Keiki Nue, the oldest son of the mafia in Go Province. He has been trained to be a leader of the mafia since he was practically two-years-old. A man that was feared by all, except for one individual: Megumi Yoh. It was rumored that Keiki fell in love with Mikan Yoh when he first lay eyes on her, but Megumi always prevented them from getting together. To Keiki, Megumi would always be a rival, but since Mikan’s death, he had vowed to help Megumi in “his” search for Mikan’s killer.
Keiki, because of his vow to Megumi, had journeyed to the palace of Yulan with only a single bag of gold coins and a sword that proved that he was the heir to the Nue Clan. As he walked down the path toward the palace, he didn’t notice the stares he was getting from the people around him. The stares were filled with curiosity because he was a new comer, but some of the stares were replaced with looks of horror when they lay their eyes on the sword of the Nue clan. The reputation of the Nue clan even reached the center of Yulan making Keiki fearsome. The people who knew who he was tried their best to avoid him in fear of being killed.
Keiki reached the gates of the palace and groaned when he saw that the gates were closed. He kicked the gate cursing under his breath. He looked around and spotted some rocks that were uneven. He made sure the coast was clear and then made his way to the rocks. He tied his sword behind his back and tightened his pants around the ankle. He cracked his knuckles and then began to ascend the wall using the rocks as a grip and foot hold. He grunted as he climbed.
Keiki remembered Megumi’s retreating form when she left Go province and muttered, “I always keep my word, bastard.” Keiki picked up his pace as he climbed the wall.
On the opposite end of the wall, Ichigo was watering the variety of flowers along the wall. He had longed finished his chores, so he took care of the flowers as a form of relaxation. To him, nothing could interrupt him when he was taking care of the flowers.
Except for one person: Shouryou Kou, age twenty-one, an official from the Kou clan. Ichigo didn’t know why, but Shouryou had a habit of interrupting him when he was relaxed ever since he became an official in training. The only time he had any peace from him was when he was sleeping or bathing.
Ichigo looked at Shouryou with a forced smile and asked, “Do you need something Shouryou?” Shouryou shook his head and asked, “Is it wrong for me to greet you on such a fine day?” Ichigo laughed uneasily. Shouryou suddenly smirked sending chills down Ichigo’s back. That smirk only meant that Shouryou was about to do something to him and that “something” was never a good thing.
Shouryou pointed at a closed window making Ichigo confused.
“Do you know who is in the archives right now?” asked Shouryou. Ichigo shook his head.
“I’ll give you a hint: he is a radiant creature that you avoid like the plague,” stated Shouryou. Ichigo’s eyes widen realizing who Shouryou was indicating: Megumi Yoh. Shouryou chuckled and asked, “You usually don’t say hi to him, so how about I call him out?” Ichigo shook his head and screamed, “Don’t you dare call Megumi!”
The window to the archives suddenly opened revealing Megumi. Megumi looked around and asked, “Did someone call me?” Ichigo turned red as he backed into the stone wall and walked over some of the flowers. Ichigo looked like he had just seen a ghost as he gazed at Megumi. Megumi saw Ichigo and asked, “Did you call me?” Ichigo’s mouth was moving, but no sound came out making Megumi confused.
Megumi heard Shouryou laughing and glanced in his direction. Shouryou was leaning against the railing near the archives shaking with laughter. Megumi raised an eyebrow and asked, “Are you OK, Shouryou?” Shouryou nodded between chuckles.
“I was just enjoying the sights,” said Shouryou and continued to laugh. Megumi was bewildered and then looked at Ichigo, who was still plastered against the wall.
“Are you OK, Ichigo?” asked Megumi. Ichigo finally snapped out of his shock and ran off screaming, “Don’t look at me!” Megumi blinked in confusion wondering why Ichigo was uneasy around her.
Shouryou finally stopped laughing and glanced at Megumi.
“I will take my leave now and remember that you were assigned to clean my office today,” said Shouryou. Megumi nodded and added, “Just let me finish organizing these documents.” Shouryou nodded and began to walk off thinking of other ways to toy with Ichigo.
Megumi was about to close the window until she saw something that nearly made her heart stop: Keiki climbing over the wall. Megumi leapt out the window and dashed to the wall. She stood under Keiki, who was descending the wall, with crossed arms.
“What do you think you are doing?” demanded Megumi with anger behind her voice. Keiki flinched and lost his grip on the wall. He fell toward the ground screaming. Megumi reacted fast, catching him in midair. Keiki looked at Megumi, while she held him in her arms. Keiki gasped and pushed Megumi away nearly making him fall over.
“Don’t touch me!” yelled Keiki. Megumi glared at Keiki and added, “I only caught you because you were in danger, but I guess the slime ball doesn’t even know how to say thank you.” Keiki groaned and muttered a “thank you.” Megumi then cleared her throat and asked, “Why are you even here?” Keiki scoffed.
“I am a man of my words, so I have come to assist you,” said Keiki. Megumi looked away from Keiki and said, bluntly, “Go home.” Keiki glared at Megumi. Keiki pointed at Megumi and stated, “I hate you with all my being, but you are the key to finding Mikan’s murderers, so accept my assistance now.” Megumi shook her head.
“You are useless here, so return to Go Province and try to find some information on Mikan’s death there,” stated Megumi. She turned away from Keiki. Keiki growled and threw a kick at her. Megumi dodged the kick and then jumped to the side to avoid Keiki’s next attack. Megumi went into fighting stance as she glared at Keiki. Keiki went into his own fighting stance with seriousness in his eyes.
“If I defeat you here, you will allow me to stay and assist you,” bargained Keiki. Megumi smirked and said, “Then if you lose, you will leave the palace and return to Go Province.” Keiki nodded and ran at Megumi.
Keiki tried to punch Megumi, but Megumi dodged to the side and kicked him in the cheek. Keiki was forced back and slid on the ground, but still maintained his footing. Keiki rubbed his bruising cheek and leapt into the air. He tried to drop kick Megumi, but Megumi rolled to the side and tried to punch his face. Keiki retaliated by blocking with his right forearm and throwing a punch with his left fist. Megumi barely dodged and kneed him in the stomach. Keiki gasped and jumped away clenching his stomach. Megumi rubbed her hands together and went back into her fighting stance.
