Bunkai 19: Poison

Boshi felt like his body was on fire. First it was fire and then he couldn’t even breathe. He gasped for air, but he could only feel pain in his stomach and the burning sensation in his throat. Was he going to die? He felt so much pain and then felt nothing. He didn’t even notice that his eyes were closed the whole time. He opened his eyes and saw a river before him. He looked around seeing a sky covered in stars, but what was strange was that the sky across the river was covered in fog, but the blueness of the sky could still be seen.

“Boshi!”

Boshi looked across the river and saw a person that he hadn’t seen since he was a child, his mother. She died a long time ago by an epidemic when Lee and him were only five. She looked so pale and worn out when she died, but now as she stood across the river, she looked as radiant as a Goddess with light pink petals in her long brown curled hair. She wore a Sakura decorated kimono that complimented her pinkish skin that seemed to glow. She smiled looking at Boshi with her chestnut brown eyes.

“Mother?”

She held her hand toward Boshi asking him to come to her. Boshi smiled with tears in his eyes and tried to walk toward her. He was about to step into the river, but stopped in his tracks when he felt something warm holding his right hand. He glanced back and saw what looked like a person covered in light.

“What is…?”

Please come back Boshi. Please Boshi.

                Boshi recognized the voice, but couldn’t remember the name. He attempted to walk to his mother again, but the voice behind him spoke again.

Boshi, please…

                Boshi glanced back at the light and asked, “Why should I?”

Boshi…

                Boshi bit his lip feeling the warmth from the light begin to leave his hold. He grabbed the hand of the light with desperation in his eyes. He didn’t know why, but he didn’t want the warmth on his hand to leave.

“Please don’t go.”

Boshi gasped realizing what he said. He glanced back at his mother and noticed that she had lowered her hand, but there was still a smile on her face.

“Mother?”

“Please live my son.”

Boshi nodded and turned back to the light. He pulled the arm of the light and hugged it closing his eyes. The warmth invaded his entire body as he felt himself begin to drift.

Boshi…

                “Boshi, are you awake?”

Boshi opened his eyes a second time and saw Megumi, Reiji, and Sora looking down at him. Boshi blinked a few times to focus and asked, “What happened?” Megumi, Reiji, and Sora sighed in relief, not answering Boshi. Boshi raised an eyebrow and asked again of what had happened.

“You were poisoned.”

Boshi glanced to the side and saw Kiku Jima, the palace doctor, stirring up a green liquid in a wooden bowl.

“I was poisoned?” asked Boshi. Kiku nodded and handed Boshi the liquid saying, “Drink the antidote, young man.” Boshi nodded taking the bowl with his left hand. Boshi drank the liquid quickly making Kiku smile.

“You were lucky that your friends did emergency treatment before I got here,” stated Kiku. Boshi raised an eyebrow and then looked at Megumi, Reiji, and Sora.

“Emergency treatment?”

Megumi nodded.

“We made you throw up the poison using the water jug next to your bed when I figured out that you drank poison from the Sake bottle.”

Boshi nodded and then gasped shooting up from the bed.

“Are you saying that the Sake was poisoned?” asked Boshi in shock. Megumi nodded and added, “We disposed of it of course.” Boshi clenched the covers sweating.

“Someone was trying to kill me?” muttered Boshi. Sora scoffed.

“It’s not just you. Reiji and me could have been poisoned too if we drank the Sake.”

“So all of us?” asked Boshi. Sora and Reiji were silent, not quite sure how to answer.

Kiku packed his medical supplies and said, “I’ll report this to the emperor and I’ll make sure that the other rooms didn’t get poisoned Sake.” They nodded watching Kiku leave the room.

Boshi slumped on the bed feeling dizzy.

“This sucks,” muttered Boshi. Megumi sighed and sat next to Boshi.

“At least you’re alive,” stated Megumi. Boshi glanced at Megumi, suddenly, remembering the light in his dream.

“Megumi, can you do me a quick favor?” asked Boshi. Megumi nodded.

“Say my name.”

Megumi nodded with a raised eyebrow.

“Boshi.”

Boshi flinched gripping the covers.

“When I was poisoned, did you call out to me?” asked Boshi. Megumi nodded and stated, “When I was wiping the sweat, you stopped breathing. I panicked and started calling out to you. I’m glad you came back in the end.” Reiji and Sora nodded in agreement.

Boshi remembered the angelic face of his mother and said, “I didn’t want to come back at first.”

“What?”

“You guys might not believe this, but I saw my dead mother. She looked so healthy and beautiful. She was calling to me and I was ready to go to her, but a warmth stopped me. I heard a voice calling to me. I wanted to have that warmth and the next thing I knew, I was back.”

Sora chuckled and stated, “Looks like you saw the afterlife after all.” Boshi frowned and stated, “Don’t tease me now.” Sora patted Boshi’s head smiling.

“I’m glad you chose to come back. The training wouldn’t be the same without you,” stated Sora. Boshi chuckled and nodded in agreement.

Reiji rubbed his chin and stated, “It is good that he’s back, but I want to know who was trying to kill us.” Megumi, Sora, and Boshi nodded in agreement.

“For the meantime, no more accepting gifts that are lying in front of the door,” stated Reiji.

They all nodded in agreement.

They suddenly heard a knock on a door. Megumi opened the door and saw Koku standing there with a tray of fried duck and a bowl of rice.

“You guys needed food right?” asked Koku. Megumi scratched the back of her head glancing at the food.

“Thanks for the food, but we decided not to have it for now. Sorry for the trouble.”

Koku groaned.

“Why did you guys change your mind?” demanded Koku, clearly annoyed.

“It’s complicated,” stated Megumi. Koku pouted and marched away. Megumi caught a weft of the smoking food and gasped. She pulled the tray from Koku making him gasp. Koku glared at Megumi and yelled; “Now you want it? Make up your mind!” Megumi sniffed the duck and frowned.

“Who cooked the meal?” asked Megumi.

“The palace cook, who else?”

“Really?”

“Why are you asking that anyway?”

Megumi showed the duck and asked, “Since when does the cook lace the food with poison?” Koku’s eyes grew wide, not knowing what to say. Megumi handed the tray back to Koku and whispered, “Dispose of this now and tell the emperor what has happened.” Koku nodded and then ran off with the poisoned food.

Megumi went back into the dorm room, closing the door behind her.

“Is something wrong?” asked Reiji, noticing Megumi’s uneasy look.

“The food Koku brought had poison too,” stated Megumi.

“Are you serious?” exclaimed Reiji, Sora, and Boshi in unison. Megumi nodded taking a seat on an available chair.

“Until this person is caught, we need to buy our own food,” stated Megumi. The others were in agreement.

Megumi had a troubled look as she tried to figure out who would want them dead or who was the real target.

The emperor, on the other hand, had already returned to his room with total bliss written all over his face. Yuki had already spoken with Sakuya concerning Sakuya’s father and Go Province and ordered him to rest until Yuki could come up with a solution, even though Yuki had already decided that Sakuya would take over Go Province, while Sakuya’s father would retire. Yuki’s untold decision would be revealed on the coming tomorrow and then Sakuya would be sent back to Go Province without a second thought. In the case of Shigure, Yuki ordered him to return to his post and not to speak to him until noon the next day for he was still angered that Shigure tricked him into visiting the Red Light District. Yuki would have punished Shigure greatly, but his mind was calmed by just the thought of Megumi. Megumi was the reason why his face was filled with bliss.

