Age of the Empire
The Second Tale of Shukumei: Little Child Found
The kimono was found in a clothing shop on the west side. They didn't have enough money
to buy it so they offered to trade. The woman who ran the shop told them that she wanted a fourteen carat
diamond ring. Yamucha and Roshi sighed when she named her request, but Goku took it in stride.
"To the jewelry store!" he said as he started on his way down the street. He looked at it as a new kind of adventure.
Eventually they were able to acquire everything everyone wanted. The baker's little girl had wanted a limited edition watch featuring her favorite comic book super heroine, Justice Girl. Neither Goku, Yamucha, nor Roshi had known where to find such an item since all of the stores seemed to be sold out. One salesman had even laughed when they'd asked him did he have one in stock. It turned out, when they met back up with Buruma and Pu'ar for lunch, the teenage girl had one in her backpack. She loved Justice Girl just as much as the ten-year-old (mostly because she was one of the only female superheroes in existence), but was willing to part with it to obtain Oolong's dragonball. After all, her father had connections. She could easily get another one.
The two-dozen raspberry muffins were given to a man who had a valuable painting in his possession. He had a weakness for the widow's freshly baked muffins, but she disliked him so much that she refused to sell him any. In fact, she refused to even sell them to anyone who was even *considering* giving him one! As a bonus, Goku managed to get the recipe for the culinary delights and included it with his trade.
"Oh, thank you!" the rotund man with the balding head had said as he gave Goku a hug he wouldn't soon forget. "I've dreamt about these muffins for months!"
The jeweler's grandmother had painted a portrait of her sister half a century ago, but it had been sold by the woman when her daughter needed money to pay off her son-in-law's gambling debts. A few months ago, the granddaughter had discovered that a family on the east side, who'd just moved in a few weeks before, had purchased it at an auction in London. The young woman wanted the painting she remembered so fondly from childhood, but just didn't see how she could pay the amount the man wanted for it.
That's where Goku and Company had come in.
After trading the portrait for the ring, the ring for the kimono, and the kimono for the dirty magazines they were finally able to trade for the dragonball.
"Only one more," Goku said as he found himself contemplating the five-star ball. "I'm close."
Back on the street where Buruma had landed (and was partially blocking traffic), the girls were already waiting. A heated debate began. Did they travel onward in search of the last dragonball or did they wait and stay over at a nice hotel? Buruma was firmly on the side of spending the night in town... until she saw the look on Goku's face, that is. It was so pathetic that she just couldn't say no to him.
"Alright, kid. We can leave tonight."
He grinned and hugged her around the waist. "You're a great tomodachi, Buruma."
Just as they were boarding the plane, Oolong came running up the street. "I made up my mind; I'm coming with you."
Buruma's brow knit. "I don't even remember *meeting* you!"
Bowing, he said, "Konnichi-wa, my name's Oolong. Pleased to meet you."
"Come on," she sighed, giving in. "But if you give me any problems you're out, understand?"
Acting as co-pilot and navigator, Goku directed her back towards her own hometown. Flying past the large city, they found themselves directly on course for Fire Mountain.
"Why is it called that?" Pu'ar asked, her high-pitched voice conveyed deep curiosity. As they neared the mountain, she found the answer to her question. "Nevermind."
Fire Mountain, like its named suggested, was on fire.
At the peak there was a grand castle surrounded by tall, brightly glowing flames that reached merrily towards the sky. In the darkness it was easy to see how hot the fire burned and how next-to-impossible it would be to put out with mere buckets of water.
"The fire is protection for the people of the castle," Kamesennin told them. Then he squinted and looked downward to the ground. "Unfortunately, I think their own fortification is working against them."
Upon landing, they were approached by two very odd people. The man was easy both three times as tall and as wide as an ordinary man who wore a horned helmet-mask and a bright red cape. A scruffy beard covered his wide mouth that was currently turned downward in a scowl. The little girl wore a helmet with a sharp blade in its center, a blue leotard, and a matching red cape fastened at her shoulders.
"Why are you here? This is my papa's land!" the little girl, who didn't look even remotely like her father, said as they stepped from the plane. She narrowed her blue eyes. "Go away!"
