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Chapter Six

Due to what Yuri insisted, the kingdom of Kutou remain oblivious to the fact that their beloved priestess was actually back in their own world. Yuri and Hotohori had made their way back to the palace of Kutou with their faces hidden, and they were served by maids and servants who swore the strongest oath of secrecy.
“I do not know what to do at all.” Yuri admitted, fingering the shinzaho that she placed on her lap, instead of winding around her hair. “I truly do not know how to start.”
The two of them, with the crown prince, had spend many days searching through the library of Kutou, which was rather limited as many of Kutou’s treasures had been destroyed in the civil war when Kamiyasu was usurped.
All she knew was that as the priestess of Seiryuu she must find the shinzaho of Genbu but it had been sent back to Hokkan. They could send messengers to Hokkan but the problem was that with the exception of Konan, Kutou was still not well received by the other kingdoms.
Konan…It was so strange to think of the kingdom being ruled by someone else other then her husband now that he was in this universe again. It was because he had been so dominated by that country.
“The new emperor…he is a good ruler is he not?” Hotohori had asked, recollecting the promise Suzaku had made him. If he did abandon his people and land for the sake of the woman that he loved, then they must be left in good hands.
“He is a good enough ruler.” The emperor of Kutou had answered. “Had he been in a situation as his elder brother was then he would find ruling difficult, but as he rules in a time of peace, he will be a good ruler.”
“I still don’t know what to do, Seiryuu…you brought me here so can you not give me another answer?” she implored.
Yuri was kneeling in front of the statue of Seiryuu in the palace of Kutou, desperate for an answer. She had suddenly waked up in the middle of the night and for some strange reason, made her way here.
“Even if I have both Shinzahos, I still do not know how to do what I must do.” She whispered. “You tell me to remember what happened last time, but I no longer have the sacred scroll and my celestial warriors are all dead.”
The slight uneven footsteps betrayed the identity of the person who entered, it was the emperor.
“Your majesty,” she said respectfully, still in her kneeling position.
She knew a bit more about this man now, the most important discovery being the certainty that he was a good man. But strangely she was sudden possessed with the desire of leaving, and wishing that he had not caught her alone. It was strange, as his behaviour towards her had been nothing but what one would expect of an emperor to the priestess that helped him. He bowed every time he approached her, and only addressed her as ‘priestess’.
“Yuri…” the way her name was spilt so softly and gently made her certain that her instinct was not foolish.
“I…I…” she was going to remind him of her status and his, and that she was in love with the one she wedded in both worlds.
But he was first.
“Do you know why I have no empress?” he whispered, wise enough to not shorten the distance between them.
“If it is because of me then it is a foolish reason.” She said softly, but very firmly.
“Perhaps I am a fool, but I think many would not blame me. After all, the priestess of Seiryuu had given me back the kingdom that was taken from me.”
“Is that enough for you to idolize her?” Yuri asked rather reproachfully. “You knew nothing of me, you had only saw me for a brief moment.”
“I have heard the story of Saihitei and Houkigou, and as I recalled, your husband asked you to become his empress in front of all his officials the moment he saw you. Why is it so easy to condemn me for what I feel?”
“I…” at this she could only sigh as in a way he was right.
“That brief meeting I had of you was enough to make me realize that I wish to have no empress if you are not my empress. When I first saw you, I thought that no one else could be more beautiful, and the way you carried yourself in your robes made you look like some sort of goddess. I felt that you could grant any…”
“You are completely wrong to think that I am powerful, I was merely a vessel for Seiryuu. As for wishes…I could not even grant my own wish.” She interrupted him hastily, now standing up and was slowly heading to the door as well as avoiding going near him.
“Do you really think I am the type of man who would force himself on a woman even if she was not the priestess whom he regarded as almost as sacred as his god?” Kamiyasu asked rather reproachfully. “True, as a youth long ago I was not what you would call a good man, but I have changed greatly. Priestess of Seiryuu, I will not harm you in anyway.
“I merely wish to tell you that in a strange way I have great affection for you. I am uncertain whether it is love but I know enough that I wish to wed no other but you.” (1)
“Why tell me this?”
“For the simple reason that I just want you to know. That if something happens to you, know that I will always welcome you.”
Saying so he finally walked toward her, slightly shaking due to his limp, and offered his hand to her. Understanding what was given, she gently put her hand on his arms and began to aid him to walk. (2)
She did not and would never love this man, and until a few days ago she felt nothing towards him. But as he declared out his feelings, she felt a deep pity for him. It was not the same love Hotohori bore her, what would torment him forever, but it was an affection that was in a way more strong then romantic love. She knew that this man in front of her would never alter his feelings, although he should.
Hotohori had told her something similar- how he had idolize the priestess of Suzaku so much that he ended up half being in love with her. He was a child surrounded by loneliness and the story began as a way of refuge, an ideal that became a reality.
