Joseph leaned back slightly when Johar leaned over him and he firmly pressed his lips together, holding his breath to stop himself from fully breaking down into sobs. He lowered his gaze and looked away as the minister chuckled and left the room, once the door closed Joseph finally let out a shaky breath and he felt the tears begin to run down his face. Having that so blatantly said to him, calling him weak and the reason why Eric was still trapped in the dungeons. It was too much for him, too much to know that there wasn't anything he could do to try and make things better.
He didn't even notice the granddaughter enter the room till she gasped and half pulled, half coaxed him back onto the bed so he wouldn't fall off. He let her give him a handkerchief so he could dry his eyes and wipe away the tears. He was consolable but he didn't want to eat. Now knowing Eric was being starved till he got better, and after the verbal assault from Johar, Joseph himself was beginning to feel hopeless. He didn't understand, why the Light Nation was able to keep up the illusion that it was perfect and peaceful while harboring such a dark and merciless side. He bowed his head and rubbed his eyes again to get rid of any more tears and he didn't look back up.
Ryuu pressed his lips together and he made the summoned creature back up to the door, it’s eyes fixed on N.V. He finally went to the door and opened it, still glaring and still not in a very good mood. “What do you want?” He asked in an annoyed voice since the messenger had lured him out by taunting him. And the only way he figured N.V could know that would get him to act was if he spoke to Cyan.
Artemis did asked him to help but she didn't expect him manipulating the outside world. She was more prepared for a piece of advice or something like that. Once the Ba'al met air, she didn't waste much time on the ground and quickly got on her feet, charging at the Waterkeeper. The Waterkeeper sent spheres of water towards her to trap her again but this time she was more careful about them and dodged them fast. Artemis did felt the strength and was surprised by that though she didn't wonder much about it, speeding up to get close to Waterkeeper. He was full of tricks, the demon slashed him but found him a mere clone as it turned into a puddle. She was attacked from behind, a wave of water slamming against her and pushing her against the rocks. The little Ba'al still stood up, determined to defeat him as soon as she could. She was going to gain some bruises and broken bones but she could handle the pain...hopefully.
So Artemis put the defence away and kept attacking him randomly with full speed. She had to find the gem and maybe...snatch it away from him? So each time she approached, she searched for a gem on him.
Johar rose up an eyebrow at his gesture then chuckled. It looked like he stood to leave but instead he leaned close to Joseph's face and stared into his tearful eyes. "Crying Don't do any good, dear. You are just holding your brother in dungeon because of your weakness...Well, I shall take my leave. I am quite grateful you are holding your devil brother in cage." Laughing quietly, Johar leaned back and turned away, making his way towards the door. He shut the door behind and left Joseph with his pains alone.
The door was opened again but this time it was the granddaughter again. Ideas like the healers were not eager in taking care of him. She had a tray of meal again but this time it was more than a soup. Salad and steak. She believed he could eat heavier things now. She rose up her head to see Joseph on edge of bed. This made her gasp slightly and she set the tray on chair before looking at the chair in confusion then wrapped an arm around him, pulling him catiously back on bed. She gazed at him scoldingly before noticing his sorrowful eyes. Her expression softened at that and she pulled out her handkerchief and started wiping his eyes with a small smile. The girl let him take her handkerchief instead then picked up the tray and sat down on chair herself. She offered a piece of steak to him with the fork.
N.V yelped when he was forced back by the strange creature out of no where. "H-hey!" He protested m, backing off with his eyes set on the arms and teeth. "Who is Cyan?! I am the messanger of Deloriak! I expect more respect...Let me in, I might have some worthy information to tell you!"
At Artemis’ plead, she felt something in front of her face. Air. She was able to take a breath and exhale and with that, Karim somehow managed to get the orb of water around her to collapse so she was back on the ground. Yes he could manipulate somethings in the real world but he couldn't completely help her in this fight. It would be up to her to defeat The Waterkeeper and he would only be able to make sure she didn't drown. That strange energy coursing through her seemed more profound now and it pulled strength to her from wherever the connection was. The Waterkeeper’s expression changed slightly before he was glaring again and the battle was on.
