Minoru woke up, finding himself suspended from the ceiling, his hands bound with chains. He looked around in the room, seeing a small window across from him and two closed doors on either side of the room. He recognized the symbol by the door to his left from his dreams. The maze room
, he thought. No, they can't bring her here.
He pulled at the chains, trying to break them from the ceiling. "Come on," he muttered before hearing the door on the right open. Stepping through the door was a light blue vixen, wearing black leather pants, black gauntlets half the length of her arms, and a black breastplate. Around her neck was a necklace with a silver gemstone at the end. The vixen walked over to Minoru and produced a whip in her hand. "It's useless to struggle, little boy," she cracked the whip across Minoru's chest, causing him to yelp. "Soon, Aoi will bring Cyan over here, and we'll adopt them both into our family along with you."
"That will never happen!" Minoru retorted. "Cyan is going to stay where she is. Aoi wouldn't let her come here."
"You might think that, but you know she wouldn't stand by while you're here."
Minoru's fur faded to a dark blue color. He hung his head. "No," he said. Before he could say any more, he felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder. He cried out, and yelped as he was struck again with the whip. "What was that for?" he demanded.
"You're making too much noise," the vixen grinned.
Minoru fidgeted, his left shoulder still hurting. "Well, excuse me for being vocal when I am in pain," he grumbled. "And what is it that you want with Cyan anyway? I thought it was just me you were after."
"We have our reasons," she answered. "As for you, we're in need of a male. You are the best candidate."
"You mean you want a breeding slave, don't you? I refuse--"
"I don't think you'd have a choice in the matter!" The vixen interrupted, cracking the whip across Minoru's chest once more. "And it's not just for mating. We have more use for you than that."
"Whatever it is, I refuse," Minoru growled. "I've made a promise..."
"Isn't that sweet?" the vixen sneered, putting away her whip. "Well, we are just going to have to change that, then, won't we? You'll likely be more willing once we have Cyan. We'll get her one way or another." She walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
* * *
After having walked ten miles south through the forest, Yuki, Cyan, and Flare stood a short distance away from a three story building. Most of its windows were boarded up, and a few had bars on the front. Pyrova and Mizu were standing in front of the house talking with each other when they saw the three kitsune, and approached them.
"It seems the coast is clear," Mizu said. "Which is odd, considering this is Shiryu's main hideout."
"It could be a trick," Yuki responded. "Or she could be expecting us, and maybe planning an ambush."
"Perhaps. Though, Pyrova checked around the area twice, and didn't see anyone. We did find Minoru, though. Let me show you." Mizu led the group to a small window on the far right of the house. "We saw and heard him through here," she explained. "There is a door around the corner that seems to lead directly to this room, but Pyrova told me not to trust it and to wait until you got here."
"A wise suggestion," Flare noted. "There are mazes everywhere in her hideout, to hinder intruders and those who are trying to escape. The walls shift every so often and when you enter a new room. I don't know what happens if you choose a wrong direction, but there are some who get hopelessly lost and left to perish, or to be captured and 'reconditioned' by Shiryu."
"I'm willing to take that risk," Cyan said as she and Yuki walked closer to the window, only able to see Minoru hanging from the ceiling. "Minoru!" Yuki called out to him.
"Yuki?!" Minoru looked at the window. "Tell me Cyan's not with you. If they get her--"
"Be quiet!" A female voice shouted, cracking a whip across Minoru's back and causing him to cry out. The female called to the window. "You may enter if you'd like, and I do hope you have brought Cyan. You'd be wasting your time, otherwise."
"Don't come in! You won't be able to get through--" Minoru was once again cut off by another lash to his back.
"Watch me," Cyan growled, bolting for the entrance around the corner of the building. Yuki hastily followed, calling after her, "Cyan, wait!" When they both entered, the door slammed behind them and the walls begam to shift, exits being revealed on either side of the couple. The door behind them was concealed. "Ah!" Cyan gasped, startled by the loud sound of the door. She glanced around the room and looked at Yuki. "I prefer not to find out what happens if we stand around here too long. Let's go left. Stay close to me, I don't want to leave you behind."
