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A Season Of Dragons
Seiji found his way back to the baths before returning to the room, taking charge of his robes and the all too precious mystical orb hidden within them. If only he'd been close enough to it to call upon the armor, he'd not be in the shape he was - - or in the miserable position he found himself. The girl who'd led him here from the dragon prince's chambers offered mildly to have the old robes cleaned. He glared silently and dropped the robes into her arms, sans orb, before stalking off by himself towards the room.
Rowan was there, of course. Blithely unaware of what Seiji had endured - - soundly asleep and softly snoring, sprawled across the end of the bed atop the sheets.
Fool. Seiji hissed and in a fit of frustration kicked Rowan hard enough to roll him off the side of the bed and onto the floor. Rowan hit with a thud and a satisfying grunt of pain.
"Mutha fucker - -" Rowan's head popped up, bleary eyed and offended. It took him a second to focus on Seiji. "What is your problem?"
"Have you been sleeping all this time?" Seiji demanded.
"All what time? You kicked me. You fucking kicked me, you prick. What the hell is your gripe?"
Seiji stood there and glared, suddenly struck quite silent when it came to answering that question. Voicing what had happened to him at the hands of Sarag'sa was beyond him. It was hard enough to keep his voice from wavering and his hands from visibly shaking.
"You're drunk." He stated simply, instead.
"Yeah, and that gives you the right to kick me off the bed - - why, exactly?" Rowan rubbed his shoulder.
"How much of a fool are you - - to let yourself get drunk in a place like this?" Seiji accused. As much a fool, perhaps as a man who let himself be lulled into complacency then drugged and accosted.
Rowan grumbled something unintelligible about not meaning to get drunk, and ne'gal booze having a monster kick - - and Seiji stopped listening, feeling sick mentally and physically and desperately not wanting to let either condition slip. He pulled the robe tight, and eased onto the bed, sitting with his back to the head, feeling the simple effort of pulling his knees up with every fiber of his being.
"So - - where have you been?" Rowan asked warily, as if it had just occurred to him that Seiji might not have been here the entire time.
Seiji ignored him, shutting his eyes and grasping the slightly warm, smooth surface of his crystal, subtly leeching power and shaping it into something that might be used to soothe his hurts.
"Seiji, what are you doing?" Rowan asked softly, sensitive to the rustle of their unique brand of ki.
"Nothing." Seiji murmured. "Meditating."
"The hell." Rowan hissed and one had to remember that it wasn't Ryo one to lying to, but Rowan who was not so naive or willing to take evasive words at face value. "What's wrong? What the hell happened to your face?"
"What?" Seiji lifted an involuntary hand and found the sore spot at his right temple, just above the apex of his brow that was no doubt bruised or scraped from some fall or another that he'd taken in the woods. How to admit that to Rowan? He couldn't. He couldn't quite bring himself to recall it.
"I slipped in the baths." He said.
"You slipped? In the baths?" Rowan cocked his head, eyes gone narrow and speculative. "Not very graceful of you, Seiji."
Rowan kept staring and Seiji wanted to melt away. To disappear into the bright cornea of warm light that he sensed within the nexus of the orb in his hand, and simply cease to be. That was a nice thought. He hadn't had it in a while, though it had tempted him greatly those first few weeks after Egypt. Easier to disappear than to admit pain or suffering or humiliation. Easier to disappear than to admit how very badly, how very, very desperately a body missed - - certain sorts of support - - once they were no longer offered.
"Do you think," Seiji asked, without meeting Rowan's sharp eyes. "We'd have a chance against both Sarag'sa's forces and those that will undoubtedly be on Ryo's heels when they reach this pass with the Hun'ra?"
Rowan blinked. He cocked his head and sat down on the end of the bed, crossing his legs carefully as he considered the question. Rowan was a good strategist. The best of the lot of them when it came right down to it. Not nearly as gung-ho as Ryo, but more risky than Seiji even on a particularly rebellious day.
"I think," he finally said. "That bottled in here, with dragonmen on both sides - - we'd probably get our asses kicked. And even if we managed to survive it - - the hun'ra would be slaughtered. Its a fucking bad place for confrontations, if you ask me, which is why Sarag'sa probably picked it for his little mountain fortress. Why? You think the dragon prince is gonna stick it to us?"
