To The Red Line (Chapter 10: Then and Now)

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RAIN poured on them heavily that same evening on the day Mika had discovered a new information of her missing identity. By the time the trio arrived the next small town, no one spoken a word about what had happened to them earlier. Kazuo had th...

RAIN poured on them heavily that same evening on the day Mika had discovered a new information of her missing identity.

By the time the trio arrived the next small town, no one spoken a word about what had happened to them earlier.

Kazuo had them all checked in at an inn, and even asked the innkeeper to call upon a doctor to check on Shinji's well-being while Mika had excused herself to a separated room and locked herself for the rest of the night.

She didn’t come down for dinner even when Kazuo had kindly invited her to join him at the inn’s small cafe downstairs.

Some time later, Kazuo had just returned from his dinner alone and worn out, only to find Shinji had awoken from his semi-conscious state.

“Hey, handsome. How ye you doing?” Kazuo put down a tray of porridge the kind innkeeper had made especially for the White Wolf Prince on the small coffee table beside the bed.

“Like a wretch.” Shinji groaned as he got up and sat on the bed. “What happened?”

Kazuo filled him in the details of what had happened up after he passed out during the journey.

“I see.” Shinji said calmly after hearing the story.

The two men ended up sitting on wooden chairs, near a wooden rectangular table, facing each other.

The table was filled with cigarettes, diet drinks, a huge bowl of roasted chestnuts and an empty porridge bowl.

Shinji took a small piece of the roasted nuts from its bowl, cracked it and popped into his mouth.

“I am aware of her heritage as a Highborn Spirit. I have my suspicious and doubts that she would be the long lost Princess since the beginning. Though, without any concrete proofs, I couldn’t be so sure.”

“What? You knew this whole time who she really is and you didn’t bother to tell her about it?”

Shinji kept silence.

Kazuo groaned loudly.

“Lemme just get one thing straight: the reason why we’re heading to the Red Line, is to close the portal that linked between here and the Spirit World, right? Well what comes after that? What will happen to Mika then?”

“Our main mission is to make sure that the portal is closed and sealed it. Once we have it sealed, it’s entirely up to Mika whether she chooses to stay or returns to the Spirit World afterwards. But until then, in order to get to the Red Line, I’ll be needing her assistance.”

Kazuo frowned, crossing his arms.

“Funny, I’d imagine that ye would make her stay. After all, ye haven’t seen her for five freakin’ years! And when ye finally got the chance, this happened. Not exactly what ye have in mind for a ‘reunion’, isn't it?”

“Last time was different. I’m a changed man since then. You of all people should have know about that, Kazuo.”

Kazuo’s smirk slowly fade. “Ye got that right.”

The atmosphere between them became gloomier and tense as the memories of the past came to mind-the time where Shinji had first seek out for death...

Shinji cleared his throat. “Also, I’d appreciate it if you keep all what we’re talking about tonight only to yourself.”

“No freakin’ hell! You can’t keep that little piece of information away from her, Shinji! She has EVERY rights to know what’d happened between the two of you!”

“I will tell her when the time is right. At this moment, her mind is still in a confusing state. If I were to push her any more than she’s willing to bear, she might just lose it.”

Shinji looked at their door. On the opposite of their room was Mika’s room.

“Mika’s still weak mentally and emotionally. The incident that had happened in Andania still shook her down to her core. The meeting with her long lost brother who was out to get her didn’t help either. Until she recovers from that state and grows strong enough to handle the pressures, only then will I tell her the whole truth.”

Kazuo clenched his teeth and cursed under his breath.

Damn it! Why must he oughtta be a such... Such a ...Those words failed to come out from his mouth.

Deep down in his heart, Kazuo knew what the former man said was true. Still, that did not mean he should be happy with the decision!

Taking the last piece of cigarette from its pack, Kazuo smoked for a while before he decided to call it a night.

Long after Kazuo had turned off the small table light on the table of his side and went to bed, Shinji continued to ponder if the decisions he had made, were good enough.

For him.

For her.

For the rest of them.


The next morning arrived with a little awkwardness between them.Mika had been the first to wake up and waited for them to go for breakfast. She greeted them at their doorstep when they came out with a bright smile, as if nothing had happened yesterday.

