Bunkai 8: Tournament

The darkness of the night made the palace seem like a gathering place for spirits both good and evil. The only one walking in the deserted darkened halls of the palace was Koku Mi. Koku was a young servant dedicated to his work. He was so trust worthy that he was put in charge of one of the concubines of the palace, Haji Diah, even though he wasn’t a eunuch. Why a dedicated servant was walking down the hall was no mystery.

Koku groaned remembering that Haji had ordered him to bring her some fruit to munch on to satisfy her late night hunger. She also ordered him to make sure that the emperor wasn’t sneaking into Megumi’s room. Koku agreed with getting the fruit, but not checking up on Megumi. He hadn’t yet told anyone, but he didn’t feel comfortable around Megumi.

“If the Gods would permit, I would wish never to see Megumi again,” muttered Koku in an annoyed tone.

“And what exactly is wrong with me?”

Koku flinched as he stopped in his tracks. He turned around and saw Megumi towering over him. Koku gave out a quick scream and bowed to Megumi repeatedly.

“Please think nothing of my words,” pleaded Koku. Megumi smirked and ruffled Koku’s hair.

“I wouldn’t get angry about that over you,” said Megumi and walked pass Koku. Koku covered his head and suddenly realized something.

“Why are you up so late?” asked Koku quickly. Megumi stopped in her tracks and looked back at Koku.

“I wanted to head to the library to study for a while.”

“But you finished your duties early today and had plenty of time to study, so why now?”

Megumi groaned as she clenched her head.

“I couldn’t study in peace because Keiki kept hovering over me the whole day,” spat out Megumi remembering that Keiki had been sticking to her like glue ever since he moved into her room two weeks ago.

“I’m amazed that you haven’t beaten him yet like you do to his majesty,” stated Koku. Megumi scoffed.

“I can beat him when no one is looking,” muttered Megumi. Megumi tossed her hair back and said, “I’ll head to bed after I finish studying about the rankings in officials.” Koku nodded and watched Megumi walk off. Koku could have sworn that he saw a glitter emit from Megumi’s long silk like hair. Koku blushed and whispered, “There really is something weird about Megumi.”

Megumi entered the library making sure to light a candle. The light from the candle filled the area she was in. Megumi placed the candle upon a table and was about to grab a book from the shelf, but stopped when she heard the familiar chant of sending off the dead. Megumi turned around and saw a fallen bookshelf. A pale hand stuck out from under the shelf with a book gripped in it. Megumi gasped and ran to the fallen shelf.

Megumi lifted the shelf using her unnatural strength and pressed it against the wall. When she looked down where the shelf once lay, she saw, before her feet, lay Naohito Shi in a sprawled position. Megumi dragged Naohito from any remaining books and sat him onto an empty chair. Megumi slapped the side of Naohito’s face and asked, “Are you OK, Naohito?” Naohito opened his eyes and asked, “Did I finally reach heaven?” Megumi slapped his cheek harder snapping Naohito back to his senses. Naohito smiled at Megumi and said, “Nice to see you again Megumi my friend.” Megumi greeted Naohito back and then sighed.

“Why can’t I meet you in normal circumstances?” asked Megumi. Naohito chuckled scratching the back of his head sheepishly.

“It’s just my bad luck my friend,” stated Naohito. Megumi rolled her eyes and went back to where she was getting a book. She glanced at Naohito over her shoulder and asked, “Shouldn’t you be in bed already?” Naohito nodded and added, “But then I remembered that I left a book unfiled in the library. I tried to shelf the book, but the shelf fell on me and here I am now with you. You are my savior once again.”

“What about Chiriko? Wouldn’t he be worried about you?”

Naohito chuckled and stated, “I told him where I was going, so no problem.”

Suddenly, Chiriko burst into the library calling for Naohito in a panicked voice. Naohito smiled at Chiriko and asked, “Did you come to check on me?” Chiriko sighed in relief when he saw that Naohito wasn’t lying dead on the floor, but his eyes widen when he noticed the bruise slowly forming on Naohito’s cheek. Chiriko dashed to Naohito placing his hand gently on Naohito’s bruised cheek.

“How did this happen?” exclaimed Chiriko. Naohito touched his bruised cheek and flinched.

“I guess the book shelf hurt me pretty badly,” stated Naohito.

“Book Shelf?”

“It fell on me.”

“Fell on you?”

Naohito smiled in Megumi’s direction and said, “But he saved me so I won’t be visiting the next life any time soon.” Chiriko looked at Megumi and saw her flipping through a book in the light of a candle.

“You helped Naohito again?” asked Chiriko. Megumi nodded. She looked away from her book and added, “His luck really needs to improve.” Chiriko looked at Naohito who had a hand against his bruised cheek and then back at Megumi.

“I say that he is lucky to have you around to save him,” stated Chiriko. Megumi smiled thanking Chiriko. Chiriko stared at Megumi’s smiling face and felt his heart skip a beat. He placed a hand to his heart filled with bewilderment.

Chiriko shook his head and cleared his throat.

“You are training to be an official right?” asked Chiriko. Megumi nodded. Chiriko smiled and held his hand to Megumi making her stare at his hand.

“A week from now, I will be going to another province to complete an errand. I will be happy to have you as an assistant for that time in repayment for helping Naohito. It will count as your training for being an official. What do you say?”

Megumi thought a while and stated, “I am honored to hear such an offer, but I can’t go with just you.” Chiriko chuckled withdrawing his hand.

“Very well, then will you come if I bring another trainee with us.”

Megumi smirked and nodded.

“Then I will inform his majesty and as a plus I will allow you to choose which trainee you want to assist us.”

“Is that OK?”

Chiriko nodded and added, “I’ve seen your results in the exam and I know you will choose someone worth being my assistant.” Megumi nodded thanking Chiriko in the process.

Chiriko bowed to Megumi and then began to drag his brother out of the library. Chiriko glanced back at Megumi and wished her a good night. Megumi did the same.

When Chiriko was out of the library, Naohito looked up at his brother and asked, “Shouldn’t you have mentioned that you were planning on getting him a new shirt?” Chiriko flinched and said, “I’ll get him a new shirt when he goes to Eva Province with me.” Naohito smiled and added, “I should get him something too.”

Megumi remained in the library reading her book as the sound of crickets filled the night air. The night was so calm that she didn’t even notice someone watching her from outside the window.

Mori watched Megumi through the window. He saw how she moved the shelf without any problems and smiled to himself. He walked away from the window with a plan forming in his head.

When the sun shined on Yulan all the residence began to awaken at the sound of drums. Megumi yawned as she sat up in her bed. Megumi rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, but flinched when she heard Keiki scream out a slur of curses and Reiji gasp. Megumi sighed as she looked at Reiji, who was dripping wet in his bed and Keiki, who was still yelling at Boshi for soaking him.

Sora rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as well as he looked at Boshi, Keiki, and Reiji.

“Ever since your friend got here, the mornings have been too noisy,” complained Sora. Megumi sighed and said, “He’s not my friend.” Keiki suddenly glared at Megumi and screamed, “Can you control this bastard stupid Megumi?” Megumi scoffed at Keiki scratching her head.

“I’m not the boss of him,” stated Megumi making Keiki growl in frustration. Boshi burst out laughing and added, “Ever since stupid Keiki got here, Megumi has been a bit more entertaining.” Keiki glared at Boshi screaming, “I’m not an idiot!” Boshi laughed in response making Keiki’s anger grow.

