The sun was already setting when the Battle at the Five Gates ended. It was all over and she escaped successfully. She was relieved.
However, deep in her heart, she did not feel contented.
Although she believed that a proud man such as him would not be persuaded easily, Diao Chan still had a tinge of hope that Lu Bu would realize the errors of his ways and defect from the grip of the Serpent King.
The opposite of what was happening to Lu Bu happened to the Prince of Wei. From what she has heard, Cao Pi, who led the Wei army after the disappearance of his father Cao Cao, accepted alliance with Orochi and served him with indisputable loyalty. That was until he finally decided to declare independence from the Orochi army and sided with the resistance.
How she wished that Lu Bu would do the same as well.
Sighing heavily, she decided to explore the camp in an attempt to focus her mind on something else.
As she ventured around it, she observed how the soldiers were preparing themselves for a highly probable battle the next day. Some were busy polishing their respective weapons, while some were being treated of their wounds. A few were drinking merrily; Diao Chan assumed they were probably celebrating the future victory of the resistance. Or probably their last few hours before charging at their enemies and experiencing inevitable death. From the group of merry men, one began dancing quite wildly due to intoxication. Diao Chan smiled bitterly. She wished she could also dance with the same vigor and bliss.
She stopped in her tracks when she came across with what she presumed to be the tent of Mitsunari Ishida. He was among those who joined Cao Pi in his encounters with Orochi. Furthermore and perhaps more importantly, he was the one who led the Coalition party in her escape from Dong Zhuo, one of the reasons for the Battle at the Five Gates. Despite feeling miserable lately, she felt the need to personally express gratitude to him, just like to Zhang Liao whom she had thanked earlier. Perhaps a simple "thank you" would do. He didn't seem to be quite a stuck-up man anyway. Or so she thought.
She hesitated a bit before pushing aside the covers of the entrance of the tent. Upon entering, she realized that it was not exactly the best time to visit him.
Although the tent was rather dim with only a few lamps as light sources, she could clearly see that Mitsunari was currently being tended of his wounds, particularly his left arm which was being bandaged by a servant. His eyes were closed, and he was not wearing his golden hairpiece as well as his coat. In fact, the upper part of his body would be entirely revealed had not for the bandages neatly tied around his torso. She was about to step out of the tent when Mitsunari began speaking.
"For the last time, Lady Nene, I will not allow you to—"
Opening his eyes, he abruptly stopped in mid-sentence, with the realization that he was mistaken.
"Oh, it's just you, lady."
Somewhat discomfited, she inadvertently fiddled the corset on her garment. For one, she barged in while his treatment was not done. Second, it seemed like he was expecting somebody else…
Little did she know however that he was actually not looking forward to that person he was apparently expecting.
Her words were cut off when she heard the mumbling of the servant, who was done bandaging Ishida's left arm. The servant requested permission to leave since his work was done. He also mentioned that seemed like they would be talking of a serious matter, so he would wait outside for further orders.
Mitsunari nodded and allowed him to go. The servant bowed to Diao Chan before walking past her, leaving the two of them alone.
Only the quiet whispers of the wind and faint laughter from the soldiers outside could be heard from the tent. Sensing no development at all, Mitsunari took hold of a small bowl. He gently started stirring some sort of concoction. The chestnut-haired dancer on the other hand stood frozen, gazing at the ground. She had no idea why she suddenly became uneasy, since her motive was merely to thank him.
"So, what brings you here?" Ishida asked in a flat tone, breaking the silence. He had his eyes closed again. "You're not just going to stand there all night, are you?"
Diao Chan finally looked up, gaining the confidence to face him. Although relieved that she did not have to deal with the awkwardness of the silence earlier, she had to admit that she still felt tense in his presence. This was the same man who openly insulted Dong Zhuo—although the dancer knew that the tyrant deserved it. Thoughts of her being mocked came to her mind, though they were eventually erased when she convinced herself that she'll just be thanking him and nothing else that would earn her an insult.
"Er, no. Actually, I would just like to thank you for leading the party for my…rescue." She then directed her eyes towards him. "I-I really wouldn't know what might have happened to me if you didn't show up."
A moment of silence followed her revelation. Diao Chan felt even more awkward. Given his closed eyes, she began to wonder if he had actually fallen asleep. She also noticed that he halted mixing the bowl. She gulped, thinking whether she should wake him up or just leave the tent quietly. After a few milliseconds of gaining some willpower, she chose the former, and started speaking, "a-ah, hey, are you—?"