“Do you give up?” asked Megumi. Keiki shook his head breathing heavily. Keiki went back into his fighting stance staggering.
“You always manage to beat me, but for Mikan I will defeat you,” stated Keiki filled with determination. Megumi heard the determination in his voice and found herself smiling.
Keiki tried to run at her and Megumi was ready to block, but Mori suddenly jumped between them. He blocked Keiki’s attack with his right hand making Keiki gasp. Mori pushed Keiki back on the ground and held him down making Keiki cringe. Mori looked at Megumi and asked, “Are you all right, Megumi?” Megumi nodded.
Keiki glared at Mori demanding him to let him go. Mori saw the sword of the Nue Clan at Keiki’s waist and narrowed his eyes.
“Why is the heir to the Nue Clan here?” demanded Mori. Keiki remained silent refusing to speak. Mori twisted Keiki’s arm making Keiki gasp in pain. Mori suddenly felt Megumi’s hand on his shoulder and looked at her.
“Keiki is my acquaintance,” stated Megumi. Mori raised an eyebrow and asked, “He is your acquaintance?” Megumi nodded and added, “He was just visiting.” Mori looked back at Keiki and saw the bruise upon his cheek.
“Why did you fight him then?” asked Mori. Megumi sighed and said, “I wanted to see how strong he has gotten since I left Go Province. He hasn’t improved much.” Keiki glared at Megumi daring her to insult him again.
Megumi pushed a strand of her hair back revealing the glitter of her aquamarine eyes and said, “He means no harm, so please release him.” Mori sighed and removed himself from Keiki. Keiki sat up squinting in pain. Mori glanced at Megumi and said, “I only released him because I need you in my favor.” Megumi smirked.
“You do have my favor, but I still refuse to become a soldier,” replied Megumi. Mori scoffed and said, “I hope you do change your mind.” Mori turned away from Megumi and added, “If you keep your acquaintance under control then I promise not to reveal that he broke in, Megumi.” Megumi agreed and watched Mori walk off.
Megumi glanced at Keiki and said, “Mori interfered with our fight, so let’s call it a draw.” Before Keiki could retaliate, Megumi stepped on his leg making him cringe.
“I can easily force you back to Go Province, but because our fight is a draw, I will allow you to stay around the palace for a month, sound good?”
Keiki clenched his fist and nodded knowing that he could never win an argument against Megumi. Megumi removed her foot from Keiki’s leg and then held her hand to Keiki. Keiki stared at her outstretched hand in confusion. Megumi smiled and said, “I’ll ask his majesty’s permission for you to stay in my room during your stay here, Keiki.” Keiki smirked and clasped Megumi’s hand.
Keiki stood up with Megumi’s help and then cringed clenching his stomach. Megumi noticed the pain in Keiki’s face and asked, “Do you need to see a doctor first?” Keiki nodded as the pain radiated throughout his body.
Megumi held Keiki’s arm as she led him to the inner palace. Keiki didn’t try to struggle from Megumi’s hold even though he felt disgusted just to have Megumi touch him. He also wondered if Megumi got even stronger since the last time they met because the pain he was feeling could compare to a hundred men beating.
As they walked, they didn’t notice Hatori watching from a distance. Hatori in truth had seen Keiki break in and challenge Megumi, but his curiosity to see Megumi fight prevented him from interfering. Just like Mori, he wanted Megumi to become a soldier, but he had a feeling that Megumi wanted to be an official concerning her family, even though he was still not sure.
Hatori was so preoccupied watching Megumi lead Keiki into the palace that he didn’t even sense the presence of Ryouga approaching him from behind. Ryouga smirked and threw a punch at Hatori. Hatori finally sensed Ryouga and was able to duck to avoid the punch and kick Ryouga on his right shin. Ryouga gasped clenching his pain throbbing leg.
Hatori sighed and said, “You need to keep your presence a secret when you attack, Ryouga.” Ryouga smirked and stood up proudly.
“Well I got a lot closer to landing a shot this time, big brother,” stated Ryouga proudly. Ryouga and Hatori were brothers from the same mother. Hatori was the older brother and had been in the service of one of the alliances, until his service was transferred to the palace of Yulan.
Hatori frowned finding his brother to be too pompous of a man. Ryouga suddenly looked pass Hatori and asked, “What are you looking at anyway?” Ryouga smirked when he saw Megumi in the distance.
“You’re spying on Megumi?”
“I’m not spying on him. I just happened to see him during my rounds,” stated Hatori. Ryouga chuckled with crossed arms.
“I’m not surprised that you’re interested in Megumi. When I first saw Megumi on the day of the Imperial exams, I could tell that he had fighting experience.”
Ryouga scoffed and added, “I hate to admit it, but he’s a true man.” Hatori nodded in agreement. Hatori suddenly noticed the broom lying upon the ground and frowned.
“Did you run off from your duties…again?” asked Hatori. Ryouga chuckled and said, “I just needed a break is all. I mean what does cleaning the stables have to do with being a soldier.” Hatori groaned and picked up the fallen broom. He forced the broom into Ryouga’s hand and commanded, “Get back to the stables and finish your duty!” Ryouga gulped and nodded.
Ryouga wanted to be a soldier like his older brother since he was young. He would always try to out-best his brother to get his approval, but he knew that when his brother got angry, it was best to do what he was told.
Ryouga ran off back toward the stable leaving Hatori by himself. Hatori glanced back in the direction where Megumi was before, but she was long gone. Hatori sighed placing a hand to his head.
“Why does Megumi want to be an official?”
Megumi led Keiki through the halls of the palace that were surprisingly deserted. Keiki looked around and scoffed.
“No wonder I was able to get in here so easily,” stated Keiki sarcastically. Megumi glared back at Keiki and said, “The palace is well protected, but today is special for some officials.” Keiki raised an eyebrow.
