Bunkai 15: Path Back

The sun shined brightly on Eva Province as Megumi began to awaken from her slumber. She rubbed the sleep out of her eye and suddenly realized that there was a weight on her shoulder. She glanced back only to see the sleeping face of Keiki breathing softly against her. Megumi immediately kicked him out of the bed forcing him awake. Keiki groaned as he sat up from the floor and then glared up at Megumi, who was glaring back at him.

“Why did you kick me out of the bed?” yelled Keiki.

“Why were you even in the bed with me?” demanded Megumi. Keiki groaned standing up from the floor.

“Well this is most likely our last day in Eva Province, so I thought I should sleep in the bed and besides, the floor was a lot harder last night.”

Megumi was shaking in anger as she asked, “So your conclusion was to sleep in the bed with me in it?” Keiki nodded and then flinched when he felt Megumi’s glare intensify.

“Ah come on, it wasn’t that bad and I wouldn’t do anything to a guy like you,” stated Keiki in his defense. Megumi threw a pillow into his face and then kicked his stomach yelling, “This is why I hate your guts, you idiot!” Keiki fell over shaking in pain. Megumi walked pass Keiki’s trembling form as she grabbed her clothes.

“Always doing things at your own pace,” muttered Megumi. Keiki glared at Megumi mouthing that he hated her. They suddenly heard a knock on the door after Megumi finished changing.

“Who is it?”

“Reiji, can I come in?”

“Of course,” stated Megumi. Reiji opened the door with a smile, but his smile was replaced by a bewildered look when he saw Keiki hunched over on the floor.

“Do I want to know what happened?” asked Reiji. Megumi shook her head tying back her long hair. Keiki staggered to his feet glaring in Megumi’s direction. Megumi glanced back at Reiji and asked, “So what did you need?” Reiji cleared his throat before speaking.

“Kaze just returned this morning with the new Official for Eva province and they are waiting in the dining area with breakfast.”

“That’s wonderful news,” stated Megumi. Reiji nodded in agreement and then rubbed his chin saying, “I wonder who the emperor chose for Eva Province.”

“You didn’t see him?” asked Megumi. Reiji shook his head and added, “I was informed by Chiriko not too long ago.” Megumi nodded and then glanced at Keiki, who was slipping on a new shirt.

“Let’s get some breakfast and meet this new Official of Eva Province.”

Keiki nodded tailing behind Megumi as she left the room with Reiji. As they walked down the hall, they saw Naohito leaving his room with a bag over his shoulder.

“Going somewhere?” asked Megumi as she approached Naohito. Naohito nodded and answered, “I was just going to get some supplies for our trip back.”

Keiki raised an eyebrow and asked, “Is that a good idea, I mean with your luck?” Naohito smiled and stated, “I feel very lucky today especially with the charm Megumi taught me.” With that, Naohito ran down the hall out of sight.

Keiki and Reiji looked at Megumi and asked, in unison, “What charm?” Megumi smiled and stated, “It’s a lucky charm Eve showed me as a child.” Megumi looked in the direction Naohito went and added, “I’m glad it worked.” Reiji and Keiki both couldn’t explain it, but the thought of Megumi helping Naohito made them feel angered. Keiki grabbed Megumi’s left arm and began to drag her down the hall yelling, “I’m hungry, so let’s go.” Megumi nodded following Keiki. Reiji tailed behind with an annoyed look as he looked at Keiki and Megumi.

The minute they reached the doors leading to the dining room, they heard a voice yell out, “NO!” Megumi, Keiki, and Reiji flinched and then burst into the dining room. What they saw made them bewildered. In the dining room, sitting at the table was Chiriko, Kaze, and three others: Shouryou Kou, Ichigo Goh, and Suiji Yan. Shouryou was laughing, while Ichigo looked at his bowl of oats with tearful eyes. Suiji had an annoyed look as he ate his meal. Megumi looked toward Shouryou, Ichigo, and Suiji and then at Chiriko asking, “What happened in here?”

Chiriko sighed holding his hand toward Shouryou.

“Shouryou placed Horse Radish into Ichigo’s food,” stated Chiriko. Ichigo whimpered pressing his forehead against the table. Shouryou chuckled and said, “Ichigo’s food looked boring so I made it more exciting.” Megumi frowned glaring at Shouryou.

“It’s Ichigo’s food, so you had no right, Shouryou,” scolded Megumi making Shouryou chuckle. Ichigo flinched at the sound of Megumi’s voice and looked up only to see her aquamarine eyes looking in his direction.

“Are you OK, Ichi…”

Ichigo suddenly shot up from his chair and out of the dining room pass Reiji and Keiki yelling, “Don’t look at me!” All in the room looked in the direction Ichigo ran with bewildered looks, except for Shouryou, who was holding his sides as he laughed.

Chiriko cleared his throat getting everyone’s attention.

“Well the new Official for Eva Province will be Shouryou Kou and he decided to train two Officials in training for the last month here. The trainees are Suiji Yan the Ziyuong and Ichigo Goh, who ran out of the dining room.”

