CHAPTER 1 ][ Needing to find him again

January 5, 2010
By , cle elum, WA
Kaede ][ CHAPTER 1 – Needing to Find Him Again

My eyes opened slowly, and I looked around the dark room. I couldn't see anything. The last thing I remembered was looking into Takeo's sharp blue eyes when he told me to do so and then falling into a deep, dream-filled sleep. I wonder if he had something to do with that. I dreamt about Takeo and I, and what I imagined our life would be like in the years to come if I had my way. In the dream, our hands were linked, and we were sitting on a grassy hill in front of a magnificent house. My long brunette hair was blowing in a slight breeze, with Takeo's loose clothing against his strong body. Takeo had given up his life as part of the Tribe to be with me, and we had run away to live in the mountains as his father had done. I was pregnant with a baby, and I could feel the kicking and moving as it was getting close to being ready to be born.

But of course, I didn't have my way. Takeo was probably back to the Tribe by now, beginning his training, or even going on a mission. Our lives would never mingle again, for the Tribe would not allow it. As this realization came fully to me, I stayed where I sat and I cried softly. I cried because I would never feel Takeo's bare skin against mine again, and we would never feel a spark when we touch, because we would never touch. Thinking about why my eyes were shedding tears made me cry more flowingly, and Shizuka heard me at one point, for she came silently into the room and sat down beside me. She put her arm around my shoulder, inviting me to be comforted, and I accepted.

“I don't know how long I can go without seeing him,” I whispered through my tears, remembering how perfectly his hand fit in mine. Shizuka stroked my hair kindly.

“Time will heal your wounds. You'll see. One day all this will have gone, and you will remember it with a smile,” Shizuka replied, just as soft. The rest of the house was quiet save for my crying and her comforting. Outside I faintly heard a nightingale sing it's beautiful song.

“Shizuka,” I said suddenly, “Did Takeo have something to do with why I fell asleep suddenly, because my last memory is of us looking at each other, and I dreamed about us being together.” Shizuka sighed.

“He should not have done that to you. It was wrong of him.” She shook her head, showing that she did not approve.

“Well, what was it that Takeo did? All I know is he looked into my eyes, is that such a crime?” I questioned her. I was going to defend Takeo in whatever it is he did, because I think he had a good reason for doing so.

“He put you to sleep! Takeo has a lot of the traits of the Kikuta Tribe, and the ability to make anything living sleep is one of them. That was wrong of him to do so.” I stared. Takeo had used a Tribe ability on me? Takeo, who was against going to the Tribe in the first place because of his heir and honor to the Otori clan because Shigeru adopted him, who was against using his traits in anything other than training and sneaking away, had used one of them on me?

My trust wavered slightly, but I stood Takeo's ground. “I'm sure he has a good reason for doing so. Maybe he thought it was the only way to get away from me before the Tribe came and took him forcefully, and he would have rather me sleep than watch him be dragged away.” I was surprised myself that I had come up with such a good argument, but glad that I had found innocence in Takeo's actions.

Shizuka dropped the matter, and went outside into the garden, after wiping my tear-streaked face dry. “My lady,” she said, bowing, as she went out the door.

I think I had cried myself dry of all tears, so I went to a special place where I did most of my praying, and I asked Lord Shigeru forgiveness, guidance, and strength. Then I prayed not for myself, but that Takeo would be safe in the missions he went on, and that he would not die before I saw him again, and finally that if he did, that I would die as well so that I could be with him and there be no boundaries between us. I stayed there for a long time, praying and hoping that they would reach someone who would answer.

After some time, I stood up. I believed i had made my decision, which was that I could never bear to be anywhere but in Takeo's presence all the time. Going slowly back up to my sleeping quarters, I put together a few changes of clothing, a traveling cloak, and an outfit meant for not being seen. Putting them all in a traveling bag, I realized I must have food and money on my journey. I stole downstairs, located a stash of money I had been saving for some time, and continued to the kitchen, trying not to make a sound. I had put on the all black clothing before I had left my room, so I had to make sure no one saw me getting food, for I would look very suspicious.

Shizuka walked around from the other side of the doorway, meeting me in the entrance to the kitchen. She spoke not a word, only lifted a finger to my lips, then motioned for me to follow her. Towards the middle of the kitchen, Shizuka revealed a pile of various breads, meats, and cheeses. Handing them to me, I put them in my bag and we continued on.

I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by Shizuka's hand when we were standing in a doorway, almost to the door that would lead to Takeo. Slowly, unknowingly, a maid passed throughout the room, picking up garbage as she went, cleaning as it was her duty. “Stay here until you hear a birdsong,” whispered Shizuka back to me. Then she crept out without waiting for a response. I knew not where she had gone or her purposes of going, but I trusted her judgment.

A few minutes later, I heard the sweet song of a fall songbird, and it fit in nicely with the surrounding noises of the house. Picking up my bag full of what I needed for my journey, I hurried toward the door to the great building, and rushed outside.

The air was chilling, but refreshing, as it usually was in mid Autumn. Stepping over the garden carefully, avoiding anything that would make noise, trying to find places to walk that were silent, I slowly made my way toward the edge of the property, and I heaved a sigh of relief when I got to the unguarded gate. Shizuka must have seen to it that it was left open. Slipping out quickly like a fox, I put my black mask on that matched the rest of my outfit. I had to make a quick decision. Should I take a horse, and move faster but make noise? Or take only my feet, and move slower but have less chance of being seen? “I should have thought about this! Why didn't I think about this?” I whisper-yelled at myself.

A glint to the east showed that the first premature rays of sun were just showing themselves over the mountain range horizon. I made a quick decision to hitch a ride to the area where I thought I would find what I was looking for, and trek the rest of the journey on foot.

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