To The Red Line (Chapter 23: Separation)

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LORD Eden was a very busy man. Not only was he the Commanding Officer for the Operation, but he was also the Main Strategist for the League Army. While he had subordinates to help him kept the on-going operation went smoothly, he had to be the main ...

LORD Eden was a very busy man. Not only was he the Commanding Officer for the Operation, but he was also the Main Strategist for the League Army.

While he had subordinates to help him kept the on-going operation went smoothly, he had to be the main head who came out with the ideas and planning.

But life, as they said, had a funny way to tell him to slow down at his given age.

It all started a few hours ago.

Lord Eden had been in a meeting, drilling on and on about some very important briefings and discussions with the two powerful Clan’s leaders.

Everything went fine and smoothly, until Lord Eden had accidentally dropped a scroll to the floor. And as he bended down to retrieve it back, all the sudden, he felt something had snapped.

The next thing everyone knew, the poor Lord Eden let out a painful cry that echoed throughout the big tent that they were all in.

From there onwards, everything went on a bit out of control when the rest of the tent’s occupants had rushed him to the First Aid tent.

Lord Eden had since then, been excused from doing all of the works and left a high-rank member from the White Wolf Clan to temporarily take over his position while he was on a bed rest.


Lord Eden sighed loudly. 

He had been forced to stay in bed for two days by the nurse was in charge of taking care of him. His fourth attempt to get away from there had ended up failing in miserable.

The nurse, while she was a young, adorable-looking lady, hid a terrifying personality behind the cute and kind façade and smile. She had threatened to handcuff him to the pole that was attached the tent the next time he tried to leave his bed.

So here he was, stuck at playing the patient while there was a war ongoing. Even as he sat on the soft mattress, with thick blanket wrapped around his body comfortably, he kept the mask that he often wore, on.

The young nurse had tried to remove it once, claiming that it would be more comfortable for him to sleep without it while he was recovering from back pain.

The actual truth was she, like the others, had been too curious to find out about what the man looked like beneath the mask.

Even so, before her hands could reach out to take out the mask, Lord Eden had reached out faster than anyone could blink to his face and had heavily insisted that the mask stayed on.

And so, the Lord and the young nurse begun a brief argument that had lasted them for a good fifteen minutes before the nurse had finally gave in and allowed him to keep his mask on before returning to her post outside of the tent and let the man had his rest. 

She would be checking on him every now and then to make sure that he stayed in bed.

After a few minutes of laying on the bed restlessly, Lord Eden sat up and checked to his left and right.

No sign of anyone.

Good.

Taking a deep breath, the good Lord pushed a small switch at the bottom of the mask that made a slight ‘click’ sound before the whole mask could be easily to be take it off.

A few strains of beautiful long silver hair fell on his forehead as the Lord put down the mask and took a deep amount of breath —

“Is anyone here? Hellooo? Lord Edeeen! I’ve bought you company!”

In his rush, the poor Lord put the mask back on as fast as he could. His poor old heart had nearly stopped its beating just as soon as the three figures entered the tent without his permission, and with the young nurse yelling hotly at them.

Excuse me! I don’t remember giving you three permission to enter his tent! Please leave at once. The Lord needs his rest!”

“Oh jeez, lady. Give us a break, why don’cha? We were summoned to come here by the man himself!”

“How dare you! You are being extremely rude to the Lord and you really expect me to believe that?!”

“I’m afraid to tell you, but the young lady is right. I did summoned them to come here.” Lord Eden gave a satisfied grin behind the mask at the nurse’s flustered face.

“But Milord, you need to rest!”

“I will as soon as I’ve finished my important discussions with them. Don’t worry, I promise you it won’t take long.” Lord Eden said, reassuringly.

The nurse huffed loudly. With hands on her hips, she pointed one finger at him.

“Very well. But no more than a half and hour and that’s it!" She then excused herself and walked out of the tent.

Rinda snorted and rolled her eyes.

“What’s her damn problem anyway?”

“I apologised on her behalf. Her behaviour is quite understandable, actually. Things have been a little on edge for the people here because of the war. And with me now out of the picture, things have been a bit hectic.” Lord Eden sighed.

“Enough about her, let’s talk about us. The reason why I’d called you here is because there’s something important I would like only the three of you know and be aware of the situation. Especially you, Your Highness, as this matter concerns you the most.”

Makai nodded.

“An enemy’s messenger had dropped by a while ago, with a message that simply stated ‘the enemy have retreated and that Luyas is now ours to claim’.”

The trio stared at him with eyes widened and as if he’d grown another head.

“What?” Rinda was the first one to recover. She blinked her eyes several times. “Why? Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that they’re pulling back. But why?”

“I understand your disbelief, Miss Rinda. That is why I’ve sent a scout to have a look at the situation and he too had confirmed it to be true. There are no signs of the leftover Spirits in the castle whatsoever. With them pulling back and the Spirits now gone, it is with honour that I declare we have won the battle.”

Despite the winning disclaimed made by the Lord, none of them looked too cheerful or enthusiastic to celebrate. Though relief was evidently seen on their faces. 

