Thursday, January 29, 2009,3:42 PM
Traveller ch. 30
yeah, I'm back and I hope that next time won't take me so long to update.


30



“Nakazawa-san,,, Even if you are de Great Consellour... I don't know if it's ok for us to be here...”

Yuko didn't pay attention to what the other woman had said and walked into the room, gesturing Natsumi to close the door after them. She looked around, scanning the room with narrowed eyes until she found what she was looking for in one of the corners. Then, she walked towards the spot and Natsumi, after thinking a moment if she was allowed to do the same, followed her superior.

There, hidden behind a silk transparent curtain, there was a little portrait of a young woman, shinning with a beautiful smile in her lips.

“He never forgot her, right?”
“None of us could never forget her” replied softly Nakazawa, while she caressed the frame of the paint, passing her index finger slowly from the top to the bottom “The Queen was truly special...”

Then, Abe heard a click, like some kind of resort opening.

“...and she will save our future”

Natsumi had been so engrossed trying to understand Yuko's words that didn't notice the paint turning into a little door. The real reason for the portrait to be there it was to hide something else. Something inside a little box that was now in the hands of the Great Consellour.

“That's the big secret?” asked Abe-san curious.
“Just the key”


***


Ai-chan and Kaoru were still looking at each other, unable to decide what to do. With their faces covered, the Princess obviously had taken them as simple maids and now it was going to be difficult to explain the truth. They both turned to Risa asking for help desperately.

“Your Majesty...” the little Lieutenant cleared her throat before continue speaking “...they're not here to clean...”

Her friend understand Niigaki's words as a cue to reveal their identities. If it was the right thing to do or a suicide the Princess would have to decide it.

“Ishikawa-sama” Takahashi's voice trembled for a moment while taking of the shawl covering her face “I know it's inappropriate for us to came into your room this way...”
“Takahashi-san?” asked a surprised Princess.
“Before you call the soldiers to arrest us again, there's something we need to tell you”

Kaoru discovered herself too, not afraid anymore about what could happen. In the eyes of the Princess had seen again her mother's, the same way she had seen it before in the other worlds. Those beautiful eyes would never hurt her.

“Who's that girl?” asked Ishikawa staring at Kaoru.
“That's why we are here. She's looking for Captain. She said that Yoshizawa-san needs help”

The look on Rika's face darkened suddenly.

“For what I know, she's doing pretty well alone...”
“But we need to demonstrate that she's innocent”
“She stated it pretty well that she don't need my help”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, she came to me, said that didn't remember anything and then ran away again without a word. If she wanted so badly to go back to her other life, at least could have told me...”
“Your Highness...” said Kaoru finally speaking “I really need to find her”
“And I have more important problems that I need to take care of” cut the Princess with angry “So, please, leave this palace. For the years you've served me well, Takahashi, I'm not going to tell anything, but I'm not going to help either”
“But...”

Risa took Ai-chan's hand as a signal to stop it.

“We're sorry to have disturbed your Majesty” said Niigaki with an apologetic tone “We'll leave now”

The girls couldn't do anything else but resign themselves and get out of the room without any clue about what to do next. Risa told them to wait for her there a moment and returned inside one more time.

“Princess, if you need something...”
“I'm ok” was the only answer from Ishikawa before turning her back to the girl and walk towards de balcony.
“As you want. I'll be near if you need me”

Just when the younger opened the door again to leave, the Princess called her, still without looking at her.

“Niigaki”
“Yes, Highness?”
“The Blue Hell”

Risa smiled lightly and bowed before leaving definitely.

When the door closed, Rika was still staring at the view from the balcony, with her eyes stuck in a single point. Then she sighed.

“She's probably back at home...”

And then, something changed in her mind, because she suddenly turned towards the door with a resolute expression in her face.


***


“God...” said a breathless Ogawa “I thought that... they had... caught us... already”

Yossi looked at her and smiled, surprising, without any trace of being tired at all.

After running for several minutes, they had reached the outside of the castle and went into a deep forest. Probably it wasn't the safest place to be, but it was better than stay inside and be exposed to another patrol. Nobody could assure that they would win again.

