A Vision of Escaflowne Fanfiction
The standard disclaimer: Yeah, okay I stole these characters from the marvelous creators of The Vision of Escaflowne...and Rurouni Kenshin too. Yadda yadda yadda. Please don't sue me ^_^ The main story line is of my own delusional imaginings. Blah blah blah. Please do not distribute. Thanks.
A Broken Land shall rise again;
Vengeance and Hunger as Guidance.
The Wheel of Fortune turns.
Feathers tipped in Blood;
The Dragon's Sword forged in heated Battle.
Thy Kingdom's Heart it shall possess.
Chapter VIII "Revelations II"
She knew she was dreaming. Everything around her had a surreal quality that made it feel like she was moving extremely slowly, her arms and legs feeling too heavy.
She found herself walking through the hospital corridors to where her mother had been staying. Vague afterimages trailed eerily behind the people rushing by her. The walls were an unhealthy white, made all the more stark by the sickly green florescent lighting. She could taste the astringent medical scent that permeated everything that existed in an institution such as this.
God, she really hated hospitals. Both Mom and Dad had been in them, and to her it seemed like once someone went into that place of the damned, they would never come back out alive again.
What a depressing thought.
She turned the corner, heading towards the open door of her mother's room. She paused when she noticed nurses hurrying in and out of the entrance, and the voice of her mother's doctor inside, barking orders frantically. The heart monitor screamed in a high, monotonous wail.
She peeked into the room. The doctor had that contraption in his hands, the one they used to zap the hapless patient with a zillion volts of electricity to get the heart pumping again.
The nurses were jabbing needles into her mother's flaccid arm, in time with the song of flat lining. The doctor yelled out "Clear!"
Waking with a muffled shriek, Seiki bolted into a sitting position on her bed. Her heart was pounding a mile a minute, her ribs throbbing in pain and her nightshirt soaked in a cold sweat. There was a sour taste in her mouth, a disgusting reminder of her nightmare.
"Oh god," Seiki muttered to herself, as she frantically rubbed at her tearing eyes. Her hands were trembling and she could feel her throat constricting while her short breath was coming out in painful gasps.
She buried her face in her hands and cried.
* * * * *
Van threw down his pen in disgust and sat back in his chair. He stared up at the ceiling blankly. Then sitting up, he suddenly messed up his hair with both hands.
"FUUUUUCCCCCKKK!" he drew out the curse in frustration. Falling back into the chair, he moodily stared at the pile of paperwork on his desk.
Van had spent most of the night awake, memories of Hitomi torturing him and filling him with so many regrets that he lost count after fifty. He was up at an obscenely early hour going through paperwork he hated simply because he could find no rest.
He still couldn't believe that Seiki was Hitomi's daughter. Eighteen! She was fucking eighteen years old! Van squeezed his eyes shut. His mind was in chaos.
You're not her father either, Van. Allen's comment floated around in his head, not allowing him any respite.
Had so much time on the Mystic Moon passed that he became really only a tiny part of Hitomi's life? That she was able to find another man, become his wife, bear his children and then die? That she would have born a daughter that was as beautiful and intelligent as her? And eighteen!
Van shuddered. He had tried to analyze it, explain it, take everything apart and try to put it back together again so he could see what made it tick. Regrets? Maybe. He wasn't the one who gave Hitomi the love she craved or the children she wanted. Seiki was not his daughter.
She should have been.
So wasn't he just trying to make up for those regrets? To make good on the promise he made Hitomi to protect her daughter from harm?
He FLIRTED with her. How could he possibly call that "protection"? Never mind the obvious fact that he flirted with her before he knew who she was. Shouldn't there be some gut instinct to warn people about these things? Van knew he didn't know much about women. They were puzzles he could never understand and never tried to decipher.
But he wanted to get to know Seiki.
She was Hitomi's daughter.
And Hitomi was gone. Gone.
His grief wouldn't let him forgive himself.
Bile rose in his throat as he struggled to come to terms with that knowledge. He knew that Seiki hated him right now for preventing her from leaving Fanelia in search of her lost brother. He had felt it in the audience chamber, an icy cold wall slamming up between them effectively cutting off any chance of any relationship whatsoever.
Van heaved himself out of his chair and started pacing in little squares of light that fell through the balcony window. He didn't know what to feel about Seiki. She intrigued him, baffled and utterly exasperated him. He had never been very elegant in speech, and the way she twisted his words and turned them against him frustrated him to no ends.
He stared out of the window in misery. How could he possibly find the words to explain to Seiki why he did what he did? Especially since he could barely explain it to himself.
Pride. He knew his pride was tied up in this somewhere. He could remember in every painstakingly humiliating detail the countless times Hitomi was there to save him. So many times she saved him, until the need to save HER consumed him. Even though she didn't want or need to be saved.
Hitomi's daughter didn't want to be saved either.
Van caught himself grinding his teeth together. Watching Seiki mop the floor with his best men only added salt to the wound. Even with her inexperience and injury she made the men's defeat look easy. Both Allen and Van realized the fighting potential she had when she fought with Calder. It was a bitter pill to swallow seeing such a small young woman do something very few men could even claim attempting. She held her own against one of the greatest sword masters in Gaea.
Why couldn't she be like a "normal" damsel-in-distress?
Because she probably wouldn't be half as interesting, he thought to himself sourly. Life would be so much easier if he would just be satisfied with some brainless blue-blooded little twit who had more looks than anything else.
* * * * *
After crying hard enough to feel like she tore her heart out, Seiki slid out of bed to head to the washroom. As soon as her feet touched the floor she felt herself slip boneless to the ground. Her knees felt like water and she was shaking like one of those miniature dogs that had no fur.
Painstakingly she pulled herself back onto her feet and slowly minced her way across the room, finally reaching the washroom after what seemed like eons. As she vigorously brushed her teeth, she wondered where the heck she would get more toothpaste when her tube was finished. She had a sneaking suspicion that she wouldn't be able to pick up a tube at the local market.
She could only thank the nameless gods that they invented indoor plumbing since Mom's last visit.
There was a knock at the door.
"Who is it?" Seiki croaked out. Her voice was toast.
She made a face in the mirror. Cripes, she really looked like something the cat dragged in. Her eyes were still a little puffy, but she could just put it down to the lack of sleep. Fingering her droopy hair, she caught a whiff of herself and wrinkled her nose in revulsion. She so needed a bath right not it wasn't even funny.
