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Tationy had stayed with Sohma until he had nothing more to tell her. She felt as though the burden had gotten heavier. She never expected to hear some of the things he shared with her. She felt different just by knowing the information. Lost in a haze she wandered, eventually finding herself standing outside Aslann High School. She sighed inwardly, she should have expected at some point she was going to arrive there. The fact that she did, told her she was ready to look upon Atsuki.

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She found him in his classroom, he had always taught classical literature. It was her least favorite class. She stood silently before him, though he never spoke a word. “Atsuki.” She choked on his name.

“He is not there.” A voice responded. She glanced over her shoulder catching sight of her favorite musician Saitama.

“What do you mean he is not here?”

“His body is dead, but his mind still exist. This is just a shell that will wait here until he is whole again.”

“How do you know this?”

“I know a lot about the ways of the chalta’s. Their techniques have been a particular interest to me since I was small, so I have taken every opportunity given to me to understand them.”

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“Tatsuya said…”

“Is this how you see me?” He interrupted as he ran his fingers through his bangs.

Tationy brought her hand up to rub the back of her head and neck, sighing, “I suppose it is.”

He smiled, “Good, I would hate to think I have not progressed.”

“What do you mean?”

“The problem with the world is not that we do not have the Gods, it is that we refuse to progress. Stuck in the old ways with ancient relics leading our clans, our nations, our military’s. The foolish speak about the future then make the same mistakes their fathers made, their grandfathers, in some cases even their great grandfathers. Tatsuya was a relic. He wanted ‘progress’ he said, but the truth was, he was never going to change. Removing the Emperor of Aslann would have solved nothing because the Waichia, the Kari, the Ishi, amongst hundreds of other clans see progression as nothing more than the same thing over and over again as long as they are not on the short end.”

“I do not understand. Why did you kill Tatsuya?”

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He looked on her directly, “Because he was in the way of progress. Right now I am sitting in a room with the Dragon Lords dead around me. They more than anyone in our world symbolize the old ways. So they were the first to be dealt with and they will not be making a return to the world of the living.”

She whispered, “So you are Cho then?”

“His direct ancestor.”

“You killed them by yourself?”

“It was easy.” He remarked.

“Did they have the Prince of Aslann?”

“Not that I saw.” He responded giving a noncommittal shrug of his shoulders. He paused a moment before taking a step toward her, which caused her to instinctively take a step back. “Are you afraid of me?”

“No, I am just finding it difficult to trust people lately.”

He smirked, “I don’t believe you.”

“Why did you, how did you come here?”

“After I departed the company of Tatsuya,” He said as a small smirk passed over his lips, “I traveled to the Forest of the Ancients. It was there that I learned how to communicate with the Gods through meditation. That is how I am able to be before you. More importantly, I  am here to tell you something.”

“Tell me what?”

“The Dragon Lords were just the beginning. The clans descended from the gods and the Gods themselves must be removed from this world. I plan on removing the stain of the past that corrupts and paralyzes our progression.”

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“What are you saying?”

“I plan on destroying the Kari, the Hamara, the Ishi, the Waichia, and what remains of the Tylo. When the clans have fallen I will seek out the blood that gave birth to them, the Gods in their mortal forms, Sesiago of the Kari, Chee of the Hamara, Mikio of the Ishi, Takuya of the Waichia, and lastly their queen, Tationy of the Tylo. I am going to save you for last, little girl so you can see how your modern world becomes reality with the destruction of the old ways that hinder our progress.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“It is simple. If by some chance you managed to make it past the Prince of Aslann in the Land of Souls, I want you to tell them I am coming. I want them to mock me and think me incapable of touching them. As I destroy them one by one, I want to see the fear in their eyes as they realize how insignificant and weak they are. I want them to understand how they are nothing more than relics of the old ways that will be purged by my hands from the world of the living.”

“How….how did you know I was here?”

Hero smirked devilishly, “He told me.” He pointed casually toward Atsuki.

“Why would he?”

“Why….how long do you think has passed in the land of the living?”

“I don’t know, a few days?”

He laughed, “One year. What does that make you now, twenty or twenty-one?”

“You are lying.”

“What purpose would that serve? Telling you this, I get to see the look on your face when you realize that the world moved on without you. What do you think, did those waiting for you move on as well?”

She turned quickly to slap him for being so callous, but he was already gone. She could feel the tears staining her cheeks as they flowed uncontrollably. She looked toward where Atsuki was sitting, but he as well was no longer there.

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She ran, out into the snow falling to her knees and crying softly. “Ahh, seems you have finally spoken with him.” Tationy turned her head looking up at the woman standing in the snow. She looked like an angel and that only made Tationy cry more. “Come with me.”