This only meant there would be no more fighting, sacrifices and people’s lives were safe and sound.

“Just as what Miss Rinda here had spoken, the question is indeed ‘why’. If this is just like an other battlefield, I’d be the first to scream out ‘Hell yeah! Take that!’ to the enemy. But, it is not. What do you think, Your Highness?”

Makai frowned deeply. “It’s that bastard.”

“I agree.” Leo nodded.

“You meant the one who’d helped us back at the Enchanted Forest? What about him?” Rinda asked.

Lord Eden tapped a finger on his chin. “You’d mentioned before that he was one of a mercenary group known as ‘The Orders’ that is currently under the Spirit Queen’s rule and is the one doing her dirty biddings, correct?”

Makai nodded.

“Then, one could easily assumed they’re doing it under her orders.”

“Not exactly." Makai shook his head. "I know Reza better than anyone. She’s as stubborn a mule who won’t back down without a fight. She’s definitely won’t back down on this matter until she gets what she wants, and from the very beginning, her target has always be Mika. It’d taken me a long time to realise it. But when I did, everything made sense. Every questions that I’ve had were answered. Except for one thing — why? Why bothers doing something big as a war? What’s her real purpose of doing this? To conquer the Human World? If that’s the case, she would have Spirits all over the place by now. But from what I can see, her target had specifically been Luyas.

Makai clenched his fists. “So, no. Something might have happened between her and the disgraceful human Lord and then, something else must have happened that ended this war without her consent.”

The sound of clapping hands made them all looked at the entrance of the tent.

“Excellent deductions, Your Royal Highness!”

“Baron!”

Baron smiled gleefully as he entered the tent. Behind him, the young nurse was yelling at him, but he ignored her and closed the curtain.

“What brought you here, Baron?” Lord Eden asked.

“Well, I’d heard you were feeling sick, Milord. I’ve come to see how you’re doing and to deliver you a good news.”

“Would you kindly enlighten me of what is it?”

“Of course.” Baron cleared his throat. “My team and I have just came back from investigating the underground dungeon where Jake and Henry had been kept. As we were investigating, one of the men suddenly said that he saw something odd and different when he’d taken a good at the some of walls — there had been a crack on them, as if someone had put very thick and lots of layers of ducked tapes with the same colour of the rest of wall to covered something up. Wasting no time, We’d pulled the heavily layered tapes for about two long hours, before we’ve finally found something.”

“What did you found?” Leo asked.

Baron shook his head and raised his hand.

“You need to see it. All of you need to see. It’s remarkable, and has something to do with what His Highness had deducted earlier.”

“Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s g—” Rinda’s short sentences were rudely cut by the sound of the young nurse entering the tent.

“I’m very sorry, but the visiting time is over. It’s already passed half an hour.” The nurse put one finger forward in a scolding manner at Lord Eden.

“Milord, I am here to make sure that your back is well. If I have to chain you to the tent, then so be it. You are not going any—”

A hit at the back of her neck had totally knocked her out unconscious. A pair of hands caught her arms before her limped body fell down onto the ground.

Jeez! What a girl gotta do to shut the woman out?” Rinda huffed, gently carrying the woman to the the now empty mattress belonged to the Lord, before laying her down on the bed.

Unknown to her, her action caused quite a stir among the men whom stared stunningly at her.

After settling down the unconscious woman down, Rinda got up her feet and looked up. Only then did she realised all attention were focused on her.

“What?”

All shook their heads and headed out of the tent.


IT didn’t take long for the five of them to reach outside of the underground dungeon as the whole area had already been secured and guarded by their men.

When Lord Eden arrived, the guards that were guarding the place immediately approached him and questioned his ability to walk with a bad back.

Once Lord Eden had assured them that he was well enough to walk around and that his back was getting better, only then, they would let him and the others into the dungeon.

After few minutes of walking into the deeper part of the dungeon, they finally reached to the iron-clad opened door. Two familiar scientists were busily roaming around the room with gadgets on their hands.

One of them however, spotted the Lord and his entourages, stopped doing what he was doing and greeted them.

“Prince! Lord Eden!” 

Henry took out a mask he was wearing and put aside the hand-gadget he was holding. He hook hands with Lord Eden and the others.

“Heard you two weren’t feeling too well. What are you doing all the way here anyway?”

“I bought them here.” Baron moved forward from the back. “I’d thought it would be better for them see it for themselves instead of just telling it to them.”

“Baron, you should have be more thoughtful and not bring the Lord over here, knowing he has a bad back!” Jake scolded,  approaching the rest.

“Oh, it’s not Baron’s fault. I chose to come over here. My back is getting better as I’d rested, thank you for your concerns, Mr. Dillon.”

Jake huffed and nodded. “Well, if you say so. The portal’s over there. Go on and have a look.” He pointed out at a portal behind him. “Unused and untouched for a long time, yet not a single dust were found on it.”

“May I have a look at it?” Leo asked.

“Please.”

Leo took few steps forward and took a closer look at the portal. Makai joined him afterwards. 

