Rating: PG for the poor mutilation of an innocent steak ;o; How I weep
Summary: Yukimura was asked (by me, because I am almighty XDDD) to travel to the encampment at the borders to retrive a report and what do you know, he found a little red mage plucking herbs and dragged him back to the capital with him... and if you did not notice, the mun is on crack XDDD Oh! And everyone in Hyoutei is welcomed to poke teh tiger X3
Ah, enemy territory... nothing like the smell of it in the morning. Ryou restrained a yawn as he moved as soundlessly as possible through the terrain, eyes darting right, left and on the ground for what he searched. He needed those red herbs for a few spells... How he hated running out of components.
Yukimura rode on his horse, heading towards the encampment near the borders between Hyotei and Seigaku. They did not hand in their report for almost three days and the lack of news alarmed the court generals. Thus the blue-haired youth was sent to find out what happened at the borders. He did not like the fact that they ordered him around that casually and he was not pleased at leaving the king’s side… but an order is an order and Yukimura have had no choice but to obey.
Riding along the small path, a movement caught his eyes and he reined his horse in, his sharp eyes looking through the thick undergrowth. It was too quiet and experience has taught him that something was not right.
Ryou found what he was seeking, kneeling to uproot a few tiny red herbs from the delicate soil, cleaning the roots gently with his fingertips before putting his treasure away in one of his may small leather pouches. He'd finally found the spot he raided months ago, full of fresh new grown herbs to pick. "...that's good" he murmured to himself, shifting to uproot another duo.
The mage was dressed in a set of dark red robes, the hem decorated with white designs. His profession was certainly clear by his garb.
The deep red robes caught his eyes, it was unmistakably one of a red mage and if he the information he received was not wrong, there wasn’t any red mage in the particular encampment. His amethyst eyes narrowed as he came to a conclusion, he must be someone from the opposition… Seigaku. The situation seemed bleak for camp further down if a Seigaku mage is in their borders. Dismounting his horse soundlessly, he walked behind the intruder.
Ryou had seen the camp from a distance earlier, but took no mind in it. It was too far away from him to be seen. He did not think anyone would come by, either.. and so he continued the quite strenuous ingredient-gathering. These small herbs were actually quite vital in a few cases, like fire-based spells.
He froze at some point, the usual feeling of 'something not good is about to happen' gripping him...
Before the other could react, Yukimura drew his sword quickly from his scabbard and held it against the red mage’s neck. “What are you doing inside Hyotei’s border?” he said quietly to the mage, not wanting to alert anyone that may be accompanying this particular person.
Indeed, something bad did happen. Ryou's heart leapt up to his throat as he felt cold metal against his neck. From them on he thought he would better not move a hair. The question was quite simple, so he answered it casually. "I am picking up herbs, as you may be able to see" Why lie?
His amethyst eyes shifted towards the basket of herbs next to the kneeling mage. He was not lying as could be seen from the tone and mannerism that he had shown so far. Yukimura nodded slightly, shifting the sword by a fraction. “How could you have snuck by the camp then… unless you Seigakuians have taken over the encampment…” He needed to know… and this red mage seemed like someone competent enough to give him the information.
"How...? I wonder... perhaps your country should hire guards that do something other than drink and sleep on their shifts?" he had yet to move, staying put quite admirably up until now, like a statue.
From what the other said, Seigaku has not taken over this part of the border yet, as much as he would hate to admit it, what the red mage said was true. Was it in the nature of all guards to just drink themselves senseless and to sleep their days off? Deciding not to retort, Yukimura pressed the blade closer to the skin, making up his mind quickly. “I am taking the blade off your neck. You shall follow me to the camp and then back to the palace and if you try to escape or attack me. I’ll make sure you will regret it.”
"Well now, someone in these parts is not sleeping or drinking" he has gotten the short end of the stick. "It is far from being my lucky day. Why must you take me to your ah, undoubtedly wonderful palace? I doubt I have done anything that wrong" He was truly going be in deep trouble. Ryou regretted dearly that he had let his guard down in enemy territory.
