Valerie turned to look forwards again and she seemed to relax upon hearing this. But she didn't say anything in reply. Johar was now free to leave. She would allow him to use the Ba’al for that purpose, though it would damage relations with the waterkeeper, she had already decided that was a fair enough price to pay. And making a deal to weaken both demons…. Yes she trusted that her minister would be able to get rid of this problem rather nicely.
Out in the castle the air seemed to have stilled and a foreboding seemed to creep over everything on the castle grounds. Hardly anyone knew what the strange feeling was and no one would be able to shake the feeling. Including the being that was not quite there yet.
“[b Do you feel that?]”
Karim asked Artemis, his voice a low hiss rather than a bold rumble.
“[b That strangeness, that dreadful, dreadful feeling? That is the Immortal’s wings. You better hurry or else… Your opportunity will be gone.]”
Ryuu felt the foreboding feeling before Ximena did as she stepped away from him. He had only felt this once before while being in the castle and he had no idea what the feeling was. At Ximena’s request to leave, Ryuu held his calm and almost over the moon look he had before quietly agreeing. “Yes, Ximena. Let me walk you back there.” He said stepping forwards to her side. He walked with her back into the castle and again his eyes scanned the shadows to make sure that they were alone.
Before they stepped into view of the hallway where Ximena had left Philip and Joseph, Ryuu turned back to her sharply and leaned close by her ear, whispering in a husky tone. “My room is on the opposite side of the castle from here and the chamber it is in is midnight blue. Do come visit me sometime.” He leaned back from her and let her arm slip from his. The Summoner turned away before he could watch Ximena retreat back to her friends. His mind was going to the strange feeling that was all around in the castle. He decided he had to find Enoch and see if his spy had seen anything or had found out anything interesting.
A short while after the little messenger had decided to get up and start snooping around for Mr.Trouble, the strange feeling washed over him. It was similar to the feeling he had when the shadows grew more aggressive back in Dosia’s own castle. This was similar, except for the fact that little N.V knew he was alone. It wasn't hard to find out from gossiping servants what might be going on.
“It’s happening again.”
“Do you think it has to do with that Devil in the dungeons?”
Bingo. Well there was where Eric was, but it didn't explain what was happening with the castle.
Johar nodded at her order and murmured a 'yes, my queen.' before watching her unseal her precious wings. The minister was proud to be a trusted underling of her to know possibly the most important secret of Light nation. His witnessed the majestic wings spreading out with admiring eyes. She asked him to leave and let the door be barred Bowing down his head, he was about to go before she remembered his earlier purpose of coming here.
"My queen. I am willing to make a deal with her. I researched slightly about the matter, I am certain you know 'The demon dealer' from hundreds tears ago? The human who started making deals with demons to take over these lands? At last he lost his soul and got banished into the lost dimensions...He had recorded some of his deals and I happen to keep some of them. He once made a deal with Ba'al...Ba'al promises you absolute victory but with high prices. Once you make a deal with a Ba'al, your energy spirits are connected which makes the Ba'al stronger. A Ba'al deal has a time limit. Once the time is over, the spiritual connection is over. If the Ba'al succeeds in granting your wish, they take some of the dealer's energy but if the Ba'al fails...the dealer will be able to take some of the Ba'al's energy. The point here is, this little Ba'al will never be able to use my energy because of my opposite nature. So she has to take it from the land which is also impossible for her. The only option remained for her is making a connection with the closest demon...her friend. I'd be immune from the consequences but not her friend...Of course we don't need any of them get stronger...once the connections is made between the two, I'm sure sealing one of them with affect the other one. In other words, one stone and two birds...Before the deal is off, we can weaken them both enough. Maybe we could find Exorcists skilled enough to do that. I have heard there are powerful excorists among the nomadics. They are not in good relationship with the neighbour kingdom's but we can make use of them. Currently they need water desperately...if we promise to let them use the water gem...I am sure they will cooperate. Unfortunately, as you know, the keeper of water refuses to pass his gem. So I will use the Ba'al to take it from him by force."
