Chapter 8 - Answers
Kimiko was busy cleaning foam from the laundry. Her logic was that this was the last place that Rai would come. That would mean that she didn't have to face him yet. Clay walked into the laundry so see the battle between her and the foam.
"What happened here?" Clay asked.
"Oh I'm not sure," Kimiko lied, "I had put a load in and when I come back this happened. Maybe it was a blocked pipe."
"Riiiiiight," Clay answered, not at all convinced.
"So how was town?" Kimiko asked, trying to change the subject.
"Omi told me about that added feature da added feature of Rai's necklace. "
"Oh he did?" Kimiko replied before returning to cleaning up the foam.
"Kimiko," Clay warned, "yer dancing over a pit of snakes and you know it."
"Clay, Rai seems like a nice guy if you try to get to know him."
"He's also has to follow the command of the second most evil woman I have ever met."
"Second?" Kimiko asked, "Who is the most?"
"Cousin Janice but that's not that's not the point," Clay replied, "The point is that this is becoming another Daitaro."
Kimiko turned and faced Clay, her eyes burning in fury.
"You have no right mentioning that name," Kimiko warned.
"I do if I see someone close to me walking down the same path again," Clay replied.
"You don't know anything about Daitaro."
"I know you trusted him," Clay replied, "And I also know he ended up hurting you."
Kimiko was on the verge of hitting Clay.
"No-one decides who I can be friends with but me," Kimiko warned, "Don't start telling me what I can and can't do."
Clay, realising that he was on the losing end, took in a deep breath.
"Your right," Clay said, "I won't start telling you what to do but just know that I'm here if you need help."
Kimiko was shocked, she hadn't expected Clay to back down so easily. Clay looked at the mess.
"I'll go get a mop and help you clean up."
Kimiko smiled gratefully.
Clay smiled back.
"That's what friends are for."
Kimiko trudged through the darkened hallway towards the sleeping quarters after needing to have a late night "pit stop". She sent a quick glance out to the tree where she had seen Rai at last night and when she couldn't see him she tried to bite back a twinge of worry. Rai never came back from the river and considering their last meeting, Kimiko hadn't been so keen on going back to find him.
No use worrying, Kimiko thought, he'll turn up when he's ready.
She turned round a corner and walked right in Rai.
"Rai?! What are you doing here?"
"Looking for you," He replied.
Kimiko suddenly found the need to apologise.
"Rai I'm so sorry about what happened in the forest…"
"It was an accident I swear, I mean yes I did follow you but that only because you left a big mess…"
"But that doesn't mean for you think that I am some kind of perv and hmph.."
Kimiko was stopped when Rai covered her mouth with both hands.
"Apology accepted," Rai replied, "Now on the count of three I'm going remove my hands and if you start jabbering again I'll put my hands back, OK? 1…2…3"
Rai slowly remove his hands. Kimiko remained silent.
"That's better," Rai said, "now that we gotten past that do you wanna go for a walk in the woods?"
Kimiko looked at him.
"It's the middle of the night."
"The moons out," Rai replied, "We'll able to see well enough. It'll be fun."
Kimiko gave Rai a suspicious glance before a plan formulated in her mind.
"Alright but only if you promise to answer some questions I have."
"I'd rather not," Rai replied, having a fair idea what the questions were.
Kimiko crossed her arms defiantly,
"Well then I'd rather not walk in a dark forest."
"Alright fine," Rai replied, clearly irritated, "but only after we're out of the temple."
Rai and Kimiko were walking down one of the more clearly set out forest path. Kimiko had been formulating what questions she wanted to ask so she decided to start simple.
"Alright, first question, where did you learn Japanese?"
"What's that?" Rai asked.
"Oh don't play the ignorance card," Kimiko told him, "how else could you read the post in my cubical."
"Oh so it's a language."
Kimiko stared at Rai.
"Wait, you didn't know what Japanese is, yet you can read it."
"I can read any language," Rai answered.
Kimiko blink as there was an extended silence.
"When I was young I met an old guy named Legba, he gave me the ability to understand every language I come across."
"Wait, so some 'old guy" gave you the ability to understand any language," Kimiko asked, "Doesn't that seem a little weird."
"Says the girl that creates fireballs in her hands," Rai remarked.
"Good point. Alright next question, what were you doing last night in the tree out side the sleeping quarters."
"I was waiting for the right moment to strike, when I would creep in and mercilessly slaughter your friends, once that was done, I would lay a curse on you and claim you as my undead bride."
Kimiko stared at Rai.
