Chapter 4 Winds Pick up and Lightening Strikes

            Shuten walked about the courtyard making his rounds thinking as he went.  Dais and Sekhmet had just led the ‘Unknown Army’ in a raid to the northern kingdoms.  For now they would have to be wary of Korin.  There was no way of knowing exactly how much Korin knew.  The two prisoners would not say a word about anything.  Kale was in charge of them leaving them locked as far away from their elements as they could be.  Rowen in the dungeon and Ryo in the highest tower.  Shuten frowned, it was amazing that those two were still alive since they were under Kale’s gracious care.  He sighed as he passed a group of training soldiers.  He didn’t see the use in all of this, why did they have to fight destroying everything in their path.  Kurayami was big enough to be five kingdoms why expand more?  Still it was not his place to question Arago.  He smiled remembering the plans he had for the afternoon.  No wind was blowing today; it was odd since the wind always blew around Kurayami no sono Okoku.  He walked up to Sekhmet who was awaiting him at the entrance to the Common grounds.  Sekhmet had kindly offered to take over his post for the afternoon letting Shuten go out.  Only Sekhmet and Kayura knew why Shuten left the castle some afternoons sometimes not returning until that night.  Sekhmet bowed.

            “Have a good noon.” Said Sekhmet smiling.

            “Thanks, Sek.  You don’t know how much this means.” Said Shuten patting his friend on the shoulder.

            “No problem.” Said Sekhmet, “Just invite me to the wedding.”

            Shuten smiled and gave a low chuckle, “Of course my friend.  Of course.”

            Sekhmet waved to Shuten as he mounted his tall chestnut horse and rode out of the town.  He smiled walking back into the town.  He had to take over Shuten’s battle prep class.  Sekhmet was a man bordering on insane from effects of his own poison experimentation and a bit absent of the mind but when he did have something important to say he made it known.  However Kale and Dais considered him useless for his absence of focused thought.  Kayura and Shuten were his only friends.  He nodded at Kayura as he passed her.  Kayura managed a smile for him but he knew that she was steaming mad about Kale.  Sekhmet’s yoroi was the armor of Venom.  He could turn water to poison by his mere touch if he wished.  Poison ran along the blades of his six swords that he used in battle.  Some believed that he was actually related to snakes but he denied that.  The season of his armor was(?)

            Dais walked by Sekhmet and managed a slight nod out of politeness.  He had to admit that he felt just the slightest pity for the heavy lidded man but he would never admit it in front of Kale.  Kale was the eldest of the masho being eight hundred and fifty one.  Dais was seven hundred and twenty one, Sekhmet was six hundred and six, Shuten was four hundred and sixty seven, and Kayura trailing the pack at one hundred and two.  Dais retreated to his room.  It was a dark hazy room beneath the ground level.  He spent most of his time down here away from everything else.  It was his only time to relax to get away from everything else.  Here his pets lived.  The spiders.  His was the armor of Deception and the spider was his guardian spirit linking him to what he believed were the most fascinating creatures in the world.  His Chi Lin Tou were his choice weapons in battle.  They were (insert description here).  Dais sat down on his bed and looked over at a tarantula as it crawled toward him.  His season(?)

            “And how are you and your brood today, Zephyr?”

            Kale stood at the top of his tower letting the sun shine down on him.  He hated the sun; it was so warm.  His season was winter but it was still spring which annoyed him to no end.  He wished that it would end quickly.  The light, too, he hated all that brought warmth.  He frowned; he was in a foul mood this afternoon.  Shuten had gone off yet again.  For someone who was supposed to be the leader Shuten didn’t seem to take his responsibility serious enough.  He should be training and planning not off at goddess knows where.  He should have been the leader.  He had seniority and a lifetime of experience but no…Arago had chosen Shuten.  That would prove to be a mistake, Kale was just sure of it.  He looked down as one of his pet jackals whined.  Yes, he wanted to kill something too but he couldn’t the night was soon to come and he had to stay at the castle.  His armor was the yoroi of Corruption, his guardian spirit the jackal.  Kale’s no datchi served him well in battle and none were fiercer in a fight than him. 

