IN a dark Audience Chamber, a silhouette of a male Spirit was kneeling on the ground with his forehead pressed on the cold floor. Beams of sweat were dripping from his cheeks was seen by the candle lights. His eyes were big, widened and fearful....
IN a dark Audience Chamber, a silhouette of a male Spirit was kneeling on the ground with his forehead pressed on the cold floor.
Beams of sweat were dripping from his cheeks was seen by the candle lights.
His eyes were big, widened and fearful. He had been kneeling in this position for the last ten minutes but it seemed like a life time.
Advisor Jun had been waiting anxiously for the Spirit Queen to speak, after giving her the latest reports regarding the situation in the Human World and also, the report of one missing Spirit Prince and his bodyguard.
He flinched at the slight movement coming from the Queen, still seating on her Throne. He swallowed the big lump on his throat when someone spoke.
“Tell me Advisor Jun,” A cold and icily voice said.
“Where has the young Prince gone to?”
Jun deepened his forehead against the cold floor. “M-My deepest apology, Your Royal Highness! T-There is a report stating that the Prince was last seen in the Human World. However; it has not yet been confirmed.”
The Advisor waited in great fear for his Queen to say something.
Anything at all.
He had been mentality and physically prepared for whatever to come from the Queen.
Jun knew very well how nasty and cruel the Queen tend to punish anyone for their mistakes and carelessness.
It has been his carelessness that the Prince and his bodyguard had managed to escape to the Human World undetected.
He had been the one who’d supposed to keep keen eyes on him and reported back to the Queen!
No doubt, he would get his head chewed off by the Queen!
What Jun never expected was the long wearily sigh coming from the Queen herself.
“Did the Prince’s bodyguard left any messages before he left?”
Jun nodded slowly.
“He did, Your Majesty.”
Jun then took a scroll from his pocket and delivered it to the Queen.
Reza unfold the scroll.
“You may leave, Advisor Jun. Inform me at once when you’ve found the Prince’s whereabouts. Also, I am expecting Sir Tal to come in any time soon. Let him see me when he arrives.”
“Certainly, Your Majesty.”
Jun bowed his head and got to his feet. He quickly existed the Audiance Chamber, and made his way to the long and dark corridors with dim lights when he suddenly stopped dead on his track.
Eyes widened, Jun let out a loud gasp at the tall shadow of a man wearing a silver cloak and white skeleton mask, standing few feet away from him.
“Is your Queen in?” A deep baritone voice spoke.
“B-But you! H-how did you — the Queen does not wishes to see you — Hey wait!”
The mysterious man walked on, ignoring the Advisor’s warning.
“Wait a minute! Wait a minute, I say! Her Highness the Queen’s-” The Audience Chamber’s door suddenly opened unannounced.
Reza looked up, rage instantly filled in her eyes at the sudden and rude intruders. When she saw the mysterious man standing at the door, the anger in her eyes faded.
“Y-Your Majesty! Forgive me for this rude interruption. I’ve told him not to see you but he’d insisted!”
Jun blocked the man’s way from going any further.
“I-I’ll be sure to see him to the door. Excuse me-”
“It’s fine, Advisor Jun. Let him in.” Jun looked in shocked and unbelievable expression at the order given. He obeyed nonetheless, and shut the doors.
Stepping aside, Jun allowed the man to proceed.
Once the man had entered, Jun was once again excused by the Queen, to be left alone.
Reza sighed tiredly. “Why are you here?”
Without saying a word, the man tossed her a thin scroll, for which Reza caught it easily.
“What the hell is this?” Her sharp black fingernails traced the cover of the scroll.
“That, is the thing that you’ve been searching for; the location of the boy you’ve been seeking for a very long time.”
Wordlessly, Reza quickly unwrapped the scroll and gasped.
Indeed, it was an old map, along with a location that had been circled.
Reza stared at the map for the longest time with her eyes widened, and mouth opened with incredulity.
“Where did you get this from?” Reza asked dangerously, after a moment.
“Where I got it from or how I got it from is not of importance. I’ve managed to do something that even you, the Great Spirit Queen, could not possibly managed to do it for yourself. Even from the people you’d hired or from the man whom you’d threatened all these year, couldn’t do half of the things I’ve managed to achieve in such a short amount of time.”
“You are a hard man to please. What exactly do you want from me?”
“What I ask is that you kept your promise ten years ago－ The Princess and the Prince. I want them. Both of them, without any interfering from you or any third party. That is all I want. Now make it happen, Queen.”
Reza narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms on the chest.
A moment after, she nodded.
“Very well. Both the Princess and Prince shall be yours to have.”
The man wasted no time to leave the Audience.
Halfway leaving the place, Reza’s voice echoed.
“Only if you could find them fast enough, that is.”
The man stopped dead on his track.
“Please be mindful that even though you’ve successfully given to me what I’d wanted all these years, I’d never asked you to. Therefore, it will be up to you to find them fast enough before I do so and kill them myself.” Reza grinned.
“Wretch.” The man hissed as he stormed out and left the chamber.
Advisor Jun, who had apparently, been waiting outside, rushed in as soon as the doors were opened and the man had left.
“My Queen, who is that human exactly? An old acquaintance of yours, perhaps?”
“No. Just a lost bird.” Reza shook her head. “Has General Tal made his return?”
“Y-Yes, Your Majesty. Should I call him in now?”
“Yes. Oh, Advisor Jun?”
“Yes, Your Majesty?”
