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.”
Artemis narrowed her eyes when he again questioned her hope. She gritted her teeth amd swallowed her rage. He then warned her about Karim, calling her doubting part which she had silenced. This only made her more annoyed. She didn't want to think of consequences. She just wanted to see Muerte again. The Ba'al needed this small hope even if it was stupid to trust the All Demon. "Shut up. You don't know anything. You are one spoiled brat! Seriously...you have ruined everything yet your friends just fix them for you!" It was her turn to stand up as she approached him firmly and stood close to him, raising her voice. "You just played around when you had the throne, clueless about everything! Every single soldier of yours sacrificed themselves for your worthless life...you have your brother on your side who never ever hates you even if you stab him right into his heart! You...you have the power to crush any being without a single effort even though you claim that you hate it! But me...?! No, Muerte is not a playground for fools like you. It is a dying world; While you have rivers beneath your feet, we kill over a small lake. The slightest mistake is unforgivable...So, hope is the only thing keeping me up. Look at me, asshole." Her claws clenched on his collar again and with a swift yank she pulled him up on his feet. The demon slammed her forehead against his, glaring into his eyes in a deadly way. "I want to get back to Muerte because I have responsibilities there unlike you who just sits around for a fucking hero, I will take any risks to get there. I am not scared of Karim since he has not killed you so he must at least care to his own blood but you just easily sacrifice anything for your own sake...even your brother." She threw him down at her feet after spitting out her anger.
Philip was about to pull himself away roughly but what Ryuu said about Ximena was like icy water pouring down on his body. The poor man stood there, staring at Ryuu in disbelief. Slowly he shook his head, his mouth moving soundlessly. Finally, he managed to talk weakly. "I-it's...a sick joke." He whispered and suddenly grabbed the hands on his shoulders."I have to see her! She is okay! She is not dying...you are just a dirty liar! What did she do?! Let go of her! You got tired of her?! Now you throw her away?! Damn you...!Damn you! I have to see her! See her! She was okay...she was okay an hour ago! How could she possibly...! LIAR!" Tears welled up in his widened eyes. Philip felt broken. Why...why disasters happened to them?! "What did you do to her...you...are no man!"
Soon all Ministers, including Neculai and the extremly nervous Johar gathered in the place. The guilty minister was not looking up, too afraid to meet his queen's wrath. Neculai was calm yet worried since whenever she called for everyone, it meant emergency.
“...” Eric only glanced up at Artemis with his eyes and there was a flicker of annoyance in them, but he didn’t say anything right away. “Hope.” He spat, his voice low and cold like it had been when he thought Joseph was dead and he flat out refused to help her. “Hope for what? To have more time? For another day? Another bloody damn moment? For things to get better? That isn’t anything to hope for.” He was quiet when Artemis began talking and he scoffed quietly when she mentioned Karim. At her quiet suggestion that he stop hating his father, he just shook his head and gritted his teeth when she grabbed him by his collar to make him face her.
“Why do you care so much about what others think?” He snapped back at her, pulling himself away from her grip before pacing away a bit then turning back sharply to face her. “I already told you, What ever he’s promised you, he won’t follow through.” He ran a hand back through his hair with an irritated and exasperated sigh and he glared back at her again. “I won’t stop you from trying to bring him back. But I suggest you ask him why he wants to come back so badly. Karim isn’t a faithful being, he is cunning and vengeful and will turn on you at the drop of a coin then continue to help you any more if you bring him back.” He paused like he was considering saying something else but decided against it and he walked a few more steps away from Artemis before sitting down again.
“You don’t really know what all he’s capable of… The only thing I can hope for is that you change your mind with helping him.” With that he was silent again and he looked down towards the floor, his eyes narrowed with dark thoughts hiding behind him.
The Summoner watched as the healer’s quickly took Ximena away after seeing the blood and this only made him panic even more. “What is wrong?!” He asked, demanding to know what the problem was before also demanding if they could cure it. The healers glanced at one another before one took him aside and began to talk in a hushed voice.
“How long were you with her?” He asked.
“What does that have to do with-?”
“The sickness she has is fatal.” The healer then said sternly, cutting Ryuu off as he continued. “She is already showing signs of the later stages of it and there isn’t a cure.” This floored him and Ryuu stepped back, shocked at what he had been told.
“H-how…?” He began and put a hand on his head, trying to digest what he had been told.
