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Chapter Four

After they met Hojun at the train station they all went to Yui’s home and everyone was ushered into the living room with the exception of Yuri and Hotohori, whose first priority were making sure that their children was comfortably off. Yui managed to find the discarded cradle her parents had for her in their attic and lend it to the new parents.
Yuri knelt beside the cradle after she placed her two children in, she then began to rock the cradle as well as singing softly to calm them. Occasionally she would bend down to kiss their faces, her eyes glowing with pleasure due to their mere presence.
Walking past the hidden Miaka, Seishuku knelt beside his wife to slip an arm around her waist, while the other hovered over the cradle to stroke the faces of their new born children.
The two of them seemed so happy that Miaka felt what she had to do was almost like a sin: to interrupt this moment of happiness.
She felt a deep twang of guilt when the knock made their face darkened. Sighing, Seishuku leant down to kiss the twin babies before turning to Yuri and kissed her on the forehead. It seemed that they both already predicted that something was going to be wrong.
“Neesan, Seishuku.” Miaka said softly as she too approached the cradle, she couldn’t help but to smile at Boushin and Seihana, they were just so adorable. She could almost understand why birthing was a triumph for the parents. “Taka and I decided that it is best to try and explain what we must do first, to convince them to enter the universe of the four gods.”
“I understand.” Seishuku nodded, he had been waiting for this but strangely there was this unnatural feeling of worry in him. He turned to Yuri and took her hands, almost begging her: “Will you come with me?”
Smiling rather sadly Yuri shook her head. “I do not want to. I am the priestess of Seiryuu, everyone else is a celestial warrior of Suzaku who is to protect the priestess of Suzaku.”
She smiled brightly as she leant on Seishuku. “I will be jealous when I hear Miaka talking about Suzaku, because I wish that Seiryuu could be as kind as Suzaku is to Miaka…to be able to be loved by my celestial warriors is something I will really like to have. And,” she added the last bit even more light heartedly, “I am also jealous because you will have to assure Miaka that you will protect her.”
“Silly girl.” Seishuku said, rolling his eyes as he kissed her again.
But he still couldn’t stop the feeling of dread as he left the room, even though she was smiling merrily as she waved him good bye, and was saying that tidying up their little luggage would occupy her until he came back.
Yuri occupied his mind all through out their ‘meeting’, it didn’t matter that much as he was one of the few who already knew what was going to happen, as he already had his memory.
Suddenly, he recollected the night before Yuri left him when they were in the universe of the four gods, she had behaved so cheerfully after days of sadness.
Ignoring the others’ muttering as he stood up abruptly, he exist the room to walk to their room. He hoped he was wrong, because at the very worst Yuri would just laugh at him for being so paranoid, but knowing her, she would also be happy that he was thinking about her so much.
Once again, he prayed that he was wrong.

As soon as Seishuku and Miaka turned at the end of the hallway, Yuri lost her smile. Closing the door, she quickly locked all two locks, and then pushed the desk in front of the door.
Technically, all her preparation was done, she was dressed in the native custom of the village of Konan, which was very much like what she saw the peasants wore in the universe of the four gods, and this should allow her to blend in with the people without being too conspicuous.
Just to be on the safe side, she also made a very plain cloak.
The truth was that she was not ready to return there yet, because she was afraid. She didn’t want to relive these three months when she was by herself, she didn’t want to be lonely again.
But she had to do this now, when everyone else was with Miaka. Otherwise she would surely loss her resolve and tell Seishuku about it, and knowing him, he would abandon everyone and go with her.
“You will arrive in Kutou.” That had been Sieryuu’s words, Seishuku…Hotohori would be needed in Konan with the priestess of Suzaku.
Her children would be well cared for by Yui, Yuri trusted the much grimmer girl immensely. She worked out that the whole thing would only take about a night’s time in this world, so she did not need to worry about her children.
“Once again I am worrying about myself.” She whispered. “As I told Hotohori, I didn’t do what I did for Konan, it was for him, and ultimately for myself.”
She bent down at the cradle again, kissing her two children in turn.
“Haha will return soon, be good for Chichi while she is gone.” She whispered before putting them both down.
At last her hand closed over the scroll, it seemed such an ugly thing. The deep blue parchment and the darker blue ribbon that tied it together, perhaps it was because this reminded her of the robes she had wore as the priestess of Seiryuu.
She hated these robes, and it was natural, that had been what she wore when she summoned her own death.
“I do not hate you, but I cannot love you either.” She had told Seiryuu when he first demanded her service. “How can I love you when you killed me and ate my corpse? But at the same time I do not hate you either, because I know that it is not your fault.”
“So once more you call me to your service, and I agreed to it because I want Hotohori…Seishuku to live. That is why I will try and summon you to stop this ‘new evil’. This is just like last time, I am not doing my duty out of obligation.” Yuri said bitterly as she untied the band of dark blue and threw the scroll out. It fell in front of her with a loud ‘clang’ rather ungracefully, twisted in an unnatural angle, she almost wander whether it was mocking her.
Kneeling down she placed her hand over the writing and began to chant to Seiryuu. (1)
“Take me to Kutou.” She whispered. “Your kingdom that was also the threat to the kingdom of my husband.”