"It's Merle and Celena." Merle's voice was barely audible through the thick wooden door.
"Just a sec."
Making her way to the door, Seiki took one last swipe at her tired eyes. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.
And promptly fainted, falling to the floor in a limp heap.
Standing in the doorway, Merle held out a long pink dress, obscenely decorated with white lace and frills. Pink satiny ribbons adorned the bodice in quaint little bows.
Glancing at Celena, Merle commented dryly, "Wow, that was a better reaction than I thought I would get."
Celena shook her head. "You're a cruel woman, Merle."
"I know. Isn't it wonderful?"
* * * * *
Van looked up from his papers when he heard the door to his study open. Allen's blonde head poked in.
"What's this? Have you been testing some new herbs or something? Why are you working on your birthday of all days?" Allen sputtered incredulously. He opened the door wider and ambled in.
Van sighed and leaned back in his chair. He motioned to Allen to close the door behind him and ran his hand through his mussed up hair.
"Couldn't sleep a wink last night, so I thought going through this stuff would help keep my mind off things."
"Uh huh," Allen grunted as he studied the Fanelian King. "You know, you look like crap. Your Advisor is going to have an apoplectic fit if he sees you like this." He glanced at the time piece on Van's desk. "You need to change. Chid will be arriving soon and though I know he doesn't care what you look like, there's no need to offend his entourage. Something clean and neat. We'll go down to the barracks after. Calder asked me to do some demonstrations for the troops. Perhaps we can give them a show. At least this way, you'll have an excuse for not looking your best."
Van shrugged and pushed himself away from the desk. "What the hell. Sounds like some fun." Crossing the study and heading for the door to his bedroom, he glanced back at Allen. "Do you know what the girls are up to this morning?"
"I think they had some idea of torturing a poor little kitten with ribbons and frills." Allen said casually. "Merle really does have a sadistic streak in her, I must say."
Van pulled off his shirt and threw it onto his bed. He opened his closet and pulled on a crisply cut black shirt that allowed him to move around freely. He frowned at his closet. There was a lot of black in there. "Are you sure it's not just PMS? Merle can get really bitchy then. I usually just send her some chocolates and then she goes roaring out to do some hunting." Van rooted around for a pair of comfortable pants. Raden had been scandalized when he discovered that his King never bothered having servants dress him. Van took his privacy very seriously and had told his Advisor that he was perfectly capable of dressing himself. He pulled out a pair of black pants and grimaced. Not like his old clothes at all, but they would have to do. Not much of his old wardrobe survived under Raden's fashion tyranny.
Allen raised an eyebrow. "Van, if you think that's all there is to a woman's emotional state of mind, it's no wonder you know so little as you do about women."
Van snorted as he grabbed his sword off where it was mounted on the wall. "Now you just figured it out? For years I never had to think about anything like that. Had a country to rebuild remember? Not like I had the chance to learn any of the social graces or learn how to woo the women. I can't figure them out at all." He opened the door out to the hallway, pausing to wait for Allen.
Following Allen out, Van closed the door behind them. "Besides, I hadn't really met anyone I was interested in." *Until now* Van left the thought unsaid.
Allen sighed. "You know that you can't afford to live in ignorant bliss, right? Do you think it's coincidence that Raden managed to invite practically every available blue-blooded women in all of Gaea to your birthday?"
They walked down the long corridors, the early morning sun casting long shadows through the large windows. Van waved off Allen's question irritably. "I may be stupid when it comes to women, but I'm not completely senile. I know I need to marry, Allen. I don't need you to remind me too."
Allen chuckled. "I'm not saying you're senile, Van. But we both know that you should have married a long time ago. Even Chid is looking for a consort, and he's a good decade younger than you!"
They walked in silence for a bit before Allen spoke again.
"Are you thinking about Hitomi?" he asked quietly.
"Gee, how did you guess," Van said dryly. He ran his hand through his hair. "I'm having trouble absorbing everything she told me. I still can't believe she's...gone." His fist clenched around the sword he was holding. "Only six years. In only six years, she lived a lifetime on her world."
Allen winced. "Look, at least we know that she was happy. All we have to do now is make sure we keep our promises to her."
"Easier said than done," Van muttered. "Seiki doesn't want to be saved."
Allen eyed Van warily. "Who said that we had to save her? We're just here to make sure she remembers that she has help."
"I'm just trying to do what's best for her, Allen." Van responded harshly. He ground his teeth together briefly and tried to calm down. Still reeling from his nightly contemplations he found it hard not to be defensive.
"I'm not saying that you aren't, Van." Allen said. He shook his long blonde hair. "You just have to remember that she's not going to see it your way, okay? She's worried about her brother can you blame her for that? I know that if Celena went missing again, I would go crazy trying to find her again."
They both stopped in front of the doors to the courtyard. Allen stared hard at Van. "I think you should have a talk with her when you have the chance, Van." He held up a hand to stall Van's protests. "No, I'm serious. It won't do any good for your conscience if you alienate her this way. Try and make her understand some of the dangers that you told me about. If you don't try and bulldoze her sensibilities, she'll listen to you."
"I'm not even going to bother asking how you know all of this, Allen." Van mumbled as he pushed the doors open.
Allen laughed. "I'll tell you something, my friend. You may never get to the point where you 'know' women, but you will get to the point where you'll understand at least some part of them. You just need to get used to them, that's all." He paused thoughtfully. "You know, if Seiki is anything like Merle and my sister...she's going to be as easy to figure out as those mind boggling puzzles made in Daedalus."
Van cringed. "Oh shit."
* * * * *
"Seiki...Seiki. Wake up woman. It's not THAT bad!" Seiki groggily opened her eyes, and Merle's face swam into focus. She let out a horrified shriek when she saw Celena standing off to the side holding the offending piece of frilly fru-fru that started her whole fainting episode. She scrabbled backwards until she felt herself smack into the post of the bed.
Merle glanced over her shoulder indifferently. "Oh that ol' thing. You thought we were going to make you wear that? Don't be silly. Clarissa is just putting the final touches on your dress and will bring it up in a bit." She scowled down at Seiki's cowering figure. "You're a mess! This is going to take all day to get you cleaned up for the dinner! We're going to have to get Yana to help out...and bring our stuff too."
Celena tossed the obnoxious dress onto the bed and then leaned over Seiki to help her up. "Seiki, you look like hell, didn't you get any sleep at all?" she clucked.
