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Heavenly Kings [M-LVS]


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[COLOR=SlateGray][SIZE=1]It was another hot day on Seiryuu's island, just like always. The sun was high, and seemed to glare down at the people below, but the calming breeze seemed to assuage some of the more horrid rays. Nontheless, most were staying indoors to avoid the flaming orb above, with some of the children at the beach, cooling off in the refreshing waters of the sea. Ginryuu was one of the former, and it was not just any building he was in.

It was the gambling hall.

Ginryuu had spent most of the afternoon playing kanfuda, which allowed him to focus on something less painful than heat. However, his general good luck put him in other painful situations quite often. Today did not deviate, and after his 40th win in a row, his opponents were looking fairly murderous. Ginryuu tried to laugh it off in good humour, but 10 wins later, they did not appear amused. At all.

In fact, they were so unamused that the 5 large, burly fishermen/farmers/gamblers were standing to their feet and grabbing nearby blunt instruments in an attempt to beat Ginryuu's head in because he was [I]such[/I] a lucky bastard. And while Ginryuu could've quite easily taken each of them down in a matter of moments, he was still glad when Tetsuya burst in through the doors, looking for him.


Ginryuu, and the five gamblers, turned to face the young man who stood panting in the doorway. The assassin, sensing temporary safety, responded.

[B]"Doushita, Tetsuya-kun?"[/B]

[B]"Man...see you...Emperor...talk...yeah,"[/B] Tetsuya panted.

Ginryuu blinked, and slowly began edging away from the gamblers. They glared at him, but made no move to attack. And, once they noticed that he wasn't taking the pot from the table, they smiled and sat back down. Convinced that no threats would be made on his life, Ginryuu walked over to Tetsuya.

[B]"So...what are you talking about?"[/B] he asked, feeling that his student had had enough time to catch his breath.

[B]"A messenger from the Emperor is here to see you, sir,"[/B] Tetsuya said. [B]"He wants to deliver a message."[/B]

[B]"Well, that is traditionally what messengers do..."[/B] the elder commented, walking out the door.

Tetsuya blinked quickly, flushed a pale pink, and grumbled softly as he fell into toe with his teacher. From the short distance, Ginryuu could already see the crowd that had gathered in the town square around two magnicificant horses, both teathered in front of the local inn. Obviously, that's where the Imperial Messenger was waiting for them.

As they neared the crowd, Ginryuu stopped and turned to Tetsuya.

[B]"I'm going to go inside and talk to him. You are to go into the dojo and practice your swordsmanship, understood? Based on the message, I shall inform you of your next course of action."[/B]

Tetsuya looked offended.

[B]"B-but, Ginryuu-sama..."[/B] he began, but was swiftly cut off by Ginryuu.

[B]"No buts, Tetsuya. Wait at the dojo."[/B]

"...All right, Ginryuu-sama," Tetsuya said, sounding dejected. He slowly turned and walked up the dirt road towards Ginryuu's dojo. When he had gone far enough for Ginryuu to think he wasn't going to return, the warrior stepped towards the inn and walked in.

There, the messenger was waiting...and so was his destiny.[/SIZE][/COLOR]


[COLOR=SlateGray][SIZE=1]Short, maybe, but it gets the job done. Assassins, you are to meet with your messengers. What you do with your disciples (or lack thereof) is up to you. Imi, as you are also lacking a messenger, you can make them up if you wish. Otherwise, get ready to interact. Each of you is about 5 days journey from the palace, so you'll have pleanty of time to get to know your messenger and enjoy a few scuffles - with bandits, assassins, and angry townspeople, or whatnot.

To speed up character interaction, the Tiger and Tortoise are about two days apart, as are the Dragon and Phoenix. I hope to see you all soon in the imperial palace. And I dearly apologize for the lateness of this posting. I was busy today and...fell asleep very early yesterday. Gomen, gomen, gomen.

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[color=#000099][SIZE=1]Tetsuya growled as he walked up the dusty path to the dojo. He was aggravated by his master's actions. Or moreso, he was aggravated that he wouldn't know what was going on untill his master decided to tell him. Tetsuya had no choice but to repsect his decision, though. His master was his father in every aspect, he had taken him in. He began mumbling under his breath.