“Good morning, guys! Shinji, how are you feeling this morning?”

Despite the cheerful sound of her voice, and the smile on her face, both men knew well she was trying to be as strong as she could by not let yesterday’s event got to her.

Though, they couldn’t help but to noticed how swallowed and red her eyes were this morning.

Kazuo danced swiftly across the hall and approached her before Shinji could bit his head off. He smirked widely, holding her hands to his chest.

“Mika, darlin’. Did ye wake up early just to have a breakfast with me, huh? Did ye? Did ye?”

“Probably.” Mika giggled. “Shall we head for breakfast now? I’m starving.”

In an instant, Kazuo was by her side, dragging her down the stairs, while they both giggled like a couple of schoolgirls, much to Shinji’s annoyance early in the morning.

Breakfast was, to say the least, not what Mika had in mind when she’d said she was starving. Not at all.

Mika had to keep her eyes peeled on the meals that kept on piling on their table non-stop — be it scrambled eggs, pancakes, chicken sausages, fresh baked muffins and Danish, crispy beef, croissants, fried rice, fried noodles — all courtesy to the ginger-blonde fighter sitting on her left.

“Whatcha waitin’ for, hun’? Dig in! There are lot more from where they come from! I’ve ordered us some steamed buns, raspberry muffins-”

“Err, Kazuo? While I’d appreciate your concerns for my big appetite, I really don’t think I can finish all of them... At once.”

Kazuo stopped spreading the strawberry jam on the croissants he’d intended to give her. He also noticed her guilty face as her eyes glanced at the man sitting on her right; looked absolutely pissed.

A mischievous grin appeared on Kazuo’s face.

“If ye worry about the fees, don’t fret! This guy,” he pointed at Shinji, “Is loaded like hell. So feel free to knock yourself out!”

A sudden movement, followed by a pair of hands grabbed on the blonde fighter’s collar and started to choke him senselessly.

"You bastard! My money is not for YOU to spend as you damn pleased! Why, I should make you pay for all of these!”

While Shinji was busy choking the life out of his best friend senselessly, and the other man was half-laughing and half-coughing, trying not to die out of suffocation, Mika couldn’t help but to let out a hysterically laughing with running tears at their antics.

Her laughter had gained the attentions of other customers, and the two men stopped fighting, after they realized how utterly embarrassing their own antics had been.

Soon after her laughter had finally subsided, and she recovered her breath, Mika wiped her tears away.

“Thank you, guys. It has been a while since I laughed this hard till I actually cried!”

Shinji returned to his seat, with his arms crossed on his chest. His face was red as a beetroot.

“What nonsense are you mumbling about, woman? Hurry up and eat!”

“Yes, sir!” Mika chuckled.

Now that her mood was brightened, Mika took whichever dishes in front of her, including the croissant that Kazuo had made for her, and began to eat.

Unaware of the brief exchanging looks between the two men and their subtle smirks.


After they settled with their bills (which Shinji had deliberately forced Kazuo to pay half of the breakfast’s fee), the trio decided on to restock up their supplies before continuing with their quest.

There was no telling where they would end up afterwards or how long it would take for them to reach the next town after all.

Might as well be prepared for anything.

“Well, I guess I’ll go ahead and stock our medical supplies,” Kazuo winked at Mika. “See ye in lil’ bits, darlin’. Don’t get too close with that old man, ye hear?”

“LEAVE already, damn it!” Shinji scoffed at the man who blew air-kisses at them before he was out of their sights.

Shinji let out a heavy sigh. “Let’s go, Mika.”

Mika nodded and walked beside him. “Where are we heading?”

“Let’s stop by at that junction. I heard there’s a famous bakery around here somewhere. I’d like to buy some if—” His words were cut by someone accidentally bumped into Mika who was walking beside him, and then knocked her down on the ground.

“Hey. Watch where you’re going!” Shinji scolded the person, a man wearing a brown hooded cloak before helping out his Apprentice got back on her feet.

“You all right, Mika?”

“Yes, I’m all right. Thank you.” Turning to see the man who was already up on his feet and was brushing the dirts on his cloak. “You should be more careful on the street next time, Sir...”

