This ficlet is old. I started it back in 1998-99, it is set in Fushigi Yugi and uses FY characters, but it was really just a way of exploring an idea I had and have used multiple times in my writing. It is the first time I attempted to make my own little world. Here it is just a forest, but the idea of creating something up from nothing was still scary at that time. It isn’t good, but I think it is okay for the young writer I was at the time.
I do not intend to write anymore to this fic, I have lost all inspiration and have no idea if I ever knew what I wanted to do with it. All I am sure of is that the OC in the fic was never going to have any long-term contact with the FY characters. It is just some teasing fun.
A Changing Path
by Nova (1999)
The strangers were unaware that they were being watched. The group was made of one girl and looked to be four men. There did not appear to be anyone on watch. They talked and chatted as if they had not a care in the world, making no attempt to conceal their whereabouts. Even the youngest child could follow the path they were making in the wood.
Unlike these strangers, Clearon, knew these woods well and had been watching the strangers. They did not seem to realize they were walking in circles. This wood was not named the lost and lonely wood for nothing. The group stopped to rest and Clearon was prepared to leave the strangers be and go when one of the men hit the girl on the back of her head. This was not something Clearon was willing to tolerate. They were standing near the trees and but a few feet from Clearon. Rage carried the would be knight the few feet to the offending man, grabbing the orange haired man’s shoulder pulling him around and slammed a right hook, under his jaw. This knocked him against a near by tree. Clearon shoved a forearm against his windpipe and said “Only cowards strike women. If you wish to fight I will surely oblige” through gritted teeth.
By now the rest of the party was standing and at the ready, swords drawn. The girl screamed ‘Taski!”
Miaka was shocked to see a man suddenly appear out of the forest, coming to her defense. He was an average height, black hair pulled back in the traditional style. He could have been one of any number of Chinese young men, except for the large eyes and thick lashes.
Clearon turned to her asking,“Are you alright?” He stepped over taking her hand in the two of his. “A lady should never be treated thusly.”
“Oh,” she said, a blush spreading over her cheeks. His hands were warm and the earnest sincerity in his eyes as they gazed into her had her liking him immediately.
“Who are you?” Tamahome demanded. The stranger barely spared him a glance, preferring to continue their eye contact.
“My name is Clearon,” he answered. As he spoke, Miaka saw Taski coming up behind him. She called out a warning, but Clearon was already in motion.
He stepped to the side and Taski came charging by. He then slammed his elbow into Taski’s back, knocking him to the ground.
“Miaka!” Taski yelled angrily, “What did you do that for?”
“Because,” she yelled back, “he was only trying to help me!!” She moved to stand between them as Taski rose.
Clearon placed a hand on Miaka’s shoulder and said with a smile. “That is okay lady, I may be short, but I can take care of myself. Though I thank you for the thought.” This caused her to blush again.
“What are you doing here?” Tamahome asked.
“I am just passing thru this wood, but a true gentleman does not stand by and allow a lady to be abused.” Clearon replied with a cold stare. “If one wishes to fight, it should be with someone who will fight back.”
“If you think that then you have never met Miaka,” Nuriko said.
A slight smile curled on his face. “Are you saying this delicate flower has thorns?” he asked as he turned his gaze back to Miaka.
She blushed but gave Clearon a big grin. “A girl has to take care of her self.”
“I couldn’t agree more.” he said, giving her a wink.
Miaka didn’t try to hide her giggle. “Clearon where are you headed?”
“I have an appointment at the far end of this wood.”
“That is the same direction we are headed!” She gasped. “Would you like to travel with us?”
“Not if you continue in the direction you are going.”
“Why?” she asked frowning.
“He said no, Miaka. Let him go.” said Tamahome. She glared at him and turned back to Clearon. “Why?”
“Because, you are lost.”
“No, we are not!!” Shouted Taski.
“No??” Clearon asked, looking at each of the travelers. None would meet his eye, except for Taski who stared belligerently at him.
ChiriChiri spoke up. “Do you know the way out of this forest?”
“Yes, I have roamed these woods all my life,” turning and bowing to Miaka, “and I would be honored to lead you out M’lady.”
“How long have you know we were here?” asked the monk.
“Since the moment you approached the wood. And you have been watched the entire four days you have been here, walking in circles,”
“Why did you not make yourself known before now?” Hotohori asked.
“You are strangers and as long as you do no harm, they will leave you alone. I have places to be and only came across you because this is on my way.”
“They?” asked Nuriko.