[B]"Wouldn't even know about the message had I not been at the house...And he was out gambling! Gambling! I've never been found of that habit."[/B] Tetsuya's mumbling had reached a dull roar. One of the villager sthrew him an odd glance and Tetsuya shut up. [I]Note to self, avoid talking to myself out loud...[/I] A beautiful island girl caught his attention. [I]Reya?[/I] He knew her quite well. They'd been dating for a while. [I]An amazing feat for someone who was brought up by a womanizer[/I], he thought sacrcastically to himself. He walked over to her.

[B]"Hey Reya. You look lovely today."[/B] He kissed her gently on the lips. He held her hand and they began walking away from the dojo. Before he could get anywhere, and hand grabbed the back of his robes and pulled him backwards. He sprung up to face his advesary, and, upon seeing who it was, growled.

[B]"Hello, Sorizu."[/B] Sorizu was another student at Ginryuu's dojo, but he didn't take well to Tetsuya. He resnted him for being taught Ginryuu's moves. He held his katana over his back.

[B]"You're supposed to be at the dojo, training. I hear master Jikokuten-sama tell you."[/B] Tetsuya chuckled. [I]Master Jikokuten-sama? Suck up.[/I] He stood up and straightened himself out.

[B]"Well, as you can see, something, rather, someone, more important has come along. And thus, I really must be---"[/B] He attempted to turn around, but was stopped by Sorizu's blade. Tetsuya just sighed.

[B]"So you won't give up will you? How about this. We both head back to the dojo, spar, and after I kick your ass, you leave me alone."[/B] Sorizu sneered.

[B]"Cocky bastard. I'll show you."[/B] He began walking towards the dojo. Tetsuya put his hand in Reya's and walked with her to the dojo. They entered, and Sorizu was already standing on the mat in battle position, his blade drawn. Tetsuya grinned and grabbed his gauntlets, slipping them on. He smiled and banged his fists together, approaching Sorizu. Sorizu sneered again.

[B]"When I defeat you, I'll be showing master Jikokuten-sama that I am the right disciple for him, not a slacker like you."[/B] Tetsuya yawned and took battle stance as well.

[B]"You talk allota crap for a guy who's lost to me six times. Though, after this, it'll be seven."[/B] Sorizu roared and sprung at him. Tetsuya dodged and punched him hard in his side. Sorizu was sent realing. Tetsuya smiled.

[B]"A fore-warning of the beating to come."[/B]


[B]"You...you win."[/B] Sorizu collapsed onto the mat. Tetsuya yawned again, and walked over to Sorizu, picking him up. He put him down near the medication and whatnot and left him there. I'll be a fair sport, but I wouldn't help that rat personally. Tetsuya sat down next to Reya, took of his gauntlets and smiled.

[B]"Sorry about that. Now where were we?"[/B] He leaned forward and began kissing her when the doors to the dojo burst open, and Ginryuu flew in. He took a look at the battered Sorizu and shrugged. Then adressed Tetsuya.

[B]"We need to go home. Now. You may bring Reya along if you please."[/B][/SIZE][/color]
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"You would think someone the Emperor deems this important would be a little easier to track down." Xi Li muttered to herself. She had been searching for Kiyoshi Kozue for the past six days. Yesterday had been entirely wasted on a wild goose chase through a dark wood. It hadn't been pleasant. Even the bandits apparantly avoided that area. She had been warned that the man liked to keep to himself, but this was bordering on the rediculous.

Finally, as the day neared it's end and Xi Li was beginning to look for a likely place to camp for the night, she came across two men walking down the path in companionable silence. One was quite tall, even from her perspective on horseback, and the other , slightly younger looking, had brown hair and an earcuff. Both were unusaual traits that were easy to take note of and remember in case the Emperor wanted her to report on every one she spoke to -- he had emphasised in her letter that she was to do her best to keep her target as serect as possible.

"I beg your pardons, sirs." she spoke as she rode up to them. They both stopped and looked at her, but neither spoke. Disconcerted, she continued in her most polite tones. "I am looking for the man named Kiyoshi Kozue. He is supposed to be living somewhere in this area. Do either of you claim an aquaintence with him?"

"Not many would claim such a thing." the taller one answered.

"I have discovered that." she sighed. Another dead end.

