Chapter 1: Prologue
When the Earth was young and the universe already old; a race of beings was birthed upon a planet not unlike what Earth would one day become, many galaxies far away. They were a peaceful race. Living in harmony with one another and with nature. Their lives were long, their days filled with hard work. They were happy had had fruitful lives. But with time, as so many others before, their planet grew old and began to die. They fought valently to save it, but age and time were simply not things they could defeat.
So turning to their advancements in technology and space exploration, they built ships. With their home now in space, they watched the planet that birthed and raise them slowly wither away. Soon there would be nothing they could recognize as the place they once called home. Saddened, they forged on. Exploring further and further into their home galaxy. Until, they left it behind.
Year after year went by. Their knowledge of the cosmos came to surpass anything they had once hoped to learn. Then it happened! A little blue speck appeared before them. They came closer and closer. It was as planet. A planet that looked nearly identical too the one that birthed them. Could it be? Yessss.
This new planet was a wounderous one. It was far younger than their own had been when their race was born. It had similar atmosphere as their birth planet. Landing, they explored the planet, finding it to be perfect. Soon they began to build. High up on a mountain top, where one could not see for the clouds. Their new city was simple, just as the ones of their former planet. They kept the surrounding land as it was, using their dismantled ships yo build as well as the mountain itself. In honor of their birth planet, they called this new city, Mount Olympus.
After a time, they began to explore outside their own race. They mingled with the creatures birthed by their new home. At first it was just curiosity, but soon it grew to companionship and friendship. Then it was discovered that their own bodies were compatible with many of these wounderous creatures. Soon, children were born between these mingled species.
This continued for some time. Then the race of man came to be. It was the first species born of this planet to be anything like them. Man took a liking to them, just as all the other species had. However, man was able to tell the dfiffrences between themselves and this other race of beings. With knowledge of the other races' supior abilities, man began to worship this race of beings. And so began the time of the Gods.
Not truly wanting to be warshiped, the Gods tried to placate the humans and end the worshiping. But then came a fierce storm that swallowed the planet. Soon a new ice age came. The Gods used their abilities to keep and guid the humans. Without the Gods, the humans were sure to have perished. So the warships continued.
Seeing how much the humans loved and adored them, the Gods gave in. In return for warship; the Gods granted many humans their wishes, provided wisdom and protection. But not all humans were so simple. Many had grown to know greed and jealousy. Wanting power of their own, they would fake being Gods and manipulate the other humans. Distrust grew between the humans and Gods.
All too soon,a war was waged. The war was brutal and bloody. Many died on both sides. The very planet suffered. Soon the Gods withdrew from the battle and retreated into obscurity and became myth. Humans moved on and forgot about the Gods but for the stories told thorough out time. The horrible war became a mythical tale known as The Great Tiatan War.
Centuries passed. The world changed and evolved, as did the humans. Then one day, a man came across an ancient text not of human hand. He gathered others of similar mind and together, they haunted down all information they could find. These similar minds drew together to become a secret society bent on obtaining the Gods powers for their own. They infiltrated human societies. Preached faith and morals. Manipulating other people into believing what they wanted them too. Soon, the Gods found themselves being haunted down again.
Called witches, demons, devils and blasphemers; the Gods were tortured and killed by the desendants of people who'd once worshiped them. It was devastating. With these new threats, the leader of the Gods - the Goddess, a powerful being who surpassed all other Gods in abilities - was sent into hiding with her unborn child.
Chapter 2: Stowaway
Shinji hummed happily as he chopped up the different vegetables. Cooking was one of his favorite past times. He loved making good food for his fellow crew members. Seeing the stuffed full of his food and happy, gave him such a feeling of satisfaction.
As he started on the onions, a white flash lit up the room and the sound of bells tinkled in the air. Startled, he spun, life still in hand. Looking for any sign of a threat. A soft whimper caught his attention. Cautiously, Shinji approached the pantry. Slowly, he opened the pantry doors. Looking inside, he dropped his knife and knelt down. Inside the pantry was a tiny boy with blond curls and large hazel eyes.
"Hello there little one." Shinji spoke softly so as to not frighten the child. The boy huddled in a corner, his knees against his chest and arms wrapped around them. He started up at Shinji with curiosity and the slightest bit of fear.
"My name is Kuroda Shinji. What is your name?" The boy did not reply.
"Are you hungry?" Still the boy did not reply.
Shinji stood and went to where he kept fresh fruits for the crew to snack upon through out the day. Returning to the boy, he held out a shiny red apple. "Do you like apples?"
The boy eyed the apple hungrily. He had not eaten in some time. His eyes narrowed as he looked up at Shinji. The man did not look mean or scary. The feeling around him was calm and soothing. The boy reached out and took the apple. Holding before him, he eyed it before biting hungrily into it.
As he watched the boy eat, Shinji sent out a silent call to the captain of the ship. Soon; large, heavy footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs. The boy stopped eating his apple to stare in the direction of the stairs.
A huge, hulking man entered the room. His hair was pitch black and his eyes were a strange mix of gold and silver. He was very beautiful looking and not scary at all. The man approached the boy cautiously, not wanting to scare him. He knelt down next to Shinji, noticing how the boy never took his eyes off of him.
"Well aren't you a cute little stowaway. My name is Captain Asami Ryu. This be my ship Sea Dragon you are upon. What is your name child?"
The boy popped a thumb into his mouth. "Wheetle."
"Akihito?" The boy nodded.
"Well hello Akihito. It is a pleasure to meet you. Can you tell me how you came to be here?" The boy shook his head no.
"I heard bells tinkling and there was a white flash before I found him in here." Shinji informed the caption.
"Magic then." Ryu hummed in thought. "Akihito, how old are you?"
"Twee." Akihito held up three tiny fingers.
"Where is your family Akihito?"
The boy seemed to sink into himself. "Bad men 'tackeded home. Mommy gone now." The boy began to sob.
Ryu pulled the boy into his arms and hugged him tight. Such sadness had touched this one who was far too young for such things. Ryu made a decision right then.
"Well Akihito, you need not be sad now. We here upon Sea Dragon will be your family now. Your mommy would not for you to be alone. I believe she brought you to us."
Ryu pressed a kiss to Akihito's blond curls. It had been many years since he had raised a child, and his grandsons were all grown as well. But it shouldn't be that hard to raise a child again. Right? There is no way this boy would be like his Ryuichi, right?
Chapter 3: A Pirate Family
Life aboard Sea Dragon more than little Akihito could ever ask for. In Ryu, he had the father he'd never had before. Among the crew, Ryu had two grandsons; Souh Kei and Kruoda Shinji. In Kei and Shinji, Akihito found two older brothers that he could always depend on and loved him endlessly Whenever he missed his mother, Akihito would curl up beside Kei. There was something about Kei that reminded Akihito of his mother. Kei often sang to him like his mother often had. There was also a man named Suoh Kazumi on the ship. He was very huge, making Akihito think of the bears he'd seen in one of Shinji's books. Kazumi was really cool and taught Akihito all these cool wrestling and fighting moves. He was also Kei's husband - whatever that was. As for the rest of the crew, they were friendly and kind. They cared for him and played with him whenever they had the time to do so. Just as Ryu had promised, he had a family here.
However, not everything was all fun and games aboard Sea Dragon. Every morning Akihito had lessons with Kei. Kei was very strict with his lessons, but he was never unkind. At noon lunch was served. Afterwards, Akihito would join Shinji in more lessons and assisting with dinner. After dinner, Akihito would do the few chores he had been given followed by sword lessons with Ryu. After that it was dessert and relaxing. Then off to bed he sent.
~ A TWISTED GODDESS ~
Childish laughter floated along the wind of the harbor. The sound was light and cheerful. Making anyone who heard it, smile. Little Akihito had turned out to be a very welcomed addition to the crew. He was a reminder that not everything in the world was dark. Akihito was like a little ball of sunshine.
Hearing his laughter now, made the disappointment of having a business deal fall through. A few locals of this tiny port town had been murdered by The European Empire's Navy. That damn navy. They had everyone scared and on the run for their lives. No one was safe, as shown by the navy's attack on the port town just a few miles away from this one.
As Ryu, Kei and Kazumi boarded the ship; they could not help but smile and chuckle at the sight that greeted them. Shinji was blowing raspberries upon Akihito's tiny tummy. Sending the three year old shrieking with laughter.
~ A TWISTED GODDESS ~
A year had passed since Akihito had come to Sea Dragon. As such, it was decided that a celebration would be held to honor the occasion. Since no one knew when Akihito's birthday was, the occasion would also serve as the boy's birthday. Akihito was kept distracted as the crew of Sea Dragon slipped into ports for celebration supplies and presents.
When the evening came, Ryu took Akihito below and showed him how the cannons worked. When the time was right, Ryu brought Akihito back up. His big hazel eyes widened, appearing to swallow his face whole. He looked up at Ryu with surprise and excitement. The crew shouted "SURPRISE!"
"Happy birthday Akihito and happy anniversary of your first year on Sea Dragon." Shinji said as he placed as silly hat on Akihito's head.
Akihito was brought over to the large table that had been set and place at the head of the table. The place where Ryu usually sat as the captain. This further excited the little boy. Shinji place a large plate filled with sweets and Akihito's favorite foods. He smiled up at his big brother. "Thank you Shinji! This looks so yummy!" He said, remembering his manners before digging into the food.
When everyone had finished eating, the presents were brought out. Everyone was excited as they gave the boy their gifts. From Ryu, he received a set of pens and drawing books. Everyone on board knew of Akihito's love to draw and just how artistic the lad truly was. He was encouraged every day to continue in his love of art. From Shinji, Akihito received a set of encyclopedias that had all been had written and held pictures drawn by Shinji himself. Akihito had been in love with those books the moment he first discovered them. There were animals, plants and people from all over the world in them. Shinji had known he couldn't have gifted Akihito anything better.
From Kei and Kazumi, Akihito received a brown teddy bear with a eye patch, sword and little bandana hat. It was cute and he loved it instantly. He named the bear Kloo. From that day forth, Kloo never left Akihito's side. From the rest of the crew, Akihito got educational books to help with his lessons. A new wooden sword that was hand carved by each member of the crew. There were also picture books and stuffed animals - all named something along the lines of Brownie (a black dragon), Dagger (an elephant) and Ploo (a tiger).
With gifts given, it was time to dance. Each crew member took a turn in the band and a turn to dance with their sweet little Akihito. When Akihito could no longer keep his eyes open, Ryu picked him up and carried him off to bed.
"Love you papa." Akihito said as sleep claimed him.
Chapter 4: A Silent Attack In The Night
As the months passed, life at sea became tense. Ports often found themselves raided by the European Empire's Navy. People suspected of being connected to pirates or anyone not of the European Empire, were dragged out into the street and executed. The attacks upon non European Empire sea vessels had increased.
The crew of the Sea Dragon were worried. They kept to shallow and hard to reach waters. Their flags were kept lowered and the ship itself was disguised. Akihito was kept to the captain quarters and the kitchen. He was never left alone. Even only at the age of four, the boy was not safe. The navy would kill him just for being on the ship.
Kazumi was sent out on missions to gather whatever information he could find. Each time his time away became longer and longer. Every time he left, it was feared he would not be returning. Every time Kazumi left, it took a toll on Kei. With every passing day, Kei would fall deeper and deeper into depression. Akihito sensed his big brother's distress and did his up most best to cheer Kei up.
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
The sun was shinning brightly, the wind just a gentle breeze. Akihito sat with Shinji on Ryu's bed. They were supposed to be working on his reading and math, but Akihito just didn't feel up to it. He could feel something on the wind. In the way the ocean trembled.
A commotion stirred up on the deck. Confused Akihito ran out, ignoring Shinji's attempt to stop him. There, amongst the crew stood a disheveled and rather dirty Kazumi. Seeing the giant bond, Akihito grinned and ran over to him. "ZUMI!"
Kazumi chuckled and swept the boy up into his arms, swing the boy around before pulling him in for a bear hug. "Hello sweet little 'Kihito." He set the boy down and ruffled those soft curls. "What have you been up to?"
"Shin and I were studying. He's so smart!"
Kazumi laughed good naturally. "Yes he is."
"However, he is nowhere near as smart as me, of course."
Kazumi turned to face the new comment. A grin on his lips and a shimmering his unusual silver green eyes. Kazumi took a few steps forward and swept Kei into a tight, loving embrace. Tears fell from Kei's eyes and Kazumi kissed them away before claiming Kei's lips in a deep kiss. "I missed you baby." Kazumi whispered into Kei's ear.
"Why do you guys kiss like that?" Akihito tilted his head to one side in curiosity.
"Well you see, Kei and I are married. I'm his husband and he is my wife." Kazumi tried to explain.
"What us marriage? And husband? What dies wife mean?"
"Well, when people who are of age fall in love, the get married." Akihito's brows wrinkled with confusion. "Marriage is something that brings two people from different families into one family if their own."
"Like me coming here? Am I married to you too?"
Kei chuckled. "No!" Kazumi rushed to explain. "No Akihito. That using how it works. Marriage is for adults. For those who are in love. They want to spend their lives together, not as siblings or parents to one another. This is different.
"You see, married couples; husband and wives - they do things that are different. Things that would be inappropriate for other types of relationships. You see, husbands and wives kiss like Kei and I do. They sometimes have children together."
"Have children? How?"
"Okay that's enough for today. Come along Akihito. You know you are not supposed to be out on the decks."
Kei took Akihito's hand and led him back towards the captain's quarters. Stopping only to press a kiss to Kazumi's cheek. As Kei walked away, Kazumi landed a swat on Kei's butt. Managing a quick squeeze before Kei glared at him. A deep blush on his cheeks. Akihito of course, did not miss a second of this interaction."
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
The attack came in the dark of the night.
Akihito tossed and turned in his sleep. Nightmares of his past haunting his mind. Whispers from the wind and sea told of coming dangers. Further disturbing his slumber. Ryu stood from his desk and walked over to the bed. He too had heard the sea's whispers. Sitting on the bed, he laid a comforting hand on Akihito's cheek. He began to sing a soft lullaby, the same one he'd once sang to his son Ryuichi. It had been passed down in his family for many generations. It was said to have come all the way from the old planet, Olympus.
Akihito calmed and snuggled close to Ryu. It was a nightly ritual. Akihito goes to bed. Ryu works long into the night. The nightmares would come and Ryu would sing to him. Ryu frowned as he once again thought of Akihito's mother. The tragedy that had wrought such pain into one so young. It was uncalled for. Ryu tucked the blanket tightly around Akihito.
Suddenly the ship rocked violently. Shouts sounded and the warning bell rang out. The sound of cannons firing sounded far to close. With whispered words, Ryu sent Akihito into a deep slumber that would keep him unaware of the dangers taking place. Grabbing his weapons, Ryu rushed out of his room and into battle.
