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Author Topic: Re: The mask of soul//chapter 48/ 10/31  (Read 22541 times)

Offline darkacex99

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 22/ 29/03
« Reply #80 on: March 31, 2013, 09:31:24 PM »
 :bleed eyes: :bleed eyes:  :bleed eyes:   :bleed eyes:  :bleed eyes: :bleed eyes:  :bleed eyes:   :bleed eyes:  :bleed eyes: :bleed eyes:  :bleed eyes:   :bleed eyes:  noooo.....no tanagaki....oh well..... :lol: that wont stop me XD

ok finally risa and ai were able to have a decent conversation  :) i glad for that....but sayu and risa still acting kinda wierd before eri popped up...wonder wats going on with them :O i hope its not something that will make eri sad :cry:

Offline MsSmigge

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 23/ 01/04
« Reply #81 on: April 01, 2013, 08:17:29 PM »
As I said fast updateee~

rndmnwierd: Yes onto happiness with them, but not quite yet~ XD

alwaysyou: I am just so bad pairing them with someone else. And about those apples... I would like to say something, but then I would spoil too much XD

darkacex99: Nooo, do not make that bleeding face  :bleed eyes: I hate it when I have to disappoint someone.. I hope, you can still enjoy reading this story
XD

And for everyone: First, thank you for your interest once again and you are all going to get answer for Sayu's frowny looks, Reina's staring and such in the next two chapters XD

Next chapter, here we go~


Chapter 23 – The festival of red leaves


“Ano, Risa...”

“Yes?”

Risa said a bit too eagerly, as she whipped her head towards Reina. Finally, the silence between them was broken. The duo had walked for ten minutes now and neither had said a word during that time. Both had wanted to say something, but nothing clever just hadn't come in their minds. The situation had reminded Risa a bit of her and Ai's usual mute school, but this was Reina, a person she had never had problems with social situations.

“I was just... Mm... In your village, did you go to the festival with someone?” The kitten asked a bi shyly and Risa had hard time to hear what she was mumbling.

“Yeah, sometimes. But it was more like a date if you went with someone.”

Hearing Risa's answer, Reina suddenly turned her shocked face towards the bean and started to wildly wave her arms up and down.

“Oh! that is not what I meant!” The kitten shouted. She finally calmed down her arms and ended up scratching her head as she tried to figure out what to say next.

“I just... I just thought that maybe you would like to go with me. I mean, you are new here and all and you might want someone to show our festival in here and it would also be less awkward and....”

The rest of the sentence came so fast that Risa hardly kept up with Reina. But she got the main point, which was the younger girl asking her to go with her to the festival. Back at home, this would have been counted as a date! But Reina had probably just wanted to make sure that Risa would be all right during the festival time and if she faced some kind of difficulties, there would be someone beside her. Yes, it was probably that.

“I... Yes.”

“EH?”

“Yes, I'll go with you.” The bean said a bit shyly as she answered. Reina was quiet for a while, before a relieved smile lid on her face.

“Great! I'll come to pick you up at the festival evening!”

“But wont we go with the others?” Risa asked. She had thought that they would go with the rest of the girls even though she would “go with Reina”.

“Nah, we have always gone alone to these things. that is why, I asked you in the first place. And... And also because I want to spend the festival with you....” The kitten said, blushing a bit at the same time as she spoke. This made Risa's heart jump quicker in her chest. No one had never said something like this to her and now Reina was asking her to go with her to the festival and wanted to spend her time in there with the bean! Woah.

“Oh, it's my home...” Risa said out of nowhere and stopped, Reina following in suit. She had hoped she could spend some more time with Reina, but this was the end of the road now. But at least the festival would be in few days and then, she could spend her time with Reina. Also, they would probably hang around again tomorrow, so there was really no reason to be sad.

“Yeah.. But hey, we'll meet probably soon. Lets talk about things more then.” Reina said smiling as she took Risa's hand. She held it gently and nodded at the bean, who in turn blushed a bit at the contact and that smile. Okay, she really had to calm down now. This was not a crush, this was just something else. Who would not feel good if someone showed you some attention?

“Un. We'll see.”

“Yes. Well then, good bye.” Reina said quietly, giving Risa's hand a small squeeze before letting it go.

“Good bye...” Risa said back and with that, Reina started to walk away but she did not get far away when she suddenly spun around. But she did not stop either, but kept on walking backwards.

“Oh, by the way....” The kitten said as she continued moving "forwards"

“Yes?”

A smile was visible on Reina's lips as she looked at the bean.

“It's good to see you and Boss in good terms now. Really, for both of you.”

This caused Risa to smile too, for it indeed was a great thing she would get along with Ai now. She nodded her head towards Reina and waved at her, the kitten copying her her actions till she started to walk normally again. Risa watched after her, till she could not see the kitten anymore. She went inside her home and went straight to her bed. She collapsed on the blanket, smiling all the time. She had made some kind of peace with Ai and now, she would have some together time with Reina and her other friends in few days at the festival. Life was just so great.

--------------------------------------

So came the festival day and as Reina had said, these few days before it were spent with the usual four-friend group. Eri had insisted that Ai would join them, but the leader had had some kind of job to do at the Palace. Risa had heard that Ai was quite a workaholic and since she was in charge of some preparations for the festival, she was of course working. She would finish what she had started and there was no option like leaving things to be or giving up with something.

This yer too, Yoshizawa had hired the young warrior to do the preparations with the festival, because Ai knew how to handle it; she had done the preparations to the festival for years now and it was almost like a routine for her now. Also, it freed Miki and Goto, so they had time to do their own plans and train their men. Ai was already able to practice, but she had still one week to go before she was allowed to join the training again. It was just for her safety, for Goto and Miki wanted to make sure that she had fully recovered before she came back. Using her extra energy, the leader made sure to help as much as possible during the festival time, for she really had free time now.

The village had been busy for a long time, but now it reached it climax: Everyone was doing their last minute shopping, stressing about their dress or how the festival would go. Especially children were about to explode from exitement, for the festival time was usually a memorable time for them. For one day, they could do almost anything they wanted, they could play around the Palace and they could get all kind of goods which were not available all the time.

Risa was also preparing herself for the festival. She had received a dress suit from Yoshizawa, for she was a soldier now, she got clothes and equipment from the Palace. The dress suit was almost the same as the black suit they wore everyday, but it was more neat and it had some kind of decoration on it. In a very deep red color, there was a dragon picture in the back of the jacket and with the jacket came a deep red belt where the swords could be tied. The dress was also a bit more comfortable than the casual dress and it had the same space to move, for if they were attacked, the soldiers had to be able to act immediately. That was also the reason why they carried swords with them. Because of this, Yoshizawa had made the coats a bit longer so the swords would not show so well. It was festival in the end and the war had to be forgotten for a while. Also, the coat being a bit longer did not have any kind of effect to the fighting and if it had, they could always cut the extra length away with sword and fight without it.

Just when Risa had adjusted her belt on her waist, there was a knock on the door. She almost ran to the door, for she knew who it was. And indeed, when she opened the door there stood no one else than Reina. She was leaning on the door frame, her arms crossed in front of her and a smoldering smile was decorating her lips. Soon, the smile turned into a smirk as Reina straightened herself and and handed one red rose to Risa.

“Happy red leaf festival.”

Risa blushed a bit as she took the flower from Reina.

“Thank you.”

“So, shall we go?” Reina asked, offering her arm to Risa, who nodded and took it. She put the rose in her chest pocket, where it could be seen a bit. It was already dark, though it was just late noon but at this time of the year, darkness came more early than at the summer. The streets were full of lights, made by magic and everything was under red. People were already heading to the Palace, where the main evening was spent. The festival had been going for a week now and it always ended at the seventh day, when everyone would head to the Palace and celebrate in the final party. Yoshizawa had intended that everyone should come to there, for it had the most space and it was like made to keep this kind of things. Before her, the rulers had kept it in the town center, but Yoshizawa really did not like that place to keep a festival. Also, this way she could again get closer to her own people.

“Are Eri and the others in the Palace already?” Risa asked her companion as they started to get closer to the party place.

“Yeah, I think they are. Eri always wants to be early in the festival and Sayu is of course with her. Ai in turn has always answered about the preparations so she has been in the Palace for the whole day.” Reina explained, as they walked towards the huge building in front of them. There were already a lot of people and more came all the time. They entered the Palace gates and Reina guided Risa immediately to a small market places, which were placed in one big street which went around the whole building.

“Lets go check them.” Reina said and started to drag Risa after her.

“You know where they are?” The kitten chuckled a bit and winked at Risa.

“there is always one place open before others and Eri is every year the first one to visit that.”

So, Reina dragged the now a bit confused bean behind her and started to walk towards a small booth. It was selling some kind of candies and there were already two people in front of it.

“Remember when Eri got crazy about the apple Ai gave her last time?”

“Yes?”

“This place sells one kind of candy made of a same apple specie as that “magic apple” was. Eri claims that this one is not as good as the original one. And every year.she wants to be the first one to taste these candies. Also, the shop keeper is a good friend of ours, so he always lets Eri to be the first one.”

They finally arrived at the booth, where Sayu noticed them. She waved at her friends and called for Eri. Soon, the turtle appeared with her lap full of some kind of candies which were in a small sticks.

“Oh, Reina, Risa! Good to see you!” She said happily, giving her friends each one candy.

“Happy red leaves festival! Remember to wish.” She chirped happily and started to eat her candy. Reina chuckled a bit while Sayu just sighed and rolled her eyes. Every year, Eri would also give her friends one of these candies, for she believed a person could make a wish, if she ate one of those.

“You are not eating these things anymore...” The bunny mumbled as she tried to snatch the candies away from her girlfriend, but it was a mistake. Immediately, a short blade, which was still in it's sheat was pointed towards the bunny, who just mumbled something and raised her hands up in defeat.

“Do. Not. Ever. Do. That. Again.”

Reina could not hold her laughter anymore, but Risa was quite shocked. The angle Eri was like a small devil now, who got angry even at her fully and truly embrace and cherishr, if her candies were stolen.

“Imagine, if I tried to get those apples from her....” Sayu whispered at Risa, who also could not help but chuckle a bit. Though this might have seemed a bit dangerous, they knew Eri could never really hurt them. It was just a bit shocking how the girl would over react so much just because of some candies, though...

Only now, did Risa notice that her hair was quite the same as Eri's: They both had their hair in a loose side ponytail, causing their brown locks to hang over their other shoulder. The only difference was the color and the length of the hair. While Eri had a bit shorter and darker hair, Risa's was clearly lighter brown color and it almost reached her mammary glands. The turtle also had a white flower as a decoration in her hair. If someone watched them from a distance, they would be mixed very easily.

Suddenly, there was a loud bang and a birght flash shot through the sky. A huge firework had been launched, which gained everyone's attention.

“It has begun.” Reina whispered and now, even Eri concentrated on something else than her precious candies. The silence which followed after the fireworks was cut by music and soon after it had started, two persons appeared at the end of the stairs, which led inside the Palace. Risa recognized the two immediately, for they were no one else than Miki and Goto, who were also wearing their dress suits. They were the same as every other soldiers, but their suits had dark blue pictures on them. Also, the general and captain were probably carrying more weapons than the others, but they also knew how to hid them well.

After checking the courtyard, Goto and Miki moved a bit to the side and snapped in attention, so that they were now forming a two person alley. After them, came Yoshizawa with Rika and Akira, their son walking between her parents holding both of their hands. The kid was acting very composedly, but everyone could see how he waited to be set to free. Rika had a small and polite smile and her being was like straight from a royal guidebook. Yoshizawa was the same, but she was absolutely shining. It was so good to see her village's people, all of them, gathered in one place and celebrating with all their hearts. The family stopped at the stairs end and Yoshizawa raised her hand, greeting the village.

Immediately, there was a burst of clapping and cheering as people showed their favour to the king. Then, Yoshizawa lowered her hand, the courtyard silencing immediately and with them, the music died down too. The king waited for a moment, before she started to speak:

“My friends, welcome! It's once again time for the red leaves festival, the festival everyone has waited for. Everything is under red as the last leaves have dropped down. With that, we can welcome the incoming winter. I truly hope this week has been enjoyable for every one of you and so, I hope tonight, too. Now, celebrate my friends. Forget all the worries and celebrate, till the morning sun rises.”

And with that, Yoshizawa waved her hands a bit and the small band started to play again. It was quite fast and happy song, which caused everyone's spirits to get high. The king and the queen turned to their son, giving some advice to him. Rika also crouched down and straightened the little prince's dress, which was the same as the king's, dark blue, with lighter blue picturing. Rika in turn had a red suit, which only had a broad black belt. Yoshizawa's and Akira's dresses reminded the soldiers dresses, while Rika's reminded more of a kimono.

After giving a quick kiss on Akira's head, Rika got up and stood beside her spouse. Yoshizawa reached out and ruffled her son's black hair a bit, which caused Rika to pout, for she had just arranged the hair well. Then, the young prince got a permission to go and immediately, he dashed the stairs down and into the human group, which was now moving all around the Palace's yard. He was not alone however, for there was two pairs of eyes watching after him as Goto and Miki slowly started to follow him. It was their duty to keep him safe, but they would do it from the distance, for they were capable of protecting the kid without being all the time beside him. That would just ruin the boy's festival plus it was not very likely to someone attack him. But this all was just for security, he was the prince of this country in the end and if something happened to him, Rika would make sure that the two higher ranking leader's would suffer a slow and tormenting death.

After their son had gone, Yoshizawa offered her arm to Rika, which the queen happily took. The royal couple descended the stairs, going to the group like they were normal citizen enjoying the festival.

“Sa! IkimPosteriorhoo!” Eri chirped happily after the king's speech, taking Sayu by surprise as she started to drag the bunny after her. Risa was about to go after them, but damn that turtle was fast. In no time, Sayu and Eri had both disappeared in the middle of the human mPosterior and it was impossible for Risa to follow them.

“It's no use to go after Eri during the festival time. She is like a kid who has gotten too much sugar...” Reina said as she came closer to Risa. She did not tell it to the bean, but she was a bit delighted that Eri and especially Sayu had went their own way, for now she had some time to be alone with Risa.

“Yeah it seems so. Well, where shall we go then?” Risa asked the kitten as she spun around to face her. But Reina did not answer, she just stared ahead and it seemed like she was watching something behind Risa's back. The bean frowned and spun around to check her back, but there was nothing particular, which could have caught Reina's attention.

“Ano, Reina what are you looking at?” The bean asked, as she slowly turned back to her friend, who was still spacing out. Then, slowly, the kitten's eyes moved so that she was now staring Risa. This caused the bean to feel a bit embarrPosteriored, for it seemed like the other girl could not take her eyes away from her.

“R-Reina?”

“Uh? What?”

Reina was suddenly back on the earth as she heard her friends voice. Damn, she was caught at staring once again...

“Oh! It's nothing! You just look so pretty that I could not stop staring at you....”

Realizing what she had said, Reina shut her mouth and turned a bit away, Risa doing the same. They were both blushing quite much and Risa was sure her face was on fire right now. What the younger girl had just said, made a funny feeling raise in Risa's stomach once again and her face was showing right now to the world how she was feeling.

“So.... How about we go look what we have here this year?” Finally, Reina broke the awkward silence and took Risa's arm. The bean followed without protests, all the time trying to get her face to calm down. Somehow walking around and visiting all kind of game and shop booths, tamed her feelings and soon the two were like they usually were, when they spent their time together.

They went to all kind of different booths , Reina buying Risa some sweets which they ate at the same time they walked on. This festival in here was a lot bigger than in her home village and they also got all kind of different stuff in here! For example these candies, Risa had never ever even heard of these. But, though everything was so nice and wonderful in here, Risa could not help but miss her home once again. She missed all the nice people in there and her family. If she would be at home right now, she would be probably doing something fun with her younger sister.

“Look, Risa!!” Reina yelled suddenly, causing the older girl to look up. There was a huge firework again but this time, it fired all kind of shapes. First was a huge red flower, next was a tiger and then a dragon.

“Woah... It's gorgeous...” Risa whispered, as she watched the fireworks in awe, a small smile waving on her lips. Oblivious of her surroundings, Risa did not notice how the kitten was staring her at the same time as she was examining the fireworks. Only when she felt tugging in her arm, did Risa lower her gaze down.

“Come on, lets go.”

Reina said, her voice sounding a bit weird, and with that the kitten started to drag Risa after her once again, the older one not having a clue where they were heading to. As they had walked some time, Risa finally dared to ask Reina about their destination.

“So where are we going next?”

Suddenly Reina stopped and looked around her, till she spotted a big tent a few meters away. Without a word, she started to drag Risa after her and when they got to the tent, the kitten pulled the bean inside it. This made the bean feel a bit uncomfortable, because Reina did not answer her and was acting quite oddly. What was she up to?

Risa looked around in the dim light. She had seen a sign “fortune teller” outside the tent and she really wondered why Reina had brought her here. Also, there was no one inside, for the person who took care of this spot had put a sign, that she or he was on a break now.

“Reina, why did you brought us here?”

Reina was quiet again as she examined the place, making sure that the tent indeed was empty. Then, she went to Risa, smiling at the same time as she took the bean's hands in hers.

“Because there is no one else in here.”

This caused Risa to blush again as she realized that they indeed were alone in this tent now, no one seeing them. At the same time, ideas what the younger one could be planning right now, started to pop in her mind and Risa's imagination was set free. Immediately, her cheeks started to turn red and she was sure, that the temperature also got a lot higher than it in reality was.

“Also, I wanted to go to the fortune teller.” Reina added suddenly, causing Risa to frown a bit.

“You believe in that?”

“No, but it's just for fun.” Reina said chuckling as she guided Risa to a nearby couch. She sat down and implied Risa to do the same. As they both sat there, awkward silence fell again upon them. Their eyes met once in a while, which ended always in there, that both turned their heads shyly away, blushing.

'Damn, I must be as red as a tomato...' Risa thought as she nervously started to bite her lip.

'I got to do this now...'

Reina took Risa's hand once again in her own and waited, till the older girl turned her head towards her. The bean tried her best to hide her embarrPosteriorment, but it was no use, for her face was so red that she must have glowed in the dark like a lamp.

“To be honest... The reason I bought you in here is, that I got something to tell you...” Reina started as she drew small circles on Risa's palm, causing the other girl to tickle a bit. Risa in turn tried to keep her emotions in control and concentrate on what Reina was saying.

“Well of course, this place is empty and there is no one else, but...”

The drawing stopped and Reina took her other hand to raise Risa's chin up, when the bean had lowered it in order to follow Reina's drawing fingers. When their eyes met, Risa could not help but gasp a bit as she noticed the look Reina was giving at her: It was like the kitten was spacing out again, her eyes almost burning holes in Risa's.

“I think... No, I know, that... I... I like you...”

Reina said shyly, now both girls blushing deeply and struggling to eye contact with the other one. Risa was feeling suddenly a bit dizzy but she also had a funny feeling at the same time. It was all nice to hear that “I like you”, but was this what she really wanted? She had had all kind of emotions when Reina had teased her and though she was told it was just joking, it always made her feel fussy inside. But now, she was also thinking was this right. She really liked Reina, but was it that kind of liking? Would she really “like like” this girl?
Suddenly, Reina leaned a bit forwards, which caused Risa to freeze completely.

'Oh my gosh....' She thought as her friend's face came closer.

“you are so beautiful...”

Reina whispered as she leaned a bit more closer, their heads only about 10 centimeters away from each others. Now Risa really started to panic, for she was sure that her heart was going to jump out from her chest. Were they going to do it? Would they kiss? Was this right?

As Reina leaned closer, Risa got a feeling that this was not something she wanted. She felt happy, overjoyed and even a bit scared, but something was still missing. Though she knew it was Reina who was about to kiss her, Risa suddenly got a feeling that the person in front of her was not her friend, but someone else. It sounded stupid but that was how she was feeling right now. Also, even if it had felt like Reina was her own self, Risa would still have this uncomfortable feeling.

As she thought about the approaching kiss, Risa got suddenly a urge to pull away. She did not want this with Reina, though she liked her. They were friends, very close ones, but just friends. And also, as she had thought a while ago, this was not her friend in front of her, it was someone else...

But Risa could not pull out anymore. Her body had frozen and as Reina came closer, she could only close her eyes and wait for the approaching kiss, though her mind was screaming to pull away.