The singer stared at the sword still in her hand. She had felt something back there, she was sure, but now was gone.

“Are you going to tell me what was that?”
“What?” asked Yoshizawa at the sudden question.
“You just made those men fly away like mere leaves with just a movement... How?”

As if Yossi wasn't wondering the same.

“Guess I'm lucky”
“And what happened to your sword?” a frown appeared on Ogawa's face “That one's pretty rough...”
“Makoto, I need you to trust me...” said the singer “Even if I can't answer your questions”

The Lieutenant was taken aback by the sudden and serious request. The younger could count with the fingers of one hand how many times her superior had called her by her given name.

“I do trust Captain. I wouldn't be here If I didn't”
“Yossi”
“What?” asked a confused Ogawa.
“Just Yossi it's ok. I'm not your captain” Hitomi saw the expression in Mako's face and understood that she should found a way to explain herself without revealing her secret “...at least, not anymore, since I'm being wanted by murder. I guess you can tell that it's like I'm fired so, no captain, ok?”

Ogawa seemed doubtful for a moment.

“Can't you just see me as a friend who needs help?”
“I... can try”
“That's enough” said the older with a relaxed smile. Maybe she could finally rely on someone without fearing to be discovered and worry just about finding Kaoru as soon as possible.

Makoto sat down at the humid groung and laid against a tree. “And now what? Do you have any plans to prove your innocence?”
“Not really” answered Yoshizawa sitting at her side “First, I have to find my friend, then we'll see...”


***


“What's the Blue Hell?”

The two soldiers and the young traveller were again at Ai-chan and Risa's room almost arguing about what to do next. The older proposed to follow the Princess's hint but Risa wasn't so sure about if it would be a good idea.

“It's the name how the lake and it's surroundings is known.. It's a beautiful spot into the deep forest with a waterfall, wild animals and all that stuff -said Takahashi- It could be heaven in earth if it wasn't so dangerous.
-It's bandits territory -interrupted Niigaki- And that's why I don't understand why Captain should be there. It's like going into the lion's den.
-And the best place to hide yourself from the world -retorted Ai-chan trying to impose her logic.

The young Lieutenant sighed. After some years of living together, Risa learned that, if there was something impossible in this life it was to understand what was going on inside her friend's mind, not less try to change her mind when she's got into something.

-Ok, let's think, hypothetically, that we find Yoshizawa-san there -said Niigaki finally giving up- Then what? How are you going to demonstrate that she's innocent?
-We'll find the one who did it.
-The evil twin you saw killing our King...
-Yeah.
-Takahashi, you sound so sure that scares me.

Meanwhile, there was a certain traveller wondering what was she doing there watching the friends arguing about if they should go to a place where she definitely shouldn't go. Kaoru was beginning to panic inside, not just because the Traveller was at Yoshizawa's wrist and she couldn't left without the older, but because of the state that the other girl was in when she left her. There was no way she could have go out of the palace grounds.

-I don't think it's a good idea to go to that place -said Kaoru- I'm pretty sure that Yoshizawa-san must be still here.
-If Captain's smart, and she is, she probably left already.
-At that I must agree with Ai-chan. The whole Imperial Guard looking for her? She's good, but not so good. The smartest thing to do is get out of this place.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door that made the three girls jump.

-Lieutenant Niigaki? -asked someone from outside.
-Yes, one minute -she turned to the girls- Hide, now.

Risa walked to the doorway and opened to see who was looking for her. It was one of the men under Ai's commandment until three days ago, Seita, if she remembered well. They talked for several minutes until it seemed that they achieved some kind of agreement and the man left.

-Safe now.
-What happened? -asked Takahashi appearing from behind the secret door.
-It seems that they found Captain at the west gardens.
-Is she ok?!
-Probably. She left a few unconscious guards behind her and ran away -answered Niigaki to calm Kaoru and then turned to Ai- They said that Makoto was with her and went towards the forest.
-So...?
-So, you're probably right and she's heading to the Blue Hell.