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
The danger was here. He could feel it. Akihito fought against the slumber that pulled at him to stay. But he could not. His family was under threat. They were being hurt. Some were dying, others were already dead. Akihito pushed his way through that unwavering force and crawled from the bed.
Akihito put his boots on and picked his little wooden sword. As he marched out onto the deck, his sword turned from wood into a sharp steel. Seeing an unfamiliar man dressed in a sapphire blue jacket and pants, Akihito gave a mighty yell and lunched himself at the man. His attack was unexpected and allowed Akihito a single blow to the man's heart through his back. The man fell dead to the deck, but Akihito paid him no mind as he attacked another enemy.
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
The battle raged for hours. There seemed to a never ending wave of the navy's men. By now the Sea Dragon was surrounded by four of the European Empire's navy ships. Many of their own lay dead upon the deck. It was disheartening to see, but not a single member of the crew gave in. They would fight to their dying breath. Then the unthinkable happened.
The leader of the attack captured Akihito. The sight of the man's pistol pointed at Akihito's head filled Ryu with dread. He dropped his weapons and was about to surrender. However, Akihito would have none of that. He feared not these men. They were villainous, but they did not terrify him. Giving Ryu a wink, Akihito released a high pitch scream.
The scream echoed throughout the night. The ocean went wild. Waves swelled. Sea creature from the darkest depths rose and began attack the ships. Ryu beamed with pride at the brave, smart four year old.
With the navy in disarray with the abnormal sized waves and enraged sea life; Ryu, Kei, Shinji and Kazumi took advantage. Ryu dived into the raging sea. Thunder roared and lightning flashed. The sea rumbled. A deep roar rumbled up from beneath the water.
A head breached the water's surface. Then a neck and shoulders. Water poured down, revealing a magnificent creature thirty feet long and thirty feet high. The creature's skin was green and silver. Blood red horns adorned the head. Pitch black hair fell in long braids down the creature's neck and shoulders. Large wings spread out over Sea Dragon. Each wing held blood red horns. The creature roared. Revealing rows of huge, dagger like teeth. It was a dragon. A sea dragon.
The navy men screamed in fright. They had heard tale of such creatures, but no one had taken them seriously. To do so would be a one way ticket out of the navy and into a nut house. The dragon lifted one mighty fist and brought it crashing down onto a ship. The ship cracked in half and began a slow decent into the sea. What few men had been aboard jumped in an attempt to save themselves. Only to be killed by the creatures of the ocean.
The navy leader tossed Akihito assure and ordered his men into action. He ordered them to open fire on the beast. They obeyed, but I heir attacks were stopped by the tail of another dragon. This one looked similar to the first, only smaller and with silver horns instead of blood red. This one's hair was much shorter, too short to be braided.
Wind blew, words could be heard upon it. It sent shivers down the men's spines. A swirling vortex encircled a second ship, crushing it into nothing. A mighty roar rumbled in the SKU. Looking up, the men saw a third dragon. This one was blue with black horns, short hair and glasses? Yes, it indeed had glasses upon its mighty snout. Captured by the shock of such a sight, the men missed the charging bear that was now on the deck of Sea Dragon. This was a bear no one had seen before. It was the size of large breed of modern bears, but its jaw was something else. The bear took hold of the navy's leader and bit him right in half with nothing more than the power of its jaw.
In no time at all, the four magnificent creatures had wiped out the navy men and their ships. With the enemy defeated; Ryu, Kei, Kazumi and Shinji returned to their human forms. This night was the first time any of them had been in their form for years. Do to the war between mash and Gods, laws had been placed down by the Queen and council. Gods were far more powerful than man, so as such, Gods should only engage with man in battle when necessary and with only the strength if man. Unless in a dire situation, Gods were never to take on their true forms and use their abilities against man. Gods were also never to reveal themselves to man.
With the navy's brutal attack costing many their lives and the threat posed to Akihito; the changes had indeed been necessary. All the humans who had seen them were either dead or the descendants of humans who had been loyal to the Gods for generations. As such, that meant they already knew the truth of things and were exempt from such laws. As for Akihito, well it was obvious he was no human.
When morning came, the fallen crew members were sent out to sea. Their bodies ablaze with Ryu's fire to honor their loyalty and sacrifices. As for the navy men, they were chopped into pieces and fed to the carnivores of the deep.
Chapter 5: Stronghold
The European Empire's Navy could not continue to go unchecked. They must be dealt with or the world would only continue to suffer at their hands. The European Empire used to lead the world with their navy. Many other Empires had assembled their own navy after The European Empire's. However, the once great navy had become corrupted. Not such a surprise when one considered who was currently running the country.
The European Empire had once been recognized as on of the greatest empires. It was one of the four leading empires in world peace and union between the empires. Now, The Empire had no allies. Many people had fled The Empire sixty years ago, when the new king took over.
King Nedrow Bartholomew was not the true heir to the throne. No, it had been his brother King Maximums Bartholomew who was the true heir. King Maximums had ruled a mere two years before he abruptly died. His brother then took over the kingdom as the new king. No one was foolish enough to believe that the new king had not killed his own brother in a fit for power. Ever since King Nedrow Bartholomew came to rule, The Empire had become a living nightmare.
Any ship not under The European Empire was destroyed by the navy. It mattered not if the ship be pirate or a cruise liner filled with civilians. All were destroyed. The people aboard were either killed or taken prisoner. The other empires had fought but people were often easy to bribe and as such, any rebellion was put to a stop. It left the world terrified of The European Empire and its navy.
Off the coast of The Chinese Empire was a small island. A long time ago, the island had been apart of The Chinese Empire. Now it was under the rule of The European Empire through a trade deal that had taken place two hundred years before. Over the years, the town located on the island had become more populated by Europeans than the Chinese. Those from other empires had come close to non existent. With King Nedrow in rule, only Europeans lived there now. All non European persons had been driven out or executed by The European Empire's navy. Over the recent years, the island with its town and port, had become a strong hold for the navy. With its location so close to The Chinese Empire, the navy had gained a stranglehold upon the opposing empire. As the last two years passed, The Chinese Empire had lost all contact with the outside world. King Nedrow was fixed upon obtaining The Chinese Empire for himself.
In darkened waters far too dangerous for any sane person to venture, a gathering occurred. Captains of ships, civilians, soldiers, navy men, kings, queens, emperors, empress and pirates gathered. Never had such a gathering ever occurred before. Days were spent gathering Intel and planning an attack on The European Empire's Navy.
It was soon decided that the little island off the coast of The Chinese Empire would be their target. It was risky. The navy patrolled the waters around the island carefully. However, the patrols were clockwork. That was of course the weakness.
As the sun set, the people of the little town went about the their business. Suddenly an echoing blast was heard. The people stopped in their tracks to listen. A shout by a soldier then the alarm bell was rung. The towns people screamed. Mothers gathered their children into their arms. Husbands grabbed what weapons they could - dinning knives, forks, pick axes from the mines. Only soldiers and navy men were allowed guns and knives in The European Empire. Civilians ran to their homes, hiding in the cellars beneath.
Up on the outer wall surrounding the town, soldiers fired cannons at the approaching sea vessels. Some missed, others hit their marks. Screams could be heard all around as the enemy ships fired their own cannons upon the town wall. Soldiers fell as parts of the wall collapsed. Crushing the soldiers beneath the ruble. When in reach, the enemy ships launched longboats filled with men and women ready for battle.
As the longboats reached the shore, the men and women secured the perimeter. An easy feat as the navy hadn't bothered to set up any security along the beach. Base camps were set up and parties were set out to take the town.
Coming from the south side of the island, the crew of Sea Dragon captured the south port. All workers found there were captured and set back to the ship, where they would be held until later. With the capture of the port, Captain Asami Ryu led his crew through the island to the town. Soldiers tried to stop them, but they were under trained and unprepared. Though severely wounded, none died and the soldiers were taken prisoner and set back to the ship for medical treatment.
Captain Asami Ryu led his crew further in to the town. They raided homes in search if civilians, which were taken prisoner and put under lock in a home secured by them. Appointing four crew members to guard the prisoners, Captain Asami Ryu furthered their campaign. Emptied homes were set on fire. All food and livestock were taken. Navy and government buildings were ransacked and any of their allies could be seen tearing the walls down already. No sympathy for The European Empire and its navy.
Heading southeast, Captain Asami Ryu met with Captain Liu Quan, a fellow pirate and a member of The Chinese Empire. Asami and Liu went way back, as in they were childhood friends. In agreement, the two captains led their crews up to the governor's mansion. They found no resistance as the civilians had already fled to their own homes or were already captured.
Paintings of worth were taken by their crews as were any easy to cary statues and jewels. A few paintings were tossed outside to be added to the burn pile for their offensive subject matter. No one wanted a painting of a child being hung. Such was an ungodly act. But such was The European Empire. Books of education and adventure were boxed and taken to a safe place. Once the mansion was cleared, it was set to burn with the rest of the town.
Gathered in the center of town was the governor and the captain of the guard. They watched as their town burned and their people were captured. They cared not about the people, only the valuables they had gathered. They had tried to flee but the enemy was everywhere.
The sun began to rise. Four people approached them. Captain Asami Ryu of the pirate ship, Sea Dragon; Captain Liu Quan of the pirate ship, Firewing; Captain Nikola Arbatov of the merchant / suspected pirate ship, Ice Diamond; and Captain Momohara Ai of the luxury cruise liner, Dancing Goddess.
The captain of the guard and the governor pleaded for leniency but none of the captains showed mercy. They had no pity. The captain of the guard was shot dead as he tried to flee for his freedom. As for the governor, he was dragged off to the gallows were he was hanged like so many of the innocent people he had murdered.
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
As the town was taken, a gathering of ships occurred. The encircled the island just a few miles away from where the attacking ships were anchored. It was the duty of these ships to guard the set perimeter and lay waste to any navy ships that dared to make it that far.
A little further out was another gathering of ships. These ships did not bother to hide their presence. They wanted the navy's attention and they got it. Cannons fired from both navy and allied ships alike. Ropes swung as crew members flung themselves onto opposing ship decks. Blood ran over the ships and colored the sea. People screamed as they were injured and killed.
The navy had never thought anyone would be so foolish as to attack their stronghold. So the attack came as a surprise. However, they launched a counter attack. Expecting to win easily. They didn't account for the ships waiting for them, or that there would be so many of them. Their enemy's ships numbered close to their own. Still the navy pressed on. They would win no matter what. It was that arrogance that cost the navy the battle and The European Empire its strangle hold on the world.
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
With the new day began a new town upon the island. With the small island forced out of The Empire's hands, it was decided that the island be returned to The Chinese Empire. Only the emperor denied it. Claiming that the island would be better off as a free state where anyone could take refuge no matter the empire they came from. So it was decided that the island would remain free of any empire and become a refuge.
As Captain Liu Quan was aging and wished to retire, he was appointed head of the town. The captured civilians and soldiers were released to return to The Empire or stay and become a part of the new town. The number of people who wished to stay was staggering. It seemed many were pleased to have been freed of The European Empire. These people would of course be watched until they proved to be of no threat to the new town. Before the day was out, new homes were being built. By the end of the first week, farms were in place and new laws were approved by the townspeople.
After two months, the town and the island were a completely different place. A new protection wall was built. All sides of beach were guarded at all times. Extra protection was added to the ports as well as the town itself. The towns people were far happier than they had been. Clothing unlike anything they were allowed before was given to them. By the fourth month, shops of all kinds littered the town's center. A school was built and teachers were brought in. For the first time, the people were free to think for themselves.
Children laughed and played in yards. People gathered to talk and seek entertainment. New trades were learned and put to use. By the fifth month, the island had an actual name. Hong Kong.
Chapter 6: Moving On
Akihito's Life so far:
Age 0-3: Lived with his mother.
Age 3: He and his mother were attacked. Akihito came to Sea Dragon and became family.
Age 3-5: Lived on Sea Dragon. This chapter.
With the down fall of The European Empire's Navy stronghold, the attacks at sea had greatly decreased. It would seem that King Nedrow was licking his wounds and more than likely his next act.
While things on Hong Kong were going better than planned, Akihito's fifth birthday was fast approaching. The townspeople had taken a liking to the boy - for who could resist such a cute ball of sunshine. He could often be found roaming the sunflower fields off in the east. Or playing in the little cove to the west. He stopped by every shop to chatter happily with the owners and staff daily. He befriended every child he met and allowed for not a single bully.
As the townspeople and Akihito's adoptive family prepared for the boy's fifth birthday, Shinji took him out for a special day in town. They ate sweets at the bakery. Saw a play at the theater. Picked wildflowers in the files and petted various animals at the farms. Everything was going smoothly.
As Akihito chattered happily to the tailor, soft bells sounded and a white flash appears from nowhere. When the tailor's and Shinji's eyes cleared and they could see again; little Akihito was gone. Shinji immediately sent word to his grandfather as he searched for the boy. As time passed, worry settled upon the town. A search party was sent out, but Ryu knew it was useless. Akihito had disappeared just as he had come. All anyone could do, was wish the boy was safe and happy where he was.
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
Akihito sat on the cold wet ground in the dark, dark forest. All around him he could hear the sounds of the forest creatures. While he was confused, he was not afraid. He knew that he would come to no harm within this forest. The forest was enchanted, he could feel it. Ryu had often told him tales about such places.
Standing, Akihito began his track through the first. While it was pitch black, he could see as if it were daylight out. He hummed one of the many lullabies that Ryu often sang to him; clutching his stuffed bear, Kloo too his body. He was growing very tired when he happened upon an outcropping of rocks. Following them, he came to a wide opening in the side of a mountain. Wondering inside, Akihito took in every detail of the cave. It was beautiful, with great stone cut through with a stunning blue river of sapphire.
Not paying attention to where his feet were taking him, Akihito grunted as he fell onto his little bottom once more. Looking up, Akihito found a mass of brown fur. Reaching out, he sank tiny fingers into the fur. It was soft and wonderful. The owner of the due turned to look at the young boy. It was a bear. A very, very BIG! bear. Still Akihito felt no fear. Giggling, he pressed his face into the fur. The bear rumbled his own joy at the boy's touch.
"Hello child. I have been awaiting your arrival."
Akihito blinked big hazel eyes up at the bear. This very, very big bear was magical!. Akihito grinned. "Hello Mr. Bear. It is nice to meet you. You have such very nice fur. What's your name Mr. Bear?"
"My mother named me Aengus. It means exceptionally strong. For I am as unwavering as the Earth herself. And what of you child? What is your name?"
"A beautiful name indeed child. Now come child. It is late and you must sleep. But first, your clothing is far to damp to sleep in."
Akihito skimmed out of his clothing then snuggled up in the bear's furry arms. Aengus was warm and soft. Soon the little boy was fast asleep.