But then, then moment froze totally. As Reina was just about to place her lips on Risa's, something that made them both open their eyes in shock, happened: Just before the impact, the kitten opened her mouth and whispered quietly, but so, that Risa could clearly hear what she said:

“Eri...”

-----------------------------------------

Aaand I am evil and leave it here~ Next chapter will be posted someday this week. Hope you enjoyed!  :P

And happy April's fool day for everyone! I haven't fooled anyone, but I have already been fooled at least for three times...  :wahaha:  :nervous


Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.

Offline darkacex99

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 23/ 01/04
« Reply #82 on: April 01, 2013, 09:35:45 PM »
kool a super fast update O0 i was juss being dramatic with all those bleedng faces XD im still gunna enjoy ur story, no worries :D


i like the tanagaki goin on in this chapter so im content :cathappy:

the cliffhanger is killing me :banghead: wats going to happen next??? dun dun DUNNNN!!! XD

Offline rndmnwierd

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 23/ 01/04
« Reply #83 on: April 01, 2013, 10:46:23 PM »
I facepalmed so hard, I almost knocked myself out. Really, Reina? Really?

Offline alwaysYou

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 23/ 01/04
« Reply #84 on: April 02, 2013, 03:14:50 PM »
TanaGaki  :shocked
Don't allow anyone to kiss you if you dont love that person! Miss Niigaki!  :angry:
Should i thanks Eri..XD..But why is she there?

Quote
Next chapter will be posted someday this week
can i take this as your april fool joke? since someday this week can mean Sunday and its too far from now!!!!  :lol: :lol: :lol:

Quote
alwaysyou: I am just so bad pairing them with someone else. And about those apples... I would like to say something, but then I would spoil too much XD
just say it!  :lol:

Offline carzung

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 23/ 01/04
« Reply #85 on: April 04, 2013, 03:39:59 PM »
Hi it's first time for me to reply your fic but I'm read your fic for along time may be since chapter 1, sorry about that  :nervous

I'm really like your story especially Risa is the main role and about your writing, it's make me excited everytime I'm read.  :twothumbs

Actually, in this fic, first I'm hope for GakiKame but Kame already has the bunny so I switch to TanaGaki but you just make me  :cry:, But I don't mind TakaGaki at all. they're one of my favorite couple.

Thank you for wonderful fic  :wub:     

Offline MsSmigge

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 23/ 06/04
« Reply #86 on: April 06, 2013, 04:01:44 PM »
darkacex99: Ah, that makes my heart feel lighter XD You go find out now what happens next~

rndmnwierd: Oi, I don't want to anyone get hurt because of my fic XD Though, I started to think how would it look, if someone facepalmed and fainted... Oh my  :lol:

Alwaysyou: Well, at least it was not meant to be an April fool... But hey, now is Saturday and it's "closer" than Sunday? Nee?  :lol: And nope, I wont say anything too much, or this story will be revealed too quickly~

carzung: Hiiii, new reader!!  :welcome Awww, man I disappointed another one with the pairings  :bleed eyes: Hope to see you around here some more~


Thank you for your comments and interest everyone. They all made me happy again~  :wub:

So, here's the next chapter as I promised.
The next one will be... Someday in the future  :nervous Guess who is off to training, once again? Yes, me.  :bleed eyes: I also received my material for the exam I have in few months and I got to say, that if I want to understand at least something about it, I have to read it through with concentration about 10 times... Really, it's so damn confusing text that I really have to use my time with it. Damn you university...

Anyways, here's the next chapter~



Chapter 24 – The magic of the red leaves


There was a deep silence inside the tent, as the two warriors were staring each others, their eyes wide open and faces only few millimeters apart. Risa looked deep in Reina's eyes, the kitten looking like she had just seen a ghost. They both could barely breath, all because of the heavy atmosphere which had landed around them just a moment ago and all this because of one name. A name, which Reina had slipped in a terribly wrong place and time.

'Did she say Eri?'

'Did I say Eri?'

They kept on staring each others awkwardly, till suddenly, Reina jumped. She stopped, leaving Risa to stare the now empty spot in front of her. Then, the kitten started to briskly walk away, this causing Risa to snap back from her thoughts.

“I'm sorry. I go now....” Reina mumbled, but was soon stopped by Risa.

“Reina, wait!” The bean shouted after the kitten, getting up as well. Reina stopped, but she didn't turn to face Risa. Damn, she was embarrassed now. She was about to kiss Risa and then she said Eri's name. What an idiot she was!

Risa tried to say something, but she just could not. She was at the same time very disappointed and relieved. Of course, if you're just about to be kissed and the other one says someone else's name, it makes you feel bad. But in Risa's case, she was a bit happy that they did not kiss. Reina was a very good friend, but the bean just could not think about something deeper between them. She wasn't quite sure why, but this was just how she felt.

By now, Reina had turned towards Risa. She had a very sad and sorrowful expression and it seemed like she was even scared to face this situation.

“I shouldn't have done this...” Reina whispered quietly, guilt and regret clear in her voice. Risa said nothing, she just repeated all this in her head and one question popped all the time on top of the others. Why had Reina said Eri's name? Did she... Did she like the turtle? But Eri was with Sayu and Reina knew it very well. Well, that didn't prevent anyone from liking someone...

“Reina, you... You like Eri?”

Risa decided to be bolt and solve this thing immediately. There was enough awkwardness in the air and the bean didn't intend to get anymore deeper than it was. The younger one was quiet again as she stared deep in Risa's eyes. The atmosphere was about to get awkward once again, but luckily Reina broke it before it got too uncomfortable.

“No.”

She said bluntly, looking immediately down. What was this? She had just tried to kiss her, saying Eri's name at the same time and now, she said she didn't like the girl. This just didn't match at all...

“I don't like her. I... I...”

Reina started to talk suddenly as she came a bit closer to Risa- She stopped a few feet away from her, leaving some space between them. In the end it felt a bit awkward to get close to each others now because of the little incident few moments ago. Risa waited Reina's answer, for she could clearly see that the other one was not finished yet.

“I. Don't. Like. Her...”

Reina repeated, raising her hands up at the same time, as if she was trying to summon something invisible to give her strength to keep on talking. Finally, she just let her hands drop down and at the same time her head fell down, too

“I... I lo-love.... E-Eri.”

Again, a silence. But now everything made sense to Risa as she counted one plus one in her head. All those spacing outs, acting sometimes a bit weird when close to Eri and now this confession. How come, that Risa had not noticed this before? But there were a lot of questions still in her mind.

“If you love Eri, then why did you approach me?” Risa asked after the silence. Yes, indeed why had Reina showed her feelings to Risa, if she loved Eri?

“I... Well how could I explain this...” The kitten mumbled as she scratched her head. She raised her head up and immediately remembered the reason she had gotten attracted so much by Risa this evening. A sad smile crept on Reina's lips again as she gave her answer to the other girl.

“Right now, you just look like her. Also, you're very much like her, by nature I mean. You're nice and gentle and you always think about others. I just....”

For a moment it seemed like Reina was going to do something as she took few steps towards the bean. but as soon as she got her eyes on Risa again, her being slouched and she was looking sad again. Risa in turn didn't quite catch what the other one was trying to tell her. As if reading her mind, the younger one walked pass her and sat on the couch they had occupied a while ago. When Risa turned around, she saw Reina implying her to sit down as well. When she got beside her the kitten kept silent for a while, before she started again:

“I think I have to tell you everything from the start.” She sighed deeply, like gaining all her powers so she could tell her story to Risa, who was waiting patiently Reina to be ready.

“As you know, we have been friends with Eri and Sayu since we were kids. We were always together and there wasn't a day we would not see each others somehow. By then, Eri was also very sweet and angel like person and everyone loved her. As we grew older, I fell for her, too, but I loved her not only as a friend but as something more...”

Reina kept a small pause to check that Risa was still following her. Noticing, that the bean was indeed listening to her, the kitten continued on:

“However, Eri saw me never nothing more as a friend. She thought that I was always joking with her when I flirted a bit with her, on purpose or not, she would not see it. I think it was partially because Eri had feelings for Sayu, who had supported her a lot. Of course, we both have supported Eri from the start of our friendship, but Sayu and Eri just have... Quite an unique relationship.”

There was another pause again as Reina gathered her thoughts again. It seemed like she was thinking carefully what she would say next and it made Risa feel that she was trying to hide something. However, before she could think this too much, Reina was back on her story already.

“As I realized by time, that I had no chance to get Eri, I turned to be her silent lover. We were still friends and all but every time we were together, I always had the thought how much I love her in the back of my mind. No matter how hard I tried to forget this, I just couldn't. Finally I gave up and accepted the fact that I was madly in love with her, but I could never have her. But it was okay with me, because I saw how happy Eri was with Sayu.”

A gentle smile formed on the warrior's lips as she remembered her loved one's beautiful smiling face. Seeing this, Risa was indeed happy that she and Reina had not kissed. Now that she had heard Reina's story, just seeing her smile like this and knowing that she was thinking of Eri... It was so obvious that she was deeply in love with Eri. There were no doubts about that

“But then you came...” Reina said, her smile dropping as she turned to Risa. This made Risa feel a bit scared, for she immediately thought that she had done some harm as she had appeared in these girls life. However, there was soon a smile on the kittens face again as she spoke to her friend:

“You immediately reminded me of Eri when we first met. I started to think, that maybe I can forget Eri, if I move on with someone else. You know, every time I told you I was just joking when I flirted with you... I must admit that I lied to you few times. Also, I have to admit, that I really had a crush on you, but every time I saw Eri, I was reminded who I really love. And tonight, as I saw how you had done your hair almost in the same way, I somehow tricked myself to think that I was with Eri. Now, I am truly sorry for all this, because I... I feel like I used you somehow.”

The smile faded away bit by bit as Reina kept on talking. Risa however never interrupted her. She waited that her friend had said everything she wanted to.

“And, I am not very sure of your feelings but just in case you would have liked me back... I just have to say that I can never ever have a proper relationship with anyone else than Eri. I just can't... She's always on my mind and no matter who I will ever meet, she's the only one I will ever love.”

Reina didn't continue talking anymore. She had said all she had on her mind about this and she was ready to be judged by Risa. She felt horrible, for she had tried to make a move on the bean and then she just backed away and revealed that she just kind of used the other girl so she could forget her former love.

“I'm sorry if I ruined your festival. I wont do it anymore, so I'll go n...”

“Wait.”

Before Reina could move even an inch, Risa had grabbed her arm and prevented  her from getting up. The kitten was quite confused, for she really thought that Risa would probably not want to talk or see her after what she heard. But the bean had opposite thoughts in her mind.

“Sit down.” She said to Reina, who did as asked. The awkward silence was about to return, but Risa having gotten enough of it, started to speak quite quickly after her friend had sat down again.

“I wont lie to you ans say I am okay with this all. But I want you to just know, that I wont blame you for anything.”

This surprised the other warrior quite much and she tried to say something, but Risa silenced her by raising her hand. She was not finished yet.

“I kind of... I kind of like you too, but only as a friend. I was very confused when you flirted with me and sometimes I even truly hoped that you would not be joking. But when I thought that if we were to have a relationship it just... It just didn't seem right somehow. And also, as I now know who you truly like and love, I am more than happy that we did not kiss a while ago.”

Showing a quick smile, Risa stood up and walked few steps, not really knowing what she was about to do. Reina stayed on the couch, following keenly what the bean would do next. She was quite surprised how Risa had reacted in this way, but then she remembered that this girl was as pure as Eri was. The turtle would've probably acted just like this, had she been in a same kind of situation. But thought Reina knew Risa would not be mad at her, she would not trust on that too much. She would accept anything the older girl said. If she wanted to be mad at her, it was okay with Reina. She was the one who had made a mistake when she had tried to flirt with the bean and then she just escaped when things almost got too serious. She had used Risa to forget and all the time, she had known deep inside of her that this would lead to nothing.

“Reina.” Risa called the warrior gently, snapping them both from their own thoughts.

“I don't want this thing to ruin or friendship. I want to stay in good terms with you, because I really think you're a great friend. But I think I need some time to sort my feelings out for a while..."

Reina watched the girl in front of her with a bit confused expression. She truly wanted to be in good terms with Risa too and she would not lose this friendship they had.

“Me either. And if it's okay to you, I am more than happy to be friends with you.”

Risa spun around ans showed a small smile to her friend, who returned it.

“That's good to hear. But like I said, I just need some time to myself now. I have to think about things...”
By now, Reina had gotten up and walked beside Risa. She was about to place a hand on the other girl's shoulder, but decided against it. Risa needed some room now and getting in physical contact with her might not be very good idea now.

“It's okay, I quite understand.” Reina said quietly. It felt bad to be away from the bean, but if her friend wanted some time alone and some room, Reina would give it to her.

“I'm sorry our festival time together got ruined...” Risa whispered suddenly, causing the kitten to frown.

“Hey, you have nothing to apologize! It was me in the end who got us into this with my stupid thoughts.”

“But it takes always two in this kind of things.”

“You could not have known...”

Reina said, finally laying the hand on Risa's shoulder, but she immediately pulled back as she realized what she had done.

“What now?” Risa asked a bit confused.

“Ano... I just...”

Realizing what might have bothered the kitten mind, Risa smiled warmly and took Reina's hand. She guided it on her shoulder, causing Reina to look at her with wide eyes.

“Friends can touch each others without feeling awkward, right?”

Reina was quiet for a while as she watched her hand which were held by Risa. Soon, she was smiling too, as the bean's words sunk in her head.

“Yeah... Friends...”

The two girls watched each others for a while, smiling like they hadn't had any kind of awkward situation this evening. They both wanted to be friends and they would not let this kind of incident to ruin it.

“Let's try not to be too awkward when we are around each others, okay?” Risa asked her friend, which Reina answered by nodding her head as she gave a last firm squeeze to Risa's hands, before letting go.

“I think I wont ruin your festival evening anymore. You can take care of yourself in here and you don't need me beside you. And... One more time, I am very sorry.”

“You didn't ruin it and stop with your apologizes." Risa said, keeping a smile on her face all the time. "Lets have fun while we can, ne?”

Reina smiled a bit too and nodded once again. She turned to leave, but just when she was about to exit the tent she turned around and smiled at the bean.

“To make this all up to you, I recommend you go to the east part of this Palace yard. There's one quite amazing show around midnight, which is in few hours. I really recommend you to got here, for you can see it in nowhere else. Or, well... At least, not the first part of it..." The kitten said, giving Risa her trademark smirk and wink.

But this time, it made Risa only smile. No funny feelings were felt nor anything awkward. Just a good feeling took hold of the bean, as she looked at her friend who seemed to be herself again.

“Okay. I try to remember to go there...”

“Don't try, go there. Have a nice evening and enjoy everything in here. See you.”

Reina said winking again as she finally left the tent, waiving at Risa as she went. The older one listened as Reina's steps got further away, till they disappeared in the crowd. Though they were in good terms right now, Risa could not help but feel a bit empty inside. But she knew this was the best way for both of them. Reina loved Eri, not Risa and she would never forget that girl. Things just would not work out, if she kept running after her loved one all the time. Also, as Risa had found out earlier, she was somehow relieved, that this did not end in a sweet kiss and confessions between them. Reina was just a friend, nothing more, nothing less. They would be friends in the future to and it was enough for Risa.

Realizing that she was still inside the the tent, Risa decided to head out. It was a miracle that the person who was keeping this place up hadn't showed up during the time Risa and Reina had "borrowed" the tent. The bean went to the main street, which was crowded by people who were enjoying the festival.

"Have a nice evening and enjoy everything in here”

Yes, she would do that. It was no use to dwell in this all when she had a wonderful festival to experience. Putting a smile on her face and holding her head up high, Risa blended to the crowd in front of her and started to examine all the things this festival offered to people tonight. She would enjoy this all, just as her friend had asked her to.

---------------------------------------------

It was almost midnight and it made people gather in the Palace's east side. And yes, that was the place were Reina had introduced Risa to go. Risa had decided to come here early, for she had had so many thoughts in her mind that she just could not tour around the festival area for long. She had had fun for an hour, but then things just started to roll in her head again, so she decided to come here. There were some nice booths in here too, so she could visit them while she for the show to begin.

Also, when she was early like this, she got the front seat place to watch this show which was going to start soon. So, she was standing in the front line of this huge human mass. She could also spot the king and the queen in the front line with their son, who seemed like he was about to burst from excitement.

The bean hadn't seen Reina, Eri or Sayu and she was kind of relieved she hadn't. Just now, she wanted to clear her head from these disturbing thoughts and seeing her friends now would not help much. After she had cleared her head with things, she would be with them again. Just like they used to be.

Suddenly, there was a loud cheering which caught Risa's attention. The show was about to start and everyone was getting exited about it. This indeed had to be something very special since almost the whole village was following this now.

But what happened next, made Risa's jaw drop open and her eyes grow wide. There was a small open left for this performance and now, there was a person walking to the stage. And that person was Ai.

'What the heck is she doing here? Is she,,, Is she going to keep this show?'

As Risa watched the warrior in the middle of the open she could not help but mark the way Ai had changed. She had a small smile on her lips and her whole being was somehow more... Gentle? She was still a bit thin for she had not practiced so much in long time, but she had recovered very well from her traumas, or at least it seemed so.

Ai greeted the crowd by bowing politely and waving her hand a bit. Then she pointed at the human mass and a little bit shy looking young girl walked towards her. She had two piggy tails behind her head and she was wearing a bright red kimono. She stopped once and watched her parents, who only encouraged her to walk forwards. When she reached Ai, the girl bowed a bit, Ai doing the same and smiling warmly at her. The leader held her hand out and there was something on it, but no one could actually see what it was.

Then, Ai whispered something to the girl who nodded her head shyly. It seemed like the girl tried to concentrate on something really hard after the leader had talked to her. She shut her eyes tight as she held her hands on the Ai's outstretched one and was like she tried to summon something. Ai just laughed a bit and patted the girls head gently with her free hand. Then she said something again, probably encouraging the girl to relax, for the kid immediately lowered her shoulders and her whole being calmed down.

Then a small light erupted from the girl's and Ai's hands, which were still entwined. Yelping a bit, the girl tried to let got and run away, but Ai held her in place, calming her down. It was like the young girl was hypnotized by the leader, for she did immediately what she was told. The small light got bigger and bigger, till it was so bright that everyone had to to turn away a bit so they would not get blinded by it.

When the light calmed down a bit and everyone turned to see what had happened, they could see something amazing: There were small lights dancing around the little girls head. They were like huge fireflies and every time they flew, they left a light stripe behind them, each of those things having a different color. As the little girl watched all this amazed, her smile got brighter and she let out a happy squeal. Immediately after that, the flying things got wild and started to move faster, creating even more those light stripes and now they were drawing all kind of pictures.

Everyone in the crowd gasped a bit and even Risa had to admit that this was something amazing. The flying things were like shooting stars as they flew through the air and made all kind of beautiful pictures and figures. After a few minutes, the lights started to fade away and soon there was only one of these things flying around. It stopped in front of the now very happy little girl, who laughed very sweetly at the small light, which drew a small heart in the air and disappeared after it, leaving something floating in the air.

Ai reached out to the object and handed it to the girl. It was a small heart shaped candy and it made the kid very happy. She giggled a bit as she bowed towards Ai. After that, she ran back to her parents showing what she had gained and this in turn made all the kids in the crowd want to be part of this show.

The leader did few shows with single kids, everyone gaining the small heart candy after the show. Then, the leader called out for all the children.
Soon, there were a huge punch of kids in front of Ai and everyone was trying to get closer the leader. Risa was so sure, that the leader would soon explode because of the kids, but to her surprise, Ai just held her hands up and tried to calm the kid group in front of her. She truly had changed from what she had been when Risa first met with Ai.

Again, with a one single hand mark, the leader silenced the whole kid group in front of her. She held something on her palm again and reached her hand out towards the kids. Again, everyone started to look very concentrated, but they still followed all the orders Ai gave to them, which were mostly like “Relax” or “Calm down”.

Ai tapped her palm with her free hand and this made Risa realize what she had in there. It had to be those apples she had explained about to Risa! It just had to be!

After giving the tap to the fruit, Ai raised her hand towards the sky, which suddenly lost it stars and became very dark. There was a sound which reminded Risa of a thunder, when the dark cover over them grew larger and larger.

“Open your eyes.” Ai said gently and all the kids did as asked, watching the darkness on the sky, amazed. For some reason, these children trusted the leader, for none of them showed any fear. If Risa had been in those kid's shoes, she would be at least a bit freaked out by now.