Tationy was apprehensive and did not stand right away, until the woman cocked her head to the side and gave her a rather motherly disapproving look. They walked a short way, to a greenhouse, located near the bridge in Aslann that connected the city with one of the many suburbs.  Tationy did not know the woman, though she seemed oddly familiar to her. She was certainly the woman that Luna had said was Yamada, who was sitting with her at the prom. “Ahh, if you have a voice, speak child.” The woman said as she took a seat on a bench.

Tationy took a small breath in as she joined the woman, keeping her eyes fixed on her. The woman reached out tentatively wiping the tears away with her thumb. “You are not my mother, so who are you?”

“Ahh, I am not your mother, but I am a mother. You know my son.”

“You’re Iashi’s mother? I don’t understand. How …. why are you still here in purgatory?”

“Ahh, after I died, I waited for my heart to join me, but Shiku had taken his own life. We spent a very brief amount of time together here in purgatory, before his sins were atoned for and he was sent to damnation.”

“Why?”

“Ahh, taking one’s own life, by the law of Kazuma is a sin.”

“So he went onto the afterlife, but you remained?”

“Ahh, there is a provision that if you sin in purgatory you are sent to damnation. I had to remain here, until the time was right for me to join Shiku.”

“I don’t understand. How do you plan to sin here in purgatory?”

“Ahh, the Zenaku woman told you a story about her and her mother. Right now, Shimragata is under siege and those that survived the initial onslaught are fighting to escape. Iashi is carrying you to safety. There is a place within the Forest of the Ancients. It will be your sanctuary. You and the people that go there with you will learn things, things that defy the laws of the gods and nature. It is a place the Gods never wanted discovered, but the one called Atsuki and the mortal body of the God Rin, discovered it during their battle. It changed them. It will change all of you. This is my sin, telling you something the Gods never wished any mortal to know of. I have no regrets though that kind of power …. ”

“You stayed to tell me this?”

“Ahh, I stayed to tell it to someone living and breathing. I waited a long time, but truthfully never expected it to be … the woman who captured my son’s heart.”

Tationy blinked and then laughed softly, “You are mistaken.”

“Ahh, I am not.”

Tationy did not want to discuss Iashi, so she quickly changed the topic, “Hero said a year passed…”

“Ahh, he lied. He wanted to see the look on your face.”

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Tationy stood and moved toward the window looking out at the beautiful snow. She felt the emotions welling up inside her. “Ahh, I am rude let me introduce myself to you properly. I am Teslia, Wife of Shiku, Mother of Iashi, Daughter of Tormoe and Iallal. You are Tationy, daughter of Miroku and Chilè. Your blood is really unique, Yamada, Tylo, Ishi, Shima, Saitama, and many others. The Yamada have a unique ability to see the lineage of ones blood. Yours is the most interesting I have ever seen. I remember when I met Shiku I was overwhelmed by his lineage. Kari, Waichia, Matsuo, Sato. Strong and powerful lines. Iashi will be a stronger man when you take him to the Forest of the Ancients. All of them will unlock things in their blood…”

“How do you know this?”

“Ahh, I have been there. The Yamada reside across the water from Shimragata. Very strict clan in many regards. I was young, younger than you are now when I abandoned that life with many of my ‘sisters’. We crossed the water and as each of them one by one took husbands, I was left alone. I traveled, explored, but a woman is just a woman. Men have needs and desires, it makes it unsafe ….”

“Did something happen to you?”

“Ahh, the Anami found me during one of my misadventures. The Forest of the Ancients is a place of dangers, and many will not even venture near it because of all of the stories. The people of that world are so superstitious. After they had their way with me, I struggled to my feet and made it to the forest. I just wanted to die. The forest gave me a chance, unlocked my blood and allowed me to see how special each person is around me. Eventually I went back to Shimragata, I never exactly recovered from the experience, but Shiku….I could see how special he was. He was filled with light and joy. When I died that light dimmed until there was nothing left of it. Iashi’s light has always flickered because of fear and sadness. It burns the brightest when he is with you. You have to be the stronger of the two of you. Give him strength to smile and laugh.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Ahh, I know I am probably burdening you with stuff that makes little sense to you now. It also does not help that you have feelings for men other than Iashi.” Tationy held her breath. “I can see into your heart.”

She hated how Teslia constantly turned the topic back to Iashi. It hurt her to think about what might change after she left this place, so again she was quick to change the topic. “This place….Is it dangerous?”

“Ahh, I suggest you only take those people with you, who are strong and capable, anyone else will sub-come to the Forest of the Ancients and die. This is not a journey for those weak of heart.” She responded.