Megumi sighed as she walked toward her drawers. She yanked out a dark green shirt with the design of Sakura Blossoms on the stomach area and right shoulder; and black pants. She slipped into the two clothing pieces quickly and then tied her hair up. Sora yawned as he looked at Megumi’s dressed form.

“Where did you learn to change so fast?”

Megumi glanced at Sora and stated, “Master Chuckles told me before that a man has to change fast in order to finish his work faster.” Sora flinched at the mention of Megumi’s master’s name. Sora frowned wondering if Megumi’s master was better than his.

Keiki scoffed and said, “Master Chuckles, Master Chuckles, you always say his name. If you were a girl, I would have thought that you had a crush on him.” Megumi glared at Keiki making him flinch.

“I do have respect for my master, but I also plan to beat him to a pulp when I see him again and I would advise you to never to call me a girl again,” hissed Megumi. Keiki gulped feeling like his life was in danger again.

Sora looked at Megumi with a raised eyebrow and asked, “Wait a minute, why do you want to beat your master?” Megumi smirked and replied, “Because he left without a word and I promised myself that I would become stronger than him to make him regret ever leaving me.”

Anyone who heard Megumi’s words would know that she was serious. Megumi respected her master, but it doesn’t stop her from having thoughts of becoming stronger than him.

Sora shook his head and removed his shirt.

“Well my master told me that you never have to rush, so if you don’t mind, I would appreciate it if you are dressed to please leave the room.”

Megumi shrugged and left the room. When she was out of the room, Reiji began to change as well, but with a blush against his cheek. In truth, he was glad that Megumi wasn’t in the room because as a gentleman he would never reveal his naked body to another girl except to the one he would marry as was tradition in that time.

Keiki, after changing into dry clothes, walked after Megumi. Boshi scoffed as he watched Keiki close the door behind him.

“Keiki follows Megumi like a stalker,” commented Boshi. Sora nodded in agreement and added, “Maybe he has the same interests as the emperor.” Reiji and Boshi paused in their actions. Boshi began to chuckle, while Reiji wondered if Keiki knew Megumi’s secret as well.

Megumi leaned against the railing outside of their dorm room with Keiki leaning right next to her with crossed arms. Megumi glanced at him and said, “You really are a thorn on my side.”

“Right back at you,” muttered Keiki.

“This is quite an interesting chat.”

Megumi looked at the source of the voice: Shiro Ran with Chestnut on his right shoulder.

“Good morning Shiro,” greeted Megumi. Shiro greeted back and then looked at Keiki.

“Is Keiki going to be working with you today?” asked Shiro. Megumi sighed and replied, “He might be if he doesn’t have anything better to do.” Keiki glared at Megumi.

“I’m only sticking with you because a man always keeps his word,” said Keiki.

“What makes you a man?” mocked Megumi. Keiki was about to punch Megumi, but Chestnut flew in front of him cawing wildly. Keiki was shaking in anger as he glared at Chestnut. Ever since he started staying with Megumi, Chestnut had been hostile to him. Megumi sighed already quite used to the glaring battles between Chestnut and Keiki.

Shiro went to Megumi’s side and asked, “So what duties do you think you will get today?” Megumi shrugged.

“Well Suha has been giving me at least four duties because Keiki has been helping me.”

“It must be hard.”

“It is hard, but at least Keiki is too tired at night to bother me,” stated Megumi with a smirk on her lips. Shiro smiled at Megumi and patted her head.

“I noticed that ever since Keiki got here, you have been happier,” stated Shiro. Megumi frowned and crossed her arms.

“Happy? Keiki is an annoyance. He has always been annoyance since he tried to court Mikan,” muttered Megumi. Shiro raised an eyebrow and asked, “Who is Mikan?” Megumi gasped and turned away from Shiro.

“I rather not say.”

Shiro stared at Megumi wondering what was bothering her.

The others soon exited the room and began to head to the throne room where Suha would assign their duties for the day.

Suha assigned their duties one by one. Megumi watched as Suha handed out the written duties to the officials in training, but then noticed that the number of duties upon the table didn’t match the number of trainees.

The written duties were all handed out, but there were still remaining trainees within the room: Sora Kofu, Ryouga Sou, and Megumi Yoh. Keiki also remained in the room leaning against the wall as he looked toward Megumi. Suha cleared his throat as he looked at the remaining trainees.

“You three didn’t receive any written assignments today because today is the day of the Yulan fighting tournament.”

“Fighting tournament?”

Suha nodded and added, “It is tradition to have the soldiers in training to join the tournament to see how strong they are and it is also a chance to reach a higher rank when their ranking as a soldier is given.” Sora and Ryouga smirked in amusement, while Megumi began to frown.

“If you remember right, I am not training to be a soldier. I am training to be an official,” stated Megumi. Suha smiled at Megumi.

“I know that, but your fight with Gen was extraordinary and my best soldiers: Mori and Hatori have recommended you for this tournament. Even I want you to change your training to be a soldier.”

Megumi clenched her fist and yelled, “But I don’t want to be a soldier!” Suha sighed as he approached Megumi.

“How about this: if you win the tournament, I will let you continue to train as an official, but if you lose, you will train to be a soldier? Either way you will be trained for the palace, what do you say?”

Megumi groaned and said, “Fine.” Suha nodded in approval and then glanced at Keiki.

“I know you want to stick with Megumi, but I think it is time for you to explore outside of the palace walls,” stated Suha. Keiki glared at Suha and asked, “Why should I?” Suha smiled, but it was filled with malice as he drew his blade.

“A mafia heir like you shouldn’t watch the tournament so please leave the grounds or I will force you under his majesty’s orders,” threatened Suha. Keiki groaned and began to walk toward the door. He glanced at Megumi as he walked off and said, “Don’t you dare lose.” Megumi nodded as Keiki finally left the room.

Suha sheathed his sword once again and urged Megumi, Sora, and Ryouga to follow. As they walked down the hall, Sora looked at Megumi and asked, “Do you really think you can win this tournament?”

“I can try.”

Ryouga scoffed and said, “I know you’re strong for a little guy, but your opponents have years of experience in fighting.” Megumi shrugged.

“I can take care of myself.”

Sora and Ryouga stared at Megumi and wondered whether she would win or lose in the tournament, but they hoped for her misfortune because they wanted the prize for themselves.

They were led all the way to one of the buildings that led to the Yulan palace’s courtyards. In that very courtyard was where the tournament was to take place. The tournament was a big event for the soldiers to get a higher rank faster, but it was entertainment for the officials who had nothing better to do.

Suha pointed toward a row of staffs and ordered them to choose a staff of their liking for the tournament or to use a weapon they brought if they had one. All three nodded and headed to the row of staffs. Ryouga yanked out a staff with a dragon design and Sora chose a staff made of pure silver. Megumi examined each of the staffs and then spotted a wooden hammer resting on the ground. She picked the hammer up and fastened it to the side of her black pants. Sora snickered at her choice of weapon as did Ryouga.

Megumi stared into the clearing that was to be the fighting ring and clenched her fist.

“I can’t lose,” she muttered.

The officials and soldiers participating in the fight entered the courtyard. One of the soldiers that had entered was Gen. Gen spotted Megumi leaning against the wall of the building and smirked. He hadn’t forgotten his fight with Megumi. He made a promise with himself that he would not rest until he had defeated Megumi.

