I laid with the bottle in my hand, stumbling into the dirt- filled path

I laid with the bottle in my hand, stumbling into the dirt- filled path. Suddenly a figure's shadow loomed over me. "Drunken again?" Ahasmi asked. She leaned down and I put an arm over her, so she could help me stand up. I was a handsome boy of 17, my sister Ahasmi, a beauty at 16. Still she hid her beauty by means of dressing as a boy. Being a beauty in the world of Nashoginwa was not an option. It was a place where it was not good to be born a woman. After all this was the world in which you could be kidnapped to be sold off to sell fish. After all thugs aren't really all that picky. I made it my duty to protect my family. After my mother died of childbirth for Morshiro, my father raised us until I was15. He died one day after his carriage had been ran off the road. Everyone tells me it was an accident. No, it was not. My father knew of a secret. Perhaps something to overthrew the tyrant of Japan. I never knew. Ahasmi supported me and guided me towards the gym where I worked as the master of it. Soon after he died, I was forced to operate it until this very day. Nowadays I am the Gym Master, but my youngest sister, Aki, operate it now.

Ahasmi put me down on a stone bench. "What are we going to do with you, Toshiro?" Ahasmi asked. "Stop treating me like a child," I told her. She gave me a mocking smile and stuck her tongue out at me.

"Again?!" a voice commented. I turned my heads towards the left and saw Yasuko, my sister's orphaned best friend. It always took me by surprise how beautiful she was even dressed in men clothes couldn't diminish her beauty. Still she was a real pain. Yasuko being one of the only woman there, was easily the most beautiful. But as I said before it was not good to be beautiful. "Honesty, Toshiro," a voice called out.

"About time. Where were you?' Moshiro asked. "Isn't it obvious." Aki asked 12-year-old Moshiro. Moshiro nodded. Aki stood with a slouched back, taking in everything. Everything. Her surroundings. Especially me. Aki always had a nervous habit of trying to know everything about where she was and when. All four of them stared at me. Well, except for Aki who went to prepare some tea. The only oddball in my family. Suddenly my eyes went wide. "Aki. Nooooooo!" too late. The kitchen exploded with smoke.

Aki was no good cook, but I prepared a trap for my sister, Ahasmi, after she smashed my last bottle of wine against the wall.

Ahasmi stared at her kitchen, all blackened, and filled with smoke. Her mouth was wide open, gawking at the sight.

I tried to stifle a laugh, but instead I laughed right out loud. Ahasmi glared in my direction. A pan flew from the kitchen to her feet. The metal cooled. She picked it up, her hunched figure advancing menacingly. "My kitchen," she said in a soft disbelieved tone.

Then in a near-deaf causable tone she screamed," LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID TO IT!" Chasing me around the gym with the pan in her hand, she screamed, "Come back here and fight like a man!" "You should talk. You look like one!"

My sister ran even harder. Uh-oh maybe I shouldn't have made that comment. My sister was very, very sensitive on how she looked. "TOSHIRO!"

"Mail to the Ahiko Family." Aki took the message while bowing slightly.

"What is it?" Moshiro asked hovering over her shoulders.

"A message that the Emperor is looking for a wife." "Are you sure?" Moshiro asked. Aki nodded and handed the paper to him. I came into the room. Aki was pacing. "Where is Ahasmi?"

"She's in the bizarre."

"Dressed as a woman?"

"Yes. Why?"

Aki took off. Moments later I could hear horse troppling across the Gym floor. Aki rushed to the marketplace.

"Ahasmi, where are you?" Aki thought. Suddenly she caught sight of her. Ahasmi was being escorted into a carriage unwillingly. "Ahasmi! Ahasmi!" Aki screamed trying to reach her hand. A whip flew and slashed Aki on the hand. A man looked down at her. "That,' he said matter-of-factly," is the Emperor's new bride. I trust you not to touch her."

"She is my sister," Aki informed him. The man looked down at Aki , his facial expression reading Well that explains it.

"Tell me little boy, You're the one in charge of that little gym with your older brother aren't you?" Aki nodded. "Well, if you want Ahasmi back, you'll have to fight me. Meet me tomorrow and only tomorrow." The man trotted off after the carriage on his horse, leaving her in the dust.

Aki went home where she walked in on my pacing. "What happened?" She looked fine but then I noticed a whip mark on her hand. Her fingers, purple from the bruise.

"What did they do to you?" "They took Ahasmi. I tried to stop them." "Is there anything we can do?" Aki shook her head.

Early the next morning a message came for Aki and Toshiro. Moshiro grabbed the letter and read without hesitation. "Fight me at the square now. And only now."