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They had talked for some time. Teslia had told Tationy a small portion about Iashi and Sesiago. She appreciated knowing the information, but at the same time, wished she had not learned any of it. “How long has she been like this?”

“Ahh, awhile now. You will be taking her the rest of the way on this journey?”

“Yes.”

“Ahh, I see.” Teslia responded as her fingers brushed Tationy’s hair off her face. She had been resting, in fact had gotten tired during their conversation and had laid her head in the lap of the mother of Iashi. “She is so young.”

“Does that concern you?”

“Ahh, not how you might think. She has her whole life before her, I am not certain she has made the decisions she will be happy with.”

“What decisions are you referring to?”

“Ahh, it is nothing for the dead to worry over. I don’t think you should tell her….”

“She needs to know.”

“Ahh, perhaps, but what purpose does it serve Emperor Miroku to let this child know that her own father feared her so much that he ordered her execution? That might mean something to the one waiting for her, but to this little girl, it will cause her more pain than anything else. Let her believe in her father. When she is united with her other half, she will need things to hold on to, don’t take you away from her.”

“I understand, but I need to tell her. She needs to understand, so she does not become that person again.”

“Ahh, I suppose there is no telling the Emporer of Aslann what to do, but as a mother, your decision is wrong.” Teslia responded as she faded, leaving Tationy and Miroku alone.

Tationy felt her head hit the bench and she grumbled under her breath. “Miroku,” She said his name as she looked up at him, her hand rested on the side of her head.

“It is time Tationy.” He responded. “You need to see the last few that are here and you and I will walk toward the gate together.”

“Already?”

“Yes.” He voiced.

She nervously stood as she looked around for Iashi’s mother. She frowned when she realized she was gone, but knew that this was the way of things in Purgatory. They journeyed around Aslann and Tationy finished talking to the handful of people left there. She tried to keep everything that had already been said to her out of her mind, though as she looked over at Miroku she could tell things were weighting heavily on him.

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Tationy sighed as she stopped moving and fell back onto the ground, moving her arms and legs to make snow angels. Miroku had turned when he realized she had stopped, watching her. She was being quiet and he did his best to gauge the silence, but he could not read it. “Miroku,” She said his name, “I want you to go, passover or whatever it is you do when you are dead.”

“I have things I need to say before I do …”

She interrupted him, “It is alright, you do not have to say anything. I already know.”

“You already know what?” He asked her.

She closed her eyes, “I just already know.”

He stood there as the snow fell down around him, the silence washing over the area. He was not yet ready to leave her, but he understood that she was offering him a way out. It was probably the easy way, but he did feel lighter. Perhaps journeying with her while she was here was enough to atone for his sins against her. That did not alleviate the ones he had against everyone else, but to him she was the most important sin. He opened his mouth to speak as she lie there upon the ground, but halted himself when he realized the serene look on her face. She was happy. He knew she had heard a lot that she did not want to hear, but at that moment, there with him as the snow cascaded down around them she was happy. He could not ask for anymore than that, which made it difficult for him to tell her the things he wanted to say. He thought that the Yamada woman was probably right. Tationy did not need to know those things that were burning deep within him, they would not help her any. All it would do telling her is alleviate his own guilt and pain. He was a dead man, such things no longer mattered.

TS3W 2012-11-18 01-25-26-22

“You finally made it.” She heard a man speak. As she stood she looked around for the voice, but all she could see was white with soft white little orbs all about. She felt a set of arms wrap around her from behind, a naked body pressed against hers. “Isn’t it beautiful?” He questioned and even though she tensed he did not appear to have noticed. “I am disappointed that we are meeting like this. We almost crossed paths with one another at the Red Lantern, while you were visiting the Kensuku, called Kensuke I was visiting his brother, Hidesoda. I saw you several times and you did not even notice me. I felt a bit sad.”

“Why is that?” She asked her voice cold.

“Because you could not even recognize yourself.”

“That body is not yours. You took a man’s life away.”

“You are going to condemn me, when you took the life of Tearra?”

“What do you mean?”

“You and I are the same person. A fraction of myself was left within my body along with that child to make this happen. I prepared every detail to ensure that my soul would overpower the reborn one of Tearra when the time came. You took her life, Tationy. How does that make you feel? Tearra’s life would have been similar to your upbringings, but eventually she would meet Hiko. Fall hard for him. He of course was a bad man, but led her on the path to meet Sesiago. Had she had the opportunity to see him, the Gods may have risen again. Can you imagine your modern world, with the King and Queen of the Gods? Of course the Dragon Lords wanted Tearra and would do anything to have her. I could not allow that to happen.”

“Did you send Cho to kill them?”