“The sickness is mostly in the border lands, close to Deloriak border. That’s where you brought her from, correct?” Ryuu could only nod the healer continued. “This is the first case here in the capital and I doubt that she is going to survive...” The summoner stopped listening after that and he simply nodded again when he was instructed to go back to his own chambers and wait another day to see if he too was infected or not. He then thought of Philip and Joseph, Ximena’s friends and he knew where they had left Philip. Neither of them had shown the symptoms of the sickness but still…
He briskly walked back to the room where Philip was still pounding on the door and between strike’s he unlocked the door and yanked it open, quickly reaching in and grabbing him before pulling him back out of the room. He then firmly held the former servant at arm’s length by his shoulders and he used a stern and controlled voice.
“How do you feel?” He asked and before Philip could ask why it mattered or ask about Ximena, the summoner quickly told him what he now knew. “Ximena is sick, very sick. The healer’s don’t have a cure for her illness and the most I can do for her now is make sure you and Joseph don’t die from this too. So how do you feel?”
The Grey Queen walked back to the parlor that she had first met the captive’s in her castle and she sat with a sigh, closing her eyes. “Mother Nature, why are you punishing us after so many centuries of prosperity?” She wasn’t expecting an answer but so far the Prophecies were all coming true. She knew that if they continued to be true, then the sickness would break the perimeter and quickly infect at least half of the Light nation many would die and in turn the country's population would greatly decrease. Which means less food, less finance and weaker power in the eyes of the other territories. The only good thing about the sickness was that it may wipe out the generation that would think to overthrow her. But that was the only good thing and the bad reasons from it far out weighed that good reason.
With another quiet sigh, Valerie thought for a moment before standing and going back to her study, collecting seven things before calling all of her Ministers to the throne room. She had an Idea, a risky Idea, but if it worked then it would change the course of this disaster.
Artemis hid the book in her dress again and let the guards take her back down. She was put back into the same cell as Eric like before. Once the guards left them alone, Artemis moved closer to the former prince and watched him carefully. She slowly sat beside him, wondering why he looked so down. Sure his brother was badly but wasn't he going to be okay?
"...At least he is alive and you can have hope." The demon suddenly spoke up. She hugged her knees then yawned. "Ugh dammit...I am too tired. You can't believe what happened today." She looked at Eric then frowned. "I am telling it anyway." She confirmed then started telling him the story. She of course didn't mention Karim...she tried to. But when she reached the part she was steps away from death at the waterfall, the name slipped out. "If Karim wasn't there I would have probably died-oh, damn." Artemis realised her mistake and looked at Eric again for any reaction. "Well, he was the only one who actually helped me! All of you just fooled around. H-he was the only one who really promised...yeah Joseph did too but...I guess it was more out of pity." The little Ba'al stared down at her legs, slowly slipping her exhausted and wounded feet out of her torn up shoes. She rubbed her clawed toes gently before whispering. "Maybe you should stop hating your father too much. I mean...demons are not...humanity friends but they are not that bad themselves...Am I?" Suddenly Artemis grabbed his collar and made it him look at her serious face for an answer.
Philip caught the sight of Ryuu holding a pale faced Ximena as running past them clearly. He shouted out Ryuu's name, afraid that he had done something to the girl. The guards pulled him back when he struggled to go after the two. He was roughly thrown in the room again. He got on his knees and smelt the stench before his eyes dropped on the bloody mess. Panic washed over him. What had happened to Ximena? He tried to run out again but they locked the door and left him banging on the door crazily.
Ximena was terrified, feeling her head spin as he took her to another quarter of the castle. She knew blood was a bad sign. Sign of many things yet bad. She slowly wiped off her chin, her eyes tearing up at the sight of the blood on her hand.
The healer quickly observed the symptoms, their fear coming true. The disease was in the castle. She was in the border cities earlier so she probably got sick there. They immediately took her into an isolated room, sending a healer to inform the queen about it.
When they changed her clothes, they saw some black spots around her armpit. They were quite sure she was going to die but at least they could experiment on her to study the disease and maybe find a cure.
Ximena still didn't know what was going on. Nobody talked to the prisoner as they locked her up in a bare, windowless room. She was scared, curling up under the sheets on bed which smelt like drug and alcohol. She was changed into a mere simple gown and her clothes, even underwears were taken away to be burnt. Something that was probably going to happen to her dead body.