While the two Spirits were busily looking at the portal, Baron began to speak in a clear voice.

“In case you’re wondering whether it is mine or not, well, it’s not. And I didn’t copy from it either! T-This is the first time I’ve ever seen it, and am shocked as well. Had I known there was already a portal made, I wouldn’t have—”

“Save your breath, lad.” Lord Eden said reassuringly. “We all know you’re innocent.” He turned to the direction of the portal.  “The question now is what portal is it?”

“I believe I have the answer to that question.” Leo said, pointing a finger at the portal. “There are very fine and almost faint marks on the sides of the portal.”

“What types of mark?” Lord Eden asked, crossing his arms.

“A trademark. More specifically, the Kingdom of Aquarius’s trademark.”

“What!” All of them, saved for Lord Eden and Makai, gasped loudly.

“Hold on for a bit,” Jake readjusted his glasses. “A question if you will: how sure are you that it is King Lewis’s trademark?”

“Very sure, I assure you. Before the Great War, the Kingdom of Aquarius and the Spirit Kingdom used to have great partnership in terms of trading and shipping economically with the local goods. For as long as I could remember, they have always marked their goods with three zigzag marks — like this portal here.”

Lord Eden crossed his arms. “Hmm, that might confirmed another suspicious theory which I have in mind at the moment. In any case, I shall informed what we’ve found out today to the Master Oracle as soon as possible. Now that the Spirits are no longer here, I think it’s safe for us to head to the Castle.”

Turning to his left where the young Spirit Prince was, Lord Eden spoke again.

“Now that you are well, let us discuss about your second mission: Infiltration. First of all, The Princess and her companions are currently in the Kingdom of the Rose. They will be heading to the Kingdom of Aquarius today, as we speak. Your Highness,” Makai looked up upon his name being called.

“I need you, Sir Leo and Miss Rinda to go to the Kingdom of Aquarius as well, to investigate a crisis that is and has been going on in the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Aquarius is, or should I say, should have been our main supplier for the war. Unfortunately, as soon as words got out that the three strong Nations and its allies were going head-to-head with the Spirits and to liberate the Kingdom of Luyas, the Kingdom of Aquarius had lost all of its contact with us. Not just only us, but the whole world as well. They even put a barrier around whole Kingdom to prevent any intruders from coming in. Seems suspicious enough, yes?”

The others nodded.

“What I want you to do is to find out why and what is the reason. My guts tells me that it has something to do with why the Spirits are retreating from the battle. But I need evidences to confirm it.”

“Agreed.” Leo nodded. “We will find out as much as we can about the crisis and report it back to you.”

“Understood. As for myself,” the Lord turned to look at the man. “Baron and the others,” He pointed out at the two other scientists.

“I will need you to come with me for confirmation when the interrogation with Lord Ranfel begins. You may even ask the Lord himself questions afterwards if you wish.”

Baron and the others nodded.

“I have plenty of questions to ask him.” Baron said grimly.

“Good. Now then, are there any other questions before we leave?”

“Just one.” Makai said. “How do we get into the Kingdom if there is a barrier surrounding it?”

“Ah, I’m glad you asked, Your Highness. The only way you could go in there is by stopping by at The Master Oracle’s place, The Kingdom of the Rose. Only he knows a way into the Kingdom. Shall I prepare the transportation for you while you prepare supplies for the trip, Your Royal Highness?”

Makai nodded. “Yes. That would be nice. Thank you.”


HALFWAY around the world, were the Spirit Princess and her companions, getting all worked up and ready to continue with their adventures. They had restocked the supplied including canned food, snacks, medicines and all other necessarily things that they might need for their next and upcoming journey.

With the sun above their heads, the team of four now gathered once again in the Audience Chamber with the Master Oracle.

“I’ve received a very good news from Lord Eden just a while ago regarding Luyas’s situation. It appears that the enemy had retreated and Luyas is once again belongs to us!”

Words could not described how meaningful the news was to Guy who instantly jumped excitedly and hugged Mika joyfully with tears in his eyes.

His other companions watched with the same joyful looks on their faces. Shinji had offered him a pat on the back while Kazuo had head-drilled him with his knuckles, grinning from left to right.

Meanwhile, the Master Oracle Fye watched with a big smile on his face. He had been surprised, relieved and happy to hear about the news.

It was Mathias who eventually broke the joyous air with a loud cough and told them to calm themselves down.

Once everyone had settled down, the Master Oracle continued.

“While the news was indeed a good and joyful one, Lord Eden had asked everyone to please continue to remain cautious of other situations on hand.”

“It does seems kinda suspicious as to why they’d decided to back down all the sudden.” Shinji slightly frowned. “Did Lord Eden said the reason why?”

“According to Lord Eden, it might have be the work of the Queen’s underlings who had decided to rebel against her. He also had other things in which he concerned about and needs some confirmation. One thing good that came out from all of these, is that we all know the Spirit Queen is on her own now.”