Shouryou bowed to Reiji, Keiki, and Megumi with a smile after getting over his laughing fit.

“Thank you for watching Eva province,” said Shouryou. Megumi and Reiji nodded, while Keiki remained silent. Shouryou suddenly stood up from his chair saying, “I better retrieve Ichigo before he really gets lost, but please eat some breakfast before getting ready to return to the palace.” They nodded again as Shouryou left the Dining room.

Kaze stood up too saying, “I have to organize the soldiers I brought into Eva province and see what I can do with those Blade Gang members you caught last night.” With that, Kaze left the Dining room as well.

Chiriko cleared his throat and said, “I have to get our supplies ready as well, so sit down and eat and talk to Suiji if you wish.” Chiriko left the room leaving Keiki, Reiji, Megumi, and Suiji in the Dining room. Keiki, Reiji, and Megumi each sat in a chair as Suiji continued to eat his oats.

The minute Megumi was seated; Suiji glanced at Megumi and said, “Lord Chiriko told us a lot before you got here.”

“Like what?”

“Like how you discovered that the Official Aoki Hiro was corrupt; how you treated a man nearly blinded; and how you helped that Keiki Nue rescue Lord Chiriko from the Blade Gang.”

Megumi smirked and said, “He told you a lot all right.” Suiji nodded and then glared at Megumi.

“I still believe that you should have chosen me to come with you to Eva Province.”

“Well you’re here now thanks to Shouryou.”

Suiji scoffed placing his spoon down. He stood up from his chair and said, “I will prove that I am the better Official, while I am here and make you regret your decision in bringing Reiji here.” Megumi smirked saying, “Good luck.” Suiji stormed out of the room.

Reiji looked at Megumi and asked, “What is he talking about?”

“Suiji wasn’t very happy when I chose you to accompany me to Eva Province.”

Keiki nodded in agreement and added, “He wanted Megumi to choose either the Ziyuong or the Sanbing to come.” Reiji scratched the back of his head sheepishly and stated, “That does sound logical, so why was I chosen by you?”

Megumi smiled saying, “You are a dedicated worker and I know this trip would only improve you.” Reiji blushed and then smiled. Keiki showed a look of disgust as he looked at Reiji and then turned away eating his breakfast. Megumi ate her breakfast as well and then remembered Ichigo’s running form.

I wonder if Ichigo is all right.

In the meantime, Ichigo was sitting against the wall of the hallway with his legs held against his chest. He remembered Megumi and lowered his head to his knees.

“Why did I have to see him?” mumbled Ichigo.

“Well Megumi was here for training you know.”

Ichigo flinched and looked up only to meet Shouryou’s eyes. Ichigo frowned looking away from Shouryou.

“Why are you here?” demanded Ichigo.

“Well you did run off before finishing your breakfast, Ichigo.”

“Well you placed Horse Radish in it, so I can’t eat it anymore,” wailed Ichigo. Shouryou chuckled and then rubbed his chin.

“Well Megumi was pretty mad at me too for what I did to you,” stated Shouryou and then added, “He was mad for your sake.” Ichigo’s face looked sadden as he pressed his forehead against his knees.

“Megumi really hasn’t changed,” stated Ichigo. Shouryou smirked.

“I suspected as much, but you two do have history right?” asked Shouryou. Ichigo nodded lifting his head up slightly.

“I first spoke with Megumi when I was thirteen. I saw him many times, when I was ten, but never spoke with him. When I finally spoke with him, I realized how much we had in common and before I knew it we were practically best friends. He was only seven, but spoke like we were the same age. I was happy just to be with him.”

Shouryou raised an eyebrow and asked, “So why do you avoid him like the plague now?”

“Because I fell in love with his twin sister.”

“Twin sister, so Megumi has a twin sister?” asked Shouryou excitedly.

“Megumi did and even encouraged me to confess to her.”

“So Megumi encouraged you, so it should have been all right, right?” asked Shouryou. Ichigo shook his head.

“When I finally managed to confess a year later, she rejected me by comparing me to Megumi and that I could never measure up. Now every time I see Megumi or anyone as beautiful as Megumi, I can’t stand it.”

Ichigo looked close to tears. Shouryou sighed with an amused face and said, “Megumi sure does have a strange sister to break your heart like that.” Ichigo whimpered. Shouryou rubbed his chin and asked, “So is Megumi’s sister back in Go Province?” Ichigo fell silent and then his facial features grew dark.

“Megumi is the only one who can tell you where his sister is. I have no right.”

Shouryou raised an eyebrow wondering what Ichigo was talking about. Ichigo suddenly stood up saying, “I want to look at the archives for now, so please leave me be.” Shouryou nodded feeling a heavy presence around Ichigo.

As Ichigo walked down the hall, he remembered Megumi’s saddened face when he first avoided her and clenched his fist.

I know Megumi is a good guy and it wasn’t really his fault that I was rejected, but seeing his face especially when it looks pained makes my heart hurt.

Ichigo pressed a hand to his forehead with saddened eyes.

