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Chapter Nine

What Yuri failed to understand, was why Tenkou seemed to be so vindictive to her. Even though he glanced at all of them with a cold dislike, his gaze hardened to a pure loathing once he turned to her.
Feeling Hotohori’s arms tightening around her, she knew that he was wandering about the same thing. As for Hotohori…the look in Tenkou’s eyes as they focused on her husband was a cruel amusement.
“What do you want?” Miaka yelled bravely beside Tamahome, who immediately shoved her to the safety of his back.
Tenkou ignored her and continued to look at Yuri and Hotohori.
“You present yourself as so noble and tragic, priestess of Seiryuu, but I wonder how you would act if you learn the truth- that every pain which happens to you is something that you deserve.”
“Don’t listen to him, neesan!” Miaka screamed back. “You know that all he said would only be lies…”
“Is it a lie that you killed the seven celestial warriors of Seiryuu?” Tenkou said evenly, his smirk growing even crueler. “There are many more things I can say to break you, but I have decided to not waste anymore time now.”
Saying so he waved his hand slightly, and all of a sudden Hotohori felt Yuri stiffening in his arms. She then turned around and he saw that her eyes were now vacant. He titled her head up, only to find her continue staring at him with that empty expression.
Her lips parted slightly, whispering something…
“Hotohori…” at the sound of his own name he naturally bent his head down to hear what she was saying.
“Hotohori…don’t leave me…don’t go away”
Saying so she actually pushed him away in order to kneel down, all this time her vacant eyes seemed to be staring hard at something that only she could see, and tears were silently making their way down her face. Kneeling down she stretched her hands out, putting it over something invisible as they were in midair.
As she whispered one more time, he realized what Tenkou must have done.
“Don’t die.”
“What…what is happening?” he just managed to hear Ryoen muttering behind him, and barely recognized the voice of the person who explained. All he could do was to continue looking at Yuri, even though she was trapped in the illusion that Tenkou created.
An illusionary world where Hotohori was killed.
“So she is weak,” Tenkou said, the malicious delight he had in watching Yuri’s suffering through his spell made the rest all glare back or fumble with their weapons, although both Chichiri and Mitsukake were trying to maintain control by making everyone calm down.
The two of them just managed to breathe a sigh of relief when even Tasuki put down his fan, only to notice Hotohori-who had drawn out his sword. Seeing this Chichiri acted on instinct, he went up and grabbed Hotohori, as there was not even time for casting any spells.
“You cannot just fight blindly!” he screamed out, his fingers clawing around the other man due to his refusal at being restrained.
“How can I watch this and do nothing?!” Hotohori yelled back, thinking of the pain Yuri would be suffering due to the illusion. There was nothing worse then to see your loved one dying, he would know because that was what he suffered when Yuri summoned Seiryuu.

Everything had happened so quickly for Yuri. She only recollected being in Hotohori’s embrace as Tenkou appeared, what he said had made her unfocused as she began to think of all the strange things that had happened, as well as numerous curious words that had been said to her.
It seemed that she had a life before this one, and in that life, she seemed to have committed some sort of crime along with Hotohori.
“Is all that happened to me in this life as a punishment for what I did in my last life?” she asked herself softly.
At this irony, she laughed bitterly. Her past had affected her so much, that she almost risked losing happiness. The truth was that she had fallen in love with Hotohori very quickly, but she had been afraid of loving him due to her mother’s numerous failed relationships. For the first few weeks of her marriage she had actually been very afraid that her husband would one day wake up and regret everything.
It was ironic that when she finally achieved happiness by abandoning her past, it came to haunt her again more then once.
As for Tenkou’s sneers and taunts, they were not unfamiliar. But the strangest thing was that she could also see an image of that cruel face transforming into a kind one…what would only be done to seduce someone’s service and loyalty.
Had she been in such a position in the past?
Suddenly, Tenkou raised his hands. The moment he did so, she felt the arms around her loosening. She didn’t want to turn around because she knew that she would see something that she would loath, but nonetheless she still had to turn.
Hotohori was falling down, and as he did so, time literally seemed to stop, although she would have laughed at herself for seeing the world in such a cliché term. She felt that she could have prevented him from falling if she stretched out her hand, but somehow her arms were moving so slowly as well. She could barely hear herself whispering his name.