“Whatever happened just now, it never happens. Understood?”
“Y-yes, My Queen! Of course!”
“Good. Now fetch Tal for me. We have lots to discuss about.”
THE chaos in the City of Eden had gotten from bad to worse. The Spirits had increased it’s number and had moved from the gates of Eden, to the front section of the city!
The people of Eden were now frightened out of their minds and panicked. They had been ordered by the guards to gathered at the central of the city where it was safer as a barrier had been activated around the perimeters to protect them from the Spirits.
They also had been told to stay away from the main and any other gates as well.
Eden soldiers were seen running all over the place; escorting the civilians and barking orders.
The City was under quarantined and confined, surrounded only by Eden’s army who were doing their best to protect the city while waiting for the arrival of their Lord and Commandant.
Among the large and hectic crowd, a child at the age of six, was standing all alone at the background. She had gotten separated from her friends earlier due to the stampede. Instead of crying like most child, the little girl began searching for the rest of her friends.
At the corner of her eyes, she spotted something shining on the ground, outside of the protective barrier — a toy ring.
Fascinated by the ring and completely forgotten about her situation, the child walked toward it.
With noisy background of people shouting and barking orders, no one had noticed how a small child managed to get through the protective barrier without getting electrocuted.
The child, oblivious to the situation, continued walking happily toward the toy ring when the ground started to shake all the sudden.
Someone shrieked in pure terror when Bat-like winged Spirits suddenly emerged from the ground and flew into the sky!
People were in great distressed and panicked when a bunch of Bat-like winged Spirits sudden emerged from the ground, outside of the protective barrier surrounded them.
One of the citizen, spotted the little child outside of the protective barrier, looking fascinatingly at the shining ring in her finger, suddenly started to scream and pointed out at her.
“What are you doing out there?!”
That caught nearly everyone’s attentions. They turned to look at where he was pointed at and gasped loudly and horrifyingly.
“How did she get over there?!”
One of the Eden’s Knights tried to get through the barrier, only to be pulled back by his Commanding Officer.
“You mustn’t!” His Officer sternly warned him.
“But Sir, that child-”
“We cannot risk the lives of these people! If the barrier is being put down even for a second, the Spirits will no doubt, kill us all at once!”
“Sir, a child’s life is at risk! Are you saying we should just let her die?!”
Another scream caught the two soldiers’ attentions.
They watched in pure horror as the child now, being cornered and surrounded by a bunch of hungry-looking Spirits with drooling acidic saliva and black eyes.
The Eden Knight raised his rifle, prepared for shooting.
“Put that away.” His Commanding Officer said in a low threatening voice.
“Sir, I have high confidence in my ability to shoot the Spirits without harming the girl.”
“That’s not it, you fool!” His Superior hissed lowly.
Looking up at his Superior Officer with confusion, only then the Knight realised his Superior had both hands lifted in the air and his eyes－frightened eyes looked above them.
Behind his Superior, he saw the rest had done did the same with an absolute terror on their faces.
The Knight slowly looked up and saw a couple of bat-winged Spirits were lingering luxuriously around them, with Acidic saliva drooling from their mouths.
The barrier might be able to hold on to the Spirits’ attacks, but the acidic saliva wouldn’t.
“If you shoot one of them, they will spit that on us.” The Commanding Officer said again.
“Shit! What are we suppose to do then?”
The Spirits drew closer to the girl.
“At this point,” The Commanding Officer painfully said. “Nothing can be done.”
A loud screeching sound once again caught the two Knights’ attention back to the little girl outside.
They gasped loudly when the Spirits lunched toward the helpless little girl — only to be cut in the air, in a dance rhyme by a red flaming sword swung by someone wearing a black and red hooded cloak.
A pair of feet landed graciously on the ground in front of the shaking girl once he had finished killing off the nearby Spirits.
The mysterious savour had a long silky deep maroon hair, and dark emerald eyes that glowed. He bared his sharp pointed fangs at the rest of the Spirits.
Pointing the flaming sword at the Spirits, the savour said in a low-growling tone, in a foreign language not known by the citizen there with an exceptional of two people.
To the surprise of the others, the Spirits had unexpectedly ultimately whined like injured dogs and they backed away from the little girl while lowering their heads.
“What in the world...”
One by one the people started to whisper and gasped shockingly.
“It can’t be...”
“His name is His Highness Prince Makai. He is the Prince of the Spirit World.” A deep voice spoke amongst them.
“A Spirit is here amongst us!”
“It’s speaking our language?”
Leo held on his hands in the air as the Knights pointed their weapons at him.
“Please calm down. We do not come here to look for a fight.” Leo stated calmly. “My Prince and I have come here to meet with Lord Eden Bowyn X. We mean you no harms whatsoever.”
All the sudden, a loud roaring sound interrupted their mild conversation before the Knights could ask him more questions.
All eyes turned and looked at the Spirit Prince, who had roared at the surrounding Spirits. Baring his fangs, Makai shouted angrily at them, causing the Spirits to whine even more.
“What’s going on now? Why is he shouting at them?”
A child wearing a bucket hat that was too big for his small head, spoke up amongst them.
“He’d found out it was the Spirit Queen who had ordered the Spirits to attack us!”
“Prey child, how do you know what had been said by the Prince?” The Commanding Officer asked suspiciously.
“Because this child is a half-breed.”