Ximena was confused by his attitude. What was he planning? He was suddenly asking for trust...it was like he really...loved her? This made Ximena feel slightly guilty but she reminded herself that it was possibly a part of his plan. She couldn't find out what was his goal but preferred to just play her part. The dancer yet felt strange when he grasped on her hand promisingly. She wiped off her tears, his hold on her hand strangely soothing her. Maybe she wanted to believe his lies? She wanted to trust in him and think that he would absolutely help her friends...even Eric? Ximena realised she was smiling weakly before whispering softly, "Th-thank you sir."
The way he acted towards her was new. Nobody had ever treated her like that. Yes, she had many friends but nobody ever wooed this seriously. Mostly they were drunk men whom she shooed away immediately.
Ximena thought asking him directly about Eric was now out of question. She didn't want to rush things to ruin everything. She just stepped back and looked around worriedly. "Sir? Can I go back? My friends are waiting..."
Valerie listened to Johar's words and she nodded slightly in agreement. She closed her eyes and took the letter back once her minister had set it down. “Of course, Johar. You're right.” She placed the letter back in its envelope and set it aside as Johar began to express his concern about the Nation's own worsening situation. She looked up at him before pressing her lips together and gazing back down at the map. “Those Prophecies…” She murmured, beginning to think while Johar insisted she needed to be more careful.
“Johar, would you be able to send someone to see Lord Gelon? To assess him and make sure things are staying quiet?” She asked, walking over to one of the shelves before gingerly pulling a leather bound scroll from the stacks. She walked back over to the window behind her desk and hurriedly she stepped up onto a chair to reach the top of the window. She let the scroll unroll nearly touching the floor as she reached up and hung the scroll by the leather bound strap to a hook on the top of the window frame.
Her minister knew what she was doing because she had only ever trusted him to see her wings. Once the scroll was hanging, the light shining through it casted shadows down across the room with a pattern of light barely carved into the shadows across the floor. Valerie stepped down from the chair and backed up to her desk, standing at the center of the pattern of Light and darkness and behind her, two grey wings opened.
“Make sure the door is barred when you leave.” She said over her shoulder like she was going to dismiss him without discussing his decision. But before he left, she spoke again. “Johar, what is your decision?”
“Ximena,” Ryuu pulled his hand away from her only so he could cup her face and make her look up at him. “You needn't cry, or be mournful for them. Their penalty will not be that bad.” He sounded reassuring and his expression was still soft and genuine. “I will help them for your sake, if only to give you a reason to trust me. You and I both know that I have not been kind to you, but I will make up for that. I will do whatever it takes.” His look was solemn and he reached down to take one of her hands, grasping it in his.
“I don't want empty promises from you, or for myself to give you any reason to mistrust me. I am a man of my word and I will work hard to get you to mean those things.” Ryuu seemed to know Ximena was faking some of the things she was saying, but he thought it was because she didn't trust him and was still afraid of him. He didn't blame her for that and he meant every word of what he’d told her. He didn't realize that she was trying to get him to help Eric along with the others in their group.
Johar found himself lucky to find some information and notes about the deals made and recorded with Ba'al. The results were pretty interesting indeed and he had decided to make a get use of this opportunity that now he had found a naive little Ba'al. He proudly stepped into the study room to announce he was ready to make a deal when she stopped him and asked him about a more important matter.
Johar was not much surprised to hear that someone was sent from Deloriak. The minister had his own spies. Calmly he took the paper in his hand and held it up to read. What he saw, made him raise one eyebrow in disapproval and he looked over at his queen when she started explaining her hesitation to help the troubled country.
Johar thought for a few minutes before sighed and answering softly. "Milady, My advice is ignoring their bold request.They have made their own mistakes and have to pay it themselves. On the other hand, we have some problems that could even affect them so...I suggest we keep strengthening the security and close the borders instead. Milady...things are getting worse in a faster pace than I expected...I..."
He looked away for a moment before confessing bitterly. "I realised those...prophecies are happening. Lord Gelon, the elven keeper of fire...has become ill and weak. He has been trying to hide himself but one of the spies found it out. What kind of sickness could infect a strong elf like him?" Johar' s voice waved with nervousness as he talked.
"What if others find it out too? there will be panic and chaos. We should be more careful, My queen."