“No, his arrival was a surprise for even me.”

“How are you here?”

“Atsuki killed me.”

“Forgive me if I do not weep for you.”

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“You are a harsh woman, Tationy.”

“Coming from you that is probably a compliment. Did you love any of them?”

“This is the question you want to ask me?” He sighed, “What do you want Tationy?”

“I want the truth, I want to remember….”

“You want to remember? What price are you willing to pay?”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you really think you can just remember and go about your life as it was? The things we both have done, cannot be atoned for.”

“I have done nothing.”

“Keep telling yourself that. You lived thousands of lifetimes, much longer than I have. You do not think for one minute that you have not sinned?” She tried to pull away from him, but he forced her back into his arms. His body pressed firmly against her, his arms tight and secure. He whispered, “I don’t think you are prepared for remembering everything.”

“I am not as weak as you Tatsuya.”

He laughed, “Tatsuya, you are awfully informal with the Prince of Aslann.”

“As you said, we are one and the same.”

“You think I am weak?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“All you know how to do is use people.”

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Tatsuya the Prince of Aslann, pulled himself from her, grabbing her by the shoulders and forcing her to look at him. “I see, you are angry with me.”

“Does this make you feel better?”

“You have to be a bit more specific?”

“Trying to seem superior.”

“I am superior.”

“Arrogant is more like it.”

Tatsuya reached out grabbing her wrist and pulling her closer to him, “It is just the two of us. We are going to be here until we resolve this, you might as well play nice.”

“I would rather be dead.” She voiced.

“Give in to me then and you can have your wish.”

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Tationy tried to pull away from him as her arm twisted and turned as he tossed her to the ground easily. “You are going to make this difficult?” He asked as he took a step toward her, but stopped suddenly when a figure appeared quickly. He was dressed in elaborate robes, holding a flute in his hands. His hair as dark as night and his eyes an endless abyss of black. Tationy had felt the silk from the figures robes brush by her skin as he stood between the two of them. Tatsuya, rested his hand on his hip, he could feel his skin burning from the proximity of the figure and understood what this man was. He was the King of the Gods. He kept himself in check as the black smoke and embers flickered off his soul body. “I was wondering if you were going to stand by and allow me to do this unhindered.”

His voice was overpowering, “You mortals think that you can do as you wish.”

“You plan on condemning what I have done when you have been hiding here or did you forget there is a world that could use the Gods.”

“You misunderstand.”

“Explain it to me.”

“You have no place to command me to do anything.” He responded and Tatsuya screamed out as his soul body, began to burn from the inside out.

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Tationy could not identify the smell as she tried to look around the figure before her, but could not see what was happening. Before she had a chance to stand, a blinding flash of light forced her to close her eyes. When she finally opened them, she could hear birds chirping, the sound of water from a nearby waterfall, a soft breeze brushed by her skin as she stood and realized she was dressed in fine silk. The waterfall at her back she moved toward the figure who was standing much the same way he was when he defended her from Tatsuya. She tried to look at him, but quickly looked away to the area surrounding them. It was beautiful, like paradise. “I am disappointed in you.” He finally spoke.

“Get in line.” She responded.

His features never changed, “You allowed the Prince of Aslann to take control of your body. You have become weak, why Tearra have you fallen so far?”

“Please don’t call me that. My name is Tationy.”

“As you wish, Tationy.” He responded, his voice was emotionless and monotone, never varying in pitch even slightly. He was truly a man of control. “Answer me.” He commanded.

“How am I suppose to do that?” She questioned.

“You are my queen if you truly wish to remember you will. The powers of mortals are nothing compared to what is in you, if you just dig deep you can access it. Of course, you have to want to remember that is the problem isn’t it? You told the Prince of Aslann you want to remember, but your heart does not really mean it. Do you hate me so much, you will live forever the life of a mortal?”

She did not answer him, “How is it you are here?”

“I gave you those eyes, where do you think that power comes from?” He questioned. It did not really answer her question, but in a way she understood. If Tearra was given life by Kazuma, then the eye’s of the Tylo is a power that Kazuma most likely had in one form or another.

“That still does not tell me how it is you are here.”

“I am here because your heart called to me. Don’t you remember?” She turned her attention fully on him, staring blankly as she thought back on her moment with the Prince of Aslann. In that moment as her wrist was twisted she had thought of…she frowned when she realized it was not Iashi that had leapt into her heart it was Sesiago. Unwanted emotions overtook her again, “No matter how much you love the mortal, he is still just a mortal. He is going to die. When his body is next to yours his Sato blood soothes you so much that you do not dream, so you have not seen it yet, but he dies like any mortal in that world. You have to let him go.”