Leo scooped the child up into his arms and seated him on top of his shoulder. He smiled warmly at the nervous looking child before he took the lad’s hat off his head — revealing the two pointed ears and three scars on each of his cheeks.
“A taboo child?!”
The crowd went amok with questions, until Leo put his hand up in the air and kindly told them to stop and listened to him.
“Please, everyone. This child is innocent and merely wanted to live in peace just like the rest of you. I hope that you spare him the pain and harms after finding out about his true origin.”
“I completely agree with that, Sir Leo.” A familiar male voice came somewhere at the back.
Heads turned, the people were relieved to find that their Lordship had finally arrived with his entourage lined up behind him.
“The taboo children are not to be blamed for what had happened in the past during the Great War. Regardless, they’re victims as well. Many of their families were killed by us during the riot and manhunts for the Spirits.”
Lord Eden walked passed the crowd toward where the Spirit Prince was, who looked pissed off and demanded more answers from the whining Spirits.
After a minute of observing the Prince, Lord Eden finally spoke.
“He won’t get what he wants with those Spirits. They most certainly won’t tell him anything. The Queen had after all, wrapped them all in her fingers. He’s wasting his time.” He then turned his head to speak with the older Spirit beside him.
“Do you mind bringing him over to my Mansion, Sir Leo? After he’d finished dealing with them, that is.”
“Understood. But first, I need to make sure this little one get home safely.” Leo put down the child he had on his shoulders and patted his head.
“The child can come with me.” Lord Eden spoke kindly. He looked down at the child who put on a guilty smile. “He made someone very worried when he had decided to run off on his own today.”
“Sorry.” The child smiled sheepishly before taking the Lord Eden’s hand and were headed back to mansion when the Knight and his Commanding Officer stepped in front and stopped them from leaving.
“Lord Eden, sir! What are you going to do with the Spirits?”
“Let the Spirit Prince handle them.”
“It’ll be okay,” Lord Eden said reassuringly. Turning to look at the Spirit Prince, he said again with a smile behind the mask.
After giving the Spirits a lecture that would last them for another life time, Makai proceeded by summoning a portal that would take them back to the Spirit World.
Once summoned, Makai then barked for the Spirits to get in. His raging eyes dared them to defy his order, which none of them were willing to do.
One by one, the Spirits got into the portal, until finally there were none left.
Once they were sure no Spirits were in sight, only then the Knights deactivated barrier around their perimeter.
Nobody moved nor did they made any sound whatsoever until Leo approached the young still Prince.
Makai ignored to his Guardian’s call. His body was trembling with anger and he had kept his eyes shut when he realised they were glowing.
When Makai reopened his eyes again, they were no longer glowed and filled with blood-lust.
“Your Highness.” Leo called again. “It appears we are being invited to Lord Eden’s mansion. I suggest we go there, Prince. We might find out more about what the hell is going on here.”
Makai took a long deep breath before nodding his head.
“Lead the way.”
“Certainly. Oh, but Prince,” the older man pointed something hanging on the Prince’s legs — it was the little girl earlier whom he had saved from being eaten by the Spirits.
She was pulling the edge of the Prince’s long cape with her small hands.
Makai looked down at her with one eyebrow rose.
“What is it? What do you want?” He asked annoyingly.
Instead of feeling intimidating by him, the girl’s smile grew widen. Bravely, she grabbed and pulled the cape around the Prince’s neck, before dragging him down to her height, much to the Prince’s great dismay.
“What the-” Before Makai could comprehend what was happening, the girl had done something totally unexpected to the Prince－she had kissed him, on his left cheek!
“Thank you for saving my life, Mister!” The girl beamed a bright smile at him.
The whole time it happened, only the sound of Leo, who tried to muffle his laughter at the scene echoed in the otherwise silence environment.
How long had it been since he last seen such an endearment act toward the Prince? The last time he’d seen such act was done on the Prince had been by the Princess, many years ago.
Shaking his head at the fond memories, Leo stepped forward and patted the Prince’s shoulder, awakened him from his trance.
Makai blinked his eyes a couple of times before his focus remained at the little girl in front of him. Still with the bright warm smile on her face.
Carefully, he pulled the girl’s hands on his cape and walked away wordlessly with a slightly embarrassed face.
Leo patted the girl’s head gently before he smiled apologetically at her.
“The Prince is just a bit shy, little lady. Thank you though. Because of what you’d done just now, he’s no longer in a rage state that he was a moment ago.”
A tri-wheel electrical scooter stopped in front of Lord Eden’s front gates. As soon as it stopped, the two Knights who were guarding the gates approached them.
“May we help you?”
Rinda wordlessly took the description mission letter from her jeans pocket and handed it to the guards.
The two guards read the letter. One of the guards pointed one finger at the man sitting behind her.
“You may pass. Who is that?”
“He is a valuable asset from Luyas for Lord Eden.”
Nodded, they opened the gates for them.
“I’m very sorry, Miss Rinda. Lord Eden is currently in a very important meeting right now. He does not wishes to be disturbed.” Captain Devone spoke kindly at the Audience Chamber once he’d been informed that someone had come to see the Lord.
Rinda frowned deeply. Hands on both hips, she spoke demandingly.
“Don’t you give me craps! I’ve travelled far to get here and it hasn’t been an easy road either! Just tell the Lord my name and that I’ve bought someone very important from Luyas with me. Understood?”
“Sir Devone?” Guy stepped into the line. “I’m very sorry to trouble you, but it is highly important that we talk to Lord Eden this instant. Could you kindly please at least tell him that much a the very least?”