"What would you have with him?" the man with the earcuff asked.

"I have a message that I need to deliver to him." Why ask if they didn't know him -- or did they and they just didn't want to tell her till they knew her business?

The taller one looked a bit surprised. "Who would want to send Kiyoshi Kozue a message?"

"The Emperor." Xi Li replied flippantly. She was growing tired of all this question and answer. The two men looked at one another, then they looked back at her.

"Then follow. We will take you to him." The younger man said.

"So you do know him." she brightened, but remained wary. They could just be thieves, but they were the best lead she'd had all day.

"He said as much." said the other. These men were definatley not conversationalists. They both resumed walking down the path. Realizing she wasn't going to get anything more out of them till they got to where ever they were going, she resignedly signaled her horse to fall in behind them.

Nearly an hour later the three of them approached a well tended building that was practically hidden in a large copse of trees. Ivy climbed up most of the walls, cleverly camoflaging the structure from all but the most observant. The light of dusk made it especially hard to see. Xi Li was almost to the front door before she could make out exactly what she was looking at.

The two men ushered he inside after showing her to a small stable-like structure that she could leave her horse in. She could smell the perfume of many flowers nearby, but it was too dark to see them. She was in awe of how much the presance of nature filled the area, almost like it was, itself, a resident of the building.

"Now, what is your message?" the older man requested.

"I am to give it [B]only[/B] to Kiyoshi Kozue." she retorted.

"You're looking a him." the shorted man smirked, gestureing at the other. Xi Li was too astonished to speak. She just stared at them both, slightly openmouthed.


OCC: Hope this works and that I didn't step on anyone's creative toes! Smiles
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Shu Lien smiled to herself as she walked away from the four bandits. A good work was just what she needed this morning, she had been traveling nearly a week and hadn't reached her destination yet, it was begining to annoy her. She streched out her shoulders and continued to walk not even glancing behind her, she could tell that no one had follwed her.

"I wonder what this assassin is like? I hope they're impressive." She stated outloud. She stopped on the river bank for lunch, and took the opportunity to clean up in the fresh water. She kept a close eye on her surroundings but didn't seem to notice the man hiding in the brush. A whistle came from the near by bushes and Shu Lien leapt out of the river and into her robes faster than ever before. She brought her spear to the ready and took a fighting stance.

"Crane style, very graceful." An amused voice replied from the bushes.

"Identify yourself." Shu Lien demanded lifting her spear higher into a striking position. A tall man stood and walked from the brush lifting his hands high above his head. He had long black hair, the top half was delicately pulled back out of his face. He was attractive, and he knew it too. His dark eyes gleamed as he smiled.

"Theres no need for the weapon, I won't hurt you." He took his own weapon, a longsword, and placed it on the ground. "Beside why would I want to hurt such a delicate flower such as yoursef?" Shu Lien lowered her weapon slightly and stood up straight.

"My name is Hien, who might you be?" He asked politely bowing.

"Shu Lien, I am-" She was cut off.

"You're a messenger for the Emperor... I've heard of you, and many of his other messengers. You're looking for the Tiger assassin right?" He replied smugly.

"How do you know all this?" Shu Lien asked in a confused tone.

"Thats my secret. Anyway, you'll be sure to find the Tiger soon. You're not to far off, only another 4 miles or so." he turned and waved as he bgean to walk. "It was a pleaseure meeting you, I'm sure we'll meet again in the future, you're way to cute to let go." Hien left Shu Lien's presence and never turned back. Shu lien took his name into account and finished clothing herself, then headed out on the remainder of her journey.

About 4 miles later, just as he had predicted, she reached a city. She asked he first man she saw for directions and found what was supposed to be the home of the Tiger assassin. She reached the door of an extravagent home, and knocked. Now all she had to do was wait for some one to answer.
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[color=Navy]Sakura was at Central dojo, as usual, and as usual, she had been there since dawn. She had used the first hours to limber out herself so she didn't pull a muscle. Sakura shadow-sparred as she waited for her first class of the morning to arrive. Sakura was finishing a series of flips when the first class came in.

Sakura walked in front of the class, who had lined up in the large, main room. She taught and got them practising with partners as she walked around the room, watching and correcting gently.

