Bunkai 14: Official Rescue

It was already nightfall in Eva Province, but Naohito, Reiji, and Megumi were wide awake in the dining hall looking down at the parchment that announced that Chiriko was kidnapped. Naohito rubbed his chin in thought focusing on the word “Blade Gang.”

“I’ve heard of this Blade Gang a few years back, but the last I heard of them they were supposed to be all the way in Jogo Province,” stated Naohito with sweat on the side of his head.

“Well it looks like they moved to Eva Province and they have Lord Chiriko,” stated Reiji in concern. Naohito clenched his head sweating massively.

“What are we going to do? We can’t give all the money in the residence without harming Eva Province financially and we can’t leave Chiriko captured either.”

Naohito already seemed close to tears.  Megumi frowned staring at the parchment.

“I’ve heard of the Blade Gang as well. They’ve been in Go Province before when I was only five-years-old.”

Reiji and Naohito perked up asking, “Isn’t that where you are from?” Megumi nodded and added, “That same year, the Blade Gang was banished from Go Province.”

“How?” asked Naohito desperate for the answer. Megumi scratched the back of her head and stated, “I hate to say it, but the Blade Gang left Go Province because of Keiki.”

“Keiki?”

At that moment, Keiki entered the dining hall with a plate of pot stickers. Megumi, Reiji, and Naohito looked at Keiki making him flinch.

“Why are you guys staring? Did you want something else to eat?” asked Keiki with a raised eyebrow. Naohito suddenly stood up from his chair abruptly making Keiki flinch again.

“I need you to tell me how you got the Blade Gang to leave Go Province,” demanded Naohito. Keiki’s look of surprise was replaced by a look of hatred.

“Did you say Blade Gang?” asked Keiki in a low tone. Naohito nodded. Keiki slammed the plate of pot stickers on the table with serious in his eyes.

“Is the Blade Gang in Eva Province?” asked Keiki. Naohito nodded. Keiki clenched his fist his very form filled with hatred.

“No matter how many times the mafia drives them out of Provinces they always come back,” hissed Keiki. Naohito backed away from Keiki in fear that Keiki would attack him at any moment. Reiji gulped and asked, looking at Keiki, “Is the Blade Gang on bad terms with the mafia?” Keiki nodded glaring at Reiji.

“You might not know this, but the Blade Gang is trying to make their own mafia group, but mafias are made by name only.”

“You mean by lineage?” asked Reiji. Keiki nodded and added, “The Blade Gang’s ways of gaining money is also despicable. Kidnapping and when they do get the money, they kill the hostage. Even us mafia don’t do that.” Naohito turned pale.

“You mean they are going to kill Chiriko?” asked Naohito close to tears. Keiki flinched looking at Naohito.

“So the Blade Gang kidnapped Chiriko?” asked Keiki. Naohito nodded and began to whimper saying, “I should have prevented him from going to the market place.” Keiki looked away from Naohito and glanced at Megumi.

“As much as I am guessing, Naohito wants me to help you guys get rid of the Blade Gang and get Chiriko back right?” asked Keiki. Megumi nodded and added, “You did get rid of them before.” Keiki nodded with a smirk.

“And I’ll do it again, so tell me where to meet them” stated Keiki.

“The only old mill in Eva Province,” stated Megumi.

“Figures.”

Keiki tossed a pot sticker into his mouth and then raced out of the dining hall. Megumi munched on a few pot stickers and then stood up from her chair.

“Where are you going?” asked Reiji. Megumi grinned at Reiji and stated, “Keiki did get rid of the Blade Gang in Go Province, but he still had help.” Megumi winked at Reiji making him blush and ran after Keiki.

Reiji controlled his blush and then looked at Naohito, who was munching on some pot stickers with tears in his eyes.

“I’m sure they’ll be fine and they will get Lord Chiriko,” stated Reiji in a comforting voice. Naohito nodded and then glanced at Reiji.

“I know, but I still worry about Chiriko and Megumi.”

Reiji chuckled and stated, “You should worry about Keiki as well.” Naohito’s expression looked sad as he said, “I’m not sure why, but when Keiki is with Megumi, I don’t like it. I want him to disappear.” Reiji’s eyes widened realizing that Naohito meant what he said. Reiji bit his lip wondering why Naohito felt like that.