Devone considered his words before he sighed heavily. “Very well. I could at least tell him that you have arrival. ”
He looked at Guy again.
“Milord would no doubt, be in shocked to see you here again, Sir Guy. He’d expected you to be on your way to Luyas by now.”
“Believe me, when I say that had been my intention.”
Nodded his head in silent, Devone excused himself to go and delivered the message to the Lord.
“He won’t listen a word I said, but he listened to you?”
“All it takes, is a harmless of respect, Miss Rinda.” Guy said coolly. To which Rinda simply shrugged. She’d dealt with the Lord and his Right-Hand Man countless times before. She knew how they were and did not need a stranger to point out that to her.
It did not take them long to wait for Devone to come back.
“Good news, Miss Rinda. His Lordship will see both of you now. Please follow me.”
Devone led them to the Meeting Chamber. He knocked on the door twice and waited.
Opening the door, the two guests were shocked to find there were two male Spirits inside the chamber. For Guy, he had almost stumbled backwards at the face resemblance by the younger of the two Spirits with his adopted sister.
“Thank you for bringing them over, Devone.”
“Sir.” Devone stepped aside for his two guests to enter before he quietly closed the door.
Lord Eden seated at the Head table, gestured his two new guests to take the empty seats available.
Rinda awkwardly made her way and sat beside Leo, who greeted her with a small smile. While Guy took the opposite side, beside the brooding Spirit Prince who sat on the right side of Lord Eden.
A couple of knocks on the door and a maid came in serving the two new guests their drinks.
“Well, this is truly unexpected.” Lord Eden spoke after a while. He looked at each of his guests.
“Again, pardon us for the unexpected visit to your city, Lord Eden.” Leo said apologetically.
“Not at all. In fact, if I’m being completely honest, I was actually looking forward to meet with the two of you. Especially you, Prince Makai.”
“Why?” Makai raised an eyebrow.
“You’re here because of your sister, is it not?”
“So it is you!” Guy suddenly cut in the conversation. “You’re Mika’s long lost twin brother, aren’t you? I can’t believe you’d attacked her the first you two met.” Deep brown eyes glared sharply at the young Prince.
“And what does a human like you knows about Mika?” Makai narrowed his eyes and snarled.
“I knew it!” All eyes were suddenly on Rinda who out of nowhere decided to shout and snapped her fingers. “I knew I’d heard that name somewhere! Mika, is it? Isn’t she Shinji’s Chosen Apprentice?”
“You know Shinji?”Guy asked, now curious about the girl who knew of his nemesis and former group leader.
“Indeed, Sir Guy. This young lady here happens to grow up in a village where Prince Shinji used to live, the Islez Village. You could say, they’re childhood friends.” Lord Eden explained. “And yes, Miss Rinda. Her full name is Princess Mika of the Spirit Kingdom. Also, as you’ve kindly pointed out, she is indeed Prince Shinji’s Chosen Apprentice. How interesting is that? A Princess and also an Apprentice!”
“That idiotic fool!” Makai hissed. “How dare she lowered herself and be submissive to a lower-class family! Doesn’t she realised that she is the Crown Princess of the Spirit Kingdom?”
“Regardless, Your Highness,” Lord Eden interrupted before the young Prince’s blood boiled even further. “We are in the middle of an important discussion here. I would suggest that for now, you put aside your personal feelings toward your sister and focused on the task at hands. Is that acceptable?”
Makai made a ‘tsk’ sound, but he nodded nonetheless.
“Before we began, Sir Guy, I’m quite surprise to see you here again actually. Do explain why you are here?”
“Actually Milord,” Rinda cut in before Guy could answer the question. “I was the one who had found and bought him here. What happened was....”
Lord Eden nodded his head after hearing Rinda’s explanation. He then proceeded to explain to them who his other guests were and what connections do they have with each other.
"Sir Guy,” Lord Eden turned to face him. “What Miss Rinda had said to you earlier were all true. Though, the information was top secret and confidential, I allowed this to happen seeing how it is related to you. We’ve received the message with the codename earlier in the day, from your sister. I had sent out my men brought her over to here actually. However, she fled, saying if she’d stayed here any longer, they would caused harm to the city.”
“Who are they?” Guy asked.
Lord Eden shook his head. “We do not know yet. While we’re still looking into the matter, the Spirits had attacked us. However, we do have some useful leads and are in the middle of investigating them.”
“This is too much information to absorb all at once!” Rinda exclaimed, pitching the bridge of her nose.
“What should we do now?”
“Just as you had reported earlier; Luyas is in dreadful condition.” He looked sharply at Guy who clenched his fists.
“I’m sorry you have to hear about this, Sir Guy. We only found out about the invasion earlier today. However, this has been going on for months. Three whole months to be exact, without anyone knew about this. The enemy had planned everything very well from the top to the bottom. It’s already too late for us to do anything at all to help them at this point. The people of Luyas are being trapped and quarantined inside their own homes without any helps from outside world. Soon, they will run out of supplies, if not, already.”
“What do you have in mind?” Leo asked after a moment.
Lord Eden sipped on his tea for his dried throat.
“We haven’t heard anything from Lord Ranfel himself as lately. According to the letter written by Lady Luna, Lord Andania and his whole family were executed after not willing to give up their lands to the General-In-Charge. Someone by the name of Tal.”
“TAL?!” Makai and Leo shouted in synced.