Seishuku realized that something was wrong when the door refused to open. Desperately, he began to bang on the door even as he rattled the knob once more, hoping that the lock would be broken by some miracle.
“Yuri, don’t do anything stupid!” he cried out urgently, “Open the door and let me in.”
There was no reply, taking a deep breath he pressed his ears against the door, maybe she was asleep and he really was just worrying a bit too much? It would not be unnatural for her to lock her door when she was in a stranger’s house. Yui might be Miaka’s best friend but to Yuri she was really just an acquaintance.
To his great horror, he heard her voice whispering something, this meant that she choose to not open the door as there was no way that she could have shut out his loud screams and banging if she was not sleeping.
“Yuri!” he screamed again as he resumed beating on the door. “Yuri, let me in!”
“What is wrong?” Genro asked nervously.
He did not know this man very well, after all he was just his cousin’s girl friend’s half sister’s husband- a distant connection. Miaka did mention something bizarre about how they all had to go inside the book or something, and although he was sure that Miaka meant well, he still asked Taka whether she was feverish of something.
He knew little of Seishuku, even though he had been a guest in the formers village for a month. During this time Seishuku had devote most of the time that was not spent with Yuri and his children to his younger brother and Ju-An.
“She’s doing something stupid again, I know it!” Seishuku said angrily. “Yui, I’m sorry but I must break your door!”
“Wait!” Yui quickly grabbed Seishuku’s raised hand. “You can’t just break the door of my house! What will I say to my parents?”
“I’ll pay for the damage.” Seishuku replied briskly. Just as he had been in his past life, Seishuku was losing all rationality when Yuri was involved.
Luckily for Yui, the lock was in a rather bad condition in the first place, therefore Seishuku was able to force the door open without completely damaging the door.
He gasped at the sight of Yuri, and immediately shook his head in denial. She was kneeling in front of the scroll with her two hands over it, dressed in the native costume of the village. What she said next made him chock.
“Take me to Kutou.” She whispered out, bending her head down so that her long hair covered her face completely. “Your kingdom that was also the threat to the kingdom of my husband.”
“Yuri, no!” he yelled, he intended to run to her and grab her but a blue light began to form a shield around her, preventing him from even touching her.
“Seishuku? You are not meant to se this!” Yuri whispered as the light began to surround her, making her look rather unearthly. “Seishuku…Hotohori…you can not come with me to Kutou! You are needed in Konan.”
“I am not going to let you go alone this time!” he yelled, pounding on the shield.
Yuri only shook her head, the light around her suddenly grew very bright and they began to cover her. When she raised her head again her two arms were barely visible as the lights were so bright.
“I really wanted you to come with me, just as I almost gave in when you asked me to take you with me that time in Konan. Do you remember, just before Seiryuu…”
“And the memory of you leaving me still hurt me even now if I ever allow myself to think about it.” Seishuku slid onto the ground, his hands still on the shield as he continued to hope that he could breach this barrier somehow.
“I love you, is that enough for you to forgive me again?” Yuri whispered before the light covered her face.
Seishuku could only let out a sob and bury his head in his face, Taka and Miaka both looked at him sympathetically, while the rest were simply too shocked to offer any form of comfort.
“Why do you to this to me for the second time, Suzaku?” he whispered.
Suddenly, he smiled, it was a very strange smile though, and the frightening part was that the smile conveyed more sadness then his tears. It seemed the smile of one who gave up all his hope that he could not even manage to cry anymore, all he could was to smile as he was so desperate that he even mocked his own feelings due to the happier memories all being suppressed.
He walked to the discarded scroll and picked it up very calmly.
“Seiryuu, can you hear me?” he whispered to the scroll softly. “I want to go with Yuri.”
Without warning, a chuckle rang in Seishuku’s ear, he immediately knew that it was the voice of Seiryuu, the deity that Yuri served as priestess, also the same deity that had killed her. When he gained his memory, he was not sure what he felt for Seiryuu. He hated him to an extent for what he did to Yuri, even though Yuri was with him at that time, and she had constantly told him it was not Seiryuu’s fault for obeying the rules in regard to the sacrifice.
“The main thing is that I am here with you now.” Yuri had said softly as she embraced him tightly in the hospital. “Let us forget about the pain our partings gave us, because we are together now.
“But she is not here anymore.” He said to himself.
“You wish to go with her? Seishuku…no, Hotohori, one of the celestial warriors of Suzaku; Saihitei, the forth emperor of Konan.”
“I do.” He declared. “I will not let Yuri go alone anymore, especially after what she suffered last time.”
He felt the laughter again, but it was not an unkind laughter, in fact, it seemed almost indulgent, like a parent to a stubborn child. Seishuku realized that despite what Seiryuu had to do to Yuri, he was actually rather fond of his priestess, and it seemed that since Yuri loved Seishuku so much, Seiryuu was willing to do something that would make her happy. If that meant sending Seishuku to Kutou with her, then so be it.
“I will grant you your wish then, as it doe not really matter, whether you arrive in Kutou or Konan first.”

