LIFE had a funny way of making your life miserable as hell, or helped you out in the most inconvenience and impossible ways. Captain Ren let his mind wandered off. He stood delicately with a great balance on one of the branches of the tall tre...
LIFE had a funny way of making your life miserable as hell, or helped you out in the most inconvenience and impossible ways.
Captain Ren let his mind wandered off.
He stood delicately with a great balance on one of the branches of the tall trees. His back was against the trunk, and he held up a binocular that focused only on his comrade, a friend, whom at the moment, was sitting on one of the gigantic stones, dressed in a pure white gown and veils made from the finest fibre in the whole kingdom.
Little beads of pearl necklace was placed around the Spirit Princess’s neck that glowed in the dark. The bodice of the gown was a perfect fit for her. It allowed her to move her arms around easily and reached out for the twin blades that were well hidden beneath the gown, should an occasion arise.
Strings of scarlet hair was pulled into a lovely bun, hidden underneath the Gossamer veil. Her face painted white from the facial powder and her lips was coloured in deep red. Lastly, there was a rough shone of pink on each cheeks.
The makeover had been a courtesy made by Medea, and Lucy, who had been in charged of dressing the Spirit Princess as the Sacrificial Bride that looked fine as wine.
When they had finished dressing her up, even Ren, a gentleman that he was, had found it extremely hard not to gawk at her. The two ladies had certainly successfully and completely transformed her into a lady — a bridal princess!
Gone all her less-than-perfect appearance, and her not-so-befitting clothes for a princess.
Now all they need to do was wait for the Huzzar to arrive.
Ren sighed for the twentieth times within the past half an hour. The cold wind blew at the back of his neck gently, making him shivered almost immediately. The night was getting darker as time passed by, and the temperature had dropped rapidly.
Midnight was silently approaching.
Ren prayed hard and hoped there would not be any storms heading their way tonight. He had been worried sick for the Spirit Princess, fearing the bridal gown might not be thick enough to keep her warm throughout the whole ordeal.
Fortunately for him, Lucy had grown tired of hearing the First Captain repeatedly dwelling his worries about the layers of the gown, had repeatedly assured him that Mika wore thick layers underneath the gown, and that she had also cast a spell to keep her body temperature protected from the night’s cold.
That had certainly made him shut his mouth and earned a mocking name from the witch, who nicknamed him ‘Uncle Worrywart’.
Ren in return, had given his little friend a sharp glare while Medea had giggled at her older cousin and nodded her head, agreeing with the new given nickname.
The First Captain had been so preoccupied with deep thoughts, that he failed to notice a presence had climbed up on the tree and landed behind him.
“How’s the Princess doin’?” A familiar voice startled him, nearly made Ren fell down from his spot.
That was truly careless of him. What if it had been a foe instead who had sneaked up behind him? Ren mentally scolded himself.
“...The Princess is doing all right, so far. How are the others?
“Shinji’s still tryin’ to track down the damn Huzzar. Dunno how he does it — the guy’s a nut-case.” Kazuo shrugged. “Guy’s scouting the area just in case we came across some old friends.”
The last word made Ren frowned. Unfortunately, his action did not went unnoticed by the other man who bought his arms behind his head. One eye closed while the other stared at the back of his old friend.
“I see. And yourself?”
“Me?” Kazuo grinned widely and flashed him a winning smile.
“Why, I’ll be watchin’ over the Princess, of course! After all, I am her unofficially appointed bodyguard.”
Ren snorted loudly. Figures.
It had been quite an unexpected event — to be reunited with Shinji and the others shortly after Mika and her companions had arrived at the Southern Forest, where the place was rumoured to be the Huzzar’s lair.
The lair was an empty widely space with a largely menhir standing at the centre, and a ritual symbolic — a spiral in the shape of a dragon written on the ground. It was dark and filled with creepy atmosphere, enough to make anyone jumped and ran at the first sight of the place.
In less than a minute after the duo had arrived, they had been ambushed by three figures hidden in the dark and immediately gotten in battle.
Mika had leap out in the air, and landed her feet graciously on the ground, her blades brought upfront. Her attackers had all been males, tall and hidden under dark hooded cloak, which covered half of their faces, thus, had made them unrecognisable.
Wasting no time, Mika lunged her blades forward and begun attacking one of her three opponents while Ren handled the rest.
Her opponent had moved swiftly and rapidly. Worse of all, he had managed to dodge all of her attacks. He had also been able to read and predicted all of her movements.
When he parried, he had used only his fists and kicks and shown to be a lot stronger, faster and merciless toward her. Mika had nearly gotten hit by the man who had aimed for her neck, if it hadn’t been for Lucy whom, at the heat of the moment, sent a flying bolt at him.
The attacker had momentarily distracted for a short while, enough time for him to summon an energy chi to nullify it.
Taking the golden chance, Mika went and tackled and wrestled the man to the ground. She had him trapped on the ground, in a choke-hold, with a sharp deadly blade pointed at his throat.
“Y-You’ve... Gotten stronger... Mika.” The man gasped and hissed painfully from her grasp.
Mika’s eyes immediately grown widened. She could easily identified that voice miles away and anywhere!
Looking at the man’s painful expression and his face that was turning blue from the lacked of oxygen, Mika quickly released him.
“I’m so sorry! Why didn’t you tell me earlier it was you?”
“I’d wanted to test you.” Shinji wheezed and coughed for a little bit before looking at his Apprentice with a little smirk, and gently he patted her head. “You have gotten a lot stronger since the last time we sparred, Mika. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Mika lunged herself at him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and embraced him.
“I’d thought I’ll never see you again!”
Shinji snorted. “Now that’s just lame. You really think I’d die in a place like this?”
“No.” It was Mika’s turn to snort, before she cracked into a laughing fit. After a moment, the Spirit Princess had managed to catch her breath, and backed away from Shinji.
