The curtains in the room had been drawn closed with Ryuu and Ximena lay side by side, the Summoner’s arms wrapped gently around her form while she cuddled close to his chest. He hadn't trusted himself to be as gentle as he was now to take her, but the comforting presence between both of them seemed to be enough so there was no pushing for anything else. He brushed his arm over top of her shoulder and he moved a strands of hair away from her face. She still was as gorgeous as ever to him and he leaned over, lightly kissing her on her nose before shifting down to find her lips. They shared another kiss before a firm knock disturbed them.
Ryuu sighed quietly to himself and half sat up when he heard Penelope call through the door. He frowned a little himself then let his expression soften as he looked back to Ximena. “Stay here, I’ll only be a moment.” He whispered to her before standing up and walking over to the door. Nothing had happened between them yet, so the Summoner was still fully dressed but he still only opened the door enough so that he could be seen and not the rest of the room. “What is it?” He asked on an even, if not slightly annoyed tone.
Sorit internally smiled at the spark Dosia showed and he silently followee after her, keeping a respectable distance from her. When they entered her chambers, he noticed she’d locked the doors but he didn't reply till after she finished talking. “I don't think he’d care to share what his research is, but Romeo might be able to give another clue to what he’s doing…” He paused before sighing softly. “I don't like the idea of you trying to learn what they’re doing by yourself.” He admitted,
“I know that they just want to blend in like they did before and… Well… They’ve shown that when it’s convenient, both Vampires are ready to switch their loyalties in a matter of moments.” He paused then looked down, hoping he wasn't just being to worrisome about the Vampires. He just wanted to make sure Dosia stayed safe.
Eric was simply ignoring Artemis before she began to pace restlessly and snarled about how hopeless he was. To this he sighed and finally spoke up. “Do you want to know why I stay here?” He asked solemnly. “Because I was able to escape once and when I was dragged back here, they sent Ryuu down to tell me that Joseph was going to be punished for my recklessness. The only thing that has happened to me is that I haven't eaten in a few days. But that’s nothing compared to what they did to him… I’m not going to risk his life like that again.”
The former Prince was quiet for a few moments before growling something to himself and in a low voice saying. “Most of the time I wish he had stayed gone, then his life wouldn't have to be used like this.” He didn't tell Artemis that he had already checked the cell walls and the bars and he didn’t say anything else on the matter.
Joseph was not left alone for long and Philip soon came with a healer. The healer didn't scold him for opening his stitches since he didn't really care to a prisoner's health unless the queen ordered to. He just silently stitched again and changed his bandages. Once the healer left, Philip was about to sit back on edge of the bed before hearing quick steps and humming. He looked back at the doorway, seeing Penelope. The nymph waved with a grin. "I came for dirty dishes." She explained and entered the room, walking over to the tray. Once she approached Joseph and Philip she stopped in midway. "I guess a shower would be good for you two." She wrinkled her nose and took the tray.
Philip glared at the nymph. "Water is not good for his stitches."
"I can bring a wet sponge. But you have to take a bath yourself. I will go ask the guards...No, Ryuu is in charge of you. I will ask him." She nodded to herself walked out with the tray.
She asked a few servants on the way and they told her they saw Ryuu going to the guest rooms. Penelope went there and found one room occupied. The door was closed and so she knocked on the wooden surface firmly. "Ryuu sir?!" She shouted out.
Dosia was staring down with disappointment but at what he said at last, she rose up her head with a bit of determination in her eyes. "So there is a small hope yet. If we win..." She whispered thoughtfully. "It does have sacrifices but it won't be from Deloriak only. Others will pay too. This means less pressure on us." The shifter stood and started walking out, expecting Sorit to come after her. They needed to talk in private. She headed to her chambers and then waited for Sorit to enter before locking the door behind. "I would like to hear more of his researches. Maybe he has some plans about the war. Besides, I need to know what he is exactly after." Theodore came to the castle by his own will and chose the library. It was like he was already working on something when he arrived.