“How can you be so heartless. Don’t you see what is in my heart?” She asked.

“I do and it is not him. You are the one that refuses to see. No matter what you feel for him, you are a part of me. You are my queen. You are destined to stand at my side.”

“Your side? You didn’t want me.” She responded.

“My reincarnate is an old fool, but that does not mean he does not desire you. It was the hardest thing he had ever done in his entire life. He wanted many times to go to you, but there are wounds so deep in his heart. He and the mortal were meant to battle, the fact that it never happened has haunted him. It is just one of many things that have lingered around him. The Yamada mother of Iashi, doomed herself by going to the Forest of the Ancients, she was not strong enough to withstand its power, and after many years of pain and suffering she fell victim to that Ancient power. That was not meant to be her fate. Iashi was to finish the trials and compete against his friend. He was to die by the hands of Sesiago of the Kari. Now there are too many people that wonder if he is my blood. Certainly he is Kari, but he is not the man that I chose to be my reincarnate.”

“You chose Sesiago, why?”

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“He is Kari.” The statement might have been confusing. He was not saying that Iashi was not Kari, he was simply saying that Sesiago embodied everything that it meant to be Kari and thus was the perfect embodiment to be Kazuma’s reincarnate. “Why did you chose this child?” He questioned as his hand reached out. When she pulled back from him, his hand grabbed her arm pulling her into him. The flute dropped to the ground as his freehand rested to the small of her back. His lips were so close to hers and she trembled, but not because of his proximity, but because of his power. “For thousands of years, I have chosen the mortal who embodied everything that it meant to be Kari, you though…this girl is nothing like you. She is weak, fragile, broken, insecure, and plain. No one could match your beauty, why did you chose this body?” Tationy had not responded and he searched her eyes looking for the answer until he gave in, closing his eyes and leaning in. His lips brushed hers lightly. Unexpectedly his arms became uncertain as he pulled back from her. “Tationy?”

The uncertain voice was different from the strong emotionless voice of Kazuma. “Sesiago.” She whispered.

He looked around taking in everything before looking back toward her. He relinquished his grip, forcing himself to take a step back as he looked uncertainly at his hand before touching his face. He could feel it, the flawlessness of his skin, its smoothness. He tried to remember what had happened, he was escaping the city with the Kari. They had been boxed in from the East and West by enemies and he had helped make certain that all members of the Kari had escaped. He was moving quickly away from Shimragata with Zen, then he was kissing her. “Did you bring me here?” He questioned.

“Kazuma did, though I do not understand why.” She responded as she brought her hand up to tuck her hair behind her ear and he noticed the bruises on her palm.

He frowned, grabbing her hand quickly and pulling her to him. “Are you engaging in combat?”

“Kuro was training me.”

“You are a woman, it is not your place to fight.” He told her.

“I have been able to fight for a long time, before I even came to the Kari village.”

The surprise on his face did not go unnoticed as he frowned gripping her wrist tighter. “Does Iashi know?”

“Yes.” She responded. “I am not weak Sesiago, I do not need a man to take care of me.”

“That is not the point. A Kari man is responsible for the woman in his life. It is his job to protect her. What becomes of the world if women are sent off to fight?”

“Women are just as capable as men.”

“I never said they weren’t.” He argued, “It is…it is just a man’s place.”

“Why are we even having this conversation? I meant nothing to you.”

“Is that what you think?”

She felt it a shiver that traveled along her spine. She did not know what it meant, but she had a feeling her next words were going to change everything. “Yes, that is what I think.”

“Kazuma, wherever you are send me back. I don’t want to deal with her.” He yelled. “I know you are listening. Whatever reason you brought me here, it is not going to happen. She is Yamada.”

“That is right.” Tationy voiced as proudly as she could, “Run back to your Kari, Sesiago. Leave this tainted Yamada woman alone. I don’t need a weak man like you.”

“Weak.” He repeated and frowned as he moved toward her and violently grabbed her wrist. “You don’t know anything about me.”

She grimaced, “Sesiago you are hurting me.”

It was clearly evident he was angry as he relinquished his grip, “If you feel brazen enough to speak to a Kari man in such a way, you should be prepared for the consequences. Don’t attack my pride again.”

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A crack of lightning and roar of thunder startled Tationy as the rain suddenly poured down around them rapidly. Sesiago surveyed the area, grabbing her hand as he pulled her with him, as the two ran through the rain. By the time they arrived at the only shelter in sight they were soaked, wet rain water dripping off of them. Tationy shivered noticeably, “You are afraid of thunder?” He questioned.

“Everyone’s afraid of something.” She voiced as she turned away from him trying to shake the rain from her clothing. She was soaked and cold. Tationy did not think twice about it as she kept her back to Sesiago and began to pull her clothes off.