Looking at the man now, she fought the urge to tell him everything: how she remembered her forgotten past. How he had tried his hardest to save her life, and how he had been forced to erase her past in order to protect her. Most of all, Mika had wanted to tell him to stop beating himself for what had happened in the past.
Sadly, their reunion had been short-lived with the arrival of rest of the team.
Guy, upon seeing his adoptive sister, had immediately gave her the most bone-crushing hug in the world that made Mika utterly grateful that she was born as a Spirit. If she was a human, no doubt all of her back bones would be crushed to pieces.
After Guy had, to his reluctant, been forced to pull away from the Spirit Princess by Shinji, Kazuo had slipped in and given her a friendly hug, as well as a slap on her butts.
That sole action had earned the blonde fighter a loud, painful and merciless pummelled down to the ground by Shinji.
After a good moment of catching up with each other, Mika had felt a great relief knowing everyone was back together once again after being separated from a couple of days ago. Though, everyone was a little bit crazy in the head, and a bit on the edge, nevertheless, Mika had been glad to know everyone was safe and sound.
Five minutes prior Kazuo joined Ren on the tree’s branches, something was thrown at their direction — and landed straight at the centre of Kazuo’s flawless right cheek.
“Ouch! What the...” The ginger-blonde man winched in pain at the thing that hit him — a pebble.
Both men looked down to the ground to Shinji who smirked victoriously and Guy who smiled apologetically.
“The hell, Shinji? You wanna pick a fight now?”
Shinji snorted and crossed his arms. “Get your arses down here. We need to talk.”
“But what about the Princess? Should’t someone be here and watch over her, just in case?” Ren asked in concern.
“She’ll be fine. Besides, I don’t think that damn thing will come out anytime soon if it senses someone is watching over her. Come down now!”
Initially, Ren was reluctant to leave his post, but eventually changed his mind. Once he climbed down from the tree, Shinji began briefing them about the plan.
“What do we have so far?” Ren asked.
“Beside the ones that we’ve already told you, nothing. But at least we know what we’re dealing with. And those letters,” Guy pointed at the King’s Threatening letters that were in Shinji’s hands. “Are enough evidences for us to give to the Master Oracle. Once these reach to the Master Oracle’s hands, words will be out that the King is a part of the conspiracy with the Spirits.”
Everyone looked at Ren who looked down on the ground.
“How will you cope with these?” Shinji asked.
Ren sighed deeply. “My uncle is known as the ‘Tyrant King’ throughout Fulaina. as absurd as this is, I have an absolute faith in him that he won’t stoop low as betraying his own Kingdom for the sake of power, unlike Lord Ranfel. No offence intended, Mister Guy.”
“None taken. Please continue.” Guy lifted his chin up. At this moment, he ought to accept what his father had done was a horrible deeds indeed.
Ren nodded. “I’m sure someone else is trying to set him up into this mess and trying to bring this Kingdom down to ruins.”
Shinji had one hand under his chin, deeply in thoughts. “Let’s put that one aside for now. Ren, does the legend mentions when exactly does the Huzzar arrives to capture it’s sacrificial bride?”
“I-I don’t know.” Ren stuttered.
“Ya don’t know?” Kazuo raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “Or do ye pretend not to know? C’mon, this is your kingdom’s urban legend! What do ya have ta’ hide?”
“I honestly don’t know! The Huzzar was believed by most people to be an urban legend. There are some people who believed it was created by idiots to scare off the enemies, and to cause havoc amongst the people. Unfortunately, I happened to be one of those people!”
“Okay.” Guy spoke out. Easing the tension between the two men. “Regardless of the urban legend, does it mentioned or said anything about how does the Huzzar normally captured its victim? Any hints at all?”
Ren slowly shook his head. “Sorry. None of us really did care much when it comes to the legend because we hardly believe in it.”
“Damn it!” Kazuo gritted his teeth. His clenched fist stroke down on the hard ground. “How the hell are we suppose to protect Mika if we don’t even know these little details about the Huzzar?!”
“Silence, fool.” Shinji hushed the ginger-blonde. He had one hand roamed on his face and chin, brushing the little growing stubble on his chin. He hadn’t got the time to shave for two damned days now and it was starting to disturb him.
“Regardless, let’s focus on the majority of the plan here; Mika has been informed and knew her place, so that leaves only us. It’s close to midnight now, and the temperature is dropping rapidly. We can only assume that the Huzzar is at least capable of the cold. That gives us the disadvantage because at this rate, if the Huzzar doesn’t show up, we’ll be frozen to death.”
He gazed at Ren. “No matter how great your fairy friend’s magic is, it is just a temporarily.”
“We don’t know when it’ll comes nor do we even know how or what it looks like. there are too many loop holes in this mission!” Kazuo sighed. “So now what?”
“According to what was said by Miss Lucy earlier,” said Guy. “The Huzzar is the ancient Dragon from the Spirit World, isn’t it? Does it means it also came from a portal that is also linked to the Spirit World?”
A deep silence filled in for a short moment.
“Shit.” Shinji swore, breaking the silence once and for all.
“We’ve being misled this whole time! Someone has been using Baron’s Portal right under our noses all this while!”
“All this while?”
“Right under our noses?”
“Explain.” stated Ren calmly.
Shinji groaned. “The whole time we are busy playing cat-and-mouse and hide-and-seek, someone had discovered the missing Baron’s Portal and has been using it for quite some time. In other words, by using Baron’s Portal, he is responsible of bringing the Huzzar into our world. We were so damn focused getting rid of the Huzzar, we’ve completely forgotten about the Baron’s portal!”
Shinji chuckled darkly. “Whoever the bastard is, he had everything well planned. The timing was perfect. Can’t believe I let myself being deceived like this.”
“What a minute, Shinji. A-Are you saying this is an insider’s job? A mole?” asked Kazuo, tensely.
“A rat would be a suitable terms for it.” Shinji firmly nodded. “But yes, it’s an insider’s job alright.”
Ren groaned and paced back and forth while letting his fingers ran roughly throughout his hair.
“Next, you’ll be telling me that my uncle the King is the culprit!”
