Saturday, August 25, 2007,2:09 PM
Traveler ch. 26
soooooooooooooooooorry u.u


26


Ishikawa stepped into the throne chambers, followed near by Niigaki. Nobody noticed it ‘cause her face wasn’t even reflecting it, but Rika was trembling inside. A call so urgent from the Counsellor could just mean one thing; trouble. What if they found out already that Yossi was inside the Palace? Of course, the Princess would be the first person they’d want to ask about it. Everybody there knew that she and the Captain were close, not how really close, though.

“What you have to tell me better be important, Counsellor. I was busy” said the Princess, making clear with her tone that her status made her stay above everyone else in the room.

“What? Doing your nails?” asked another voice behind her.

Turning her head, Rika glared at who had just entered. Another woman at her side whispered something at the ear of the newly arrived.

“Oh! Come on, Aya. I was just trying to loosen up the air a bit.

“You always so caring, sister” replied Ishikawa clearly pissed of.

“And you always so stiff…”

Aya, seeing that there was no point in trying to stop them, made a few steps back and left the two sisters enough space to argue freely.

“They never get tired, uh?”

“Yeah” answered Aya with a resigned sigh. Then, she looked at the girl at her side and met with Sayumi’s bright eyes “I’m sorry, Princess” said the older bowing “I didn’t know it was you”

“Don’t feel sorry. People seem to not notice me, anyway. I’m already used to it” replied the younger with a slight smile “So, you know why they wanted to see us?”

“I don’t have idea, highness. Those two began to argue before we could ask”

Both girls turned to look at the pair in front of them still fighting, wondering if they should stop them. It wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last that the two sisters tried to hurt each other, and not just verbally talking.

“Has arrived to my ears that your beloved Captain could be back in town. What do you think? Should we watch our backs?”

“Don’t talk like that about her. You know she’s innocent”

“She ran away, Rika. How can you still be so blind?!”

“I trust her”

“Dad trusted her and look at what happened. Everything is a mess because of her!”

“Everything was a mess before she arrived!” Ishikawa finally exploded “Or I have to remind you who saved your ass every time you got yourself into a fight because you got drunk at some tavern? She always kept your pretty face safe and covered all. That doesn’t mean anything to you?!”

“I’d like to believe in her as much as you, but people doesn’t change, Rika-chan. She was a…”

Before she could end the sentence, the sound of Ishikawa’s hand against her cheek resounded around the room. Everybody stay silent waiting for the worst to happen.

“Enough, Miki” said Rika with firm voice, not allowing the younger’s glare to scare her.

When Aya saw the fire on Fujimoto’s eyes, she knew that it was time to do something before the rage could take control over Miki’s actions and make something that she’d regret later. The princess was raising her hand to reply to her older sister when Matsuura stood between them and seized Miki’s arm before she could move.

“Please…”

“But she…” the princess was going to complain when her eyes met with Aya’s and understood that it was a lost battle “Ok” she sighed and relaxed her muscles, letting Matsuura’s hand rest in her arm.

“Well…” an older woman a few meters away from them cleared her throat “Now that our beloved Princesses had enough fun… Can we talk about the issue why I called you?”

“Of course, Counsellor” answered Sayumi making a few steps to stand in front of her two sisters, who even now where glaring at each other.

“Abe-san, please”

At the Great Counsellor request, Natsumi took an envelope from the inside of one of her kimono’s long sleeves and gave it to Sayumi, who opened it and began to read it immediately. It took less than one minute for the Princess to finish the letter. Then, she raised her eyes, looked at the Counsellor and finally turned to her sisters with a worried look on her face.

Rika took the piece of paper that the younger was passing to her and read it too.

“This is true?” asked Ishikawa staring at the Counsellor.

“A messenger arrived this morning from the South and knowing the King’s brothers… I’m afraid that yes, it’s true”

“What are you talking about?” asked Miki, taking at the same time the letter from Ishikawa’s hands and reading it “Oh, shit”

“With the King dead it was just a matter of time” stated the older woman.

Rika felt Sayumi’s hand taking hers trying to find some comfort. There was just one more question to ask.

“Nakazawa-san… What we should do?”

The Great Counsellor Nakazawa Yuko took a deep breath and looked straight at Rika’s eyes.

“Prepare for the war and pray for a miracle to happen”

***

“Who are you?”

“No one important” answered the stranger.

“You seemed very important to me when that guard treat you like the most wanted criminal over the country” said Ai-chan, suspecting about the identity of their new roommate.

“Well.., not the most wanted. Just one of them”

“Goto-san…” whispered Kaoru.

Takahashi turned towards the other cell where the young traveller was standing. She was heard the almost inaudible name that Kaoru had said but still couldn’t relate it to anything. Goto… Goto… Why it seemed familiar?

“Oh!” she exclaimed, widening her eyes in realisation “Goto Maki! You are one of the most wanted bandits of the country!”

“You’re a bit slow, don’t you?” smiled the older while she approached the bars separating her cell with Ai-chan’s “Wait…, aren’t you one of Yocchan’s pets?”

“I’m Lieutenant Takahashi, not a pet and… you said Yocchan?” she asked a bit confused “Only Princess Ishikawa call Captain that way”

“Forget it”

But Takahashi wasn’t going to let it go so easily. Why a famous bandit had familiarity enough to call her Captain by her nickname? Of course, Yoshizawa-san knew about Goto, it was part of her job, but the way Maki had said the name…

“Goto-san..., how did you get rid of the chains?” Kaoru’s question brought Ai-chan back from her thoughts. The answer to that could be interesting.

“None of your business”

“You know Yoshizawa-san, right?” insisted the younger.

“Well…, yeah. What about that?”

