Tationy and Miroku traveled to where her home was. She turned to look at him and smiled meekly as he stared at the rundown Chinese dining establishment, “My families apartment is above the restaurant.” She opened the door and the two moved through the building toward the back because it was purgatory there was not a single customer, but voices could be heard as though there were. You could smell the food being cooked even though there was not a single hint of it in sight.
She opened the front door and walked inside, Miroku following close behind. When she stopped in the main room, she had a shy look about her, which he could not decipher. “Is something wrong?” He questioned.
Tationy glanced around the room a moment which caused Miroku to turn slightly. He realized much to late that the apartment she resided in, was smaller than the servant quarters in the palace of Aslann. “You grew up here?”
“For a couple of years, we moved here when I was fifteen. I am sorry, it is not what you are used to.”
“No, it is alright. I like knowing where you came from.”
Tationy had given him a shy smile before offering to show him around. There was not much to see, a small kitchen and dining room, living room, bathroom, and two bedrooms. Tationy’s room was as small as the bathroom and packed with stuff.
She took a seat on her bed, her clothes changing to her pajamas. Tationy wanted nothing more than to curl up in her bed. Her room was just as she remembered it, the only difference was this time she had a boy in it. Well he was hardly a boy and as she sat on the edge of her bed she giggled to herself. “What are you laughing about?”
“This is the first time I ever had a boy over. Just a little weird, especially seeing I guess some might say you are kind of like my father.”
He took a seat in the chair as he spoke, “I find it difficult to believe you did not have boys crawling over themselves to get to you.”
“Nope, not a one.” She responded. “What about you, were you popular with the ladies before you got married? I bet you were.”
“I have been the Emperor of Aslann since I was a young man, I got a lot of attention simply because of my position.”
Tationy laid down on her bed, curling up and closing her eyes as she spoke softly, “Was it lonely in the palace?”
“Yes.” He responded as he rested his head back and put his legs up. He was dead, they did not sleep, but he could at least pretend to be in her company to keep her at ease with the situation. “Most of my days were spent talking with Hiko who at the time served as a guard in my throne room. We were the same age when he earned the position and I felt that if anyone understood me it might be him. He already had a friend though.”
“You can have more than one friend.” She responded.
“Normal people can, but it was not a luxury for me, as the Emperor of Aslann.”
“It sounds terribly lonely.” She voiced, “I had two friends, but when I look back on it now I don’t think they were really my friends at all. It is really hard sometimes to know if the people in your life care about you for you or what they can use you for. I have a hard time telling and I often think that I am friends with people that turn out later did not really like me at all.”
Miroku frowned as he opened his eyes, staring up at the ceiling. “I made a mistake.” He voiced. “That night I was concerned about taking you to the palace even though I was certain you were my son….I mean my daughter.” He voiced. “I thought that I could just have Togore find you, but he kept insisting that someone was blocking him. I wanted Hiko to find you and planned on making sure that you found your way to him to be protected, but it was all my fault. I ordered the death of my daughter. I told everyone that it was a forgery that I never gave the order for execution, but it was a lie. I swear I did not know what Tatsuya had planned, had I known I would never have allowed it to happen. I thought that by killing her, all of the conspiring she had been doing as she plotted against my kingdom would fall apart, but it ensured it was set into motion.” He paused a moment, waiting for her to respond. “Tationy?” He called out her name when she said nothing right away his eyes glanced toward her. He smiled briefly when he realized she had fallen asleep. “You are the part of Tatsuya that was good, I swear to not fail you this time.” He promised to the sleeping girl.
After she had rested, she had moved toward the living room without a single word spoken to Miroku. Tationy had sat herself down on the bench and she rapidly began to play the keys on the piano. “Did you have a bad dream?”
“What makes you think that?” She questioned.
“You seem different after your rest.”
“Different things really.”
“You can talk to me.”
“I know. I just want to move through this world as quickly as possible and I am not sure where to begin and I have their words rolling around in my head.”
“Erobus, Eri, Chochi, Luna, Bóre,” She rattled off names.
He inwardly sighed, “It will be a lot for you to take in. Everything they say to you must be taken for what it is. This is their final chance to move forward and they must speak honestly to you. It will be difficult for you to hear, but it is necessary for both of you to move forward.”
“Do you have things to say to me?”
“Many, but we can talk later. How about we make this journey together?” He questioned.
She stopped playing suddenly and looked up at him, giving a brief nod of her head. “Thank you, Miroku for being so supportive.”
“You do not need to thank me.” He responded.
Miroku and Tationy traveled together around the city, though it seemed that purgatory did not wish for her to cross paths with anyone. Miroku had to remind her several times that it was her desire to see people that purgatory was not the one making the decisions. “Come on Pai Pai, you are always like this.”
Pai Pai laughed softly, “Maito, you are the one being stubborn.”
“Just laugh.” Maito responded.
“I cannot help it. How long have I known you? Seeing you like this is, interesting. You spent so long dressing like a woman, it is kind of like you got your wish.”
Tationy had stopped moving when she spotted them and Miroku ushered her forward. He took a seat on one of the benches still in earshot as Tationy braved the few steps it took to move before the two of them. “Hello.” She nervously whispered.
Pai Pai turned her attention and offered a kind smile, “You look a bit different. You have grown a lot, I can see it. Is this how I look in your world?”
“Yes, you look exactly like Pai Pai and,” She turned her attention toward Maito, “You look just like Mai.”
“I do not believe the two of you ever actually met or am I mistaken?”
“You are not.” Maito responded.
“Well then, Tationy this is Maito of the Waichia.”
“It is nice to meet you.”
“Is it?” Maito questioned.
“Of course, though the circumstances certainly could be better.”
Pai Pai laughed softly, “Well sometimes it cannot be helped when two people cross paths. Fate works in mysterious ways. I am glad you are alright. I have thought you about you often. When Tatsuya with his cousin Hiko left Aslann with all of the others, I was deeply concerned what that meant. I almost left Aslann myself, I suppose considering how things ended I should have.”
“I am so sorry.” Tationy responded.
“All of this.”
Pai Pai sighed, “You told me you were my friend, I have no regrets. It was the first time anyone offered me their hand in such a fashion and I am honored that you did that even though you have suffered greatly by the hands of our counterparts in your world. I apologize for her, friendship should be held dear to us.”