Just then, the auburn-haired man resumed stirring the bowl again, this time, with his eyes opened. "…is that all?"
Again, she was taken aback with his response, but she nodded anyway.
"Right. Then you're free to go, I guess."
"What?" she muttered both in confusion and disbelief. 'That's all that he has to say..?'
He raised an eyebrow. "Uh, yeah? You're free to go. You know, go back to your tent or something. Unless of course…" He suddenly paused, which for some reason, made the dancer feel uneasy.
"W-what..?" It was almost as if she hissed had not for her stuttering. She suddenly felt her heart sinking, with a flash of inappropriate things he might do with her. He wasn't thattype of man, right?
"…you intend to go back to that snake, then there'll be problems." He continued casually. It was not what she expected, yet she slightly sighed in relief.
Diao Chan then twitched lightly upon realizing something. Whatever thoughts she had previously were momentarily forgotten, seeing that she hasn't gain his trust yet.
At least that was what she thought.
"No! Y-you got it all wrong! I won't go back to Orochi. I'll be staying with the Resistance. Really!" She shifted her eyes towards the floor, whilst clutching her skirt. 'For Lu Bu's sake…'
He again raised an eyebrow, but this time, in amusement. "Hmm, a little defensive, aren't we?" It was then followed by a smirk appearing on his lips. "Well if that's the case, prove it then."
"Huh? Prove what?"
"Prove that you'll remain loyal to the resistance."
He then chuckled, much to her annoyance. "Haha, just kidding. Just kidding. Women." He began partially dipping a small cloth on the bowl's mixture. "So, anything else?"
It was Diao Chan's turn to raise her eyebrow, but in annoyance. Had it not been for his current condition, she might have already smacked his head with her mace. She then exhaled heavily, letting out whatever murderous intent or something of the lesser degree she had previously. The truth was that she was rather disappointed with his lack of reaction regarding his involvement with her escape. Zhang Liao, whom she had spoken to earlier, didn't just reply "Right" and "Return to your tent now." She was unsure whether it was because she was more familiar with Zhang Liao, considering he formerly was a general under Lu Bu. Or maybe Mitsunari just wasn't the friendly type of person. She came in on a not-so perfect time anyway.
"No, that is all. Thank you again, Lord Mitsunari." She bowed, and began to turn to leave the tent. However, she noticed that he was having a hard time wiping some portions on his face with the cloth. Through squinting of her eyes she perceived that he had some scratches and bruises on his face, though they all seem to be minor wounds. "Do you need help with that?" she asked.
Her sudden request caused Mitsunari to blink for several times before recovering back to his usual composure. "No. I could handle myself, thank you very much."
A small smile played on her lips. This was her chance to pay whatever she owed him. "Well, I insist," she said, taking a few steps closer to where he was.
"…You're not planning on leaving just yet, are you?" His tone was flat, but she could see that he certainly was not pleased. She smiled mischievously, ceasing to walk upon reaching a fair distance across him.
"Maybe. Maybe not." She decided that perhaps she should go along with his game, which eventually would become hergame, she thought. She needed something to do to shift her mood to being not miserable anyway. "And didn't you mention earlier that I should prove my loyalty to the resistance?" she challenged.
Just when she thought she was gaining the upper hand, she found him in the most unpleasing state...for her, anyway.
He was gaping keenly at her, as if intending to bore holes through her. With unreadable eyes he looked at her starting from her feet, slowly ascending toward her head. Even when she felt as though she was being violated, she remained silent. She found it odd that she was becoming even tenser than before; she had encountered men who had done this to her in the battlefield before, so she was quite used to it. But why was she nervous? She had not exactly found the answer for that, but she definitely assured herself that it must've been the heat of the lamps which was causing her to flush at that very moment.
Unbeknownst to her however, he was thinking of something else. 'She doesn't seem to be as nosy as Lady Nene. She doesn't seem to be as annoying as that Tachibana woman either. Well, slightly, but I think I can manage.'
After another series of silence full of discomfort and stares, one of them finally spoke. "You do have a point, even if I was just kidding back then… Lady—"
She managed to say her name without stuttering.
"Right, Lady Diao Chan. It wouldn't hurt I guess." He then turned his head, as if intending to evade his eyes from her blue ones. "Just be sure to be careful though." He paused. "I will not tolerate mistakes."
She had won the game. She smiled.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the campsite, Nene was not in her best moods. While she admittedly was worried for the child, she could not help but feel angry for his stubbornness.
'Mitsunari! What happened to you?"