The kiss wasn't a first for Ximena. Back in crazy teenage times, she had kissed her cousin once but it was absolutely not as bitter as this one. She felt her stomach turn when she felt those lips on hers. But that did not stop her slight blush when the imaginary wall between them collapsed. Ximena stared up at his eyes, trying to find out his true intention behind the confusing words. The girl didn't want to ruin the moment so she stayed close to him and let the hand on his hand run down softly to his abdomen before hanging loosely at her side.
"S-sir..." She whispered back, lost for words. "Sir...you are so kind to me." She looked away, biting her lips. "Even though...I am a...mere common dancer in low class bars...y-you still make me feel safe and free in your arms.Life out there is cruel and hard. N-no man...has ever...called me pretty like that before. Let alone supporting me." Ximena couldn't believe she was saying those words with such a soft and inviting tone. Was she really faking it? Ximena didn't know anymore.
"Good sir, y-yet something h-hurts me. M-my friends..." The dancer wrapped her arms around him boldly but lovingly. She looked up at his face for some mercy as tears flowed down her blushed cheeks. "Wh-what will happen to them? please dear sir...I will owe you forever if you help them too. Please free them, sir! They are innocent humans!"
Ximena was disgusted by herself. But this was the only way to soften his heart slightly. Shakily, she had reached for his hand and was now kissing on top of it. It wasn't like his kisses on the queen' s hand. They were soft and repetitive; They were suggestive and tender.
Ximena had decided to say goodbye to her pride these days. What mattered the most was her friends...Eric...
[b And your own future.]
Once N.V and her housecarl had left, the queen reread Dosia's letter and let out a soft breath. Something similar had happened nearly half a century earlier after a plague ripped through a neighboring empire and they've looked for any charity that they could get from their rich neighbors. Back then Valerie had agreed to a loan of resources and funds to rebuild and things turned out fairly well for the Light Nation in terms of getting back what was owed within the passing decade. But Deloriak was in far been ruins than the other empire had been. So she set the letter aside, returning to the reports she'd been mulling over and a map of the Light Nation's territory. She was deep into her work when her minister Johar arrived with his answer to whether or not he'd take Artemis’ deal on the queen's behalf. But first she wanted his opinion of Dosia’s letter.
“Come look at this, Johar.” She said, gesturing to the letter on her desk before making another mark on the map. “I know things went well in the past when we were charitable but I don't have a good feeling about it this time. The riches we’d be giving away could be put to better use here,” she pointed to a few places that were on the border with Deloriak. “Keeping the economy stable while also helping to build more river wells to replace the ones that are drying up here.” She gestured to the section of the Nation that was experiencing a minor drought and needed relief from that soon. “But I just can't tell if this foreign investment would be worthwhile in the long run.” Indeed, Valerie could be bold and rash but most of the time she did try to put the Nation before her own wants and desires.
The kiss Ryuu gave Ximena wasn't a forceful one, but it wasn't sweet either. It was subtle and he was pleasantly pleased to feel she wasn't pulling away from him. He was the one who broke their kiss and he grinned in a genuinely charmed way. His mind was beginning to draw conclusions to why he was attracted to her but he didn't say anything about that, instead he whispered to her. “Gratitude my dear. It will get you so much farther in this life… Is this you asking for what I’ve offered?” His question was diffidently off putting since it was hard to tell if he meant the second chance he’d offered her earlier, or if he meant… Something else.
Ryuu’s grip holding her close had loosened and relaxed as she had him convinced some part of her wanted the same thing he did. But he wasn't going to push her. He was willing to take things slow as long as Ximena seemed interested. Yet because of this he wasn't the wiser to what she was really trying to do. Or at least convince herself that she was trying to do. She could get him to help her and her friends but getting him to help Artemis and Eric was a bit of a long shot. Though if Ximena played him right she may be able to get him to at least tell them where Eric was.
N.V internally screamed in happiness when the queen finally decided to talk even though he was not on his knees anymore. His expressionless face turned into a disappointed one when Valerie told him to get the answer after three days. [i Stingy hag. I should wait three days for your damn rejection message?!I hope you die before that. No wonder you still don't have a husband.] But he kept those poisonous thoughts to himself and merely turned to leave but oh, no. She was hurt and had to say something. N.V was used to worse taunts than that. He didn't know what should he do at small [b jokes] from a powerful queen so chose silence. At least back at Deloriak the maids expected him that. He just glanced at housecarl with a confused face like he didn't even know what trouble was.