"Ugh! I CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE!" Artemis shouted, kicking the bars out of rage. "How can you keep staying here forever?" She snapped at Eric. "You really are hopeless!" Artemis didn't know that any penalties would be for Joseph so she was annoyed how defeated Eric was. She paced around restless, feeling suffocated in those walls.
Joseph stiffened when he saw Johar and he sat still, watching the minister carefully. He stayed where he was and quickly turned his head again, gripping the edge of the bed when he felt Johar’s hand touch where his shoulder was bleeding. He was trying to be more careful about letting Johar see his pain and weakness again, staring intently at the shadow on the wall by his bed.
He grew tense as the minister continued to taunt him and his friends, but he still didn't look at Johar. Joseph stayed looking away till Johar pushed suddenly on his shoulder and he winced at the intense but short lived pain. Quickly he turned towards the Master of Monsters and stares after him, having brought a hand up quickly to his shoulder before feeling the slickness through the wrappings. The former Prince swallowed and looked down, silently thinking and mulling over what Johar had told him.
Sorit glared after Romeo before turning his gaze to Dosia and nodding in agreement. He didn't trust them either. He exhaled at her last statement then spoke in his low tone.
“A war, the way Romeo suggests, would cost too much blood and too many lives. The price to pay for it is too high, and i don't believe Deloriak will be able to sacrifice so much so soon.” He sighed heavily and looked back towards the entrance of the Throne room, thinking for a moment before shaking his head to himself and looking back to Dosia. “There is only one good thing a war like that would bring. It would show that Deloriak is not defeated.” He held his head up, lifting his chin as he said this and his greenish yellow eyes blazed with defiance towards the idea that the kingdom was ruined.
Philip gritted his teeth once he saw the blood and cursed Joseph for being so careless before he left the room asap to find a healer. While he was gone, there was another presence at the doorway. The figure crept in quietly.
"Ah. I see you look much better, Joseph." It was Johar. He was staring down at the younger one with gaze of a predator as he approached his bed. The chair was still at the bedside so he sat on it. This time there was a hint of hate in his eyes. He was still upset about his own mistake.
"Oh, look~ Poor thing is bleeding. Did you try to move? How pitiful. This way you won't be healed any soon...Hmm..I wonder how long a human can survive without food?"
Johar reached out a hand to touch the bloody bandage. "You trully are the cause of your brother's coming death..." The sinister minister cooed.
Johar was torturing him.
A wounded, caring young man was an easy prey for the Master of Monsters. Johar was relieving his hatred and wrath on the poor Joseph.
He wanted to break him and enjoy the sight of another pathetic human crawling around desperately.
"And your friend...he has been overreacting too much recently...A man...crying. How gross and pathetic. Maybe he is...already broken?" Johar whispered, pressing on the bandage.
"Ah...and the girl. He has already taken her. Another girl wasted...He will soon get bored of her and throw her away. Just like the previous ones." He gave his open wound one hateful push before pulling away. The bandage was now soaked in blood. Johar stood up, smirking down at Joseph. "We will meet again, useless boy." The minister left the room with another chuckle.
Dosia was surprised hearing Theodore was researching. What was he looking for? She felt the need to talk to him directly instead of Romeo and stood up. "Very well. We will consider this." She firmly said, gesturing Romeo to leave. The vampire turned away and walked out but he looked back slightly at Sorit, grining before leaving.
Dosia waited until he was out of earshot then looked at Sorit. "I do not want to trust them...War...has many sacrifices...I wonder if it is worth it."
Joseph nodded to his friend and when Philip stood he reached out one arm and half pushed himself, half let his former servant pull him up into a sitting position. He waited a moment before standing and his balance wavered, his legs feeling weak, but he was standing. Waiting another moment, Joseph looked back at Philip with a raised eyebrow when his friend told him to let him know if he had any pain. He thought about not doing that but eventually decided not to make his friend worry anymore and he agreed. He was standing but now they needed to see if he could walk.