“Yes. I take that you two gentlemen knew or heard of him?”
“That is such an understatement, Milord.” Makai spoke with a low growl.
“He’s that wretch’s personal watchdog.” The Prince proceeded by telling them about ‘The Orders’ and their connection with the Spirit Queen.
“Interesting.” Lord Eden nodded. “So, the Spirit Queen has her own personal bodyguards even though she is forbidden to step a foot outside of the Castle? Using them to do her dirty biddings, is that correct?”
“Indeed, Milord.” Leo agreed.
Lord Eden brought his hands under his chin as he thought everything thoroughly.
“Perhaps, it’s still not too late for us to help Luyas out to win against them after all.”
“Pardon, Milord?” Leo inquired.
“I have an idea. However, in order for us to execute the plan, I’m afraid I will need the good Prince and Sir Leo’s assistance. I need Miss Rinda’s assistance as well. As for you, Sir Guy, I’m sure you must be terribly worry about your sister’s condition. I have already asked Devone to lead you the way out of the city to where she was last seen before she fled. He should be waiting outside. If you’re hurry, you might be able to catch her before nightfall.”
“Thank you so much, Milord!” Guy stood up, lowered his head respectfully to the Lord before rushing to the door.
Once the young Luyas had left, Lord Eden focused his attentions on the remaining three.
“Now then, shall we discuss further about the plans?”
While the four of them were busily engaged in the meeting, two figures dressed in tight black clads were hiding on the top of the trees and spying on them using binoculars.
One of them, was a young teenage male with dark blue spiked hair and leaned, muscular built. His partner in crime was a tall, with a busty and curvaceous figure.
Both wore a half masks on their faces.
“What do you think? Shall we ambush them now?“The voluptuous beauty asked.
“...No. We’ll continue observing them until further notice.”
“Eeh?” His partner pouted. She turned her head around to look at her young Captain who continued with the observation.
“First and foremost, our main concern and highest priority is Her Highness the Princess. She is what matters the most. This is just a side-track mission, for which I still haven’t yet understood what Tal was thinking. He said he will contact us when they finished with the meeting.”
“I dunno, Captain. He does seems suspicious. Like, he’s been spending a lot of time with the Spirit Queen lately.”
The Captain answered a wireless communication device headset he had on his left ear.
“Yes? Got it.” Ending the conversation, he turned to his partner.
“That was Tal. They’re on move. We’ll follow the Princess now.”
With one last glance at where The Spirit Prince Makai and his guardian were, the Captain and his partner leapt from one treetop to another — making their way to where the Princess was.
THE sound of synchronized footsteps marched heavily toward the meeting chamber.
Two Luyas Knights stopped dead on their tracks in front of the door.
One of them knocked the door twice before they were given a permission to enter. Once they’d entered, the two Knights saluted to the man sitting in the dark, with his arms crossed on the chest.
His back was facing them.
“General Tal. We’ve received words from our troops on the East side. There’s a bad news...Sir.”
The Knights swallowed the gulp on their throats.
Nervously, one of them continued delivering the report.
“Someone... Had managed to slip out from the kingdom and is now heading toward the North regions. O-Our troops are pursuing the target, just as we speak.”
“I see.” Tal spoke in an unusually calm and collected manner.
Too calm for the drastic situation, causing the two Knights to shiver and almost wet their pants.
Finally after a long while, Tal turned his chair around and lifted his head to look face the two already nervous wrecked Knights.
“Are there anything else that you wish to report me? Anything else that slipped out of your low, sad and pathetic VISIONS?!” The fragile glass consisted of red liquor that he held on his right hand broke into tiny pieces as he clenched his fist tightly.
The two Knights flinched at the sound of the broken glass.
Their fears turned from bad to worse when Tal had them cornered against the walls. With his tall big figure, and intimidating black eyes that spoke of Death.
The two Spirit Knights shivered and pled for mercy when a long sharp blade threateningly touched their foreheads.
One line of fresh blood slowly drip from their forehead to their cheek and finally to the ground.
“Report to me when you have found the target. Be sure not kill her. I want her alive no matter what. Understood?”
“U-understood Sir! R-right away!”
“Good. Now leave before I change my mind of killing you.”
The two Knights saluted and scrambled and dashed out from the chamber like a pair of mad men. They didn’t bother to look back, fearing if they did, they wouldn’t make it out alive.
It was only after the Knights had left, a soft manly voice made its presence in the dark, on the other side of the Chamber.
“Really, Tal. Must you scared them till death every now and then?” Only his silhouette was visible enough for Tal to know who it was.
After all, who else would he simply let inside of the chamber unguarded?
“And here I’d thought I’ll never hear you complain, Sage.”
Tal walked over and cleaned the little stained of blood on his blade.
“Did he finally talk?”
“Negative. The words that came out of his mouth was ‘mercy’, repeatedly.” Sage rolled his eyes. “What do you planning on doing next?”
Tal walked in silence into the deeper part of the chamber, where the rest of the chamber filled with semi-darkness. The only things that lighted the chamber were the three candles beside a battered looking man that had been tied down to his chair.
His noble clothes was torn apart, bruises on his face and a dried blood on his cut and chipped lips.
The once healthy and proud former Lord of Luyas looked nothing like his previous self, but a weak and helpless man at the mercy of the enemies.
“Looks like someone’s trying to play a brave role by escaping from this Kingdom and seek helps from the outside world.” Tal spoke in a taunted manners.
