Kichi!

Episode 3-- UNFINISHED

   Samantha felt... disconcerted. Yes, that was a good word for it. In the past two hours or so, she'd appeared in a strange, unfamiliar world, been told she was to save said world, and been shot at. Not only shot at, but actually _shot_. As all of these were rather new, unusual and not entirely pleasant experiences, she was feeling a bit out of it.
   She'd always liked to think life was toying with her, and it liked keeping her off balance. First it was the unexpected move to Japan. Now it was this other world... Wherever the hell she was. A normal girl would sit down and cry. But Sam prided herself on not being normal. So, she balled up all her confusion and most of her logic, and calmly threw them away. Life wouldn't get the best of Samantha Kouketsu so long as she had something to say about it.
   However, that didn't reduce her anger, or stress, or tiredness from running from guards, or (not that she would admit it) fear. So she felt it was okay to allow herself a little release.

* * *

   "AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!" Samantha raged. For the third time in the last half hour.
   "Simmer down, Sam," Tenzil advised, tiredly. "We've got a ways to go. Besides, there's nothing you really can do about it now. It seems you'll have to stay with us until we figure a way to get you back through the Gate." Tenzil neglected to include the fact that he really didn't believe they had the power to return her... Even if they *could* get the Gate open again, who was to say what it would do, or where-- or more importantly, *when*-- it would take her?
   "You can't fight destiny. Even if, as you say, you weren't supposed to save the world, that's what you'll do all the same. The Gate brought you here for a purpose. You have to follow it." Kichi smiled. "So... Let's get going! Let's save the world!"
   Teeth clenched, Samantha looked as if she was having a great deal of trouble resisting the urge to strangle the overly cheerful girl. Tenzil couldn't really blame her... Kichi's pious, idealistic prattle was getting rather trying. The Goddesses-- and theur creation, the Gate-- weren't nearly as benevolent as she made them seem. They'd definitely have to hold palaver about that... His head snapped up as he sensed eyes watching him.
   "All right. I'll help you on your revolution," Sam conceded, markedly calmer. "Anything, so long as I can go home. So... What do we do first?"
   Tenzil looked around furtively. "Well..." he said in a low voice, "first we do something about the gang of kobolds following us."
   "Kobolds? What're they?" Sam asked.
   Kichi casually surveyed the area. "I see them," she whispered. "About 5 or 6, right?"
   "Yes. I'll need time to cast. Do we need to run or can you defend against them?"
   The elf nodded. Her hand moved to her belt buckle. "I can hold my own."
   "Hey. What's a kobold? And why are you speaking like this? I don't like the direction this conversation is going."
   "Stay back, Samantha. We'll take care of this." Hopefully. Tenzil wasn't sure of the elf's skill, especially since she only seemed to carry a dagger. And he knew he couldn't handle too many more spells. Damn. He hated depending on luck. Unfortunately, that might be all that would help them.

* * *

The kobolds were closing in, making primal grunting noises. Samantha shrank closer to Tenzil, as Kichi moved forward, addressing them.
   "Come out, beasts. We know you're there."
   The kobold leader stepped from the shadows, two henchmen flanking him. They were hideous beasts, stumpy and misshapen humanoids dressed in hides. -->kolbolds look like ugly, hairless, dogs with horns on thier heads<-- Their -->tan to red brown<-- skin was almost competely covered with dirt. Finally, and with great difficulty, he spoke: "You invade our land."
   "We're sorry for the inconvenience, we're just passing through." Tenzil spoke in a soft, soothing voice that seemed to emit liquid calm. "We mean no harm to you or your land. Please let us pass, and we'll never trouble you again."
   The kobold leader stopped to consider this. His face contorted, as if he were fighting something inside him. Then he shook his head and stepped forward again. "You invade our land," he repeated, stronger. He brandished a bastard sword, indicating that they would not be allowed to pass.
   Kichi frowned. "If that's the way you want it... KICHI!" At this cry, she was encompassed by a golden glow, flowing from her belt buckle to her right hand. The light coalesced into a beautiful sword. Expertly handling the weapon, she angled it so its keen edges could be better seen in the moonlight. "Now," she said, voice hard. "Would you reconsider?"
   In reply, the two henchmen pulled short swords and rushed her. She met them with a short grunt and engaged them. Skilled with the sword, she parried most of their blows. However, this left her little opportunity to attack. She edged backwards, losing ground.
   "Was this what you meant when you said you'd 'take care' of this? This isn't ver--" Sam's rant was interrupted by a hard yank backwards. "What the--" She stopped, seeing the blade in the space her head was a minute ago.
   The kobold was beaten back by a gnarled, wooden staff. "You'd better pay more attention, or you'll never get back home," Tenzil scolded, turning towards her.
   "Look out!" she shouted, pointing at the second kobold rushing to stab him in the back. She averted her eyes as it slashed at him... and caught nothing but air. He was gone-- behind them. Mumbling...
   "/FLAME!!/" The two kobolds attacking them, as well as one of those on Kichi, instantly caught fire. Realizing that they were burning, the beasts panicked, running aimlessly. Kichi and Tenzil took advantage of the confusion, he with his staff, and she with her sword.
   The kobolds taken care of, Kichi reapproached the leader. "Well, it seems the issue is decided."
   It grunted in reply. Out of the shadows emerged more kobolds. A lot more. A whole lot more. Kichi steeled herself. Tenzil was unmoving. Samantha turned to him. "Well?"
   Tenzil took a deep breath, as if having made a decision. "Run. I'll take care of them. You just get out of here," he whispered. Turning away from them, he began chanting softly.
   Sam glanced furtively at Kichi, who was slowly backing towards the tree line. Figuring the dramatic moment had gone on long enough, Sam followed, at an admittedly brisker pace than she'd planned, not that she was scared or anything. Tenzil continued to chant, now adding some hand motions into the mix. This seemed to intimidate the kobolds, as they paused in their pursuit. The air hung still, as if all wanted to know just what Tenzil was casting.
   ".../GRAND FIRE!!/" With a terrific explosion, the entire group of kobolds were engulfed in flames. Screams of terror racked the air, though, oddly, there was no smoke. "Run!" he called, racing towards them.
   "Why?" Sam challenged. "You just burnt them to a crisp!" She heard a slight intake of breath from Kichi. The elf then ran into the woods. "Hey, what..." Sam looked back at the clearing, confused. The kobolds were coming. The fire was gone, and they were coming. And they looked mad. "Oh, sh--"
   "COME ON!!" Tenzil yelled, not waiting for her to move, instead grabbing the girl about the waist and running with her under his arm.
   And they were running again. Damn.

