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Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM): Monster Academy - Chapter 6b: The Beast Court


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A short letter had arrived by courier for Kurosoroshimaru, summoning him home on his next break. He was instructed to bring Skye for "Testing" and His sister would be a required presence as well. Noting that Katrina hadn't been to the homelands of the Hengeyokai, Shizuru had gotten permission for her to go as well, her Father signing off on it.

The bus that would bring them to the Homelands was waiting patiently, with Shizuka already aboard. Her Father never summoned the children home, except in dire circumstances, and to even permit Skye's presence, well that meant they'd have to be on their toes. Already she was wondering if getting Katrina involved was a bad thing. Still it was done now, and she awaited her students arrival, so that this Christmas Break trip could begin. She'd informed them to pack warmly, though She and her little brother would have little need of it, if it came to it.

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Katrina decided to practically break her bank for a few months to buy some winter clothes, her cheetah fur was of no use in winter conditions. So she namely got a skiing ensemble (red and white jacket and snow pants with a good thermal underwear), good boots, and fingerless gloves with over-mittens that can be put over the fingers if needed. She had her back packed with a couple spare changes of clothes, namely her school uniforms if there was any time indoors, and a first aid kit.

She was.. careful in the least on this trip. She couldn't take much and having to go to a strange land worried her.

She stepped on the bus, and took a deep breath. She knew nothing of the beast lands. But she was about to start to know them. She made sure her staff was on a back holster on a belt, to be sure she could have use of it in a moment's notice.

She had to be sure that once they arrive somewhere safe to do so, if she was to be in her hybrid form, she had to make sure she had time to change into a pair of winter pants she got that she had modified herself to accommodate her tail. She also had a dark colored wool and cotton cloak she can use to give her tail extra protection by hiding it underneath. That and the brightly colored skiing clothes she was wearing would be covered as well with it if it was better to hide than be seen.

Of course having an option to use the cloak as a lean-to is always a possibility.

She also packed some trail rations in case the bus broke down in the middle of a cold nowhere. Basically some granola bars, some heating pads for her gloves, and a shake-charged mini-flashlight. She also had the first aid kit she brought with to the Academy when she arrived with her.

Other than that... she knew she couldn't prepare for everything. The rest was up to chance and god at this point.

She sits down and waits.

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"So tell me again why we're doing this?" Skye asked from where she sat on the edge of his bed. Kuromaru sighed and looked at his half-packed trunk, then over at her. The beautiful blonde half-angel was staring moodily at him.

"I mean, your dad doesn't like me. I've been invited into the lion's ficken den here, Kuromaru. I'm the girlfriend of the hengeyokai crown prince and I'm about to be surrounded by a bunch of pissed off nobles of your people. So why the heck don't we just politely turn down the invite and stay here?" Skye was nervous, mainly because Kuromaru was nervous too.

"He won't attack you, nor will anyone else without provocation." Kuromaru stated confidently. "You have been invited, and that puts a certain honor obligation on him. Just keep your temper, remember what we discussed, and you will be fine."

"If you say so." Skye grumped, watching her boyfriend's lightning-quick movements as he blurred back and forth, packing his things. Her own suitcase was by her feet.

"I do. Additionally, whilst you have been invited, and can refuse - thought I would advise not to - I and my sister have been summoned. At least this way we can spend the Winter Solstice together. And politics aside, the Solstice celebration in the Beast Court is a spectacle that many would envy you. You will also be a guest of honor, you will see."

"Yeah, so honored that every she-hengeyokai will be eyeing my back for the dagger."

"Some, perhaps." he replied. "Others will seek your favor, as they have here. Remember both Shizuka and I are on your side, and in all the Beast Court, only my father can best her, and only she can best me." A final series of blurs, and the trunk was latched shut and hoisted easily onto Kuromaru's deceptively slender shoulder as though it weighed as much as a pillow, rather than the 400lbs or so it truly massed. He offered Skye his other hand.

"Let us go and show them our mettle, Skye."

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Skye stared at his hand, but there was no thought in her to refuse. Well, not much of one. What else was she going to do if she didn’t go to the Beast Courts for Solstice? Go to her father’s where all she’d do was try not to cry and miss her mother? At least the catty – pun intended – actions of Kuromaru’s family would keep her mind off of the first Christmas without Mom.

