Chapter 7 - Questions
Kimiko let out a yawn as she walked off to bed, it was late and after a day like today she needed her rest. She gazed out a window and saw Rai sitting in top of a tree, looking up at the stars. His head seemed to shift slightly at regular intervals, indicating that his gaze kept shifting to somewhere else in the heavens. It was as if he was looking for something.
Another yawn escaped Kimiko's mouth.
Oh well, she thought, that mystery can wait for the morning.
"Ya sure that you don't want to come along?"
Kimiko shook her head for the tenth time. Clay and Omi were heading out to town with Master Hu to get some more supplies. Kimiko had decided to stay behind so that she could catch with her emails. Clay how ever seemed uneasy about leaving Kimiko alone, well as alone as a temple full of monks was.
"I'm sure; I've got a load of emails to catch up on."
Clay sigh sighed, if there was one thing that Kimiko couldn't be separated from; it's her computer if she had emails to send.
"Alright. If yer sure…"
"Hey, where's Omi?" Kimiko asked, tactfully changing the topic.
"Must still be trying to get Rai to get rid of his necklace," Clay answered.
Kimiko tilted her head questioningly.
"What's wrong with it?"
"Something about it bearing a Heylin symbol and having no place in the temple…ya know…Omi stuff."
"Well I'll go find him and tell him that it's time to go."
Kimiko walked to the courtyard to see Omi babbling on to Rai who was busy sweeping the courtyard. Rai the whole time kept had an expression that said the lights were on but nobody's home. Neither seemed to have noticed that Kimiko was there, so Kimiko decided to sit back and see what unfolded.
"…and that is why you should remove that medallion," Omi said, clearly certain he made a winning argument.
Rai turned his head away from the sweeping and seemed to be surprised to see Omi there.
"You mean you were still talking?"
Omi gaped at Rai before turning red.
"OF COURSE I WAS STILLING TALKING!" Omi shout, waving his arms, "HAVE YOU NOT LISTENED TO A WORD I SAID?"
"Not really," Rai replied, leaning on the broom, "I heard you saying something about 'Heylin' and after that I just kinda blocked you out…or was it 'Hac Tao'?…or 'Hiney'?… I guess I wasn't even listening to you then."
Rai used the broom to keep an angry Omi at bay.
"I DEMAND THAT YOU REMOVE THE MEDALLION AT ONCE!"
"Look I told you that I can't," Rai said, getting frustrated.
"YOU MEAN YOU WON'T!"
Rai pulled the broom back, causing Omi to become unbalanced and fall on his face. Omi quickly recovered.
"Look, you poor excuse for a grapefruit," Rai said, "I'll make I deal with you, if you can take this medallion off, I'll not only give you the spear of Dashi, I'll also give you a free shot."
Omi stared at Rai suspiciously.
"Heylin Oath," Rai replied solemnly, putting a hand on his heart.
Before Rai could react, Omi's hand shot out and grabbed the medallion. As he pulled on it, Omi was electrocuted by a strange green energy. After a few painful moments he came crashing to the ground. Rai tsked and bent down on one knee.
"I tried to warn you," Rai told the fallen Wudai warrior, "this medallion is the mark of my vow of servitude to Wuya, it is irremovable and while I wear it, I am bound by my word and by Heylin magic to obey her."
"You mean you knew that would happen?" Kimiko asked furiously.
Rai turned and noticed Kimiko standing there for the first time. His expression changed. Kimiko rushed by him to help Omi up.
"How could you do that?" Kimiko asked Rai.
"Look I tried to tell him I couldn't take the medallion off and the little munchkin wouldn't believe me."
"Why would I believe you?" Omi replied, "You are a demon."
This seemed to strike a wrong note with Rai.
"That makes every word I say a lie?" Rai asked, "But I guess you must be right because demons are all untrustworthy monsters; bringers of death and destruction, omens of famine and plague as well as devourers of souls. If a demon even wanted to walk a different path how on earth do you think he could do it with such a reputation?"
Kimiko looked at Rai, slightly taken aback by his reaction.
Rai then put on a snide smirk before adding, "but then again, you wouldn't care about demons, for you, just like Chase Young, they are just things to be defeated."
Omi looked as if he had been slapped in the face.
"I am nothing like Chase Young," Omi snapped.