It was only then when she saw Mitsunari again, having arrived from a rescue mission of someone who had defected from the Orochi army. She had no idea who it was, but she was only worried for Mitsunari for that moment.
"I'm fine, Lady Nene, and I would feel better if you would stop blocking the way to my quarters."
She ignored him. "I should have come with you if I knew you would be…butchered like this!"
"Lady Nene, clearly I was not 'butchered.' And if ever I had a serious injury, it just probably my arm which was merely scratched."
She ignored him again. "If I knew sooner that you would be out on a mission like that, I would have accompanied you and spanked the head of whoever did that to you!"
"…I don't know if you would be able to do that even if you came with me, Lady Nene." He pushed her aside with his uninjured arm, going inside his tent. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be going in. It would please me if you wouldn't follow."
But she did. "Well, I guess that's just the past. There's nothing I can do about it now…"
"Obviously." Mitsunari rolled his eyes.
Like every mother in her position, she placed her hands at her waist and exclaimed in a firm voice, "now Mitsunari, remove those sleeves of yours so your mother could treat your wounds!"
He grimaced. "No. I'd rather treat myself. Kindly leave, Lady Nene."
"And you are not my mother. Just leave now."
"It is obvious that you need some help! How could you tend your wounds if one of your arms are injured?"
"Trust me, Lady Nene. You would be doing me a favor if you wouldn't help at all. Besides, I have already arranged a servant who would assist me later."
"Later? Why not now?"
"Because of your 'gracious' presence, my lady. Once you leave, this servant would start helping me. Now will you please leave so I would stop bleeding to death?"
"Hmph! Fine, you naughty, ungrateful young man!"
She stomped out of the tent.
She was clenching her fists. The mere thought of him rejecting her well-intentioned request ticked her off. She should probably just leave him alone so he'll learn his lesson on his own!
Her eyes suddenly brightened.
"Ah what the heck, he's still a child! What he needs are some motherly care and understanding!"
With her swift abilities as a ninja, she was able to arrive in front of Mitsunari's tent for only about a few seconds. Before coming inside, she caught the sight of one of the servants who she presumed to have tended Mitsunari. "Hey! So are you done treating Mitsunari's wounds? I think I'm going to tell him a few things on my mind!"
The servant shook his head, mentioning that he wasn't completely treated yet. "There are still some bruises left untreated on his face, my lady."
'So that means that he's probably treating himself right now… That naughty, stubborn child!'She thanked the servant and was about to enter the tent when he stopped her.
"My lady, I would just like to mention that Lord Mitsunari currently has a visitor in his quarters. She has not left the tent yet, if I am not mistaken."
"She?" Nene gasped in an unbelieving tone. Mitsunari was seeing a girl? She began jumping out of glee. 'Aww! I'm so proud of him! He's growing up!'
She thanked the servant again before peeking through a hole on the tent. ''Now who on earth could that girl be…?'
Inside, Mitsunari was instructing the chestnut-haired dancer the proper way to treat his wounds with the special medicine. "After dipping a part of the cloth on the mixture, you should carefully dab the cloth on the wound. Carefully,"he emphasized, "since the medicine is quite concentrated. And don't pat it on the wound for long. It would sting. Got that?"
Still standing, she nodded, with the medicine bowl and cloth on each of her hands. She then bended her body forward and started doing as she was told. "So… does this medicine contain some sort of special ingredient? I don't think I have seen one of these before."
"It contains some special peaches, grinded. They could cure wounds easily, and you could even eat them in the battlefield and feel better in no time. Or so I heard."
"Oh… Is that so? That's…odd." She dipped the cloth in the bowl.
"I guess anything is possible here in this world. I mean, there's an Evil Snake Overlord who plans on taking over the world. In addition to that, we're not even supposed to meet, given our origins."
She chuckled. "I guess that's true…" She resumed dabbing the piece of cloth on one of his scratches.
The next seconds were followed by the usual silence which was dominating the tent in the preceding moments.
"Hey." He could sense her eyes shifting to him. "Don't you feel uncomfortable standing there? There's enough space on the bed, you know." He paused, realizing that twofold meaning of what he said. He coughed. "Of course, if that's your style, I can't do anything about that. Whatever."
Retreating her hand, she began to consider his suggestion. She straightened up and nodded. "Er, alright…"
She unhurriedly sat next to him. She then gestured him to shift in her direction and continued treating him.
It reminded her of the times wherein she would treat Lu Bu's wounds herself, although she honestly could not recall any instance wherein Lu Bu received a serious injury. It was always him who gave serious injuries to other people, she slightly laughed to herself.