Seiji frowned, clenching his fist tight around the orb. "We just need to be prepared for the worst - - if it should happen."
"Yeah, well, we'd better hope it doesn't. Hell, we're due for a little luck. Maybe things will work out."
"Maybe." Seiji said softly, shutting his eyes and leaning his head back against the wall. But he didn't believe it. Luck never came that easy and fate wasn't always generous. What good fortune they had, they generally had to make for themselves.
Sai's shoulder hurt. It ached each time he lifted his arm, and throbbed dully from the weight of the armor. He'd done something to it - - or had something done to it - - during the battle when they'd freed the hun'ra. It hadn't really started aching until a few hours later, when they'd been shepherding the weary hun'ra through the mountains, constantly on the lookout for the enemy. If some higher deity had asked him to name one wish to be granted, at the moment, dark and rainy and cold and on the run through foreign mountains with a perspective army of lizard men on their trail, Sai supposed he would have asked for nothing so grand as a hot bath - - a nice rubdown - - and a very soft bed to pass out in afterwards. And maybe Rowan thrown in to the mix - - but he'd settle for the first three without the latter if need be.
The hun'ra were a sorry lot. Their treatment at the hands of the ne'gal had not been gentle. There were wounded among them - - a good many injured during the battle that had liberated them. A good deal more they'd had to leave behind, not even able to take the time to dig shallow graves in fear of retaliation from the ne'gal that had fled for reinforcements. And there were reinforcements on the way. Ryo had seen them, a gathering, dark mass of creatures on the other side of the mountain that had stirred to life at their prompting. Ryo had come back from his foray, pale faced and grim and refused to speak of it in front of the hollow eyed hun'ra, instead pulling Sai and the hun'ra warriors they had come here with aside and relating what he'd seen. Not just ne'gal but other things as well. Great, hulking beasts like the one Seiji and Ryo had encountered on the trail. Something larger even, and more frightening that had shifted in the distance behind a sea of ne'gal warriors.
"A firedrake." One of the hun'ra natari whispered, shaken. "If what you describe is accurate. They never come across the mountains. They don't like the cold - - They're the greatest of the beasts that live on the other side of the range - - Even the ne'gal are in fear of them, so fierce are they. That they've brought one here - - to use against us - -" the man shuddered, dread and hopelessness sagging his features. "There is no hope against such a thing. We're doomed if it should make the crossing."
"When Kento comes back," Ryo said, frowning. "Tell him what's back there. I'm going back. Maybe I can do a little damage to the trail - - slow their progress."
"Ryo, you've been back there all night - - you need to rest a little." Sai complained.
"With that on our tail? I don't think so. Get them moving as soon as possible, Sai. We can't afford to stop, too long."
And Ryo had taken off again, tireless it seemed, but more than likely, Sai thought, it was the armor that was sustaining him - - and feeding off him and it would catch up sooner or later and he'd be no good to anyone if he didn't take a few precious moments to catch his breath and rest his bones. And Sai didn't even have Kento around to back him up, Kento patrolling to the south of the trail where the mountainous terrain was too treacherous for the hun'ra warriors to traverse.
So he got the tired company up and moving again, himself roaming up and down the line, close enough to hear any disturbance, far enough down the mountain trail to keep a watch of his own against any enemy scout that had weaseled its way past Ryo and Kento.
He was relatively close to the trail the hun'ra were walking and the morning light was casting short, dark shadows upon the ground, when that woman accosted him.
"You. Hey, you!!" Someone was yelling at him from the trail - - recklessly loud when they wanted to pass as quietly as possible. Sai squinted up into the sun frowning. Frown turning into scowl when it sank in that the words were English and there was only one English speaking woman here that he was aware of.
"Are you completely daft?" Sai bounded up the slope to the trail. "We're trying for a low profile, here, if you hadn't noticed."
Karen Dreskel glared at him, red hair tangled and unsightly, face scratched and dirty and still, a body had to admit, pretty despite it. Well, pretty in a surgically enhanced, plastic sort of way - - if Sai were any judge.
"I want to know what's going on here." She demanded. "I want to know where this place is, and what those things were and why I'm here and how you and Kento and that other one were able to do the things I saw you do and what is this armor you're wearing? Are you with the military?"
Sai sniffed. Neither willing or able to answer the majority of her questions. God knew what she'd do with the information if they ever got back home.