Sesaigo forced himself to look away, allowing his eyes to scan the location. It was a tent, one of the old Imperial Tents from the war. The last time he had been in one of these, it was during the negotiations between the Prince of Aslann and the Lord of the Shima. He noticed a bed, several tables, and clothing. He moved toward the table with the clothing, lifting it and moving toward her. His proximity caused her to tense as his arm reached around her and within his hand was clothing. “Thank you.” She responded grabbing it quickly and dressing herself. He was able to get a close enough look at the bruises over her body, many of them were difficult not to notice and he wondered how it was that Iashi could stand by and allow it to happen.

He dressed quickly, pulling the wet silk from the body of the King of the Gods. He felt inadequate in this form. This body was younger, much younger than his natural body. He was nearly forty-five years old and the girl behind him, was at least twenty-five years his junior. He sighed inwardly as he turned about and she was staring at him. Her eyes made him feel self-conscious. It was a feeling not uncommon in his life, but it had been many years since it affected him so thoroughly.

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He watched as her eyes glanced around the room, before she looked toward the ceiling, sighing deeply. The place looked more like somewhere lovers would escape to. She was certain that was the point and told herself that Kazuma in all of his wisdom was a manipulator and planner. She took a seat on a table sitting at the end of the bed. She did not feel comfortable sitting anywhere else. Sesiago cautiously moved to sit next to her. “I guess you are stuck here like me, huh?”

“Would seem that Kazuma wishes for us to speak and is determined to keep us in the same location.”

She nodded her head then shivered noticeably as he wrapped his arms around her. She brought her hand to her lips as she spoke, her free-hand resting on his, “Don’t get any ideas, Sesiago.”

He leaned in a little closer, his hot breath against her shoulder, “I am a Kari man, near the woman he desires, it is difficult to not get those ideas.”

“You let me go. I am with Iashi now.”

He pulled himself away from her, reminded sharply that she allowed another man to have her. “Did you do it to make me angry?”

“Did I do what?”

“Did you sleep with him to make me angry?” His tone a bit louder and sharper this time.

“Do you hear yourself? Was I not supposed to move on with my life?”

“No, you can do whatever you want, but why him?” He could see it as she averted her eyes. Was he so blind he did not notice that she was attracted to Iashi? “I should not be surprised. Every girl that I ever wanted always wanted him. Never failed when we entered a city he would bed six different women in one-night and he would send some girl to my room who did not really want to be with me. She wanted his Yamada blood. Why would you be any different?” His tone was sharp, “What is wrong with me?”

“Nothing.”

He shook his head, “There has to be something, Tationy. Why Iashi, why are you more attracted to him than to me?”

“Why do you care? You threw me away like garbage.” She stood, positioned herself to argue. “I have never been so disrespected and hurt in my entire life. I am used to being treated like I am nothing, but you….What you did was worse than what Hiko did.”

“I did it to protect you.”

“Protect me, you call that protecting me?”

He threw his arms up, turning his back to her as he sighed deeply, “You do not know what it was like back then. The Yamada were considered a plague, we were all forbidden to be involved with them, from the time we were small. Iashi’s mother was treated like a sickness. His father could only protect her when he was around, when she was alone she was bullied and disrespected by both the men and the women. They were terrible to her even though she gave Shiku a son, they treated her like she was nothing.” She could hear it in his voice, the emotion was breaking through, “She was the kindest woman I had ever met. She prepared us for our journey for the trials and…”

“And what?” She asked.

“She was a good woman. Being with the Kari harmed her spirit. When she was with Iashi she was so happy, caring, but the moment others were around you could just see the life sucked out of her. I didn’t want that life for you. I didn’t want you to grow to hate me and my clan, like she did Iashi’s father. Do not get me wrong she loved him, but a blackness overtook her heart while she was with the village and the woman she was disappeared. That is the fate of a Yamada woman within the Kari. We might never be able to have a child, you would hear about it each day that you could not bring life into this world. They would make you feel less than nothing and I would not be able to protect you. Don’t you get it…” He asked tuning to look at her, “It’s the responsibility of a Kari man to protect his woman. I suppose it does not matter now, as you said, you belong to Iashi.”

She reached her hand out, but quickly pulled it back. “I am sorry.”

“For what?”

“Falling in love with him.”

“You can’t help who you fall in love with.” He told her simply. “I need some fresh air.”

“It is raining out.” She managed to say, but her words did not stop him as he left her alone in the tent.