Seiki groaned as she straightened into a position somewhat resembling a homosapien upright position. "Geez, you guys have a *bleeping* twisted sense of humour you know."
Merle flashed a feral grin. "Yes, and you best remember that." She glared at Seiki. "Don't you ever pull off a stunt like yesterday on me again, Seiki."
"If this is the result of it, you have my word." Seiki responded weakly. "I don't have the constitution to stand up to having my wits scared out of me every morning."
Celena laughed. "That exactly what my brother said when he found out that we were the ones who left this dress in his room." She poked Seiki in the ribs. "Though I have to say that your reaction was a lot more dramatic than his."
Seiki bared her teeth.
* * * * *
There were a lot more men in the large arena this time around. Calder wanted to increase the time the men were training in case the news that Dryden would bring was not good. It also wasn't difficult for Calder to pick up on the fact that Van was "displeased" with his top soldiers efforts during Seiki's challenge.
There were approximately a hundred men lined up in ranks who were going through sword drills. These hundred men comprised of Van's elite personal force, the Samurai Ganesha (1). Since today was a celebration on behalf of Van, the common troops were allowed the day off to enjoy the festivities, so only the elite force remained on the castle grounds. Calder had told Van the previous evening that the Ganesha were jumping at the chance to have one of the most famous Caeli Knights do a demonstration for them.
The young soldier, Horus, was leading the drills. He was the one with the sword who challenged Seiki. Art, the biggest man on the whole field by far, stood a little ways apart, training with his battleaxe. He was one of the few who could wield the much heavier axe as easily as Horus could handle the sword. So Calder had decided to single him out and intensively trained Art with the massive weapon. Both Art and Horus were of the dozen men that Calder commanded who operated the melef force that protected the castle.
"Your Majesty, will you spar today?" Chid zar Freid, the Duke of Freid, asked as they watched the men practice. "It's been a long time since I've seen you fight."
"Too long, Freid." Van said, smiling. "And call me Van," he chided, "I won't have formality between friends." He mentally shook his head. Chid was the spitting image of what Allen would have looked like in his youthful days. Unusually tall and lithe for an eleven-year-old, Chid displayed none of the awkwardness that boys at his age tended to display. Unlike Allen, the young Duke kept his blonde hair severely short because of the hot and humid weather in Freid.
"Only if you do the same and call me Chid." His blue eyes sparkling, Chid turned to Allen. "Allen, it's been a long time as well. I look forward to your demonstration. Who will be your opponent I wonder?"
It was like seeing double, Van mused to himself as he watched Allen banter with Chid. The Duke even carried himself with the same grace and self-assurance that the Ambassador did.
"Your Majesty." Van turned to see Calder striding towards him.
"Calder." Van paused, assessing his Chief Samurai. "How are the ribs?"
Calder grinned sheepishly. "A tad sensitive, your Majesty. The little one packs a wallop, even when she's pulling the punch. I'm only grateful she decided to hit me with the wrong side of her blade. If she didn't, she would have had more than just First Blood. I would have been spitted like the pig they're roasting for your banquet."
Chid spoke up enthusiastically. "Some of the soldiers here were talking about the young woman that your Chief Samurai sparred with, Van. They seem to think that she's something special."
Van hesitated as he glanced at the amused expression on Allen's face. "Yes, I suppose she is something special."
"I don't suppose that we'll get a chance to see her spar?" Chid asked curiously.
Allen chuckled as he pulled out his sword, nodding to Calder. "No, unfortunately she's been somewhat incapacitated. She's nursing rather sore ribs as well." He took a few warm up strokes with his blade. "You'll get a chance to meet her this evening though, if Merle has anything to say about it." With a flourish of his arm, Allen motioned to Calder. "So, my good man, shall we dance?"
Calder grinned. "So we shall, Ambassador. Good thing I'm not at my best, or I would crush you."
Van leaned back again the railing and watched as Allen and Calder circled each other, lightly testing their swords against each other. Chid stared thoughtfully at the pair before turning to Van with a concerned look on his face.
"I hate to bring this up, Van, but did you receive a missive from Drydan?"
Van nodded grimly. "Yes. I'm assuming that the news disturbed you as much as me."
Chid sighed and ran a hand through his short hair. "Though I was much younger, I still remember very well what war was like. It's not something I want to think about, if you know what I mean." Van grunted in agreement. "There were so many lives lost...I can't imagine having to go through that again."
Chid glanced back at the dueling pair as he heard a shout go up. Calder had won a controlled strike, a small rip appearing on the left side of the Ambassador's sleeve. Van had to remind himself that the Duke was only eleven. So incredibly young, yet having experienced the death of his father at the age of only five, the title of Duke had forced Chid to grow up quickly.
The Duke turned back to Van. "Will Drydan be here for the celebration?"
Van shook his head. "No. Drydan said he wouldn't be able to make it. Some delay at the port he's leaving from. He said that he would probably arrive a couple days after. You're free, of course, to remain after the party. That way the both of us can sit down with Drydan and find out what news he has for us."
"That sounds best." Chid said soberly. "If you don't mind putting up with our convoy until then, it would be much appreciated."
Van clapped a friendly hand on Chid's shoulder. "Think nothing of it, Chid. You know that you're always welcome here. At least this way, we can wait together for Drydan."
* * * * *
Seiki heaved a sigh. Just *watching* Merle run around was exhausting. Merle wasted no time the second she saw the pathetic condition Seiki was in.
Yana, the cook, was summoned to bring what Merle and Celena needed to prepare the three of them for the evening. According to Merle it would take all the time they had to get Seiki ready in time.
Seiki had a sense of incredible strength behind the larger woman. She had fairly light brown hair that was starting to gray and a pair of marvelous warm chocolate brown eyes. Her rotund face was lovingly carved with laugh lines and everything about her seemed warm and cuddly. Seiki remembered someone telling her that cooks with potbellies indicated that they were excellent at what they do because it showed that they enjoyed eating food.
Now, of course, just because warm and cuddly was Seiki's first impression, it didn't mean that it couldn't be changed.
Yana took one look at Seiki and headed straight to the bathroom to prepare a bath. Once the bath was ready Yana came back out to grab Seiki by the scruff of the neck. She clucked over Seiki while she dunked her into the tub like a straggly puppy. Seiki shivered despite the heat of the water as she surfaced. She did NOT want to mess with Yana. She had the strength of TWO Calders!