She shook her head, “It is alright. I am sure they both had their reasons. I might not have been a good friend to them, maybe I thought of myself too much.”
“I am sure that is not it at all Tationy.” Pai Pai voiced. “You are going to make the world a better place?”
“I am going to try.”
“You have to get past the Prince of Aslann first.” Maito voiced. “The state you are in that seems unlikely.”
Tationy could hear it in the tone of Maito, the Prince of Aslann was not liked and in turn, she also was not liked. “Did I do something to make you dislike me Maito?”
“You are an abomination created by the Prince of Aslann and the Ishi. A tragedy, but that mess dragged my brother down, turning him and the other guardians of the Prince of Aslann into monstrosities. You are a byproduct of that sin. I suppose it is wrong of me to blame y0u for what he has become, but you and the Prince of Aslann are one and the same. That makes me want to cut your face up.”
Pai Pai bowed her head and frowned at Maito’s words, “Tationy had nothing to do with that. This trouble was forced upon her. They never asked her what she wanted. The Prince of Aslann created her, she is not to blame for this. She feels responsible enough without you adding burdens to her.”
“It is alright Pai Pai, Maito can speak freely. You know about the technique used because you were there, correct?”
Maito made an unreadable face, “I apprenticed under Togore when I was just a young man. The Waichia frown deeply upon esoteric users, but my skill was good enough to help Togore pull the consciousness of the Prince of Aslann from her body and place it into Agito Tylo.”
“What happened to Agito?”
“The same thing that will happen to you, the Prince will overpower you in a battle that will take place within the Land of Souls. When people go into an unconscious state they are capable of finding their way to those lands. Those that do not return, never wake. The Prince has lost his body in a battle, not long ago.”
“So he is here in Purgatory?”
“No, the Prince has already faced his sins in purgatory the first time, so he was able to bypass this area relatively quickly.”
“You saw him though?”
“Yes we all have.”
“How do I move through this world faster?”
“You are still alive, you cannot. You have to pace yourself. Days and weeks will pass, maybe longer before you finish speaking with everyone.”
Tationy frowned, “‘How do I defeat him?”
Maito laughed, “You? I would be very surprised if you survived even a fraction of a second against him.”
Pai Pai sighed, “Maito, stop and help her. If the Prince of Aslann escapes the Land of Souls, what does that mean for the Waichia, for your brother, for Togore, for the world?”
Maito frowned, “Fine, I will help her.” Maito responded as ‘he’ stood and moved away from the group.
Pai Pai sighed, “Maito is not so bad. Things were hard after ‘his’ brother became one of the guardians of the Prince of Aslann. ‘He’ hardly seen him and Maito was struggling a lot with whom ‘he’ was. ‘He’ needed the support of ‘his’ clan and it was not given. ‘He’ worked with me and Togore would often visit ‘him’, they were far more than apprentice and teacher. ‘He’ has been really angry, I did not know why at first, until after we both died. Then, ‘he’ opened ‘his’ heart to me, I probably should not tell you this, but I fear ‘he ‘will not say it. Togore is in danger and Maito is afraid. ‘He’ will not say as much, but ‘he’ was killed by one of the guardians of the Prince, not sure which one. ‘He’ only said it was a chalta and he was powerful. Togore survived and is fighting, but how long he can continue is unknown. I don’t know the particulars, but…”
“I understand.” Tationy responded, “When your heart belongs to someone, it makes it difficult to move forward without them. Togore is in danger and if Atsuki is involved, I will handle it. It is my responsibility to deal with the guardians of the Prince of Aslann. I will do what I can for Togore.” She remembered that she had spotted Atsuki at the Prom. It led to questions, too many as her mind tried to understand it all.
Maito trained Tationy and was brutally honest with her. ‘He’ could tell she was trained by Kuro, but told her often that her weak-hearted attacks would never reach ‘him’ and there was no way she would touch the Prince of Aslann with them. Miroku and Pai Pai sat silently and watched, it was difficult to keep track of how much time passed in purgatory.
Maito worked with her on everything that Togore had trained ‘him’ in through the years. Everything ‘his’ big brother, Chochi had taught ‘him’. They had been sitting in a meditative pose for a while, when ‘he’ had heard her sigh. “What did I tell you about losing focus?”
“I miss him.” She whispered softly.
Maito inwardly frowned, opening ‘his’ eyes. “By him I am assuming you are not talking about Chochi.”
“I don’t know Chochi.”
“You know this other man?” Tationy made a face which caused Maito to frown further. “You fell pretty hard for a man you do not know. Cannot say I do not understand that.” ‘He’ responded a far-off look gracing his Waichia features.
“Togore, I never got to meet him, what is he like?”
Maito almost told her to mind her own business, but instead ‘he’ took a breath in as ‘he’ repositioned ‘himself’, leaning ‘his’ back against the tree trunk. “A weasel,” ‘He’ voiced. “His clan never trusted him. Chaltas are looked upon with a scrutinizing eye. They are deceptive and dangerous. Even though his clan is exceptional with chalta-like abilities, Togore was the only one amongst them that was truly chalta.”
“Chaltas are like a magic users right?”
“Magic…not exactly. Those that are chalta understand four basic principles. They understand theory correspondences and how they relate to the visible and invisible cosmos. They understand that nature is a living entity. They are able to mediate elements such as symbols, visions, rituals to access and perform spiritual knowledge. Which makes them the only beings in this world that are able to trans mutate on a personal and spiritual level when acquiring such powerful knowledge. They are able to defy the laws laid out by the Gods themselves, so they are looked upon suspiciously and rightfully so.”
“You are chalta?”
Maito made a sound of annoyance, “Hardly.”
“I am sorry I did not mean to offend, but you must have some sort of chalta-like abilities to be able to assist Togore?”
“Togore apprenticed me because he was interested and thought it would be easier to get close to me. He said I had a talent, but he just wanted to get in my pants.”
“Oh, I see.” Tationy responded as she sighed and looked away, “I don’t really know your brother. I don’t remember any of the history, I guess it is locked away in my broken brain. In my world, he was a delinquent that had to repeat his senior year because he skipped too many days, him and Taku. He was always lurking about the halls, skipping class, getting into fights. Everyone was afraid of him. I guess I kind of understand it now, he was keeping an eye on me, protecting me, gave up his life to do it. It was not fair for him or any of them to have to do that.”