Another soldier that had entered the courtyard for the tournament was Miroku Tou. Miroku was considered a high ranking soldier, but wanted a higher position so he wouldn’t be looked down upon by Gen, who had a rank higher than him. Miroku was still angered that he didn’t get to face Gen during the banquet because of poisoning, but wondered who this “Megumi” person was that had beaten Gen.

Miroku suddenly remembered a dream he had when he felt that his life was coming to an end on the day of the banquet. He was surrounded by pure white clouds and the sound of a flute filled the air. He remembered seeing a beautiful maiden in the distance and approached her. The maiden was so beautiful that he wanted to have her as his own. The woman smiled at him and kissed him upon the lips. The kiss felt real to him and he remembered that he felt his pain flowing away. Miroku blushed at the memory wondering why he had such a dream in the first place. He believed that there could never be a woman as beautiful as the one he saw in his dream.

Miroku prepared his steel blade as he walked into the courtyard, but stopped in his tracks when he saw Megumi leaning against the wall of the building. Megumi’s silk hair moved with the passing wind. When she opened her eyes they seemed to shine revealing the color of Aquamarine. Miroku remembered the maiden from his dream and blushed. He looked away from Megumi wondering why a man looked like his dream maiden.

A soldier with long brown hair ran into the courtyard toward Gen. He embraced Gen from behind saying, “Good morning, Gen!” Gen shoved the man off and yelled, “How many times do I have to tell you to stop hugging me in the morning?” The man chuckled with a stupid smile on his face.

This cheerful soldier was named Hatsuharu Saito, age twenty-six. He took the Imperial exams the same time as Gen and became a soldier to be closer to Gen, who he considered to be his mentor in fighting.

Hatsuharu noticed Gen was looking toward the building and followed his gaze to Megumi. Hatsuharu looked at Gen and asked, “Who is that guy?” Gen smirked as he crunched his knuckles.

“Megumi Yoh, my new rival.”

“Does that mean he beat you before?” asked Hatsuharu excitedly. Gen flinched not wanting to admit his defeat. Hatsuharu crossed his arms with a nod.

“If he’s your rival then he’s my rival too,” stated Hatsuharu. Gen sighed and tried to walk away from Hatsuharu, but Hatsuharu followed him like ducklings following their mother.

Hatori entered the courtyard with his sword at his waist. He saw Megumi against the wall of the building and smiled. He suggested Megumi for the tournament and he was glad that his suggestion came to light.

Hatori suddenly felt a hand on his right shoulder and gasped. He looked to his right and saw Mori smiling at him.

“Captain Mori?”

Mori chuckled and asked, “Are you going to greet your brother?” Hatori nodded and said, “I promise not to go easy on him of course during the match.” Mori nodded.

“That’s good to hear, but I also came to thank you for adding to my suggestion for Megumi to join this tournament.”

Hatori nodded and added, “Well Megumi is a fighter and it would be a waste if he doesn’t use it to his full potential.” Mori nodded in agreement remembering his sparing match with Megumi and the instances when she showed that she was stronger than the average man. Mori smirked to himself thinking that his plan to have Megumi as a soldier was coming into place.

Soldiers weren’t the only ones entering the courtyard of course. Chiriko entered the courtyard looking at his surroundings. He enjoyed watching the tournaments ever since he became an official, but would never actually compete in it.

Chiriko suddenly heard Naohito yelp behind him. Chiriko looked back and saw Naohito lying flat on the ground with water dripping from his foot. Chiriko immediately helped his brother up and said, “I told you to stay in the library for today.”

“I wanted to see the tournament too,” replied Naohito. Chiriko shook his head.

“Don’t you remember that last year that almost all the weapons that the competitors had nearly impaled you and that your chair collapsed making your right arm and legs break?”

“I healed of course.”

Chiriko’s shoulders slumped and said, “If you must watch then please be close to the exit and hold a shield in front of your heart.” Naohito nodded. Naohito looked over his brother’s shoulder and saw Megumi. Naohito smiled and said, “Megumi is here.” Chiriko’s eyes widen and looked back at Megumi.

“Why is he here?”

“Maybe he wanted to compete,” stated Naohito. Chiriko placed a hand under his chin wondering if that was the case.

Shouryou entered the courtyard fanning himself. He saw Megumi against the building and smiled.

“I had a feeling they wouldn’t overlook his strength,” muttered Shouryou. Shouryou glanced to the side and saw Yuki entering the courtyard with Shigure by his side. Shouryou smirked knowing that Yuki had a very strong admiration to Megumi. He wondered how Yuki would react when he saw Megumi in the tournament.

Yuki’s reaction was to be expected: he was shocked and was ready to run to Megumi. Shigure held Yuki’s arm and whispered, “I would advise you not to speak to Megumi until after the tournament.”

“But I don’t want him to get hurt,” whimpered Yuki. Shigure sighed.

“If he’s strong as you say he is, I think he’ll be just fine. You, for now, need to get to your throne and get ready to announce the tournament procedures.”

Yuki nodded knowing that his friend was right. Yuki headed to the highest step of the main building, where his throne sat. Yuki sat on his throne, but he was still glancing at Megumi when he had the chance. Shigure noticed this and groaned.

Shigure hated that Yuki loved Megumi. He did respect Megumi when she ran her lottery at age six, but now he wished that Megumi would just disappear, so he could have his old friend back.

When everything was settled, Yuki stood from his throne with an aura of a leader emitting from his very being.

“This tournament has been held since my father’s ruling and continues with me. This tournament will reveal the strongest man in Yulan’s army and for lower ranked soldiers: it is a chance for their rankings to rise.”

Yuki held his hand toward Megumi, Sora, and Ryouga.

“We have three trainees for this tournament: Sora Kofu, Ryouga Sou, and Megumi Yoh. If any of them manage to win this tournament they will get a higher rank when it is time to join the other soldiers.”

Yuki faced the officials and soldiers before him once again with a smile on his lips.

“The rules are the same as the year before. It will be one versus one and the one who remains standing will go to the next level of the fight. Your opponents will be chosen using the raffle that will be held with the assistance of Shigure Fuji, head of Industrial Relations.”

Shigure bowed his head to the officials and soldiers with the box of raffle names in his grasp.

“Let’s make this tournament memorable for the future years!”

The sound of applauses filled the air of the courtyard. Megumi frowned as she stood with the other soldiers hoping that she would win the tournament.

Keiki in the meantime explored the market place near the palace of Yulan. His sword with the symbol of the Nue Clan was still fastened to the side of his pants, so the people around him tried their best to avoid his pathway. Keiki frowned as he walked.

Keiki suddenly saw a man at a restaurant stand eating a bowl of Onion Noodle Soup. The man wore dark blue loose clothes with a black sash around his waist. His hair was a deep red and short. There were loose strands of hair around his face, but a head band with the Nue Clan symbol could be seen on it.

Keiki sat next to the man making spectators around him flinch. Keiki glanced at the man and asked, “Do you have any news for me, Sendo?” The man, Sendo, nodded placing his spoon next to his bowl.

“We have checked the surrounding mafia groups that could have aimed for the Yoh family, but we found nothing,” stated Sendo. Keiki frowned.

“So nothing has changed,” muttered Keiki. Sendo glanced at Keiki from the corner of his eye and asked, “Do you want us to check the other mafia groups that extend pass the other provinces we checked before?” Keiki nodded.

Sendo stood up from his chair and asked, “Are you going to continue to stay here?” Keiki nodded and said, “I need to be close to Megumi.”

“May I ask why?”

Keiki clenched his fist against the table.

“Don’t you find it strange that the only house that was attacked was the Yoh family? They killed the women and kidnapped the boy.”

