Ch1: Return To The Book
Miaka looked out her window with a smile. Class was almost over then she would go and see Tamahome er…Taka. They would go to the café and grab some lunch then they would walk down to the river and spend the rest of the day talking and dreaming of their future. She was brought back to reality by a sharp rap on her desk courtesy of the teacher’s ruler. She swallowed embarrassedly.
“Yuuki! That’s the third time today. Will you please pay attention!”
“I’m sorry.” said Miaka a sweat drop formed beside her face.
“Ten minuets after class.”
‘Aw…’ Miaka thought. Taka was going to needle her again.
Suddenly the world around her started to spin and turn black. Miaka screamed but no sound came out as she began to fall. Suddenly a strong embrace enveloped her and she looked back to see Taka holding her as they fell. He was confused and looked worriedly at her. She tried to tell him that she was all right but as before there was nothing but silence. He smiled seeming to understand. Then the world formed again and they found themselves in a heap on the ground. Taka got up immediately and helped Miaka to her feet.
“Are you all right Miaka?” he asked.
“I’m all right but…” she looked around, “This looks like Sairou…”
“You’re right.” said Taka looking about.
“You there!” shouted a soldier who immediately started toward them. He was wearing armor of Kotou and was soon joined by five other soldiers similarly dressed, “Stay where you are!!”
Taka stepped in front of Miaka protectively and took a defensive stance when he noticed that the ogre symbol had flared up on his forehead, “Who are you, what do you want?”
“It’s one of them! Get him!” shouted one of the soldiers.
They started to attack when all of a sudden two people appeared out of nowhere and fought them, quickly defeating the soldiers, one punching and the other using a staff. Miaka recognized them both.
“Chichiri!” she shouted at the same time that Taka called out, “Master!”
“Taka! Miaka, no da!” exclaimed Chichiri as he walked over to them.
“Tama-I mean Taka!” smiled Tokaki as he rushed over proudly. He was young once again, “I see you two are doing very well.”
“How did you get here, no da?” asked Chichiri in sudden seriousness.
“I don’t know. I was suddenly falling in a darkness and I ended up here.” said Miaka.
“Same here.” said Taka.
“I’m afraid that you couldn’t have chosen a worse time for a visit, my boy.” said Tokaki frowning.
“What’s going on? Those are soldiers from Kotou.” said Taka.
“A demon named Shi, a friend of Renhou’s, had taken over Kotou and with the army that he built there took over Hokkan and Konan. Sairou is losing ground quickly.” explained Chichiri.
“Konan!” exclaimed Miaka.
“It can’t be.” said Taka.
“Shi is trying to capture all of the priestesses and scrolls.” said Chichiri, “Apparently when we were all brought back to life the scrolls were brought back as well.”
“All the priestesses…does that mean-“ stared Miaka.
“Yui is here as well as Tokiko and Suzuno.” said Chichiri, “And all of the seishi as well. Not just Suzaku and Seiryuu.”
“But, we’ve already had too many causalities to start off with and it’s only been half a year. Chiriko of Suzaku, Inami, Urumiya, Hatsui, Namame of Genbu, Kokie, Ameturi, Karasuki, Toroki of Byakko, Miboshi and Ashitare of Seiryuu. They all died in the past few months. It’s like we’re nothing but flies to them now. We’ve been fighting to no avail.” said Tokaki.
“Miboshi? Ashitare?” questioned Taka.
“Chiriko…” said Miaka and tears started to well in her eyes. Taka hugged her.
“Yes, even the Seiryuu Seven. We learned very quickly at the beginning of this slaughter that if we didn’t work together that we were all going to fall apart. It was Genbuseikun’s idea.” said Tokaki.
“After Nakago’s defeat they willingly joined our forces.” said Chichiri quickly looking about, “But we should talk more of this later, I’m getting a bad feeling. It’s not safe here, no da.”
“Come friends. Warm food and drink awaits you at our camp.” said Tokaki with a grin.
“Food!!” exclaimed Miaka then she went into drool mode.
“That was the magic word.” sighed Taka with a smile, “Come on Miaka.”