Yuki and Cyan ran through the left exit, and looked around as the room rotated again. Exits opened ahead of them and to their left. "Forward," Cyan said. Yuki looked to her and asked, "How do we know we're going right way?" As they ran into the next room, exits opened in four directions. Cyan answered, "If I remember from what Aoi told us of Minoru's dream, if I choose incorrectly, I get hurt. It could be coincidence, it could be just a figment of his dream, but I haven't gotten hurt yet. I hope I am choosing right, regardless." They ran to the east and were met by more exits opening and closing.
The process continued for each room, Cyan quickly surveying the room and guessing her and Yuki's position in relation to Minoru's. She was grateful that she wasn't getting harmed if she was guessing incorrectly. Cyan had some doubt in the back of her mind about whether or not she was going the right way, but she was determined to get Yuki and herself out of the labyrinth and to rescue Minoru.
* * *
Minoru's ears flattened as he heard Cyan and Yuki run for the maze entrance. "Damn it...Both her and
Yuki..." He felt the sting of yet another lash from the whip on his back and yelped.
"You don't want them to get hurt, do you?" The blue vixen asked, tracing a mark on Minoru's shoulder, a symbol resembling a teardrop. "I'd say it's in your best interest to submit to us, declare your allegience to Shiryu."
"Never!" Minoru growled. "I won't..." He yelped as he once again felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder, the marking glowing a violet color. Just say yes.
A female voice sounded in his head, one he hadn't heard in many years. It will be easier for both of us.
!" Minoru exclaimed incredulously. The glow from the marking became brighter as the pain in his shoulder grew more intense. "Gah!" he cried. The female voice continued. Of course it's me. Let's not make this difficult. I know your low tolerance to pain. I also know how much you care about Cyan. It would break her heart if she were to see you hurt or dead. Of course, maybe if you don't say yes, I could do it for you. You know I can.
The blue vixen struck Minoru with the whip again. "I'm getting impatient, little boy," she said. "I'll tell you what. You surrender, we will let Cyan and Yuki out of the maze. We'll open up a direct path for them to get here. Neither of them will be harmed." Minoru growled once more, shaking his head, then finally saying. "Fine. I pledge my loyalty and servitude to Shiryu." I can't believe I'm doing this.
He thought to himself, lowering his head, hearing the female voice inside. You've done the right thing.
"Good," the vixen grinned. "Of course, you know, now that you've said that, you now have to stay with us and obey our every order no matter what." She pushed a hidden button by the door to the maze, and some grinding sounds could be heard - the rooms shifting. "As promised, I will grant Yuki and Cyan a clear path to here. Now, I must inform Shiryu of this new development." She walked across the room and closed the door behind her.
Yuki and Cyan ran into the room not long after the blue vixen left. "Minoru!" Cyan called out to him. "Minoru, are you alright?"
Minoru shook his head. "Cyan, you need to get out of here now. Just leave me here. I don't want you to get--"
"I'll be damned if I leave you behind!" Cyan interrupted. "You're coming with us." She walked up closer to Minoru, looking up at the chains binding him. "As soon as we get you down." While Cyan was examining the chains and searching for a mechanism to release him, Minoru turned to Yuki. "Yuki, you must stop her and get her out of here!" he pleaded. "They will try and force her into servitude!"
"She's too determined to find her sister," Yuki replied. "Cyan thinks she can find her here, so there is no stopping her. Besides, she won't cave to the likes of Shiryu."
"They'll kill her if she doesn't. Just get her out of here, quick. I'll find out about her sister while I'm here. This is my place now, anyway."
"She is not defenseless," Yuki indignantly replied. "And what are you talking about, this is your place?"
Before Minoru could answer, Cyan found a lever and exclaimed, "Found it!". She started to pull it when a dart shot out from the door on the other side of the room. She yelped as it hit her neck, collapsing to her knees as the sedative on the tip entered her body. Cyan pulled the dart out and looked at it, dazed. "Damn it..." she muttered as she fell forward, losing consciousness.