"We're someplace other than where we were." He said. "I don't believe I ever caught the name. Those dragon things are called ne'gal and these people are hun'ra."
"It has to do with that seal I found, doesn't it?" she surmised.
"You found?" Sai narrowed his eyes. "In what way did you find it?"
"I'm the archeologist here." Karen said. "You wouldn't have known what it was. And what is this that you're wearing? Where did you get it?"
"What does it look like? And that's none of your business."
"Where's Rowan? Is he here, too?"
"That's none of your business, either." Sai snapped, thinking that it couldn't possibly be that bad of a thing if a dragon swooped down and made off with Karen Dreskel.
"Don't you dare say its not my business!" She shook a finger in his face, her cheeks flushing red in anger. "I got dragged here by - - by a monster out of a nightmare and my cell phone's missing and I had University people coming in at the end of the week to decide whether to extend my grant and I damned well better be there to meet them - - so somebody needs to tell me where the hell I am so I can get back home. Are we on the other side of the island? Are we on the island at all?"
"You very likely might miss the appointment." Sai said, trying to keep his temper. He almost wished Rowan were here to explain all this. Rowan's tongue was ever so much smoother than his own, especially when he was flustered. And this woman had his ire up.
"We're not on the island." Sai said. "And please don't yell, or you'll attract more of those monsters, not to mention upsetting these poor people, who've look to be in worse shape than you."
She looked around, a frown marring her brow, a touch of uncertainty and fear in her eyes. It was as if she'd noticed the hun'ra for the first time.
"These people . . . they don't quite look like natives . . . I can't quite place the look - - more mainland - - even northern Asian."
"Well, they're not natives. Not Filipino's, at least." Sai said. Depending on how long ago the ne'gal had kidnapped their ancestors, they might have gone through more than a little physical change. The people that had first come to the islands from the mainland, many many centuries ago were probably quite different from the people that lived there now.
"Their dialect - -" Karen murmured, the analytical part of her brain kicking in now that she'd stopped to think about something other than her own situation. "That's different too. Similar - - but altered."
Sai left her to hash it out, having abandoned his patrol of the lower slopes for long enough.
They had to stop to rest the wounded and the children frequently. Short, merciful rests that just weren't long enough to erase the exhaustion from the dusky faces of these people. But their was hope in their eyes, even if it flagged as the day grew longer and people were pushed past their endurance. They'd been freed from a life of slavery to the ne'gal across the mountain range, but those same ne'gal were massing on their trail and they had a impenetrable pass to negotiate, with yet another ne'gal before they reached their own lands. It was a dismal situation. Sai could only hope that Rowan and Seiji had come to some sort of arrangement with the ousted ne'gal prince that ruled that pass, otherwise - - well, he didn't want to think about the otherwises.
When they stopped for nightfall, most of the freed captives were too tired to even eat, dropping instead into fitful slumber on the hard ground. Ryo didn't come back to take at break at camp, and Sai worried about him, and this quiet, obsessive state of mind he'd settled into. Kento came back from his own patrol and Sai joined him on a ledge far enough above the campsite to see the entirety of the slope below it. It was a good vantage for a body with enough agility to reach it. Kento gnawed on a thick strip of jerky and stared down anxiously at the resting hun'ra.
"So - - she okay? She was sorta out of it when we rescued all of them back there."
Sai didn't have to ask who Kento was speaking of. He supposed Kento chose this perch for his rest because he was afraid to go down there and talk to Karen Dreskel. Sai didn't blame him. It was probably just as well, for she'd wring every bit of information Kento knew out of him, including the mystical armors.
"She's just fine. We're going to have to be careful what we say to her - - about the armors and all. You realize that, don't you?"
"Um hum." Kento said, then. "She ask about me?"
Sai let out a breath of agitation. What was it about that woman? He almost spat out that no, she hadn't inquired about Kento at all, but she'd had a healthy concern about Rowan - - but that would have been hurtful, and hurting Kento wasn't his goal, so he pressed his lips tight and shook his head. "She's had other distractions. Besides, I thought you were over her."
"Well - - I am, I guess - - I'm just worried for her safety, is all - - and maybe she can help figure out a way home - - from writings and stuff."
"Some of the hun'ra said there were old ne'gal monoliths all over that are covered in script. Maybe some of it tells about these gateways into our world. She's an expert, so if anybody can figure it out - - she can."
