A Fushigi Yuugi story
By Aaron Bergman
Disclaimer: Fushigi Yuugi belongs to Yuu Watase, Flower Comics, Shogakukan, Bandai, Studio Pierrot, TV Tokyo, Movic, Viz, Pioneer, and others, I'm sure. No infringement is intended.
Surrounded by the sound of red in a whirlwind of godly plumage, my feetgently touch the gelatinous ground. I wonder what I am doing here in a hazily concerned way, but those concerns whirl away with the feathers as I see my mother standing there, looking at me with displeasure barely covering her concern. Before I can say anything, she speaks.
"What are you doing here?" she demands. Then she adds, almost to herself, "It is too dangerous for all of us with you here, but now we have no choice."
She looks as if she lost herself in thought for a moment. Then she levels one finger at me and spits, "Do you even realize what you've done?!"
I spread my hands and say pleadingly, rainbows dancing between my fingers, "All I want to do is go home."
My mother shakes her head slowly, and my heart breaks. "It is far too late for that." She turns away slowly and I reach for her, only to find my movements much slower than hers.
"Mom! Mom! Help me, please!"
She casts a glance over her shoulder and says sadly, "It's too late for that too. It may be too late for all of us, and we are walking our final days." As she fades like a spectre, a mirage shimmering in desert moonlight, she states, "We will meet again…"
Tamahome hated jails. They were always cold, damp, dirty, and boring. After spending four hours in this one, she didn't see how being owner-operated by the Emperor himself made this one any different.
And it didn't help that her cellmate, an almost total stranger named Akira she'd saved not once, but twice in the last twelve hours, snored.
It wasn't that he snored loudly; it just had an irritating rasping quality to it that prevented Tamahome from sleeping herself. Although it could have been worry that kept her awake, more than anything else. She had no idea what the Emperor would do to her and Akira…
Actually, Tamahome had a pretty good idea, but the specific combination of boiling oil, serpents, and razor-sharp hot pointed objects were, rather unfortunately, left to her imagination.
Also, the guards had dumped Akira unceremoniously in the middle of the cell, so even pacing back and forth was denied to her. With nothing to do but watch Akira snore peacefully and contemplate her impending doom, she was muttering angrily to herself. "'Just one last job,' huh? I should've known, but oh no, I have to get greedy. I am so fucking stupid!"
Suddenly, Akira stopped snoring and said something softly in his sleep. Tamahome, probably more curious than whatever he'd said warranted, moved closer.
His lips moved again, but this time Tamahome caught, "Mother…"
She harrumphed. "Figures he'd be calling for his mommy."
Despite her comment, though, she moved a bit closer and looked down at him. She had to admit, he was cute in a rather youthful way. That didn't change the fact that he'd gotten her into this mess in the first place. She started getting angry again. How could I have been so stupid?!
Distracted by her thoughts, she didn't notice Akira's arms rising up, but she certainly did notice when he grabbed her and pulled her down on top of him. "Mom!" She felt his face press into her breasts. Then, she heard him say, "Huh?" or something very close to it.
Slowly, oh so slowly, Tamahome felt her face turn crimson. Then, she broke Akira's grip, leapt to the wall, and only stopped herself from beating him into a twitching pulp by remembering that he was the only person who could help her escape.
Or at least serve as a human shield when the palace guards were raining arrows when she did run away.
At least he looked almost as embarrassed as she did. "Um, er, uh, I…"
She noticed that her hands were shaking, she was so angry. Tamahome crossed her arms across her chest to stop that, and spat out, "No need to sound so sorry!"
Akira looked like he was about to say something else, but he sighed and just scooted up against the wall opposite hers. That was just fine with Tamahome.
The advisors to the Emperor were used to him arguing with their advice. In fact, whenever he agreed with any of them, they had to go have a good lie down for the rest of the day to calm their nerves.