Sakura held up a gauntleted hand to stop everyone, which they did quickly. She listened and heard a message on the wind saying someone was waiting at her house to meet her. It was from her disciple, if they weren't together he sent messages over the wind since he could.

[b]"Sumimasen, I have something else to attend to, just practise what I've taught you and spar." [/b]Sakura told the class, then she waved a helper over and they took over supervising.

She brought her glaive over from the far wall with her telekinesis. She caught it from the air on the way out the door and set off at a run toward her house.

Sakura reached there and approached carefully, opening the door slowly and entering, calling out to Shoujo.

He came out from another room and behind him was a girl that she had never seen before. She gasped and bowed.

[b]"It's ok. Who are you?" [/b]she asked, resting her glaive against the wall.

[b]"I'm Shu Lien. I am to be your messenger, Tiger." [/b]she said.

[b]"She has a message for you." [/b]Shoujo informed her.

Sakura smiled in a joking way. [b]"That's what messengers usually do, Shoujo. Now, what is it that you want to tell me?"

[color=Black]OOC: [/color][/b][color=Black]Sorry, I couldn't think of anything to write.[/color][/color]
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[size=1][color=#E3170D]Sitting in the corner of the dojo of the Legendary Beast Clan was Bao Xu, the most hated, feared, yet well-known and well-respected man underneath the Council of Four. Others who dared to speak with him were either mindless, looking for a death wish, or knew exactly how to handle Bao Xu. Many of them were in the category of mindless and looking for a death wish but those who knew Bao Xu, even before he was asked to join the Clan, knew who he was and how to take care of him.

A hand was laid upon Bao Xu?s shoulder and without even opening his eyes, Bao Xu knew who it was and felt no need to comply. He allowed the assassin to sit next to him. Bao Xu knew that the silence the other created meant that the other wanted, needed, or had something that Bao Xu either had, knew of, or would be known as valuable information that Bao Xu needed.

?O genki desu ka, Bao Xu-sama?? The assassin knew that Bao XU was not going to look at him. So, without Bao Xu answering, the assassin took down his hand and slowly motioned someone else to walk closer. ?I have vital information for you.?

?Nani, Baku?? At this moment, Bao Xu answered but still did not look at the assassin.

?I might just tell you if you allow me to follow you on your expedition.?

With one swift move, Bao Xu managed to tip Baku?s chair and threaten him with a single poisoned kunai. Though Bao Xu loved playing games, he was not too keen on playing that morning. Instead of trying to kill Baku, Bao Xu stood up and placed his kunai in its rightful place and helped the younger assassin up. He looked the Beast over and sighed.

?It is not an expedition that I go on, but merely an execution.?

?Hai, Bao Xu-sama, I understand. Anyways, I?ve learned that the Emperor sent messengers to the four scattered Kings. I also learned that the Emperor wants to destroy the Beasts by sending the Kings and their disciples to fight us.?

Something suddenly sparkled in Bao Xu?s eyes as he heard this news. The other Beasts in the area listened to this and were now intent on knowing what Bao Xu was to do. Baku knew that Bao Xu couldn?t resist fighting the Kings for he had done so before and know that the Emperor has called them was something more than just news, it was an answered prayer.

[B]OOC-[/B] Gomen for the late arrival of my post.[/size][/color]
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[FONT=Arial Narrow][COLOR=DarkGreen]Kiyoshi smiled in his charming mannerism as he approached a small cupboard, and pulled a small dish and a jug from the shelves. He poured a small amount of saki into a small dish, turning to the others.

"Shall I pour yet another for our fair lady? Or prehaps you, Kyung. Shall I pour some for you as well?" Kiyoshi's voice was soft and smooth, almost sounding as if he hadn't gone through puberty yet.

The young woman standing amongst the two gentlemen was still standing open-mouthed and gaking at them both. Kiyoshi smiled and chuckled slightly, nodding in her direction. Kyung turned to her and caught his breath for a moment before ushering her to a sit.

"I have not seen Kiyoshi-sama smile so much since the vine came back to life." Kyung slid the small wooden chair forward as the woman sat down. "I should go, Kiyoshi-sama."

Kiyoshi's smile dipped to an almost frown as he slowly put the jug back and closed the cupboard. "Of course," Kiyoshi lowered his head as he lifted his small saucer up to his lips. "Kyung," Kiyoshi finished his saki, set the saucer down, and turned to look at the young man standing in front of the door.