“I wish I can be friends with Megumi again without feeling this pain.”

After about five hours, Megumi, Chiriko, Keiki, Naohito, and Reiji were packed and ready to go. Naohito, Reiji, and Chiriko boarded the carriage, while Keiki and Megumi grabbed two horses for themselves. Keiki climbed onto his horse and before Megumi could do the same she looked back at Shouryou and Suiji, who were standing near the residence.

“I wish you luck in taking care of Eva Province,” stated Megumi. Shouryou nodded and patted Suiji’s back.

“Suiji and Ichigo will help me too, so no worries,” stated Shouryou. Suiji nodded his eyes looking serious. Megumi nodded and then stated, “Please let Ichigo know that I wish him luck.” Shouryou nodded and then remembered Ichigo’s words before he walked off. He leaned toward Megumi’s ear making Keiki, who was watching flinch, and whispered, “Ichigo told me to ask you where your sister is for he had no right to say it.” Megumi was silent and then leaned toward Shouryou’s ear too.

“My sister, Mikan, is dead.”

Shouryou’s eyes widened as Megumi separated herself from him. Megumi climbed onto her horse and then looked toward the driver of the carriage saying, “Let’s go.” The driver nodded urging the horses to move forward to move the carriage. Keiki and Megumi rode next to the carriage without looking back.

Shouryou stared at Megumi’s back with Suiji looking at him.

“What did you say to Megumi?”

Shouryou smiled, but it was filled with sadness.

“It was a question that I shouldn’t have asked because now I know that Megumi is only hiding something in his heart.”

Suiji was bewildered as Shouryou went back into the residence to do his duties as an Official of Eva Province.

As Megumi left Eva Province, from one of the buildings stood Ju-Long watching. He stared at Megumi’s form with a saddened expression.

“So you’re watching him leave the Province, traitor?”

Ju-Long glanced back and saw Fai standing behind him in his assassin attire. Ju-Long smirked and said, “Well Megumi is my master after all and he’s your master too, Fai.” Fai frowned crossing his arms.

“That’s only temporary. When this mark is gone, I will kill him and you.”

Ju-Long chuckled.

“Well I won’t let that happen. I will protect Megumi as long as I live. For now, you and I are still partners under Megumi’s orders.”

Fai clicked his tongue and then glared at Megumi’s form.

“He is strong, but I still don’t see why you want to serve him.”

Ju-Long showed a warm smile placing a hand to his eyes.

“You only saw his hateful side when he marked you, but when I was cared for by him I saw his tender side. I always wanted a tender master and Megumi is the one. Hopefully you will see what I mean in the future.”

Fai scoffed and turned away saying, “I will forever hate Megumi.” With that, Fai jumped from one roof to another refusing to look back.

Ju-Long shrugged and looked back at Megumi. He reached out toward Megumi saying, “I will always come for you, master.”

Megumi looked back into Eva Province as the wind blew through her hair and then turned forward making Keiki look at her.

“Did you forget something in Eva Province?” asked Keiki. Megumi shook her head and suddenly remembered something. She dug in her bag making Keiki raise an eyebrow.

“What are you…?”

Megumi suddenly tossed something to Keiki. Keiki reacted quickly grabbing what Megumi tossed. He looked at the object and saw that it was his Nue Clan crest that Megumi took before. He looked at Megumi, who smiled and said, “You better put that back on your sword, Keiki.” Keiki smirked and nodded grabbing his sword.

Naohito watched Keiki and Megumi from inside the carriage and then closed the curtain of the carriage saying, “Keiki and Megumi seem to be getting along better.”

“It appears so,” stated Chiriko with a frown. Naohito also frowned saying, “I don’t like it.” Chiriko nodded.

Reiji noticed the heavy atmosphere and said, “We should be happy that they are getting along, especially now that there will be less arguments, right?” Chiriko and Naohito thought awhile and then smiled, nodding.

“That is true,” stated Chiriko. Naohito nodded in agreement.

Chiriko suddenly pulled out the moon patterned shirt he got for Megumi making Naohito and Reiji look at him.

“When did you get that shirt?” asked Reiji and Naohito in unison. Chiriko smiled as he straightened out the shirt.

“I got it yesterday before I was kidnapped. It’s a gift for Megumi.”

“Why didn’t you give it to him yesterday?” asked Naohito. Chiriko remembered Otanashi smiling at Megumi back in the mill and replied, “The moment wasn’t right.” Naohito’s and Reiji’s faces were etched with bewilderment, but Chiriko continued to straighten the shirt thinking of when was the best time to give it to Megumi.

When the carriage was farther down the road to the point where it was impossible to turn back, the carriage came to a halt. Chiriko peeked out of the carriage and asked, “What happened?” Megumi smiled in Chiriko’s direction and said, “We’ve been moving non-stop, so I thought this was a good time to take a break for lunch.” Chiriko smiled back nodding. He glanced back into the carriage to Naohito and Reiji and said, “Let’s have some lunch.” Naohito and Reiji nodded and began to grab their food supplies.

