"Where did those three go to?" Rowen asked. The army was steadily getting stopped and no one had seemed to notice that three people were missing from their group.
"They're going to find Mia and Kayura," Kishin answered him. She looked around to make sure that neither Anubis nor Cale heard her.
"On their own?!"
"Well just have the whole world know, why don't you?"
"But isn't that suicide?"
"It would have been if all of us came with them. Don't you think it's easier to sneak around with three people rather than fourteen?"
"But...?" She pushed him aside.
A red soldier was right behind Rowen, about to strike him down when Kishin stood in the way again. Instead of a fist, this time she took a sword strike to the face. She fell down, her face in her hands. The others swarmed around the one soldier while Strata knelt down beside her. He reached out a hand to her and she pulled away.
"Kishin?" He sounded concerned but she didn't trust that. Too many people have sounded like that around her and all of them left her, laughing at her face.
"It's nothing. I can take care of it." She tried to get up with her eyes closed and one hand holding the front of her face but quickly fell down.
"No, it's not nothing. It must be bad enough like Royda's punch to make you stay down."
"What would you know about her punch?" she whispered and quickly added in a normal voice. "Don't you have other thing to worry about?"
"There are more than enough people to take care of that. I can help you with this, you know?"
"I was trying to regain my balance a little too early, and something just got in my eye."
"If something got in your eye, let me see it then."
"No!" she immediately answered. "I said, I can take care of it."
"And I'm ignoring it the way you ignored what I said a couple of nights ago. Besides, you're bleeding a lot here. You're going to faint from blood-lose if I don't see what's going on."
She knew what he said was right. Her head had already started to get wobbly and if she did faint, he'll see her face whether she wanted him to or not. She tentatively moved her hand away and Rowen could see that most of her nose and some of the hair that hung over her eye was covered in blood. He thought that she had broken her nose but found that it was okay. His fingers traced the bridge of her nose and stopped when she pulled away from his touch as his fingers got near between her eyes. Without thinking, he parted the hair that hung over her right eye and tucked it behind her ear. Her eyes flew open at what he did but he didn't seem to notice. He slowly touched the area between her eyes and found her cringing at the contact.
"Get away from her!" Reva's unmistakable voice shouted at him.
"I'm trying to help her!" he shouted back.
"It didn't look that way from where I was standing," Kala answered back. He was pushed away from her and he just stood by.
"I'm fine, I tell ya." Kishin brushed her hand away and put her hair back into place.
"Oh, sure you are. You almost, waitaminute you did, let him look at your whole face. You didn't even attempt to cover it up when Reva called him. What is wrong with you?"
"Nothing. Look out!!" A soldier separated them and Rowen helped Kishin up. When they were far enough from Kala, he turned to her and looked at her face again. "What are you doing?"
"You are obviously injured. I can help you know."
"I'm sure you can but I don't need your help. I can..."
"Well too bad. I'm giving it." He parted her hair again to clearly see what was going on. Again, he traced his fingers over the ridge of her nose and stopped before she could cringe again. He leaned closer and could barely see the paper-thin cut that ran over her nose.
"So? What's the diagnosis?" He pulled back and saw that her eyes were closed.
"That soldier didn't get you pretty deep but it's like a paper-cut. It's going to hurt like hell and the bleeding seems to have stopped." He tipped her chin up and turned her head one way to another, looking. "You did pretty good with that black eye. Good thing she didn't hit you harder. She would have broken your cheek if she did." He let of her chin and turned away.
What was the meaning of that? He insisted on helping her and blatantly pushed her hair aside. The last time anybody did that and kept their arm was a long time ago. He didn't say anything, only about her black eye that was next to a little something on her face just under her eye.
Suddenly, a flash light went off then Mira and Kayura appeared. Another flash of light and Ryo and Mia appeared. Everybody was shocked to see that they had left at all and came back with the people they were supposed to rescue. When those four arrived, the last remaining soldiers teleported out of there. Cale and Anubis ran up to them.
"Thank God you're safe," Anubis said, hugging Mia. He tried hard not to run up to her but he couldn't help it. He would have kissed her too if the others knew about them. Cale and Kayura didn't have any kind of reservations like that.
"When do you think they'll surface for air?" Kento asked Sage. The other boy just shrugged as they continued to stare at the couple that was kissing the second they were together.