“Now, answer my question with all your energy, will you? This wont work unless you do so. Ready?”

The leader spoke again all the kids nodding in excitement and immediately after that, Risa could see some kind of light sparkle on the dark sky. What was going to happen next?

“Are you having fun?!

Ai shouted suddenly and was immediately answered by the kid group who yelled as hard as they could, jumping up in the air at the same time:

“HAAAAIII!!”

Out of nowhere, the dark sky flashed and again everyone had to cover their eyes. Risa put her arms in front of her eyes and tried to peek behind them, so she could see what was going on. But she had to close her eyes immediately the light hit her eyes, blinding her for a moment. It didn't take long till the light calmed down and everyone could watch the show again normally. But everything around them was not like it had been a moment ago.

“Holy...”

That was all Risa could say as she was watching the sky, which was not dark anymore. There were millions, no more than that, stars on the sky on a dark blue layout. But it was not quite normal, for Risa could see something moving on there.

“The constellation...”

She whispered as she saw different kind of animals and creatures running on the sky. She could recognize horse, bunny, dragon and many many others dancing on the sky. Suddenly, one of the animals shot down to the ground. Instead of startling everyone, it more likely made the crowd only more lively. Some kids started to run after the bunny and someone went and tried to bet the horse.

Risa watched this all in amazement. She indeed had not seen anything like this in her life and it was absolutely stunning. But what made it even more stunning, was that Ai was behind this all. She had gathered all the kids around her and she had made these creatures from the power of children's thoughts.

Without knowing, a small smile formed on Risa's lips as she watched the children playing around happily with the star animals. One even got near Risa. It was a dog, which happily run to her, wagging it's tail. Risa could not help but laugh a bit and for some reason, she even patted the animal. For her surprise, she got something glistening on her hand after she had touched the dog's "fur". Examining the thing on her hand Risa tried to figure out what was this strange material. It was like she had small stars on her palm...

“It's the inside of the apple.”

A voice said suddenly nearby her. Raisin her head, Risa could see Ai a few feet away from her, holding something in her hand. It was the apple she had done her magic once again and which had created these animals.

“It's... It's like this?” Risa asked a bit confused, while Ai just nodded and smiled a bit as she put the apple to the ground, surrounding it with some kind of a see-through square. Before the leader could say anything, Risa realized that the apple was still there. It had not disappeared like it had done the last time.

"How is, that apple is still there? Didn't you just turn it into that star sky?" The bean asked confused. Ai only laughed a bit as she was finished with the small shield she had placed around the apple. "You can also leave it like this." She said as she got up and faced the bean. "I modified the apple so, that this star sky is only temporary, so it will fade away when the apple has lost all it's magic. It's just one way to use these things."

The leader explained as she turned to watch the kids running around with the star animals. Risa was silent for a while, before she noticed the people moving away from the open, where Ai had held her show a while ago.

“Mmm, don't you have a show to perform?” Risa asked the leader who just stood beside her watching the people moving around them.

“No, it already ended. I think this is enough for this evening and I am going to leave it like this. The kids seem to have fun with those star animals, so I think it's good to end this here."

The bean nodded her head and dusted the "stars" away from her palm. It indeed had been quite a show and this star animal thing at the end only made it better. But the bean did not wonder the star animals for a very long time, because something else caught her thoughts. As she turned to look at her side, she could see Ai, still smiling as she watched after the happy children.

Was this really Ai? The rude leader who cared only of herself and acted cold towards everyone? Now, instead of a impolite brat, Risa could see a woman in front of her. Calm and gentle, who watched after others and wanted to make them happy.

And what surprised her the most was that Ai was so good with children! Even many adults lost their cool with them very quickly, but Ai had just raised one finger and all of them obeyed her. Okay, maybe they knew of her reputation as a warrior, but still. Handling kids was always something Risa admired in people, for she herself loved kids. Also, usually persons who were good with kids, were good with adults as well.

“So, how has your festival been?”

The leader asked suddenly, not taking her eyes away from the crowd in front of her. Confused by the question, RIsa only stood silent for a while, staring at the leader with wide eyes. Had she heard right? Had Ai asked her how her festival had went? Realizing suddenly that she had been staring Ai for a good while, the bean gave her answer to the older one. But, it did not come out like she had intended...

“What? Me?”

That was all Risa could say, for she truly was confused.

“No, I was asking that kid over there. Who else than you? You're the nearest person to me right now.” Ai said laughing a bit. Even now she didn't turn to face the bean which the younger one was quite glad about for she must have looked very wise right now with her mouth and eyes wide open. What the heck was just happening in front of her eyes? This just could not be...

Realizing soon that she had not answered the leader's question and that she was still staring at her with that idiotic face, Risa shook her head a bit and cleared her throat. It's was a good thing Ai had not turned to face her, but Risa was quite sure that the leader had already seen how the bean had stared at her. God, this was embarrassing.

“It has been... Quite fine I think...”

It was not a lie, but it was not the whole truth either. True, this had been something she had never ever before experienced, lie because the little incident with Reina, which still kept bothering her.

“You think?”

Silently, Risa cursed in her mind, that she had not just lied that every thing had been fun today. Now she had Ai questioning her, but to tell the truth, she had no anticipated that the leader would care about how she had been.

“Ah, there my little mage is!”

Suddenly, a loud yell was heard nearby. Now even Ai turned her face towards the sound and immediately after it, she snapped her heels together and bowed, Risa following in suit as she saw who was approaching them. However, they were soon scolded for being too formal, by no one else than their king.

“Oh, come on! That's the 30th time tonight, right Rika?”

Yoshizawa moaned, while the queen beside her sighed. The childish king had received a lot of bowing and such during the evening, and she was tired of it already.

“I haven't counted...”

“What? Though I asked you to! Mou, whatever... Oh my gosh, you two stop it all ready! At ease, or whatever command makes you to relax...” The king was now waving her hands frantically, almost hitting the queen in face, making her snap immediately.

“Yoshizawa Hitomi, if you don't calm down this instant, I'll make sure that you will sleep in the hall for the next two weeks.”
Rika's ice cold voice snapped, causing her spouse to calm down in no time, while Risa and Ai were a bit scared of their queen.

“Aww, not the hall, I am sorry honey.” And with that the king took her loved one in tight one arm embrace. Rika just rolled her eyes and pointed with her hand towards Risa and Ai, who were still waiting for their master to say something.

“Oh yes, you too. So, how is it going?” Yoshizawa asked, as she kept on holding her wife in her embrace.

“Good, very good.” Ai said smiling, Risa only nodding her head because Ai had said what she was about to answer to the king.

“Risa too? You had these kind of festivals in your home? Isn't this wonderful what Takahashi has done here? Ne? Do you...”

“Dear, you're doing it again....” Rika said a bit annoyed as she watched the poor girl stare at her spouse, trying to decide, which question she should answer.

“Oh, sorry. So, it has been a nice evening then?”

“Yes, it has.” Risa finally got her turn to speak as she answered the king's question with a polite smile. Thank God that Rika was with her, or the bean would really had had hard time with dealing the hyper social king. Just one comment or glare from the queen would make Yoshizawa to calm down.

“That's nice to hear, but...” Yoshizawa had that childish and at the same time very devilish grin on her face again, as she examined the two young woman in front of her, mostly focusing on Risa.

“Have you tried my favorite game yet?”

“Your favorite game?”

“Yes, that one over there.” The king said, pointing at one booth, which had some kind of target like things like things flying in the air, while kids tried to shoot them with some kind of a pipe.

“No, I haven't tried it.” Risa said as she turned back towards the king, only to find her face dropping in shock. This startled Risa a bit for she thought immediately, that she had done something wrong.

“WHAT? That's the best game in this place!" Yoshizawa exclaimed, throwing her arms up, but soon brought them down when Rika hit her side with her elbow. But that did not stop the king's mouth, as she kept on ranting. "You really should try it! Lets go, I'll play with you...”

“And you're not going anywhere.” The commanding voice of her wife made the king stop in her steps as Rika pulled her arm. The queen was not very happy that her king was again trying to escape some responsibilities, for she had promised something to her.

"Eh, why not?”

Yoshizawa asked confused, while the queen only pouted at her, and for a while it seemed like the king had no clue, what the other one tried to tell her. Finally some lights lit in her head, and the king was immediately apologizing her wife.

“Aaa, I almost forgot. Of course I wont go play a game, because I promised you that! I'm sorry Rika.” The king cooed as she hugged her wife lovingly, apologizing over and over again. This made Rika smile a bit, for she had finally gotten Yoshizawa's attention to her and only her.

It was sometimes quite hard, when the king was so social with everyone and tended to forget sometimes some of her promises. But luckily it was also quite easy to remind her of those things with some simple tricks. After cuddling with her lover, Yoshizawa turned back to face her two warriors who were both a bit flustered now as they had followed the scene in front of them. It was not everyday you saw your king and queen cuddling in public...

“I'm sorry Gaki, but you got to go play that game alone. Unless...”

Yoshizawa's devilish grin was back as she turned to face her group leader, who had a bit questioning look on her face now. Suddenly the king slapped her hands together, like she had gotten a great idea.

“Yosh! Takahashi goes with you!”

“What? Me?”

“What? She?”

Both Risa and Ai said at the same time and turned to look at each others as Yoshizawa just nodded her head approvingly, clearly satisfied about her great idea.

“Yes, because you need someone to introduce that game to you. Also, it's boring alone, you need someone to compete with.”

'Well why in the heck can't I do it with some random kid then?'

The bean though, but suddenly, she felt how she was pushed a bit forwards, Ai appearing to her side as they both were ushered towards the game place by the king.

“Off you go now! Have fun!” Yoshizawa said as she gave a bit harder push to the younger girls. Ai got to keep her balance somehow, but Risa almost fell, for she was not prepared at all to this. Well neither was Ai, but she just had a better balance... Luckily, she had better reflexes too, for the leader prevented Risa from falling face first to the ground.

The king had by now walked back to her wife and arm in arm, they disappeared in the crowd again,  Yoshizawa humming happily at the same time. She had indeed wanted to play that game, but now as she thought about it, this was also a great opportunity to get those two have some time together. As a good ruler, Yoshizawa knew everything that was going on inside these walls, so she was very aware of Ai's and Risa's situation, too.

Now, that Ai had gotten back and it seemed that Risa was not too hostile towards her either, this was something that could calm things between those two. Or at least, that was what Yoshizawa hoped.

Meanwhile, Risa and Ai stood frozen in their spots, staring at each others awkwardly. Ai had caught Risa and was holding her in her arms once again. She had her hands resting on the younger girls hipbone, while the bean had her hands on Ai's shoulder, as they had searched some support when the king had almost knocked them over.

Silently, they let go of each others and immediately they faced away.

“Mmm... You wanna play that game?” The leader asked quietly, cursing immediately in her head how stupid she must have had sound.

“Yeah, whatever....” Risa mumbled as she started to briskly walk towards the game spot. She was not interested in that game the slightest now, but she just needed anything to disturb her mind and get rid of her torturing thoughts. Playing something could help a lot.

Ai just nodded her head and went after Risa, wondering why was she even doing this. She could just ask Risa, if she could go alone or rather, did she even want to Ai go with her. But now, that they were already on their way, it was quite the same to go play that game with Risa. At least, she would have something else to think than that awkward moment a while ago.

And so, the two warrior's went to the game spot, both thinking how awkward this was again and they both truly hoped that playing would fill their heads with something else to think...

-------------------------------------

It came out a bit longer than I thought... I had to change this chapter so many times that I am a bit lost now what I really wanted to happen in here... XD I hope it wont be too confusing to read.  :nervous


Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.

Offline rndmnwierd

  • Subleader of Tsunku's Army
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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 24/ 06/04
« Reply #87 on: April 06, 2013, 08:05:00 PM »
T_T My Tanagaki dreams, so cruelly dashed. Oh well, I was expecting it, but still. Now let's get Ai and Risa together!

Offline darkacex99

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 24/ 06/04
« Reply #88 on: April 07, 2013, 12:18:28 AM »
ok well this definitely explains why reina was always acting wierd and spacing out in the earlier chapters, poor kitty shes has the case of one sided love :cry:

i am glad that risa and reina's friendship wasnt damaged by reina's actions, what a nice mame!!! XD

oh snapz more awkwardness between risa and ai :shocked will they make it though the rest of the festival, the world may never know :shocked:...until the next update XD

Offline carzung

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 24/ 06/04
« Reply #89 on: April 10, 2013, 11:12:21 AM »

Bye Bye TanaGaki and Welcome TakaGaki  :D Please, write a lot of TakaGaki sweetness  :bow:

Offline MsSmigge

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 25/ 18/04
« Reply #90 on: April 18, 2013, 10:20:03 PM »
rndmnwierd: Oh no, another one who I disappointed with the pairings  :bleed eyes: Damn. But you like Takagaki too, ne? XD

darkacex99: Yup, Reina and Risa will stay friends~ It would be cruel to separate them XD And there will be more awkwardness ahead between Ai and Risa  8)

carzung: I'll try, but I also have to remember my other plans for this story and those plans... doesn't have much sweet moments with them XD


Thank you everyone for you comments and interest once again.  :oops:

Here's the next chapter (which came out A LOT longer than I planned...)
Here we go~


Chapter 25 – Do not get stuck in your past

The tension had not eased at all as the two warriors arrived at the game spot. They hadn't talked to each others and both made sure not to even glance at the other one. Somehow, the thought of just spending some time together was something they both were a bit shy about. Though they had agreed, that the two warriors would try to get better along with each others, it was still quite hard to just act normally when the other one was nearby.

Risa was still a bit unsure of what Ai was like and the leader could not forgive herself what she had done to the younger girl and to her friends. She felt ashamed of how she had changed so much and how much pain she had caused to the persons around her.

With these thoughts in mind, the two arrived at the game place, which was surprisingly end by now. They were greeted by a gentle looking old man, who had a long thin beard. He was wearing some kind of a blue dress and he was also carrying a sword. Risa had heard, that there were also a lot of veteran warriors, who carried swords with them all the time, even during peace, just in case. But they were usually very gentle and Risa could never ever had expected that these happy and joking elder people would be killers, if needed.

”Ah, isn't it my Ai-chan there!” The man greeted, spreading his arms wide at the same time.

”Konbanwa Hiroshi-san. We would like to play a game.” Ai said and waved her hand a bit as she greeted the older man.

Hiroshi turned his shining eyes towards Risa, who smiled and nodded politely at him.

“Got a girlfriend there, ne?”

The abrupt comment caused both Ai and Risa turn pale, while the old man just laughed. Soon, both girls were waiving their hands frantically in the air as they yelled at the same time, trying to cover what the old man had just said.

“NO! No, we are not a couple!”

”NO, NO, NO!! Not a couple, we are...”

They both froze again. Yeah, what were they? Well it was clear that they were not a couple and not friends but... What the heck were they? The man's laughter got them to look ahead as Hiroshi wiped some tears away from his eyes. The scene in front of him had  been just so damn hilarious, both females waving and screaming like there was a fire somewhere. Even some passer-byes laughed at them in a good way.

“Well, lets just call you friends then, okay?” Hiroshi said as he took some game stuff from under the table.

'Well we are not that either...'

Ai and Risa thought as they just silently went to the game places which the old man showed to them. They were given small wooden pipes, which had a smaller hole in one end and a bigger one in the other. The keeper also gave them small sharp objects, like mini darts.

“Okay, then, shall we begin?”

”WAIT! I have no idea how to play this game!” Risa shouted as she watched the man in panic. She had totally forgotten, that she had no clue what she was supposed to do in this game.

“Oh, it's easy, don't worry. Your boyfriend here can help you with this.”

”Hiroshi san...” Ai groaned and glared the man at the same time, receiving only a laughter as Hiroshi spread his arms giving a ”the stage is yours” sign. Ai just rolled her eyes as she snapped her fingers once, bringing some targets from behind their shelters and causing the old man to frown. Hiroshi got a bit irritated when Ai payed him back with her magic skills and the leader knew it. Ai gave a bit wicked grin to the keeper, till she turned towards Risa who was now blushing quite heavily and trying to hide her face. Thanks to Hiroshi's last comment.

“So, this is really very simple. Just hold this thing against your lips, so that the bigger hole is pointed away," Ai introduced as she handed a pipe to then bean, who took it without saying a word. "Then, you just place the dart inside, aim and blow. It might feel a bit hard at first, but once you get the blowing right, it's very easy. Here, have a go.”

And with that, Ai put a dart in Risa's pipe, the younger girl doing as she was introduced to do. She got the target in her sight and aimed before she blew hard. However, The bean managed only to get the dart fall out from the pipe, which was immediately picked up by Ai. The leader placed the dart back inside the pipe, before she started to introduce Risa again:

“That happens quite often at the first time. Just try again and don't blow with force. Gently, but firmly.”

After the introduction, Risa nodded her head and tried to concentrate more on to the next performance. As she had the target in her aim again, the bean blew with less force. The dart flew out, but only few meters. Damn this was hard...

“That's much better, but you still have too much force.” Ai said as she picked up the dart again and placed it in the pipe. By now, the leader had also gotten a pipe from somewhere and she put a dart inside it, too. Interested, how the leader would succeed with this, Risa didn't try to shoot again but she followed the warrior beside her.

Everything happened very quickly as Ai literally threw the pipe against her mouth and immediately blew the sharp object away. There was just a small whistle like sound as the dart flew out of the pipe, hitting one of the flowing targets. The target made a small pop sound and disappeared, but after few seconds, there was a new target flying around.

'Damn that was fast and she didn't even aim!!'

Risa thought as she stared the scene in front of her, mouth wide open. Soon, Ai took more darts and blew all the 5 targets in front of her with the same style. It took only about ten seconds till she had made them all disappear, all her shoots being very accurate. It wasn't only the leader's good aim, but also how she handled those things. ”Reloading” the pipe took only one second and then she was sending the dart away in a blink of an eye. Ai had either played this game too much or then she was just damn skilled with shooting games.

“You try now.”

The targets popped back up in their places as Ai snapped her fingers again. Risa watched her own pipe and the targets, feeling a bit disappointed that she could not shoot so well. Or rather, she could not shoot at all.

“You can whistle, right?”

The leader asked suddenly. Risa was silent for a while, before she slowly nodded her head. Yeah, she could whistle. She had learnt it when they had had horses back at home. For some reason, Risa's own horse had liked when the girl had whistled, so it had been an effective way to call the animal when needed.

“Just think you're whistling or you can even whistle, if you want. The blow should come out the same way.” Ai introduced again. Risa nodded her head but didn't say anything. She slowly raised the pipe against her lips once again, gathering all her concentration as she found her target again. It was not so hard to aim, for the target was so close and it also was rather big.

'Just like whistling...'

Risa tried to concentrate very hard, but soon she found how her hands were shaking and her vision became blurry.

“Relax. Your shoulders are in your ears...”

She heard Ai say and soon she felt, how two hands landed on her shoulders, pushing them gently down. Risa relaxed, though the idea of Ai keeping her hands there, made the younger girl more likely tense even more. But somehow, she managed to keep her shoulders down and that gave her back her steady hands and clear vision. It felt somehow easier to shoot now and as Risa took aim and shot, she remembered at the same time what it was like to whistle when she had called her horse at her younger days. There was a whistling sound piercing through the air as the dart left the pipe. It it the back wall, missing the target quite much.

“Hey, that's a lot better! Try again.” Ai said happily and reloaded the pipe again for Risa, keeping her hands on the younger girl's shoulders all the time. Somehow, also Risa forgot where the leader's hands were, as she aimed again and repeated her actions. Again, the whistle was heard but this time, it was followed with a small popping sound, as one of the targets got hit.

“I got it?” Risa asked immediately, looking at the missing target with amazement, while Ai only chuckled gently. “Yes, you did. Now, shoot the rest of them.”

Soon, there were no targets left, as Risa shot the rest of them away too, all of them clear shots. This was not so hard anymore! She really had thought after the two first blows that this would take forever, but now she was shooting those targets away like she had done this for years.

Hiroshi laughed a bit as he watched the two girls in front of him. This game could be a total challenge to those who could not whistle, but to those who could, it took only some concentration and aim to hit the target.

Ai Raised her other hand from it's place and snapped her fingers, bringing the targets back up. She left for her own shooting place, next to Risa's and picked up the pipe which was laying on the table nearby.

“That's good. Now it was not so hard, was it?”

”No, it really didn't feel very hard...”