"Alright that was just creepy," Kimiko warned.
"Sorry, sounded funnier in my head," Rai answered, "well the truth is that I was looking for my star."
"My Mother told me that each person has a star in the sky looking after them. I've trying to find to so that I could give it a piece of my mind."
"GIRL WOULD YOU STOP SAYING 'WAIT'!," Rai snapped, "its getting annoying."
"Sorry," Kimiko muttered, "so you had a mother?"
"Of course I had a mother. What? Did you think I was born from the souls of children devoured by a flock of hell born condors whose spirits were combined in cursed storm created by an undead wizard."
A cricket chirped in the background.
"No but something tells me you've had just a bit too much time on your hands to think that up," Kimiko answered, "So what was she like?"
"My Mother? Well one of the main things I remember about her was how tough she was. I was probably one of the few things she was nice to. She wouldn't let anyone boss her round or tell her what to do," Rai smiled at the memory, "I think she would have liked you."
"Uh…thanks," Kimiko replied, "and I bet I would have liked her as well, all things considered."
"All things considered?"
"Well I can't say that I've met that many female demons so I don't know what they are like."
Rai stared at her.
"You think my mother was a demon?"
With out even waiting for Kimiko to reply Rai burst out laughing. He was laughing so hard that he needed to support himself against a tree.
"What's so funny," Kimiko demanded, not liking that she may the butt of some joke.
"Sorry it's just the idea of my mother being a demon."
"Hold up are you saying that your mother isn't a demon?"
"Nope, in fact she was the reason for there being fewer demons in the world."
"So she was human?"
Rai's laughter stopped as a newer memory came flooding in.
"Yeah she was," Rai replied, trying to hide the sadness in his voice, "and so was I."
Rai only realised what he had said when it was too late. He looked at Kimiko and by the look on her face knew that she had heard him. He realised that there was no way he could finish this with out the full story, Rai turned away as he prepared himself. His voice became quiet.
"I don't remember a lot of what happened before the change, I was young, but I've been able to fill in some of the gaps. My mother was one of the magic people in my tribe whose job it was to keep bad spirit things out of my tribe; I think she was the best. Well of course I would think that, I was young and she of course was my mother. Demon, spirit or just bad juju, she could kill them all. The problem is that there is only so much bad juju you can tick off before it starts striking back. And it's so much easier for them to strike back when you have a dumb kid that goes exploring by him self. That's where I come in."
"A Wind demon decided to take me as a host and me, being a lovable but weak minded child had no way of stopping him. With him in control, I was forced to attack my village. My mother had been called away to help another village so she wasn't there when I attacked. The village were able to restrain me and one of the other magic people was able to put a containment spell on me to keep the demon within my body so that it didn't try to escape. When my mother returned she tried to do a purification spell that would remove the demon from my body."
Rai stopped his story momentarily.
"You asked me what those markings on my chest were. Well the on my back was the containment spell and the on my front was the purification spell."
Kimiko gave a brief "oh" before Rai continued with his story.
"Well I don't know about Japanese magic but where I came from spells weren't meant to be mixed. It was one few lessons my mother had managed to teach me before this happened. But that didn't stop my mother from trying. She used the most powerful spell she knew. I doubt anyone had expected the result to be pretty but what happened next will always stay with me. The purification spell killed the demon but because of the containment spell in place, it wasn't driven out of my body. After what felt like an eternity of pain, the body of the demon fused with mine, creating the specimen you see in front of you."
Kimiko tilted her head to the side slightly.
"So what does that make you?" Kimiko asked.
"A sin against nature and a freak by both human and demon standards," Rai answered before seeing the look Kimiko gave him, "What? Were you expecting a scientific term?"
"So what happened next?"
"What do you mean?" Rai asked.
"Well when the demon was killed, didn't things return to normal?"
Rai pointed to his eyes.
"Does this look normal to you? Sure the demon was dead but in some ways so was the boy, what was left was a fusion of the two. I was no longer human so that made me a threat to the village. Mum was given the duty of destroying me. She 'knew' she had to do it but when the time came, I was still her son so she couldn't bring her self to deal the killing blow. Instead she tied me up, put me in a boat and let me drift out to sea so that she wouldn't have to be there when death finally came."
