"So, she told you, didn't she?" Reva asked right after Royda left.
"Told me what?"
"Come on. She's already shown you her scar and multi-colored eyes. Then comes the story behind it, right?"
"I suppose so."
"Oh, you want to play hardball, huh? Fine. Let me tell you something, Cye keeps telling me that you're the smartest among the Ronins. Right now, you don't look so smart. I know that you like Kayura. If I know, you better believe that a few more will know. That woman is getting married tomorrow and she doesn't look like she's thinking of anything else. Give it a rest and go to somebody that does."
"I don't know what you're talking about." He turned away from her.
"That's fine, too. Keep denying it and maybe it'll go away. Just keep in mind that not everybody will wait until you come around. I certainly wouldn't and I think she wouldn't either. Pick quick before you're left with nobody."
She spotted Royda and Kishin and waved to them. They passed Rowen without another glance and went on towards the castle. Most everybody was already in bed and the four of them moved silently.
She seems happy enough, Rowen thought when he looked at Kishin. They know that he liked Kayura but they kept referring to a hidden meaning he couldn't understand. What or who were they talking about?
He tossed and turned in bed, his thoughts being haunted by Reva's words. Who would wait for him and what for? She couldn't have been talking about Kishin, could she? Kishin was a friend, albeit a strange friend, but a friend nonetheless. He couldn't even sort out his own feelings and Reva's voice kept telling him something. Sleep couldn't get there fast enough.
Morning came and the castle was alive. There seemed to be millions of people that came out of nowhere and started to decorate the castle from top to bottom. Everybody was pulled along and started to participate whether they liked it or not. The men and the woman were separated much to the disappointment of two men. Each group spent the better part of the day getting fitted into their clothes for the ceremony.
The bride and groom were in traditional wedding kimonos. The others were fortunately spared from traditional garb but nonetheless had to endure the fitting of modern bride's maids and groom's men. The lovely couple-to-be stole a few seconds for themselves which prompted a search for them. They tried their disappearing act one more time and the others finally decided to guard the two. It was a good thing that everybody was distracted by them while the maid of honor and the groom's man slipped away to their meeting.
Everything went on without a hitch and that was miracle. No attack came, not even an interruption to announce anything missing. It was amazing how everybody worked together and got the place suitable for a wedding. Even through the bustle, Kayura noticed a black eye on both Royda and Kishin.
"What have you guys been doing?" she asked both girls. "I didn't think those soldiers could do that to you."
"They didn't," Royda answered.
"Then who did. I mean, Kishin can hide hers but you can't,"
"If you must know, she's the one that punched me," Kishin told Kayura while pointing at Royda.
"She did that?" Kayura looked from one girl to the other. "And I suppose you'll say that one of the Ronins did this to you." She faced her sister.
"Yes he did," she answered.
"Why did you let it happen then?"
"He got a lucky shot in."
"Great! Now you're going to have to wear a ton of make-up just to cover that up."
"No I'm not. Just leave it alone."
"And have one of my bride's maids walking down the aisle with a black eye?"
"Like you would stop me?"
Kayura narrowed her eyes at her sister. She was being difficult again but what else did she expect. This was her wedding day and nothing was going to ruin it, not even a wayward sister.
"Okay, fine. You win. But what would the guys say? They're the ones that you're trying to impress, aren't you?"
"Where did you get that idea? I'm not putting more of the junk on my face just to impress some guy. This happens to me a lot and I don't care who sees it."
"Kento will," Reva whispered to Kala. They started to giggle but stopped when Royda turned to them.
"Hardrock gave me this. He might as well enjoy his art." Royda turned away from them and back to being fitted. The others just looked at each other and shrugged.
"What do you think you're doing with that?" Kento asked as a big powder puff came near his face.
"Sir, we have to cover that black eye," the woman that held it said.
"Then you better use something else because I'm not putting make-up on."
"Kento, she's just going to cover it up," Cye assured him.
"No she's not."
"Do you want us to hold you down?" Dais asked.
"I am not doing that." He got up and avoided the Warlord.
"But you can't go down the aisle with that on your face," Cale said.
"I'm betting you that the girl that gave me this isn't going to cover it up either. Why should I?"
"Because you want to impress her," Cye said. He bent down to tie his shoe.
"Impress her?! Where did you get that idea?! She gave me this. She might as well enjoy her art." A hand went around his waist and measured a cummberband around it. "Hey!!"
"Kinda quiet, aren't we Rowen?" Ryo asked. The other boy didn't seem to have heard him.
"Ryo?" Rowen asked, oblivious to what the other asked. "What do you think of Cale and Kayura?"
"What do you mean?" He bent down and tied his shoes. "They're okay."
"I mean, what do you think about their wedding? Do you think it's for real?"
"Why wouldn't it be? You've seen how they've been acting. If that isn't love, I don't know what is."
"Well, what about Mia and Anubis? They act like they do sometimes. You don't think they're in love, do you?"
"Well...What's with all the questions anyway? You don't think they're making a mistake, do you?"
"All I'm saying is that they should wait. It's only been a couple of months since she turned good. How do they know that this is the one? That this is right after just a couple of months?"
"Rowen, chill man." Ryo put a hand on his shoulder. "If they didn't think this was right, shouldn't they have said so? You saw the look on Kayura's face. You convince her that this is wrong and the maybe I'll consider answering that."
The other Ronin looked at his leader but didn't say anything. His feelings were getting more and more confusing. He really needed to see Kayura before it was too late. Gathering up his matching coat, he excused himself from the room and headed for the girls' room. The other men in the room looked after him but didn't move to follow.
He snuck into their room and waited until she was alone. Her long blue hair fell over her shoulders as she tried to comb it. The white kimono was not complete. The obi and all her sashes and tassels were not on yet. That allowed her to move a little. She walked the length of the room as she waited for somebody to come back.
"Lady Kayura?" Rowen called out. She quickly turned around and smiled when she recognized who it was.
"Rowen? What are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to see you before all this happens."
"Yeah, it's a hectic day, isn't it?"
"Pretty much. Even the guys are busy."
"I would imagine. So, what is this visit for? You just wanted to get away from all that fitting?"
"That and I wanted to ask you something."
"Sure, go ahead. You might want to hurry though. They might come back anytime."
"I just wanted to ask if you really love him."
"Of course I do. I wouldn't be getting married in a few hours if I didn't love Cale." She paused to look him in the eye. "That's not the question you wanted to ask."
"Really? I thought it was pretty good."
"Strata..." she warned.
"Okay. Are you doing the right thing?"
"What kind of question is that?"
"An honest one."
"And I'll give you an honest answer. Everything about this day is right. Everything. Nothing could ruin this day for me." She turned away from him.
"Not even if I say I love you?"
She slowly turned around and looked at him. He had the most serious look on his face. When he stepped forward, she stepped back.
"Rowen, y-you can't really mean that."
"But I do." He took another step forward. "I have loved you since you showed up that first time." Another step.
"How could you be saying that when I'm getting married?" She had tried to step back but got stopped bye her desk.
"Because it is what I feel. I love you." He got close to her and leaned down to kiss her. Before he could, they heard the door swing close and Rowen turned around. Kayura moved away and turned from him.
"Rowen, please leave," she said. The boy only nodded and left.