Joseph grinned a bit out of habit while Artemis smiled with glee before noticing the steps and preparations for the spell. He swallowed nervously and nodded when she asked if he would help her. He knew the spell would probably cause enough of a commotion for them all to slip away, but right now he wouldn't be able to help her right away. He was still bed stricken and probably would be for at least a full week. At least, and at most he would be condemned there for another month.
He paused and listened to Artemis’ strange analogy. Sure he was mild but he wasn't timid or much of a push over when he had his mind made up about something. He raised an eyebrow at Artemis and nodded when she apologized, watching her look over the spell again before a guard opened the door and told the little Ba’al that she had to leave now. Joseph gave her a reassuring yet determined look when she looked back at him and he gave a silent nod to her as if confirming that he would still help her, even if it took a bit of time to do. Little did they know, time was not on their side.
Eric didn't reply to what Philip was saying, even when the guards came over to take them both away. He knew there was no point in defending himself. In no way had he asked for this to happen but he also knew that his own small actions would eventually lead up to something like this. He quietly let the guards take him back down into the dungeon where they lead him to a cell and once he was inside, locked the door behind him and left him there. They didn't bother trying to put chains on him, but then again he wasn't going to try to do anything but sit and wait in his cell.
“...!” Ryuu glanced at Ximena as she bent over slightly and he then gasped as she threw up. He noticed the scent of blood quickly and he was at her side in an instant. “Ximena!” His voice was thick the worry that he felt and he pulled her back slightly from the mess. She still had blood and saliva dripping off of her chin and Ryuu knew something was wrong, he didn't know what was wrong, but he did know Ximena needed to see a healer soon. “C-can you walk?” He asked still guiding her back and when she stumbled a little, he got his answer and carefully.
Quickly, he picked her up in his arms. “Hold on.” He whispered to her and he barged out the door, rushing into the hall and hurrying towards the healer’s quarters in the Castle. He hardly noticed as he ran past the guards who were escorting Philip back to the room and he didn't stop when the other man shouted after him. Ryuu’s only thoughts were on getting Ximena help and making sure she was okay.
Artemis excitedly took the book in her shaky hands. "Yes...yes! Only this circle and then I can go back to Muerte! You are a genius, Joseph~" She touched the page like she could feel its power from the drawing. She was all cheerful and happy until her gaze dropped on the list of preparation. Her expression immediately fell. "What the!!" Growling she punched the wall beside her, earning a crack on the wall. "What is with these tasks...Damn it..." She suddenly turned to Joseph again with hopeful eyes. "You...you will help me right? That brother of yours refused to help because he is an ass but you are much nicer. Help me with this...thing and I am finally back home!" She laughed for the first time in the Light nation out of glee. Then she noticed Joseph's state and patted him on shoulder. "Don't worry. I am sure activating this spell will make a fuss. Then you can escape too and go back to...wherever you want." Artemis grinned at him promisingly even though she was concerned for herself much more than Joseph and others. Then she looked at his bandages again. "Somebody...calls you a mouse but you are way too tough. Damn you are just a human yet can be this patient? You literally became your brother's shield in every place we went. I wish I had a brother like you. That hybrid says I will never understand your bond yet I love it already..." She sighed and dropped her head before rubbing her face and snapping out of it. "Sorry. Umm..." She read the list of things needed to be done carefully.
Philip stood beside Eric. At first it was like he wanted to hit him or spit curses at him as always but then he became all sorrowful like he realised getting angry wouldn't change anything. "...Eric, stop it. Stop harming your only remained family member who actually cares about you. Please, he almost died, took fifty lashes...got beaten up at that mansion. This is enough! Don't you think so? What if...he really dies? Why don't you sacrifice yourself instead for once?!" He did not say anymore as the guards seperated them and took them to their places.
Ximena couldn't look at his face anymore. She just kept looking down at her shoes, playing with strands of her hair anxiously. "N-no...it is okay as long as you help them." She felt her stomach turn again but this time not because of her feelings. She felt a stinging pain in her belly before bending down and throwing up her last meal with some blood mixed in it. She knelt down, looking down at the mess in horror.
The blood was indeed scary for her but what she didn't know was that she had gotten the deadly sickness of Light nation.
