Legend Across Time: Vol. 1: Origin
Tokiya looked up at the darkening sky, wondering where she was. Tonight was to be the full moon and while it's relatively quiet here in Marci, there are still unknown dangers that he himself does not know about. He worries for Kurata, the one he has come to call his sister after six years. She was an adventurous and mischievious one, reminding him terribly of his youth back when war was just a simple game and when he was still with his friends, carefree and innocent.
Sipping his tea, he tore his eyes away from the window and to the book he had been reading. He hope Kurata will be back soon, although it was likely she was caught up in the games she played with the neighboring children and creatures. He often wished that he could send Rasu to tell her to come back but it would be unwise for him to go flying among the night. A howl was heard in the distance and Tokiya knew that night had come and the werewolves in the forest are out.
He only wished and hoped that Kurata was not outside at the moment. He and his (their) father had taught her all he knew of the animals and the forest but sometimes, her curiosity got the best of her and she could be so trusting of strangers, especially when they tell her they know something of her past. He had told her many times not to trust people so easily but she often laughs it off, saying that she knows that in every heart, there is something good in them.
He sighed and took another sip of his tea. A soft mew and something rubbing against his leg told him that Hiri, Kurata's pet kitten, had revealed herself after hiding from him nearly the entire day. The man picked her up and set her on the table before going back to reading. Trying to distract himself from the howling in the forest, he began scratching Hiri behind the ears, occasionally petting her soft white fur. He earned a low purr in response.
The ex-hunter began praying to Suzaku and Genbu and whoever will listen, hoping that They will watch over his sister.
A lone girl stood in the middle of the stream, her previous white clothing soaked through and through, till they were nearly see-through. Tiny balls of light hovered around her like fireflies and a black three-tailed fox slept on the river bank, a white ribbon tied around its neck. A howl echoed in the Marci Forest and birds flew away, scared and startled. She tensed and looked around, amber colored eyes taking in everything she saw, changing from innocent and playful to the eyes of a skilled fighter, alert and cold. She turned to the fox sleeping on the bank. A noticeable twitch of the fox's ears was the only sign that it had heard the howl. She smiled and moved to get out of the stream, trying to keep the noise level low and the splashing to a mininum.
Kurata knew that it was not safe for her to be out and about in the forest when it was a full moon; it was downright suicidal. She had only plan to visit her fairy friends for a few hours before going back home. However, she got side-tracked by a certain fox who wouldn't leave her alone until she played with him.
'Brother's going to be angry.' she said to herself as she weaved her hands through her silver colored hair, trying to get all the tangles out even if she knew it was an impossible task as of right now. Her main concern is not on whether she is going to be punished by her brother but to immediately get out of the forest and back home before the werewolves catch her scent from the places she had passed by. She squatted down and picked up the cat-sized fox carefully as to not wake him up. His ears twitched but he didn't wake so Kurata carried him in her arms as she walked in the direction she knew was the way out of the forest.
It was then when she realized that the lights following her around was practically a beacon to the werewolves and she waved her hand (without moving the fox that much) vaguely. The lights disappeared and she nodded in approval before continuing on her way. She didn't need to worry about the werewolves for a little while as she had washed her scent away in the stream, although she knew that Ryuuka would not be happy waking up to the smell of a wet human.
'He'll have to deal with it, I suppose.' she thought as she walked through the dark forest, listening to anything out of the ordinary.
She startled. Looking down, she lifted one of her feet to reveal that she had stepped on a twig. With a sigh of relief, she continued on her way. However, it was then when the ears of the fox twitched and the head peeked up from her arms, growling and looking around. She looked at him, confused.
"What is it, Ryuuka?" she asked.
/Danger. Wolves. Close./ he said simply and quickly to her mind.
Kurata sped up, careful to dodge any low hanging branches in her way. This isn't good; she thought they cannot smell her scent right now. She looked down to make sure Ryuuka wasn't getting hit before realization hit her directly at the head.
Ryuuka. Of course. Why hadn't she seen this before? They were tracking her by following the fox's scent since he had not washed himself in the stream. Also, his scent clung to her right now since she was carrying him.
/They're tracking us by your scent./ she sent to him; telepathy was not her friend and never will be, especially since she has no skill or ability in it. It was only thanks to Ryuuka that she can do it but it was only to him; she still gets headaches afterwards.
/What?/ Ryuuka sounded surprised and fearful; for what, she does not know. All she knew was that Ryuuka never let his emotions show in his words so something must be wrong. /You need to let me go./
/No./ she said sternly, reading behind the lines. At his questioning gaze, she elaborated, /Your scent is on me. It won't work./
/I should have obeyed you when you offered to wash me./ His words would have sounded neutral to the untrained ear but Kurata could detect a hint of regret in them.