Yuki laid on his bed after changing into his night attire with a smile on his face. He touched his bottom lip remembering the butterfly feel of Megumi’s lips. The kiss was enough to make him feel like he was on cloud nine. He did feel sad that Megumi rejected his advances again and that she didn’t even kiss him back, but he was still smitten. He then remembered that the kiss at the market wasn’t the first time he kissed her.

Last month, when that mafia youth was still staying in Megumi’s dorm room, he snuck out of his chambers and visited her room in secret. He would never tell a soul that he made a duplicate of the purple iris’ room key for he knew that if it was discovered, it would be confiscated by his advisors. He used this very key to gain access in Megumi’s room, but on most nights, he didn’t get a chance because either Suha or Yosei would catch him and drag him back. On that particular night, he succeeded and was about to open the dorm room, but stopped when he heard voices on the other side. Megumi and her room mates were still awake, so he was forced to wait knowing full well that it was unwise to enter. He didn’t pay attention to their conversations, but was alarmed when he began to hear screams and crashing noises behind the door. He opened the lock quickly using the key and slammed the door open yelling, “What is all this noise?” Yuki nearly lost it when he saw Megumi on top of the trainee named Sora. Before he could say anything, Megumi approached him and pressed her lips against his. He felt like he had been struck by lightning. His senses dulled. He couldn’t hear anyone and the only one in his sight and the only one he could feel was Megumi. Yuki grabbed Megumi’s shoulders and deepened the kiss wanting to feel her more. He wanted to possess her, but he was rudely pulled away from Megumi by the trainee Reiji. He didn’t have a chance to say anything, when Reiji slammed the door in his face. That was the only time, Megumi ever kissed him willingly and he had a feeling her willingness had something to do with the smell of alcohol in her breath, but he didn’t care because he was able to feel her lips.

The kiss at the market had no smell of alcohol, but the kiss had a sweet taste like cake. Yuki wanted so much to kiss her again to the point that it almost hurt his heart. He didn’t just want a kiss; he wanted to have everything of Megumi. He didn’t care that Megumi was a man, he just wanted her.

Yuki’s thoughts were rudely interrupted by a loud knock on his door. He sat up on his bed grabbing a robe from the side of his bed. He stood up asking, “Who is it?”

“Dr. Jima, your majesty. I need to speak with you.”

Yuki pushed back his long hair saying, “You have my permission to enter, Dr. Jima.” Kiku entered Yuki’s room with a straight composure befitting a loyal servant of the palace. Kiku lowered his head before Yuki as Yuki stared down at him with a serious look.

“What do you need to tell me at this hour of the night?” asked Yuki. Kiku raised his head with a serious look.

“Poisoned Sake was sent to the Purple Iris room.”

Yuki’s eyes widened as he muttered, “Poison Sake?” Kiku nodded continuing to speak.

“One of the trainees was poisoned, but I was able to save him in time.”

Yuki’s face grew pale. He clenched his fists to his side trying to prevent himself from grabbing Kiku out of desperation. He kept a straight composure as he asked, “Who was the trainee poisoned?”

“Boshi Kou.”

Yuki gave out a sigh of relief that Megumi wasn’t the one poisoned. His relief was short lived when Kiku added, “I was also informed by a servant boy that the meal delivered to the room was coated with poison as well.” Yuki clenched his fist once again, his form beginning to shake.

“So someone is trying to kill the trainees in the Purple Iris room?” demanded Yuki. Kiku nodded. Yuki gritted his teeth and then declared, “Tomorrow morning, bring the trainees in the Purple Iris room to me. I want to know why they are being targeted.” Kiku nodded and then left the room.

When Kiku was out of the room, Yuki sat on his bed clenching his fists against the covers.

Who is it? Who is trying to kill MY Megumi?

As the night went on, Megumi lay on Boshi’s bed, for Boshi was sleeping in her bed, wide awake. The poison was an obvious indication of an assassination attempt, but the question was “who was the target?” Megumi sat up from her bed placing a hand to her forehead.

“Can’t sleep?”

Megumi flinched looking to her side and saw Reiji sitting up on his bed with his long hair tossed about. Megumi scratched the back of her head and said, “I’m just worried is all.” Reiji smiled and stated, “Remember our promise.” Megumi groaned.

“You are hateful sometimes,” whispered Megumi. Reiji chuckled in response, waving his hand to her urging her to speak. Megumi rolled her eyes and then sat cross-legged on the bed.

“You can keep a secret right?” asked Megumi. Reiji nodded and whispered back, “I’ve been quiet so far about your secret.” Megumi nodded with a smirk. She then heaved out a sigh crossing her arms on her chest.

“Back in Eva Province I did an Obedience Vow on two assassins.”

“Obedience Vow?”

“It’s a contract to make an assassin work for you. Anyway, their names are Ju-Long and Fai. I made a permanent vow on Ju-Long, but a temporary vow on Fai.”

Reiji frowned and asked, “Do those two assassins have anything to do with Boshi getting poisoned?”

“Ju-Long wouldn’t do it, but Fai is a different story. Fai promised to kill me when his Obedience Vow mark disappears.”

“So the one trying to assassinate us might be Fai?” asked Reiji. Megumi rubbed her chin.

“He is a possibility, but it could be Saori or Bao.”

“Who are they?”

“Two more assassins that don’t like me,” stated Megumi.

“How many assassins have you met?” asked Reiji, now bewildered. Megumi chuckled.

“Five so far, counting the new one I met today, but at least one of them doesn’t want me dead,” stated Megumi. Reiji shook his head.

“You shouldn’t get close to assassins,” whispered Reiji. Megumi smiled scratching the back of her head.

“Well they approached me first. Anyway, the assassins are just a possibility. The one trying to kill us might just be a regular person.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Reiji.

“Those assassins I mentioned are highly skilled and the one trying to kill us now did an amateur move by placing poisoned Sake in front of our door.”

“How is that an amateur move?”

“A real trained assassin would have given the poison to only the target. In this case, we can’t tell who the real target is.”

Reiji nodded in understanding.

Megumi sighed and added, “For now, please don’t tell anyone about the assassins I know, unless I am sure that one of them is the culprit.”

“That is a risky move,” pointed out Reiji. Megumi nodded stating that she knew.

Megumi was about to lay back down on the bed, but stopped midway, when Reiji whispered, “You made a contract with two assassins back in Eva Province, right?” Megumi nodded.

“Is there a way for you to contact them?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Well maybe they can figure out who is trying to kill us now,” stated Reiji. Megumi smiled glancing at Reiji.

“That’s a good idea, but as I said, I met them in Eva Province and for all I know, Fai’s mark has already faded.”

“So there’s no way to contact them.”

Megumi chuckled and stated, “I didn’t say that. It’s just that I don’t feel the need to ask for an assassin’s help when we have our own ways to find the culprit.” Reiji nodded in understanding.

Megumi adjusted her covers on the bed and glanced back at Reiji, who was getting comfortable in his bed.

“I’m actually surprised that you weren’t shocked that I knew assassins,” whispered Megumi. Reiji smiled back at her.