“You say that now, but if you return to the world of the living how will it change? You will be seen as the Prince of Aslann, those guardians that live will give up their lives to protect you again.”
“No, I don’t want that life.”
“Right, in your head is some imagined world where it will be all different. You really think this so-called five elder council system is going to work?”
“Maybe not at first, but I think with time it could.”
“You are naive.”
She sighed noticeably, “So I keep getting told.”
“Chochi really loves you.”
Tationy sighed noticeably, “He loves a memory.”
“The Waichia are…” Maito paused a moment as ‘he’ gathered the words ‘he’ wanted to say; “The Waichia do not fall in love with the physical form. They become captivated with the mind, it allows us to see beyond the physical. You may have changed slightly as time passed and a new lifetime emerged, but your mind even as fractured as it is, remains the same now as it was back during your first reincarnate. Chochi would have known the moment he remembered that you were different somehow. He may have been deeply in love with the Prince of Aslann, but became enraptured by you. As time transcended for the two of you, he only fell more in love with you and that is not going to go away overnight. You can ask him to forget his love, erase it from his mind, but Chochi is stubborn and not going to give up on you so easily.”
“Even if I never have the same feelings for him as he does me?”
“That is correct. He will cling to your mind that portion of you that makes you truly who you are. You may think he does not know you, but he has touched your mind. For the Waichia there is nothing more personal or intimate than that. I suppose the fact that you have feelings for another man, complicates things greatly. Perhaps when you return, you should consider giving Chochi an opportunity to prove himself to you seeing you do not really know this other man either.”
“Can I sever a connection, myself?”
Maito frowned and showed surprise at her question, “You don’t want him to love you?”
“I am not that person that he fell in love with. I am not the girl that has been reincarnated with them over and over again. I don’t remember any of it and whatever feelings all of them have, I don’t share them. I don’t know them and I may never learn anymore about them, then I do now. I don’t understand how they can fall so deeply and cling to feelings like that for someone that does not know them.”
“Do you hear yourself? You have feelings for a man you do not know a thing about and yet you are condemning them for the same thing.”
“It is not the same, I have not lived lifetimes with Iashi and have no memory of it while he does.”
“What if he is Kazuma?”
Tationy tensed, “I don’t want to talk about that.”
“This is part of your conflict, you need to make a lot of decisions and both of them are just a fraction of what you must decide. Do you think honestly that they are the only men that feel anything when they look at you? If you do, then you are a lost cause, and I am done training you.”
“Maito.” Tationy managed to holler as she moved toward Maito, but stopped suddenly as ‘his’ figure changed. Whatever words she wanted to say were quickly lost from her mind as she looked upon Maito.
“Maito, why are you leaving?” Pai Pai questioned.
“I atoned for the part I played in creating her, but I have nothing more to teach her. As long as she is the way she is, I am finished here.” Pai Pai did not get a chance to question Maito further as he disappeared and Tationy sank to the ground near the tree.
“What am I suppose to do?” Tationy questioned.
Miroku stayed near the benches as Pai Pai spoke, “Just take it one day at a time Tationy. Don’t rush into anything.”
“Do you think that is what I am doing with Iashi?”
“You slept with him without knowing him.”
“Kuro was right you needed another outlet, but I think you made the wrong decision. You should have talked to him instead of jumping into bed with him. Sleeping with someone complicates things, especially emotions. Sometimes you think you have feelings for someone, but you really do not. You will not know how you feel about him until you get to know him and that goes for all of the others as well. You need to stop distancing yourself from those emotions swirling around inside of you. Yamada are notoriously loyal to the one they give their heart to, but they are also well-known for being lovers of many. You cannot play with the delicate emotions of men.”
“Men are not really delicate.” Tationy voiced.
“They are. They feel just as deeply as we do, the difference is that our emotions tend to be external while they lock theirs away. Men have to be men, emotion is considered a weakness. We are stronger because we are able to feel and voice it proudly. They just see us as weak women because we share our emotions so freely, but the truth is they are far weaker than we are because they hide how they feel. They keep it guarded until it is too late to act upon it, which makes them dangerous when all that emotion finally breaks through.”
“What are you saying?”
“I am saying, eventually one of them is going to break. It may well be Hiko, Sesiago, Chochi, or any number of others. What are you going to do when one of them finally comes to you and speaks the words that he has in his heart? If your heart is fickle, you will bend to those emotions and give in to them, then it will not matter what you feel for Iashi because a man like that certainly will not stand for his woman allowing another man to touch her. Do you understand?”
Tationy bowed her head, “I understand.”
“Just remember that those emotions locked within you, even if you think there is nothing to them, when the time comes to face them, you might see them differently. That is why it is so important for you to resolve all of that conflict so all of you can move forward. You need to truly look at your feelings and understand the depth of your emotions.”
Tationy was silent then finally spoke, “I am sorry I never came back to see you after that night. I have no excuses. I said we were friends and then I never stopped by and seen you. I could have so many times when I was with the Ruthlbahdo and Oro and I would make our way over to that district so he could see Sonchiro, but I never did. I am a terrible friend. I am just awful and selfish. I get so sucked into my own life I neglected the people around me and I am so sorry for that Pai Pai.”
Pai Pai moved away from Tationy before turning and smiling. Her form changed as Tationy lifted herself from the ground, “Thank you for saying that.”
“That was what you needed?” Tationy asked.
“It was. I did not want to believe that you said you would be my friend, just to be nice. I truly believed those words were genuine, but as I came here my heart was fickle and it kept me from moving forward. I want to tell you something before I leave. Elder Tien is a powerful man and a great elder, but he picked the wrong side in this war and sided with the Dragon Lords. You may not be able to reach him and the Kensuku may need to be destroyed to be redeemed. Elder Tien set the clan loose upon us, those of us who had their bodies sold into slavery. I cannot say whether or not he regrets his decision, but it was the wrong one to make. Whether or not he and the Kensuku can be trusted is for you to decide, but you should know going into any communication with them, the decision Elder Tien made. Suetomo and his brother Shinshi were real heros. They did their best to protect us against the mighty force of the Kensuku. I wanted you to know that and that I did not die alone, I was with the former General of the Ruthlbahdo Suetomo and his brother Shinshi, along with the siblings Masae, Hidesoda, Kensuke, and Sonchiro. We all died together and I have seen nothing in my entire life like I did, witnessing them protect us. A true hero knows what to fight for even if it goes against his clan and his people. Sometimes the right decisions are not popular ones. I do not know if you will get to meet them on your journey, but if you do tell them, I said thank you.”