She found it ironic that she was treating the wounds of one of his victims.
She looked at Mitsunari whose eyes were shut again. She faintly smiled. Setting aside the cynical nature she had seen in him earlier, he actually looked pretty harmless.
She then saw a small wound near the corner of his eye. Cautious, she decided to hold one side of his face for support. It caused him to open one eye, as if asking "what?"
"Hold still," she whispered.
He lightly shrugged before complying, shutting both of his eyes tight.
She continued patiently dabbing the cloth, whilst the events of her escape played back in the corner of her mind.
"Why Diao Chan? Why do you betray me?"
She could sense a mix of anger and disappointment in his words. "Ever since that monster arrived, you have changed, Lu Bu!" Although she was inwardly trembling, Diao Chan remained standing still while holding her two maces defensively. "…I dedicate myself to conquering Orochi, if it is the only way I can get the real you back!"
She could feel his overwhelming aura going stronger. She knew she had made him angrier.
But she knew he would not attack her, since she still believed that there's still be a hint of his real self remaining inside of him.
However, she thought she was proven wrong when she found him pointing his halberd at her. She grew pale.
"Very well… You are nothing to me now, Diao Chan!" Her heart sunk low. "If you truly intend to fight Orochi, then we will meet again… And rest assured, I will show no mercy!"
He then lowered his weapon, walking away. He rode his Red Hare, which galloped away as if no sort of battle happened.
She had only felt remorse back then. She would have preferred to stay with Lu Bu no matter what, but she could not stand serving the likes of Orochi.
For Diao Chan, Orochi was the reason for all the sufferings which were happening right now. If it weren't for him, she and Lu Bu would not have to go through this. Everything would be back the way it was. If she could only pound, smack, slap him right now she'd—
Her thoughts were stopped when she heard a distinctive "Ow! Ow!," followed by a dull sound produced by something falling on the floor, and another something seizing her wrists which caused her to fall down on the bed.
Her head was spinning due the pacing of the events. Although her vision was still blurry, the dancer realized that rather than something, it apparently was someone.
Prior to these events, Mitsunari had actually fallen asleep, poised in his sitting position. He definitely enjoyed the silence prevalent in the tent; something he could not experience whenever a certain yellow-clad ninja would insist on staying.
He had been dreaming of a tranquil world, where it seemed that the war had just ceased. He was in an open field, with flowers blooming all around, bird chirping in the peaceful skies.
All was well.
Until he felt a painful sensation from one side of his face. Quickly, he turned around and saw a hooded person. It was doing some sort of ritual, but Mitsunari knew it was the one causing the pain. He didn't have any weapons at that moment, so he did the most logical thing to do—use his bare hands. Immediately he seized the hands of the perpetrator and pushed whoever that hooded figure was down the ground.
The impact caused the bowl the certain perpetrator was holding to dash down to the floor, spilling its contents.
It also caused them to be in a rather awkward position.
Outside, Nene was surprised. Or something even greater than surprised.
While she initially thought that Mitsunari had some sort of lover at first, she began to consider that the pink-clad girl was one of the servants Mitsunari was talking about.
But then she figured that the girl looked too elegant to be a mere servant.
The curious ninja then assumed that this girl was one of his newly found friends in this eccentric world.
But then again, Mitsunari wasn't a friendly person to begin with, especially to women.
Nene then considered that maybe he just befriended the girl with the primary intention of turning her into his personal slave! The yellow-clad ninja huffed in annoyance, but she turned back to the hole to resume peeking anyway…
…which led to her surprised state.
Nene backed away, reorganizing her thoughts on the matter. Previously, Mitsunari was being treated by the pink-clad girl who was standing at first. Although the ninja didn't clearly hear what the strategist has said, it was apparent that whatever he had said made girl sit next to him in bed.
Nene found that understandable; the girl may suffer back aches if she continued to treat him while bending her back.
The next thing Nene observed was that the girl leaned rather close to Mitsunari, and even held his face.
Nene found that understandable too; the treatment of the wound needed to be precise and no mishap should happen, especially not to one of her children.
Although the sun was out and there were relatively few light sources in the tent, the ninja could see that Mitsunari pinned the girl down, holding her with her wrists. On the bed.
This time, Nene did not find it understandable. She did not see any merit in their position. Unless of course…
"So I was right! He is growing up after all!" The yellow clad ninja exclaimed in a firm voice. After her motherly pride came confusion. She had always imagined that girls would make the first move, given Mitsunari's stubbornness and obvious hate for people opposite his gender. Clearly, it was proven otherwise. Nene even rubbed her eyes just to prove she wasn't dreaming.