Risa said, still a bit amazed how she had gotten all the targets so easily. She had never played this kind of games and now as she thought about it, she had never really shot anything. And she really meant anything; bows, darts and so on. Maybe her warrior training had made her skills get a bit better, including those she really didn't know.

“How about you two compete a bit?” The keeper said suddenly, just when Ai was about to blow the targets away.

“Eh? Compete? I could never beat you!” Risa said suddenly, causing Ai to lower the pipe and look at the younger girl.

“Well, you never know before you try it, you know.”

”Oh come on! You saw how slow I was and you know how fast you're!" Risa said suddenly as she turned towards the leader beside her. "When you blow all those targets away, I get only one single target by the same time, if even that.” The younger girl exclaimed, causing the leader to smile a little bit. Somehow, it just made her feel a bit better, how Risa was just ranting at her, forgetting all the past tension they had had before.

“What are you smiling at?” Risa asked suddenly, which caused Ai to drop her smile and turn a bit away. Damn, she had been staring at Risa while she had had thoughts about how it was so nice to act normally around her now.

“Nothing. So, you wanna play?” The leader said quietly, before she turned her now stern face back towards Risa. The bean was silent for a while, before she took the pipe slowly in her hands, mumbling at the same time.

“Allright then, lets play...”

”I'll aim slower, I promise.”

”Oh, so now you're pitying me? That's even better...” Risa groaned. This caused Ai to look at the younger one with a bit surprised look, which the bean answered only with a deep frown.

“Don't you go on pitying me. I'll never learn, if I do this in the easy way...” Risa spoke again, but this time, her voice was not harsh. The leader glanced at the younger one and to her surprise, Risa had now a small smile on her lips.

"Lets play now." The bean said and gave the leader a playful grin.

Well this was something unexpected. Ai had more likely thought that Risa was about to lose her patience again with the leader, but now she was smiling and talking in a gentle tone. Smiling shortly, Ai took her aim too, and with a snap of her fingers, she made the targets disappear.

“The targets will appear randomly when I release them. The first one to shoot it down, gets a point. Got it?”

”Gotcha.” Risa said as she aimed the target area, concentrating on what she did.

“Ready? Lets go!”

Ai snapped her fingers and nothing happened, but soon the targets started to pop into view. At first there was only one, but soon, there started to be more at the same time. The targets had small wings and they were flying around in a slow speed. There were green circles inside the target and in the middle of them was a black point, showing the target's midpoint.

Risa started to shoot as well as she could when she saw a target and surprisingly, she got some hits first. Ai would occasionally shoot with her skills, but she also let the younger one get the first hit. She always had the target in her aim at first, but she really didn't want to crush the other girl in this game. Winning was not so important to her now, she just wanted to have some good time.

Risa however noticed soon how the leader was not playing seriously. This made her a bit annoyed, for she really did not want any kind of help in this. It wasn't fun at all, though getting beaten was not fun either. But it was more fun than being helped too much...

”OI!” Risa yelled in the middle of the shooting, gaining Ai's attention. “You're either going to play this game with all you have, or then you wont play at all!”

Ai paused her aiming, while Risa kept on hitting the targets in front of her all the time. Soon, she missed few and after that, she hit only sometimes. Once again, her shoulders had raised a lot and she was tensing her muscles for nothing, which caused her aim to get worse.

Smiling, Ai took aim again and concentrated.

'Fine, lets play then...'

Suddnely, the leader started to shoot the targest away in a very fast pace, making it impossible for Risa to even get a good aim.

'Damn, I can't even aim...'

“Relax your shoulders!”

There was a small pause in the middle of the shooting and then it continued on again. Risa tried to say as Ai had said, but it was just so damn hard somehow. She just could not bring her shoulders down without tensing some other body part. Dammit, now she couldn't even think about challenging the leader in this game!

Suddenly, there was a gentle pressure on her other shoulder and as Risa looked at her side, she found Ai holding one of her hands on her shoulder, pressing it down gently. The shooting stopped completely as Ai kept a pause, still holding the pipe against her lips and towards the targets, which were still flashing in front of them. Risa was just staring at Ai with wide eyes, for she was thinking how in the heck could she shoot now. She had only one hand in use, while she tried to push Risa's shoulder down with the other.

“Keep on shooting, but relax at first. You can't aim if you're tense.”

”What did I tell you about helping me?”

”If you want to keep on going, you need to relax.”

Risa sighed a bit and took aim again, not willing to argue about this anymore. As she aimed, she found it surprisingly easy to steady her arms again without tensing her other muscles. Somehow, the hand on her shoulder calmed her down and made it easier to shoot.

“Fine then... Help me if you want to...”

Risa mumbled as she started to shoot the targets, hitting every time. Ai just kept on watching and holding the hand in it's place as Risa shot the targets one after another. This was getting boring, for it really did not feel a competition as the other one was helping her..

Suddenly, the targets started to disappear in fast pace, though Risa was not shooting them. She glanced at her side and found out that Ai had started shooting again. But what amazed her was that she was shooting as fast as she had a while ago, though she had only one hand in use. She did the reloading by swiping the pipe towards the darts which were in a neat line on the table. Somehow, the dart got inside the pipe and Ai was ready to shoot again. All this took only few seconds and the leader did not fumble at all, when she did the reloading and shooting.

'Dammit, she's good...'

Risa thought as she started to concentrate on her own shooting again. She tried to get aim but every time she got a target in her aim, it would disappear by Ai's shot. Risa cursed and started to get tense again. But every time this happened, Ai would make more pressure with her hand and force the tensing shoulder down.

Risa concentrated again and this time, she got a plan. She watched the target's places very carefully, memorizing where they would pop up. It was quite hard thought, for the woman beside her kept making them disappear almost as fast as they had came into view. But somehow, Risa managed to do this and then, she just waited. Few times, she failed but then, she got one shot at the same time with Ai.

'Yosh, just a bit more anticipation and then that's it...'

Risa thought as she kept her plan going on, Ai keeping up with her unbelievable speed, making Risa wonder, that her throat must have been very dry right now...

The game went on and Risa had not gotten her first shot yet. But she would not give in, she would get the first shot. By now, the place keeper had noticed that these girls would not end their duel soon, so he made sure of it, that their darts would not end in the mid way.

And then, it happened. Risa saw her target appear, which she had stalked for a while now and she got her anticipation just at the right time. She blew, few seconds before Ai and finally, she hit first. After that hit, the game came to a halt as both players dropped their pipes down.

Risa watched the targets in triumphant, while Ai just smiled gently. She snapped her fingers once, making the targets disappear and some kind of a board came into a view from behind the table. It counted some numbers and then it showed the hits:

Risa had gotten about ten hits at first while Ai had made them about one hundredth.
Hiroshi laughed as he clapped his hands, taking something from under the main table at the same time.

“That was one heck of a game. Here, have this as a price.”

He handed something to Ai, which the leader took. She thanked the man and gave him some extra money, for they had really played quite a long time. Usually, the game took only few minutes, but they had played it with Risa about twenty minutes now.

As they left the shooting place, Ai handed her price to Risa, causing the younger one to look at her questioningly.

“Here, you can have it.”

”Why?”

”Just take it, okay?”

For some reason, this made Risa feel a bit irritated and she didn't know why. Was the leader thinking that she really was so sad that she needed some prices so she would not feel so bad anymore? Or had she won so many times, that she already had enough of those prices she had won and now she just gave them away?

”Why, because you still pity me? Just because I lost doesn't mean I need some pity and..

”I want to give this to you, that's why.” Ai interrupted the younger one, before something bad was said or done.

”You... What?” Risa said as she stopped walking, Ai following her actions. Then, the leader handed the thing, which Risa recognized to be some kind of a stuffed animal, towards her.

“Not out of pity or anything like that. I just... Want to give this to you.”

They stood in a silence once again, staring at each others. She wanted to give it to her? But why?
However, Risa raised her hands and took the animal from Ai, causing the older one to smile a bit.

”There, it was not so hard was it?”

Risa just stared at the now smiling warrior in front of her. She still could not see Ai as a warm and nice person, so this situation felt very weird right now. But there she was, giving her this stuffed animal and only because she wanted to do it. Not out of pity, not because she didn't want this animal and nothing like that. She just gave it out of pure will.

A warm feeling spread inside Risa as she watched those chocolate eyes, now filled with such kindness and warmth instead of that cold and pained look. The whole woman even looked different, for Ai did not have those black circles under her eyes. That made her face look more bright and vivacious.

But what also made the bean feel happy was the feeling, that she could finally act normally around the leader. She had not gotten angry at her, nor had Ai tried to do or say anything rude. Maybe, they both were still a bit tense around each other but this was MUCH better than what it had been some time ago.

“Thank you...” Finally, Risa managed to get her mouth open. This caused Ai's smile grow and she politely answered to the bean.

”You're welcome.”

Those words came out without any kind of tension and it even felt naturally to speak like this, for both of them. They fell in silence again, still staring at each others. But this time, it was a bit more comfortable silence. All these two had in mind now, was how they had finally gotten over the hate and all the other negative feelings they had had towards each others. This felt somehow relieving.

A bright light flashed in the sky as someone shot fireworks. Ai and Risa turned to watch the starry sky, which Ai had made, and how the breath taking light show flashed against it. Cheering and all kind of whispering were heard as people were taken by the sight.

”Happy red leaf day.”

Ai said quietly and turned to face Risa. The bean did the same, facing the leader who was smiling gently at her. The younger one's lips also turned upwards as she replied:

”To you as well.”

They smiled at each others for a moment, till the show got their attention once again. Risa however started soon to examine the stuffed animal in her hands. It was quite cute, with it's round light brown ears and belly. It also had red cheeks with a black button nose and a huge smile on it's face. What was this? A monkey? Well, it looked like a monkey, so Risa would call it that. She gently traced her fingers over the toys belly, when something very unexpected happened;

The monkey let a noise saying ”Give me a hug!”. This caused both Risa and Ai to look at the toy with wide eyes, till Risa decided to turn into her reaction queen mode, raising her hands up and looking like a deer in the headlights.

”It was the monkey!” She rambled quickly, while Ai just stared at her, not saying a word.

”Give me a hug!”

The monkey repeated, when Risa's fingers accidentally traced over it's belly again. Now, they both turned to look at they toy, which was only smiling down at them. Both female's gazes dropped down at the same time and met once again. And then, it happened: Both Risa and Ai burst into laughter, for this situation was just too hilarious. They tried to hold back, but it was just so damn hard and it did not help the situation, that Risa managed to make the monkey speak again, trying to get a hug from someone.

When they both finally calmed down a bit, Risa gently punched Ai with the toy, making it to talk again.

”Oi! You did not tell me about this!” She said, trying to sound serious. But no matter what, she just could not stop laughing.

”Hey, I did not know either!!” Ai tried to defend herself as Risa ”punched” her again. They both talked between chuckles as they tried to calm down. After few minutes, the two warriors gained some kind of a control over themselves. They stood straight and faced each others again.

”Well, that was unexpected...” Risa said as she tried to catch her breath.

”Yeah, it was...” Ai mumbled.

'I bet Hiroshi has done something to this one... I have never ever seen this kind of toys in his place...'

The leader thought as she watched Risa holding the monkey in her hands, still occasionally laughing at the incident that had just happened. As she examined the girl in front of her, the leader got a déjà vu moment. It was like she was living something again, for this all felt suddenly so familiar...

Turning her gaze slowly back towards the sky, Ai remembered some old times. It felt like she was spending her time with Eri and the others again. She had last time laughed this much 5 years ago and now days, she had wondered, if she ever could laugh like that again.

But she had done it a while ago, which made her feel very good inside. Ai turned her gaze back towards Risa, who was now staring at the leader. They smiled at each others again, the fireworks slowly draining behind them and revealing the beautiful starry sky behind it.
Ai sighed a bit and turned to face the sky once again.

”I think I have to go take that thing away. It's quite late and I think all the kids have gone to sleep now...”

“Eeeh? You can just take it away, if you want to?” Risa exclaimed. The leader smiled a bit as she nodded her head.

“Yeah. I modified the apple so that I can dispel it whenever I want to.”

“You know, you're quite skilled with those apples...” The bean said, giving the leader a bit playful grin.

“Yeah, well... I like magic and these things are quite fun to play with...” Ai said, scratching her head a bit. The playful grin on Risa's lips turned into a smile as she watched the now a bit nervous leader in front of her. Then, her attention turned back to the sky, where the star animals and creatures were running wildly around.

”But the festival lasts still for hours?” The bean asked, causing Ai to turn her attention back to the bean.

”Yeah it does, but I am about to leave now, so I thought that maybe I should dispel this thing now, for I am the only one who knows how to do it...”

”Oh...” Risa said, suddenly a bit disappointed. She had gotten very comfortable around the leader, who had shown her new side to her. The side, which Ai probably was in reality. Gone was the rude and cold woman and now in front of Risa stood a person with a warm and friendly smile.

The woman she had hated, had turned out to be a very different kind of a person from inside and that made Risa regret all she had thought and said about Ai. She should have believed her friends who knew this person and who she really was, but Risa had been blinded by her own anger and had not accepted the possibility that Ai could have something different inside her.

“So, hopefully you had a good evening. See you around and good night.” The leader said suddenly, as she started to walk towards the place where she had had her own show earlier.

”Huh? OI! Wait!”

Ai had just spun around to leave when she heard Risa's voice and stopped immediately. She turned around to face the younger one, watching her with surprised expression. Risa had taken few steps towards her and was looking like she wanted to say something, but could not form any kind of words.

“Ano... Can't you... Can't you just leave it to be?”

Ai tilted her head a bit to the side, for Risa mumbled her words so quietly that she didn't quite catch what the younger one wanted to say.

Risa noticed this and tried to quickly form something coherent in her head. She had no idea, why she wanted Ai to stop and not leave yet. She wanted to spend some more time with her, to get to know her better.

“I mean... Can't you leave it to be?” Risa said again, speaking a lot slower now. Ai blinked once, turning to face the stars till she turned back to Risa.

“You mean, I would leave it to be, till it disappears on it's own?”

Risa's eyes lit with excitement as the leader got the message she had tried to say. She only nodded her head as response, while Ai just stared at the sky again.

“I don't know...” Ai said quietly, causing Risa to frown. Did the leader not want to be here?  Or what was it?

”But... You have the shelter for the apple and why would you erase that beautiful thing away now? I think it brings more joy, if it's kept here till the end of this festival.”

Ai glanced Risa without saying a word and seemed to consider this. It would not do any harm to leave that thing out there, so why not. It indeed would bring more joy like that.

“Okay then, I'll leave it like that. But I am leaving the festival now.”

With that the leader started to walk in different direction, only to be stopped by Risa again.

”I'll go with you.”

Now, both warriors stopped and stared at each others with wide eyes.

'What am I doing?' Risa thought as she watched those chocolate brown eyes, which had the very same look as she had now. Why did she want to go with Ai? Why didn't she want to let her go on her own way? Ai had quite the same questions rolling in her head, for she really thought that Risa would not want to be so eagerly nearby her. What was this?

“O... Okay...” The leader mumbled a bit shyly as Risa just nodded her head and the two started to walk again, now in a silence. Both were all the time thinking what had happened and what was happening right now. They walked among the villagers, not saying a word as people passed by them.

Soon, they reached the main gate, where were only few people, probably leaving for home as well. They kept on going, the silence starting to annoy both of them. A while ago, they could have talked about anything and even laugh and now, they were in this awkwardness again. This should not continue like this.

“Hey...”

”You know...”

Both started at the same time and tried to give the other one a chance to speak.

“You say first.” Risa said, but Ai only shook her head.

“No, you go on. You started.”

”Well... Actually we did it at the same time... And, I don't really remember what I was saying anyway, so you go ahead!” The bean said, extending her hand towards the leader as if giving her a turn to speak.

”Oh, yeah. Mmm... Well actually, I don't remember either...” Ai said a bit sheepishly as she watched the ground instead of Risa, the younger one being quite the same. But the bean was the first one to gather her gourage and open her mouth, ending this awkward silence.

“Hey, what do you say if we just... If we just keep on walking. Till we reach our homes?”

Finally Ai raised her head and faced the younger girl, who had a small smile on her lips. This sounded like a deal and in the end, it was something they were about to do anyway.

“Yeah, lets do that.”

The smile grew bigger on her face, as Risa heard Ai's answer and they started to walk again.

“Where do you live by the way?” Risa asked. This silence should not go on anymore, so she decided to keep on talking. The bean had had had enough of this and even if she had to talk nonsense, then so be it. Anything else was better than this damn silence.

“I live quite nearby the training area.” Ai answered, relieved that the other one had talked first. She either didn't like this silence but somehow, it was just so damn hard to talk to this girl. Maybe it was the regret she still felt of her own actions and how she had hurt this person. It was like she didn't deserve to talk to her.

“Oh, so that makes us almost neighbours!”

“Well kind of. I live... wait a minute. You have been in my house before, right?” Ai said surprised. Risa thought this for a while, when she suddenly remembered that she indeed had visited the leader's house before. How could she have forgotten this?

“Oh, yeah I have! It was then when....”

And the silence was back as both girls remembered that night. The same awkwardness was back between them and it was very hard to open a new conversation now. Risa had also hoped that Ai had not remembered that night, but of course she had to remember that. Everything would be so much easier, if people could erase all the painful and horrible memories they had had.

“Thanks.”

Ai said suddenly, causing Risa to frown. She turned towards the leader beside her, who was now facing the ground.

“Thanks for what?”

Ai was quiet for while, because she really didn't have much courage to talk now. Even saying that thanks had been quite hard. And of course, the bean wanted to know why she had thanked her, so she asked about it. Now, the leader was struggling to get more words out of her throat and in some miraculous way, she did it.

“Thank you, for being out there then...”

Risa had to listen very carefully, for the leader talked so quietly that she didn't almost hear what she said. But she got all the words and what she heard made her very surprised. The bean had not expected anything like this at all! Had she really done something good to the leader back then?

“I... I just... argh, damn it...” Ai mumbled and turned to face away from Risa. Luckily for the leader, Risa had noticed how hard this was for her. She had gotten the message and this would be enough. Placing her hand gently on Ai's shoulder Risa tried to calm the older girl down.

“Hey, it's okay. You don't have to force yourself...”

”Your home.”

”..Sorry?”

Now Risa indeed was outside, for the leader had stopped walking and was just staring ahead. She raised her hand and pointed forwards, Risa following after till she finally noticed and realized that they had arrived at her apartment.

“Oh, we are here...”

Neither didn't move, they just stared the house ahead of them, Risa still keeping her hand on Ai's shoulder, while the leader just stared the building. Well this was great; they had created this awkward silence around them, once again. Risa cleared her throat and patted the leader gently on her shoulder, walking past her at the same time.

“Well, I think I'll go now, for...”

”Wait!”

Suddenly, Risa felt how the older one grabbed her hand, but let it immediately go when the bean stopped. Ai was still a bit shy when she touched this girl, for she really thought that the personal area should not be broken. She was not quite sure what the younger one thought about her and it would be safer to just not touch her. The bean stared at the warrior with a huge question mark hanging above her head. What now?

“Ano....” Ai started as she tried to force herself to speak. Damn it, she could fight without fear on the battlefield, but when it came to things like this, she was like a wimp. What a warrior she was.

“About that night... I just... I just wanted to thank you, cause....”

A deep sigh escaped her lips as the leader tried to form something sane in her head. Risa kept her mouth shut and waited. She wanted to hear what Ai wanted to say and interrupting her would only do harm right now. So Risa patiently waited till the leader would gather herself and spit out what she wanted to say.

Ai took another deep sight and faced the ground, shaking her head a bit. She was silent for a moment and Risa was about to ask, if everything was okay, but was interrupted by the leader who suddenly raised her head and looked at her.

“I just wanted to thank you, because I really know how you must have hated me back then and how you still don't like me very much. But, you still did something unselfish and helped me, though all I had done was some pain to you. So, thank you, really.”

Her voice being stronger and her whole being radiating some determination, Ai spoke to Risa, doing a small bow at the end of her words. Risa just stood there, amazed by the leader's words. She had not seen this coming and had nothing to say. Though she tried to say something, she just could not find the words, though she wanted to.

“I.. I let you go now. Good night.”

”Ai wait.”

Suddenly Risa found her voice when Ai informed that she would be leaving again. The leader didn't get to move an inch when she froze again after hearing Risa's voice. The bean was thinking something very deeply, for her brown was furrowed and she was biting her lower lip.

