Chapter 19 - Dethroned
Yami wasn't even the least bit worried as the two men glared over at him. Sure, he felt the rage radiating off of them, but he was so sure of his new abilities with the Golden Light that he wouldn't lose, no matter what was thrown his way. All he did in response to their threat was just grin.
Watanabi watched the two, unsure of their relationship with the songstress that lay between them. It had to have been something special, he had the feeling they hadn't been the best of friends formerly.
Jupiter hesitantly handed off the Moon-child to the wolf-man before he and Kin stood as one. It was a defining moment to see the same passion and rage in both their sets of eyes. Jupiter's held the same threat of tornadoes on a cloudy day in his gray eyes. Kin's seemed to flash between green and blue, the continuous switching between colors being threat enough.
But Yami never faltered.
The room was silent except for Mika's raspy breath, the only sign that she still lived. It was an odd sight to see the two men attempt to communicate without words or actions.
And then the fury was unleashed without warning as both suddenly were on either side of Yami, Kin bringing his blade in on him from above at an angle, and Jupiter dropping to the floor, swinging his leg out to trip the Golden King. Yami, however, simply jumped over the leg and used his own glowing sword to block Kin's.
Jupiter managed to twist his body, bringing the leg opposite the one he just swept the ground with, up to hit the royal in his stomach while Kin used the sheathe of his sword to collide with Yami's back. The evil lord bent in such a way that it was unimaginable that he would survive.
The two paused only a moment before they would decide what to do next. But it was long enough for Yami to recover. A burst of light exploded from the center of his body, sending both flying towards opposite walls.
"You wrinkled my shirt," the king sneered.
"Well," Kin coughed, "that wasn't one of your more brilliant ideas."
Jupiter groaned as he tried to get himself back on his feet. "Hey, you're to blame too. You agreed to it."
The two stumbled to their feet, backing off towards Watanabi as Yami stood his ground.
"Hey Wolf-man... any suggestions?"
The room fell into silence again as the newcomer thought. Yami was practically a god now; the most indestructible creatures in existence. How did you kill one?
"It's the only way to kill them... take out the heart. And just to be safe, take off his head as well."
"Genius. Why didn't we think of that, Kin? Oh, wait. That's what we just tried to do!" Jupiter growled as he turned on their informer.
A hand on his shoulder quickly stopped him from doing any damaged to himself. "Wait... Let's hear him out. Why do you suggest this?"
"The heart is the most vulnerable organ in his body now. Cuts and other wounds will just heal thanks to what the songstress gave up," he explained. "The heart, however, can't heal. Same with the brain. But... if I'm wrong about the heart, the brain can still tell the heart to heal. That's why you need be rid of both."
"As if that makes things any simpler," Jupiter mumbled, tempted to cross his arms over his chest in a childish gesture.
A huff passed Kin's lips before he rolled his eyes and turned to his companion. "Are you always this pleasant?"
"No, you just bring the best out in me," he snapped.
"The feeling's mutual," Kin mumbled in return.
Watanabi coughed, bringing both men back to the current situation as Mika's breathing became a little rougher and hoarser. They were running out of time. But even if they defeated Yami, did they have any chance with making sure she would survive? They were in the middle of a no-name forest that was listed as uncharted territory on maps. Not a single one of the three was healers, and who knew where Cesia had gone. If they were lucky, would the Light be able to return to her in time and heal her completely? She was definitely in no condition to use her own poorly developed healing on herself.
All they could do was kill him now and rush her out on Rhon to the nearest village and pray there was a healer available.
"If you don't mind... Perhaps I could lend a hand?" Watanabi asked, raising a single hand up. His fingers curled over, making his long, thick nails seem even deadlier.
Jupiter looked from him to Mika. "But..."
"She'll be fine. He'll be focused on us. He needs nothing from her now. Besides, I have my own score to settle with him."
"My wife. She was born with that damned Light. When she was pregnant with our son, she passed some of it on to him as well." Watanabi's voice grew heavier as he remembered their faces. She had been such an angel in his eyes. His son was her spitting image except for the wolf ears. "She was twenty. He was only four." His golden eyes turned up to narrow upon the king. "He took them from me five years ago."