As the others got out of the carriage, Keiki and Megumi un-mounted their horses. Keiki stretched up saying, “At least we get a lunch break.” Megumi nodded and then grabbed a bow and arrow from the side of her horse.

“What are you doing?” asked Keiki. Megumi placed her sack of arrows over her shoulder and said, “I’m going to get some meat for lunch.” Keiki turned pale and exclaimed, “Don’t you remember the last time we went out into the forest to hunt for meat?” Megumi nodded.

“It was night that time, so it should be all right this time,” stated Megumi. Keiki shook his head.

“I still think it’s a bad idea,” stated Keiki, trying to urge Megumi to stay.

Reiji looked Keiki and Megumi’s way and asked, “Is there something wrong?” Keiki looked at Reiji saying, “Megumi wants to go hunting.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked Reiji in confusion. Keiki clenched his fist turning pale.

“There was a de…de…demon last time,” stuttered Keiki making Reiji’s confusion grow. Megumi sighed and said, “I’ll be fine and if you’re so scared then stay with Reiji and the others.”

“But I should stay with you at all times,” stated Keiki, but his form was shaking. Megumi shook her head and leaned toward Keiki’s ear.

“I’ll be fine, but I need you to stay here and protect them, while I’m gone. Besides me, you are the only one who can fight.”

Keiki gulped and nodded whispering, “You better be OK, jerk.” Megumi nodded with a smile.

Megumi looked at Chiriko, Naohito, Reiji, and the driver and said, “I’ll be back soon.” With that, she ran into the thickness of the trees.

Reiji looked at Keiki and said, “It’s rare for you not to go with Megumi.” Keiki crossed his arms with a pout.

“Well Megumi trusted me to protect you guys, so what can I do,” stated Keiki heading toward the carriage. Reiji stared at Keiki’s back and smiled.

“He has matured a little,” whispered Reiji and then glanced back toward the forest.

“Please be safe Megumi.”

Megumi slid down a dirt slope sending dust flying around her form. She dusted off her clothes and walked forward making sure to make as little noise as possible. She spotted a flock of red colored pheasants pecking the ground and hid behind a thick bush. Crouching down, she prepared her bow taking in a deep breath. She extended her bow and immediately aimed at one pheasant releasing the arrow. The arrow impaled the pheasant in the heart killing it instantly making the other pheasants scatter in all directions. Megumi emerged from the bush and walked toward her kill.

Before she could collect her kill, she heard the pheasants cry out making her flinch. She then heard faint steps behind her. She turned around quickly drawing an arrow and pointed it at the newcomer. Megumi’s eyes widened when she saw the person before her. The person had wolf ears and long white bushy hair that seemed to match the wolf ears perfectly. He wore what looked like fur from a slain winter wolf to make pants that reached just above his scratched knees and a jacket that hung open revealing his clear chest. He was barefoot revealing the dirt on his feet. His nails on his feet and hands were long resembling claws. His eyes were a deep red and a scar rested on his right eyebrow. Megumi almost missed the bushy white tail swinging back and forth from behind the man. He looked like a character straight from a fairy tale.

Megumi stared at the wolf like man and then noticed three dead red pheasants in his grip. He stared at Megumi with his deep red eyes with an expressionless look. Megumi lowered her bow and arrow as she stared at the man.

“You’re that creature from that night,” stated Megumi. The wolf like man nodded and approached Megumi making her flinch. He noticed Megumi’s nervousness and stepped back.

“You don’t remember do you?”

Megumi remained silent.

The wolf like man dropped the dead pheasants to Megumi’s feet and then turned away before running off faster than the wind. Megumi was struck speechless and then glanced at the dead pheasants. Megumi picked up the dead pheasants and then back in the direction the man ran.

“Could he be Mr. Wolf?”

Megumi shook her head and gathered the pheasant she killed before running toward the exit of the forest.

The wolf like man watched Megumi run off from on top of a tree and then looked up sniffing the air.

“A storm is approaching.”

Megumi pushed the branches from her path with the dead pheasants tied to her arrow bag. Megumi groaned when some branches were almost impossible to move and ended up drawing her dagger and slicing the branches to pieces. When she saw a trace of sunlight, she picked up her speed. As she got closer, she suddenly heard Keiki yelling. Megumi frowned and kicked aside the last of the branches revealing the path and the carriage. Just beyond the carriage was a campfire with Reiji, Chiriko, Naohito, and the driver around it and Keiki inches away from them pointing his sword at an unknown man with short black hair and a large sword upon his back.

Megumi could see the anger in Keiki’s eyes as he glared at the unknown man. The unknown man on the other hand showed no hostility, but had a serious look on his face. Megumi stepped forward cautiously listening to Keiki and the unknown man’s words.

The unknown man held up his hand as if in surrender and said, “I just need some food.” Keiki growled and yelled, “I don’t think so, not with that sword on your back!” The man glanced at the sword on his back and then back at Keiki.

“Is something wrong with my sword?”

“Don’t play dumb! That sword belongs to the Bandit King.”

The man rubbed his chin and then hit his fist in the palm of his hand in realization.