“You think I still hate you?” Finally Risa found her voice again and she even had the courage to raise her head up as well and face Ai. The leader just watched her with sadness in her eyes as she recalled all the things she had done. Not only to Risa, but to her friends too. But her friends were a bit different thing, for Ai had known them for years.

But Risa was still quite a mystery to her and she just had all the time a feeling that the younger one must have hated her. Also, Ai had not hurt her friends in a way she had hurt Risa. Though sometimes, she thought could she even compare the things she had done to her friends and Risa. All of them had been something horrible and something she would regret for the rest of her life.

“Have you... Have you ever heard of a word forgivness?”

Though she wanted to turn her face away, when Ai turned to look at her in surprise, Risa soldiered on and kept her eyes on the leader. She would not run away now, when she had stared this. Though, she still kept on telling her that forgiving the leader now was a bit too early, she would do this.

Also, the sooner she forgave Ai, the sooner this awkwardness between them would end. It had been great to act normally around the older one, laugh and talk with her like they were friends. Risa wanted that to continue in the future too, and saying face to face to the leader, that she was forgiven would make things between them a lot easier. Yes, she would do it now.

“Ai.” Risa started softly, for she really wanted to be sure that the leader was listening to her. Soon, Ai snapped a bit and was looking less surprised. This was a sign to Risa that the leader indeed was listening to her and her message would be understood. Or at least, she hoped so.

“It's true I harbored some hate towards you, but,” Risa changed the subject immediately, when she noticed the pained look on Ai's face when she said the word hate. Damn, she didn't want to screw this now. “But that was then and now is now. And... I must admit, that I did wrong when I judged you so soon...”

”What other choice you had...” The leader interrupted suddenly, but Risa held her hand up, shutting Ai's mouth. She was not finished yet.

“I could have had listened to my friends instead of being blinded by my anger. But that's all past now and you have showed me who you truly are...” Risa kept a pause as she gave a gentle smile to the leader who was watching her with that deer in the headlights face again. Was this true? Did Risa forgive her just like that? This could not be.

”But... But the things I did to you! You just... I know you're going to remember those things for the rest of your life! All the suffering you have experienced... It's not just right, I don't deserve to be forgiven!!” The leader started to rant with a desperate voice but for some reason, this did not make Risa falter at all. She listened calmly and waited till Ai had finished. When she had calmed down, Risa came a bit closer, gently calling the leader again and gaining her attention.

”We talked about this already, didn't we? You are not willing to do those things to me now, you regret what you have done and you are willing to change this situation. Isn't that a good thing? If you ask me, there's a lot of reasons to forgive you...”

”I can never be forgiven about what I have done...”

Hearing this, the younger one frowned a bit, but soon she got that gentle smile back on her lips. She placed a hand on Ai's shoulder once again, causing the older one to flinch a bit but Risa did not let go. She would not let Ai fall in her self depression, she would drag her out of there.

”Ai, though I would forgive you hundred times, you have to be ready to forgive yourself, too. If you never move on from your past, you will never reach anything new in your life. So, get rid of those bad thoughts. Learn from them, but don't get stuck at them.”

”But I made so much bad things and...”

”We all have done and that's the way humans are. Hey, look at me.” Taking a gentle hold of the leader's chin Risa turned Ai to face her, keeping her gentle smile all the time. Again, Ai was like she had just gotten one of those bad dreams of hers and Risa was willing to erase that face. She wanted to see Ai smiling, or at least get rid of those eyes which were full of regret and sorrow.

”Now, you will accept my forgiveness and forgive yourself too. It might be hard but really, that will make you feel better later. Please Ai, do it for your friends sake. Have you seen how worried Eri and the others are about you? Now is a good time to start to fix the things you have done in your past, ne. And don't you dare to say that there's no way you can fix those things.”

Though her voice was firm and determined, Risa had all the time some kind of a gentle tone with it. She was not angry or anything, but she just wanted to make sure that the leader would get her message.

Ai just stared at her, the sorrow still in her eyes, but something had also changed: It was true, that she could never ever forgive herself of what she had done, but Risa's words made some sense. She would at least try to leave those bad things behind her and live again, like she had done before those dark 5 years. She would at least try. Slowly nodding, Ai smiled a bit sheepishly at Risa, which made the bean smile wider.

”I... I promise to try...”

”That's better than nothing, ne?”

Again, Ai just nodded her head as she stared at the bean. She indeed reminded her of Eri, like everyone else had said. They both had that kind being, will to help others and angel like nature. This made Ai remember all those times she had talked with Eri and how she had said same kind of words to her like Risa had a while ago. All these thoughts made Ai smile a bit wider and suddenly, she felt very thankful.

She was a horrible person and she would never get that thought out of her head, but with these people around her, she was able to get rid of that resolve for a while. And maybe, someday, she would weaken it so much, that she would not even remember it anymore. Yes, that seemed very possible right now.

”Thank you.” Ai whispered quietly, which the bean just nodded her head and smiled back.

”You're welcome. And thank you, too. I had very nice evening tonight. I really had fun.”

”That's... That's good to hear. I had fun, too.”

They just stood there, smiling at each others and once again not knowing what to say. They knew they should go home now, but somehow leaving with just saying good bye felt wrong.

“So... We'll see some day again?” Risa asked carefully and immediately thought, that was a bit silly question. Of course they would see again, for they were warriors and they practiced together...

“Yeah, we will see...” Ai answered quietly, moving her eyes a bit restlessly. It still felt a bit funny act like this around each others, but it would probably go away with the time. Or at least, that was what they both hoped.

“Well, I think it's  good night then.”

”Un. So, good night...”

Though both women had said good night already, neither did not move an inch. They just stood there, because it just felt a bit funny to just leave now. They didn't know why they could not move, but luckily Risa got so nervous about this situation that she had started to move her fingers and accidentally, she once again brushed the toy monkey's belly. And of course, the monkey ”talked”.

“Give me a hug!”

That startled both girls and eventually made them laugh too, as a funny memory some hours ago, popped back in their minds.

“I really go now...” Ai said as she scratched her head a bit and gave Risa one last gentle smile, the bean doing the same.

“Yes. See you.”

”See you.”

And finally, they were able to leave for their homes. Immediately, when they both arrived at their apartment, they changed their clothes and went to the bed, staring at the ceiling at least for one hour and smiling at the same time. It felt so good to be in good terms with each others, now. The hating and all the tension had been hard and now with it gone, every thing felt a lot better and lighter.

As both Risa and Ai stared at their own home's ceilings and thinking about this evening and eventually falling asleep, a shooting star flew once again through the sky. But it lasted a bit longer this time and after it was gone, another followed, lasting exactly the same time.

-----------------------------

This was something.... Very hard to write for some reason. @___@
Well, hopefully you enjoyed this chapter!
 :sleep: I'm off to bed~


Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.

Offline rndmnwierd

  • Subleader of Tsunku's Army
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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 25/ 18/04
« Reply #91 on: April 20, 2013, 08:34:06 AM »
They're so awkward, it's cute!

Offline darkacex99

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 25/ 18/04
« Reply #92 on: April 20, 2013, 01:43:17 PM »
ugh soo much ackwardnessss :panic: u can tell they are trying their best to work with each other but the only outcome seems to be the ackwardness :sweatdrop:

nice lengthy chapter  :yep:

Offline MsSmigge

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 26/ 25/04
« Reply #93 on: April 24, 2013, 11:29:03 PM »
rndmnwierd:  :lol:

darkacex99: Oh, there's once again more to come~

Thank you for your comments, thank you's and interest everyone~

I should be sleeping by now, but here I am, posting this. I'll sleep a bit longer tomorrow~

The next chapter, here we go~


Chapter 26 - Watching over her


As everyone had expected, it took only few days after the festival, when Yoshizawa got a guest who would bring some bad news. However, this guest was not let inside the village's gates but she had to stay outside the walls. They could not take the risk that enemy would be led inside the village even, if there was only one of them. Even one person would do a lot of harm. She could for example spy about things, if she got inside and you could never be sure what they would left behind them when the would leave.

So, the ”guest” was riding her horse in front of the main gate, the horse trotting back and forth and the rider waiting for someone to come in her sight. Soon, her waiting was priced and Yoshizawa's head came into view from behind the wall. At the same time the Heng army's leader could see other heads pop out as well. But these heads had something growing above them and Ju could also see something small and shining.

'Archers...'

Goto had insisted that there must be at least one person watching over the king when she reveals her face to the enemy and is on open land. She personally was standing beside the king, ready to do anything, if something was to happen. The soldiers always become very nervous when it came to their king, because losing Yoshizawa would be a hard hit for everyone. She was their leader and she kept things rolling and safe in here, but she was also loved as a person and a good leader. Losing her would lower everyone's moral and motivation in this war.

But the king herself was very calm when she was in front of her enemy and this was the only time she showed some of her royal education. She had to show that she was higher than her enemy, but with her people she could act more freely.

Standing on the platform, which was located above the main gate, Yoshizawa stood with her head held up high and with a proud face. She had a whole black dress on but she had no weapons on. She would show she didn't carry weapons all the time, for it might have provoked the enemy. Diplomacy was her way to solve things, not cruel power.

Ju got only exited when she saw the king who was watching her with a stern face.

“Well hello there, Yossi!” She yelled and rode a bit closer, the archers and Goto following her every moment all the time. When she got closer, Ju stopped her horse which started to nervously dance around, but Ju managed to hold it so that she could speak with the king. After changing looks with her enemy, Yoshizawa only nodded her head a bit and waited what the Heng wanted to say.

“You have quite a nice place here don't ya?”

There was an evil grin on Ju's face all the time as she sat on the nervous horse. As it jumped a bit around a red white blanket which was tied on the saddle flapped in the air. It was a mark, that the person who carried it came only to talk, not to fight. This symbol was something which even the Heng would not dare to break.

It was said that if someone used this symbol in a wrong way, the God's of war would come and send the fallen soldiers ghosts to get their revenge. It was just a myth, but it was strong enough to scare people so that they would not use the symbol in a wrong way.

“You know why I came here?” Ju yelled at the king, trying all the time to keep the animal under her in control. ”Well, of course you don't, for you're so dense...”

The mocking did not make Yoshizawa falter. She just kept her position, holding her hands behind her back and keeping her head up high. The leader should never show any emotions, no matter what, so the opponent could not use anything against her. When the leader was talking with the enemy in front of her people, she should be cold like a rock and steady as a peaceful ocean.

“I came to give you a warning. Warning, you hear?” Ju pulled the reins and the horse started to dance around even more. Letting the animal jump few times, Ju soon calmed it down, all the time keeping her eyes locked with Yoshizawa, who did the same.

“We are coming to you,” Ju Raised her hand and pointed towards Yoshizawa, holding the reins now in her other hand.

“After one week when the sun rises, our troops, stronger than before, bigger than before, come to you and your sissy army. We are going to beat you, free this land and blend it in Heng's! Yes, you can order your men and people to get ready to a new time, for we are taking you down this time.”

As Ju raged below, Yoshizawa stood still and didn't move an inc. She had noticed how her opponent had gotten a bit impatient for she had not said anything and was just staring at her. The punch of archers didn't help Ju's situation at all either.

“But, my master is merciful and gives you an opportunity to solve this without blood.” The Heng clan's warrior waited for a while, if she could get some kind of a reaction from the king, but when nothing happened she growled furiously and made the horse dance under her, once again. She pulled the reins with power, causing the animal to get on it's back feet. When it came back down, Ju kept on speaking.

“Join us and give up. That way, you may live and your people will be treated well. Fight us and be stubborn, you're all going to die and your name is wiped away from the history books.” The Heng yelled and let the horse run for a while. But soon, she made it to turn around forcefully so she could talk with the king. ” It's your choice. Say it out loud in front of your people! What will their future be? It's all up to your next words.”

Still, not moving an inch, Yoshizawa kept her stern stare on Ju, who had gotten some power from speaking and was waiting for the king's answer eagerly. Finally, the king moved as she took her arms from behind her back and spread them to her sides.

“Both of your choices give me and my people only a ticket to our own graves...”

”No, they wont!” Heng interrupted Yoshizawa. She wanted to provoke the king, so she would get nervous and say something wrong. ”Give up and we will spare your life!”

But Yoshizawa knew her enemy and what they wanted her to do. If she only kept her head cool and calm, she would make this through without any bigger problems.

“I know you wont spare our and especially, my life, if you get in here. I know what you want and I know what your leader desires. No, there's no such an option as staying alive without a fight.” The king's firm and calm voice boomed through the open, sounding almost like thunder.

”As long as you're willing to fight and we have our land, these people will fight for their own liberty and home. And as long as I am alive, I will give all I have and do everything I can, so I can keep my people safe. If you have nothing else to say or you haven't changed your mind, please, return to your leader and tell what I just told to you. When ever you're ready to make peace, so are we,”

There was a small pause as Yoshizawa leaned a bit over the wall looking deep in Ju's eyes. ”But as long as you keep on fighting, so do we.”

It seemed like the horse under Ju got nervous when Yoshizawa stared at them, for it started to dance around more than before, tossing it's head up and down and making weird whining sounds.

Suddenly, a loud yell was heard from behind the walls as all the villagers, who were listening to this conversation, showed their favour to the king. Ju listened as the yelling kept on going and grew louder and louder all the time.

'Damn, all the people are standing behind the king though she just continued the war...'

Ju turned the horse furiously around few times, before she made it stand still. She stared deep in Yoshizawa's eyes, gritting her teeth together in anger as the king just stared her sternly back. Her people were still cheering for her, making sure to show their enemy how much Yoshizawa had support behind her.

“Fine, keep on fighting and kill you people then!! It's your choice, but remember! We offered you peace but you would not accept it!” Ju yelled at Yoshizawa and at the same time she took her sword in her hand, causing all the archers to get prepared and Goto to flinch a bit.

But Yoshizawa just stood still, like she had done for the last 20 minutes. A sword could not reach her in here and she knew that Ju was alone. She had nothing to be worried about.

“And before I go, I have a message to someone inside the walls, which you may deliver unless the person herself hears this now.” There was a small pause as Ju grinned evilly.

”Tell Takahashi, that I am looking for her on the battlefield and that my duel challenge is always valid. She better not chicken out...”

And with that, Ju finally turned the horse fully around, kicking her legs to it's sides and sending the animal running wildly forwards. The ”peace flag” got off in the action and it flew to the ground, while Ju got further and further away.

Yoshizawa watched after her enemy, keeping her cool and pride as Ju rode away. The archers kept their position, too, till they could not see Ju anymore. When Ju was gone, Yoshizawa gave a hand signal and all the archers left the wall, Goto following after her king as they exited the platform.

Under the platform, people were gathered around and were ready to welcome their king back. When Yoshizawa came to sight, she was immediately greeted by her son, whom she caught in her arms and lifted up. Rika walked after Akira, proudly and elegantly as she came beside her spouse, giving her a light peck on the lips while the king wrapped her free arm around her wive's waist, holding her close tightly.

The general and captain came immediately closer, ready to take the king's orders in and make their troops ready to leave.

“You heard what she said. But we can't never trust our enemy fully, so we are not going with full force.” Yoshizawa gave orders to her highest ranking leaders, who were carefully listening to her.

”Goto, gather your men and prepare them. Fujimoto, you prepare the rest men and make sure that there is no place, where the enemy may enter our land with large groups. Also, inform the other villages about the situation and do preparations in there as well.  Understood?”

”Yes, sir!” Goto and Miki said at the same time and left for their missions. Yoshizawa watched after them, till her attention was caught by something else. Someone was approaching her and when the person came closer, the king could recognize her young group leader. Ai stopped in front of Yoshizawa and bowed a bit. This caused the king to frown and sigh deeply.

Yoshizawa was back in her civil mode and was not the cool and perfect leader anymore, so she would get annoyed by all the bowing and such again.

“My lord, I....”

”And stop right there. No my lord's, got it?” The king said firmly, causing Ai to mumble something and nod her head a bit nervously.

“I was just coming to inform you that I am going to take part in this fight.” There was a nervous tone in Ai's voice as she spoke and of course, the king understood immediately what was wrong.

”You are? Are you fully recovered?” Ouch, straight to the weak point. Ai turned her head shyly away, for she didn't want to admit that she was not quite fully recovered. But she could not lie to her king either. She had to tell the truth.

“No, I am not... Or at least that's what they say... Though, I feel fine.”

”Well you know what that means then?” Judging by Yoshizawa's tone, Ai was so sure, that she would not get what she wanted from the king.

”Yes, but....” Ai moved her eyes to the ground, till she raised her head and looked at Yoshizawa with determination.

“I know I can fight! Please, let me go! I have been away for too long time and I have to get to the battlefield!” The young group leader pleaded, her voice almost desperate.

Yoshizawa listened calmly what her warrior wanted to say at her. After Ai had finished, the king knew exactly, what the younger girl had heard and why she was so eager to get on the battlefield:

”You heard Ju, didn't you?”

”I....” Ai fell silent as she was caught. Yes, she had heard her rival speak and she had wanted immediately to go outside and take a duel with her. But now, that the king knew why she would not rest till she was recovered, she would not get away from here. There was just no way that Yoshizawa would let her go...

“I know what you're thinking about and I don't like it at all.” The king spoke in a firm tone as she let her son and Rika go and walked towards Ai, stopping just in front of her.

“If you want to go so that you can duel with Ju, There's no way I will let you go.” The firm look made Ai falter a bit backwards and she shyly lowered her head and moved her gaze frantically around, not being able to face the king.

This scene made Yoshizawa sigh and massage her temples. Damn, it was like she was looking an eagle trapped in a cage when she saw Ai like this. It was not the whole truth that the group leader was only after her rival. Ai was also a warrior who had practiced her whole life, so it was no wonder that she wanted back to the battlefield. Being a warrior was also in her vein. No matter what, her blood always told her to get back to the battlefield. She probably had lived most of her life out there, too.

“But,” Yoshizawa started, cursing immediately in her head that she even began this sentence. As she glanced at the younger girl, the king could see how Ai's head had popped up and a hopeful glistening was visible in her eyes. Damn, it was too late already...

 ”if you go and promise me that you wont duel with Ju, I might consider about this.”

”What?” Ai gasped and looked at the king with wide eyes. Would she let her go?

Yoshizawa had anticipated this and she was still regretting that she opened her mouth in the first place. Now, she had to end this somehow and so, that she would not hurt Ai nor she would sent the group leader to her death.

“But you must promise me you wont duel. If I hear anything like that when you're on the field, I devote you, Takahashi Ai, to a stable girl and you can be sure you will see the battlefield never again.”

”I promise my lord.” Ai said quickly already making the decision in her mind. She would respect Yoshizawa's will and would not take part in the duel, no matter what. She would keep the trust she had earned from the higher ups and the king and she would not lose it.

She grieved so badly to get back to fight for her people and now that she got a chance, and the rules were given to her, she was willing to obey them as long as she could get there.

“I would like to keep you here, just because you called me ”my lord” again....” Yoshizawa grumbled, causing Ai to chuckle a bit. It sounded like the king was more worried about Ai calling her my lord than letting her go.

“Please, let me go. I'll promise to fulfill your word and fight only by the orders I am given. I'll stay away from the duel, as you have wished.” Ai said and was almost about to bow, but when she saw the firm look on Yoshizawa's face, she stopped her actions and just stared at her.

The king sighed deeply and waved her hand a bit, signaling that she had lost this fight. Ai's face lit as she thanked the king and left running so she could get ready for practices and such.

So, Ai ran away, oblivious that the king was following after her all the time. When the group leader was out of the sight, Yoshizawa walked back to Akira and Rika who had waited for her. The king scooped the small boy in her arms again and took a hold of her wives hand.

“You let her go?” Rika asked.

”You saw how eager she was. I just can't let that fire burn down. She cannot be hold back when it comes to fighting.” The king said as the small family started to walk away together.

By now, people had gotten back to their own chores and tasks. Yoshizawa looked up at the sky as she walked on with Rika and Akira, a small knowing smile forming on her lips.

'She's just like you sensei, young and reckless, full of energy and spirit. I just can't hold that girl back when she is chasing after her dreams. I pray you'll watch after her when she's out there and make her and the others be safe. Onegaishimasu Heishiro-san'

--------------------------------------------------

Ai ran as fast as she could. Her body was full of energy and she could not be happier. Though, battles and war never were anything fun, this young warrior had spent her whole life only thinking about fighting and practicing so it had grown to be part of her. She could not live without this and she was sure, there was nothing in the world that could beat her desire.