“Definitely not,” Yukimura agreed dryly. “But nevertheless regardless of your ‘day’ you will be following me back as you are from the enemies’ rank.” The robes clearly indicated the person as a mage and the enemy will suffer without their mage. But the blue-haired youth knew that he must be wary around the mage at all times. Who knew when he would change into his beast form?
"I see, I see... Let us try to be good company to each other nonetheless..." Ryou took a deep breath, calming himself. This was a bad situation, but he could hopefully somehow benefit from it. .Am I allowed to get my hat?" he asked, looking to where he had put his hat, on the end of a low branch. He did tell him he would follow him, after all...
Withdrawing and sheathing his sword back into the scabbard, Yukimura nodded a little in indication that the other is welcomed to retrieve his hat, but the blue-haired youth watched him like a hawk, in case he tried to make a run for it. It was not a nice day to go running into the woods. If the other think he could escape, he was very wrong. Yukimura never lets anyone out of his grasp.
The mage nodded and walked to where his hat was perched, sighing a little as he retrieved it and fitted it on his head. He will try and make the best of this. He should.
"I am ready...." he adjusted the brim and stepped forward. He gave a glance at the sky, not liking that it was afternoon. "If I can be that bold with the enemy... am I allowed to ask for food?"
“But of course, we would not starve you, and you could call me Yukimura,” the amethyst-eyed youth stated to the raven-haired mage. “What should I address you as? If we are traveling together for the time being, we may as well learn each other’s name.” Since the encampment is just a mere five minutes walk from their spot now, the blue-haired youth decided to accompany the other on the ground. He would secure another ride for the other when they reach the camp.
"I am Kisarazu Ryou. You may address me by whichever name you like." He ran a hand through his long hair; then put a knuckle to his lips, thoughtful. "Strangely, I would have thought you Hyoteians to be fiercer and less hesitant to wound enemies." to his credit, the mage offered no resistance at all and cooperated. However, he thought they could do anything they wanted on their territory, if an enemy was in their hands.
Yukimura nodded at the name, “We are humans, not barbarians... anyway, and furthermore this is not a battle, so I have no need to hurt anyone. I much rather not fight if necessary.” It wasn’t long before they reached to the camp the edge of both countries boundaries. The soldiers let them in hurriedly after they saw the royal insignia of Hyotei. Yukimura whispered a warning to the mage next to him. “Stay by me and do not let them know that you are from Seigaku, they will not be as nice as I am.”
"They can very well guess by themselves if they have the least sense of deduction" really, his robes, colors were far different from any Hyoteians outfits. .I will do as you suggest either way, sir Yukimura. I am far from doubting your judgment," he bowed his head. "Pardon me if I made you think I did. Should any trouble arise; perhaps I could be passed as an infiltrator. He wanted to leave here alive... However... "Will we be gone before the sun hides behind the mountains?"
“We do have red mages here although they are rare as well,” Yukimura said thoughtfully. “The clothes design may differ but the color is almost similar, I do not think they will notice unless they take a closer look at you…. And no, you will be following me back to the palace; they will trust my words as it is. If I say you are not, you are not.” Turning to face Kisarazu Ryou, the blue-haired youth gave him a quizzical look, “The curse?” he asked curiously, “We will reach back before nightfall, if we leave in an hour’s time…” He stopped abruptly, saluting the commander of this particular encampment.
"Yes... the curse..." Ryou took another deep breath. "Thank you, Sir Yukimura. I am glad that you are such a nice person" he saluted as well, because he thought perhaps he should show respect too.
He never did realize how rare people with such a vocation as himself existed... Hyotei's country had only a few in numbers...? Interesting…
What he needed to do was easy, he just came all the way here for the report that has stopped reaching the palace since last week; their usual messenger was down. It irked him to no end that these people could not even send another soldier to send the reports over. To his relief, it took them less than half an hour to prepare everything for Yukimura and his mage companion. If they had anything to say about the red mage accompanying him, they kept it to themselves. Before long, the two were on their way back to the capital of Hyotei. “Are you tired or hungry?” he asked politely. As long as the other didn’t cause him too much trouble, Yukimura found no problem in acting civil.