It was like what would happen in a nightmare, only that this was her reality. Smiling at her one last time, Hotohori closed his eyes, and she knew that he would never look at her so lovingly with these golden orbs in this world again.
He…he was dead…Tenkou killed him.
“Hotohori…don’t leave me…don’t go away” she whispered again.
Someone grabbed her, preventing her from holding her beloved, she angrily shoved him away, even as she began to cry. Kneeling, she rested her hand over his body, finding that she was not strong enough to even wrap her arms around him a last time.
“Don’t die.” She implored, even though he could no longer hear her.
She didn’t know what to do other then to kneel in front of him and cry. She knew that he might die before her, but she had refused to think of how she should grief, as after meeting him in her old world, she always believed that the two of them would reach old age together. If that had happened, then she would not be irrational, she could accept his death and take comfort in knowing that she would soon join him.
When she was the empress of Konan…there had been times when she worried about his heath due to the welfare of the state, but she had always allowed herself be soothed by him whenever he embraced and held her.
Then Miaka had come, and that arrival had resulted in her departure. The one thing she had been certain as she left Hotohori was that she was doing something that should help to lengthen his life.
For the first time in her life she almost regretted having chosen to be the priestess of Seiryuu in order to save Hotohori, because she finally understood the full dept of pain that she had put Hotohori through by choosing to die.
Why was it that she still did not hate this world? It had brought her so much pain…so much despair. They first threw her here to be the wife of one of the few man who could not make her his first priority, even though he love her, then it was this world that snatched her away from him.
This world demanded her to be the priestess of Seiryuu…by doing so it forced her to walk onto a path where all the possible endings were tragic.
The best path was to her own death…
Suddenly, she frowned as she recollected what Seiryuu had told her. The clue to summoning him was related to what had happened last time. Initially she had thought it referred to the celestial warriors and the sacred scroll, but now she was remembering what had happened to her solely when she first prepared to summon Seiryuu.
“A path of despair…” She whispered to herself. “All I wanted was to be with Hotohori, but that was the one thing impossible. Now the same thing is happening, all I want is Hotohori, but he is dead.”
She was experiencing the greatest amount of despair that was possible for her.
“I understand now.” She realized bitterly. “In order to summon their god, the priestess must know and understand about the maximum emotion her deity is in charge of. Suzaku is in charge of love, and when she first summoned Suzaku, Miaka and Tamahome had declared out their intention of being with each other forever, and this time they have physically loved each other.
“As for me…the deity I serve is in charge of despair. It is this emotion that I felt and is feeling.”
I hate you, Seiryuu, for doing this to me, she said inside her mind bitterly as she stood up, even though her face was still bowed down to let her hair conceal her features. I will do what you demand me to do, but I am only doing this because this is what must be done.
I am not destroying Tenkou because you said that it must be done, she continued, taking one last look at the body of Hotohori, but because I want him to pay for Hotohori’s deah.
“I understand what I must do now.” She repeated, and with that she stopped her wild sobbing and turned to look at Tenkou straight in the eyes without flinching. Her mind now very clear.
“Do you really actually think that what you have done ensured your victory?” she hissed softly.
“You can never summon Seiryuu now, you are truly a weakling, to let such petty emotions affect you again.” Tenkou taunted back, still thrilled at the disarray her emotions had been.
“You are a fool, Tenkou! For that you will be sealed once again.” Yuri spat back, and the confidence in her tone surprised every one. “You have just helped Seiryuu to come out.”
Tenkou was preparing to laugh again when he suddenly saw the blue light that began to surround her, they gathered themselves around her and began to grew brighter and brighter. For the first time since he started his plans he saw the possibility of failure. Strangely, there was also a soft red light that appeared from the stone that she clutched in her hand.
“Neesan…” Miaka began.
“The last of the seven stones that represent some sort of love all the celestial warriors of Suzaku feel.” With what appeared as great anger Yuri threw it to Mika. “The truth is, Miaka, I really resent you sometimes. Being love by everyone, by our father and our brother, by your seven celestial warriors.” Here she chuckled and glanced at her hands. “I did not even obtain the lightest affection from any of the seven celestial warriors of Seiryuu, they only used me just as I used them. And I killed them… (1)
“But until today I didn’t care that much, because I wanted you to love me as a sister. I wanted another person’s love. But today, I realize that I almost hate you!” at her scream the blue light around her brightened and there seemed to be a wind blowing from within her body as her garment and ribbons were flapping to every single direction and her hair was snaking themselves around her throat. (2)
“Why is it that you are the priestess of Suzaku, while I am the priestess of Seiryuu?!”