Then her feminist side came. Nene could not let anything happen to the girl. She would barge in the tent if things get out of hand. Of course, only if she saw hesitation on the part of the chestnut-haired girl. She resumed peeking. 'They still have their clothes on, anyway…'
They were both frozen in shock and confusion. Mostly the former for the dancer while the latter for the strategist.
Diao Chan was finding it hard to process what was occurring at the moment. Her cerulean eyes seemed mesmerized by his pretty, brown ones, while the latter…seemed to be looking at her pink lips. They stayed like that for a few moments, until her eyes trailed to his bandaged torso, then to his bandaged arm. She was able now able to process what was happening at that moment, being the first to speak, though barely audible, "I-I'm sorry."
Her voice promptly snapped him back to reality. He immediately released her hands and straightened up, sitting erectly. "Uh, what did you say?"
Her back was still lying on the bed. Staring at the ceiling, she replied with a clearer voice, "I said I'm sorry…" She gradually sat up and then adjusted her position to be of fair distance from him—not too near that it would violate each other's personal space, but not too far that it would seem obvious that she was very, very uncomfortable due to their previous predicament.
The merriment of the drunken group outside the tent appeared to tone down and the breeze of the wind more or less became stronger by a certain degree. Diao Chan felt the need to go outside for some fresh air, but she thought it would seem rude to just leave right then. She hoped he would start speaking again so she may properly excuse herself.
Just as she had hoped, he spoke, "you really are pretty stupid, aren't you."
It was certainly not what she had expected him to say. In addition to that, he made it seem more like a statement than a question.
'Was that an insult?' She lightly arched an eyebrow. She was kind of getting used to his straightforward comments.
"Wait, I don't think 'stupid' is the word." He placed his bandaged hand under his chin. "It's more of 'reckless.'"
She did not know whether he was just teasing her or not, but she knew that he didn't really have to pry her for her stupidity or recklessness, or whatever she did earlier. She deeply breathed before responding. "Look, I am truly, deeply sorry for what happened earlier… I-I wasn't quite myself." She unhurriedly looked away. "I'm sorry."
It was his turn to arch his brow. "Huh?" His remark caused her to turn her head back at him. "Now that you mention it… That was kind of stupid and reckless too." He could see her scowling a bit; he inwardly chuckled. "However, I wasn't talking about your tremendous irresponsibility minutes ago." He could see a hint of curiosity in her eyes. "I was talking about your recklessness in defecting from Orochi."
She remained speechless in the following seconds. It was true. Her plan of escaping was not planned properly.
She was gasping for breath, for her life.
She had escaped from the Orochi camp and was able to pass through two gates. Three more were left, and it would have been an easy task to do have not been for the report that Dong Zhuo heard of her defection and began pursuit. She could easily take down enemy troops, but she knew she would be no match for the power of Dong Zhuo as well as his officers. If there wouldn't be any progress on her side, her attempt to escape would be useless.
A ray of hope flashes when one of her soldiers reported the sightings of the Coalition Army. "The Resistance? They are coming to save me?" Her eyes glistened with determination. "I must not yield. All hope is not lost yet!"
With her increased resolve, she swung her maces towards her enemies as if she were dancing, throwing them all back. She also did a series of smacking and kicking, including some somersaults which managed to defeat some enemy officers around her. She soon felt exhaustion from fighting the seemingly endless troops of the enemy, but she was still determined.
She then heard the opening of the third gate, causing everyone around her to stand in confusion. 'Is it them—?' she hoped.
From the gate emerged a horde of soldiers, charging towards her direction. She immediately stood in a defensive stance, ready to shield herself from the possible assault directed to her. To her surprise, a bunch of arrows struck the officers around her, and the soldiers who recently arrived continually attacked her enemies. She was about to join them in their attack when she heard a yelp from a horse. She turned to see where it came from and saw a Japanese general with auburn-colored hair, about shoulder-length. He had a golden headgear which resembled horns and wielded a giant fan. He jumped off his horse, engaging in battle as well.
He looked rather friendly, but she had to be sure. When their eyes met, she asked, "have you come to rescue me?"
Behind Diao Chan, an enemy soldier began charging towards her, who remained oblivious of the threat. Ready to hit the lady with his spear, the soldier roared, causing Diao Chan to shift her head back towards the enemy. Diao Chan's eyes widened, having been caught off guard. The enemy was already too close and it seemed too late for her to guard herself.