“I still don’t get the whole picture of what’s what.” Kazuo scratched his not itched head. “But if she’s alone, it’s a good thing, right? Meaning that we’re no longer have people chasing us left and right?”

“To put it in simple terms; the Spirit Queen only wants one thing — Mika. The reason is still unknown, but we all have guessed it has something to do of her being the Chosen One. According to Lord Eden, Lord Ranfel may or may not be involved with the invasion as well. If he is found guilty, the punishment will be severe.” Shinji explained.

“My father will do almost anything to keep his powers. I’m saddened to hear about the news and to say this in front of everyone, but he is a very selfish man. If he’s indeed the man behind this, I’m not that at all surprise.”

Mika looked at him sadly and put one hand on his arm for comfort.

“In any case, Lord Eden had said he will handle the situation over there and will keeps us all update with the situation. I also have another news to tell you and regarding your journey to the Kingdom of Aquarius.”

Fye took a deep breath. He opened them and looked at the rest with a serious and firm gaze — something that was very contrast from the sweet and gentle boy who had welcomed them with an opened arms yesterday.

“There has been an unconfirmed speculations going on regarding the King of the Kingdom, King Lewis XIII, stated that he might be conducting an experiment. Apparently, said experiment is forbidden because it involves with the usage of replication.”

“I don’t know replication is forbidden.” Kazuo whispered.

“It is not forbidden to replicate things and items that aren’t harmful to life such as cabinets, tables and the likes. We have already established rules and regulations and expected those who wish to use the method of replication to obey them strictly. One could only use the method of replication depending on how big the size of the said item. However, from what I’d gathered by Lord Eden’s resources, it has seems that King Lewis is rumoured of doing a large-scale replication project. Mind you, it is not illegal for him to use the replication method if he was working on buildings. Unfortunately, rumours has it he has been using the replication method not to built buildings, but to create a portal instead.”

“A portal?” Mika asked.

“Wait a minute. A portal that links to where?”

“The Spirit World, of course.” Mathias replied. “Though his real reason of doing so is unknown, what else would he be making a portal in the first place if not to have it linked to the Spirit World? After all, his Kingdom and the Spirit Kingdom once had a great trading partnership.”

Fye nodded. “That’s correct. While we still don’t know what his real motive for doing so, by creating a large scale project is already a foul itself. Not to mention a portal that links to the Spirit World!”

“Do you think it’s a possibility the reason why he shunned away his Kingdom from the rest of the world is because he’s afraid of what the world would do to him should he was to discovered for his act?” Guy asked after a brief of silence.

“More like what he’s been keeping and hiding from the world.” Shinji crossed his arms. “I’d doubt the whole world would care much if he uses the replication method to make a portal, anyway. If it’s good, they might proposed him to use it for emergency purposes or to use it as a gate-away.”

“But after what happened with the Spirits and all, though they were not affected by it at all whatsoever by it, nonetheless, to discover that the person whom the people had put their trust, created a gate-away to the Spirit World.” 

Mika shook her head slowly with a deep frown. “It’s like a big slap on the face.”

The Master Oracle nodded firmly.

“So what you would like us to do is to find out if the rumours are true or not, is that it?”

“Yes. If it’s not too much of a trouble.”

“We’ll see what we can do when we arrive there. Are there anything else to discuss?”

Everybody shook their heads. Fye then got up from his throne. With a smile he said, “That would be all.”


“IT’S inside here.”

The Master Oracle’s voice echoed as he led the group to a dark underground tunnel with including Mathias, using an advanced looking flash-light.

They’d been walking for about twenty minutes into the tunnel before they finally reached to the destination.

Once arrived, two guards who had been guarding the place approached them.

“This way, please.” One of the guards ushered them to a deeper part of the tunnel.

Inside of the tunnel, was a spaciously dark room. At the centre of the room, there was an old looking well. Only few oil candles were being lighted to guide them from the entrance to the well.

“That freakin’ hole is our secret entrance?!” Kazuo shouted out aloud in the small echoing room. He immediately earned a sharp glare from everyone and a smack on the head by Shinji.

Fye cleared his throat.

“As you can clearly see in here, no one had ever stepped into this dungeon as it is meant for only the Rose’s Royal Family to use in case of an emergency. That wall will leads you straight to Aquarius territory. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee you will be safe once you’ve landed. I’m terrible sorry about that.”

“Your Highness, you could have given them permits to enter the kingdom instead of using this method! This is really revealing the Royal family’s secret to a bunch of outsiders!” Mathias’s angry outburst echoed throughout the room .

“True, I could have just given them permits and let them into the kingdom easily. But if I do that, the King will know the plans for sure and won’t let his guard down so easily. It’ll be harder to investigate the crisis then. He’s a red-blooded and vicious King with a sharp mind, on top of that. If he suspects something is going on, he’ll track it down to the end of the earth and finds out what that thing is. It’s better to do it this way. And I trust these people. You should trust them too, Mathias.”

“In any case, the sooner we get there the better, right?” Kazuo walked toward the well. He whistled the moment he looked down at the dark endless ground.

“Check this out.”