The young man raised his eyes brows to show that he was ready to receive whatever Kiyoshi had to tell him.

"Please water our dear friends along the edges of the cabin, they are terribly thirsty." Kiyoshi smiled softly again as Kyung nodded his head as he left the cabin.

"This is quite a place." The girl suddenly spoke as Kiyoshi was cleaning out his small saucer.

Kiyoshi turned his head towards the young girl, watching her looking around his very cluttered cabin. She seemed a little uneasy being amongst so many plants. He looked about and smiled at his dear friends before taking a sit before her.

"Why have you come so far to see Kiyoshi Kozue?" Kiyoshi neatly tucked his hands on his lap, under the table as he humblely looked at the woman before him. She was fair skinned with ebony hair. A charming girl with quite a personality.

"The Emperor has sent me."

"And what does he want from a humble creature such as myself?" [/COLOR]

OOC: I hope this does for now. Sorry it took so long for me to post, couldn't think of a thing to write. :animestun[/FONT]
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"He needs your help. That's why I was sent." Xi Li pasued, gathering her thoughts. "I could recite the message word for word, or I could just give you the meat of it without all the courtly manners. Which would you prefer?"

Kiyoshi smiled a bit at her bluntness. "Give me the heart of the matter. You can impress me with your memorization later if need be."

"The Assassin Beast Clan is on the move. The ordinary soldiers of the Emperor's Army are being cut down like it was harvest in the fields. The Emperor requests -- in the way that only emperors can -- that you and your three collegues and any followers that you deem fit return to the capital and destroy the Beast Clan that so unworthily attacks his citizens. He also said he figured you might be a bit upset that you had been sent off in four different directions and banished, but he says it's all in the past. He's got nerve, our Emperor. Anyway, I am to act as your guide -- although I am sure you know the way -- and as your politcal hostage to ensure the good behavior of the Imperial Army, should the need arise." Xi Li took a deep breath, then flushed slightly, realizing that she had been rambling.

"Why would you be a good hostage?" he asked her softly.

"Because I am Yen Xi Li. My father is the general over all the Imperial Forces. He would not be pleased if I were to come to harm because of the actions of those under him." She had been used as such before this, but it still grated on her spirit that her father still did not believe she could take care of herself. "I am to persuade you every way I can to answer this summons, but before I start in on all that, I might as well just politely ask if you will please come to the capital with me because the Emperor needs you." she cocked her head slightly to the left in an unconsious manner. "What do you say, will you come?"
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[COLOR=DarkRed] Shu Lien bowed respectfully, her long hair droping to the ground as she did so.

"The Emperor is summoning the 4 of you to his castle, I am here to escort you back." She looked awkward as she spoke the word escort. Everyone knew that these 4 didn't need to be "escorted". "Will you accept the the Emperor's request, or shall I return alone and with your regards?" There was a long pause between them as Shu Lien waited for Sakura's reply.

"Come you must be tired, hungry, and in need of a bath. Lets discuss this later, perhaps over dinner." She she replied motiong for a servent to lead Shu Lien to the baths. Shu Lien smiled.

"I thought you'd never ask." She stated relief in her voice, a bath was deffinatly somthing she wanted. She follwed the sevent to the bath house where she was given a fresh change of cloths while hers were attended to. She stripped down and stepped into the warm luxurious bath, all of her muscles relaxed at once as she sunk down until only her head was abouve the water.

"Wow.... this must be what heaven feels like. At least after a 6 day trek that is." She replied to herself smiling slightly as she always did. [/COLOR]

OCC:Sorry its short, I ran out of time!
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[SIZE=1]Keiji sat underneath the waterfall serenely as the water rushed over his head and soaked his clothes. The force of it was enough to fracture a normal man?s skull, but Shakaku had taught him a technique to prevent that. It was going on five hours, and he still sat with just as firm a posture as when his mistress had directed him to start the training.

?And why are you doing this,? Shakaku asked over the noise of the waterful. She didn?t need to project her voice too far; she had a curious ability to speak quietly and still be heard.