Her eyes grew widened and she suddenly stopped breathing. One hand rose to her lips as she whispered the the next word in stutter.

“Guy?”


“GUY?!”

As soon as the word slipped out of her mouth, Mika found herself being pulled abruptly by the said man to his wide boarding chest.

Mika never been the type who’d let any men get into her personal space so easily. She was a private person, believe it or not.

Not even Shinji (and thankfully the man knew his boundaries), was allowed to hold her close without any valuable reason whatsoever.

The first time she’d exceptionally allowed someone to hug her, was Kazuo, back in Islez. The man had saved her life from falling off the cliff, at the cost of losing someone he knew.

It was simply a friendly and grateful hug.

Now that she was in the arms of a man, she’d considered as her brother, tears were falling down on her cheek as she closed her eyes and she returned the hug.

“Guy!”

Guy gently pulled her away. Hands on both sides of her cheeks as he inspected her with wave of relief smile on his face.

“Yes. Yes, it is me! Oh Mika, you have no idea how long I have been searching for you — day by day,town to town. Finally, I am able to meet with you again!”

Mika let out soft chuckles at the sound of his voice. It had been months since she’d last heard his voice.

Shinji, who had been dumbfounded by the whole scene, stood at the side. When the stranger had suddenly pulled his Apprentice into his arms, Shinji had reflectively taken out his gun from it’s hostler — before he realised just exactly who it was.

Decided it would be best if he was not seen by the said intruder, Shinji left those two alone, and went on ahead. He didn’t however, turned to left to where the bakery he’d wanted to go earlier was.

Instead, he turned to the right to the medical supplies shop.


After their little reunion, the two had gone to a small cafe house for a little catching-up. While seated, Mika remembered that she’d completely forgotten about Shinji whom she’d left behind!

Hastily, she excused herself to the already seated Guy and was about to leave the coffee house when the owner, a kind elderly lady, passed her a note contained a message from Shinji, stated that he would come and picked her up later.

Mika walked back to the table and took a seat.

“So tell me, how have you been?”

“I’ve been doing well. Thank you so much for asking.” Mika held on the hot cup of tea with both slightly trembled hands.

“Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of travelling — with a group of friends.”

A bright smile formed on her lips at the mentioned of her comrades.

Guy smiled back. “Friends, you say?”

“Yes. They’re really nice people. You should meet them!”

“It delights me to hear that you are well and safe. I was really worried. By the way Mika, that gentleman, the one that you were with earlier... Was he the one who took you in after the... Incident?”

Mika slowly nodded her head.

“His name is Shinji Karou. He’s a Prince from a clan called the White Wolf. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of them, but apparently, they are one of the most powerful clan in all of Fulaina. Why do you ask?”

“Ah. Nothing to be worried about. I was just merely asking.”

Clearing his throat, Guy said, “To answer your question, my dear, I have heard about them before. A long time ago.”

“I see.” Mika smiled at him again before sipping on her tea.

Guy’s smile did not fade. However, there was a glimpse of bitterness in his smile. Clearing his throat again, Guy spoke in an undertone voice.

“Say, Mika? Would you consider of going back to Luyas with me?”

The sound of a scattered tea cup fell on top the table very loudly, caught most of the others’ attention.

The elderly owner rushed to Mika’s side with a clean handkerchief.

“Oh my! Are you already, dear?”

Mika’s eyes widened as she stared at Guy. Not bothered nor felt the stingy pain by the splashed of hot tea on her laps and part of her clothes when she had accidentally dropped the cup.

Going back to Luyas? Am I... Am I allowed to go back? After what I’d done to Andania?

Snapped out of her mind, Mika thanked the kind owner for the clean handkerchief and told her she could do the rest by herself. The elderly owner politely nodded and left the table.

Mika put the handkerchief on the table. She kept her eyes Guy’s own cup.

“...I don’t understand. Commandant Grants made it very clear to me that should I ever step into any part of Luyas’ ground, I would be hunt down and captured immediately. Why would you want to take me back there, Guy? Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mean it to sound disrespectful to you or anything like that. It’s just that...”