When morning came, Aengus led Akihito to a small stream. Akihito splashed his way through the water happily. He washed the grime from his walk through the forest off and drank of the crystal clear water. He was splashing water at Aengus when Akihito spotted a rare sight. A large male deer, head bowed to the water cas he drank. Akihito watched the deer, memorized. Without thought, Akihito wandered ever closer to the deer. The deer lifted his head, his nose up as he scented the air. He turned to face Akihito. The deer stared at the boy for a moment, before coming closer. Akihito reached out and the deer nuzzled into the boy's hand.
"Child, you have finally come to us. Please tell me your name dear child."
"I'm Akihito! What's your name?"
"I am called Aukake. For my knowledge is boundless as the sea."
The sun rose ever higher in the sky. Akihito searched through bushes and trees for foods that Aukake told him were edible. Aengus hunted fish in the stream as they wandered through the forest. As evening came, Akihito built a fire just as Kazumi had taught him. He was eating the fish he'd made from a simple recipe taught to him by Shinji, when he heard the rustling. Aengus and Aukake paid it no mind, but Akihito was ever the curious one. Slowly he approached the bush the rustling came from. Parting the branches, Akihito spied a black little bunny.
It was adorable. All long ears, fluffy tail, big feet and twitching nose. "Hello there." Akihito said gently as to not startle the bunny. Reaching out, he let the bunny sniff his hand before petting her. Her fur was as sift as it looked.
"Oh dear child you have come at last. I am Lulu, for I am as swift as a rabbit. And what of you child?"
"I'm Akihito!" Akihito scooped the bunny up into his arms and returned to his meal.
Food finished, Akihito cleaned and put out the fire. The group of four snuggled in close for the night. To be sure, they were an odd bunch to see. A bear, a bunny, a deer and a child. All snuggled together in the forest.
As the night passed, a creature stirred in the forest. The creature grew closer and closer to the little foursome. None of the sleeping foursome stirred as the creature crept closer. To be sure, this creature could have easily eaten any one of them. But she didn't. Instead, she sniffed out the little boy and snuggled up to him. The boy snuffled and shifted. Turning her way. Hazel eyes looked up at her. "Hi!" The boy mumbled sleepily.
"Hello sweet one. I am Melody, for who could ever resist the song of a wolf?"
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
Life within the forest was rather simplistic. There was no need to rush. Mornings were spent gathering food for the day. Afternoons were spent lazing around and evenings were spent learning the forest. Just a little ways off, Akihito built a shelter for him and his new family members. Yes he considered these animals his friends. Akihito enjoyed his life there. It was a peaceful one. And before he knew it, three years had passed and he was now a boy of eight.
As all things do in time, Akihito's life in the forest came to an end. It was an unusual sight to see any humans in the forest. Yet there came a day where four grown human men wondered into the forest. The creatures of the forest his, sensing danger from these men.
Haunting forest creatures for food was not something Akihito was opposed too. It was a natural occurrence. The carnivores ate the herbivores. The herbivores ate the plants. The plants ate everything. It was balanced. However, these men were not here as part of this balance. They were here to throw it off. To take what was not theirs. Not for survival but for a twisted sense of joy. These men held a dark cruelty about them. Akihito could not allow for these men to stay.
The traps the men set out in the forest made Akihito shudder. To prevent any forest creature from falling prey to these hideous things, Akihito set about setting them off as they were set down. This caused the men to believe their traps were defective. So the men turned to their guns. However, no forest creatures showed themselves. After a week with no trophies, the men packed up to leave. Akihito however, could not simply let the men leave.
Especially not the leader of this group. A Lord Comnerbottom. He had to go with him. He felt an urgency to prevent something terrible from happening. So Akihito presented himself to the men. He ran frantically through the forest to add in Hus story. After his run, Akihito fell in the men's path. According to his plan, the men believed him to be a lost child. The men gathered him up and took him home with them. Aengus, Aukake, Melody and Lulu were reluctant to allow Akihito to leave the forest. But they too, felt the troubles on the wind. Their dear child must go. That didn't mean that they couldn't still watch over him. So they followed the men from the enchanted forest into the normal one. As forest life died away, the four creatures blinded any humans from seeing them.
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
Akihito was set up as a servant boy within Lord Comnerbottom's manor. He was given a cot to sleep on in a corner of the large servant bedroom, a weekly bath and one meal in the morning. Like all the other servants, Akihito was dressed in black trousers, a white shirt and a green jacket. He was expected to appear perfect at all times, remain silent at all times and do as told. If he behaved, he would receive a monthly wage. If he didn't, there would be no wages that month and a sound whipping would be given.
Akihito played the part he was given. His first month there, Akihito made friends with a maid by the name of Mary. She was kind and funny, but there was a deep sadness about her. When the third month came, Akihito and Mary found themselves polishing all the silver dinning wear for a ball the "master", - as Lord Comnerbottom preferred to be called -was holding. Alone with his friend, he asked his question.
"Mary, how did you come to be here?"
Mary paused in her polishing. She paled somewhat. Her eyes closed and she took a deep breath. "My parents owned a small from not far from here. The farm was not doing well. My family sold what valuables they had, but it wasn't enough. So they came to the master for a loan. He granted it to them. My parents paid off their debts. After two years, the farm was finally producing again. My parents came to repay the loan. The master accepted it but told them they still had an interest to pay. The amount he gave was more than they could pay.
"The master told them they could pay their interest in full by simply handing me over to him. My parents accepted. I was six when I came here. That was ten years ago."
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
At night, the master would visit Mary's cot. Her cries would fill the room as did the sounds of flesh on flesh. Akihito knew what was happening. He had seen similar things while living in the forest. Mating. Only this mating was not between to beings who desired to make babies.
The night before the ball, Akihito waited for the master to leave. When he did, Akihito came to Mary's side. He soothed her and cleaned her body. After he'd changed the bedding and her nightgown, he helped her slip back into bed. Taking her hand in his Akihito spoke softly.
"Why not leave thus place Mary?"
"He would only catch me and hurt me worse if I tried."
"Mary, I have a safe place I could take you. He would never find you. You would be safe. You and the child you have growing inside you."
Mary was shocked. She had suspected that she was with child when she began to exhibit symptoms that she'd seen in maids who'd had intimate moments with the male servants. She had wanted to deny it, but deep down, she couldn't. The master would not like this and would be very angry. She would most likely lose the babe if she stayed. Mary did not want that. The child was not to blame. Mary looked up at Akihito, hope shining in her eyes.
The night of the ball arrived. Dressed in the black clothing and hooded capes, Akihito and Mary left the manor. The exited through an used door in the cellar. They passed by the never used garden and the stables. The walked over the property that went on for miles before reaching the town. From there, they took back allies until the reached the forest surrounding the one side of town.
Akihito and Mary slipped into the forest unseen. They traveled deep into the forest. Hours had passed since they left, when they came upon an unusual sight. Before the stood a bear, a deer, a bunny and a wolf. At first Mary was confused and scared. But then Akihito took her hand and led her to the animals. He brought her hands up to pet the bear and wolf, then the deer and bunny. Mary enjoyed the softness of their fur.
"Mary, I would like for you to meet some of my family. The bear here is Aengus. The deer, Aukake. Lulu the bunny and Melody, a wolf of great song. Everyone, thus is my good friend Mary."
Introductions made, Akihito helped Mary climb up on Aukake's back before climbing onto Anegus's back himself. The group of six headed further into the forest. Their movements just a blur now as the forest creatures moved with a speed only magic could create. Soon, they were in the enchanted forest and coming to a stop at the little house Akihito had built. Akihito gathered food and fire supplies before returning to Aukake's back. While Mary was safe, his business at the manor was not complete.
~ A Twisted Goddess ~
Lord Comnerbottom was not pleased with Mary's disappearance A full scale investigation was conducted. Every staff members were interviewed. Someone ratted out Akihito and Mary's friendship. Leading to an intense interrogation for Akihito. Akihito stayed strong however. He did not break. Would not break. After a week, the investigation was called off and Lord Comnerbottom was forced to accept that he could no longer abuse Mary.
Akihito waited a full month before he began his own investigation into Lord Comnerbottom. Akihito started in the attic and worked his way down. He left nothing unexamined. It was his fourth day of investigation, when he found what he was looking for. In the office, there was a small lever that when pulled, opened a hidden door behind a bookshelf.
Entering the hidden passage, Akihito found a long tunnel. Taking the tunnel, Akihito saw nothing but the back of the manor's walls until finally, the walls became dirt and rock. He was underground now.
Coming to the tunnel's end, Akihito discovered a wooden door. Opening it, he found what looked to be another office. Searching the desk first, he happened upon letters written in code. Luckily for Akihito, Lord Comnerbottom was a fool and left his decoding notes right with his secret letters. Working through the night, Akihito deciphered the letters. What he discovered was troubling indeed.
Gathering his evidence and checking for anything else, Akihito returned to his room. When it was safe, he went into town and mailed his evidence to the palace.
Chapter 7: Rescue Operation
A month passed with no response to the information Akihito had sent to the palace. No arrest, no investigation. Nothing. With every day that passed, the prince's life was coming closer to its end.
Prince Edmund Darrow was the son of Princess Tailor Darrow and her late husband; Jack Darrow, Duke of Mask. He was the nephew of the current king, Nedrow Bartholomew and former king, Maximilian Bartholomew. Prince Edmund was the only heir to the throne and European Empire. The prince was beloved by his people and many awaited the day he was to take the throne. It was said that he was nothing like his uncle, King Nedrow and that despite his young age of fourteen, he had done much to better his people's lives. Yet no one had come to protect him after receiving Akihito's information.
~ ą ŧɯıŞŧɛɖ ɠơɖɖɛŞŞ ~
Akihito stood by his bed, listening to the servants' screams. Earlier this morning, the king's adviser arrived with an army of guards. They were currently capturing the servants for "interrogation". It seemed that Akihito had finally gotten his response. Only it was not in the way he'd expected. The king's advisor had actually been the one to send those coded letters to Lord Comnerbottom. From what Akihito had overhead from the conversation between the two men; it was the king himself, that wanted Prince Edmund dead.
Though the prince was the heir, King Nedrow did not like him. It seemed that the king thought he could live forever. Which only confused Akihito. The sound of footsteps approaching the servants' room caught Akihito's attention. Mumbling out a curse that would have Ryu tanning his backside, Akihito jumped out of the window above his bed. He raced for the horse stables. Taking shelter behind them, Akihito closed his eyes.
Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Akihito began to concentrate. He recalled the feeling that came just before he was magically transported to Sea Dragon and the forest. According to Aukake, he should be able to control his transportation. It was his own power after all. The power had activated to save him and then to take him to a place he had needed to be. The forest, where he met his animal family and spirit guides.
Akihito felt a wave of calm hit him. White light flashed behind his eyes and he heard the sounds of bells ringing softly. He opened his eyes to see a tunnel that looked so much like the night sky. Smiling despite the situation, Akihito stepped into what he would now call, the star tunnel.
~ a tաɨstɛɖ ɢօɖɖɛss ~
The tunnel took him to the servants' entrance at the palace. Entering the palace, Akihito quickly grabbed a freshly laundered servant outfit and changed. Blending in, Akihito searched the palace until he was finally able to locate the prince. Waiting for the prince to be alone, Akihito carefully approached him.
Prince Edmund turned to face him. A frown forming between his brows. "I have not seen you before. Who are you child?"
"I am Akihito Takaba, Your Highness. I only just arrived here and do not actually at the palace. Until recently, I worked for Lord Comnerbottom at is manor. Well, I pretended to work for him. In truth, I was investigating him. I freed a maid who had been sold to him by her parents to pay off their debt.
"I also discovered coded letters in a secreted office. When decided, they talked of your assassination. I sent all I found to the palace. However that was a mistake. As your uncle and his advisor are the ones behind the whole thing. Please Your Majesty, your life is in grave danger."
The prince settled into his seat, gray eyes focused squarely on Akihito. "That is a rather amazing story Mr. Takaba. I do not know you so I have no reason to believe a word you say. I do however, know my uncle and his advisor. As such, I will accept what you say, with a bit of salt thrown in."
Akihito relaxed. Grateful that the prince would take caution. He however, tensed only a moment later as the prince began to speak again.
"If what you say is untrue, I will have you executed. To ensure you are true, you will stay by my side as my personal servant. You will fetch my food, help me dress and bath. You will be at my beck and call. You will not be allowed to leave my side. Do you understand?"
"Yes Your Majesty." Akihito bowed respectfully.
"Good. Now when does this assassination supposed to take place?"
"On your birthday."
~ a twisted goddess ~
Prince Edmund wasn't so bad to work for. At first the prince had been stern with Akihito, but never mean or cruel. As the days passed, he began to show his younger, dinner side. The prince loved to joke and play pranks - pranks Akihito often fell for. After a while, Akihito and the prince became close. The two companions shared their past experiences and talked about their families.
By the time May arrived, the prince and Akihito were the best of friends. Akihito had even revealed his more than human nature. At first the prince thought Akihito was pranking him. But after Akihito transported them both to the enchanted forest, the prince had no choice but to accept. Mary had accepted it easily. "It makes since. I always thought you were special." Mary had said as she hugged him, her tummy huge with child.
Akihito's birthday came and the young Godling found himself surrounded by gifts. The prince had gone all out in spoiling his new friend. Mary too, had bought him more things than he could ever think to ask for. Not to be out done; Aukake, Aengus, Melody and Lulu joined in on the far too many gifts giving.
The day after Akihito's birthday, Prince Edmund was celebrating his own birth. Akihito surprised him with a meal cooked by himself and a book on chemistry that the prince had wanted but could not find anywhere. Though it was his birthday, the kingdom waited for no one. Prince Edmund had a day full of lessons followed by watching his uncle schmooze his favorite nobles. After that, it was off to see his public. Every person the prince met with, wished him a happy birthday and presented him with a gift. All gifts were either handmade or obviously old. The prince did not mind though. He graciously accepted all the gifts and treated them all with respect. Once home, he place each gift in a place where it could be admired or used. Prince Edmund Darrow truly did love his people.
When evening came, a ball was commenced in honor of the prince. Akihito stayed out of sight but alert. He watched every person that came near his friend as a potential threat. Upon seeing Lord Comnerbottom, Akihito immediately alerted the prince.
~ a twisted goddess ~
The palace was silent. Royalty and servant alike were asleep. Warm in their beds. Which was why the creaking of the floorboards outside the prince's bedroom was so odd. Immediately alert, Akihito his just behind the door. He watched the doorknob jiggle.
"Shit!" Cried an all too familiar voice.
Something slid into the lock. A click was heard and the door was opened. A shadow crept inside. The shadow slid its way to the prince's bed. Silver flashed in the moonlight.