But this time, they had no intention of changing their minds. What was at stake was far, far more important than any argument the Emperor could use. "You must execute them, Emperor! They have violated not only your palace, but your person. To have anything less than an execution would embarrass you. We will not allow you to do this!"
Unfortunately for them, the Emperor didn't have any intention of changing his mind either. He made an offhanded gesture. "We have no intention of letting them be killed. They will be too useful to us."
The chief advisor nearly screamed, "Then tell us why!"
The Emperor tilted his head, then nodded. "It pleases us to do so. I believe… the boy is the Summoner of Suzaku."
The advisors gasped. The chief advisor asked, "Can this be true?"
The Emperor nodded again. "The red light he shed when threatened proves it. The text of the Book says that he may appear now. Signs and portents point to the time coming near. Add to this a strange boy, clad in the way described by Tai-Yun… I am certain that the boy is the Summoner."
The advisors looked at each other, then the chief advisor said, "If he proves tractable, he could be very useful." He paused significantly, then added, "We shall not fight you on this judgment, Emperor." They all bowed deeply, then turned and left. None of them saw the Emperor smile…
Matsura walked quickly through the Tokyo night, thoughts racing through his mind. Was his friend Akira trapped in the book? How had he gotten there? And how was he going to get out?
Why is he always the one doing these amazing things? I'm always left behind… why do I even bother? He chuckled to himself; a wheezy, almost out-of-breath sound. Because he's my friend. Who would dig him out of the holes he digs himself into, if not me?
Matsura shifted the book inside his coat, feeling the weight of it. But… I think I'd like to at least see some of this world before we both just forget about it. After all, doesn't Akira owe me an adventure or two?
He barely noticed as he spun off the shoulder of a street tough. He landed heavily, but the tough didn't even bother turning around.
All he was certain of, both he and Akira were in deeper than either of them could comprehend…
Tamahome peered around the corner cautiously, improvised throwing club at the ready, then gestured to Akira behind her. "It's clear."
Tamahome walked out, and Akira followed. He asked, "Are you sure this is the way out?"
"Of course!" I think… To change the subject, Tamahome asked, "What was that stuff you used to scare the guard?"
"Oh, you mean this?" Akira reached into his pocket and removed a foil-covered object. "It's called gum."
"'Gum?'" Tamahome yanked open a door and just barely stopped a curse from passing her lips. Why do palaces have to be so big?
"Yeah. It tastes good. Want some?"
Tamahome stopped dead and turned around slowly. Akira, somewhat frightened by the glint of greed in her eye, backed away slightly. "W-what did I say?"
Tamahome stuck out one hand. "Pay up."
"Pay up." She added, "I'll take some of this 'gum' as the first installment for being your goon."
"Uh, okay." Akira handed her the stick of gum and pointed. I'm thankful she thinks that gum is rare… "I think that's the way out."
"Hmm?" Tamahome turned around.
The doors behind her were inlaid with gold in intricate swirling designs that made Tamahome feel… comfortable… somehow. They were very familiar, and yet she knew she'd never seen them before.
Akira pushed past her. "Well, what are you waiting for? Let's go!" He pushed open the doors before Tamahome could speak one word of caution and stepped in.
"No, wait! Oh, never mind." Tamahome hurried after him.
The room inside was a shrine dedicated to Suzaku, judging from the nearly seven-foot tall statue of the fiery bird. Tamahome really didn't have a lot to do with religion, but she did know what she'd learned from her mother a long time ago…
"What's that?" Akira pointed to the statue. "I think I've seen it before…"
Tamahome looked at him incredulously. "You don't know what Suzaku is?"
Akira scratched his head and said, "What's a Suzaku?"
Tamahome sighed. "The god of the south is represented by a bird rising from flames. Each of the four nations has a patron god, Genbu the turtle in the north, Byakko the tiger in the west, and Seiryu the dragon in the east."
Akira scratched his head again. "What's a Suzaku?"