“I understood completely. Don’t worry. You weren’t being disrespectful.” Guy smiled. “The thing is, I believed the incident that had happened in Andania, shouldn’t be blamed on you entirely, as father had previously stated at the World Leader’s Conference in Eden. You’d done your share of saving the town too, yes? Also, it’s also unlikely that you of all the people would have a malice intention to kill those Knights and people, right? Father should have understood that and defended you, at least that much. You are his adoptive daughter, after all. A member of the Heartlets’ family.”

“Was. I was his adoptive daughter and a member of the Heartlets’ family. With all due respect, Guy, I don’t think His Lordship would want to take someone like me, who had massacred half of a town, under his wings any more. While it pained me to leave Luyas — a place that had been my home for years, I believe it is all for the best, for all of us.”

Guy let out a deep sigh.

“Indeed. And it saddened and pained me deeply to hear the devastating news of your exile and not be able to anything to protect you from it. Though, we’re not blood related, we did grew up together as a family, didn’t we?” He smiled sadly at her.

“About Luna,” Guy sighed again. “I don’t know where to begin to apologise on her behalf for what she’d done to you. I don’t know what had possessed her to say those cruel and mean words to you. I was hoping she could ask for your forgiveness herself when we return.”

“Guy, as much as I’m flattered that you have such a strong belief in me, I’m afraid I have to refuse your offer. I’m sorry. Your father has already warned me to stay away from Luyas. In return, I will respect his decision. Call it a payback for when he took me in years ago despite his indirect mistreatment toward me.”

Guy stared at her for a while, without even blinking his eyes. Closing them, he took a long deep breath before letting it out and reopened his eyes.

“It looks like there is nothing left I could do to convince you to go back with me when you have already made up your mind like this.”

“Guy?” Mika looked questionable at his words.

“Very well. If I can’t convince you to come back home with me, then, I suppose there’s no point of me staying here to convince you any further. Or me going back to Luyas ever again then.”

“Guy, what are you talking about?”

“If the House of Heartlets won’t protect you as they should have had, then so be it. I can protect you all by myself. We can leave that place, go somewhere peaceful and never return. But first, we need to at least go to Eden and meet with Lord Eden to-”

"STOP! J-Just hold on for a second there, Guy! Do you even listening to yourself? What exactly are you talking about here? Leaving Luyas and never coming back? What about Luna? Are you going to leave her behind because of me? Because if you do, I don’t want that, Guy! I REFUSED to accept that!”

“Mika, your very life is in danger the more you stay here in Fulaina. If you chose and wanted to go back home - back to your own roots, I’ll all for it then. But let me accompany you. As for Luna, she needs to realise that the world does not always involves around her. I believe she needs to be taught a lesson. Only then, she will learned her mistakes. Besides, she’ll be safer in the castle than anywhere else now for the matter.”

“But Guy, I can take care of myself. If you’re worried about the journey, I have Shinji and Kazuo to go along with me. They’ll keep me safe. We’ll keep each others’ safe. So don’t worry and go back home, okay?”

“That’s exactly why I’m concerned of! The idea for a young lady travelling alone to a far-off place with two men who are complete strangers is very inappropriate, don’t you think?”

“What exactly are you trying to say here, Guy?” Mika’s tone darkened. “That I’m a child who doesn’t know how to fend for myself? That I’m an easy target for men?”

“That’s not what I’m saying!” Guy raised his voice.

“That’s exactly what you’re saying! You are still treating me like a lost child, Guy! I’m not the lost child that I was years ago. I’ve grown out of it.”

“Mika, just listen to me. Regardless whether you do or do not know how to fend for yourself, fact is, anything could have happen to you when you are travelling alone in a group of men. How long have you known these people enough to trust them not to hurt you anyway? I assumed you only know them not too long ago.”

“You don’t even know them, so don’t talk like-”

“I knew the person who’d murdered my mother!” Guy’s sudden outburst caused Mika to momentarily paused on her words.

Never before had she seen him reacted this way, or heard the bitter and cold of his voice, or even the deep burning rage in his eyes.

“The man who had been there with you just a while ago, is a dangerous man, Mika. He’s the Head of a rebellious clan! His clan had once invaded Luyas. I’d watched my mother being slaughtered by them,-by those nasty savage beasts! How could I possible let you travel with him!"