Akihito moved faster than an eye could see. His time in the forest an aboard Sea Dragon had taught him to be quick on his feet as well as quick of mind. Akihito wrapped his arm around the shadow's neck. With a quick movement, he snapped the shadow's neck. The shadow fell to the floor.
Candlelight filled the bedroom. Akihito glanced up to see the prince watching him. "You are quite efficient and very deadly for a boy of nine."
The prince rang for the guards. When they arrived, he glared at them. "Thus man, this Lord " the prince sneered; "tried to kill me as I slept. If not for Akihito, I would now be dead. You should be so ashamed to have failed your prince and future king so. Now, take that dead man away. Throw him in the mass grave. Then send men to his estate. Collect everything of value and sell it. Then give the money to his servants."
When morning came, the Comnerbottom title was no more. The manor was claimed by the prince and turned into an orphanage. Teachers were hired to give the orphans the best education available. The surrounding land was divided into a park horse riding school and a sword art school.
A WEEK LATER...
Sunlight shown through beautiful stained glass windows. People of all classes came to fill the room. The king sat upon his throne to one side, his advisor beside him. The prince stood in the center of the room in all his royal glory. Before him knelt a boy if nine years with soft blond curls and large hazel eyes. Everyone had heard of this young boy's bravery and how he had saved the prince's life. Many people were grateful to the boy while others were upset that the prince still lived. Deep down, where the public could not see, the king and his advisor seethed with rage.
"Today, we all gather to honor this brave young man. He saved my life and kept our kingdom's future." The prince did not smirk. "Because of his courage and loyalty, it is my honor to bestow this rare gift upon him." The prince placed a white gold crown studded with deep red rubies about Akihito's head.
The people gathered, gasped. The king rose from his throne, wanting to put an end to this. But he could not. It was the prince's right to do this. The prince grinned.
"Arise Takaba Akihito, Duke of Greenwhich."
It was strange to have a home all his own. He couldn't remember very much of the home he had shared with his mother. What he did remember changed every time he tried to recall it. As if they hadn't stayed in single place for any length of time. After his mother's murder, he'd found family and a home aboard Sea Dragon, but it wasn't the same as what he now stood staring at. Even the shelter he'd built in the forest didn't compare or give the same feeling as this.
Akihito stood in the driveway of a grand castle. It was made of limestone, black marble and green marble. It was stunningly beautiful. Off to the east of the castle was a thick forest that came right up to the castle itself. Aengus, Melody, Lulu and Aukake already made a den where the castle and forest met. To the north was a cliff overlooking the vast ocean. The west held the town of Greenwhich. The south was told with fields of flowers, corn, wheat and pumpkins. The area was rare and valuable. But Akihito only saw the beauty and peace there.
Taking Mary's hand and caring Jonathan, Mary's now five year old son, in his opposite arm; Akihito headed into Greenwhich Castle. His castle. His home. Built for him by Prince Edmund Darrow and the people of The European Empire. So many people had offered to help out with the castle, that the ten year building plan had become five.
The entrance hall held the same limestone and marble designs. On the northern wall was a tapestry depicting the day Akihito had received his Dukedom. Prince Edmund had the royal weaver make it as a home warming gift. The east and west walls held beautifully crafted candle scones. The floor held a deep forest green runners. Large potted plants sat in the corners, bringing a welcoming feeling to the place.
Beyond the entrance hall was the main hall. To the left was the dinning room which was done in rich woods for floor and walls and nearly black wood furniture Heavy red velvet curtains hung before the windows. A golden chandelier dangled from the ceiling. A large fireplace glowed with a fire. Warming the place. Off of the dinning room was the kitchen.
To the right of the main hall was a large, three story library. Like the dinning room, the walls and floor was a rich wood. The bookshelves were a blackish wood and towards over anyone who entered. Green velvet curtains hung over the windows. Matching couches, chairs, chaises and loungers were scattered about the room. Candelabras lit the room to aid in reading. Another fire warmed the room.
The back of the hall opened out into a patio and garden. The garden held the same flowers, trees and shrubbery as in the prince's private garden at the palace. A fountain depicting a fairy sat at the center. Torches lit the area and benches for sitting were here and there.
Up the stairs they went. This floor held Akihito's personal bedroom. It was a small room, just as Akihito had wished. A window complete with a sitting area done in blue, overlooked the forest. His bed was small, fit for only one person. A fire blazed nearby. A comfortable chair dressed in blue sat before the fire. To one side was a set of doors that led out to a balcony. Stairs led off the balcony into the forest. Off of Hus bedroom was his personal office. The office was as simple as his bedroom had been. Soft colors complimented soft colored woods. Opposite of the office, was his personal bathing room, chamber pot room and dressing area. Beside the office was a sitting area that continued with the same theme.
Opposite to Akihito's room was the hall leading to Mary's and Jonathan's rooms. Each had their own personal bathing room, dressing area, office, sitting area, and chamber pot room. Their rooms were decorated as they had requested. The next floor held a few guest rooms. Each nicely dressed. Above that floor was the servants' rooms. There were only a few as Akihito did not want anyone besides Mary and her son to live with him. All servants would be required to leave after the evening meal. Except for the butler.
All in all, it was a lovely castle and kept Akihito's wishes. He would most definitely find peace here.
~ a twisted goddess ~
In a land not too distant, a young man was being crowned the new Emperor of The Japanese Empire. His hair was darker than a raven's wing. His eyes as golden as the sun. His body built for war and long nights in the bedroom. To all the world, he appeared to be no more than twenty six years old. However, he was actually six hundred and thirty years old.
Empress Oshiro Aiko, a wonderful woman and beloved empress, had died only the week before. She had lived a life worth living. Full of love and adventure. As well as keeping her people happy and well cared for. Sadly, she'd had no children of her own. With no heir to succeed her, Empress Aiko had named one of her closest living family members to her heir. That heir was him, Asami Ryuichi. Son of Asami Asami Ryu and Honoka. Father to, well the public need not know that.
Asami bowed before his cousin's grave. He said one last prayer and wished her well in the afterlife. Rising, he turned and left the royal cemetery. His back straight, shoulders back and head held high. Upon returning to the palace, Ryuichi took his throne. Casting his golden gaze over the nobles and generals gathered in the room. His gaze was cold despite their warm tone, sending chills down the people's spines. Ryuichi smirked. There would be some palace cleaning to do.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Over the past five years, Akihito and the prince had been gathering intel on King Nedrow. Meetings were held with nobles in search of those whom were loyal to the king and therefore a threat to the prince. As well as those who held a loyalty to the prince. It had been a little surprising to find so many nobles loyal to the prince and not the king. However, a note was made of those whom were truly loyal to the king.
As king of the empire, Prince Edmund's uncle held a lot of sway. That didn't mean that bribes placed in the right places wasn't necessary though. Spies loyal to the prince were sent into government agencies and law enforcement. Those loyal to or accepting bribes from the king, found themselves with ruined careers. Slowly, the two chipped away at the king's power.
This was made all the easier by the fact there was a rebellion out at sea taking place. For the last ten years, the rebellion had broken the hold The European Empire's Navy held upon the world. The waters were far more safer to travel. In the last six years, luxury cruises had begun to take to the sea again. It was a heartening knowledge. Akihito of course remembered that very first attack upon the navy ten years ago. Well somewhat. Ryu had made him stay aboard Sea Dragon as he, Shinji, Kei and Kazumi went to battle. Even ten years latter, Akihito was still miffed about that.
With how old the king was becoming, many wondered why he had not yet stepped down. He should by all rights be resting and enjoying a new found freedom in his royal retirement. King Nedrow refused to budge however. It was no surprise to Edmund and Akihito. What had come as a surprise though, was King Nedrow's connection to the God race.
Two months prior, Akihito was visiting Edmund for a week. There was a commotion in the grand hall. People had come to protest against King Nedrow. They had managed to infiltrate the palace and were fighting against guards. Edmund and Akihito had hurried in hopes of ending the battle and save the protesters' lives. Only to witness a woman enter the room.
She was very tall for a women and rather slender. Fiery red hair danced around her nude body. Akihito and the prince had watched in stunned horror as the woman raised her hands in the air and waved them at the protesters and guards. Sharp blades made from the air itself, sliced through both guard and protester alike. Smiling, the woman placed her hand on the king's arm. The two then walked away as if the disturbance had occurred.
Akihito had recognized the woman as a member of the same race as he. A God. Thankfully, she had been unable to sense him or the prince. Leaving Akihito to believe the other God to be rather weak in power.
Akihito's week long visit turned into two as both the prince and he spied upon their new enemy. The God's name was Noir. She held the power of wind and the ability to extend a mortal's life, but that was it. King Nedrow and his advisor was unaware of Noir's true nature, believing her too be nothing more than a powerful witch. Now, two weeks later, Prince Edmund, Akihito and Mary descended down to the small patch of land beneath the cliffs surrounding Greenwhich Castle.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Earlier that day...
Akihito sat in the furthest corner of the library. His gaze focused on nothing. Prince Edmund lounged on a chaise, a book of chemistry laying upon his chest. Mary sat teaching her son his alphabet. A knock sounded softly upon the library door. The door opened to reveal a young man who walked so softly, it was as if he floated on air.
In a way, he did. After all, the young man was indeed a ghost. Jacob Scott was a man of twenty five when he died upon the lands of Greenwhich Castle. He'd fought in the only war that had taken place against King Nedrow. After the loss, Jacob and his fellow soldiers were forced to flee. Unfortunately, the king's men caught up to Jacob. Capturing him, they tortured the former soldier before hanging him from a tree in the forest.
When Akihito had first came to see the land that was too be his, he'd happened upon the restless spirit. At first Jacob had been vengeful, attack anyone who ventured too close to where he'd been murdered. It hadn't taken Akihito long to find what remained of the man's body and give him a proper burial. The act had awoken Jacob from his own wrath. Soon, the spirit was pledging his eternal gratitude and loyalty to Akihito.
Jacob floated to Akihito. Bowing, he handed over a letter. "This appeared outside my quarters Akihito. It is addressed to you but bares no sender." With that, Jacob disappeared.
Curious, Akihito opened the letter.
Dear Akihito Takaba, Duke of Greenwhich:
This may appear strange to you, young one. However, I have no trust in this letter arriving to you safely in any other manner. My name is Takato Moonwater. I live in the sea only a short distance from your cliff. My kingdom is Atlantis and I am the prince. You most likely have not heard of us. As we, like those of your kind, wish to be kept to the realm of myth. Over the time you have been so near, I have watched you. I have come to believe that I can trust you and your friends.
I, like you and so many others face the threat that is King Nedrow Bartholomew. For so long, we of Atlantis have lived safely as humans believed us to be myth. However, Noir - a person you are aware of - has informed King Nedrow of our existence He now hunts us. He will soon learn of others as Noir will respect no boundaries in her bid for power.
As such; I, Prince Takato Moonwater of Atlantis; wish to propose an alliance between my kingdom, you, your friend Prince Edmund and The Fae Kingdom. Please meet me and my friend Kou Moonberry,Prince of Fae. If this is desirable, please meet us beneath your cliff.
Sincerely, Prince Takato
~ a twisted goddess ~
They stood upon soft sand the color of emeralds. It was odd to be sure, but oh so beautiful. The stared out to sea, watching in amazement as a young man with short blond hair emerged from the crashing waves. He was handsome and well toned, it was obvious that the man liked to swim. As the man emerged more, blue scales could be seen starting just below hip bones. It was a merman! Upon the emerald sand, the long blue tail turned into well defined human legs. The young man turned to face them, a smile on his lips.
"Hello. It is a delight to see you all here. I am Prince Takato Moonwater. Please call me Takato, however." He looked down at himself. "I must ask forgiveness for my lack of attire. We do not have clothing beneath the sea,"
"There is no forgiveness required Takato. We are not bothered by a lack of clothing on your behalf." Edmund said kindly.
"Thank you." Takato smiled.
Not too far away, a pink light fluttered around hastily. Soft swearing could be heard as the light drew closer. The light hit a blade of grass, causing Takato to sigh and shake his head. The light shook itself and renewed its flight towards them.
"Prince Edmund, Duke Greenwhich, Lady Mary; I will like for you to meet Prince Kou Moonberry of Fae."
The light cane to a stop before them. The light dimmed then disappeared In its place was a handsome young man with dark hair, wearing a simple leaf to cover his nether regions.
"Kou, this is Prince Edmund, Akihito Takaba the Duke of Greenwhich and Lady Marry."
~ a twisted goddess ~
With this new alliance began a new friendship between the three princes, the Duke and the Lady. Kou was ever a klutz and easygoing. Takato was often serious but could be brought to laugh. Both took a liking to Mary's son Jonathan It was as if he was their own nephew and all too soon, the boy became rightfully spoiled by them.
As time passed, plans were made as new intelligence came to them. In time, they decided that Noir would be the way to end the cruel king's rule.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Their arrival at the palace did not go unnoticed. The king watched them as they descended from the royal carriage from a hidden balcony. His fist tightening with anger. The advisor hummed with annoyance while Noir plotted away.
Dinner was a strange event. The king had demanded to meet the two new men with his nephew. His demands grew upon introductions. Throughout the meal, the king sung words of his own praise. He tried too wheedle information about Kou's and Takato's kingdoms. He did his best to forge a false alliance with the two princes. All he said, came too naught and left the king seething with wraith.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Her feet were silent as she crept through the darkened palace. What guards stood watch, took no notice of her passage. She grinned. She crept towards the east wing, slowly heading down the long, beautiful hall.
This part of the castle was very different from the north wing. King Nedrow's presence radiated there, tainting everything. Here, one could sense the purity of the prince. She hated it! That dirty prince was going to ruin her plans if he continued to live! She'd worked so hard to gain all her power, she would not lose it to the likes of him!
Her anger was a seething volcano inside the pit of her stomach. The door to the prince's bedroom opened without a problem. Shutting it quietly behind her, she waisted no time in approaching where the prince slept. She raised her dagger high above her head. She brought the dagger down. Striking the sleeping prince right in his heart. But it wasn't enough. She had wanted him dead for so long. All King Nedrow's and her plans to kill him had failed. But not this time! She raised the dagger high again. She brought it back down again and again. Unleashing that volcano of rage upon the now dead prince.
"Such a waste of good bedding."
Light flooded the bedroom. Noir spun around. Shock stilling her heart for a moment. Before her stood the dead prince, completely unharmed. Next to him was his Duke frown and those two foreign princes. She turned to the bed. Nothing was there but for an empty bed and the bedding she'd destroyed. But how?
"Confused?" Akihito smirked. "You really are quite weak for a God."
"I am not WEAK!" Noir cried.
"Yet you fell for a rather simple trick of a Fae." Kou taunted.
Noir's eyes widened. She had not noticed. This Prince Kou Moonberry was not human. And if he was not, then what of the prince's two other friends?