“I will, if I see them.” Tationy managed to whisper as Pai Pai faded from purgatory.
Quietly Tationy and Miroku walked toward her home after what had transpired with Pai Pai and Maito. She could not bring herself to say anything, even though she desperately wanted to. She stopped suddenly looking toward a manor that she did not recognize. Had it always been in Aslann? When she turned to speak to Miroku he was gone. She frowned wondering why he disappeared suddenly and then noticed that Aslann was not the modern city she had always known it to be, in fact she felt a bit like Dorothy and did not feel as though she was even in Aslann any longer.
She braved it as she moved toward the manor, opening the door and shouting out hello. There had been no response so she made her way further in, checking each room as she went until she found a small den, decked out in Christmas decorations. There was a child sitting upon the floor playing with a stuffed bear and she could not help, but smile. Though it was the man’s voice that broke through that brief moment of joy, “You look just as I remember you.”
Turning her attention quickly she gasped softly as she saw the face of the Lord of the Shima staring back at her. “Seiji, did Sadamitsu kill you already?”
He stared at her confused a moment then smiled, “You seem to have mistaken me for the Lord of the Shima, the one from Shimragata. He is a distant ancestor. I am Count Seiji Shima, Lord of Westerhaven and you were my wife, Kali. We lived in England, during what you would call the Victorian era. Osa and I were killed by one of the guardians of the Prince of Aslann, a child at the time called Sohma. He took you away from here, after he had killed us.”
She felt the emotion overtaking her as she moved toward him cautiously. He could see it, she could not hide her emotions from him. “I thought I was only with the guardians, I had not realize that I had a life outside of them. I suppose I should have known, Chochi said I had many, but….”
“You want to know if we were in love?”
“You were everything to me. I adored you the first moment I laid my eyes upon you and you I have no doubts felt the same. We had Osa and nothing made you happier than being a wife and mother. I died, never knowing that we had created life again.”
“Why are you here?”
“One of your guardians took us away from you. I wanted you to have us back.”
He moved toward Osa and she followed suit, standing toward the side as she watched him with the small child. He was just a baby and she could not help, but wonder what kind of man Sohma was to kill a child, an innocent. Seiji smiled when he realized she was watching them and offered Osa to her. Tationy had shaken her head, “I have never held a baby before.”
His smile was warm and comforting, just like Taku and Iashi, but different from the Lord of the Shima she knew. She could not help, but wonder how that was possible. “It will be okay.” He voiced as she awkwardly accepted the child. At first she held him tightly with both hands, it would take her a bit before she relaxed enough to just hold him with one. He noticed how she kept glancing at him, “You are trying to understand how we got together?”
“How is it you know what I am thinking?”
“I know because I gave my heart to you.”
“I don’t believe in love at first sight, love of a lifetime, or any of that stuff.”
“I never did either, I believed in us. The first moment I laid my eyes upon you, I knew there was no other for me. We were introduced through friends, though neither of us were interested or even looking for a relationship. You were a remarkable woman, a musician who performed private parties. Very sought after for your way with the keys. We both had cancelled on each other, numerous times. Gave our friend’s excuses about why we could not be there, but eventually we met with one another and everything about you felt so right.”
“I am sorry, I do not remember.”
“There is no need to apologize, Lady Shima.” There was something in the way he said Lady Shima, something familiar and yet she could not identify it. She felt it again that nervousness that almost felt like panic and anxiety creeping into her heart. She did not understand why she was becoming so emotional around a man she had never met before. She jumped nervously when his fingers touched her cheek, turning to face him quickly, as both arms tightened around the small child. He smiled at her, it was genuine and real, just like the one Iashi gave her or even Taku. It brought her more comfort than anything thus far in purgatory.
Osa began to wiggle wildly in her arms and she bent down to allow him to play with the bear he had been cuddling with. When she stood, she turned toward Seiji, only to find herself nearly swept off her feet as his arms went around her and his lips were mere inches from hers. She had not expected his proximity, his touch, or his words, “I wish I could have seen through the deception of that child. I cannot express to you in words how much I still desire you. Please let me show you.”
“I have feelings for someone.”
“Do you love him?”
“I think so, everyone says I do, but I am uncertain. I just think I do. I am probably not making a lot of sense.”
Seiji pulled away from her, he had desired to embrace her so much that he nearly lost himself. He had to remember that he was dead and she most certainly was not. “Osa and I should go.”
“I am sorry I hurt you.”
“No, you did not hurt me at all, Lady Shima. I am happy right now, seeing you has filled my heart with such joy. That is all I wanted was to lay my eyes upon you once more and give us back to you. I did that, it is not as I expected it to be, but I suppose I was naive to think that you would see me and forget everything else. It is not as though I can offer you anything, I am just a ghost of the man you knew, and sadly you do not even remember me or our son. You never even wanted to remember.” He voiced.
She frowned deeply as she stood with her head bow before him, thinking to herself that this was not how it was supposed to be. “Forgive me, for not protecting you.” She whispered.
“It is not a woman’s place to protect a man, it was mine. I should have protected you, Osa, and our unborn child. I am a terrible man having forsaken his duty to his beloved.”
“Lord Shima, please don’t say such things.”
He smiled, “Lord Shima is it? You only call me that when you want something.” Even though his eyes were so sad, his tone somber, the smile on his face was beautiful as he leaned down and picked up his son. With Osa in his arms, he reached his freehand out to touch her cheek, “I will wait for you on the other-side. Please when it is your time, find us. Promise me you will live a fulfilling and happy life until we are reunited.”
“I promise.” She whispered as he and Osa followed the same path as others she encountered. She felt choked up, angry at Sohma for what he had done, she wanted to understand it, but her mind would not wrap around the foul actions of Sohma Hamara. There was no reason to kill them. What purpose did it serve? She did her best to hide her anger as she held her breath as Seiji and Osa, faded from purgatory.