When Yuri first entered the universe of the four gods, she had ended up in the kitchen of the tavern that she ended up working in. The owner was not a bad man, as he thought that she was a girl who only turned to thievery due to desperation.
Upon seeing that she was rather pretty, he decided to be opportunistic and employ her, although this was done purely out of kindness. His two daughters were safer when Yuri was there, as most people were more interested in the grown woman instead of the two girls.
The employment only lasted a week though, due to the election of imperial concubines. He had attempted to get her taken instead of his daughters, which was understandable, as he loved his two daughters while she was nothing but a stranger.
This time, however, she was behind some sort of empty building in Kutou. This was probably more convenient, but she was rather puzzled. Seiryuu had said that he would send her to the palace so she could talk to the emperor immediately. (2)
The emperor of Kutou…she knew nothing of that man other then the fact that he would be a good ruler.
A soft groan coming behind her interrupted her thoughts and she quickly put on her simple makeshift cloak. She was about to edge away from the source of the sound when she suddenly noticed that the person who groomed was clothed in the same way Seishuku had this morning, and his raven hair was very long, as well as being secured with a red ribbon.
“Impossible…” she whispered as she grabbed the end of the person’s hair to push it back, in order to see his face.
It was Seishuku…no, he was Hotohori now that he was in this world. It seemed more natural to call him that. To her he had always just been Hotohori, the emperor was Saihitei- he was the one she bowed to in the formal way that the ceremonies required an empress to do to the emperor.
She could only wait for him to wake up and explain to her how, as she already knew all the answers to why. Unclasping her cloak, she spread it over him, and held his hand in her’s.
She shouldn’t be happy to see him here, as he was not meant to be here, but she was still overjoyed that her beloved was beside her. She needed him, she always would just as she knew very well that he must have her by his side. She wouldn’t be so afraid of what she must do this time, because he was with her.
“Is that how Miaka felt?” she asked herself softly.
“Hotohori…” she whispered the name out, it was a name that she rarely said in the past year, she had adjusted to calling him Seishuku faster then she had thought. Although the few times in their first months when she accidentally called him Hotohori, it did not matter that much, as Seishuku and Hotohori really meant the same thing.
Now I must call him Hotohori again, she thought, it still sounds so natural though, because I know that they are the same person. It is two lives but to me they seem just like one life, just like me.
He would not mind her calling him that. She recollected how he had asked her to say only his name when they were first alone.