“So that was who the man was that attacked me those days ago.”

“What?”

The man still looked unimpressed as he glanced at his sword.

“An unknown man broke my original weapon, so I took his sword to replace the broken weapon. He was quite the brute and wouldn’t leave me alone.”

Keiki’s eyes were wide as he exclaimed, “No way you took his weapon!”

“It’s the truth,” stated the man unfazed. Keiki kept his fighting stance refusing to move.

“I still don’t trust you,” stated Keiki. The man stared at Keiki and then glanced at the campfire, where the others were looking from.

“I really just need food and I don’t want to fight for it either.”

“Well you can’t!”

Chiriko suddenly waved behind Keiki and said, “I don’t mind lending him some food for his journey.” Keiki glanced back at Chiriko and said, “Seriously, don’t be so trusting.”

Keiki suddenly noticed Megumi approaching and called out to her making the others look at her.

Reiji smiled and said, “You’re back.” Megumi nodded and then glanced at the man and Keiki.

“I didn’t expect to see Keiki ready to fight a stranger,” stated Megumi. Keiki frowned and said, “Well this guy is suspicious especially when he wears a bandit sword.” Megumi looked at the man and said, “Are you really just here for food?” The man nodded. Megumi removed one pheasant from her arrow bag and tossed it to the man saying, “You can have that one.” The man caught it saying his thanks.

Keiki stared at the remaining three pheasants hanging from Megumi’s arrow bag and asked, “You caught those pretty fast huh?” Megumi nodded handing the dead pheasants to Keiki.

“Leave the man alone and cook these.”

Keiki nodded heading to the fire, but then paused when he noticed certain markings on the pheasants.

“Did you fight with these birds before killing them and what’s with the bite and claw marks?” asked Keiki as he examined the dead pheasants. Megumi shrugged and said, “Their eatable still.” Keiki gulped and decided not to ask any more questions.

Reiji went to Megumi’s side as Keiki began to unfeather the pheasants and Chiriko, Naohito, and the driver began to cut the vegetables around the fire. Reiji glanced at Megumi and asked, “So your hunt was successful?” Megumi nodded and added, “It was interesting.” Reiji grew confused, but snapped out of his confusion when Megumi said, “Please help the others so we can eat.” Reiji nodded and headed back to the others.

Megumi headed back to the carriage to grab some bottles of water, but stopped when she saw the unknown man trying to light a fire to no avail. Megumi rolled her eyes and headed his way. She kneeled next to the man and asked, “Do you need help lighting a fire?” The man nodded and handed Megumi the two rocks he was using. Megumi fixed the rocks and the flammable twigs before the man and then struck the rocks together creating a spark that in turn created a fire in the center of the rocks. The man looked at Megumi with no expression and said, “Thank you again.” Megumi nodded and was about to get up, but the man grabbed her wrist forcing her back to the ground. The man stared into Megumi’s eyes making her flinch.

“Can you tell me your name?” asked the man.

“Megumi Yoh.”

“Age?”

“Thirteen.”

The man’s expression suddenly softened and hugged Megumi making Megumi gasp in surprise. Megumi snapped out of her surprise when she heard Keiki yell, “What the Hell?” The next thing Megumi knew, she was yanked from the man’s embrace and into Keiki’s arms. Keiki was glaring daggers at the man as he yelled, “What were you doing to Megumi?” Megumi’s face was filled with confusion and also noticed that Naohito and Chiriko seemed to be pale and Reiji and the driver were trying to prevent the pheasants over the fire from burning. The man stared at Keiki with no expression once again before saying, “I thought it was all right to hug Megumi after five years of separation.”

“What are you talking about?” yelled Keiki still holding Megumi. The man looked toward Megumi smiling.

“I look a little different from what I looked like when I was in Go Province five years ago. I had longer hair than and a spear on my back. Do you remember Megumi?”

Megumi thought a while and suddenly remembered a soldier that entered Go Province when she was eight. He bought a weapon polisher from her stand with no expression on his face. It was only when she caught him practicing his skills outside of her province that he began to show some form of emotion in his facial features. He was a man that remained in Go Province for a week before moving on in his journey. Her meeting with him was so brief that she barely remembered him.

“Reo?” asked Megumi in a nervous tone. Reo nodded still smiling.

“I’m glad you remember me, Megumi,” stated Reo. Megumi nodded and finally realized that she was still in Keiki’s embrace. She pushed Keiki away nearly making him fall over and brushed herself off saying, “I’m fine Keiki.” Keiki pouted with a light blush on his cheek.

“I didn’t mean to hug you like that,” stated Keiki red in the cheeks. Chiriko, Naohito, and Reiji approached them leaving the driver to cook the food. Chiriko looked at Reo and asked, “So you know Megumi?” Reo nodded and raised his hand just above his shoulder still sitting down and stated, “Megumi was about this tall when I met him and pretty strong for his age.” Megumi sighed saying, “Please forget the size.”

