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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, '10, 6:57 pm
Saya led Kaire into her house, a small, but comfortable place with a large room for receiving visitors, a small kitchen and dining área, and two médium-sized bedrooms. The servant who had answered the door was in the kitchen cleaning. Saya invited Kaire to sit down at the table, which she did. Saya then ordered the servant to bring out some tea, after which she ordered the girl to go and stay at the neighbor’s house, which apparently belonged to Saya’s in-laws, for the rest of the day. The servant girl simply nodded and hurried out of the house.

“So,” began Kaire, trying to hide her weariness with a bit cheer. “Please help yourself to some tea.”

Kaire nodded in thanks and reached for a small teacup. She looked at the cup, which bore the design of a beautiful blue bellflower on it. Staring at the flower, for quick moment Kaire had the impression that the flower was giving off a faint glow. Thinking that it was only in her mind, she let Saya pour the sweet-smelling tea into her cup. A quick sip filled Kaire’s body with a warmth that she hadn’t felt all morning.

Seeing that her guest didn’t say anything, Saya opened the conversation. “So Miss Ti’Er—“

“Call me Kaire.”

“Kaire, why are you here? What do you want with me, of all people?”

Kaire sipped her tea a little more and let out a loud sigh. “Wait—“ she sputtered. She reached into her leather pouch and produced a small candle. Saya furrowed her brows at the object, not knowing what it meant. Kaire placed her index and middle fingers on her forehead, muttered some unintelligible words, and suddenly, a small flame started burning on their tips. Saya gasped lightly as Kaire lit the candle with her fingers. “Saya, I want to know the truth. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Saya nodded without saying a word. “About the decree?”

Kaire inclined her head. “Yes. First of all, are you a fox spirit?”

Saya shook her head. “No. I am a flower nymph.”

“But—“ Kaire started.

“Yes. I married a mortal. His name is Lung Han. He’s a scholar who works at the Imperial library.” Saya proceeded to tell Kaire her story, of how she had been the slave of a wicked priest, who had also bewitched Han’s mother. Saya had informed Han, who in turn slew the priest and saved both his mother and Saya in the process. When she was free, she helped Han study for the public exams, which he passed. Upon becoming a public servant, the two were married. Kaire listened raptly, simply nodding in agreement.

“So if you know about the decree? Why haven’t you gone back over to your sphere like your colleagues?”

“I love my husband. I don’t know if he’d be able to take it if I simply disappeared.”

“Why don’t the two of you simply flee?”

“My spirit is inseparably linked with the bellflower plant outside in the garden. If we were to abandon this place and someone were to move in, if they for some reason killed or neglected the plant, that would be the end of me. And the flower is so delicate that I couldn’t just pick it and carry it with me. It’d quickly wither away and that’d be the end of me. I guess I’d rather wait for fate to find me than to try to run away from it.”

The candle flame burned steadily as Saya spoke. Kaire divided her attention between the beautiful nymph who sat in front of her and the candle flame. If the flame were to flicker at any moment, she’d know something was wrong.

“So about the decree—are the fox spirits really—“

Saya silenced Kaire with a wave of her hand. “No. It is all lies. There’s more intrigue within the confines of the court that you could ever imagine.”

“That’s what dad feared,” Kaire muttered under her breath. “So who’s responsible for this? I assume it’s the same person who’s behind the whole business with the Hunter’s Guild.”

Saya nodded gravely. “Lau Shek.”

Kaire squinted for a moment and then her eyes suddenly widened. She placed her hands on the table and pushed herself toward Saya. “You mean…the eunuch?”

Saya remained silent for a few moments. “He wants to overthrow the dynasty. But first he needs to get rid of the opposition. That’s why he convinced the Emperor that the spirits and the Hunter’s Guild were actually enemies of the state.”

Kaire stared at the steady flame of the candle for several moments. “So if somebody could defeat—“

“I doubt you’ll ever have the opportunity for that, Ti’Er Kaire,” said a voice from the doorway.

Kaire jumped to her feet and instinctively drew her wooden sword. There, standing in the doorway were Xie A’Tou, Li Fa-Gan, and Gi Le-Fa, their swords drawn and pointed at Kaire.
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