Sendo furrowed his eyebrow and asked, “Do you think that they might come for Megumi Yoh too because he’s part of the Yoh family?” Keiki nodded.

“I don’t know who did this to the Yoh family, but if they do come for Megumi, I will kill them for taking Mikan away from me,” hissed Keiki. Keiki clenched his hand so hard that it began to turn blue. Sendo touched Keiki’s hand in an attempt to calm him down.

“Your father is only allowing you to take this case because he knows how much Mikan meant to you, but, just like me, he wants you to let go of her.”

Keiki shook his head with tears falling from his eyes.

“I can never let her go,” whispered Keiki. Sendo sighed as he removed his hand from Keiki. Sendo placed three silver coins on the table and said, “I will come back again to inform you if there are any changes in locating the Yoh family murderers.” With that, Sendo left Keiki.

Keiki remained at the table with fresh tears still in his eyes.

“Why did you have to die, Mikan?”

Back in the palace courtyard, the tournament was still going with the sixth round. Megumi had won the five previous matches against her competitors and was now standing in the ring facing Miroku. Miroku drew his blade, while Megumi remained still with her hands at either side of her. Shigure went in between them. He looked at both of them and said, “The one who is still standing will go to the next round. This round will begin at the sound of the gong, so get ready.”

Megumi and Miroku went into their fighting stance. The minute Shigure left the ring, the gong sounded. Miroku and Megumi charged at each other. Miroku swung the flat of his sword at Megumi, but Megumi leapt to the side. Miroku swung his sword again. Megumi leapt up into the air and to Miroku’s surprise, Megumi landed on the flat of his sword. Before Miroku could react, Megumi drew out the wooden hammer on her side and slammed it against his cheek. Miroku fell back dropping his sword. His eyes were wide as he placed a hand against his bruising cheek. Megumi kicked Miroku’s sword out of the ring and held the hammer in a horizontal manner toward Miroku daring him to attack.

Miroku shot to his feet and swung a kick at Megumi. Megumi dodged his kick and then grabbed his extended leg. Miroku tried to pull his leg away to no avail. He felt a force from Megumi’s grip that made him cringe in his stance.

Megumi spun his leg making him turn before falling to the ground again. The officials and soldiers watching laughed at Miroku’s misfortune. Miroku groaned as he gripped loose sand in his hand. He threw it at Megumi nearly blinding her. He took this chance to punch Megumi in the stomach. Megumi gasped, but refused to back down. She kneed Miroku in the stomach making him gasp and then grabbed his arm and tossed him over her shoulder. Miroku soared into the ground before crashing into a pile of staffs that were never chosen. Miroku was shaking in pain as all looked at him. Miroku bowed his head in defeat.

All clapped for Megumi as she exited the ring clenching her stomach. As Sora entered the ring to fight his opponent, Megumi went to Miroku and helped him to his feet. Megumi bowed her head to Miroku thanking him for the fight. Miroku nodded back and then cringed as the pain in his stomach radiated throughout his body. Megumi noticed this and held her hand to Miroku.

“Let me lead you to a seat for you to recover,” offered Megumi. Miroku shook his head. Megumi sighed and grabbed Miroku’s hand making him flinch.

“Swallow your pride and let me help,” stated Megumi. Miroku nodded even though he still didn’t want her help. As they headed to the chairs, Miroku took notice on how soft Megumi’s hand felt. Megumi looked at Miroku and said, “Go to the doctor when the tournament is over.” Miroku nodded, but then his focus fell upon her lips. He noted how red and soft they looked. He remembered the dream maiden in his dream and blushed. He covered his reddened face with one hand. Megumi noticed this change and asked, “Were you awake when I treated you before?”

“Excuse me?” replied Miroku. Megumi held a hand to her chest and said, “When you were sick before from poisoning, I was the one who gave you the antidote. Do you remember?” Miroku was unconscious at the time and only remembered waking up under Kiku’s care. He suddenly remembered his dream again and asked, “How did you give me the antidote?” Megumi sighed and placed a finger to her lips.

“Mouth to mouth,” replied Megumi. Miroku instantly turned red and exclaimed, “You kissed me?”

“Giving medicine to you by mouth doesn’t count,” stated Megumi bluntly. Miroku’s face was practically burning at the thought of Megumi kissing him or as Megumi called it “giving medicine by mouth.” Miroku yanked his hand away from Megumi and ran to the seats saying, “I’ll be fine on my own.”

Megumi shook her head wondering why he would be so flustered. She also recalled that when she did give medicine in such a way when she was young to Satoshi and Mikan because of their hatred for medicine they would get flustered too. She knew that giving the medicine in that way caused that sort of reaction, but it was sometimes necessary and it also made people like her siblings to take their medicine willingly.

Sora completed his match with a victory and smirked in Megumi’s direction. He frowned when he noticed that she wasn’t even looking his way. He cursed under his breath as he left the ring. Ryouga entered the ring next as Sora headed toward Megumi.

Sora stood behind Megumi and asked, “Aren’t you watching the tournament anymore?” Megumi glanced back at Sora and said, “Well I already saw you fight and it was obvious that you were going to win.” Sora frowned.

“I still wanted you to watch, so you can see that I will be able to beat you someday.”

Megumi smirked and said, “Well that won’t be happening anytime soon.” Sora groaned trying to fight the urge to fight Megumi.

Ryouga completed his match and waved at all to gloat his victory. As he left the ring, Hatori grabbed his arm and warned Ryouga not to be full of himself. Ryouga yanked his arm away from Hatori and said, “There’s no harm in celebrating a victory.” Hatori sighed and entered the ring to do his match.

Ryouga hummed to himself until he saw Sora next to Megumi, glaring at her. Ryouga knew that Sora wanted to be stronger than Megumi when he witnessed Sora practicing by himself in the training hall. He heard Sora asking why Megumi was stronger than him and that he needed to beat Megumi. Ryouga knew how it felt to want to be stronger than someone.

Ryouga turned his focus to Megumi, who seemed to pay no mind to Sora’s glare. He thought back at Megumi’s previous matches in the tournament. She won each match without much trouble against strong opponents. Her way of fighting was different and it was obvious that she was stronger than the average person. Ryouga had yet to face Megumi, but he knew that she would win unless he became stronger himself.

Hatori won his match and walked out of the ring. Hatsuharu ran into the ring pass Hatori and immediately went into a fighting stance with his staff in hand. His opponent flinched when he caught the spark in Hatsuharu’s eyes. All the soldiers knew that Hatsuharu was strong and was secretly nicknamed “Falcon” because of his speed and how it looked like he was flying when he jumped into the air. Hatsuharu leapt into the air and seemed to vanish for an instant before taking down his opponent without much of a struggle. Hatsuharu, declared the winner, ran out of the ring and clung to Gen, who was next to fight.

“Did you see that, Gen? I won that fight in a matter of seconds,” cheered Hatsuharu. Gen peeled Hatsuharu off him and said, “I saw now let me get into my match.” Hatsuharu nodded and waved to Gen wishing him luck as Gen entered the ring.

Sora smirked as he looked toward a chipper Hatsuharu.

“That guy is strong. Do you think you can beat him if he’s your opponent?” asked Sora, directing his question to Megumi. Megumi glanced at Hatsuharu and then looked away.

“If he does become my opponent then I will beat him,” stated Megumi.

“That’s pretty cocky of you,” stated Sora. Megumi remained silent making Sora groan.