Tamahome smacked him. "I'm getting to that! Suzaku is the name of the Konan Empire’s patron god. In fact…"
A voice sounded from out in the corridor. "I think I heard something from inside the shrine!"
Tamahome sprinted for the nearest side door, not noticing that Akira had turned the other way…
Akira cursed. "I can't believe she got lost!" He refused to admit that he was lost himself. The gardens surrounding him were quite beautiful, with a fragrant collection of flowers that spanned the rainbow and trees that grew in intricate patterns forced on them by gardeners, but all that he could live without. "Damn it all, I got into this place, I should be able to find my way out again!"
"Oh, are you lost?"
Akira, frightened nearly out of his mind, whirled around to see… the most beautiful women he'd ever seen in his life standing there, an amused expression on her face. She was wearing robes worked in a lotus-petal pattern that did little to show her figure, but hinted at what lay beneath it. "Uh-uh-um…" he stammered, unable to find anything to say.
She tilted her head, and her slight smile widened. "Are you always that nervous, or only around attractive women?"
She laughed. "Oh, I like you. I think that I'll show you the way out, in exchange for a kiss."
"A… kiss?" Akira, despite all his reputation, was actually quite clumsy around girls. Especially ones that found him attractive. I wish I could just be natural around girls, like Matsura can. How does he do it?
In his distraction, he hadn't noticed the woman's arms circling around his waist. She was about the same height he was, and looked into his eyes closely. "Haven't you ever kissed a girl before?"
Akira blustered, "Of course I have!" He nervously put his own arms around her. Just as he was slowly leaning in for the kiss…
"Let me go, you bastards!"
Akira jerked away. "That's Tamahome!"
"Who?" The woman looked a bit angry, but released him without moving too far away. "A girlfriend of yours?"
Akira chuckled sarcastically. "Yeah, right. But she's saved my life twice, and I just couldn't leave her alone!" He ran out one of the small open-air corridors leading from the garden, and the woman stared after him with a smile on her face.
"Perfect. He's simply… perfect. Everything I ever expected…"
Tamahome had been beaten up by some of the best. Her old master, when she'd said she was leaving before he considered her ready; the six guys that had tried to mug her on her first night in the city; and once when she'd been caught dipping her fingers into the take from one of the Boss's operations. These Empire soldiers didn't even rank anywhere near those, but it was getting irritating how they kept asking the same question over and over.
"Where's the boy that was with you?"
Tamahome glared from the eye that wasn't swollen shut and snapped, "I told you that I don't know! What do I have to do, scream it?!"
"Yeah, I think I would like you hear you scream. After all, you're just going to be executed anyway; maybe offering you a quick, merciful death might change your mind…"
After hearing that, Tamahome almost gave in. Almost. Knowing that her fate was already decided was one of the worst things that had ever happened to her. My family will never know what happened to me…
That thought gave her strength. "I will not tell you! I will not die!"
The guardsman in her line of sight shrugged. "Your choice, but I really think that you're wrong on both counts." He raised his cudgel again, and Tamahome braced herself for another blow.
"Stop it! I'm right here!"
Tamahome raised her head a bit further, bringing that kid, Akira, into her view. He stood with arms crossed over his chest, as though there was something he could do about their situation just by being there. She croaked out, "No, you idiot, run!"
The head guard shouted, "Capture him, men!" They raised their swords and cudgels and were about to follow the order, when…
A total stranger dressed in beautiful robes stood between Akira and the guards, glaring at the head guardsman. "What is the meaning of this? Release the girl!"
"As you command, Emperor!" The guardsmen went to their knees, touching their foreheads to the ground, and Tamahome did the same after a quick look around. It's easier than standing, anyway…
Akira looked questioningly at the stranger he'd met in the garden.
Looking slightly queasy, he asked, "A-are you a man?"
One of the guards raised his head and snapped, "How dare you doubt the Emperor's manhood!"