She stepped outside the manor, but was startled by a noise behind her so she turned quickly. She chuckled to herself, thinking how silly she was to be spooked so easily. When she turned around to begin walking again she jumped noticeably as an Ishi stood before her. She did not recognize him as any of the Ishi she had known, so she deduced that he was probably one from Count Seiji Shima’s time. Her clothing was different, her hair let down from the confining bun, it was snowing out as he stood with his arms crossed staring at her. She felt self-conscious, though she was uncertain why. “You really have no memory of that time,” He said, a note of surprise in his tone.
“I am sorry.”
“It is I who should be sorry. It was because of me that your guardians killed you.”
“We know each other then?”
“We made love once, in a small rundown building in London’s East End. You needed money to pay the landlord, the Lady that belonged to Count Shima had fallen off her pristine pedestal.”
“I must have not have fallen far enough, if you bed me.” She voiced.
“We Ishi have been known to sink to the lowest depths, but I certainly am not complaining. Your body was not perfect, having been with child at the time, but you moaned for me, and no man can ask for more than that from a woman he hardly knows.”
“Who are you?”
The surprise was written across her face. She recognized his name, “You wrote The Exiled Prince.”
“I wrote many books, after you were killed by your guardians.”
“Which one killed me?”
“The one called Atsuki. We were concerned the child, Sohma and the violent Kensuku, Taku would take your life, but nothing was more surprising than to find the chalta over your body. After that, he stood and accepted his death and we hunted down the others. We were not certain why Sohma and Taku had left you alone, but the beating your body took, left us with even more questions.”
“Explain to me about the Ishi. The guardians believed the Ishi were hunting us and killing us, if you were not, then…”
“Your chalta was the one hunting and killing you.”
“Any time any of you would get information you should not have, he dealt with you. He did not wish for you to remember and he made certain that your guardians were looking in the wrong direction.”
“Why though, why would he?”
“You do not understand the desire men have for power.”
“Atsuki, he is a man of knowledge. He is kind, completely boring, but he is really a nice man.”
“That man is a lie. Why don’t you ask your father about the real Atsuki.”
“My father….you mean Miroku?”
“Yes, the Emperor of Aslann knows all about Atsuki Nakamaru. Maybe it is time you asked him about his sins.”
She frowned deeply, “Is this how it is? The world is just filled with lies? Is no one capable of speaking the truth anymore?”
“The truth is different for each person. What you see as truth, others may see as a lie.”
“That seems like an excuse. Why are you here?” She questioned, her tone filled with a tinge of anger.
“You were so afraid of me back then, simply because your guardians told you that the Ishi were hunting and killing you. Now, there is no fear in you at all. You really are a different woman. Perhaps the loss of your memory was the best thing for you, though I am sure there are others that feel as though they have been cheated because you are not able to address the things that burden them, but it might be those things that hold them back while you are able to move forward so easily. Might I ask you a question?”
“Sure, why not.”
“Do you truly plan to free the Ishi?”
“Of course, what is gained by keeping a group of people bound to someone?”
“Some might argue there is much to be gained, by having the Ishi clan as slaves.”
“All men and women deserve to be free.”
He smiled briefly before responding, “There is a man here, who is like you. He is not dead. The two of you have many things to discuss, perhaps when you are ready to hear what he has to say, you should seek him out. As for me, my time here is done. I should not have left you, a mistake on my part. You were killed because of me. Had my eyes not been so focused on you, I would have seen the chalta circling like a vulture. Maybe you should consider an Ishi lover again. You certainly would never regret it and never experience anything like it again.”
“Jee.” She whispered his name as she lifted her head to look at him, only to find that he had already disappeared.
Tationy’s mind kept focusing in on the words of Seiji and Jee, so she found herself sitting inside the manor, near the small teddy bear that Osa had been playing with. “Why did you do it?” She questioned as she opened her closed eyes and focused in on the child form of Sohma who was standing before her. “Answer me, why did you do it?” She was angry, he had never witnessed it before, so no words left his mouth. “So this is the face of evil? Why do you hate me so much Sohma?”
“I don’t hate you.” He voiced.
“Then answer me, why did you kill them?”
“The Shima deserve death.”
“I am Shima.” She yelled.
“I know that now. I had always been foolish enough to believe you truly were the Prince of Aslann, though I am not surprised that my lord knew my weakness enough to exploit it. Prince Tatsuya dangled the Shima before me and I went after them.”
“You killed a child.”
“I was a child.”
“I don’t understand how you can be so cold-hearted. Did you not want me to be happy? Did you not think you could protect us all? Tell me the truth Sohma and don’t blame it on them being Shima.”
“The answer you want will not bring you comfort.” He responded.
“You’re a coward. You kill innocent people and do not even have the balls to tell me the truth about why you did it.”
He could not control it any longer, as his hand slapped across her cheek. “You think Chochi, Abe, Atsuki, Taku, Otoha, and Sadoo were the only ones that had feelings for you? You gave yourself to a Shima, how do you expect me to feel? I served you diligently and instead confiding in me your plan, you went to the Ishi and spread your legs for our enemy.”
“The Prince of Aslann did that.”
“So did you.” He responded, “You found your way to the descendant of the Lord of the Shima and you did exactly what the Prince did, spread your legs for him. You were so happy, it made me sick. I thought that there was no way you could be so callous, but then you slept with that Ishi. I had traveled to find Taku to bring him back. You told him you loved him and gave yourself to him before the war, I thought that if anyone could bring you comfort after your loss it would be him. I knew that you would never turn to me for affection, I never even suspected you would let an Ishi …” Just talking about it upset him. “You love to spread your legs for our enemies that part of you has not changed.”
She maneuvered herself to her feet, her hand clenching in a fist, then relaxing. “The guardians thought they could control everything, but they were blinded by their loyalty to the Prince of Aslann and each other.”
“The Prince played us for fools and used that loyalty.”
“Do you have any regrets Sohma? Anything at all you wish you could take back?”
He was silent as he considered her question, “No.”
“How can you say that?”
“I made no wrong decisions, I only miscalculated who I could trust. In the end, I cannot say I would not have made the same choices.”
“You killed a child.”
