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Series Title: Greenlings
Book ONE: Ai no Hanashi (Story of Love)
Chapter Number: Four
“Past and Future”
Author: D. Sanders
=============================


Dreamscapes are strange and wonderful, and oft times confusing. As was the current dream Keiji was experiencing. One moment he and Yuki were being rather risqué in the Hot Springs near Keiji’s home, the next moment the steam turned to mist and Keiji was alone. When the mist cleared he was sitting at the kitchen table in the home he had shared with Hana, and she was there serving him tea and her shortbread. Goodness how he had missed her cookies.

“Eat up laddy. When your mouth is full you listen to me.” Hana’s form said and the retort he began to utter was sprayed with crumbs and garbled beyond recognition.

“Cheeky Boy.” Hana said pulling up a chair across from him and sipping her tea.

“Right, no sense in dilly-dallying here, because time is important my laddy. You have no time and you’d know that yourself if you weren’t sleepin’ like the dead and makin’ the dead come and wake you up.” Hana began with her wry sense of humor still intact it seemed.

“That pang in your stomach, isn’t a cramp from your nocturnal lover’s games, you know your instincts better than that. That sense of yours only grows stronger as you come of age laddy. Heed it, you are needed elsewhere, so you must survive this trial. Take the little one, NOW, you must be gone before dawn. Take the Old Knight, the women and children with you, none of you are safe. He knows, and he is coming.”

“Who’s he?”

“A nightmare. Akurei Filth.” With that Hana spat in disgust.”

“AKUREI? HERE?”

“Aye laddy, here and leeching power from that little one for far too long, he’s grown strong, and he is a foe you cannot win against… yet. Get out and head home, you will be met along the way with help, I’ve sent them, and they are coming, look for them on the Road to Green Grove.”

“Who’s coming?”

“You will see.”

“Damn you Kasan! You always tease.”

“I know, keeps you sharp. You will know when it is time for you to know and not before my pet. Now make haste, your time is dwindling.”

With that the mists cleared and Keiji woke up in a cold sweat, the gnawing in the pit of his stomach a sure sign of eminent danger.

Yuki was fitfully tossing, picking up on Keiji’s fret. “Come on Snowdrop, we gotta get out of here… NOW.” Keiji urged bringing Yuki to wakefulness and running about pulling on clothes and trying to find the warmest he had to bundle Yuki into.

“What’s wrong?”

“Yogore is more than we can handle. He’s more than I expected, and I’ll explain on the way. You dress in all those garments I laid out there, you’ll need the warmth then eat that bread, it’s not too hard yet. You’ll need that too, I’m off to rouse the others, we all have to get out, and we’ll need horses. I’ll be right back.” Keiji said kissing Yuki’s cheek in a hurry as he shoved an apple into his mouth as he ran off down the hall toward the kitchen. He knew where Sumire’s quarters were -- she’d guide him and help wake the others.

It didn’t take long to have Sumire up and young Tohru dressed and running to wake his Grandfather and cousins with a message that Kodai was to come to the stables immediately.

Leaving Sumire to pack travel rations, Keiji went to collect Yuki and then head out to the stables.

“Come on love, hurry. The sun will be up soon and we have to be gone before it rises.”

Yuki didn’t need to be told twice and took Keiji’s hand as they ran down the halls, Yuki wincing a time or two.

“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” Keiji paused noticing Yuki’s unusual gait.

“Um, just a little out of sorts this morning.”

“Out of sorts?”

“I’m a little sore.”

“Sore?”

“Keiji don’t be daft.” Yuki’s tone was more amused than aggravated.

It took a moment for it to dawn on Keiji just what the problem was… “Oh Goodness, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be Koi. Believe me, it’s worth the morning after.” Yuki smiled as they came into the courtyard and met by an alert Kodai and Jujun carrying her younger sister, all of them dressed for hard riding in inclement weather.