“What makes today special?”
“Well today is a banquet and with the banquet comes more duties for the officials in training,” stated Megumi. Megumi suddenly paused and frowned.
“Because of you I will have to stay up late just to finish organizing the fifth archives AND cleaning Shouryou’s office,” stated Megumi in an angered tone.
Keiki scoffed and added, “Not my fault that you abandoned your work.” Megumi clenched Keiki’s arm tightly making Keiki cringe. Megumi glared at Keiki and said, “If you don’t want a broken arm then I suggest you shut your mouth.” Keiki nodded recognizing Megumi’s demonic glare.
Megumi suddenly stopped in her tracks making Keiki confused. He glanced at Megumi and asked, “Is something wrong?”
“He’s coming,” muttered Megumi. Before Keiki could ask who was coming, Megumi ran to the side taking Keiki with her. Keiki slammed against the wall making him grunt in pain. Keiki was ready to yell at Megumi until he saw someone he had never seen before run pass them and fall on the floor.
Megumi frowned at the sight of Yuki upon the ground where she once stood with Keiki. Yuki sat up moaning in pain. Yuki quickly recovered and smiled at Megumi. He tried to hug Megumi, but she dodged. Yuki whimpered and asked, “Why are you avoiding me again?” Megumi glared at Yuki.
“You have been bothering me for the past month. You try to sneak into my room and even try to hug me when my back is turned. You are like a fatal disease!” screamed Megumi. Keiki looked at Megumi with wide eyes. If Keiki didn’t know better he could have sworn that Megumi was ready to burst into flames because of her rising anger.
Yuki didn’t seem effected by her anger as he hugged her immediately and said, “Every rejection gets me closer to your heart.” Megumi groaned and kneed Yuki in the stomach forcing him away. Yuki groaned clenching his pain throbbing stomach. Megumi walked pass Yuki with Keiki still in hand.
“Just disappear already,” spat out Megumi as she marched away. Yuki held his hand in her direction in a dramatic way saying, “Please come back.” Yuki was whimpering as Megumi walked pass a corner out of sight.
Keiki glanced at Megumi, who was clearly angry, and asked, “Who was that guy?” Megumi frowned and stated, “His majesty, Yuki Ki.” Keiki gasped.
“You struck the emperor?” exclaimed Keiki. Megumi scoffed and added, “He always recovers and then goes back to bothering me.” Keiki thought awhile and asked, “Does the emperor love you?” Megumi had a look of disgust.
“He says I’m…irresistible,” stated Megumi. Keiki burst out laughing making Megumi flinch.
“The girls in Go Province always fancy you, but this…this is the first time that a guy fell for you,” laughed Keiki. Keiki was laughing so much that tears began to fall from his eyes. Megumi glared at Keiki and clenched his arm tightly. Keiki seized laughing as he cringed in pain.
“If you continue to laugh then I will throw you over the gate and force you back to Go Province,” threatened Megumi. Keiki nodded with tears of pain falling from his eyes this time. Megumi loosened her grip making Keiki sigh in relief.
Keiki suddenly came to a realization and asked, “Shouldn’t you go back and ask his majesty about me staying in your room?” Megumi flinched realizing that she needed to inform Yuki about Keiki. Megumi sighed and said, “I’ll see him again later.”
The emperor in the meantime was sulking in a corner by himself. As he sulked he tried to think of ways to win Megumi’s affections, most of them unrealistic. While deep in thought, Shigure entered the hall and saw Yuki in the corner. Shigure approached Yuki saying Yuki’s name. Yuki snapped out of his own flight of fancy and looked back at Shigure.
“Why are you here Yuki?” asked Shigure. Yuki showed a pitiful look making Shigure sigh.
“Megumi rejected your advances again didn’t he?” asked Shigure. Yuki hugged Shigure nearly knocking Shigure over and wailed, “I know every rejection brings me closer to his heart, but it always breaks my heart when he refuses to even let me touch him.” Shigure patted Yuki’s back with an uneasy look.
“I understand you fancy Megumi, but he is a man and chances are that he has an interest in someone already,” said Shigure in an attempt to comfort Yuki. Yuki’s eyes widen pulling away from Shigure.
“Now that I think about it: Megumi always pockets a letter from the stack of proposals once a week. Could that letter belong to the one he…he…”
“He loves?” finished Shigure. Yuki wailed screaming that he refused to believe it. Shigure sighed and said, “How about this: you go to the banquet like you’re supposed to and I’ll find a way to sneak into his room and find the letters he keeps and tell you whether he is seeing someone. Does that sound good?” Yuki nodded with a whimper.
Shigure walked pass Yuki and said, “I’ll do what I promised, so you head to the banquet now.” Yuki nodded again and began to walk off still sulking.
When Yuki was out of sight, Shigure heaved out a sigh with a hand against his forehead.
“I really hope Megumi does have a lover so Yuki can give up on him,” muttered Shigure wishing for the old Yuki he respected to return.
Megumi knocked on the door to the infirmary with Keiki still in her grasp. There was no answer, so Megumi nudged the door open. The royal doctor wasn’t in sight, but Megumi still walked in. Keiki looked around the room and asked, “Where’s the doctor?”
“He might be in the banquet,” responded Megumi.
“Why would he need to be there?” exclaimed Keiki. Megumi pushed Keiki onto a wooden table making him flinch.
“The doctor would most likely be there to assure that his majesty Yuki is not poisoned,” stated Megumi as she headed to the table covered in herbs and medicines. Keiki frowned.
“Shouldn’t the emperor be used to poisons?” asked Keiki. Megumi glanced at Keiki and stated, “Even if one is used to poisoning it is always best to be safe.” Megumi looked away from Keiki as she began to gather different medicinal herbs from the table and mixed them together.
“What are you doing?” asked Keiki finally taking notice of Megumi’s actions at the medicines. Megumi measured an unusual liquid in a cup and stated, “I am making medicine that will help you recover.” Keiki showed a look of disgust.
