• Disclaimer - I will never own Anubis, Yuli, or any of the characters mentioned in this story. Everyone in this story belongs to his or her respective producers, creators, voice actors, and all people associated with the Ronin Warriors Series. I am not making any money from this story, nor should I receive any money for such reasons.

    Warning - This is a pro-Yuli story! If you don't like him, then please don't read this story. Flamers who ignore this warning will have their reviews deleted.

    Hannah Yeager || Isabel Night

    He didn't even realize that he was whimpering. Cale's claw-like gauntlet had dug deeper into his right side than he originally thought. Amplifying the pain were the power-sapping restraints that bound him to the lava-colored liquid - the foundation of the Nether Spirits' powers. He was sure that Talpa had ordered him to be tortured to death by severing the connection between his soul and armor in the demon's underground dungeon. In fact, the process had already started to make his vision hazy.

    He gritted his teeth; he couldn't die just yet. He had to break out and help the five Ronin Warriors fight against Talpa. The demon was trying to become solid in order to cross the barrier between the two worlds.

    If only he were strong enough to remove these bindings...


    "Out of my way!" he yelled before opening his eyes.

    'Not again,' Anubis, the former Warlord of Cruelty and current disciple of The Ancient One, thought. He wiped the sweat from his forehead using a borrowed nightshirt and pajama pants, panting. How long had he been having these nightmares? A week? Several weeks? Months from now, would he still remember the horror of being imprisoned?

    Anubis waited for his heart to stop racing. Gritting his teeth, he felt a hot pain shoot up from his injured side. Mia had wanted to take him to a human hospital to get his wounds looked at - but he had refused. Lifting up his shirt, all that was left from Cale's attack were three red gashes of irregular-length. The bleeding had long since stopped, but the scars were accompanied by a painful burning which sometimes flared up during intense, stressful moments. Shoving his shirt down, Anubis tried not to dwell on the marks on his body.

    As far as Anubis was concerned, his injuries were a brand of ownership. He knew that Talpa had ordered Dais, Cale, and Sekhmet to bring him back to the Dynasty; but when the Ronin Warriors had tried to protect him, the three of them became unnaturally possessive of him. Somehow, it almost seemed like his capture was motivated by personal reasons...and that was something he didn't understand. Yes, he had known there was a begrudging respect between the four of them, but the idea of Cale, Dais, and Sekhmet having a personal, maybe even emotional, interest in his fate...

    Anubis shifted his attention to the annoying ticking of the garish glow-in-the-dark wall clock. Pushed up against the bedroom's walls were displays of empty Ikebana vases. Even less aesthetically pleasing was the ugly beige carpeting. He wished Mia would have let him stay in her house's washitsu.

    However, Mia had insisted on the guest bedroom. Her excuse was that he was to be treated according to the rules of hospitality and etiquette. It was good to see that some traditions were still being honored. Toying with a strand of long red-brown hair, Anubis decided he could live without sleeping on a western bed or walking on a carpeted floor.

    Anubis laid his head back down on the pillow. The nightmare had prevented him from sleeping, and now he wondered if his relationship with the other warlords had tapped into some kind of power inside the Dynasty. Did that same power cause the other warlords to become possessive him? A drastic change in their personality would make it impossible to –

    'What is wrong with me? I've never been this obsessed about anything since Wildfire defeated me in combat. There has to be a way to relax –'

    A low growl stopped his thoughts.

    "Not this," he grumbled as he buried his face in his pillow. Could tonight's nightmare be caused by hunger? Would his mind let him go back to sleep after he had eaten something?

    After a few minutes of contemplating whether to stay in bed or go downstairs, Anubis got up and walked quietly down the moonlit hallway. When he made it to the stairwell, Anubis stepped lightly past Mia's and Yuli's rooms, not wanting to wake either of them.

    Anubis flipped on the kitchen light switch and headed towards the refrigerator. Some modern technologies were beneficial, such as central electricity, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and refrigeration. Inwardly, he wondered if he had become a hypocrite, thinking such things. As a Dark Warlord, Anubis had scorned modern technology. Now, living among humans, he tried to take advantage of their benefits.

    'I have been left behind for a long time.' Anubis smiled wryly.

    Rummaging through the refrigerator for his favorite snack of now-cold steamed rice and low-sodium Miso Soup, Anubis sat down at the table. Removing an invention called a 'plastic wrap,' and, grabbing a lacquered spoon and a pair of chopsticks from a drawer, Anubis felt like he was preparing to eat a small banquet under the cherry blossoms.

    He tried to put the rice to his lips, then stopped and put the bowl down. Unsure, he picked the bowl up again, only to put it back down again. It shouldn't have been this difficult to put food in his mouth.

    Anubis quickly became frustrated. After a few more failed attempts to eat, he finally slammed the porcelain rice bowl on the table. Though the bowl hadn't shattered, it did make a loud noise, which Anubis hoped no one upstairs had heard.

    While checking the bowl for any large cracks, Anubis almost missed the sound of small feet shuffling into the kitchen.

    "Anubis, what are you doing up so early?"

    Startled, Anubis almost dropped the bowl on the table again and looked in front of him. It was the boy he had often seen with the Ronin Warriors. "I'm sorry Yuli. I didn't mean to be so loud."

    "Actually, I just wanted to get a glass of milk," Yuli mumbled, fingers curled in a small fist as he tried to rub some of the sleep from his eyes. "Mia says warm milk helps you sleep."