The increased anger seemed to raise the temperature in the cold dungeon to a smoldering heat. The adrenaline rush that pumped through their veins gave them renewed strength that rivaled that of Gods. Now they could rid this world of the psychotic man. Yami wouldn't have the chance to live long enough to experience all the amazing things his new abilities gave him.
The three of them rushed him. Kin and Jupiter slammed into his arms, making him crash back into the stone wall behind him. A sickening thud echoed from when his head collided with the wall. A gasp of breath passed his lips when the wind was knocked out of him. His hold on his sword, however, never released. He fought to swing the blade at his two captors, but with the way they held his wrists and elbows down while putting their weight on his shoulders, it was difficult, if impossible, to move.
The wolf stalked his prey from only a few feet away, those golden blazing eyes assessing his every breath. Then, without warning, he leapt forward at the captured king, his claw-like nails digging into the tender flesh of the man's thighs. He drew his hands down, creating deep red canyons on the sides of his legs.
Despite the healing ability the man gained, pain was still pain and this hurt far worse than the previous attack. The way his muscles gave and tore under the pressure. The way he was sure that even the bones would have gouges in them down to his knees.
The wolf didn't stop there. Canine teeth peeked out from behind his lips before we went for the more vulnerable patches of skin. The struck at the belly of the king, ripping a piece of flesh clean off. He was rewarded with a waterfall of blood and entrails.
By then, the wounds on his legs were already healing, leaving behind only streaks of blood. But Watanabi wanted to make him suffer. One devistating wound for each victim he killed. A broken bone for every day that he made them suffer. The bones would heal in no time, but Watanabi wasn't going to allow them to heal straight, only causing the king to have more pain.
It took everything Kin and Jupiter had to hold on to the thrashing king. It took the silver-haired man a minute to figure out why the wolf continued on like this. Kin didn't blame him. If he had been in his same shoes, he would have done the same thing. Make the bastard pay.
Before the final strike came, Yami was showered in his own blood from head to toe. His body was pretzel bent in so many places, he appeared crippled. Unlike his victims, he wouldn't suffer much longer. Unlike him, his captors couldn't beat him down over several days without being killed themselves.
Watanabi reached his clawed hand up, covered in blood down to his elbow. With a quick thrust, the claws ripped through flesh, broke through his rib cage, and sliced the heart clean in half. The kept his hand in the cavity of the king's chest until he was satisfied that the heart beat no more.
The blade the king had once been holding was no longer there. The Golden Light that was used to create it was probably absorbed back into his body to use for healing while Watanabi tore his body to pieces.
Kin already knew the next steop to make sure the king was gone. He released the man, Jupiter following suit, letting him fall to a sitting position on the floor. The blade he had sheathed earlier, he pulled out again, eyeing Jupiter on the other side of him. Together, they brought the blade across the fallen king's neck. They each put both their weight into the blade as they pushed. It cut easily until they reached the spinal cord. Jupiter stilled.
"We can't leave this half done," Kin confirmed before pressing a little harder on the sword.
Jupiter followed and with two grunts, there was a snap and the head rolled free.
After a few beats of their hearts, they finally let out the breath that they were all holding. It was over. The long-reigning lunatic king was dethroned and put in his place. He could enjoy hell and all the tortures it would put him through for the rest of eternity. Finally, they could rest.
Or so they thought. Kin noticed, with a sharp pain in his chest, that he couldn't hear Mika's breathing anymore. There were no coughs, no raspy breath, or even a hum of wind coming from her abused throat. He immediately rushed to her. Were they all too late for her afterall?
As he knelt down beside her and pulled her up into his arms, he noticed the cold skin felt even colder. "No."
A hoarse cough erupted from her throat once when he disturbed her. She turned her head towards his voice, using only her hands to see. Her fingers brushed up his chest, over his neck, and came to rest on his cheek. Her parched lips cracked a weak smile up at him. "Kin..." she struggled to say. "Maybe now... you can find what makes you happy..." Her hand started to slip down, but he quickly caught it, holding it in place.