"I don't being tired... however I should stuff myself as much as I can before night falls... You may not like me turning into an animal with an empty stomach..." It was not a threat, but a fact. "Ah, I was wondering just now... what will happen at the palace? ...what will happen to me?" it was only natural for him to be the least bit fearful.
“From what you say, you must be a large carnivorous beast of some sort?” Yukimura said after analyzing his words. “It will be fine if you could control your animal form…” he continued on, “Or else, then we would just have to keep you in a cage… or at the very least, a leash.”
"I can control it easily if I eat plenty before night falls" Ryou assured him. "It's also why I try to tire myself as much as I can, so I spend most of the time sleeping" He could not help but think it was strange, to be talking this freely with the enemy. "I will be thankful if you trust me" But then, what reason did the Hyoteian had to distrust him since he did follow him without any attempt at escaping all the way here?
Yukimura wordlessly handed him some of his supplies that he had been given before they left the camp. He did not want to contend with a hungry, carnivorous animal, especially not when it is getting dark. “You can nap on the horse if you could balance yourself while napping; it is trained to follow the horses in front of it.”
"Thank you." Ryou murmured, taking the dried fruits and beginning to munch on them. "I ... feel awkward about sleeping on a horse though" he will have to think on it a bit more... since being that defenseless is not appealing. "I would rather nap at night" it keeps the carnivorous tendencies asleep as well.
“It is fine,” the blue-haired youth said reassuringly. Worst case scenario, they would just have to stop for the night at a nearby town or village. Yukimura did not like the idea of spending the night in the woods. It was too risky and dangerous ever since the Seigakuians were cursed by Kabaji and Sengoku. Not to mention the fact that the ‘prisoner’ next to him was an animal himself. He could easily disappear into the forest if Yukimura was not careful… Turning to the mage, the amethyst-haired youth started, “We shall have to stop for the night.”
"Stop..? Before arriving at the palace?" Ryou asked, just a little tense. This did not sound good...
But wait... he could control himself while with the army back home... so why could he not do it all of a sudden it made no sense. He should, he decided, have more faith in himself already! "It will not... pose you any problem, will it, Sir Yukimura?"
“It will be a little troublesome, but it is alright. Anyway, feel free to call me Yukimura… I do not feel comfortable when people call me Sir, especially when we are traveling together.” He said with a smile, “I am also stopping because I am worried that you could not control your newly acquired form well yet. It takes time…”
"Understood... Yukimura" the red mage bowed his head again. .I must thank you once again for being so kind... even though it is your kingdom a laid this curse on us, and could easily take advantage of it" It strangely felt more like a friendly conversation as time went on. "I promise you, I will do everything I can to control it"
“Do not be so stiff around me, we are not enemies until we meet at the battlefield,” he said. There was no need for any extra blood shedding while other alternatives are readily available. “… somehow, it is weird saying this, but I trust you… in a way…” Reining his horse in as he noticed a run-down in at a village they were passing by, Yukimura smiled at the raven-haired mage. “I think we could stay here for the night…”
"Not enemies? Ryou had to laugh. It was amusing, in a good way. "So what am I? Honored guest?" he mused with a smile. He looked towards the village and nodded. "If you believe it suitable, I have no complaints"
“Honored guest you are not, maybe an unwilling companion?” Yukimura stated; a twinkle in his eyes. “Pulling his and Ryou’s horses’ reigns, he let them to the stable behind. “It is… adequate for the night.”
"hm, one can always try?" the red mage laughed lightly again. "Unwilling guest works, though" he nodded. "I can accommodate off anything at night" really, big cats sleep anywhere.
After some discussion and haggling with the owner, the blue-haired youth procured a semi-decent room with twin beds. It wouldn’t do for the other to sleep on the floor, no matter what the other said about being able to sleep anywhere. Yukimura had his suspicions as to what form Kisarazu Ryou takes. Entering the musty smelling room, Yukimura took the bed nearest to the door, leaving the other one for the raven-haired mage.