Noticing she had finally gotten to her destination, Ai did not slow down at all, but she ran inside the training area. The door flew open with a loud band as Ai entered, making the four women inside scare to death.

Though Ai had run a long way here she was not exhausted at all. No, she could not be exhausted after she had gotten the permission to go.

“Geez Ai, where's the fire??”

Eri was the first one to recover as the three others gathered themselves back together.

“I got permission.”

It was all the warrior said before she went to her personal closet and took some equipment out of it, putting them on a nearby table.

“Permission to what?”

Sayu asked frowning a bit, for Ai's interruption had ruined her cuddling moment with Eri and that indeed didn't make the bunny very happy. Reina and Risa were also now back on their feet now, outside of everything what had happened.

The two were quite okay with each others by now and they didn't feel any awkwardness when they were in the same room at the same time. It was made clear, that they would be friends, no matter what, and ”the crush” between them had been long forgotten already.

They didn't want to ruin their friendship because of this so they would throw all the awkwardness away and enjoy each others company, like they did with their other friends.

“Permission to leave for battle.” Ai chirped and was followed by a death silence. Everyone was just staring at her, mostly with concerned eyes.

”Ai...” Eri called out gently, causing the young leader to turn her attention towards her. Her smile vanished away and she stopped rummaging through her closet, as she noticed her friend's faces.

”What?” The group leader asked confused.

”Are you sure about this?”

The leader turned now fully towards her turtle friend who had still that concerned look on her face. In fact, when Ai watched around her, she could see that everyone was watching her with concern and she had a clue why. After her little breakdown, Ai would be very vulnerable to get some flashbacks when she would return to the battlefield and that wouldn't be very good thing. She could get immobilized, get more traumas and even change again, this time maybe forever. Ai knew this too, but she just wanted to return so badly to the field. It had been her life for a long while and she didn't know what other things she would do than keep on fighting for her country.

”Ai, we know how much you love our country and how much you want to defend it, but... Could you just please recover completely before going back?” Eri asked quietly.

”But I have already recovered. See? It's the old me.”

Spreading her arms, Ai spun around few times which caused a smile to grow on all her friend's face, even on Risa's. Yes, it indeed was true Ai was back again and she was recovering well, but no one could know what the battlefield would do to the young leader. Also, if she saw Sayaka or Ju, she would probably get very furious and remember her past and that would again gain some conflicts inside Ai's head.

Still smiling, Eri walked to Ai and patted her gently on her shoulder, causing the leader to lower her arms.

”We know that Ai and you have no idea how happy we are because of that. But, we just want to make sure that we wont lose you again. That's why we want you to rest till Lin Lin gives you a permission to leave for battle.”

Ai understood her friends, but she could not do as they asked. The papers she got from the nurse had said that she should recover 2 more weeks and there was no way she could do that. The thread she had heard this morning made her blood boil and she wanted to protect this country once again. She would stand the stress and other things fighting would bring back in her mind. She would not fall in the darkness again.

”I promised the king already that I will do only what I am ordered to do.” The leader tried to play her triumph card, for she knew that her friends were very aware of her respect towards Yoshizawa. Ai would never ever do against Yoshizawa's word and that was her way to get her friends accept this thing, too. Eri watched her friend with a deep frown, seeing a bit of hope in the chocolate eyes of her friend.

'Damn, go and play that card then...'

Eri thought as she bit her lip a little bit. Finally, she took her hand away from Ai's shoulder and spun around, sighing loudly as she did so.

”Fiiiine.... Be a stubborn leader, damn it...”

Ai could not help but smile a little bit at her friend's reaction, but as she turned back to check her equipment, the leader stopped for a moment. She was quite selfish when she was doing this to her friends, leaving them to worry after her. Smiling gently the leader put her sword away and turned towards her friends who were still in their places, Sayu, Reina and Risa sitting on chairs as Eri was standing.

Ai walked to the turtle and gently took a hold of her hand, gaining the younger girl's attention. She had gotten an idea which could make them be a little less reluctant to this permission thing.

”Nee, how about I promise you guys I will spend this evening with you guys? I'll start practicing tomorrow, but I'll take it easy today with you guys. I know, that you don't have training today so we have some free time.”

Eri watched her friend with a frown and so did Sayu and Reina.

”One day doesn't replace two weeks....” The kitten growled from her seat, gaining an approval nod from her two friends.

”But if I spend it with the greatest friends in the whole world and have fun and forget all the sadness, it's quite the same thing, ne?”

All The Team Alfa members just rolled their eyes as their leader just could not help but grin at this situation. It was like in old days; Ai was always thinking only fighting and training and her friends would try to get her do something else. Then, when they got annoyed enough, Ai would promise that they would do something fun together for one day and that would usually make them less annoyed.

”Ai, we are not 13 anymore...” Sayu growled as she got up as well and walked beside Eri. She wrapped her arm immediately around the turtle so she would stay calm as her leader was playing stubborn, once again.

”Yeah, this is a whole different situation now...” Reina said, doing the same thing as Sayu and soon, the whole team was standing in a circle, subordinates glaring at their leader and Ai trying to convince them to let her go. Risa followed this scene in front of her with amusement and at the same time she felt some kind of happiness too. It was so nice to see how her friends could be with their leader like they had been years ago and how Ai had changed. She was a whole different person now, smiling, thinking others and even joking once in a while. Now, Risa could totally see a good leader instead of that cold and heartless person.

“Come on guys, don't be so dense.”

Ai moved her gaze between her friends, till she suddenly noticed how they were approaching her slowly. The leader started to back away, raising her arms a bit as she guessed what her team would do next, some memories coming back to her mind.

“Guys....”

”Get her!!” Eri commanded and Reina and Sayu did as ordered. Reina attacking her leader's legs and Sayu trapping her arms, they made Ai fall face first to the ground and when that was done, Eri jumped right on top of her, preventing Ai's escape.

”Hey!!” Ai protested as her jacket was tucked up with her shirt, so that her lower back was revealed, the cool air causing goose bumps to travel through her body.

”And here, Risa, you get to know our leader's weak spot which we always use when we punish her or make her do what we want to.”

Though Eri was talking in a serious tone, Risa could see some playfulness in her friend's eyes. They were not doing anything bad at the leader, they were just doing... something only The Team Alfa knew...

”Oi! I order you to let me go!” Ai yelled, as she tried to get away.

”Did you hear something Sayu?” Reina asked, faking surprised as Sayu did the same.

”Must be the wind.”

”GUYS!!”

”Here we go.”

Suddenly all the shouting and yelling was replaced by a hysteric laughter as the sub leader attached her fingers at Ai's sides and started to tickle her furiously. The leader squirmed like an eel which had been caught, howling in laughter at the same time and trying to catch her breath.

”STOP IT... HAHAHAHAHAH! ERIHAHAHHA!!”

Risa could not help but laugh herself too, for this was way too amusing! The leader was completely under her group's mercy and couldn't do a thing. Heck, only if the enemy knew, they could have had killed this warrior by tickling her so much that she could not breath anymore.

Eri kept on assaulting her leader for a few more seconds, till she gave her a break, slouching on her friend's back and smiling a bit as she felt Ai's fast breathing moving her up and down.

“Now, as we have grown older and wiser, we are not falling for your trap so easily.” Eri said as she poked Ai's side few times, causing the leader to yelp.

“We want something more than just a trip in the town, so we wont be angry at you." Reina continued Eri's words, tickling her leader as well and almost getting Ai's heel in her head.

“And even I am in this childish game...” Sayu mumbled, but kept her pride and did not tickle Ai, which the leader thanked in her mind. She was still out of her breath and she was seeing stars by now, because of the lost of oxygen.

“So, say the magic words and we will let you go.” Eri said, giving Risa a wicked grin and a wink. The bean got up and walked closer to watch the pile of warriors on the floor, smiling all the time. She so could not wait to hear what the ”magic words” were.

Ai huffed few times before she had calmed down enough to speak again.

”Yes, Eri I'll buy you some candies, Reina, I will give you a foot massage and Sayu I'll borrow you my tactic book... Phew.. Now let me go?”

But the team did not let their leader go. Instead, Eri just poked her side again, causing Ai to jump up.

“Hey! I already promised you everything!”

”You forgot one.”

”Eh??”

This time, Eri rose a bit and grabbed Ai's head, turning it towards Risa who was quite surprised of what she had heard.

“Make a promise to her too.”

”EH??!!”

Now both Risa and Ai yelled at the same time. What could she promise to her? She didn't know at all what that girl liked! The same thoughts ran in Risa's head too as she stared the leader with wide eyes, Ai doing the same.

“Well? You going to do that, or we will give you a nice second round of....”

”NO!! No no.... I'll... Umm...” Ai panicked and started to think feverishly what Risa could like so she would be safe from another tickle attack, which her friends would be more than happy to give to her.

“I'll count to ten. One.”

'Come on now, think of something!!'

Though Risa had a feeling she should help the poor leader, in truth, she was quite curious what Ai would promise to her. Well, it could be anything, for the leader would probably just threw out something so she would be saved.

“Two.”

'What does she like? What does she like??'

“Three.”

Not getting anything in her mind, Ai tried to do the second best thing and get away, but soon found it was a bad idea: Immediately she started to squirm free, both Reina and Eri attached their fingers in her body and tickled her, while Sayu just held her in place.

“Now, that took you at least four more... So we are in... eight.”

”Oh shi...”

”Nine”

”I, I... I'LL PRACTICE WITH YOU TOMORROW!”

Ai yelled when the idea popped in her head, causing everyone to get silent around her. Eri stopped counting and even Sayu and Reina loosened their grip, while Ai and Risa just stared at each others.

Well this was something she did not expect, not at all. Risa had thought that Ai would promised her something material or better, not promise a thing for she didn't know this girl at all. But promising to practice with her? Well that was something, for Ai clearly knew that Risa was not very experienced warrior yet so she would have to take it slow whit her.

“Well, that's reasonable enough. Let her go.”

As soon as she got free, Ai shot up but because she had hyperventilated so much, she felt quite dizzy immediately. Her team being still on the ground level, Risa was the one who got there first, when the leader almost fell. She put her hands on Ai's shoulders and pushed her up, but damn was she heavy!!

“Woah...”

Before she even knew it, Risa found herself on the floor on her back and Ai on top of her, holding her head for her vision had darkened for a moment after she had gotten up.

“Uh... sorry...” Ai mumbled as she tried to get up but froze immediately when she noticed who she had dragged down with her. Risa was the same as she could only stare the leader above her. Well this was so non awkward again...

Suddenly, Ai was dragged up and Risa was freed from under her as Eri and Reina had grabbed their leader by her shoulders and drew her on her feet again.

”You better remember those promises then, ne? Now, we're off to town!” Eri declared as she and Reina linked arms together with Ai and started to drag her outside. Sayu stayed a bit behind, shaking her head as she watched her friends to go. Damn those brats. The bunny helped Risa up, who was still a bit shocked of what had happened a moment ago.

“Hey, you okay?”

”Huh? Oh yeah! I didn't fall down hard...”

Sayu just smiled at her and started to walk after her friends, Risa doing the same.

“We better go after them and be there for Ai, because knowing Eri and Reina, those two are going to torture Ai for the rest of the day....”

Risa didn't need to question what the bunny meant for she knew very well. Reina and Eri were known by their hyper mode, which they got once in a while. They both had it always at the same time, never separately. Risa smiled sadly as she remembered what Reina had told her, but she was also happy that her friend could live close with her loved one and be at least in a friendship with her. It was better than nothing, right?

As they exited the building, Risa could see three figures, all dressed in black moving on the street, the middle one trying to get away while the ones on the sides kept a tight hold of their leader. Poor Ai, but she had caused this on her own, Kind of.

“Come on, lets go save Ai....” Sayu sighed as she and Risa started to follow after the trio. They soon reached them and immediately Sayu went to Eri and gently pried her away from Ai, which the turtle protested a bit. Sayu silenced her girlfriend with her arm around Eri's waist and the turtle forgot the leader's teasing for a while. But she would not forget the promises her leader had made.

Reina kept Ai in her hold so that she couldn't get away and Risa just walked beside them. For some reason, the promise that Ai had made to her made her inside tickle and feel funny. Was she expecting tomorrow's practice so much? Well, it at least seemed so, for she had this strange feeling when she just thought about it.

But before that, she would have quite a show when Eri and Reina kept sure that Ai was going to fulfill all the promises she had done today. And Risa was sure, that this show would not end without another tickle attack.

-------------------------

Hope you liked this chapter~

Oyasuminasai everyone!  :sleep:


Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.

Offline darkacex99

  • Member+
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  • RISA RISA RISA!!!
Re: The mask of soul//chapter 26/ 25/04
« Reply #94 on: April 25, 2013, 12:18:55 AM »
wow things are moving along, the war is fixing to start and Ai wants to b a part of the action, something tells me that Ju is going to mess things up for Ai cuz she seems evil enough

i forgot that the battle scenes may trigger bad memories for Ai and cause her to go cray cray so it will be interesting to see how she does in battle, i hope she goes beast on all them bad guys

 XD Eri, Reina, and Sayu are too funny when they gang up on someone, the countdown was funny too  :rofl: poor Ai-chan XD but at least it caused her to promise to do something with Risa :)

thannk goodness there wasnt alot of awkwardness this time :nervous nice chapter and i definitely enjoyed it :lol:

sleep tight Mssmigge :tama-wakey: :mon bye: :tama-wakey:

Offline rndmnwierd

  • Subleader of Tsunku's Army
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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 26/ 25/04
« Reply #95 on: April 25, 2013, 08:48:08 PM »
I can't wait for the Takagaki practice to happen! That's going to be great.

Offline carzung

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 26/ 25/04
« Reply #96 on: April 26, 2013, 01:45:28 PM »
Wow TakaGaki  :w00t: They're so awkwardness but too cute  :inlove: together.

I really like when Rokkie team up, it's make everything so cute and funny.  :grin:

Offline alwaysYou

  • Aigaki<3 and AiReina<3
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  • Defeated by Aichan..Forever Lovely Aichan..<3
Re: The mask of soul//chapter 26/ 25/04
« Reply #97 on: April 27, 2013, 07:00:04 PM »
Looking forward for aigaki practice! hope it wont get too awkward  :lol: :lol: :lol:

Demand more sweet stuff between them!!!!  :angry: :lol:

Quote
”Tell Takahashi, that I am looking for her on the battlefield and that my duel challenge is always valid. She better not chicken out...”
something tell me that something bad will happen huh..
Even Ai promise not to duel with the enemy, somehow i think it might still happen..And something bad might happen to her..
but well, i'm ok if something bad is gonna happen to Ai and there's gakisan there to look after her.. :lol:


Offline MsSmigge

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 27/ 2/05
« Reply #98 on: May 02, 2013, 01:18:43 PM »
darkacex99: Just when I got Ai back from her depression and beast mode, you wish that she would turn back? XD Well, maybe I'll make her snap once in a while ;)

rndmnwierd: You don't know how long I have waited this  :lol:

carzung: Someone has to beat some sense in their leader's head and what's better than team rokkie XD

alwaysYou: Lol, the last sentence. I'm not sure if that's sweet or just cruel XD


Thank you everyone for your comments and interest once again~ :shy2:

The next chapter which became WAY LONGER than I expected  :bleed eyes: I got a bit carried away...  :nervous
Hope you will enjoy this.

Here we go~


Chapter 27 - And for a moment, the war was forgotten


“A bit left. No, not that much! Yeah, better. WAIT! Riiight there”

The voice of Tanaka Reina echoed in Risa's apartment as the kitten was having some foot massage from her leader. They had spend quite a long time in the town, relaxing and having fun and Ai fulfilling all her promises she had done to her friends. At the end of the day they had decided to go to Risa's place for it had been the closest one at the moment and since Eri said her place was a mess the bean's clean apartment was voted to be their choice.

Now, the whole gang was sitting on the floor in Risa's living room, the leader giving her promised foot massage to Reina who was laying on the floor on her back. The kitten had her legs in Ai's laps and she was extremely relaxed as she was enjoying her massage. Her hands were on her stomach and there was a smug grin on her lips. Ai almost swore, that her friend was even purring when she was massaged.

The rest of the girls were just sitting and watching the scene in front of them, Eri eating candies and Sayu glancing once in a while the book Ai had given to her. Risa was the only one who had nothing special to do for her promise was to be fulfilled tomorrow. All though, the bean had her doubts would Ai really practice with her.

Also, if the leader cancelled her promise, Risa would not mind. She knew how skilled Ai was and that she was just a beginner, so she would not bring much joy to the leader's training. Nonetheless, she would probably be beat quite badly....

But it would also be nice, if Ai kept her word and Risa was not quite sure why. Maybe it was always nice when promises were kept. Yeah, It had to be that.

“Oi, I think the time's up.” Eri called, causing Ai to slow down her actions only to gain a gentle kick from Reina.

“No it's not. Keep on going, you magic finger.”

But Ai just patted the kitten's feet, giving her last relaxing strokes and leaving Reina's legs in her lap. This caused the younger girl moan in disappointment as her relaxing massage ended.

“Sorry, but if I keep massaging you any longer, you wont be able to practice so well tomorrow.”

”Eh, what do you mean?”

”Muscles get tired when they are massaged enough and then you wont have energy in them, if you don't let them recover.”

”That's stupid....” Reina muttered as she glared the ceiling while Ai just chuckled. The leader looked outside, noticing how late it was already.

“I think I should leave now...”

”Eh, so soon?”

Eri exclaimed suddenly, her mouth full of candy. Yes, it indeed was quite late but the three friends had thought that Ai would literally spend the whole day with them. Including the night, too.

“Yeah, and I think you should leave too,” Ai said as she turned back to her friends. ”Risa probably wants to sleep tonight and that's impossible, if we all stay in here for too late.”

This caused everyone to silence and stare the leader who had a knowing smile on her face. But before anyone could question anything, Eri was already protesting against the idea, for she could see this only as Ai's excuse so she could escape again.

“No way! You're staying here with us! This night, we are all going to camp in here!”

”We do?”

”You do?”

Suddenly everyone's attention had turned to the sugar addicted turtle, who was now on her feet. Eri stormed to the front door and started to put her shoes on.

“Hey, where are you going to?” Sayu called out, but was soon silenced by Eri's hand signal and before anyone could question more, she had left the apartment. There was only the sound of Eri's footsteps as she descended the stairs outside.

“I knew I shouldn't have bought those candies to her...” Ai mumbled as she got up as well. As she did so, she placed Reina's legs gently on the floor and caused the kitten to frown for she had been very comfortable in her current position. Ai headed to the front door where everyone's shoes were. The rest of the girls soon followed after the leader, forming a half circle behind her.

“It has been a nice day, thank you for that.” Ai said after she had gotten her shoes on. She bowed towards her friends, but when she got up she was met only by dark looks and frowns.

“Yeah, it has,” Sayu mumbled. ”But we really hoped that you would rest some more... One day wont replace much...” The bunny crossed her arms in front of her, Reina doing the same.

“But hey, I relaxed and even fulfilled my promises to you, ne?” Ai said, as she spread her arms to her sides, smiling sheepishly at the same time.

”Yeees but it's not the same thing! Damn you're so dense...” Reina growled earning a laugh from Ai. Suddenly, the leader turned towards Risa. She smiled at her, causing Risa to confuse.

“I guess we will see tomorrow at the training place, then?”

Risa didn't answer immediately, for she was quite stunned at what the leader had said. She still remembered her promise? She would keep it? At first, Risa was sure Ai was just joking but the look in her eyes told her, that she was serious. A warm feeling build up in Risa as she watched the woman at her front door. It really felt good to hear that Ai would keep her promise for her, too.

It was obvious, that she would do that to her friends but Risa was not quite her friend. They just knew each others and hang out together because their friends insisted that. But friends or not, this indeed made Risa feel great. She nodded to the leader, causing Ai to smile wider.

“So, good night then guys and see you...”

”Where do you think you're going??” An irritated voice of Eri interrupted Ai, as she appeared at the door just when the leader had opened it. The turtle was carrying some blankets with her and it seemed like she was going to make a camp for a small group. The turtle pushed Ai inside as she entered the apartment. At first, the leader tried to protest, but when Eri glared and growled at her, the older one just shut up and did as her friend said.

Though Ai could order her sub leader, there was just no way that she would do that when the turtle had had so much sugar. When Eri was in her sugar high, no one shouldn't make her angry. The girl just got some inhuman powers when she had enough sugar in her engine.