            Shuten reigned his horse to a halt as he arrived at a cliff side.  The sun had only just now started down casting beautiful colors across the darkening sky.  He smiled as he saw a form sitting there.  It was a girl with tanned skin and a warm smile.  She had bright golden eyes and long waving brownish black hair.  She was wearing a dark purple evening dress.  Her long pointed ears tweaked as Shuten came to sit beside her.  She playfully shoved him.

            “You’re late, mister.” She laughed.  Her voice was the envy of evening doves and her laughter the tinkling of bells.

            “You know I wouldn’t stand you up, Reinara.” Said Shuten smiling.

            “That’s Lady to you.” Said Reinara giving him a kiss on the cheek, then looking out at the sunset, “It’s just beautiful today, don’t cha think?”

            Kayura walked up to Sekhmet she seemed a bit nervous and on edge.  Instantly Sekhmet became worried.  His friend walked up to him and pulled him off to the side.  She looked up at him.

            “I have a favor to ask you.  It means a lot to me but it will put you in danger and if we are caught we could lose our lives.” Said Kayura quickly, “If you don’t want to I won’t involve you.”

            “What are the stakes?” asked Sekhmet.  He would help his friend no matter what.  He could see that the choice was made in her eyes and she would do it even without his help. 

            Kayura looked around then back at Sekhmet making sure that there were no prying ears.  She spoke her voice low, “Treason.”

            Seiji paced.  He had to get in contact with them, Ryo and Rowen were in danger he could feel it.  He had felt everyone’s pain when the armors had suddenly formed around them and he didn’t know why.  He didn’t have an answer for their questions.  He just didn’t know.  Finally Seiji sat down on a mat in his chambers.  He had told Cye that he would not be available for anything today.  He had to meditate.  Perhaps if he could reach out through the link that their armors provided he could contact them.  He had to!  He was worried and his heart was crying out.  Something big was about to happen; he could sense it.  But he wasn’t sure if it was for the better or…for the worse.

Shuten got back rather late this time, later than he usually did but he didn’t care.  He smiled.  Whenever he spent the afternoon with Reinara he always felt so much calmer and at peace.  When he was around her time seemed to stop as if the insane war wasn’t even going on.  It refreshed his mind and soul.  Walking into the castle interior paths Shuten decided to check on the prisoners before he turned in that night.  As he approached the dungeon there was a loud explosion, which rocked even the castles’ foundation.  Shuten grabbed hold of an arms rack to avoid being thrown about then he raced to the dungeon to where the explosion had originated.  Half the cell wall was blown apart but there was no trace of the prisoner to be found.

“Sound the alarm!” Shuten shouted running back up the stairs, “The prisoners are escaping!”

Ryo, Rowen, Sekhmet and Kayura ran across the commons as fast as they could, trying to make their escape.  Four horses awaited them just outside of the town.  They only had a few minuets before the soldiers would be on their trails.  Suddenly the bells tolled, the alarm had been sounded.

“What did you do?” demanded Ryo looking at Rowen letting his black hair fly into his face, “That felt like an earthquake.”

“With the right materials you can cause a chemical chain reaction resulting in an explosion.” Said Rowen, “Sekhmet gave me the materials.”

“The alarm is sounded.” Said Sekhmet looking back at the castle with worry.

             “We must hurry.” Said Kayura.

            Ryo looked up at the sky as arrows starting flying at them from the battlements, “Seems we’ve lost our cover.”

            They rushed toward the entrance; once they got out into the open they’d have more cover and at least could hide if all else failed.  Sekhmet smiled, for once he felt as if he were doing the right thing.  It seemed as if running alongside Ryo was what he was supposed to be doing.  His yoroi seemed drawn toward Ryo as if he were calling it.  Kayura had no yoroi so Sekhmet was confused as to why she had decided on this course of action.  They kept running.  They were almost to the entrance when an arrow flew through the air plunging into Sekhmet’s chest.  He fell with a cry.  They stopped and knelt by Sekhmet’s side.  Ryo frowned and looked up at Rowen.

            “Well?” he asked in a worrying tone.

            “We can’t move him without checking to see what’s wrong.  He has to stay still.” Said Rowen.

            “Then we’re lost.” Said Kayura sighing in defeat.  The arrows had stopped but she could hear heavy footsteps running their way.

            “No, we’re not.  You two run, I’ll stay with Sekhmet and see what I can do before they get here.” Said Ryo putting a hand on Sekhmet’s sweating forehead.

