stated Megumi as she clenched her fist. Yuma could see the seriousness in her eyes. He could also see that Keiki with his clenched fist had the same resolve as Megumi. Yuma turned away from Megumi and Keiki.
“I understand, but master Goran told me before that revenge never brings you anything good.”
Yuma was ready to walk off to leave Megumi and Keiki behind, but stopped in his steps when he heard a familiar voice calling, “Megumi!” Yuma felt his heart race as he glanced over his shoulder. He saw that the seriousness in Megumi’s eyes had changed to a face of annoyance and Keiki’s had changed to a face of amusement, but what caught his attention was the owner of the voice: Yumi. Yuma turned red in the cheeks. He remembered that during his childhood he was in love with the only daughter of the Goh Residence. He was actually still in love with her.
Yuma was going to greet her with a bright smile, but his smile faded when Yumi embraced Megumi. Yuma was as still as a statue as he watched Yumi cuddle Megumi.
“Megumi,” purred Yumi. Megumi managed to shove Yumi off and said, “I told you to return to the residence already not too long ago.” Yumi giggled and hugged Megumi around her neck.
“You did tell me, but after eating at the dango restaurant with Lord Reiji, I decided that I wanted to see you again and for you to go back to the residence with me,” stated Yumi, her eyes practically sparkling. Megumi groaned, while Keiki chuckled at the sight.
Reiji approached Yumi and Megumi and said, “Sorry about this, but she wouldn’t listen.” Megumi sighed and said, “No need to be sorry. Yumi is always like this.” Yumi giggled placing her cheek against Megumi’s.
Megumi suddenly sensed a heavy presence. This presence seemed to be almost murderous. Megumi looked toward Yuma, who had still not left, and saw that the feeling she felt was from him. Yuma had a look that could kill. If Megumi remembered right, Yuma left Go Province with Goran when Yumi began to make advances at her. Megumi sighed realizing that Yuma might be in love with Yumi.
Megumi managed to slip from Yumi’s grip and pushed against her forehead.
“Please go back to the residence,” Megumi said in an almost begging tone. Yumi shook her head trying to embrace Megumi. Megumi glanced at Yuma and said, “Instead of watching, please help.” Yuma flinched and groaned crossing his arms.
“And why should I do that?” asked Yuma in an annoyed tone, his eyebrow twitching. Yumi stopped in her actions and looked toward Yuma.
“Aren’t you Yuma?” asked Yumi. Yuma’s face turned red at the sound of Yumi’s voice. Yumi stared at Yuma and asked, “Why are you here?” Yuma cleared his throat trying to control his blush.
“I was here with Master Goran to sell goods.”
“You’re still a merchant?” asked Yumi.
Yuma nodded his blush seeming to increase. Yumi smiled and said, “I’m glad to hear that you didn’t give up.” Yuma’s heart seemed to race at the sight of Yumi’s smile. He felt the urge to pull her into a hug, but froze when Yumi looked at Megumi and said, “Can I walk with you Megumi?” Yuma felt his heart shatter, while Megumi groaned in annoyance. Keiki was chuckling, while Reiji had a look of confusion.
Reiji looked at Yuma and asked, “Are you a friend of Megumi’s?” Yuma flinched and then glared at Reiji.
“I will never be that lady killer’s friend!” yelled Yuma and then ran off. Reiji, Keiki, and Yumi looked in the direction Yuma went puzzled.
“Is Yuma OK?” asked Yumi. Megumi sighed and said, “He’ll recover.” Reiji leaned toward Megumi’s ear and asked, “So that guy’s name is Yuma?” Megumi nodded.
“He used to live in Go Province when I was six, but left with Goran as a traveling merchant apprentice.”
Megumi glanced at Yumi and added, “He most likely accepted the apprenticeship because he couldn’t stand it that his long time crush loved me.” Reiji glanced at Yumi and then back at Megumi.
“You mean he loves Yumi Goh?”
Megumi nodded. Yumi suddenly hugged her arm and said, “Let’s walk together, Megumi.” Megumi sighed and said, “Fine.” Yumi giggled in delight as she began to pull Megumi along. Keiki chuckled following Megumi and Yumi. Keiki glanced back at Reiji and said, “I’ll keep an eye on them, so you head on back.” Reiji nodded and began to head back toward the residence glancing back in Megumi’s direction once in a while.