Akira's eyes rolled back in his head, and he fainted.
Tamahome looked down at Akira, whom the guards had taken to a guestroom in the palace at the direction of the Emperor. The Emperor was standing right beside her, also looking at the lost boy. The guards, however, the Emperor had dismissed with an absently graceful gesture.
Tamahome was the first to speak. "What is your interest in helping us, Emperor?"
The Emperor chuckled. "I like pretty young men." He politely waited until Tamahome picked her jaw up from the floor, then added, "Also, I believe he may be more important than you can comprehend. When he awakens, I shall explain all."
A weak voice said, "Then please explain everything except why you like pretty young men." Both the Emperor and Tamahome looked down at Akira, who was looking back at them. The Emperor coughed into one hand.
"I am afraid that will take a bit long to explain. Do you know of the Four Gods?"
Akira scratched his head. "Yes, but I'm still wondering what a Suzaku is…" Tamahome smacked him, looking mortified, but the Emperor only chuckled.
"Suzaku is one of the four Gods of the land; a phoenix, burning bright with our hopes for the future. The other three Gods are Byakko, the Tiger of the western country Sairo; Genbu, the serpent-tortoise, who presides over the northlands of Hokkan, and Seiryu, whose priests rule the eastern state of Kutou.
"It is said that in the Konan Empire's greatest time of need, a young man will show up to gather the seven Warriors of Suzaku together and summon the God. Once summoned, the God will grant wishes."
Hmm… What would I do with three wishes…? Akira leaned back in the pillow and stared up at the ceiling, lost in thought. Well, I'd use one wish to make Matsura less totally hopeless, one wish so that I'd never have to study again, and one wish to help out with whatever this greatest need thing is… "I'll do it!"
The Emperor nodded. "Then I must tell you that Tamahome is one of your warriors. And I am another." He pulled down the top of his robe to reveal another tattoo, this one different from Tamahome's.
"Each of us has a sign that appears somewhere on our bodies, to symbolize our link to both you and Suzaku in the heavens. I am Hotohori. And I swear to follow you, Summoner of Suzaku."
Ten minutes later, Akira stood in the warm sunlight, letting the cheers of a nation wash over him.
Matsura pulled open the door to his family's apartment. He was an only child, and his parents were often away from home, so he wasn't surprised to find the front hall empty and dark. On the front table was a plate of cookies and a note, definite signs that his parents had once again done something irresponsible.
After taking off his shoes, Matsura picked up the note.
Matsura tossed down the note and picked up the cookies. Taking them into the living room, he crashed out on the couch and cracked open the ancient book he'd taken from inside his shirt. He began reading once again, the translation coming easier this time. "Suzaku no Miko stood in the warm sunlight, letting the cheers of a nation wash over her…"
To be continued.
Author’s notes: (deranged rant and omake included, free of charge!)
What needs to be explained? Well, first of all, I cut some stuff that I thought wasn't necessary in my story.
Next, don't worry about too much yaoi action in my story. I may be tricking you…
Then again, I might not be. Maybe I'm tricking you the other way. I've been feeling perverse of late.
Now, the omake!
Matsura swung the door shut behind him. He'd been surprised to find the school open and even more shocked to find the attic door unlocked, but he couldn't think of anyplace more secure to read a magical book.
The attic was dusty and almost impossible to breathe in, but Matsura looked moved for the far corner. He pulled a gate shut behind him, threw his backpack down to use as a pillow, and lay down. He opened the book after running his fingers over the Auryn on the cover. "Atreyu looked over at Engwook as he spoke. 'The sphinx's eyes stay closed, until someone who does not feel his own worth tries to pass by…'"
Oh yeah, you young’uns might not remember that Atreyu is from the Neverending Story…
Well, I've been waiting to do that for a while. What does the comic version call that stuff? Fushigi Akugi? (Even though it should be Akugi Yuugi..)
See you next story!
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