“I am surprised, but it wouldn’t do me any good to yell it out and wake the others,” stated Reiji. Megumi chuckled placing the covers over her form. Megumi peeked at Reiji and whispered, “Be safe tomorrow, Reiji.” Reiji nodded pulling his covers over his form. Megumi closed her eyes feeling the warmness of the blankets cover her form. Reiji, on the other hand, now found himself wide awake with a blush against his cheek and concern for Megumi in his heart.

The ringing of the gong awoke Megumi, Sora, Reiji, and Boshi from their slumber. They all got up and began to change. Megumi of course was the first to be changed. She adjusted her shirt and then noticed that Boshi wasn’t even reaching for the water jug.

“No water prank today, Boshi?” asked Megumi. Boshi frowned and stated, “I’m too tired to do that.” Megumi chuckled as she headed to the closed door. She opened the door and gasped when she saw Kiku standing before it with his hands folded in front of him. Megumi bowed her head to Kiku wishing him a good morning. Kiku greeted back and then said, “I’m sorry to disturb you, but his majesty wants to speak with all of you.”

“I’m guessing it can’t wait?” asked Megumi. Kiku nodded. Megumi glanced at the others telling them Kiku’s message. Sora slipped his shirt on and asked, “Is Dr. Jima leading the way?” Megumi glanced at Kiku, who nodded.

When all of them were dressed, they left the Purple Iris room and followed after Kiku, who walked calmly down the dorm hall. As they walked, Megumi looked around making sure that no one was watching for she believed that whoever was aiming for their lives would be keeping a close eye on them.

Megumi snapped out of her thoughts, when she heard Kiku say, “His majesty will speak to you all in his study and will also provide food.”

“We already agreed that we would buy our own food to prevent poison attempts,” stated Megumi. Kiku glanced at Megumi with a smile.

“We already tested the food for poison, so please eat without worry.”

Megumi sighed and nodded as did the others.

In a matter of minutes, they found themselves standing in front of the emperor’s study. The door was always closed and the only ones allowed into the room were Yuki’s close advisors and Yuki himself. In this case, however, it seemed that trainees with special permission were allowed to enter. Kiku knocked on the door announcing his presence and the others’ presence.

“Only the ones staying in the Purple Iris room may enter,” answered Yuki through the other side of the study door. Kiku glanced back at Megumi, Sora, Reiji, and Boshi with a nod. Megumi took in a deep breath before taking the knob of the door. With a twist and push of the door she entered Yuki’s study with the others behind her.

The inside of the study was filled with the light of candles. The wall seemed to be lined with books and scrolls that only a scholar could ever dream of. If compared to a library, the study was greater. Near the back of the study was a desk made of fine oak and colored by light marble red. Behind that desk sat Yuki in his emperor attire with seriousness in his eyes.

“Close the door,” ordered Yuki. Reiji was the one to close the door. Yuki stood up from his desk and directed their attention to a table covered with an assortment of food.

“Please eat,” stated Yuki. They approached the food nervously. Reiji, Boshi, and Sora grabbed a piece of bread to munch on, while Megumi stared at the food, before looking at Yuki.

“Thank you for the food, but I’m sure you called us here concerning the poisoned duck and Sake that was delivered to us.”

Yuki nodded before circling to the front of his desk. Yuki sat on the edge of his desk folding his hands on his lap.

“I want to know if any of you know of a person that would want to kill any of you,” stated Yuki. Reiji and Megumi looked at each other uneasily and then back at Yuki.

“I wasn’t planning on saying anything, but there are some assassins that would like to see me dead.”

“Like who?” urged Yuki, now enraged that someone did indeed want Megumi dead.

“I can’t give you a name, but I can assure you that those assassins aren’t responsible for this.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Yuki with a raised eyebrow.

“Those assassins would only aim at me and not put anyone else in danger,” stated Megumi. Yuki frowned and asked, “So is there anyone else that would want you dead?” Megumi remained silent. Yuki looked at Reiji, Sora, and Boshi with a stern look.

“How about you three? Anyone come to mind?” demanded Yuki. Sora, Reiji, and Boshi shook their heads. Yuki’s frown seemed to deepen.

“If I find out any of you are hiding something then you won’t have to worry about an assassin ending your life,” stated Yuki in a dark tone. Sora, Reiji, and Boshi gulped feeling that their lives were in danger at that very moment. Megumi stood in front of her three roommates looking at Yuki with a stern look.

“They have no reason to hide anything from you, so if you are done INTERROGATING us, we would like to leave,” stated Megumi. Yuki smirked and nodded saying, “All right, you may leave, but if more poisoned dishes appear please let me know.” Megumi nodded pushing the others toward the door.

Before Megumi could walk out the door, she felt Yuki grab her right hand making her look back at him.

“I will find this assassin and end his life before he can lay another hand on you,” whispered Yuki. Megumi pulled her hand away from Yuki and walked out the door with the others making sure to close the door behind her.

Yuki stared at his empty hand remembering the feel of Megumi in his grasp. He clenched his hand and kissed his fist.

I won’t let anyone harm Megumi.

Megumi, Sora, Boshi, and Reiji walked down the hall side by side. Sora rubbed his arm and whispered, “The emperor can get pretty scary.” Boshi and Reiji nodded in agreement.

Megumi rubbed her chin and stated, “He is scary, but you have to consider that might be Yuki’s way to show concern.” Boshi rubbed his arms shuttering.

“If that’s how he looks worried, I rather have him being go lucky as usual,” stated Boshi. All of them, except for Megumi, nodded in agreement.

Sora suddenly glanced at Megumi and asked, “Is it true that some assassins want you dead?” Megumi nodded and added, “They’re just mad because I beat them.”

“And you’re sure that they aren’t the ones aiming at us right now?” asked Boshi with a raised eyebrow. Megumi nodded. Reiji smiled placing a hand on Megumi’s shoulder.

“Just trust Megumi’s words,” stated Reiji. Boshi and Sora went into deep thought and then nodded.

Boshi and Sora walked ahead leaving Reiji and Megumi alone with each other. Megumi glanced at Reiji thanking him. Reiji nodded and then leaned toward her ear.

“Be safe,” whispered Reiji. Megumi nodded. Reiji separated from Megumi running after Sora and Boshi. Megumi pushed back a strand of black hair before running after Reiji.

Megumi and the others received the duties from Suha and went their separate ways in the palace. Megumi was assigned to clean Shigure Fuji’s study and to clean the soldier’s quarters, so for the time being she was in Shigure’s study organizing his cluttered books. Megumi picked up a fallen scroll from the wooden floor and suddenly noticed that its seal had been broken. She was about to reseal it, but suddenly heard something fall from the outside. She placed the scroll down approaching the door cautiously.

“Whose there?” Megumi called through the door. There was no answer. Megumi opened the door slightly and saw no one in sight. Megumi was about to close the door, but suddenly saw a sealed box sitting upon the floor. Megumi picked the box up examining it closely.

“What are you doing?”

Megumi flinched at the sudden voice nearly dropping the box and looked up only to see Shigure glaring at her. Megumi bowed her head to Shigure.

“Welcome back Lord Shigure, is there something you need?”

Shigure scowled and walked pass Megumi into his study.