Taking steps was slow work since his joints were stiff and his legs shook with his weight. He would have fallen after one step if it wasn’t for Philip holding him up. He made them walk over to the door and as they were turning around, something twitched in his back, making Joseph freeze. It was a twinge of pain that began to grow and he knew exactly what had happened. A few of his stitches near his left shoulder had just pulled out and he looked back towards his former servant to help him back to the bed. Philip understood and in mere moments rather than a few minutes he was sitting back on the bed and Philip was fretting over the bandages around his shoulder, seeing the spot of crimson that was starting to stain through. He sighed in an apologetic manner, feeling the slickness of his own blood underneath the wrappings, and he let Philip have him lie back down while his friend left to go get a healer.
Sorit finally stepped closer and he narrowed his eyes at Romeo. “And what kind of weakness would that power have?” He asked in a growl. “The Light Nation’s thrived for longer than many of the kingdoms around it, I doubt any would really have a clue to what weakness the nation may have.” He didn’t like the idea, trying to rally other smaller territories into attacking the rich strong Nation. It would be disastrous if this were to go badly and any of the territories decided the war wasn’t in their favor.
He pressed his lips together when Romeo mentioned that Theodore had found something about a prophecy in his research. What kind of research the ancient vampire was doing, the werewolf had no idea. He hadn’t seen very much of Theodore since the castle was cleared out and re staffed. He also didn’t know if there was still bad blood between them for what he did when they first met. He’d like to think there wasn’t any but… Sorit always found himself looking over his shoulder just in case.
Ximena felt her body heating up at the kiss like there was a fire burning in her. It was almost like a fever, but a pleasing fever. She wanted to have this fever when she was in his arms. Though it was impossible, Ximena preferred to hold the kiss for like...forever. When they pulled away for air, the dancer stared up into his eyes with slightly opened mouth and lost gaze. She kissed back immediately when he leaned down. Unknowingly, she made steps backward while kissing until back of her knees touched the edge of bed and instinctively she collapsed on her back on the bed but pulled Ryuu along to hold the kiss. Laying down was much more comfortable than keeping her weak legs straight. The warmth his hold gave her made every single muscle of her relax. Everything...Anyone...was just a cloudy memory for her except Ryuu.
Philip sighed when Joseph simply shrugged. He always wondered from whom Joseph took this kindness. Unfortunately, this gentle heart couldn't make a good leader in most of the times. Yet he wished Joseph could have a chance to take over the throne instead of Eric. He set the tray away once finished and frowned at the former prince's gesture. "No, no...you still need to heal." He shook his head but Joseph insisted and he gave in. Carefully he wrapped Joseph's arm around his shoulders and wrapped his own hand around Joseph's waist. Slowly and gently, Philip pulled his weight up and supported him to stand. "Just tell if you feel any pain." He worriedly said while waiting for the first step patiently.
Dosia was wary around the vampires she had in castle. The bitter memory of being bitten was still alive for her. Especially Romeo, the one who bit her. Whenver she saw him, her neck itched but didn't show it and tried to listen to his words calmly. War...it was a quite risky move and she was going to refuse before Romeo talked again. "Even though we are currently in the worst condition of all, there are territories who envy the strength and riches of Light nation. They are too small to make any serious move against the country but if somebody appears...as a heroine..somebody who would unite them and guarantee their victory....somebody who claims to know their weakness." Romeo walked closer to them. Dosia frowned slightly.
Romeo nodded and grinned, "My queen, Theo dear has found some interesting things about a prophecy in his researches~"
Ryuu didn’t stop Ximena from kissing him, he let her stand on her toes and he wrapped his arms carefully around her. He could feel that she wasn’t just acting for him and he smiled into their kiss, kissing her back more passionately and drawing her away from the door. He paused for a breath in the middle of the room and he looked back lovingly at Ximena, the thought of what she was to Eric long forgotten. All he saw was her and she was all he wanted. He leaned back down to her, kissing her again, but he didn’t push for anything. The Summoner knew she was still healing, still recovering, so he’d let her set the pace, give her what she asked for and nothing more, nothing less.