“I must say, you humans are far more interesting to watch due to your own ignorance and arrogance. Only your kind have a strong sense of justice and hunger for the greater power that we simply found it very laughable and fascinating to watch, really.” Tal looked at the battered looking man who couldn’t even response to his words.
“I suppose your daughter might be one of them.”
Ranfel eyes grew widened instantly. His painful battered body and bruised eyes forgotten, as he shouted at the man.
“What have you done to my daughter? What have you done to her?!” His voice was hoarse from the lack of water.
Ranfel struggled to break free from the thick ropes around his wrists, thighs and legs.
“At ease, mate. At ease. Your precious brave daughter has in fact, managed to escape from my dogs’ watchful eyes. My sources said that she’s heading toward the Northern regions, which I’m assume she must be hoping to seek help from the Lord over there. However...”
Even without seeing the man’s face clearly with his blurred vision and bruised eyes, Ranfel could tell the man was smirking judging by the tone of his voice.
“I’d doubt she could reached there in time. Right now, my best troops are hot on her heels. Oh, not to worry,I’d already told them not to kill her immediately. Judging from your daughter’s records, she’s not the most bright Knight, is she?”
Tal took a bow and arrow from his back and shot it at the wall, where a picture of Luna was held.
Ranfel shrieked before he broke down in tears. “Please. I’ll do anything you asked me. I beg of you, please spare my family. They have nothing to do with all of what I’d done in the past!”
“That’s not what the Queen had told us. In fact, she had specifically told me that you and the human King owned her plenty.”
“Then tell the Queen that I’m willing to pay any prices! Just don’t touch my family. They have nothing to do with us! PLEASE!”
For the first time since his torture had begun, Tal stayed quiet, much to the Lord’s surprise. Hope begin to sprout in his heart that the enemy would show him a little mercy in sparing his family.
At the moment, Ranfel didn’t care whether he lived or die. As long as his family was unharmed, that was what matter to him the most.
Meanwhile, Tal eyed the battered man’s face for the longest time. He had his orders, of course. However, something about what this pathetic man had said earlier bought him to the past before eventually he shook his head.
Orders are orders.
Tal’s deep silence had eventually caused Sage to step in and voiced out from the curtains.
“Make sure that girl does not reach to any lands. Bring her back to me. Alive.”
“Understood.” Sage vanished behind the curtains in seconds, leaving only those two behind.
Tal turned to look at Ranfel, whose eyes grown widened and more tears were falling down on his cheeks.
“Pathetic. For a man who had willingly sold his own soul to the devil, is now begging for the soul to return back to him. You reap what you sow, human.”
Tal left the former Lord screaming his agonies and regrets as he became the prisoner of his own castle, as he shut and locked the chamber.
BRIGHT red flame from the bonfire was the only light source in the middle of the night, in the deepest part of the forest.
A small camp site was set up by a group of three travelling companions. It had been a long time since they had to camp outside instead of sleeping at an inn.
The reason behind this was because they had to take the long route－through the forest, to reach to their next destination; the Kingdom of the Rose, where they would then meet with the youngest man ever to be crowned as King of the said Kingdom.
Shinji Karou hated that he wouldn’t stopped shivering no matter how many times he rubbed his freezing cold hands together and put them near to the bonfire for some heat.
The temperature in the forest had dropped incredibly low at night. Hence, made it harder for him to fall sleep in such cold weather even when he wrapped himself a thick blanket and wore an even thicker jacket he’d bought (just in case) while in they had been in the City of Eden.
Sighing to no one, Shinji laid on his back and closed his eyes. He tried to relax his muscles and let sleep slowly overcome him.
It didn’t take him long before the heat finally settled down within him and soon enough, Shinji felt his body gotten warmer.
At times like this, Shinji’s world was in peace.
No loud shouting, though that was an exceptional considering he was the one who did all the shouting, or superiors and Councils to order him around, or even his own life been threaten by some dumb arseholes that wanted him dead every minute and seconds.
Shinji Karou was finally in peace with the world around him. Even if it was just for the night.
One thing that had remained in Shinji’s inner world peace was the constant thought of the Spirits that had gone wild and cause riot. Especially at the Kingdom of Luyas.
Shinji frowned deeply. His eyes were still closed.
He hoped that his family was safe back home from the Spirit invasion that was growing each day. Shinji longed to come back home to his family and Clan, no matter how busy he was handling with the Clan’s Affairs.
It was understood by him and all members of the White Wolf Clan that only he has the ability to purify the Spirits. Therefore, it was agreeable that only he could put an end to all of this together with his Chosen Apprentice, Mika.
So why did Shinji felt insecure now all the sudden? Yes, They had come a long way to get to where they were now.
The closer they were heading to their goal and destination, the higher the stakes and more dangerous the obstacles that stood in between them.
But no matter what happened, Shinji believed they would make it all alive. He had to put faith,trust and belief in his companions.
Shinji sighed, and rolled to his left side, trying hard to get rid of those uneasy thoughts, and ignored his trembled hands.
His eyes roamed at the two of his companions for a distraction; they all had fell in a fast and deep sleep－tired from the long travel they had to do today.
He remained focused on only female companion of their small group, who was sleeping on the opposite side of the bonfire.
He had and would always be fond of her. Shinji knew he cared greatly about her well beings more than he would ever admitted. He knew the others, especially the members of his Clan often thought that he had deep romantic feelings for her due to his protectiveness nature and their closeness even when they were younger.