?If I strengthen my weaknesses, they are no longer weaknesses,? he replied, his eyes still snapped shut. Shakaku shot a fireball at him, to make sure he wasn?t dozing off. Almost instantaneously, Keiji swatted the blast away with a fist full of fire. He returned his hand to its original position.

?Go,? she simply commanded. Keiji had been told what the signal meant, and quickly executed it. The water stopped hitting his wet head, and instead parted several inches above it by an invisible force. Steam rose violently from his body, and sometimes jets of air would burst forth, followed by involuntary discharges of fire throughout his skin. He struggled, keeping the water away from his body as long as possible by turning it into steam, but the force of the waterfall was crushing. He could not sustain his draining effort after half an hour.

Shakaku was surprised by his performance, but knew Keiji had reached the end of his rope as sparks emanated from his head. After another moment, he fell headlong off the rock he was perched on, and into the water far below. He was in a dazed state, and floated face up to the sandy banks after another minute. Keiji awoke slowly after his mistress warmed him up by waving surprisingly hot air on him. It was not long before his personal aura started back up, drying his clothes instantly.

?That was mediocre at best, Keiji. Do not [I]ever[/I] fall unconscious again. I don?t care if you?re holding a tsunami at bay; unconsciousness means certain death,? she sounded displeased, despite her ecstatic interior that her apprentice could sustain such effort for half an hour. Keiji frowned, and looked at the ground after standing up from the moist banks.

?I will not fail again,? he said quietly.

?I hope not. Now please listen as I te?? She was cut off by a rustling sound in the bamboo thicket behind them. Her messenger burst forth, carrying a scroll and huffing loudly. Shakaku gave him enough time to catch his breath, then nonverbally, prompted him to give the message.

?To Ibashin'en Shakaku: The Emperor requests your appearance at the capital immediately. You are permitted to bring your apprentice,? he finished with energy.

?Wonderful. Keiji, go fetch my belongings as well as yours, load up two horses and we?ll be on our way.?

?Yes, Mistress,? he said quickly as he sprinted past the messenger back to their simple home. He picked up Shakaku and his travel packs, and loaded them onto the two steeds that were tied to a stake next to the house. After picking up Shakaku, they were on their way to the capital city, moving double time.

OOC: Hope that was alright, ULX, Imi.[/SIZE]
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[COLOR=#F84E20][SIZE=1]Shakaku's fiery hair fell from the hood of her cape as the wind rushed by, the gathering speed of the horses making it impossible for the thick locks of hair to stay in place. The women bent her supple body at the waist so she could flatten herself against the neck of her chestnut-brown stallion making the animal more streamlined.

Keiji noticed her movement and followed suit, his dark black horse increasing in speed suddenly. The two of them raced at top speed through a small village, ignoring the angry shouts of the men and women behind, coughing weakly from the kicked up dust.

Eventually, after a few hours of riding, the pair of horses tired and Shakaku motioned for Keiji to stop his steed by a small river. He did so and she followed jumping off of the back of her horse with practiced elegance.

[B]"Keiji, I think it's high time I wore my old dress. Stay here and watch the horses while I go and get changed."[/B] the young man nodded and stroked his horse's sleek back, scanning the surrounding area for any threat.

Shakaku meanwhile picked her way through a small clump of trees, one of her bags slung over a slender shoulder. She stopped, surrounded by bushes and undergrowth, and began to disrobe. The sound of water was near and she kept a mental not that a waterfall would not be far away. It wasn't big, no doubt, but the water would be filtered and cool and the pair needed somewhere to camp for the night.

While turning these ideas over in her mind, Shakaku dressed in her golden and orange dress, slipping on many gold bangles and rings to round the effect off. She smiled happily when she was done and bundled up the old brown robes with every intention of using them on the fire tonight.

As soon as she exited the forest, however, a worrying sound met her ears. First the harried whinnying of the horses followed by the dry whistle of one of Keiji's fiery punches. The young women sprinted out of the forest in time to see a large balding man hit the dirt, his right cheek swollen and bubbling with blisters as his skin boiled.

She snarled as Keiji fought off another man, now noticing that at least four others had arrived. For now she didn't know where they were from, but it wasn't the time to be thinking about that. Immediately she felt the hot burn of anger and adrenaline course through her veins, a large ball of fire busting from the palm of her hand.