Joseph paused when Philip asked why he didn’t just ignore Artemis’ request like Eric had, and then he shrugged after a moment. How could either of them know it was for the best if they didn’t try to help her? They both knew what Artemis was doing in this world instead of her own and helping her go back there was the humane thing to do. Sure, she was a demon, different than them, but she had also asked for help and who was he to turn away from someone in need. It was after he finished eating that Joseph gestured for Philip to help him up. He could sit up now fine and his body didn’t strain and ache when he moved, but the marks on his back hadn’t healed enough for the stitches to fall out. There was still a risk of pulling them out but the former Prince still wanted to see if he could walk.
Sorit bowed his head at Dosia’s decision and he only looked up when he heard Romeo’s voice from the entrance way. He straightened up, on guard in the vampire’s presence and watched him closely as he made a slow circling path to go stand near Dosia again. It wasn’t that he held any ill-will towards Romeo for attacking the queen, twice. But he didn’t trust the sly dark being with any advice that the library worker had. Even though his advice could be rather good sometimes. He narrowed his eyes at the proposition of war but didn’t say anything in objection. What he was trying to do was figure out why Romeo would think tempting other territories into full blown wars would be a good idea?
Ximena had almost forgotten about others. She was glad he did remembered to check on them. Her eyes did not leave his face as she watched him talk with a tilted head. Days ago she would be scared even in his presence but now she was eagerly listening to him. Her dark eyes were glued to his ice blue eyes. She didn't find them piercing anymore. They were warm and full of care towards her. Then she looked at those lips and found herself blushing slightly at the memories of the passionate kiss they shared. Those lips felt soft and encouraging on hers. She remembered the sparkles beneath her skin when he touched her gently. "Oh, Ryuu..." She whispered and stepped forward to close the space.
This time it was her turn to make the step. Ximena placed her hands on his shoulders and stood on her tiptoes to kiss him lovingly. This time she was the needy one and asked for it.
Was it love or just...a first naive experience with a man? She didn't know since she had never felt like that before.
The bird watched the scene with a tilted head before taking off. Under the window, down on the ground was hiding Cyan. He lifted a single finger and let the bird land on it and chirp in his ear. "...You will be sorry for smacking me." The servant whispered hatefully and moved away into bushes.
Philip listened carefully since he needed distraction. After a bit of silence he asked, "Are you sure you want to help her? She is...a demon. She is different than us. She could turn on us any time...You are not even sure how does the spell work." He sighed and stood up, sitting on edge of the bed to pick up the tray. He rested it on his own lap as he started feeding Joseph himself. It reminded him of old times. He never fed Joseph but he liked serving him. "Why don't you just ignore her request for the best?"
Dosia looked up at the alpha wolf and smiled with a nod. "I am sure we can as long as I have you." She was almost reaching out to stroke his arm but pulled away on time and walked back to her throne. "Then I will ask the kingdoms further than our neighbours. If friends are not helping, we should ask from strangers. The neighbours of Chamlek are quite rich and wealthy. They might need something we can give." She then tore the letter into pieces.
"What everyone likes...is a war, my queen." Dosia rose up her head to see one of the vampires, Romeo at the entrance.
Ryuu smiled in return and hugged Ximena once she’d calmed down. He was relieved that she was alright and it was almost an open secret that he cared for her, but he hadn’t yet said the three little words to seal that truth. “I’m so glad you’re alright.” He said, giving a small friendly laugh when she called him her guardian angel. “I wouldn’t call myself an angel, but I did promise I’d protect you, didn’t I?” He said, smiling and holding her close again, wanting to kiss her and dot on her and make sure nothing like this ever happened to her again.
He first remembered to tell her that both Joseph and Philip were alright. He’d gone and checked on them right after she’d fallen ill and he was quite sure that the other two members of her party were also both alright. Ryuu let go of Ximena to give her some space, but he was still close enough to help her if she needed it again. While they talked, neither of them noticed a small light colored bird sitting outside of her window, watching the two closely.