***



At a certain floor of a certain room there was a path of clothes. A nice silk kimono made a ball, a pair of rough boots and wore out trousers, socks, sheets, blankets and some pillows were all scattered around the bed where two girls laid now exhausted.

-It was a suicide to come here with all that's been happening.

As a reply, she received a soft kiss at the base of her neck.

-I'm serious, you know? You've been lucky to be able to escape...
-You'd have been upset if something happened to me? -she accompanied the question with another kiss. Sure there was a mocking tone in the voice of the younger, but some... hope maybe? hide too.
-I'm just saying... -she sighed when a hand caressed her abdomen- ...it's dangerous...
-Wouldn't be so dangerous if I could, actually, defend myself. Well, at least, not dangerous for me.
-See? That's what I mean -Shibata managed to recover her senses and kept a cautious distance between Maki and her, just to be able to speak without any other interruptions- It's not just because you could hurt people. You're so full of yourself, so sure of your strength that maybe, someday, someone stronger will appear and you'll be the one getting hurt.

There was a intense silence filling the room suddenly. Just after a few seconds, realization hit Maki.

-Oh my Goddess...
-What? -asked the older, confused.
-You really do love me, don't you? -this time there wasn't mocking tone, nor half smiles or second meanings.
-I... well, you are..., you know, important... in some way...
-I always thought that it was some kind of distraction, like a way to forget the boring palace life.
-You have a very low impression of me. I've already said it... that I love you, didn't I? -said Shibata a bit hurt.
-Well, yes but... -Maki stood up in the bed and stay kneeled at Ayumi's side- It's just... I've been with a lot o people, a lot -emphasized making the older frown at this point- But that doesn't matter. What I mean is... -Maki took some breath- I've heard the word love so many times..., but in the end, no one ever cared... It feels surprisingly good to know that someone does, that someone wants me to return safe and it feels even better if that someone is you.

Shibata sat on the bed, looking at the younger with a wide smile on her face.

-Mrs. Bandit, that was a love confession? -the vengeance was sweet and Ayumi wasn't going to waste the opportunity to turn back all the times Maki embarrassed her.
-You'll never hear me say those words. Ever -a slightly blush appeared at Goto's cheeks and Ayumi felt realized- It's cheesy and overrated.
-Well then -Shibata moved closer her lover, making the distance disappear between their bodies and resting a hand at the back of Maki's neck, caressing the sensitive skin before placing a soft kiss at the base of her ear- I don't need words. Just prove it.

Maki smiled. She was an action girl and wasn't going to let Shiba-chan's offer get wasted. The younger pushed her girl to the bed again and proceed to give her the proof she asked for. First, a soft kiss on the lips that soon intensified and turned into a desperate way to feel everything of the other. Then a skilled hand that began a journey following Ayumi's jaw line and travelled down her body, leaving behind a path of goosebumps and sending shivers down her spine. Shibata seized her lover's head, keeping her close, not wanting to break their kiss soon, while her body heated and stopped reacting to rational emotions.

-Shiban-chan, are you there? I need your...

Ayumi needed a whole second to let her mind process what she heard. That, definitely, wasn't Maki's voice.

-Oh God... -spoke the voice again.
-Great... -this time it was the bandit. Kisses stopped and hands suddenly disappeared.

The older looked at the other girl in her bed and then at the unexpected guest in front of them. The burst of rage was almost instantaneous.

-Do you know why the hell doors exist, Rika?!

The princess was taken aback by the angry friend in front of her.

-Well, sorry. But you should had told me that you were going to have, uhm.., company -the Princess then looked at the girl in question. She sure wasn't ready to find who she was- You?
-I'd like to say it's nice to see you again, Princess, but considering the circumstances -she then looked at Shibata- I guess I'll get going.
-No! -both Ishikawa and her friend shouted at time.

The bandit looked at them confused. She was already picking up her clothes from the floor and trying to get dressed as quickly as possible.