“Do I need your permission to enter my own study?” demanded Shigure in a rude tone. Megumi shook her head. Shigure noticed the box in Megumi’s hands and asked, “Where did you get that?” Megumi glanced at the box.

“It was sitting in front of your door,” stated Megumi. Shigure yanked the box from Megumi’s hands and said, “Then this belongs to me, so I would advise you not to touch it.” Megumi nodded feeling a bit peeved that Shigure was being so rude to her.

As Shigure approached his desk, Megumi went back to Shigure’s shelves taking the broken seal scroll with her. Shigure sat in his desk and then glanced at Megumi.

“I heard that his majesty summoned you and your room mates to his study. Is it true?”

Megumi nodded.

“Can you tell me the reason?” asked Shigure. Megumi shook her head.

“If his majesty hasn’t told you then I have no right to say anything, Lord Shigure.”

Shigure frowned as he glared at Megumi. He then decided to open the unknown box sent to his study. He removed the rope that bound it tightly. The moment he opened the box, he saw something move in a flash and the next thing he knew, he felt a sharp pain in his right hand. He gasped shoving the box off his desk.

Megumi, alarmed, glanced at Shigure and saw him clenching his wrist cringing. Megumi ran to Shigure asking if he was all right. Megumi stopped in her tracks when her gaze fell on the fallen box. From the box slithered out a poisonous king cobra. It glanced around before slipping between Shigure’s bookshelves.

Megumi glanced back at Shigure and asked, “Did it bite you?” Shigure lifted his hand revealing the two puncture marks and nodded with strain in his face. Megumi ran to Shigure’s side and then lifted his hand. She examined the marks before placing her mouth over the wound and sucking hard. Blood seeped from the wound and into Megumi’s mouth. Megumi tasted the bitter taste of the blood. Megumi then immediately removed her lips and spat out the blood onto the floor. She placed her lips back on the wound repeating the process.

Shigure felt a sting every time Megumi sucked the blood from the wound, but he knew it was necessary to drain the poison from his body and to prevent it from spreading. Shigure suddenly noticed the king cobra emerging from the shelves behind Megumi. The king cobra opened its mouth ready to strike Megumi from behind. Shigure reached for his ink stone as a weapon, but stopped midway when he thought of the situation. If the snake bit Megumi, she would most likely die from the poison and then she would no longer be a problem to Yuki or an obstacle in Yuki making an heir. That possibility was tempting, but when he looked at Megumi, he saw how she was desperately sucking the poison from him when there was a chance that she could fall ill herself. In a split second the king cobra lashed at Megumi, but before it could pierce the back of Megumi’s neck, Shigure’s green ink stone slammed against its head. The force of the hit was so strong that the head of the snake erupted like a balloon sending blood and its innards all over the floor study.

Shigure dropped the ink stone on top of the corpse of the snake breathing heavily and sweat rolling down his face. Megumi removed her lips from Shigure’s bleeding arm and stared down at the dead snake. She looked back at Shigure with blood on her lips and said her thanks. Shigure nodded in response.

Megumi wiped the blood from her lips and stated, “I had no idea that the box delivered here would have something so dangerous in it.” Shigure nodded in agreement and added, “Well there are some days when an Official’s life is in danger.” Megumi shook her head.

“I have no doubt in mind that the snake was meant for me.”

“What are you talking about?”

Megumi held her arm as she spoke.

“His majesty hasn’t told you, but there was poison sent to my room yesterday and now a poisonous snake was sent to my duty assignment. I only tell you this now because your life nearly ended because of this.”

Shigure frowned with sweat still on his face.

“So the reason his majesty called you to his study was because of this?”

Megumi nodded and added, “We didn’t know who the target was and now I have no doubt that it is indeed me.” Shigure struggled to his feet wrapping his arm with a piece of cloth. He glanced at Megumi and said, “I will let his majesty know, but for the time being, I want you to remain in this room.” Megumi nodded. Shigure then glanced at the dead snake and added, “While you’re here, please clean that up.” Megumi nodded again.

Before Shigure left the room, Megumi stated, “Please see Dr. Jima to get the antidote.” Shigure nodded before leaving the room.

When Shigure was out of the room, Megumi knelt on the ground next to the dead snake. She had no idea who was aiming at her, but she still believed that this wasn’t the work of an assassin of Yulan.

Shigure walked down the hallway of the palace sweating. He wasn’t focused and found himself kneeling on the ground gasping. He looked at his wrapped arm with an uneasy look.

I guess I should see Dr. Jima first.

Shigure staggered to his feet only to fall over again. Shigure cursed under his breath.

“Lord Shigure?” asked a familiar voice. Shigure looked up and saw Koku Mi staring down at him with a tray of fruit in his hand.

“Koku, right?” asked Shigure. Koku nodded and asked, “Are you OK, Lord Shigure?” Shigure urged Koku closer. He leaned toward his ear and whispered, “Please get Dr. Jima here and tell his majesty that Megumi Yoh is the one in danger.” Koku nodded with wide eyes.

Koku placed the fruit before Shigure and then took off down the hall. Shigure situated himself against the hallway wall and smirked.

I must be desperate to depend on a child.

In the meantime, Megumi finished cleaning the remains of the dead snake and headed straight for the door. She opened the door and looked both ways. She was told to stay in the room, but she knew that Shigure would still be angered if she didn’t dispose of the snake first. Taking in a deep breath, she left the room with a bucket holding the dead snake.

Megumi walked down the hallway keeping her eyes open for anything that seemed unusual. Megumi snapped out of her focus when she heard a familiar voice say her name. She looked up and saw Shiro approaching her with Chestnut perched on his shoulder.

“Shiro, nice to you,” greeted Megumi. Shiro nodded. Chestnut, on the other hand, flew from Shiro’s shoulder and perched onto Megumi right shoulder. Shiro chuckled.

“Looks like Little Chestnut wanted to be with you once again,” stated Shiro. Megumi chuckled petting Chestnut’s head. Megumi glanced at Shiro and asked, “Are you finished with your duties today?” Shiro nodded and then noticed the dead snake in the bucket Megumi was holding.

“Was your duty today to dispose of snakes?” asked Shiro. Megumi glanced at the dead snake and grinned.

“I just happen to run across it,” stated Megumi. Chestnut suddenly tried to grab the dead snake, but Megumi hit his head slightly with a stern look.

“You can’t have it,” stated Megumi making Chestnut groan and ruffle his feathers.

Shiro chuckled with a smile, but his smile faded when he noticed that the snake was a king cobra. He approached Megumi staring at the dead snake.

“Where did you find a dead king cobra?” asked Shiro, knowledgeable about the different species of snakes. Megumi clenched the bucket and then pulled it gently away from Shiro’s gaze.

“Shiro, I consider you a friend, but right now, I can’t take the chance that I might put you in danger,” stated Megumi in a stern tone. Shiro for once had a troubled look. He couldn’t understand why Megumi would think that she would be putting him in danger.

Before any of them could say another word, Chestnut gave out a loud cry making their hearts skip a beat. At almost the same time as Chestnut’s cry, Megumi saw a glint of silver from her side eye view. She forced Chestnut to fly off and pulled Shiro by the front of his shirt forcing him to the ground with her. A long needle flew pass their heads and under Chestnut’s feet and impaled the pillar of the hall. Megumi glared at the needle noticing the discoloration of the silver.