"You never even knew? Yet I knew what you were the moment I saw you." Akihito tisked. "I almost feel bad about stopping you, but you are just a threat, so I will not stay my hand. Nor the hand of my friends."
Noir lunged. She aimed for the prince's heart once again. Only to be stopped by a growth of vines stabbing through her own heart instead. She starred down in shock. But only for a moment. With a growl, Noir wrenched herself free and waved a hand. The air before her sharpens, becoming daggers. The daggers flew towards her opponents. They never reached her targets. A wave of water crashed through the room out of nowhere. Disrupting her wind magic.
Akihito moved forward, a sword in hand. He struck faster then Noir's eyes could track. He strike was true. Severing Noir's head from her body. It was not enough to kill her completely though. Weak or not, Noir was still a God and as such, could heal even such a fatal wound if given a chance. Prince Edmund did the final deed. Stabbing a golden staff through the top of Noir's head until it passed through her neck. He destroyed all conscious thought with this act. Akihito made quick work of burning Noir's body. Being as she was, Noir did not poses the ability to reincarnate within a new body. Something that would have made killing her permanently far harder to do. Price Edmund handed the no longer living head to Akihito. Up in flames it went.
~ a twisted goddess ~
As they thought, with Noir gone, King Nedrow began to show his true age. His thoughts became less clearer by the day. He often could not recognize his closest persons. He even often displayed true affection for the very nephew he'd tried to kill so many times. It was apparent that his mind was eating itself.
Takato called for a specialist from his own kingdom. After a through examination, it was deemed that King Nedrow had been in poor health for a very long time. After meeting Noir, she had held back his illnesses and extended a life that should have ended many years before. It been a match made in the worst of hells. A man with an evil heart and ill intent. A God with the desire to rule over every living thing. He had killed his own brother and took control of his own country. Hurting his own people along with others. She had seen his true nature and used it for her own gain.
A few months after Noir's death, King Nedrow was no more. He'd lost all sense of who he had been. In a fit of rage, the king's advisor shoved the ailing king over a balcony into the palace courtyard Killing the frail man instantly. Though the king had tried to kill him and had no love for him, the king's death hit Prince Edmund hard. The cruel king was still family after all.
Yet, Prince Edmund took the throne and became the new king. His people rejoiced. The rein of fear came to a finale end and peace was brought forth.
THIS IS THE LAST OF THE LIGHT CHAPTERS. THE DARK ONES BEGIN NEXT. BE SURE TO READ WARNINGS.
Chapter 9: Peace Without Peace
The world was in order and at peace with King Edmund Darrow in rule over The European Empire. King Edmund had quickly set out to fix his uncle's wrongs. Lands stolen were given back. Trade and peace treaties were signed. People arrested for speaking out against the former king were released, the their seized positions given back if possible, new homes given if they had none to return too.
Educational and employment laws within the kingdom were changed. Allowing for any person of adult age to find employment regardless of gender. For the first time in a very long time, females were allowed to receive education.
The levels of homeless persons and the starving dropped dramatically within his first year of rule and they were continuing to do so. Homes were fixed and rebuilt. More and more new homes were in demand for building. Life within the empire became happy.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Akihito and his friend Dancer, a big black stallion, wondered through the forest. Dancer's hooves caring them along the trail. Akihito admired the ever changing colors of the leaves. Autumn was a lovely time of the year. Mother Nature was truly amazing. A pair of singing birds danced before Akihito and Dancer.
"Good morning my lovely bird friends." Akihito greeted as Dancer snorted his own.
Suddenly Dancer cried out and reared up on his hind legs. Dancer sped off down the forest trail. Akihito reached down, trying to calm the horse, but Dancer would not respond. Closing his eyes, Akihito concentrated upon Dancer's mind. Over the past year, Akihito found that his abilities had begun to increase in number as well as strength. His animal spirit guides were concerned, but Akihito reveled in his new abilities.
Eyes closed, Akihito focused on Dancer's mind. Akihito flinched at the pain he found there. Dancer had been shot! Focusing his magic, Akihito worked the bullet free of Dancer's left hip. Once the bullet was out, Akihito sealed the damage the bullet had wrought. Dancer slowed, his mighty chest heaving. Akihito gently brushed his hands along the horse's neck.
"Thank you my friend." Dancer said into Akihito's mind.
"Anytime my friend." Akihito replied.
The sound of hooves approaching them at a fast pace, reached Akihito and Dancer. Not wishing for more trouble, the two moved off the path. They needn't have worried. Two well dressed gentlemen came to a stop before them.
"I apologize friend for the trouble we caused you and your fine horse. I pray you both are alright." The elder gentleman spoke.
"I thank you for your apologies. And yes, we are both quite alright."
"Praise Mofu that you be. Please, allow us to provide you a meal and attend to your horse's needs as a further apology."
"I thank you for the offer, and shall accept." Akihito joined the two men upon the forest trail.
"The town is just a few ways up. It is a little place known as Mayrosefield. I believe you will find it to your liking however.
"I am Jason Handersen, Lord Rosen and Lord of Mayrosefield. If you ever need anything while here, simply turn to me.
"This here is my son Ethan. He is set to be my heir. How about you friend?"
Akihito never hesitated. "My name is Charles Eastlind. My father is a merchant. I decided that I would like to see The Empire and learn the ways of people before he passed his life's work onto me."
Keeping cover while investigating potential enemies to the king, was highly important. Many reports from loyalists to King Edmund had come to state a few of King Nedrow's loyalist still thrived. A few had sent word of assassination attempts upon the new king. Such was the life of the royalty however. There were reports sent that gave the king grave concern.
King Edmund was supportive of religious belief and worship. As long as no humans or other living creatures were harmed, people were free to practice whatever belief spoke to their hearts and minds. However, there had been reports of human and animal sacrifices taking place around The Empire. A simple investigation led to show that some of the reports were true. The sacrifices were put to a stop and the guilty parties sent to a specialized camp that allowed them to continue their beliefs without harming others. The little town of Mayrosefield, was a suspected cult where such things took place.
~ a twisted goddess ~
The town of Mayrosefield really was small. There where a few farms that outlined the town's outer edge. Homes built of simple gray rock without adornment or gardens, were gathered to one side of the town. On the opposite side were the town hall, a single store that sold food from the farms and clothing made by the local women. At the head of the town was a large stone building that looked to be a church. Behind the church stood a simple two story manor. Lord and Lady Rosen's place.
The people of Mayrosefield were not the friendliest. Aside from Lord Rosen and his son Ethan, no one spoke to him. Akihito sent a weekly report back to the king. Despite the seemingly simpleness of the town, Akihito was suspicious.
Children were never seen playing outside. No school building existed. All education was done up at the church and lessons were decided by gender. A direct violation of The King's Laws. Aside from church, town hall meetings and religious celebrations; all public gatherings were banned. Even small private gatherings in homes were banned. farm
It had been a little over a month since Akihito or Charles Eastlind, as he was to the townspeople, came to Mayrosefield. In keeping with his investigation into the little town, Akihito decide he would stay until directed otherwise by the king. As such, he approached Lord Rosen.
"Call me Jason, Charles."
"Oh yes, sir. I had forgotten."
Lord Rosen chuckled. "Ever the polite and proper boy. So what can I help you with today Charles?"
"I have fallen in love with Mayrosefield." Akihito lied. In truth, he hated the place as it made him extremely uncomfortable to be there. However, he was dedicated to his duty. "I was hoping to stay on here as a permanet resident and perhaps even find employment to help contribute to the town."
Lord Rosen smiled widely. Delight shinning brightly in his light brown eyes. "I just knew it! No one can resist the perfection of Mayrosefield! Yes, yes my boy! Stay here with us. I shall help you find employment"
With that, Lord Rosen and Akihito were off to the outer edge of town. In short order, Akihito had a job at the wheat farm.
~ a twisted goddess ~
He traveled by foot through the town, as no horses or carriages were allowed within the town. As such, Akihito had long ago sent Dancer back to Greenwhich Castle. He was leaving the wheat farm for the evening, when he was approached by a townsman.
Akihito recognized him as the priest John Grout. Akihito pasted a pleasant smile on his face despite the fact the priest rubbed Akihito the wrong way. "Good evening sir." Akihito greeted.
"Mr. Eastlind." The priest's face was pinched in a deep frown. "I have yet to see you in church young man."
"Ah, yes. Sorry." Akihito rubbed the back of his neck. "I do not follow your path. In truth, I never heard of your faith or god, Mofu before."
The priest's eyes spit fire at him. "You will be in church this Friday." The priest nearly snarled. "If you are to stay in this town, you have to follow the path of Mofu."
"I follow a different —"
"Blasphemy! Only Mofu is the right path. You have no choice but to walk his path."
"Is that not a violation of The King's Laws?"
"We do not abide by that so called king's laws. He is a blasphemer! Repent your sins now Charles Eastlind or you shall die a fiery death."
~ a twisted goddess ~
The new year was considered to be of grave importance in the town of Mayrosefield. Every year, a celebration was held at Rosen Manor. All of Mayrosefield came to celebrate.
Servants scrubbed the manor until Akihito was sure holes would be opened up. Lord and Lady went through the manor, directing servants to discard certain items by the sacred fire at the church. This was a practice done by the followers of Mofu, and was considered to be a cleansing act.
When the eve of the new year arrived, Akihito could not help but feel apprehension Things were not right with this town and its people. This god, Mofu was not one Akihito had heard of before. His time upon Sea Dragon had allowed him to visit many places. To meet many different people. He had learned a great many languages and seen many different religions and belief systems. Akihito had respected all of them and had even participated in them when invited to do so. Though he had been young then, those beliefs were still with him and he held them close to his heart. In a way, he practiced each religion and belief system in his very own way. Yet, this Mofu thing was something he could not accept. It felt wrong.
Still, Akihito did his best to remain respectful of the Mofu followers. Akihito stared at himself in the mirror. He had been given a simple bedroom at Rosen Manor as a long term guest of Lord and Lady Rosen. Akihito had been grateful as it allowed him a peace from the townspeople.
Akihito ran a hand over the blue robe he had been given. Lord Rosen had told him that the robe had been blessed by the god Mofu himself. Just like all the other robes worn by the Mofu followers. The robes were to be worn at all religious celebrations. It was a sign of faith and love to their god. Sighing, Akihito left his bedroom with a deep sense of foreboding.
The manor was packed full of the townspeople. Soft chatter could be heard as they talked among themselves. Children were confined to a single room. No toys or books in sight. All talk was forbidden too the children and they were tied to the seats they sat upon. The sight heavily bothered Akihito.
Uncomfortable with the entire event, Akihito drifted off into a darkened corner. His time alone was cut brief when Lady Rosen arrived with a blushing young maiden in tow.
"Charles, this is little Miss Bethany. She us the daughter of the dairy farmer. She is a lovely little thing. Bethany, this is Charles Eastlind. He has been staying here at the manor as our honored guest. He is a very hard worker but a little lacking in the true faith. A lovely, faithful Mofu follower such as you, can help correct him." With that, Lady Rosen was gone.
Bethany moved closer. "You are very handsome Charles. Lady Rosen has told me so much about you. I am sure you will make a fine husband. Mofu will see to it."
"Of course silly. It is my sixteenth year, it is time for me to marry. And Lady Rosen has decided that I shall marry you! Isn't it wonderful?!"
No. No it wasn't. What the hell was wrong with these people? Marrying at sixteen? One had to be eighteen before marriage - in any empire!
Despite his many attempts, Akihito could not be rid of Miss Bethany. She clung to his arm as if it were her life line. She chattered non stop about the path of Mofu. When the celebration meal began, Akihito found himself seated next to her. Much too his distress. Before anyone took their seats, Lord Rosen cleared his voice.
"Tonight is the last of the year. A year of triumph over evil. We of Mofu have defeated the great evil this past year. The new year shall be no different. Now, I call upon you all to cast off the sins of the human flesh and mind. REPENT! now my brothers and sisters."
Silence engulfed the room. The townspeople closed their eyes. Akihito watched beneath lidded eyes. "Now let us pray." Lord Rosen spoke quietly.
The townspeople, lead by the priest; began to chant in a language that Akihito had never heard before. It was odd and sent chills down Akihito's spine. The chanting lasted a full ten minutes. When it was finished, everyone sat and ate. The meal was a quiet affair. No one spoke and everyone kept their eyes upon their plates. When the meal was complete, the townspeople stood all at once. It was eerie the way they were all so in sink. No dessert of any kind was served as it was deemed an indulgent sin. The townspeople gathered in the main sitting room of the manor. Women to one side, the men to the other.
It was during this time, that Akihito found his chance to escape and fine the peace of solitude. He exited off the left side of the sitting room through a door hidden by heavy curtains. Taking a deep sigh, Akihito traversed the servant hallway until he reached a set of doors leading outside. Without a thought or care, Akihito opened the doors and exited out into a beautiful garden.
Akihito was amazed by the sight. It was the first garden he had seen since arriving in Mayrosefield. From what he understood, gardens were considered too be a sinful indulgence, one of many here in Mayrosefield.
Akihito stepped off the little porch and wondered into the garden. Tall trees with fruits that would grow once warmer weather came, toward over him. Slumbering vines wrapped around the trees and along the snowy ground. Stone benches were spread around for those who ventured into the garden. Not paying attention to anything but the garden, Akihito allowed his feet to guide him. He followed the stone path deeper and deeper until he was lost in the maze of slumbering nature.
~ a twisted goddess ~
A fountain blocked his path. It was obviously well made, but there was nothing beautiful about it. It was a good twelve feet in diameter. At its center were stones carved to look like a pile of logs. Standing up from the logs was a pole with a woman in flowing gown tied to it. The woman's mouth was open on a tortured scream. Water jutted up despite the freezing air, looking as if it were fire consuming the woman.
Akihito backed away from the fountain. His body shuddering in horror. He knew what it was depicting. A woman burned at the stake for some perceived crime, such as witch craft. It reminded Akihito of the night his mother was slain.
"AHHH!" Akihito bent double as his body was gripped by painful cramps. Unable to stay upright, Akihito collapsed to the frozen ground. His body shook and he felt as if he were on fire despite the cold night. A sweat broke out, coating his body. Akihito shivered, his vision blurring. Consciousness left him.
He did not know how much time had passed when he finally came to. The pain he had felt and the sweat that had coated him, were now gone. He felt better than he had these last few months. As if he had been ill only to be suddenly cured. Shifting, Akihito sat up. He was shocked to see that the clothing he had been wearing was now gone.
In their place was a simple white fabric that hung from his hips. Leaving his torso bare. Upon his feet were a simple pair of soft white slipper like shoes. Feeling something tickling his back, Akihito reached for it. Bringing it forward, Akihito was surprised to see that it was his own hair. Long and soft, falling to his waist in dancing curls. As Akihito ran his hands through his hair, he discovered something soft and furry. Getting up, Akihito searched for something he could peer into.