Keiki raced through the empty streets of Eva Province with seriousness in his eyes. The Blade Gang was the very first people besides Megumi that he had fought for the honor of the Mafia Nue Clan. When he defeated the Blade Gang it guaranteed that he would lead the Nue Clan in the future, but even though he defeated them in Go Province, it didn’t stop them from going to other provinces and Eva Province being the only province without a mafia clan, it was no surprise that the Blade Gang would try to establish a corrupt Mafia clan in Eva Province. Keiki at that very moment was determined to end the Blade Gang for good.

Keiki soon reached the old mill that seemed to reach toward the sky and was wide enough to cover a land half the size of a normal forest. It made him wonder what was being done in the mill before it was abandoned.

Keiki was about to enter, but stopped in his tracks when he felt a hand on his right shoulder. He turned around quickly drawing his sword. He swung his sword only to have his blade meet the metal of Megumi’s dagger. Keiki scoffed pulling his sword away from Megumi.

“Don’t sneak up on me like that,” stated Keiki in a low tone. Megumi smirked placing her dagger back to her side.

“That wasn’t my intention,” stated Megumi. She went to Keiki’s side staring at the large mill.

“I came to help you in your mission to stop the Blade Gang and to save Chiriko.”

Megumi glanced at Keiki and added, “Knowing you, you would have forgotten to save Chiriko after taking care of the Blade Gang.” Keiki groaned gripping the handle of his sword.

“I can’t really deny that,” muttered Keiki. Keiki began to walk forward saying, “I’ll take care of the Blade Gang and you find Chiriko.” Megumi nodded and walked pass Keiki. Megumi glanced back at Keiki and stated, “Just like eight years ago, huh?” Keiki frowned telling Megumi to be quiet. Megumi waved him off and ran toward the mill at the left side.

Keiki ran toward the mill as well, but ran to the right side. He took a turn and then pressed his back against the wall of the mill near a window. He glanced through the window of the mill and saw a few men that he believed were part of the Blade Gang. He took in a deep breath, before leaping through the window and slamming the flat of his sword against the closes man to him. The men immediately went into fighting positions holding a sword or staff.

“There’s an intruder!” yelled out one of the men. Keiki smirked pointing his sword at the men.

“I see that you Blade Gang members still depend on numbers to get what you want,” stated Keiki. One of the men that seemed to be the tallest of the group raised an eyebrow and asked, “Have you met the Blade Gang before?” Keiki nodded raising up his sword.

“I banished the Blade Gang from Go Province for the good of the mafia. I am Keiki Nue!” announced Keiki. Keiki expected the men to shake in fear, but instead the men began to laugh making Keiki frown.

“What’s so funny?” demanded Keiki.

The tallest of the group pointed at Keiki and said, “If you were Keiki Nue then you would possess the sword of the Nue Clan.”

“I do,” stated Keiki showing his blade, but then his eyes widened when he saw that the crest of the Nue Clan wasn’t on his sword. He remembered that when he went to the market place with Megumi around three days ago, Megumi tore off the crest and dumped it into her bag. Keiki clenched his blade beginning to shake in anger.

The men in the room took this chance to charge at Keiki. Keiki glared at the men swinging his sword at them.

“CURSE YOU MEGUMI!”

Megumi flinched from outside of the mill and looked back.

“Was Keiki calling me?” Megumi asked herself. Megumi shook her head and ran forward along the mill wall until she saw a closed window. She ducked under the window and pressed her lips together trying to lower the sound of her breathing. Megumi could hear the feint steps from the other side of the wall. She peeked through the window slightly from the bottom and saw a few men walking by the window with seriousness in their eyes. Megumi scanned what she could from her vantage point and counted a total of ten men. Megumi ducked back down drawing her dagger. She took in a deep breath and then sprung up and leapt through the window backwards. The minute she was through, she forced herself to turn in the air and slammed her right leg into a man that was passing by the window. The man gasped as he slammed against the floor sending dust flying.

The remaining nine men looked Megumi’s way as she landed on the ground glaring at them. Megumi ran her right foot on the ground sending dust sliding along her foot and pointed her dagger at them.

The men, who were shocked at first, immediately ran at Megumi yelling. Megumi kicked the dust into three of the men’s faces making them shut their eyes gasping and coughing and then leapt up. A man tried to tackle her from her left, but she tossed her dagger to her left hand and used the handle of the dagger to punch the man in his throat. The man gasped falling over gripping his neck. Before Megumi touched the ground, she turned two times in the air connecting her left and right foot into two other men’s vital points and knocking them out. Megumi touched the ground with the tip of her right foot, before leaping up again and swinging her left leg straight up into another man’s chin. The man fell back unconscious. Megumi landed on the ground again only to grip her fist and turn back connecting her fist into another man’s stomach. She then grabbed that very man’s wrist and used his body to slam against two other men knocking them out. The remaining three men that were temporally blinded from Megumi’s first attack charged at her at the same time. Megumi rolled out from their path and then threw her dagger at a rope tied to a hook. The next thing the men knew, they heard something a creak and found themselves being crushed by large logs. The men passed out groaning in pain.