"Ah child, we can do so much with you! Of course, the Fates would decree that you would be the perfect slob!" Yana chastised. She shook her head in dismay when she examined Seiki's calloused hands.
"You're just as bad as that one," the cook muttered, jutting her chin at Celena who was brewing some mud-like paste in a bowl.
Celena grinned. "Haven't you figured out that I'm not a lady? I only have to look like one." She walked away chuckling.
After vigorously washing Seiki's tangled hair and dunking her once again, Yana picked up her dripping, disgruntled charge.
Seiki sighed again as the cook manhandled her into a towel and robe.
"Yana, I thought you were suppose to be the cook. Don't you have the dinner to worry about?"
"Don't worry about that, my dear. I have plenty of help." Yana hummed as she started swiftly detangling Seiki's wet silver hair. "Besides how could I pass up the opportunity to play dressup with the girls? Reminds me of the old days when I used to play with my dolls. I would have such fun shaving their eyebrows and plucking their curly eyelashes." She laughed at Seiki's terrified expression. "Aren't you a sight! I'm only pulling your leg!"
"Along with other things," Seiki muttered and winced as Yana hit another snag. Merle and Celena came into the bathroom with a tray of bottles, jars and boxes, and plunked it in front of Seiki.
Seiki's green eyes widened in horror. "NO! There's no way!"
Celena shook her head. "Seiki, relax. We won't use that much, I don't even use that much. A little makeup isn't going to turn you into a twit if that's what you're afraid of."
Merle smiled diabolically as she picked up a jar. "Besides, my dear, you're outnumbered."
* * * * *
There was a gust of wind before the swords clashed together. Van could feel the vibrations travel to his grip and quickly spun away from his opponent, Allen.
They were both out of breath and sweating like pigs. Neither noticed as they continued to slowly circle each other, eyes intent and seeking out any weaknesses in the other.
Allen lunged and Van responded in kind, their swords locking and holding each other in a test of strength.
There was a burst of applause and feminine twitters. The two men stopped and slowly turned towards their spectators, and to Van's utter horror, as small contingent of young noblewomen had gathered to watch the new Ambassador spar with the King. Raden, Van thought, as he ground his teeth to help to control his temper. Did the man have no sense of boundaries at all?
"Your Majesty!" Van groaned silently as he recognized the exasperated voice of his Advisor. Hurrying into the arena in his rather cumbersome robes, Raden wrung his hands in distress at the obvious disheveled state of the King. "Look at you! Your Highness, what are you doing out here? You haven't even started getting prepared for the dinner!"
Van raised an eyebrow and glanced over at Allen who stood to the side with a bemused expression on his face. "Isn't it my birthday, Raden?"
"But, of course it is," Raden sputtered, "but that doesn't mean you should run around with your clothes in THAT state..."
"Advisor," the tone in Van's voice brought Raden up short, "do not task me over something as trivial as my clothes while I'm seeing to the training of my own men. Was this your idea?" Van indicated the clustered group of silly women who were now flirting with the soldiers and batting eyelashes at the oblivious Ambassador. "If it is, I'm not amused."
"But your Majesty," Raden protested.
Van walked swiftly up to his Advisor. Startled, Raden took a step back when he saw the fire banked in Van's sienna eyes. "Raden, I understand the need for a consort, but I will NOT tolerate your little games when I'm trying to secure the immediate safety of my kingdom. *Do you understand me, Advisor*?"
Stepping aside, Van nodded to Calder as he spoke to Raden again. "I will be up shortly to change for the dinner. We just need to wrap a few things up. Now if you please, escort these ladies out."
As Raden hustled the reluctant women out of the arena, Allen ambled over to Van with a smirk of his face. "Van, you've learned to lie rather well."
Van looked at Allen with an innocent look. "I have no idea what you mean. I didn't lie."
Allen laughed. "No, not lie...maybe just stretched the truth a little. Who said your Advisor needed to know that you were here for fun too?"
Van stared at him soberly. "Don't say 'fun', it's an evil word."
The arena echoed with their laughter.
* * * * *
Seiki hesitated in front of the main entrance to the dining room. Merle stopped when she realized that her reluctant charge was no longer beside her. She turned back to find Seiki standing and staring at the open doors of the room. Merle could feel a smile starting to turn the corners of her mouth up.
Seiki looked absolutely stunning in an ephemeral sort of way. The seamstress had discovered an amazing translucent rainbow silver material that glittered and shimmered softly under the multifaceted light of the chandeliers. What Merle loved best was Seiki's large green eyes that they enhanced with smoky grey kohl. They decided to keep Seiki's hair simple, keeping it down, with only the upper part of her hair braided like a crown. The unusual silver of her hair struck a picture of crystalline beauty that reminded Merle of the sculpture that she had given Van for his birthday.
Though, Merle could bet that not a single person would suspect this delicate woman was hiding a foot long blade strapped to her thigh under her gorgeous dress. Seiki had refused to leave the room without a weapon of some sort.
As they walked through the doors, Celena took in the stiff expression on Seiki's face. She looked like a frightened animal caught in the stare of bright lights, wanting only to bolt but finding that she wasn't able to move. Celena glanced at where they were to be sitting and suppressed a groan.
The Basram President's sister, the beautiful Lady Jessa Kestral, was sitting across from where they would be, along with two of her highborn cronies. What did Van call her now? The bitch from hell? Celena struggled to keep the distaste from her face. Eighteen-year-old Lady Jessa was as exceptionally beautiful as her brother, Kerr Kestral, was handsome. They both had the same rich mahogany dark hair and striking hazel eyes. But where Kerr's eyes reflected the warm amber of compassion, Jessa's were cold and calculating.
That was one girl with high ambitions, thought Celena with disgust, her sights set firmly on the King of Fanelia. It was rather obscene the way she drooled after the handsome young king, and Lady Jessa usually made life miserable for anyone she thought would be competition.
Celena remembered when Merle told her about the poor beautiful girl that Jessa tricked into entering Van's private gardens. Maria was the daughter of a thane from the outskirts of Austuria. Jessa had the gentle born woman convinced that the private gardens were accessible to all, and that she would be free to look for the Fanelian King within. It had happened only days ago, while Merle was away on her shopping trip, which was superb timing by Jessa. Yanna had been outraged and immediately informed Merle when she returned from Egzardia. But it was too late, and to the Basram Lady's unholy satisfaction, the young woman was permanently banned from the castle's public gardens and events.