They walked a little away from where they had been standing, for safety reasons Chichiri said, then they teleported, five times to be exact. It was explained that the half a year was spent in combat day after day and that their powers were becoming weaker as time passed. However, after the final teleport they smelled something burning. Tokaki started to panic as he darted forward only to see soldiers.
“An attack!” he cried springing into action, “We must find the mikos! Taka, protect Miaka!” Chichiri entered the fray by Tokaki’s side. Soldiers were everywhere.
Miaka watched seishi fighting everywhere it was the most brutal fight that she had ever seen. The soldiers seemed to appear out of nowhere in droves. Suddenly she saw Nuriko enter her line of vision, she felt happy to see the purple haired warrior alive once again but, the soldiers started to surround Nuriko who was already sporting several deep gashes already. Almost unconsciously Miaka started to run forward to help when she felt Taka grab her by the arm.
“No, Miaka. You hide, I’ll go help them.” said Taka his eyes flashing angrily as the ogre sign appeared on his forehead.
Miaka quickly ran to hide behind a half-fallen wall. She peeked out past the edge to watch Taka aid Nuriko. Both of them nodded to each other as they finished beating those soldiers then moved on to the next group. They disappeared from her sight. Miaka looked around only to have her eyes stop at another wall. Was that a brown skirt? Yui! Darting quickly across the ground Miaka slipped behind the other wall only to meet someone else. The girl jumped when she saw Miaka but then quickly calmed down.
“Are you a priestess, too?” she whispered.
“Yes, I am Miaka of the Suzaku.” answered Miaka, “Who are you?”
“I am Tokiko of Genbu.” she replied then smiled, “It is good to meet you at last.” She looked around the wall then quickly darted her head back there were sounds of a fight close by.
“What’s going on?” asked Miaka.
“They found our camp and swarmed in. I-I don’t know what to do.” said Tokiko. She seemed to be getting upset.
Suddenly there was a bang as something slammed into the wall behind which they were hiding. There was a small cry of pain following the sound. Tokiko’s eyes flew open and she rushed around the wall, “Tomite!”
“Wait!” shouted Miaka running after her. As she turned the corner she saw Tokiko standing arms spread out between a soldier and a fallen seishi. The seishi had been knocked unconscious after hitting the wall; blood matted the back of his head from the collision. Miaka gasped he was one of the two Genbu seishi who had been guarding the Shinzaho. His bow lay broken in two pieces beside him. He was covered in blood.
“Leave him alone!” shouted Tokiko angrily; “I won’t let you kill anymore of my seishi!”
Miaka looked on for a moment, Tokiko was crying. It was then that she remembered that four of the Genbu had already died, protecting her no doubt. She wondered for a second how she would feel at a moment like this if four of the Suzaku had died and Nuriko or Tasuki was beaten this badly. How would she feel? Would she do the same thing as Tokiko? Miaka shook herself back to reality and rushed to stand beside Tokiko. She hoped that she knew what she was doing. She hoped that Taka would show up soon.
“That’s right. You’ll have to go through us first.” said Miaka. Tokiko looked over at her in surprise.
The soldier seemed to laugh for a moment then started to walk forward his target changed now to the two mikos. Miaka felt her legs turn to jelly as she tried to think of a plan but just then a longhaired seishi moved in to protect them. Miaka didn’t recognize him. The seishi grappled with the guard then feathers appeared and struck into the soldier sinking onto his flesh, however, the soldier had already managed to stab the seishi multiple times. Miaka’s jaw dropped; it was Tomo. Without the face paint and usual dress he looked completely different. She felt a familiar fear shiver up her spine and cross her mind as Tomo turned around.
“Hurry and run! Don’t just stand there.” demanded Tomo.
“I can’t leave Tomite.” said Tokiko tears welling in her eyes.
Tomo bowed his head respectively as if he understood her pain, “All right, let’s go.” He picked up Tomite and ran with them to a better hiding spot.
“Thank you.” said Tokiko as Tomo set Tomite on the ground.
Tomo nodded once more then rose to enter the battle once again when an arrow flew through the air and pierced into his chest; he staggered for a moment refusing to fall then lunged at the soldier who had discovered the hiding place. They fought knife to hand, the soldier rending even deeper gashes into Tomo’s skin until finally Tomo got the knife and plunged it into the soldier’s chest killing him. He twisted it for good measure then stood up triumphantly only to promptly fall to the ground like a rag doll. Miaka looked about then rushed out and dragged Tomo back into the hiding spot with Tokiko’s help. He coughed and blood erupted from his mouth.