Naohito, who no longer looked pale, smiled and said, “Another one of Megumi’s friends from childhood.” Chiriko nodded in agreement. Reiji looked at Reo and asked, “So why are you traveling?”

Reo remained silent and then tossed the pheasant corpse into the fire making Keiki gasp. Keiki grabbed the pheasant from the fire yelling, “Cook it right at least!” Keiki began to cook the pheasant over the fire with Reo watching. Reo then looked at Reiji with no expression and said, “I travel looking for something.”

“Looking for what?” asked Reiji, also wondering why Reo took so long to answer. Reo remained silent once again and then looked at Naohito and Chiriko.

“Where are you all headed?”

“To the palace in the center of Yulan, but shouldn’t you answer Reiji’s question?” answered Chiriko. Naohito nodded in agreement. Reo fell silent again and then looked at Keiki asking, “Is the food ready?”

Keiki groaned and said, “Not yet.” Reo then looked at Reiji and said, “I am just looking for something that is hard to find.” Reiji grew confused by the answer and the amount of time it took for Reo to answer his question.

Megumi sighed and tapped the front of Reo’s head saying, “You really need to keep your answers straight, Reo.” Reo nodded placing a hand to his forehead with a slight blush on his face. Chiriko noticed this right away and clenched his fist looking at Megumi.

“Our food should be ready so let’s head back and let this man eat his food,” stated Chiriko eager to get Megumi away from Reo. Megumi nodded. Naohito and Reiji nodded as well and headed back to the fire where the driver finally finished cooking the meal. Chiriko headed back as well. Keiki finished cooking Reo’s food and headed back toward the campfire. He passed Megumi saying, “Let’s go.” Megumi nodded and was ready to follow Keiki, but Reo suddenly grabbed her wrist making her stop in her tracks. Megumi sighed looking at Reo.

“Come on Reo, not this again. I need to eat my lunch with the others,” stated Megumi remembering that Reo did something similar when she was small. Reo stared at Megumi and showed a puppy eye look. If he had dog ears, they would be flat and he would be whimpering like a dog. Megumi stared at Reo’s puppy eyes and sighed in defeat. She looked at Keiki and said, “I’ll eat my lunch with Reo.”

“What?” exclaimed Keiki. Megumi glanced at Reo, who still had the same puppy look, and stated, “Well, he hasn’t seen me for a long time, so it should be all right.” Keiki clenched his fist and then turned away with a frown.

“Fine!” yelled Keiki in annoyance and went back to the others. Megumi sighed shaking her head and sat next to Reo. She smiled at Reo and said, “Let’s eat, Reo.” Reo nodded with a smile. He somehow resembled a puppy wagging his tail in happiness.

Keiki sat with the others muttering curses. Naohito looked toward Megumi and Reo and asked, “Isn’t Megumi going to eat with us?” Keiki shook his head pouting.

“He would rather eat with that Reo guy,” stated Keiki in annoyance. Naohito sighed with a saddened expression. Chiriko looked angered as he clenched the hard bread in his hand, but tried not to show it to the others. Reiji looked concerned as he ate his food looking in Megumi’s direction, while the driver ate his food silently.

On the other hand, Megumi ate the cooked pheasant with Reo next to her. She glanced at Reo and asked, “So are you still searching around Yulan?” Reo nodded licking his lips.

“I might search forever,” stated Reo. Megumi smiled and said, “Keep trying.” Reo nodded and bit out of the meat in his hand. He suddenly noticed the others from the other fire looking his way. He could tell that Naohito looked sad and Reiji just looked concerned, but he could sense hostility from Keiki and Chiriko. Reo looked at Megumi and asked, “Did I do something to offend your friends?”

“Not that I can see,” stated Megumi taking another bite from the meat she tore from the cooked pheasant. Reo looked back at the others and bit out of his food with no expression on his face. Reo suddenly paused and looked at Megumi again.

“So how is your stand going?” asked Reo. Megumi chuckled saying, “Random as always. Well I no longer run my stand.”

“Why not?”

“Well, I decided to become an Official.”

Reo grabbed a bottle of water and said, “It doesn’t sound like you. I remember that everything you did was for your family.” Megumi smiled and said, “This is for my family.”

“Then is your family well?” asked Reo. Megumi’s expression looked sadden as she grabbed a bottle of water.

“My mother and sister have passed away.”

Reo looked depressed as he said, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Reo suddenly remembered Megumi’s younger brother and asked, “What about that brother of yours?”

Megumi frowned clenching the bottle in her hand.

“He was kidnapped. I don’t know where he is.”

“That’s horrible.”

“It is, but I will find him when I become an Official.”

Reo stared at Megumi and then asked, “As much as I am guessing, your sister’s and mother’s death has something to do with your brother’s kidnapping?” Megumi nodded.

“So this new path you chose is for revenge?”

Megumi nodded making Reo frown. Reo placed a hand firmly on top of her head making Megumi look at him.

“I want you to choose a path that has nothing to do with revenge. Revenge will only lead to sadness,” stated Reo. Megumi clenched her fist and said, “A lot of people are telling me that, but you all need to understand that I am also doing this to get my only living family member back.” Megumi placed a hand on Reo’s hand with seriousness in her eyes.