Some may break free from this as he had done, but she feared Kamiyasu would not.
“I will never stop loving Hotohori.” She told him firmly as they began to walk out of the temple, but her tone was very gentle as she began to tell him what Hotohori had once been like.
“But he was a youth while I had been an old enough man when I first met you, priestess.” Her companion stated calmly. “As I said to you, I do not think I love you in that way, or even desire you physically, but in my own way I want you. Such affections are more safe then most love, and yet more dangerous in the fact that they would remain consistent.”
As they reached to the rather lavish chamber he had gave them he removed her arm from his gently and opened the door for her, before he bowed to her once again.
“What I said tonight, I will not repeat again unless you do.” He ensured her, causing her to nod in satisfaction, knowing that he would not act irrationally for this impossible cause.
She turned away and was about to enter her chambers when she suddenly turned very pale, and staggered back.
Concerned, Kamiyasu quickly stepped forward to examine what had caused this.
The sight made him almost curse out in disgust and he was truly tempted to summon guards to end this shameful display were it the fact that it would hurt Yuri more. (3)

He woke up alone, but the note beside him quickly erased any worries. Upon examining the note closer, Hotohori smiled, it seemed that she has subconsciously began to use kanji for every single word now that she was in such a world.
His village had taught him how to read and write, but he had to do many of the learning himself in order to understand the ancient scrolls that contained the legends of Konan. Thus, he had experienced such a thrill when he regained his memories and was able to recollect all these words- almost like the discovering of a lost language.
The knock on the door made him frown. It was in the middle of the night, as the moon still hung on top of the night sky while the court yard was silent saved for the very soft footstep of the ones who happened to be on guard. He could not understand why someone would be knocking on his door.
Unless Yuri wanted to see him and for some strange reason decided to send someone to fetch him instead of coming here herself. Nonetheless he opened the door.
He had not seen the maid before, but something in her lavender eyes made him rather…nervous. (4)
“Yes?” he asked, a hint of authority creeping into his tone without him being aware of it.
She opened her mouth but tumbled forward instead. Without even thinking, Hotohori placed his arms around her to prevent her from falling down. At this, a malicious smile curled around her lips as she quickly sank her teeth into his flesh, drawing blood in the process.
“So even you will fall into my trap.” She whispered suggestively, her hands guiding his hands. “The virtuous Hotohori, the emperor of Konan who loved one woman so much that he denied all of his other concubines even when his empress was barren.”
Hotohori wanted to pull his hand off her but found that he no longer had control over his body at all. But the cruellest thing was that he was allowed to be aware of what his body was now doing, but could not do anything to prevent this.
“Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the priestess of Seiryuu would say when she sees you with another woman?” she continued teasing him, now using his hand to slowly pull down part of her dress. “Who am I? You are wondering. My name is Miiru and I am sent by Tenkou, whom you dare to stand against.”
There was a lot of things to say, to lash out against her, but just as his hands were unable to move, his mouth might as well have been gagged. (5)
He wanted to throw her away from him, but found his hands continuing pulling down her dress, making their flesh touch. He could taste no arousal or desire, only disgust was present.
If Yuri were to witness this…he did not know how she would take this at all. He loved her greatly, and she was sure that she knew this, but what woman or man could be rational if they see the one they loved and thought loved them about to perform the making of love with another?
He did not even have time to contemplate the possible answer, as he saw the doors of the chamber being opened…

The sight of her husband in the arms of another woman was the first thing she saw when she was about to walk in. Raising a hand to her eyes she rubbed it in a rather childish attempt of denying the visions in front of her.
“This can’t be true.” she whispered as she turned her face away, feeling tears creeping toward her eyes.
“I…” even as she denied it, she fixed her gaze onto her husband once more.
Yuri’s appearance seemed to have broken some of the spell Miiru placed, as Hotohori gained enough control over his own body as to shove Miiru away from him, making her fall to the ground. But it might have been her that released her control, as the damage was already down.
“What excuse can you offer?” the emperor of Kutou snarled, standing beside Yuri and tried to place his arms on her shoulder, only to have them slapped away.
His eyes hardened, but it was not her that angered him, it was Hotohori.
“Yuri…” Hotohori began uncertainly, not sure how he should defend himself as he realized that had the same thing happened to Yuri, he would not find this explanation easy to believe.
“Yuri…” he began again, hastily donning on a robe.
“Do not come near her!” Kamiyasu ordered, his hand resting on his sword, despite being slightly crippled and neglecting the art of using a sword, he could still wield his weapon well enough.
Yuri had stepped back until she was out of the chamber. She was clutching at one of the poles outside while her other hand was clenched tightly together. Her whole body seemed to be shaking.
