Part XX – A Smile and a Gleam
A young and pretty hostess showed Momotaru and his group to their suite. She swiped a key card in front of the door and it opened. As the team stepped through into the luxurious suite she handed the card to him. The suite’s front door led into a hallway with a bathroom to the left and a walk-in closet to the right. The hallway gave way to an expansive open area with a kitchen to the left and a living room area straight ahead. At the back of the living room was another hallway that led to the three bedrooms.
Chyntel, awake from her ordeal, strolled into the living room, staring around with wonder and amazement in her hazel eyes. Her twin sister, Cynia, was close on her heels as she marveled at the size of the hotel room that had been gifted to them by the High Garden Clearing mayor.
“What I can’t figure out,” said Monel, “is why the mayor would give us this expensive room for free.”
“If I had to guess,” said Momotaru, “it would be to curry favor with my father.”
“Well if we can continue to get perks like this,” said Cynia with a bright smile, “then we made the right choice in following you.”
“I hate people who play politics,” said Momotaru with a frown. “This is something that I had to deal with on a daily basis while growing up in the United Elven Kingdom. It’s why I became a nomad. Sitting here in the lap of luxury is not my definition of living life to the fullest… I would rather be out in nature with the wind to my back and the sun on my face.”
“Yeah, we noticed,” said Cynia with a roll of her eyes.
“Cynia stop it,” Kya scolded her younger sister. She turned to face Momotaru. “We thank you for your hospitality, my liege.” She gave a deep bow.
“Nonsense,” said Momotaru with a smile. He gently reached out and cupped Kya’s chin in his hand. He raised her head until their eyes met. “From the little bit of fighting that I’ve seen from you young ladies so far, it is I who should be thanking you. With all of you by my side I will finally be able to unroll my master plan.”
“And what master plan is that?” asked Kya with a curious eyebrow raised.
Momotaru laughed slightly. “Don’t worry about that right now,” he said. “We all need some rest after the night that we’ve had. I’m sure that the mayor will come calling on us before long.”
“Don’t you think that he will demand some sort of reimbursement for giving us this room?” said Monel. She stood in the kitchen and guzzled down a glass of tap water.
“I’m sure that he will,” said Momotaru. “He just doesn’t understand who he’s dealing with… the sun elves are master politicians and I’ve learned from the best. I’m sure that we will walk away from this without owing him anything.”
“And what if you’re wrong,” said Monel approaching Momotaru with fire in her bright blue eyes. “What if we end up having to do this man’s dirty work? Our father worked hard so that we would be under no man’s thumb. I will refuse if we’re demanded to do the bidding of this lecherous mayor.”
“Monel!” shouted Kya as she grabbed her sister by the shoulder and spun her around. “Watch your mouth. You will do as our liege lord commands us… that’s the oath that we’ve sworn. That attitude is what got us here in the first place. This is our lot in life so you had better hurry and accept it. It’s time to grow up.”
“Shove off, Kya,” said Monel glaring at her sister. “You forget your place… me and you are the same age. You can’t boss me around like you do the twins. I’m your equal in every way.”
“Except where it counts,” Kya fired back.
Monel let out a growl before she lunged for the throat of her sister. Momotaru was between the two women in an instant. He held Monel back by pinning her arms to her sides in a bear hug. Monel swiveled and slithered loose as if her body had no bones. She slipped past him and darted towards her sister. Momotaru was forced to use one of his special techniques. With a three fingered pinch to Monel’s neck, the woman lost all her energy and nearly collapsed to the floor, unconscious. Momotaru caught her before she smashed her face on the brown carpet.
“I apologize for my sister,” said Kya with a deep bow.
Momotaru slung Monel over his shoulder as if she were a bag of grain. “No need to apologize,” said Momotaru. “I’ll keep an eye on her until she cools down. Let’s all try to get some sleep in the meantime.”
Several hours later Monel awoke. She lay on the king-size bed inside of the master room. Momotaru sat in a chair on the other side of the room watching her with a blank expression.
“What happened?” asked Monel as she grabbed her head. “Where am I?”
“Relax,” said Momotaru. “When you went after your sister I had to incapacitate you.”
“You presumptuous arse hole,” said Monel with a scowl as she rose from the bed. “How dare you interrupt a discussion between me and my sisters.”
“You two were on the verge of killing each other,” said Momotaru. “And besides, you work for me now… I can’t have you two constantly going at it.”
Monel stalked closer.
Momotaru remained seated. He stared expressionless. Bands of light streaked across the darkened room from the blinds.
