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A/N: What's up, people? Another one-shot's coming your way, and it is long. I did mention that there is no limit to the length of these one-shots, so if you're a.) cursed with short attention span or b.) don't have time, then at least read a little bit before doing whatever else you have to do. Ryu is a bit of an unknown species for these one-shots, mostly because there is a ton of character development needed; or so it goes in my mind. You could say that this is a full story, but then again, that's what one-shots are all about. Anyways, more importantly, this is the start of a two-part miniseries featuring the male lead for this chapter. I'll explain it more in-depth at the end, so for now, enjoy the story!

---DoingTime---

The metal bars feel weak against my blows, but they never seem to full break away no matter how much strength I put against them. One mistake overthrew the entire empire that I had built and now I can only watch as my comrades are being converted one by one. How can they simply reform themselves after all that they pledged for? We had money, power, women, and yet those bastards still choose to abandon a life of freedom. I sit down in front of the door to my cell, simmering silently as I watch another guard scurry by from the consistent killing intent that leaks out from me. I can think of nothing but revenge against the one who tore apart my whole gang without so much as a wave.

“Magnus Silverine, time for your trial.” One of larger guards calls my name, opening my cell without hesitation.

“...” I consider a vicious attack against the man, but I don't have any reason to aside from stealing his sword.

“This way, please.” He politely asks, so I decide to follow his commands until I can find the best moment to escape.

He leads me past all the empty cells in the jail, looking back periodically to confirm my presence. I keep up a facade of boredom as we walk, thinking about what kind of 'prizes' I can snatch up on my own in this town; I didn't become a bandit through kindness, after all. The guard drags me along by the chain attached to my wrist bindings, staying close to me to make sure I couldn't pull off some unexpected technique to escape. A few more steps upward on a set of stairs and I am blinded by harsh sunlight. Then I feel pain course through my head as my vision turns a shade of red. The guard blocks the light and my assailant with his body, helping me to my feet slowly. I wipe away all of the blood from my face and get back on my feet to glare at the person who struck me. My hand is nearly crushing a rock in anger as I memorize my attacker's face for later.

Average build, red eyes, brown hair, light skin, scar over left eye...he gets a broken chest.

If my glare could inflict terror in this man, he doesn't show it. Instead, he calmly turns away from me and walks on to go about his day.

“Are you alright, Magnus?” My helpful guard asks with genuine concern.

“Hmph, how many more will come after me?” I respond, directly addressing the issue.

“Well, apparently the whole region is riled up. I hate you too, but I'll do my duty all the same.” He pulls me along by the chain and we start walking again.

“I'm glad everyone's so open about their opinions.” I blankly comment.

“From what you did, I'm impressed that no one is trying to kill you yet.” The guard sarcastically tells to no one in particular.

“It takes leadership to acquire fame from small deeds.”

The conversation ends there as the guard cautiously leads me through the main village, shielding me from the thousands of glares and equally deadly projectiles that are thrown.

---MovingOn---

We finally stop at our destination: a tall stone stairway that leads to the village's shrine located at the top. Without words, the guard obediently removes my bindings and I stretch out my limbs by launching a few strikes in the air. The guard looks on with growing anger as I slowly recall my years of experience in unarmed combat. Finally having seen enough to push him over the edge, the guard puts the tip of his sword against my side to make me stop.

“Listen, because I won't be so polite from now on. At the shrine on the top of the stairs, the village mystic is living there. She is in charge of our moral affairs, effectively making her the judge of your fate. You are to go see her and speak with the utmost respect, because you will face death if anything should happen. You have gone far enough without retribution and now that time has come. I hope you get what you deserve, bastard.” The guard shoves me forward, knocking me off-balance enough for me to crash my body against the stone steps. Without another word, he angrily stomps off back to the village jail.

“...Hmph.” I have nothing to say about the situation, but I consider it a blessing that the guard was furious with me. He didn't notice at all when I stole his secondary dagger as he pushed me. I could easily escape from this village and re-form my gang, but the guard's words made me curious about what sort of person this mystic is to have garnered such respect among everyone.

I hope she's cute.

With that thought in mind, I ascend the stairs.

As I climb each step, my body feels heavier and heavier almost like an expanding boulder is chained to my ankles. Once I reach the shrine, I can barely stand up but I persevere to reach the central complex.

“...Help...please...help...” I managed to softly cry out as I feel even more oppressed by the imaginary weight.

“Do you happen to be armed, by any chance?” A feminine voice sounds in my ears as I look up to see a Ryu standing over me.

“Da...Dagger...left...pocket...” I tell her.

“Please, allow me to dispose of it.” She leaves my field of view and goes around to my side, fiddling with my belt to remove the stolen dagger.

“Hurry...please...” I choke out more words as the Ryu takes her time.

“...Okay, it should be easy for you to stand now. Please take it slow, though.”

---OneStepAtATime---

I gingerly move my legs and my arms, carefully checking for any broken bones. Finding none, I gently push myself off the ground and stand up to face my savior. The Ryu is strangely calm, considering my life was in danger just now. It's almost as if this happens quite often here.

“Thank you, for saving my life. I wish I could repay you, but I only barter with favors, so...”

That's fine. I also prefer to trade favors, especially after all you've done.” She smiles warmly at me, unnerving me above all else.

“Yeah...I was told that I would meet the village mystic up here. That's you, isn't it?” I sheepishly refuse to meet her eyes.

“Yes, and it's a pleasure to meet you, Silverine-san.” She dips her head low in a graceful bow.

“Magnus is fine. And your name?” I follow her example and bow.