She took his hand and picked up her suitcase, smiling as his warm fingers closed over her own. Together, they walked out to the waiting bus, their heads high. She was trying not to think about the coming tests, or what would happen if she failed. She’d do her best, and deal with whatever happened after.

She was nervous as all hell, still.

At the bus, she summoned a smile for Shizuka and Katrina, the latter getting a more formal smile than her boyfriend’s sister. Skye had tried, but she couldn’t stop herself from liking the Hengeyokai teacher. She was easily one of the nicest people Skye had ever met, even if she was a demon. “So,” she asked after their luggage was loaded and she and Kuro had their seats, “how long’s this drive?”

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Shizuka smiled as they set out on the trip. "A few hours Skye, no more. As for you Katrina, and you Kuro, don't worry there won't be any fighting. Father wouldn't dare attack you and I think Katrina, that you'll find our homeland to be a wondrous place,even in the winter months."

The trip was boring until they passed to the main gate. The Homelands of the Hengeyokai, and all other beast changing demons. was vast with great forests, mountains, lakes and grand rivers, normally. At the moment everything was covered in snow, and the road was the only thing lacking snow cover. Shizuka smiled.

"Welcome home."

The rest of the ride was through the Forest, heavy with snow was quiet, until they arrived at a small stand, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. "We walk the last five miles." She sighed. "Father hates vehicles, and will not allow them any closer to his palace. I suggest you get any winter gear you've got and put it on."

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Seeing that they were in a place where being a cat was normal, she clears her throat. "I'm going to switch pants real quick since I should be shifted when being out and about here... I have to accommodate my tails."

She stands behind a bus seat and quickly swaps to her modded pants after switching to her nekojin form and buttoning the clasp in the back that sat over her tail. She then puts on her winter hat and gets her goggles on her head and makes sure her boots were secure and puts her cloak on over her winter jacket, closing a clasp around her neck that had the school seal on the brooch.

She steps outside and feels the snow crunch under her boots. Then she deploys her staff to use like a walking stick and pulls down her goggles that were tinted to help against snow-blindness. "Okay..." She says, adjusting her hiking pack under her cloak. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be."

Some tufts of her cheetah fur-hair on her head poked out from her hat and hood as she pulled her scarf up.

"Anything I should know before we continue?"

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Skye decided immediately that she loved the lands themselves. The deep snow and sense of Wildness were incredible, and her eyes were glued to the window as they drove through the lands. Kuromaru quietly pointed out various things; a snow flower here, a pond he liked to fish in just over there. She looked up at him and realized he loved his home; a pang of regret passed through her as she realized that she might cause him to lose it.

I won’t let that happen, she decided with a firm jaw. She grasped his hand tighter as she made her silent vow, never even considering that it might not be in her hands at all.

When the bus stopped and Shizuka explained why, Skye bit back a retort about Kuromaru’s father. That would not help at all, not with getting a ride the last five miles or with keeping her vow. Instead, she merely dug the heavy hat and mittens out of her backpack and suited up. She was already in her winter coat, having had the foresight to realize she'd need it. Then she waited for the others to be ready to go, shivering a little but knowing that the walk would warm her up.

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Katrina watches the terrain, looking for hazards and other possible dangers in terms of footing and any large snow piles on the trees that may fall down on the group.

She pays attention to what Kuro and Skye are doing, watching over them and making sure her first aid kit is easy to get to.

She nods to Shizuka. "I'll be taking point on this, to look for any hazards the rest of the group should be mindful of. Last thing we need is for someone to break an arm or leg out here."

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Kurosoroshiimaru took his trunk down from the bus, resting it on his right shoulder with ease before wordlessly picking up the largest of Skye's bags in his left hand, giving her a slight smile. Turning, his plain black school uniform scattered from him like dark petals, whirling around him and changing colour to reds, gold and white as he abandoned his human seeming. It process took maybe a second or two, and when it was done the Prince of the Beast Court stood before them, the length of his snow-white hair and the folds of his feudal-style robe waving slightly in the breeze. What passed for hauteur in his human form paled in comparison to the utter self-assurance he projected in his true shape, that of a daiyokai - a noble beast-demon. Both beautiful and terrible, he stood half a foot taller, and his personal space now appeared to extend itself to encompass the space around them all.