Eric didn't say anything to what the guards said, he just let them take him to where his brother was being kept. He glanced at the girl that the guards waited for and he was scowling when they shoved him into the room. That was before he saw what state his brother was in and his hardened expression feel away to something like shock, relief, and despair. Joseph stopped short from taking the drink from the grand daughter and his eyes widened when he saw his brother.
A small part of him was relieved but surprise won over in his expression. Eric glanced at Philip when he stood and he almost flinched at the hateful tone the other man had. He looked back to his brother and quickly hurried over, kneeling down next to the bed since Joseph still couldn't sit up, and he could feel his younger brother's eyes piercing through him. His expression fell again to despair and he openly winced at his brother's wrappings and known wounds.
“Dear gods Joseph… What did they do to you?” His voice was a quiet whisper but it rose as his breath choked and he bowed his head. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” He brought one hand up to cover his eyes and to suppress a sob. Joseph's expression changed slight but not very much since he didn't know Eric had still thought for some time that he was death.
His brother stayed still, watching Eric with a wide eyed yet unreadable expression. Joseph was in slight disbelief in seeing his brother but he was also struggling with how he should feel. He didn’t want to feel angry or even relieved. He looked over at Philip then back to his brother then over to the grand daughter, silently asking her if she could leave and come back later. Now obviously wasn’t a good time anymore.
It was a little while later that Artemis arrived and Eric had calmed down a little, so had Philip though his friend was still cross about the nerve the older former prince had. Once the guards demanded that Philip and Eric leave, it was almost like a switch was flipped and he bowed his head scowling. “No. I’m not leaving....” A gesture from Joseph made him stop talking and after a few silent moments, he nodded slightly. He then stood, turning away and hurriedly barging past the guards and out into the hall, but he didn’t go far and he didn’t try to run.
Joseph glanced at Artemis when she entered and then called him… Her what?! He winced a little as she firmly grabbed his shoulders before she kissed him. His eyes widened and he stared at her, just faintly hearing the door slam closed behind them before she broke their kiss. He was stunned, not really disgusted, just more taken back. He blinked at her almost dumbly before she began talking about the book and he was glad for that distraction.
He noticed her nervousness with the book and he took the book from her, eyeing her carefully before looking down at the pages and skimming through them he then turned a few pages still skimming till something made him stop and he turned the book back to Artemis. It was a diagram of sorts, a drawing of a ritualistic circle, almost like a summoners, but there was something that made it different. It had several different lists and steps scrawled around the two pages and Artemis could hear Karim give a pleased growl.
It was the description and preparation of the spell he’d asked her to find to set him free.
Ryuu stiffened when Ximena spoke and he shifted away from her, looking away. “I-i know. I’m sorry.” He said shaking his head slightly and he stepped back from her. He was stammering and cursing at himself as well as at Eric in his head and the awkwardness filled the room between them. “... I’m sorry I couldn’t help your friends sooner.” He told her softly, their moments like lovers now a distant memory.
The guard felt cold sweats on his forehead under Eric's pressing gaze. "Fine. Not like you have a chance to escape. You better see what happens to your brother if you make a wrong move." He nodded to the other guards and they changed direction, pushing Eric towards the room Joseph was kept. when they arrived at the door, the granddaughter of Neculai was there with another herbal drink for Joseph's pain. They stood aside in respect for her so she could enter first before shoving Eric in and they stood at the doorway so he would not try anything. The girl didn't even glance at Eric as she walked over to Joseph and handed him the drink.
Philip stood when he saw Eric and glared at him hatefully. "How can you even have the courage to come and see what you have caused?!"
Artemis was as surprised as the guards when the books just fell down and scattered on the floor. Karim was more powerful than she thought. A part of her warned about trusting him but the part that just wanted to go back to Muerte won over and she again pushed aside her doubts and made steps towards the book. She took the book and smiled a little. Finally. She was going home. But the problem was...could she take the book with her? She looked back at the guards standing at the entrance. Artemis didn't want to risk losing this precious book so she moved back, pushing on the shelves behind her and made more books fall over. The echoing sound distracted the guards as they looked at the mess for a moment. Artemis quickly shoved the book in her dress then walked calmly to the impatient soldiers who cursed at her for being a clumsy thing . She growled internally but held back from attacking them.
