Sayumi froze completely, her mind racing. I'm not really his daughter? That means I'm not really a princess! That also means I shouldn't become queen! She stared blankly at the king, realizing now why the queen had never taken a serious interest in her. And why she was darker than other women in the kingdom, and why she looked so different from Rakelle. But she was pulled from her thoughts as the king took another breath and continued, “I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, but I didn't want you to hate me for my actions. I really love you as my own daughter, so I feel you should know everything I do about your past, and your real parents.
“Your father was actually an elf warrior, and your mother was a young and beautiful witch. She wasn't very powerful, but she could still ride a centicorn. Your father was forced to go back to his own kingdom with the other elves across the ocean, and just soon after you were born, your mother was killed in a witch hunt arranged by the Duke of Marmelupe and his son, Eliah.” Sayumi stared at the king, confusion and fear creeping up her spine. The king coughed violently for a few more moments, then he whispered with his last breath, “Please run away from here, quickly before Eliah finds out. And take Rakelle with you, and please protect her. I'm counting on you, my daughter.” And with that, the king fell back into his bed, and closed his eyes for good.
Sayumi got up and turned to run for the door, but a shadowy figure stood in front of it. “So you aren't the true princess?” Sayumi's blood turned to ice as her betrothed, and murderer of her mother, Eliah stepped into the room, a savage smirk on his face. “And a witch and an elf's daughter no less. I've hit the jackpot. Monster, I'm going to kill you before you can discover your potential!” And with that he dashed at her, his sword raised. Sayumi screamed and dove out of the way. Before he could attack her again, she scrambled to her feet and sprinted out the door, ripping her dress along the way. She fled all the way to where Rakelle was talking to a servant, and dragged her sister away before she could explain a thing.
Sayumi didn't stop dragging Rakelle until the got to the stables and were saddling their horses. Rakelle asked, “So where are we going in such a rush?”
Sayumi replied as she mounted, “As far from here as we can, come on!!” And she kicked Kayo into a gallop as Rakelle quickly mounted and did the same.
After a hard ride for about half an hour, they broke of the trail into the woods and changed into their riding clothes. Then Sayumi started explaining the situation, “Alright Rakelle, be prepared for this. As of right now, your father is dead. He was poisoned by Eliah and his men. And Eliah tried to kill me before I ran and got you out of there. Oh yeah, and I'm not your real sister, I'm the product of an elf warrior and a witch from Repremendant.”
Rakelle blinked at Sayumi a few times, then looked at the muddy soil. “Mother told me before she died that you were adopted.” Rakelle replied softly. “But I don't care if you aren't born of the same parents as me, you are my older sister, and I trust you with my life! Besides, both of us have no birth family left anymore.” Sayumi felt a massive weight lift of her chest as Rakelle smiled at her. Rakelle added, “So, what exactly is our plan now? I have some money in my saddle bag, and so do you, and emergency food that Father made us carry, but won't people recognize us by our clothes? Eliah will no doubt be looking for us.”
Sayumi stared at her riding clothes. They weren't as fine as her normal dress, but they were still better than what even the richest peasant wore. Sayumi asked Rakelle, “Do you know how far the closest town is from the castle? Eliah probably has already sent his knights after us by now.”
Rakelle shrugged, “I think there's a farming village about ten more minutes from here, but we will have to ride through the forest to get there.” Just as Rakelle finished talking, a raindrop hit her right on the nose. She recoiled a bit, then looked up and held out her hand. A few more drops hit her hand, and she added, “We should go now, its starting to rain. I don't think we could last long in the rain.” Sayumi nodded in agreement, and they trotted their horses through the muddy forest as the rain started coming harder.
They reached the village just before the lightning came. They galloped into the town and Sayumi reigned her horse in next to a covered wagon just entering town and shouted above the rain at the driver, “Excuse me, do you know if there's an inn in this town? We need somewhere to stay for the night!”
The driver looked over, his cloak shading his face from them, but he shouted back, “There's no inn, but if you're headed south you can come with me; I'm staying with family here for the night then continuing south towards Repremendant!”
Sayumi's whole face lit up: it was as though this meeting had been arranged by someone trying to help them. She replied gratefully, “Thank you so much! That means a lot to us!”
