Dream a Little Dream: Book 2: Chapter 6

All she could do to defend herself was look at Blaze in sorrow and whisper. "Such are the costs of war."

With that they were all reminded that she had told them that there would be casualties. They hadn't wanted to believe her at first, but now reality had set in, and there was nothing they could do about it.

"Let's get him out of here." Was Mia's comment as she pulled Yulie off the tiger to help him up the crevice edge.

Rowen tried to distance himself emotionally and found it nearly impossible. Instead he looked at Kento. "Kento, you get to help carry 'im. I'll help but we got to make this as smooth as possible for Blaze."

Kento didn't even argue as he took up the cat with his full armor on and started jumping up the footholds to the surface. Rowen was a step behind to make certain nothing happened and the others were right behind Rowen. They didn't go straight home. Instead they stopped by a cabin nearby and stayed there to give Whiteblaze a rest after they got the bleeding stopped.

Crys had disappeared again but Sage told them all that she was nearby meditating on some issues so no one bothered her. They knew where she was and in a pinch they could find her.

In the evening the guys all gathered on the dock to talk. The debate got heated but in the end it was agreed that Ryo should sit this battle out. Rowen got stuck with telling Ryo the news. As they spoke, Ryo couldn't believe what he was hearing and headed out into the bamboo forest behind the cabin.

Yulie followed him and as they were confronted by Saber-Stryke. With the challenge reissued to suit them both and give Ryo a chance to get his head straight they returned to the cabin.

That night Crys had still not returned but Sage had checked on her and as she was doing ok he left her alone. With all the Ronin sleeping she was free to move about. She heard Blackblaze and knew what was coming up and moved swiftly to intercept Whiteblaze.

He had indeed left the cabin but was only at the stairs listening when Crys approached him. Curious as to what this strange girl was up to he listened to her carefully.

"You mustn't go my friend. You will die if you go. I know that Blackblaze has issued the challenge, but if you go after that sword you will die and I will not let that happen."

As she spoke softly to him she could see the small amount of disbelief in the Tiger's eyes. "I know you don't believe me. But take everything you have seen of me and then put it with everything you know of me and add it together. Trust me please. I know of a way to get the sword with out loosing either you or anyone else."

As the tiger nodded its agreement she sighed with relief. It might work after all. Different universe and slightly different time lines. But some things were still the same. Hopefully she could make this one difference in this world.

As they took off they ran towards the sound of the tiger and as they approached she could tell that she had surprised the black cat by showing up with Whiteblaze.

"No games Blackblaze. There will be no fight tonight; you and I both know that Whiteblaze isn't ready. What I ask though is a fair and honorable fight between Saber-Stryke and Ryo." Her words quietly spoken though they were, carried across the intervening space with ease and caught the attention of the tiger.

He looked at her as a house cat might look at a mouse but his golden eyes seemed to say, "I'm listening."

"Allow me to take one of the swords back to Ryo. Saber-Stryke can have his battle, but only if the playing field is evened out to a fair contest of skill and spirit." She finished her say and was taken completely by surprise to see Saber-Stryke appear next to the black tiger.

"You have bravery, honor, and spirit woman. I will know your name." He inclined his head to her in respect of the things he just named in her.

"My name is Crys, now if you please. An answer to my request." She nodded in her respect to the sword master before resuming her stance for her request.

"You amuse me with your bold request to try and even the field for your friend. But that is not why I will grant this request. No, you have played your hand well in appealing to my sense of honor in battle. You are very shrewd young woman, to that and your other trait's, I will salute you and allow you the honor of taking one of the soul swords back to that fool you still have faith in. We shall see what this does to him, or for him if anything."

Taking one of the Soul Swords from its scabbard he jumped and landed before Crys who backed up in surprise. "I will expect Ryo of the Wildfire to be arriving soon after receiving this. Don't disappoint me."

"I have given you no reason to be disappointed yet have I?" She raised her eyebrow at him before turning away with Whiteblaze and left the rock plateau that had been on to head back to the cabin at full speed. If she knew Ryo, he was going to be booking at top speed to find the tiger. She knew that the cat was getting weaker from the activity before he had a chance to heal completely, but she felt it better than dying with certainty.