"If we stick to the trail, we should encounter few hazards." he told Katrina, his words spoken with such absolute authority that it was hard to question them, or him. "As for what you should be aware of... Do not hunt here until given leave. Do not accept anything from anyone unless my sister or I advise it. Do not offer offense to anyone we meet on the trail - and that includes asking questions of them until they have offered their name to you." His luminous green eyes studied the nekojin. "Follow Shizuka-sama's or my lead, and you will be safe."

Then he started out, walking alongside Skye on the windward side of her, so as to place himself between her and the wind. The others noted that he trod lightly, barely breaking the crust on top of the snow despite it's depth or the weight he carried.

"I hope you come to love this place, for all that it is foreign to you." he confided quietly to Skye. "Of all the Otherworlds, only the Celestial realms rival the Beastlands for beauty, and even then it is an ethereal beauty of light and dreams, not of nature such as this." He smiled, obviously happy to be sharing this part of himself with her.

KuromaruTrueMature.jpg

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Katrina nods to Kuro's advice, deferring to Shizuka and Kuro to take the lead. Her feet barely made any noise and her tracks were not only negligible but would take an expert to track. The only real sound was her Staff that she had to keep company.

"I understand, Kurosoroshiimaru, I will follow your lead."

This was scary ground for her... to them it was a thing of beauty but to her... a beast-kind raised in the human world, was as alien as another planet. She was almost starting to wish she was back in the Bayous, chasing alligators and poachers alike.

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Shizuka would bring up the rear. The trip along the train was quiet, with nohting to disturb them. Their arrival at the gate was met with no fanfare, which was odd, considering the group contained a Prince and Princess. The guards allowed them entry where the youngest of The Panther Lord's wives, a were fox no older than eighteen, Kiyone. "Welcome back, Lady Shizuka, Prince Kurosoroshimaru." That she was only a year or two older than the students was bad enough. That Shizuka had actually taught Kiyone at the Academy, that was worse for her.

"If you'll follow me I'll escort you to your rooms, and Skye and Katrina to the guest wing." She was cute, but so young, and Shizuka's distaste for both the collar and the ring were obvious. "Thank you, Kiyone," was all Shizuka could manage.

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Katrina brought her hood down and took her stocking hat off once they managed to get inside. To be honest the sight of a were-cheetah nekojin was odd as is, the fact that now the human raised whelp was now standing in the court of the Beasts themselves was... novel. Katrina did not know the standing of her Lion-kind father and Cheetah-kind mother, so she kept quiet and would only speak unless spoken to. Katrina only hopes that her being in her hybrid form would be... acceptible.

She was just glad she was inside. The cloak she had helped, but her tail was telling her thank you for getting inside.

She withdraws her staff and puts it in the holster she had for it on her back above where her tail meets her spine.

The one thought that goes through her mind as she is led through the corridors, is what is she about to stumble into?

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“I like these better than the Celestial realms,” she whispered to him. Skye didn’t tell him – nor did she have to tell him – that it was because he loved this place so much. She loved it too, just because of how much he loved it.

That love was impacted by the sight of Kiyone. It took her a moment to get the implications of the collar, though the ring was clear. Kuromaru felt her fingers stiffen in his, though she said nothing. She remained quiet as she was shown to the guest wing. Skye felt forlorn without Kuromaru’s immediate presence, but she remained stoic about the loss. Instead, she stripped off a couple of layers and asked Kiyone, “Can we have a tour, if you have the time? I’d love to see more of the palane.”

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She is shown to her room and Katrina politely nods with a "Thank You" to her minder. She sets her bag down on her bed and looks around. Then after the door closes she changes into her uniform. It seemed formal looking enough, and to be honest this was a school trip. She had one set of plain clothes, but today, she wanted to make an impression. Of course her staff holster she switches to a holster with the same color as her uniform blazer.

She was glad her uniform's skirt was tailored with a Velcro slit for her tails. She lets her long hair sit naturally and steps out after brushing herself off. She wants to have a look around but doesn't know how wise of a maneuver that would be in a foreign place like this.