He bended down on his knees to get a stone and threw it into the well. One hand behind the ear, Kazuo waited for the sound of the stone to hit the ground, but instead he heard nothing.

“This thing’s a real digger, ya’ll!”

“How can this thing be a link to Aquarius Kingdom when it’s already inside of an underground tunnel?” Guy wandered aloud.

“Magic.” Mathias replied coolly. “Years ago, this Kingdom’s Royal Family had asked the Witches from the Spirit World to bless them with magic so that whoever gets into the well, they will be at somewhere safe.”

“So, magic is also involved, huh.” Mika commented to no one in particular.

“Which one of us will go in first?” Guy asked after a moment.

“Me!” Came an excited voice nearby the well.

Kazuo was already standing in preparing to jump into the well, when the Master Oracle’s voice stopped him from doing so.

“Please wait for a minute, Sir Kazuo!” Fye rushed toward the man. In his hands was a pair of ear pieces, and a wristwatch.

“This is the latest communication device developed from Eden. I felt unease to let you people go without knowing what will happen to you. Thus, I had them delivered to me early this morning.” 

Pointing one finger at the wristwatch, he explained.

“The wristwatch is both waterproof and fireproof. But try not to get it hit too hard, though. Also, the screen has camera and a small microphone chip that would allow us to see and communicate with each other. Since it’s a cordless device, as long as you press the ‘on’ button, you are able to talk even without actually having to speak directly at the screen.”

“Cool! What’s this button do?” He pressed the small button at the side of the watch and the letter ‘L1’ appeared.

“That’s ‘Line 1’. Before you leave make sure everyone is on the same line so that it’ll be easy for all of you to communicate with each other just in case you get separated. I’ll do mine too.” Fye put on the earpiece and pressed the same button at the side of the watch.

Everyone else was doing the same until they could clearly hear each other through the earpiece.

“THIS IS SUPER COOL!”

“Don’t shout, stupid pineapple head!”

“Wow! I have to admit, this is really interesting.”

“I can hear everyone’s voice clearly!”

“Now that everyone’s on the same line, be sure to keep always me up to date.”

“Roger that!” Everyone said in synced.

“All right. Well, here I go then!” Kazuo spoke over through microphone that linked with the others.

“Be careful, Kazuo!” Mika’s voice rang.

Kazuo gave her a thumb up and a wink. He took a couple of deep breath, said a quick silence prayers, tightened the vintage bike goggles he’d bought earlier, made sure his backpack behind him won’t force him to his own death, and then — he jumped into the unknown pit of darkness, with a neon light glowing as his guide.

Kazuo’s figure began to fade and blend in with the darkness. Even the neon light wasn’t enough for the others to indicate where he was.

Mika looked at her watch. Without any hesitation, she pressed the ‘L1’ button.

“Kazuo? Kazuo, can you hear me?” She said with a slightly trembled and worried voice. Hoping dearly to hear him replied back.

Silence.

“Kazuo?”

“The well must be deeper than it looks.” Guy muttered, looking down below at the bottomless well.

“Kazuo? Kazuo, can you hear me?” Fye tried calling him out couple more times. Same like Mika, he only received the endless silence.

The others began to worry.

“We should get going.” Shinji commanded. He turned to his other two companions who nodded.

Once they’d said their goodbyes to the Master Oracle, whom offered them his prayers for their safe journey and return, the trio jumped into the well, one by one.

A long unknown journey awaited them on the other side.


THE Kingdom of Aquarius, was a vast land blessed with earthiness, and was also well known for it’s fertilized agricultures that had made the place famous in trade goods with other kingdoms.

Surrounded by nature, the Kingdom had also preserved its natural sources such as woods and coals to be used especially for winter season.

Among all of the kingdoms, the people of Aquarius Kingdom had suffered the most when it comes to the cold due to the constant climate changed.

Lately, it had become even worse than before.

The sight of a beautiful lake deep in the thick forest and surrounded by Mother-Nature could have easily took anyone’s breath away.

No sound could be heard except for the faintly sound of running waterfalls not far away from the lake.

At the centre of the lake, something — a figure was floating on its back. The figure was a young female who slowly started to regain back her consciousness.

She blinked her eyes rapidly.

All of her senses started to come back alive in full swing the moment she realized the unfamiliar place that she had landed on.

Instincts kicked in, with bright emerald eyes widened at the sight, Mika was instantly got up on her feet...

Or at least she tried to, when she couldn’t find her balance and ended up in the water again.

Pushing herself to the surface of the lake, Mika coughed as she began to swim.

The lake itself was quite deep despite being a small lake that Mika was forced to step on her toes in order to bring her face to surface.

Calming herself as she took a few deep breath, the Spirit Princess took notes of her surroundings and found herself surrounded by deciduous trees everywhere she looked.

The evening sunset glowed in red above her.

Realization suddenly hit her when she felt extra weight on her shoulders was pulling her down.

Mika began reaching out for her backpack. Everything was soaking wet. Fortunately, that seemed to be the least of her worries as she had all of the important stuff safely wrapped in air-tight double layers of plastics.