Joseph’s smile faded at his friend's words and tears and he blinked, his expression turning to condolence when he realized that Philip was also in love with Ximena. He didn’t know if Ryuu was too or if he was just playing with her feelings but it was obvious to him how his friend felt. He looked up and eyed the Nymph disapprovingly when she laughed and shoved the tray towards him behind leaving. He sighed silently and with some effort, placed the tray on the floor before turning his attention back to his friend.
What did Artemis tell him?
He thought for a moment then began to slowly and silently explain that she’d found a way back to Muerte but needed his help for the spell. Really he had no idea what the spell would actually do, but when he was better and able to see that book again then he’d be able to read a more carefully about what the spell would do.
Sorit frowned when he heard Dosia sigh and he saw her tired expression. He hadn’t didn’t know much about how the other kingdom’s had rejected to help Deloriak. He knew some had refused because she hadn’t executed Eric after capturing him. And others refused because she’d interfered with Chamlek’s domestic problems and it’s civil war. He knew he couldn’t go to her and comfort her, not out in the open like this, but he didn’t look away when she admitted to feeling trapped.
“I know picking up the pieces isn’t easy. But we will find a way to have Deloriak thrive again.” He said with a strong, calm voice. Sorit hadn’t said she would find a way by herself. He had said [i they] would find a way. He had promised to stay by her side and support her on the throne and that’s what he still intended to do.
The bed was empty when he peered inside. Suddenly a hand grabbed him by arm and pulled him inside. "Ryuu!!" Ximena immediately hugged him tightly like he was an old friend of here. She was far too happy to worry about her strange behaviour towards a man who had arrested them. "I was so scared not to see this world ever again, I was scared of dying here alone. But the spots are gone now! And I am not throwing any blood...What was with those feathers?!" The girl pulled away from him and pulled on her collar to show him the fading spots on her neck and shoulderblade. "They said I was going to die soon~" She span but her body was still weak for that so she felt dizzy and stumbled forward, holding on him for balance. "...Ryuu." Ximena was finally calmed down. She looked up at him with loving eyes and a sweet smile. "If...If I was not brought here by you...I would have been dead. You are somehow my guardian angel! Aren't you?"
Philip did heard that but still felt like crying. When Joseph shook his shoulders, he only looked up with a wet face. "...sh-she...sur..survived? Thanks goodness. I don't how could I live with that." He gave a smile which was more sorrowful. He noticed Ryuu was already gone and guessed he was back with Ximena. He was happy that she was okay again but...his heart broken. He had started having feelings towards her but never showed it. He was too naive about these things and never dared to make the step. He had only kissed horses before. Yet this Summoner easily broke the wall and even kissed her in front of him. Even though Ryuu was the obvious enemy, he somehow made Ximena fall for him. He had some skills and Philip had to accept the defeat. During hard times in the castle, Ryuu was beside Ximena not him. "I...I am such a moron..." He suddenly talked, mostly to himself. "Of course...I don't deserve her..." Shaking his head with a bitter smile He wiped off the rest of his tears with back of his hand then paid attention to Joseph. " So... What did Artemis tell-" He realised Penelope was there the whole time. He looked back with narrowed eyes at the girl who had covered her mouth to hide her laughter.
"Oh...I..brought some food." Penelope clumsily picked up the tray and shoved it in Joseph's hands. "Geez. I have never seen that Summoner like that...Men are ridiculous." She started laughing as walking out.
Back in Deloriak, in the castle, Dosia was pacing in the throneroom. She had never faced such moments for her small kingdom. The queen had never thought of ever pleading other countries for help. Chamlek had politely rejected her since they too were struggling to establish a new system of ruling without royalties. They had started making councils consisted of peasants. And they were not kind to other kingdom's, hating even the queen who helped them in their rebellion. They just had agreed to pay their debts with weapons. Other kingdom's had rejected her too with varities of excuses. Her only hope was Light nation.