Merle was determined to make sure that the ban on Maria's family would be lifted, unfortunately the timing was horrible and trying to find a moment of time with Van was impossible. It would have to wait until the festival was over and Merle could sit down with Van and explain the situation.
Celena was also sure that Lady Jessa would eventually get what was coming to her. It was only a matter of time, if Merle had anything to do with it.
It was too late to warn Seiki of the hideous cow. Celena reached over and squeezed Seiki's arm in reassurance while she caught the eye of Merle and sent her a warning glance. Merle checked out their dinner companions and a dangerous glint entered her eyes.
* * * * *
A monotonous litany of panic ran through Seiki's head.
"God, I hate this, god, I hate this, god I hate this..."
* * * * *
"Well, well," Lady Jessa raised one finely shaped eyebrow over a cool hazel gaze. "What did the cat drag in?" Jessa's minions twittered over the thinly veiled barb. Merle could remember a time when Jessa had tried to shmooze up to the only person the Fanelian King considered as family. Although Merle adored Kerr, she quickly let Jessa know that she could see through her little manipulations.
Jessa still tried to become part of Van's inner circle by her own means...mainly her brother, but Van jealously guarded his private life and found it difficult to mask his distaste for Kerr's sister. Jessa remained blind and her obliviousness infuriated Merle to the point that their hostilities became open warfare. Merle learned to avoid any of Jessa's friends, as they were a shallow, hateful lot, interested only in furthering their own ambitions. Jessa, in turn, would offer nothing but contempt to those associated with Merle. Fanelia and Basram had both learned to disregard them.
Merle ignored Jessa completely, opting instead to address Basram's president. "Kerr, darling, how are you? It's so nice to see you though I won't bother saying the same for your sister." President Kestral took Merle's hand and gallantly kissed it to smother the chuckle that came at the expense of his maligned sister. When he managed to school his face into polite propriety, he straightened and turned to Merle's companions.
"You have met Celena Schezar before, haven't you? She's Allen's sister." Kerr murmured his acknowledgement. "This is Seiki. Himura Seiki is the daughter of Kanzaki Hitomi." Kerr's eyebrows shot up and he studied Seiki a little more carefully. The young woman still hadn't looked up and was in fact standing with a peculiarly dazed expression on her face. The poor thing looked like she was hoping something big would swallow her up and put her out of her misery. She had an air of fragility and light about her with her pale colouring and iridescent dress.
Jessa glared at Seiki contemptuously. "The girl from the Mystic Moon? What a laugh. If she's anything like her mother, than we know she has no refinement at all."
An evil smile slowly spread across Merle's face. "Well then, since Hitomi was the Van's Beloved, we know that he wouldn't be interested in someone refined like you, now would he?"
Before Jessa could retort, Kerr quickly squeezed her arm in warning. Unperturbed, he met her ferocious scowl.
"Best watch who you malign, dear sister. Hitomi's memory is more sacred than the private gardens." Kerr's voice was heavy with implication, making Jessa realize that her brother was very aware of her past conduct with the earl's daughter. Jessa shut her mouth in embarrassed anger, a faint blush prettily colouring her cheeks.
* * * * *
As Van entered the room, everyone erupted into good cheer. The young king was a masterpiece, courtesy of his Advisor. Beautifully tailored black mandarin collared suit with red and gold embroidery on the edges and cuffs, Raden had opted for the casual elegance that seemed to suit the practical king's tastes. A beautiful flying dragon was embroidered around the Fanelian symbol in the same red and gold on the left side of Van's suit. In Van's dark hair, an understated, simple gold circlet was pressed against his forehead.
Let the men envy and the women drool.
All eyes were on King Fanel, except for one pair. Seiki stared steadily down at her feet, concentrating all her effort on staying in one spot and not bolting at her first opportunity. She didn't even realize when Van entered the room and sat down at the head of the table until she felt Celena discreetly tug at her arm when they prepared to sit down.
* * * * *
Van toyed with his food as he pretended to listen to Allen and Chid's conversation with Basram's president, Kerr Kestral. Van usually found their conversations entertaining, but today his attention span was about the size of a pea.
President Kestral was only 28 years of age, the youngest president ever elected in his country. Kerr's hazel eyes had a twinkle that expressed the man's appreciation for a good laugh. He oozed charisma, even more so than Allen and yet was also intelligent and honest, characteristics that Van valued highly. The president was one of the few leaders that Van enjoyed spending time with and it was even better the fact that Basram was one of Fanelia's closest neighbors. Basram, one of the fastest technologically growing countries in Gaea, was another reason why Fanelia was able to rebuild so quickly with the wide spread use of electricity, plumbing and agricultural machinery.
It really was too bad Kerr didn't have the coordination for swordwork. The president was amazingly inept at learning arts to defend himself with, and he would often joke about his two left feet. Ladies who danced with him would sacrifice their feet for the privilege.
Van glanced to where the girls were sitting. Merle and Celena were impeccably dressed, and those who were unaware of their reputations would have never suspected what hoydens they truly were. Merle, who was sitting next to Chid, was trading verbal sword strokes with whom he liked to call "the bitch from hell", Kestral's sister. Not like he would actually say that to the Lady Jessa's face since she was one of the many noblewomen who waited in hopes of forging an alliance with the King of Fanelia. Even so, there was no way in hell Van would tie himself up with the "shrew".
Between Merle and Celena sat Seiki in her shimmering glory. She literally took his breath away. And she looked just about as miserable as Van felt. The desire to simply slid under the table and quietly crawl away was plain on her face and seemed to provoke Basram's sister's contempt. Politically speaking, Lady Jessa was extremely adept at picking out when a person was uncomfortable.
"Whatever makes you think that a silly goose like her would be able to find her brother out there? The mere idea is absolutely preposterous."
The girl had absolutely no tact though and at her maturity level was probably better at making war than diplomatic maneuvers. Van wanted to strangle her for mentioning Seiki's brother. He studied Seiki carefully and noted the change in her face as it went from misery to a smooth expressionless mask.
* * * * *
If there was one thing that Seiki knew for certain, it was the fact that she knew she wasn't imagining things when she thought she hated dinner parties. She could literally feel each of her individual brain cells die off as each minute passed during the excruciatingly long and drawn out dinner.
She was very careful to keep her utter boredom and confusion from her face, especially after what that stuck-up *girl* said about her mom. Merle had been trading insults with the Basram lady for the last couple of hours, most of which Seiki had lost interest in quickly enough.