A loud sound of hands slamming on the table once again caught the attention of other customers.

“I can’t believe it... You of all people! Treating me like I’m a puppet who has to constantly listen to other people, telling me what I should or shouldn’t do! What about me? My feelings? Have you ever thought of that? That I might be happy with the companions that I have now? Have you, Guy?”

“Mika...”

“Maybe to you, it may be inappropriate for young girl like me to travel with a party of men, alone. But you know what, never before have I ever felt so free in my whole life living in this world, where people don’t constantly ordered me around and judged me for what I am. With them, I’m surrounded by people who constantly advised me, wanted to help me grow, to choose which path should I take so that I may able to protect those who are precious to me with the abilities that I have as a Spirit. Shinji and Kazuo — they are amongst of the few people who truly see me for who I am! They do not seemed to mind nor do they treated me any differently the rest. Shinji had been more than kind by taking me into his family’s care even after what I’d done to him at Andania. Sure, I had my suspicious of him, but after months of living with him, of getting to know him better, I could tell that he is a good and honourable man. Same goes with Kazuo, though I have only known him for a week or so, and lecher as he may be, is a good man. The three of us, we protect each other from harms’ way and help each other out at times in need. That’d being said, you have absolutely no rights whatsoever to say anything you pleased about them!”

Guy found his voice again when he called out for her name, who ran out of the cafe without stopping when he’d called her.

By the time Guy paid the bills and reached at the front door, the Spirit Princess was nowhere to be seen. Guy swore to himself as words she’d spoken earlier kept replaying in his mind.

“You have no rights whatsoever to say anything you pleased about them!”

It’d hurt him deeply to hear she said those words to him.

For as long as he had known her, Mika had always been soft-spoken. She had always been kind and polite to people even when they had mistreated her. She would never fight back and simply took everything in a pitch of salt with a smile plastered on her face..

Guy’s eyes grew widened the moment he realized...

Of course. She couldn’t fight back even if she had wanted too. How foolish of him to think that it had never affected her when it had severely affected her!

Guy laughed dryly.

“And here I was, telling her that I would protect her from harm’s way when I didn’t even protect her then... What an idiot I am.”

A strong hand suddenly clamped on his left shoulder, causing Guy to look up at a taller man with a strange pineapple hair style, carrying grocery bags in his arms.

“Ye know man, it’s really bad having to watch a scene where a cute girl just stomped off ya like that. It’s even worse to know the one who’d made her stomped off was her brother whom she’d cherished.”

Guy frowned a bit at the remarks. “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”

“Name’s Kazuo.” He smirked at the latter. “Mika’s travelling partner, and her unofficial appointed bodyguard. What say ye and I take a walk around ta’ town to clear the mess in that big head of ye, eh?”

Without waiting for the man’s reply, Kazuo pushed the confused man by the shoulder, and easily dragged him for a little walk around the town.



THE two men had eventually ended up at a small park in the town after few walks. They sat down on a bench, and watched as a bunch of children playing the game of tags happily.

The children looked so happy and innocent — not caring about the world outside of their own.

“I don’t understand. I don’t understand anything any more.” Guy finally spoke after a while.

He had told the older man what had happened between him and Mika a while ago, including the incident in Luyas months ago.

Kazuo brought out a piece of cigarette from one of his jacket pocket and popped one on his mouth. Eyeing the man beside him, he offered one to him.

“Ye smoke?”

“No, thank you. Last time I’d tried to smoke, I’d ended up choking myself.”

Those words caused Kazuo to burst out loud laughed in instant.

“Ye really are the proper prince-type, aren’t cha? ‘Don’t do this’ or ‘don’t do that’! I couldn’t even last a day living in any castle no matter how good the food or the babes are!” This time, it was Guy’s turn to let out a good laugh.

“Mika has told me she has an adopted older brother back home. Didn’t expect ye to show up so soon, though.”

Guy lowering his head, and said nothing.

“To ask someone to do a big thing when ye have finally met her after a long time... never even considered of her feelings. Now that’s pretty harsh!”

Guy spoke up. “That’s not what I have in mind at all! In my defence, I was merely asking her to-”

Kazuo cut in. “Regardless of what your intention was, fact is, you’ve hurt her feelings.”

