Leaving the dock where Ryu-Oh was moored, the knights Azaka and Kamidake walked together, their staves strapped across their backs. However, concern crossed the crimson knight's face as he turned to his partner.
“Azaka,” he said, “are you sure?”
“Very,” the elder man replied resolutely, “you felt it too.”
The younger warrior glanced to the side, folding his arms. “I'm not sure what I felt. I know it couldn't be our Lady.”
“Yes, and no,” the bearded knight commented. “The princess is not our Lady, but her sister is. They are blood relatives, so it is possible. If Fate had chosen differently, their roles could have been reversed.”
A grimace wrenched the lips of the redheaded fighter. “So, you think she could be like Princess Achi?”
“I know it.”
The two halted together and faced one another, a silent affirmation passing between them.
“Kamidake,” Azaka began, “when the monster tore at her mind and heart, she fought it as she knew how. She resisted, perhaps for over a year's time.” He rested his hand on his companion's shoulder and added steadfastly, “She could easily surpass us, or even Masaki Tenchi.”
“I realize that,” Kamidake accepted, “but she is very fragile now. This is a dangerous time.”
“Which is why she requires guidance,” the older master acknowledged, “lest she stray down the dark path herself.”
The red warrior nodded, realizing the truth in his words. His kinsman extended his hand, a gesture of brotherhood in this decision.
“Are we together?” Azaka asked.
For a moment, Kamidake considered what they had seen. After both were exiled from Ayeka's mental plane by her darkened persona, the two knights quickly recovered and approached the princess. Locked in the encounter with her other self, she remained unresponsive, her body locked into her meditation. The younger knight took his staff and prepared to rejoin the lady in her duel of wills. Also, the tree Ryu-Oh cascaded rays of light from her leaves, each chiming loudly off the water around them. Through the keys, both knights could hear Ryu-Oh's worries, and desire to interfere herself.
But, Azaka stopped them both of them, reminding them that this was Ayeka's mind, her confrontation. She needed to make peace with this side of herself, not have it merely forced back to fester again. She needed a permanent solution, not a quick relief.
Minutes ticked past them. Kamidake paced impatiently, spinning his staff in frustration while Azaka stoically waited, watching the princess, silently hoping for her victory. Then, her eyes popped open, revealing their nature amethyst color, but in that moment, her hair curled around her face and burst into a bluish light. This aura washed over her for a few seconds before fading, and she leaned forward gasping.
Azaka and Kamidake could feel that radiance, regardless of their eyes or keys. They had basked in it before, when they first received those artifacts. That light and power felt nearly identical to their goddess, Lady Tsunami. However, they sensed differences. It was weaker, but raw and unbridled, primal. While Tsunami's presence was refined from aeons of existence, like the warmth of a morning sunrise, the power flowing through Ayeka burst forth like a sudden, torrential storm.
Kamidake had heard about the princess's ordeal while in the thrall of the dark creature that tormented her. His heart bled and demanded recompense for the damage done to her, and he worried that this endeavor could harm her further. Having trained with Azaka himself, he knew the difficulties she would face.
Yet, she persevered under the beast's possession and returned to herself. She fought and helped defeat the dark goddess's ambitions on Earth. He could see what she could become, provided the proper support.
With a thoughtful breath, Kamidake took his hand firmly, their grips intertwining tightly.