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Sesiago had been calling out for Kazuma the moment he left the tent. “Show yourself.” He repeated often enough until he stopped near the water’s edge. He sighed noticeably, the King of the Gods was ignoring him. He was not about to give up when the scenery changed about him and he stood before the King of the Gods. He was frozen in place a moment, before reaching his hands up to adjust his pony-tail. He felt more like himself as he glanced down a moment before staring at a face that in many regards was similar to his own. He took a moment to take it all in before glancing around.

“Do you think speaking with me is going to change anything?”

“You are the reason I am here, what was the point?”

“In the modern world of Aslann, your descendant, my reincarnate a young man was to meet Tationy. He is her Kazuma. It is why she cannot see you, it is why she does not wish to. She fights it, I do not understand Tearra’s reasoning. Why that girl, why that time, why that Kazuma. I am unable to read her wishes, though I suppose I never really understood her to begin with. Much of what happened with the Gods I could have prevented, but I was foolish, thinking that the affairs of mortals meant nothing. I gave the Gods to much power and look what happened.”

“How are you here?”

“She asked me the same thing. When I died I used what little bit of power I had left to seal a portion of myself within the Land of Souls, for when it was time to cross paths with my queen. Tearra hid within the Land of Souls, I was never able to find her and by the time she chose to be reincarnated she came face-to-face with the Prince of Aslann who overpowered her weakened spirit and took control of her body. I have been waiting here for her, ever since.”

“What is the point of all of this?”

“Tationy does not wish to become Tearra. I was hoping you would convince her to change her mind, but I see that is not possible. She wants to live the life of a mortal with that man. That man that was never supposed to live to begin with.”

“Iashi? What do you mean he was not supposed to live?”

“You know what I mean, Sesiago. His fate was to die by your hands after you both survived the final trial. Everything became different then it was supposed to be. His Yamada mother was never suppose to die, his father was never meant to kill himself. The Prince of Aslann was never meant to bed the Lord of the Shima, she and her guardians were meant to die. Tearra’s decision not to be reincarnated changed the path the world was meant to follow and that Prince caused more damage to the world of mortals then any one person can even imagine. There is no guarantee now that Sesiago Kari who lives in Tationy’s modern world will even exist.”

“Can it be fixed?”

“I cannot say, what happens from this point on I cannot see. She can, if she can unlock her eyes, but that requires her to embrace the power of Tearra. Power that she is afraid of.”

“So why are you telling me this if there is nothing I can do?”

“There is something….She plans on leaving the Land of Souls and taking the survivors to the Forest of the Ancients where she wishes to live a mortal life. The Forest of the Anciets is the garden to the Kingdom of Heaven.” He explained. “Those that go there will never be the same. You are descended from the Lord of the Shima, Osa. You are the half-brother of Seiji of the Shima. It is your right to claim yourself as lord. Right now the position falls to her, Seiji’s kin and the Prince of Aslann. The Saitama and Shima generals of Lord Shima are aware of your parentage. Claim it as yours, claim her as your queen, and the world will be set back on a proper path.”

“You want me to acknowledge being Shima?”

“Yes.”

“I can’t do that. I am Kari.”

“The choice is yours Sesiago, you either help her build a world as mortals or you force her to see Kazuma and rise to the heavens. If you do not, heartache and death awaits you both.” Kazuma began to fade into a small glowing orb of bright light. Sesiago felt his body get tossed back as he arched and contorted slightly as the orb flew into his chest and the world quickly reverted back to the lush green landscape.

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When he finally arrived back she was waiting for him. He had difficulty being this close to her. As a man he made mistakes that he thought were in the best interest of both of them. If he did what Kazuma wanted he would be giving up everything that he was and marrying a woman that did not love him. Sesiago frowned when he looked at her and moved toward the side of the bed, sitting with his back to her. “What do you want?” He asked her.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, what kind of life do you want?”

“A quiet one with Iashi. Sesiago is something wrong? Why are you asking me?”

“Kazuma told me that Iashi was never meant to live. That he was supposed to die by my hands. That his mother and father were never suppose to die. That the Prince of Aslann was never suppose to bed the Lord of the Shima, that the guardians and the Prince were supposed to die. That the Prince of Aslann and Tearra changed things, there is no guarantee that the Sesiago Kari from your time will even exist now. I am not really smart like Iashi, I don’t really understand what he was saying, but he brought me here to change your mind about becoming Tearra, he thought I could convince you.”

“Why you?” She asked.

“I don’t know, probably because of our relationship. Maybe because I am his reincarnate. Doesn’t matter now, he will not be talking to either of us.”

“Why not?”

“He disappeared, his soul which was locked here is inside me now.”

“Then you should be able to talk to him. We can’t remain here.”

“There is a way.” He told her.

“How?”