Guy turned silence. He had nothing to say about that.

“Also, I have nothing against ye, but if I hear ye trash-talk about Shinji ever again, I won’t hesitate to beat ye arse up within the inch of ye life.”

Vermilion eyes glared threateningly at the man with a low voice. “No one and I mean no one get to insults the Prince of the White Wolf Clan without getting away with it. Not when I’m around. Are we clear?”

“Yes. Of course.” Guy slowly nodded.

Silence crept in as the two men continued to watch the children playing in front of them when Guy let out another sigh.

“I must have sounded so cruel to her just now. Just like my father and acted brashly like my sister. My actions must have hurt her deeply. I couldn’t help myself,” Guy stared at his two trembled hands. “Whenever I heard about the White Wolf Clan, I remembered that fateful night when my mother was slaughtered by them.”

For a moment, another silence filled in between them. Only the sound of children’s laughters could be heard.

“Were ye serious when you said you’d wanted to take her away? I heard bits of it when she’d told Shinji.”

Guy was silence for a minute. When he spoke, it was in a soft whispering tone. “Half-heartedly, I meant when I’d said to her earlier — that I would take her away from here.”

He looked up to the cleared blue skies.

“I wanted to run away — away from the Castle’s life that filled with so many lies, corruptions and pretentious to somewhere where I can finally be able to be myself and breathe easily.”

Kazuo watched the latter from the corner of his eyes in silence.

“When Mika had informed me that she was the Chosen Apprentice of the White Wolf Prince, I’d thought that this was my chance — to pull her down and make her drown with me in my own misery. It was a selfish act, I know. But at that time, it seemed like the right thing to do. That was, until she pointed out that one thing that I’ve been trying to ignore all these while: her feelings. I’ve been so caught up with my own misery that I had intentionally ignored all of her feelings. Not once had I asked what she thought about it. By the time I’d realized it, it was already too late.”

Time passed by as the two men continuously sat in silence after Guy’s confessions. Both were deeply in thoughts. It was Kazuo who decided to break the long silence.

He blew on the cigarette’s smoke.

“I get it.”

“You’ve lost someone too?”

“More or less.“Kazuo nodded.

Guy had brought up both of his hands to cover his face. “...I’ve always thought it was my fault why my father has changed — Mother had been his whole world. He’d loved her dearly, and she’d died protecting me.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, but he shouldn’t blamed ye for what’d happened. She had died protecting her child. Any loving mother would have done that in a heart beat. Ye old man should be more understanding about that.”

Kazuo blew another cloud of smoke. “Ye mentioned ye have a younger sister?”

“Yes. Luna is her name. She was four when our mother died. She was too small to remember her, but we’ve kept a picture of her; a painting hanging in the family chamber.”

“I see. Then, she’s the only family ye have left beside ye father, right?”

“Yes... Why do you asked?”

“Then why the hell do ye want to leave her - ye one and only blood and flesh behind?” Kazuo stared seriously at the man.

“I...”

Guy’s eyes widened at the realization. He buried his face with his hands.

“God, I’m so stupid! I’m such a terrible brother.”

Kazuo smiled wryly at him.

“It’s not wrong to chase after someone that means a lot ta ye. But you shouldn’t forget those whom you’ve left behind either. Being an older sibling is a tough job. Ye trying ye best in any way that ye can to protect ta’ younger ones till ta’ point that ye forget they need to fly from the nest too. Ye can’t protect them forever, but ye be there for ’em when they fall.”

One hand raised and slapped the Guy on his back in encouragement.

“Ye a good guy, I can tell. Ye’ll do the right thing.”

Taken back by his words, Guy remained silence. But instead of the heavy silence like before, this time he found peace.

Guy smiled for the very first time in a long while.

“Thank you. Kazuo.”



NOT long after they had their little talk, the two men finally returned to the rendezvous-point where Kazuo would be meeting with his two other companions.

Standing at the South Gate entrance, the men shook hands.

“I trust Mika is in good hands?”

“Ye bet. I’ll guard her with my own life if I have to!”