Once free from too much royalty, he eagerly walked out...his steps became faster and he literaly ran down the hallway away from eyes. He couldn't run for a long time since a servant stopped him and believed that he indeed needed a room. N.V tried to convince him he needed some fresh air first but the servant literally pushed him in one of the unused rooms. It wasn't their best guestroom. It was slightly better than the room Josesph and others were kept. He immediately opened the window and breathed deeply. "Much better...I hope her 'ladies' have enough 'manners' to bring me food. Those weird birds staring at me look delicious..."But he had promised Negomin no hunting so sighed and walked over to bed. "So soooooft~"He was mostly complaining. He crawled under the sheets and drifted up to sleep. He even considered sleeping for three days but he had also promised Negomin to check around the castle for any trace of Mr.Trouble.
Ximena's heart was slamming against her ribcage crazily as she was led away from everyone. She noticed Ryuu was taking her to an isolated place which worried her even more. The hand he held was sweaty and eager to slip out of his grasp. Ximena placed her other hand on her chest, trying to stop her heart from beating so fast. She had no idea why she was so nervous. It was like a part of her knew what was going to happen and something deep in her...in her darkest part of mind didn't want to resist him.
[b He will keep you safe.]
[b You can save your friends by him.]
[b Are you going to stay useless forever?]
[b Eric saved you many times so why are you hesitating?Save him for once.]
Ximena snapped out of her thoughts when she was pulled close to him. She looked up at him with widened eyes and opened mouth. She was lost for words when he talked. It was confirmed for her what he wanted from her.
Ximena watched his face approaching hers. Cold sweats covered her forehead. She placed her free hand on his chest, about to push him away but then suddenly changed her mind and instead gripped on the fabric.
[b You can't do anything on your own. You need help...and who better can help than an enemy himself?Just get on his good side and you will find an opening~]
She closed her eyes when she felt his breath brushing against her skin.
Valerie noticed N.V shifting and begin to stand before reconsidering and kneeling back down again. He hadn't the slightest idea what to do in front of royalty, at least, royalty he wasn't loyal to. She glanced at her housecarl who sighed and half mumbled to the young Cacador. “On your feet and straighten up.” It wasn't really an order, more like forced advice and the queen pretended she hadn't heard anything.
“Hmm… I see.” Valerie murmured to herself before looking over at N.V, “And you are her messenger… Hmm, well I will have my answer for the Kindhearted lady of Deloriak in three days. Until then, you are invited to rest here.” She turned away from him like he was free to leave, but she then paused and glanced back over her shoulder. “Also, feel free to speak with any of my ladies-in-waiting. They can give you tips for your mannerism in front of royalty.” She gave him a knowing smirk before turning away again and N.V was now free to leave. The only parting words the Housecarl had was ‘don’t cause any trouble.’ and with that, the child was free to roam the castle as he pleased.
Ryuu watched Joseph hurry back down the hall towards Ximena and Philip and after some conversing, the dancer stepped away from her colleagues and walked briskly towards him. This action surprised him a little but she slowed and hung her head, he realized she was still untrusting of him. At her cautious voice, he reached over and gently took one of her hands, making her look up as he made her loop one are with his.
“Come walk with me.” He said, not really giving her a choice as he began to lead her away from the rest of group. While they walked, the Summoner peered at the shadows to make sure they weren't being followed and he took her out into a garden like courtyard. The area had high hedges and an ivy covered wall surrounding the sides that weren't apart of the castle and there was a corner of the garden that was well hidden from the castle windows along the wall. It was safe from prying eyes and Ryuu pulled Ximena close once they were hidden, stepping back till he was against the ivy covered wall and he gazed calmly down at Ximena before speaking.
“Are you afraid of me?” He asked, still keeping her close to him. “Do you think I will hurt you again? A pretty little thing like you? I admit I have a temper and I am sorry for wronging you before. It wasn't your fault that things went down how they did. But I can promise you nothing like that will ever happen to you again…” He leaned close towards her face again and this time his intentions were clear.
The letter was written in the most respectful and humble way. Dosia asked for food resources and some loans for the hard times her country was experiencing. Bhediya had burnt down most of the farms and many families had lost their breadwinners. In the other hand, Dosia had signed the letter with a symbol of spider instead of owl this time. Also, sending a mere child to send the letter...It was like the queen didn't like to be bowing down much to Valerie.