He stared at her, surprised at her words. Had she thought that her staying with him caused him unhappiness? She didn't know how wrong she was. She was his happiness, and if he lost her now, he'd lose himself.
He might not have the healing to save her, but the dragon did. There was only one thing to do. It seemed fitting. It belonged to her already anyway. It seemed only right to him that she actually have it. "Jupiter... Can you come hold her for a moment?"
The silver-haired man faltered a moment before continuing forward and taking her.
Kin stepped back towards where the fallen king lay abandoned. There was only one way to ensure that he would survive this as well, and that meant a change. He curled over himself, his arms holding tightly around his chest. His shirt grew taught over his shoulders as something pushed up against it from around his shoulder blades. With a scream, the wings of a Golden Dragon tore through the fabric of there shirt spraying a small amount of blood from when they sprouted suddenly.
The room was far too small for him to take a full form, so here settled for a half-transformation. The wings seemed odd coming from an almost human body. His face had changed to accomidate the dragon; his mouth and nose lengthened into a short muzzle, uptop the nose were the dragon-like eyes that peeked out from under human lashes. Fingers curled over, unable to straighten completely when nails formed into claws. He hunched over slightly from both the weight of the wings and from the dragon legs that stuck out of his pants. A tail landed heavily on the floor to help balance out all the new weight.
Kin stayed still for a few moments, getting used to the quasi-form. Across the room, Watanabi growled and Jupiter stared on in shock.
'Is this the dragon that he was trying to call earlier?' Jupiter thought, having to lift his jaw from the floor.
"And just what do you plan to do now? Fly her out of here?" Watanabi lectured.
"No," Kin's voice came as a half dragon growl. "I wouldn't know where to take her. But there is something else I can do for her." Slowly, he started to cross the room.
He brought a clawed hand to his chest, ripping the remains of the shirt off and letting them fall to the floor. The sides of his chest were covered in golden scales, but the rest was tender human flesh. A single claw would do the trick. A claw drug across the left side of his chest, drawing open the flesh. As the claws dug around in his chest, he could hear the growling again from Watanabi.
Jupiter tightened his hold on Mika as his eyes were stuck on the sight in front of him. "Just what the hell are you doing?"
"A dragon's heart has amazing healing," he explained carefully as he cautiously dug to the vital organ.
"You're going to give her your heart? Isn't that going to... oh, I don't know... kill you?"
Kin smiled a toothy grin. "I can survive with only half." Just as he started to pull the still beating half out, the tendons, muscles, and skin started to pull back together around the hole in his chest. He started forward again. "You'll have to open her chest for me."
To both their surprise, Watanabi was suddenly in front of Kin, snarling at him. "How are you so sure this will work?! What if you are just the same as him—" he thrusted a finger at Yami's corpse, "—and are just collecting Golden Light?"
He sighed heavily before standing as straight as he could. "If that is really what you think I wish to achieve, you make take me down now." He raised his arms to his sides, completely exposing his human flesh chest and torso.
Watanabi hesitated, slowly relaxing and pulling back from between the two. Kin gave him a thankful nod as he started to step forward again. His wandering eyes quickly noticed Mika's chest in one piece still. Green eyes drifted to Jupiter.
Jupiter drew in a shakey breath as he picked his dagger. "I hope you're right about this." With that, he warily drew back the battered nightgown, then started to rip open her flesh.
She barely even whimpered. Mika was so close to death that the blade didn't even phase her in the slightest. The blood ran slowly from the wound as Jupiter drew the flesh back. Her eyes remained shut and other than her very shallow breaths, there was no sign she was alive.
As Kin knelt down beside her, the dragon features started to fade away back to human. He stared down at her, feeling a pain in his chest from seeing the state she was in. Why did he let her go? Because she still had her freedom. Why didn't he go with her? He could have protected her so that she wouldn't be in this current state. "I'm so sorry," she whispered as he settled the half heart into her chest. As his lips brushed the top of her head, the heart already started to mend itself into her body.
The arteries rearranged, attaching to the old ones. As the new heart started to work in her chest, the old heart was being taken over by the one offered, the two becoming one working organ.