“He was not the first.” Sohma admitted.
His words angered her even further, “Atone for your sin and leave my sight, I have nothing more I wish to say to you.”
“As you wish, young master.” He responded, though he said nothing to her in-regards to his sin.
“I have no sins I wish to atone for.” He responded. “I did nothing wrong.”
She grabbed onto his arm, yanking and twisting, “You are a monster.” She voiced angrily. He took the moment to look up at her face and the anger was clear. His expression was kept neutral, not a single hint of what he was feeling or thinking as he kept his gazed fixed upon her. She pulled her hand away releasing him, “You feel nothing for all the harm you have caused? You killed your grandmother, Luna. You killed Seiji and Osa, how many others Sohma have you killed?”
“I do not know.”
“Atone for you sins, Sohma.” She voiced.
“Command me to.” He responded.
Tationy stared at him blankly as she searched his face looking for anything from him so that she might understand him just a bit more. “I am not your Prince.”
“Then I have nothing to atone for.”
“Why are you like this?” She said shaking her head as she took a step back from him before turning and running away.
Tationy did not want him to answer her. She was so angry with Sohma, not even capable of understanding why he did what he did. She kept running until she heard a voice call out of her name and she stopped, recognizing it. She slowly turned around coming face-to-face with Tatsuya, Elder of the Kari. She broke down as his hand reached out and touched her cheek, and she brought her hand up to touch him. Was he real, was he warm like Chochi? She realized quickly that he was not filled with life that he had been killed and he did not know how to react at first when her arms flew around his neck and held on to him tightly. “Please tell me it was not one of the guardians of the Prince of Aslann.”
“It was not.” His words must have brought her some comfort as he felt her body give out on him.
She had rested for some time, it felt like forever as she dragged herself from the sofa and looked around the apartment. It was not the one belonging to her family. She caught sight of Tatsuya of the Kari standing out on the balcony looking out over the city, so on unsteady legs she made her way toward him. He turned before she could even open her mouth to speak, his arms crossing over his chest. “When I first met you I never even imagined anything like this.”
“Did the Saitama kill you?”
“A Saitama killed me.” He responded. She gave him a confused look, “Hero.”
“Why?” She asked then noticed the expression upon his face, “You to Tatsuya?”
“I am sorry Lady Tationy. You were a benefit to the Kari, we were struggling and using you to remove the Emperor of Aslann and allowing the Waichia to have you was a small price to pay to allow the Kari to flourish. You must think me a terrible man, having used our friendship.”
“That is why you kept asking me if I was involved with anyone and why you kept mentioning that you had two friends that were available. Your intent was to allow the Waichia to just take me?”
“No, I would never be so callous. However, I thought that perhaps if you were interested in the Lords of the Waichia, Takuya or Oji that it would make things easier. Of course, the Waichia do not need to bother with such things, they could have just manipulated your mind and took you.”
“So they were going to help you, did Hiko know?”
“No, at the meeting they did as I knew they would and said they could not help, but would keep you a secret. It was the best way to protect against any who might be spying. Elder Oji spoke with me later about you, though at the time I had no idea you were missing.”
“Is there anyone that has not lied to me?”
“I cannot answer that.” He responded. “If it means anything, I did not know that Oji was one of the Dragon Lords. He was manipulating me as much as he was everyone else. I thought we were friends, but…regardless, Lord Takuya is a good man. I trust in the decisions he makes for the Waichia and in the alliances the Kari have always had with them, if they can come together again, it will be a strong union. You will need that sort of relationship between clans to make your council system work.”
“Does everyone know about it?”
“Yes, we have learned a lot of things since coming here, though there are certain things we cannot say to you.”
“Cannot or will not?”
“I assure you Lady Tationy, if I could tell you everything I have seen, I would without hesitation. So let us talk about the Kari.” She frowned deeply, “Hiko made a mistake. He loved Tse more than anything, but the woman played him for a fool. Shu of the Sosa, warned Hiko away from her. Hiko had always thought it was because something was going on with the two, but Shu was trying to warn Hiko for other reasons. Hiko fell in to deep and his heart belongs to the Prince of Aslann. However, he did pledge to promise himself to you. Amongst the Kari, Kazuma’s words are law. If a Kari man pledges himself to a woman, then there needs to be no union between them. It is the same as a marriage union, you have the right if you wish to go before the Elder of the Kari and request the Rite of Kazuma. You may also do this with the one called Sesiago, who claimed you as his, in the most private and intimate way a Kari man can. This is your right Lady Tationy, if you want either of them you only have to claim them. As for the one called Iashi, there is no need to bind him in such a fashion, he is Yamada. If his feelings for you are true, nothing will separate the two of you accept death itself.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“So you understand that you have more power than you think you do. So that you understand that a Kari man will never tell you about the Rite of Kazuma.”
“You are telling me.”
“I am your friend and I was once the Elder of the Kari, I would be a terrible Elder if I did not speak the truth to you, especially when you need those around you to be honest. I will not trivialize your feelings, I imagine many have told you to go with this person or take a look at that person. Tearra loved Kazuma as much as she loved Hisoka, Ryozo, and perhaps even Rin. There will always be a place in your heart for all of them, but only one can be yours. You have many decisions to make, from whether or not you will be rising to the heavens with the other gods and even whom you will give your heart to. Those decisions are important, not just for you, but for all of the people around you.”
“I know, so they can move forward. What would you do?”
“You will not like my answer.” He responded.
“I would rise to the heavens and fix the broken world left behind.”
“If I do that, I will forget everything.”
“You will know, no pain or sadness, don’t you think that might be worth it?” He smiled briefly, “Forgive me Lady Tationy, I promised myself I would not try to push you toward any decision and it seems I failed.”
She was silently staring at him. He considered she was probably upset with him, which was why she was not speaking, but eventually she sighed, “It is alright. I hate making decisions, I suppose it is kind of interesting to hear what others would do.”
“You already have made your decision?” He questioned, having thought he caught a glimpse of it in her eyes.
“I have given it some consideration.”
“Will you share it with me?”
“No. My decision does not matter if I cannot get past the Prince of Aslann and first, I need to find my way through purgatory and meet with everyone that is here. You know the whole atone for my sins and they atone for theirs.” She bowed her head, “Sohma does not feel he has any or does not want to atone for his. What am I suppose to do when something like that happens?”
