The First Meeting.
Chapter One: An Arranged Marriage. The First Meeting.
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Princess Sanzo wished very much that she wasn't a princess.
It wasn't that she didn't love her adoptive mother, Queen Koumyo of Chou'An, but sometimes, the young princess did wish, just a little, that the Queen had not gone fishing at the Kappa River with her hook-less fishing rod on that one fateful day. Then a crazed turtle would not have snapped the Queen's slipper and swum off with it downstream, and she would not have chased it and found the screaming baby floating in a basket.
The baby was named Princess Xanthippe (because the Queen thought the baby's shrill wail sounded a lot like the trademark keening battle-cry of the lead character in her favourite play by the Highly Doubtful Theatre Troupe, Xanthippe, Amazon Warrior Princess) - Sally (because she always wanted to have a daughter named Sally, and besides, it sounded very warlike - "Sally forth, brave knights!") Moonshyne (because it's just pretty), but usually everyone called her Sanzo for the three very rare and valuable bottles of Unequivokal 100 proof vodka hidden in the basket under the baby blanket, diapers and a tin of milk powder.
To return to the topic, Princess Sanzo wished she had been adopted by anybody else, or not found at all.
Sanzo sighed heavily as she threw her velvet cloak to the floor. Feisty anger flashed in her grape-jam coloured eyes. "Curse you, Mother!" she muttered to herself under her breath. "An arranged marriage! How could you do this to me... your only daughter! Have you no care for my happiness?" She flopped over onto her soft satin-sheeted bed and glanced around at the empty room. Tears began to flood her eyes and roll softly down her porcelain cheeks. "I cannot marry another," she said in a voice no louder than a whisper. "I cannot, for my true love is Hakkai."
Standing, Sanzo walked solemnly to the window that overlooked the city of Chou'An. The sun was just setting for the night, casting a golden glow over the countryside. But the beauty of the scene touched not Sanzo's heart, for it was saddened by the news that had been given to her only hours before. She was to be married to Goku, who was a close personal friend of her mother's. She had been given no say in this matter - it was arranged behind her back. And there was no turning away from it now. Tomorrow, she would leave for Flower Fruit Mountain to meet her future husband. And the day following, they would be wed.
Sanzo clutched at the windowsill until her knuckles turned white, and she wept bitter tears. How could this be happening? All her life, she had been happy and carefree, and now this trouble... What had she done to deserve such a fate? Slowly, and with the blur of tears still in her vivid grape-jam coloured eyes, she paced about her bedroom. All she could think of now was Hakkai, and how the news would break his heart if only he knew.
They had met two summers ago in a random village, when Sanzo had gone for a ride in the country with her mother and sisters. But when Sanzo had strayed off the path to follow an adorable baby Jeep, she had become separated from her family and hopelessly lost. Then out of nowhere a band of demons had appeared to attack her. By some stroke of luck, she happened to have the Exorcist Gun that Queen Koumyo kept to ward off the usual castle spooks hidden secretly within the folds of her skirt. But though she managed to kill 998 of the foul creatures, she was soon outnumbered.
Then just as she thought her life would be ended, a beautiful dream-like vision appeared before her. The deadly warrior who had come to her rescue, a handsome demon who just happened to be wandering the countryside eating an apple, quickly killed off the remaining 101 demons with his fruit knife before rushing to Sanzo's side.
It was love at first sight. The moment she looked into his sparkling algae green eyes, Sanzo knew there would never be any other for her. She felt a song rising in her heart, and resisted the impulse to sing it aloud, though the words:
Today I saw a boy
And I wondered if he noticed me
He took my breath away
I can't get him off my mind
And it scares me
'Cause I've never felt this way
ran through her mind even as he spoke. "My name is Hakkai," he said in a voice soft as the summer wind. Tenderly, he raised her chin with strong, graceful fingers, sticky with demon blood and apple juice, to look in her face and make sure she was well. "Are you hurt, my lady?" he asked.
Oh, dear diary...
"No," she replied. In truth, there was a bad cut on her knee, but she didn't want to worry Hakkai. "And my name is Sanzo."
"Sanzo," Hakkai repeated. He said the name as if savouring the sound of it on his tongue. "That is a beautiful name, fit for so beautiful a lady."
Sanzo blushed shyly. She could feel his eyes wandering over her body, from head to foot, as he took in the sight of her lying on the grass. She knew she was beautiful. Unusually so, some said. It was believed her father was a particularly handsome horny kappa of the muddy Kappa River, known for his womanising ways, while her adoptive mother, Queen Koumyo, was renowned for her impeccable dress sense and poise, though her smoking and drinking habits, among other eccentricities, could do with some improvement. The blending of Nature and Nurture came together perfectly in Sanzo, giving her an exotic look that few males found they could resist. Large downward-sloping bright grape-jam coloured eyes were framed perfectly by shimmering waves of thick french-fry yellow hair that fell to her waist. An antique barnacle-encrusted mithril pendant hung ever from her slender white neck, accentuating the delicate frame of her collarbone.
Sanzo only wished she had thought to wear her favourite sexy black form-fitting leather bodysuit that morning.
Suddenly, Sanzo and Hakkai were interrupted by a wild cry that signified more demons still lurked nearby. "Come," said Hakkai as he hurried Sanzo to her feet. "It is not safe to linger here. You must come with me, and hurry!" Taking Sanzo's hand, he hastened away from the sound. Sanzo did her best to keep up with him, but the pain in her knee was too great.
"My lady!" gasped Hakkai when he saw her lagging behind. "You are injured!" Immediately he sat her down to examine the wound. Blood had already started to soak through her gown in an ugly red stain. "I must tend to this wound now as best I can," he said. "We will find a healer later, but for now this cannot wait." Without a second thought, he pulled off his green bandanna and wrapped up her knee efficiently.
With this makeshift bandage in place, Sanzo and Hakkai were able to hurry on their way. The cries of demons were ever-present behind them, but they ran swiftly. Soon, Sanzo found herself in front of a small cabin, which she guessed must belong to Hakkai. He held the door open as he stepped inside, beckoning for her to follow him. "Come in," he said. "We will be much safer in here."
Sanzo took a deep breath as she stepped toward the cabin door. Here she was, a young virgin noblewoman, about to be alone in a cabin with someone she had just met. It was true he was the most handsome demon she had ever seen, and he had just saved her life, but were his true intentions that noble? And what would her family, especially Queen Koumyo, say once they found out where she had been? And how the maids would gossip! Sanzo had half a mind to run back home right then, but as she heard the clamour of demons drawing nearer once more, she realised she had no choice. She steeled her will and followed Hakkai into the cabin, shutting the door firmly behind her.
To be continued...?!!
Lyrics to Dear Diary from Britney Spears' album /Oops I did it again/.