Joseph glanced up when he heard the door open and his eyes widened when he saw Johar standing in the doorway before stepping into the room. He lifted his head slightly as the Minister approached and when he paused, it gave Joseph time to shift and push himself onto his side, staring at Johar with an unamused and disturbed expression. What did he want? Was he here to just taunt Joseph? He could feel the pulling of his stitches as he moved and it made him cringe a little as Johar continued.
Going from blaming his brother to then blaming Joseph, the young man’s stared wide eyed again with disbelief. What exactly had [b He] done to deserve this? As Johar continued talking, next about Ryuu taking advantage of Ximena then of Philip keeping this from him and slowly going mad. Joseph’s shocked look quickly turned pained and he quickly yanked his head back, pushing himself away from Johar till he felt the edge of the bed behind him. His pain turned to mournful frustration and his Green eyes narrowed at the Minister's last remark.
Why was he being told all his? What did this being possibly get from stringing Joseph’s emotions out like that? He wasn't ashamed as he felt his eyes begin to water with tears and he glared towards Johar, giving him a look that was probably better suited for his brother to give. But still his glaring made him look more like the Devil down in the dungeons and after a few moments, he closed his eyes and shook his head at Johar. Silently saying he didn't believe half of what he had just been told, even though it was clear he wanted to cry because of it. But Joseph tried to hold back his tears as he looked at Johar again and lifted one hand, pointing behind him towards the door. This was his only way to demand that the Minister leave.
When N.V called through the door, a snarling voice sounded from the other side of the door. “I swear if you are just one of Cyan’s friends-” He didn't even finish his threat before a Summoner’s circle appeared right before the door under N.V’s feet and something headbutted him backwards as it crawled out of the circle. The summoned had glowing red eyes and four long spindly arms that it used to drag its body out of the circle.
It made a chattering hiss and it’s jaw opened wide to reveal a sharp fanged maw. It then crawled forwards, sweeping an arm at the Cacador and headbutting him back into the connecting hall of the chamber. The thing wasn't trying to bite or maim the kid, it was simply trying to grab him or chase him back from the chamber, despite its clear ability to kill if it did get ahold of the Cacador.
[i Shut it, I'm going as fast as I can.]
Artemis gritted her teeth together as looking left and right before she pulled on the reins and made the horse stop. She reached back and pulled out the map. After opening it, the Ba'al observed it and glanced up at her surrounding once or twice to confirm her current location. "Alright. It is not far much." She hadn't noticed Karim had called Muerte home. Instead she was concerned about her time limit. Could she make it before the book was actually useless? She growled and nudged the horse to run. The day was coming to an end but she was absolutely not taking a rest.
After an hour or two she reached a waterfall. "What the heck?! There is supposed to be some kind of tower here!" The impatient demon shouted in disbelief and got down the horse to approach the wild water herself. The sound of water slamming down on the rocks filled her ears as she got closer to the waterfall. "Maybe it is behind it?" She reached out a hand slowly but once she touched the water a booming voice startled her.
"Who dares to disturb my peace?"
Artemis looked around to find the source of the voice but she saw nobody. "I'm here for the gem!" She shouted out the truth as looking up at the waterfall.
There was silence before the voice roared,
"As if I would hand my pure gem to a Dark creature like you...no wait..Two Dark...Do not poison my water and get lost!"
Artemis was confused when he said she was two but brushed it off assuming he just mistook her presence and stayed in her place stubbornly." I need the gem...So I shall get it!"
"I see you have a death wish!"Once he said that, the waterfall opened like a gate only for a wave of water wrap around Artemis and drown her in a huge ball of water. Artemis barely held her breath, seeing a large male figure at the entrance of the waterfall. A bulky man with long wavy beard and spheres of water surrounding him under his control.
