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The Traveler's Isles


Margrave
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The trip to the islands had been rough.

A storm had hit them about halfway out; a bad one, the kind that brought down small planes and rattled the larger ones. Suiko, still so new to traveling in this fashion, had been very disturbed, verbalizing her fear to her companion. The man, his features determined and grim, would wordlessly take her hand into his, not letting go until they had landed and found themselves a cab ride.

The Marchar Isles are famous for much; the southern chain is the focus of the military and the masters of the martial arts, and thousands of students from all over the world gathered there to learn various styles of military command and personal physical perfection. There, in the dense interior jungles, dojo's and training compounds stood, producing some of the finest fighters the world would know.

In the northern chain, life was much more smooth, easier, the islands centers for philosophy. It was said that the Great Philosopher of the era, Dr Pons himself, funded a school there, and many was the student and teacher who had heard the great mind speak and demonstrate the answers to the great questions of the age.

All together, the Marchen province was a place of learning, of rest...of sanctuary. The seeds being sown by the teachers there would be the great influences of the age; great minds and great warriors alike would be proud to claim an education in the Marchen Province of the Hansa.

But the somewhat exhausted pair of travelers didn't pay much attention to that; a fortuitous "Prize" of a fancy hotel room overlooking the sea had taken care of their residence problem, and if the fact that it was the Lover's Suite bothered either of them, they didn't let it show, both of them taking turns sleeping on the pullout in the living room. Today, Shilon had distracted Suiko from her gloom with nothing but a simple piece of paper, the local guide to the best, trendiest spots anywhere in the northern chain. "So how about here?" he said, placing his finger on the page. His finger obscured the name...but that didn't matter. Because right next to his finger tip were two words that would throw any child of Asia into ecstasy:

Hot Spring.

Edited by Margrave
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Suiko gave him a puzzled look.

“Hot spring? Are they really as relaxing as people say they are? I never understood why people would like sucking up hot water like sponges.”

What Shilon had neglected to remember was that although Suiko was of Kyokujitsujin blood, she grew up as a Buryat. Instead of sitting in a steaming tub, her idea of relaxing was skinny-diving in the freezing waters of Lake Baikal, something that most (including the esteemed members of the Polar Bear Club) considered sheer madness. In short, the Marchar was suggesting the exact opposite. However.....

“I'll give it a try if you want, Shilon.”

She had been bothered about living in the Lovers' Suite for the past four days as they rested, and was ready to get out for even a short time. She knew that Shilon wouldn't be crass enough to take advantage of her, but still..... They weren't 'lovers', were they? They were here on a learning mission, not a honeymoon.

Right?

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That Afternoon

Shilon, together with Suiko, had rented a small car and driven out to the place, called Holy Hill spring; so called because the missionaries with the first settlement had once built a church near the spring; though the church had gone the name remained. Of course, Shilon wouldn't have known this....but the Margrave Khendon did. He felt painful waves of shock and loss as his memories flooded over him, his times in these islands painful to him now. He hid it from Suiko as best he could and pulled into the little hot spring early in the afternoon...curiously, it was quiet, with few people there. The place forbid cell phones or television, as well as other modern frivolities, and so the few people that were there (including themselves) could relax and not be concerned with the outside world. After all, the world could take care of itself, couldn't it?

In the back section of the bath house, there are two pools; one, the communal pool usually used by the elderly and the young; and another, more discretely hidden pool; divided by a thin wall with paper screen windows. Though calling them windows was something of a misnomer, as they didn't allow you to see through the other side; they did allow shapes to be seen, and thus was this pool called The Pool Of Patient Lovers. People soon to be wedded sometimes used the pool as a test of their will. The keeper of the Spring, however, preferred that its nature be hidden, and so it was simply referred to as the "Pool of Subtle Intuition", a zen-like name that would make men laugh once they realized the nature of the pool.

This was lost on Suiko, however, and mostly ignored by Shilon; after all, his concern was ease of access to her...who knew when an assasin might come, having heard word that that daughter of the ancient line still survived? and so his dagger remained strapped to his leg as he lay in the heated waters...the warmth and comfort relieving most but not all of his fears.

"So, Suiko...do you like the hot spring? Do you see the attraction?"

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“It's..... okay I guess.”

It was a new experience, submerging oneself into hot water in the open. Not bad, although she could use a bit less heat. But the spring itself was the least of her concern, at least for now. What mattered was the outlay of this 'Pool of Subtle Intuition'.