“The world is not balanced because of the Prince of Aslann and Tearra, because of what you did. You threw everything off balance and it needs to be set back on its proper path. Tearra was supposed to be reincarnated in your time, but the Prince of Aslann overpowered her spirit and took her body, you did that.” He told her. “Kazuma said that it can all be put on the proper path, but it requires sacrifice from both of us.”

“What kind of sacrifice?”

“He told me I am descended from the Lord of the Shima, Osa. I knew I was Shima, but I never…”

“Seiji told me you were his brother,” She said and he looked over his shoulder at her to see that she was speaking the truth, “He wanted to know if I thought that you would claim your position. Considering he is dieing, I kind of understand why.”

“I don’t know anything about that world.” He told her simply, “Kazuma told me I need to claim myself as the Lord of the Shima. He said the position falls on you because you are the kin of the Lord and the Prince of Aslann. There is also the matter that you are the Prince of Aslann, and people that support the Emperor and Prince of that fallen nation will look to you for guidance.  He told me to claim you as my queen. Live a mortal life in the Forest of the Ancients where you plan to take everyone. I suppose it was his way of saying that Tearra and Kazuma can revive the world, even if it is just a small portion of it, but only if we are together.”

He could hear the emotion, “What did you say?”

“I told him I am Kari, that I couldn’t do that.”

“What did he say?”

“He told me to either build a new world with you as mortals or force you to see Kazuma and rise to the heavens. That if I didn’t, heartache and death awaits us both.”

“He told me Iashi is going to die.” She whispered.

“He was never meant to live. There is a balance to things, you and your guardians disrupted the world by what you did.” He told her. “So tell me what you want to do Tationy. The decision is yours. I am an assassin for the Kari, my life is probably short anyway. The decisions we both make, effect the world. I imagine that once you decide, we will be allowed to leave here, until then, you should probably get use to seeing my face like this.”

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She laid there awake listening to the soft sounds of his breathing. She was certain she had already made her decision, she wanted to live a mortal life with Iashi. She did not believe Sesiago was lying, she for that matter did not even believe that Kazuma was. Tationy stood and paced the floor, she could not get comfortable and her emotions were out of control, much as they were when Sesiago had told her he did not want her. She stopped moving suddenly to stare at him. He had said he told her that to protect her from the pain of how the Kari and their women would treat her. She did not know what to believe.

Tationy moved toward the bed sitting on the edge before laying down and rolling to her side. She could see his chest rising and falling, hear the rain outside, and even though the ambiance was certainly meant to be romantic she could not help, but feel anything other than that. She tensed when he quickly rolled over and wrapped his arms around her. He did not say anything or open his eyes, just held on to her tightly. “Sesiago.” She whispered.

“Don’t think about it and try to sleep.” He responded.

“But…”

“You want Iashi right? There is nothing to think about. We are not going anywhere until you make a decision, if that is what you want you will have a short life with him…”

“I don’t want him to die.” She responded.

“We all have things we do not want to happen, but sometimes they do.”

“What do you want?”

“Please don’t ask me that.”

“You asked me. Please Sesiago, tell me what you want.”

He squeezed her a little tighter as he opened his eyes, “A son of my blood. One that is not a constant reminder that my wife was sleeping with the Elder of my clan. A mother for my children. Someone who wants to take care of them and guide them, give them love. It would be great if she loved me to, but …. I have never been the type of man that women fall in love with.”

“That is all you want? It sounds so simple.” He wanted to tell her that he wanted all of that with her, but he kept it to himself. He could not find the words to even respond. “I want a baby.” She whispered softly and he heard her choke up slightly at admitting those words. “A little boy.”

“Have you told Iashi?” He questioned.

“No.”

He squeezed her again, “Why?”

“I don’t want to get my hopes up.” She responded. “It will probably never happen.”

“What would you name him?”

“Shōichi,” She responded.

He could tell she was smiling. Even though she did not say as much, the fact that she had a name for the child, told him she had been thinking about it a great deal. “That’s a good name.”

“You think so?”

“Yes.”

“It is not going to happen is it?”

“What is that?”

“Iashi and I we are over before we even progress.”

“Everything has an ending, but with each ending there is always a new beginning.”

He could hear her crying softly as he held on to her tightly. He squeezed her offering her as much comfort as she would allow him. He hated hearing her cry, especially knowing there was nothing he could do to make her feel better. The decision was hers to make, so all he could do was wait for her to decide what path she was going to take. Her resolve needed to be firm with no doubt or hesitation, regardless of her decision. He did not know how long it would take for her to decide, or even if she would decide. In the end, all he could do was silently stay at her side until she made that decision.

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To Be Continued

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