“Perhaps you are thinking about it wrong.” Tatsuya voiced. “Maybe he is looking for forgiveness or something else, which is the reason he cannot atone.”
“I cannot forgive him, he killed a child and an innocent man.”
“A man and a child you do not remember.”
“It does not matter if I remember or not, Tatsuya. He took their lives.”
Tatsuya frowned, “You understand that the Kari take the lives of men almost every day.” Tationy bowed her head, “You cannot condemn him for something that the man you love has done and continues to do. The world we come from is different from this one.” He gestures toward the skyscrapers. “Your civilized world makes ours seem almost barbaric, but this is not your world anymore Tationy and you have to accept that there is death all around you and that the men in your life may see and do things for reasons they believe in or even for profit.”
“So you are telling me to forgive Sohma.”
“I am telling you to try to understand what he was feeling and listen to him.”
“Alright.” She responded.
She turned her back to him and for a brief moment he smiled. His body had changed as he spoke, “Is there anything you want to ask me before I leave?”
“Do you think Hiko loves me?” She asked him.
“I think that as long as he still has feelings for Tse that he will never know how he feels about you. Do you wish you were with him?”
“I just want to understand why he did what he did.”
“Then perhaps when you get back, you should ask him.”
“Perhaps.” She whispered.
“Take care of yourself Lady Tationy.”
“Thank you Tatsuya.” She whispered.
Tationy had left the apartment and wandered. She visited some of her favorite spots in Aslann, though had not crossed paths with a single soul until she arrived at one of her favorite picnic spots, on a small beach of Aslann. There were people there, tossing the football, sitting around a picnic basket, and a woman getting a massage from a man. She only recognized a few of the faces. “Come join us Tationy.” The woman called. Tationy hesitantly joined the Saitama woman she knew as Agara, “Your world is filled with many interesting things.”
“I suppose. You seem to be enjoying yourself.”
“I am, it is relaxing and quiet. I never got to travel to Aslann. We Saitama were forbidden due to the order of kill on sight, thanks to the Emperor.”
“He did not trust the Dragon Lords or the Saitama.”
“With good reason I imagine. Bòre and his men fought very hard to escape when you sent your Kensuku and Hamara guardians after them.”
“The Prince of Aslann did that.”
Agara laughed softly, “You still do not get it do you?”
“You are the Prince of Aslann. The Prince was separated from her body and that portion that is her continued living within you. When you face the Prince of Aslann, one of you will reemerge from this world whole. If it is you, you should remember everything.” Agara turned her head to look at Tationy when she realized the young woman had not responded. She could see it written across her features, she did not want to remember. “There is nothing you can do about that, Tationy.”
She laughed, it was an awkward chuckle that told more about what she was feeling than any other action. It was disbelief and annoyance combined into one. “Let us get on with this then.”
“You wish to move by us quickly?”
“I wish to be done with this already.”
Agara moaned softly as the man massaged her back, “I have been having visions since I was a small girl. My eyes do not see as much as yours do. That was my downfall. I thought I was prepared for everything and sent the Saitama after you. A Dragon Lord killed us, you know him as Guiren of the Takahashi. I knew him as Lord Tan of the Dragon Lords. He tortured Bòre and I laid there unable to move, unable to speak, forced to listen. He killed me last and apologized, saying the same thing he said to Bòre, he did not want it to be like that. Did not want it to end like this. I am sure Bòre took blame for it, but it was my encouragement that set the Saitama loose on the Kari. I am responsible for the death of the Kari and my clan. All of it just to obtain Tearra, what a waste.”
“We all have sins, Agara.” The man massaging her back responded.
“I cannot see a man like you Yee, having sins.”
“My family spied for the Emperor. They sent vulnerable information to the Emperor and the Prince regarding the movements of the Shima during the war. I served in the squadron led by Commander Hiko Kari and was there when the Waichia guardian was hunted and killed. During the war, when my clan was killed by the Ishi, by order of the Prince of Aslann, I did not warn them. The Zenaku men were slaughtered and the women and children were brought back to Aslann as slaves. The Prince of Aslann gave me an opportunity to have my freedom, if I informed him how to get close to the Zenaku and kill them. I gladly sacrificed my entire clan, for that freedom.”
Tationy frowned, bowing her head as she listened to the people at the picnic area talk amongst themselves.
“What weak men will do for freedom.” The man with the asymmetrical bang responded. She recognized him as a Waichia, one sitting in the middle of Ritsu and another Waichia during a meeting with the Emperor, when the Prince was a child. It was one of the few memory flashes she had.
“As if you Waichia are above sin, Yuudai.” Yee responded.
“When we Waichia sin, we do it big and well.” Yuudai stated. “Trusting the Emperor was a mistake, hardly a sin.”
“Then why are you here?” Tationy questioned.
“I am here to ensure that you meet your obligation to the Waichia. Your Emperor promised you to us, we expect you to honor that agreement. Though truthfully, you are probably without honor, like the rest of your kin.”
“Bite your tongue, Yuudai.” The man with the orange-red hair responded.
“Hayato, you have no place to speak here.”
“If you speak ill of my kin again….”
“What will you do to a dead man?” Yuudai questioned.
“Enough.” Tationy yelled. “You are no longer Elder of the Waichia, that privilege as I understand it belongs to Takuya. Anything regarding a union and broken promises, are between me and the Elder of your kin. You lost the right to speak on such matters when you died.”
“For a moment there you almost sound like the Prince of Aslann.” The man tossing the football around with Ritsu spoke.
“Daishiro, let it be, this is between our father and Tationy.” Ritsu responded.
“You are defending her?” Diashiro questioned, though quickly stopped talking when he noticed the look his father was giving Tationy.
“Takuya of the Waichia is a wet behind the ears whelp. I never imagined someone like him would rule over the Waichia. Hot-headed, rebellious Waichia that acts more like the weaker of our clan.”
“Regardless of what you think about him, he is the Elder of the Waichia and any conversations regarding matters between the Tylo clan and the Waichia are between me and him. You and your kin have no reason to remain here.” Tationy stated.
She sighed noticeably as she stood and moved toward Ritsu stopping before him. He had been about to throw the football, but had altered his movement upon seeing her and smiled. “Would you still rather be dead?”