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He stood at the open balcony archway, facing out over the snowscape of his father's demesnes as the handmaidens put away his belongings with their usual quiet efficiency. The breeze stirred his uncut white hair, ruffled very softly at the imperial splendor of his garb.

Strange. A few months away from such service and I notice them, whereas before they would not even have intruded on my thoughts. I have changed, this is true. Have I changed too much, though? he mused darkly, his thoughts travelling along the silk and marble corridors to the guest quarters where his Skye was being housed. My father, you will test us... test me. Am I still enough your son to withstand you?

He turned, hair and robes flaring out softly behind him as he stalked from his palatial chambers with deceptively stately grace. His black-nailed hands were tucked into the voluminous sleeves of his robe, but the hengeyokai, be they lord, lady or commonborn, who met the harsh jade of his gaze moved respectfully aside. He headed for his father's audience hall, knowing that he would be expected.

I am still, and always, Kurosoroshiimaru.

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Kiyone shook her head. "The young Prince is already on his way to the Audience Hall. We'll have to hurry to meet him there before. Your Presentation should be together. The Lord will probably prefer it that way."

They spotted Katrina leaving her room, and pulled her into the walk to the Audience Chamber. "The two of you only speak if spoken to, and don't worry I can't imagine Shizuka-sensei allowing any harm to come to her students."

Shizuka flanked her brother, clad in a buisness suit, something she knew would annoy her father. "You have the look like you're going to challege father to a duel. You've never won one of those, and you're a long way from it."

She sighed. "He's got something planned, and none of the staff will say. Only that all his wives are present, including your mother." She nodded. Hers wasn't alive anymore. "I got that, and that all our siblings who are more than cubs will be there."

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Katrina hurried as quickly as she could until she flanked Kuro-Sama in lock step. Something was up, and she knew in terms of rank it would be better to follow instead of stand next to her classmate. This world felt hostile to her, more hostile than the winter outside, but this world she had to understand, and fast.

She whispered into Kuro's ear. "I've got your back... whatever good that will be." Before she got in earshot of anyone. From here on, it was silence, a silence as deafening as a waterfall.

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Skye was not walking behind Kurosoroshiimaru. She was walking next to him, having fallen into step with him as soon as their paths had crossed. Almost without thought, their hands found one another's, their fingers interwining naturally. She noted that Katrina gave her support to Kuromaru and wondered if the other girl fancied herself a potential mate for Skye's boyfriend. Skye wasn't concerned about that now; unless Kuromaru's father pushed Katrina as a bride now, it was an issue for another day. What was important was whether Katrina could be trusted. Skye didn't know her well enough to guess that.

A Beast Court family reunion. I wish I had my sword.

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Katrina moved behind Skye, she whispered to her in as assuring and calm a voice she could. "I see your hands. I will not part them."

She nodded in affirmation, even approval. "You are classmates of mine. I'll support you wherever this leads."

She smiled, there was something human in her expression behind the veneer of the nekojin's seeming.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The grand doors opened, and they were ushered inside. The royal guards were present, along with the Royal court. Kiyone took her place amongst the Lord's wives, and shizuka guided them up leading them in a formal bow to her father.

"You have sent for us Lord, and we are here."

He looked at her. "Take your place in the gallery daughter, My son needs to learn his big sister cannot always shield him."

She looked at him. "You have granted them safe conduct Lord, I remind you." He snorted. "I know I will try to keep my word."

Shizuka ha d no choice but to leave, sparing Kuro a glance.

Both Katrina's Mother and Father were present in their human forms, a mild protest to be sure.

"First, I will address the Nekojin." He looked to Katrina. "When I was told a child of lion blood still lived, I thought to kill you."

It was a cold admission. "I have not, as cooler heads prevail. But I tell you this now. Do not disappoint me at the Academy. If I smell a hint of treason, of you, or your parents, You and those around you will be scourged by the Wyld Hunt, until you are taken from this world."

He sat back and nodded. "Aside from that, I wish you good fortune, Katrina, so that one day you may prove worthy of my trust, and your parents' faith."

He looked to Skye, and Kuro. "Kurosorshiimaru, you, my son and heir, I ask you one last time, renounce this woman next to you. I can be forgiving, and will even guarantee her return to the Celestial realm."