“The inhabitants of this forest. The village that this wood is named for does not like strangers and will not approach anyone who does not wish to escape the real world.” The group looked at each other in confusion.
“Don’t tell me you are so lost that you do not know what forest you are in?” Clearon asked.
Hotohori answered. “We are not from around here and there was no name on the map we looked at.”
Clearon sighed, “This is the lost and lonely wood. It is said that a long time ago people kept disappearing into this forest. They would be running away from something, homeless, desperate, or wishing death and end up in this wood. Once entered the forest is much like a maze and the people became lost and were never seen from again. Rumor has it; some of these people found each other and started a village in the center of the forest. Over the years the village grew as people became lost and others who had made this forest home lead them to the village. The village is so well hidden and is guarded by the forest that no one can find it unless led there. The only people who are welcomed are people who have no where else to go or had already decided to make the forest their last resting place.”
“Oh wow, that is a wonderful story.” said Miaka, “Do you know where the village is?”
“No, but I know some of the people who live there. They are very cautious and do not trust people. My father and I helped them every once in a while and they told me many stories.” Smiling at Miaka, he continued, “Oh, the stories I could tell you. A princess and her lover live in the village; they could not marry so they ran away together. There is a retired assassin who was being hunted and is wanted in every country in the land, a boy who was blinded after accidentally seeing a mayor’s daughter naked, and a soldier who ran away from a battle when he was ordered to kill women and children. There are many many more and not only about people there is a rumor that a griffin roams in and out of town and it gives the children rides upon its back as repayment to the people for leaving it to live in peace.”
“Oh, that would be great!!” Miaka clapped her bands happily.
“How do you plan to travel? Do you think you can keep up on foot? I do not see a horse.” Complained the green hair man. More like a spoiled boy thought Clearon.
“OBERON!” Clearon called. The sound of galloping hooves could be heard and a huge horse burst into the clearing. It stood hands higher than the other horses; it was black as night with flame red mane and tail. It made a beeline for Clearon. Taski and Tamahome had to jump out of the way of the flying hooves. Oberon moved behind Clearon and laid its head upon his shoulder.
“Ohhh, he is beautiful.” Miaka complimented as she reached out to pet his coat. “I have never seen a horse with this coloring.”
“The man who I stole him from said he was part demon. His eyes will turn red when he is angry.”
Nuriko came forward to touch Oberon, but the horse snatched his head back, bared his teeth and rolled his eyes.
“Do not touch him. He does not like strange men” Clearon said, stroking Oberon’s nose. “The man I stole him from used to beat and torture him.” Looking at Miaka, “The only gentleness he ever knew came from a woman.”
“The poor thing” Miaka crooned as she laid her head against his neck and stroked him. With humor, Clearon noticed the boy (as Clearon now thought of him) with green hair seemed infuriated at Miaka’s proximity. This could be fun, if Clearon played the cards right.
“It is time to depart. I have an appointment to reach and I dare not be late.” Clearon walked around behind Miaka. “You can ride with me.” Miaka felt him wrapped his hands around her waist and lifted her on to Oberon’s back, “I will tell you all about the people of the village.”
“Hey, wait a minute!!” Tamahome protested.
Clearon jumped up behind her, “At least here I know you will be safe.” He gave Oberon a kick and they started off at a canter, leaving the rest to scramble for their horses. “Let me tell you of a girl called Starlight. They called her that because she was found in a stream half dead one night. There was no moon that night so the boy who found her bad only starlight to see by…”
They had been riding for hours and Miaka had fallen asleep. The others were tired as well, but did not want to seem weak and be the first to complain. A cold wind started to blow and a chill ran up Miaka’s back causing her to awaken. Her mind fought against the intrusion. She was so comfortable and her pillow so soft. Reluctantly she blinked her eyes and looked around her. She was riding in front of Clearon with her head on his chest. A frown crossed her forehead when she realized that Clearon’s chest seemed to be awfully soft for a man. No, it couldn’t be she thought. She lifted her head and looked at Clearon’s face. Large hazel eyes twinkled at her under long black lashes. Clearon nodded and Miaka’s mouth gaped open. Clearon was a WOMAN!!! Clearon pressed a finger to her lips, her eyes glittering with mischief. Miaka started laughing and Clearon joined in. The wind had picked up again and Clearon wrapped her cloak around them to keep them warm, They stopped and called a halt for the night. When Clearon helped Miaka down, she leaned close and whispered in her ear. “I think we are making your boy friend jealous.”