As they met up Whiteblaze collapsed at Ryo's feet. Shocked at the tiger's condition and as he checked, he couldn't feel the pulse of the large cat. Looking up at Crys he noticed the wrapped parcel she was carrying across her back. He almost took out the death of his friend on her until she tugged at one end of the wrapping and pulled the Soul Sword from the wrapping.

Presenting it to him wordlessly she passed him to look after Whiteblaze. She too couldn't feel his pulse and thought that she had done all of this for nothing.

"Such are the cost's of war." Saber-Stryke's voice echoed about them until he appeared before them.

"Saber-Stryke." Ryo hissed.

"The woman, Crys, was quite brave, she stared death in the face and didn't flinch even though she knew that your Whiteblaze would not have been able to protect her. She came and asked to level the playing field, to try and save your tiger friend. I granted her request and it looks as if she has failed in her effort to save your friend there. Tell me, will you still fight?"

While Saber-Stryke told of how Crys came to be in possession of the Soul Sword the other Ronin arrived. Ryo was already looking at Crys with a new light of respect in his eyes even as it was over shadowed by the grief of Whiteblaze dying.

"Saber-Stryke, you are going to wish you had never crossed me by the time we're done." Planting the Soul sword into the road he took hold of his armor crystal and in a fast change was in his full armor and ready to fight.

The others came forward to fight as well but were shocked to hear Ryo's calm voice tell them all to back off.

Mia backed him up even as Crys looked at Sage to remind him of her warning about the split. As Sage nodded they backed up but gave him their support in the form of the White Armor.

Confident in the outcome of the battle she set to work trying to revive the white tiger. Her fingers dug deep for the pulse and as she was about the give up she felt a faint flutter. "There is always hope." The phrase rippled across her mind as she prayed that Anubis wasn't going to need the power of the staff anytime soon.

Quietly so as not to alert those watching the battle unfold and using the bulk of the tiger's body to shield her when the explosions got too big she set about trying to restore some of the cat's energy and strengthening the heart beat to help Whiteblaze heal himself.

When the final explosion happened, she was more impressed with the size of the crater left than she had been back home. Looking down she knew who the victor would be and stayed by Whiteblaze.

As Ryo came up to the waiting team he got the hero's welcome. He was more worried about Whiteblaze though and thought he was seeing things when he noted that Blaze's chest was rising and falling.

"Whiteblaze?" He asked not believing what he was seeing. The tiger's eyes opened as he weakly welcomed his friend back.

Crys was as surprised as the others only for a different reason. She had not expected the great cat to come around so soon.

In the pit that had been created by the warring energies Saber-Stryke gave his final wishes to his closest friend. "She already has your respect I know. Protect her and serve the boy in his battle. Perhaps he is the one that will end Talpa's reign of tyranny."

As he spoke those words, his life's breath left him and on the battlefield Saber-Stryke was no more. Blackblaze bellowed out his sorrow at his master's parting and followed his last wish. There was an honorable woman out there he had been ordered to protect.

Jumping out of the pit he advanced on the group still looking menacing even in his moment of sadness. As everyone else prepared for a fight, Crys stepped forward, She had changed the course of things just a little bit. Now it was up to her to see the change through. "You've been told to stay with us." She asked softly, almost too softly for everyone else to hear.

The air was still tense but it had toned down a notch or three since Crys had not been hurt yet and there was no indication of any impending attack. What everyone did see however was Blackblaze bowing his armored head to her and accepting her caress. "You needn't your armor for now, not to protect me or anyone else here."

To everyone's greatest surprise the armor did disappear at her request to reveal the tiger beneath. "Thank you." Was all Crys said as her hand rested on the black tiger's head. The air about the two was one of mutual respect and tolerance. But there was also a loyalty that had started and it too could be felt to those who had an understanding of such things.

Headed home Whiteblaze was restricted in his activities and so it naturally restricted Yulie, as the boy was almost never more than 10 feet from the tiger during his convalescence.

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