/And you would have gotten a free bath./ she joked but Kurata wondered how much longer before the edge of the forest comes. She does not know how much longer she can keep running and judging by the howls, she can guess that the werewolves are getting closer and closer by the minute. /Can you smell my brother?/
Ryuuka lifted his snout in the air and gave a sniff. /Yes, although it is faint./
Good, then they were near the edge. Kurata knew that her brother doesn't venture deep into the forest anymore, ever since their father died, and only wander around the area about ten meters away from the edge of the forest. His scent still lingers around so if Ryuuka can smell him even the tiniest bit, they were getting close.
It was then when Kurata noticed something coming towards her from the corner of her right eye. She ducked and a large brown werewolf jumped from the bushes and landed on her left. It growled and its golden eyes seemed to have a fierce look in them. Kurata immediately got up and ran back to where she had come from. She cannot go to the forest edge now or else she would lead the werewolves to Marci, allowing them the chance to kill or turn them all. As she ran and knew that the werewolves (for there were more than that brown one following her) were somewhere around her, she began searching her mind for anything that she can do to protect her from them.
Magic doesn't work against them and only physical combact worked. However, it was her luck that she chose tonight as the night she forgot to bring her bow and sword with her to the forest.
Out of the blue, a werewolf popped out from her left and managed to scratch her arm with its claws, causing her to drop Ryuuka. She let out a cry and touched the wound, wincing as she did so while she examined her blood. She licked it and looked up, watching as she was quickly surrounded by the werewolves; there will be other creatures coming soon, attracted by the smell of blood. She looked around, wondering where did Ryuuka go and hoping that he was safe when vines popped up from the ground and held the werewolves tightly up in the air. She watched them frail helplessly in their captivity and looked around, clutching her wound as she did so to stop the bleeding.
"Why did you not do that in the first place, Ryuuka?" she asked tiredly as a tall figure came to the moonlight from the shadows. The newcomer had long dark brown hair with dark blue eyes and wore a flimsy black yutaka. A pair of fox ears rested on top of their head and a tail swished behind them. A long silver chain was seen with an emerald orb and anyone would have thought they were a female had it not been for the obvious flat chest that showed from the open yutaka, the white sash the only thing holding it together.
"Apologies, Sirius." he said as he came closer.
"Who?" Kurata asked, unfamiliar with the name. Realizing what he said, he only shook his head and grabbed her injured arm carefully, lifting it up for him to see. She did not pursue the subject on the slip, knowing he did not want to talk about it. He traced the three scratches lightly and withdrew his hand once he heard her drew in a sharp breath.
"It's fine, not infected." the youko stated, straightening up and allowing Kurata to try to look at it herself. "We should get going before your brother starts panicking."
"Good idea." Kurata smiled at him and headed to the direction of Marci. Ryuuka took a few steps after her before waving his hand vaguely and continued after Kurata. The sound of pained howls and blood being spilled filled the air as Kurata hurried home, not knowing what Ryuuka had done. If anyone were to go to that clearing now, they will see large thorns piercing through the creatures.
Tokiya looked up from his book immediately once he was aware of the door of his cottage being opened and hurried to greet who he knew would be his sister. True to his assumptions, the silver haired girl stood in the doorway, carrying the black fox that he often saw with her. He ran to her and wrapped his arms around her in a hug.
"I was so worried when you did not come back. The howls...I had feared they had gotten to you." he remarked, letting her go. He was then aware of the blood on Kurata's forearm. "You're bleeding! You should have wrapped it right away!"
Kurata grinned sheepishly. "Sorry but there was so much excitement tonight that I hadn't a chance to."
"You're losing a lot of blood, Kurata." Tokiya noted, watching the red liquid drip onto the floor.
"I'll clean that up later. I'm going to go upstairs, okay, brother?" Kurata blinked and shook her head. "Feeling a bit light headed..."
She staggered slightly as she made her way up the stairs and Ryuuka trotted after her, preparing to switch forms should she ever fall. The light brunette watched her go up to her room and shook his head, heading back to the kitchen when he noticed that Hiri was awake and looking straight at him. He chuckled and sat back down, resuming his petting of the snow white kitten. He knew that he didn't need to go after her since he knew she could take care of herself. She was sixteen now, not the little girl his father had found and raised.
"I can never understand her, Hiri." With another sigh, Tokiya downed her tea and decided he needed some stronger stuff. He made his way to the cabinet where he kept his wine. He really shouldn't be drinking, since he was only twenty, but he was nearly of age and his father was no longer here to stop him from doing reckless things anymore. He poured himself a glass and gulped it all down before pouring another.