Everybody was already congratulating each other when Anubis saw the look on Mira's eyes. She was looking around, waiting for somebody and the look on her face was getting worse by the minute. He looked around and counted all the people that was there.
"What wrong?" Mia asked. She saw the concern in his eyes.
"We're missing somebody. Where's Royda?"
The celebration was cut short as everybody looked around for her. Kento wasn't all that worried about her and neither was Rowen. The latter had just experienced his heart shatter as he saw those two kiss. He was speechless and he slowly backed away from the group. An explosion rocked the Netherworld but still no sign of Royda. Mira became frantic as she looked around everywhere. Out of nowhere, Royda popped out and landed on her back, armor and all. Most everybody surrounded her while Rowen slipped away without being noticed.
"You've got a lot of explaining to do young lady," Anubis told her as he helped her up.
"You bet she does," Kento said. The three remaining Ronins that had not seen her in armor were staring at her and her little sister. They also finally realized that all the girls' hair was up and revealed more mysteries.
Royda looked at him while Mira sheepishly looked at what she wore. The one thing they were trying to keep secret and now they were standing in front of them wearing it. This would mean more explaining and a lot more arguing before the day was officially over. And wasn't there suppose to be a wedding tomorrow?
Somebody was calling her name. Something was ringing in her ears. Something was on top of her leg. And the most annoying of all, somebody had escaped her grasp again.
"Empress?" The weight was taken off her leg and somebody pulled her arms to stand her up. Her head swam as blood rushed up. She closed her eyes and whoever picked her up mistook that for an injury. "Are you alright?"
"Of course I'm okay!" she barked as she sat up. "It's not like I haven't experienced that before."
"But Empress, what happened?" another voice asked.
"Can all of you just leave me for a second?" She finally figured out who it was what had "rescued" her. Her sprites were getting terribly annoying.
"As you wish, my lady," said the first voice without hesitation. They were gone before she could even open her eyes.
"That was something Ro," she said to no one in particular as she just sat in the darkness. "Didn't know you could do that trick." She snapped her finger and one of the torches in the room lighted.
The place they were fighting in was a mess. It was a miracle that the whole castle didn't fall down on top of them when the blast happened. Although there was a beam that fell on her leg, that was the extent of the damage to the castle's structure. Huge sections of the walls were gone and most of the rugs that had been on those floors for centuries were burnt.
"Best fight I've had in centuries and she nearly brings my own castle down around me." She continued to look around. "On top of that, my guests are gone. Got a little distracted there, didn't we Ty? Got a little too happy about seeing her in armor again."
She attempted to stand up and succeeded but a stinging pain raced up her leg and she almost fell down again. A laugh started to come out and went on for a good while. Her sides hurt too but this was too funny for her. The prize she had been planning to get slipped away from her again. Maybe she was having a nervous breakdown.
"You have changed a lot my dear." She took a step and held on to the wall. "You won't admit that the Ronins have changed you. They are nothing like the ones you protected before. The Hardrock you knew was passive and quiet. Time changed them, and believe it or not, it has changed you." She looked around the room one more time. "And what a mess you left me!"
Her hand extended in front of her while the other still held on to the wall. She shifted her weight to one leg as she started to concentrate. A red aura glowed, surrounding her and she closed her eyes. The aura grew bigger and the only light in the room blew out. When it came back on again, the room was back to normal. Everything was in order, even her leg. Instead of her wearing her armor though, she was in a thick robe. She headed for the stairs.
"Somebody start a bath up there!" she shouted. "I'm tired and it better be hot!"
"Will you leave me alone?" Rowen turned around and confronted Kishin. "I've already had that talk with you. I don't want another one."
"Okay." She held up her hands to surrender. "I'll just stay here then."
"Aren't you going to go help explain to the others?"
"Nah." She sat down next to him. "Reva's there. She'll tell them everything they need to know."
They sat down next to each other, contemplating about what to say next. A silence fell over them and it wasn't that bad to just sit there. Neither one had really experienced night in the Netherworld before.
"So, you're not going to explain to them," he suddenly said.
"Nope." They were both looking up at the unusual sky.
"Then explain to me where
you got that scar on your face." She quickly turned on him
and found him looking at her.