"Shouldn't we tell Toshiro?" "He's off in the next kingdom. I'm the Gym leader now." Yasuko came out of the Dining Hall. "Protect Yasuko. I'll be fine. And don't tell Toshiro. I don't want to worry him." Aki leaped off onto her horse. Aki's horse thrushed off. Aki rushed into the country square. She held her sword at man who stood in the square. The people started to murmur, "Isn't that the leader of the gym?" "Won't survive the fight.' "A pity so young."

I rushed into the Gym. I was a day early. I wanted to surprise them. After all I had left the night before and was to return the next night. I had to make arrangements for Gym training, for the Gym as my father had always dreamed. I saw the distained faces of Yasuko and Moshiro.

"What wrong?" I glanced at Yasuko who said nothing." "Moshiro, Where is Aki?"

"She went to fight the tyrant," he told me softly.

"Why didn't you stop her."

"I-I-I don't know." he murmured, his head down.

I slapped Moshiro to the ground ignoring the startled look on Yasuko's face. I grabbed a horse and leaped onto it's back. I saw Moshiro run out of the Gym. I pointed to all the students at the Gym. "Protect the Gym and Yasuko. Understood?" they nodded.

As I rushed into the square, I noticed something. A crowd. I tried to make my way through the crowd. I heard murmurs and small gasps coming my way. "You're the Gym leader of that Ahiko Gym, aren't you?" I nodded. "your brother is not going to survive this battle. Take their place if you wish for him to live." I rushed through the crowd even harder, trying to see. I heard the gong sound, sound somewhere. Aki and the man rushed at each other. Aki looked up at the man as he slashed his sword downward. Aki pulled her sword to match his blade. She did but then he took out a dagger and satisfying thrust it into Aki, enjoying her pain. "AKI!!!!!!!!!!" My screams ran through he crowds. I pushed them even harder. I finally broke free. I ran to Aki. She fell into my arms. Aki's head nodded off. I clutched her to myself. Past memories rushed into my mind. The day I held my mother. Every SINGLE pain I had ever felt. But none as painful as this. Not even the death of my mother and father hurt as much as this. Aki was never impulsive and for the first time that she was, she had to die. She didn't have to die. He condemned her to it. My mother and father died both for good causes. My mother for Moshiro and my father for us, but Aki died for NOTHING. NOTHING. Vain. I clutched her, the blood from the wound seeping onto my clothes. I glared at the man. But there was no man there. I picked up Aki's body and walked through the crowds.

"I'll get you for this, I vowed. I'll kill you."

I walked in to Gym. The Gym was in tatters. The wooden sign that said 'Ahiko on Taiikukan' was broken into pieces. Chairs were flung everywhere. Tables, sheet pillows. Everything. The temple was layered with the bodies of my students. I laid Aki down. I looked at all the young faces and fell to my knees. I slammed my hand down onto the still intact wooden board. It smashed into pieces. Then suddenly I stood up and frantically looked for Yasuko. "Yasuko," I cried out. My own voice echoed into my ears. A peasant woman came into the Gym shaking her head , looking pitifully at me. "You looking for that girl?' the woman asked. I nodded wordlessly. "Yes. Where is she?" "She was taken by the guards of the Emperor priest, a bearded man by the name of Shoinji." "Thank you." I clenched out.

my hands clenched at my sides. "I'll kill you, Shoinji! I'll kill you if you touch her!. I'll kill you!" My yells echoed through the empty halls. I raced my horse through the muddy halls. My horse stopped at the road and jumped up, knocking me off, throwing me over the side of the road. I grabbed a tree. It broke away and I felt myself fall deeply into the water. I tumbled into the water and struggled to breathe.

But I felt myself being pulled down. I looked down. My father?!

His body seemed to float and pull me effortlessly to the sea. He pulled me to Moshiro who lied at the sea. My father put a hand over the side of his mouth, pretending he had a beard. He took Moshiro's hand and thrushed it into himself, pulling something out. I shook my head. I don't understand, I thought. My father let go of me . I started to float to the surface. I reached for Moshiro's fingers. I grabbed his hand and pulled him up to the surface. I gasped for air. then I couldn't breathe. I felt something surround me. A darkness. I closed my eyes feeling nothing.

I awoke to see a fire. Moshiro sitting, watching me. "I'm sorry-." Moshiro cut me off. "Where is Aki?" "She'd dead." I told him. a look of guilt claimed his face. "They have Yasuko." Moshiro looked at me in surprise. I always suspected he was inlove with her, but I never said anything. Moshiro grabbed my hand and told me. "We need to go now. The more we wait…..,"His voice drifted off. I stood up without another thought. We ran for hours until a carriage came and stopped beside us. The peasant woman. She gestured towards the carriage. And to the seat beside her.

"Where are you going? I'm sure I can take you there."