“You pathetic humans aren’t far away behind from the truth than I’d thought!” A familiar and irritating voice came from the bushes broke the tense atmosphere.
“Ah hell.” Shinji groaned again.
“Prince Makai!” Guy’s eyes widened. Having last seen Makai back in Eden, he had tolerated a more or less hostile feeling toward the young Prince.
Makai scanned each and every one of them sharply. Behind him, were his Loyal Adviser and Lord Eden’s mortal Liaison, Rinda.
“What the — Rinda? The hell you’re doing with that bratty Prince?” Kazuo scowled deeply.
Rinda rolled her eyes and put one hand on her hips. “Believe me, it wasn’t my choice either. The Boss made me to do it.”
Her words caused the young Spirit Prince to feel offended. Before he could retort back for disrespecting him, the young girl continued.
“I’m under a strict order from Lord Eden to stick around with these two until the investigation against Lord Ranfel is done.”
Rinda turned her attention from Kazuo to Shinji and frowned.
“You know, you’re in luck that both of the Master Oracle and Lord Eden had sent us to aid you. You guys looked like you really could use a hand or two. Just what kind of a messed up situation you’ve gotten into this time, Shinji?”
Expected that she would jumped on him like she normally would do after seeing him for a long while, Shinji was caught off his guards by her accused tone and professionalism.
“Shut up.” Shinji turned his back away from her.
Meanwhile, Leo sensed the tension between them rapidly rising, cleared his throat to catch their attention.
“Just as it was said by the young lady here, we’ve come to aid your team as requested by Lord Eden, Prince Shinji. However, please take note that we do have our own mission given by the Master Oracle; that is to investigate the missing Baron’s Portal, and also find out why it had gone missing for years. We believed it has everything to do with the reason why the Spirits had retreated from the battle.”
“Mind exchanging with us what you knew so far?” Ren suddenly spoke. He had a sword readily on his right hand and stood in defensive stance, whereas the rest of his comrades had their guards down and completely at ease with the arrival of the two Spirits.
In all his life, Ren had never thought nor dreamt of meeting with the Spirits, let alone the Spirits’ Royal Family.
“Certainly.” Leo smiled kindly at the young man and quickly began explaining to the rest of them what information had they been given to them by the Master Oracle, including the previous Lord’s statements and confession.
It had taken Ren exactly twenty seconds to change his expression from gasped to gawked and finally, exploded upon hearing the truth from Leo.
“So the whole thing started because of the Baron’s Portal?” The First Captain fumed.
“For most part, yes. But I’m sure there’s a lot more than that. Isn’t it right?” Shinji stared at Makai, who reluctantly nodded.
“The Spirit Queen wants Mika. Period. Her target has always been Mika. For what purposes, I do not know. The point is, Reza hates humans with great passion, enough for her to start a large scale war like this. What I want to know is why. Why bother starting a big scale war with you humans? What drove her to do so? To conquer the Human World, perhaps? If that’s the case, she’d probably have the Spirits roaming around this world freely by now. But she didn’t. After the war had abruptly ended, we’ve made some insight investigation and found out that out of the four Main Kingdoms in Fulaina, Reza been targeting only two of them the most — Luyas and here, Aquarius.”
“Hold on a minute!” Ren raised his hand in the air. “Now I knew for a fact that the King Lewis and the former Lord are not the best of friends nor are they good acquaintances. but surely, there ought to be a mistake! His Majesty is my uncle. Hence, I can vouch for him knowing that he wouldn’t dare to put his Kingdom or people in danger for a selfish act on purpose!”
Sadly, his argument only received loud silence from the others. Each bore a hard expression on their faces. Even Makai had his head turned away from him with an unreadable expression.
“What? All of you think he did this on purpose?”
“Put it this way, bud.” Kazuo suddenly spoke. “He was willing to sacrifice his one and only daughter to the so-called urban legend Huzzar in the name of saving this Kingdom from — threats letters from a man he barely knew. I ain’t got a daughter, but I’m sure as hell wouldn’t want to sacrifice her all in the name of saving my freaking kingdom.”
“Regardless—” Shinji’s sudden cough caught everyone’s attention, mainly the older Spirit. His forehead was damping with sweats. Shaking his head and ignored the headache, Shinji continued.
“Our plans has definitely changed, like it or not. Finding Baron’s Portal is now our main priority, beside killing off the Huzzar. We’ll need to divide the team into two. One team will find the portal as soon as possible, while the other team will stay here and give Mika supports.”
He pointed one finger at his two companions. “You guys scout the area outside of the perimeters. Ren, you go with them since you knew this place better than anyone else.”
“We’ll go too.” Rinda spoke up.
“No.” Shinji shook his head. “I know you have your orders, but things have changed. I need strong people support Mika. Ren, since you knew this area much better than the rest of us, you take the lead. Sneak back into the castle and find out where the damn portal is hiding and who’s responsible for hiding it.”
“Roger that. Good luck on your side.” Guy waved a hand goodbye and went off with his newly reassigned team.
Shinji gave them a quick nod as they left, before focusing on the others.
“Originally, the plan had been to simply get rid of the Huzzar for once and all and save the Kingdom. But since our objective has changed, and we don’t really much time to form a proper plan, at times like this, desperate situation calls for desperate measure.”
Shinji took out something from his sleeves pocket — a white sheet of crumpled paper which he’d roughly drawn and written down the layout of the area and their surroundings, and put it down on the ground for everyone to see.
“If Ren and the others manage to find the portal and then bring it over here in time, we can use it to push the Huzzar back to the Spirit World without actually killing it.”
“And allows it to make damage in the Spirit World instead? I object!” Makai snarled at the White Wolf Prince in disguise.
“Hold on for a moment, Your Highness.” Leo put a hand on the Spirit Prince’s shoulder. “While I don’t quite think it would cause a stir in the Spirit World should we send it back, what are the odds that the portal will works in the first place and how do we get it to activate?”