Megumi pulled her dagger from the wall and returned it to her side. She looked at the passed out men and noticed that the one she punched with the handle of the dagger was still conscious. She approached the man and then forced him to look at her.

“Tell me where you are keeping the Official hostage,” ordered Megumi. The man gulped sweating massively.

“The Official should be in the processing room for the wheat, but it is heavily guarded, so you don’t stand a chance,” stated the man. Megumi narrowed her eyes making the man flinch.

“I’ll find a way, so sleep for now,” stated Megumi and then karate chopped the back of his neck knocking him out.

Megumi stood up wiping the sweat from her forehead and then dashed down the hall. Megumi knew the layout of mills from her constant reading as a child, so she knew exactly where the processing room for wheat was.

In a matter of minutes, she stood before a door with writing on a silver nameplate. It seemed like gibberish to a Foreigner, but to Yulan citizens it read: WHEAT PROCESSING ROOM. Megumi opened the door a crack and immediately saw an incredible amount of armed men. Megumi also noticed a wooden machine used to make the wheat into flour in the center of the room and tied to it was Chiriko along with a few other men and women, most likely kidnapped from the market or from the outskirts of Eva Province. Megumi frowned closing the door.

Megumi immediately sensed a presence behind her and kicked back connecting to someone’s stomach. The person gasped falling forward and dropping his weapon. Megumi glared back and gasped when she realized that it was Keiki.

“Keiki?” asked Megumi in a whisper. Keiki glared at Megumi gripping his pain pulsing stomach.

“What the Hell Megumi?” hissed Keiki. Megumi chuckled scratching the back of her head sheepishly.

“Sorry about that,” whispered Megumi. Keiki managed to maintain the pain as he stood up picking up his sword. Megumi noticed the cuts on Keiki’s body and asked, “What happened to you?” Keiki frowned.

“The underlings wouldn’t stop appearing since I got into the mill,” whispered Keiki. Megumi rubbed her chin and stated, “The Blade Gang should fear you if you flashed your Nue Clan crest.” Keiki glared at Megumi and then jabbed a finger at the handle of his sword where the Nue Clan crest was before, which was now empty.

“You tore it off, you bastard,” hissed Keiki trying his best not to yell. Megumi stared at his sword and then chuckled saying, “I did, didn’t I?” Keiki groaned gripping his sword.

“Give it back to me after we take down the Blade Gang,” ordered Keiki.

“We? I thought you wanted me to just get Chiriko?” whispered Megumi. Keiki groaned and then glanced at Megumi.

“The processing room is heavily guarded with the stronger members of the Blade Gang, so we need to work as one to defeat them and get Chiriko back,” stated Keiki and then added, “Let’s work together again just this once like when we saved Mikan from the Blade Gang.” Megumi smiled and nodded drawing her dagger.

Keiki was about to open the door, but stopped, looking back at Megumi again.

“If the leader of the Blade Gang is in there, I will end him, so don’t stop me.”

Megumi nodded her eyes growing serious.

Keiki opened the door slightly and frowned when he saw the number of men.

“The guy I spared wasn’t kidding when he said the place was heavily guarded and they have more than one hostage in there,” whispered Keiki. Megumi peeked into the room and noticed a large brown plank hanging from the ceiling and also noticed that it held wheat flour most likely forgotten when the mill was abandoned. Megumi smirked and closed the door pulling Keiki to her side.

“I have an idea,” whispered Megumi. Keiki raised an eyebrow wondering what Megumi had planned.

Inside the processing room, Chiriko watched the men pace back and forth with their swords and staffs in hand. Chiriko frowned, feeling humiliated that he had been kidnapped and was most likely being held for ransom. He remembered that Kaze Tae wouldn’t be back until he had the new Official for Eva province with him, so he really couldn’t count on him for a rescue. He thought that maybe Keiki Nue would save him, but then remembered that Keiki was part of the mafia and wouldn’t help him unless he got something in return and looking at the way the men acted around Chiriko when he was captured, they weren’t part of any mafia group, so therefore Keiki had nothing to do with them. Naohito wouldn’t be able to save him, especially with his bad luck, and knowing Naohito, he would never pay the ransom if it meant hurting the province. Reiji Kou was out of the question. As for Megumi Yoh, Chiriko began to remember Megumi’s fighting spirit and her constant rescues with Naohito. He also remembered her smile making him blush and smile himself. He believed that Megumi was the only one willing to save him and succeed.