Wonderful. Having to rely on Karen Dreskel for anything sat wrong with Sai. "Just don't give her any more information about the armors than you absolutely have to, until we can figure out how we're going to explain them - - and all of us need to get together and hash it out. Okay?"
Kento nodded, grunting over a particularly tough piece of jerky. Sai stood and stretched, looking up the cliff. "I'll be on lookout up there. Try and get some sleep. I'll trade with you in two hours."
They'd outdistanced the ne'gal army. Ragtag, pitiful group that they were, and they'd still managed to get the distance between them that they so desperately needed. It took time for an army to move and that was what was back there. An army of dragonmen making the advance across the range. Sort of overkill, Ryo thought, against the hun'ra, unless the hun'ra were hiding something god-awful powerful, that they hadn't let on they possessed. Or maybe the ne'gal were simply bored. Maybe they'd gotten tired of ruling all the fertile lands on their side of the mountains and needed the excitement of taking the infertile lands they'd discarded years and years ago, on the other. It didn't matter, either way. They were killers and bullies and slavemasters and they needed to be taken down. One way or another. He wasn't quite sure how to go about it, aside from slicing them up one by one, and honestly, that seemed a daunting challenge and some were a whole hell of a lot tougher than others. Thank god that the one's that could fly, didn't do well over long distances. They were more gliders than anything. Too much body mass for their wings to keep airborne for long.
He'd run into a group of them not long ago, just before dusk had fallen. A handful of the big, lumbering ones that were strong as industrial grade trackers, but slow and stupid. The smaller, faster, gliders were more trouble. They were intelligent and wily and caught on pretty quickly that Ryo wasn't your average hun'ra. He'd had trouble taking out that group. The glider had kept distracting him, keeping him off balance while the bigger ones had made attempts at him. And succeeded in no few of those attempts. He'd gotten knocked about pretty badly, before his blades had tasted life's blood. And the glider had escaped back the way it had come, back to warn its compatriots that the hun'ra had acquired a bite. Ryo hadn't the breath to chase it down, bruised and battered as he was, in the midst of blood and chunks of ne'gal flesh, blood of his own trailing down the neck of his armor from where a claw had gotten past his helm and sliced his cheek.
He cursed himself for ineptitude - - for letting that one get away - - when he'd been damned proficient at killing them all when they'd raided the ne'gal slave camp. But that had been - - what? A day ago? Maybe not quite that long, but it seemed it and he wasn't as fresh as he'd been then. If he could have afforded a rest, a skirmish like this might have gone better. But that would mean leaving their rear unguarded and no matter how much he might need a rest, the harsh truth was, that Sai and Kento weren't as good at killing the ne'gal as he was and he didn't want either of them back here alone to face a pack of the monsters without back up. So it was up to him. His responsibility to keep the ne'gal off their tails. His burden to protect the people he hadn't been able to protect back on the island.
That little girl. He could still see her eyes. Shell-shocked and lost. Everything taken from her. Family, home - - hope. He could give the last back, if not the first two. He owed her that, for failing her the first time. Her brother had died because of him. Because of his presence. He could still hear the snap of that tiny neck. He tried not to dwell on it, but it kept coming back.
The hun'ra had stopped for the night to rest. He caught up with them long after dark and hesitated making the trip all the way back to camp. Partly because he didn't want to listen to Sai bitch at him to take a turn at sleep, partly because if he slowed down - - sat down for just a moment and shut his eyes - - he might not be able to open them so easily. But mostly it was because he knew - - he just knew that if he weren't back there keeping an eye on their backs - - that something would sneak up on them and he wasn't sure if he could take that added guilt. More innocent blood on his hands would be intolerable.
He stopped once at a small mountain spring and drank his fill, touching the welting cut on his cheek gingerly with one armored fingertip. A bit of intense fire would have healed him - - would have fed the armor's never ending appetite, which would have in turn boosted his flagging physical reserves. It wouldn't have been a natural boost, but he would have settled for it. The idea of a fire breathing dragon wasn't so terrible a thing. Being bathed in a geyser of flame might be just the thing - - if it didn't burn the mountain forest down in the process. But he thought, he might be being a little optimistic on the subject of the firedrake. He'd seen it once more, in the purpling afternoon shadows, creeping along the outer flank of a ridge in the distance. The hun'ra had been right. The first dragon he and Seiji had fought had been nothing like this one. Getting a closer look would be interesting, to say the least.