“Allow me.” Rinda grinned widely. With delicate fingers allowed her, she quickly unhooked something she’d been holding on and kept hidden very craftily, around her neck.
“When Lord Eden had assigned us to this mission, he’d specifically told me to take this along.” Unhooking the adjustable string on her neck, she bought it forward for the others to see with a trill of ‘Ta-da!’ .
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
Two beautiful crystal gemstones in different shades of rubies, were tied at the end of the knot — the Ulliya Gemstones.
A hand bought the crystals nearer to him for a close inspection. Shinji looked at the Crystals with his mouth agape. He had heard of the Ulliya Gemstones and how they worked — hypothetically speaking, of course, but even he had never seen it.
No matter how much influences or great his Clan was, there were some things that even they couldn’t get their hands on, such as the ever so fragile the Ulliya gemstones. The Clan does however, kept records and tabs on it’s whereabouts, but to be the first of his Clan to see the gemstones up-closed like this...
Shinji shook his head.
Focus. He need to focus on the mission. He could brag all he want about it when they get back home.
If they get back.
It seemed that the more they were getting closer to the end of their journey, things were getting harder each day. Though none of them spoke about it, the truth was, they were reaching the end of their limits.
“I wish you’d informed me sooner about this, Rinda.” Shinji sighed.
“Very well. Since you have the gemstones—” His speech was interrupted by the heavy cough once again.
“Are you all right, Shinji? Do you need me to—”
“I’m fine.” Shinji stopped the younger girl from helping him. Wiping his mouth with his sleeves, he took a few of deep breath.
“I apologise for that, everyone. Anyway Rinda, since you have the Ulliya gemstones, could you make your way to where Ren and the others are heading?”
“Yes. But Shinji—”
“Good. Make sure you stay on guard at all the times. Be extra careful.”
Rinda’s concerned eyes for her beloved’s health did not went unnoticed by the others. Nevertheless, the young girl nodded.
With a final glance at the older man, Rinda fled to where Ren and the others were.
Shinji let out a sigh. Massaging the growing headache, he took a few slow deep breath, and paid his full attention to the two Spirits.
“Since there are only the three of us here, let’s take a look at the plan again.” He pointed at the X mark on the paper.
“Mika is here, where the Huzzar is supposedly to pick up his sacrificial bride. As you can see, the whole area is covered up trees and bushes — which gives me a good position to hide at the nearby treetop. Kazuo and Guy were supposed to hide over here.” He circled at a bunch of bushes on the left side, further away from the X mark.
“They were supposed to keep taps on Mika and be alert of any changes in her situation. If the situation gotten worse, they would come out from their hiding spot and help her out. As long as it looks like Mika is able to handle the situation, they are to stay put and keep hidden. The reason for this is because of an agreement made between the Crown Princess and Mika.”
“Huh!” Makai grunted and began to walk away, heading toward the direction where his twin sister was.
“Where do you think you’re going? I haven’t finished yet!” Shinji hissed.
Leo shook his head and attempted to hide a smirk behind his hand as the hot-tempered Prince stomped away anyways.
“Brat.” Shinji shook his head in disapproval. “Honestly, youngsters these days lack of respect for their eldest!”
“Speaking of respect, Your Highness, do you mind listening to this old Spirit’s woes before we prepare for the battle?”
To Shinji’s surprise, Leo took out something out of the small bag pouch he was carrying — a bottle of pills before handed it over to him.
Shinji looked at the bottle bewilderingly. Before he could speak, Leo cut him off.
“Take one three times a day. Don’t worry. It’s perfectly safe for you to consume.”
“Uh...” Shinji stared at the bottle awkwardly. “I don’t... mean to be rude, but I’d rather not—”
“Denying your growing illness is a foolish thing to do, Your Highness.” Leo spoke in a serious tone. “Your coughing just now did not sounded like what a normal cough should be. Not even a mild one. Based from the sound of it, it seems that you’re suffering from an inflammation of the lungs called Pneumonia. Tell me, when was the last time you have gotten a good night rest?”
Shinji tilted his head to the side and frowned deeply. He crossed his arms.
“Before the start of this journey. Even when we stayed at Lord Eden or the Master Oracle’s place, we still have to keep our guards up and prepared for anything to come.”
He brought one hand to the back of his head sighed. “Look, I appreciate your concerns. But— ”
“—But it has been going on for months, yes?” Leo’s voice softened. “Your Highness, there is no secrets that you are the one who had been taking such a good care and keep a watchful eyes of the Princess. The Spirit Kingdom is without a doubt, forever grateful for what you have done for her and us. Hence, as part of the Spirit Royal Family, please allow me to show you my deepest gratitude for keeping Her Highness safe and sound all this while. Take the pills.”
“I don’t—” Shinji protest was cut down by another fit of coughing. This time it was so severed that he was forced to sit down on the ground and on his knees.
Leo watched with deep sadness in his eyes and sighed. He got on his knees and gently patted the young human Prince on the back as he continuously to cough.
“Tell this to no one.” Shinji hissed, in a low and shaking voice once the coughing fit stopped. His eyes were moist, glaring at the older Spirit.
For all his worth, Shinji’s pride was bigger than anything else. So big that in fact, it was equalled to the Spirit Prince himself. It was his pride that allowed him to carry his Clan’s name proudly.
It was his confidence.
“Very well. I say no words to anyone about this as long as you keep eating those pills I’ve given you for at least a month.” Leo dug up a canteen from his bag and handed it over to Shinji. “Starting now.”
Shinji glared at the older Spirit for treating him as if he was a bloody child. He reluctantly took a gulp of the canteen and then took one pill from the bottle, before swallowing it.
“Thanks.” Shinji muttered softly.
“Not a problem, Your Highness. Now then,” Leo was just about to say something when a brutal gust of wind that came out of nowhere suddenly tore the conversation apart and throughout the area, followed by a loud echoing howling soared in the sky.
MIKA felt a cold chill roamed down her spine like an electrical shock when her sharp hearing sense made a brief contact with the howling sound in the sky.