He was way stronger than she thought.
[i I guess...it is time for you to help...Please?]
The one who entered Joseph's room after a while was neither a healer or even Philip. Surprisingly, it was Johar.
Johar stood at the doorway, a smile on his face but his eyes did not follow his expression at all. He was looking at a prey. "Good evening,...Joseph, was it?" He entered the room and dragged a chair along with himself. Calmly, He placed the chair on the bed side and sat gracefully. "Maybe you can sit up better for a noble's entrance unless your body has become way too weak from mere 50 lashes." His tone was soft but wickedness leaked from each word. Johar observed Joseph's bandages with a faked pity before talking again. "Look at you, it is clear from that skin you have never been through this. All because of your brother...uh, who am I kidding...it is all [b your] fault." Chuckling, he nodded at Joseph and continued. "It is all because you probably refuse to cooperate with us. Oh, poor girl...Ryuu drags her into his room too many times for the most stupid reasons." A huge lie but Johar just wanted to play with Joseph's feelings. "What? your loyal friend didn't tell you? Of course he won't. He is worried for your health more than themselves. The only thing keeping him sane is being with you...poor broken man." Johar reached out a hand, caressing Joseph's face. "At least you are in the best shape...this is all that matters...no? A few lashes and you just get to rest unlike other prisoners. You better heal because your dear brother is not going to be fed until you do. But you just like being protected from all of this. The gift of mute is hilarious, isn't it?"
N.V caught the sight of a figure going to a room. It as probably Ryuu, He concluded before going to the closed door and knocking on it. "Messanger of love~" The Cacador teasingly called.
Far from the castle, As Artemis rode towards the water keeper’s home, The All Demon spoke to her for the first time since she’d left the castle.
“[b You must hurry,]” He told her his voice having gone back to it’s normal bold sounding rumble in her thoughts. “[b These lands are unraveling by the day and soon that book will be useless with getting with home.]”
It was stranger to hear him call Muerte that but then again it had once been his home world too. The lands of the Light Nation hadn't yet begun to show the signs of the Prophecies, nor did the little Ba’al feel anything, besides the weird waves of different emotions every now and then. It wasn't as controlling now that she was farther away from the castle.
Back in the Castle, Joseph slowly started to wake when he felt something brush through his hair and he quickly opened his eyes to see Necurai's granddaughter quickly leaving the room. Her steps weren't quiet and she left him staring after her. He had no idea what that was about and having the ring taken away and being unable to get up made it so he had to wait for one of the healers or his friends to come check on him. There was no way to tell what was going on with the outside world from where Joseph was and what condition he was in. His back was beginning to hurt again and he was hurt and he was now hoping that one of his friends or some healer would come check on him soon.
The Summoner stalked the halls back towards his own chambers, being in too much of a huff to notice that he was being followed. He thought about checking on Enoch, but that only reminded him of what Philip had said about him. Ryuu scowled slightly then decided to just go to his room, intent on locking the rest of the world out for a little while.
Cyan did stepped over the boundaries and soon laid for that by a smack which sent him down on the floor like he was nothing. Holding his reddened cheek but with much more pain to his pride, Cyan looked up at the standing Summoner but did not glare since the man had the upper hand. Yet he gritted his teeth at those bold words since Ryuu was the only who dared to clearly threaten the Minister. Either he was a fool or too brave. Cyan watched him go but before he left, Ryuu added something which made the younger one growl. "You wish..." He whispered and stayed there on floor until Ryuu was o It of sight. He was about to stand when he saw a hand stretched to him. A small, childish hand. Blinking, he looked up to see N.V.
"That jerk had no right to hit a minister's servant. Back in my country, you can sue him."
Cyan was about to take N.V's hand but then scowled and stood up himself. "Who the he'll are you? Wait...I know you. You are that messanger."