Tationy sighed, “I am not sure why the Prince of Aslann said that. I am told that the Prince was in love with someone, maybe that is why she was so cruel with her words.”
“Would you have said those words?”
She blushed, “Probably not. I tend to just go along with everything because it is easier. It is not as though you are not handsome, but no matter how many times people say we are one and the same, I cannot speak for the Prince of Aslann. I do not know why she did what she did, said what she did, and I am sorry she was so cruel to you.”
He set the football down on the ground his attention turning toward the water. “Tell my father and my brother you will do right by the Waichia, that is all they want.”
“That goes without saying. I promise to never do anything that will harm the Waichia and I will work with Takuya, somehow on fixing what was broken. What do you want?”
“I just wanted to see the face of that girl who called out my name with such emotion, in the garden of the Waichia. My sins are against your guardian, the Waichia known as Chochi. I believed he was responsible for making the reaction of the Prince of Aslann. I realized as he was killing me that was not the case at all.”
“Chochi, killed you?”
“He wanted to know why I manipulated his mind. Truth was, it started out because of the Prince and ended because of Elder Oji. I see it now, how weak I was against the Dragon Lord.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Is what Agara said true?”
“You do not trust the Saitama woman, I hardly blame you. It is true. People treat you differently because you want them to, not because you are. You have always been the Prince of Aslann and yet you have also not been. I know it is a lot to take in, but you have to be prepared that you may be different after this journey is over.”
“I don’t want to be that person that hurts people the way the Prince does.”
“Then you need to make certain, you defeat the Prince of Aslann.”
She sighed, closing her eyes as she considered his words, “It will not be that easy.” She voiced as she opened her eyes and he was gone. She turned quickly and all of the others had also departed except one. He was the one Yuudai had addressed as Hayato. She took a nervous step toward him, noticing his eyes, which were like hers. “You are the Tylo that developed the cursed eyes.”
“You are my niece.”
“There is not much point in protesting is there?”
“I suppose not.”
“The eyes have not developed for you.”
“I have nightmares.”
“I as well had nightmares in the very beginning, though they did not last as long as yours have. The fact that your body is divided has hindered you.”
“The Prince though has been able to relearn the eyes, why is…”
“Tatsuya picked a body that had potential. The eyes had already been active within your body. When Tatsuya had her consciousness transferred that control was lost and thus you lost the potential to activate the eyes again.”
“So the training was for nothing?”
“Not for nothing. You can relearn the eyes, you just cannot activate something that is permanently left open.”
“I don’t understand.”
“To use these eyes, we Tylo go into a meditative state. For you such a state would never be necessary, you will be unable to turn it off and on, constantly bombarded with images. They may even disrupt your daily life. I would be surprised if it did not. You will most likely lose your sanity quicker, not being able to shut it off leaves you vulnerable. You would be better off not learning to use those eyes. The decision is yours though. I am dead and not going anywhere, I can train you if you like. Do not rush into a decision rashly though.”
“How long did it take you from the time you learned your eyes, until the time you lost your mind?”
“Twenty Years. I died alone locked in a room in the palace. By the time it was all done, I could not even remember my own name. The last thing I recall is telling Hiko and Shu that there would be a snake within the guardians and that being a guardian was a death sentence. Shu did not heed my words and Hiko disregarded them. Just because you can see more than others, does not mean your voice will reach them.”
“Then you make your voice be heard.”
“Considering you go along with what other people want so easily, how is someone like you going to do something like that?”
Tationy sighed as she moved toward the beach towel and took a seat upon it. “I manage.”
He looked over his shoulder at her, trying to understand what was driving the young woman. He stood and moved toward where she was sitting, quickly joining her. “Put your hands like this.” He voiced as he showed her how he wanted them and she awkwardly tried to position her hands that way. “Close your eyes.”
“Now what?” She asked.
“Just stay like that.”
“Until you see it.” He voiced.
Tationy inwardly sighed as she did as she was told. She was not certain what she was supposed to be seeing, but she humored him and remained like that.
Hayato had been silently meditating when he felt Miroku’s arrival. He stood and moved toward the water, though turned back to keep a watchful eye on Tationy. Miroku turned his head slightly looking up at the sky as he did. “I wonder how they live with a sky so unclear as this.”
“I suppose in this world, progress means something different.”
“Can you imagine it, a world with no clans only families?”
“My eyes cannot see such a world.”
“Your eyes used to be able to see everything, Hayato.” Hayato did not respond to his brother so Miroku continued, “Did your eyes ever see her?”
Miroku frowned, “Does that mean my son was more powerful than you?”
“It does. Prince Tatsuya was Tylo and Saitama through your blood. Some of the greatest seers in our time were Saitama and Zenaku. Couple that with the eyes of the Tylo clan, there is not much the Prince of Aslann would not have been able to see.”
“Yet you developed the eyes and I never did. You always looked far more Tylo then….”
“Don’t, Miroku. We are not here to rehash stuff from our childhood.”
“How is she doing?”
Hayato appreciated the quick change of topic as he responded, “She has not seen it yet, I am uncertain she ever will.”
“Yet you are still here trying to train her.”
“I would like to see the world she dreams of. I think that such a world deserves a chance. That does not guarantee she will make it past the Prince.”
Miroku looked out over the water as he responded, “I have faith in her, she will see it.”
“I am ready to leave here, I have helped her with what I could, but whether or not her eyes are even capable of seeing the key to the cursed eyes of the Tylo clan, is unknown.”
“Then this is goodbye.”
“How long are you going to remain at her side?” Hayato asked, there was obvious concern in his tone.
“Until she does not need me anymore.”
“You should not do this to yourself.”
“Do what Hayato?”
“You feel guilty over what you did, but being nice to her does not change that fact. You ordered the execution of your own child and because of that the Prince took extreme measures in creating her. Even if they are separated into two beings, they are connected by a fine line and will always be one and the same.”
“She is not the child that plotted against my kingdom.”
“No, she is worse. She is the vassal your child used to bring damnation down upon the New Aslann Empire. She is sin incarnate.” Miroku did not get a chance to respond to his brother Hayato because he quickly departed purgatory.
“That is just like you Hayato, you always have to have the last word.”
To Be Continued