But it was her eyes that hurt him the most. They become such dark pools with depression circling in them along with anger and sadness at what she must viewed as his betrayal.
It was a betrayal although it was not his fault, but it was not her fault either for seeing it as anything other then this. He would have done the same.
“Yuri…” he repeated for the third time.
She said nothing, only turned and run from him. The moment she did so, he saw the first drop of her tears falling.
“Leave my kingdom as soon as you can.” Kamiyasu spat out to Hotohori, who remained silent, before he quickly chased after Yuri.
What was the point in explaining anything to anyone apart from Yuri? If she did not understand or believe him, then there was no point in asking pardon from anyone else.
But he would not obey the emperor of Kutou, because he had to make her see what had really happened. He simply could not leave her, and if he must, he would hear it from her own lips.
Not surprisingly, they found her in the temple of Seiryuu once again, what shocked them was her complete lose of rationality and control.
She knelt in the middle of the pool of water that surrounded the statue of Seiryuu, and was beating the statue with her bare fists, occasionally splashing the water due to her violent actions. Her body was shaking due to her emotions and tears were falling in a rather rapid rate, but they were silent, which was more scary.
“Why…why?” she was screaming to the statue of the god she served. Her voice was soft but it was edged with great hysteria. “Why bring me here to do this to my life? Why have him do this to me? If this is what is meant to happen, then I rather to have never returned here!”
Despite the sword that was near him, Hotohori still took a step forward.
Yuri remained oblivious, continuing with her curses and crying as she kept on seeing Hotohori with another woman, what he had promised to never do.
Perhaps she loved him too much, she admitted that, as she was being completely irrational. She was acting like a raving woman when she was meant to be carrying herself with dignity due to her position as the priestess of Seiryuu.
“I can’t do it.” she whispered.
She loved Hotohori…it was not love at first sight but she had fell in love with him so fast and the love had never left her. She always loved him just as she thought that he would always continue to love her. That was all she wanted and needed.
She did all she did for him…because she wanted him to live. Let him despise her if he must, she had realized as she was about to make her third wish and therefore give up her own body, but she would be happy as long as she knew that he was safe because of her.
And now she saw him in the arms of another woman…all she could feel was pain. Hurting her and mocking her. They taunted her, telling her that she had been a fool to believe that all this would last.
“It is your fate to be alone.” Someone whispered to her, laughing maliciously as he did so.
She could not be without Hotohori for the sake that she needed him to be beside her, although she believe that she could live as her mother had- be such a loving mother that her children would never complain of their missing father.
She needed him, but yet at the same time she knew that she could not stay with him if he had slept, or about to sleep with another woman. She would have to leave him, but to do that…
Once more she smashed her fist against the statue, ignoring the fact that her finger had begun to bleed, and the flesh was swelling. She didn’t care right now, all she could think about was how happy she had been before she entered this world again.
Someone grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her back. It was rather rough, but she was at a sense of shock that she would not react to any gentleness.
“Hotohori?” she whispered softly as her blurred version cleared slightly when the tears in her eyes fell down to join the water she was kneeling on.
“I have to explain.” He whispered, moving his hands to take her’s. He wanted to embrace her, but knew that he could not right now.
“What can you possibly say?” she asked sadly, her words edged with tears. “I saw what you saw, and someone else also saw what I saw.”
“I know that you will not believe me as I will not be able to believe me had I seen the same thing but please! Trust me.” he implored. “I really love you, you know that I love you.”
“I knew.” She corrected. “I knew until I saw you in bed with another woman. I would not be so angry if you are still the emperor of Konan, and I am your barren empress because you are doing what thousands of other demand. But we are not in such positions any more!”
Saying so she pushed him away from her with a violence that he was never aware of its existence.
“Leave me alone!” she demanded. “I need time to myself!”
He was meant to land on the hard marble underneath the shallow water, but much to his surprise he felt himself caught by what seemed to be water. Puzzled, he twisted slightly to see what had happened.
Waters in the shape of snake had caught him and prevented him from falling completely.
“Well, I must admit that I am rather shocked to see you and Yuri quarrelling.” A male’s voice said very gently with no trace of mockery at all.
“Who are you and how did you arrive here?” Kamiyasu demanded, pulling out his sword. He had shut the temple’s door and bolted it as he knew that Yuri would not wish to be seen in such a state.
Sitting up, Hotohori was able to have a better look at the man, and as soon as he did so, he felt that there was a sense of strong familiarity in this man.
He was rather tall with very long hair that was the colour of pale gold, with his eye an equally light blue. The strange thing about him was that his right eye was covered by an eye patch.
“You must be…” Hotohori chocked out as his gaze rested on the eye patch, then moved onto the man’s clothing: they were what was worn among the normadic tribes of Hokkan.