He was taking her around the palace, her arms resting on his. She was eighteen years old and although she had no boyfriends before, she was not so naïve as there was had been those who flirted with her, she was a rather attractive girl after all. But somehow the contact with this man…this emperor made her feel so nervous.
It is because he is the emperor, she whispered to herself firmly.
A strange emperor to her too, not because he seemed so young, but because he told her that he wished to marry her as well as declaring out in front of everyone that he actually loved her.
“Is the weather too warm?” the emperor asked, mistaking the blush that appeared on her cheeks for something else, but he did notice that the soft hint of red made her very attractive too.
“No,” she hastily replied, shaking her head quickly.
“Do you like flowers?” he suddenly asked.
She nodded, recollecting the many times she often pauses outside a florist’s shop to admire at the flowers, but they had been a luxury that she could never afford. Since she lived in a rather shabby street in the city, flowers were naturally rather scarce. (3)
“Then I think you will like the garden.” He told her, pointing to their destination.
The garden in front of her was the most beautiful garden she had ever seen with the most lavish collection of flowers. The flowers in the park and the flower shops could not compare with these at all.
“Can I take some, your majesty…” she began.
At this the emperor smiled rather sadly, “Please, Yuri, do not call me that when we are alone like now, I want you to call me Hotohori.”
He nodded. “That is my name, but few people ever called me by that. Actually, now that I think about it, only my mother had ever called me with my own name. To everyone else I am the emperor, and before that a prince so they always called me that or used your majesty. That make me feel as if I am only an object, not a man.
“So please,” he implored her as he took her two hands into his. “Only call me Hotohori in private. I want you at least to see me as a man, not just as the emperor. (4)
She had nodded, it was the first time when she was allowed to see the real man, as he took his mask off for her.

With a groan, Hotohori finally sat up. He knew that he was back in the universe of the four gods even before he was told of it. He was greeted with the same emotion as he felt when he returned to the village of Konan in Japan after his brief stay in Tokyo. The joyful feeling of homecoming.
“Yuri?” This was his first concern, sitting up he was so relieved to see her crouching right beside him that he pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly.
“Why did you do that?” he scolded her, a bit angry, “Why did you leave me again? I was so worried…”
Yuri saw him as the emperor of Konan once more, grabbing onto her hand even though the sleeping draught began to work. It had been so hard to leave him, but she had to, even though she knew what pain he would endure with her gone.
Did she really had a right in doing that to him a second time?
“I…” she mumbled, bending her head down to evade the anger in his eyes, although it would not have been so hard to look at his gaze if anger were the only emotion there in his golden eyes, it was mainly due to the concern and love in them.
Putting his hand on her head he tilted it up so that she would face him, he always hated it when she refused to meet his gaze, because it almost meant that she did not trust him or believed that he love her enough to be able to understand her action.
“I meant what I said, Hotohori, I am to go to Kutou but you are meant to accompany Miaka to Konan…”
He interrupted her speech by giving her a fierce kiss, then resumed his tight hold on her, fearing that she would escape as she had before.
“That doesn’t matter now.” He told her firmly. “I am not the emperor anymore, I do not have to be chained to any duties that forbid me to be with the woman I love, I can devote myself to her this time.”
“But even if you are not the emperor of Konan, you are still a celestial warrior of Suzaku.” Yuri said sadly. “At times like this, I am no longer your first priority…”
“I will protect you instead of Miaka, I will be your celestial warrior if you want, Yuri.” He promised. “I do not think neither Suzaku or Seiryuu would grudge me so much for doing this, if Suzaku wields the power of love then he would allow me to do this, and Seiryuu…”
“You met Seiryuu?” she asked in surprise as his voice trailed off, as his tone was not fully hostile like before. He had always showed a rather strong dislike for Seiryuu due to what had happened to her as the priestess of Seiryuu.
“I talked to him, and I…I feel that he have affection for you that is like the relationship between Suzaku and Miaka.” Hotohori was recollecting the kindness that Suzaku had showed his priestess when Miaka summoned him. “That is why I think he would not grudge you for a protector.” (5)
“And know that I will protect you, even from your own protectors.” She quoted out softly, remembering what Seiryuu had once said to her. “He is not a cruel god. Hotohori…I do not know if this is right or wrong, to have you protecting me instead of Miaka, but I am so happy that you will be with me.”
“Then I will protect you as best as I can.” He vowed to her, “I…I…” he paused a bit before he declared out. “I will save you instead of Miaka if such a choice must be made.”
“You are breaking your vow but it would not matter that much, as after all, Miaka have so many others to protect her.” As Hotohori loved her so much, he easily heard the hidden bitterness in her tone. Seeing his rather puzzled gaze, Yuri explained: “I was not joking when I said that I wished to have the love of my celestial warriors, to this day I sometimes think of what I did to them and feel great guilt and shame.” (6)

