Chapter 26 - Eyes
"Well I've just lost use of my right arm, that pretty vital." Kimiko then looked and saw Clay and Omi still standing there. "Care to tell me why you're here and not out there finding Rai?"
"I told them not to." Master Fung explained. "The omens have been deciphered and we have determined that the eclipse will happen soon."
"Soon? We had monks examining lunar patterns and bread mould and yet we can't get more specific than soon?"
"The Heylin Eclipse is an event that does not following the natural order of things." Master Fung explained. "Predicting its arrival was not as a simple as predicting a normal eclipse."
"So were they they able to predict anything else."
"Nothing concrete." Master Fung answered. "And without knowing what to expect we cannot risk having our forces divided out looking for Rai. When the Heylin eclipse has passed then we can search for him."
"Well I've got a better idea." Kimiko stood up. "You guys stay and watch the temple while I go and find Rai."
"Woah, hold up fire girl," Clay said. "You're not in tip top shape right now."
Exactly I'm no good in a fight right now but if something big is coming we will need all the help we can get." Kimiko explained. "Either I find Rai in time to help even the odds or the temple's defence doesn't suffer anymore than it already has."
"Look I know I should hate this plan on principle but Kimiko's got a point." Clay admitted. "Rai's not a Xiaolin Dragon but he's still got a mean right hook and right now he's the only extra firepower we're gonna get."
Master Fung paused for a moment. "Very well. Kimiko, take what Wu and supplies you need." He placed a comforting hand on Kimiko's good shoulder. "Trust your instincts and please be careful."
As night started to fall Rai had returned to the cave where Master Fung had offered to train Rai. This time however Rai hadn't lit a fire.
And this time Master Fung wouldn't be coming to take Rai back to the temple.
"And so we here back at the cave again." Clone Rai said. "Can't say that I'm happy to see this place again but hey what can you do?" He did a mock pause. "Oh yeah...you can cut the crap and go back to the freaking temple."
"Leave me alone." Rai muttered.
Clone Rai closed the distance between them. "Look I know I'm just here to voice the part you don't like listening to but for once just..."
"No you're not here at all." Rai interrupted. "None of you were ever real. You were just figments of my imagination that allowed me to be the crazy demon because pretending to be crazy meant I didn't have to face the truth." Rai held his head in his hands. "That I will either die alone or I take anyone I care about with me."
Clone Rai looked down and saw that his body was starting to disappear against his will. "So that's how its gonna be? You're just going to let misery sallow you whole and wait for death claim your sad hide?" Rai didn't acknowledge Clone Rai as he continued to disappear. "Fine, not like I can do anything to stop you." Clone Rai's body disappeared leaving only his head floating in place. "You know we weren't just figments of your imagination, we were the part of you that still had hope. But I guess you don't even have that anymore." At that Clone Rai vanished leaving the demon alone.
By the time Master Fung had deemed Kimiko ready to leave, night had already fallen at the temple. After saying her goodbyes and loading up on any Wu she could afford to take, she was standing just outside the temple grounds without any Idea of where to start looking for Rai.
"Alright if I'm going to find Rai I'm going to have to think like Rai." Kimiko muttered to herself. She thought really hard for a moment and then chuckled "Disembowel is actually a funny sounding word." She then slapped herself. "That's thinking too much like Rai."
She looked at the horizon recognised one of the mountains; it had been the same mountain Rai had said he would be staying the night before he had accepted Master Fung's training.
Well it's not like I have many more leads.
"Are you off to find Rai?"
Kimiko whipped round and saw Chiyoko standing there. Deciding not to take the chance Kimiko lit a fireball in her good hand. "What do you want?"
Chiyoko kept her hands up hope to show that she mean no harm as she walked up to Kimiko. "I come in peace. My name is Chiyoko and I'm here to help."
"I think you helped out enough today."
"I apologise for what happened, that had not been our intention." Chiyoko explained. "It was a misunderstanding that escalated."
"Well that's putting it mildly." Kimiko glared. "But trust me you haven't seen escalation yet."
"It wasn't our arrow that hit you." Chiyoko answered.
"So what you think that the Arrow fairy was just passing by and decided to be generous?"
"Now you are just being needlessly hostile." Chiyoko scolded. "I know you blame us for the arrow but half my team was seriously injured when Rai lost it so I suggest you can the prissy attitude and listen to what I have to say." When Kimiko didn't reply Chiyoko took the chance to continue. "Now I know you don't trust me but believe when I say that I have been waiting my whole life to meet Rai and I'm going to help him if it's the last thing I do.