            “I’m not going to leave you here.” Shouted Rowen his brow creasing.

            “Someone has to get back to Seiji-sama and plan a counter attack.  Besides for all your intelligence you know nothing of healing so you won’t do any good by staying.” Said Ryo.

            “No!” argued Rowen then Ryo cuffed him across the side of his face knocking the younger boy to the ground.

            “Get going, Rowen.” Said Ryo feeling just a little bad as Rowen gave him a hurt look then he watched as his friend and Kayura ran out of the entrance.  Ryo looked back to Sekhmet.  What was he going to do?  He knew nothing of pulling arrows.  Suddenly he felt a warmth surround his soul and he heard Seiji’s voice.

            “Ryo.  Ryo, can you hear me?” came Seiji’s voice.

            “Seiji-sama?!” exclaimed Ryo then sensing that the voice was being carried over the waves of his soul.

            “I’ve been watching what happened but have been unable to communicate to you until now.  I linked to your soul and have been seeing what you have seen.  I can guide you in how to treat him, but you have to get him to a medical ward.  Don’t pick him up until you tie a piece of cloth around the wound keeping the arrow from digging in deeper.” Said Seiji.

            “All right, Seiji-sama.” Said Ryo then he tore a strip of cloth off of his long tunic and tied it around the arrow shaft where it touched his skin.

            “Now, “ came Seiji’s voice,” You need to-“

            Suddenly a hand grabbed Ryo’s shoulder pulling him away from Sekhmet.  He found himself jerked to his feet, his arms twisted behind him.  Turning his head back Ryo saw that it was Dais who had him restrained.  Ryo didn’t struggle, it wouldn’t help him anyway as he watched the other two masho joined them.  Shuten walked up in front of Ryo.

            “Where’s Tenku and Kayura?” demanded Shuten, “Speak, Rekka.”

            “Gone.” Said Ryo in his best imitation of Rowen’s antics pretending to look around, “They’re not here now are they?”  He was rewarded with a punch to the face.

            “Kale, go find Kayura and the other brat and bring them back here.” Said Shuten then looking to Sekhmet who was lying on the ground.  Shuten knelt beside him and looked at the arrow; this wasn’t good.  Shuten frowned then gripped the arrow shaft preparing to pull it free. 

            No!  NO!  You’ll kill him! Thought Seiji vehemently.  Suddenly he felt as if he were being pulled.  Seiji realized his mistake too late; it had been a long time since he had tried to contact someone through meditation.  He had been concentrating so much that he had crossed the boundaries of the astral plane and had sent his spirit into Ryo’s body.  He blinked several times as he found himself in his new body.  He looked up remembering.

            “No, don’t!” he shouted wincing at his borrowed voice, “Don’t pull that arrow out.”

            “You’d rather he die after he risked his life for you.  If we don’t pull the arrow out we can’t treat the wound.” Snapped Shuten looking up with a snarl.

            “If you pull that arrow he’ll die here.” Seiji shot back, “It’s so close to his heart it might have done some damage.”

            “If we don’t pull it now, he’ll die.” Said Shuten.

            “If you do, he’ll die faster.” Shouted Seiji, “I’m a healer, I know what I’m talking about.”  Seiji choked for a second.  He hadn’t meant to say that.  Ryo wasn’t a healer. 

            Shuten stopped for a moment and studied Ryo.  From what he had seen the boy knew only a little about healing surely not enough to be a healer.  That’s when he noticed something.  The eyes.  Ryo’s eyes were no longer a wild tiger blue but a shallow violet gray.  Curious.  He looked back down to Sekhmet who was straining for each breath.  The intense pain was apparent in his friend’s eyes.  He sighed and then looked back to those eyes.  He had seen them before he was sure, “Then what do you suggest we do now?”

            “We have to get him to the medical ward.” Said Seiji, “He needs medical attention.”

            Shuten thought for a moment as he studied Ryo for a moment.  Then as he had been told Shuten gently picked up Sekhmet being as careful as possible so not to jar the arrow.  He stood and started to walk toward the castle.  He looked back at Dais, “Bring him.”

            Carefully Shuten set Sekhmet down on one of the medical beds.  His sweat covered his face, “What now?”