There was no doubt about it.
It finally arrived.
Dread settled in the pit of her stomach like dead weights. Fears suddenly crept into her skin like a phantom. Mika shivered but pulled herself together by clenching her fists.
“Relax. You got this. Shinji and the others are keeping watchful eyes on you. Relax.” Mika muttered softly to herself.
While she was trying to ease her worries, something rapidly fast moved amongst the bushes caught her attention and startled her.
One hand automatically reached out for the twin blade hidden underneath the white bridal dress she was wearing.
“Hello again, sister.”
Mika felt her blood ran cold as ice at the voice. Under the Blood Moon’s shimmering light, stood Makai in all of his glory. He bore the same stoic expression since the last time she’d seen him.
Goosebumps crawled on her skin when she remembered that day. Even though Mika had gained back her memories; the sight of Makai attacked her with deep hatred in his eyes still disturbed her.
W-Why is he here? I’m not ready to face with him yet!
As if he could read her thoughts, Makai smirked. “What’s the matter? Were you not expecting to see this face again anytime soon?”
“How did you get here, Makai?” Mika tried to control the trembling of her voice and kept the tone down as low as she possibly could.
“You weren’t supposed to be in here! Lucy had cast a spell—”
“Oh, please.” the Spirit Prince rolled his eyes and snorted. “As if that thing will ever work on Spirits such as like us. You’ve forgotten how special we are, sister. How pathetic.”
Makai crossed his arms. “A simple spell like is hardly a challenge for a Spirit like us. For instance, I could easily dispelled it while my hands tied behind my back and falling down the cliff in seconds.”
Mika instinctively took a few steps backwards away from him, one hand still on her dagger’s hilt. The sound of howling echoed above them, getting louder by each seconds.
Time was ticking.
Mika knew she had to call off whatever it was that Makai had planned on doing They could solved their own problems later. For now though, the focus was on the Huzzar.
“Makai...”Mika said very carefully. “I know the two of us have many unresolved... issues. But right now, we REALLY need to put that aside if we want to see another sunrise.”
The howling above them getting louder. Mika looked up and saw a big shadow was casting over the clouds.
When Makai didn’t move from his spot, she urged him again more forcefully this time.
“Go, Makai! Now!”
Mika returned to her post. She sat down on her knees waiting for the Huzzar to land and mentally prepared herself for what to come. What she saw through the veils a minute later nearly gave her a heart attack.
Her brother was still standing and unmoved on his spot. He had one sword on his right hand, and bravely faced the Huzzar as it landed on the ground.
Shinji had already moved to his position up on the treetop. He looked at them from above using a pair of binocular.
“What the hell are those two doing?” He muttered lowly.
Shaking his head, Shinji turned his gaze from the twins to down below, nearby the bushes, where Leo was hiding.
The older Spirit sensed that he was being watched, looked up. He lifted his hand and made an ‘okay’ sign from his spot.
Shinji nodded. He was about to turn his gaze back to the Spirit twins when something else caught his attention on the other side of the bushes —movements at the surrounding perimeters.
Shinji took a closer look to make sure if it was real...
“Shit!” He swore aloud.
Lucy had mentioned earlier none of the Knights knew of the Princess’s whereabouts nor the location of the Huzzar’s lair.
Even if they knew, the fairy had cast a barrier around the area to prevent anyone from coming in and going out of this forest, including the Huzzar.
So who the hell were those guys?
Wasting no time, Shinji pressed the ‘Line 1’ button on his wristwatch.
“Line 1, calling in?”
Shinji was about to say it again when an uncleared voice was heard.
“Sorry, but you got ta to talk a bit faster, Shinji. We’ll be approaching the Castle soon.”
“I’ll get straight to the point: we have a major problem. I’ve unidentified some friends roaming around our surrounding areas.”
“What?!” Everyone shouted in synced.
“B-But how? I’d made sure nobody is allowed to enter the whole area except for us! And well, Her Highness’s brother apparently...” Murmured Lucy. She had made a replica of the Portable Device for herself and also fixed the other’s devices as well.
“Like hell I know how!” Shinji hissed. “Look, there’s no time to argue. Whoever these bastards are, we need to force them out of here. Leo, do you copy that?”
“Affirmative, Your Highness. I’m on it.”
Shinji exhaled loudly. “I never thought I’d be so damn happy to have the brat’s team on our side.” He signed out from the conversation after hearing a few snorts and chuckle from the others.
Taking a deep breath, Shinji held up his gun and pointed it at the Huzzar, aiming for its forehead.
THICK golden pair of scaled wings soaring in the sky underneath the moonlight. The Huzzar was black, large and muscular with scaled torso connected to it’s strong, long and sharp-edged tail. It had a long neck shaped like a serpentine, with yellowish hair running down it.
A pair of red irises scanned on the ground where the sacrificial Bride was... Or at least where the sacrificial Bride should be.
Instead, it found male figure stood arrogantly and proudly with a sword pointed at it. Not further away from the said male figure, stood the real Sacrificial Bride.
Interesting. The Huzzar chuckled darkly before it made a gracious landing nearby.
Mika covered her eyes with her sleeves the moment the Huzzar landed on the ground. Dusty wind assaulted her like there was no tomorrow. It took a full minute until she was able to see everything clearly again.
When Mika looked up, horror came in full wave as her brother stood bravely in front of the Huzzar.
“Well, well... What do we have here?” The Huzzar’s deep grouchy voice echoed through the forest. “To think that the King of this kingdom would actually sacrificed his only daughter for my own sake.”
It laughed arrogantly. “How amusing!”
Mika kept quiet. She glared at the Huzzar from behind the veils with clenched teeth, before her gaze quickly returned to her brother.
Makai on the other hand, refused to say a word. His face however, said all. How he hated the arrogance shown by the ancient Dragon. How everything and everyone was a pain in his arse. How he couldn’t wait to get out of this place. And...
A quick glance at the Princess made Mika instantly froze and shivered under her brother’s sharp glare.