Gen finished his match easily and walked out of the ring. Mori entered the ring smiling to himself. Mori had been the victor of past tournaments making him one to fear if anyone was to face him. Mori glanced at Megumi, who seemed to be bored, and whispered, “Just you wait Megumi.”

Mori clashed swords with his opponent making all watching cheer. Megumi looked toward the match and found herself captivated by the unique fighting style of Mori. She remembered her master training her and unconsciously muttered his name. Sora heard Megumi’s words and narrowed his eyes. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he didn’t like the idea of Megumi watching a match and muttering someone’s name.

Mori won his match and walked out of the ring giving way for the last match of the sixth stage. As the sixth match commenced, Yuki’s focus was fully on Megumi. His heart was aflutter at the very sight of her, but then he would glare at Sora, who was too close to “his” Megumi. Yuki wanted to yank Sora away from Megumi and embrace her, but his duties as an emperor prevented him from doing so. He clasped his hands together as he looked at Megumi imagining her with expressions that she had yet to show him.

The last match ended and the raffle begun once again for the winners of the sixth stage. Shigure drew out the names and announced the pairing for the seventh match.

“The first match of the seventh round will be Megumi Yoh against Hatsuharu Saito. The second match will be Gen Himaruya against Sora Kofu. The third match will be Hatori Sou against Ryouga Sou. The fourth match will be Mori Suoh against Kaze Tae.”

All the onlookers applauded as the contestants looked at their opponents with determined eyes.

Megumi and Hatsuharu entered the ring with their weapon of choice. Shigure gave the signal to start the match. Hatsuharu charged at Megumi with his staff in hand. He swung his staff at Megumi, but Megumi spun out of the way and tried to hit his face with her hammer. Hatsuharu managed to use his staff to block Megumi’s attack with a smirk on his face.

“So you’re Megumi, the one who beat Gen?” asked Hatsuharu. Megumi nodded slamming her hammer against the staff. Hatsuharu leapt back gripping the staff tightly in his hand.

“You’re pretty young to be able to beat Gen,” stated Hatsuharu as he threw his staff in Megumi’s direction. Megumi was ready to dodge, but then noticed Naohito at the corner of her eye. Megumi twisted the hammer in her hand and used it to slam the staff to the ground. Megumi flinched as the hammer shook in her hand from the impact. Hatsuharu took this chance to charge at her and connect his leg to her stomach. Megumi gasped in pain and backed up.

“Compared to me, you are too slow. How could you be the one to beat Gen?”

Megumi was shaking from the pain in her stomach, but she managed to stand up straight and leap into the air. Hatsuharu glanced up, but was nearly blinded by the sunlight. The next thing Hatsuharu knew, Megumi’s foot connected to his face forcing him to the ground. Megumi clenched her stomach as she landed back on the ground just inches from Hatsuharu’s feet.

Hatsuharu staggered to his feet clenching his face. Megumi smirked and stated, “I can be fast when I want to be.” Megumi then threw her hammer at Hatsuharu forcing him to grab it in midair. Megumi took this chance to rush in front of him and slam her hands into his stomach forcing him back. Hatsuharu gasped feeling the pain radiate throughout his body. Hatsuharu fell to his knees shaking in pain. Megumi picked up her hammer as she looked at Hatsuharu.

“This fight is mine.”

Hatsuharu stared up at Megumi and could have sworn that Megumi took the form of Gen when he first met him in a match as kids. Hatsuharu smiled and said, “You win.” Hatsuharu struggled to get up as Megumi left the ring as the victor.

Gen helped Hatsuharu out of the ring asking if he was all right. Hatsuharu nodded with a smile still on his lips.

“Megumi is strong and smart just like Gen,” muttered Hatsuharu. Hatsuharu smiled at Gen and asked, “Can you become Megumi’s friend so we can all be together?” Gen groaned and shoved Hatsuharu out of the ring.

“Just sit back for now, you idiot!” exclaimed Gen making Hatsuharu laugh in amusement.

As Gen and Sora prepared for their match, Naohito looked at Megumi, who was still holding her stomach shaking in pain. He remembered how Megumi chose to block the staff instead of dodge and clenched the sleeve of his robe.

“Is something wrong, Naohito?” asked Chiriko. Naohito looked at his brother with saddened eyes and said, “Megumi could have dodged that staff, but he blocked it and I think it was because he saw me.” Chiriko eyed Megumi and nodded.

“That is a possibility. He knows about your lack of luck.”

Naohito shook his head and whispered, “I don’t want Megumi to get hurt.” Chiriko noticed Naohito’s shaking shoulders and rubbed his back. Chiriko glanced at Megumi hoping she wouldn’t get hurt further because of trying to protect Naohito.

Gen and Sora stood at opposite ends. Sora held his staff in a vertical motion and Gen held his sword with the flat facing Sora. When Shigure gave the signal, Gen and Sora rushed at each other. Sora swung his staff at Gen, but Gen blocked with his forearm and kicked Sora under his legs. Sora fell back toward the ground. The minute Sora touched the ground he sprung back on his feet and blocked the flat of Gen’s sword. Gen smirked and remarked, “You’re pretty good, trainee.” Gen leapt back when Sora swung a kick at him. Gen chuckled as he spun his sword in his left hand.

Sora ran at Gen again swinging his staff in the process. Gen whacked Sora’s staff away with his sword. Gen held his sword at Sora’s throat making Sora freeze in place with sweat against his brow.

“You are pretty good for a trainee, but you are nothing compared to Megumi,” mocked Gen. Sora gritted his teeth as he clenched his fist. Sora admitted defeat. Sora ran out of the ring feeling humiliated from the lost. Gen left the ring as Hatori entered the ring.

Sora sat next to Megumi fighting back tears. Megumi glanced at Sora from the corner of her eye and asked, “Are you OK?” Sora shook his head and whispered, “I hate that guy.” Megumi chuckled and said, “At least you aren’t shaking from physical pain.” Sora glanced at Megumi and noticed that she was still holding her stomach and shaking. Sora choked back a laugh as a tear managed to squeeze out.

“At least I got to see you in pain for once,” stated Sora. Megumi frowned and elbowed his side making him cringe as the pain radiated from his side. Sora was still in pain, but he couldn’t help his chuckles from getting out making Megumi’s frown deepen.

Hatori and Ryouga faced each other ready to fight. Shigure gave the signal for the fight to begin, but Hatori and Ryouga remained in their place staring at each other. Ryouga broke the stand-off by charging at Hatori swinging his staff at Hatori. Hatori blocked the staff with the flat of his sword and forced Ryouga back. Ryouga clicked his tongue and said, “You could have at least threw a punch big brother or are you going easy on me because we are brothers?”

Hatori maintained his form and said, “A true soldier takes his time or have you forgotten that?” Ryouga answered with throwing his staff straight at Hatori. Hatori dodged letting the staff fly toward the audience. Megumi saw the flying staff and looked at its course. The staff sadly was heading toward Naohito, who didn’t notice the oncoming staff yet. Megumi was ready to rush to Naohito, but stopped in her tracks when Chiriko raised a shield in front of Naohito’s face. The staff ricocheted off the shield and fell to the sandy ground. Megumi sighed in relief.

Chiriko glanced at Megumi and mouthed, “Leave his safety to me.” Megumi nodded and sat back down still holding her stomach.