"or you can refuse my direct Edict again, challenge my authority, and accept the consequences."

"He looked at Skye, but said nothing. She was a major irritation to him, but one that for the moment was necessary.

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Katrina's fur stood on end... was she just... threatened? Not just threatened but the threat spread to her family... Potentially her classmates as well? Treason? What is this?

"Forgive my intrusion, Majesty, but what sort of treason is this you mention? If anything I would never... never betray the school. But I am at a loss. I am found wanting as to my requirements."

She is completely in the dark on this. How is she to know she is crossing the line when she doesn't know where the line is drawn. And her parent's faith? Her mother wouldn't care if she lived or died... this was a sudden change.

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Kuromaru's reply to his father was cut off by Katrina's statement and the Prince of Beasts quirked an irritated eyebrow. But he said nothing to Katrina, instead looking his father in his eye. When his father didn't speak to Katrina, Kurosoroshiimaru merely said, "I have made my choice, Father." His fingers tightened around Skye's. He should have looked weak, holding hands with a human. But the cub truly resembled the cat he would grow into, his head high and green eyes steady. None there understood the strength that he drew from the half-angel at his side.

Skye remained silent; she really wanted to speak up, but for once managed to hold her tongue and be discreet. She hoped she wouldn't regret that later.

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Katrina wisely steps to the side from Skye and Kuro... this could get bad fast. She felt the tension in the air... it seemed the sword of damocles was well further away from her than the couple...

Her hands were tied... she promised she'd protect the two... but her hands were tied...

What to do...

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The Panther Lord growled. Katrina's remark was forgotten for the moment. "Insolent Kit." He rose from his throne and looked down at his son. "Then You leave me no choice boy."

"Before the entire court, I banish you, Kurosoroshiimaru, from the Wyld Lands, until such time as I see fit. Furthermore, I Strip you of your ability to change forms and lock you into the form I deem most fit,until such time as I see fit to restore the gifts of our kind to you." A pillar of light engulfed him, separating him from the girls, and Shizuka moved to him. "Father no!"

There was no stopping it now, as Kuromaru seemed to vanish and left in his place was a small black cat. "He looked at Skye with a look of disgust. "Take him, he's your responsibilty now. You're the reason he's like this, now." He returned to his throne. "Katrina. Yoour parents have bought your freedom, do not squander it here. "You're very rare, and your birth I'm told could be an omen of either good or ill fortune. I've decided to allow you to choose the path yourself."

He looked to the guards standing there. "Show them to their quarters, they will go home in the morning." There was a sadness in his voice, as the guards escorted them out, and they could hear Shizuka crying.

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Kartina was shocked... this wasn't the world she wanted to know. This was... inhuman.

She held her tongue... who knows what this beast... tyrant... could do to her. She had no other choice but to return home. Return to the familiar and face the fact she is not of them. She had no free will here. The Panther knew what he wanted. Either a willing subject or a rug for his cold floors. He didn't order it, but Katrina has chosen her own exile. She'll never return here. The beast will not have her to worry about.

Katrina needed no escort. Looked to the polymorphed Kuro, then she looked to Skye, and could only offer her empathy. For a moment, her rage upon seeing Skye's injustice almost made her feel like if Skye decided to respond she would happily face her fate along side her... but that wouldn't do Kuro any good. "Come on, Skye... we're no longer welcome here."

She walked out. Knowing full well that at this point her life was in danger here. "Shizuka! We'll talk in my guest room."

Her anger was tempered by the fact that she knew this wasn't her world... If she is going to be judged it won't be by these lords... it will be judged by her actions.

She gave a cold look to her parents as she left. One of shame, and loss. That was all she wanted to show at this point to them.

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Skye stared at the Panther Lord. The half-angel would later be grateful that she didn’t have her sword because she wouldn’t have survived attacking Kuromaru’s father. Instead she swallowed her rage and thought.

“You’re going to regret this.” Blue eyes stared at the King of the Beasts with all of the warmth of a glacier. “That’s not a threat. That’s a prophecy. Someday, you’ll look back to this day and call this act a mistake. You may never admit it to anyone, but you’ll know.”