A little frozen pond would do. Rushing over to it, Akihito took in his new ears. Sure enough, there were a pair of cat like ears upon his head. They were the same color of his hair, blending in seamlessly. In his reflection, Akihito caught sight of a tail. The tail was long and twitched with Akihito's excitement. Like his ears, Akihito's tail matched his hair.
The most amazing change however, were the giant wings upon his shoulder blades. They were covered in feathers of the purest white Akihito had ever seen. He ran his hands through the feathers, giggling at the ticklish sensation. Giving his feathers a flap, Akihito attempted to fly. To his delight, he raised high up in the air. Akihito flew around the garden. Somersaulting, cartwheeling and spiraling threw the air.
So delighted with his new abilities, Akihito did not notice the approaching townspeople. The blow to his head came as a shock. He was quickly tied and dragged away from the garden into town and over to the church dungeon. Blood and feathers left in his wake.
Chapter 10: Captive
THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS TORTURE
An electric shock passed through all the Gods. The shock was not painful but calming and welcomed. It was a sign that the Goddess, the one who lead them, the most powerful of them all; had awoken. All throughout the world, Gods rejoiced. Yet fear lingered in their hearts. There were enemies that would capture the Goddess to obtain their power. The Goddess was in grave danger. Just as the last one had been.
~ a twisted goddess ~
As the electric wave passed through Ryuichi's body, he was stricken with undeniable lust. The Goddess and his True Mate had awoken at the same time. Which could only mean they were one and the same.
Ryuichi closed his eyes as he leaned against the wall. Every God was born with the ability to sense their True Mate. He had known the very second that the only one that could complete Hus heart, mind and soul; was born. That had been sixteen years ago.
Having already been in his six hundreds, Ryuichi felt it would be best to allow his mate to grow and explore both himself and the world. He had felt his mate's joy, anger and fear. He had longed to comfort when great sadness gripped his mate. Smiled when his mate had spent years happy and playful. He down right enjoyed that spunky anger his mate felt. Sometimes that anger would send Ryuichi into a fit of laughter.
His mate was strong and independent. Ryuichi knew he had been wise to allow his mate their freedom to grow. Now however, Ryuichi regretted his decision His mate had come into their full powers far too early in life. A Gods full power wasn't supposed to awaken until after they were one hundred years old. His mate was a mere sixteen years old. That wasn't the only problem, however. No. With the awakening of a God's full power, came their first heat.
A hand upon his shoulder startled Ryuichi. He turned to see his eldest son, Kei standing beside him. One hand resting on his swollen stomach. Kei and Kazumi had returned to The Japanese Empire so that Kei could give birth in comfort. Kei wanted to be near both his husband and father when his twins were born. As such, Shinji and Ryu had come to stay as well. No one wanted to be too faraway from the pregnant God.
Kei frowned. "What is wrong father?"
"Nothing of import." He picked Kei's hand up and pressed a kiss to the back of it. "You look lovely this evening. Pregnancy suits you."
Ryuichi returned his son to his husband's side. Kazumi immediately wrapped his big arms around his wife protectively. A sweet kiss was then pressed to his lips. The sight made Ryuichi smile. He could not have picked a better True Mate for his eldest. Now, if only Shinji would get a move on and settle down.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Confusion was the first thing he became aware of. Dull pain soon followed. He groaned internally when he tried to move. In an attempt to sit upright, he discovered that his arms and legs were shackled to the behind him. Cold metal alerted him to the fact that a collar was about his neck. A chain was attached to it like his arms and legs. He tried to call for help, but was kept silent by the gag in his mouth.
Akihito pulled at his bindings but they would not budge. Seemed that strength was not one of his abilities. Sighing, Akihito rested as he tried to recall how he ended up in this position.
He recalled coming to Mayrosefield and his time within the town. He recalled the end of the year and new year celebration. He remembered Miss Bethany and his supposed engagement to her. He remembered the odd garden and terrifying fountain. Then there was pain and unconsciousness.
He awoke in the garden, changed and full of new powers. Strength of course lacking. He had been exploring his new True Form and his awesome new ability of flight. There was a sudden pain in his head. He had been dazed. His mind blacking in and out. He'd been tied and dragged from the garden. Throw the town. His skin and feathers being torn apart by the frozen ground.
Shit! He had been found out. The townspeople must have been frightened. Akihito was distracted by the door of the dungeon opening. Akihito could not help the glare on his face as Johan Grout entered. He really did not like the priest.
"Hello spawn of evil." The priest spat out. The priest moved closer, his hands coming up to grip the bars of Akihito's cell. His knuckles were white with the tight grip. "I see now why you do not travel the path of Mofu. I see now that you have come to corrupt the people of Mayrosefield. You wish to steal our souls to feed your vile army.
"Well you won't have us evil spawn!" The priest pressed his face in close to the bares. His eyes narrowed in hatred. "You will suffer vile creature. You will suffer greatly. Burn. YOU WILL BURN!"
The priest unlocked the cell door and entered. He approached Akihito cautiously. Kneeling down, he raised his hands above his head and closed his eyes. The priest then began to chant in that strange language.
An hour after the priest began his chant, he finished. Opening his eyes, he removed a long sharp blade from his belt. "I have prayed for forgiveness from Mofu and it has been granted. With this last act, I shall have fully repented for my sins and failure too see you for what you truly are."
The priest slid the blade beneath the flesh of Akihito's left bicep. Akihito screamed behind his gag but the priest paid it no mind. Done with his slicing, the priest stood and left the cell. Locking the door behind him. Akihito watched from tearful eyes as the priest walked over to an alter. He cut Akihito's flesh into tiny pieces before placing them into a bowl. Next he took up a bottle; pouring its thick, sticky, foul smelling fluid into the bowl. The priest gave the mixture a stir before setting it on fire. The priest watched it burn until nothing but burnt chunks of flesh remained.
Tossing the charged flesh into a sacred bowl, the priest then smashed the first bowl. Without looking back at Akihito, the priest left. Alone now, Akihito focused his mind. He pictured his guides; Melody, Lulu, Anegus and Aukake. He reached out to them, only to hit what felt like a stone wall. His head pounded and his vision blurred. Tears formed in his eyes and he groaned. What the hell was that? Gaining his senses back, Akihito reached out far more carefully His attempt to reach his guides was met with that same wall.
Terrified for the first time since waking, Akihito pulled at his bindings. Only succeeding in hurting himself further. He tried to calm himself. His efforts were left fruitless as a member of the town entered the dungeon. The following days were spent suffering through the same ritual the priest had conducted, again and again. Until everyone had "repented for their sins". Apparently not recognizing him as "evil" meant they had sinned.
The last to come, was Lord Rosen himself. He wore a look of heartache. His face was haggard and he looked as if he had not slept for sometime. He approached the cell slowly, his steps unsteady.
"I brought evil here. I failed the very people I am sworn to protect. I have prayed for forgiveness and it was granted."
Lord Rosen entered Akihito's cell. He knelt by Akihito's side, eyes closed and hands above his head. He chanted in that strange language for hours. Akihito had fallen into a restless asleep.
Akihito's eyes snapped open and a cry of pain was held back by his gag. Lord Rosen had ripped into the flesh of Akihito's back and tearing it off in one long strip. Akihito lay there on the dirty cell floor, panting. Blood pooled around him as it flowed freely from his back.
Lord Rosen left the cell. Like the priest, he proceeded to cut Akihito's flesh into small chunks before mixing it with that awful smelling liquid. The smell of his burning flesh was nauseating in a way it had not before. It took hours for it to burn completely.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Soldiers were sent throughout the empires. Citizens everywhere were questioned. Kings, queens, emperors and empresses all lent aide. But it was all to no avail. He could not locate his True Mate anywhere. He tried to call out to them, but someone was interfering with their Soul Connection.
Ryuichi's nights were sleepless, his days filled with empire duties. He did his best to keep the strain and worry to himself, less he cause Kei to lose his children or go into early labor. His father kept him constant company and kept him from just slipping out on his duty to his empire. Even at over six hundred years old, Ryuichi could still be impulsive and act without thought.
"Did I make a mistake?" Ryuichi asked his father.
~ a twisted goddess ~
The door to the dungeon opened again. This time a man Akihito had never seen before entered. He was overweight with balding brown and gray hair and dull brown eyes. His clothing was of high quality and obviously expensive. In his left hand, he cared a large leather bag.
He spoke not a word as he laid out his bag's content out onto a table before donning a pair of gloves. He entered the cell. He detached the chains from the wall. Taking a chance, Akihito ran from his cell and out of the dungeon. Chains dragging behind him.
The dungeon lead out into a mostly unused hallway and a flight of stairs. Seeing his way out, Akihito raced up the stairs. Exiting the stairway, Akihito found himself in the church itself. A full congregation in session. The people of Mayrosefield saw him. Screams filled the air. Women gathered their children and fled. Men took up whatever weapon they could find. Akihito ignored them as he ran to the door and his freedom. Something splashed against the side of his face, causing Akihito to blink, confused. Lord Rosen looked at him with horror.
"Why doesn't it work?" He breathed. Shocked by how the evil creature was unfazed by the blessed blood of Mofu. Evil creatures were supposed to wither in pain as their flesh melted. Yet the creature he knew only as Charles Eastlind, did not melt or scream. Instead the creature opened the holy church door and stepped out.
As Akihito ran from the church, he pulled the gag free of his mouth and tossed it away. He was halfway to the town's center when his left shoulder was wrenched forward by an unseen force. Fire raced through his shoulder and Akihito lost all use of his left arm. Looking down, he found a crossbow bolt piercing his shoulder. Despite the pain, Akihito did not stop. More bolts pierced his flesh. Soon Akihito was rendered unable to move by the multiple bolts in his legs and arms. There was even one in his right hip!
The man he did not know, approached him. Wrapping his hand in Akihito's hair, he dragged the young blond back to the church and its dungeon. He tossed Akihito into a chair that was in no way comfortable. Using the chains still attached to his shackles and collar, the man restrained Akihito and locked him into the chair.
The man then turned to the table holding his tools of trade. "Evil spawn, I am your executioner. I am a devout follower of Mofu. For your crimes here, I will not be kind to you."
"I am not evil."
"Speak your lies all you wish. They will hold no sway over me. Now, evil spawn; we must begin to purify whatever soul that you may posses."
~ a twisted goddess ~
It started with the complete removal of Akihito's hair. It was inappropriate for a male to have such hair. "It was sinful." Once Akihito was shaved bald, the man removed him of his clothing.
"This is water and soap blessed by Mofu himself. As it will cause great pain to be touched by it, I shall gag you. I have no desire to make my ears bleed with your evil filled screams."
And so, Akihito found himself gagged again. The man - his executioner, set to washing his body in a far too through manner. Despite the man's words, the soap and water did not cause him harm. After all, he was not evil.
Cleansed now, the man stood to stare at Akihito. "You are very powerful indeed. You managed to fool an entire town of devoted Mofu followers. You were able to traverse the church and withstand the holy blood of Mofu. Not even Johan had recognized you as evil spawn.
"If you had not ventured into the sacred garden, your true nature would most likely have remained hidden. Allowing you the time you needed to devour the souls of Mayrosefileld's people. Unfortunately for you, evil creatures can not resist the sinful pleasures of gardens.
"It is why that garden exist there, you know. To lure evil in and expose it." He removed the gag from Akihito's mouth.
The man's next act had Akihito biting back screams. He refused to give him or anyone else the satisfaction of hearing him scream. The man grinned nastily as he pulled nail after nail free of Akihito's body. Akihito's body was soaked in sweat but he did not look away from his torture's eyes. He would not back down. He would not cower.
Nails gone, the man moved onto Akihito's teeth. Tears soaked Akihito's flesh as blood coated him, but he never screamed. He never blinked. He continued to stare the man right in the eye. Angered by the evil creature's refusal to scream or beg for mercy, the man decided to tare Akihito's tongue from his mouth.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Ryuichi woke from his nightmare drenched in sweat. His body screamed with remembered pain. Only it was not his pain. It was his mate's. Whatever, whoever, was blocking their connection could not prevent his mate from seeking him out in need of comfort.
Ryuichi growled as he tossed his blankets aside and rose from the bed. His mate was being tortured. However, his mate was strong. His torture would not win. Especially now that Ryuichi could sense where his mate was.
Dressed, Ryuichi marched from the palace. He was set on finding his mate and nothing would stop him. He placed the empire into his son-in-law's hands. His father Ryu did not stop him this time. He too, could sense the wrongness of what was happening. While he was not the mate, he was in some way connected to Ryuichi's mate. So he followed after his son, intent on being by his side.
"The European Empire better be ready." Ryu said. Two very pissed Dragon Gods were on there way.
~ a twisted goddess ~
The people of Mayrosefield prepared a grand feast in preparation for February first. For the last three days of January, they ate not a lick of food nor drank a single drop of water to quench their thirst. When the eve of the first came, the townspeople gathered at the church and prayed.
As the dawn of February first broke, the townspeople cleansed themselves with holy soap and water. They slept in the special room of the church too keep themselves pure. That night, they took part of a feast before building the stake in which the evil creature would be burned.
The Executioner of Mofu, dragged the vile creature to the stake. Its body was nude and it's head covered so it could not try to bewitch someone. The creature made not a sound as it was gagged behind the hood. The priest lead the townspeople in a prayer as the executioner set fire to the stake.
~ a twisted goddess ~
The Executioner of Mofu grinned as he left the town of Mayrosefield. In the back of his cart was the slumbering creature. While torturing the creature, he had discovered some interesting facts about it. Firstly, it was virgin. An oddity for an evil creature. It also was currently experiencing something similar to the heat animals went through. The executioner found himself fascinated and unable to resist such a lure.
~ a twisted goddess ~
On the morning of the second, the townspeople of Mayrosefield were in an uproar. Young Ethan, the future Lord Rosen, was missing. They searched and searched but could not find him.
If only they had bothered to look beneath the hood covering the creature's head before burning it alive.
Chapter 11: Living Nightmare
NOTES: THIS CHAPTER IS THE DARKEST, IT MAY CONTAIN TRIGGERS FOR SOME PEOPLE. I HAVE PLSCE A NOTE BEFORE THE PARTS I FELT NEEDED THEM. FEEL FREE TO READ SOME OR ALL OF THIS CHAPTER, OR SKIP IT IF YOU MUST.
Ryuichi and his father arrived at The European Empire's palace. Uninvited and unannounced. They were immediately welcomed and the king sent for. Ryuichi had never met King Edmund Darrow personally, but had heard good things from those he had sent to the empire.
The king entered at an unhurried but concerned pace. "Emperor Asami and Captain Asami, how may I be of service to you?"