“I never imagined that I would be rescued by the…Suzaku priestess…” laughed Tomo, “This is…amusing…”
“Be quiet, you need to concentrate on staying alive.” said Miaka finding the whole situation odd. She glanced over at Tokiko who had Tomite’s head in her lap. He was cataleptic and losing blood but his chest still rose and fell with life. Miaka felt angry; angry that this was happening and angry that she couldn’t do anything to stop it. The battle raged on, and all they could do was sit there and listen to the sounds of it: of people dying, of blood being spilt. Finally, it quieted down but they were both too afraid to go and look.
“I’ve never…thought that things…could ever be….this…” started Tomo with a smile, a pure bright smile.
Chichiri popped his head into the hiding spot, “Over here! Two severely wounded!”
“…peaceful…” finished Tomo then his body went limp.
“No, Chichiri, only one.” said Miaka then she felt a tear slide down her cheek for a man who had once been one of her most deadly enemies, who had lost his third chance at life for her and the priestess of Genbu.
Mitsukake soon appeared beside Chichiri and rushed in. He stopped at Miaka but she shook her head. Tomo had breathed his last. He moved on to Tokiko and knelt beside her raising a hand to heal Tomite. Chichiri entered and sat down beside Miaka.
“It’s going to be all right, no da.” said Chichiri with his smile though sad as it was.
“Miaka!” shouted Taka rushing to her side, “I was worried, are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” she answered forcing a smile.
They buried Tomo that evening and there was much mourning among the Seiryuu and Genbu for his sacrifice. After the small funeral they journeyed into the setting sun. They had to get to a safer place before nightfall. Soon the weary seishi who were barely hanging on to awareness found an abandoned village. They took refuge in one of the larger houses, probably the house of the lord in charge. Tasuki started a fire in the chimney and they made themselves at home as much as they could in the middle room. Nobody dared go off to the outer rooms in case of attack. Miaka snuggled in her blanket next to Taka and looked around. Yui was off to her right sitting in Suboshi’s embrace crying over Tomo’s death still. Amiboshi was at her other side offering a reassuring pat on the back. Soi stood watch keeping her gaze out the window but pain was on her face as well. Yui soon fell asleep in Suboshi’s arms, tired from crying.
Tokiko was surrounded by her three remaining seishi unwilling to let them out of her sight for a second and every so often she would cry only to be comforted by Hikitsu. Uruki brushed Tokiko’s hair comfortingly. She would exchange worried glances with Tomite whenever Tokiko cried. Eventually, Hikitsu was able to lull Tokiko to sleep. Suzuno was doing much better than the other two. She was sleeping soundly in Tatara’s arms thought the strain of the day’s fight was on her features as well but being enclosed in Tatara’s embrace seemed to end all of her worries for that night. She had a smile on her face. Tokaki and Subaru were curled up in a corner together; hands clasped around each other as though they were afraid that the other might not be there when they woke the next morning.
Chichiri and Tasuki were sleeping back-to-back best friends for the longest time. Both of them were exhausted from today’s fight. Mitsukake was asleep nearby with Tama-neko perched upon his chest. Nuriko came to sit beside Miaka and the sleeping Taka with a sigh and a comforting smile.
“Sad lot aren’t we?” he asked.
“I’m glad to see you again Nuriko.” said Miaka tears threatening. It had been several years now.
“Good to see you too.” said Nuriko ruffling Miaka’s hair, “Taka been taking care of you?”
“Yes, he has.” smiled Miaka, then she noticed that someone was missing, “Nuriko, where’s Hotohori?”
Nuriko frowned, “His Majesty is being held prisoner at the Konan palace. The only reason he’s alive is to assure the people’s cooperation.”
“Oh, no…Hotohori.” said Miaka.
“Don’t worry. I’m sure His Majesty Hotohori is all right.” said Nuriko with a convincing smile as if he knew somehow.
“I hope so.” said Miaka who found herself floating off to sleep.
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