"To the palace,' I told her. "I'm Toshiro. My younger brother, Moshiro."

A young girl looked out the window. "That is my niece, Misako. With two strong men such as yourselves protecting us, I can assure my niece's safety." I sat net to the woman, taking the reins. While Moshiro sat across from the girl in the carriage. She glanced at Moshiro with a forlorn smile and asked, "Are you married?" "Uh-ah-yes." She looked sadly disappointed and looked out the window.

The carriage came to an inn in the city. Only a mile away from the palace. I told Moshiro to said with the woman, Yakisara, and Misako. He followed me unnoticeably. The young girl ,Misako, following him. I painstaking climbed the palace.

"Don't look down. Don't look down. Look down." I looked down. My eyes blurred from the height. I climbed onto a ledge and hung onto the roof. Suddenly I opened the window without warning. Ahasmi stood startled. I breathed a sigh of relief. I went and hugged her. I looked at her. she was dressed in the finest silk, her hair tied up with jeweled adornments. I pulled her hands. "Let's go." She pulled her hands back. "What is it?" "I don't want to go." "

What did they do. If they did anything I'll kill-" Ahasmi turned cutting me off in mid-sentence. She fingered her dress. she turned to me. "I'm inlove with the Emperor."

I felt my head spinning. I touched my head wondering. "Did Water knock out my sense of hearing or did I just hear my sister admit to being in love with the emperor." She nodded. "And Yasuko is fine for the time being." "What do you mean?"

"Well, when she was first brought here, I told the Emperor that I wanted her safe and unharmed and untouched like myself." One word came from my mouth. "Wha?!" I stuttered for words.

"You're. You're still a virgin?"

She nodded.

"But you're married to the Emperor?"

She nodded.

"So I'm no the oddball of the family anymore?"

She shook her head.

(~ I tear dropped~)

"But how can you be untouched when you are married?" I asked. It was a highly embarrassing question, but I needed to know. "I told him I wanted to wait and he agreed."

She looked at me with pleading eyes. "He loves me, Toshiro. Please don't make me go." Ahasmi looked beautiful, just like my mother. I couldn't tell her no. "Where is Yasuko?" "Being the new bride of the Emperor I am granted wishes. One of them was keeping Yasuko safe."

"She's down in the dungeon. I couldn't convince them otherwise." Ahasmi gestured towards down to the halls. Suddenly I heard two very loud THUMPS on the floor. I turned. Lying right there, rubbing their heads and arms were Moshiro and Misako. I turned down a hall and rushed to the Dungeon. "Yasuko! I'm here!" She glanced up and looked at me in disbelief. "I'm here!' Moshiro and Misako came flying down the steps. Then a dark feeling overwhelmed me. a figure stepped from the shadows. The dungeon door laid opened. He walked up to Yasuko. He laid a hand on her face and turned to me. "Beautiful, Isn't she?"

I charged at him. he pulled his hand away from her face and pulled out his sword. I charged at him. Moshiro ran to Yasuko. He turned to Misako. "Protect her please." He ran next to me in battle. Misako glanced at after him and then turned and untied Yasuko. "I may not like you, but if Moshiro loves you…..," her voice drifted off. Yasuko looked at her in surprise. Misako didn't meet her glance. Instead she pushed her towards the steps. I was losing. As Shoinji cut me on my arm, I grimaced in pain. "You can't defeat me. I have immortality from the Sea Emperor himself."

My father. The crystal. Moshiro. I knocked his sword out of his hand. I held onto him. "NOW!" I yelled to Moshiro. Moshiro eyes flickered with uncertainty. Then he remembered the strange dream in the sea. He pushed his hand into Shoinji's stomach. Shoinji opened his mouth. His screams piercing the air. I clenched my teeth as the screams pierced my nerves like knives. Morshiro took his hand out. Shoinji turned into ashes and then silence. Moshiro turned to me. "The Jeweled Crystal of Immortality." In his hand was large crystal.

The crystal was returned to the depths of the sea. But the Sea Emperor took my hand and gestured to the door of his magnificent palace. "I have many crystals, Toshiro. You may have this one." I thanked him. He continued. "With one Crystal, the living can become immortal. With one crystal the dead can live once more. Do you know what this means?" I nodded. "Imagine if I gave you a hundred. You know what to do with these?" "Yes," I answered.

Aki and all the Gym students crowded the main square. Suddenly an explosion came from the kitchen. Yasuko came out, completely covered in Ash. She picked up a frying pan and chased after me. Misako had her arms over Moshiro, her head on his shoulder. Aki frowned. "You're going to break something." "Not if I break his head first.' Everyone laughed.

The End of the Jeweled


Or Ahiko no Taiikukan and in

English the Ahiko Gym.