“Eri, what on earth are you doing?” Sayu questioned her girlfriend, who threw the blankets on the floor, folded her arms in front of her and watched everyone seriously.

“We are all going to stay in here.”

”EH?”

”Yes, you heard me. We will sleep here. Every one of us.” The last sentence was said slowly and clearly as the turtle moved her gaze through her friends and giving a meaningful glare to Ai.

Everyone was silent as they stared at the turtle. Well this was uncalled for but it was not the first time Eri would do something like this. She was also known of her ”great and unexpected ideas” as her ahoness. Reina was the first one to regain from this announcement, as she shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly.

”Well why not? It sounds fun.”

”Eh, you too Tanaka?” Sayu exclaimed as she looked at he friends in disbelief. This was so normal of these two when they were in the mood. They would always team up like this...

“Ano, shouldn't you first ask Risa about this?” The voice of their leader said in and caused everyone to turn their attention towards Risa. The bean was quite shocked, not because she was now the target of everyone's attention, but because of Ai's words. Since when did the leader concern about what she thought about things? This was the second time this evening Ai had mentioned how Risa's opinion should be hear too.

When the bean finally realized what everyone was waiting for, she could not find any words.

The sleepover at her place sounded fun but would they have enough room and blankets? Or well, the room was more likely the problem, for Eri had just brought blankets for a whole army...

But would Ai really want to stay and even if she wanted to, it felt a bit awkward to have her sleep in here and Risa bet it was the same for Ai too.

“Well Risa, it's up to you to decide.” Sayu said. She was not against this plan but she would do as Risa wanted for she lived here and in this aparment, she was the one who decided who stayed and who didn't.

“Mmm... I guess it's not a problem...” Risa mumbled as she didn't find any reason why she should say no. Immediately after she had said that, Eri jumped forwards, startling everyone.

“Yes it's settled then!!”

”Mmm, I think I'll go home...”

”Oh, no you wont!!”

Before Ai could even move an inch, Eri had grabbed her arm and was attacking her sides, causing the older girl to squirm around.

“You'll stay here with us!!” Eri announced as she made circled her arm around the older girl's neck, making a lock around it and immobilizing her leader totally.  After that, the turtle turned towards Risa with Ai. ”Right, Risa?”

All the bean could do was to stare at the two females in front of her. Would it really be okay if Ai stayed here overnight? Thoughts running wildly in her mind, Risa tried to think about something but her mind was so messed up that she only ended up nodding and mumbling something others didn't quite catch. Maybe they would manage somehow...

Seeing this, Ai's eyes widened as she registered what was about to happen. She was going to stay overnight in here, at Risa's place and it was okay to the bean? But before Ai could say or do anything else, she was once again dominated by her sub leader.

“Well it's settled then! Now, come on you macig finger. We have a looot to discuss.”

Eri announced as she dragged the leader after her who tried to get away from the turtle's grasp. But Eri with her inhuman powers had no problems holding back the squirming leader. Ai had no other choice but to do as her friend said.

Sayu and Reina were unusually calm about this situation, as they just shrugged and started to gather the blankets so they could get a good place to sleep. Risa in turn was very, very nervous right now. What the heck? Ai was going to spend a night in here? Though they were in good terms now they were still quite awkward with each others, if the other one came too close to one's personal area.

It was probably, that they were still so unknown to each others. Normally, people would not take strangers in their house or get close to them before they knew them, right? The point was, that Risa didn't know this ”new Ai”. The old one she would have thrown out immediately, but now that the leader had radically changed, the bean was only unsure how to behave around her.

But there was also the fact that maybe, Risa was a bit interested about this ”new person”. Now that she knew that Ai was not so rude and cold, the bean actually wanted to know more about the leader. And that of course meant that they should spend some time together. So, in the end, this sleep over and tomorrow's training wouldn't be so bad, right?

Sighing, Risa walked after Eri, wanting to make sure that the turtle would not do anything stupid in her sugar high. As she found the duo, Risa could not help but chuckle; Ai was still in Eri's tight grib, while the younger one was ranting her something about the candies, the leader nodding her head and trying to squirm away all the time.

They didn't notice Risa, who silently slipped away and went to help Sayu and Reina. At the same time, the bean decided that it would be the time for her and Ai to get rid of these walls around them. Yes, it indeed sounded quite good.

---------------------------------------

The sleepover went surprisingly well and all that Risa and Ai had feared at that night was for nothing. They both slept well, nothing happened and even Eri got down from her sugar high, thanks to Sayu. They had all slept in the living room, for Eri had insisted that they do that because that way, they could even spend the night time together. The turtle had even watched over, that no one would leave the living room after they had went to sleep. It seemed like the turtle was promoted to the group's leader, when ever she got sugar high.

When they all had showed her that they would stay in their places, Eri had calmed down so that Ai was able to do some magic which Sayu had suggested. The leader had sneaked next to her sleeping friend and given her a quick foot massage. This had caused Eri to totally fall asleep and even when Sayu had pinched and tickled her, there had been no reaction from the turtle.

Risa had of course seen this, but she didn't understand what Ai had done to Eri. Well, maybe the leader would explain her someday.

After Eri had been out of the game, everyone had had a chance to change their sleeping place if they wanted to. But for some reason, all the girls had stayed in the living room. They had had enough space and no one was sleeping awkwardly close to anyone, expect Sayu and Eri who slept cuddled up together.

Next to them had been Reina, who had fallen asleep quite fast. Then was Risa and of course, the leader had ended up sleeping next to her. The bean had been still awake, when Ai had returned to her place after knocking Eri out. Just when Ai had been about to lie down, Risa had noticed how the leader had glanced at her. Their eyes had met and though it had been dark they had still seen each others very well.

The staring competition had been broken by Ai who had just smiled shortly and lied down. After she had settled down on her back and closed her eyes, the bean had heard how the leader whispered good night to her. At first, Risa had been speechless but finally ended up saying good night as well, till turning on her side, her back facing Ai.

The bean had been sure that she would not fall asleep at all, but to her surprise, she actually slept quite well.

The morning had come like any other day and everyone woke up early, the only one having problems with getting up being Eri. The turtle had complained about how tired she felt and how her head felt like a mess. Sayu had promised to take care of her and after they had done all the things they needed at the morning, the girl group had left Risa's apartment, Sayu and Eri heading downstairs to the turtle's apartment while Reina left for her own home.

Ai and Risa were now heading to the training area, where the leader was about to fulfil her last promise to the bean. The closer they came to their destination, the more nervous Risa became. She was about to practice with Takahashi Ai, an excellent warrior and what she had heard and experienced, she was VERY GOOD and even a bit feared in the enemy lines.

Risa had also heard a rumor from Eri and the others that Ai had never ever lost in a duel and that she had taken a lot of them. Also, they had told the bean that Ai had a rival in the Heng's clan who searched all the time an opportunity to duel with the young leader. Ai was also doing the same, for she really wanted to beat her rival. But Goto and Miki had made sure that she would not do such a thing.

Duels were always risky and it was said that the general and captain feared that the enemy would cheat immediately, if they got Ai in a duel. She was always bothering them with her skills so they would do anything to get rid of the young leader. The duel would be an excellent moment to do that, because then others had no way to interrupt and if they managed to cheat in hide, there was nothing to do so they could save their group leader.

That was their trainer's opinion and Risa quite understood it with her friends. Ai however was of course thinking otherwise but she respected everything the higher ranking samurais said to her. If she didn't, she would surely be banned from the battles and that would be a bad thing for a warrior who lived her life so she could fight and protect her land.

So, the two had arrived at the training place and were now changing clothes. They decided to leave armors away this time so they would get into the training sooner. There was not so much time for this so Ai had decided that they should use all the time they had effectively. They had other preparations to be done too, before they would leave for a battle next time. That's why, they would make this informal training short but effective.

However, training without all the equipment was not as effective, but Risa agreed that with her skill level she would do very fine without the full armor. After they had changed to their practicing clothes which were the same as the black ones they always wore, but the color being grey, Ai took some wooden swords from a closet and did some magic to them so they could get at least something real in this.

After they had gotten all ready, Ai kept short but intensive warm up which Risa took as a training already while the older one barely sweated at all. Though she had been away for weeks, Ai still had her skills in her mind and spine. During the years, she had also learned to do everything so that she would not waste so much energy. Even though her muscles were not in as good condition as they had been earlier, the leader still had unbelievable strength and stamina.

After the warm up Ai signaled Risa to face her, so they could begin. They bowed to each others and took a stance. Ai had suggested that they would do a little practice fighting at first. It was part of the warm up and at the same time, Ai would get a picture of Risa's skills. She had of course dueled with her once but it was in ”that time”, so Ai had no clear pictures from then. Or more likely, she didn't want to remember that time.

As they started, both moved around slowly at first, circling each others and trying to find a place where to hit. Risa tried to have a go and attacked forwards as fast as she could, trying to hit Ai two times in her upper body. Both her attacks were meant to be in Ai's head, but the leader blocked all the strikes easily only by moving away from the attack's way. The bean cursed and was ready for an attack from Ai, but when Risa got back from the attack, Ai did not follow. She only continued circling around.

This made Risa confuse, for she had thought that the leader would immediately try to go after her. The bean sensed that Ai was planning on something, but she had no idea what the other warrior would do.

Doubting that waiting would only give Ai more opportunities to beat her, Risa decided to attack again, this time hitting twice in Ai's legs and then her abdomen. The leader blocked the first two hits and dodged the last one. When the bean didn't recover fast enough, Ai grabbed Risa's sword so that she would not touch it's ”edge” and pulled forwards, causing the younger girl to fall face first to the ground.

At the same time, Ai stepped aside and let go of the sword, so she would not go down with the bean.

“Ouch...”

Risa grumbled as she got up. She definitely didn't see that coming. As she got back on her feet, the bean remembered that they were in the middle of a fight and right now, she was very vulnerable to any attack. Risa spun quickly around to face Ai, but as she saw the leader's position, she let her own guard fall down.

Ai was standing normally, her sword lowered down and there was nothing that said she would be ready to attack or harm someone. Allowing herself to relax, Risa let her guard completely down. As her sword dropped and her legs straightened, there was only the sound of fast footsteps. The bean managed to only blink her eyes when she was greeted by Ai's face and a sword, which was pointed at her neck.

'Damn... she's fast...'

Risa thought as she stared the leader who had a stern mask on her face. Finally, Ai sighed and took the sword away, allowing Risa to relax.

“Okay, lets start with some basic things...”

Was she that bad? Risa could not help but feel a bit hurt. She had gotten a lot of positive comments from the trainers and her friends when they had practiced. Of course, she had received a lot of critic, too, but as she heard this from Ai, it made Risa feel somehow a bit disappointed.

“Fighting position.”

Ai commanded, or more likely said. She didn't raise her voice but her order was still firm and very clear. Risa did as she was told, doing her best all the time. Ai started to circle the bean. She had her hands behind her back all the time and she moved quite slowly. When the bean turned to look what on earth the other girl was doing, the leader hit her suddenly with her sword's dull side in the back of Risa's knee.

The bean's leg betrayed under her and she fell forwards. Somehow, she managed to stay up but immediately her head rose up, Ai hit her quite hard in her back and Risa fell face first to the ground. Air escaped her lungs as she hit the ground. Risa spat some sand out from her mouth and tried to get up again. As she raised her head up, a hand was offered to her. Risa looked up and found Ai standing in front of her, offering her hand.

At first, the bean was not sure if she should take the hand. The leader could be tricking her and right now, Risa really didn't want to kiss the earth again. But as she examined Ai's face, the bean felt that she could trust Ai this time.

So she took the hand and immediately her skin made contact with the leader's Ai closed her hand around Risa's and pulled the younger girl on her feet.

“Fighting position.” Ai said and for a moment, Risa didn't move an inch. The leader was still holding her hand and it seemed, like she wouldn't let go any moment now. When nothing happened, Ai only smiled at Risa and at the same time squeezed her hand a bit. But it didn't feel like that.

Instead, Risa almost dropped down on her knees as she felt sharp pain in her hand. But all this ended as fast as it had started. Ai loosened her hold and after that, she checked Risa's position. A smile spread on her face once again as she noticed the effect of her little hand trick.

“Well now you're bending your knees.”

“Eh?” That was all Risa could say before Ai let go of her hand. Automatically, the bean took a hold of her sword with both hands as Ai backed away a bit. She examined the bean, nodding her head and mumbling something at the same time.

'What on earth is she...'

“Good, good...” Ai said as she started to circle around Risa once again. ”Now, keep your stance. I am going to disturb you a little bit.” The leader paused in front of the bean, waiting for a sign that the other girl was ready. When Risa slowly nodded her head, Ai only smiled and suddenly, she kicked Risa's leg. The bean waved, but somehow stayed on her feet.

Ai kicked her other leg too and again, Risa moved, but didn't loose her stance. The leader only nodded her head and started to move around the bean again. Suddenly, Risa felt how she was pushed from behind and she almost fell on her face again.

“Keep your stance.”

Ai said sternly, causing Risa to stumble back in her previous position. The leader kept on her assault, kicking, punching and pushing the bean. She attacked from sides, from behind and sometimes she even attacked so that Risa could see Ai. Though the leader was quite rough with her attacks, she never hurt the younger one. It didn't feel nice either, but Risa didn't feel any sudden urge to cut the training because she felt so much pain.

Risa was so sure that she would fall down any minute now, and she wasn't sure if she would get up again. Though they hadn't done this for a long time, the bean already felt how her legs turned numb and her concentration started to loosen.

Ai was now in front of her and she attacked straight forwards. The bean could see that she was going to receive an attack nearby her face. As Ai came closer and she send a punch towards Risa's face, the bean closed her eyes and raised her sword in front of her head for protection.

But the hit never came. Confused by this, Risa opened her eyes and was greeted by Ai's fist which was only millimeters away from her face. Soon, Ai's face popped from behind the fist. She was smirking broadly.

“Remember to keep your eyes open, or,” The leader pushed her fist slowly ahead, so that it made contact with Risa's face. Naturally, the bean started to move backwards so she could get out of the fists way. But Ai had made a little trap for her:

She had put her front leg forwards so, that it was behind Risa's legs. Now, when the bean took one step back she tripped in Ai's legs. There was only a yelp as the younger girl fell down on her butt.

“...This happens.” Ai said as she once again offered her hand to the bean. Risa groaned. Damn she had fallen in a trick. She took hold of Ai's hand and once again, she was pulled on her feet by the leader.

But Ai didn't let go of her hand. ”Fighting position.” Ai said and when the bean did nothing, The leader used the same hand trick she had done before. And once again, Risa bend her knees and made her position deeper. Ai smiled and feet go of the bean's hand.

“Good, your position got a bit better. But now, we have to do something to these...”

Ai reached her arms out and tried to place them on Risa's shoulders. But just before the contact, the leader stopped her movements. Risa frowned, but when she saw the look in the older female's face, she knew what was it; Ai was nervous. She was unsure and she didn't know if she could come this close to the bean.

“It's okay if you touch me...”

Risa huffed, which caused Ai to snap back in her trainer mode. She placed her hands on the bean's shoulders, which immediately tensed as Ai's palms made contact with them.

“Relax. You're way too tense...”

Ai said as she pushed Risa's shoulders down. But the bean more likely tensed them up even more. She didn't know why, but she felt extremely nervous right now. Maybe it was just the lack of experience and that she wasn't very used to this...

Or then it was because of Ai. Immediately, Risa vanished that thought from her head and mocked herself. Why would Ai make her nervous?

Noticing, how the bean didn't relax at all Ai took her other hand and placed it over the bean's eyes. The skin to skin contact made Risa tense up even more. Damn, it was because of Ai that she was so damn tense right now.

“Relax.” Ai said again, her voice a lot softer now. Risa did her best. She tried to think of something nice and she even closed her eyes. When the world around her turned black, she found it a lot easier to concentrate. Her shoulders started to descend and her whole being fell a bit down.

Noticing this, Ai smiled and removed her hand from in front of Risa's eyes.

“Good, keep that. Don't open your eyes.” She said, her voice getting quieter and quieter as she moved around the bean. When she was behind her, Ai placed her hands again on Risa's shoulders. The bean tensed up at first, but when Ai commanded her to relax once again, her shoulders went down.

Ai moved a bit closer, so she could reach out and test how stable Risa's arms were. As she did so, the leader had to come quite close to the bean's back, so that her face was next to Risa's ear. When the bean felt that something touched her arm, her shoulders shot up.

“Don't tense up.” Ai's hot breathing on her ear surprised the bean and she only tensed up more. Somehow, the bean managed to calm herself down and she relaxed. But though her body was relaxed, her mind was a mess.

'Why is she so close to me? What on earth is she doing? Why am I so bothered? Is it hot in here? Okay, concentrate...'

“That's quite good. You can open your eyes now.”

The bean heard Ai's voice, but it didn't come from behind, but from in front of her. As Risa opened her eyes, she could see the leader standing in front of her, grinning. At first, Risa was so confused of all this that she only raised an eyebrow. But when the smirk didn't disappear from Ai's face, the surprised look turned into a frown.

“What is so funny?”

“Oh, just nothing.” The leader said quickly, as she took her sword once again. ”So, to the next subject. But before we move on, I suggest you do some relaxation exercise. You're way too tense and it eats your speed in the battle. Remember, relaxed muscle is a lot faster than a tensed one.”

Risa only nodded her head, so the older one knew that she had gotten the message.

”So, to the next thing. Fighting position.” Ai said suddenly and took a fighting position, Risa doing the same.

All the time, Risa tried to think how she should be relaxed and have a good position. She was still tense, but at least she wasn't standing on straight feet anymore. But if the two warriors were to be compared, Ai seemed a lot more natural than the bean did. That was maybe because the monkey had practiced these things through her whole life, while Risa only had half a year behind her.

“Attack.”

Ai commanded suddenly. At first Risa didn't move at all, but when Ai commanded again, the bean did as asked. The leader blogged the attack with her sword and encouraged Risa to attack again. Once again, Risa did as asked. She attacked furiously, all the time hitting twice or more in the same place.

Finally Ai moved to the side and raised her hand up. This meant that everyone should stop and so Risa did. Ai walked to her and pointed her sword in Risa's shoulder.

“If you want to attack here, where do you attack first?”

Risa glanced first at Ai and then the sword. She then looked back at the leader and answered.

“In the shoulder?”

”No.”

Ai said immediately, taking her sword away and backing few steps. She sighed and took a fighting position as well, but did not move yet.

“Think about this. If you want to hit my shoulder, the first blow can't be in there.”

Risa tried to wrack her brains. She knew that there was something she did not notice. When nothing came in her mind and Risa didn't answer, Ai decided to give her a little demonstration.

“I'm going to attack to your shoulder. Defend yourself.”

Risa nodded and immediately after that, Ai attacked. But she did not try to reach Risa's upper body. She was moving slower so Risa had time to see that the leader tried to hit her in legs. In no time, the bean's sword dropped lower but as she did so, Ai changed her direction and soon the younger one found the leader pointing her weapon towards her shoulder, Risa not having any kind of guard in there.

Ai pulled soon back, but signaled that Risa should stay there.

“Now, if I want to attack you in here, I must trick you to think that I'll attack in somewhere else.” Ai lectured as she pointed Risa's shoulder. ”First, I attacked your legs. Your guard went down and you revealed your shoulder, where I wanted to hit. You follow?”

Realization washed over Risa as the leader spoke and she could finally see the missing part. Damn, she felt so stupid now, of course it was like that.

“You go now.”

Ai said backing away a bit and taking a stance. Risa did the same and when the leader nodded that she was ready, the younger girl attacked. She slashed two times in the leader's upper body, for she had gotten so used to hit in the same place twice. Ai blogged the attacks and ordered Risa to try again.

This time the bean really concentrated and went first at Ai's head. She blogged and Risa had to keep a small pause as she tried to think where she should attack next. After quick thinking she dropped a bit down and tried to hit Ai's legs. The leader dodged, but now she was nodding her head, messaging that Risa was doing something right.

“Good. But,” Suddenly, Ai jumped forwards and hit Risa in her stomach with the sword. The bean tried to dodge, but because she had forgotten to retire after her attack, the distance was so short that she didn't have time to react. Ai's attack hit and Risa felt a light stab in her stomach.

'Damn...'

“You must be faster.” Ai said as she watched Risa back away a bit. ”Now, try again.”

