"A world filled with magic and adventures...
A land ruled by royalty and ancient times...
A place inhabited by the human heart...
Nagareten, a mysterious paradise open to those of great virtue.
Take a chance and leap into the darkness of greed, vengeance, and death...
And then rise on the heavenly wings of hopes and dreams."

Rising Paradise

(Yes, it sounds cheesy, but oh well, you survived it.)


Rising Paradise

created & written by K-chan

Prologue


The emperor, sitting at his ornate desk of gold, trembled as he maneuvered his inked brush across the paper. He sat in a golden chair that could have easily been mistaken as a throne for any commoner. It was intricately designed with slender-shaped dragons, symbolizing power and greatness. Paintings of lords and ladies spread along the walls with silk curtains draped beneath the banisters.

Fear set in his heart, thinking about his life, his family, his future, and his country. That feeling had prompt him to write the very words that will govern the future of every single soul in Morin. Ever since he was a child, he was raised to be a powerful and strong but also an understanding and kind ruler. He had set out to reform his father's semi-corrupt government, hoping to make a difference for his people. Now his plans seemed to diverge from its original purpose. He no longer had the strength nor the authority.

His wrist flicked the last stroke of the written word. It wasn't complete. There needed to be a name--but who? Who will succeed him to the throne? He didn't want to make a mistake that he would regret--even beyond his grave--and not like his last one. His thoughts wandered from his eldest son to his recent newborn child when a young girl ran into his grand office. She was dressed in fine, red silk with ribbons hanging loosely from her body. Her sleek, black hair contrasted magnificently with her ivory skin--innocent and pure. "Father!" she cried, carrying a doll in her arms.

The emperor smiled at the sight of his youngest daughter jumping into his arms. "Kaguya-chan, you bring me happiness." He seated her on his right thigh, taking a careful look of the four-year-old girl. "Beautiful just like your mother."

She giggled pleasantly while fidgeting with her doll's dress. "And I'm smart like you, father."

The old man laughed, stroking her hair. The more he stared at her, the more he realized how different each of his children were and how capable each would handle the throne. He picked up the brush and began writing again. He made his decision. He should feel relieved from the burden, but his mind kept telling him something wasn't right. He felt strange, looking around the room as if a pair of eyes were marking his every move, his every thought.

He quickly rolled up the crucial paper with curious, visible eyes from Kaguya. He held the item in his hands, thinking where he would keep the words silent until the given time. No one can know--not his family, not even his personal retainers, the Seihokou Clan.

He noticed Kaguya periodically yawning but trying to keep awake. It was pass her bedtime, and she was waiting for him to tuck her in as usual. He picked her up and carried his little girl with the hidden scroll tucked in his flowing sleeves of dragons. "Father," whispered the angelic voice, "were you writing an important story?"

"Yes."

She let out another yawn and tightly squeezed her doll. "Can I hear it for a bedtime story?"

"Not tonight," he heaved out an unnoticeable sigh. "But in due time, you will know the truth. . ." He gazed down and realized the quiet being had drifted into sweet slumber. "Kaguya-chan. . ." he whispered. He had been successful not to show favoritism among his children, but he knew well Kaguya had been special to him since her birth.

She was a lively child, showing more intelligence and wit at such a young age. Ever since she could walk, she would attend every council meeting he had. Unlike the times she's spent with him, she was quiet and demure, sitting beside him, as if she was encompassing every single event happening. Not even his two older sons nor his eldest daughter could patiently restrain themselves from the boredom of the meetings. But out of them including his youngest son, he had chosen his successor. . .


A woman, around the age of thirty, wore a simple green dress. She immediately got to her knees, bowing her head low, as the emperor entered the chambers with his sleeping daughter. Before she could speak, he gestured her to leave. She obediently listened, backing out into the doorway. When she was out, she quickly turned her body away and scurried to her room.

The emperor gently laid Kaguya on her bed while letting the doll drop to the floor. He pulled the covers over her small body and then sat by the edge of the bed. He was very disturbed, just knowing what was written in the scroll. Maybe he should change it? The life of a child could be in danger if anyone knew of its contents. What to do?

He bent over and picked up the doll. The delicate item wore a long, red kimono-like dress. Laces wrapped around its waist and floated around the body. The jet black hair twirled into two buns on top of the spherical head. He had given the item to Kaguya on her third birthday, and it had been by her side constantly. She would have it no other way. He stared at it immensely as if under a trance. His fingers examined the head through their slow, tracing movements. He held his thumb over its right eye for five seconds before gliding it down to the neck. A playful, clever smile grew on his face as a thought struck him.


The time drew close to midnight, the hour of death. She had to take action now. All her youth, she had trained for this moment. She knelt patiently at the low table, hanging her head with a cynical smile. She kept repeating the word 'patience' to herself. What was the old man doing out so late? She didn't care. He would eventually return tonight. He was old and needed rest.

She had not been in his service long--three months to be exact--but soon became well acquainted with his schedule. Right now, he must be returning from his evening walk from his daughter's place. He was a sentimental fool. That was one thing she didn't understand about him. She shook the thought aside as anger and frustration scorched through her blood. Her eyes shut. Her fists clenched. She began breathing slowly to clam herself, imagining swords in her hands.