"You heard her," the giant said, still surveying his castle. He silently cursed himself for being so stupid. "We have no time to waste with you."
Roshi cleared his throat pointedly. "Is that any way to talk to your sensei?"
The giant tensed and slowly turned around. "My.... sensei?" He faced the old man with a surprised look on his face. "Muten Roshi! What are you doing out here?"
"The same could be asked of you, Gyuu Mao. Especially when you have such a nice home."
"Oh, Muten. This is all my fault!" He groaned and shook his head. "ChiChi and I went into town yesterday to pick up a few things. I'm afraid that I had a bit too much to drink--"
"Try *way* too much to drink," his daughter interjected with a smirk.
"--while spending time with an old friend. When morning came, and we returned to our castle, I couldn't remember the command to temporarily remove the flames so that we could enter our home. ChiChi has never known it because I didn't want anyone to kidnap her so that they could pull it from her by force. I had to protect my little girl."
"And now we've been stuck outside for an entire day, Papa." she said. "I want to be able to get to my room!"
"I know, ChiChi-chan. Gomen nasai." He turned to Kamesennin. "Do you still have the magical artifact that can put out any fire?"
A head shake. "Iie. I lost it years ago. I do, however, have something just as good." He handed Gyuu Mao his staff and flexed his hands. "Allow me to help you."
The old man spread his legs to brace himself and dropped his arms to his left side, fingers slightly curved. Concentrating on the fire, he focused energy into the palms of his hands. "Ka...me..." A round blue ball of ki began to glow in his hands. It became brighter and brighter even as it grew larger and larger. Everyone watched, fascinated. Goku in particular. "Ha...Me...HA!"
He brought his hands in front of his body and aimed his energy at the flames surrounding the castle. The beam went up the side of the mountain and the entire area was suddenly awash in a brilliant blue light. They all shielded their hands against the glare and, when they opened their eyes, the flames were completely gone.
"Oh, wow!" ChiChi gasped. She quickly ran over to hug Roshi. "Domo arigatou!"
Gyuu Mao bowed to Roshi then took his daughter's hand. "Let's go home."
A beeping sound drew their attention to Buruma. "Wait a sec. I think you have a dragonball up there," she said. "Can we have it? Onegai?"
"For all of Kamesennin's help, I will gladly give it to you with his consent. ChiChi will retrieve it from her room once we return to our home."
"Muten Roshi? Was it like this?" Goku asked suddenly. He'd been concentrating on his memories so hard that the entire conversation had gone in one ear and straight out of the other. He mimicked Roshi's stance. "Ka...me...Ha...me...HA!" His Kamehameha Wave was weak, but still dropped the jaws of his audience. "How was that?"
It took a moment for the old man to gather enough wits to answer. "Amazing," he said. "You are to become my student."
Goku cheered. "Great! I know I'll learn a lot from you, Kamesennin."
During the walk up the mountain path, ChiChi dropped back to walk with Goku. "I really liked when you made that glowing thing," she said shyly, her face a brilliant scarlet. She struggled for words for a moment then suddenly blurted. "Will you marry me?"
Not really understanding the question, but hating to disappoint someone he'd just met, he nodded. "Sure."
Eyes wide as saucers, she squealed in glee. "REALLY?! One day I'll get to be your wife! Yay!"
The word "wife" struck a strange chord within him. He had a feeling that he'd just made one of the biggest mistakes of his life.
After turning down a free meal to make use of the dragonballs, Goku went back to the clearing at the base of the mountain and placed the orbs down in a circle. He turned to Buruma with a question in his eyes.
"What do we do, now?" he asked.
Buruma watched the orbs; they had begun to glow the moment all seven of them were placed in close proximity of each other. "Call the dragon. Arise, Shenron, and grant our wish!"
The sky turned even darker as thick clouds obscured the moonlight. Thin forks of lightning streaked across the sky and a fierce wind picked up. Goku was just about to mention that the weather didn't look very friendly when a long, glowing, serpentine form materialized and eventually turned into a green-scaled dragon with antlers.