N.V was still looking down but felt like she is sure taking her time before sighing softly and shifting slightly on her knees. The clothes on him were itchy and he felt like a clown in them. He really held back himself from telling Valerie to just give an answer already. He didn't even have breakfast. N.V stared at the floor with a slight frown. Maybe he just had to leave? He was confused. Nobody told him what to do after giving the message. The Cacador started rising slowly but he felt the housecarl's gaze on him and he just went back to kneeling with another sigh.
Philip rose up an eyebrow when he saw Joseph talking to the guards. It was probably about seeing Eric or something like that. But when he saw Ryuu close to the prince, he stood straight and stared with narrowed eyes. What were they saying? He noticed Ximena slowly stepping back. Her face was pale! She was too nervous...Philip eagerly moved forward as Joseph came back to ask what happened but Joseph's expression made him pause. Ximena suddenly asked softly, "H-hey wants to talk to me?" She thought of running in the room and shutting the door behind. She was sure Ryuu had enough pride not to pull her out. But something sparked in her head. Maybe...if she got on his good side...he would let Eric go...he had friends right? Maybe he would let Eric join them or talk to queen to have mercy over them. Smiling fake, she looked over at her two friends."H-he just thinks...because I'm a...woman...I am weaker and I would...would spy on you for him.Don't worry. He just asks some questions..."She started going to the end of the hall but Philip caught her wrist. "Hold on, this is way too strange..."
"Let go! I WILL be fine!" She twisted her hand out of his and walked firmly towards Ryuu but when she got close to him, her steps became slower and she hung her head. "Sir?" She asked catiously.
When a housecarl came to take N.V to meet the queen, he was brought to a room lined with shelves and a desk far from the door. On the shelves, there were papers and scrolls and letters, a few books here and there but they were mostly being used as paperweights for everything else. The queen was standing at the desk facing the door. She glanced up once to see who had entered before looking back down at the mess of papers on the desk. After a moment she exhaled and walked over towards the child messenger.
His improper and awkward manner made the housecarl beside him bristle slightly, but Valerie looked more amused than anything else. It was hard to tell anything about her just from her appearance, let alone how old she was. She looked young enough, maybe a little older then Dosia, maybe a little younger. There was no way to tell. She her amused look faded as she took the sealed letter from him and she read it over, turning away as her violet eyes scanned the page.
While Philip and Ximena spoke about what might be going on and what they should do, Joseph finally let out a heavy sigh and rolled onto his back, looking up at the ceiling as he opened his eyes. What were they doing, Joseph knew things may turn to get worse before they got better once they left Deloriak, but how much worse could things get? He sat up and stretched, catching the last thing Philip said. He sighed to himself again and glanced over towards Artemis. He knew they were talking about Eric…
He hadn't seen his brother since before they’d been captured. Where was he? Joseph got up from the bed and walked over to the desk, picking up the charmed ring and putting it on as he turned towards the door. He pushed past Philip and looked down the hall towards the guards before looking back at his friend. The expression he had was one of concern but also impatience, he was tired of waiting for things to happen and the former prince had decided to take matters into his own hands. He stepped away from his friends quickly and he walked down the hall towards the guards. They obviously saw him coming but waited for Joseph to reach them before asked what he wanted.
“I want to have an audiences with the queen.” He said slowly and the guards glanced at each other. Another voice then spoke up and Joseph turned to see none other than the Summoner walking down the hall towards them.
Ryuu had come to try again in wooing Ximena after making sure Enoch was preoccupied with something else. He found a curious sight as he approached the hall and he spoke up at the guards hesitation. “Oh let him but not now, the queen is meeting with someone else at the moment.” He stopped near Joseph and looked at him, observing that he was using the ring that the summoner had charmed.
“Hmm but first I would like another word with Ximena. Go send her over here.” Ryuu said his blue eyes held a look that made Joseph want to shiver. He stepped back and retreated back down the hall to Philip and Ximena, looking nervous as he glanced back over his shoulder and saw the Summoner watching. He then looked towards Ximena and Philip, anxious about what reason Ryuu could have for wanting to speak with Ximena again.