".I can really pay back half of the cost" Ryou insisted. .We -are- sharing a room, are we not?" he seemed to be getting just a little more agitated as the sun started the last of it descent. "Otherwise it is not really fair" he had learn, when younger, to share and split when needed.
“No, you are my companion after all,” Yukimura said amusedly. This person was strange, here he was; a prisoner to Hyotei and he still insisted on splitting the bill? Anyway, whatever cost he incurred during his trip will be covered by the King. He is after all generous to people who served him well.
"This should be reason enough to--urk" he froze staring outside. It was coming. "Never... mind that... You win" he accepted defeat. "...I... wonder if... I’ll get used to this...” he murmured, closing his eyes, feeling the telltale disorientation settling in.
It seems like it was time for the other to change form. Though he knew about the curse, this was his first time watching someone transform to their animal form. Yukimura stood back a little, Kisarazu may be an experienced mage, but animal instincts are hard to fight, he may lash out at the other. “Through time… you will… humans are adaptive creatures, they will adapt to almost everything that is thrown at them.”
He could feel it... the magic seeping into his skin, stretching it... or maybe melting it? He could not be sure; he always closed his eyes against the pain. His nails were growing, and his hands and feet and--- it hurt, his own powers trying to fight it.
Eventually, he fell to the floor, holding himself and screaming out... and then a bright white light exploded from within. The next second, the scream was a roar, a white-furred tiger stretching, claws out and raking the floor, tail whipping out in a wide arc, all as if to state 'I am here'.
Yukimura looked in interest at the transformation, trying to work out at the tiny details that make the change possible. Though he did not trust the magicians, the blue-haired youth admitted that they did a good job; from the grimace and cry he heard from the red mage, it was painful transforming. For a split second, he actually felt sorry for the other, but he made a magnificent tiger. Yukimura sat down on the edge of his bed, his blade near him, in case Kisarazu could not control the form. He waited to see what the other will do.
The beast growled, clawed at the floor, tense. Obviously, there was a war of instinct and intelligence going on. Eyes went from the gleaming blade to Yukimura, back and forth... and after a short eternity, the animal leapt through the air... and landed in the bed far from the door, curling up with its head on its paws, tail swishing casually. It's as if it was saying 'see? I'm tame!'
It looked like Yukimura has underestimated his companion. Smiling, he kept his sword back into its sheath and placed it next to him. It was a good choice that he did not press the other to continue on their way. A tiger’s presence would definitely spook the horses out, not to mention villagers and townspeople. “As long as you do not attempt to eat me or escape, you are free to wander around the room… if I’ve got my fact right, you will be stuck in the form for twelve hours… which would make it about 7.00am before we could make a move.”
The tiger let out a yawn -large teeth and pink tongue showing- and nodded, stretching its front paws, claws peeking out for an instant. Its tail continued to swish, as if it amused him greatly.
Yukimura merely rolled his eyes at the display, “You should get some sleep as well, we have some traveling to do tomorrow… there is still roughly three more hours before we reach the capital,” he said, throwing a threadbare blanket over the white tiger. The fur looked soft and inviting, but he was sure that he would be mauled if he tried petting the mage.
Ryou purred lightly, eyes closing. Sleep was a good idea... He was tired enough.
.so tired that he was not long in departing to the world of dreams. The large white ball of fur was for all accounts asleep, tail sticking out of the blankets, finally stilled as well.
Early next morning, stray rays of light filtered through the windows, hitting the blue-haired youth’s face. He blinked blearily as he cracked open an eye. On the contrary to what all people thought, Yukimura Seiichi was not a morning person. A glance to the window confirmed to the groggy youth, that it was in fact five in the morning, about two more hours until they could continue on their way. The blue-haired youth contemplating going back to bed, but the years of training he had ingrained in him made him get up. He may as well get breakfast for the both of them. Idly, Yukimura wondered what the kitchen staff would say if he ordered steak for breakfast.
Steak..? He should make sure for it to be raw... and still bleeding. Tastier that way!