Dinner was pretty good, but most of the food she ate she barely tasted. She only ate because she noticed the worried glances that Celena and Merle occasionally passed her way and each other.
There was the sound of someone tapping glass. Seiki slowly roused from her self-absorption and looked up. Van stood at the head of the table with a hand raised to signal that he wished to say something.
It looks so arrogant. Seiki stifled the irate sense of annoyance. The man was a king and used to wielding authority. Just what did she expect anyway, the guy next door?
"I would like to express my gratitude in having you all here to celebrate my birthday. I'm honoured to have you here. Although our dinner is near it's end, the festivities will have only just begun. Outside the castle in the town square, the people of Fanelia have started a festival in my honour. You are all welcome to join us in celebrating. Please, everyone, enjoy yourselves!"
Van's announcement was greeted with laughter and applause. Merle grabbed Seiki's arm in excitement.
"I love festivals!" Merle was grinning so widely, it made Seiki wondered if cat people ever developed laugh lines. Van indicated his departure, and then catching first Seiki, then Merle's gaze, he tilted his head, gesturing them to follow.
With Celena in tow, Merle and Seiki followed the king out of the room. Seiki speculated if there was a possibility that she had a problem with authority or something, because she couldn't completely squash the resentment that surged inside. She felt like a trained puppy, jumping to its master's commands.
Get a grip, girl. It didn't take a genius to figure out that she had some issues right now.
Allen followed up behind them and closed the door. Van turned to Merle and coughed in his hand. "You all look…um…fabulous. Did you enjoy yourselves? I sometimes wonder if I should have you and Lady Jessa separated sometimes."
Merle raised an eyebrow. "Of course I had a miserable time! And why would you want to separate us? Who else would provide dinner entertainment?" She laughed as Van unsuccessfully disguised the twitch of his mouth. "Honestly Van, you don't like these dinners any more than I do. Though you don't have much of a choice about having dinners, you don't have to let Raden plan them to go on so long!"
Van waved a hand irritably. "You try reasoning with him then, Merle. He's the whole reason why I dress the way I do now."
Merle snorted. "You know that he likes me as much as I like him. Which isn't much at all."
Van suppressed a groan. "Look, whatever. Take Seiki and Celena down to the festival. I'm sure you'll have much more fun there." He flicked a quick look over at Seiki before looking away. "And take Art here with you." He nodded to the giant man that stood quietly by the doors.
Merle looked at the soldier and then frowned at Van. "Isn't he one of the men that Seiki defeated?" she whispered.
Seiki thought that Van was starting to look a little harassed. The little muscles in his jaw were starting to jump. "Merle, appearances please. I know that Seiki may not need an escort, however, for appearances sake, could we just not make it an issue?"
Seiki felt a little sorry for the soldier, since it wasn't as if he couldn't hear Merle and Van's conversation. There was nothing really worse than hearing people talk about you…right in front of you.
She studied the cropped light hair, the big bushy eyebrows, the soft features of his face and mischievous gray eyes. She supposed he could put on a really scary face if he wanted too, but for some reason Art reminded her of a cross between a Viking and a really big teddy bear. He was the man who used the axe against her in the challenge. He was good, but not on the same level as Calder. She hoped that she didn't cause the man any grief for losing to a woman. She hated being the source of angst since it always brought more trouble than it was worth.
Before Merle could protest, Celena jumped in, grabbing the soldier's arm and dragging the door open. "Why don't we just go? Art? Let's go have some fun."
* * * * *
The main archway doors of the castle slowly opened and before Seiki's eyes the world became a swirl of multi-coloured lights and sounds. The center of Fanelia was filled with celebration, vendors and games dotted the sides, the sounds of laughter in the air as Van's people danced to lively tunes.
Merle squealed as she spotted the vendor that sold candy floss, dragging Seiki and Celena with her. Art followed behind, his large frame easily making room for himself. Seiki's face changed the instant they had hit the square, relaxing from its stoic expression. Art mused at how much like the King she was, uncomfortable with the formal events but much more comfortable in the company of close comrades.
As the girls headed back toward him, Seiki held out an extra cone of candy floss. With a twinkle in her eye she handed it towards her unofficial bodyguard.
"Enjoy," she said with a grin.
Mouth open half way to protest, Art watched as the girls turned away to head towards the goldfish games. Candy floss! Since when did 'men' eat something as silly as this? He stared down at the little piece of fluff in his large hand and then at the back of Seiki's silvery head. Pulling off a chunk of candied cloud he experimentally stuffed it his mouth...and smiled.
* * * * *
President Kestral wandered around the vendors with the Ganesha soldier, Horus, trailing behind with several of his comrades. Van asked Kerr to go ahead, needing to attend to a few things before joining the celebrations in the city below. Jessa had left with her female companions in disappointment that she would not be accompanying his Majesty to the festivities. Kerr didn't have the heart to tell her that Van probably wasn't interested in doing so. He wasn't blind not to see that Van would rather be in a nest of vipers than with his contrary sister.
Kerr could appreciate Van's preference for the simpler things in life. Perhaps that was why they got along so well. Although Basram was the leader in technology development, the president himself never cared for the flashy lifestyle. The basic things such as electricity he could appreciate as they helped improved the way his people lived. He didn't, however, believe in his predecessor's interest in warfare weapons, and after the end of the Great War and the assassination of the old president, Kerr had the research for the Energist bomb and other like weapons sealed or destroyed.
The Basram president paused at a small stall that offered sweet confections, among them his favorite, caramel coated apples. Did he dare?
The voices of ladies came up behind him. Stepping back, he allowed the ladies to go ahead while he wrestled with his momentary indecision.
"President Kestral," Startled he met Lady Merle's familiar mischievous gaze. Behind her, the Asturian Ambassador's sister, Celena, and Van's mysterious guest, the silver haired Seiki, bantered playfully with their bodyguard.
"Lady Merle, it's wonderful to see you. We didn't get much of a chance to talk at dinner."
Merle laughed delightedly. "Kerr, darling, if your sister wasn't such a bitch, you would have heard more than the regular cat talk."
Before Kerr could laugh at the apt remark about his sister there was a light touch on his arm, startling him for the second time in as many minutes. Glancing to his side, Kerr's amber eyes widened as he saw a caramel apple being held out to him. He raised his gaze, arrested by a pair of amused green-leaf eyes.
"You were staring at them with so much longing you reminded me of how my brother looked when he saw something he couldn't have." Seiki said apologetically. "You have the same puppy dog look."