Decided to get off the lake before it got too cold and too dark for even her to see, the Spirit Princess swam her way to the nearest shore.


Once Mika got herself safely to the shore minutes later, she fell on her back on the ground as she took the time to carefully observed her new found surroundings.

The sun was already about to set and the evening skies were slowly turned into night.

Where could possibly they be? Shinji. Guy. And Kazuo...

Mika quickly shook her head. This was not the time to think if something bad had happened to them. First and foremost, she needed to keep herself out of these clothes as the temperature was slowly starting to decrease.

With her wet and soaked clothes, the Princess needed to make a fire for the night as soon as possible.

Wherever her comrades were, she trusted them to able to handle themselves. Until then, Mika would wait patiently until sunrise came and began her search for them first thing tomorrow morning.

Mika took her damp bag pack in front of her and starting to dig for a clean towel and a piece of a large t-shirt. With little effort, she immediately found them wrapped inside large size double air-tight plastic bags.

Taking those two in her arms, Mika walked toward a bush, and after safely scanned no sights of anyone within the area, she quickly stripped off her wet and damp clothes, followed by her undergarments, and replaced them with new ones.

Finally, she wrapped the clean dry towel around her body and tied it on her chest, before putting on the large white t-shirt.

Once she’d done changing, Mika put all of her wet clothes inside another black coloured -medium size laundry bag before put it back inside her bag. She then dug her fingers inside the small air-tight plastic bag for a box of matches.

Found it! She found the matches all perfectly dry. Now all she needed were some woods nearby.

Mika found and gathered some woods in the forest minutes later. She was in the process of lighting up the fire when she heard a loud sneezing sound come further down from where her camp was!

Mika’s eyes grew widened at the sound. Slowly, putting down the box of matches, she carefully took out her twin blades from the ground near her feet.

As quietly as a mouse, Mika approached the heavy bushes that stand between her and the person that may or may not be a threat to her.

Drawing her blades as silently she could, Mika took a deep breath and stood still, waiting for the right moment to strike.

The air was tense as deep silence slowly crept in the moment the threat had also realised that there was another intruder beside him outside of his camp.

He stood up, body as stiff as a board.

Summoning a weapon on his right hand, the male intruder listened for any sound of movement.

Inhaled and exhaled deeply, Mika decided to make the first move. Using her incredible speed as a Spirit, Mika landed behind the threat as silently and as sneakily as she possibly could, and in quick movement, she had him, with one blade to his neck.

“Don’t move.”

Mika could feel the man, who was taller than her, tensed.

Before he smirked widely.

All the sudden, Mika found herself being forcefully pushed backward by the man. She’d forced her feet to stop from the force and bought both blades forward to the front, in a cross form.

Nor even waiting for her to catch her breath, the Princess barely had a chance to breath when she had to raise her blades to block the enemy’s closed attack.

She heard the sound of chains and puff of wind being cut as a blade was swinging at her direction.

Wasting no time, Mika stomped onto the enemy’s left foot as hard as she could. While he hissed and swore obscenely at the pain, Mika took the chance and used all her strength and uppercut him.

Despite his foot now felt being it crushed by a rock, and his jaws felt like it being hit by a brick, the man remained standing, hissing and cursing at the person who did this to him, while holding the left side of his bleeding mouth.

The light from the small fire he’d made created, was enough light for Mika to finally be able see his face. When she did however, she gasped in horror.

“KAZUO?!”

“Yo.” the trademark smirked appeared on his otherwise painful face. “I’d thought it was ye, Princess.”

Realizing at what she’d just done, Mika rushed to his side.

“I am so sorry! Oh dear. A-Are you okay? Why the hell didn’t you tell me it was you!"

While the Princess was panicking over the matter, the man she was panicking over for, burst out laughing like a madman, up to the point where he had to cover one hand over his mouth to control himself.

Finally, after a minute or two, and a narrowed glare from the Princess who flushed at her own behaviour, the orangey-blonde fighter finally managed to compose himself and calmed down.

“Sorry. I’d assumed it was ye, but couldn’t take the chance if it wasn’t ye, ye know? Say, ye think ye could help me out to sit down near the fire over there?”


“Are you still not done yet?”

Mika emerged from the bushes after changing into the large dark brown t-shirt and a black three quartered pants. She hung the towel she’d wrapped herself with earlier beside the rest of her wet clothes nearby the fire, letting them to dry for the night.

One of the rules that Mika had strictly followed during her travel was that one must always have an extra set of clothes.

Shinji and the others would simply laughed every times she urged them to buy an extra clothes. Their reason was very solid: they could show off their well-defined bodies while waiting for their clothes to dry.

Men.

As Mika came back to their little camp-site, Kazuo who was busily stirring a pot of stew, making sure it wouldn’t burned out.

Her eyes landed on his foot, the one she’d stomped on earlier. Mika had offered to heal him earlier, but Kazuo had insisted that he was fine and told her to go to the bushes and covered herself instead.

It took Mika a few seconds to realise what he’d meant by that.