Seiji. Just thinking of Seiji made him frown and clench his hand around the water pooling in his palm. It hadn't been very hard not to dwell on Seiji while he'd been on the move, focused on the ne'gal and keeping them off the hun'ra's tail - - it was only when he took a moment to stop that Seiji-thoughts seeped in around the edges of the barriers he'd set up against them. He'd have to deal with it sooner or later - - he'd just rather it be later -- when he had a clear heard about it - - and no other distractions, because if he thought too hard about the Seiji-situation that's what everything else would become - - distractions. And the ne'gal and their firedrake and their murderous intent needed to be classified somewhat higher on his agenda, than simple distractions.
He wondered if Seiji would have come back home if he hadn't heard about the trouble the guys had gotten into on the island. Wondered if Seiji would still have been hiding out at his ancestral home - - avoiding Ryo. Avoiding all of them. Well, fair was fair, Ryo had to admit. It wasn't like he hadn't been running himself - - on his extended camping trip up in the mountains. Seiji had looked so shocked when he'd yelled at him. Ryo couldn't recall such an expression. Ryo couldn't recall ever being that much on the verge of loosing it and falling over the edge into mindless violence with Seiji, either.
He leaned there, against the out thrust rock the spring issued from and drifted, lost for a moment in things he shouldn't have let distract him. It was full dark now and he should have been alert and aware of the wilderness around him, but he couldn't drag his mind away from thinking about Seiji - -
- - - The feeling that thinking about Seiji brought with it - - unease and a little twinge of - - what? - - apprehension? He wasn't sure it was his. He wasn't sure he was not picking those emotions up from something else. Someone else? But it was there nonetheless, a bleating little pang of distress that made him reach for one of the katana's. He stopped himself before he could draw the blade and stood there, intently listening to the sounds of the night for enemy presence. Searching for something out here now that was the cause for the hairs standing up on the back of his arms. But there was nothing. Just crickets and the occasional flutter of feathery wings as some nightbird hunted down prey.
Once he was focused back on what he ought to be focused on, the feeling faded and all that was left was weariness and determination and the goal that he'd let slip there for a brief moment. He wouldn't let it happen again. With a grunt, he launched himself from the ground by the spring, and up onto the rocky ledge above it, bounding from outcrop to outcrop towards a vantage that would reveal the gulf of the valley they'd just ascended out of. The ne'gal hadn't made it that far yet, though over the closest ridge he could see the faint glow of firelight.
They were close. Very close.
It was a vastly uninteresting afternoon in the fortress of Sarag'sa. Rowan was bored. He'd been with the hun'ra for a good deal of the morning, after he'd managed to drag himself out of bed and get enough of a handle on his pounding head to want to do anything but yack up the contents of last night's supper. Seiji wasn't in a social mood. Seiji was in a distinctly - - even for Seiji - - uncommunicative, apathetic humor. Maybe he was hungover too. Maybe he'd gotten drunker last night than Rowan had guessed, which might explain his slipping and clocking himself in the baths. Seiji was nothing if not graceful and it was entirely uncharacteristic for him to stagger about, even stone-drunk, and injure himself.
Seiji wasn't talking about it though, not even a little and Rowan eventually gave up asking and returned to his own morning after woes. The hun'ra were in relatively decent spirits, considering that they'd been housed in the servant's quarters along with the ne'gal slaves. The servant quarters here weren't half bad and the hun'ra who served Lord Sarag'sa were content with their lot. Most of them had been born into his service or come into it at a very young age and knew nothing else. They claimed they were treated well and protected from threat by the power of their ne'gal lord in a way that free hun'ra were not. They claimed that being shak'nor to Sarag'sa was a great honor.
Rowan doubted it seriously, though getting into a debate over the disadvantages of slavery with them seemed a waste of energy better spent in keeping the pounding in his head to a survivable level. He ate a spot of lunch with the hun'ra. A simple stew and bread that was by far more acceptable to his churning stomach than the rich fare of the ne'gal. Afterwards he went back to the room, to find Seiji in much the same position he'd left him, sitting at the head of the bed, with his back to the wall, legs crossed and eyes distant. The bruise on his temple had darkened, as well as a few other smaller ones that hadn't been so apparent before at his jawline and in the pit of his cheek. Almost like the marks fingers would have left on skin that blemished too easily, if someone had grasped Seiji's face hard enough to bruise.