“This is my choice,” stated Megumi. Reo withdrew his hand looking away crestfallen and whispered, “You are different from when I first met you.”

“That’s true, but I am still me,” stated Megumi and then took another bite from the meat of the pheasant. Reo glanced at Megumi and was about to place a hand on the small of her back, but flinched when Megumi suddenly stood up and stretched up. She glanced at Reo smiling and said, “You might not agree with my choice, but someday I might be able to find another path that can lead to happiness.”

“Can you really find that path with your mind filled with revenge?” asked Reo. Megumi nodded and added, “I also have other things to worry about now that I am trying to become an Official, but every obstacle opens my eyes to a wider world.” Megumi’s smile was filled with warmth as she looked at Reo.

“It’s the same for you isn’t it? You told me once that you are searching for a path that will bring you happiness. You haven’t found it yet, but you are still looking. I am doing the same even though revenge is still part of it. Let’s continue to search, OK?”

Reo stared at Megumi and smiled warmly saying, “You are different, but in a good way.” Reo clenched his fist to his chest and whispered, “I was not wrong in bestowing that mark to you.”

“What did you say?” asked Megumi. Reo shook his head saying, “Nothing.” Megumi shrugged and looked toward the others who were finishing their food.

“I better help them clean up,” stated Megumi. Reo nodded standing up. He stood next to Megumi and said, “I have to continue my journey now Megumi, but please don’t let your revenge pollute your kind heart.”

“I’ll be fine, Reo,” stated Megumi and was about to run forward, but Reo suddenly grabbed her wrist and pulled her to him. He pressed his lips to her right cheek leaving a feather like feeling on Megumi’s cheek and then smiled saying, “I hope we cross paths again, Megumi.” Reo walked off into the thickness of the woods leaving Megumi speechless.

Megumi was speechless, but the same couldn’t be said about Keiki who yelled, “What the Hell was that guy doing to you?” Chiriko seemed angry, while Naohito and Reiji looked pale. The driver could care less as he loaded the cooking supplies onto the carriage. Megumi placed a hand to her kissed cheek and sighed.

“Is he going to do that every time he separates from me?” Megumi asked herself, remembering that when Reo first separated from her five years ago, he also kissed her in the cheek. Megumi was snapped out of her thoughts when Keiki grabbed her hand and began to drag her back to the horses saying, “Forget that guy and help out, Megumi.” Megumi nodded ripping her hand from Keiki and headed to the carriage to assist the driver in the packing.

Reiji and Naohito went back to normal and Chiriko seemed to have calmed down, so all three were helping with the loading of supplies. Reiji went to Megumi’s side and leaned toward her ear.

“When exactly did you meet that man?” asked Reiji in a low voice.

“I met Reo when I was eight-years-old. He stayed in Go Province for only a week, so it’s no surprise that Keiki didn’t know him and why I barely remembered him.”

“Was he close to you?”

“Not exactly, but he is almost as strong as Master Chuckles.”

“Your teacher in fighting?”

Megumi nodded and added, “To be honest, I thought he knew Master Chuckles because of his similar fighting style, but he didn’t know him sadly.” Megumi suddenly frowned and added, “I met a lot of people from my childhood, but Master Chuckles wasn’t among them, the jerk.” Reiji chuckled and patted Megumi’s head.

“I’m sure you’ll see him again someday,” stated Reiji. Megumi nodded smiling. Keiki suddenly went between Megumi and Reiji forcing them apart and looked at Megumi with an annoyed expression.

“We’re done packing, so get your horse,” demanded Keiki. Megumi frowned pushing Keiki away from her.

“I don’t need you to tell me that, Keiki,” stated Megumi and then walked away toward her horse. Keiki groaned and headed to his own horse ignoring Reiji’s presence. Reiji scratched the back of his head wondering if Keiki was in a sour mood. Reiji also noticed that Naohito and Chiriko seemed to be moody and wondered what was wrong with them as they entered the carriage.

Meanwhile, in the forest, Reo walked through the thickness of the trees until he reached a clearing. Reo showed no expression on his face as he looked straight and said, “I know you’re there.”

Suddenly, out of the trees above, the wolf like man jumped out and landed in front of Reo. He glared at Reo with a growl. Reo stared at the wolf like man with no expression and said, “I see that you still don’t want to come into contact with me.”

The wolf like man growled and said, “That was the agreement. You stay out of my way just like the others.”

“How am I in your way?” asked Reo. The wolf like man dug his claws into the dirt of the forest ground.

“You keep away from that boy. Don’t get him involved in your ideals,” ordered the wolf like man. Reo glanced back in the direction he came from and then frowned facing the wolf like man.

“You were watching me when I spoke with Megumi?” asked Reo. The wolf like man’s silence was a good enough answer to Reo. Reo drew the large sword from his back and pointed it at the wolf like man.

“I don’t know what you have planned for Megumi, but YOU keep away from him.”