* * *

   The palace was in an uproar. There had been a small earthquake-- a tremor, really, centered under the castle. 'An ill omen,' Kyosei mused. What could it portend?
   "Emperor Kyosei!" The sentry stood at attention in the doorway until recieving a small nod. "I bring news from the mountains. The Gate has been opened! Guards were unable to find the infiltrators and are searching the area."
   The Gate! He should have known. Well, he'd expected this, hadn't he? "Find whoever is responsible for this, and whatever came from the Gate, and bring them here to me." Kyosei turned away as the sentry saluted and left.
   "So it begins," creaked a figure melding from the shadows.
   Kyosei frowned. He hated it when he did that. "Advisor Daraku, back so soon."
   The emperor was an imposing man, tall without being towering, and broad without being musclebound. His long black hair he kept brushed back off his face, where it tumbled down to rest on his shoulders. Wearing the traditional robes and headband of an elven ruler, he radiated the aura of a leader; stately without being overly showy.
   This was in sharp contrast to the man Kyosei now shared a room with. Kangen Daraku was an ignominious and evil looking man, his looks more akin to a beggar than emperor's chief advisor. His formal robes drooped over his gaunt frame. His eyes were sunk deep into his skull, the right one scarred and glowing a faint red. A dingy non-color, his hair hung limp from his head in a sad imitation of Kyosei's. He was a half breed of some sort, his ears small and pointed at the top. Dark, beady eyes against skin pale as snow completed the picture.
   The lean man cracked a wicked smile. "Why Emperor Hanjo Kyosei, you don't seem happy to see me. Me, your most loyal and trusted confidant."
   "Confidant, yes. The other two? I don't think so," the Emperor muttered under his breath.
   "Such evil thoughts! Don't forget who got you to where you are," Daraku growled, voice suddenly dark.
   "And don't forget who is the advisor, and who the Emperor," Kyosei replied, matching the former's tone. "I've killed men for less disrespect."
   "But you won't kill me," Daraku laughed. "Nor will your men find the Chosen One." So someone *had* come from the Gate. "Not today, anyway. Not unless someone shows them where-- and _how_-- to look."
   "And that someone is you?" Kyosei asked.
   The other man just grinned evilly. "At your leave I'll take command of the operation."
   Kyosei turned away. _Again_ he'd been manipulated into depending on Daraku. He may have been the emperor, but in his relationship with his chief advisor, Kyosei was the one following orders.
   "Report back once you've found something. Remember-- I want them alive."
   "Sire," he said mock formally, disappearing into the shadows once more.
   The man finally gone, the Emperor found his thoughts turning to his Chief Advisor. He was a skilled sorceror, that Kyosei knew, perhaps even with enough power to be a wizard. But Daraku was evil, that Kyosei also was sure of. And it wasn't smart to deal with evil, much less employ it. However, as they say, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The only problem being, when you get close to someone, they tend to become close to you, whether you like it or not. And you tend not to be able to get away. This Kyosei knew very well.
   He reached into his robes and pulled out a well worn paper. On it was sketched a beautiful elven woman with a reserved smile and sad eyes. "Ayu..." he whispered. "Please forgive me..."
   He began shaking, fists clenched. "Damn!" he snarled, voice full of rage, punctuated by slamming his fist to the desk. "Damn him for doing such evil!" His voice began to falter. "And damn me for being too much of a coward to stop him."

* * *

To be continued... Sam's gonna find out what's going on (maybe)

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