Ryuichi and his father had not missed the two men who had entered just behind the king. Prince Takato of Atlantis and Prince Kou of the Fae. Ryuichi looked to his father. The older Dragon God shrugged. Ryuichi turned back to the king.
"I see that you are aware of creatures not of human nature." Ryuichi said, testing.
King Edmund frowned. "You speak of fairies and such?"
"Yes. What do you know of Gods?"
"I am personally acquainted with one."
"Good. This will be a lot easier than I thought. There is currently a very young God within your empire. He has been taken and is being tortured as we speak. I must find him."
The king's face palled, his body collapsed beneath him. Takato and Kou rushed over to help the king into a chair. "I suppose, the God in which you speak of, is the person you sent those men to search for."
"Is this God's name Akihito?"
"I know not —" Ryuichi's words were cut off by his father's worked voice.
"Did you say Akihito? As in Takaba Akihito?"
"Yes. Akihito Takaba is a personal friend of mine and a trusted Duke of the empire."
"Father, what is it?"
"Takaba Akihito is the little God I told you about. The one who appeared aboard Sea Dragon." Ryu chuckled. "I can't believe that boy is your mate. Ahhh, he'll keep you on your toes." Ryu smiled gently before a look of sadness took over. "We must save him." Tears darkened the older Asami's eyes.
"Where is this Takaba Akihito now?"
"We are unsure. Akihito was investigating a town by the name of Mayrosefield. He sent weekly reports, but after the first of the new year, none have come. I sent soldiers to investigate, but the townspeople are tight lipped and uncooperative. There had been one though. A Lord Rosen, who had spoken up. The things he spoke of..." The king shuddered. "Those people are corrupt to their very souls.
"From what Lord Rosen spoke of, someone known as The Executioner of Mofu may have Akihito."
~ a twisted goddess ~
Pain was his constant companion. There were days the pain was so great, he could not remember who he was. Those were the days he clung to the voice in his head, the tightest. The voice was soft and soothing. Deep and rich, like Akihito's favorite hot chocolate.
The voice whispered words of encouragement and reinsurance The one whom the voice belonged to, was searching for him. They had not known one another but the voice's owner had known of him. Known his joy, his grief. This new constant pain. This unknown person was angry on his behalf. They wanted to tare into his torturer.
They searched for him, but there was evil in this world who wanted them kept apart. Akihito was powerful, the evil knew this. With the person whom always spoke to Akihito and soothed his pain, by Akihito's side; Akihito would be power near unstoppable. If not completely unstoppable. The evil wanted this power for themselves. So they helped his torturer, just they had always led his torture's had before.
Akihito knew not whom this evil was, only that they were the ones truly responsible for Mayrosefield and that went on there. They were not behind his torturer's decision to kidnap him, but they had sent him and now helped him in his studies. They gave the torture what he needed to keep Akihito weak and at low power. They kept the voice's owner from finding Akihito.
~ twisted goddess ~
NOTE: A BIT OF A TORTURE/RAPE SCEEN, NOT VERY DISCRIPTIVE, FEEL FREE TO SKIP TO NEXT BREAK IN STORY.
The door to the dungeon opened. Akihito's torturer enters. Calm and collected. As if he had not murdered a young man, lied to an entire town, kidnapped an innocent and committed torturous acts upon a fellow living being.
The man entered Akihito's cell. He examined him all over before fisting a hand in the chain attached to Akihito's collar. The man dragged Akihito from the cell, huffing and puffing from Akihito's fight for freedom. Akihito was no push over and he fought every chance he got.
That was how he'd lost his ears and tail. A punishment the man had said. He thought that the painful removal would stop Akihito's fighting. Instead it had not deterred the young God at all. So went the wings next. That had hurt worse but still Akihito did not give in.
The man positioned Akihito on the hard bed. The young God knew what was coming. He reached out to that voice. It came instantly. Akihito closed his eyes and fell into the loving embrace of that voice. He felt nothing of what his torture did to his body.
~ a twisted goddess ~
The voice shared in his joy as his stomach grew in size. Neither Akihito nor the voice's owner allowed grief or anger to grow. For it was not the child's fault in how they were conceived.
Akihito's torturer examined him everyday. He experimented on how food and no food affected Akihito's pregnancy. When the time came for his child to be born, Akihito found himself alone in his cell. His torturer and the father of his child would not come to his aide. However, Akihito had that voice. Ryuichi.
Yes, that was the name of the one to whom the voiced belonged too. He was there, in Akihito's mind. Experiencing the pain of labor with Akihito. Mentally holding Akihito's hand and whispering soothing words. They both cried with joy when the little baby girl cried out for the first time. Mai was the name in which they decided upon for her.
~ a twisted goddess ~
They were not close enough. They had captured every town in which the Mofu followers lived. The leaders and priests were arrested and charged with treason. The civilians were brought up on disobedience of The King's Laws and child abuse. Children young enough to still learn the world were sent to specialized orphanages to help them find a path in the world that was not dictated by just Mofu.
Lord Rosen had been helpful in uncovering the Mofo cult. He had informed them of everything that the cult was taught and what they believed in. He helped them find the location of the cult's executioners and the high priests that were in charge of it all. Lord Rosen admitted to his own participation and all that he knew of Akihito or Charles Eastlind. He admitted to regretting his actions in regards to Akihito and how he had genuinely liked the boy. Sadly, Lord Rosen would never get his chance to apologize to Akihito. For he was murdered by his own wife for betraying the path of Mofu.
"With all that is going on with this Mofu cult, I believe we are missing something." King Edmund stated.
"I believe that this Mofu thing is nothing more than those twat humans out for our powers." Ryu snarled. Causing the king to raise a brow.
"A long - a very long time ago, there was a fallout between humans and Gods. You would know it as The Great Titian War. Gods deceased into myth. We were content with this despite the heartbreak we felt at being separated from humans.
"After a time, a human found a book written by one of our own. He and a few others set out in search of the truth, as he called it. Finding it, they created false religious. Just like the Mofu cult. They used these false religious to manipulate other people. They taught of demons so that our kind would be captured. They want to steal our powers and then kill us off. Mofu is another one of these false religions." Ryuichi explained
"Well fuck me sideways." The king swore.
"The ones behind all this may know the reality of Akihito's power. If so, they may be the reason we can not locate this last executioner." Ryu thoughtfully said.
"Yes, I believe that to be the case." Ryuichi's face was grim. In his mind, he was holding Akihito as his True Mate fed his daughter. Though she was not his, Ryuichi loved the little girl from the second he learned of her growing inside his Akihito.
"Well, we will simply visit every single house and building in the kingdom until my friend is found and brought home!" The king said. No doubt in his voice. Only determination.
~ a twisted goddess ~
NOTE: THIS PART HAS A CHILD DEATH IN IT, SKIP TO NEXT BREAK IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO READ THIS PART.
Mai was taken from Akihito by the man. He could hear her screams as she cried out for her mother. It was terrible and broke Akihito's heart. The man was experimenting on her and refusing to allow Akihito to feed her. It drove Akihito insane. He tree himself at the bars of his cell time after time.
The bars were reinforced with some kind of magic and easily repelled the young God. Still Akihito fought to get to his daughter. Nearly killing himself in the process.
Then one day Mai stopped screaming. The door to his cell was opened and the man entered. Mai in his arms. He gave Mai back to Akihito before leaving and locking Akihito back up once again. Akihito immediately brought his daughter to his breast in order to feed. Only she did not latch on.
Akihito was confused. He tried again and again, but she would not feed. He bathed her and sang the same lullabies that Ryu had sang to him when he was still just a babe himself. The man watched as Akihito rocked his daughter in his arms. Unable to accept that she was dead.
Somewhere in The European Empire, a God's heart shattered. It was only Captain Asami Ryu's restraining magic, that prevented Ryuichi from transforming and setting everything on fire like some dragon from a knightly tale.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Akihito held his new born daughter to his chest. He kept protective of his little Kimiko. He would not lose her like he had her sister Mai. He could sense Ryuichi in a way he had not been able to do so before. He was close, very close.
Men barged into his cell. Akihito fought to protect his daughter but they still managed to rip her from his arms. He was weak from constant torture and recently giving birth.
"Do not worry demon. I will not kill this child of ours. After all, my wife desires a child and sadly she can not have one of her own. As I do not desire too have a child of some other man, this demon spawn will have to do."
Akihito tried to call out for mercy, he wanted his child back in his arms. But no sound came out. He had long ago lost the ability to utter a sound because of this man. A fist connected with the side of Akihito's head. He fell, unable to withstand the assault in his extremely damaged state.
The men dragged him from the cell. They brought him outside, the sunlight blinding after three years of being locked away. The men tossed him onto a pile of wood and set it on fire. Tears steamed off his face as his body was consumed by flames.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Ryuichi rushed into the back yard of the old nunnery. His heart beat widely as he saw the flames. He knew what had happened. He knew that his mate was slowly burning to death in that fire.
After three years of an endless search, he had found Akihito. Only for Akihito to be ripped away. He could feel the laughter and mockery of their enemies It had only been a coincidence that led him to the nunnery. He thought he would save him.
~ a twisted goddess ~
The sun was beginning to set. It should have been a beautiful sight, but only grief consumed Ryuichi. A gentle wind blew, gathering up some of the ash left behind from Akihito's death. Ryuichi watched as the ash danced on the wind. It was playful and silly. Lightening his heart. He heard a cheerful laugh just before the wind carried the ash away.
Ryuichi stood as a bright hope filled him. He closed his eyes and let his senses flow with the wind. All the way to The Japanese Empire. He had not known. Akihito was a rarity.. Akihito was a God capable of regeneration even after a full on destruction of his body. His life did not rely on his body but the spirit and soul within.
Chapter 12: The Village
The day was warm beneath the shining sun. The wind was just a gentle caress along the side of the cheek. It was the perfect day, for young village girls to go about picking wild flowers.
Nearby, a small young man lay against a large ancient tree. He was an amazing sight to behold. Hair as golden as the sunlight, falling to his waist in long curls. His face was soft in his sleep, his eyes hidden by slumber. His body was bare for all to see. Not that it was a terrible sight to see. He was well enough built. Lean, as if he liked to swim or perhaps run. His skin was an unusual pale, as if his skin had not seen the sun for some time.
On top of his head, were two small fluffy ears. Their fur blending within those soft curls. At his side, rested a long tail with fur to match his hair. However; it was the giant, white and black feathered wings that held one's eyes. They were magnificent. Larger than bird's.
She approached cautiously, not wanting to wake the sleeping man. Kneeling next to him, her basket of wildflowers all but forgotten. She reached out, touching a strand of curls. Softer than she had thought. Her hand moved to caress the side of his face. Something about him, saddened her.
Suddenly he shifted, a groan falling from his lips. Heavily lashed eyes blinked open, revealing large hazel eyes. He seemed unable to see at first. Then confusion settled upon his gentle features. He looked up at her, eyes blinking slowly. As if he could not understand the that which he saw.
"Hello." She said gently, so as to not frighten him.
He stared up st her for some time, worrying her. Finally he spoke. "H—ello." His voice was rough, scratchy, like it had not been used for a very long time.
She smiled encouragingly. "Hi. I am Maki Fieya. I live in the nearby village, Doragonredi no tani. May I know your name?"
"My - my - my name?" His voice wavered, confusion and doubt written on his face. "My name is…. My name, Akihito. Yes. Yes, that is my name. Takaba Akihito."
Fieya smiled softly. "Hello Takaba-san."
"Please, call me Akihito. Just Akihito."
"Then I hope you will call me Fieya in return."
Akihito shivered, cold despite the warm day. Seeing it, Fieya settled the little blanket she'd brought with her, around Akihito. "I am going to return to the village. Stay here and wait. I will be back with help."
Akihito frowned. "Help?" His brain felt like mush. His thoughts so unclear.
"I can see that you are in no condition to move, my new friend." Fieya caressed Akihito's cheek.
Akihito watched the young woman with her basket full of wildflowers. His vision blurred and before he realized it, he was asleep once again. He did not awaken when Fieya returned with men from her village.
Fieya led the village men to her little home. She instructed them to lay him gently upon the bed she had set up for him. Once the men left, Fieya found herself fussing over her guest. She wanted to assure his comfort and safety. It was just a short time latter when her mother, Ren, returned home.
Maki Ren was the village's medicine lady. She was highly respected and in constant demand. Fieya helped her mother put away her birthing supplies before leading the older woman over to Akihito.
"Oh the poor dear! He looks as if he has had a troubling time." Ren made comforting sounds as she examined their guest. While there were no outward wounds, it was obvious to both women, that this young man had been through hell and had wounds internally to show for it.
It was a week before Akihito would awake again. During that time, Fieya and her mother, Ren kept him comfortable as possible. Washing his body and feeding him simple broths. When he woke, Akihito was confused. He remembered nothing of how he came to be in the forest and nearly nothing of his earlier life.
As he continued to heal and recover, Akihito stayed with the Maki family. Every morning, Akihito went out with Maki Tomomi to the sheep fields. In the afternoons, Akihito helped Ren-sensei with her medical rounds.
Before long, Akihito was a full fledge member of the village. He built himself a small house at the edge of town. His bedroom window held a wonderful view of the village shrine. Akihito often spent his evenings looking out his window at the shrine. The sight of it gave him a great comfort and helped ease the sadness in heart.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Just a few short miles from the village was the grand palace of The Japanese Empire. The palace was filled with a bundle of energy as the emperor and his father returned from their many year journey to The European Empire.
Kei and Shinji greeted their father and grandfather joyfully. Ryuichi chuckled as he gently wiped tears away from his eldest son's eyes.
"I missed you too Kei." He pressed a kiss to his son's brow. "Come, let us retire to the family's wing." Ryuichi placed Kei's hand on his elbow and wrapped his other arm around Shinji's shoulders.
"How was your journey father?" Shinji asked.
"Tiring." Ryuichi sighed.
Kei, ever the very sensitive one, looked away from his father. Tears in his eyes. His husband, Kazumi pulled him into a comforting embrace. Once he had reclaimed his well known cool exterior, Kei spoke up.
"Things did not go well did they father?"
"Sadly no. We discovered a cult called The Path of Mofu, while there. Most of our time was spent tracking down the cult's leaders and executioners.
"They are a very corrupt people. Invading towns and twisting the minds of the people. Many people have been deemed traitors to The European Empire and many others are imprisoned. Some are even awaiting the gallows."
"This cult were the ones responsible for hurting your True Mate father?" Shinji swallowed hard. He may not have a True Mate yet, but he could still imagine the crushing fear that had gripped his father's heart and mind.
"Yes. Sadly, one of the cult's executioners took a liking to my mate and kidnapped him." Ryuichi sighed, his thoughts whirling around inside his head. Should he tell his children everything? In the end, his own father decided for him.
"Kei, Shinji, Kazumi…" Ryu spoke quietly. "Do you remember sweet little Takaba Akihito?" They nodded. "Well, little Akihito as it turns out, is your father's True Mate."