“I am Hikitsu, and I was more then a little disappointed that I did not get to meet you with the rest of the celestial warriors of Suzaku.” The celestial warrior of Genbu said with a slight smile. (6)
Yuri realized that there was something very similar about the two men, in that there was a hidden sadness that surrounded them. (7)
“Hikitsu…the celestial warrior of Genbu…” Kamiyasu muttered in disbelieve as he sheathed his sword, there was no point in fighting someone who could not be harmed at all. “But why are you here? Legends say that after you gave the shinzaho to the priestess of Suzaku you were able to go to heaven.”
“That is not wrong,” Hikitsu continued, “But I have come down from that place to deliver the Shinzaho of Genbu to the priestess of Seiryuu.”
Saying so he approached Yuri and actually knelt down so he could look at her at eye level. Hotohori realized that he was looking at her in such a fashion that made it seem that he knew her personally.
What he said…they were rather strange too. He must be aware of the love they have for each other in order to be surprised about what was happening.
Gently, Hikitsu reached out a hand and brushed away the lock of hair that had covered part of her face. Hotohori felt no jealousy at all because his instinct told him that Hikitsu did this act from the position of an elder brother like figure.
“The last time I saw you as who you really are…you were kneeling in front of the statue of Seiryuu, and like last time you are screaming at him for what had happened.” The celestial warrior of Genbu said softly, “I always cursed myself for not helping you because I was too worried about her. But I still lost her in the end, to you.” At this he turned to look at Hotohori. “Perhaps it is my punishment for loving her too much, that I was doing what you are doing. Loving another more then your priestess.” (8)
The way he spoke was enough to make Yuri halt her hysterical crying because this man…this spirit…this being was addressing her without talking to her. He was seeing someone else in her…who she was, not who she is.
“What had happened?” she whispered before raising her voice to make it a demand. “What had happened?”
“Do you really wish to know?” although he never once changed the tone of his voice, this question made Yuri shiver slightly.
“The truth does hurt.” Hikitsu continued. “But it is necessary. We, all of us, repeated our mistakes because we do not remember what had happened before.”
Saying so he raise one hand and took his eye patch off, then immediately used his other hand to cover up his right eye.
“Do not think I do this as a way of revenge.” He said very firmly. “Very well. Priestess of Seiryuu, you will remember that I had to test the priestess of Suzaku, I must test you out of this same reason. You must proof yourself as the Priestess of Seiryuu, even though,” at this point he smiled slightly, the same bitter smile Hotohori used to smile. “I know that you are Seiryuu’s chosen one.”
“What are you doing to her?” Hotohori and Kamiyasu demanded at the same time. They had to ask this question, because they had no power to prevent the celestial warrior of Genbu to do anything.
“I will make her remember all that which had happened,” Hikitsu said grimly as he finally uncovered his right eye. “If she survives then I will give the shinzaho to her.”
As soon as she gazed into his right eye, Yuri slumped forward, but she did not fall, as Hikitsu quickly caught her.
“Do not touch her.” He stated. “Neither of you will wish to see into her memories.”
“Why do you test her like this?” Hotohori demanded angrily. He remembered what he had read from the legends of Genbu and Hikitsu’s test was making Yuri recollect memories that were buried, which were the most painful memories. “You did not test Miaka like this, and if you know that she is the priestess then why…”
“Because I do not want the past to repeat itself again!” Hikitsu finally broke into a yell. “But when I watches what is happening I see you and Yuri repeating what you had done!
“I do not want what had happened to happen again.” He repeated firmly, although he looked at Yuri with what seemed to be a gentleness mingled with pity. “So I will do this even though I know that Seiryuu does not wish it.”

Her mother was lying on the hospital bed, her head covered by a headscarf as the treatment against her type of cancer forced her very long hair to all fell off.
The eight year old Yuri knew that she had to be brave, because that was what her mother told her to do, as well as the reassurance that everything was going to be fine. But for the first time in her life, she did not believe in her mother’s words.
It was hard to believe that her mother would recover when she was growing thinner and thinner every day, and then that day…when all her hair was gone…
“You shouldn’t cry about such things.” Her mother said as she rested her hand over her daughter’s head lovingly.
“But Haha, you love your hair so much!” Yuri whispered, remembering all the times she had seen her mother brushing her hair. She knew that her mother had a simple happiness at these actions because her hair was the part of her body that she loved the best. “And it is such pretty hair too!” (9)
“I don’t mind it that much.” Her mother assured her. “Beside, your hair is the most beautiful hair I have ever seen. As long as you are beautiful Yuri, which you always will be, then I will not mind what happens to me.
“Now, let Haha brush your hair again…”
She knelt down beside the bed so her mother can brush her hair and tied it that way with a ribbon. It was something that her mother did through out her entire life, but the little girl did not know, that this would be one of the last times her mother would do this… (10)


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