The soldier with the ladies let out a guffaw. "Milady, I have a feeling that if you could you would feed sweets to every man who fears for his reputation, you would."
Eyes round with innocence, Seiki stared at Art. "I have no idea what you mean. I just have a soft spot for big, dumb animals."
"I hope that you don't think of me as dumb, Milady." Seiki turned back to Kerr with a dazzling smile, which made him blink twice.
"No, you only have the privilege of reminding me of my brother. And my name is Seiki, not 'Milady'." She waggled the caramel apple. "Are you going to take it or not?"
Kerr stared at the apple and then mused, "Only if you have one as well, if only to save my trampled manly reputation." The young woman seemed completely different from the silent creature present at the dinner. He heard rumors from the barracks concerning the mystery guest, but didn't have the chance to talk to Van about it to see if they were true.
Seiki searched the expression on the president's face and then laughed. "Men must be truly deprived if they can't freely appreciate the sweet things in life." She took Kerr's hand and gently deposited the apple on a stick into his grasp. Turning to the seller, she asked for more apples and proceeded to give one to both Merle and Celena and then one to each of the good humoured soldiers that stood around them.
As she handed the last apple to Art, he laughed at her. "Milady, I'm going to be stuffed like a pig by the time you're through with me."
Seiki rolled her eyes at the soldier. "Art, how many times do I have to tell you my name? Where you guys get the idea I'm a lady at all is beyond me."
Art grinned. "It's merely an address of respect, Seiki. Besides, after you kicked my ass earlier, I don't want to get on your bad side."
Seiki raised an eyebrow. "Is that so? Well, than call me by my real name and I won't have to beat you up again," she said archly.
Merle squealed again and grabbed Seiki's arm and started dragging her towards another stand. "I want that stuffed dragon! Seiki, you have to help me win it!"
Kerr and Celena chuckled as they watched the two ladies hurry over to the ring toss. Kerr twirled the apple on a stick between his fingers as he spoke to Celena. "So the rumors I hear from the soldiers are true then?"
Celena smiled demurely. "Which rumors?"
"The ones that say Van's mystery guest held her own against Calder the Great."
"Ah, those ones." Celena pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Yes, they're true. It probably would have been more interesting if she wasn't injured to start with."
Kerr frowned. "Injured?"
Celena shrugged. "Her ribs were cracked from a...um...previous incident."
"And the details being?" Kerr eyed the Ambassador's sister speculatively.
"The details are something you'll have to ask the King for, my dear president."
"Ah, I see." Kerr gazed after the pair throwing rings. "Your companion seems to be a contradiction of personalities."
"Not really." Celena shook her head. "She just blooms in different situations, that's all. Being in the same room as your sister doesn't seem to suit her very well."
"Yes, Jessa." Kerr heaved a sigh. "I'm hoping that someone will offer for her hand. As much as I love her as my flesh and blood, her crony ways I find less appealing."
"She wants Van." Celena put in bluntly. "She'll never have him, you know. I think Seiki would probably have a better chance and right now she can't even abide being in the same room as him."
Kerr laughed. "This is why I like to be in Fanelia. The women here are so honest, I don't have to worry about people lying to impress me."
They both turned as they saw Seiki and Merle coming back to them, the cat woman waving around a ridiculously plump, stuffed dragon that had a silly tongue sticking out the side of its mouth.
When the pair reached them, Kerr plucked the cute dragon out of Merle's hands to look at it. Merle beamed proudly and patted Seiki's shoulder. "She got all the tosses so she was able to pick out whichever prize she wanted." Winking at Celena, she said, "Any of the prizes are ours for the taking with Seiki by our side."
"You would think that you guys were planning to take over the world from the way you're talking." Kerr's hazel eyes twinkled with suppressed mirth.
"Whose to say that we aren't?"
* * * * *
It was getting late, the night already turning into the wee hours of the morning. When Van had finally managed to arrive at the festival, the local people surged and eddied around their king and his guards, eager to show off their marvels and share their enthusiasm. Trying to talk to Van would have taken more effort than any of the girls were willing to expend, tired as they were.
Merle and Celena both insisted that Seiki should turn in, both seeing the exhaustion in her green eyes. Along with Art, Kerr offered to walk with Seiki back into the inner walls of the castle, admitting that he was wiped out as well.
Seiki smiled tiredly at her offers for escort. Gently patting Art on the arm, she said, "Go ahead and have some fun, Art. You didn't get to see any of your friends while you were babysitting me, and since the president has decided to retire as well, we should be fine."
Art opened his mouth to protest. "At least let me walk you to the gates. Once you're inside, I don't have to worry as much because there's the guard on watch."
Before Seiki could refuse, Kerr nodded his head. "Seiki let the man do his job. You may not need the protection, but I can assure you I'm not as adept at protecting myself as you may be." Seiki raised an eyebrow and studied Kerr's expression, unsure if the man was joking or serious.
Art tried not to grin. "You see?" he appealed to Seiki, "At least the President shows some sense and understands my position. Women!"
Seiki stuck out her tongue at the big soldier as they started walking towards the gates. When they reached it, Art waved to the soldiers standing above to open the gates. Before Kerr and Seiki went through, Art nudged Seiki in the arm.
"Just so you know, feel free to come and visit us down at the arena. The guys would love to see you down there and maybe give some of us guys some pointers! And when you and Calder recover from broken ribs, I'm sure the two of you would enjoy having another go at each other."
Seiki smiled. "Sounds like fun, big guy. I'll keep the invitation in mind."
"You do that." Art waved goodbye as he jogged back towards the festivities.
The two went through the archway and felt the doors close behind him. The inner courtyard was blessedly quiet compared to the revelries outside. They walked a way before Kerr spoke.
"Is your brother the reason why you're so angry with Van?"
Seiki stilled, the open look on her face becoming guarded. "What makes you think that I'm angry with the King?"
"Although you may hide a lot through that masque of yours, the lack of reaction says a lot about your current feelings towards your host." Kerr frowned as they paused in front of the central fountains. The fountains were lit up softly, the water in the surrounding pools that lay sprawled around the fountains, glittered with reflective light.
Seiki didn't say anything, but instead bent down and took off her shoes. Hiking up her skirts, she stepped up to the ledge of the fountains and walked into the cool water. She looked up and grinned at the man who seemed more like the guy next door rather than the president of a powerful country.