Turning, she moved to stand by her boyfriend. “Let’s go.” The look she gave the housecat was one that promised love and an answer to this quandary. I will not rest until he’s restored.

Kuromaru seemed to draw strength from her; his green eyes, still so beautiful, filled with that cool pride once again and he rose to walk beside her. Together, they left the room, the pretty half-angel and the sleek cat. When they’d cleared the main room, Skye whispered, “I still love you.” Green eyes met blue as she vowed, “He hasn’t driven us apart. He’s only made it harder.”

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Katrina sighs... "Skye... if... if you want to talk... I'm here. I promised." She said, outside of earshot... hopefully. "I said I would have your back and I still do... but as far as I'm concerned once we've left this place I'm never coming back. Never." She said in a whisper.

"That... and Shizuka needs us as well... This was excessively hard on her too... I have to be honest... this... makes me hate my own kind..."

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Several hours later, Shizuka came to the rooms they'd appropriated, and had them pack up. The bus would arrive shortly, to bring them to the academy. Shizuka was a sight, her head bandaged, one eye hidden, her left arm was in a sling, and she walked slowly as if she was in a great deal of pain.

She herded them to the bus and seem to collapse into her seat with a kittenlike cry, at which point kuromaru did jump from skye onto her lap, and licked her face once tenderly. The eye they could see began to water. "I tried so hard Kuromaru, I challenged him to refuse his edict, I fought with every ounce of strength. I still lost, she pet the side of his head behind the ears, a spot only she and maybe skye knew about. looking closer one could see the scar over her neck, the fight had been vicious and nearly killed her.

She was deep indespair at having been totally unable to protect him,. "I was so proud you stood up to father, I didn't dream he'd go this far.."

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Katrina took this hard... all of this happened and there was nothing she could to other than watch... was she so powerless after all to protect her friends? Her Classmates? How could she protect others when she becomes an adult if she couldn't protect herself? The sight of Shizuka in her condition only angered Katrina further. This was her people and they operated like this? She sits down in the bus in her human seeming. She didn't feel so dirty in this form... but she knew this was only a disguise. She could never look at her true self the same way again.

"Shizuka... Damn..."

She clutched her seat. "Let's... let's just head back to the Academy. I can... check their work once we're there."

She sighed. "I guess you wouldn't blame me for never wanting to go back again, huh?"

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"I don't think any of us want to go back." Like always, the half-angel's voice was full of barely-restrained fury. But this time it was even more recent and therefore magnified. "I know I would rather gouge out my own eyes than talk to the Panther King again." Kuro moved back to her side, leaning against her. She missed his humanoid body suddenly; a hot, fast ache that left her blinking back tears. Skye rested her hand on his black back, her fingers nestling into his fur. I'll find a way to fix you, my dear. I swear it.

Lapsing into silence, Skye eventually laid down on the seat, Kuro purring softly on her chest. With the rumble of the bus below her and the gentle pressure of her beloved above her, Skye fell asleep.

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Katrina didn't sleep, she stayed awake and alert. She didn't trust anything now until everyone was safe at the school. Shizuka was hurt, Skye even more so and Kuro was violated.

At this point... for a split moment... Katrina thought that Yes... perhaps this time she should aim to misbehave...

But that would do no good. Id the Panther King could do what he did to Shizuka, he would show no mercy to Katrina.

All Katrina could do then... was weep.

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The trip back saw them home on the twenty second, early in the morning before dawn. The headmaster and Ruby met them there, ushering them quietly and discreetly back to their rooms, and Shizuka to the infirmiry. After seeing to her the students were brought to their rooms and sworn to secrecy. "Things will need to remain quiet, and for now Kurosoroshimaru must remain in your room Skye. He is incredibly vulnerable here at the Academy. Rubi and I are both working on something that will let him defend himself and restore his ability to travel about safely. but for now you must trust us on this."

Rubi was the one to show Katrina back. "I had no idea he could be so cruel, to his own children.."

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"Cruel?" Katrina said in her human guise.

"It was more than cruel... it was calculated Tyranny. He loves his power, and would sacrifice those dear to him just to get his way."

"Rubi-Sensei... I honestly do not know who I can trust or even who I really am anymore..." She says. She was in definite psychological pain. It was written on her face as she looked to her Teacher.