Just then, the soldier screamed in pain, and then fell to the ground. She was now facing the auburn-haired man, whose stance showed that he was the one who slashed the soldier. "That's the plan, lady," he casually said, smirking confidently. Another soldier charged towards them, but with a swift motion of his fan, a bunch of arrows were summoned, stabbing the soldiers around them, "but there are a few snake-guys who don't like it much!"
Standing back to back with her, he stood in defense position, readying himself with the recovering enemies who were charging again towards them. Holding her mace, Diao Chan did the same, readying to bludgeon any enemy coming near.
Stupid. Reckless. Yes, she had to agree. But really, she didn't have much choice on the matter. She couldn't stay any longer from that snake hell hole she had gotten into.
"Definitely stupid and reckless, what you did," he mentioned again.
Diao Chan frowned and looked away. "You don't have to rub it again in my face, you know."
He merely snickered, much to her annoyance again.
"You really have this habit of…upsetting people, don't you?" She turned to face him again, still quite frowning.
He shrugged, but replied in a quite certain voice, "well, yeah, pretty much."
"You know that won't do you good," she told him, half-scolding. She shifted her eyes towards his bandaged arm. "I mean, if you haven't angered…" A pause. She sighed before proceeding "…Lu Bu like that, you wouldn't be on the state in you are right now."
With efforts from the Coalition army and Diao Chan, the scream of the fallen Dong Zhuo finally echoed on the battlefield. The shockwave from the fan of Ishida delivered the final blow.
"Y-you! You'll pay for this, pretty boy! One day! Diao Chan, you too!" Despite his weight, it only took a few moments for Dong Zhuo to flee the battlefield.
"Well, that was easy," Mitsunari exclaimed, brushing some of his hair out of his face.
Diao Chan was about to utter her thanks to him, when she heard a familiar voice: "My lady, are you alright?"
She turned to see Zhang Liao, who despite having a fierce façade, was facing her with a hint of concern on his face. "Zhang Liao, I am fine, thanks to all of you. But we have to go! We have to run now before—"
But just before she could finish her statement, they could feel the ground rumbling. Diao Chan knew what it meant, and she knew it didn't mean any good.
"Well, it looks like it's too late to run now," the auburn-haired man exclaimed. A few seconds after saying that, Mitsunari was already facing a rather large man riding a red horse. However, the man seemed to ignore Mitsunari's presence and instead looked in the dancer's direction.
"Diao Chan! What are you doing?" the man roared, anger being very apparent.
Diao Chan's hands were shaking, but she positioned her maces in front of her in an attempt to defend herself. "Lu Bu, I—"
"I'm sorry to interrupt this lovely conversation, but if you intend to speak with her further," Mitsunari walked towards Diao Chan's direction, stopping a distance in front of her. "You have to go through me first."
"What?" Lu Bu was visibly angrier than before. "You dare challenge me?"
Mitsunari gave no verbal response. Instead, with a swift motion of his arm, Mitsunari summoned a rain of arrows towards Lu Bu, which the latter effortlessly swatted away with a swing of his halberd.
"Why you—!" Lu Bu was dangerously swinging his halberd, which Mitsunari could barely evade due to its range. This continued for the next couple of moments until Lu Bu finally managed to reach Mitsunari, although he was only able to scratch the edge of Ishida's coat. However, with the intent of still evading, it caused Mitsunari to inadvertently be thrown to the ground, being pushed a distance away from Lu Bu.
On sidelines, Diao Chan helplessly pleaded Lu Bu to stop, shouting his name. However, her efforts seemingly went unnoticed as Lu Bu, still gripping his halberd, continued to walk towards Mitsunari.
However, Mitsunari quickly recovered and did something unexpected. He swiftly jumped into air and propelled sideways; he then swung his fan forward to bring out a shockwave which hit Lu Bu directly, catching him off guard. This angered him even more, swaying his halberd with much force than before.
A swing, which caused Mitsunari to duck.
"Why do you harbor Diao Chan?"
Another swing; Mitsunari sidestepped.
"She belongs to me!"
Another swing, which Mitsunari failed to evade that time. However, he managed to secure his fan right in front of him, their weapons now in contact with each other.
"What are you to her?" Lu Bu angrily asked. Their weapons were clashing.