“I got four horses. You and Lord Yuki on one, Sumire and Tohru on the Other, I’ll carry Saya, and Jujun can outride us all if need be, she’s quite the expert and she’ll carry our rations.” Kodai said leading the horses as Sumire and Tohru came rushing out loaded with sacks.

Keiji began handing provisions to Kodai who instantly went to work tying down the sacks on Jujun’s mare, lashing them tight and giving her a hand up. Then Keiji turned to his and Yuki’s mount, a beautiful stallion in his prime. Chestnut brown from nose to tail, a simply magnificent creature he was to behold. He whickered a little at Keiji’s approach, but he was trained well and didn’t shy away or bolt in his obviously nervous state.

“Horses never like me. I can’t for the life of me figure it out. It’s alright, I won’t eat you.” Keiji reassured then examined the saddle. “We’ll need a pillow, Tohru please fetch me one please, Yuki will fall apart on this without some cushioning.”

Tohru was gone only a moment and tossing the procured pillow to Keiji, who set to work affixing it to the saddle, Tohru took up his own place in front of his Grandmother, with his own pillow, and one for Saya.

“Clever lad” Keiji chuckled as he turned to Yuki. “Right love, let’s get you up here, and I promise I’ll let you kick my backside for the pain you’re going to be in this night. I’m so sorry.” Keiji said as Yuki settled on the saddle and Keiji climbed up behind him.

“How sore?”

“Well let’s just say I know my balls will be on fire tonight, I don’t ride often either. Horses don’t like me.”

“Wonderful.” Yuki said with a hint of sarcasm as Keiji turned to the others.

“We head for Green Grove as fast we can, I’ve been told we’ll be met along the way by help, but I don’t know by whom. We have to beat Yogore, and I’ll explain when we pause for food why we have to leave so quickly. Let’s Ride!” Keiji finished with a click of his tongue and four horses burst out into the pre-dawn darkness headed north on swift hooves.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Yogore Ijiwaru stood in Yuki’s empty chamber and fumed. “That was fast, I underestimated you young handsome Red.” He muttered kicking the chain that lay abandoned on the floor, then moving to the adjoining room and examining the bed, that looked hastily vacated.

“Very fast indeed.” Yogore added noting the tell tale signs that more had occurred in that bed than just sleeping. “Can’t say I blame you, the bastard cries so deliciously.”

Yogore smirked as he grabbed his riding gloves, judging from the energy generated by their haste, they had maybe two or three hours lead, and knowing the Bastard as well as he did, riding hard would not be an option, he’d rattle apart, even if they did seem to get the collar off he’d spent quite a few years fusing to that boy’s neck, he couldn’t have possibly healed enough in less than forty-eight hours to endure a hard ride a horseback.

He had plenty of time to catch up; he had a few tricks up his sleeve too. And they knew, or suspected at least one. He was no mere Jinrui weakling. He tolerated Akui because the man was usable toward his agenda, the bastard was not necessary, but when such a wealth of power to drink from was handy, one didn’t let it loose so easily.

“It might be for the best. Let him know precisely what he’s missing. All the more pain when it all goes away… right in front of his very eyes. Poor foolish children, but my gain in the end.” Yogore was laughing as he headed back out to his horse and mounted. Spurring the black war stallion north on swift hooves, the hunter was in the mood for sport, and his dark, handsome face wore an evil grin of lust as he rode up the North Road towards Green Grove.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Seven riders rode until mid-morning, and a muted sob from Yuki made Keiji pull back on the reigns. “WHOA!! Yuki? Love?”

When Yuki’s pain filled face, still damp with tears turned to look up at his lover, Keiji felt like a cad for not noticing before. In his defense however, he was rather focused on staying on the horse himself and the gnawing panic in the pit of his stomach. “Yuki, love, why didn’t you say something?”

“We need to hurry, I am f-fine.”