N.V smiles but it was all fake. "I see your little birds did well in telling you."
"You noticed?" Cyan asked calmly, trying to keep his cool.
"They are the same colour as your hair." N.V shrugged and tapped his nose. "And your smell is all over them."
Cyan smirked, "Not like you can do much even if you know."
"Correct. Now would you be kind enough to tell me what was it all about?"
"You really suck at collecting information."
"Yeah, because I'm starving..." Something starts tweeting in N.V's pocket. "Oh, my snack just woke up." Cyan froze in his place, knowing this sound. "Wait..."
N.V calmly pulled out a blue bird out, grinning with sharp teeth. "Fresh meat...Hmmm~" He opened his mouth, driving the poor small bird in.
"NO!" Cyan shouted and watched his bird in horror. "I-I...will tell you! T-three prisoners a&e kept in there...in that hallway..."
"Oh, really?! What is with that man?!" Cyan hesitated to answer that but N.V threatened to take a bite of his little spy and the servant told him about the Summoner and his weird obsession with one of the prisoners. N.V smiled after that and dropped the scared bird, Cyan catching it shakily.
"Okay, good talk." N.V waved him goodbye, going to the direction Ryuu went.
The Housecarl rushed put to deliver her orders to the Captain. It was just like one of the prophecies. The Mother of Nature was angered already and she was not going to go easy on them.
The granddaughter didn't find what she wanted and felt that Joseph was waking up. She quickly snapped out of it and took the paper away from his head. She clumsily turned to the door and ran out.
Ryuu stepped out into the hall and hearing Cyan’s faked concern, he just glared at the servant. “Move along, Boy. You and your lord will find nothing from this.” He moved to step past the Servant when Cyan mentioned Ximena roaming at her leisure. The suggestion almost made him turn around and use his magic on the boy, but instead he gritted his teeth and set his icy eyes on the servant's mocking bow. He waited for the boy to straighten up before he lifted one hand quickly and smacked Cyan hard across his cheek.
“You leave them be.” He snarled in a low voice and he stood tall over Johar’s servant, having a message for the Master of Monsters. “You tell your Lord that if he tries Anything with the human prisoners that I captured, our Queen will soon be needing another new Minister.” He stepped back and suddenly grinned manically over his shoulder with one last thing. “And let him know I will be more then happy to take his place.” With that obvious challenge, the Summoner turned away confidently, clearly in no mood to be messed with now. He left the hall and left Cyan to deliver that message to Johar.
Valerie waved a hand to Johar silently, allowing him to take his leave before looking up as a housecarl rushed in with the dire news. She pressed her lips together tightly to stop herself from speaking till she heard the entire situation and then she began to give her orders. “Correntien the Capital and make sure no Refugees enter the city. Tell my captain to send a patrol down to the borders to find how many townships have been infected and begin blocking trade routes from those areas.”
This had to be carried out fast if the epidemy was going to be contained. She knew complete corentin was going to be nearly impossible, but in the case of this having no cure, she also knew it was mandatory. A perimeter would be set around the border and infected area’s where any refugees or those infected or have the suspicion of being infected would be stopped from going to any other part of the Light Nation. If this was indeed Dosia’s doing then the Grey Queen didn't expect much to come from her letter, but she had to send something back to Deloriak soon to get a foothold in what the Kindhearted Lady maybe willing to risk for her own ruined kingdom.
Joseph was fast asleep as Neculai’s granddaughter crept into the room. He didn't stir as she placed the symbol on him gently but his mind subconsciously knew it was being invaded as she touched her fingers to his hair and peered into his mind. His body became suddenly tense Joseph shifted like he was having a bad dream but he didn't wake up. In his mind, at that moment, the former Prince had been remembering something that had happened a long time ago. It was a little muddled and blurry but he was communicating with Eric, being concerned and wondering what had happened to his older brother since the older Prince looked tired and battered. He was brushed off by Eric and he felt saddened in seeing that his brother wouldn't let Joseph help him even though he knew something was.wrong.