Hatori abandoned his sword as he ran at Ryouga. Ryouga and Hatori locked fists. They threw punches at each other, but each punch never connected to any vital points. Hatori smiled and said, “You have improved in your fighting style, but…” Hatori suddenly shot his hand up in a vertical position that nearly connected with Ryouga’s chin. Hatori then slammed his left fist into Ryouga’s stomach. Ryouga bent over cringing. Hatori slammed his elbow into the back of Ryouga’s neck making Ryouga gasp. Ryouga fell face first, but was still conscious. Hatori dusted his hands off as he looked at his younger brother.

“…you still have a long way to go to beat me.”

Ryouga clenched his hand against the dirt gasping. Hatori was declared the winner. Ryouga staggered out of the ring trying to catch his breath. Hatori walked pass Mori, who smiled at Hatori.

Mori and Kaze stood on opposite ends of the ring. Shigure gave the signal to begin. Mori rushed at Kaze and to everyone’s amazement Kaze was down after a few seconds gasping for air, while gripping his neck. Mori smiled as he was declared the winner. Hatori frowned as Mori walked next to him.

“You didn’t have to use that technique to beat Kaze,” whispered Hatori. Mori chuckled and said, “I need to conserve my energy for the final round.” Hatori frowned as he watched Mori walk off.

Kaze had to be rushed out of the field to make room for the next stage of the tournament. There were only four contestants that remained: Megumi Yoh, Hatori Sou, Gen Himaruya, and Mori Suoh. The pairs were decided once again by the raffle.

“Megumi Yoh against Gen Himaruya and Hatori Sou against Mori Suoh.”

Applause filled the area as Gen and Megumi entered the ring. Gen glanced at Megumi and noticed that she seemed unbalanced. Gen smirked and asked, “Was the fight against Hatsuharu too hard for you?” Megumi glared at Gen as she stood at her end of the ring. Shigure gave the signal to start the match. Gen rushed at Megumi and threw a punch at her. Megumi ducked to avoid his punch and then swung her leg under him knocking him off his feet. Gen crashed into the ground. He rolled to the side to avoid Megumi’s falling kick and then swung his left leg at her stomach. Megumi dodged cringing from the pain from the previous match. She leapt into the air as Gen threw a punch at her. She placed her hand against his back as she landed behind him and when he turned to face her, she slammed her right fist into his face and then kicked his stomach twice. Gen gasped as he fell to the ground withering in pain. Megumi was breathing heavily as she wiped her sweat off her brow.

“I won’t let you beat me,” huffed Megumi. Gen cursed under his breath when he realized that he didn’t have the strength to get up. Gen knew that the tournament was a challenge for strong fighters because there was barely any time to rest, so it was also a challenge to maintain stamina. He ran out of stamina after Megumi’s vicious attack. Megumi was declared the winner.

Hatori and Mori entered the ring next. When the match started, Mori ran at Hatori in almost a blur. Hatori blocked Mori’s attack using the flat of his sword. Mori could feel the ice coldness of the blade against his forefingers. Mori smirked and stated, “Looks like I can’t do an instant win with you huh?” Hatori frowned as he kicked Mori away from him. Mori drew his blade and swung it at Hatori. Hatori blocked Mori’s blade with his own and they were soon in a heavy sword fight making the onlookers applaud and cheer. Mori chuckled as he clashed swords with Hatori.

“I can’t expect any less from one of the best soldiers in Yulan,” stated Mori as he backed up. Hatori was breathing heavily as he said, “You are also very good. It’s no wonder that you are the captain of the guards at such a young age.” Mori nodded and then surprisingly slammed Hatori’s sword out of his hand. He held his blade at Hatori’s throat and stated, “Then you must know that I would eventually beat you, Hatori.” Hatori shut his eyes admitting his defeat.

It was time for the final match. With only two competitors left, there was no more need for the raffle. Mori remained in the ring as Megumi entered it walking past Hatori. Hatori glanced at Megumi and whispered, “Be careful.” Megumi nodded and stood in her place in the ring. Silence filled the air as Mori and Megumi stared each other down.

The signal was given. Mori and Megumi charged at each other. Mori swung the flat of his sword at Megumi, but Megumi used her forearm to block and forced his sword out of his hand. Mori smirked and locked hands with Megumi. It became a battle of strength as they tried to push the other back.

“You look tired Megumi.”

“Well I am tired, but it won’t stop me from winning this tournament.”

“Why would you try to win the tournament if you don’t want to be a soldier?”

“I have to win to continue my training as an official or I will be forced to be a soldier. That was the agreement between Suha and me.”

“Well I want you as a soldier, so I guess I should win.”

Megumi frowned as she began to push Mori back to his surprise. Megumi used her right foot to knock Mori off his feet making him gasp and then tackled him to the ground. Gasps filled the air as Megumi leaned toward Mori’s face dangerously close.

“I only want to be an official. Being an official is the only way I can get my revenge,” whispered Megumi. Mori’s eyes widen, but then his expression was replaced by pain when Megumi slammed her forehead against his own. Megumi peeled herself away from Mori still sitting on the dirtied ground. Mori shot up cradling his pain pulsing forehead. Megumi pressed her hands against the ground and shot her legs up. Her legs connected to Mori’s chest making him slide on the ground. Mori was gasping for air by the time Megumi got to her feet. Megumi was breathing heavily with sweat glittering off her features.

Mori found himself smiling before he admitted his defeat to everyone’s utter disbelief. All in the courtyard were silent as they looked at Megumi. Shigure was the first to snap out of his shock and announced Megumi as the winner. All the officials and soldiers applauded for Megumi’s victory. Megumi maintained her footing as she bowed to all.

Yuki clapped for Megumi, still wanting to embrace her, but stopped when Suha leaned toward his ear whispering something that only Yuki could hear. Yuki nodded with seriousness in his eyes. He stood from his throne making all fall silent. He looked toward Megumi as he spoke.

“You are this year’s champion for the tournament, but you are training to be an official not a soldier, so I have decided to allow you to be an official, but you will also be trained as a soldier as a back-up.”

“Back-up?”

Yuki nodded and added, “You are strong and intelligent, so I want you to use your abilities to the fullest, so as an official and soldier in training you will be given a rank that shows your talents: Chikeimu. This rank will only be given to someone as great as you.”

Yuki bowed his head to Megumi in respect. Megumi looked around and noticed the others bowing their heads to Megumi in respect. Megumi realized that she could still become an official, so she looked up at Yuki and said, “I accept the rank and the new training.” Yuki smiled, but suddenly felt his heart begin to beat rapidly when he caught sight of Megumi’s beautiful eyes looking up at him without any malice. Yuki reached toward Megumi, but Shigure immediately pulled Yuki’s hand back.

Shigure looked back at all the people in the courtyard and announced the ending of the tournament. Megumi began to leave the courtyard, but the minute she was out of the courtyard, someone grabbed her hand and pulled her behind a pillar. Megumi was ready to yell at the person, but saw that it was Koku.

“Why are you here?” asked Megumi in a whisper. Koku gulped and said, “I came to see you.”

“Why?”

Koku sighed with a hand against his forehead.

“Well Lady Haji overheard a conversation that you would be fighting today and begged me to convince you to speak with her after the tournament.”

“Is that so?”

Koku nodded and then held his hands together in front of him.

“Please meet her in the North Gardens or she threatened not to eat for a whole month. My reputation as a servant is on the line.”

Megumi chuckled and ruffled Koku’s head.

“I’ll meet her, so lead the way.”

Koku nodded and began to lead Megumi making sure that no one else saw him.