            “Now comes a very difficult medical procedure.” Said Seiji, “Now either you can let me do it or I can stand here and tell you how to.”

            Shuten flashed a warning glare at Ryo then frowned, “Stand outside the door and guard.”

            Dais bowed and releasing Ryo from custody then walking outside the door shutting it behind him.  Shuten motioned for Ryo to come closer.  Seiji looked at him warily then stepped forward.  Grabbing him by the collar Shuten glared at him.

            “Don’t do anything stupid.” Shuten hissed then let Ryo go.

            “I won’t.” said Seiji looking back to the arrow, “Now let’s see.  I need the basics.  Lots of bandages and some water.  Three pieces of metal about the width of a small twig.  Is there anything that you can get him for extreme pain?”

            Shuten shifted through a cupboard then held out a jar, “This is chamomile.  What do you need three pieces of metal for?”

            “Just get them.” Said Seiji then turning back to Sekhmet.  He frowned, “Tell me where it hurts the most.”

            Seiji stood for a moment to get used to Ryo’s body then started pressing the skin around the arrow shaft searching for which way the arrowhead was turned.  Sekhmet finally shouted out at one on touch.  Seiji frowned even more.  Just as he thought, the arrow had nicked Sekhmet’s heart.  Finally Shuten arrived with the supplies and handed the shards of metal to Ryo.  Seiji took the cloth from around the arrow shaft and looked at the blood, which had formed around it.  After giving Sekhmet the chamomile Seiji took a wet rag and began to rub the clots out preparing the skin.  Shuten noticed that Ryo had put the end of one of the metal pieces in the fire of a candle.  Finally Seiji called Shuten over.

            “Hold the arrow shaft.  When I say pull, yank it all the way out.” Said Seiji then picking up one of the metal pieces pushed it gently into the wounds opening pushing the skin apart from the shaft with the other he inserted it into the other side pushing the skin away on that side.  He crossed them like a triangle so he could hold them with one hand.  He picked up the piece of metal that he had put in the fire with his free hand.  Shuten grabbed his wrist.

            “What are you doing?” he demanded.

            “I’m to seal the cut in his heart over.  If not he’ll bleed to death the moment you pull that arrow.” Said Seiji looking Shuten in the eyes then yanking his wrist free.

            Those eyes.  Shuten remembered.  He had been at the coronation of Korin no Akari.

            “Pull.” Said Seiji as he placed the metal piece over the wound.  Shuten pulled the arrow out with one swift motion and Seiji plunged the hot piece of metal into the open wound.  Sekhmet’s scream sounded throughout the castle.

            Shuten watched as what looked like Ryo finished bandaging Sekhmet’s wound.  The poor ex-masho had passed out from the pain.  When ‘Ryo’ had applied the last bandage Shuten grabbed his shoulder and spun the boy about looking deep into his eyes.  The soul reflected there was not Ryo’s.

            “Seiji no Korin Akari.” Said Shuten in surprise, “It’s you.  Why?  You endanger yourself and your kingdom for Sekhmet.”

            “He endangered himself for my friends.  That is worth a kingdom in itself.” Said Seiji then he felt Ryo send him back to his body.  He awoke to find himself sitting in his room meditating. 

            Shuten saw the wild tiger blue eyes return and knew that Seiji had left.  Ryo looked up at him, “Why did you let yourself get captured?”

            “People from Korin look after every one of its members.  There was no way that I was going to leave him behind.” Said Ryo, “Even if it meant being captured again.”

            “Sekhmet is not a member of Korin.” Said Shuten.

            “The moment he chose to aid us he became a member of Korin.  Sekhmet is welcome when we finally bust out of here to live a peaceful life in Korin no Akari.” Said Ryo, “And Seiji-sama risked his soul to save him because he is now one of us.  Do you know what it means to have a friend of whom you’d give your life for without a moments hesitation?”

            Shuten frowned as he took Ryo back to his prison in the tower.  Arago wouldn’t be happy with what had happened, and Ryo would have to pay for it.  Sekhmet would lie in the ward until he was better then he would pay for his treason.  Shuten went back to his room and was surprised to feel something slide down his cheek.  He put a hand to his face.  A sparkle shined from where his hand had caught the thing.  The moonlight shined down on it making it shimmer like a miniature universe.  It was…a tear?        


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