[i Shut it. I know.] The little Ba'al was being taken back to the cell before she too stopped and demanded seeing her 'friend', Joseph. She didn't know what had happened to the younger brother but the guards assumed she knew and accepted since she was not going to get out of the dungeon probably for a long time. So when the demon as brought to the room and saw Joseph in that condition with Eric and Philip, she was lost for words. The guards became uneasy about the crowded room and demanded Eric and Philip out. The granddaughter had gone earlier.
Artemis approached Joseph. "Uh...you are not okay. Sorry." She awkwardly said, wondering if he would really help her. But she could not ask him that with the guards watching. "You can close the door." The guards just stood there. "No way. You saw him so get out now." The demon growled slightly before getting an idea...a stupid idea but she hoped it would work. "I need some privacy with my...mate so get out of here." Of course the guards didn't believe her the slightest and only snickered. The Ba'al took a deep breath and grabbed Joseph's shoulders firmly before kissing him forcefully. She hid his probably disgusted face beneath her hair as she slowly moved down her hands...the guards immediately shut the door, spitting out words like animalistic demon b*tches and weak willed boys.
Artemis pulled away asap and wiped off her mouth. "We will both forget it." She snapped at Joseph, embarrassed of herself. "You can go on and throw up. Guess demons do that...kidnapping young girls and such so it Isn't counted as your first kiss. Nobody will know." Once she convinced mostly herself, Artemis pulled out the book. "Listen! I found a way back home but I need your help...I am not sure how but I hope you would find out." She unbuckled the book then opened it...flipping the pages nervously."I...I don't know where..."
[i Dammit. What page, Karim? I have no idea what book it is!]
Ximena blushed even more at his sweet words before the real world hitting her. What the he'll was she doing?! She was actually flirting with the one who harmed her friends. It was supposed to be a mere acting but she started enjoying it. Her expression fell and she bit her lips, looking away in embarrassment. "H-how do you know, you barely know me."
Eric returned Johar’s glaringly look as the guards pulled him from the throne room and once he was out of sight he lowered his eyes to the floor wondering what Artemis had meant and why he'd been yanked through dimensions in a matter of hours. Then another thought crossed his mind and he immediately stopped walking, looking up and dragging himself so the guards also had to stop.
“I want to see my brother.” He said suddenly, his tone almost demanding. The guards glanced at each other and when one began to refuse, Eric turned towards him, a dangerous look in his eyes before hissing out one pleading word. “[i Please.]”
Karim's voice echoed with an almost pleasant sounding tone as Artemis approached the library.
[B Do not worry, Five minutes will be more than enough time for you to get that book.] He said in an almost purring tone. [B I will show you the book.]
He then added and when Artemis entered the library with her guards lingering behind her, books on one of the shelves were suddenly pushed off to the floor and a remaining book on the shelf was the black leathered book with the golden buckle keeping the book closed.
[B Do you remember what you must do now?] He asked and his familiar amused chuckle sounded around her, though only she could hear it. Artemis had to now go show the book to Joseph and tell him the spell would help get her back to Muerte. In a sense it would help her in that way, just not directly.
Ryuu let Ximena break their kiss so she could breath and he opened his eyes, gazing at her adoringly as she brushed one hand along the side of his face. “Ximena… Oh Ximena. You are wonderful and beautiful and perfect.” He breathed out in a whisper, bowing his head to her since she was almost like everything he wanted and couldn't have.
Artemis found herself relieved that he didn't know what happened else he would probably pour his wrath and she wasn't in mood for any more fights. She just felt the gem weighing on her and remembered her true intention. Quickly she got on her feet and did not ask herself what were those fleshes or the man who was looking around with a dropped jaw. Artemis looked at the anxious Johar sharply and shoved the gem into his hands. "The deal is done!" The Ba'al growled. Her legs became slightly shaky when the bond was broken and a part of Eric's energy became hers not alien to her anymore.
Johar needed some moments to digest what just happened before his eyes narrowed dangerously at Artemis who glared back. "A deal is a deal. Take me to your library." The nomad also was demanding his water gem. Johar growled and threw the gem at the exorcist who caught it and left without a word. The Minister kept his glare on Eric. "Guards! Take this prisoner back to his cell." The guards were hesitant as they passed the rotten bodies and grabbed Eric's shoulders to force him out of the throneroom.
"Show this one the library but only for ten minutes..."
"What?! Ten minutes?! There was no time limit when I-"
Artemis growled as she was also taken away, trying to recall the book Karim showed her earlier.