“I don’t want anything made by you,” spat out Keiki. Megumi glared at Keiki making him flinch. Megumi showed the strange colored medicine made by her.
“I’ll have you know that the doctor that took care of Mikan, Satoshi, and I taught me how to make this medicine that he learned from his teacher, the most talented doctor known in Yulan. It is surprisingly effective and only a few know how to make it, so if you want to get better fast for Mikan’s sake then swallow your pride and take the medicine!”
Keiki nodded feeling like his life was in danger. He took the medicine from Megumi’s hand and sniffed it. It smelled sweet to his senses. He then took one sip feeling the taste of the medicine run over his tongue. He gagged and glared at Megumi.
“It’s bitter,” complained Keiki. Megumi scoffed and stated, “The herb needed to make it taste sweet wasn’t in here, so you’ll have to bare it.” Keiki groaned and continued to swallow the medicine, while making a face of disgust.
When Keiki was finished with the medicine, Megumi found some ice in the wooden cabinet concealed in the floor and used the ice to cover Keiki’s bruises. Keiki held the ice over the bruise on his face with a pout.
“It’s really not fair that you are the better fighter,” stated Keiki. Megumi smirked and asked, “Why is that?” Keiki glared at Megumi and said, “Because I am older and as the oldest I should be stronger.” Megumi chuckled as she cleaned the medicine counter.
“Well I was trained well by Master Chuckles,” stated Megumi. Keiki narrowed his eyes in displeasure. He had heard of Megumi’s master and would have loved to be trained by him, but Megumi’s master left Go Province before he could even see him.
“So how are you feeling?” asked Megumi. Keiki’s eyes widen at the realization that all the pain he felt had vanished. The bruises were still there, but he could tell that they were beginning to fade.
“That medicine is strong,” stated Keiki. Megumi nodded and added, “I did sell this medicine before in my stand, but the ingredients are too expensive, so it didn’t last long.” Megumi looked toward the medicinal ingredients with a smile.
“It is a strong medicine, but it can’t heal everything,” stated Megumi. Megumi remembered her mother’s smiling face as she drank the medicine from Megumi. Megumi felt a tear escape her eyes, but she immediately wiped it away before Keiki could notice. Megumi maintained her composure and looked back at Keiki.
“His majesty Yuki most likely headed to the banquet, so it will take a while for me to ask him about you, so in the meantime, you can either stay here in the infirmary or come with me to the archives. Which will it be?”
Keiki looked around the infirmary and then back at Megumi.
“I’ll go to the archives with you,” said Keiki. Megumi nodded. Keiki was about to stand up, but the door to the infirmary suddenly flung open. Keiki gasped in surprise and fell back onto the table.
Before the opened door stood, Suha with an unknown man in his grasp. Megumi bowed her head to Suha welcoming him in. Suha raised an eyebrow at Megumi and asked, “Why are you in here?” Megumi held a hand to Keiki.
“I needed to treat my acquaintance’s wounds,” stated Megumi. Suha looked at Keiki, who was still sitting upon the table.
“I see and have you informed his majesty about your acquaintance?” asked Suha. Megumi shook her head and added, “I will tell him after the banquet.” Suha nodded.
“Who is the young man?” asked Megumi taking notice of the unknown man in Suha’s grasp. Suha looked at the man and said, “His name is Miroku Tou, a soldier under me. He was supposed to be fighting one of the soldiers as entertainment for the guests at the banquet, but…”
Miroku’s face looked pale as he gripped his stomach with his right and Suha’s shoulder with his left.
“He seems to have eaten something that doesn’t agree with his stomach. I was instructed by the doctor to bring him here to rest. He can’t fight like this.”
Keiki suddenly smirked at Megumi and stated, “You should give him that miracle medicine to cure his stomach.” Megumi tried to hush Keiki, but Suha suddenly asked, “What medicine?”
“I know how to make a medicine that heals quickly, but looking at that soldier, that medicine wouldn’t be as effective.”
Suha frowned as he placed Miroku on an empty bed. He crossed his arms at Megumi and asked, “Do you know how to make another medicine that will help him?”
“Why not wait for the doctor?” asked Megumi. Suha shook his head and stated, “The doctor did say that he would treat Miroku after the banquet, but Miroku is in too much pain.” Megumi glanced at Miroku. Miroku was curled up in the bed clenching his stomach with tears beginning to fall from his shut eyes. Megumi sighed.
“I’ll treat him the best I can, but this will prevent me from doing my duties today,” stated Megumi. Suha smiled and said, “If you treat Miroku well then I will excuse you from your duties today.” Megumi smiled and nodded.
Megumi headed to Miroku and kneeled next to him on the bed. Megumi felt his pulse and then his forehead. His pulse was weak and his head felt like it was on fire. She forced Miroku onto his back making him cringe. She pressed her ear against Miroku’s pain pulsing stomach. Megumi sighed as she lifted her head.
“Are you sure he started to feel sick after eating at the banquet?” asked Megumi. Suha nodded and asked, “Why do you ask?” Megumi glanced at Miroku’s pale face with seriousness in her eyes.
“The fever, the weak pulse, the pressure inside his stomach: they’re signs of being poisoned.”
“Poison?” exclaimed Keiki and Suha. Megumi nodded as she stood up. She pointed at Suha with seriousness in her eyes.
“Go back to the banquet and figure out what he ate,” ordered Megumi. Suha nodded and ran out of the clinic. Megumi pointed at Keiki next and ordered him to wrap some ice in a cloth. Keiki nodded running to the cabinet Megumi was at before. Megumi in the meantime began to remove Miroku’s light armor. Miroku looked at Megumi weakly.
“Am I going to die?” whispered Miroku. Megumi shook her head. She pushed a strand of Miroku’s hair out of his face and said, “I will make sure you live.” Miroku closed his eyes feeling the pain increase. Megumi wiped the sweat off Miroku’s face. She suddenly caught a scent of shoe polish seeping from Miroku’s mouth making her frown.