He couldn’t blame them. Nor did he ever acknowledged that given statement.
Those who were closed to him, like his sister and their Guardian, knew and understood exactly what kind of relationship the two of them had shared.
For Shinji, his feelings for Mika had always been more than just deep romantic feelings; she had been his childhood friend, and a part of his family, on the day when he’d decided to free her from her prison of the buttress roots years ago, before she became his Chosen Apprentice.
While Shinji had his sister, whom he loved greatly and loved him back, and the whole Clan who respected and backed him with everything, there was something that was still lacking in his life that Shinji knew not even his beloved sister nor the Clan couldn’t give.
Something that that he had often seek out as a child — a companionship.
In Mika, Shinji had found what he was seeking; someone who could erased the loneliness in his heart that he’d felt as a child who had been forced to carry the huge responsibility and the heavy burdens of the Clan at a very young age.
In Mika, Shinji could be his true self. Not a leader, nor a Prince. Just a young child who enjoyed his childhood with his best friends.
Shinji knew he would always cherished Mika for that and unlike five years ago, this time, he was willing to die protecting her.
Deep purple eyes roamed from Mika to the loud snoring source coming from none other than the man, who had his head on top the tree’s root as a pillow — his best friend and sworn protector, Kazuo.
Shinji had known Kazuo ever since he was seven and had grew up together. However, tragedy occurred and there had been bad blood between them that involved with the latter’s brother.
His relationship with the man had remained on a string since then...
Or so he’d thought, anyway.
Despite Kazuo’s goofiness and their constant bickering, Shinji had always assumed the man was just waiting for the right moment to strike him down.
After all, Shinji had been the one who taken away Kai’s life that tragic day.
Shinji’s mind continued to wander from his past to that raining night; the night when Kazuo had boldly stated in front of him and the deceased Ralph. He had made it very clearly to the two of them that he no longer held any grudges against Shinji whatsoever.
Shutting his eyes, Shinji tightened his trembled fists.
He may have said that. But that doesn’t change the fact that these hands...
Shinji looked at his trembled hands.
Were once stained with Kai’s blood.
The guilt was slowly eating him.
Shinji knew it.
Yet, he continued to let it happened.
Dawn arrived five hours later when the striking sun slowly arose to the skies, and shone brightly to the entire world with its might glory.
Even before the dawn had arrived, one out of the three sleeping companions had already awakened from her deep slumber.
A pair of light emerald eyes looked at the view on the small hills not far away from their camp site.
The wind blew her middle-length scarlet hair on her face, as Mika recalled words that were spoken by Lord Eden before they left the city:
“From here onwards, head to the North, to where the Kingdom of the Rose. You will need the Master Oracle’s guidance and assistance in order to get to the Red Line. The journey to get there will be a long and hard one.
Fear not, Princess. For you have trusted and worthy companions standing beside you. They walk the same path as you and will guide you in time of lost. Remember; courage is stronger and will overcomes any fear that you have."
Taking a short deep breath, Mika lifted her head and smiled to herself. She took one last glance at the setting sun before making her way back to the camp site.
When Mika returned, her two companions had already awoken and were in the middle of packing their stuff.
Kazuo was folding their sleeping begs to be put inside the large bag he carried on his bacl, while Shinji was making a few rice balls for breakfast, with a toothbrush stuck on his mouth.
“Mornin’, my young lovely Princess.” The orangey-blonde fighter greeted her. “How are ye this lovely morning?” His usual pineapple hair style, were in a mess and out of place.
Nevertheless, he still looked very handsome and cheerful to see Mika as she approached to help him with the packing.
“Morning, Kazuo. I’m good this morning, thank you.” Mika replied with a bright smile. “And yourself?”
“I feel good myself by just looking at ye alone, Princess.” He winked at her again.
Once Mika was done helping Kazuo, she went to where Shinji was and offered to help him preparing breakfast while he went and properly brushed his teeth by the nearby riverbank.
“How did ye sleep last night?” Kazuo asked between munching the riceball some time later.
“I slept okay. The temperature was a bit too cold. Other than that, it was fine.”
Mika was just about to place the riceball on the paper plates when she felt someone grabbed her arm and found herself being pulled closer to a man’s broad chest.
“Oh, ye poor delicate flower! Why didn’t ye say so? I would have gladly share my sleeping bag with ye-”
Something hit right at the back of Kazuo’s head; a pebble.
“Ow! What the-” Kazuo turned his head to the back just to meet with Shinji’s irritating glare.
“Honestly. I took my eyes off you for a minute and you already hitting on my Apprentice! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”
“I love women! What’s so wrong about that?!”
“Stophitting on MY Apprentice!”
While the two men were already at each other’s throats, Mika took the chance and escaped to a safer ground, to enjoy the rest of her breakfast. She left their meals unattended on the stones nearby.
Finishing the last piece of her rice ball, Mika later got up to her feet and started to stretch her arms and legs in preparing herself for the long travel ahead today.
All the while, she kept a close watch on those two men who had by now ,settled with their argument and were eating the riceballs in silence.
All the sudden, something caught her attention that caused Mika to halt in her exercise. Eyes widened, her sensitive nose caught a sharp scent of something in the woods.
“Do you smell that?” Mika asked the others.
Kazuo sniffed the air. “I don’t smell anything funny.”
“I smelled something. It came from there.” Shinji pointed out with a finger at the area.