Just a few glasses, nothing more.
Yuui sat boredly in his throne as the man rambled on and on about the slaves he had brought to them to sell. Sneaking a glance to his father, he could tell that, while he was sitting upright and nodding at whatever the slave trader was saying, he was bored as well. His mother was checking her red painted nails and his twin brother was nodding off, although he manages to catch himself before he got too deep in slumber. Yuui wanted to slump in his seat but decided not to since it wouldn't be proper behavior for someone in line for the throne.
"...and we have carefully selected a few who you, your highness, might be interested in buying." Yuui watched as about twenty, thirty slaves were hurried forward, chains clanking as they did so. The dark brunette pitied them. Being held against your will and having to serve someone is not exactly appealing. He looked up at his father again who turned and looked back at him. Yuui recognized the look his father had that practically yelled out for the torture to end. The young heir stifled a snicker and settled for an amused look.
The king shook his head and turned his attention back at the slave trader. He cleared his throat. "We will take them all. We shall negotiate the price you want for them as soon as we are alone and the slaves have been sent off with a job to do."
"Father, may I have one?" Yuui heard his twin asked.
"Of course, son." The king then turned to him and he knew immediately what he was going to say. "And you may have one as well, Yuui."
The dark brunette wanted to say that he didn't want one, that he was happier without a slave since he enjoyed his privacy, when he saw one who caught his eye.
The slave had dirty silver hair with bangs that fell elegantly over his ruby colored eyes. He was pulling tightly on his tattered cloak as if it was his lifeline. He looked scared and his eyes showed that he had been through a lot, despite his young age; Yuui estimated that he was probably about thirteen or fourteen, judging from his height.
However, that wasn't what drew the heir to him. No. It was scary, how uncanny the slave looked so much like Hikaru, the one he had loved before she disappeared seven years ago.
"I'll take him, father." Yuui said, pointing at the silver haired boy. It was as if he could hear him even though he was so far away since his head immediately snapped up and met his eyes.
"Of course, Yuui. If that is all, you may go." The dark brunette got off his throne and beckoned for the slave to follow him as he walked out of the throne room. The sounds of hurried footsteps assured him that he was following him.
"What is your name?" Yuui asked gently, looking back with a light smile. The slave jumped and stared at him as if he was surprised at the way he was being treated.
"...Ryou." came the soft answer.
"You know who I am, right?" Yuui asked, already knowing the answer.
"...Yes." Ryou replied timidly. "Maruihoshi Yuui, the heir to the Suzaku throne and one of the best swordsmen in the kingdom. Your twin brother is Michiru, the captain of the guards."
"I see you've done your research." Yuui commented with a smile. He stopped before a large door and pushed it open, beckoning Ryou to follow him inside. The door closed behind them and Yuui gestured to the room. "This...is my room."
The room was decorated in terms of gold, red, and dark blue. A large queen size bed rested against the wall with the stone balcony. There were three other doors in the room; one in the wall closest to the bed head and the other two on the wall on their left. A large oriental rug was on the floor and glass stars hung on wires attached to the ceiling, providing light to the room.
The heir watched in amusement as his new slave examined the room with an awe look and a gaping jaw. He let out a chuckle which seemed to snap Ryou back to reality. "The door there," He gestured to the one on his right, "is the door to the bathroom."
He watched as Ryou nodded, knowing he was making a mental note of that. Yuui then walked over to the first door on his left. "This is the door to my closet. And the door there is the entrance to your room."
Ryou blinked and opened his mouth hesitatenly before saying, "My...room?"
Yuui nodded; he had expected such a reaction as this. The boy must be a new slave, someone who isn't used to the mechanics of being a slave. Ryou probably thought slaves slept on the ground or something similar to that thought. "Yes, your room. Your quarters used to be my..." He stopped himself from saying 'fiancee' but it would be revealing too much to someone like him. They were not that close but Yuui hoped they would be as close as friends...if the slave can get over the fact that he was not someone who will beat him should he do something. "Well, it matters not now. It is to be your quarters from now on. I want you to wake me up tomorrow at seven o'clock sharp, okay?"
"Okay." the silver haired boy said, nodding. A small smile flickered across his face and Yuui knew that the boy finally understood that he will not harm him but he was still scared and Yuui needed to make him understand that he just wanted to be friends. But it's hard to know what he wanted when he looked so much like Hikaru.