Keiki handed Megumi the ice. Megumi placed the ice on top of Miroku’s head. Megumi stood up and ordered Keiki to stay by Miroku. Keiki nodded keeping his eyes on Miroku as Megumi headed back to the medicines. Megumi grabbed a variety of herbs and spices and crushed them together. Keiki glanced at Megumi and asked, “What are you doing now?” Megumi poured the powder like substance that she created into a bowl of water making the water turn red.
“I’m making the antidote.”
“Shouldn’t you figure out what the poison is first?” asked Keiki beginning to panic.
“I know what the poison is,” stated Megumi. Keiki’s eyes widen asking how Megumi knew. Megumi remained silent as she knelt next to Miroku. She tried to make Miroku drink the antidote, but it spilled on the side of his lips. Keiki groaned.
“He won’t take it,” said Keiki in an annoyed tone. Megumi sighed. She sipped the antidote into her mouth making Keiki’s eyes widen. Before Keiki could even ask what she was doing, Megumi dropped the bowl and pulled Miroku to her. She connected her lips with his making Keiki turn red. Megumi forced the antidote into Miroku’s mouth and down his throat. Megumi separated from his lips when the last of the antidote was gone. Miroku cringed in his sleep and slowly began to breathe normally.
Megumi felt Miroku’s forehead and smiled.
“The antidote seems to be taking affect, but he still needs to rest,” stated Megumi. Megumi glanced at Keiki and noticed his red face and look of disgust.
“Something wrong Keiki?” asked Megumi. Keiki pointed at Megumi and asked, “Did you just kiss that guy?” Megumi shook her head.
“I wouldn’t call giving someone medicine a kiss,” stated Megumi with crossed arms. Keiki covered his red face in exasperation.
Suha suddenly entered the clinic with the doctor, Kiku Jima, age fifty-five, at his side. Suha ran to Megumi and said, “We found the poisoned dish Miroku ate and disposed of it.” Megumi nodded. Suha glanced at Miroku who was now being attended by Kiku.
“How is his condition?” asked Suha in concern. Megumi smiled and said, “He’ll be fine.” Suha’s eyes widen and before he could say anything, Kiku looked at Megumi with wide eyes and asked, “How did you treat him without knowing what the poison was?”
“That’s what I want to know,” stated Keiki finally regaining his composure. Megumi glanced at Miroku’s sleeping form.
“When I leaned over to wipe his sweat, I smelled shoe polish from his mouth. My doctor’s teacher told me what different poisons smelled like, so I was able to tell that the poison was a rare substance from overseas. The poison is called Neuro, a poison that can also be used to heal.”
Kiku nodded and then re-examined Miroku, who seemed to be growing better at each passing second in his sleep. Kiku smiled and said, “Your doctor or should I say teacher is very wise.” Kiku thanked Megumi. Megumi bowed to him in respect and then looked at Suha, who was still in awe.
“Do you still need me to treat Miroku?” asked Megumi. Suha shook his head and ruffled Megumi’s hair making her flinch.
“You’ve done enough and as promised, you can be excused from your remaining duties for today.”
Megumi nodded finally managing to escape from Suha’s hands. Megumi was ready to leave the clinic with Keiki, but stopped in her tracks when Suha added, “Of course you will take Miroku’s place in the banquet entertainment for the time being.” Megumi glanced back at Suha with wide eyes.
“Are you serious?”
Suha nodded and stated, “The captain has mentioned to me before that you have fighting skills that rival his own, so you will be the perfect replacement for Miroku.” Megumi sighed knowing full well that whatever Suha said was final.
“What about me?” asked Keiki with his right hand raised.
“You can accompany Megumi of course as his acquaintance and also tell his majesty of your arrival,” instructed Suha. Keiki nodded wondering why Suha hadn’t questioned him about his background.
Megumi and Keiki left the clinic and then Suha’s expression changed to a serious one. He looked at Kiku and asked, “Is Miroku really OK?” Kiku nodded feeling Miroku’s pulse.
“That boy Megumi created an antidote that even I didn’t know about. Whoever his teacher was must have been a genius.”
Suha nodded and began to remember the blade on Keiki’s waist before he left the clinic. Suha rubbed his chin wondering how Megumi got into contact with a famous mafia heir. To Suha: Megumi was the most mysterious person that he had ever met.
In the meantime, Shigure finally managed to retrieve the key for Megumi’s room and sneak in. He made sure the coast was clear before entering. Shigure knew that Megumi had three roommates: Sora Kofu, Boshi Kou, and Reiji Kou. Sora was assigned to clean Shigure’s office. Shigure knew that his office was like a maze because of the stack of books and scattered documents, so it would take a normal person at least half the day to finish cleaning. Boshi was assigned to mop the hall that led to the library. Shigure purposely made the floor extremely dirty to stall Boshi in his cleaning and give him time to search the room. As for Reiji, he was assigned to organize one of the archives concerning foreign budgets. The foreign budgets hadn’t been organized in months, so Shigure felt he didn’t have to worry about him. Megumi, from what he knew, should be in another archive organizing budget statements or cleaning Shouryou’s room. Shigure deduced that it would take almost the whole day for Megumi to finish her duties. With the room unoccupied, he had time to search the room for Megumi’s hidden letters.
Shigure went to one of the beds. He recognized Megumi’s handwriting on a scroll near the bed and came to the conclusion that was Megumi’s bed. He lifted the covers to see if he could find the hidden letters, but only the clean mattress was in sight. He looked under the pillow, but found nothing. He peeked under her bed and caught sight of her traveling bag. He pulled the bag out and pulled it open. Lying on top of what appeared to be Megumi’s tools was the letters that Megumi had saved. Shigure pulled them out tossing Megumi’s bag back under the bed.
Shigure slipped the rope that held the letters off. He opened the first letter and read it to himself:
I received a customer from overseas who wanted to have my hand in marriage, but I rejected him as I have rejected others’ proposals. I just wanted you to know that my heart still yearns for you. I know that your mind is set on your family, but I also want to be part of that family. Remember that your proposal is the only one I want to accept. Please reply to my letters soon my love.