“Are you sick, sir?” asked a young man tied up next to him. Chiriko gasped shaking his head and asked, “Why do you ask?” The young man, who looked to be around his twenties and wore a traveling scholar apparel, managed to point at Chiriko’s face and said, “You were getting red in the face.” Chiriko blushed again and cleared his throat looking away from the young man.

“I am not sick, it is just unusually hot in here,” stated Chiriko, but flinched when the young man stated, “But you are not sweating.” Chiriko sighed looking downward.

“Please just let it go,” muttered Chiriko making the young man’s stares on Chiriko become bewildered.

One of the Blade Gang members that held a silver handle sword glanced toward Chiriko and the young man and then back at another member, who had long black hair tied in a ponytail and held, surprisingly, no weapon.

“Shouldn’t we keep those two quiet, Sang Min?” asked the Blade Gang member in a hushed voice. The man with the long black hair, Sang Min, shook his head and stated, “As long as they aren’t annoying.” The Blade Gang member then glanced at the other hostages and asked, “Will all the residents of Eva Province really give us the ransom for all these people?” Sang Min nodded and added, “We did kidnap the most important people to them after all, Shin.” The Blade Gang member, Shin, nodded gripping his sword.

The door to the processing room suddenly opened with a slam getting all of the people in the room’s attention. At the doorway, stood Keiki with a smirk on his lips and his sword over his shoulder.

“Knock, Knock, Blade Gang,” mocked Keiki. Sang Min narrowed his eyes as the other members prepared their weapons with seriousness in their eyes.

“Who are you?” demanded Sang Min. Keiki walked forward and then pointed his blade at them.

“The mafia heir to the Nue Clan, Keiki Nue,” announced Keiki. Sang Min shrugged and stated, “If you were that Keiki then you would have…”

“Don’t say it,” interrupted Keiki with an intense glare that made Sang Min flinch. Shin suddenly stood in front of Sang Min pointing his sword at Keiki and yelled, “Why are you here?” Keiki glanced toward Chiriko, who had a look of disbelief in his face.

“To retrieve a troublesome Official and to permanently take down the Blade Gang,” stated Keiki. Sang Min groaned and pushed Shin to the side.

“You cheeky brat, let’s see if you can still talk big after my men beat you to a pulp,” stated Sang Min and then pointed at Keiki yelling, “Take him down!” The Blade Gang members charged at Keiki. Keiki smirked and swung the flat of his sword at the Blade Gang Members. He slammed his sword against three members sending them flying into the wall of the mill. He did a flying kick into a Blade Gang member and shoved his elbow into the chin of another member. A Blade Gang member threw heavy stones at Keiki, but Keiki back flipped out of the way and then used his sword to disarm another member. Keiki chuckled as he did a double kick on one member and muttered, “You guys are nothing compared to Megumi.”

Chiriko watched Keiki fight in disbelief and then whispered, “I didn’t think Keiki had a grudge against these ruffians.” The scholar tied next to him raised an eyebrow at Chiriko and asked, “So you know that boy?” Chiriko nodded and added, “I actually thought he wouldn’t try to save me.” Chiriko suddenly sighed and added, “I wanted Megumi to come.”

“Megumi?”

Chiriko nodded not noticing the seriousness that formed in the scholar’s face.

Chiriko suddenly heard a noise from above and looked up and gasped when he saw a plank of wood heading toward them. Chiriko screamed as did others who noticed the falling plank. Keiki noticed it too and smirked, saying, “About time.” The plank shattered when it came into contact with the processing machine sending bags of opened wheat flour flying in all directions. When the bags of flour collided into the ground clear smoke erupted from the bags covering the room in flour smoke. The Blade Gang members and Sang Min coughed and couldn’t see a thing in the smoke.

Chiriko coughed and suddenly realized that the ropes that bind him were cut releasing him. The other hostages found themselves set free too. They were all confused, but then Chiriko heard a voice that he was familiar with saying, “Hold each other’s hands and follow my voice.”

“Megumi?” asked Chiriko trying to see through the smoke. He felt a tender hand grab his followed by a voice saying, “I’m here, Chiriko.” Chiriko felt a sense of relief as he held Megumi’s hand. Chiriko felt someone grab his other hand and flinched.