Megumi, Keiki, and Yumi traveled around the market place side by side. As they traveled Yumi refused to let go of Megumi’s arm. Megumi was annoyed, but she did enjoy herself during the small trip. When Megumi, Yumi, and Keiki reached a stand selling paintings, Megumi suddenly felt a feather like feeling behind her neck. She placed a hand against the back of her neck with a puzzled look.
“Megumi!” called out a familiar sing song voice. Megumi looked back and saw Goran approaching her. Goran waved to Megumi.
“Goran, what are you doing here?”
Goran chuckled and said, “Well I decided to walk around the marketplace of course.”
“So a break?” asked Megumi. Goran nodded and then noticed Yumi looking at him with a confused look and Keiki slowly backing away. Goran chuckled and said, “Now I know why Yuma ran back to the wagon crying.” Megumi glanced at Yumi and sighed turning back to Goran.
“Is he OK?” asked Megumi. Goran nodded and added, “I suspect that he will be better when I get back.” Goran rubbed his chin and then added, “If it’s not too much trouble, I would like to speak with you privately.” Before Megumi could speak, Keiki stood in front of Megumi with defiance in his eyes.
“There is no way in Hell that I am leaving Megumi alone with you…you demon!” yelled Keiki. Goran grinned and placed a hand against Keiki’s head making Keiki flinch.
“Now, now young man, you have to show respect to your elders. That means you don’t call me a demon and you definitely don’t curse right, little Keiki,” said Goran slowly with a grin, but the grin in Keiki’s view looked like it was filled with malice. Keiki was beginning to shake remembering that the last time Goran was angered because of him; he was dangling over a well screaming for mercy.
Megumi sighed finally managing to brush Yumi off her arm and looked toward Goran.
“I can talk, Goran.”
Goran smiled at Megumi releasing Keiki and the feeling of malice dispersing. Keiki was ready to object close to tears, but Megumi placed a hand on Keiki’s shoulder and said, “I’ll be fine, so take Yumi back to the residence.”
“I said I’ll be fine,” stated Megumi in a stricter voice. Keiki groaned and grabbed Yumi’s arm and began to drag her back to the residence. Yumi called out to Megumi repeatedly, but Keiki continued to drag her off.
Megumi heaved out a sigh and looked at Goran.
“So what do you want to talk about?” asked Megumi. Goran grabbed Megumi’s hand and began to drag Megumi to a secluded area. The secluded area turned out to be behind a closed market stand. Goran cleared his throat and looked at Megumi seriously.
“Before Yuma practically locked himself in the wagon, he told me that you stopped being a merchant because you want revenge for your family, is that true?”
Megumi frowned and nodded.
“Megumi, I taught you the ways of a merchant because I knew you loved to sell, but now you abandoned it for revenge. Revenge is never the way to go. Is this what you really want? Do you really want to abandon your dream of being a merchant to be an official to get revenge? Is it?”
“I wasn’t there!” Megumi suddenly yelled making Goran flinch. Megumi clenched her fist as she spoke.
“I promised to protect them, but when I left them at the cabin that night, Mikan and mother were killed and burned and Satoshi was taken. I can still see Mikan’s and mother’s burned corpses.”
Tears were beginning to form in Megumi’s eyes.
“Yes, this is revenge, but if I succeed, I can at least get Satoshi back. Between a dream and my love for my family, I will always choose my family.”
Goran watched as tears ran down Megumi’s cheeks and then pulled her into a hug placing his hand against the back of her neck.
“I understand Megumi, but please think this through.”
Megumi hugged Goran back trying to stop her tears.
When Megumi’s tears finally stopped, the sun was beginning to set. Megumi and Goran walked through the marketplace side by side watching as the stands began to close. Goran scratched the back of his head as he looked at Megumi.
“I know you hate it when people see you cry, so I promise not to tell Yuma or anyone else OK?”
Megumi nodded still silent. As their surroundings grew quiet, Megumi began to feel a chill run down her spine. That was when she remembered Ju-Long’s words:
“When night falls, you will need to watch your back.”