The driver laughed, and they pulled into a large stable with many horses of all colors and breeds. Sayumi dismounted and led Kayo into a stall next to the biggest draft horse she had ever seen. Kayo eyes the massive horse wearily, but the big dun horse just turned its head and looked at Kayo, and turned back to its feed trough without even flicking its tail. With that, Kayo relaxed and Sayumi smiled. “He won't hurt you, he's just as hungry as you are.” She took off his saddle, glad she and Rakelle had taken the plain looking saddles instead of the ones royalty usually used that were covered in tassels and very easy to recognize. After all, they were in hiding now.
Sayumi made sure her and Rakelle hadn't left anything suspicions in their saddle bags or on their horses, and they followed the wagon driver into a very large but simple farm house. Inside, the girls found themselves surrounded by the most noisy and intimidating people they had ever seen. Men were swinging mugs of beer around, and the women were wearing dresses that barely fit them (understatement) and laughing so hard some were rolling on the floor. Sayumi stood protectively in front of Rakelle, and the driver urged them through the crowd into a much quieter room with no other people.
The stranger quickly noticed their wet and muddy clothes. He gave them each a clean set of farm girl's clothing, which consisted of: a tan knee-length dress with no sleeves, gloves without fingers for picking berries, and leather booths that stopped just before the knee. He also gave them each a long cloak, saying, “This will help protect you from the weather.”
Sayumi took the cloak, and after her and Rakelle were done changing, she asked, “Thank you for doing this, but may I ask your name?”
The driver looked at them, and for the first time he took of his hood; Sayumi gasped a little as she saw his face for the first time. Sayumi had never seen an elf in real life before, but this person fit the description from books: long, pointed ears, a youthful face, bright silver eyes, and beautiful long white hair. Sayumi asked, “Are you and elf?”
The stranger replied, “Yes, and I've come to help you escape. You may not remember me, but I was the stable boy at the castle as well.” Sayumi wanted to kick her self for not realizing that their stable boy was an elf. She asked, “So, is there a reason you are helping us?”
The elf boy replied, “Actually, I work under your father. He knew something like this would happen, so he sent me to protect you. He wanted to come himself, but our king wouldn't let him because he's the general and they need him over there.”
Sayumi had heard so many shocking things today, this didn't even surprise her. She asked in an exasperated tone, “Is there anything else life-changing that you feel like telling me today?”
The elf laughed again, and he replied, “No I think that's it. By the way, my name is Will, I never answered you earlier.”
Sayumi looked at him again, and he smiled gently at her. She felt sick to her stomach remembering how Eliah had done the same thing to her every time he saw her. Then she remembered what Eliah had said before attacking her. “Will,” She asked thoughtfully, “tell me about witches and warlocks. What exactly are they, what can they do?”
Will sat on one of the beds in the room (there was one for each of them), and the girls each sat on a different one. He explained, “What you humans call witches and warlock are actually called 'espers' to elves. All that they really are is a special type of person who is born with the ability to do certain things, and what they can do depends on the person, and their gender. For instance, your mother was particularly good with using fire: she could create in her hand a ball of fire and not be burned called a will-o-wisp, and other things like that. Female espers normally can't fly, but male ones can. The females however, have a familiar that is a centicorn (a creature that is half human, half unicorn and looks like a centaur) and can fly by riding them.
“Some espers are more powerful than others, and sometimes an esper can go their whole life without ever discovering their powers. But the one characteristic of espers that scares other humans the most, is the fact that espers can read minds, and they can can lift and move objects with just their thoughts. This is why some kingdoms perform witch hunts looking for them so they can perform their treacherous acts and keep their thoughts to themselves. Sadly, its usually the females who are caught, since their familiars can only come when there is no cold iron present (since centicorns are actually considered faeries, and faeries are weakened drastically by cold iron). Without their familiars, the females usually can't escape.”
Rakelle just stared at him with a hopelessly confused look on her face, and Sayumi asked anxiously, “Is there a way to tell if you have powers hidden inside you? And if there are, how do you make them come out?”
Will got off his bed, and walked up to Sayumi, and placing her forehead against his, he stared deeply into her eyes. After a second, Sayumi found she couldn't move at all, and every muscle tensed up as she felt almost like there was something inside her, like a snake slithering from her eyes through her head and down towards her chest. Then suddenly, Will blinked and the feeling was gone. Sayumi leaned on her hands for support, but weakness took over her and she slumped onto her face. She asked through the covers, “Did you see anything?”