With a sigh, Yuui walked over to his desk and searched through one of his drawers. He could feel Ryou's curious gaze upon his back and he withheld a smile. Finally, he found what he was looking for; a necklace with a black stone shaped as a crescent moon with crystal wings. He handed it to Ryou who stared at it, confused. "You are to wear this at all times. Press it should you want to go home and you will be returned to your room."
Ryou accepted it with a soft thank you and put it on immediately. Yuui gave him a small smile and was about to turn around when he noticed the other had smiled brightly for the first time since he had saw him. The silver haired boy bowed and walked off to his room. Once he was sure Ryou was in his room, the heir walked over to his bed and laid on the red covers.
He was making quick progress.
Turnic looked the same as ever, he noted as he walked down the empty streets to a place he knew well. He pushed the door to Gemayan's Tavern and headed straight to the bar. Taking a seat, he looked around, noting a few youko but none the one he had been searching for. He began fiddling with the crystal he wore around his neck, not knowing he was doing so.
"Yo!" He jumped and turned to see a winged demon behind the counter. His black hair was long and straight and his black bat wings were folded behind him. "What can I get for you?"
He cocked a brow. "What? After a month and you don't remember me anymore?"
Purple eyes sparked as recognition came to him and he ruffled his red hair affectionally. "It's you, Sasori! How did the last thieving go? What did you get?"
"Ah, get off." He swatted at the hands but he was laughing so the bat demon knew he was only playing. "I'll tell you as soon as you stop messing with my hair."
He stopped the act of affection and began pouring a drink. He then set it in front of Sasori and leaned forward, a smirk present on his face. "Well?"
Sasori took a gulp of his drink and said seriously, "I'm quitting."
"WHAT!?" Silence came to the tavern and several even got their weapons out before realizing there was no trouble and went back to their own business, although some sneaked glances their way. "What do you mean you're quitting?"
"Do you believe in destiny, Kokuyo?" Sasori asked.
"And what does that have to do with anything?" the bat demon asked, wondering whether he should laugh or punch him.
"The last theft...you know how I told you I'd be stealing the Gem of Hades from the Temple?" Sasori asked, taking another gulp of his drink.
Kokuyo nodded. "Of course I remember. I told you that you were mad for breaking into the Temple of Regulus, said you didn't stand a chance."
"Yeah well," Sasori began searching in his pouch and pulled out the blackish purple stone he had stolen a month ago. He watched with smug satisfaction as the demon's eyes went wide. "You owe me a few drinks, my dear friend."
Kokuyo extended a hand and carefully took the Gem, admiring it as if it was made from crystal; Sasori wouldn't be surprised if it was. The demon held it up against the light. "Amazing...is it a stone or a crystal or a gem?"
Sasori shrugged, taking three sips of his drink. "Who knows. It's quite valuable, but I'm not selling it."
"Of course you shouldn't." Kokuyo handed it back to Sasori who accepted it and placed it in his pouch once more. "It's priceless. Besides, you never know when a Gem of the Gods might be handy."
"Yes, but do you know what it does?" Sasori asked, finishing the rest of his drink. He gestured for a refill and Kokuyo obeyed, watching him with curious and questioning eyes. "Well, do you know what it does?"
"No. Why? Do you?"
"Course not. No one knows 'cept the Gods." Sasori took a gulp from his drink. "Remember how I used to study languages, whether they were dead or not?"
"Well, there was writing among the walls of the inner Temple." Sasori informed. "They were written in God."
Kokuyo drew in a sharp breath. "You can read that old a language?" Sasori nodded as he took another gulp from his drink. "What did it say?"
"It said something about the destruction of Eien." Sasori whispered.
Purple eyes widened more and he gaped. "What?"
"Yeah but it then said something about how there will be five heroes who shall save us all." Sasori scoffed. "Tch. As if anyone would save this Seiryuu-damned country. The other three kingdoms hate us so what's the point?"
The two of them went silent once more as Sasori drowned himself in beer and Kokuyo went to serve the other customers. It wasn't until twilight that Kokuyo went back to where Sasori sat, cleaning the bar counter as he did so. Sasori looked up at him with his clear green eyes once he heard him coming; Kokuyo can never understand how the twenty year old man can hold so much alcohol and not get drunk.
"Have you visited him lately?" the demon asked, trying to start a conversation again.
"No." Sasori finished his seventh beer. "He's busy anyway, with his sister."
"Sister? You never told me he had a sister." Kokuyo remarked, taking a rag and cleaning one of the dirty mugs.
"His father adopted her before he died." Sasori explained, looking at his mug as if mesmerized. "I think I'll go visit him tomorrow or something, since I'm quitting the thieving business. Maybe go see his sister. The last time I saw her, she was about eleven."