She heard Sorit calling her name. He had become her closest friend thought she did best not to show any more relationship than that. Dosia was afraid of rumors about her private life. She took the letter from him with a shaky hand and opened it slowly. There were dark bags under her sleepless eyes as she scanned the later.
A humiliating Rejection.
As expected from the Grey Queen.
Dosia lowered the letter and sighed in defeat.
"Sorit...I am trapped in a dead end."
Ryuu glanced back at Penelope sharply when she enterer the room cheerfully before stopping. “What are you talking about?” He asked her. It took a moment but once he realized what had happened and what the little nymph was talking about, he wordlessly rushed out of the room, leaving Philip by Joseph’s side and Penelope in the room. If what she said was true, if the queen really had performed a miracle…. He had to see for himself, he had to make sure this wasn't a trick. Ryuu walked briskly through the castle to the healer’s chambers and he stopped one to ask where Ximena was. She had been moved from the isolated rooms and now was in a windowed one, almost like Joseph’s. He approached her room and opened the door slightly before knocking on it and calling inside.
Joseph was trying to console his friend when Penelope entered the room, introducing herself. What she said next sent Ryuu hurrying out of the room and the former Prince shook his friend lightly by his shoulders. Didn't he hear what she said? He tried to give a small smile to his friend, a smile that wasn't saddened or even too hopeful. But he was trying to be reassuringly.
“Dosia.” Sorit’s rumbling voice spoke as he entered the throne room in his human form, holding the letter from the light nation with it’s black seal. He wasn't going to make N.V deliver the news, whether it be good or bad. He had a feeling that whatever was written in the letter, The Kindheart Lady would not be too happy about it. The kingdom was still far from being stable after everything that Urla and Bhediya’s underlings had done. But it wasn't hard to look ahead towards the future with those two now gone.
Johar looked defeated and hurt when he walked towards his room slowly. His eyes were staring forward but it was clear he was far into his thoughts. The minister already knew he had lost the trust he worked so hard to gain. That third demon ruined all his work. How could he know he would replace a deceased demon?! But it was too late for regrets. That foolish summoner would have even a more special place beside the queen. Neculai was not much a threat for him since he was going to live for so long but that was until the queen trusted the feather in his granddaughter's care. Did she plan on giving positions to the next generation of this man? The monster master growled. Then something sparkled in his head. Ryuu had a weakness...if Cyan was being right. The dancer whom the queen just healed...Johar smirked and headed to his room with more eager steps.
Philip stumbled forward toward Joseph, kneeling down by his bed like he was apologising for what happened to Ximena. The man swallowed a sob, whispering shakily." Sh-she...is..going to..." He dropped his head as a tear escaped his eye. "Die..." His shoulders started shaking, showing that he was crying silently.
[i Shut up! What else can I do?!] Artemis kicked a wall as she was reviewing the things she needed for preparation. Since Eric was ignoring her and her intentions, she freely read the book in open as facing the wall in a corner. Karim was right. She couldn't just stay there and wait. The list needed searching and she wasn't going to find anything in the dungeon except Eric's blood. She was not going to take it now. She didn't want to do anything with the hybrid at the moment. He pissed her off...
The granddaughter, informed by her grandfather that she was going to go on a journey with him, decided to trust a friend of hers take care of Joseph. She sent her to take his meal and pain killers while she prepared for the journey.
Her friend was a nymph, originally lived by a lake and guarded it but she brought to the castle by wife of one of the ministers for entertainment. The woman soon got tired of her voice and stories. She was free most of the time, unless called by a lady for some fortune telling since she had the gift.