When she did, her face had turned into deep shades of red as the towel that she’d previously tied had slipped away when she was attacking him!

The large clothes that she wore was big enough to cover her until her knees, but the shirt had been white and unknown to her knowledge, transparent. One could have easily see her forms and her undergarments beneath the shirt.

With both hands covered her chest, Mika ran back to her camp, and after much persuasion from Kazuo and a long consideration, only then she’d decided to return back to his camp.

Mika let out a sigh. She didn’t hate Kazuo. Never have and never will hate him. But of all people, why must it be him to see her in an embarrassing state? If it was Guy or Shinji, she wouldn’t feel as much awkward as now!

She could even imagined the scenarios if it’d with the other two men.

With Shinji, he would have bluntly told her clothes was transparent, and that she needed to change immediately. With Guy, he would have blushed before hurriedly pushed her back to her tent and ordered her to change.

Decided there’s no use reminiscing over it, Mika put her bag beside her and and took a seat near the tree.

She would be lying to herself if being with a man alone was making her really nervous. The fact that being alone with the said man who had been always flirting with her made it even worse.

Come to think of it, this was perhaps the first time ever that she would actually be in an alone situation with him. Had it not been for Shinji who constantly head butting with the orangey-blonde fighter, Mika knew Kazuo would have had his ways with her.

That thought alone was enough to make her shivered and her blood turned cold.

In order distract herself while waiting for the stew to cook, Mika’s eyes travelled from the strew to the three Sapphire coloured gemstones Kazuo had put around them in a triangle formation. The gemstones, were barrier stones to keep them safe from any outsiders.

“Why are ye sitting so far away? The fire’s over here, ye know.” Kazuo’s voice shook her out of her thoughts.

Mika blinked a couple of times and looked at where she’d seated herself — far away from either him or the fire.

Kazuo looked at her with one eyebrow rose. He then patted his hand at the empty seat beside him. “The temperature around here drops very low especially at night. If ye don’t warm up enough, ye will get a cold and might end up with a fever.”

Mika made a small smile as she got up. She made her way toward him and seated beside him, facing the warm fire when all the sudden, Kazuo smirked wickedly at her.

“What’s the matter? Scare I might do something to ye?” 

At his husky voice and teasing tone, Mika’s eyes grew widened. Her face instantly lost all colour and her mouth was hanging openly. 

Once again, she was greeted by the same loud obnoxious and uncontrollable laughter came from the said man.

“Oh boy! Ye should have seen the look on ye face!” He said wiping the tears on his face. “Ye really are innocent, huh Mika? It’s so hard to resist teasing ye.” He winked.

On the other hand, Mika’s shocking expression earlier had turned into a fume. Her face was in beetroot red while the man kept on laughing his arse off at her expression.

Not able to take any more embarrassment, Mika turned her back facing him until finally, Kazuo’s laughter subdued to chuckles.

The words that came out from his mouth next, was something that she’d never thought he would say and left her in shock.

“I won’t try to do anything to ye. Mika is Mika. Ye really precious to everyone, ye know.”

Kazuo gazed at the fire, still with a goofy smile, and yet, Mika saw something in his eyes that she’d never see before.

“...Ye might not know this, but ye and I went all the way back when we were little. The three of us. Me, ye and Shinji.”

Mika looked at him with so much sadness in her eyes.

If only he knew how much she wanted to scream. To tell him. To let it all out from her chest.

But she couldn’t. Not right now. 

Kazuo let out a sigh. He looked at her and smiled proudly.

“Dinner’s ready.”

He finished up stirring the beef stew and scooped it using a small wooden scoop into two small wooden bowls. Once done, he handed one of the hot and steamed bowls to her.

“Eat up!”

Mika nodded her head and thanked him for the food before she dig in. As soon as her tongue tasted the stew, she sighed dreamily.

It was just a simple dish, yet it tasted heavenly!

“This is really good! I was actually expecting the worse, but this is really wonderful!”

Kazuo paused, watching her devoured the stew happily with one eyebrow rose. A cheeky smile suddenly appeared on his somewhat naughty face.

Kazuo put his bowl down, and without warning, he pulled the Spirit Princess’s right cheek to turn and faced him.

“Are ye saying my cooking are not up to ye standard, Your Highness?”

He pulled her cheek harder. “Who do ye think made that fried rice last week?”

“T-That was you?!”

“And those crepes for dessert? Goodness! Do you have any idea how hard it is to make a crepe in the freakin’ forest out of nowhere!”

Kazuo finally let go of her cheek after pulling it so hard. He crossed his arms, pouted at her before he puffed and lifted his bowl of stew and eat.

It was Mika’s turn to burst into laughter, and she did so while rubbing her now sore cheek. She felt guilty for laughing at him but she could not help it.

The situation was already funny as it was, but he made it even hilarious with his pouting face.

“I-I’m sorry, Kazuo. I shouldn’t. I-I mean, I never meant to offend you or anything. Honest!”

She smiled at him, in which he replied with another huffing sound as he busied himself with the stew.