She launched the burning missile at one of the man, catching him in his gut with enough force to send him spiralling to the ground. He wheezed in pain as the intense heat melted his skin and muscle causing the layer of fat protecting his body to hiss and bubble. Shakaku further advanced and stood next to Keiji, his face intense and serious with not a hint of fear or deliberation in his eyes. She was proud of him; maybe one day she would tell him so.[/SIZE][/COLOR]
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[FONT=Arial Narrow][COLOR=DarkGreen]Kiyoshi smiled humbly and looked down at the table before him. It wasn't every day that a pretty woman wandered into the woods looking for him, and it truly never happened when she was one of the Emperior's messagers to tell him to return to the place he was banished. Kiyoshi took a deep sigh and stood up straight.

"I...I must leave. I shall return in brief time. I will...will send Kyung in to keep you company." Kiyoshi bowed softly and made a brisk movement towards the door.

The young woman sat in her chair quietly as she washed his slender figure glide by her. His light tan trousers and even lighter tunic swirling around his muscluar frame as he opened the front door, and out into the forest that surrounded his home. Kyung made his way hastely over to his master, stopping just out of arms reach of the much taller man.

"Please, stay with our guest. I...I must seek consul from the Earth." Kiyoshi lowered his head as he slid past his disciple.


A soft breeze brought the massive trees to sway slightly above Kiyoshi. The tall man sat cross-legged on the leaf covered ground. His eye lids lay softly closed, his hands folded in his lap, and his whole body was relaxed. Quietly, Kiyoshi rose to his feet and ran a soft hand over the trunk of a nearby tree.

"Thank you, my dear companions. You have done nothing but be the greatest gift to me." Kiyoshi whispered softly as he bowed, opened his eyes, and started back towards the cabin.

"You've been gone all day," came the woman's voice as Kiyoshi entered the cabin.

"I am terribly sorry, my dear woman." Kiyoshi approached the young woman that stood before him. He bowed before her. "I shall return with you to see what the Emperior wishes of my services. My dear disciple, Kyung, shall accompany us." Kiyoshi stood and smiled softly.[/COLOR][/FONT]
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Xi Li was taken aback a bit. She had been certain that she would need to use some of her diplomatic skills to convince Kiyoshi to return with her. That he meerly accepted her request after taking the day to think startled her.

"That - that's wonderful. For me, at least." she stammered. "By how beautiful your garden is, I can tell that returning to the capital with me and leaving this place wasn't an easy decision to make."

"So, did Kyung show you some of my friends?" he asked her.

"Yes master." the man in question replied. "But only immediately around the house. We did not wish to disturb you."

Kiyoshi gave a small nod of thanks to the thoughtfulness, then he turned back to Xi Li.
"And what do you think of my garden?"

"I've never seen a garden so well tended or so loved. Everything is green and lush. I wish my small flower boxes at home could look so happy." Xi Li sighed over the comparison. "And your roses are - uh - lovely."

Kiyoshi looked at her curiously. "Don't you care for roses?"

"Oh, don't misunderstand me. Your roses are the pride of the world, to be sure. I've just always thought of roses like the ladies at court. Beautiful to gaze at, but underneath all is thorns and unwelcomeness. They take hours of care and scratches to receive only tempermental vividness in return. I guess I have always been more fond of the water lily. You see, upon first glance, the water lily looks small, fragile and delicate. But what the eye can't see is the strength and defiance that the flower keeps hidden inside to thrive where it does. Just because it has little or not soil to call it's own doesn't stop it from blooming. It's leaves give shelter to tiny creatures while granting shade to the fish. It might not be the most beautiful flower, but I think it has the best personality."

"Indeed?" Kiyoshi raised an eyebrow at her vehemnance.

"I - uh - um" Xi Li blushed as she realized that she had been babbling . . . again. She didn't do it normally. Maybe she was becoming as undisiplined as her governesses claimed. "I talk too much." she lamely finished.

"No, you don't." Kiyoshi replied.

Xi Li wasn't sure how to respond to that so she changed the subject. "Like I said earier, you were out most of the day. We could still set off for the capital now, if that is your wish, there is still a few hours of daylight left. Or we could wait till dawn to begin our journey. I'm open to whatever schedule best suits you and Kyung."
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