"Do you usually provide yourself as a confidante to complete strangers?" Seiki asked casually as she walked through the shallow waters of the pool toward where the central fountain shot up in the air in a graceful arc.
Kerr chuckled and wandered to the other side of the rising fountain and looked intently at the slender girl across from him through the cloud of fine mist.
"If people are willing to talk, I'm always willing to listen." Kerr replied. "It's refreshing to be able to talk to someone who is frank."
"And someone who will talk to you like you're not some big shot world leader." Seiki finished.
"Yes." He said simply. He watched Seiki splash around before he sat down on the ledge and started taking off his shoes and socks. Seiki laughed in surprise as she watched him solemnly roll up the hems of his pants before wading in after her.
"Are you very close with your brother? Celena mentioned that you're looking for him."
Seiki didn't respond at first, making Kerr think that perhaps he had overstepped his boundaries.
"We were...very close, once." Seiki looked up at the Basram president's serious face. "I haven't seen him for over a year and we parted on very bad terms. I'm not sure how things stand between us anymore."
"I see. I'm sorry to hear that."
Seiki looked back at him thoughtfully. She climbed out of the pool, shaking the excess water off her feet. She padded towards the gardens barefoot before Kerr had enough sense to follow. Quickly snatching his shoes and socks, he hurried after the eccentric girl into the maze.
Seiki walked through the maze quickly, not really caring where she went. Her mind flashed back, reliving the wonderful, painful memories her brother evoked.
Her and her brother used to have a way of knowing what each other were thinking without having to say anything. They were so different, their personalities, but he was her whole world.
Whatever he did, she wanted to do with him. Seiki couldn't stand to be left behind. Seiji has always been bigger, stronger, smarter. People flocked to him because he had that magnetism that drew people to him. It was hard for Seiki to keep up sometimes, but even when she fell, Seiji would always stop and help her up.
Her father ran a dojo where Seiki came from. He taught different forms of martial arts like kendo and staff. What most people didn't know was that he was also a master of an old sword fighting technique call the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu. He refused to teach it to his students because the technique in itself was extremely deadly and powerful. It wasn't something that could be passed down to just anyone.
Seiki and Seiji's great grandfather, Himura Kenshin was originally the last master of the Hiten Mitsurugi and never passed down any of his techniques. But his son, Kenji, was somewhat a genius and was able to recreate and perfect the techniques simply by listening to the stories that were told to him about his father's great battles.(2) He passed those same techniques to his son, Seijuro.
When Seiki was five, Seijuro had chosen Seiji out of the two children to teach the old style to. He didn't want Seiki to learn the technique because since she was a girl he was afraid that she would get hurt. The training was extremely harsh and required a lot of endurance and strength, both of which Seijuro believed Seiki didn't have enough of."
Seiki was very upset to be excluded from something that she knew would take up much of Seiji's time and energy. She couldn't stand the idea of not being with her brother; he was everything to her. After all, she only five, he was all she knew.
Seiji knew how his sister felt, and begged their father to allow Seiki to train as well. If they did it in a certain way, their dad could be a real soft touch, and the effect of his two precious children begging together was too overwhelming for him to resist.
So Seijuro trained his daughter too. He wasn't too happy about it. It was strange, because even though Seiki wasn't as good as Seiji in school or other things, anything that her father taught her in the dojo, it came to her as easy as breathing. Seiji was good too, but Seiki didn't know if they ever knew how good they were because they'd always be careful not to hurt each other when they sparred.
A year or so ago, Seiji and Seijuro got into a huge argument. They wouldn't tell Seiki what the argument was about, but she knew it was about her. Seiki could see it in Seiji's eyes when he came to meet with her to spar. When they fought, it was different from any other time they ever sparred. Seiji didn't hold back."
Seiji pushed at Seiki's command because he came out with no restraints. Seiki wasn't able to hold back at all. Whatever restraint she had to prevent herself from causing any harm went right out of the window because she never had to fight full out before. All those years of training, always holding back, she was never able to discover how to handle her full capabilities. She was always too afraid that she would hurt her brother.
She lost control in that fight with Seiji, and slipped, cutting Seiji right across his chest. She shouldn't have been able to touch him at all because they should have been evenly matched. Seiji disappeared the next day.
Seijuro tried to find him. Three days after Seiji disappeared, their father got into an accident while searching for his son. The doctors tried to save him, but his head injuries were beyond help. He slipped into a coma and died the fourth day Seiji was gone.
Seiki's mother was an absolute wreck. In less than a week, both Hitomi's husband and son were gone. It was just the girls now. Seiki tried to help out where she could, but it just wasn't enough. Her mother fell deathly sick over the last year, and eventually had to go to the hospital. She made Seiki promise to try and find her brother and told her that it was part of her destiny. Seiki had no choice but to go because she was sent away by her own mother's dying will.
By the time Kerr caught up with Seiki, she had paused in a small clearing where there were benches and a small pool of water. The Moons reflected brightly in the still pool, almost mirror like.
"You never met my mother did you? The one they call the King's Beloved?"
Kerr shook his head. "No, I never had the pleasure. I was in Basram during the war stuck behind a desk. I'm afraid I'm not much of a fighter."
Seiki knelt by the pool and touched the water, making ripples run across the moons. "My mother died alone, so I could find my brother." She looked up at Kerr as he stood there, moonlight in his hair. "Do you understand what I'm trying to say?"
Kerr sat down heavily on one of the benches and stared at Seiki's crouched outline.
"Yes. I think I do."
Seiki stood, the shadows marking the angles of her face in a grim, determined light.
"I WILL find my brother, even if it's the last thing I do."
(1) Ganesha is the last name of Van's previous Chief Samurai, Balgus. Ganesha is also the Hindu god of destruction. (Information from the Escaflowne Compendium)
(2) At the end of the Rurouni Kenshin manga series, there are some notes made by Nobuhiro Watsuki about Kenshin's son as he grows up. Kenji (Kenjiro) is indeed the name of Kenshin and Kaoru's son. Watsuki describes Kenji to be as brilliant as Shishio and as twisted as Saito (or was it the other way around?), which makes for a very eccentric grandfather for Seiki and Seiji. I had a translation and site where this was at, however, it's disappeared and most of my notes are from memory. So if they're a little off or if someone can find those translations for me again, please let me know.
The Prophecy, original characters, artwork and links © Melinda
Ho, dragonmmho 1999 - 2004. All rights reserved.