Your forever soul mate,
Shigure’s eyes widen as his focus fell upon the name: Hime Hana. He had met Hime before when he visited Go province and thought she was like a flower. He never thought that Hime would be in love with Megumi. Shigure felt envious that Megumi had gained the affections of the beautiful courtesan, Hime Hana, but he also felt glad. He believed that Megumi secretly loved Hime because Megumi kept her letters and that also meant that Yuki didn’t have a chance at Megumi’s love.
Shigure pocketed the letter he read and returned the rest under the bed. He left the room making sure to lock it behind him. He walked down the hall with a wide smile and the thought that Yuki was about to return to his old self.
At the banquet hall, Yuki was sitting at the head of the table with a composed look as he looked upon the other officials talking to one another as they ate. Yuki actually felt depressed because of Megumi’s rejection and prayed in his heart that Shigure wouldn’t find a clue that Megumi truly had a love in her life.
The door to the hall suddenly opened revealing none other than Megumi Yoh. Yuki’s eyes widen at the sudden arrival of the object of his affections. Megumi walked toward Yuki with Keiki by her side ignoring the officials that were looking upon her. Megumi stopped in front of Yuki and bowed her head to him.
“I have come as a substitute for Miroku’s fight, your majesty,” stated Megumi. Yuki nodded trying to fight the urge to hug her. Yuki finally took notice of Keiki and asked, “Who are you?” Keiki bowed his head to Yuki.
“My name is Keiki Nue from Go Province. I am an acquaintance of Megumi’s and ask if I can stay with him for the month.”
Yuki’s eyes narrowed wondering how Megumi knew Keiki. Yuki was well informed about the mafia groups in Yulan, so he knew exactly who Keiki was. Yuki would have rejected Keiki’s proposal to stay in the palace, but because Megumi knew Keiki he swallowed his pride and said, “You can stay with Megumi Yoh.” Keiki nodded and wondered why Yuki sounded a lot more mature than when Keiki first saw him in the hall.
Yuki looked back at Megumi and said, “I wish you luck in your fight, Megumi.” Megumi nodded feeling relieved that Yuki didn’t even attempt to hug her.
Yuki stood from his seat announcing that the fight between Megumi Yoh and a high ranking soldier named Gen Himaruya was about to take place. The officials all faced the only place cleared of tables. Gen Himaruya entered the clearing first in his light armor.
Gen Himaruya, age thirty, was known as a genius soldier of Yulan. He had been known to train in the mountains and was even considered to be the second captain of the guards. His fighting skills could be described as a gift from the Gods.
Gen stood in the clearing a waiting for his rival. Megumi entered the clearing pushing a strand of her long hair behind her ear. Yuki blushed at the sight and fought the urge to pull her into his embrace. He also fought the urge to pull her away from the oncoming fight. He knew that Megumi was strong because of the multiple rejection attacks he received throughout the month, but he still feared for her safety.
Keiki also worried about Megumi’s safety. He does hate her to the point of wanting to kill her, but he wanted to defeat Megumi in a fair fight. He refused to have anyone other than himself to defeat Megumi.
Megumi and Gen stood in the clearing gazing at each other. Gen smirked as he examined Megumi. He heard about Megumi through the other officials. He knew of Megumi’s intelligence and her intentions to be an official. To him: Megumi possessed knowledge but not strength basically because of her small body and age. He believed that the fight against a training official would be a walk in the park.
Chiriko Shi announced the rules for all to hear:
“The fight will be one round. You are allowed to use weapons, but you cannot kill the opponent. Except for the clearing, you are not allowed to touch the surrounding floor. If you step on the floor outside of the fighting zone or admit defeat, you are declared the loser. Do you both understand?”
Megumi and Gen nodded.
“The fight will begin when the gong sounds. Now get ready.”
Megumi and Gen went into a fighting stance facing each other. Some of the officials chuckled as they looked at Megumi.
“What can a child like Megumi do?”
Shouryou, who was among the officials, chuckled and whispered, “Megumi might just be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
The gong rang throughout the banquet hall. Gen ran at Megumi first with his hand in a tight fist. He swung his fist at her, but Megumi leapt into the air over him and landed behind him. Before Gen could react, she kicked him from behind sending him flying forward. He managed to stay in the fighting zone, but his back was vibrating in pain. He glanced at Megumi, who was still in her unique fighting pose. Gen glared at Megumi as he shot to his feet. He threw a punch at Megumi once again, but she blocked with her forearm and threw her own punches that Gen barely blocked.
“You’re skilled at fighting,” complimented Gen as he threw a punch. Megumi smirked as she redirected his punch to the right.
“Master Chuckles taught me well,” stated Megumi as she did a flying kick toward his face. Gen caught her leg and tossed her back. Megumi spun in the air and managed to land in the fighting zone in a graceful manner. The officials clapped for Megumi’s performance as did Yuki with a blush against his cheek and his heart racing. Keiki was about to clap, but then retracted his hands refusing to compliment Megumi’s fighting skill.
Gen grabbed a staff from the side and pointed it at Megumi with a smirk.
“This Master Chuckles might be a strong fellow, so how about introducing him to me,” stated Gen as he swung the staff at Megumi. Megumi ducked and rolled to the side to dodge. She grabbed a staff of her own to block Gen’s attack. Megumi pushed Gen’s staff back holding the staff in front of her horizontally.
“I haven’t seen him ever since he left Go Province when I was four, so sorry,” stated Megumi as she swung the staff at Gen. Gen blocked her attack and attempted to kick her, but she jumped back and retaliated with a flying kick. Gen blocked her leg with his staff forcing her back.
“He trained you when you were four? You must have been really something,” said Gen in a sarcastic manner. Megumi chuckled and added, “Apparently I was, but I still wonder why he left and never returned.” Gen and Megumi clashed their staffs together as the cheers of the officials increased.
“So he abandoned you at some point?” taunted Gen. Megumi frowned and kneed his stomach making Gen gasp in pain.