“That needle had poison on it,” whispered Megumi.

“Poison?” whispered Shiro. Megumi nodded as Chestnut landed next to their heads. Megumi glanced at Shiro and whispered, “I need you to stay down while I act as a distraction.”

“I can’t let you do that my friend,” whispered Shiro. Megumi smiled and patted Shiro’s head.

“I’ll be fine, but when I am out of sight, I need you to find the guards and notify the emperor that there is an assassin here.”

“I…I will do as you say, but promise me that you will let me know when you are safe.”

Megumi nodded. She went on her feet crouched down and then took off down the hall. She could hear the needles whistling through the air behind her as she ran. Megumi didn’t look back as she ran.

When Megumi was out of sight, Shiro stood up and was ready to run only to collide into chest armor. He looked forward and saw that Mori Suoh stood in his path.

“Captain Mori, thank goodness,” said Shiro in relief. Before Shiro could say a word, Mori held Shiro’s shoulders and asked, “Have you seen Megumi Yoh?” Shiro nodded and pointed down the hall with Chestnut perched on his shoulder.

“He ran that way, but there’s someone shooting poison needles at him, so please hurry.”

Mori nodded and ran in the direction Shiro pointed out. Mori was immediately followed by an array of soldiers with their weapons in hand. Shiro watched the soldiers run off and realized that something big was indeed happening.

Megumi kept running hoping she wouldn’t run into anyone for she knew they would be in danger. Megumi turned a corner and gasped when she realized that she had somehow ended up in the North Garden. Megumi was ready to turn back, but slipped back when a poison needle nearly scratched her cheek. Megumi inched back her gaze darting in different directions trying to find the culprit.

Megumi suddenly heard the water ripple behind her and turned around only to see Ayame sitting next to the pond. Megumi gasped, saying Ayame’s name. Ayame looked up and gasped when she saw Megumi standing before her.

“Megumi, why are you here?” asked Ayame, knowing that the North Garden was forbidden to men. Megumi ran to Ayame’s side kneeling in front of her.

“You shouldn’t be here,” stated Megumi. Ayame raised an eyebrow and stated, “What do you mean, Megumi?” Megumi was about to say something, but she heard the whistling of an approaching needle and pushed Ayame to the ground. Ayame gave out a quick scream as a poisoned needle impaled the tree closes to the pond.

Everything around Ayame seemed to grow quiet. The sound of rippling water, the breeze blowing through the trees, the soft hum of insects, all of it seemed to fade. Only the sound of Megumi’s breathing and Ayame’s rapid beating heart could be heard. Ayame’s heart seemed to be so loud that she feared that Megumi would hear it. Her body heat rose that she felt that her face was beginning to burn. Besides Megumi’s touch, she was also just inches away from Megumi’s lips. If Ayame leaned forward, Megumi’s lips and hers would be able to touch.

“Megumi?” whispered Ayame that almost seemed like a squeak. Megumi didn’t look at Ayame as she stood up pulling Ayame sitting up. Megumi glared back with such intensity that Ayame felt inclined to look too.

Standing in the North Garden was a person clad in green with a wooden blow dart gun in her grasp. It looked like a man at first glance, but Megumi noticed right away that the person before Ayame and her was a woman by the two mounds almost invisible on the chest. Megumi stood before Ayame protectively.

“Who are you?” demanded Megumi. The woman glared at Megumi pulling out a new poisoned needle. She slipped it into the blow dart gun and was about to blow through it, but stopped in her actions when she heard Ayame say, “Yenene?” The woman flinched finally noticing Ayame.

Megumi glanced at Ayame and asked, “You know her?” Ayame nodded.

“She’s one of the concubines of his majesty. She was his majesty’s favorite until the Imperial Exams.”

Megumi frowned and glared back at the concubine, Yenene.

“She’s a concubine? Where does a concubine like her know about poisons?” stated Megumi. Yenene frowned. She pointed her blow dart gun at Megumi.

“If you came from a foreign country of endless poison, you would know how to make it,” stated Yenene. Megumi narrowed her eyes.

“All right then can you tell me why a concubine like you has been trying to poison me, especially since it is obvious that you never had training as an assassin?” demanded Megumi. Yenene clenched her fist, her form shaking in anger.

“I am an assassin, but not from your country. I was sent here by my father as a peace offering to your emperor. I was supposed to kill his majesty, but then I fell in love with him. I thought he loved me too, but then he fell in love with you…a MAN!”

Megumi groaned and muttered, “So this is Yuki’s fault.” Yenene prepared her blow gun again pointing it at Megumi.

“When I kill you, his majesty will look my way again.”

Yenene prepared to fire the poison needle, but to her surprise and Megumi’s Ayame blocked her shot using her body.

“What are you doing?” demanded Yenene. Ayame glared at Yenene, her form shaking.

“I won’t let you kill Megumi.”

Yenene clenched her fist.

“Don’t be a fool Ayame. I know that you love this boy, but you told me yourself that he already has someone he loves.”

Megumi glanced at Ayame with a bewildered look, while Ayame stood before her still shaking.

“I know that, but even so, I won’t let you kill him.”

Yenene gritted her teeth and then said, “Then I guess you die too.” Before Yenene could fire the poisoned needle, Megumi grabbed Ayame pulling her to her chest and turned around. At that same moment, Yenene’s blow gun was slapped from her hand and then she was shoved to the ground by armored soldiers. Yenene yelled out in rage as Mori approached her. He glanced at Yenene and then ordered his men to take Yenene away. Yenene was dragged away leaving Mori with Megumi and Ayame. Mori approached Megumi, who was holding Ayame close, and said, “It’s safe now.”

Megumi glanced at Mori and sighed in relief thanking Mori. She looked back at Ayame, who had her eyes clenched shut, and said, “It’s safe now.” Ayame opened her eyes only to realize that she was pressed against Megumi’s chest. Ayame turned red in the cheeks as she lifted her head to Megumi.

“You’re OK?” asked Ayame. Megumi nodded. To Megumi’s surprise, Ayame burst into tears burying her face into Megumi’s chest. Megumi smiled and patted Ayame’s head. Even though Ayame tried to protect Megumi, Megumi knew that it scared Ayame and that it took all her courage just to speak. Megumi glanced at Mori with a smile.

“Thanks for the help and I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell his majesty about me being in the North Garden with Lady Ayame.”

Mori winked at Megumi and said, “I promise, but that just means that you owe me.” Megumi nodded. Mori then patted Megumi’s head saying, “Try to finish your duties for the day to take your mind off this incident.” Megumi nodded again and watched Mori walk off.

Megumi glanced back at Ayame, who was starting to stop crying, and kissed Ayame’s forehead whispering her thanks.

When Ayame’s tears had finally stopped, Megumi led Ayame back to the Harem. As they walked, Ayame tried her best to avert her gaze from Megumi. Megumi glanced at Ayame and stated, “You were really brave back there.” Ayame folded her hands in front of her saying, with reddened cheeks, “Even though I tried to shield you, you still tried to protect me.”

“Well of course, you are special to me,” stated Megumi. Ayame seemed to grow redder. Megumi suddenly remembered something as she placed an index finger to her cheek.

“What did that woman mean when she said that you knew that I had someone I love?”