Coming right out and saying such would not have engendered love. So he flopped down on the end of the bed and stared at the stone ceiling, and broached another subject guaranteed to punch Seiji's buttons.
"So you think Ryo's gonna get here soon? The mood he was in he's probably pushing them pretty hard. He sure was pissed at you, huh?"
Seiji didn't answer. Rowan tilted his head to see if Seiji's expression had altered. It hadn't, except for a slight thinning of his lips. Keeping at it might have been entertaining, if he'd felt up to being creative in a one-sided conversation. As it was, he sighed and shut his eyes and mentally prepared himself for a long, quiet evening.
He might have dosed for an hour or two, for the knocking on the door jarred him out of a dream that faded too fast for him to recall. He sat up, heart beating rapidly, mind still clouded from sleep and exchanged wary glances with Seiji. They both got up and advanced on the door. There was a servant girl outside it. She bowed to Rowan, but her eyes focused on Seiji a step behind him.
"My lord Sarag'sa asks if you will be joining him for dinner." The girl said.
Seiji lashes fluttered, there was a noticeable inhalation of breath - - nerves maybe - - that had gotten loose from his control. Not like him at all.
"I don't think I can take another one of those feasts like last night." Rowan said and the girl bit her lip, flustered over something.
"I don't think," Seiji said. "That the invitation was extended to you, Rowan."
Rowan blinked. "Why the fuck not? Oh, wait a minute. No, no, no. You do not mean what I think you mean. He's a ballsy bastard, I'll give him that. You can just tell him, no thanks." Rowan told the servant girl.
"No." Seiji held up a hand. "Tell him - - I accept."
The girl bowed. "Someone will come for you." Then she backed away and closed the door behind her.
Rowan stood there and gaped at Seiji. Outraged for the both of them since Seiji's face showed nothing.
"What the fuck are you thinking? You know he doesn't wanna discuss the finer points of ne'gal table manners. Are you out of your mind?"
"Rowan - - let it go."
"Let it go, my ass. . . ."
"Rowan. We're not having this discussion. Trust me to deal with it."
"Like hell we're not! What are you gonna do, buy passage for the hun'ra by jumping into bed with him?"
Rowan gaped again and felt distinctly sick. "He's not even human, Seiji."
"No." Seiji agreed.
"It might not even be survivable, you know."
"How the fuck do you know - - -?" Rowan trailed off, things occurring to him like the damage to Seiji's face and the strange manner he'd been acting since Rowan had regained consciousness. And how much time had passed since Rowan had staggered back from the baths and Seiji had returned to kick him out of bed? More than a little. Which meant Seiji had been somewhere else - - doing something else.
"Son of a bitch. Son of a bitch, Seiji!! Tell me you didn't propose this little exchange."
Seiji's eyes flashed a little then, in indignation maybe, or just frustration. It was hard to tell with him. He opened his mouth, then snapped it shut, looking for just a split second trapped and desperate and wanting very much to be someplace else. Then he gathered control and the facade came smashing back down.
"No. It was not my - - idea. But I can live with it - - if it gets the hun'ra through this pass and keeps the other ne'gal from following."
"Oh, you'll take one for the greater good, huh? Well, that's just awfully open-minded of you. Personally, I'd rather take my chances fighting the ne'gal."
"You said it yourself, Rowan, we might survive it - - but the hun'ra wouldn't. Live with it."
"He give you those?" Rowan asked, fists clenched, not as willing to accept Seiji's line of reasoning as Seiji seemed to be.
Seiji's hand reflexively lifted, almost touching his temple, then stopping and brushing through his hair. He didn't answer that, which was answer enough in itself. And aside from armoring up and going head to head with the dragon prince and all his scaly minions and loosing the advantage they had here, there wasn't a whole lot he could do about it. Not until they got the hun'ra past this pass. Then maybe something might be done. He'd bet money Ryo wouldn't be too pleased with Seiji's little arrangement. No matter how pissed off Ryo might be at Seiji, when it came right down to it, he was protective as hell over the lot of them, with Seiji at the top of the list. Combine that with practically non-existence skills of diplomacy - - and somehow or another there was going to be hell to pay.
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