"What about that one, sir?" One of the guards pointed at the Dealer but Johar just tsked. "I do not care. Throw him out of castle."
Ximena's eyes widened at the kiss. It was not their first but had something different in it. Her cheeks became warmer at the kiss and she felt like foreworks were in her chest. The girl found herself kissing back but convinced herself that she was only acting. Ximena did not break the kiss, eager to stay in that position forever as she closed her eyes to drown into the sweet feeling. Her hands reached up, wrapping around his neck again but this time her fingers ran into his hair lovingly. She stepped forward and let her body press against him. It was her first time experiencing such a moment and she didn't want it to end. For once she even forgot where they were and the trouble she was in. The dancer sighed happily into the kiss, her mind blocking any thoughts. Maybe she would regret it later or hate herself but currently, she felt like a lover. Unfortunately, she had to break the kiss for air. Her face was still red as she looked up at his eyes with her hypnotised ones but it was not from the dance. She let her hand stroke his face before dropping at her side.
Eric scowled a little when the Dealer told him that the dark was endless around them and the former prince didn’t stop him from guiding him down towards a map. He looked over the map as the stranger pointed out each territory and he realized that this map was back during the dark age. His own home Kingdom wasn’t yet established but he could still recognize his homelands, no matter how different things looked.
“Here.” He said, pointing to the empty grasslands to the northwest of where Deloriak would be and southwest from the Light Nation’s old territory. “I hail from these prairies.” He left his hand on the spot of the map where the capital city would be and he looked down towards a southern channel where the kingdom’s trading ports would be as well as up towards a military stronghold where he had made his last stand before being chased out of Chamlek. He pulled his hand away when there was a pulling tug behind them and he glanced over his shoulder to see what was happening and before either of them could react, they were both spat out back into the waking world. He felt himself roll over someone and he opened his eyes to find himself face to face with Artemis. She asked if he was alright and if he was hurt by some deal and he simply shook his head.
“What are you Talking about?” He groaned, shaking off the strange feeling that he had from entering through that portal again. At this he felt Artemis shove him off of her and he looked back at her, returning her scowl. He then looked up and saw the Nomad and the one of the queen’s ministers. The Demon dealer was also pulled from that dimension, but so was a lot of junk and rotting flesh. The former Prince didn’t know what was going on but He knew that this ‘deal’ Artemis mentioned probably was what had just tossed him into that world before yanking him back out.
Ryuu let Ximena sit him down on one of the beds before she undid her braid, remarking about a song and how she would try to make up for there being no music. His eyes followed her form, watching her turn and hearing the beads on her skirt jingle. Even in the low light of her room, the summoner thought he could see her beauty, the charm of her movements and graceful curves of the fabric of her dress. He didn’t say a word as she danced and sung and he felt his breath catch as she sped up her movements before finishing with a bow, panting and looking up towards him. When her eyes met his, Ryuu stood and took one of Ximena’s hands, guiding her up to her feet so she was standing with him and he again was holding her close, the soft gentle look in his blue eyes.
“Wonderful.” He breathed dotingly, “Your dancing, your voice, it’s all so wonderful.” He bowed his head a bit abashed to be so close to her beauty but he just couldn’t help himself. He looked at her, meeting her eyes and he kissed her passionately. He held them both still and he was a little surprised when he felt her kiss him back. But that surprise was welcomed, passionate and gentle, he didn’t hold so she had to stay close to him but he didn’t more to break their kiss first. He was lost in the moment but some part of him held back from escalating any further since he still held the Idea that Ximena was Eric’s fiancée. That idea saddened him but he didn’t move away to acknowledge it.
The dealer rose up an eyebrow at Eric's answer. "My friend. This is trully unfair for you but as far as I know, I have never seen true justice." He patted the former prince on his shoulder then looked upward when Eric did. "Trust me, it is endless. If you think about it too much, you might even lose your sanity." Demon dealer took Eric by arm and guided him down. "But who knows maybe you are more fortunate than I. Maybe your friends will bring you back, if you have any of course. Oh and you have such a thick presence of Karim in you...I don't think he would let you stay here for long." He pulled the devil down towards a floating ancient map. Deloriak was not there and the deserts were green. There were runes in the corner of the map in dark language. "The second Ba'al king gifted me this map...it also shows the different portals to different worlds...The Dark lands have the most portals...I hope they would be able to come on surface one day. These lands only contain harmless Cacadors." He showed a loction which was now Deloriak...Poor man didn't know many things had changed."So I think the Dark can rule over here. They will be a thorn to our Fearsome Grey Queen...Heh!" He glanced at Eric and asked. "So? Where do you come from, my friend?"