With a speed of light, Mika rushed to the pointed area as fast as she could, leaving her two comrades behind. She was too busy sniffing the scent that she did not even heard Kazuo shouted at her, to slow down.
The scent was getting stronger as she got closer to the scene. It had a sharp yet faint smell.
When Mika finally reached to the other side of the riverbank, she recognised the scent too well — blood.
Not just a drip of blood either.
It didn’t take long for her to arrive at the site — at the stream bed, where the smell of blood was too strong she had to cover her nose, abide still not fond to the smell.
Carefully, Mika stepped onto the small rocks, following the trails of the blood flowing in the stream. Halfway there though, Mika almost let out a scream when she found a few trails of few long strings of chestnut hair on the ground, hidden behind the bushes.
Heart beat fast, Mika rushed to the scene.
Feet crushed against the water, her heart throbbed at the assumption of what she might find beyond the bushes. Taking a very deep breath, Mika pushed the bushes aside to look at a body she might find.
All the sudden, her blood seemed to have stopped flowing to her heart, and her heart stopped beating for what seemed like forever as she looked at the figure laid down on the ground — deep cuts were all over her body where the source where smell of thick blood came from...
“MIKA! Mika! Dammit where the hell have ye went off to? Mika!” Kazuo yelled continuously, calling out the name of his only female companion. Turning to look at their leader on the other side of the riverbank, he shouted,
“Oi, Shinji! How’s ye end? Found her yet?”
Shinji walked toward him and shook his head.
“No. She’s not here. But I’ve found this.” He shown the man On his hand was a familiar-looking chained jade pendant.
“Yeah. This is the jade pendant I gave to Guy before he left.”
Earlier yesterday morning before they departed from the city, Shinji had pulled Guy to a side for a man-to-man talk.
“Listen. I won’t deny that there wasn’t a time where my clan did not invade your castle and, perhaps killed your mother. I’m sorry for that. But what’d happened back then was in the past, and it was not even under my rule so I could not take all the blames for your long-term grudges. However,” Shinji took out something from his pants pocket.
A simple jade pendant.
“I received this pendant when I was a young toddler. I remembered someone had given it to me as a gift but I couldn’t remember who it was. I also remember being told by that person who said he took it from the Lady at the Castle at North. You can have it back.”
Shinji tossed the pendant at him.
Guy caught it perfectly again. He looked at the jade and all the sudden, he remembered something that made his eyes grew widened — this was the same jade pendant his belated mother often wore around her neck!
Jade were her favourite colour after all, and it was a gift from her father to her during her coming of age ceremony.
“This is... This is my mother’s priceless pendant. She had her name carved on it. At the back. See?” he showed her the old curved name, Theresa.
Shinji looked at him, shocked and surprised at the news.
“I see... Very well.” He cleared his throat. “As the Leader of the White Wolf Clan, I hereby will promise to take you to meet with the person who was in charge of the invasion and responsible for your mother’s death so that you may have the peace you’ve been seeking for. I’m not saying this just to rub more salt into your wound, nor am I doing this out of pity. That pendant is a proof that my clan had once invaded your castle. As the Leader of the Clan, I take responsibilities for whatever actions made by my men. And I believe, it is a closure for you and your past. It’s your choice. You have time to think about it.”
Guy remained silence for a bit while before he nodded.
“Understood. I will think about it.“Just before Shinji could say any more, the latter stopped him.
“On that note, allow me to apologise for what I’d said to you the other day — that if I were to force her to go back with me, she might never see you again. I bear no ill intentions to do such thing. Not to her, nor to you. I realised and accepted that Mika’s place now is here with you. Travelling with you people have helped opened up my eyes to the world beyond the Castle’s life that I’ve been living.”
“Part of me really want to return to Luyas. And I’m still thinking if I should go back after what Lord Eden had told us. But...
Shinji cut in. “Mika will be safe with us. You do what you have to do. What your heart tells you to do.”
Kazuo and Shinji continued with their search of their missing comrade, when Kazuo suddenly spotted a figure, down on her knees, and was bending over something or someone.
“Shinji! Over there!”
The two men rushed over.
When they got there, it was a sight that neither Shinji nor Kazuo could ever erased for the rest of their lives.
Mika’s hands were covered in blood and heavy tears were falling down from her cheeks like waterfall. No matter how matter times she tried to resuscitate the body laid on the ground while repeatedly mumbling ‘don’t die’, she wouldn’t respond.
Kazuo grabbed her by the shoulders. He put both hands on the frame of her head, forcing her to turn her head to face him.
Her shoulders were cold as ice and her face paled as snow. She looked shell-shocked.
“Mika! Look at me. LOOK!” He forced her to look into his eyes. “What happened?”
Mika opened her mouth to speak, only ended up in stuttering few words.
“H-Help. S-she needs help. H-help her! Please! PLEASE!”
He pulled her into a quick hug before he released her and pointed at the side way of the river.
“Go over there and try to calm yourself down. Shinji, we-” All words died out when an earful scream of agony echoed throughout the place.
The man, known to be a proper and kind gentleman had fallen down on his knees, with one hand covered his mouth in disbelieved as streamed of tears were rolling on his cheeks.
He had came as fast as his feet could carry him when he heard the two of them calling out Mika’s name. Hoping to catch his old companions in time and to tell them what had happened in Eden yesterday.
What he never in million years expected was the sight of someone, hidden and lying on the ground, with cuts and massive amount of blood spilled everywhere and into the water, was actually his little baby sister.