"I drifted out to sea, further and further away from what had been my home, day and night a wind blew into the sail of the boat. I just lay there, drifting to who knows where, with no real idea what was happening, I felt something within me slowly changing; reforming to create something new. By fate or by a miracle I found my self in a new land with strange new creatures and strange people speaking a language I had never heard before. That was when I learned to run. People would see my eyes and then start chasing me. Even when I finally was able to understand what they were saying it didn't make things any easier. Each new land would bring new people and yet they would still hunt me because of what I was. So I just kept running, when I no longer wanted to run, I learned to fight. So this went on until Wuya witnessed what I was capable of. She offered to train me and help me gain better control of my powers. In exchange I had to take a vow of servitude and I agreed."
Rai sat down on a rock and rested his head in his hands.
"I was tired," Rai whispered, "tired of running, tired of being afraid. I what I wished for was to make them run, make them feel fear."
Rai gave a humourless chuckle as he lifted his face out of his hands.
"I got my wish; I became the dreaded demon apprentice of Wuya, feared and hated for my deeds against the Xiaolin way. At first I liked the rush but after a while I realised that all I had become was sick little puppet for Wuya to control. By then it was too late. I suppose I actually should be grateful to Dashi; he was able to trap me before I did something worse …"
Rai didn't finish what he was going to say but the meaning seemed pretty clear. Kimiko stared, when she had told him she wanted answers, this hadn't been what she expected. Gone was the cocky demon that she had released and in its place…She just didn't know.
Rai stood up from his rock and shock his head.
"I shouldn't have told you," Rai muttered, "It felt good to finally tell someone but it's only going to make this harder."
"Make what harder?" Kimiko asked.
Rai pulled out a short black rod. It then telescoped out form the Spear of Dashi.
"Here," Rai said, "Take this and return to the Temple."
Kimiko took the Spear of Dashi and stared at it.
"Why are you giving it to me?" Kimiko asked, "If the temple find out I have it, they'll order me to use it on you."
"Exactly," Rai instructed, "and you're going to be a good little goodie good and do exactly what they want you to."
Kimiko looked at him in shock.
"You can't be serious," Kimiko said, "you're sounding as if you want to be turned back into a statue."
"Of course I don't," Rai snapped, "I'm going to everything I can to prevent that from happening. That's why I brought you out here, so that I could give the spear and say goodbye and still have a head start."
"But why?" Kimiko asked, "This morning you were still fully intending to stay at the temple and keep the spear. What changed?"
"The situation, that's what" Rai replied.
"How did it change?" Kimiko asked, suddenly fearing that he had found out about Wuya.
"I thought that the temple would let by-gones be by-gones," Rai replied, "but I guess some things never change."
"So they hold grudge, you didn't seem to care before."
"I didn't," Rai replied, "and I still don't what they think of me but I'm not going to let you suffer because of what I am."
"Suffer? Rai, what are you talking about?"
"Your Master has been given until tomorrow night to get rid of me," Rai explained, "if I'm not out of the temple by then, he will lose his position as chief monk and you may lose your position as Dragon."
Kimiko looked at him. He didn't seem to be lying but surely the temple would do that to Master Fung. There was no one on this earth who could be as good a teacher as Master Fung. And why would her position be in question?
Rai continued to speak.
"Your master seems to be a better man than all of the monks I have met and I don't want him to suffer for showing kindness where it didn't belong and you…"
Rai let out a sigh before speaking again.
"You are the closest thing to a friend I've had in long time and from what I've seen a damn good Dragon."
"What are you talking about you've seen nothing of what I can do."
"You were willing to give a guy like me a chance," Rai answered, "that makes you the best in my books at least. Besides, I think the temple needs someone like you to bring in fresh insight and to stop Omi's head from swelling any bigger."
Rai looked as if there was something else he wanted to say or do but he decided against it. Instead he just turned his back to Kimiko and started to walk off.
"Goodbye," he said over his shoulder.
Kimiko looked on, that was it? All he was going to say is a half hearted good bye.
As Kimiko grabbed his shoulder, Rai spun round and did double palm wind strike into her gut. This sent Kimiko flying backward and painfully into a tree. Her legs gave way as she slide down the trunk to the ground. Kimko Stared at Rai in shock.
"Consider our friendship ended," Rai snarled, "next we meet, you better be prepared for battle because my blows will not be so soft."
At that Rai ran off. Kimiko tried to fight back the tears as she watched Rai disappear into the night. One simple question passed through her mind.
Authors note: Now comes the part where I explain parts I feel worth explaining.
For those who don't know, Daitaro is a character I introduced in my oneshot "Doing what is right not what fells right". It just made sense to me for Clay to bring up another time when Kimiko may has trusted the wrong guy.
Legba is the name of the afircan god of Language and Destiny. He is a trickster that would take the form of an old man and could speak every language on earth, including something called the cosmic language.