Kokuyo closed his eyes and shook his head. "Still don't get why you're quitting, Sasori. You're one of the best thieves in the entire kingdom."
Sasori shrugged before grinning. "Didn't I ask you if you believed in destiny?"
Guardians were powerful sorcerers who each have been chosen by the Gods to wield power over a selected element. There are five in all; one for wind, one for earth, one for fire, one for water, and one for metal. However, over the years, the one for water had disappeared and the one for wind has decided that she has nothing to live for anymore.
Of all the five Guardians, she, the wind Guardian, was the oldest of them all, nearing her five hundredth birthday next year in the spring. All Guardians are immortal to natural causes but a deadly physical wound can kill them. Tsukasa had watched as her friends grew old and died while she remained looking as if she was still eighteen. She had long decided that she didn't want to live anymore; there was no point. Even if she was the Guardian, she was still human; she missed all the friends she had and now that her lover, the water Guardian, is gone, there was nothing left for her to live for.
Tsukasa sighed as she carefully kneeled down on the dirt path to touch the flowers in the garden. She didn't care if her white dress get dirty since it isn't that hard to brush the dirt off. Besides, she would hate having to make the servants and slaves work over such an easy to remove stain.
"Well, this is certainly a surprise." Her head snapped up and icy blue met red. She nodded in greeting, brushing away the blue locks that were her hair. The other Guardian gave a warm smile. "You're usually locked up in your room."
"Hello, Kita." Her voice still sounded like a sweet melody, even from lack of use. "What brings you here?"
"I was passing by when I noticed you in the gardens. Naturally, I was curious." Tsukasa looked back down; the metal Guardian's wavy blond hair was too bright to look at when the sun shines directly on it. The other Guardian gave a tiny smile. "Will you be joining us for lunch?"
Tsukasa opened her mouth, wondering whether to or not. "I will."
Kita clapped her hands together and her smile grew wider. "Wonderful! I shall be telling Rhea and Minami. They'll be delighted, especially Rhea."
"I'm sure." Tsukasa commented with a smile upone her lips, carnessing the petals of the orchids.
"I'll be leaving you to your flowering viewing pleasure then, Tsukasa." Tsukasa watched as the metal Guardian walked off, probably to tell the other two Guardians, before letting out a sigh.
The wind came and played with her hair as she continued looking at the flowers. It was then when a particular zephyr came and her eyes widened slightly as the wind told of her news concerning one of the Temples she was to look after.
The Gem of Hades was gone from the Temple of Regulus. The Temple that laid in Seiryuu.
"No..." Tsukasa immediately got up from the ground and ran back into the palace to where her room resided. Bursting through the room and not caring if she attracted any attention to her side of the wing, she crossed the room in quick strides to her bedside table and stared at the painting of her, her (ex-)lover, and a small child. She waved her hand and the painting dematerialized to reveal two necklaces hanging on the wall behind it. One had a sapphire pendant shaped as a teardrop while the other had a crystal one shaped as a feather. The crystal was glowing but the other wasn't.
Hurried footsteps were heard coming her way but she paid them no attention as she sank onto her bed. She finally looked up to see the other remaining Guardians and a few servants and guards there. They all looked at her, worried and fearful, but Rhea - sweet, sweet Rhea - was the only one brave enough to go towards her.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"The Gem of Hades..." Tsukasa forced herself to stare into the green eyes of her friend. "It's been stolen."
"WHAT!?" Everyone didn't know whether to turn to look at the fire Guardian or the wind Guardian. "What in the name of the four Gods do you mean by that!?"
Tsukasa waved her hand in the direction of the two necklaces, gesturing for them to look. She tried her best to not cry. "The necklace is not glowing as it should be."
"Do you know who it might be?" Rhea asked, going to sit next to her.
"I'm no seer, Rhea, it was--" She choked up at the name of her love. She felt as if she had betrayed him for not protecting the Temple that had been under his charge. "--he who knew of the future. Even if I possess the necklace, it does not mean I know who has done it."
"This isn't good." Kita muttered, although it might as well have been said loudly for everyone could hear what she said. "The Gem has the power to kill or take the soul of whoever the holder wants."
"Perhaps we should consult the Seer." Rhea suggested, wrapped her arms around Tsukasa's shaking shoulders.
"Great idea." Minami ran a hand through his red hair and looked away from the necklaces. "Come on, Kita. We'll leave these two alone for a while."
The metal Guardian nodded and everyone but Rhea and Tsukasa left. Making sure that they were all gone, Rhea turned to her friend and quietly said, "You can cry now."
And so she did.