“You’re not fine. We take a rest, we have time enough for a quick meal I refuse to see you suffer in silence.” Keiji stated brooking no argument, and steered the horse off the road and into the tree-cover nearby.

Once he was satisfied they were out of sight, he slid down and his heart stopped. The pillow Yuki had been sitting on was saturated with blood, and Yuki nearly toppled off his perch since Keiji was no longer wrapped around from behind to support him. “Oh, merciful goddess. YUKI!” Keiji captured his lover in his arms as he gently laid him down on the ground.

“Basan! I need help! We need anything that can be used as a bandage, Tohru, find fresh water if you can.” Keiji was now officially panicked, Yuki had lost an obscene amount of blood, and the source of the injury was still unknown. “Yuki, let me see love.” Keiji cooed softly peeling away three layers of breeches as Sumire walked over with strips of cloth torn from hers and Jujun’s garments.

“Don’t be embarrassed little one, I’ve some healers skill I need to see.” Sumire said as Keiji helped turn Yuki over who was decidedly out of sorts. His eyes were glazed and his breathing shallow.

“Basan? How on earth can there be so much? I don’t see a wound.” Keiji said as they both wiped the blood free.

“It’s on the inside Love. Beyond my talents, he’s bleeding from within. He’s so thin, I can only guess that his body can’t handle this abuse, I fear something on the inside has ruptured or has torn. We’ve ridden hard for the past four hours, I’m sore, even Jujun, who is an expert rider is hobbling a little. I fear we’ve put Yuki through too much too soon.”

Keiji was in silent tears as he laid Yuki’s head in his lap and stroked his face. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He muttered over and over as he leaned over to kiss Yuki’s brow. Tohru managed to find a small stream and was carrying a small container full of water and dipping a strip of cloth in the cool water Sumire tried soothing the abuse, and she was not happy at the constant blood loss. Keiji used another strip to dribble cool water into Yuki’s mouth.

“Keiji, please. I can ride.” Yuki tried to protest, weakly, his voice hardly more than a whisper.

“No you cannot. I should have never put you on that beast. I’ll get you to Green Grove another way.” Keiji vowed, looking up at Sumire who sadly shook her head. He needed to heal on his own, it was beyond her.

“Kodai, take the others and go, I’ll meet you there somehow, I’ll find a way if I have to carry him every step. But Yogore is on our trail, Every minute we waste the closer he gets. Help me get Yuki into to deeper cover, close to that stream Tohru found. I have my bow and my sword, I can get him some fresh meat to eat, just leave me a few of the rations just in case I’m not lucky. Then I want you all back on the road to Green Grove. It’s Yuki, Yogore is after, there’s no sense in you getting involved here.” Keiji began thinking on his feet as He and Kodai gently moved Yuki to a small grove of evergreens near the stream.

They tied the horse where he could easily drink and graze on the tall grasses along the bank out of sight. Keiji took the saddle blanket off the horse, and laid it over a bed of pine needles for a makeshift bed to ease Yuki’s shaken body. Then laid his cloak over Yuki to keep him warm, then turned and slung a small sack of rations over a tree branch to keep it off the ground. “All right, the rest of you eat fast and get back on the road. I don’t like this feeling in my gut. Not in the slightest.” Keiji said turning back to Yuki who was growing exceedingly pale. “Yuki?”

“I’m all right.” Yuki gave a weak smile as Keiji sat down to once again rest Yuki’s head in his lap, running soothing fingers through Yuki’s wind whipped hair.

“Liar. Just lay still and hopefully that wondrous healing gift you possess will get to work on what we can’t see.” Keiji’s voice belied he held little hope, but hope was all they had.

The others seemed reluctant to leave, but did as Keiji ordered and after just a few minutes were already back on the road. Keiji made sure to cover their tracks so it wasn’t obvious someone had left the road, and hurried back to Yuki’s side.