In the room, on the bed, the large tiger slept, ears shifting when noises of blankets shifting drifted to it... but it failed to wake, instincts confirming that it was safe... and so the large ball of fur kept itself curled up, nuzzle under one large paw
The proprietor gave the blue-haired youth a weird look as he ordered two steak sets, one medium-well and another rare, but finally he gave up waiting for the explanation as Yukimura did not offer any. It was a small village; anyone that passes through would be seen by every villager and before long, almost everyone will know about them, so the blue-haired youth declined to give out any unnecessary information. It did not take too long before the man returned, carrying a tray laden with two large plates of steak. After Yukimura paid him, he took the food up to their room. He gave a tentative knock at the door, making sure that he does not startle the gigantic cat. Feeling that it was safe, he pushed opened the door.
The animal woke, blinking once at its surroundings before rolling up, stretching and showing off its pointy teeth with a long yawn. Shaking its fur, it then proceeded to leap off the bed and pad towards Yukimura to sit in front of him, tail curled up. It looked up at him.. or perhaps at the tray. Food!
The blue-haired youth wordlessly handed over a platter to the tiger as he saw it approaching him. Hopefully the large cat was not a messy eater. It would not be nice if Yukimura had to clean up after it had finished its meal.
Messy? Perhaps... but it licks its mess off, not about to lose any of the precious fresh meat. It isn't like hunting... but it is not that far from it. The poor steak had a very painful death, and after its murder, the animal curled up on the floor and purred. Ah, food... quite good for the empty stomach!
Yukimura smiled at it, the tiger reminded the youth of an overgrown cat. He almost expected it to purr anytime. His own plate is half finished… let’s just say that he lost his appetite after watching the mauling of the steak. Now… to wait for Kisarazu to change back into his normal form.
It eventually happened, in the same way it did twelve hours ago. There was a growl, a roar, and then its paws seemed to shrink, features melt, and after a brilliant light stood the red mage, groaning with the last remnants of the pain. It was draining... but he slowly, maybe too slowly for his tastes, got used to it. "..Yukimura...” he murmured. "A belated... good morning to you," he bowed, fitting his hat back on his head. He was grateful the curse somehow took their clothes in the equation.
“Good morning to you as well, Kisarazu-san,” Yukimura said, nodding his head at the greeting. “I think we could take another few minutes to let you settle down before we continue on our way?” he stately kindly. The transformation looked… painful.
The mage nodded; taking a deep breath. He had to remind himself he was possibly in very much of a danger, even if it seemed far from it. He should not get too comfortable...
Seeing that his words got past the red mage, Yukimura gave a serene smile and got up from his bed, walking around the room quickly, picking up their bags and supplies efficiently. There was no point in leaving things to the last minute.
The long-haired young man started at the floor, wondering how much of a predicament he was in. They certainly were not going to release an enemy once he would put a foot in the palace. If only he would have been more aware, yesterday... "I....am ready" he finally got to his feet, dusting off his robes.
Yukimura nodded, noting the stammering in the other’s voice. Whether it was from the effects of the change or it was just a case of nerves, the blue-haired youth did not know. But this was not the time to be soft-hearted. “Shall we go on our way?”
"Yes. Quite sorry about making you waste time" Ryou apologized. "I will be following"
“Don’t worry about it, take your time. We are not in a rush.” Yukimura said exiting the room.
The other followed, as he had said, silent for long moments, merely agreeing with the other, remembering to heed his word if he has to.
The blue-haired youth walked down to the stables, saddling both of their horses. Kisarazu Ryou seemed more subdued than yesterday. Yukimura idly wondered whether the other was nervous about reaching the palace. Turning towards the red mage, Yukimura extended his hands, “Do you need any help getting onto your steed?”
"Thank you for the offer. I am not used to riding..." he was grateful that the beast he rode was quite well-tamed. "There are things for which I am a slow learner...”
“This is fine,” Yukimura said, helping the red mage up the horse. “It is nothing wrong with learning things at a slow speed.” Mounting his own stallion, the two continued their way back to the capital of Hyotei.
The closer they got, the more nervous Ryou got. He thought it would be fine, yesterday.. but approaching enemy territory even if willing was a bit too much. He forced his attention on other things. Mountains, trees... the ground at their horses' feets.