So Penelope the nymph, bored for days, happily accepted to nurse the prisoner. The small maiden skipped along the hallways with the unabalanced tray in her hands. She didn't bother to knock since Joseph was technically a prisoner and just entered. "Hello! I'm Penelope sent by Miss Elena." She cheerfully introduced herself before noticing the heavy atmosphere. She saw Philip at the bedside and then noticed Ryuu. "Oh! I...I am...sorry." She bowed down slightly at the Summoner. "What is wrong? I thought you would be celebrating for the miracle of our Grey Queen." Penelope placed the tray down, picking up a plate of food. "I heard your friend was just...inches away from death and then boom! The queen cured her in a blink!" She threw up her hands in excitement.
The Queen turned her head slightly back towards Ximena when she called out, thanking her. She didn’t openly acknowledge the dancer but she did smile to herself and watch as her Ministers all left to prepare to leave. She paused from leaving when Johar hesitated and asked for her forgiveness. Her piercing Violet eyes stared down at him for a moment before she lifted her head and spoke.
“You will be forgiven only when I’ve decided what penalty is fit for your ignorance.” She watched Johar slowly stand and leave and she sighed to herself. Her actions towards her Minister wouldn’t be violent but she would distance herself and stop taking their suggestions all the time.
She’d ordered her ministers to leave by nightfall and even through Neculai was to send his granddaughter, he would be allowed to travel with her. But should he die before returning to the capital, the Grey Queen ordered that his body be brought back to the capital. She hadn't talked to him about his burial, she didn't know what his remaining family would want done for him. But heroes of the Light Nation were always cremated and their ashes given to their next of kin. If Neculai already had plans then fine, but if he didn't then Valerie things prepared for him.
Joseph shifted awake as Ryuu opened the door and both men entered the room. He looked up at them then looked towards Philip, wanting to know what the Summoner wanted. He quickly noticed that Philip had been crying and his expression turned frantic, not knowing what had happened but he was already expecting the worst.
“I’m here to see how you’re feeling.” Ryuu started, breaking the silence in the room and making Joseph look back at him. “There is a plague spreading through the nation and Ximena has been infected.” This news shocked Joseph and he stared at Ryuu while he continued to talk. He stopped talking after a question, probably asking if Joseph felt sick or noticed anything, but the former prince wasn't listening. Joseph was looking back toward Philip, wanting to know how Ximena really was.
Down in the dungeons….
[B You won't get any farther staying here.]
Karim’s voice hissed at Artemis. She still had the book with her and Eric had made it clear he wasn't going to try and stop her. But what could she really do without Joseph’s help. She did need to collect a few things. One being a Summoner’s rune stone, something Ryuu had. Another being a bit of the demon’s blood, or really Eric’s blood. And one of the last things was a vice of cleansing, something powerful that could heal or purify, like one of Valerie’s feathers.
Ximena, almost brought back to life by some sort of a miracle, began to register her surroundings. She recognised some feathers in the queen's hands. So the thing she held in her hands earlier was one of those grey feathers. Immediately the dancer examined her hands and saw the spots gone. At first her eyes widened then she smiled in relief. The girl barely noticed the healers taken her arms to take her back to rest since she had lost some blood and needed time and rest to recover. Ximena tried to keep up with them since her legs were still weak. Before she left the throneroom, the young girl pulled away from the surprised healer and faced the queen to bow down. "Thank You!" It was simple yet honest. She still had plans for the future and being given another chance...was something she would never forget. After that she let them take her away.
Neculai carefully took the feather in his hands, bowing down his head. "Of course." He whispered, observing the precious thing with pleased eyes. Aside from saving lives of many, people would trust their queendom more.
Johar was not sure if it was a good idea to use her most powerful possession for peasants generously. He was confident he could take good care of the feather but he couldn't say the same about the rest of ministers...especially Neculai who was going to send his granddaughter. But he didn't protest, just bowed respectfully. "Yes, my queen."
The other ministers left the throneroom one after another until only Johar was left. He hesitated before glancing up at Valerie. Suddenly he knelt down humbly and bowed down. "My queen, please forgive me for my mistake. I...didn't know the third demon would be that strong..."
