Disclaimer: No character belongs to me and I would murder for the chance to own even one. ^_^ Be wary. Capcom, I'm at your services.

:B Shounen-ai goodness, maybe full-blown yaoi later, but who knows. I'm just trying to be cute. And this is why you should never leave your radio on on Sunday mornings.


The Emperor's Nightingale

Long ago, in the dynasty of Nippon's royal monarchs, there lived one of the many Emperors of Japan. His castle was located beside a forest where game was hunted to feed the city the Emperor protected personally. The Emperor himself was kind, but wasn't without duty. And no one ever questioned why he was blonde with purple streaks running down his face.

One day, the Emperor was out in the woods with three of his trusted huntsmen, tracking down a few wild boars that seemingly doubled in population overnight. They wandered, but they couldn't find anything. Kirikizu [Slash], the hunter on his left, mentioned this out loud and commented on how silent the trees were. And he was right. No birds sang in the branches, no rabbits scampered out of their way. Not even the sound of the stray cricket rattled the silence.

The Emperor frowned and sent Kirikizu and Hikage [Shadow] off to the north to see if the herds were moving, while Kinzoku [Metal] and himself continued west. They were to meet back at the entrance to the city at sundown. But with no creature in sight, Kinzoku offered to head south and the Emperor agreed. And so, the Emperor was on his own.

But when the sound of galloping hoofs died off, something found the Emperor rather unexpectantly. A macaque came swinging through the trees, cooing softly as it passed the Emperor and headed in the same direction as he. The Emperor took this as a sign from the gods and followed the little monkey to wherever it was heading to.

Deeper into the forest they went, the trees blocking out the sun with its denser foliage. But, in the distance, the Emperor's ears picked up the sweet notes of music, which gradually became louder as he tailed the macaque.

Soon, it was apparent where all the animals went. All the beasts of the forest sat around a circle of sunshine streaming through a wide opening in the canopy. They were silent, listening to the haunting and mysterious melody coming from the spotlight. The Emperor could hardly surpress a gasp as he laid his eyes into the center of the circle.

A man, with long, untamed hair as green and wild as nature itself, had taken a comfortable seat on the forest floor, a flute under his lips. Thin fingers played over the holes as the sun warmed a dark body. He was perfect, a living incarnation of the woods around them. A wood nymph.

But then, the duet followed. Another blessed melody rose in sync to the spirit's flute. But, the Emperor saw no one else.. No, wait. He was just able to see a tiny bird perched on the nymph's shoulder, singing its beautiful music in time with his partner's. It was slight and reddish, with a long, graceful tail of red and brown. Nothing like its mortal cousins. The Nightingale of Legend.

The animals stood there, mesmerized into peaceful tranquility by the power of their protector. The Emperor stared as well, transfixed. Subconsciously, he leaned gently against one of the larger bucks to his side; the deer ignored him, instead, closing its eyes and soaking in the tune.

All too soon, the melody ended with a brilliant conclusion. The animals gave what could've been an applause. The hoofed beasts pawed the ground, those with front paws clapped or clawed at the air, but all verbally congratulated the spirit for bestowing such a gift upon their souls. The nymph stood and bowed, the bird on his shoulder flittering in the air as his own thanks.

But the brotherhood never lasted long. The animals started going their own ways, but the buck at the Emperor's side suddenly grew agitated with his human companion and hastily pulled himself away, eyeing the robed monarch with red anger. But in the deer's haste, his antler had caught the Emperor in the cheek. As the buck fled, a drop of blood trickled down the pale and startled man, and dripped down onto the ground with a glass shattering effect... The spirit swung his head around and extended his arm, causing the beast to stop in its tracts.

He'd been caught. The buck turned around, letting the spirit guide him back with the gesture of his fingers. The Emperor's hand pressed against the cut as the deer, head hanging low, stopped infront of the nymph. The nymph trailed his hand across the buck's cheek, marking him magically with a red streak.. When the Emperor pulled his hand away, the blood on his palm was gone, along with the gash on his cheek.

"No blood is allowed to be spilled in my presense. Go in shame."

The buck nodded mournfully and dragged itself away with his sin striped across his face. The Emperor blinked, his mouth slacked. His eyes widened considerably when the dark blues of the nymph caught him within their depths. "I apologize, Majesty, for your misfortune. I do not allow bloodshed among those in my audience. I hope you can forgive me."

The Emperor could only stare and he dropped onto his knees, bowing before the forest guardian. "No, I should be the one begging for forgiveness. This concert was intended for the ears of the creatures of your realm, not a lowly human who hunts them for food."

The nymph smiled. "Rise, Emperor Forte. You have done nothing wrong. I knew you were coming and I wanted you among my audience, because you, unlike the rest of the kings before you, deserved to be blessed with my music. I just cannot do enough to make up for that doplet of blood, so I ask you instead. What's the one thing you want most in the world?"

The Emperor shook his head. "No, I want nothing. You do not owe me anything, my lord."

"I insist, Majesty." The nymph kneeled down and tipped the monarch's head up, violet eyes staring into the blue of midnight. "How many times," he purred, "will a god ever give you a choice like this..?"

The Emperor was speechless and the nymph reared back onto his feet, signaling the small bird from his shoulder to his outstretched finger. "Then I will decide for you. My little Galen will be yours. For one year."

"But--"

"I am not finished, Emperor." Those blue eyes grew insistant. "He will be yours for one year as a special pet. After the year is up, he will come back to me and tell me all that he has seen and done. If you treat him well, I may just send him back to live with you until your first grandson dies, as well as gain my personal seal of protection for five generations. If you treat him poorly... you will regret it."

The Emperor trembled. The nymph was either a trickster or very protective of the nightingale that made its home seemingly anywhere on the spirit's body. ".. I accept your gift and will treat your Densetsu no Naichingeru [Nightingale of Legend] with as much respect as I can summon."

The nymph smiled and spared the little bird a kiss to its head, whispering silent words into it's ear. Louder, he said as he transferred the songbird into the Emperor's hands, "This is the forgiveness of Terra, guardian spirit of these woods. May the Mother Sakura smile as you tread."

And he was gone within a whirlwind of cherry blossoms, a merry laugh the last trace of his existance on this plane.