“Let’s go,” said the voice of the scholar Chiriko spoke with. Megumi began to lead all of the hostages through the smoke knocking out Blade Gang members that got in their way. Megumi managed to reach the doorway Keiki went through before covered in wheat flour and forced the hostages to walk through.

“Keiki and I left a rope in the hall that will lead to an opened window. Follow the rope and get out,” ordered Megumi. The hostages nodded and began to run down the hall following the rope. Chiriko was about to follow the hostages, but stopped when he noticed that Megumi was about to run back into the processing room.

“What are you doing?” asked Chiriko. Megumi glanced back at Chiriko and said, “Keiki is still in there. I have to help him.” Chiriko grabbed Megumi’s wrist and said, “He’ll be fine, so let’s go.” Megumi shook her head pulling her hand away from Chiriko.

“Would you leave Naohito if he was in there?” asked Megumi. Chiriko raised an eyebrow shaking his head.

“I would never leave my brother with those ruffians.”

Megumi smiled and said, “That’s how I feel about Keiki.” Chiriko looked puzzled as Megumi rushed back into the flour covered room. Chiriko felt a sting in his heart as he stared at the opened door.

Chiriko suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder and looked back only to see the same traveling scholar.

“You’re still here?” asked Chiriko in surprise. The scholar nodded and said, “The Blade Gang took something of mine that I need back and I believe that they took something of yours as well?” Chiriko remembered the shirt he bought for Megumi and nodded.

“I need to get it back.”

The scholar smiled and said, “Then let’s go, while Megumi and Keiki take care of the Blade Gang.” The scholar began to drag Chiriko as he added, “We might be able to assist them as well if we get what we want.” Chiriko nodded following the scholar.

Inside the processing room, the smoke of flour wheat began to subside. Sang Min, Shin, and a few of the Blade Gang members brushed off the flour from their bodies and then noticed that all the hostages were gone. Sang Min cursed under his breath.

“How did this happen?” growled Sang Min.

Sang Min suddenly noticed that most of his men were down and in the center of the unconscious men stood Keiki, who was brushing the remaining flour from his clothes and hair. Sang Min glared a Keiki and yelled, “You did this!” Keiki chuckled twisting his sword in his right hand.

“You guys are still so weak,” stated Keiki. Sang Min finally snapped running at Keiki. Keiki dodged Sang Min’s punch, but gasped when he saw Shin about to slice him down with his sword. Before the sword could connect, he felt two hands grab his leg and force him to the ground making Shin miss. Keiki then rolled to his feet and found himself facing Megumi in crouched position.

“You didn’t have to come back,” stated Keiki. Megumi smirked twisting her dagger in her right hand.

“And let you have all the fun, I don’t think so,” stated Megumi as she stood up. Megumi saw Shin about to cut down Keiki again, but she immediately jumped to Keiki’s side kicking Shin’s sword from his grasp. Shin gasped trying to retrieve his sword, but Keiki reacted faster by kicking the sword farther away and kicking Shin in the chin. Keiki noticed a man about to attack Megumi from behind, but Megumi seemed to notice too for she grabbed Keiki’s extended hand and swung him back allowing him to fly kick the attacker. Keiki stood behind Megumi saying, “Not bad, right?” Megumi nodded leaning against Keiki’s back.

“Watch my back and I’ll watch yours,” stated Megumi. Keiki nodded saying, “Works for me.” Megumi and Keiki began to fight back the Blade Gang members that rushed at them taking them down one by one. Sang Min and Shin, who was slowly recovering, watched the fight with wide eyes.

“The way those two fight, could they be…?”

Sang Min narrowed his eyes remembering that eight years ago, when he entered Go Province to try to establish his own mafia group two boys: one nine and the other five, defeated his group with unbelievable strength. The strength they used and their synchronized fighting earned them a title that all Blade Gang members knew.

“The Devil Pair!” yelled Sang Min making Keiki and Megumi look at Sang Min with wide eyes.

“Did he just call us Devil Pair?” asked Keiki in disbelief before kicking a Blade Gang member away. Megumi shrugged and stated, “Never heard of the name.”

Sang Min pointed at them yelling, “You two were the ones responsible for banishing us from Go Province!” Keiki chuckled and said, “I see, he is an original member.” Megumi nodded and suddenly noticed Sang Min’s full figure and smirked.

“He’s not just an original member. He is the leader of the Blade Gang: Sang Min.”