Those paper sceens were disturbing her, to say the least. Why Shilon chose this particular pool was beyond her. He wouldn't be wanting to see her body (which he say almost everyday anyway), and the pool wasn't better in terms of health compared to the communal pool. Then why did he choose this pool? Its quietness?

“Say Shilon, why did you choose this pool? Wouldn't the communal pool be better?”

OOC: Stop putting in Suiko's thoughts, Margrave :P

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Shilon chuckled.

"Well, the Communal Pool would be better...if you choose to willingly bathe naked with strangers, mostly old men and young boys at that." He let that sit in the air for awhile, and then shook it off.

"Anyway, the pool is well known for opening the hearts and minds of those who bath in its waters. Things once hidden are suddenly perceived...secrets that lay buried in the skin sweat out of the body and encourage the speaking of the truth."

Shilon himself fervently hoped the story wasn't true...otherwise he would have a great deal of explaining to do...

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Her eyes opened widely at learning the truth of the communal bath.

“Okay, going there would be a bad idea.”

The story of the bath they were in caught her attention. She had always felt there was something behind Shilon. For a man his age, he seemed too wise, and when one considers how he is able to spend time freely (not that she herself was not guilty, but then her uncle always gave her more money than she could possibily use), he was no ordinary person. This might be the best time to ask.

“Say Shilon, what do you do for a living? I've noticed you seem to be free a lot.”

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Shilon was quiet, still for several moments...the answers he had for her, the things he would have said...what could he say to her?

"I...was...I was..."

"LORD KHENDON! MARGRAVE!"

The man who had called himself Shilon, the man once known as the Margrave Khendon, fell through the screen...and right next to Suiko.

Margrave came up out of the water, on his feet; the youthful face of Shilon completely forgotten; his features a stormcloud as his body flowed into an offensive pose. It would be...dangerous...very dangerous, fighting in this water; the assassin would think he was down; unaware, he drew the dagger from his leg and-

"Sir.."

Before him stood one of his bodyguards; of the truly old set, those who had originally hailed from the Marchen province. He had aged; joined the civilian class, apparently bought the Margrave's old spring. Irritably, Khendon sheathed the dagger, looking around to see if anyone ha-

"...Shilon?"

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Lord Khendon..... Margrave..... The Patriarch of the Marchar.....

Suiko's mind was swimming through a flood on information that was swirling around. The thought that Shilon might be the one who had found the Marchar, and the lover of the Ryumu Sumeragi, hit her like a train. Incomprehensible.

Right now, the only thing she could do, the one thing she was able to do, was call out his name.

“..... Shilon?”

And hope for an answer.

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"..."

The man known as Shilon looked deeply into her eyes, heaved a sigh, and then looked towards his servant.

"I understand you would not have broken my exile unless you thought it was needful, Okarr. But I ask that you wait for a moment before saying what you must say."

Shilon turned to her, sinking back into the water, trying not to look in her direction. "Suiko...I am the Margrave Shilon Khendon, the last ruler of Camberlain. I have hidden for several years in self-imposed exile, living as a normal man, finding this or that reason to continue existing despite my exit from the stage of history. I left behind my name...my power..my authority...all of it, I gave up so that I could become a normal man. The kind that could know you, without any of the silly trappings of title and rank to get in the way."

Shilon shook his head, looking over to the servant. "So, Okarr, why have you broken the silence of my exile?"

The old man shook his head. "My lord...pardon, I cry pardon, but their has been horrible news from Australia...Brisbane has been attacked by the Madman Visari...Millions are dead in the streets...and the Nordic Nation has fallen."

And at this news, Shilon Khendon, Margrave of Camberlain, Warrior King, and protector of Suiko, wept bitter tears.

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Everything made sense now. Why Shilon was so knowledgable on the Marchar, and his freedom.....

But that wasn't important right now.

“Shilon, are you okay?”

The news from Brisbane had crushed the Margrave, making him break down in tears. All the people he might have led from this disaster, all the innocent lives..... Only a true person could face such calamity and weep. She didn't know waht to do for him.....

Slowly, a bit timidly, she hugged him from behind, not caring that they were both naked. He needed comfort, and as a friend, she was there for him.

“It's okay, Shilon, it's okay..... I'm here, by your side.”

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He had lived...far too long. He had made decisions no man ever should. He couldn't....he wouldn't....he had no desire to leave this feeling behind. His people, His Marchar...all the children, the innocents, the peaceful ones...after many years of seeing the worst of the human condition, he felt something crack and twist inside him.

He hung on to Suiko and wept like a child. He sank to his knees and mourned...everything...the bitter pains of his life....

Ruby Eyes...

"There is so much pain in this world...I cannot stand it, Suiko."

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