"What am I to her?" Mitsunari paused, as if he was thinking. He then smirked, and continued, deciding on a vague, misleading yet honest answer, "how should I answer that…"
His answer shocked Lu Bu, which then caused the angered general to give out his full force. "You dare touch my woman?" Mitsunari attempted to give out the similar amount of force; however, the other was clearly in advantage when it came to strength, so Mitsunari was being pushed back. "You will die for that!"
Lu Bu eventually broke Mitsunari's guard, as the latter was unable to push back the force. Lu Bu then was able to hit the left side of Mitsunari's arm, causing Ishida to stumble back to the ground. His fan was thrown meters away from him, leaving Mitsunari defenseless.
Lu Bu motioned his halberd towards Mitsunari. "Die!"
Before the halberd could hit Ishida, it came in contact with a pole blade. Lu Bu looked at its owner, and fumingly exclaimed, "Zhang Liao! You should know better than to get in my way!"
Sweat trickling down his forehead, Zhang Liao replied, "calm down, my lord, and listen."
However, Lu Bu was still greater. "Silence!" He easily shoved Zhang Liao out of the way. "Any who stand in my way will be cut down! I do not want to hear any excuses!"
Lu Bu turned back to Mitsunari's spot, but was surprised with what he saw.
In front of Ishida stood Diao Chan who was holding her two maces in front of her, and although there was a hint of fear, her eyes shone with determination.
"If you had not angered him like that, you would have saved your left arm," Diao Chan stated, remembering the events that happened earlier that day.
"Hmph," he stubbornly replied, "it's not like he'll go easy on me anyway, so might as well play with the fire."
"You know, that's reckless too." This earned her a raised eyebrow from him. "And rather stupid," she really emphasized, "as well." It made him a frown and caused her to giggle.
"So now you're using my tactics of 'upsetting people'?" Mitsunari crossed his arms, earning another giggle from her. "Clearly, you just want to get even with me. Ha ha ha, really now, at least have some originality, lady."
She really was getting used to his personality that she chose to ignore his comment. "But seriously, you should try to stop being sarcastic at times. It's not really good for you, especially comparing your build with other warriors on the battlefield. You'd avoid unnecessary injury that way."
He paused for a minute, then spoke, "lady, do you enjoy talking with me right now?"
The question caught her off guard, but she replied, "well, setting aside your rude comments, yes, I could say so."
Mitsunari closed his eyes. "So basing from the circumstances, you would've have gotten this fortunate chance to converse with me if I weren't injured." He then opened an eye, and looked at her. "Therefore, I win this argument."
She put her hands on her waist. She ignored his ego-inflated comment and instead responded, "so you're saying that it is alright to get yourself injured?"
He closed his eyes once more, and merely shrugged.
Diao Chan breathed out heavily, showing her exasperation. "Honestly, what is it with you, men?"
"I could ask you the same thing. What is it with you, women?" He finally opened his eyes. "And why are you so concerned anyway?"
She raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"Why do you all care about what we men do? Why do you care about what I do?" He crossed his arms. "Seriously, and we've just met. Just this day."
She was rather hurt by his thoughtlessness. "Fine, I'm sorry for being concerned then." Neither looked at each other after that, and moments of silence followed this. Neither one of them moved too.
Fed up with what's happening, Diao Chan finally stood up, intending to leave the tent. However, something tugged her; as she turned around, she noticed that the end of one of her fabric laces tied around her waist was stuck.
Mitsunari was sitting on it.
He noticed this and adjusted his sitting position, letting the lace go. She faced forward again and proceeded to walk out.
But then, she felt something was tugging her again.
Slightly annoyed, she turned back again to look if another one of her laces was stuck.
Indeed, one was.
But this time, it was stuck between Mitsunari's hand.
"Hey! What are you—?" Just before she could finish her sentence, he pulled the garment, causing the belt around her to loosen. Her robes began to slacken but she quickly held onto her belt, securing it.
From the outside of the tent, something (or someone) falling on the ground could be heard, but Diao Chan and Mitsunari paid no attention to it.
"Wha—? What in the world are you doing?" Cheeks flushed, she stomped back in front of him, demanding an answer.
He let go of the lace and placed his hand under his chin. He responded in a nonchalant voice, "you women sure wear impractical clothes."
"What I—we wear is none of your business!" She quickly secured the lace into a knot, albeit an awkward-looking one. "What is it that you want anyway? Did you want to tell me something?"
He shook his head. "Nothing. You may go."
She puffed in annoyance, and turned around to walk out. She was about to push the covers of the tent sideways when she heard his voice.
His voice wasn't as loud as it used to be earlier. "Excuse me?" she replied.