Artemis quickly sat up and looked around, realising the time she had been in that world. She gritted her teeth and wished she could be more aware of the passed time while being with All Demon. Again, she felt exhausted and frustrated but she focused on planning to get to that library as soon as she could. The Ba'al almost fainted on bed but managed to sleep only for one hour before hearing the others waking up in the room nextdoor. Annoyed, Artemis rose up and kicked the blanket away. She opened the door was found Joseph still on bed. She didn't bother to wake him up and just stood there waiting for someone to fetch them.
Ximena stepped out and looked back at Philip with a nod. Philip followed and saw the guards far away. "Well, they don't fear us much." He shrugged and leaned to the wall with folded arms. Ximena paced around with a bit nervously. "I have a bad feeling about this treatment. Where is Eric? Why isn't he showing up? I have to ask someone...the queen...or..."
"Hello? We are prisoners here." Philip tapped his temple mockingly.
"He is fine, I say."
"Ugh! You don't even care if he is dead!"
"Of course I do. Joseph will be heartbroken."
The guards at the gate sent someone to the castle to inform the higherups about a messenger from Deloriak. One of the guards at Valeri's place stepped in and bowed.
"Milady, there's a messanger from Deloriak at the gets who wishes to see you."
N.V was yawning at the gates, looking up at the castle with bored eyes. "They better give me a nice warm bed or I will...tell everyone the queen is stingy." He mumbled and wondered when they will finally let him in. Somebody came and told the guards to let him in castle. N.V followed the man casually, only looking straight. He could feel hidden eyes on him. It was like those shadow before Lilith incident back in Deloriak castle but worse. He knew those eyes were not good news. N.V just ignored the feeling and straightened his new clothes. He knew he had to look neat. He even had tied his hair into a bun like a damn classy royal. N.V immeditely knelt the moment he was before the queen. He could clearly see Light nation was much richer than Deloriak. "Here..." He awkwardly pulled out the sealed letter. "Is the message from our Kindhearted Lady, Queen Dosia Hersilia." He realised that he didn't even give some proper greetings...damn. Would she declare war for that?! Why was she called Grey? She didn't look even old...He wanted to see a real wrinkled beast...too much disappointment. He kept his gaze down with an expressionless face.
“Hmm, hmm.” Karim hummed at Artemis’ disgusted tone and he nodded to her demand, not saying anything else as he waved one hand towards her and released her from that world. When she awoke, it was still dark, but it wouldn't be for much longer. It seemed like Karim was keeping her in his grasp for longer and longer each time she went to him. This could be very bad if she didn't hurry.
Ryuu watched the Creep scurry away after he told him what the unstable man wanted to hear. Once Enoch was gone, the Summoner straightened up and retreated to his own room. He’d have to be more careful from now on if he wanted to keep this entire event underwraps. He couldn't let that weakling Creeper undo what he was finally starting to build up. Now the Summoner did plan on trying to hurt Eric more, but only through his brother's supposed death. As for Ximena… He didn't know what about her intrigued him, but there was something there that he wanted to get close to. He’d just have to keep tabs on where the Creep was before he decided to go after that dancer again.
In the coming Morning...
Joseph shifted and started to stir as the others woke but he didn't wake up yet. He hadn't realized how tired he was the night before and he simply rolled over to face away from the others once Philip and Ximena began to talk.
When Ximena looked into the hall, the guards were nowhere nearby. There were still guards posted at the other end of the hall, most likely to keep them from trying to leave. But the hall was long and Ximena could probably step out and begin talking and the guards would be far enough that they wouldn't hear a thing.
“What are you doing?” Ryuu had stopped a servant from descending into the dungeon with some stale bread and a bit of water.
“It is for the prisoner.” She replied and the Summoner scowled.
“No, let him starve till the queen says otherwise.” He ordered and the servant hesitated before nodding and hurrying away.
Artemis couldn't remember when she knelt in front of the All Demon. Ashamed and frustrated, she quickly got on her feet wondering what in Karim made her this humble and submitting. This world was his and he could keep her here forever. Artemis ddin't even know why she truted him enough to come here by her own will. She was just helping him to go back to her her homeland, right? The Ba'al focused back on the wings. So that was why they were hidden. They were her everything. It was funny how her whole existence counted on two mere wings.