He was even worse, it was obvious the deathlike sleep was from loss of blood and Keiji was worried. The bleeding had slowed, but he was still having to dab away the small trickle that refused to stop. “Fight Yuki, stay with me snowdrop.” Keiji whispered as he heard the snap of a twig.

He was ready with bow drawn in a flash, silently listening as the steps came closer through the forest deadfall. From the sound it was two people, and his inner alarm wasn’t indicating it was Yogore, but still being cautious was prudent.

Two figures, wrapped in heavy cloaks appeared slowly hands up in a gesture of goodwill. Their cloaks were of a distinctly Shizen style and the taller of the pair spoke in a soft lilting baritone. “We are here to help, Hana has sent us. Please do not fire your arrow, your reputation on the mark precedes you Kojiro Keiji.”

With a sigh of relief Keiji lowered his bow. “By the Celestial Goddesses, I am pleased. Tell me one of you is a healer.”

“I am.” The shorter of the pair spoke, a women of commanding yet gentle tones. Her hood fell back to reveal a woman like no other Keiji had ever seen, yet at the same time so familiar it was as if she had always been near. Her hair was a brilliant blue and her skin almost alabaster dusted in silver as it gradually shifted into a hue that matched her hair. Iridescent scales framed her face and the backs of her hands. Her eyes large and wide, and the same startling peacock blue like Keiji’s.

She was neither human or Shizen, and as mysterious as she looked, she seemed just the opposite when it came to the feelings she evoked from within. Keiji instinctively knew this woman, yet did not know how.

“A boy always knows his true mother.” She said smiling and meeting Keiji’s eyes fondly and full of unmistakable motherly love. “That is why you feel no threat. Because I would never harm my son or his Koibito.”

Keiji was dumbstruck, his mother? It couldn’t be, he had been orphaned and raised by Hana, this woman looked hardly older than he, yet she claimed to be his mother. It didn’t make sense.

“It does not make sense, but it shall when we have time to talk.” She said kneeling beside the sleeping Yuki and laying her hands to his cheeks. “Always you look the same Yuki, I would know this one any where.” Was all she said as she began to faintly glow a soft muted blue-green. A healer’s aura.

It was then Keiji noticed the man beside her kneel, with his hood pulled back, it was startlingly clear the power this man possessed, the henna markings on his face denoting his elevated status. Three small circles under each eye, and one in the center of his forehead denoting the seven levels of virtue. “Gi” Rectitude, “Yu” Valor, “Jin” Benevolence, “Rei” Respect, “Makoto” Honesty, “Meiyo” Honor and “Chugi” Loyalty. In addition to the virtue markings, also under his left eye, along the cheek bone the marking of the Shinsei Mahotsukai, a simple swirled knot that resembled the intricate curves of grapevines, There was but one level higher than this man in power, and that had only ever been obtained by one other, the legendary Shinsei Mahotsukai no Ryu, the eternal lover of the Dragon Star, the Hoshi no Ryu. They appeared every seven hundred years according to legend, but they certainly had not been around in a very long time…

However, that was not what caught Keiji’s immediate attention, the man’s cheeks were wet with tears and his icy blue, almost silver eyes showing a man full of sorrow.

Before Keiji could formulate the question, it was answered.

“I thought him lost forever. My lover had only just conceived him, and had gone to the shrine to give thanks… I never saw her again. I searched for months without a hope, there was no trace. I thought them both gone. When Hana came to me two nights ago in a dream saying my son was alive and needing help, I still dared not believe in a hope. Yet here I see him, and his face is hers. His aura is mine, this is my son.”

“And I knew no Jinrui could be his sire. Hikari Juyo, Ran no Nawabari, Highest order of Shinsei.” Keiji gave him a respectful bow, this man was notably the most powerful of the Shizuka in all the clans combined. With this man as father, it was suddenly exceedingly clear how Yuki had managed to survive all these years bound in a collar of deadly iron.