Megumi was led by Koku all the way to the North Garden. The North Garden was reserved for Concubines and so was well tended to match the beauty of the women. Koku pointed toward a rare purple Sakura tree and said, “Lady Haji should be waiting over there.” Megumi nodded and was ready to walk off, but Koku grabbed her hand making her look at him.

“I have a feeling that Lady Haji plans to tell you her true feelings. If that is the case then please reject them. She belongs to the emperor, so you can never be with her.”

Megumi turned away from Koku and said, “You don’t have the right to tell me that.” Megumi yanked her hand away from Koku’s grasp as she approached the tree.

Under the purple Sakura tree laid Haji with petals falling from her hair as she slept soundly. Megumi smiled and sat next to her. Megumi brushed the petals from Haji’s face. Megumi’s silk like touch awakened Haji from her slumber. Haji gasped as she looked at Megumi completely flustered.

“I’m sorry that you saw me sleeping, but I didn’t know when you would come and I…I…”

Haji was turning redder every second that passed. Megumi chuckled and placed a hand on top of her head.

“You don’t need to be sorry, Lady Haji,” remarked Megumi. Haji sighed and suddenly hugged Megumi around her waist.

“I always wanted to be this close to you ever since I first laid eyes on you,” whispered Haji. Haji looked up at Megumi and leaned toward Megumi’s lips. Megumi gripped Haji’s shoulders and pushed her back.

“You called me here to profess your love right?”

Haji nodded and tried to kiss Megumi again, but Megumi held her back.

“You belong with the emperor so you can never be with me.”

“But I want to be with you. I love you so much that I am willing to abandon the harem and run away with you.”

Megumi shook her head as she held Haji back.

“I have a goal to complete as an official. To complete this goal, I can’t run away with you. You also have your duty as a concubine to the emperor.”

Haji shook her head and exclaimed, “I love you, Megumi.” Megumi shook her head and said, “I can’t be with you and I can’t love you the way you want me too.” Haji burst into tears saying Megumi’s name repeatedly. Megumi’s eyes widen as she saw Haji cry. Megumi remembered Mikan’s tears when she was sad. Megumi, out of instinct, hugged Haji making Haji gasp. Megumi hugged Haji and whispered, “Please don’t cry, Mikan.”

Haji’s eyes widen as she whispered, “Mikan?” Megumi gasped and pushed Haji away. Haji saw the pearl like tears from Megumi’s eyes as Megumi stood up. Haji stared at Megumi and asked, “Who is Mikan?” Megumi turned away from Haji and said, “Please forget about this moment.” Megumi raced out of the garden the best she could leaving Haji under the tree.

Haji hugged herself as she whispered Megumi’s name. Haji’s heart was broken, but the love she felt for Megumi was still there.

Megumi rushed into her room gasping for air. She laid on her bed clutching her sheets. Megumi remembered Mikan’s laugh when they played together as kids and felt tears escape from her eyes as she muttered Mikan’s name.

Reiji entered the room wiping the sweat off his brow from cleaning one of the officials’ offices. He saw Megumi lying on her bed and approached her saying her name. When she didn’t respond, Reiji placed a hand on her shoulder. Megumi flinched as she looked at Reiji with tears still in her eyes.

“Why are you crying?” asked Reiji in a panic. Megumi wiped her tears away using the sleeve of her shirt and said, “I wasn’t crying.” Even though the tears were wiped new tears replaced them. Reiji sighed and wiped Megumi’s tears away using his own long sleeve.

“Can you please just tell me what is wrong with you?”

“Why should I?”

“Because that was the agreement: for you to tell what is wrong when you are having problems.”

Megumi frowned as she held her legs to her chest.

“Promise not to tell anyone, especially to Keiki.”

“I promise,” stated Reiji with his hand raised. Megumi sighed clutching her legs.

“I think you heard I was forced to be in a tournament today right?”

Reiji nodded and added, “I heard that you won from one of the officials leaving the courtyard.”

Megumi nodded.

“Well after the tournament, I was told by the servant, Koku Mi, to meet one of the concubines, Haji Diah, in the North Garden.”

“But that garden is only for concubines.”

“That’s why I was led into it secretly. I spoke with Haji and learned that she loves me.”

“She confessed?” exclaimed Reiji. Megumi nodded and added, “I rejected her of course, but when she started to cry I…”

“What did you do?” urged Reiji.

“I hugged her. It wasn’t because of love, but because I saw her as my sister, Mikan. I even called her Mikan and then when I ran off, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mikan.”

Megumi felt a tear escape from her eye and wiped it away. Reiji cleared his throat and asked, “So you saw a concubine as your sister?” Megumi nodded.

“I’m just curious, but where is your sister?”

Megumi clenched her legs and said, “My sister, my twin sister died in a fire.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

Megumi shook her head and said, “I need to become an official for her, for my mother, and my brother.” Reiji smiled and said, “Looks like you are doing all this trouble just for them.” Megumi nodded and added, “It feels good to talk about it and it made me realize that I do need to apologize to Lady Haji when I see her again.” Reiji nodded and suddenly chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” asked Megumi as she wiped her remaining tears away.

“If that concubine ever realized your secret she would be devastated,” said Reiji. Megumi elbowed Reiji’s side making him cringe.

“Be careful of what you say Reiji,” warned Megumi. Reiji nodded with a small chuckle.

Megumi got up from her bed and said, “I’ll be back after a bath.” Reiji nodded and watched Megumi leave the room.

When she was out of the room, Reiji held his head as his face began to flush. He wouldn’t say it out loud, but when he saw Megumi crying he felt like kissing her upon her lips.

Reiji’s thoughts were interrupted when Boshi and Sora entered the room at the same time. Boshi had a smile on his face, while Sora had a pout with a towel over his shoulder. Reiji looked back at them and asked, “Did you finish your work for today?” Boshi nodded and then pointed at Sora.

“Reiji did you hear that Sora got his butt handed to him.”

Sora glared at Boshi and yelled, “It was an honorable defeat and I got pretty far in the tournament!” Boshi chuckled and added, “You still lost and if I heard right, Megumi was the winner this year and got an extra rank to be trained as an official and soldier.”

“I heard that too,” stated Reiji with a smile. Sora groaned with crossed arms.

“Megumi did fight well, so I can’t really complain,” mumbled Sora. Boshi chuckled as he tussled Sora’s wet hair. Boshi looked around the room and asked, “So where is Megumi?”

“He went to take a bath,” answered Reiji. Boshi smirked with a hand under his chin.

“Then I guess I have some time to PREPARE.”

Sora and Reiji couldn’t put their fingers on it, but they sensed that Boshi was about to do something that Megumi would never forget.

Keiki returned to the palace when it was nightfall with a bucket of bottled sweet sake. He gave out a yawn as he headed toward Megumi’s room. He saw Megumi approaching the room as well, while wiping down her soaked hair.

“Did you just finish taking a bath?” asked Keiki. Megumi nodded and then noticed the sake in Keiki’s bucket.

“Why did you bring Sake to the palace?”

Keiki held the sake up and stated, “Well I haven’t drunk sake for a while so why not?” Megumi heaved out a sigh and replied, “Well Sake does make you a slime ball after all.”

“I resent that!” yelled Keiki. Megumi smirked and was about to open the door, but Keiki shoved her aside and said, “I’m older so I get in first.” Megumi sighed not wanting to argue with Keiki.

The minute Keiki opened the door; he became soaked from head to toe. Megumi held back her laughter as Boshi, inside the room, was practically rolling on the floor laughing with Reiji and Sora chuckling. Keiki glared at Boshi and screamed, “What is with you with dumping water on people?” Boshi shrugged.