"...I have heard enough." The Ba'al said firmly. "I should probably go back now. I don't even know how much time has passed." She glared a bit at Karim. "And next time, don't even think of making me kneel again. I disgust kneeling before a disaster like you." She bravely spat and tried to protect her endangered pride.
Enoch was first not convinced but when he mentioned hurting her and Eric, the Creep started giggling in delight. "Ryuu is so smart~" He clapped his hands and waved him goodbye before going to his own room.
[h3 Tomorrow Morning.]
Philip opened his eyes slowly and yawned shortly after that. It took him some minutes to remember where they were. Grumbling he sat up and scratched his messy hair. Ximena was still asleep, her face stained with last night tears. Philip didn't notice it and wondered how was Artemis doing. He moved to the door to eavesdrop but Ximena stopped him by stirring and opening her eyes. "...Morning." She whined sleepily. "Morning." Philip moved away from the door and looked over at the entrance door. "I don't think they will keep us nicely here for long."
"When will they let Eric join us?" Ximena worriedly asked as sitting up.
"Heh." Philip shrugged with a bitter smirk.
Ximena walked to the door and catiously opened it. She looked out curiously, wondering of they had left them be by any chance.
“Those wings are the source of her wisdom and her strength. You could say… They are,” Karim paused, trying to find the right words. “What make her a brave leader and an impulsive person.” He looked at Artemis when she asked why Valerie wouldn't kill them. “I did say that, but I also told you she was impulsive. When you asked her if she was afraid and she denied it, she was lying. Those wings are her physical connection to this plain here, and she is afraid to kill you because she can sense me.”
With each word, Karim slowly had been inching towards Artemis and because she was facing him, it wasn't hard for him to capture her gaze and keep it as he spoke. Soon Artemis realized that she was looking up at the All demon and it was because she was at his feet, kneeling. She had even noticed herself move and Karim suddenly chuckled. “What I had you do there and how long I keep you here… That is why The Grey Queen is afraid.” He smirked and turned away as Artemis quickly climbed back up to her feet. “I won't be all knowing once I leave this plain but I will still have glimpse into the near future. Like this.” He gestured to the unrealistic environment around them and he peered back at the little Ba’al. “This vision, it is only a glimpse.” He said, watching Artemis carefully as if he was waiting for her to do or say something.
Joseph had slightly drifted to sleep before he heard something and opened his eyes. The room was dark but his eyes did adjust and he saw Ximena’s form pacing. Her movements seemed worrisome and he quietly watched her pace and wipe at her face before returning to her own bed. It was a little concerning to him after seeing Ximena do that, it made Joseph wonder if she really was alright, or if she was just worried them or herself or the future and what might happen now. He looked away from her form and he decided to let it go, wondering what help it could be that he’d seen her up at night. Maybe she just couldn't sleep. The former prince had no idea what was bothering Ximena and he wouldn't ask unless he noticed something else.
Artemis was slightly pleased that the demon was helping her again. She looked around the place which was supposed to be the library and tried to memorize it all. In her previous experiences with Karim...she did not pay attention to the surroundings but now that she knew they were real, she was much more careful.
When Artemis saw Karim, she started approaching him but stopped when he reminded her one of the insults she had thrown earlier. The Ba'al didn't aplogise, she just looked away with a bit of annoyance. Karim could still be a liar but the only one who could help her. The younger demon was surprised upon hearing the...good news. She was about to ask him about the reason of her mercy when he sprung from the bookshelf and revealed a portrait. Curiously she stared at those wings. The queen didn't have wings at all so who was She? Valerie hid her feathers? Artemis felt Karim approaching and looked up at him. "I didn't see any wings when I saw her..." She softly said before adding curiously, "What can those wings do? Can it help me?" It was quite childish to ask but she was desperate to use anything.
Artemis then fully faced Karim. " Also...why won't the queen kill us? Didn't you say she is wicked?" The little Ba'al was worried of the immortal wanted to use them for something worse.