Juyo smiled with kindness and extended a hand to Keiji. “I have gained more than one son this day. I am Juyo to you, and eternally grateful you have guided him home.”

“He is my Koibito, I could not leave him behind if I tried.” Keiji smiled in return taking Juyo’s hand and shaking.

“Nay, in every lifetime you are both bonded in life and in death. One cannot exist without the other.” Keiji’s mother chimed in her eyes still closed in concentration, yet able to respond to the conversation around her.

“What do you mean every lifetime?” Keiji asked and she only smiled.

“I take it he does not know Aoi?” Juyo asked and she shook her head.

“Know what?”

“I’m afraid it is not my place to tell you my boy. But you will know.”

“I really despise that sort of answer to a question.” Keiji huffed but did not press, his concern was on his beloved and the threat drawing nearer by the minute.

“Yes dear. You always did. Patience has never been one of your virtues in any life. Yuki is the one with the abundance of patience, he puts up with you after all.” Aoi smiled almost wickedly as Yuki stirred slightly. “It seems I was not needed as anything other than support he was already in the healing trance on his own. He is strong, he had already healed the part of his internal organs that were damaged. The poor dear, his own bones did this to him, he is so thin. However, this injury has been a catalyst, He has tapped his full potential already while still so young, but then Yuki always remembers quite early on who he is, this really surprises me not. All He ever needed was purpose to see clearly, he has seen who he is, and I dare say will wake up far wiser than he was when he began this trance. He has gone quite deep within, where the secrets lay dormant until needed” Aoi said as her aura began to fade and Yuki let out a small whimper.

Keiji was by his side in an instant, clasping a hand tightly. Yuki was still asleep, but his face was troubled. “TETSUYA!” Yuki sobbed in lament and sorrow, still caught in his trance.

“He is too deep!” Aoi gasped ripping Yuki’s hand out of Keiji’s. “Do not touch him until he comes out. He is remembering too keenly and your touch will amplify the memory.”

“What memory?”

“Your last life, and judging from that cry his torment for being too late to save you.”

“Alright, talk to me. What is going on here? What do you know?” Keiji demanded and Aoi sighed.

“My son, I had hoped you would have had time to come of proper age before any of your destinies became apparent. This time around, it seems the world will need you far sooner than before.” Aoi began moving to rest Yuki’s head in her lap, stroking his brow to calm the youth in torment.

“Have you heard the legends of the Hoshi no Ryu?”

“What child, Jinrui or Shizen hasn’t?”

“You ARE the Hoshi no Ryu my son.” Aoi said bluntly and to the point.

“Horse shit.”

“It’s true. Believe or not.”

“Last I heard, the Hoshi no Ryu is a DRAGON, I hardly look like a dragon.”

“Do I look like a dragon?” Aoi asked and Keiji huffed.

“Odd, but not a dragon.”

In that moment, Aoi changed, and her form shifted into an elegant serpentine shape with bright sapphire and peacock blue scales, with silver accents that shimmered like the night sky with an otherworldly light.

“My name is Ryu Aoi, I was born from the infant seas and stars, I have lived since before time was measured and I shall live until all the stars fade. I was never a child and I shall never grow old. I have born a thousand sons, all of them with the same mortal soul. I have given birth to you a thousand times, and I shall a thousand more. You live every seven hundred years, you are the peacekeeper, the land changer, the guardian of light, and the balance of Darkness. You bring order to chaos, and change to that that has grown stagnant. You are a paradox, you are my one son, my only son, in his newest reincarnation.” Aoi spoke as she changed back into her “human” guise.

“Shit.” Was all that managed to be said as Keiji sat in awe of the woman before him.

“And that never changes either. You may be born of my body, but you are ever the son of your father. Master of speech still eludes you after countless millennia’s. Both of you.” Aoi sighed looking down to smile at Yuki.

“He is beginning to settle.”

“Who was Tetsuya?” Keiji asked as they waited for Yuki to come out of his current state.