The hours flew by for the blue-haired youth. He took no notice of the beautiful scenery that they passed by, keeping all his senses sharp to listen for highwaymen and looking out for an ambush. He almost let out a sigh of relief as they entered the city gates.
It was so different from where Ryou came from. Slowly, eyes scanned the crowds, buildings, streets... everything. Many smells washed into his nostrils as well. Fresh bread could be had at any time of the day... It was a comforting thought, that piece of familiarity.
“Is Seigaku like that as well?” Yukimura asked nonchalantly, watching Ryou looking at the environment curiously. The sea of people parted for the both of them, making their journey to the palace easier.
"Seigaku...? The architecture is a bit different, but ... no matter where... people remain people" he seemed to realize that, just now. "...that thought makes war look pretty useless, but then, the more people, the more territory. Sometimes I just wish there were other alternatives than wars and curses and whatnot" the red mage continued to study the scenery with interested eyes.
“It would seem pretty pointless,” Yukimura agreed. Cocking his head sideways to look at Ryou, “But I am sure that the winning side will gain the most spoils…and because of these resources, people fight.”
"I guess then being on one side or another makes no diff--.... is it me of that piece of meat the butcher out there is cutting looks tasty?" well, can't really blame him for the thought...
Yukimura looked at the meat that the raven-haired mage was looking at. “It is just you,” he said amusedly. “Don’t worry, just another five minutes and we will reach, we will definitely not starve out prisoners, so I will have someone send something for you once we settled things.”
"Ah, so it really is just me" Ryou laughed lightly, scratching the back of his neck and grinning sheepishly. "Sorry about that...." Prisoners... he almost forgot. "Settle... which things?"
“I have to send the report to the King personally, but before meeting him, I would place you in a room first,” he said seriously, pulling at his horse reigns. They have reached the palace gates and the guards came forward, looking for identification. After exchanging a few words, the guards waved them through, not before throwing Ryou a contemptuous look.
The look was mirrored by the red mage. Fine, he was a prisoner, a soldier of another kingdom, but he would not be glared down like that. To think he merely wanted to gather herbs... "Quite friendly" he murmured. "They make me feel so warmly welcomed.
Shaking his head a little, Yukimura did not miss that little exchange, “Ignore him, his family was slaughtered by a group of Seigaku runaways, he had never quite forgiven the opposing forces then… but… they are not all bad.”
"The fault has to lie somewhere and for him it is me... or anyone from Seigaku. How prejudicial..."Ryou shook his head. "I hope not to be as bitter as that after my service
“As I told you, ignore him, he is just bitter,” the blue-haired youth said, dismounting his horse with ease. “Do you need any help? You are wearing a robe after all and those things are not the easiest clothes to be worn, especially for traveling.”
"I did not quite intend to be traveling" he looked down and nodded. .Thank you for the offer, better than falling face first" he seemingly did that, probably the first time he returned from riding. "I rather like to travel by foot, for some reason, whenever I am able to"
Chuckling a little, the amethyst youth helped Kisarazu Ryou off his mount. “True, no one likes to be made a fool,” he said, winking at the mage. “There are advantages to be walking on foot, we could enjoy the scenery more for one, but I am usually in a rush, so by horse it is.” Yukimura handed the reigns of both horses over the stable boys that stood there waiting. “Shall we enter?”
"Sooner rather than later" the mage murmured, getting anxious. He wondered if now that he had been caught if he would ever be released. He once again mentally berated himself.
Nodding, Yukimura took him inside, striding past the corridors quickly, sometimes taking a left or right turn, the blue-haired youth lead Ryou towards the ‘guest’ rooms. It was near Sengoku’s tower and these particular rows of rooms have been enchanted by magicians to nullify magic, making it a prison for anyone that uses the arts. “Stay here for the time being, I will get someone to send you some refreshments while I speak to the king.”
“Thank you," another murmur rose from the long-haired mage's lips and he bowed, striding inside. With such accommodations, he really could stay here for long... even though he hardly wanted to. With a light sigh, he sat on the bed, pondering his current situation.