"I suggest you change the mirror you use because you are just like him," Rai said tauntingly, "Oh I remember him, always so determined, always so arrogant. What ever he did he always strived to be the best and in his world he was the best. That ambition could have made him a pretty decent Heylin if he wasn't so set in his ways. To him there was either the Xiaolin way or the wrong way of doing things. The wrong had to be stopped."
Rai let out a shrug.
"But then again I guess that made him perfect for the job, he was loyal and honourable not mention a capable student; probably went on to be a Grandmaster Dragon and do great things."
Rai walked off, clearly having had enough talking about his old foe. Kimiko looked down at Omi. He seemed so confused.
"Omi, Rai's from a different time," Kimiko said soothingly, "he doesn't know what Chase became, Chase was still one of the good guys when Rai last saw him."
"But I am nothing like Chase," Omi said defiantly, before becoming unsure, "Am I?"
Kimiko stared at him, not sure what say. She would have loved to tell Omi "no he wasn't" and if it was Evil Chase Young she could have but the way that Rai described Good Chase just seemed to hit home that bit too much, so she gave the only answer she could.
"You better get going Omi, Clay and Master Hu are waiting for you."
Rai sighed, he had gotten rid of the pipsqueak and now before him was a greater challenge. Rai stared at the device in front of him. He had read all about them and learnt of the dangers. But looking at it face to face, he couldn't believe what all the hype was about.
"Alright, 'washing machine'," Rai spoke in an even tone, "here's how this will work; I will put the clothing in, you will wash it. No shrinking, no running colours and no missing socks. Do we understand each other?"
The washing machine just stood there.
"I will take your silence as a sign that we are in agreement."
Kimiko was busy writing an email to Keiko in her cubical. It had been mostly replying to what had been Keiko's last email so it was mostly full of, 'no ways', 'oh my gawd' and 'he didn't?'. Not what she would call Einstein level communication but she enjoyed it. It was the last bit she was stuck on; Keiko had asked her what the new guy at the temple was like and Heylin wind demon that can run fast and will turn on them if Wuya ever found him just doesn't seem to cut it.
She looked round her cubical, trying to find inspiration, until her gaze fell on the poster that hung on the wall. It had the picture of a Japanese sun rise with the title "Japan; Land of the rising sun". It had been given to her by Kieko to remind her of home but after having it on her wall for so long she kinda stopped noticing it. She turned back to her laptop before doing a double take back to the poster.
The words were written in Japanese.
Before Kimiko had a chance to question this, she heard loud crash coming from the laundry. She leapt up and ran to the laundry to be met by a mountain of foam and, sitting in the midst of it, a very irritated Rai.
"What happened?" Kimiko asked, in shock at the mess.
"He started it," Rai said, pointing to the mangled pile of metal that had once been the washing machine.
The sight of the destroyed washing machine almost made Kimiko cry.
"Rai, how could you? Do you know what it took me to get Master Fung to allow us to install a washing machine? Not to mention how much it cost to get some one to travel out here…"
Kimiko was stopped by Rai pulling out his Hern Tsai bag and shoving a big wad of money into Kimiko's hand.
"Here," Rai said, "if that doesn't cover it, let me know and consider what you may have left as payment to teach me how to work that accursed thing."
Rai then stormed out of the laundry, leaving behind him a big trail of foam. Kimiko looked at the money Rai had given her. At a glance it seemed that it would have been enough to cover how much it would cost to repair the machine. She then turned and faced the mountain of foam. It suddenly occurred to her that Rai had walked out and left a big mess for her to clean.
Oh no, I'm not letting him get away with that!
She gave chase. Kimiko followed the trail of foam out of the temple and into the woods.
What is he doing out here?
The trial ended, leaving Kimiko with no idea which way to head. She then heard a splash coming from the nearby river. For lack of a better lead, Kimiko went in that direction but when she arrived at the river, it seemed deserted and was about to leave when she saw something familiar lying on the ground.
This is weird, why would he leave his robe out here? ... lying beside his shirt?…and his pants?!