"Help him? You don't even know him."
"I know more about him than you'd think." Chiyoko replied.
That seemed to annoy Kimiko even more. She closed the distance and got right into Chiyoko's face or as well as she could, considering that height difference. "Oh really, well then unless you want to see what I can do with just one hand, tell me one thing you know about Rai other than the fact he's a demon."
"He was human once."
That stopped Kimiko right in her tracks. Chiyoko took the opportunity and placed a hand on Kimiko's wound. Both the hand and the wound glowed a pale blue for a moment. Kimiko felt a strange coolness spreading through her whole arm. As the glow vanished so did the sensation but soon Kimiko realised that the pain was gone as well. She pulled her arm out of the sling to test it and found that it was completely healed.
"How did you...?"
"My powers can hurt demons but it can also heal humans," Chiyoko explained. "And with the right technique it can go beyond just the wounds of the flesh."
Kimiko ripped off the bandages and as she saw that the wound had completely vanished thoughts ran through her head. Did that mean that she could...?
"Your team tried to kill him, how can I trust you not to finish the job?"
"They were simply following the mission that was given to them but tonight I follow my own, one that my line has carried for generations." Chiyoko placed a hand on her heart and bowed her head respectfully. "So I beg you, one woman to another, please help me atone for a 1500 year old sin."
The old lady let out a sneeze. "Oh dear, it's always the way isn't?" She complained to her cat. "Whenever something potentially world changing is on the horizon I always seem to get the sniffles." She poured herself some herbal tea. "Well that's nothing my own personal blend can't fix." At that her cat meowed loudly at her. "Oh hush, Hu, it isn't time for our part yet. Just be patient and enjoy the show."
"RAI!" Kimiko called into the cave. There was no answer and she couldn't see any light but something in her seemed to tell that she had found the right place.
Kimiko lit a fire ball in her hand as she entered the cave. She continue to call out Rai's name until the light revealed Rai hunched over sitting motionless on a rock.
"Oh thank goodness you're alright." Kimiko took Rai's hand which he promptly yanked back.
"Leave me alone."
"Look Rai, now isn't the time for you to start the crazy routine again."
"Don't you get it? I'm a demon! My mere presence brings pain to those around me. I mean look at what happened to you. Just leave me here to die before anyone else gets hurt."
Kimiko stared at Rai for a moment before promptly punching him in the face.
"Oh build a bridge and get over it. You think you're so special that when anything goes wrong it's because you were there." Kimiko let out a huff. "Please, we've been getting hurt long before you were even in the picture. Clay's been possessed, I've been savaged by monkeys, we've all been turned into sapphire and Omi's probably almost ended the world more times by accident than the Heylin side has done on purpose." Kimiko ignored the look of shock on Rai's face. "I don't know what little world you've been living in but in the real world people get hurt regardless of whether or not a demon's there so either you man up, accept it and move on or I'm just going to leave you here."
Rai stood up and rubbed his jaw. "Kimiko…" Rai began. "Have I ever told you how much I love you using violence to get a point across?"
"No, I don't think you have."
"Then why do you keep doing it?" Rai exclaimed. "I swear I have faced beings from hell that scare me less than that right hook of yours." Rai then gave Kimiko a grateful half smirk. She gave one of her own back, she knew Rai would never say thank you for a fist to the face but she could tell that on some level he was grateful.
Realisation then hit "Wait, you took an arrow in that shoulder. How could you hit me?"
Kimiko bit her lip for a moment. "I'll tell you but you have to promise not to freak."
"After the day I've been having the only way I could freak out anymore is if you had brought one of those cleansers along with you."
Kimiko gaped at Rai for a moment. "Oh screw it. Come in Chiyoko."
"Thank you for being civil about this." Chiyoko bowed head.
After a bit of coercion they had managed to convince Rai to come out of the cave. Currently they were sitting around a fire in a clearing.
"Don't thank me yet." Rai replied. "Fixing Kimiko's wound doesn't fix things between us. It just means I won't break your arm in retaliation."
Chiyoko gave Kimiko a questioning glance. "Hey don't look at me," Kimiko replied. "We're taking your word that it hadn't been you guys that shot first. He's listening so talk."
"Very well." She briefly inhaled and prepared herself. "Look I know you and the Cleansers of the Earth don't have what you would call a peaceful history."