They both looked in Tamahome’s direction and sure enough he was looking angry enough to kill. To make it worse Miaka and Clearon shared a private smile.
“Good night M’lady,” said Clearon, kissing Miaka’s hand. This caused another fit of giggles from Miaka. As Clearon turned and walked Oberon away she gave Tamahome a superior smile, which caused him to grind his teeth.
She chose a spot on the edge of the clearing and watched the others make camp as she took care of Oberon. She had a slight smile on her face as she watched them. They were a very interesting combination. The green haired boy was called Tamahome, he was gripping Miaka out. She was having none of it and his caused him even more frustration. The pretty man with the long brown hair, his name is Hotohori and he was silent. Preferring to be more supportive and subtler in his disapproval. Nuriko, was the man with the purple braid, he was disgusted with both of them and grumbling to himself. Taski kept sending glares Clearon’s way; it was going to be fun. Just wait until she really started playing with him.
The days fell into a rhythm. Miaka would ride with Clearon; they would trade stories, laugh together, and share secret smiles. This just irritated the rest of the group. The men would sit in sullen silence or trade retorts with Clearon. She was starting to slowly learn things about this strange group. Miaka was in love with Tamahome and the act they were putting on helped Miaka feel surer of his affection. Tamahome is madly in love with Miaka, but the boy doesn’t know how to show it. So the lovebirds do not talk or enjoy each other’s company as much as one would expect. He would grow up one day, meanwhile a little competition never hurt anyone and he may learn a thing or to about how to treat a woman you desire. Hotohori is infatuated with Miaka and does a much better job of showing it. If Miaka were not already in love she would have given into Hotohori long ago. He seems to know how she feels toward Tamahome, but this does not seem to deter him. Though she cannot be sure of his true feelings since he is much better at hiding his thoughts, but you would expect that from an emperor. Nuriko, to make matters even more confusing, seems to have the hots for Hotohori. It is obvious to anyone with a brain that Hotohori prefers women, but Nuriko persists in chasing him. Clearon believes he is confused, he pursues Hotohori, but does not seem to have the conviction of someone In love. Nuriko is also very possessive of Miaka, could this just be friendship or is it something more? Taski is definitely the simplest of the group. He is a fighter with a quick temper, who enjoys teasing Miaka and Tamahome. He delights in making Tamahome angry enough to fight.
On the third day, to relieve some frustration, Taski and Tamahome started sparing. They stripped down to their waist and were fighting hand to hand. They were both lean and handsome men, She almost envied Miaka this group of men she had wrapped around her finger. Turning back to camp she saw Miaka and Hotohori near the fire with their heads together, Miaka had a slight blush across her cheeks. He must be trying to romance her again. She had to give Miaka credit for stamina; any girl would fall for the emperor if he put his mind to having her. A few feet behind them, his fist clenched, stood Nuriko, and a look of pure frustration on his face. He turned and stomped off into the woods. Clearon followed a few feet behind. When they were out of hearing of the others, Nuriko slammed his fist into a tree; it broke in half and fell to the ground.
“Give it up.”
Nuriko spun around In surprise to see Clearon leaning against a tree. “What?”
“Give it up. Even if Hotohori does not get Miaka, be will still want a woman.”
“What the hell do you know?!?” he snapped angrily. “You do not know him and you do not know me. So who do you think you are telling me what will and will not happen?!”
“I know him well enough to tell you for a fact,” stated Clearon, straightening and walking toward Nuriko, “that when he marries it will be to a soft and biddable girl. She will never argue with him or raise her voice.”
“I can be anything he needs.”
“Do you really believe that?” she said stopping just inches in front of him. “Do you really want to be soft, never in control, and always told what to do?” She reached her hands up and placed them on both sides of his face, leaning forward. “Wouldn’t you like to be in control sometimes?” She brought her lips within a hair’s berth of his. “Wouldn’t you like to be the hard one?” she asked pressing her lips to his. Nuriko stood, eyes wide, in shock, unmoving. She began to rub her lips slowly against his and running her tongue along the crack in his lips, encouraging him to join in. He closed his eyes and slowly opened his lips to allow her access. Her tongue slid inside to tease his. She played with him, caressing him then drawing back, gently nipping at him. Until, he brought his hands up to hold her head still and be took control of the kiss.
His tongue slipped inside her soft willing lips. Nuriko explored the sweet cavity, losing all sense of time.
When they pulled back Nuriko’s breathing and heartbeat were accelerated. His hands were almost shaking. Nuriko’s eyes bad gone wide as he realized what had happened and felt his own reaction.