Just as the pieces fell together in her mind, she heard the sound of someone coming up for breath. Following her instincts, Kimiko leapt behind a nearby bush. Kimiko could not believe this; here she was, with no means of escaping with out being seen, in very close vicinity of butt naked male. Well technically he MAY not be completely naked, she hadn't seen underwear lying around so…
KIMIKO! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? YOU'RE BUSY BREAKING RULE NUMBER ONE OF AUNT NATSUMI'S PUBERTY NO-NO LIST AND YOU'RE CONTEMPLATING TECHNICALITIES!
Kimiko heard light splashing from the other side of the bush. This hopefully meant Rai hadn't seen her. Kimiko let go of the breath she had been holding. She may be able to get out of this in one piece. All she would have to do is wait until Rai looked the other direction and then make her escape. It was a brilliant plan except for the fact that it involved her having to know which way Rai was facing which in turn would involve her having to look.
Kimiko silently took in a deep breath.
Alright girl you can do this; it's not perving if you're looking for a chance to escape.
She stuck her head out of the bush tentatively; she was relieved to see that Rai had his back to her and was busy washing his arms. That was until she had a look at his back. On his back was a very strange scar. It almost seemed as if someone had carved a picture there. She couldn't make out the fine details of it but it looked like a man. Kimiko found her self both grossed out and intrigued.
What did it mean?
Her mind then kicked in and reminded her that she was supposed to be making her escape. She took one step backwards, right on to a twig. The snap got Rai's attention and caused him to turn and face where the noise came from. He froze when he saw Kimiko. Kimiko froze as well; not at being caught but at the sight of his chest.
Cut into his chest was an intricate sun design filled with strange symbols and in the centre was an outline of a hand. It filled his whole chest between his naval and just before it would have been visible if he had his shirt on. By colouring, Kimiko could tell it was old but it still so prominent and intimidating.
Rai realised what Kimiko was staring at and reflexively covered his chest.
Kimiko snapped out of her frozen state and ran as fast as fast as she could.
"Kimiko wait!" Rai called.
Kimiko didn't stop so Rai started to give chase but then stopped. He hadn't gotten dressed yet and naked demon chasing girl didn't quite seem to put across the right message. He went back to get his clothes. He didn't really have to worry about finding her; she was probably just heading back to the temple.
Rai walked back to the temple, hoping to be able to sort this whole mess out.
"This has gone on long enough," A voice said, "three days that demon has walked freely in the temple."
On instinct, Rai pinned him self against an out side wall. He scooted along the wall until was able to peer in to the courtyard where he had heard the voice. Inside, Master Fung was busy talking to a couple of other monks.
"Through the last few years we have been lenient," the first monk, "even when your choice of dragons was questionable, especially for Dragon of Fire."
"Kimiko has brought worth and honour to that title," Master Fung answered sternly, "I will not have you belittle her abilities because of your own bias, Master Gao."
"Bias?" Master Gao asked, "She not only released that accursed demon but also seems to be befriending it. What is left there to be bias about?"
"Kimiko has proven her worth time and again," Master Fung replied angrily, "Just because you are too blind to see…"
"Peace, both of you calm down," The final monk said, "Despite reservations there might have been, Kimiko has proven her worth as a warrior. This degree of compassion she shows to the demon is uncharacteristic for how she usually deals with members of the Heylin side but could simply be inexperience since she is still young. You, Master Fung, however are not and yet have given that demon free rein in this temple."
"Master Sun, Rai aided the Dragons and only asked for food and shelter in return," Master Fung answered, "Courtesy would dictate that I comply."
"Yes, if this was a stranger," Master Sun replied, "He is Wuya's apprentice; this is no doubt one of his tricks."
Master Sun let out a sigh before continuing.
"As always the council trusts your judgement, however we have grown impatient with your lack of action and have given you a dead line. Either that demon is out of this temple by tomorrow night or it will be considered time for someone else to take the role of chief monk."
Master Sun left after saying that. Master Gao waited until he was out of sight before speaking again.
"And when that happens, I will make sure that some of your other questionable decisions are revoked."
Master Gao let the meaning hang while he left the court. Rai hide back against the wall and kept still so that he wasn't seen. Once he was certain that he was alone, he slide down the wall into a sitting position. It seemed that Rai's welcome had official worn out.
Authors note: Alright for those of you who are interested; Hac Tao, the term that Rai said early on in the chapter, literally translates to "black way" and is basically the Chinese equivalent of what western cultures call black magic.