“I guess you can say that, but he must have his reasons for abandoning me. Master Chuckles always had a reason for anything he does,” replied Megumi angrily. Gen smirked and threw his staff at Megumi. Megumi dodged the flying staff and ended up meeting with Gen face to face. Gen punched her right shoulder making her cringe. Gen tried to punch her face next, but she redirected his punch upward and then kicked upward connecting with his chin. Gen gasped as he fell back. Megumi then brought her foot down on his stomach. Gen gasped again in pain as he lay before Megumi.
“As I was saying, Master Chuckles always has his reasons for his actions. When he left me it gave me the determination to grow stronger than him and eventually beat him to a pulp when I see him again for leaving me.”
Megumi lifted her foot from Gen’s stomach. Gen remained on the ground still feeling the pain all over his body. Gen felt like he had been beaten by a thousand men. Megumi glared down at Gen and sighed.
“I think Gen has given up on the fight,” stated Megumi. One of the officials went to Gen asking if he could continue. Gen bit his lip and shook his head. The official nodded and declared Megumi the winner. The officials all cheered for Megumi.
Gen clenched the floor feeling the humiliation of losing to Megumi eat at his heart. Gen forced himself up as he glared at Megumi.
No one can be that strong.
Megumi left the ring ignoring Gen’s presence. She bowed to Yuki and said, “I will take my leave now, your majesty.” Megumi then turned to leave as Keiki joined her. Yuki stood up from his chair abruptly and asked, “Would you like to stay for the banquet as your reward for the victory?” Megumi stopped in her tracks and glanced back at Yuki.
“I will join the banquet when I am officially part of your court, your majesty.”
Megumi and Keiki then left the banquet room. The officials began to talk to one another about Megumi as Yuki continued to stare at the door where Megumi once stood. He felt his heart race as he remembered Megumi’s fighting form and smiled. Even if he lied to himself, he could not deny that he was truly in love with Megumi.
Yuki suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder and glanced back only to see Shigure smiling at him.
“Shigure, you finally came,” cheered Yuki. Shigure nodded and added, “I also came bearing a gift.” Yuki blinked in confusion. Shigure handed Yuki the letter he stole from Megumi’s room. Yuki took the letter and read it to himself. Yuki’s eye widened at the heart felt words for Megumi.
“Is this really for Megumi?” whispered Yuki. Shigure nodded and added, “This proves that Megumi Yoh has a lover.” Yuki clenched the letter making Shigure confused.
“Are you OK Yuki?” asked Shigure. Yuki tore the letter to pieces making Shigure gasp. Yuki dropped the torn letter under the table and smiled at Shigure, but Shigure could tell that it was a smile of malice.
“This proves nothing of Megumi having a lover. I only saw the words of a lovesick chick with unrequited love.”
Yuki clenched his fist showing a dark look that Shigure rarely saw.
“I won’t let Megumi fall in love with another,” muttered Yuki. Shigure stepped back from his friend feeling a chill run down his back. The only time he felt fear toward Yuki was during the fight for the throne. Shigure clenched his fist wondering now if Yuki could stand Megumi’s rejections in the coming future.
Megumi shuttered making Keiki look at her and ask, “Are you OK?” Megumi nodded and muttered, “I just need to go to my room.”
Keiki and Megumi turned a corner and saw the hall before them covered in mud and sand. Megumi’s eyes widen and looked forward only to see Boshi up ahead mopping the floor hard and cursing in every language he knew. Megumi approached Boshi making sure not to step on the dirt the best she could. Keiki followed her, but stepped on every mud pie in his path.
Boshi glanced at Megumi with sweat against his brow.
“What do you want?” asked Boshi in a grumpy tone. Megumi glanced at the floor and asked, “How did the floor get this dirty?” Boshi scoffed while clenching the mop handle.
“I’m not quite sure myself. I finished cleaning this hall first thing in the morning. I went off to get something to eat and when I came back, it looked like this. Which bastard did this?”
Boshi suddenly took notice of Keiki spreading the dirt and screamed, “How dare you make it worse?” Keiki flinched and hid behind Megumi. Megumi sighed wondering if Keiki was really older than her.
Megumi held her hand at Boshi and said, “I can help you clean if you want.” Boshi raised an eyebrow and asked, “What about your work?”
“I was excused from my work for today by Suha, so I am free to do what I want,” said Megumi. Boshi thought to himself while running his fingers on the handle of the mop. Boshi smirked and nodded. He handed Megumi the mop and said, “I will be counting on you, Megumi.” Boshi then ran off before Megumi could speak.
Megumi groaned and said, “I said I would help. I didn’t mean that he could dump his duty on me.” Keiki chuckled and stated, “He sure got you good.” Megumi glared at Keiki making him fall silent. Megumi found a second mop and handed it to Keiki.
“You are going to help me clean.”
“You want me to tell the emperor to banish you from the palace.”
Keiki groaned taking the mop into his grasp. Keiki ran the mop head along the floor, but to his frustration the dirt that the mop touched only got worse. Keiki groaned.
“This mop must be broken,” muttered Keiki as he mopped. He glanced toward Megumi and gasped when he saw that Megumi’s area was beginning to shine.
“Why is your area cleaner than mine?” demanded Keiki in rage. Megumi dipped the mop head into the bucket of water in the hall.
“You need to wet the mop once in a while to get the hall clean,” instructed Megumi. Keiki scoffed and dipped the mop head in the water.
After what seemed like hours, Megumi and Keiki placed the mops to the side and headed back toward the dorms. Keiki was wiping sweat off his forehead as he walked.
“Do you do this kind of work every day?” asked Keiki. Megumi nodded and added, “Each duty makes us stronger, whether it is physical or mental.” Keiki stared at Megumi as he walked and found himself smiling. Keiki wouldn’t admit it in front of Megumi, but he did respect her.
Megumi opened the door to her room only to see Reiji and Sora passed out in their beds and Boshi sitting on his bed reading a book by candle light. Boshi waved to Megumi and asked, “Did you finish all right?” Megumi glared at Boshi and said, “You should do your own work.”
“You offered to help me.”