“Kasumi. Do you know why you are here, Magnus?” Kasumi starts slithering around the main shrine building.

“Something about divine retribution, right?” I reluctantly follow behind her, curious about my fate here.

“You and your gang have been charged with theft, extortion, kidnapping, embezzlement, and assault. By common standards, you should be facing the death sentence.” She explains with a calm, almost pitying voice.

“If that's what you decide-”

However, seeing as how you've managed to escape justice for so long, I've taken it upon myself to mete out your punishment: you will live here with me until you have proven that you are a changed man.” Kasumi looks me over slowly like a predator does to her prey.

“I don't appreciate stares, even if you're a Ryu.” I stare back defiantly at her ruby eyes, ignoring the warning that the guard gave to me earlier.

“Don't worry. I don't hate you, so there's no threat to you at all. On the other hand, I can't ignore the evil you've done across the region. Personally, I'm interested in your experience as a bandit leader.” Kasumi sits down under a blooming sakura tree and invites me to join her.

I sit down across from her, trying to find out her true intentions just like she's doing to me.

“It was a complicated life, mostly. Anything particular you wanted to know?” I simply look into the distance, not bothering to face Kasumi.

“Why is it that your former gang members are so easily reforming? I've never seen such men start behaving in so short a time...”

That's because we never killed or injured anyone. I knew the consequences of taking a life, so I held a strict leadership.” I hear Kasumi shift in her seat as she turns to look directly at me.

“Weren't you worried that some people would ignore you?” She whispers to me.

“...'Those who kill would be left behind to the victim's loved ones.' That was the rule we all agreed on, and we honored it; murder is the first of many evils.”

“...I never knew you were so wise, it's...attractive in a way.”

“Don't act on those feelings. I'm not worthy of romance, after all I've done.” I cast my eyes downward in slight despair.

“I'm also curious about your activities. What did you steal?”

“Money, that's all. Just physical currency, no material possessions, no pets; nothing but money. As for the kidnappings, I carried them out personally and only targeted young orphans with little existence in their surroundings.” I lean my head against my hand as I sigh at the memories.

“You only took things that hurt people the least.”

“Exactly. I wanted my gang to flourish without hurting people.”

---EngagingConversation---

I stand up with a bitter taste in my mouth and offer a hand to Kasumi, who gladly accepts it. Night is starting to set in, reminding us of how long we've actually been talking to each other. She leads me inside her home and shows me to the room I'll be staying in while under her supervision. It's a very simple setting: spacious, empty like my old jail cell, but far more comforting. I crack a small hidden smile at the sight, grateful for Kasumi's loving hospitality. The bedroll set in the middle of the room looks inviting, but I leave the area to follow Kasumi as she tugs me along to her room next door. There's virtually no difference in the set up of our rooms, but I spot a tiny golden scroll hanging above her closet door. It's probably a memento of sorts and of little value to me otherwise. With a bow, Kasumi gently herds me out of her room and advises that I sleep early tonight. Without much hesitation, I lean against her closed door to weigh out the different thoughts attacking my concentration.

Is she really attracted to me even though we just met? What is it about her that stands out from all the other girls I've dated? She's definitely the most beautiful woman I've seen, without a doubt, but am I really that shallow? Magenta hair, luscious green scales, those rubies for eyes...what does it all mean?

I don't get very deep into thought, however, as Kasumi's door abruptly opens causing me to fall backwards into her room. I look up at the Ryu's gentle face and notice that she is blushing hotly.

“Cute.” My mouth forms the words too fast for my mind to stop it.

“T-Thank you. You're handsome as well.” Kasumi turn her head away, allowing my to sit up and face her.

“I guess you've been thinking too, huh?”

“Y-Yes, I'm afraid I've become quite attracted to you...” Kasumi's sudden shyness only tempts me further and soon enough, I can feel a blush creeping across my cheeks when I look at her.

“That's it then; we both like each other. I'm not sure how it'll work from now on, though...” The conflict in my mind is staggering, but Kasumi senses it and guides me to her bed in a flowing motion.

“Please...?” Is all she asks, not wanting to speak anymore.

I nod, giving in to her wishes and take the initiative by pulling her into a deep kiss as we lay down on the bed, content with each other's presence.

---LemonNotIncluded---

A/N: "Say, Pon, didn't that sound a lot like you? 'Red eyes, brown hair, an eye scar'?" "I...don't know what you're talking about." *I narrow my eyes evilly* "Someone please call Yuuko for me!" *Pon panics and freezes* "Okay, okay, I did throw a rock at Magnus while on vacation, but I didn't think you'd bring him here today!" *Magnus enters and glares at Pon* "Ah, Magnus. Glad you could join us for this!" *Magnus is handed a drink* "Thank you, Drake. I'm glad that some people are civil around here." *Pon looks away and distances himself* "Oh come now, we're all friends here. Act like it." "Hmph, fine. I'm sorry for throwing that rock at you." *Pon holds out a hand* "I forgive you, Asakura. There must have been some reason for you to do that, after all." *Magnus crushes Pon's hand in a powerful handshake* Moving on from that little piece of amusement, I really enjoyed writing this one-shot, just like I do with all of them. The challenges change every time, so I can't help but feel like I'm getting better at it. Wow, it's like I'm a character in an RPG, but then again it's called 'evolution' in real-life. The next one-shot will continue Magnus' story of repentence and it will involve a compatriot of mine who happens to be a Kunoichi. Oh yes, this will be a fun story indeed. Thanks for reading, those of you who took the time, and I hope you all are ready for another long one when Magnus meets his next challenge!