Sang Min gritted his teeth clenching his fist. Keiki glared at Sang Min gripping the handle of his sword.

“Then I guess I better kill him,” stated Keiki. Keiki was about to run at Sang Min, but ended up having to block another member’s blade with his own. Sang Min smirked saying, “Kill me? I don’t think so. The new recruits are a lot stronger than the ones you fought in the past, so good luck trying to get to me.” Keiki cursed under his breath trying to push aside the members coming at him.

Megumi frowned and stated, “He’s a lot more annoying than he was in the past.”

“No kidding,” stated Keiki making Sang Min groan. Sang Min was about to yell out something, but balls of fire suddenly started to rain from above. Sang Min, Shin, and the remaining members began to scream as they tried to avoid the balls of fire. Keiki and Megumi rolled out of the way with wide eyes.

“What is going on?” exclaimed Keiki. Megumi stared at the balls of fire and suddenly noticed on the second floor of the processing room, two figures tossing down the balls of fire using a metal shovel. With closure inspection she saw that it was Chiriko and the scholar. Megumi’s eyes widened when she saw the scholar throwing down three more fire balls.

“Otanashi?” muttered Megumi. Keiki glanced at Megumi and then looked up at Chiriko and the scholar.

“Why is Chiriko up there and who is that guy?” exclaimed Keiki, before dodging another thrown fireball. Megumi dodged a fireball and then glared up Chiriko and the scholar.

“Be careful with those!” yelled Megumi. The scholar chuckled saying, “Megumi’s voice changed a little.” Chiriko gasped looking at the scholar.

“You know Megumi too?” asked Chiriko. The scholar nodded smiling at Chiriko.

“My name is Otanashi, Megumi’s old work mate.”

“Work mate?”

Otanashi tossed over another fireball saying, “Let’s talk later after we get rid of these ruffians.” Chiriko nodded.

Sang Min dodged the fireballs and then yelled, “Retreat!” The men immediately did as told taking some of their unconscious comrades over their shoulders. Keiki glared at Sang Min’s retreating form and yelled, “I won’t let you get away!” Keiki threw his sword toward Sang Min. It seemed like his sword would impale Sang Min in the back, but Shin suddenly jumped into the sword’s path and whacked it to the side before running after Sang Min glaring at Keiki. Keiki gritted his teeth as Sang Min and the Blade Gang members escaped. Keiki cursed under his breath as Megumi climbed to the second floor using a wooden column of the processing machine.

Megumi grabbed the railing of the second floor and used it to propel herself onto the second floor just a few meters from Chiriko and Otanashi. She ran at Otanashi before he could light another ball of fire and kicked the match from his hand sending the match flying to the first floor.

Otanashi smiled at Megumi as he stood up with Chiriko standing behind him.

“Long time no see, Megumi,” greeted Otanashi. Megumi’s frown before turned to a smile as she pulled Otanashi into a hug saying, “Nice to see you again, Otanashi.” Otanashi nodded hugging her back.

Chiriko cleared his throat loudly getting their attention.

“I don’t mean to be rude about your reunion, but we should leave the mill and put the remaining members of this Blade Gang in a prison.”

Megumi nodded in agreement and looked back at Otanashi.

“When everything settles, please go to the main Official’s Residence in Eva Province, so we can talk,” instructed Megumi. Otanashi nodded and then glanced at a stack of items most likely from the hostages.

“For now, I’ll start returning these items to their rightful owners.”

Megumi nodded and then looked at Chiriko.

“Keiki and I will bring the members left here to the prison and keep an eye out for the ones that escaped. For now, please return to the Official main residence to rest and put Naohito’s worries at ease.”

Chiriko nodded and walked passed Megumi trying to hide the moon patterned shirt from Megumi’s sight. Before turning a corner, he looked back at Megumi and noticed her smile as she looked at Otanashi’s form. Chiriko clenched the shirt in his grip turning away. He continued walking wanting to get rid of the clenching feeling in his heart.

On the first floor, Keiki grabbed his sword frowning and then glanced up toward Megumi.

“Sang Min got away!” called up Keiki. Megumi glanced down at Keiki and said, “If he causes trouble again, we might see him again and then you will get another chance to end him.” Keiki scoffed sheathing his sword.

“I better get that chance someday,” muttered Keiki. Keiki began to tie up some of the Blade Gang members left behind and added, “I’ll help clean this up.” Megumi nodded doing a small salute, before jumping to the first floor. She landed on the ground without hurting herself and began to assist Keiki. Otanashi watched from above and smiled.

