Slave Hunting

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Ryosai was just about to retire for the evening when one of his men rushed over to inform him of the arrival of a special message that he had intercepted.

"Sir, this just arrived by falcon! It's from General Ren Kouen himself!!" he said urgently.

"Let me see that," Ryosai said, snatching the small scroll from his hands. As Ryosai read, his eyes widened. "This is...!!" A smirk grew on his face as he immediately swept off to find the men he had ordered to raid the Kouga village, hoping they hadn't left yet. He had some special instructions for them now.

"Huh? Where's Aladdin?" Faith asked her sister as they were getting ready for bed.

"Now that you mention it, I haven't seen him for a while..." Hope said, glancing around. "Should we look for him?"

"Nah, he probably just went to pee," Faith said with a shrug. "Speaking of which, my bladder could use some relief as well."

"And judging by that look you're giving me, you want me come with you, huh?" Hope said, sweat-dropping.

They hadn't gone very far when they spotted something suspicious.

"Hey, what's that carriage doing here?" Faith asked, wondering why it had been hidden in the shadows.

"!?" Hope gasped upon recognizing the design. "That's from the Kou Empire! What on earth...?"

"Don't move!" a deep voice said, causing them to whip their heads around as they immediately went into fight mode. "Say or do anything to alert the men, and I'll slit her throat," the Kou soldier threatened, holding a knife to a very frightened Toya's throat.

"..." The twins frowned in distaste at the man, and reluctantly dropped their fighting stances.

"I take it you're not a child from this village?" Hakuei asked Aladdin as they sat down to talk.

"No, I'm a traveler. Right now, I'm traveling with some friends," Aladdin answered with a smile.

"Just now... that mysterious cloth..."

"This? It's great, right? As long as I've got strength from food in my stomach, I can fly with it! Though it's not all that fast."

"... That's a dungeon item," Hakuei told him.

"Dungeon item?" Aladdin asked, touching his turban.

"Such tools also exist in my country. They have the power to split the earth and fly through the heavens. As you can see, they have powers far exceeding human comprehension. And to get them... one has to come out alive from the 'dungeon'," she explained, pausing for a moment to regard the boy before her once again. "So a child like yourself... got that piece of cloth from a dungeon...?"

"Uh, no. This is something I already had," Aladdin corrected her.

"Already had...?"

"Yeah, back when I left the 'Room of Fortitude'," he said.

"That... is a dungeon?" Hakuei asked.

"Uhm... I'm not sure..." Aladdin replied honestly.

"What a mysterious boy..." Hakuei mused. "What... are you...?"

"I could ask the same of you, onee-san!" said Aladdin.


"'General' of the 'army'? You know, the ones who invaded the village?" Aladdin said. Hakuei's expression suddenly became much more serious. "If that's the case, then I hope you know when to stop. Otherwise obaa-chan will cry... Obaa-chan taught me about 'family'. She's a good person, and I like her. Please don't kill her," he requested calmly but firmly, staring her straight in the eye.

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