At this moment the memory faded and he recalled that same feeling, facing Dosia as she refused his help, stating that she didn't trust him and she changed into her owl form to fly off. This memory ended much quicker than the last did and though it was closer, it wasn't what Neculai's granddaughter was looking for.
Philip glared hard at Ryuu but did not say anything He just stared at him until he was gone from the room then slowly dropped his glare on Ximena who was standing there with a troubled look on her face. She was confused by their attitude. Ryuu acted like he knew her from long before and always cared, Philip defended her like he was a family of her. The dancer felt her head spin thinking about the sitiation. She stepped back before turning away and going to the other room. She closed the door behind to emphasise she wanted to be alone. Philip grumbled and moved on his bed, sitting on its edge. He rubbed his face to get rid of his swallowed anger. He wanted to s Joseph again but he had asked for solitary.
Eric,... was he planing on another escape now? Philip laid his back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling tiredly. They needed to get out of here fast. Why did they keep them in this room anyway? If they didn't need them, so what was the purpose of keeping them anyway? To be used as hostages against Eric? How long would he hold back for his brother?
Once Ryuu walked out of the guarded hallway, Cyan stepped in front of him with a knowing grin. " Sir, I heard some commotion from the room and I got worried. Are you okay? Did they attack you? If that's the case, My Lord minister Johar would transfer them to a proper cell." Hid grin widened. "I saw the girl wandering quite freely. If she bothers you, she can be chained so she wouldn't bother you anymore." He bowed down a bit mockingly.
Johar felt that Valerie wasn't going to change her mind so instead he let go of the topic but he had gotten an idea for controlling the old man. His granddaughter. Of course. It could be easy. Johar was sure he didn't want anything happen to his precious loyal relative. So he bowed down his head and stepped backward."My queen..." He asked permission to leave when a housecarl rushed in with an important message for the queen.
An epidemy at the borders.
The disease was spreading fast, from kids to elders. Even though the elves and other immortals were immune still, other races were infected. Rumors were that it was because of the Deloriak refugees who brought sickness with themselves. Some said it was Dosia's plan to weaken Light nation.
They were panicked since they couldn't find a cure for it.
And it could reach the capital any day.
The granddaughter opened the door quietly, assuming that Joseph was asleep. She tip toed on floor, hoping that she wasn't making any noise. The girl had a nervous expression as she pulled out a small piece of paper with a symbol on it. It was a mind reading spell. It wasn't strong and didn't work on some people but she was going to try it. She wanted to know more about them as Neculai had asked her. Gently she placed the small symbol on his head and focused as resting her tip of fingers on his hairs. She mostly wanted to know about Lilith and what exactly happened in Deloriak.
Ryuu stiffened as Philip began to spit back as much poison as he himself felt. And when he mentioned Joseph again his eyes narrowed and he scowled at what fake title the man had called him. He was about to open the portal before Ximena jumped in front of him. Her pained eyes stopped him from making any other move and before he could say anything, she reached up and kissed him. This was unexpected but received well as the circle beneath Philip disappeared and he lowered his hands, settling them on her waist. He turned with her before breaking their kiss so she was out of his way and he sighed, looking menacingly over at Philip before nodding to Ximena.
“Alright.” He told her, a calmness taking control of his voice as he looked back at her. “Okay, I won't do anymore.” With that he let go of her waist and turned towards Philip, his demeanor becoming threatening again. “But you…. If you so much As Lay One Finger On Her-!” His voice raised to a threatening growl and he looked like he was going to strike him, but the Summoner kept his hands down and only closed in tight fists. “I swear i will come back and kill you.” That last part was as much of a warning as Philip would get before Ryuu would attack him again.