Ayame gulped rubbing her hands nervously.

“Well Lady Haji told Hotoru and I that you were in love with a woman named Mikan.”

Megumi sighed placing a hand against her forehead.

“That’s not the case.”

“What?”

“Mikan was my twin sister.”

“Your sister?” asked Ayame in disbelief. Megumi nodded.

“Mikan passed away months ago. I guess when I called Haji ‘Mikan’ she was mistaken that Mikan was my lover.”

“So you’re not in love with anyone?”

Megumi chuckled and said, “I will always love my family. As for a current lover, I would have to say no.” Ayame smiled feeling a burden lifted off her shoulder. Ayame and Megumi suddenly heard Hotoru calling to Ayame from the direction of the Harem. Megumi patted Ayame’s head and said, “You better get back, so I can get back to my duties.” Ayame nodded.

Megumi was ready to walk off, but Ayame suddenly held Megumi’s hand making her look back at Ayame. Ayame looked at Megumi her cheeks redder than a tomato.

“Before you go, can I please have one kiss on the forehead?” asked Ayame. Megumi stared at Ayame with wide eyes and then smiled. She pulled Ayame to her pressing her lips against Ayame’s forehead. Megumi chuckled and whispered, “You are one of the most important people to me. Never forget that.” Ayame nodded and watched Megumi run off.

Hotoru soon reached Ayame asking where she had gone. Ayame remained silent placing a hand to her forehead with reddened cheeks. The place where Megumi kissed felt like it was burning. In Ayame’s thoughts, she wished that the heat was against her lips.

Megumi, after leaving Ayame’s side, had entered the soldier’s quarters to clean up. Megumi had to admit that Mori was right to make her work to take her mind off the foreign assassin. Megumi gathered the fallen armor within the room humming an ancient Yulan tune. As she did this, Chestnut flew through the opened window and gave out a small chirp. Megumi glanced at Chestnut and smiled.

“Visiting again?” asked Megumi urging Chestnut to her. Chestnut perched on her shoulder rubbing his cheek against hers. Megumi heard the door open and glanced back only to see Shiro entering. Shiro smiled at Megumi and said, “I see that you are safe now.” Megumi nodded and added, “Partly thanks to you.” Shiro shook his head.

“Captain Mori was already on the move to save you, so I really didn’t do much,” stated Shiro. Megumi smiled petting Chestnut’s head.

“Well just letting me know that someone heard me is good enough for me,” stated Megumi. Shiro chuckled.

Megumi picked up a fallen helmet from the ground and then placed it on a bench before asking, “This may seem out of the blue, but do you know if Lord Shigure was able to get to Dr. Jima?”

“Lord Shigure?” asked Shiro. Megumi nodded.

“Now that you mention it, I did see Lord Shigure being carried off in the direction of the infirmary after I ran into Captain Mori.”

Megumi sighed in relief.

“Thank goodness,” muttered Megumi. Megumi was indeed relieved that Shigure was able to be taken to the infirmary and hopefully Kiku gave Shigure the antidote. Megumi snapped out of her thoughts when Chestnut lifted off her shoulder and flew back to Shiro’s shoulder. Shiro petted Chestnut’s head with a smile.

“I have to admit that I thought you would be hurt after seeing that needle, but seeing that you are alive and well, I feel relieved myself,” stated Shiro. Megumi thanked Shiro. Shiro opened the door behind him smiling back at Megumi.

“I will take my leave, but please feel free to see me again…when your life isn’t in peril,” stated Shiro. Megumi chuckled with a nod.

When Shiro left the room, Megumi continued to clean the soldiers’ quarters. Megumi didn’t quite understand how the soldiers can mess the room up after just one day of training. She gathered more armor that seemed to be rusted at the edges and placed them on a bench.

Unknown to Megumi, from the edge of the window, Haji was peering in with Koku beside her. Koku had a troubled look as he held the edge of Haji’s dress.

“I told you that Megumi would be just fine.”

Haji glared at Koku.

“Come on Koku, you told me that Megumi was almost poisoned yesterday and that his life was in danger again not too long ago,” stated Haji. Koku sighed.

“I know I did, but the emperor sent those soldiers out to save Megumi right away when I told Lord Shigure’s message. I only told you afterward, so you would understand why I was late with your snack.”

Haji pushed Koku away glancing at Megumi.

“I thank you for telling me and I am even more relieved now to see that Megumi is unharmed,” whispered Haji. Koku peeked through the window toward Megumi, who was polishing the armor with a brown rag.

“Whenever I look at Megumi, it seems that nothing in the world can harm him,” whispered Koku. Haji shook her head and whispered, “Megumi’s a man, so he can still get hurt.” Haji smiled placing a hand to her beating heart.

“I know Megumi is in love with another woman, but I still love him so much,” muttered Haji. Koku glanced at Haji pulling at her sleeve.

“We have to go now,” urged Koku. Haji nodded and followed Koku. As they walked off, Haji glanced back toward Megumi with reddened cheeks.

Megumi soon finished cleaning the soldiers’ quarters. She wiped the sweat off her forehead and nodded in approval.

“Looks good,” stated Megumi. Megumi gathered her cleaning supplies and headed for the door. The moment she opened the door, she felt pressure against her stomach and found herself lying on her back. Megumi groaned in pain and glanced toward her stomach only to see Hatsuharu on top of her smiling.

“Hatsuharu?” muttered Megumi. Hatsuharu smiled at Megumi kicking the door closed. He helped Megumi to her feet before jumping onto a chair in the room. He chuckled pulling out two freshly made dumplings from his pocket. Megumi stared at the dumplings and asked, “Are you even allowed to eat that in here?” Hatsuharu chuckled juggling the dumplings.

“I can eat them here even though I swiped them from Gen,” stated Hatsuharu. Megumi’s eyes widened and yelled, “You stole them?” Hatsuharu nodded tossing a dumpling into his mouth. He swallowed the dumping and glanced at Megumi.

“Now that I think about it, why are you in here, Megumi?” asked Hatsuharu.

“I was cleaning this room. I just finished so I was getting ready to leave,” stated Megumi. Hatsuharu nodded in understanding. Megumi stared at the dumplings again and asked, “This is just a guess, but did you run in here to hide from Gen?” Hatsuharu nodded with a grin.

Suddenly, the door of the soldiers’ quarters slammed open revealing a clearly angry Gen breathing heavily. Gen glared daggers at Hatsuharu, who was eating his dumplings happily. Gen ran at Hatsuharu yelling out his name, but to his surprise, tripped over Megumi sending him crashing into one of the benches. Hatsuharu took this chance to flee through the window laughing.

Gen cursed under his breath and glared at Megumi, who was getting up rubbing her back.

“Why did you have to get in my way?” yelled Gen. Megumi glared at Gen.

“How was I supposed to know that you were going to barge through the door?” demanded Megumi. Gen glared at Megumi getting to his feet.

“Still head strong as usual, huh?” stated Gen his glare intensifying, but Megumi didn’t even flinch. Megumi turned away from Gen in a huff gathering her cleaning supplies.

“Well Hatsuharu escaped through the window so you better pursue him before he finishes the dumplings,” stated Megumi. Megumi was ready to walk through the door, but Gen pulled her back in by the back of her shirt. Megumi glared back at Gen.

