Of Love and Honor

By Calla Lily



A slight breeze lifted Mia’s cinnamon-colored hair as she gazed
wistfully at the setting sun casting its fiery hues across the lake. She
sighed softly, enjoying the moment of solitude. Such times were
hard to come by when seven people and one huge, white tiger
occupied the same residence, no matter how large. Rarely was Mia
ever alone. 'At least physically'...she thought, a bit sadly.

Despite their wonderful strength, courage, and friendship, the
Ronins did not fully understand her, or her utter loneliness. 'Well, maybe
Ryo sorta understands'...He had been without parents or
friends for quite awhile before meeting up with the others, but for
years, he did have White Blaze. 'Grandfather was the only one I had
left left'...And now he was gone.

Roughly six months had passed since Talpa and the Evil Dynasty
had first shown up, and Mia’s grandfather had been killed. She had
given herself time to mourn, but knew she couldn’t linger, for the
fate of the Mortal Realm rested upon the shoulders of six teenagers,
one small boy, and a giant, white tiger.

Mia chuckled softly at the thought, amused and a bit incredulous at the
truth of the matter, only to have the laugh transform into a loud yawn. 'Oh,
I’m so tired.' No one had had any proper rest since the first Dynasty
attacks. The boys were always training and/or fighting, and though Mia
possessed no skills with which to fight (however, she had insisted Ryo
instruct her in basic defensive moves), she spent most of her time searching
her grandfather’s files, taking care of Yulie, taking care of the Ronins, or
being taken captive by one Warlord or another.

She stifled a shudder at the memories of those terrifying events. Worried
not only for her safety, but for Yulie’s and the other Ronins’, Mia came to
truly know her utter helplessness whenever
one of Talpa’s minions approached her. Nightmares still haunted
her, where she was either frozen by the cold glare of Kale, or bound
tightly by chains that bit harshly into her skin, gazing trance-like into
the mocking eyes of the Warlord of Cruelty, Anubis. Out of all the
Warlords, she feared him the most, not only because of the icy terror he
invoked, but also because of the surge of heat she felt whenever his eyes
turned their gaze upon her. It was as if they pierced her soul, deeper,
harder, and far deadlier than any sword--

Mia’s pondering was interrupted by a slight creak behind her.
Whirling around, breath caught in her throat, she took an immediate
defensive stance as she’d been taught. 'Whoa, girl, you’re just a bit
too paranoid.' Instantly recognizing the straightforward and familiar
gaze of the Ronin of Wildfire, she relaxed, forcing a bright smile.

“Hey, Ryo,” she said, trying to sound calm. “You startled me.”

Blushing slightly, he replied, “Sorry. Just wanted to see what you were up

Casually moving beside her to rest his weight on the balcony
railing, he glanced at her beneath dark lashes, his blue eyes sparkling
merriment. Nudging her lightly, he said, “You really didn’t think you’d
have more than five minutes to yourself, did you?”

Sensing his teasing tone, Mia mock-glared at him. Cracking a
smile, she responded, “No, but a girl can hope, can’t she?”

“I don’t know what you’re complaining about. Most girls would
love to be in your shoes. I mean, living in a huge mansion with five
single guys, one of whom happens to be absolutely handsome...” he
answered, puffing his chest at his own compliment.

“I know, I know,” Mia said, smirking. “Sage is incredibly

“Hey!” Ryo cried, letting the air out of his lungs with a defeated sigh.

“But,” she reminded him in all seriousness, “romance is the last thing on
anyone’s mind right now, and it shall remain there until you guys defeat the

Her companion immediately sobered at the grim reminder. “I
know. And they haven’t attacked in the last week. It makes me

Mia smiled sympathetically, saying, “How can it not? It has all of us
worried. But I’m sure you guys can handle it.”

She squeezed his arm in reassurance, seeing the doubt behind his eyes.
'Oh, Ryo, can’t you have more faith in yourself?' Of all the Ronins, he
seemed to take any defeat or fallback personally as if it were his own
fault, something with which Mia had no clue how to
help him.

“Ryo, you will defeat the Dynasty,” she whispered. “All the
guys, White Blaze, Yulie, they all have faith, so why can’t you?”

“Do you?” Ryo asked, gazing down at her, surprised and moved
by the earnestness of her words. He had always assumed she saw the
Ronins as a means to an end; by giving them information and shelter,
she furthered their chances of winning. But lately, as they grew to
know one another better, he felt that she actually cared about him
and the others, not as warriors, but as friends. He didn’t know why,
but the thought was extremely pleasing. 'Is this what friendship

Seeing his confusion, Mia smiled softly. “I consider you a
friend, a very good friend, Ryo. How could I not?”

With her gentle answer, Ryo smiled, feeling happy for the first time in as
long as he could remember. “Thank you, Mia. I’ve never really had any
friends before, except for White Blaze.”

Mia nodded, as if understanding. “Of course. Nothing will ever separate
us, even after the Dynasty is gone. And they will be gone.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Mia looked at him. “Just call it woman’s intuition,” she

Ryo’s eyes narrowed to slits, showing his obvious skepticism.
Mia just laughed, before saying, “Alright. Enough of this. Go find
out what everyone wants for dinner.” With that, she began pushing
him towards the door, “I’ll be in a minute.”

Knowing she wanted just a little more alone time, Ryo turned to go, then
paused. “Mia? Do friends hug?”

She turned back to him, smiling a little, replying, “Yes, Ryo,
they do.”

Saying nothing, he embraced her tightly, swinging her around
the balcony, reveling in his enjoyment. Mia, though caught
unawares, understood the hug to be no more than a gesture of Ryo’s
newfound happiness, a display of his friendship, and so she enjoyed
herself, too, until she became dizzy.

“Ryo!” she called, laughing. “Ryo! Please, put me down!”

Stopping abruptly, he pulled her to him for a second longer, then released
her, his eyes sparkling, the haunted look no longer lingering. Mia smiled,
happy for the moment, just to be alive, and to have brought joy to another.

“Thank you, Mia,” was all he said, leaving to round up the
others for dinner.

She sighed, once again turning to the setting sun, basking in its dying
glow. Though he fights and endures incredible pain, in some
ways he is still just a boy, like they all are. All the Ronins looked to
her as an older sister, and she felt the same towards them.
Sometimes, it was enough; at others, her heart and her being
yearned for more. Exactly what she wanted, she was not sure; only
that a longing stole into her heart more frequently now than ever
before, and she had no idea how to fill it.

Such thoughts plagued her, until the sun’s rays died below the horizon,
leaving the Mortal Realm to the dark. Sighing once again, soft and forlorn,
she returned inside, oblivious to the thick forest beyond her home, and the
shadowed figure who had observed her all the afternoon with patient, yet
cruel, teal eyes.