Her chest started to close up as the heart gained a steady beat. It didn't take more than a couple moments before she took a deep breath, her icy eyes slowly fluttering open. The haze quickly passed before she smiled at the two men above her. She raised both her hands, resting each on on each one's cheek. "Hi guys," she whispered.
Relief rushed over Kin and Jupiter's features as they sighed, all worry gone.
"Thank God! We weren't too late."
Mika's smile faded slightly before dropping her hands to her chest, feeling the bare skin and quickly growing embarrassed. She reached for the tattered remains of her gown to cover herself as she blushed. "What... exactly happened? Mama kept telling me I had to hold on."
Kin quickly explained to the Moon child about the Golden Dragon and the heart she now shared with him. Her cheeks only flushed more when she felt that new heart speed up and him grin at the same time it did so.
"What do you mean when you said your mother told you to hold on?" Jupiter questioned, now pacing up and down the room.
Mika stared at him as if he told a question with an obvious answer. "Well," she started, "when I close my eyes, Mama is there, always." As she spoke, she closed her hues. When she continued, her hands reached up, as if painting her with her fingers. "She's beautiful. She almost looks like me, except her hair is straight all the way to the ground. And her eyes have no color. She says I got the blue eyes from my father." She laughed a little at that,t hough she wasn't sure why.
The two men continued to stare at her a moment before a rustle of cloth broke silence. Watanabi had taken his torn cloak off and settled it over Mika. Though the room was cold, he didn't understand how she couldn't have been shivering yet. "Get her home," he mumbled as he got to his feet, heading to the door of the dungeon.
"Where are you going?"
"I've finally had the revenge for my family. I can die peacefully now."
Mika quickly sat up, the cloak almost falling before she caught it. "Die?!"
He stoped at the door before turning to peer into her worried eyes. The songstress he had met only a few days prior, he couldn't understand. It was as if she cared about him, about his life. He didn't come here to help her, only for himself. But as he gazed back at her, he couldn't help but smile. "Maybe I'll just travel... find a new reason to live. Maybe share the story here with villages."
Mika's smile at his answer was contagious as everyone found themselves grinning.
And then he was gone. The three found themselves in the dungeon room all alone. The cold started to get to them as the men as the adrenaline was now wiped out of their systems.
"I think we should take his advice and get you home," Kin commented after the quiet had lasted far too long.
She nodded in agreement before turning her head to Jupiter. "What about you?"
Grey eyes stared back at her, a mix of emotions rushing through them. What would he do now? It was more than obvious that she was really from the Moon. Would he take up that offer the voice had given him? No, he couldn't do that to her. "Travel again. Find a way to repent for my sins."
Before anyone could ask, Jupiter was already collecting himself and starting for the door.
And then there were two.
She couldn't bring herself to look away from him. Nothing else could hold her attention now. Before she thought he was just a generous person letting her stay with him the last couple months. She wasn't sure how to admit the feelings that had started to accumulate during that time. In fact, she wasn't even sure he felt the same way, or that he ever would.
And yet here they were. He had crossed unknown lands to find her. He, a friend, and a stranger, fought side-by-side to get her back.
She didn't know Watanabi very well, but she hoped he would have a happier life now. He deserved it after all, didn't he? Jupiter she knew worried about her. He always seemed to have a knack with showing up when she was in danger.
Then there was Kin. He was always there. And what he had done today proved enough for her. He wanted her to stay, to come home with him. He had risked his life to ensure she would live. Now she could feel his heart beat in her chest.
He raised a hand, pressing a finger against her dry, rough lips. "Before you say anything, please listen?" He waited for a nod before he continued. "It was all I could do to make sure you would be safe. But I don't want you to feel like you're tied down, if you don't want to. If you want, you can pick up where you left off, before you appeared as an angel to me in the forest." He grinned at her and her cheeks flushed. "So... you can go home, or you can come back to the castle with me if you want."
She found herself hypnotized by his lips as he spoke. When he finished, she sighed and curled up against his chest. Did he feel like he had taken her freedom from her by giving her half of his heart? Was this his way of telling her she could still do as she wished? "Is this a trick question?" she asked, turning her head up to look at him. She raised a hand, drawing a finger over the shape of his lips before she met his eyes with her own. "Home is with you."