For now he’d leave just so the tension between them would end. He looked back at Ximena once more before bowing his head to her with a quiet apology and stepping away towards the door to leave. He doubted Philip would do anything to Ximena, nothing more than berate her with words. And she knew where she could find him if she needed to get away from her jealous companion.
When Johar began to speak about Neculai, Valerie’s expression became blank so he couldn't tell what she was thinking and she began rereading the new reports on her desk before he was even done talking. They’d done this dance many times, Johar trying to claim that someone or another was no good to her or the nation anymore and yet she’d remain steadfast until she was given a real reason rather than her Minister's opinion.
“Johar, you just said yourself that he is loyal and his mind is still as sharp as it was in his prime.” She tilted her head down towards the papers before giving Johar a sideways glance and continuing. “As long as a human life is, you and I both know he will soon no longer be with us. His changes maybe from his age, or it could be from the fact that we have a demon under our feet. Even you were uneasy about that not to long ago.”
She looked back down at the reports with a small sigh. “I don’t believe he will do anything risky here with his last few days of life. After all he still wants there to be a place for his granddaughter, so I don’t think he’ll do anything… Too risky.”
Philip stumbled backward when he was roughly shoved back. He wanted to charge again and beat him down, maybe even kill him. They were in this hellhole because of this guy and then he just dares to play with a girl's feelings?! Like he owned everything in here...He was so prepared for a murder but was stopped by the circle appearing beneath him. Philip cursed and looked up again with widened eyes. He was afraid. He was burning in rage. "Shut up! You were the one wagging your tail for that crazy woman you call queen. Save her? You just dragged her here! Did you tell her what just happened to Joseph?! They whipped him fifty times for nothing...You enjoyed that didn't you? Now what are you going to do to her, HUH? PLAY WITH HER?! Hah! Ryuu...the coward Summoner who ran! Now what a good best you have found for your sick desires...even teaming up with the Creep! Give a better life? Please...you couldn't even save yourself..." He gave out a fake laughter which leaked poison.
"STOP!" Ximena finally screamed and ran between them. Her expression was pained, since she just heard Joseph was punished and Ryuu didn't save him. He didn't even tell her. She was facing Ryuu as shaking her head slowly. "Please..." To stop him, suddenly she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his neck. Immediately she pressed her lips against his to make him feel in charge.
Philip just watched in disbelief. Was Ximena already broken?
He knelt down in defeat.
Johar smiled at her question. "Not much, my queen. She just wanted to use the library. I don't have the slightest idea why she is interested in seeing it but it does not matter since she will never be able to finish the task." He was so confident everything was going to go as he planned. But still there was something that bothered him. "My queen...On my way here I saw Neculai heading to the dungeon. I understand he has been quite loyal but his ideals are worrying me..." He looked away, continuing."In these tense days, he has started activities which he never did. He is old and a human and you know humans stop thinking after a certain age...If he does anything risky..."
Eric glanced up when Neculai promised to try and help his friend before getting up to leave. But the old minister remembered something and tossed a bag through the bars towards him. It landed on the ground close enough for him to reach and when he saw the food inside, he looked up intent on thanking the older man, but Neculai was already out of sight.
Ryuu glanced up with only his eyes when he heard the door open and he was more than surprised to be yanked up and away from Ximena. His expression then changed to a snarl after he was punched and he shoved Philip back hard enough to make the other man let go of him. Before he was attacked again, He’d braced his feet on the floor and his blue eyes had an icy enraged look to them.
“How dare you?!” The Summoner snapped and lifting both hands up he quickly outlined something in the air and a Summoner’s circle appeared at Philips feet. Whether it was a portal or whether it actually Summoned something, it was clear that nothing good would happen if he activated it.
“I am Saving her!” He then snarled back at Philip, “I have the power to protect her and give her a better life than Any of you insolent Fools can!” He sounded like he truly believed that and in that moment his raised hands began to twist like he was going to open the circle right under Philip.