Reopening her eyes, she saw the tea tray with everything she had prepared earlier. Her hands relaxed. She lifted her right hand towards the porcelain teapot while her other hand held her long, wide sleeve back, revealing delicate, creamy-colored skin. The warmth of the teapot aroused her, beneath her breath of disappointment, "Hayadoku..."

Her well-trained hearing skills quickly proved its worth when muffled treading of slippers entered the room. Her hands hid within the sleeves of her layered dress. Her head held low with eyes staring at the ground--so close, she could see a tea stain she accidently spilt when she was assigned the position. "A night of serenity greeted His Majesty well?"

The emperor stepped into the room lit with candles. He trudged across the room like balancing a massful boulder on his head. "Yes." His reply or troubled situations made no difference to her. She was present for a reason, and she was going to carry it out. She set her hands on the matted ground and pushed her body upwards. The fabric followed her graceful motions like the ripples of water. Her feet stealthily made us place behind the emperor, who untied his outer garments. Her hands rose to his shoulders and took hold of garments as he shed them. He sat down at the table quietly, keeping to himself this time.

She placed his folded clothing aside and knelt by the table. "Would you like the tea now, Your Majesty?"

"Please."

She tipped the teapot over the small cup, pouring an arc of liquid. Her green eyes glimmered at the sight. She set the teapot aside and raised the cup toward her lord with averted eyes. "Your Majesty." He accepted the cup and drank to the end of the day and the start of another. Their heads turn toward the entrance upon hearing a gong that echo through the palace. It was midnight.

He had heard it ring and ring and ring. . . The sound kept ringing as if there was no end. No end to the hideous sound. Midnight. It was late. His vision blurred and refocused. He blinked, hoping it was temporary. Too much stress perhaps. Feeling fatigue, his lips barely moved, "Leave early." He made an effort to get up but his body started to feel tense. Sweat dripped down to his neck, pushing himself up from the floor.

She sat in her place, amused by such determination. She teased her blonde hair a bit before clearing everything from the table onto the tray. She stood straight up--this time with no elegance--and stood directly above the old man. "Let me help you." She knelt down and pulled him with ease like yanking a child from his seat.

His heart raced fast like the sounds of hooves beating against the road. He could feel the end coming near. They were calling him. Their voices... filled the room. "They're here... They want me... No... I... Not yet..." She laid him back against the pillow box as he rambled on about 'them'. She would've been happier with his blood gushing through open wounds from her sword, but it had to be like this. She picked up the tea tray and bent her knees with a nod in mocking respect. She straightened herself and strolled out as any usual night tending to the emperor. But this time... it was her last.

As she exited, his voice calmed down to the sound of the wind--soft and empty. The Hayadoku had done its job. And she had done hers.


A week later, the capital city of Morin mourned the death of their late emperor and his third mistress. Many people paid their respects to the man that governed them--from the surface--and the young woman who captured their hearts with beauty and sweetness.

Within the walls of the palace, unrecorded events were happening. Not yet known to anyone but the first mistress, who resided daily in the outstretched garden under her pavilion. She sat by the pond, reflecting her own situation and her beauty. Eight maidens lined against the side, awaiting orders or needs from the mistress.

She looked up from the water and watched a group of patroling soldiers march by. In the far distance across the pond, she could see a soldier rushing down the wingind path that lead to her pavilion. From the expression of his face, the news were not good. She smiled with delight. The young soldier knelt outside the pavilion. "Lady Shoutori."

She observed the man carefully from his tied back hair to his polished boots. She was satisfied with him to hear what news he brought. "Stand, and you may proceed." She reached her right hand to the plate of fruits. A single grape couldn't escape her long, elegant fingers. She moved with royal grace, mesmirizing every pair of eyes on her. Her red lips grazed the surface of the fruit and engulfed it whole.

Standing firmly, he held his place and spoke calmly, "Before the death of Lady Amae, her two young children were kidnapped. The Council have discovered Emperor Tenjin's personal guards were responsible for this action."

"Kidnapped?!" she sneered, obnoxiously. "I seriously doubt that." She eyed the nervous soldier, "But what has the Council decided to do with the situation then?"

He swallowed hard, feeling the pressure he heard rumors spoke of when in the presence of Lady Shoutori. "Princess Kaguya and Prince Mikado could not be found but the soldiers with each of them are dead--some found in the forest borders of Morin while the others drowned at sea. The Council has classified the princess and the prince dead. And the Seihokou Clan have been executed for such acts."

"What other reports do you have?"

"The Kumorigawa estates have been reposessed and are in the hands of the Council. General Buraru had passed away--"

Her left eyebrow arched up with interest. "Is that so?" She smiled.

"Lord Murakami will receive this high position in Morin's Imperial Army. And... the young prince..."

"That is enough," she announced, knowing well what the Council has decided with the future of the province. To get her son the rightful inheritance to the throne of Morin, her husband's last words had to be found. She will not have the Council interfere in the authorities of an emperor. They will not have control as long as she lived. No one will stand in her way. No one.


TO BE CONTINUED... Chapter One: Paradise of Youth