-Well, I understand why Ayumi wants me to stay -she said while passing her head trough the shirt's neck- but you?
-I'm going to the Blue Hell and it'll be easier if you guide us.
-The Blue Hell?
-Wait, us? -asked Shibata interrupting.
-Why do you want to go there? -both bandit and princess ignored the girl that still was naked under the thin silk sheets- It's not a place for people like you.
-I'm going to find her and I need you to help me.
-Oh no, no, no, no. I've got enough of Yocchan's problems for today. She's out of my life, end of the story.

Finally standing from the bed and putting some clothes on, Ayumi walked closer to her lover and helped her tying the belt she was having trouble with since Ishikawa mentioned the lake. The hands of the older on hers seemed to have some relaxing effect on the bandit, who sighed and rested her hands at her sides, letting Shibata do what she wanted. Of course, it would had been better is she could undress her, not the contrary.

-Rika-chan, I don't think it would be a good idea to leave the palace now -she said finally facing her friend- You have to think about what Nakazawa-san said. If we're going to war, the less we need is one of the Princesses disappeared.
-It will be just one day, two at maxim. And don't think that I'm doing this just because I'm selfish or something. You know that we need her.

Shibata felt Maki's hand on hers and turned to look at the girl wondering what she was doing.

-A war? -asked the younger- I thought that the big problem was the King's death.
-Side effects. A kingdom without king is a weak kingdom, plus, the best captain of our army is no longer on our side.
-She left us, her family, for her -said Maki to the shorter girl while pointing to Ishikawa- Wouldn't ran away of her side just because some people think she's a murderer, which I can tell you she's not. Must be something else...
-Then help me find her -asked again the Princess, already a bit desperate.
-That's the second time today that someone asks me for help. I'm a bandit you know? I'm not a good person.
-Yes, you are.

Looking at her lover, she found herself being attacked with puppy eyes. Maki couldn't stand that look on a girl. If she had a weakness that would never reveal to anyone, were puppy eyes. It was the only way to reach her soft side and the bandit hated to admit that she had it. The worst thing is that, when she looked away from Ayumi, she found the same expression on Rika's face.

-I hate you -she finally said- Both of you.


***


-Ok, could you stop walking now? This isn't going anywhere.

The Great Consellour turned to look at her friend. They'd been walking through stone corridors for a while now and Abe seemed to have lost her confidence in Yuko knowing the way.

-We're not lost, if that's what you thinking -said the older- We're almost there.
-But what's so important that the Queen had to keep it under the palace, in a place like this.
-I'm sure you'll discover it yourself soon.

When Yuko said the last word, Natsumi noticed that they already had reached the end of passage and in front of them there was just solid rock. Then, Nakazawa took out the key that she borrowed from the King's room and approached the wall. The next thing that happened seemed like magic, or that's what Nacchi thought when the stone wall moved to the side revealing a door. The door where the Queen's key fitted perfectly.

-What you're about to see it's a secret passed through generations at our Queen's family and I was entrusted with it when she got sick. Not even the King knew about it.
-And you're going to show it to me now?
-The time when we'll need them has come.
-Who?

The door opened and revealed a huge room, a round cave larger than the largest hall in the palace. It was all grey stone, lit just with a few torches around so mostly of the place was still in darkness. Abe tried to advance, but before she could take a step, Yuko hold her back. She had taken one of the torches at the door and pointed the flame towards the ground, or where it should had been the ground. In it's place there was just darkness.

-Stay behind me.

There was a narrow stone bridge that they crossed walking close to each other until finally reached a solid platform at the center of the cave. Nakazawa place the torch she was holding in a place similar to a stone altar and then walked back a few steps. What happened next almost made Abe fall on her knees.

The whole room began to move in a way that seemed like if the ground under their foot was spinning. Suddenly, light intensified and Natsumi could see clearly how four round columns were rising from the dark abyss.

-What's all that, Yuko? -she was still trying to adjust her eyes to the new light and could believe if what she was seeing was true.

The columns were around the cave and, when they reached the roof and its base joined the platform at the center, the whole room had floor. The bridge disappeared and the door closed.

-This, my dear Nacchi, is our secret weapon.


To be continued...
 
posted by Lorena Enciso
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