“You. It is a sad tale, are you sure you wish to hear it?” Aoi asked and Keiji nodded, if Yuki remembered it, it seemed wise to know a subject to avoid in casual conversation.

“As you can see Yuki has remarkable healing talents, and they have served you both well in your history together. You make carry the world on your shoulders my son… but Yuki carries you. He always has, and there has only been one time where Yuki failed. Well, failure is too harsh a word, it was not his fault, but he blamed himself for it in those last moments before he followed you into death. To make a long tale much shorter, what happened was unforeseen, and unavoidable. It was during your last incarnation, during the peace treaty signing at what is now known as Dragonfall Fells. Yuki had traveled to Lake Ashura with the Queen as escort as you helped officiate the treaty signing between our clans and the Ardfel nation. An assassin’s arrow found your heart, and Yuki crawled four miles in agony back from the lake to be at your side. He had felt the arrow strike you, and felt you lingering, waiting for him to be by your side. Your last words to him were ‘until we meet once more and may our time be longer.’ Yuki remained behind just a few minutes, begging your forgiveness until he faded. It was tragic, he blamed himself for being too far away to help you when you needed him.”

“That’s crazy. I’d never blame him for something like that.” Keiji interjected and Aoi smiled.

“Of course you would not, and now you may at least put an old demon to rest. Yuki always remembers the past, he will remember his words to you, you should at least say the words that you forgive him. It will help erase the pain of your last parting.”

“You’re probably right okasan. What was Yuki’s name before?” Keiji asked running weary hands through his disheveled hair before turning to look at Aoi.

“That is simple, you have named him in every lifetime, and you are always predictable. Snow is not the only white thing in this world, yet you name him after snow every time. His name has always been Yuki.” Aoi chuckled and Juyo smiled.

“We hadn’t even picked his name out yet, it seems you saved me the trouble.” Juyo finally spoke having followed the conversation with a bittersweet pang of regret at not naming his own son. Keiji turned to him in almost apology and Juyo just smiled. “Yuki is a fine name, I could not be prouder to be his father.”

“He’s getting closer.” Keiji said matter-of-factly, derailing any further discussions on the past, the present was looming fast.

“No akurei filth will get far here. I will stop him, and when Yuki regains his health, he will be able to stop me. I can feel his aura, I pale in comparison.” Juyo said standing and looking toward the road. “He’s not far I am beginning to sense him, which means he should, if he has any natural talent other than blood magic, he will be sensing me soon enough.”

“Shall we meet him on the road?” Keiji asked picking up his bow and notching an arrow.

“Aye, it is best to meet an enemy on a battleground of your own choosing.” Juyo agreed and Aoi nodded from where she sat.

“I will guard him for now, he will wake soon and then we can journey to meet the others.” Aoi stated as Juyo and Keiji went to wait for Yogore in plain sight.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was hard and fast riding when they left Keiji and Yuki behind, Jujun wept as she rode but knew even had she stayed, there was naught she could do to help protect them, she hated feeling so helpless. However, she would trust Keiji’s orders, her gut knew this was the right thing to do, they’d get to Green Grove as fast as they could and wait.

The forest beside the road was a blur of motion as she kept her eyes focused on the goal ahead, she could hear the others close behind her keeping pace, when a flash of red appeared in the road before them and the horses reared in fright. Jujun felt weightless as she was thrown from her saddle and then just as suddenly, strong arms catching her from freefall.

“Sorry, I forget these beasties are frightened of my true form.” A voice very familiar said and Jujun turned to look up at the man holding her.

“Keiji!? How?” Jujun cried with relief and then he just laughed.

“Keiji? Nay, my name is Akai. Keiji is my Son. He always did favor me.” The man said setting Jujun on the ground and stepping back Jujun could see clearly. The face may be similar, but the man before her was certainly not Keiji. He was of the same height and build, wore the same crooked smile, but his eyes were like fire, and his skin was almost golden as it faded into brilliant red scales framing his face, the back of his hands, and arms. He was something from legend, Jujun knew her history and had always wondered what the great Immortal’s looked like, now she knew.