“You have no idea what it’s like,” said Monel. She stood in front of Momotaru. Shades of light and shadow fell across her lithe form. Her face was covered in darkness but Momotaru could still make out a frown. She looked as if she might say more but instead chose to shake her head and stroll away.
Momotaru stood. “You’re right,” he said. “I shouldn’t have interfered. But whatever issues you two had in the past, you’ll need to put them aside. You work for me now. I need a cohesive unit if we’re to launch on assault on the sun elves’ sun-sky island.”
Monel looked at him askew. “That’s what your ultimate plan is. To get all of us killed.”
“If you all learn to work together,” said Momoratu. He approached her, grasping both of her shoulders in a tight grip. “If you all work as a unit with one mind… from what I saw in the Ura Forest, the four of you working in coordination is powerful tool.” He smiled brightly as he spoke. The fire in his eyes as he pictured the future was contagious. In moments that fire had spread to Monel and, just for a moment, she could see his vision for the future as well.
When they both pulled their eyes away from their inner ponderings, their eyes connected. Momotaru looked deep into Monel’s pools of blue. He wondered if he were caught up and trapped in one of her ocular illusions but ultimately did not care. He leaned in, closed his eyes and could feel her breath on his lips.
Yet, even in a moment of total bliss, Momotaru’s warrior senses would not allow him to fully succumb to emotional pleasure. He sensed a presence approaching. His eyes sprung open. The window on the other side of the room crashed inwards. Momotaru spun around and caught a glimpse of someone slipping into the hotel room and diving behind a plush cranberry reclining chair. Momotaru let out a growl as he turned towards the intruder. His eyes began swirling like a hurricane as the white of his iris mixed with the blackness from the Void.
“My, my, my,” said a familiar voice with a giggle.
Momotaru stopped in his tracks and let the Void seep away. “What’re you doing here Butterlfy… have you flown so far from home only to land in the lion’s den?”
“Looks like I’ve interrupted something,” said Iris - Butterfly Samurai - Longwing. She let out another mocking laugh.
“I’m only going to ask you one more time before I strike you down… what are you doing here?”
The sound of breaking glass from the open window caught Momotaru’s attention. He lost the will to fight when he saw Arif Zahur creep through the window. He was surprised to see that Arif actually resembled a young woman. She wore a lose fitting yellow sundress and her dark purplish blue hair fell to her shoulders in a bob-cut.
“Now do you get it?” said Iris. She rose from behind the chair. “Your mother sent me to find you… so if you must blame someone for interrupting your booty call then blame her.” She laughed as she stared at Monel.
Monel’s temper flared like a firecracker. She tried to dive towards Iris but Momotaru held out a hand which held her back.
“Don’t bother getting upset,” said Momotaru. “She’s just jealous.”
Next it was Iris’ turn to growl in anger. “Like I said,” Iris strolled casually towards Momotaru, “your mother sent me.”
“Get to the point already,” said Momotaru.
“She wants you to come back,” said Iris. She stood less than a meter in front of her old friend.
Monel eyed her cautiously.
“There’s no way I can come back,” said Momotaru. “And she knows it.”
“There may not be a way for you to get back… legally,” said Iris with a devilish smirk.
“I would be a fugitive in my own land,” said Momotaru. He turned to look out the window of the hotel. A city expanse divided by large stone walls spread out before him. A city and a vast land beyond that he may never get a chance to explore should he take his mother up on her offer and return home.
“So what say you?” asked Iris.
“And what would she have me do?” said Momotaru. He continued to stare out of the window with his hands clasped behind his back.
“What else… but to take your rightful place as heir to the throne,” said Iris with fire burning in her Acro eyes that swirled and flashed every color of the rainbow.
The Void within Momotaru activated automatically, his eyes quickly turning into pools as dark as black ink. The Void within him sparked to life as a defensive response to her Acro eyes. They alone could absorb the mind altering rays that emanated from her special eye ability.
Monel almost activated her own ocular powers and jumped between the two of them but Momotaru held out his arm to block her path. Momotaru looked away with a cold smile.
“It’s quite alright, Monel,” said Momotaru. “She knows full well that her abilities have no effect on me… but she knew that I wouldn’t be expecting my mother to turn against the sun elf elite.”
“Does this mean that I’ll get to see your home sooner rather than later,” said Monel as her fingers delicately caressed Momotaru’s chin.
Iris bristled, unnoticed.
“Very soon perhaps,” Momotaru replied with a smile and a gleam in his dark eyes.