He scowled in reply, but he was clearly avoiding eye contact. "I hate having to repeat myself, but you heard me. I said I was sorry."
Her eyes widened in surprise, but she let him continue.
"I guess I was a bit rude earlier."
'"A bit?" More like "very,"' she thought.
"And what you said made some sense. I apologize for what happened earlier. It's just that…" He paused. "…you reminded me of a certain annoying ninja who always meddled with my affairs. I couldn't resist." Upon saying that, something suddenly flapped from outside his tent, but again both chose to ignore it.
"Oh." She nodded, although she didn't really know who he meant. "Well, it's clearly dark outside. I should leave you here to rest." Without looking back, she said, "thank you again, Lord Mitsunari."
"'Thank you,' eh? That's unnecessary," he casually responded.
"It is. Without your help, I wouldn't be able to achieve my goal."
"And your goal is—?"
"To open Lu Bu's eyes, so he wouldn't be fighting for what is wrong," she responded.
"…And why would you want that?"
"I do it for Lu Bu." She hesitated a bit before continuing again in a softer, yet bolder tone. "It may sound cheesy, but I do it because of my love for him."
Silence dominated the tent once more, before he responded, "hmph, 'love,' huh? That's unnecessary too."
The words caused her to turn back and face him. "You think so? Maybe…"
Her blue orbs looked directly at his brown ones, and the latter did the same to hers. Somehow, for a millisecond, both experienced an unexplainable spark in their bodies that perhaps, would remain unexplainable until they themselves questioned why it happened.
She continued, "just maybe, you haven't felt that feeling before—love, that is."
He broke off their little staring contest. "Eh, whatever," he said, shrugging his shoulders. Before she was able to push the covers of the entrance of the tent, he suddenly requested, "uh, lady, would you mind getting my fan for me?"
The fan was of reachable distance if he were to stand up. "What? But you could reach it."
"Just do it," he firmly said, "please."
Unsure what he had in mind, she followed anyway, walking just beside him and reaching for his folding fan.
"So, what now?" She asked, but he didn't respond.
Instead, he swung his fan horizontally forward—in a similar manner he did when he gave the final hit to Dong Zhuo—towards the entrance of his tent, where Diao Chan could've been. At the same time, a horizontal shockwave emerged from the swing of the fan and split the covers of the tent's entrance into half.
Consequently, a familiar "eek!" was heard, and the owner of the voice unceremoniously fell on the ground. Nene quickly sat up and rubbed her sore knees. "Mitsunariii!" she exclaimed. Diao Chan could only watch.
"Lady Nene, just because you're a ninja, doesn't mean that you could just snoop around with anybody's businesses."
Quickly, the ninja jumped and disappeared out of thin air, leaving the two of them alone in the tent again.
"So…the show's over. You may quietly leave the tent now. Finally." Mitsunari said, standing up, picking the bowl and cloth lying on the ground.
"Ah, yes," she continued to walk towards the now split-in-half entrance of the tent. "So…what would you do with this? Is it alright if it's left…hanging like this?"
"It's alright. Just leave it like that. It was getting kind of stuffy the moment you got here."
She was now outside, but looked back when she heard what she thought he said. "What did you say?"
"Nothing, nothing," he responded immediately, "good night."
Diao Chan paused for a moment, then smiled. "Well, if you say so. Good night."
When he couldn't hear her footsteps anymore, Mitsunari sat on his bed again, cupping his chin with his bandaged hand while fanning himself with his other uninjured one. "Man, the climate wasn't this hot the previous nights…"
And for some unknown reason, Diao Chan's voice rang in his head, "maybe you haven't felt that feeling before—'love,' that is." Remembering this, Mitsunari felt an uneasy feeling in his stomach.
"Love?" he whispered. "Hmph. Ridiculous, simply ridiculous."
Briefly, a flash of her tiny, painted-pink lips wandered in his mind. He quickly shook his head, placing his palm on his forehead. It was as warm as his slightly flushed cheeks. "W-what the heck. Stupid woman. I think I'm having a fever too."
He finally decided to lie down on his bed, convincing himself that he just needed to rest. The day was just too eventful and he was just tired, he concluded.
Then, the breeze of the night surged through his tent, taking away the uncomfortable warm air he thought the tent had earlier.
So that ends the very first fanfic I've written. 8'D (And this took a lot of time to finish. orz)
I do not know what I was eating when I started making this, but yes I am quite a Mitsunari/Diao Chan shipper after Warriors Orochi. XD
That's all. Hope you all like! Reviews are very much welcome. :3