Ximena was laying down when she suddenly sneezed. She assumed some people were talking behind her back. Probably her caravan friends or the friends from different inns. She did not want to even think of somebody in this horrible place talking about her. She wrapped the blanket tightly around herself before sighing and sitting up again. "I can't sleep not even knowing what is going to happen to us! Is Eric okay?" She was mostly talking to herself but was answered by Philip's snore. Frowning, she got off the bed and paced in the room. She was not used to being imprisoned. The dancer started chewing on her nail nervously. Ryuu' s words echoed in her head. Protect...Help...Care...oh how she loved to have all of those but obviously not from the enemy himself. Ximena sighed and rubbed her eyes. Her hands felt wetness. The dancer bit her lips in shame. She was crying. Ximena quickly went back to her bed and pulled the blanket over her head. She was shamed of herself. Others were suffering much more than her and she was crying like a spoiled brat. But...she kept crying silently since it soothed her.
Back in the Deloriak near the borders, something fast and huge landed on the ground catuously. The dragon opened her claw to reveal a small Cacador holding dearly on the scales with a pale face. "Hurry up. We have already landed!" Negomin scolded N.V softly. N.V shakily stepped on the ground. "That...old...queen...better know what I went through." He mumbled and caught his breath. Negomin changed to her human form. "Do you still have the letter?"
"Yes grandma...uncomfortably in my clothes. Might stink the most when I hand it to the royalty."
"N.V! This so important for Deloriak...Dosia trusted you."
"Uhhh...But I feel like a sacrifice lamb."
"I believe she never..."
"I believe somebody who is IN LOVE with an old alpha isn't a sweet darling at all."
"You could refuse..."
"Nah. I want to visit a rich country for once...And I also want to visit that...arena..." N.V licked his lips, starving for a piece of fresh flesh.Ngeomin puffed her cheeks and looked away. "I have a bad feeling about it all. Be careful and...that dream I saw..."
"Don't worry. Even if Genius is there...he is either planning to kill the queen and take her place or has already been arrested for planning such a thing. This is his cycle of life 'Blow it up, Prison'."
"...No...this is more than that. I...I...remember a rule that a Dark should never step there..."
"Because Dark is ugly and those pretty creatures will die seeing them?"
"...Just...go. Good luck and be careful."
N.V started heading towards the borders with his emotionless face. He knew a tiresome journey was ahead but he was used to being tired.
When Artemis laid down, she got no response from the All Demon, but closing her eyes, she could feel the familiar and unsettling aura wash over her as her mind entered the other world. This time she was only in the warped library, seeing nothing but shadows and books every where she looked. Karim was there, lounging on his side in one of the shelves, a distracted look on his face like he was listening to something that was hard to hear. His long tail flicked about, waving down near the floor and once Artemis spotted him, the slight movement stilled and the demon turned his sharp eyes onto the little Ba'al.
“A dirty liar, am I?” He asked and watched Artemis remember what she’d called him in her fit of rage. He looked away again and closed his eyes like he was listening again for something. “That little Grey Queen, Valerie won’t kill you or Eric.” He then said, his eyes fluttering open as he spoke. “Would you like to see her?” He asked and before Artemis could answer, the all demon’s form had sprung from the shelf and he was at another book shelf, tipping it forwards. The book shelf leaned and teetered forwards before falling and disappearing before a single book hit the floor. Behind it there was a portrait of Valerie. Well it wasn't Valerie but it was someone who looked a lot like her.
This person whoever looked more youthful than the Grey Queen and behind her, instead of a shadow, she had wings, neat feathered grey wings. Her eyes were closed in the portrait and Karim turned back to Artemis and he slowly paced towards her.
“The wings of an immortal are a strange thing.” Karim said in a low rumble and he glanced back at the painting himself.
Ryuu raised an eyebrow at Enoch’s accusing glare and before he could stop himself, he asked. “Wait. You were spying on me?” Well of course the creep was probably spying on him. He was one of the queen's spies after all. The Summoner sighed internally to himself before walking back over to the Creep with a calming expression. “You know no one can replace you, Enoch.” He said tenderly, getting the unstable man to pause a moment and listen as Ryuu played up his self worth.
“But do you remember Eric? The son of the one who had you banished? That girl is seemingly important to him. And do you know what I want to do to him?” The summoner lowered his voice and his blue eyes flashed with an icy look. “I want to hurt him, badly. I want to make him break and I want him to cry as we once did… And what better way to do that then by hurting someone he seems to care about?” This was not true, not in the slightest. But Ryuu did want to hurt Eric, he just wasn't going to use Ximena to do that.
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