Guy chuckled. “I’m grateful that Mika has such friends who care greatly about her. Back in Luyas, she had always being bullied by everyone around her. And so, being the eldest, I’d thought it was my duty to protect her from those people who wanted to hurt her. Part of me still wanted to stay, but as you’d said, I have someone else that needs my protection as well. Knowing that Mika is now in good hands, I can at least be rest assured.”

Kazuo smiled. “Don’t worry about it. So, ye’ll heading back to straight to Luyas then?”

Guy shook his head. “Not so soon. I still have a lot going on in my mind. Perhaps I’ll do some more travelling and meditate somewhere. I will return to Luyas when I’m ready.”

Kazuo nodded in understanding.

Guy took back his hand and was just about to walk to the entrance when he suddenly stopped and turned his head around.

“Oh dear. That reminds me. I believe I owned an apology to your friend, Prince Shinji Karou.”

Kazuo rolled his eyes and snorted.

“Nah. That old fart couldn’t cares less about what other people think of him. Don’t worry about it! Give my best regards to ye sister!” He waved his hands enthusiastically.

Guy chuckled in delight. “Please send my regards to Mika and Shinji. I wished I could see them again before I go, but I don’t think Mika would want to see me after what I’d said to her -”

Their conversation were cut by the sound of voice calling their names.

Kazuo was about to greet the Princess with his usual laid-back humour, but decided against it when he saw the serious look on Shinji’s face.

“Yo.” he greeted. “What’s the rush, Princess?”

Mika turned to face with Guy. With one finger, she pointed to where she came from.

“What are the Knights of Luyas doing at the East Gate, Guy?”

“WHAT?!” Kazuo shrieked in disbelief.

Guy’s own eyes widened as they looked at the place where she pointing out. True enough, there were a couple of Luyas Knights talking to one of the locals.

“I swear I didn’t know about this! Someone must have spotted me leaving the boarder and warned the others.”

“Is this also part of your little plot?” Shinji approached from behind them. “That should Mika resists your invitation; you’ll have her be taken by force?”

Guy furiously shook his head.

“Absolutely not! I will never do such thing to her! A month after you’ve left on your journey, we’ve received a threatening letter from a representative of the Spirits saying they wanted us to return their Princess, or else they will torch Luyas, just as they torched Andania. Father was scared, so he’d his best men to find and capture you by will or by force. That is also the reason why I wanted to take you away.”

“Ye could’ve just told her that EARLIER instead of all the drama!”

“My apologies.”

“In any case, what are we gonna do with those Knights? Their numbers are increasing and all over the exit gates now.” Kazuo asked, eyes carefully eyeing for the Knights.

“If we stay here any longer, they’ll catch up on us. There’s a mountain routes from when we came in. Let’s get out of the town from there.”

“Hold on just a sec!” Mika stopped Shinji with her other hand grabbed on Guy’s left arm. “Can Guy come too? Since he’d left Luyas because of me, they might capture and torture him. Please?”

“But he is the Lord’s son, isn’t he? Are they even allowed to do that to him?” Kazuo sceptically.

“If the order came straight from my father, then yes. At this point Father is willing to go any length in order to capture Mika — to the point of even torturing his own son to get information.”

“That’s nasty!" Kazuo cringed.

Shinji frowned as he thought it over. Finally, he made up his decision.

“Fine. Just don’t slow us down.”

“Thank you, Shinji!” Mika beamed in joy.

“Please wait for a moment,” Guy stepped forward, facing the White Wolf Prince. “Before we leave, there is something I would like for us to be clear about.”

“We don’t have time for that!” Kazuo protested.

“No. It is very important that I lay down some ground rules. It won’t be long.”

Shinji crossed his arms. “Out with it.”

“Prince Shinji, I’m prettu sure by now Mika has told you about the grudge I bear toward you. so let me just be quick about it and clearly say very clearly that I still haven’t forgive you for what you’d robbed from my family. However, seeing as how my sister does, I’m willing to tolerate, and perhaps trust you in terms of keeping us alive. Nevertheless, if I found you a little bit of suspicious in whatever your doing, I will strike you down. Is that understood?”

Shinji stared at the man for a full minute before eventually he turned his back at him and began to walk toward the direction of the mountains.

“Do whatever you want.”

“Next stop: the mountains!”

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