    Anubis smiled. "Maybe I'll try that remedy. I could use some sleep tonight."

    Yuli stopped rubbing his eyes. "Why aren't you asleep?" He asked, blinking away the last bit of sleep. "Are you hungry? You didn't have a lot of dinner last night."

    "I thought I was hungry."

    "Doesn't look like you're hungry at all -"

    "- what makes you say that?" Anubis asked.

    "Just that you didn't really eat dinner last night, or the night before," Yuli said as he walked forward and sat down in the chair across from Anubis. "I've also heard you walk down the hallway the last couple of nights. Something's wrong."

    "No," Anubis lied. "I thought that eating something would help me relax. I've been tense for the past couple of days."

    Yuli didn't answer him, but got up from the table, poured himself a glass of milk and returned to his chair. Yuli sat down as if he were in a fancy restaurant; he was still hesitant around the former warlord. "Is this all new to you?"

    "What is that supposed to mean?"

    "I mean, is this all new to you?" Yuli clarified as sipped his milk, leaving a foamy white mustache on his upper lip. "You're free from Talpa. You left the Dynasty, and now you're living with us. You say you'll help my big brothers, but I'm sure there are other things you'd rather do than fight a giant floating head with laser eyes."

    Anubis sighed. "I promised The Ancient One that I would help the Ronin Warriors fight Talpa. I intend to keep that promise."

    Yuli's expression changed as the cup he drank from was drained to one-third full. His adult-like intelligence was obvious, even through basic conversation. How much of Yuli's development came from the failed invasion of the human world? "Don't you like us?"

    "Yuli, where did that assumption come from?”

    "Either you like us or you don't." Yuli finished his milk, but instead of putting the cup in the sink, he set it back on the table. Small milk bubbles remained inside the cup. Anubis shifted his eyes onto the inside of the glass as they popped.

    Anubis looked back up at Yuli. "I do like you and Mia, and I enjoy my freedom from Talpa's control. But it doesn't feel right being alone."

    "You're not alone. You have us."

    "I mean, without Cale, Sekhmet, and Dais."

    Yuli sighed and shifted in his seat. Anubis should stop thinking about them. After all, didn't his so-called friends hurt him and leave him for dead? "Anubis, I've heard you and Mia talk about this a lot. You don't owe those stupid warlords anything."

    Anubis said nothing.

    "What if they don't want to listen to you?"

    "Then, I will do to them what The Ancient One did to me."

    Yuli giggled at that thought, muffling the noise with his hand. He liked the idea of Anubis physically dragging Cale, Sekhmet, and Dais behind him while they were kicking and screaming. It would be great blackmail material, as well as the best way to get back at the Dynasty for using him as bait against his big brothers and kidnapping his parents.

    "So, you want to spend your freedom freeing those three losers? That doesn't sound very fun."

    Anubis shook his head. Earlier that day, he had explained why he wanted to rescue his fellow Warlords, but Mia and Yuli didn't think it was a worthy goal. Yet, he owed it to the three of them. It was his obligation to save them. Not only was he following his virtue, but Cale, Dais, and Sekhmet had been a huge influence on his personality when he still served Talpa. That same influence still resonated now.

    "War isn't something to joke about. Besides, I can't risk you two getting caught by Talpa's minions. I don't think you understand what he will turn you into."

    Yuli opened his mouth, but stopped, and then closed it. Anubis was right, there was his big sister Mia to think about. "I can protect you and Mia! I'm grown up!"

    A sad smile formed on Anubis's face before he stood up. He walked over to the boy and began to ruffle his hair. "No, you cannot. You must understand, Talpa can warp the both of you into what you despise the most. You will have no free will and no desires for anything beyond what Talpa dictates. You and Mia are young; you have your whole lives ahead of you. Winning this war is important, but surviving what comes after battle is harder."

    "What about you?" Yuli allowed the older man a few more seconds of hair ruffling. "Don't you want to win? I know we can take Talpa."

    "Yuli, I don't want to risk you or Mia –"

    "Besides, there's stuff you can still learn."

    "I'm too old to learn new things."

    "Liar; you could always get better at cooking."

    Anubis chuckled at Yuli before patting the boy's shoulder. "I thought you liked my cooking?"

    Yuli stuck his tongue out. "No, I don't. You burn Mia's cooking every time we eat leftovers. How are you going to stay here if you can't cook? You should learn how to use the microwave."

    "If you teach me how to use the microwave, will I stop burning food?"

    Yuli nodded while giving Anubis his biggest lopsided grin. "Yes! We can do it right now! If you come with me –"

    Yuli jumped out of his chair and dragged the older man towards the closest corner of the kitchen. There it was: the dreaded microwave.

    "Now, this is how you set the timer to warm things up from the fridge..."


    End Notes I - I would like to thank all my Beta Readers who helped in the creation and editing of this story.

    End Notes II - There are some traditional terms used in the story that might be confusing to some readers. They are...

    Washitsu - In a modern Japanese home, there is at least one room done in the traditional house style with tatami flooring, sliding doors or fusuma, a shoji or a door, window or room divider consisting of translucent paper over a frame of wood, and a tokonoma or alcove for decorative items.

    Ikebana - The Japanese art of flower arrangement. Ikebana is a disciplined art form in which, contrary to the idea of floral arrangement as a collection of partly colored or multicolored arrangements, it often emphasizes other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, and draws emphasis toward shape, line, form.