“It was originally meant for Megumi, but you getting wet is the same amount of amusement.”

Keiki yelled out curses at Boshi, but Boshi paid them no mind. Sora noticed the Sake in Keiki’s bucket and asked, “Is that Sake?” Keiki nodded and held the sake up for them to see.

“I was going to drink sake for my enjoyment and maybe share some with you guys, but after this prank, I don’t think so.”

Boshi suddenly flung his arm around Keiki’s neck and said, “Don’t be a spoil sport. We can use that Sake to celebrate Megumi’s victory in the tournament.” Keiki groaned and then glanced at Megumi.

“So you did win?”

Megumi nodded. Keiki groaned and said, “I guess the Sake can be used to celebrate your victory.” Boshi cheered as he pulled the sake from Keiki’s grasp. Boshi poured each of them a glass of Sake.

“Let’s enjoy this Sake!” cheered Boshi and then chugged the cold Sake into his mouth. Sora sipped the Sake with a frown.

“Feels like I’m drinking my sorrows away,” mumbled Sora. Reiji drank the Sake and then poured himself a second glass. Keiki drank three glasses and then noticed that Megumi was just staring at her glass.

“Why won’t you drink, Megumi?” asked Keiki with a frown. Megumi sighed and said, “If you remember right, Keiki, I am forbidden to drink alcohol.” Keiki thought awhile and then nodded.

“That’s right, but you never mentioned the reason.”

Megumi placed a hand to her forehead as she spoke.

“Well Master Chuckles told me to drink a whole bottle of Sake when I was four so I could be resistant to too much alcohol and be a man, but after one sip, I passed out. When I came too Master Chuckles was hiding the rest of the Sake with a flushed face and told me that I should never drink alcohol again.”

“So you have low tolerance for alcohol?” asked Reiji. Megumi nodded.

“I drank alcohol again by mistake when I was with my family. I passed out and when I came too, my brother was calling me an ‘idiot,’ my father was tossing out the alcohol, my mother was crying, and my sister was turned away from me, but I could see that her face was red.”

Boshi suddenly smirked and held the bottle of Sake to Megumi’s face.

“How about just one sip?”

“I can’t take alcohol,” insisted Megumi. Boshi waved his finger at Megumi and said, “As the guest of honor, you need to take at least one sip or do you want to disappoint us all.” Megumi groaned as she took her own glass of sake into her hands.

“Whatever happens, don’t blame me,” warned Megumi. Boshi nodded eager to see Megumi’s reaction to alcohol.

Megumi took a sip of the Sake in her glass and immediately passed out. Boshi was laughing nonstop, Keiki and Sora were trying to hold back their chuckles, and Reiji was running to Megumi’s side.

“Are you OK, Megumi?” asked Reiji in a panic. Megumi’s eyes suddenly opened, but they seemed pale. Reiji sighed in relief and said, “I guess it was only temporary.” Boshi shrugged saying that Megumi was boring. Megumi suddenly placed a hand on Reiji’s cheek making him blink in confusion.

“What are you do…?”

Megumi suddenly pressed her lips against Reiji’s making his eyes widen. The others gasped wondering why Megumi was kissing Reiji. Reiji was turning red as he felt Megumi’s tender lips against his own. Reiji tried to pull away, but Megumi pulled him closer.

Keiki pulled them apart and screamed, “What the heck do you two think you are doing?” Megumi looked at Keiki and grabbed the front of his shirt. She pulled him into a deep kiss making Keiki gasp. Keiki tried to free himself from Megumi’s lips. Keiki turned red as the kiss progressed. When Megumi pulled away from his lips with saliva around her lips, she looked at Boshi, Reiji, and Sora with glazed eyes as Keiki fell against the wall covering his mouth. Boshi backed away and said, “I didn’t know Megumi was THAT type of guy.”

Megumi immediately went to Boshi and pressed her lips against his. Boshi was kicking about trying to free himself from Megumi’s kiss. Boshi struggled against the kiss, but he found it surprising that it actually felt good. Megumi separated her lips from Boshi allowing him to turn away with a completely red face.

Sora flinched when Megumi looked his way. Megumi lunged at Sora, but Sora grabbed a pillow and threw it at her face.

“Don’t you come near me?” screamed Sora blushing madly. Sora didn’t have another chance to fight back as Megumi covered his lips with her own. Megumi pushed Sora to the ground as she kissed him. Sora was hitting on the ground trying to get the others to help him, but the others seemed to be in shock. Megumi pulled away from Sora’s lips allowing him to gasp for air. Megumi caressed his cheek with a smile on her lips. Sora felt his heart race as Megumi leaned toward his lips again.

The door to their room suddenly opened revealing Yuki in loose clothing.

“What is all this noise?” demanded Yuki. Megumi looked toward Yuki as she sat on Sora. It was no mystery that Yuki was around the room to spy on his precious Megumi. Megumi sat up from Sora and began to approach Yuki. Sora gasped and screamed, “Run away your majesty!”

The next thing Yuki knew, Megumi was kissing his lips. Yuki was shocked at first, but then deepened the kiss. Sora turned pale as did Boshi and Keiki, who had managed to get back to their senses.

Reiji saw Megumi and Yuki kissing and clenched his fist. Reiji yanked Megumi away from Yuki to Yuki’s displeasure. He forced Megumi to face him and screamed out Megumi’s name. Megumi smiled and was about to kiss Reiji, but passed out in his arms. Reiji sighed in relief and immediately closed the door in Yuki’s face before Yuki could ask about Megumi.

Reiji placed Megumi on the bed gently with the others looking at Megumi’s sleeping form.

“At least we know why his master and his family don’t want him to drink alcohol,” stated Boshi with a blush still against his cheek. They all nodded still red.

“Let’s promise never to let Megumi drink alcohol again,” added Sora. They all nodded again. Megumi curled up in her sleep with flushed cheeks not knowing of the chaos she caused for her fellow roommates that night.

The very next day, Megumi woke up with a headache. She looked at her roommates and Keiki and saw them already leaving the room barely dressed.

“Why are you guys in such a hurry today?” asked Megumi. None of them looked back as they left the room. Megumi rubbed the back of her head wondering what was wrong with her fellow roommates.

Megumi shook her head and immediately began to change. The minute she opened the door, she saw Yuki smiling at her. Megumi flinched and asked, “Why are you here so early?” Yuki continued to smile and held a bottle of Sake to her.

“I just wanted to offer you some morning Sake,” stated Yuki. Megumi shook her head and said, “I rather not have any.”

Before Yuki could convince her otherwise, Keiki and Boshi appeared behind her and began to drag her off saying, “Megumi will never drink alcohol.” Yuki called for Megumi, but Boshi and Keiki continued to drag her off. Megumi looked at them and asked, “Did I do something before I passed out last night?” Boshi and Keiki blushed as they released Megumi. Boshi ran down the hall, while Keiki remained by her side.

“Let’s just say we figured out why alcohol was never meant for you,” said Keiki. Keiki suddenly glared at Megumi when a realization suddenly dawned on him.

“I can’t believe you did that to Mikan!”

“What did I do?” exclaimed Megumi. Reiji walked to their side and suggested they continue to the throne room. Keiki and Megumi nodded. Keiki was burning with jealousy; Megumi was puzzled on what happened; and Reiji was wondering when it was the best time to tell Megumi her condition with alcohol.

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