How he wanted to kill the Huzzar quickly and get back to their conversation earlier.
The Huzzar moved wildly in circle. It took one small step, and then, two big steps, and finally moved until it finally stood only a few inches away from the Spirit Prince.
Makai could even felt the Huzzar hot breath on him — the nasty odour that came out from it’s mouth was more than enough to make the Spirit Prince vomited on the spot.
A long dead silence filled in the air between the three of them, including Shinji.
On the other side of the forest, Ratz’s men were currently proceeding into the surrounding area. Words from the Crown Princess had not yet reached to their ears.
The plan had been, to have Mika to plead for ‘Parley’ — a code of Truce and Trust —with the Huzzar. Parley was commonly used when a person who wished to challenge another regardless of status and backgrounds, for a duel till death with conditions.
Mika had been the one who came up with the idea when she suddenly remembered the lessons that had been taught to her by Reza when she was a child.
Of course, when Mika had first mentioned Parley to be used, almost instantly five out of six of them had greatly opposed and rejected the idea. Especially, Princess Medea and Ren.
Kazuo, who had no idea what the word meant, found nothing was wrong with it, until Guy had explained to him what it really meant and represent, and only then did he objected the idea.
Ren on the other hand, had called the idea an absolute absurd. But Mika had argued back, stated that they were already lacked of time to modify the original plan.
Hence, after a long argument, the Spirit Princess had eventually won despite everyone’s disapproval.
When Mika had turned to look at Shinji, he hadn’t said a word, except the frowns on his forehead had deepened.
“This is rather a surprise.” The Huzzar’s deep voice snapped everyone out of their thoughts and ended the long silence. “I was expecting only one Sacrificial Bride. Not two.” His sharp eyes went from Makai to Mika.
Meanwhile, Makai glared at it with a dark expression. He didn’t say a word. But Mika could easily see how tightly he clenched on the hilt of his sword.
Even Shinji was slightly surprised and worried to see the usual proud and hot-headed Spirit Prince was doing his very best to keep his head cool.
The Huzar sniffed in the air before it grinned widely. “Spirits! What an honour to have a powerful Spirit in my presence!” It stared down at Makai. “And not just an ordinary Spirit either...”
The Huzzar sniffed some more and let out a long satisfying sigh.
“Ah, how the mighty ones have fallen. To encounter with the Spirit’s Royal Family like this... Very nostalgic. It reminded me the good old days when the mighty Spirits Royal Family once governed the Spirit World while the rest of us were just nothing more than your loyal subjects.”
Makai still didn’t say a word despite the venomous tone came from the Huzzar. His expression however, darkened.
Mika watched closely as the Huzzar roamed around Makai in a slow circle. She dared not to move. Her hands were cold and her forehead was damp from anxiety.
Her eyes grew widened when the Huzzar flashed numerous of sharp teeth and deadly fangs at them. All the sudden, it lifted its right wrist, and looked as if it was ready to strike Makai down with its paws.
Mika broke into a sprint from her post, jumped and landed in between her brother and the Huzzar, while raising both hands in the air.
In a loud and clear voice, she shouted, “Parley!”
As if something had stunned the great Huzzar, it stopped instantly just as it was about to land a strike against the still Spirit Prince.
“Shit!” Shinji swore again.
The plan had gone off-charted the moment Makai refused to barge from his spot when the Huzzar landed.
Clenching his teeth, Shinji continued to observe and monitored of the situation, all the while keeping his gun aimed at the back of the Huzzar’s head.
“What the hell are you doing?” Makai hissed at his sister, who was standing between him and the Huzzar.
Ignored of his question, Mika took a deep breath and slowly moved forward to the Huzzar.
“O’ Guardian of this Kingdom and Keeper of the Dark, hear my pleads and accept my Parley.”
The Huzzar was nowhere being happy when it heard the word Parley being used. It backtracked few steps away from them, but still kept a sharp gaze on them.
“What is the meaning of this?” It hissed. “The Sacrificial Bride dares to use Parley against me?” It narrowed its eyes. “So the King uses his own daughter to challenge me, the Great Huzzar? How absurd!”
Mika grinned slightly. “There’s nothing absurd about that. I am indeed a Princess. However, I am not the Crown Princess of this Kingdom.”
Ripping the bridal gown easily with one hand, she held a sharp blade on the other hand and pointed it at the Huzzar.
“Princess Mika of the Spirit World, hereby to challenge you, the Great Huzzar, to a duel till death!”
The silence thickened the moment Mika declared herself as the Spirit Princess.
Finally, a loud vibrating sound came from the Huzzar. It chuckled softly, before it broke into a loud laugh that echoed throughout the forsaken forest.
“My, oh, My! I haven’t laughed this much ever since the end of the Third-League War!” The Huzzar chuckled. “I must be growing old if I couldn’t even detected two members of the Royal Spirits Family before my very nose!”
“You’re not. I’ve cast a spell on me to make sure you won’t be able to detect any of my scent. Now, do you accept my request for Parley or not, O’ Mighty Huzzar?”
“Do you even know what you’re talking about, little girl? Have you gone mad? Do you seriously think you could defeat me using merely those tiny blades—”
Mika interrupted. “Parley, is a code of Truce and Trust. It is commonly use when someone who wishes to challenge another, regardless of status or background differences, for a duel till death; with conditions.”
The grin that plastered on the Huzzar’s face was no longer to be seen and was instead, replaced with curiosity.
“And what might the conditions be?”
Taking a deep breath, Mika exhaled. “Should I win, you promise to return to wherever it was that you’d come from. You will retreat and leave this Kingdom and its people alone in peace, and you shall never return.”
“And if I win?” Challenged the Huzzar. The thoughts of him winning this child-play game excited him. It caused him to smile arrogantly.
“Should you win,” Mika said with a little hesitation. She clinched her fists tightly, an action noticed by the Huzzar caused his excitement to be sky-rocketed.