“What now?” yelled Megumi.

“You’re not doing anything now, so how about helping me catch Hatsuharu?” asked Gen in a rather annoyed tone.

“Why should I?” talked back Megumi.

“You’re the reason why he got away.”

“It’s not my fault and if you wanted dumplings so bad, you could just make new ones.”

“That was the first good batch after ten attempts!” roared Gen. Megumi stared at Gen with intensity and then scoffed making Gen flinch.

“What kind of soldier are you that you can’t even cook simple dumplings?” mocked Megumi. Gen growled and yelled, “Can you do better?” Megumi nodded whacking Gen’s hand off her.

“I was getting hungry myself,” stated Megumi and walked out of the soldiers’ quarters urging Gen to follow. Gen hesitated at first, but then began to follow Megumi.

The kitchen designed especially for soldiers to use wasn’t that far, so they arrived in no time at all, but the moment Megumi entered she pressed her hand against her mouth and nose. The smell inside the kitchen smelled like a rotting skunk mixed with freshly made feces. Megumi ran into the kitchen throwing open all the windows of the kitchen. Megumi took in a breath of fresh air from an opened window and seemed to grow pale when she saw the inside of the kitchen. Scattered all over the floor were aged mushrooms and meat that seemed to have something green growing on it. Cracked plates and cups along with scattered spices littered the table and stove. What nearly made Megumi hurl was a wooden bowl sitting on the table. It had mashed up vegetables and fruits along with meat that still had bones and hair sticking from it. If Megumi didn’t know better it seemed to breathing.

Megumi glared at Gen and asked, “This mess is your doing isn’t it?” Gen turned away from Megumi refusing to answer making the answer clear to Megumi. Megumi groaned grabbing her cleaning supplies once again and began to tidy up the kitchen. She tossed Gen a rag yelling, “Help out!” Gen nodded going to a table. Megumi turned her back from Gen cleaning an area of the floor. She then looked back at Gen and was shocked to see that the table had more filth than it did before.

“What happened to the table?” yelled Megumi. Gen scoffed with crossed arms.

“Cleaning isn’t my strongest point,” answered Gen. Megumi groaned and grabbed Gen by his sleeve. She tossed him out of the kitchen yelling, “You’re not allowed to come in here until I’m done!” With that, Megumi slammed the door in his face. Gen groaned with crossed arms.

Megumi wiped the tables and disposed of the garbage with the best of her ability. When she was about to put away some spices, she noticed that the ginger had a strange color. She sniffed the ginger and frowned when she smelled bitter almonds. Megumi now had an idea where Yenene managed to poison the duck and Sake for who would have entered a kitchen that smelled worse than the sewage line of Yulan. The soldier’s kitchen was also near the dorm area, so Yenene could easily switch the dishes. Megumi disposed of the poisoned spices one by one and then came to a realization. She ran to the exit of the kitchen only to see Gen still standing before it.

“Can I come in now?” asked Gen. Megumi looked at Gen seriously and asked, “Where is Hatsuharu?”

“Remember, he got away, why do you ask now?” asked Gen. Megumi clenched her fist.

“I think the dumplings were poisoned.”

“Poisoned?”

“The spices in the kitchen had traces of poison, so if you made those dumplings using the spices in this kitchen then Hatsuharu could die.”

Gen shrugged, showing no sign of concern.

“Then Hatsuharu is fine.”

“What?”

“Hatsuharu told me before that he is resistant to all poisons since he was young.”

Megumi’s eyes widened asking, “Seriously?” Gen nodded and added, “He once drank arsenic in front of me just to show how resistant he was, crazy bastard.” Megumi heaved out a sigh of relief.

“That’s a relief.”

Gen peeked into the kitchen and gasped when he saw that the once filth covered kitchen looked practically new.

“You clean fast,” complimented Gen. Megumi chuckled glancing back into the kitchen.

“Cleaning is simple…to me at least,” stated Megumi. Gen groaned and pushed Megumi into the kitchen and said, “Just make the dumplings already.” Megumi nodded and began to gather the ingredients to make dumplings making sure to sniff the ingredients to ensure that she disposed of all the poisons.

Megumi cracked her knuckles before starting to make the dumplings. Gen watched Megumi cook closely taking note that her movements just like her fighting style was filled with grace. Gen suddenly noticed that Megumi was grabbing wheat and frying it in a pan.

“Is that part of the dumplings?”

Megumi shook her head and stated, “It’s a side dish, so you better eat it too.”

After half an hour, sitting on a plate were a total of twenty dumplings on top of seasoned fried wheat. Gen stared at the freshly made dish with wide eyes.

“Those smell really good,” stated Gen. Megumi nodded tossing a dumpling into her mouth. Gen did the same and felt the taste of the dumplings dancing on his taste buds.

“It’s really good,” praised Gen munching on more of the dumplings. Gen glanced at Megumi noticing that she was making more and asked, “I never saw you as the cooking type.”

“Well I lived in a household with no father and a sickly mother, so my sister and I had to do the chores and cooking.”

“You have a sister?”

Megumi paused and then nodded saying, “I HAD a sister.”

“So she passed away?” asked Gen. Megumi nodded and added, “I would appreciate it if you don’t tell anyone.” Gen nodded. Gen suddenly threw a potato toward Megumi’s head. Megumi caught the potato in midair and glared back at Gen. Gen smirked.

“Just because you cooked for me, doesn’t mean that I am your friend. When your training is complete, I will fight you again and beat you.”

Megumi smirked and stated, “Good luck.” Gen grabbed the plate of dumplings and carried it out of the kitchen, while Megumi went back to her cooking.

Gen was halfway down the hall, when Hatsuharu, suddenly, jumped in front of him. Gen gasped nearly dropping his plate of dumplings. Gen glared at Hatsuharu.

“Don’t appear out of nowhere!” yelled Gen. Hatsuharu chuckled standing proudly in front of Gen.

“I just wanted to say hi and to let you know that your dumplings were absolutely delicious,” chirped Hatsuharu. Gen groaned and said, “Well I’m glad you enjoyed those POISONED dumplings.” Hatsuharu chuckled.

“So they were poisoned. I was wondering why they tasted so strange.”

“You’re not human,” stated Gen with an uneasy look. Hatsuharu laughed and noticed the dumplings in Gen’s hands.

“Did you make those?” asked Hatsuharu. Gen shook his head glancing back at the kitchen.

“Megumi made them.”

“Are you friends now?” asked Hatsuharu with bright eyes.

“Not in a million years,” stated Gen, before tossing another dumpling into his mouth. Hatsuharu stared at Gen before smiling brightly and saying, “I really want you two to be friends.”

“Not happening,” stated Gen sternly walking passed Hatsuharu. Hatsuharu walked after Gen smiling.

Megumi soon exited the kitchen holding a basket of freshly made dumplings. She walked down the hall back toward the dorms. On the way back, she saw a servant lighting the hallway lamps. Megumi walked up to the servant saying, “Excuse me.” The servant looked at Megumi asking what she needed. Megumi handed the servant five dumplings wrapped in banana leaves and said, “Bring this to Dr. Jima’s infirmary and let Dr. Jima know that these are for Lord Shigure from Megumi Yoh.” The servant nodded running off.