Nevertheless, at the corner of her eyes, she could tell the older man was smiling a bit, and that had made her relaxed more.

Looking up at the night skies, Mika suddenly spoke.

“To tell you the truth, I can hardly cook anything. I mean, I can cook simple dishes, for myself. But to make a big serving, even for four people?”

Mika shook her head. “I guess you could say, I’m not feminine enough for that. That’s why, I am very impressed when you told me you were the one who did all of those cooking. I’ve always thought it was Shinji who did it since he often cooks at home even when he has chefs to do it for him.”

Kazuo smirked. “Who do you think taught him to cook?”

“No way! You?”

Kazuo laughed. “No, not me! Kai was the one who’d taught him.”

Mika blinked.

Kai. Kazuo’s decreased brother. Rumour has it though that Shinji was involved in it. Kai’s former best friend, Ralph had even accused him of being a murderer...

I wonder what really happened between them.

Mika then remembered words Shinji had told her before:

“Kazuo rarely talks about his past. He always said there is nothing to talk about.”

Now, sitting beside the man, who was trying to compose words in his mind, Mika waited quietly when Kazuo began to talk in a melancholy voice.

“Suzumi couldn’t cook to safe her own neck, despite her femininity and graciousness. So one day, after had enough of letting his stomach fell as her food tester, Shinji had approached Kai and asked him to teach him how to cook properly. He could have had just asked the chefs how, but Shinji’s life at that period of time, had been very threatening. He had to limit his contacts with other people, even his own people in order to be safe from the enemies. Anyhow, Kai had taught Shinji the basics of cooking. He’d started off by chopping the onions or whatever it is that needed to be chopped before he could even used the pans. Kai had been really strict — but a fair teacher. Thanks to him, the White Wolf Clan had stopped with the food poisoning problem!”

Kazuo laughed out loud. “Hey, did ye also know that Shinji used to be a cry-baby?”

That caught the Spirit Princess totally off-guard.

“No. I don’t think I ever heard about that...”

“Seriously, Shinji was such a pain in the arse and always cried whenever he got scolded by Suzumi. And God knows how scary she could can be! That woman could kill people with her yelling, I swear.” He shivered.

“Kai had been gentle but stern. Shinji often had hard times during trainings. One time, he....” Kazuo continued telling her embarrassing stories about their leader.

As Mika listened melodically to Kazuo talking about his late brother and the past that the three of them had together, she felt a sense of growing inside her; a deep sense of trust.

And perhaps, a little bit of loneliness coming from the man beside her as he fondly told her about his deceased brother whom he’d looked up to while growing up.


WHEN dawn arrived early in the morning, Mika and Kazuo had already begun their search for the rest of their team-mates.

They’d hoped to be able to find them before the sun rose and set above them. They’ve been searching all over the area but alas, found nothing.

No marks or traces that would led them to where Shinji or Guy’s whereabouts were found.

Finally, after a brief discussion, the two came to an agreement to expand their search nearby the castle.

Kazuo had contacted the Master Oracle last night and updated him about their current status.

Fye who had been worried since they’d lost contact yesterday, was very relieved to hear that the two of them had at least, managed to find each other after being separated. Though, he couldn’t help but to worry about the safety of the other two friends.

Mika had tried to contact them but so far, there was no response from their side.

“The security around the Kingdom has tightened.” Fye stated. “Apparently, there are intruders who’d broke into the Kingdom yesterday evening.”

“Any infos on them, though?” Kazuo frowned.

“Not for now. But we will keep on checking and update you on the matter. Do you think the intruders might be Shinji and Guy?” Mika asked, worriedly.

Fye nodded. “It could be them. It’s a possible they might have been captured upon landed yesterday.”

“Oh no!”

“I won’t worry as much, Your Highness. While it is true that King Lewis has cut all ties with us, even he’s smart enough not to lay a finger on the White Wolf heir.” Fye said assuredly.

“The White Wolf may just be a Clan, but they’d shed many bloods years ago. The damages that they had caused during a riot years ago, had affected all of the kingdoms. However, the most affected by the riot was the Kingdom of Aquarius. They’d suffered great amount of economical loss the most.”

“So at the moment, it’s safe to say that no harm will comes to Shinji, is that what ye saying?”

“Exactly.”

Kazuo rubbed his chin before his eyes widened, realizing something.

“Wait a sec! What ’bout Guy? He’s from Luyas, right? Last time I’d heard those two rulers hated each other’s guts so much that another war might have started between them.”

“What?” Mika’s worries increased.

Fye let out a heavy sigh through the wireless microphone.

“That is true, unfortunately. Lord Ranfel isn’t exactly the most charming man in the kingdom. And King Lewis has a very bad temper. Nevertheless, I believe in Shinji. I believe that he will do whatever he can to help out Guy should they be in a less than pleasant situation.”

“So that’s settled then. We will you update whenever we can.”

“Understood. Please be safe and best of luck, you two.”

The two nodded and ended the conversation.

Before leaving, Kazuo had asked Mika to switch to ‘Line 2’, for to able them to communicate with each other just in case they got separated again.

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