“Then this entire vast of land shall be your new home. My blood: the blood of the Chosen One shall be yours to claim and the rightful Crown Princess of this Kingdom, as your sacrificial bride as promised. These are the terms and agreements for which the Crown Princess and myself have agreed upon.”
“What!?” Makai shouted loudly behind her.
“How exciting!” The Huzzar replied in an exciting, high pitched tone. “Not only will I get to taste and consume the blood of the Spirits’ Royal Family, I also got the honour of consuming the Chosen One! Vengeance is sweeter than I’d thought it would be!”
Mika narrowed her eyes at the Huzzar’s excitement. She looked at Makai, who still stared at her with rage slowly filled in his eyes when he realised what was happening.
Pushing all of her doubts at the depth of her mind, Mika turned her attention back at the Huzzar.
“Very well. I accept the challenge.” The Huzzar nodded.
Mika reached out her right hand for another blade that was hanging around her hips and got into a fighting stance.
Instead of attacking her upfront like Mika had assumed, the Huzzar opened and spread its wings before it soared in the sky.
“Shit!” Mika quickly followed to where the Huzzar was heading.
Seeing his Apprentice broke into a sprint, Shinji jumped down from the branches and followed her.
ELSEWHERE, Ren was having a hard time trying to persuade Ratz’s men who were guarding the Castle’s Entrance to let them in. No matter how many times he’d told them the plan, they still stubbornly refused to step aside.
“Let me see Her Royal Highness!” Ren demanded, frustratingly.
“My apologies, Captain. However, we received strict orders from Captain Ratz not to allow anyone to enter the castle. That including you.”said William, Ratz’s trusted Vice-Captain.
“Bastards! Didn’t ye pricks hear a word what he’d just said?” Kazuo growled. It had taken all of his willpower simply not to punch the living daylight of the Knights and entered the gate.
“Gentlemen,” Guy stepped in between the Knights and his companions. “Your loyalty to your Captain is admirable. Regardless, You do realised the grave situation that you are currently in, don’t you?”
“Regardless of the situation—” William tried to speak but was immediately cut off by Guy’s cold tone.
“You are currently in the middle of the battlefield. This vast of land will ends up becoming the Huzzar’s lair if there’s no one to stop the Huzzar. Do you really think you men could stand a chance to defeat that monster? No one stands a chance of beating the Huzzar except for the Spirits!”
Ren in silence as watched as the Knights scowled deeply. In all honestly, Ratz was a good man and a great Captain.He’d taught his men very well to listen to him and only him. But right now, that loyalty was really starting to get on the First Captain’s nerves.
Time was running out with each snarled the Knights were giving them.
“You always give us too little credit, Captain Ren.” William smirked, arrogantly. He pointed out at something wrapped in a white sheet behind him.
“Our Captain Ratz is a brilliant man. A normal weapon wouldn’t do any harms to the Huzzar. Hence, he had the King imported a secret weapon in order to defeat it. Behold, ’The Blaze Cannon!”
He unwrapped the sheet and there stood the most glorified made by man combined with the latest modern technology; the Blaze Cannon.
Courtesy to its name, the Blaze Cannon is able to launch not only powerful gunpowder, but it could also burned anything in it’s path using the modern ‘blaze technology’ from an unregistered and private company — Haemon’s Enterprises.
“With this latest weapon, nothing can stands on it’s way!” William turned his head and looked at the Knight standing behind the Cannon. “Fire the cannon!”
The said Knight looked at the latter in horror before his gaze met with Ren and Lucy horrifying look were on their faces as well.
Fire burned in William’s eyes as he roared loudly, “Do it! Fire the cannon!”
With a nervous ‘yes’, the Knight rushed to activate the cannon as he was ordered.
Meanwhile, Ren roughly grabbed the said Captain by his collar and roughly pinned him against the nearest wall.
“Have you completely lost your bloody mind? What makes you think that thing could destroy the Huzzar, huh? What if it doesn’t works? It will bloody well effects everyone in this entire Kingdom as well!” Ren screamed.
“Screw you, Ren.” William spat on the man’s face. His saliva landed on the latter’s cheek.
“Screw you and the entire Royal Family! Once the Royal Family have all been wiped out, the House of Ezcardan shall rise once again and take over the crown that is rightfully ours!” said William again, and broke into a maniac laugh.
House of Ezcardan? Ren blinked a couple of times for the words to sink in.
The Ezcardan’s Family — had been one of the most prominent family in the South Land and used to be a part of the Aquarius’s Royal Family. Both of House of Ezcardan and Aquarius had a long-standing history that ended in a terrible bloodshed due to the Succession Conflicts between the two Royal Princesses twenty years ago.
The then Crown Princess of Aquarius, Princess Elise had married a man of her choice — a foreign Prince from a far off-land. Whereas, her younger sister, Princess Saline had married a man from a powerful political House, the House of Ezcardan, chosen by the Royal Family.
Filled with jealousy and hatred for not being able to wed the man she loved, Princess Saline had decided to rebel against her own family. She had started a scheme to overthrow and to take the right of succession from her oldest sister.
Using her husband’s great influences, Saline had brutally forced her way into the politics and ruthlessly usurped her sister’s rights and privileges to the throne.
Queen Elise, unable to handle any more bloodshed between the two of them, had her sister and her whole family, including her husband’s side assassinated when Saline refused to back down.
Elise, regretted her action, had taken her own life after the assassination. Her daughter had later succeeded in ascending the throne.
What none of the Aquarius Royal Family family knew was there had been a sole Ezcardan survivor during the assassination — Saline had given a birth to her second child in secrecy — to ensure that the Ezcardan’s family legacy would carry on.
For years, the sole survivor of the Ezcardan family grew and watched from afar as the Aquarius family continuously to rise and inherited the thrones one generations to another.
Here was the descendant of the Ezcardan family, threatening to wipe the rest of the Aquarius family from the surface of Fulaina.
Ren tightened his grip on the man’s collar, with clenching teeth when a realisation suddenly hit him.