It would not be wrong to describe the situation that Yuri and Hotohori left as a complete mess. With the exception of Taka, Miaka and Yui who already knew what would happen, everyone else was in a state of mental shock.
Hojun and Ju-An were trying to be calm as they were the eldest, but it was very difficult, as they had just seen their best friend and his wife disappearing into a scroll.
Ryoen had literally fell down after what had happened and Dokun would have helped his friend had he not been staring at the scroll himself.
Miaka exchanged a glance with Taka before she decided what she must do, they must arrive into their old world as soon as they can. Explanations…that would come later.
“That story is true then?” Hojun asked. “Our past lives.”
“Yes and we have to return there now!” Miaka pleaded out. “Please, just trust me…”
“Aniki…” Ryoen muttered as Taka pulled him up. “Where are you now?”
“I can take you to him.” Miaka said gently. “So listen to me…”
She made them all knelt down in a ring beside her as she herself touched the scroll and began to chant to Suzaku. as the red light began to surround t hem all she smiled as she was thinking of the universe of the four gods which she was returning too. It was a place where she had been happy, although she did suffer there as well, but because it was where she met Tamahome, she could ignore all the other sufferings she had.
Even though she was almost always protected by her celestial warriors she had suffered slightly, such as the time when Tamahome rejected her love due to various reasons, as well as being attacked by certain celestial warriors of Seiryuu.
But she was luckier then Yuri- she never had to face any painful decisions as Yuri did, and Tamahome had always made her his first priority. She would return and learn many new things, and grew in the process but most lessons would not be hard. (7)

(1) In the manga it seems all Miaka had to do was to open the scroll and jump in but Yuri’s entrance need sometime so that is why she is chanting to Seiryuu.
(2) I don’t think I have explained this but initially Seiryuu was going to sent her to the palace, but due to brining another person (Hotohori) he had to divide the power, so he sent them to the next best place the temple. That is why the Suzaku warriors and Miaka ended up in the market.
(3) I don’t know if flowers will be really expensive in Japan too but in NZ flowers are quite expensive. Ha, the whole references to flowers just remind me of Weiss Kreuz. (for those who don’t know, Weiss Kreuz is basically the creation of Koyasu Takehito)
(4) This sentence is so hard to get right, because what I want him to say is that I want you to only call me by my name instead of my title when we are alone, but it can also be interpreted as you can only call me by my name when we are alone. So, remember, it’s the first meaning.
(5) I like to think that the four beast gods all have some sort of affection in regard to their priestesses, despite the rules, in the book Suzaku does seem to be quite fond of Miaka. And I suppose for my story it make sense, in Hidden secrets Seiryuu actually took Yuri to Konan when he realized that her body could not last long enough for her to get there, and he also allowed her to back down by taking her to Konan before she and him…merged (?) in order for her to make the wishes.
(6) Some more foreshadowing about Yuri’s view of Miaka. Although if you think about it in the book Miaka really had it lucky, the first two celestial warriors she met ended up in love with her, while the rest all adore her due to what she did and said. Plus, one of the celestial warriors is the emperor so she didn’t need to worry much about how the country sees her, as the priestess was made as a savior, instead of a harbinger. Compared this to Yui, whose celestial warriors are not the best of characters, and I don’t think they all wanted to protect her, for example- I doubt that Soi would really care whether Yui is safe or not if it wasn’t for Nakago. Then to Takiko, who probably have the worst deal so far, Uruki’s father is sending assassins to them on a daily basis, while the rest of the country shun them as harbingers.
The warriors of Suzaku are really lucky too, they all grew up being told that it was an honor being one of the warriors of Suzaku, I’m not so sure about the warriors of Seiryuu, but defiantly not the warriors of Genbu. Tomite is relatively lucky, but Uruki’s father want to kill him because of that, while Hikitsu was shunned by his whole tribe due to his special powers, and ended up having all these nasty rumors, such as him controlling monsters and all that..
(7) I think I better clarify this, in my story Miaka didn’t suffer that much as Yuri underwent many of her sufferings. (Yuri was the one who caught the fever, and the one who almost got killed by the bandits) as Yui is not in the story as the priestess of seiryuu Miaka didn’t go to Kutou and suffer that much, and all her celestial warriors lived. The rape scene didn’t happen either.

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