'Tadaima!' greeted the trio upon entering the mansion gates. Aotabo is swamped with gifts Tsurara insisted on buying. "For the kids." She said.
Those child like entities at the mansion really liked those different dango they brought. The supreme commander was well pleased with the two boxes of daifuku in all sizes, flavour and colouring. 'You are better than my baka grandson when it comes to things like this. He would never bring anything from his outing; much more think of me or my favourite sweets!' The grand yokai looked sharply at his grandson who was in the garden talking to Kappa.
Trying to save Rikuo's reputation, Tsurara lie a bit, 'Actually it was young master who reminded me to get some daifuku for you, he knew they're your favourite, especially those filled with plums. Can I get you some tea? They'd be a good pair.'
The supreme commander knew that the ice maiden was trying to cover up for his grandson's small lapses and was amazed by her loyalty, so for this trivial matter he would let it pass.
'He did that? So, my baka grandson has some uses after all! Anyway thanks Yuki-onna, I guess that your outing with Rikuo's friends does him good in some ways.' The supreme commander left her, biting into the daifuku very slowly trying to savour every bite, with a hint of smile in his lined face. 'Please send the tea to Natto at the main hall.'
~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~
'What? Did I hear you right Kappa?'
'Yes Waka. Two henchmen from the snake clan had been caught spying on the outskirts of Ukiyoke in the northern border. They were interrogating two bakeneko staff for information regarding Nura clan officers who frequently visit that area, they also wanted to post themselves as waiters at the first district restaurant so they can move freely in and out of that area.'
'And what are they up to?'
Kappa dipped himself in the pond before he replied 'They confessed after the mongoose came with the Tengu's. They said, they, the whole snake village is in doubt of your ability to lead and a few of them wanted to revenge Hibedayu's death.'
'But he died because he wanted to murder Zen; he had been poisoning Zen little by little so he can take Zen's place. He had lost all his sense of loyalty.' Rikuo still recall some of the words Hibedayu pronounced at Zen's face.
'We really don't know what's happening to their village, maybe something is going amiss. Someone must have held information from the town folk that is why some of them are acting subversive.' Kappa spoke his mind.
'Maybe a visit to their village would do us all good!' Rikuo decided.
'Good thinking Rikuo! Maybe you could bring Gyuki along. A trip to the countryside will do him good.' Supreme commander declared. 'The sooner, the better.'
~~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~
'We are delighted that you, yourself, the Third Heir of the Nura Clan took time to visit us here in our village.' Said Reptilia, one of the village elders, was surprised by the visit. (The snake clan really was in for a surprise when Nura visited the village in his day form.)
'I too am glad with this visit as the need for it arises sooner than we anticipated. Shall we begin the meeting soon?' Rikuo wasted no time. He discussed what he had learned about the subversive plans of the two spies caught.
'This spy thing . . . . The council has no knowledge of it . . . . . (The village elders started to talk to each other; shocked to hear this of this news.) We will inform the villagers the truth about Hibedayu's death, and we will try to find out who are these groups plotting any kind of malicious action against the Nura clan or any other entities for that matter. They will be severely dealt with.' Reptilia promised Rikou as he pledge loyalty in behalf of the entire village to the Nura Clan.
'I will hold you liable to your words!'
~~~~ 0 ~~~~
After the meeting, Reptilia invited Rikuo and his entourage to walk around the village to see how they spent their everyday lives. Reptilia wanted to show them the village armoury, the distillery and crafts area. The entourage walked in a beeline as not to monopolize the street, some villagers went out of their homes to see and greet the newcomers. Rikuo walked beside Reptilia, who is acting as a gracious host/tour guide, behind them followed Gyuki and Kuratabo, after them Yuki-onna and Aotabo.
Then, out of nowhere, something grabbed Yuki-onna. Only a small "umph" escaped from her. Even Aotabo didn't notice that anything is amiss, he thought the ice maiden had fall behind a few steps because of something that interest her, she always catch-up every after few seconds.
'Reptilia!' The culprit called, to get the other's attention.
'Yuki-onna!' Rikuo yelled as he saw the ice maiden being held forcefully by another serpent.
'Leave her alone, Cobra!' Reptilia ordered the renegade snake yokai.
Mesamaru and Gozemaru suddenly appeared with their weapons drawn, just like Aotabo and Kuratabo who turned to their fighting stand ready to strike, but Rikuo still in his day form stopped them. 'Let me handle this!'
'Hah! One visit . . . One visit and you are convinced by that human that he can take care of all of his clan, let me see how can he save this one from the likes of me!' Cobra tightened his grip at the ice maiden. He even turned her head closer to his mouth as he hissed, his forked tongue almost touching her cheek.
'Be careful Waka, his poison is one of the deadliest venom we have as a weapon. Death is instantaneous if Cobra inflicted Yuki-onna with it!' Reptilia warned him.
'Cobra, please release her, whatever doubts you have it is with me and not with her.'
'True, but I want to measure your competency as a leader of your night parade, and I've heard that you killed Hibedayu for no reason!' The vile on his words is teeming on his mouth.
Although Yuki-onna has a power of her own, it seems that she can't use it. The grip being used by her captor is constricting her; it's getting tighter by the minute.
Rikuo noticed her predicament as the colour of her eyes is gets paler. 'This is my last warning Cobra, release her!' There is so much force in his words even if he is in his day form.
'Warning! Is that all you can say?' Cobra laughed a hideous laugh, flicking his forked tongue again. Now Rikuo is really pissed off.
'Tsurara' Rikuo called the ice maiden in her school name 'can you remember what happened to Marie Antoinette?' (He was referring to the French Queen) she blinked her eyes to signal him "yes". 'On the count of three. . . . . .'
'What? I'm squeezing this onna to death . . . '
'And all you can say to her. . . . . . .'
' . . . . . is something about another . . . .'
'g . . i . . .r. . .l . . . '
~~~~ 0 ~~~~
At school, 'Oikawa-san, there's something different about you today.' Kiyotsugu noticed.
'Oikawa-san you looked prettier, your new hairdo suits you well!' stars shine on Shima's eyes.