“You’re the mole.”
“What?” Lucy gasped aloud. She looked at the two grown men, startled.
Before the little witch could blink, something fast came launching toward William that caused her to gasp even more.
A hard fist came in contact with his cheek as he fell on the ground. Blood came out from William’s mouth and one tooth even fell out.
“Traitorous bastard!” Ren roared angrily. “ You were the one who stole the portal and bought the Huzzar into our world, didn’t ya? Didn’t ya?!”
Ren was about to give the man another punch but was immediately stopped by a command.
“Enough, Ren!” A large leather and metal hand grabbed his lifted wrist firmly. A pair of baby blue eyes that he was too familiar with, glared at him.
“Captain Ratz!” The rest of the Knights saluted upon the arrival of their Captain. Standing behind Ratz, Medea bore a worried expression.
Release my man, Ren.” The Captain ordered in a rather calm and unnerving tone.
Ren released his fist from William’s collar and took a couple steps back. He refused to look at the Crown Princess as he took a long deep breath and calmed himself.
“Pardon me for the rude intrusion.” said Guy eventually, to the rest of them, after a short pause. “But we really are running out of time. Captain Ratz, I assume? Are you the one in charge at the moment?”
“Yes. You are?”
“Guy Heartlets, Son of Luyas. Nice meeting with you. This is my companion, Kazuo. We are friends of Ren who came to this Kingdom under Master Oracle Fye’s order.”
“He’s telling the truth.” Spoke Medea. “These are Princess Mika’s friends. As such, tell your men to treat them properly, will you, Ratz?”
“As you wish, Your Highness.” Ratz nodded. He then looked at his Vice-Commander who was still lying on the ground.
“Where is the Baron’s Portal, Vice-Commander?”
William snorted obnoxiously. “Go to hell. I’d rather have the Huzzar eats us all alive than telling you people where its whereabouts. Even you, Captain.”
“William,” Medea slowly approached him. “Also known as Flynn “William” Ezcardan. The last sole survivor of the Ezcardan Family. I’ve read and heard of you — of your family’s history. I have been wanting to meet with you, to ask for your forgiveness for all those years, for what my ancestors had done to yours.”
“Your Highness, please don’t come any further, he’s a threat and a dangerous man.” One of her escorts stopped her.
“He’s not dangerous.” Not breaking eye-contact with the man. Medea smiled. “He’s a family.”
William was forced to get up on his feet by the guards. Brushing his arms, he stood with his back straight and stared back at her in silence.
“Whatever unsolved issues that had happened in the past, let us find a better way to solve it. It doesn’t has to end up this way. It doesn’t has to end up like the way our ancestors had, in cold bloodshed. In the meantime, please cooperate with us. Please.” Begged Medea.
William stared emotionless at her. His knuckles had turned pure white from gripping too hard. Finally, after what seemed to be a long time, he sighed.
“Do what you want with me afterwards, but I want full treatment and custody for my ill grandmother. She’s not my real grandmother, but she had the one who’d found a street brat like me and even kindly welcomed me to her home.”
“Absolutely.” Medea turned to Ratz, who nodded.
“Head straight to North, at three o’clock where you’ll found a deserted ruin.” William took out a piece of a paper from his chest pocket and handed it to Medea.
“Follow these instructions when you reach to the ruin. It’ll takes you to where the portal was.”
“Thank you.” Medea handed it over to Guy.
The two men wasted no time and headed to where the portal was.
“Who’d gave you the map?” Asked Rinda suddenly.
“Someone named ‘H’ contacted me one day through a letter. Said that if I could activated the portal and bring the Huzzar over here on night of the Blood Moon, then my revenge against the Royal Family will be complete. Look, I have no idea whoever this H was. I was just following orders.”
“All right.” Ratz gestured for his men to handcuff William to be taken for an interrogation. He turned to the rest and said, “The rest of us will continue digging some more information from him—”
Beeeep. Beeeeep. Rinda’s cordless communication device suddenly beeped. Quickly, she pressed the private line, ‘R1’ button.
“Little lady,” spoke Leo’s on the other side. He sounded slightly out of breath. “Have you arrived safely at the castle with the others?”
“Yes. What’s up, old man?”
“Glad to know. Do you mind switching my line to the rest? I have my hands full at the moment.”
“Hold on.” Rinda did as she was instructed.
“What’s going on?” Ren asked.
“I’ll get straight to the point: the Knights that Prince Shinji had seen in the bushes earlier — they’re all dead.”
“All of them?” Asked Ren in great disbelief.
“Yes. And, it appears to be a case of slaughtered. There’s no sign of the Huzzar’s doing it. Just cold-blooded murder here.”
“But... How? And w-why?”
“I don’t know, little Lady. Whoever it was responsible for it, they’re dangerous.”
“What did Shinji said about this? Where are the rest?” Asked Ren again, agitated.
“Prince Shinji, along with the Princess and the Prince are currently on pursuit of the Huzzar. The Huzzar had left the forest, but, fortunately for us, it can’t escape furthermore due to the magical barrier set by Miss Lucy.”
“Where are you doing at the moment?” Asked Rinda suspiciously.
“When I got to where the Knights were, I’d encountered with a friend, whom I suspected was the one responsible for the slaughtering. Didn’t get to look much of his face, but he was tall, speedily fast, and covered in red hooded and wore a mask — shaped of a golden wolf. Need to say, I've suffered a few wounds myself. Nothing serious, though.”
“Okay. I’ll send Miss Rinda to you. Don’t move.” He disconnected the line.
Ren waited for Rinda to finish her own conversation with the older Spirit before she too disconnected the line.
“Know where he is?”
The girl nodded. “I’ve already handed the Ulliya Gemstones to Kazuo. You sure you’ll be okay here?”
Ren nodded and smiled wearily. “Sorry to make you run back and forth like this. Be extra careful of the Huzzar.”
“Sure thing. Same goes to you.” With a last bid of farewell, Rinda set out to the Southern Forest.