"Well what can I say? I'm a demon, you guys made it your sole purpose to destroy demons, and despite such a good basis for a working relationship you still manage to suck all the fun out of trying to end my existence."
"Then why did you keep the name Chiyo gave you?"
Rai did a double take. "How did you...?"
Chiyoko decided to make use of the momentum. "For centuries my family has held a secret mission, one that involves my ancestor Chiyo and a demon she had found in a cave."
Seeing the look of realisation in their eyes, Chiyoko knew that everyone present was up to date on Rai's side of the story.
"Chiyo searched everywhere she could think of to find a cure for the young demon but despite her desire she was still a novice and there was only so much she could do herself. Finally out of desperation she turned to her older sister, an extremely gifted priestess for help. After telling her the whole story the sister agreed to help in whatever way she could if Chiyo brought you to her."
"Chiyo, feeling like she had run out of options, agreed." Chiyoko let out a sad sigh. "She honestly didn't know that her sister would set an ambush for you."
Rai, not sure how to respond, shrugged.
Chiyoko continued "Chiyo never truly forgave for her sister for her actions but more importantly she never truly forgave herself. At first she sat in her room, refusing to eat or talk to anyone. She surely would have had wasted away if she hadn't been granted a vision, showing her future where one of her decedents would finally be able to end your curse. With this vision rekindling her hope she dedicated her life to finding a cure and to make sure that it would become a reality."
She gently lifted up her necklace. "On her death bed she created this Virtue. Having finally figured out what it would take to cure you, she passed it on to her daughter along with your story who in turn passed it on to her daughter and so it continued. I am the most recent member of my family to carry this duty." Chiyoko removed the necklace. "And tonight I will become the last one."
Chiyoko held out the Necklace expectantly to Rai who return raised his eyebrow. "So let me get this straight. You come out of the blue, claiming to be the descendant of Chiyo, the solution to my demonic problem in you hot little hands. Why does this deal seem too good to be true?"
"It is true," Chiyoko answered, "but not that good. Chiyo realised that the problem hadn't been the demon inside but the magic keeping it trapped."
"I'm starting to like this less and less."
"This Virtue is designed to strip your body of all magical influence," Chiyoko explained. "Without the spells you people placed on you, the demon inside you will most likely come back to life."
"Woah woah hold up." Kimiko interjected. "You want to bring the demon that possessed Rai back to life? How is that a good idea?"
"If Chiyo was right, it never truly died. It's been living in some limbo state within Rai's body, giving him power but unable to take control."
"And we want to give it a chance to take control?" Rai asked in disbelief.
"When takes control it will be normal demon possessing you meaning that all will take is an exorcism spell, something I am skilled in."
"Provided the demon give you time for a clear shot."
"I never said this would be easy but it is the only way." Chiyoko explained. "Look this has been carried by my family for 1500 years but as much as I wish I could say that this is a 100% fool-proof I can't. Only you can make the decision."
Rai stared at the necklace for a moment and then turned to Kimiko "Alright Kimiko I want you to be honest with me. How important is it to you that I become human again?"
Kimiko looked at Rai, saw the scars, the old wounds that being a demon had given him and despite didn't even hesitate with her answer. "Not enough to risk losing you completely."
A faint smile appeared on Rai's face. "I just needed to hear you say that." He turned back to Chiyoko. "Let's do this."
"So this is the location?" Hannibal said as he surveyed the surroundings. "I must say the scenery isn't particularly epic but there is a certain ambience here."
Wuya dropped the treasure of the blind swordsman and the other items that they needed "Really? We're in Chase's domain and you're worried about ambience? What is wrong with you."
"Now now Wuya," Hannibal reprimanded. "If things go right we will soon have enough power to rule the world. Try and take the time to enjoy yourself. Honestly, its stuff like this that makes it understandable that you spent 1500 years lock away in a puzzle box by Dashi."
"Whereas you spent 1500 years trapped in the Yin Yang world by a man you turned evil."
Hannibal was silent for a moment. "Just get everything ready." He snapped.
Chiyoko completed the circle. "This circle is connected to my consciousness." She explained as the line started to glow. "While I remain conscious nothing will get in or out."
"Did you bring some shackles along?" Rai asked
"I wanted to but Kimiko wouldn't let me." Chiyoko turned to Kimiko. "Now when Rai is possessed he will not be in control. You may be force to resort to violent means of restraining him."
Kimiko cracked her knuckles. "Right."