And so they continued. Risa attacked and Ai blocked or dodged her attacks. Every time she would be too slow or forget to retire, Ai would remind her of that in a way or another. But Risa learned quite fast. Soon, the leader couldn't catch her anymore, when the bean attacked quickly in two different places and then retired away. After getting two good performances from the girl, Ai decided this would be enough of this. Risa was getting tired and judging by her face, even frustrated, too.

Just when Ai was about to show the stop signal, Risa attacked her. Ai dodged all three attacks and when she noticed that Risa forgot to retire, she attacked herself. She could have done this in some easier way, but Risa was so tired right now, that she probably wouldn't listen to her so easily.

So, Ai went very close to the bean. She but her hands on Risa's shoulders, pushed her hip close and placed her other leg behind the bean's. Before the younger girl could say a word, Ai had already pushed her upper body downwards and at the same, she kicked Risa's legs from under her. Risa's world spun once and then she found herself from the ground.

Ai let go of the bean quickly and offered her hand to her once again. But Risa only sat up and didn't try to get on her feet. She was panting quite heavily and Ai could also see how her training coat was drenched from sweat.

“Lets take a break.” She suggested and kept on holding her hand out for the younger one. But to Ai's surprise, Risa only glared at the hand. Then, she hid her face and stayed still. This totally surprised Ai and immediately she thought that she must have had taken this too far.

Yes, Risa was a soldier and she should get used to a bit stressing and hard training, but when someone acted like this during the practice, it was never a good sign.

“Oi, Niigaki?” Ai called out and came a bit closer. She noticed how the younger one itched a bit, but did nothing else. Now the leader got very alarmed. What the heck had she done for the bean was acting like this.

“Hey, did you get hurt?” Ai came closer and now she was standing only few inches away from the bean. At first, Ai hesitated, but when Risa did nothing, she reached her hand out and tried to place it on the other girl's shoulder.

'Bingo.'

Suddenly, the reaching hand was grabbed by Risa's as the bean's head shot up. She pulled Ai's hand, causing the leader to fall forwards and almost bowl Risa to the ground. Ai let only a surprised yelp as she fell on her knees. Well this was something she didn't see coming.

As she looked up, she found Risa's smirking face.

“Finally, I caught you.” The bean laughed. At first, Ai was about to scold the bean for scaring her so, but then she got a better idea. Risa's smirk was soon vanished from her face as Ai suddenly smirked back at her.

“Oh, you think you got me?” Ai said as she suddenly got up. ”Well, I don't think so.”

Risa didn't even get a change to protest, when her wrist was suddenly twisted and she was moved on her stomach. She didn't feel any pain, but the force she felt in her wrist was enough to make her do as Ai implied her to. When she was on her stomach, Risa felt how her hand was let go. When she looked up, Risa found Ai above her, laughing.

“Come one, lets take a breaaaaakk!!!”

The leader's laugh didn't last for long when she let out a loud yell, for her legs were suddenly swept from under her. She fell on her back, but she got into sitting position in no time. Risa was still on the ground on her stomach, but she had gotten up a bit so she was able to used her legs. She had noticed how Ai was standing perfectly in front of her legs. Just one movement, and her legs would be swept away from under her.

Risa had decided to have a go and since the leader had been quite unprepared for some reason, the bean had managed to get her fall down.

Ai was staring the bean with wide eyes, as she sat on the ground. She had not seen that coming at all and she was very surprised how the bean had caught her so easily.

'And I even once said that she is not suitable for a warrior...'

The two warriors stared at each others. Though they didn't say a thing, there was a new feeling around them. Like reading each others mind, both shot up suddenly and took a fighting position. As they got up they picked their swords with them and pointed them towards each others.

At first, Ai doubted that this would end well. But after seeing a playful smirk on Risa's lips, the leader decided to against her thoughts. She would play in this.

Once again, like reading each others mind, both warriors attacked at the same time. There was only a loud clanging of the wooden swords as the two women delivered hits for each others.

Once in a while, Ai would hit Risa and the bean would be out of the game for a while. But soon, the battle was on again and both warriors were fighting with all they had. But though it seemed very rough and even serious, this fight was purely a playful one.

When the two would got close to each others, they exchanged playful smirks and sometimes even laughed out loud. There was nothing serious in this. It was just friendly sparring.

Once again, Ai got Risa down to the ground. The bean groaned in frustration. This was at least the 20th time she had been taken to the ground today...

Noticing how heavily the younger girl was panting, Ai decided it would be a good time to take a break. She let got of the bean's arm and once again offered her hand to her.

Risa looked up and when she noticed the hand, and idea flashed in her mind, once again.

'I wonder if she fells for this trick again...'

The bean thought as she reached out for the hand and took it. Immediately after Ai's fingers had enclosed around her hand, Risa pulled with all her might. Ai was totally taken by surprise. She had thought that the other one didn't have any energy left, so she was not prepared to this attack at all.

Ai fell down to the ground face first, but she rolled on her back immediately. By now, Risa had learned to read this game better and she let the leader roll on her back. When Ai had done that, Risa jumped on top of her and straddled the older girl's waist. Ai's eye widened in surprise, but for some reason she didn't fight back. In fact, she was very interested how the bean would use this position. She was now clearly having upper hand in the battle, since Ai was under her and had worse chances to effect on the bean.

“I finally figured out how to beat you...”

Risa huffed and to Ai's surprise, her hands started to travel downwards, Curious what the younger girl would do, the leader raised her head a bit so she could see the younger one's hands. The bean didn't make contact with Ai's body yet, or she would lose the surprise. When her hands were on Ai's sides, Risa gave a wicked grin to the older female. Before the leader could react, Risa's fingers had already sunk in her sides, tickling the over sensitive group leader even through the clothes.

Ai's eyes widened in shock and she started to squirm under the bean, who just kept on her relentless attack.

”STOP IT!!! HAHAHAHAH STOP!!!”

Ai howled as Risa laughed at the same time. Finally she got her sweet victory and the leader was defenceless in front of her. However, her victory did not last for long, for Ai's fighter senses kicked in.

Her hips shot up from the ground and Risa was pushed forwards. The bean's attack ended as her hands shot forwards when she tried to take support from somewhere. This caused Risa to end up  higher on Ai and the leader got a bit too close view of the younger girl's stomach.

But the battle continued on, as Ai pushed Risa away from on top of her and the bean rolled on her side.

They got up immediately, attacking each others again but this time they stayed on the ground level. They were both on their knees as they started to wrestle, the wooden swords long forgotten. Even without weapons, Ai was very skilled and she ended up beating Risa few more times.

The bean just didn't stand a change against the leader. Ai was always one step ahead and Risa found herself many times on the ground on her stomach with the leader on top of her. The situations usually ended when Ai made a lock in some part of Risa's body and the bean had to give up.

But every time, they would get back to the fight. They forgot the time and how this should be a practice. All that was left behind, when the two warriors were having fun with each others.

Once again, Ai had Risa in a head lock as they were both laying on their sides on the ground. The bean had no choice but to tap the leader's arm which was choking her. When she felt the tap, Ai let go of the bean's neck immediately.

After that, she slowly rolled on her back beside Risa as the bean did the same. Though they were tired as hell, both warriors had a small smile on their lips as they tried to catch their breaths. Even Ai was breathless, though she didn't show it as much as Risa did.

This had been fun indeed and even Risa was very satisfied though she had not won at all. But she had learnt a lot and the best thing was that she had indeed enjoyed her time with Ai.

Risa had been quite sure that the leader would be dead serious when things considered about fighting, but no. The way Ai had taught Risa was something totally different than what the bean had expected. The playful and gentle way had made the atmosphere a lot lighter and that had been the key for the locks which were holding these two back around each others.

The bean did not remember when she had had so much fun as she had had few minutes ago. There hadn't been much awkward moments between them and the two had been more like small kids playing around than warriors.

As they were catching their breaths, Ai got up slowly. As she looked outside, she could notice how it was already midday. But instead of panicking, the older woman just smiled. Risa was not the only one who had enjoyed of this practice.

But more than anything, Ai was happy that it finally seemed that they could also act non awkwardly around each others.

As Ai was looking outside, she could hear few coughs from beside her. When she turned to look, she found the bean getting up and grumbling something. The sight was quite amusing and it didn't help at all that Risa was panting like she had just run a marathon. Ai's smile turned even wider and finally, she let out a chuckle.

“What's so funny?” The bean huffed as she looked at the leader beside her. Ai's chuckles didn't subside. They more likely got louder.

“Nothing. I just feel like laughing.”

Frowning, Risa also sat up though her tired muscles protested, but she didn't care right now. Why was the other one laughing at?

“Oi, it's better not to be something about me...” The bean grumbled.

”Well... It kind of is.”

Somehow the leader controlled herself and turned to face the bean. She had a wide grin on her face which caused Risa get a bit annoyed. What was so damn funny?!

”Nani yoo!!”

Suddenly Risa reached out and took Ai by her collar, catching the older one off guard and causing her to fall forwards. She tried to circle her arm around the leader's neck in order to make a neck lock she had learned today. She would erase that damn grin from Ai's face and make her tell her what was so damn funny. But of course, Ai fought back.

The leader pried herself free and turned so that she was face to face with the younger girl. They were now very close to each others and before Ai registered what she was doing she found herself pushing Risa down to the ground.

The younger one lost her balance, but Risa wouldn't go down with out a fight. Grabbing a hold of Ai's collar, the bean dragged the older one down with her. This caused Ai to land quite hard on top of Risa. During the fall, both had closed their eyes and when they opened them, they were greeted with a very close view of the other ones face.

Immediately Ai's fighter senses kicked in and she pried Risa's hands away from her collar and pinned them down to the ground. At the same time she got a bit up and rooted her legs to the ground so that the bean could not use her lower body in order to free herself.

Risa only groaned, for she was too tired to fight back. She let the leader trap her under her and all she could do was to pout at Ai.

The leader laughed as she watched her pouting prisoner under her. She was still grinning like a maniac, but when she spoke, her voice sounded very gentle.

“I was laughing because I simply just have so much fun with you.”

All the struggling stopped and Risa's pout turned into a frown. Had Ai had fun with her? Or was she just saying it?

Studying those beautiful chocolate eyes, Risa found nothing but sincere in them. A warm feeling filled her mind and a small smile formed on her lips. At the same time, the leader's grin changed into a gentle smile as she noticed the change in the bean's expression.

“There. Now, are you satisfied?” Ai spoke quietly, but so that the bean could hear her. Risa only blushed, for she didn't know what she should say to that. Yes, she indeed was very satisfied that Ai had sincerely had fun with her. But somehow, it just felt a bit odd to say it out loud. So, Risa only nodded her head as an answer. She couldn't look straight in the leader's eyes, for it just felt so... How could she say it? Embarrassing?

Noticing how bothered the bean looked Ai frowned a bit. She didn't want to lose this comfortable atmosphere they had just created and Ai bet that Risa didn't want it either. Releasing the younger one's other hand, she moved her now free hand under Risa's chin. The leader turned the bean's head gently so, that she could see her face.

At first, Risa made sure to keep her look in somewhere else than in Ai, but somehow, they just traveled to meet with the leader's gaze. At first, Ai was looking at the younger one below her with a stern look. But as she finally got the eye contact with Risa, the smile came back on her lips.

The hand on Risa's chin opened up and Ai's palm traveled on the bean's cheek. It felt warm against her cheek and somehow, even comforting. Unwittingly, Risa leaned her face slightly against Ai's palm. At the same time, her lips formed into a smile. She didn't know why, but Risa was feeling extremely safe and comfortable right now. And the way Ai looked at her... It made the unknown warm feeling spread inside her.

A silence fell in the training area, but this time it was not an awkward one. In fact, it was very comfortable. The two women were totally lost in each others eyes. They just couldn't turn their eyes or head away but they didn't even want that.

Finally, they both seemed to snap back on earth and realize where they were and in what kind of position. Ai's eyes widened and Risa could not help but blush as she turned her gaze away, embarrassed. The leader got up quickly, releasing the younger one. The warmth was gone from Risa's cheek and if the bean was honest, she felt slightly disappointed because of that.

When Ai got on her feet, she hastily offered her hand to Risa, which the bean took. Being still a bit confused of what had happened a moment ago, the leader pulled Risa up with a bit too much force. As the bean was hauled up fast, she couldn't control the lift up at all. This lead to that that she found herself colliding with Ai's chest. Automatically, the leader's arms took a hold of the bean's midsection and Risa also grabbed Ai's shoulders in order to steady herself. Realizing that they were once again in a close position with each others Ai and Risa looked up at each others.

The fact that they had their faces a lot closer now seemed to steel both warriors. Also, the fact that they were literally holding each others, wasn't helping much either...

Again, the time froze as their eyes met. But this time, they snapped back down on earth a lot faster. Ai coughed and turned her head nervously away, Risa doing the same.

”Sorry, I got a bit carried away...” 'How awkward...'

“No, no... I mean... It's nothing...” 'Well you're not the only one...'

They stood there for a moment, turning their heads around nervously and landing their eyes on anything but each others, till they finally decided to glance the other one at the same time.

But when their eyes met, it didn't take long before there was a smile on Ai's lips. Noticing this, Risa could not help but smile too.

”Ano..” Ai mumbled. ”You.. You did well today. Very well.”

This surprised Risa. Had she really done well? Did Ai really think that?

“I did?” The bean asked, cursing immediately how stupid she must have sounded.

But Ai only laughed and nodded her head. ”Yes. You did well. And.. You learn very fast.”

The smile on Risa's lips got wider when she got the positive feedback. It indeed felt great to hear that she had done well, though through the whole training Risa had felt like she could do nothing.

“Well... I think I just had a great teacher...” The bean said shyly. After hearing this, Ai felt how her cheeks started to get warmer. Before the bean could notice this, the leader had do to something.

“No, No.... It's just that you're a good student and... I mean you learn very fast and...” Noticing how she dangled with her words, Ai got a bit panicked. Damn, this wasn't going very well now.

But Risa could read the game too, and when she noticed that the awkwardness was on it's way, she decided to break it before it reached them. She placed her finger in front of Ai's lips and shut the leader up.

“Lets just say that you teach well.” She laughed and before Ai could say or do anything else, the bean was speaking again. ”I think we should go to change our clothes, ne?”

Ai's head got even more messed up when the bean's finger made contact with her lips. At first, the other girl's words didn't register in her head at all, but when they did, the monkey could not accept more with the younger one.

“Yes, lets... Lets go change.”

And with that, Ai opened her arms and let the bean go. Risa let go of Ai's shoulders and stepped a bit backwards when she was released. The two looked at each others one more time. They smiled and started to walk together to there where their equipment were.

And so, the two went to change their clothes and get ready to leave the training area. They did not say anything, because they didn't need to. The silence around them was now a nice one and the two warriors did not feel the need to escape or break it.

When they were ready, Ai checked for one last time that everything was in order before they left the training place. As they got outside, Ai suddenly rushed to the front door, surprising the bean. The leader went outside first, holding the door open for Risa and smiling gently at the same time. Risa was stunned and all she could do was to smile at the gesture.

“Maa, how polite of you.”

Ai just smiled at her and after closing the door behind them she went beside Risa as they started to walk away.

“Didn't they tell you that I own the best manners from this group?”

”Eh? You?”

Risa blurted and immediately regretted her words, for she must have sounded incredibly rude. Okay, after bearing Ai's rudeness for a long time it was still quite hard to see her as a polite person. Risa was so sure that she had just hurt the leader, but Ai only laughed nervously.

“Well yeah, I... I understand... It's quite hard to believe that, ne?”

Risa was about to deny at first, but somehow she wanted to be honest to this warrior. She nodded her head but immediately started to talk after that.

“But you're different now.”

This caused the leader to smile shortly. Indeed, she was different now and how damn relieved she was because of that. She had missed her friends deeply and all the self torturing she had done to herself had almost made her maniac. But she had not controlled herself then and the leader had vowed to herself that she would never ever fall like that again. She could do that, for she had her friends with her.

Suddenly a sound of rushing steps was heard nearby and as the two turned to look what was going on, a troop, about 30 men, ran past them. This made the happy atmosphere drop as they were reminded what was going on outside this village's walls.

“We will leave soon again...” Risa mumbled, while Ai just nodded her head. She was just about to open her mouth, when their captain showed up to them.

”Takahashi, Niigaki!”

Both warriors snapped a salute, which Miki just waved off as she approached them.

“I was looking for you two." The captain said as she looked at her warriors. "About our incoming battle... Takahashi, Your mission will be the same as always, but remember that you're still under our eyes. Understood?”

The leader nodded her head firmly and the captain turned towards Risa.

“And Niigaki, we have something different for you.”

”Different?”

”Yes. You're going to stay here.”

”What?”

This caused a frown to appear on the bean's face. Miki had anticipated this and she was ready to explain what was going on.

“Now, it's not because you were not so succesfull the last time, but we need someone in here too. Also, I sense that you would probably prefer to stay and keep order in here than go on the field. Am I right?”

Though Risa was a bit disappointed that she was not taken with the others, she could not but accept with her captain. Yes, it was true that she would like to stay in here, because she did not belong to the battlefield. Last time had proven it and she was just in front of the others.

“Yes, captain...”

Hearing her disappointment, Miki placed her palm on the younger girl's shoulder and smiled at her gently.

“Hey, we are not devoting you or anything. We just noticed that we could use you better in here. Satying in the Castle is as important as being on the field.”

The bean nodded her head, smiling a bit at the words the captain had said to her. Noticing that things were okay, the captain patted Risa's shoulder gently and turned back to the group leader.

“Any questions?”

”No captain. I know my mission.”

The captain nodded her head and just stared at Ai. Slowly, a knowing smile rose on her lips and Miki patted the younger leader's shoulder.

”Good to have you back...”

Answering the smile, Ai bowed towards her captain. After this Miki gave a small salute, leaving the two alone. Ai followed after Miki till she could not see her anymore while Risa followed this whole scene very carefully. She could see clearly that these two were not in bad terms with each others anymore and it made her feel relieved.

“So, I think we will meet someday then...”

The leader whispered quietly. The bean nodded her head and could not help but feel slightly disappointed that they could not see each others after one week, like she could not see her other friends either.

They were going on the field and she was going to stay here. Of course, they had a week to spend time together, but depending on her mission at the Castle it was not very sure if she had time to do so. They had preparations to do and Risa would most likely be assigned to do them in the Palace while her friends and Ai would be in the training place.

Thinking all this made Risa feel suddenly very sad and she also showed it by her expression, which caused the leader to frown.

“Please be careful...”

Risa whispered suddenly as she slowly lifted her head up to face the older woman.

”Oi, that's not very convincing...,” The leader mumbled as she suddenly turned towards the bean. ”And we still got one week before we will leave.”

Risa grumbled something, which for some reason caused Ai to laugh.

“But if it makes you feel any better...,” The leader said as she stepped in front of the bean. This caused the younger one to look up and their eyes met once again. ”I promise to be careful. But you promise me to do that too.”

”Well, if I have something to be careful about.” Risa said, rolling her eyes at the same time.

”You never know.”

Risa huffed, but could not help the smile which crept again on her lips. They had a small staring competition again which ended when Ai slowly put her palm on Risa's shoulder, being still a bit shy with her actions.

But when the bean did not stop her, the hand found it way on the shoulder. The contact made both females feel a funny tingling in their stomaches.

“See you.”

The leader said gently and Risa answered, not being able to hide her disappointment once again.

”See you.”

They stayed like this, till Ai dropped her hand and Risa turned around to leave. They glanced each others one more time, before they really left for their homes. However, Ai stopped after few meters and turned around to watch the beans back which was getting further and further away all the time.

The funny feeling inside her hadn't ceased and Ai couldn't quite say what it was. As she watched after Risa, she got a feeling that she did not want her to go away. This day had been awesome and all day long, Ai had had butterflies flying in her stomach. But this was something she had not felt before. Maybe...

The leader shook her head as she got a bit carried away in her thoughts. She could still see Risa walking away, but then she turned around a corner and disappeared. Ai decided that she should go home too, for she had wasted too much time only standing here.

Besides, she would probably see the younger girl again in few days, so she shouldn't think they would not see each others in a long time.

But as Ai started to walk away, the strange feeling would not leave her alone. What was this?

---------------------------

I rewrote this at least four times and still, I am not very satisfied with this... @___@
Well, I don't have any energy left to write it again, so this must do now... XD


Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.

Offline rndmnwierd

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Re: The mask of soul//chapter 27/ 2/05
« Reply #99 on: May 02, 2013, 03:24:49 PM »
So much warrior flirting! >.<

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