Kazumi looked shocked. Shinji just sat there, staring at his grandfather in disbelief. "So… our little brother is going to be our stepmother?" Kei chuckled.
"Yes, I guess so." Ryuichi replied calmly.
The door to the sitting room burst open and two little four year olds; one boy, one girl ran in. Immediately jumping up onto Kazumi's lap. The big Bear God laughed, hugging the two children.
"Hello papa, mama." The twins said. Kissing each of their parents cheeks.
"Kiyoshi, Izumi; your father and I would like for you to meet your grandfather, Ryuichi and your great-grandfather, Ryu."
~ a twisted goddess ~
The village shrine was gorgeous. The shrine was built out of a deep red wood that seemed as if it came from another world entirely. The roof toward high above all who entered. Giving one the feeling if being very small. Black marble columns both supported the roof as well as bringing a delicate beauty to the shrine with their hand carved designs. At the very front of the shrine, stood a sixty foot statue of red dragon.
The dragons mouth was open with a wide grin. Her eyes were closed with joy. The dragon's body was carved in a way that made it look as if it was moving in a dance. Huge, mighty wings spread out as if in flight. Sharp teeth gleamed with a threat that the dragon herself did not say.
Akihito reached out, touching the statue. Electricity ran up his arm. He hummed as a peaceful warmth fell over him. This dragon was a peaceful, loving creature. A mother and a guardian. His eyes closed.
"I see you have found Lady Chihiro."
Akihito was startled at the unexpected voice. He turned to look at the new comer. His hand never leaving the statue.
"Sorry, Akihito. I did not mean to startle you."
Akihito smiled, recognizing the shrine's priestess. "Morning Lady Chihiro."
"Morning Akihito." The priestess moved forward. Her eyes gazing up at the statue. "I am glad that you have finally found your way here. I have seen how you often gaze at the shrine. You always seem so lost, but when you gaze upon the shrine, your face changes. As does your aura. You lose all sense of sadness."
"I feel a sense of peace and even love from the shrine."
"I am glad. Lady Chihiro is an amazing being. Many years ago, she saved a young man from falling off of a cliff. He was the son of a powerful general and was the one who began this village. As thanks, he named this village: Doragonredi no tani. Valley of the Dragon Lady.
"After that, Lady Chihiro came to live in the village. She kept everyone safe from floods, raids and so many other things for many of generations.
"Then one day, Lady Chihiro met a dragon swimming in the nearby sea. His name was Yuuto. They fell in love and settled down within the village. They continued to protect the village and its inhabitants. Together, they had two children. Ryu and Kiyoka.
"Ryu had a heart filled with the sea, and when he became old enough, he left for it. Kiyoka found love with the emperor and married him. For generations, her descendants watched over The Japanese Empire as emperors and empresses. Sadly, the last of her line, Empress Oshiro Aiko, has passed onto the next world.
"But we need not morn nor fear. For we have Emperor Asami Ryuichi now. He is the nephew of Kiyoka and the son of Ryu. Not that many know such. Gods and dragons, along with so many others we have come to call myth, wish to remain a secret."
Akihito listened closely to every word the priestess spoke. Each one comforted him while at the same, filled him with an excitement.
"Lady Chihiro smiles upon you Akihito. I feel as if she holds a great love for you."
"Where is Lady Chihiro now?"
"She and her mate are asleep beneath the earth. They have grown old and wished for a peaceful rest. They are still watching over the village however." The priestess frowned slightly. "They will soon rise once again though."
"May I know how it is that you have cone to have the same name as Lady Chihiro?"
"It is not the name I was given at my birth. As a young girl, I was in love with the tail of The Dragon Lady. I dedicated myself to her at a very young age. Once old enough, I became the protege of the priestess that honored The Dragon Lady then. After my mentors passed on, I became the new priestess and adopted The Dragon Lady's name. Chihiro. Just as every priestess that came before me, and all that will come after me."
~ a twisted goddess ~
"I have located Akihito's exact link location." Ryuichi smiled.
"Oh?" Ryu raised a brow at his son. "Care to share?"
Ryuichi's grin grew. "It is not all that far from here."
"You are teasing me Ryuichi."
Ryuichi chose to remain silent. Allowing his father to wither with the desire to know where his precious little Akihito was.
"Akihito is within Grandmother's village."
Chapter 13: The Shrine
Akihito knelt before the dragon statue. Gray smoke billowed up from her nostrils, filling the room with warming and comforting scents. Akihito's head was bowed, eyes closed. His mind in far away places and times long passed. It was only before the statue that Akihito could relax and remain calm has he fought to recover his lost memories.
Each night he came to the shrine and knelt before the Dragon Lady statue. Each night the Dragon Lady came to him. Spoke to him. They became close, fond of one another. Grandmother, he called her. She would accept no other name from him.
Memories of a time aboard a ship, Sea Dragon it was called, came to him. Images flashed behind his closed eyes. Grandmother chuckled as she caught sight of them. "My son has not changed, I see."
Akihito opened his eyes. "Son?"
"Yes. Lady Chihiro told you of him. He is the captain you recall. Pirate Captain Asami Ryu of Sea Dragon." The Dragon Lady laughed. "He was so good to you. I am proud."
"Ryu is your son? If so, he is the father of the current emperor."
"Yes." The Dragon Lady smiled.
Sleep called out to Akihito. His eyes tried to close, but Akihito fought to remain awake. The ghostly clawed hand of the Dragon Lady caressed his cheek. "Sleep young one."
Soft bedding appeared beneath Akihito. He curled up upon the bedding say a quiet, sleepy thanks as a heavy blanket settled over him.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Three months had passed since their return from The European Empire. Three months had passed since Akihito was burned alive only to return. Three months had passed since Akihito had awoken in The Japanese Empire. Three months spent waiting for Akihito's mind to settle and remember, so he would not scare his True Mate away. Three very long months had passed.
Now it was time to reunite a family torn apart. Bags were packed. Messages sent so their village home would be ready. Their carriage set out at dawn. Barely two hours had passed when they arrived at the Asami estate located at the outskirts of Doragonredi no tani.
Villagers hired through the priestess to work at the estate, lined the drive in front of the main house. All bowed low in respect as the royal family arrived. One man rose and came forward. Opening the carriage door, he helped the family out. More men came forward to unload the luggage. Women swept forward, taking the young twins up into their arms and out of the way of the men.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Akihito had been far more tired than he had thought. The sun was high in the sky by the time his tired eyes slid open. He had slept better than he had over the past few months, but it was still quite fitful. Horrible nightmare after horrible nightmare haunted his every sleeping moment. Grandmother's voice, his only comfort.
Rising, Akihito began to gather the bedding. Only for it to disappear on him. He stared confused for a moment. Turning at the feminine laugh behind him.
"Good morning grandmother."
"Morning? Boy it is the noon hour. You have slept half the day away." She laughed. "You should run along and get something to eat. It is going to be an exciting day, I believe"
"All right. See you later grandmother."
Akihito left the shrine and entered into a hive of excitement. Everywhere he looked, villagers were running about. Everyone was dressed in their finest clothing. Stalls had been set up to sell items as if a festival was in full swing. It all left Akihito confused. A young man passed by him, and Akihito pulled him aside.
"Why is everyone so excited?"
"You mean you don't know?! The royal family has arrived!" With that, the young man was gone.
Akihito's stomach dropped. The royal family was here? Now? The Emperor of The Japanese Empire was here? The grandson of The Dragon Lady? "Oh gods, what am I to do?"
Akihito raced home, fear and excitement eating at him. If the emperor was here, then maybe so was Ryu and his grandsons. Akihito longed to see them, but did they wish to see him?
Tossing his doubt aside, Akihito summoned a warm bath scented with lavender. He climbed in and proceeded to scrub his skin raw. Cleaned beyond compare, Akihito located his best clothing, something not truly worthy of meeting royalty in, but it would have to do. Dressed, Akihito was out the door and quickly approaching the Asami village estate.
Reaching the door, Akihito came to a dead stop. His nerves settling in. Should he really be doing this? Did he have any right to be here? To approach them?
Akihito wasn't allowed to find his own answers as the door soon opened. Revealing a rather startled Shinji. The two Gods stood staring at one another. Then Shinji moved, sweeping Akihito into a tight hug.
"Oh Akihito, we've missed you so much."
"What's the hold up Shinji?" Called a deep masculine voice. Akihito and Shinji turned to regard the owner of the voice. Asami Ryu. Akihito pulled free of Shinji's embrace to fling himself at the much older God.
"I'm home papa."
~ a twisted goddess ~
Seeing his long lost family once again, was far more than anything Akihito could have wished for. None of them had changed. Ryu was the same old doting grandfather. Kei was ever the mother hen. More so now that he had two children of his own. Little cuties they were., Akihito had fallen in love with the twins upon first sight. Kazumi was still gigantic and protective with a good humor. Shinji was still the best chef around and insisted upon stuffing Akihito until the poor young God exploded. Shinji believed his little brother to be far too thin and was quite displeased.
The family talked of their times together as well as things that had happened after Akihito had disappeared. They were all overly proud to hear of Akihito's actions to save young Mary and at the time, Prince Edmund Darrow. They congratulated him for becoming a Duke and asked about his castle. Promises were made to come and visit said castle as well as to give a grand tour of the place. Akihito felt so loved and welcomed. Any doubt he had before, disappearing.
It was nearing the night hour when Akihito finally left the Asami estate. He did not truly wish to go, nor had his family wanted him to leave. However, Akihito felt the need to visit the shrine, just as he did every night. So it was as joyful heart and a light step, that he made his way to the shrine.
He bowed to Lady Chihiro, the priestess and entered the shrine. He followed the winding path to the inner sanctum where the statue of the Dragon Lady - Grandmother sat. His steps were only halted by the scent of another. Dark and spicy. It made Akihito's heart beat rapidly inside his chest. Butterflies flutter low in his stomach.
On tiptoes, Akihito crept forward. A tall, strong man stood before the statue. He was broad of shoulder and obviously fit. Raven locks swirled about his shoulders. Calling out to Akihito to come and run his fingers through them. The man turned and Akihito's heart skipped a beat. So handsome. The man's golden eyes caught hold of his own hazel ones. He smiled.
"Hello beautiful kitten. I have missed you."
Chapter 14: True Mates
"Hello beautiful kitten. I have missed you."
That voice. He knew that voice. It had haunted his dreams at night. Calling out to him, soothing his sorrows. That voice had been there when he had been captured and tortured. That voice had given him peace while his body was forcefully taken against his will. It had been there to mourn when his beautiful little Mai died. That voice... he had longed to hear it once again.
"Ryuichi." Akihito breathed, tears forming in his eyes.
"Yes Akihito. It is I." Ryuichi stepped forward coming to stand right before Akihito. Gently, Ryuichi wiped away Akihito's tears. "Finally, we meet in the flesh."
"Th-th-th-thank you, for - for being th-there for m-me."
"There is no need to thank me sweet little Akihito. I shall always be here for you. You are my True Mate after all."
"True Mate?" Akihito had heard the term before. Kei and Kazumi were such a thing. He knew from Ryu, that every God had one. And this beautiful man was his? Truly? Akihito felt his face flush. He was a lucky God then.
Ryuichi brushed Akihito's hair back from his young, blushing face. So beautiful, he thought. "I knew you the moment you were born. Like all Gods, I had wished to come to you. Alas, you were just a babe and I, I was already past my sixth hundred year birthday. I did not feel it to be wise to influence your life while you were so young."
"You wished to wait until I was an adult." Akihito stated. He agreed with the wisdom of Ryuichi's choice to wait. However... "Why come to me now? I have not reached the adulthood of the Gods."
"I would never leave you to face such terror on your own." Ryuichi's golden eyes held Akihito's in a firm grip. "I will never abandon you Akihito. Even should I die, I shall not abandon you." Ryuichi sealed his vow with a deep kiss.
When they parted, some minutes later, Akihito was panting hard. His beautiful face, once again painted a lovely shade of red. Akihito rested his head upon Ryuichi's chest. That scent, Ryuichi's scent, seeping into him.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Arm wrapped securely about Akihito's waist, Ryuichi led his True Mate from the shrine. With the evening passed and the night upon them, the villagers had closed up their stalls and headed home. It was just him and his sweet little Akihito. The night was cold but neither God minded. It was peaceful.
Hunger directed them to Akihito's little home. Built by Akihito's own hand, Ryuichi could not have found a better place for his mate. Silence swept them up in its embrace, but it was not uncomfortable. Side by side; they prepped, cooked and ate a late evening meal.
Food gone, the house clean once more, it was time for bed. Akihito, without thought, took his bedding out and readied for his sleep. Ryuichi watched for a moment, not wanting to leave but knowing he should. He pressed a kiss to Akihito's cheek.
"Good night sweet kitten. I must leave now and return to my own home for the night."
As Ryuichi turned to leave, Akihito reached out. Snatching the end if Ryuichi's sleeve. The older God turned with one dark brow raised. "Would you prefer that I stay Akihito?"
Akihito's face burned with embarrassment, but he refuse to cower out if shyness and fear. "Yes. Please. Please stay. I would like for you to stay."
"Then stay I shall."
That night, Akihito slept like he had not slept for a very long time. Peaceful, happy dreams comforted him for a change. He was warm and comfortable. Ryuichi's heart beating a steady song into his ear. His True Mate's arms around him, providing a sense of safety.
~ a twisted goddess ~
Morning came far to fast for Ryuichi. Reluctantly he woke from his peaceful slumber. Akihito lay upon his chest fully now, as if he were a God blanket. The sight brought a chuckle from Ryuichi. He lay there, simply enjoying the feeling of his True Mate in his arms.
With great reluctance, Ryuichi carefully extracted himself from Akihito and began the preparations need for the morning meal. Akihito never woke as Ryuichi cut, diced, chopped, mixed, stirred and cooked.
Akihito lay asleep, his head upon Ryuichi's pillow, as the elder God returned. Ryuichi smiled at the sight. "Wake up sleepy head." He called gently. No response.
"Akihito, it is morning. Time to get up." A grumble and shifting about. Arms came around Ryuichi's pillow to squeeze the life out of it.
Ryuichi lowered the trays of food down and sat upon the bed. Leaning in close to Akihito, he whispered into the boy's ear. "I have made you breakfast kitten."
Akihito's eyes shot open at those words. His head lifting up so he could take in the sight of what smelled so delicious. "You made all this? On your own?"
Ryuichi smiled. "Yes I did." He puffed out his chest with pride, causing Akihito to laugh. It was such a sweet sound and Ryuichi never wanted to stop hearing it. Shifting on the bed, Ryuichi leaned against the wall, Akihito between his legs and the food spread out before them. Akihito stuffed himself full of the food. Humming in appreciation after each bite.