Megumi hasn’t changed a bit.

Meanwhile, Naohito paced back and forth at the front gates of the Official’s residence with Reiji watching him.

“They’ll be back soon, so please come back inside,” urged Reiji. Naohito shook his head.

“Even if it takes all night, I will continue to wait for them,” stated Naohito with worry in his face. Reiji sighed crossing his arms. He leaned against the wall remembering Megumi’s retreating form. In truth, Reiji was worried as well, even though he knew how strong Megumi was, but he kept his worry hidden in order to keep Naohito from going into hysterics.

Reiji suddenly noticed Chiriko in the distance and waved toward him calling his name. Naohito took notice of him too and ran to him close to tears. Chiriko was embraced by Naohito as Reiji approached him as well.

“You’re safe, you’re safe,” Naohito said repeatedly as tears fell from his eyes. Chiriko stared at Naohito and the hugged him with a small smile on his lips.

“I’m safe,” whispered Chiriko.

Reiji looked around Chiriko and asked, “Where’s Megumi and Keiki?” Chiriko glanced at Reiji saying, “They are just clearing up the mess and then they will return.” Reiji nodded and suddenly noticed that Chiriko seemed depressed and was about to ask about it, but Chiriko immediately began to walk toward the residence with Naohito in tow. Reiji glanced at Chiriko’s retreating form wondering what had happened.

After what seemed like hours of cleaning up, Megumi and Keiki were heading back to the Official Residence. Keiki cracked his shoulder with a yawn.

“This province really needs to get some soldiers or a mafia group. They can’t depend on us to keep the prison house a prison,” stated Keiki. Megumi nodded in agreement.

“Well the previous Official fired the original soldiers so he could keep their salaries, but Chiriko made sure to send a request with Kaze to get more soldiers here when he sent him to send a message to the emperor about getting a new Official for Eva province.”

Keiki nodded crossing his arms around the back of his head.

“I have to say that today was pretty eventful with you getting an assassin and meeting the Blade Gang again. It’s too bad that Sang Min escaped, but it was still fun,” stated Keiki. Keiki then glanced at Megumi and added, “It was fun being with you.” Megumi smirked at Keiki asking, “What are you talking about?” Keiki cleared his throat.

“Don’t get me wrong, I still hate you, but I want to stay with you longer than a month,” stated Keiki. Megumi raised an eyebrow and asked, “Didn’t you already promise to return to Go Province after staying with me for a month. You even told Ryuunosuke that you would return.” Keiki frowned redness forming in his cheeks.

“I know that, but what if the Blade Gang returns again or something else that you can’t handle happens. It would be best for me to be there,” stated Keiki. Megumi stared at Keiki making his nervousness grow and then shook her head.

“I need you to go back to Go Province next week as promised.”

“But…”

“I need you in Go Province to find any clues on Mikan’s death. If you really care for Mikan then please go back,” stated Megumi and then continued walk ahead. Keiki frowned and whispered, “That’s not fair using Mikan to convince me.” Keiki followed after Megumi not noticing that Otanashi was following.

Otanashi looked toward Megumi and remembered when he first met her when he was working in the Go Province library eight years ago. He was a traveling scholar, but a traveling scholar still needed to work to get some extra currency for their traveling expenses. He was shelving some books on the history of Yulan, but gasped when he noticed a five-year-old boy sitting on top of one of the shelves reading a thick book.

Otanashi ran to the boy saying, “Get down from there.” The boy looked at Otanashi from the top of the shelf and asked, “Do you need something?” Otanashi shook his head and tried to reach toward the boy.

“Please get down from there before you get hurt,” called up Otanashi. The boy sighed jumping down from the shelf and landing in a graceful manner in front of Otanashi with the thick book under his arm.

“I don’t get hurt so easily,” stated the boy and then walked into a stack of shelves. Otanashi stared at the boy and was about to call out to him, but he suddenly heard someone laughing behind him and looked back only to see his employer, Akifumi Yori, age twenty-five at the time. Akifumi approached Otanashi and patted his shoulder.

“I see that you finally met Megumi Yoh.”

“Megumi Yoh?”

Akifumi nodded and added, “I hired him a few days ago as a page.” Otanashi gasped and exclaimed, “But he’s only a child!” Akifumi nodded smiling.

“He’s a child all right, but he’s intelligent and is able to organize the books in a timely manner. I would have been proud to have him as a son.”

Otanashi frowned and walked in the direction the boy, revealed to be Megumi, went with Akifumi watching him with a smile.