“Yuri, be…reasonable…” Chichiri began rather worriedly.
“Reasonable when my fate makes me serve a god whose will is for me to suffer?” she snapped. “Suzaku wields the power of love so all Miaka have to do to summon Suzaku is to love someone with the ultimate love, her lessons in understanding this was to first find the one she love, then to experience love physically. But I can only summon Seiryuu if I taste the maximum emotion Seiryuu is in charge of, and he wields the power of despair!
“When I first summoned Seiryuu the only ending I had was death, and now Hotohori is killed because I…
“I...I don’t believe…I can’t believe that I could have committed any sort of sin in a past life to be in this position.” At this sentence her voice dropped to a very soft whisper, allowing others to quickly butt in. (3)
“What about little Boushin and Seihana, you have your children to think of!” Mitsukake pointed out.
“I am not saying that I have nothing to live for due to his death as I do love my children, but with his death I cannot be happy again!”
Hotohori wanted nothing more then to go up and embrace her, but he did not as the alien look in her eyes hurt him so much.
He did not blame her one bit, as he understood how her past actually hurt and haunt her even now. After all these years of being lonely she was paranoid of being alone again when she finally found someone, and so she had held onto him tightly just as he clung onto her. They were so similar.
Unknown to Miaka, Hotohori also knew that Yuri was a bit angry at the altered past, because she did not felt that Miaka made any sacrifice at all. Also, Miaka had constantly been protected by her warriors, someone-usually Tamahome- would always be reassuring her that everything was alright, and that whatever happened was not her fault.
But because she was so eager for Miaka and her to have a loving relationship, she only whispered those doubts to him once, on that night. Just as he was, she was so desperate to be loved!
Yuri knelt down and stretched her hands out, her face completely emotionless despite the tears that continued to stream down. Very softly she began to chant the summoning of Seiryuu again, now knowing all the words. The flat chanting seemed more haunting then the loud screams she had as it seemed to be devoid of any emotions.
She would have given it all up if it wasn’t for the sake of her two beautiful children. Part of the reasons she loved her children was naturally because they were Hotohori’s children as well, but she would have loved the children anyway just for the sole sake that they had been in her womb. For the unique wonder that her children was borne from her, an emotion all mothers feel, no matter how the children were conceived.
“Seiryuu come to us.” She whispered. “We need you now.”
As she finished speaking, the light around her shifted from her body to being in front of her, and her flapping garment and hair finally became still. Her outstretched hands remain stretched, as someone was holding onto them.
“Seiryuu.” Yuri said softly, as he now stood in front of her, his clawed hands around her’s. “Seiryuu, I have done as I was asked.”
He nodded, and stepped forward so that he was directly in front of her. But it was to Miaka that he spoke first, although he did not shift his gaze away from his priestess.
“Summon Suzaku now, we cannot waste time.”
As Miaka nodded and began to chant to Suzaku, he finally spoke to Yuri.
“Are you willing to lend me your body again?”
“I wish for Tenkou do die.” She said firmly. “I will do anything.”
He pulled her to him, and as their skin touched she felt his body being pressed into hers. He was entering her body a second time, and like the first time she summoned him, she would be a vessel that channelled his powers.
This would be different from the time that he possessed her body that night in Kutou, as it had been a moment when he temporarily controlled her body due to her state of mind. A method that could never be long, as giving her body to the god completely could result in the death of the priestess.
“Then summon Genbu and his priestess.” He ordered.
Closing her eyes, she took off the necklace and held it in front of her, and began to whisper what Seiryuu was telling her. A few steps beside her, Miaka was doing the same with the mirror that was the shinzaho of Byakko.
Yuri felt her whole body shaking slightly while her hand was getting sweaty, as the chain seemed to be slipping slightly. This was natural, to summon a god was a very demanding task, and trying to call out another deity immediately after the first act was naturally even more hard.
That was why the priestesses need to have a very strong will, as the tasks require all their concentration. Tenkou’s plan might have worked as Yuri would have been in a state of shock that prevent her from doing anything, especially an activity that was very difficult.