Megumi cursed under her breath grabbing Goran’s hand. Goran looked at Megumi saying her name. Megumi took off in a dash dragging Goran along. Goran gasped trying not to trip.
“What’s the rush Megumi?” asked Goran as he ran.
“I need to get you back to your wagon before night falls completely.”
Goran frowned and asked, “And why is that?”
“I angered an assassin and now his friend wants to kill me.”
“Why can’t the assassin that has a grudge against you do it himself?” demanded Goran clearly angry.
“Because I did an Obedience Vow on him.”
Goran’s eyes widened.
“How do you know about the Obedience Vow?” asked Goran. Megumi gulped and said, “Master Chuckles taught me.” Goran felt his heart race and clenched his free hand.
“That bastard,” whispered Goran.
“Did you say something Goran?”
Goran shook his head and suddenly stopped in his tracks forcing Megumi to stop in her tracks as well.
“What are you…?”
Goran covered Megumi’s mouth making her gasp and said, “Listen Megumi, you were once my student and as your teacher I have the right to protect you, understand?” Megumi nodded. Goran released Megumi’s mouth with a smirk on his lips.
“Now how about we PREPARE for this assassin’s arrival.”
Megumi gulped sensing a killing aura emitting from Goran’s very being.
When night had fallen, Megumi leaned against Goran’s wagon with crossed arms. Megumi could only hear the passing wind, but then suddenly heard running steps coming her way. She looked forward and saw Ju-Long wearing a mask and holding the very dagger she sold him in his grasp.
“So you decided to wait for me here to kill you?” asked Ju-Long. Megumi frowned.
“I did wait for you, but it wasn’t for you to kill me.”
Ju-Long chuckled twisting the dagger in his hand.
“I can see that you underestimate me, so let me tell you some of the people I killed: An official in Eru Province, a captain of a ship, a man people called a saint, even a warrior called the greatest in a foreign land. These kills made them unrecognizable in the end.”
Ju-Long pointed the dagger at Megumi and said, “As a favor to Fai, I’ll cut you up until there are only bones left.” Megumi smirked going into a fighting stance.
“Go ahead and try.”
Ju-Long took one step and the next thing he knew, a net made of metal emerged from under his feet and scooped him up making him gasp. Ju-Long dropped his dagger and groaned glaring at Megumi from the metal net.
“Your cheater, the way Fai described you, I thought you would have fought me at least!” yelled Ju-Long. Megumi sighed getting out of her fighting stance.
“I would have, if Goran didn’t hear about it.”
Out of the wagon stepped out Goran and Yuma. Goran approached a dangling Ju-Long and chuckled.
“My, my what a sorry state you’re in.”
Ju-Long glared at Goran, who was smiling at his misfortune. Ju-Long looked back toward Megumi and saw her staring at him with Yuma clearly trying to avoid her.
“So you’re just going to walk away and leave me in this net?” demanded Ju-Long. Megumi shook her head and said, “Goran said he had something for you.” Ju-Long raised an eyebrow at Megumi and looked back at Goran.
Goran grinned widely like a Cheshire Cat pulling out a needle.
“What are you going to do with that?” asked Ju-Long nervously. Goran chuckled licking the needle.
“I’m just going to show you what happens when you try to kill one of my students.”
Goran immediately pushed the needle into Ju-Long’s leg. Ju-Long tried to scream, but to his surprise his voice wouldn’t come out. Goran grinned with malice emitting from his very being.
“No one will hear you scream and as I continue to stab you, the pain will increase and your senses of sight and hearing will slowly begin to fade.”
Ju-long’s eyes widened as Goran pushed the needle into his flesh repeatedly. The pain was overwhelming, but Ju-Long couldn’t scream and to his horror, he could barely hear the wind and his sight was slowly beginning to vanish. Ju-Long thought that he was demon that ended people’s lives leaving nothing of their flesh, but after feeling Goran’s torture method, he felt that Goran was the true demon.
Goran stopped in his actions and looked back at Megumi, who was clenching her fist.