"I know he's your friend but now is not the time for restraint."
"Any pain he experiences will fade and this is for the best in the long run."
"Good to know."
Chiyoko looked at Kimiko is slight "You're not worried at all about hurting him are you?"
"Not at all."
Rai looked at the necklace. "So I just put this on and all hell breaks loose."
"Well no," Chiyoko admitted, "You'll just be a giant meat finger puppet to an entity that's demonic, evil and probably a little cranky."
Rai paused. "I like you."
"Let's get this over with," Kimiko said. "This can't be any worse than the time you decided to spank every animal within the temple grounds"
"Or when you made me apologise to each one of them individually."
"You had to be taught a lesson."
Chiyoko just stared at them for a moment. Rai decided to break the silence. "Well I guess I'll see you on the other side." He paused. "Listen if something goes wrong, I want you to know, everything I went through, meeting you, Master Fung, the Wudai Warriors and most importantly you made it worth it." Rai cleared his throat. "But if it comes to it, please don't let me become what the rest of the world thought I was."
Kimiko swallowed. "Okay Rai."
Rai lifted the necklace up and was about to put it on. "Rai, wait!" he paused. "If Chiyo was the one that gave you the name Rai, what's your real name?"
Rai thought hard for a moment. "You know after all this time I honestly can't remember." He then gave her a smile and a wink. "But tell you what. If this works, I'll let you pick out a new one for me."
Rai took in a deep breath and put the necklace on. Blue light shone from the necklace and trickled down. When the blue light passed over the symbols on his chest and back the shown a golden glow before they all dissolved. Finally his whole body shone blue for a moment before it vanished. Rai waited for a moment before he let out his breath. "Well what happens ne..." He then fell to his hands and knees.
"Rai!" Kimiko was about to run to him but Chiyoko put an arm out stopping her. Rai lifted his head to reveal that his once jade coloured eyes had turned pure silver and the growl that came out of his throat told her that Rai was no longer the one in charge.
As he rose his head hung to one side while his shoulders and arms sagged down, as if he was couldn't quite remember how to use his body.
While taking care to keep her guard up, Chiyoko slowly approached Rai like you would a wild animal. She made about three steps before Rai turned and ran in the opposite direction. That plan worked well until he hit barrier Chiyoko had set up. He quickly picked himself up and started hitting the barrier, hoping to break through it with his bare hands.
"Doesn't he remember the barrier is there?" Kimiko asked.
"The level of possession varies from demon to demon." Chiyoko answered. "It seems this demon only has Rai's body and abilities but none of his memories."
"So he doesn't know you're the one keeping the barrier up."
At that Rai's head whipped round.
"He does now."
Without any further warning, Rai charged at them. He would gotten his hands around Chiyoko throat if Kimiko hadn't intercepted with a kick to the side, sending Rai flying across the circle and into barrier.
"Anytime you feel ready to get that demon out of Rai, let me know." Kimiko said testily.
"It's not that simple," Chiyoko explained. "To focus my chi through Rai I need to be in direct contact with him."
"And you're bringing that up now?"
"Whine all you like but I'm not the one who said to leave the chains behind."
Kimiko grit her teeth as she noticed Rai picking himself up. "Fine, just get your mojo ready while I make you an opening. HEY DEMON BREATH! OVER HERE!"
Rai growled and then charged in for another shot.
"Fire!" Kimiko stamped her foot on the ground, causing a wall of fire to appear. Rai shielded his eyes against bright light but when the wall sunk down, Kimiko and Chiyoko had vanished as well.
Kimiko then used the brief distraction to grab onto Rai from behind. He tried to shake her off but she held on for dear life. "Come Rai, this for your own good." She groaned.
Chiyoko took the opportunity to charge in both hands glowing "AKUMABARAI!"
When her hands connected with Rai's chest, every scar on his body burst open as both he and Kimiko were knocked back by the force.
Next thing she knew Kimiko was on the ground with a bloody and unconscious Rai on top of her. "Is he alright?" She got out from under him and lay him down gently.
Chiyoko placed a glowing hand on Rai's chest once more. Energy flowed all over Rai's body as his wounds healed completely, leaving what was filled with scars seemingly untouched... She then stood back up and bowed her head in prayer.
Kimiko still held her hand against Rai's cheek, marvelling at how warm he suddenly felt. At that moment Rai regained consciousness and Kimiko found herself starring in to a pair of emerald eyes.
Emerald Human Eyes