Once again, Yuri felt hands closing over her own hands. Opening her eyes, she saw her, Takiko, the priestess of Genbu. The younger woman smiled at her as she took the necklace out of Yuri’s hold and placed it around her neck.
“So this day has finally come.” Takiko said softly. “And so we finally meet again…” she was probably going to say more when she suddenly halted, a frown appearing on his face and it seemed as if she was listening to some one else speaking.
“Very well, Genbu, I will not waste anytime.” Takiko said with a slight nod, before she turned around so that she stood beside Yuri, instead of being in front of her. “Together, we will summon our celestial warriors to us.”
Yuri did not ask any questions, she only know that she must do what she was ordered right now.
Meanwhile, Tenkou launched another attack, only to have it deflected back due to the gods that were now presented in all four priestesses. Without meaning to, he recollected the day that he was first sealed: it was exactly like this day. The four gods standing around him in a circle with that haughty expression on their faces…
It became worse when the twenty eight celestial warriors were all present, symbolising the day when he thought that he would never be free again. He had been in his prison when he looked up to see the four priestesses around the seal, with their seven celestial warriors beside them- strengthening his seal.
“I refuse.” He clenched out. No matter what he wanted to break free of his seal, to take all that he rightly deserved.
“The four gods gave you a chance, Tenkou,” Suzuno stated quietly. “They sealed you instead of killing you, hoping that you would one day change. But not only did you not try to redeem yourself, you even attempt to break free of your seal to do destruction upon this world.” (4)
“For that, you will now die.” Takiko said firmly.
The priestess of Genbu had so many things that she wanted to say to the priestess of Seiryuu, starting with an apology for all that had happened on that day, as she now knew that she might have easily done all that Yuri had.
Now is not the time, Takiko, Genbu told her firmly, as she turned to look at the priestess of Seiryuu once again. The other woman was slightly pale, but her face was determined: she would carry out her duty.
Tenkou would be destroyed forever when the four gods combined their power through their priestesses with their celestial warriors. This was what should have been done when Tenkou first gained his dark powers.
Yuri closed her eyes again, ready to perform the final step. She closed her eyes because she could not bear to look at the faces of those whom she betrayed: her celestial warriors, along with the face of those whom she had hurt: the priestess of Suzaku and some of her celestial warriors.
The moment Seiryuu entered her body, she was freed from the illusionary world which she had been trapped in. She knew that Hotohori was alive, and could not help but to feel slightly ashamed at all that she had expressed due to thinking that he had died.
But now was not the time to think about such things, she must only concentrate on this one thing.

The chanting of the four priestesses grew louder as they all began to release their words together, as well as receiving the energy their celestial warriors were giving to them to increase their powers.
“With the power of Seiryuu…” Yuri cried out loudly, even as the others stated the names of their own god, “Let the being Tenkou be destroyed forever.”
The blue light shoot out to mingle with the other three lights, piercing right through Tenkou’s shield. Cursing, he fell down, only to quickly raise his hand in disbelieve.
It was bleeding, what had not happened since the day he was killed in front of the people he was meant to one day rule, the execution ordered by the man who had been his own father. The very same city would end up being ravaged so much that it end up as only a piece of wild lands, as even the ruins of the once magnificent palace disintegrated completely, while every single person had died.
He had personally made sure that no one would survive, especially the one he once called father.
The four priestesses were no long visible, instead, he was kneeling in front of the executioner’s block once more. He had been forced to be beheaded on the very top of the city, so everyone could witness the deed.
He saw the numerous faces below him again, some were jeering, others averted their gaze while the last group were muttering some sort or prayer in hope that this would be the last time they would hear of him.
There was not a single face that was filled with sadness or pity.
Even his own father, who stood right in front of him, was looking at him with nothing but disgust at what he had ended up as. He found it so hard to believe that this was the same man who used to smile whenever he saw his third son: the son he made into his heir despite many protests.
His father was saying something to his people…the same thing he had said on that day, a speech of apology at what the son he had once been so proud of had committed, there were no words of sadness, or even regret at all.
How could I have found peace with such a death? He said to himself angrily, as he saw the axe rising once more.
I will…I will find a way to have my revenge on them all! He repeated these very same words but unlike last time, the final thing he saw was the descending axe.
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