Johar could already see the rage of Valerie upon him. He just hurried off without a word to the throne room where the nomad had dropped the demon and was standing with folding arms. Artemis was starting to wake up but she was far from conscious. Johar started talking to the nomad aggressively in his desert language but the nomad simply looked away, not quite convinced. He demanded the water gem but Johar refused to give him that unless he undo his seal. The nomad became angry and even pulled out his dagger but Johar whispered some words in his ear which made him sheath the dagger with a pale face and grit his teeth. He pulled out his gourd and warned them about the consequences before whispering a song. The gourd started shaking and glowing. Several snakes crawled out, forming a circle. A hole appeared in the circle, spitting out the rotten bodies which were in the other dimension.
The dealer felt their bodies being pulled to a shiny hole. "Oh, dear! Is it finally happening?! Could it be....!" They were ungracefully spat out. The deal hit the throne and fell flat on the floor. Eric just landed over Artemis. Artemis immediately snapped out of her dizziness and looked into his face. "Hey! You alright?! There was a bond thingie...it didn't hurt right?" For a moment she really looked worried before scowling and looking away. "Get off me!"
Johar was shocked seeing a stranger there but he was glad Eric was back as his queen wanted.
Ximena didn't expect him to come to her room but didn't complain and entered quietly. She looked back at him, deciding to ask him some questions about what was happening. She was worried if it was about Eric again but changed her mind. She had decided to please him for a while. So she gave the sweetest smile she could give to him and gently held his arm, making him sit on her bed. She then stood before him, opening her braid. She flipped her curly hair and let them bounce on her shoulders as she moved. "I hope the situation is not too serious...else I would happily ease your mind with a song. It is a pity there is no music but I will try making up for that with my voice." Ximena tried to ease her own mind by focusing on the dance. Taking a few light steps back, she started singing soft and clear. A song about her homeland and the riches it had, adoring the lovers there who had the purest feelings towards each other. As pure as the rivers beneath their feet as they rode their boats. Then when she started about the lovers part, her moves started. Not once her heels touched the floor as she span and let the beads on her dress jingle. The song reached the part about the beloved one the singer had and her movements became faster, her cheeks turning red from the fast dancing. The dance reached its end where she would teasingly show off her legs with bold moves before kneeling down and bowing at people...and in this case, Ryuu. Ximena was panting as she looked up at him with her hairs in her face.
The demon dealer. Eric shifted away from him again when the man confirmed that they were now both trapped here. That was going to be hard for the former Prince to accept but he silently listened and grimmest at the man’s friendly nature.
“Would you believe me if I told you I don't know why I’m here?” He asked in return and looked upwards again. “I can tell you I wasn't a good person but being dragged through the ground.. And entering this place... It all just happened in an instant, without warning.” He paused then looked back down with a heavy sigh. He then turned his gaze back towards the random objects and rotting bodies around them, feeling his stomach turn at the complete emptiness that they were truly in. He wanted to ask how long the man had been here but the dealer had already said he didn’t know. So he decided to ask a different question.
“How far does this,” He gestured to the dark emptiness around them, “How far does it go?” He asked, still looking to find a way to escape this Dimension.
Karim’s presence then began to fade but he was still clearly there, shadowing the exorcist and Artemis.
The Grey Queen glanced over as one of the royal guards rushed forwards with the news that Eric was gone. Her eyes sharply narrowed and when the other came to report Artemis’ return with the nomad, she looked at Johar and gave him one word. “Go.” She wasn't happy with the slight mistake, especially with everything else going on. She would probably turn her wrath on him after he was done fixing the mistake he made.
While the guards and soldiers around the castle rushed about, almost scrambling since one of the demon Prisoner’s was missing, Ryuu avoided the mess by B-lining straight to where the other prisoner’s rooms. He managed to catch Ximena before she left to come see him and he glanced back over his shoulder before shaking his head at himself. “It’s going a bit crazy back there. Would you mind if we stayed here instead?” His expression was soft and kind and when she mumbled an agreement, he smiled and walked over to her room, opening the door and stepping back again, waiting for her to enter first.
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