The wolf like man growled extending his claws at Reo. Reo was ready to swing his sword at the wolf like man, but a clash of thunder echoed through the woods making him flinch. The wolf like man took this chance to scratch Reo’s left arm drawing blood and then disappeared into the trees above. Reo placed a hand on his bleeding arm and frowned.

Reo remembered that five years ago before he left Go Province, he kissed Megumi’s cheek, but also pressed his hand firmly on the small of Megumi’s back placing an eight pointed star symbol on her back. He made sure that no one, but him could see the symbol unless Megumi discovered it.

Reo clenched his bleeding arm with a strained smile on his face.

I made the right choice in giving Megumi that mark and I won’t let you prove me wrong.

Back on the path, Megumi rode her horse next to the carriage with Keiki on the other side of the carriage frowning.

“Why are you still mad, Keiki?” asked Megumi. Keiki pouted.

“I’m not mad.”

“I don’t believe you,” stated Megumi bluntly. Keiki groaned and glared at Megumi.

“Why do you always have to get so friendly with people that you haven’t seen in years?” demanded Keiki. Megumi sighed.

“They’re friends and nothing more.”

“Then don’t let them kiss you!” yelled Keiki. Megumi narrowed her eyes.

“A kiss is normal to Reo and you have no right to tell me that,” stated Megumi in a strict voice. Keiki clenched the reins on his horse his form shaking. Reiji peeked from the carriage as did Chiriko and Naohito and asked, “Is something wrong?” Megumi shook her head telling them to close the curtain.

The minute Reiji closed the curtain, Keiki yelled, “Why are you always nice to people for no reason?” Megumi felt something snap as she glared at Keiki.

“Is it so wrong to show kindness? Do I have to act according to your liking? I thought you changed, while we were in Eva Province, but you are still a spoiled brat!” yelled Megumi. Keiki clenched his fists so hard that they began to turn blue.

“I HATE YOU!” yelled Keiki in a roaring voice, just as a loud thunder roared through the sky followed by a down pour of rain. Megumi, Keiki, and the driver were immediately soaked.

Reiji peeked from the carriage and said, “We need to stop. We can’t travel like this.” Megumi nodded ordering the carriage to be stopped. When the carriage was stopped, Reiji opened the carriage door and urged Keiki, the driver, and Megumi inside. The driver climbed in immediately, but Keiki and Megumi took their time. Keiki’s loose hair covered his eyes sending droplets running down his face as he headed to the carriage in silence. Megumi was following Keiki, but another roar of thunder made her stop in her tracks. She heard the horses cry and looked in their direction only to see one of the horses run into the forest.

“Wait!” called Megumi running after the horse. Reiji gasped and yelled, “Where are you going Megumi?” Megumi didn’t answer as she disappeared into the thickness of the trees along with the horse.

Keiki gasped and ran after Megumi with Reiji, Naohito, and Chiriko behind him none of them caring that the rain was soaking them.

Megumi kept running after the horse, but soon lost sight of the horse. Megumi would have given up, but she suddenly heard the horse wail and ran forward faster. Megumi pushed through a thickness of tree branches and stepped forward. To her utter shock, she felt no ground under her feet and fell forward over a concealed cliff with rain pouring around her. The rain seemed to cover her screams as she fell, but Keiki and Reiji were able to hear her screams.

They picked up their pace with Chiriko and Naohito behind them. Reiji managed to get ahead of Keiki and pushed through the same branches Megumi pushed through. Reiji gasped feeling no ground, but before he could fall any further, Keiki grabbed him from behind his shirt and yanked him back to solid ground. Reiji was panting as he stared at the cliff he would have fallen over. Naohito and Chiriko approached Reiji and Keiki gasping for air.

“Where is Megumi?” asked Naohito. Reiji gulped turning pale.

“I think he fell over that cliff,” answered Reiji. Naohito began to tear up as Chiriko covered his mouth in shock.

Keiki clenched his fist shaking his head.

“Megumi won’t die from this. He is still alive and will come back to us when the rain is gone, so let’s head back,” stated Keiki. Reiji, Naohito, and Chiriko nodded hoping that Keiki’s words were true.

Just below the cliff, Megumi lay on the mud covered ground with the body of the horse that ran away. Megumi flinched feeling pain radiate throughout her body. Megumi struggled as she sat up shaking. Megumi looked up at the tip of the cliff with the rain covering her face and groaned.

“I was careless,” muttered Megumi. Megumi fell back onto the ground laying her head on the dead horse’s belly. She rubbed the horse’s belly with sadness in her eyes.

“I’m sorry that you died under my care,” whispered Megumi. Megumi closed her eyes feeling her strength leave her body.

A gust of wind blew through the area and after the wind, appeared the wolf like man. He stared at Megumi’s fallen form and then kneeled next to her. He pushed aside a strand of hair from her face and then caressed her left cheek.

“Megumi.”

The wolf like man scooped up Megumi’s unconscious form as the rain poured down on him and then rushed through the woods at an incredible speed with Megumi in his embrace.

Previous Chapter
Next Chapter
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s