Clearon has a slight smile on her face as she looks in to Nuriko’s eyes. “Kissing Hotohori would be nothing like that. Deep down you knew it, you just needed a woman to show you.”
Coming back to reality Nuriko took a good look at the woman in front of him. For there could be no doubt that Clearon was a woman. “You may be right. But now I have a question for you. Why the charade? If you do not prefer woman then why dress like a man?”
This time Clearon grins. “Why? Because, then I would have to fight off men left and right. Who would want to do exactly what we just did.” Seriously she continued, “Woman, have very little choice in life. We are in danger the minute we step outside. Just ask Miaka, she has been attacked multiple times. You should understand, Miaka told me you passed for a woman for a time. I know you have great strength so maybe you never felt threatened, but the rest of us are always in fear of being abused by a dominant male. The only way to walk about freely is as a man.”
A small frown crossed his face and he tilted his head to the side, thinking. “I was always aware of lust, but I guess I was never in fear of being hurt. It must be a lot harder when you know you could not win if attacked.” Looking her up and down, now with some of her hair free and falling around her face, lips pinker, fuller from the kisses, her eyes sparkling, and knowing what lay under her tunic, it was hard to imagine mistaking her for anything, but a woman. “I must say you carry off the disguise very well. I had no idea.”
“I should hope not,” she said laughingly with a grin. “I have been raised as boy. I did not even know I was a girl until age 10, and even then I continued on as before. I was not willing to give up the freedom of being male. So, my guise should be almost perfect.” Nuriko burst into laughter as a thought occurred to him. “Tamahome is going flip out when he realizes be has been jealous of a woman all along.”
“don’t tell him.” Clearon said, eyes twinkling with mischief. “I must ask that you keep my secret. The fewer who know the better and besides I am not done playing with the boys.”
Nuriko looked unsure. “I do not like deceiving Miaka.”
“Don’t worry about that. She already knows.”
‘When did she find out?”
“The first day, when she fell asleep and woke up on my chest.”
Nuriko gave a leer. “I can understand that. There is no way to hide those babies up close.”
“That is why I keep you boys at a distance.”
“I hope you will make an exception in my case.” He said, sliding his arms around her waist and pulling her close against his chest.
“Well,” putting her arms around his neck, “maybe, let me think about it”
“Well, while you are thinking,” he said, taking her lips in another kiss. A few moments later “CLEARON, NURIKO!” could be heard coming in their direction. The voice was Miaka’s. Nuriko pulled his head back in surprise and moved to let go, but Clearon held on and called out. “Over here Miaka!”
Nuriko looked into her eyes in surprise, saw the determination there and relaxed. Placing his hands back on her hips. She gave him a satisfied smile, for his easy acceptance. Miaka gasped, when she saw Clearon and Nuriko in a lover’s embrace.
“Hello Miaka.” Said Clearon slowly turning around to face her. She leaned her back against Nuriko’s chest and he slipped his arms around her waist.
“What are you doing?” she asked and then flushed at the silly question. It was obvious what they had been doing.
“Why, I am teaching him the fun of being a man.” She said with a wicked grin, her hands resting on Nuriko’s, her thumb lightly caressing his hand and wrist.
“But,” Miaka said with a confused look, “I thought he was not interested in girls?”
Clearon pushed her hips back against Nuriko’s groin, he blushed a bright red and her grin became larger. “Oh, I get the feeling he is definitely interested.”
“Well,” Miaka began, trying to get control of herself; “I guess the cat is out of the bag now.”
“On the contrary, it has just gotten more interesting. Nuriko is going to keep quiet and the game become more complicated. When we are done those boys will not know what hit them.”
“What happens now?” Miaka asked.
“We will go on just as we have been. The only difference will be, that I will now be helping Nuriko discover a new side to himself.”
“That may be hard,” replied Nuriko, leaning his head to her ear, “I do not know if I can keep my hands of you.”
“That is easy. Do not try; be bold and go with you feelings. It will confuse the hell out of them.” Her eyes had a devilish gleam to them. Miaka looked back toward the camp. “We had better get back before they come looking for us.” She warned.
“Ok,” stepping away from Nuriko, “just let me fix my hair.” She reached up and pulled free the piece of leather that held her hair up. Straight soft, shiny black hair fell in a shimmering waterfall to the middle of her back. With deft movements she quickly pulled and twisted it up into a man’s style bun, “And now,” she said, looking at Miaka and Nuriko, “let the games begin.”