“Hmm….” Valerie’s expression showed that she understood how he was explaining it. But she figured it would have been easier to weaken the demons through the one they had captive right now. Ryuu having ordered for Eric to be starved might of helped in that sense but then again it might not. “I see.” She nodded and looked back across the room towards Johar. “What did she ask for in return?” she then asked, having not asked before since she wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer. But now she was more curious than cautious.
"I don't think your brother will be safe in here." Neculai calmly assured Eric when he doubted for a moment. Once he agreed, the old man smiled warmly and nodded pleasantly. He laughed as he asked what it will cost him. "I appreciate it but...you are not in the condition to give me anything and I am way too old to have wishes. I hope you find a way to get out. Your are too young and have time to make up for your mistakes." He stared at Eric's face kindly almost fatherly before turning away. "Well, I should go now. I will try my best to help your friends. Goodbye." Neculai slowly stepped away before pausing. "Oh, I almost forgot." He reached in his clothes and pulled out a small bag. "You look pale, help yourself. But don't tell the guards~" He threw the bag through the bars. It had some nuts and small biscuits. He got out of sight after that.
Ximena let him pull her close. She was surprised by the kiss on her head but didn't mind it at all and instead, leaned her head against his shoulder. She was calming down under his arm when Philip entered the room. The next thing she knew was Ryuu being pullied away from her. Philip was done. Done with this shit. The last thing he wanted to see was a man taking advantage of a girl's misery. He held the Summoner by his collar and punched him hard out of frustration.
"YOU SICK DISGUSTING BASTARD!" Philip shouted at Ryuu loudly, almost making the walls shake in their place. Ximena was too shocked, just sitting there and staring.
"YOU JUST ARRESTED HER FOR YOUR OWN DESIRE HUH?! HAVING A TRAPPED GIRL IN YOUR GRASP AND ABUSING HER SITUATION?! YOU PERVERT SCUM!"
Johar nodded at Valerie before explaining calmly and respectfully. He was in a good mood, seeing his queen still was the wicked immortal everyone feared. Johar believed in fear and control in ruling over different races of beings. "My queen. The deal is over Once she hands me the water gem. What if the excorcist hunts her down before she reaches the castle? I am sure the nomadocs would not hesitate once I tell them the water gem is in her hands." He looked up at Valerie to read her expression.
“...” Eric looked over at Neculai, narrowing his eyes again. “Why would you want to help them?” He asked before he could reconsider asking. Maybe it was because they had a chance to be freed, unlike himself, and Artemis being sent a mission sounded like she was pretty much free to find a way back to the dark age. He looked away, trying to regain his composure before saying something he’d probably regret.
“I mean…. Just, My Brother. He isn't in any condition to leave now, is he….?” The Devil was still angry that Ryuu had made him think Joseph was dead but hearing what had happened to him. Having his sibling be dead may have been a better fate than being used as leverage against Eric. He bite his tongue still looking away before he sighed and silently nodded to Neculai. Then he asked one more thing.
“What will this cost me?”
Ryuu in turn listened to Ximena tell about her lands and how Deloriak used to be. When she began crying, he reached over and took her free hand, holding it in a comforting manner like he had done before. “It’s alright Ximena.” He told her soothingly and he wrapped his other arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer to him since she was already sitting right beside him and he gingerly kissed the top of her head dotingly. This distracted both of them and neither of them noticed the sound of footsteps approaching as a former servant came back to the room.
“Tell me again how this is supposed to work.” The Grey Queen was in her study with Johar and she was having him explain what was to happen next since the deal had been made with Artemis, as well as the connection between both demons. So now Valerie wanted to know how they got rid of these two problems. He’d mentioned before that Artemis getting the watergem was one of the only ways to bargain with the nomadic people. But he had also told her that weakening both demons would only work while one is still finishing the deal. Once she got the watergem to get one of the nomadic Exorcists’, the deal will be done and their chance gone.