Ryu Akai, the Red Dragon, father of time and space, keeper of wisdom and the great warrior spirit himself. She had not expected him to look so young which meant the large mass of red she had seen would have been his true form, his dragon body. Then it dawned on her what Akai had just spoken.

“Your son? Keiji is your son?” She asked eyes wide in disbelief.

“Aye, and his mother has gone to fetch him. I am to protect you on your journey north. We will meet up in Green Grove and head up into the mountains together.”

“If Keiji is your son, does that mean he is…?”

“The Hoshi no Ryu? Aye. You know your history well little one made of fair earth tones.” Akai smiled as the others gathered around trying to calm agitated horses.

“I knew that boy seemed special. I can die a proud man having seen the coming of the Hoshi.” Kodai said as he helped the children and Sumire down from their mounts.

“He is still wet behind the ears. I had hoped he’d have more life experience under his belt before he was needed to awaken. He will only be eighteen in a fortnight, a pup who must take control of his pack with haste. Time it seems will no longer wait for him. Aoi has foreseen the coming, and the guardian passed over the threshold to give us warning to come and give aide. I will explain when we can all make use of the knowledge equally. For now let us get to safer ground and shelter.” Akai said turning to look south back down the road.

“His first battle approaches on swift hooves bathed in much blood and sorrow. He will awaken this day, life as he knew it will irrevocably change forever. For good or for ill yet remains to be determined. Power to thy wings, my son.” Akai said turning away to face north. “Follow me, there is a shorter way than the road and much safer.”

Leading the horses on foot, the group followed Akai off the road and down a path that opened before him almost magically. A golden road that was not visible before. Akai felt a small tug at the hem of his cloak and looked down into the bright face of a young boy.

“Tohru, great things you will see lad. Great things you shall bear on such young shoulders.”

“You know my name?”

“Aye.” Akai said reaching down to ruffle his blonde shaggy locks.

“Are you really a Dragon? Jujun told us stories all about you.”

“Aye I am a dragon. Do I scare you young one?”

“No.” Tohru said smiling up at the man Keiji so resembled.

“And why is that young Master? Akai asked, indulging the curious youth.

“Because you’re good in all the stories.”

“Good am I? Perhaps you might want to impart your wisdom to my good mate. Her opinion of me is not quite the same as yours.” Akai said with a wink as the group traveled forward.

“Now I know you’re Keiji’s sire.” Sumire cackled, it was plain to see the apple had not fallen far from this tree.

“He is always thus. My blood tends to run quite strong, much to Aoi’s lament.” Akai laughed as he lead the group, once again it seemed he was in for a tongue lashing from his mate at their son’s lack of graces. Inside however Akai was beaming with proud mischief, once again he was looking forward to enjoying his son’s company, he had missed him these past seven hundred years, his life was so short in comparison, Akai would enjoy the time they had together while it lasted this time around, just as he had every time previously.

It seemed only a few minutes since they’d left the road when Akai led them from the path into a small bustling town. “We are here.”

“How?” The group exclaimed in almost unison. Akai only winked mischievously.

“My secret.” Akai grinned as he headed toward the inn.

“My Lord Akai, you grace us, the rooms have been prepared.” The Inn keeper said rushing out to help the travelers.

“Thank you, let’s get them fed and rested, we should be joined soon by the others.” Akai said taking the two littlest children by the hands and leading them over towards the warm fire. “What say we have a story while you eat?” He said settling down with them by the hearth and while they drank a hearty stew, Ryu Akai began to tell them the stories of the Hoshi no Ryu, starting at the very beginning.

Soon all within ear shot, Man, woman and child alike sat around Akai’s feet listening to the immortal’s impromptu history lesson.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*







Past chapters found here

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