Philip followed Ryuu but it was like walking in a nightmare. He wanted to wake up anytime and see Ximena healthy and well. The former servant held his head, dragging his feet behind the Summoner. Why was she even arrested? She was not with them. Why did Ryuu bring her too? Did he enjoy imprisoning people? The moment she stepped in this castle, he started acting like a lover for no real reason. This Summoner was as twisted as Enoch, Philip believed.
Eric was taken by surprise when Artemis grabbed him by his collar, yanking him up to his feet and getting in his face. He narrowed his eyes at her deadly look and when she shoved him down, he caught himself and staggered back from her. Glaring in her direction but not saying anything in return. He only held her gaze and spitting anger for a moment with his own dark look. “You know what I think about that…?” He growled softly, bowing his head and letting out a heavy breath before answering himself. “You know exactly what I think about that.” He moved away from Artemis again, sitting himself back against a wall of the cell before holding his head in his hands and not making a sound.
Ryuu’s shoulder’s slumped as Philip began to break down, not believing, or really wanting to believe what he was being told. He felt pity for the former servant and shared his fear even though he had been the one to cause it. Ryuu was only human. “I asked myself that the moment I was told what was happening. What did I do? Why did I bring her here? And now there is nothing I can do to help her. But what she wanted was for me to help you. You and Joseph and Artemis and Eric.” He let go of Philip’s shoulders and yanked him forwards a little when his knees began to buckle. “And that’s what I intend to do that.” His voice was firm and his ice blue eyes hid nothing. The summoner finally let go of Philip and then motioned for him to follow. He still needed to see how Joseph was and make sure he wasn’t getting sick too.
It was a few minutes before the Grey Queen entered and it seemed like an icy chill filled the room as she entered. When her Minister’s turned to face her, she looked calm and almost pleased with something and in her hands, she gently held seven large grey feathers. They were almost like long over sized quills but as she stepped closer, it became clear that the cold was emanating from them and they were much more than simple feathers.
“As you all know, a sickness is spreading through the country, one that no race has proven to be immune.” She could see the glances as she paused and she gingerly picked up one of the feathers up to show them. “There has been no found cure But… I have a plan to change that.” She hadn’t been waiting for her ministers in the throne room because she had first gone to have Ximena brought to the throne room so Valerie could test what she was sure would work. In a matter of hours her condition had gotten much worse, the spots under her arms had spread to around her neck, the underside of her arms, and they had started to appear on the palms of her hands. She looked worn out and scared and the thin gown she was wearing already had a few red stains of blood. Had this happened while she was in the borderlands, Ximena would have been as good as dead. No one knew how long she had. Maybe days, a night or even a few more hours.
There was immediate unease in the air as Ximena was brought in, it was almost as strong as the chilling feeling that still accompanied it. But none of this dissuaded Valerie as she looked at the very sick dancer and she walked over to her. Even the healers were keeping their distance but Valerie walked right up to Ximena and pushed one of the large feathers into her hands. “Here, hold this.” She said softly and once she let go of the large feather, it was like a shock went through Ximena, burning from her face to her hands and toes. The heat was only there for a few moments before she suddenly felt cool and her mind was clear, clear enough to notice the chill in the air and feel the eyes on her.
Valerie took the feather back from her shaking hands and turned them over, looking at her palms. The black spots were gone and on the visible part of her under arms they could all see that the spots and marks were also fading. The Grey Queen smiled and turned back to her Minister’s walking back to them and giving them each district in the infected areas. “Neculai, I am giving you this, but I want you to send your grandchildren in your place.” She told him when she reached him, her violet eyes meeting his aged gaze. She then finally stepped in front of Johar, giving him the second to last feather before telling him he was to go to the three border districts, the ones where the sickness began and where most of the ill would still be.
“You are not to refuse anyone but be vigilant for the power in these small vices hold much to be desired for many.” She stepped back from her ministers and she folded her hands together around the first feather she’d shown them. “I want you all to leave tonight, take your vices and go to each district. This sickness must be eradicated, the good of the Light Nation depends on it.”
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