Otanashi looked through the shelves and finally saw Megumi placing the thick book into one of the shelves. He approached Megumi and said, “I need to speak with you.” Megumi looked at Otanashi and asked, “What do you want?” Otanashi cleared his throat and began to speak in a strict tone.

“You might not know this, but boys your age don’t need to work. They should be playing and enjoying life.”

Megumi frowned and said, “I don’t have time for that right now, especially since my family needs money.”

“But surely your father can…”

“My father is dead,” stated Megumi making Otanashi gasp and then apologize. Megumi ran her fingers along the spines of the books and added, “My mother is sick, my brother is still not able to fully comprehend his surroundings, and my older sister forced herself to work in the Red Lotus as an assistant. It is only right for me to work.” Otanashi clenched his fist.

“But you’re still a child,” stated Otanashi. Megumi’s frown turned to a smile as she said, “A child like me can do anything for his family.” Otanashi stared at Megumi and smiled himself before patting the top of her head.

“You’re a good kid,” stated Otanashi. Otanashi suddenly felt something warm leave his hand making him grow pale and Megumi stare at him with a bewildered look.

“Is something wrong?” asked Megumi in her childish voice. Otanashi shook his head still pale.

Otanashi chuckled at the memory and stared at his right hand. On that day, he unintentionally placed a crown mark on the top of her head, which was hidden by Megumi’s hair. He wanted to remove it and ended up staying in Go Province longer than he thought, but eventually decided to leave the mark with Megumi when he discovered her talent in the books and even taught her penmanship.

Otanashi reached Megumi after picking up his pace making Keiki flinch when he saw him. Otanashi patted Megumi’s shoulder making her look at him.

“Otanashi, are you already done?” asked Megumi. Otanashi nodded and leaned toward Megumi’s ear placing his hand on top of her head.

“I would love to talk with you and that Official, but I have to continue my journey, but I am glad that you haven’t changed. You still care so much for the people around you. Please be happy and hopefully we will see each other again.”

Megumi nodded feeling the warmth on the top of her head. Without warning, Otanashi kissed her cheek and then dashed off. Megumi stared in the direction Otanashi went placing a hand to her cheek.

“He hasn’t changed either,” muttered Megumi. Keiki went to Megumi’s side asking, “What happened with that guy and who is he anyway?” Megumi smiled and said, “His name is Otanashi, a dear friend.”

Megumi continued to walk with Keiki calling after her.

Megumi and Keiki reached the Official’s Residence, where Reiji was still waiting. Megumi approached Reiji and asked, “Why are you out here?” Reiji smiled and said, “Lord Chiriko told me that Keiki and you were cleaning up, so I decided to wait for your return.” Reiji then patted Megumi’s head and added, “I’m glad Keiki and you are safe.” Megumi nodded smiling.

Keiki suddenly whacked Reiji’s hand away from Megumi and stood in front of Megumi glaring at Reiji.

“Thanks for waiting, but we need to get inside and get some shut eye,” stated Keiki in a rude manner. Megumi frowned whacking the back of Keiki’s head and said, “Treat Reiji with respect.” Keiki groaned rubbing the back of his head as Megumi walked into the residence.

Keiki glanced at Reiji and said, “As far as I am concerned, you are still below me.” Keiki marched into the residence leaving Reiji bewildered. Reiji just couldn’t understand why Keiki was acting like Reiji was an enemy.

Megumi would have greeted Chiriko and Naohito, but they were already asleep, so she went to her room with Keiki behind her. Megumi glanced at Keiki and asked, “Do you really need to sleep in here tonight?” Keiki groaned crossing his arms.

“I’ve said it before: I am not letting you out of my sight.”

Megumi sighed sitting on the edge of her bed.

“Fine, but please try not to snore.”

“I DON”T SNORE!”

Megumi chuckled lying back on the bed. She remembered Otanashi as Keiki began to undress and clenched the covers.

I really wanted to talk to him again.

Otanashi left Eva Province and then glanced back remembering Megumi’s warm smile.

“It was a mistake at first, but you deserve that mark my dear Megumi.”

As Otanashi walked down the path, he didn’t notice that Sang Min and his Blade Gang were entering the forest with hate in their eyes. Sang Min remembered Megumi and Keiki when they first took down the Blade Gang and clenched his forehead.

“Is something wrong, Sang Min?” asked Shin. Sang Min glared up at the crescent moon and whispered, “I will end the Devil Pair someday.” Shin nodded as the other members went to their side.

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