"How can I protect those... I hold dear when I can't face tyranny on even footing... I'm not in Shizuka's league and she was almost destroyed."

"I... I promised I would protect Kuro and Skye and... I... I was powerless to stop all this... all of it..."

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Skye and Kuromaru went back to her room. Thankfully Serena was gone; that was a conversation that Skye never wanted to have. Maybe she'd get her own room now. She'd rather have her boyfriend restored, so it was cold comfort, and she felt guilty for even feeling it. Instead, she focused on Kuromaru: making sure that he had a place to sleep, making plans for getting him food and that his needs were meet. And of course, talking to him. "I know this isn't what we'd planned, but we'll make it through," she told him. Her voice was positive, though not dripping with false cheer. Instead, she focused on solving problems, both his and hers.

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The next day would see a change for all three students, As The Headmaster came for Skye and Kuromaru in the morning, "I am looking to send you and Kuromaru to Tokyo for the time being. "Lady Aoi has been informed, and extended the hospitality of her home, and any possible aid she can bring to bear on this situation. You and Kuromaru will stay through the holiday there, in perhaps the safest place in existence. When you return I hope to have something finished that should allow Kuromaru some use of his powers."

He looked at her. "I won't make you go, but Skye, it's the safest choice. Here, in his weakened condition, he will almost assuredly fall prey to others. The bus is waiting to take you there."

Elsewhere, Katrina woke up to the ringing of a doorbell. The small cottage she shared with Ruby was on grounds but still abit further in the woods than most, and only faculty knew she was there.

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Katrina wearily walked over to the door. She as wiped from the journey and trauma so much she hadn't had a chance to get out of her uniform after coming back. She always wore the uniform while on campus or on grounds owned by the faculty... it was her uniform and now, it was the thing that helped her feel like she belonged somewhere.

"Hello? Katrina here... Who is it?"

"Shi... Shizuka."

Katrina quickly opened the door. "I'm... I'm sorry I'm in a disheveled state, but I... I really haven't had time to get decent... I'm insulting the uniform aren't I?"

She brushes off her uniform, trying to brush off her own guilt of not being strong enough for Shizuka, Skye, and Kuro.

"Are you... Okay, Nekomone-Sensei?"

"I... hope I got that right in Japanese... I need to start getting to my lessons, Ma'am."

She looked to the ground, shame written all over her face.

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She’d wanted to share a room with Kuromaru for a long time, in a shy, half-afraid way that made her blush and feel hot. But this wasn’t the way she’d imagined it. When she lay down, she’d wondered if Kuromaru would come to her bed, but her beau took his own bed with quiet grace. The two stared at each other across the room, watching each other not sleep. It was a very long time before she fell asleep.

“His name is Kurosoroshiimaru.” Skye’s voice was very quiet. She looked at her packed bags; Kuromaru’s had remained at the Beast Court. “Kurosoroshiimaru, do you want to go.” The green-eyed cat was still a moment, then he inclined his head in acquiesce. “Let’s go.”

She wondered if she’d come back. The thought was very tempting; to slip away in Tokyo and have a life there. The only thought that stopped her was that breaking Kuromaru’s curse would be harder there, in a human world. Silently, she picked up her bags and followed the Headmaster out to the bus, her boyfriend trailing next to her.

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"I will heal, Katrina. For now, I just want to get you moved in to my place. It will be better, despite other difficulties, and you will be safer."

She smiled weakly. "Part of my heritage, we heal very fast."

------------------

For Skye, the trip wouldn't be too long, as she was taken to a large almost palatial estate, The Sokatsu home, More than anything, This place was home to Kai and Aoi, the current Angel Lord, the master of her race. The bus driver nodded. "You'll be safe here."

(End of thread 5 cp to each of you)

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"Something I have as well, Shizuka-Sensei... If I have milk on hand. In any case, I will get my things and we can get back to your place at your best ability. I don't want you to re-injure your wounds." Katrina said as she started getting her things organized. She's not had a chance to unpack very well, a majority of her gear still in bags.

"And... thank you. I think I can deal with that change."

She gets her hiking backpack and two duffel-bags full of belongings. "I'm ready as I'll ever be."

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