“We need to get out of here. She’s in trouble and we have to find her” Kaoru’s voice began to sound a bit desperate “If you’ve been able to brake those chains, you can take us out of here”

“What makes you think that I care about what happens to her?”

Maki answer was a bit cold. She turned giving her back to the girls, looking now at the darkness of her cell. Kaoru should think about something quickly. Maybe the older was the only opportunity she had to escape and find Yoshizawa-san. So, the younger tried to gather together in her head all the information she had about Maki and her relationship with Yossi, learned across the time and space during her trip.

“If I’m not… wrong…” began to say the younger “Yoshizawa-san and you are friends”

“We were friends. Long time ago” Goto was still facing the walls of her cell, maybe trying to avoid that the girls could see the sad look in her eyes.

“If there’s something left from that friendship you’ll help us”

Silence. For a few moments, the air in that jail could be cut with a knife and Kaoru cursed herself and her mouth for being so bold to tell the older something like that, until she heard a sigh.

“Just tell me what happened” said Maki.

“You don’t know?” asked Takahashi half surprised half sceptical.

“I’ve been away for a while. I missed something important?”

“The death of the King”

Goto turned immediately and looked at the girls still not believing what Ai-chan had said.

“He was killed five days ago” continued the Lieutenant “And Captain’s the main suspect”

“You have to be kidding me” laughed Maki.

“No, I’m not” answered the younger a bit offended.

“Come on, Yocchan wouldn’t kill a fly”

“That’s not what the whole country thinks. And since that happened, everybody’s looking for her, no matter if it’s for help her or catch her”

“That’s why you’re here, right?” asked Maki “Because you tried to help her?”

“We don’t have time for this now” burst Kaoru attracting the attention of both girls who stared at her a bit confused “We’ll explain everything, but first you have to take us out of here”

Judging bye her face, the older didn’t seem to like that anybody gave her orders and that girl didn’t even asked properly. But there was something in her words that made Maki to forget about that and think about the younger’s request. There was desperation in her voice. That girl was really worried about Yocchan and she just couldn’t deny helping her.

“Ok. I’ll do it”

“That’s gre…”

“But…” interrupted Goto before the younger could get too excited “I’ll just help you to get out of here. Don’t ask for anything else, ok?”

“That’s enough” smiled a satisfied Kaoru.

“When we’ll do it?” asked Ai-chan.

“Now”

“Now?! But it’s still early!” shouted Takahashi.

“And?” asked Goto while watching carefully every inch of the metal door. She didn’t even pay attention to the almost hysteric lieutenant.

“And?! Wouldn’t be safer to do it at night?!”

“I guess so” answered the bandit “But I’ve got an important appointment with someone who’s probably already angry at me. I love my head, you know? I’d like to keep it over my shoulders a bit more” then the older turned to the girls again “So, we’re going. Close you eyes”

The two younger girls looked at each other through the bars, surprised at the strange request.

“Why we have to...” began to ask Kaoru.

“Don’t ask, damn it! Just do what I say or I’ll leave both of you here, ok?” Maki waited until the girls nodded to continue “Eyes closed and, don’t matter what you hear, don’t open it”

***

“I’m gonna die...”

“Why you keep saying that?”

“Because Princess is going to kill me!” shouted a desperate Makoto.

“She won’t”

“No..., you’re right. First she’ll torture me ‘till know where did you go and then she’ll kill me”

“Ogawa, you’re overreacting” said Yoshizawa rolling her eyes in amusement.

The two girls stopped for a moment, hiding themselves against a wall of the castle. The older looked around her and she seemed to recognize the place, as if she would have been there before.

“Aren’t we there yet?”

“Almost” answered Ogawa “Why do you wanna go there? Who are you looking for important enough to risk your life?”

“A friend”

“Owes you money?”

“What? No!” said Yossi looking confused “Why do you say that?”

“Because you don’t have friends” was Makoto’s serious answer.

Hitomi was tempted to say ‘I have friends’, but then she remembered that she wasn’t in her world and that, maybe, the Yoshizawa that she was displacing didn’t have friends. In fact, she didn’t know almost anything about the Captain.

“Then..., what are you?” she asked to Mako-chan again.

“Your Lieutenant”

“And Rika-chan?”

“The Princess is your lover. That doesn’t count”

The older lowered her head and stuck her eyes on the ground, thinking hard about what Ogawa had said. No friends? Any? She had met her friends in the previous world. Yuko, Rika, Miki, Aibon, Nono, Maki.., even Ayaka, although they couldn’t really meet. Then, what happened? Why don’t even Mako-chan thought about her as a friend?

***

“All done” said Maki “Let’s go”

Kaoru and Ai-chan opened their eyes at once to discover the doors of their cells both on the ground and the bandit standing in front of them, waiting. They had been hearing weird noises while they had their eyes closed, as if the metal was cracking and then falling on the floor, but they’d never imagined that Maki would be able to actually shatter the door that way.

“What? Now you wanna stay?” asked the older, crossing her arms and staring at the girls, who quickly denied with their heads “Then, move your asses out of that jail. The soldiers will be here soon”

Ai-chan obeyed immediately and soon was at Goto’s side asking questions that Maki wasn’t going to answer, but Kaoru, while she was passing over the door, saw something that caught her attention and stopped.

Water?

She kneeled and stretched her hand until touching the transparent liquid that was all over the edges of the metal. She hadn’t any doubt, it was water, but, how had arrived there was a mystery. Kaoru raised her eyes and looked at the bandit. She was arguing with Takahashi about the best way to get out of there before the guards find out that they’d escaped. The traveller just stared at her trying to find answers.

Who was that woman?

She was strong...

A bandit...

A friend?

In any case, better to have her as an ally.



To be continued...

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posted by Lorena Enciso
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