Ximena was listening to him eagerly like a child listening to a night story. She was even more amaze by the deep meaning of Ryuu. The dancer was taken back by his question about herself. She leaned back and stared down at her hands, playing with her fingers. Mentioning Deloriak was both pleasant and painful. However, She decided to tell him since she just wanted to remind herself those memories again. "I...was born in South of Deloriak. It is so green and wonderful. My family worked on a farm. Most of the people there work on farms...the farms belong to the lords originally and they pay monthly salary. I remember playing around my mother when she was working and she taught me songs. It was all great. We had lots of ceremonies, delicious foods...everything." Ximena's gaze was lost, thinking to the sweet memories.
"When the queen was crowned, I was a teenager. She ordered the lords to sell some small pieces of their farmlands to their workers. My father bought a small land for our future but then...he became sick and died." Ximena bite her lips, staring forward. "My mother didn't live long after him and then I was all alone by myself. I sold the farmland and started my own journey...the only thing I was good at was dancing...so I started making money from and traveling around until I earned enough money to make a living." Ximena paused again, sighing shakily. "But now...after all that happened to Deloriak...I have to start all over again." Sorrowfully, she touched the bandages around her arms. Snapping out of her memories, She realised tears on her face and quickly wiped them off. "Uh...Sorry." Ximena whispered and stiffened slightly.
Neculai was silent and thoughtful when Eric talked. Once he was finished, the minister noticed his uneasiness and smiled slightly. "Well, that was hardly a story. You didn't tell me anyhting. But I know being imprisoned like this doesn't give you the mood to tell stories." The old man held on bars and put his weight on the stick to stand up slowly. "So, Eric. What were you going to do after passing this country? Did you think you would be free with this sign on your face?" He was not scolding him, more like pitying. "Listen, Eric. your friends...who are humans...can be freed but I cannot tell the same about you or the other demon girl. Though I have heard she has been sent away for a mission but I doubt if it is for any good. So, do you want me to talk with queen about them? I am not the most favourite minister but the most annoying so I guess they will listen to me just to get rid of my sight."
“It’s from an old Chamlek Myth.” Ryuu chuckled, not thinking Ximena’s boldness was silly or her question stupid. “It is just the names meaning but the story goes… One of the last dragons from the ancient age didn't want to die alone. So he decided to pass on his name and his soul to the last living thing that he see. And it was a young man, a peasant worker who found the dragon and was given the gifts of the Dragons name and his soul. Ryuu. The Myth goes on to say the young man later left the lands to become a great king near the end of the Dark age but as I said, it is just a story behind the name.”
Ryuu smiled, being able to share a bit of his old lands with Ximena it made him feel that longing for her again but he pushed the feeling away. Yes they were alone and yes he was starting to get her to trust him, but now was far from the right time to be thinking about anything like that. But for now, he could try to get to know more about her. “What about Deloriak?” He asked looking back to her. “What was your homelands like?”
“...” Eric watched Neculai closely, not sitting at his gesture and only listening when he said that Joseph was in good hands. He didn’t reply when Neculai introduced himself and remarked about Chamlek, it was already clear that the old minister knew who he was but what did he want? When he asked about Eric’s story, the former Prince’s strife and suspicion suddenly left him and he sighed, sitting down and shaking his head. “You wouldn’t want to hear my story. All of the awful things I’ve done. The way I destroyed my own Kingdom.” He paused then looked over towards Neculai. “No one has asked because It doesn’t matter anymore. What happened and this mark…” He paused again then sighed and looked down at the floor.
“You wouldn’t believe that coming here wasn’t my decision.” He said flatly. “We never meant to stay. We were only trying to pass through and yet, This happens.” The strange energy made his thoughts and emotions more amplified, easier to flip from calm to drastic on a word or a thought. He didn’t know what was causing it still but he was beginning to wonder if Artemis or even the All Demon had something to do with it. And that Idea made him unease and less willing to share even the most mundane detail of his story.
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