"Speak your wish," he commanded in a deep, booming voice.
"I want my jiisan to be brought back to life," Goku told him.
The dragon's eyes glowed a brighter red. Everyone looked up at him in suspense, the breath caught in their throats. "That wish cannot be granted."
"Why not?!" Goku asked, a stricken look crossing his face. Tears pooled in the corners of his eyes, threatening to spill.
"There are forces at work preventing me from retrieving the soul of Son Gohan. Choose another wish."
He collapsed on the ground, head bowed and fingers clawing at the earth. How could this happen? It wasn't supposed to be this way!
"Goku, what do you want to wish for?" Buruma asked softly as Shenron shifted in impatience.
Not hearing her words, the boy sobbed quietly. He would never see his beloved grandfather again... at least not until he died.
"Speak your wish or, if you do not have another, release me from this mortal plane so that I may return to my slumber."
"I wish," he choked out, his voice thick with unshed tears, "I wish that I can be allowed to keep the four-star dragonball to remember my jiisan by even after someone makes a wish."
Shenron's eyes flashed brightly once again. "Your wish is granted." He returned to his glowing state and vanished as the dragonballs reappeared. Six of them flew off to remote corners of the world while one, the four-star, dropped down to land beside Goku's knees.
For a moment no one spoke. Awkward, uncomfortable looks were shared amongst his friends. Then Buruma stepped forward and crouched down next to the now silent boy. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.
He turned to look at her, no long crying, but still very sad. "He's gone for good," Goku said in a hollow voice. "If the Eternal Dragon can't bring him back then no one can." That was a point no one could argue with.
"You'll feel sad about this for the rest of your life, but you'll be able to handle it after a while. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday."
"I hope so," he sighed.
Having done and said all that she could, Buruma left him alone. Her heart was breaking for her friend, but she had no idea what else to do for him.
Roshi, surprisingly, was the one to take charge of the situation. "What do you want to do, Goku? Go back home or allow me to train you?"
"If I go back to Heiwa," the boy said slowly, "then this will be the only thing I would think about. I'll go with you, Kamesennin. At least training will give me something to do." He stared at the dragonball in his hands for a moment and then faced everyone with a false smile on his face. "Let's go."
He was more than a little surprised when his grandfather's dragonball turned into an ordinary-looking stone. Staring at it in disbelief, he called to Buruma, "Was this supposed to happen?"
The girl glanced back at him briefly and nodded. "After you call the dragon the dragonballs go dead for a year so that they can recharge whether you make a wish or not. It takes a lot of energy to call Shenron."
"Oh," he said quietly. "I thought something bad had happened to jiisan's dragonball." He pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, resting the dormant dragonball between.
The ride back to Kame Island was spent in uncomfortable silence. They were all sad for Goku's loss, but had no idea what to say or how to comfort him. It was awkward and more than a little intimidating.
By late afternoon, they were crossing the ocean and could see the approaching island in the distance. Upon landing, Umigame came out of the house and waved his uninjured flipper.
"You're back!" he greeted as Roshi and Goku disembarked from the plane. The old man gave him a smile, but the boy only stared at the stone. When Buruma and the others took off, he waved distractedly and went into the house.
"What happened?" Umigame asked in a hushed voice. He'd never seen Goku look so miserable.
"It's a long story. Let's just say that his wish didn't come true." He yawned, still tired. It was uncomfortable sleeping on the plane. "I'll tell you all about our trip sometime tomorrow. Right now, I'm going to get a little sleep."
The sea turtle nodded. "Alright. Have a good rest, Kamesennin. I'll see you in the morning."
They went inside to find Goku sitting quietly on the sofa. "I'll be better tomorrow, Muten," he said. "I promise."
"This isn't something you overcome in just a single day. It may take months or even years, but-" He made sure that he had the boy's complete attention before continuing. "-dwelling on it is useless. You will only make yourself feel worse."
"I understand." He set the stone on the coffee table and curled up on the sofa. "See you tomorrow."
Roshi was still worried about him, but he knew that the grief was something he would have to deal with on his own.