Megumi walked to Goran and snatched the needle from him. She tossed the needle back and went toward Ju-Long. She glared at Goran.
“I know that you are trying to protect me, but this is too much.”
Megumi grabbed the fallen dagger and used it to cut the metal net. Ju-long fell to the ground with blood flowing from the needle wounds shaking. Megumi kneeled next to Ju-Long supporting him on her shoulder.
“I’ll take him back to the residence to get treated.”
“But Megumi, he’s an assassin, who tried to kill you,” reasoned Goran. Megumi sighed as she stood up with Ju-Long in her grasp.
“I know, but you told me before that revenge is wrong, so let him go.”
Goran stared at Megumi with wide eyes and then smiled.
“I guess I can’t win against you. Alright, you can treat him, but make sure he will never ever try to kill you again.”
Megumi nodded with a smile and then began to lead Ju-Long down the path.
Yuma went to Goran’s side and asked, “Is this really OK?” Goran nodded and added, “Megumi was always like that, even with little Keiki.” Yuma nodded.
“He would be a great guy, if he would stop flirting with girls.”
“Oh come on, Yuma, you know that the girls always flirt with him.”
Yuma clenched his fist his cheeks red and yelled, “He is still my enemy as long as Yumi still likes him!” Yuma stormed into the wagon. Goran chuckled and looked in the direction Megumi went. He remembered that when Megumi was six and before he left Go Province, he hugged her placing his hand against the back of her neck. What Megumi didn’t know was that a sunflower mark appeared from Goran’s hand and stuck to the back of Megumi’s neck: a mark that could only be seen when there was heat. Goran smiled and headed to his wagon with the intention to begin his departure from Eva Province.
“I hope I see you again, Megumi.”
Megumi led Ju-Long down the road making sure not to overexert him. Ju-Long glanced at Megumi with eyes that seemed pale and asked, “Why did you help me, when you know that I want to kill you?”
“Even I know that Goran’s torture method was too much. For now just think of my actions as an act of mercy.”
Ju-Long smirked and whispered, “You’re a strange guy.” Ju-Long passed out nearly making Megumi fall over. Megumi sighed and began to carry Ju-Long on her back. Ju-Long was light to Megumi, so she was able to move faster toward the residence.
When she reached the door to the residence, she saw Keiki waiting at the gate.
Keiki glared at Megumi and yelled, “What took you so long?” Keiki noticed Ju-Long on Megumi’s back and asked, “Who is he?” Megumi glanced at Ju-Long’s unconscious form and said, “His name is Ju-Long. He was a customer at Goran’s stand.”
“Why is he unconscious, actually why is there blood all over his pants and shirt?” asked Keiki with an uneasy look.
“He…he got on Goran’s bad side,” stated Megumi honestly. Keiki turned pale thinking that Goran was a demon.
“I heard that Reiji got a doctor, so is he still in?” asked Megumi. Keiki nodded and scratched the back of his head uneasily.
“The doctor was supposed to have left a long time ago, but when I got back here with Yumi, she tripped and twisted her ankle, so he is inside right now treating her to the best of his ability.”
Megumi sighed and said, “Well at least he’s still in.” Megumi adjusted Ju-Long on her back and walked pass Keiki into the residence. Keiki followed behind making sure to close the gate behind them.
Keiki led Megumi down the hall and said, “Reiji and Chiriko already headed to bed.”
“What about Naohito?”
“The doctor told Naohito to stay awake for the night to make sure that he doesn’t have any permanent brain damage, so he’s in the room with the doctor.”
Megumi raised an eyebrow and asked, “What happened to him this time?”
“Fallen bookshelves again.”
Megumi sighed wondering if there was a way for Naohito to protect himself better.
Keiki opened a room door and announced, “Doctor we have another patient.”
“You children are sure giving me a run for my money,” said a rather deep voice. Megumi’s eyes widened and looked into the room. Sitting on a chair pressing a cloth wrapped ice cube on Yumi’s right ankle was a man in a white robe and short brown hair. He looked to be around his twenties with his young features. This man was the doctor called to the residence.
Megumi gulped as she looked at the doctor.
The doctor looked at Megumi and smiled brightly.
“You sure have grown, little Megumi.”