Act II- Preparation for Reality
"Are you sure this will be enough your highness?" asked a skinny young maid as she lifted Hikari's bag of luggage into her arms.
"It's fine. Master Kulukan instructed me to pack my bags lightly, and I'm supposed to pose as a common traveler remember?" Hikari informed happily as she gazed one last time out the window of her royal bedroom.
The maid smiled at her princess and carried the bag towards the door.
"Shari, please let me carry my bag. After all, I want to practice for my pilgrimage," Hikari called out cheerfully. Shari smiled and brought the bag to Hikari.
"Thank you Shari. Can I ask how Izanagi and Taka are doing?"
Shari hesitated as she forced her eyes to meet Hikari's.
"Their fine, but his majesty wanted me to warn you and Hoshi about this."
"What did my father say?"
"He doesn't want you and Hoshi to get romantically involved with them. No problem right?"
"Yeah," Hikari looked to the ground and then met with Shari's eyes once more, "No problem. I'm fine with them being my escorts, I want nothing more."
"Mr. Masaki? Are you awake?"
Taka opened his eyes slightly to see the worried pair of eyes staring down at him.
"Ahhhhhhhh!" Taka screamed.
"I'm sorry Mr. Masaki, but you received this note from Lord Hermos," the maid replied kindly as she handed him the note.
Taka sleepily grabbed the note and tore open the manila envelope. Inside was a tan colored paper with handwritten text scribbled horizontally across the paper. Taka squinted his eyes and carefully read the text.
"What does it say Mr. Masaki?" the maid asked.
Taka looked away and replied, "He congratulates Izanagi and I on winning the contest and wishes good fortune to us on our journey. That's all."
"Well that's nice," the maid replied as she stepped out the door.
Taka watched her leave as a thought arose in his mind.
"Why did Hermos tell me that I'd make a lovely woman?" Taka asked himself in disgust.
Izanagi had been awake for hours loitering in the kitchen while drooling over the royal meals. It had taken a lot of arguing, but Izanagi had finally convinced the cooks to let him eat his share. After eating his share, Izanagi left the kitchen and made his way back to his room.
"Why do these castle's have to have so many rooms?" Izanagi wondered as he found himself already lost.
He continued to mill about until he heard a strange and intriguing sound. It sounded almost like flute music, but somehow it was different. Izanagi followed the music until it led him to an elegant ballroom decorated with gems from around the world. Many large and beautiful chandeliers hung from the ceiling, painted in calm colors that created a surreal atmosphere. A grand staircase led up to a marble balcony that overlooked all of Laurel City. Standing on the balcony was Hoshi, calmly playing her flute to all that bothered to listen. Her short red hair blew softly in the gentle breeze that seemed to dance to her music. Izanagi approached her quietly, hoping not to disturb her lovely music. Strangely, Hoshi suddenly stopped playing and sighed as she stared into the distant places where she would soon visit.
"Hoshi, I had no idea you played the flute," Izanagi shouted out happily from the bottom of the staircase.
Hoshi blushed with embarrassment, "I didn't know anyone was listening."
Izanagi continued to climb the staircase as he tried to reach her.
"Are you ready to leave yet, Izanagi?" Hoshi asked when he reached the top.
"You want me to leave already?"
"No, I don't mean it like that. It's just that you're so far away from your room, so I thought you'd already packed your bags."
"Well actually I'm lost," Izanagi replied with a chuckle.
"I could take you back to your room if you want."
"That's okay, I don't think I'm ready to go back."
"Oh I see. Hey did Hermos send you a good luck letter yet?"
"Not yet, what did it say?"
"Nothing much just some travel tips and the location of our first mission."
"Where is it?"
"Hermos made Hikari, Hana, and I promise not to tell you."
"Oh great! I hate secrets!"
Several hours later, Hoshi and Hikari prepared for their last session with Kulukan. The princesses were dressed in their summoning robes and were discussing the hardships ahead.
"What spirit must we befriend first Master Kulukan?" Hoshi asked anxiously.
"Well, I had to befriend Nusku," Kulukan replied cheerfully.
"Nusku is the spirit of light and fire that destroys demons and witches with his flames, right?" Hikari asked.
"That's right, but he usually only appears for male summoners. There has been an occasion where he appeared for a woman, but that's very rare."
"Shiva, the Lady of Ice, only appears for women. So we're going to have to befriend her."
"She lives in Luwin, right?"
Kulukan nodded as he reached inside his robe and pulled out two packages. He handed on of them to Hoshi and the other to Hikari.
"What's this?" Hoshi asked as she opened the present.
"Oh just a graduation slash going away present."
"Thank you Master Kulukan, but we have enough clothing already," Hikari replied when she saw the cloth neatly piled up in her box.
"Not just any clothing. These are rare clothing made from magic resistant silk, so you can't be beaten too badly by just some wimpy spell, but that's not all. The cloth is light weight and can be cleaned easily without effecting the silk."
"Thank you Master Kulukan, you think of everything," Hoshi shouted happily.
"I just don't want my students to be defeated too easily, that's all."
"Thank you Master Kulukan, but what about the others?" Hikari asked worriedly.
"Don't worry, I purchased them some of this rare armor too. Hey isn't it time to meet with the king about your mission?"
"Oh no! We're going to be late!" Hikari screamed.
Kulukan laughed as he hugged his students and whispered, "So I'll see you two in Kalaida?"
"You bet!" Hoshi promised with a smile.
"Then farewell until we meet in Kalaida!"
"Goodbye Master Kulukan!" the princesses chorused as they dashed into the changing room of the training hall.
"Where are they?" King Leon asked as he stood impatiently with his wife, Queen Eleanor, waiting for his daughters to arrive.
"Calm down dear, I'm sure they will arrive," Queen Eleanor assured him.
"Your majesty, is there any sign of the princesses?" Hana asked.
"No," Leon muttered angrily.
At that exact moment, the doors to the throne room were thrust open. Standing in the doorway, were the two exhausted princesses.
"We apologize for being late, but we lost track of time when we conversed with Master Kulukan," Hoshi plead.
"Well next time you will not hinder us with your incompetence," Leon replied rather bluntly.
Hikari and Hoshi stepped forward and took their places beside their escorts.
"We are entrusting the safety of our only heirs to you three, Hana Mihari, Taka Masaki, and Izanagi Kawato, you three and you three only will accompany our daughters on their journey. We have supplied you with weapons, food, money, and armor and will allow you to commend your journey here."
"Farewell and good fortune on your journey. You are now dismissed," Eleanor ordered as she and Leon climbed from their throne and saluted the group that stood before them.
Slowly, Izanagi rose from his kneeling position in unison with the others. The group bowed once more before their king and filed out the door.
"Well that was a pleasant discussion," Taka replied in sarcasm.
"Our parents never brief us on our missions and never praise us for our efforts. So this was an extreme honor," Hikari responded sadly.
Finally the party stood in the courtyards and discussed their destination.
"We are departing for the country of Luwin to receive the blessing of Shiva," Hana informed.
"Where's Luwin?" Taka asked.
"Luwin is located to the west of Laurel City. We can reach there by taking a bullet train," Hikari replied.
"Wait a minute, isn't this the same Luwin as Luwin the nation of women?" Izanagi asked in fright.
"That's right. No men allowed," Hoshi said with a smile.
"Whoa, how are we going to get there if no men are allowed in and Izanagi and I can't leave you three alone?" Taka asked.
"Then that only leaves one option," Hikari said with a smile.
"I'm afraid to ask," Izanagi whimpered.
"That's right you're going to have to swallow you pride and dress like a woman!" Hana shouted with glee.