“To HELP you, not take over your duty completely,” yelled Megumi. Boshi chuckled and then hushed her.
“Reiji and Sora are exhausted, so you should keep it down,” whispered Boshi. Keiki suddenly entered the room and asked, “Is this your room Megumi?” Megumi nodded. Boshi’s eyes widen as he looked at Keiki.
“Who are you and why are you here?” asked Boshi. Keiki glared at Boshi.
“My name is Keiki Nue, the one YOU yelled at when I was with Megumi. I’m here because I got permission from the emperor to stay in the room with Megumi.”
Boshi glanced at Megumi asking if it was true. Megumi nodded. Boshi frowned and asked, “We have four people in this room. How is he going to stay in here?” Megumi crossed her arms as she spoke.
“He can take my bed. I’ll sleep on the floor,” stated Megumi. Keiki glared at Megumi and declared, “I can take sleeping on the floor so keep your stupid bed!” Because of Keiki’s outburst, Reiji awoke from his sleep and rubbed the crumbs from his eyes.
“Stupid bed?” muttered Reiji in a tired tone. Sora also awoke with a grunt. He glared at Keiki and asked, “Why are you so loud when the sun is gone idiot?” Keiki glared at Sora and screamed, “Who are you calling an idiot?” Sora threw his pillow at Keiki’s face making Keiki fall back. Sora covered his face with his bed covers and muttered, “Idiots need to be quiet.”
Keiki groaned as he yanked the pillow off his face. Reiji noticed Keiki’s presence and asked, “Who are you?” Sora suddenly threw his blankets off looking at Keiki with wide eyes.
“Who are you?” yelled Sora. Keiki groaned wondering why Reiji and Sora took notice of him that very moment. Megumi introduced Keiki to Reiji and Sora when she sensed that Keiki was close to snapping.
“He will be staying in our room for the month,” added Megumi. Sora frowned and yelled, “I don’t want another roommate, especially when he’s a friend of yours!” Keiki glared at Sora screaming, “He’s not my friend. He’s my forever e…” Megumi elbowed Keiki’s side forcing him to be quiet. Keiki crouched down on the ground clenching his side.
Reiji looked at Megumi and asked, “Why is he here in the first place?”
Before Megumi could say a word, Keiki stood up and stated, “I am here to help Megumi get his revenge.” Megumi glared at Keiki, while Boshi, Reiji, and Sora’s eyes widened.
Keiki nodded and was about to elaborate, but Megumi punched him in the stomach and then elbowed his head knocking him out. He collapsed on the ground like a corpse. Megumi scoffed and glared at Boshi, Sora, and Reiji.
“Forget what Keiki said,” said Megumi in a threatening manner. If her roommates didn’t know better, she looked like she was ready to kill. All three nodded and decided to lie on their beds to sleep to escape from Megumi’s obviously angered expression.
Megumi sighed and pulled Keiki’s unconscious form to the corner of the room. She used the pillow that Sora threw at Keiki to support Keiki’s head and then wrapped a spare blanket around him. Megumi patted Keiki’s to make sure he was all right. She was about to stand up, but Keiki, still unconscious, grabbed her wrist making her flinch.
“Mikan, please come back,” whispered Keiki. Megumi looked at Keiki and noticed the tear slipping from his left eye. Megumi wiped the tear away as she pulled her other hand away from his grasp.
“Mikan can never come back,” whispered Megumi. Megumi walked away from Keiki’s sleeping form. She changed her clothes quickly and then crawled into her bed.
Before going to sleep, Megumi pulled the letters from under her bed and flipped through them with the candle light burning next to her. She read one of the letters focusing on Hime’s love declaration for her. Megumi smiled and hugged the letters. Megumi did love Hime, but as an older sister.
Megumi was about to place the letters back under her bed until she took notice that one of the letters was missing. Megumi stepped out of bed and began to search under. Megumi frowned when she saw no sight of the missing letter. Megumi cursed under her breath slamming her fist into the floor. Megumi cringed when a sudden sharp pain radiated through her right shoulder. Megumi clenched her shoulder cursing under her breath.
“Are you OK, Megumi?”
Megumi glanced over her shoulder at Reiji.
“I thought you fell asleep,” whispered Megumi. Reiji shook his head and admitted, “I was a little scared when you knocked out your friend.” Megumi sighed muttering that Keiki wasn’t her friend.
“So are you OK?” Reiji asked again. Megumi held her pain throbbing shoulder and admitted, “My shoulder hurts a bit. It must have been from the fight today.”
“The entertainment for the banquet. Some stuff happened, so I was the substitute fighter. The challenger punched my shoulder pretty hard.”
“You should see a doctor.”
“I’ll be fine after I take some medicine. You just need to worry about yourself.”
Reiji nodded. Reiji suddenly scratched the back of his head and asked, “Remember our deal?” Megumi nodded and whispered, “We shouldn’t talk about it here.”
“I know, but I just want to let you know that I am here to hear your problems. I want to hear what Keiki meant when he said revenge, but I will hear it from your mouth when you are ready, Megumi.”
Megumi smirked and said, “Don’t treat me like a girl Reiji.” Megumi crawled into her bed and pulled her covers over herself. She glanced at Reiji and said, “You need to go to bed, Reiji or you may wake up late with water over you.” Reiji nodded and headed back to his bed. Reiji suddenly noticed the letters sticking from under the bed and asked, “Are you expecting another letter tomorrow?”
“Who are the letters from anyway?”
Megumi remembered Hime’s smile and clenched the covers.
“The letters are from a special person. I want to protect every single one of her letters.”
Megumi gritted her teeth feeling the anger eat up at her heart for losing one letter. Megumi felt Reiji pat her head and raised an eyebrow at him.
“What are you doing?”
Reiji smiled and said, “You seemed to be growing angry, so I just thought of comforting you.” Megumi sighed and pushed Reiji’s hand away ordering him to go to bed. Reiji chuckled and finally slipped into his bed. Megumi touched the top of her head and smiled.
Reiji truly is a good person.