Megumi continued down the hallway until she reached the Purple Iris dorm room. Megumi was ready to open the door, but paused in her actions. She withdrew her hand and knocked on the door.

“Boshi, I know you’re in there and if you know what’s good for you, I would suggest taking down that bucket from the door.”

Megumi could hear Boshi scoff and say, “You really are no fun.” Megumi heard the water bucket get moved and then opened the door. Before her stood Boshi with the bucket of water in his hand. He seemed ready to throw it on her, but thought otherwise when he saw the basket of dumplings hanging from her arm. Megumi smirked dangling the dumplings in front of his face.

“You wouldn’t want to get your precious dinner wet, would you?” dared Megumi. Boshi moaned lowering the bucket. He took the basket from her grasp and muttered, “You are no fun.” Megumi chuckled walking into the room.

Before Megumi could close the door, Sora walked out from behind her with Reiji by his side.

“Don’t slam the door in our faces,” stated Sora. Megumi nodded with a smile welcoming them back. The moment Sora walked in though, he stepped into the water filled bucket and fell forward slamming his face into the floor. Boshi burst out laughing pointing at Sora, while Megumi and Reiji stared down at Sora chuckling. Sora glared at Boshi and yelled, “This is your doing again!” Sora sprung to his feet and ran after Boshi. Boshi jumped across the beds laughing nonstop.

Megumi sighed watching the scene and stated, “Just like yesterday huh?” Reiji nodded and added, “Let’s just hope that there is no poison this time.” Megumi smirked at Reiji.

“Well we don’t have to worry about poison dishes for now,” stated Megumi. Reiji raised an eyebrow at Megumi and asked, “Was it resolved?” Megumi nodded.

“The perpetrator was a foreign assassin named Yenene. Her target was me,” explained Megumi.

“You, but wouldn’t she have known that you can’t drink alcohol?” asked Reiji, remembering the Sake. Megumi scoffed and said, “She wouldn’t know especially since she stayed in the Harem.”

“She was a concubine?” asked Reiji. Megumi nodded and added, “The main reason I was a target.” Reiji’s eyes widened in realization and muttered, “The emperor?” Megumi nodded and added, “She was in love with Yuki and Yuki paid attention to me, so she felt jealous.” Reiji scratched the back of his head nervously.

“A woman’s scorn really is a terrifying thing,” stated Reiji. Megumi nodded in agreement. Reiji and Megumi looked back at Boshi and Sora, who were still in a cat and mouse chase.

“Should I tell them after we eat?” asked Megumi.

“That would be best,” answered Reiji.

While, Megumi was in her room, Shigure was in Kiku’s infirmary laid on a bed. Shigure stared up at the ceiling with tired eyes. He was already informed that the assassin was captured by one of the soldiers, but was forbidden from leaving the infirmary by Kiku’s orders. In Kiku’s words, he was lucky to be alive. He suddenly heard approaching footsteps and glanced to his left. Approaching him was Kiku with what looked like wrapped leaves. He thought maybe it was a package for Kiku, but that thought escaped his mind when Kiku presented the leafed covered package to him.

“Is that for me?” asked Shigure. Kiku nodded with a smile. He opened the small package revealing steaming hot dumplings.

“These dumplings are for you from Megumi Yoh,” informed Kiku. Shigure narrowed his eyes in a scorn.

“Why would he send this to me?”

“Think about it: the poison snake was originally meant for him and yet you were the one to get poisoned. I bet Megumi was worried about you as a result and decided to send these dumplings as way to say to get better.”

“I don’t need his charity,” stated Shigure. Kiku shrugged and then smelled the dumplings.

“That’s too bad because these dumplings smell absolutely delicious.”

Kiku was about to pick up a dumpling, but Shigure suddenly grabbed his wrist and said, “I never said that I wouldn’t eat them.” Kiku chuckled placing the dumplings next to Shigure.

“Please rest after you eat,” instructed Kiku, before walking off. Shigure picked up a dumpling sniffing it and then took a small bite. The dumpling was indeed divine. Shigure didn’t like Megumi, but he had to admit that Megumi was quite a great cook.

Within the palace walls, Yuki walked down a path leading directly to the dungeons. He entered through the dungeon doors, but there was no sign of anyone. He walked to a lit torch and pulled on it hard. A click followed by a rumble echoed through the dungeons. A space in the wall slid open revealing a hidden passage way that led downward. Yuki took the torch and entered the passage way. He pushed a loss rock on the wall that in turn made the wall behind him close up nearly engulfing him in darkness.

Using the light of the torch to guide him, he ventured downward. As he got closer to his destination, his face seemed to grow darker from anger. He was soon surrounded by the light of many torches. In his line of sight was Yenene chained against the wall by her wrists with blood flowing from her lips and the knife wounds around her body.

Yenene struggled to lift her head when she heard someone enter and seemed relieved when she saw Yuki.

“Your majesty,” whispered Yenene, but her eyes widened when she noticed Yuki glaring at her.

Yuki approached her and then held the torch dangerously close to her face.

“So it was you: Auron’s little princess,” stated Yuki. He brushed the flame of the torch on her cheek making Yenene flinch.

“I actually liked you. You were against becoming my concubine, but accepted because your father told you that you were to kill me, so your country could take over Yulan.”

“You knew?” asked Yenene in shock. Yuki smirked.

“Of course I knew. Do you think me a fool? I called you into my chambers every night hoping I could use you against your father as my future spy.”

“You were planning on using me?”

“Of course. Did you really think I would love a woman like you?”

Yenene’s form was shaking as tears escaped her eyes. Yuki suddenly grabbed her chin forcing her to look him in the eye.

“I never expected that you would have the courage to actually try to kill the person I truly love with poison no less.”

“How could you love a man?” yelled Yenene. Yuki smirked dropping the torch. He pulled out a bottle of Sake from his robe and showed it to Yenene.

“Megumi is my life. Whether he is a man or woman, I would still love him more than you,” whispered Yuki, before shoving the opening of the bottle into Yenene’s mouth. The Sake flowed into Yenene’s throat. Yenene felt like she was choking, but then realized the bitter taste of the Sake. She felt like her body was burning and her breathing was getting shorter. Yuki grinned forcing the last of the Sake down her throat. Yuki released the bottle as Yenene fell limp against the wall. The bottle slipped from Yenene’s mouth with foam coming from her mouth and her eyes rolled to the whites.

Yuki stepped back staring at Yenene’s still form.

“Poisoned Sake was the perfect death for you,” stated Yuki. He reached back pulling out a blunt sword. He swung the sword slicing off Yenene’s head. The blood sprayed against the wall and onto his robe. Yenene’s head rolled to his feet leaving a trail of blood. Yuki picked up that head and began to head back to the dungeons.

He opened the secret entrance of the dungeon and saw Mori standing before him with a serious look. Yuki smirked and tossed Mori Yenene’s head.

“Send that to King Auron in Keili with the written confession,” ordered Yuki. Mori nodded staring down at the lifeless head. Yuki walked passed Mori and added, “And make sure to clean up downstairs.” Mori nodded again with a straight look.

Yuki walked out of the dungeons and stared toward the blaring moon in the night sky. He reached toward it grinning with blood splatters on his robes and face.

You’re safe now Megumi.

Megumi had no idea of what happened that night as she slept in her bed with her roommates feeling safe.

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