Suddenly, Sayumi's worst nightmare came true. Out of the trees, a band of thugs leaped out and started yanking on Rakelle's arms. Rakelle screamed, and Will frantically started fighting off the attackers. But before he could get far, one ambushed him from behind and slammed a massive fist down on Will's head. Will was unconscious almost instantly.
Sayumi turned Kayo around and charged after the bandits, who were now dragging Rakelle back towards the trees. Sayumi leaped off Kayo and stabbed the first bandit she saw. He didn't even scream as he fell to the ground, and Sayumi kept after them. Sayumi found herself diving out of the way of blows easily, and managing to slip her sword in between the ribs of her opponents effortlessly. After a few minutes, the skirmish was over and Sayumi fought to catch her breath. She looked around her, and she saw to her horror at least half a dozen corpses lying around her. Then a scream broke through the silence around her, and Sayumi's head snapped up to see Rakelle being dragged into the forest quite a ways ahead of her. Sayumi wailed and dashed after them, but just as she was about to jump over a log, her foot caught on the belt of one of the corpses, and Sayumi landed headfirst on the log.
When she woke up, she was in the back of the wagon, and Will was pacing behind the wagon, worry creasing his face. It was then that she remembered Rakelle being dragged into the forest by the bandits that survived her attack. She bolted upright, and shouted, “We need to go find Rakelle!”
Will replied, “That isn't the issue here. Look at this.” He handed her a piece of paper that read:
“Hello my princess. Actually, since you aren't a princess I shouldn't call you that. Hello monster! That suits you better, being not human after all. Don't worry about Rakelle, I wouldn't let the true princess of Feresat come to any harm. I intend to marry her as soon as I kill you, so I can be king officially. And I would watch my back if I were you, Takumi found a warlock of great power to kill you in exchange for his life. He should find you by the time you are done reading this, and I don't think I will need to worry about you escaping, he is notorious for being the most powerful warlock in the world. See you in hell Monster,
Sayumi covered her mouth with her hand, just as something dived out of the sky and snatched her away. Sayumi screamed as she was lifted upwards and above the trees and towards the sky. She then realized that the thing carrying her was not only human, but a man. She looked up at his face, and saw the face of a young man, a bit older than her. He had skin and hair the same as hers, and he was rather muscular. Sayumi suddenly remembered when Eliah had been telling her about the warlock from Repremendant that escaped, and wondered if this man might be him. Then she also remembered that Eliah had told this man to kill her so he could live, and she clung to him as though he would drop her at any moment.
They landed on a ledge on a mountain that was impossibly high, and Sayumi found herself wanting to stick close to the warlock just so she wouldn't fall off. Then the warlock spoke... “Do you know where I can find a girl named Sayumi?”
Sayumi blinked and fought to keep her face neutral. He doesn't realize it's me. She replied in a deeper tone than she normally used, “You mean the princess of Feresat? Wouldn't she be at the castle where royalty always is? And why did you have to pick me up and fly me all the way up here just to ask me that? I would have told you on the ground if you would've asked.”
The warlock looked like he had just been told he was walking south when his destination lay in the north. He sighed and replied, “I don't know, from in the sky you looked like you might be her. I didn't notice how short your hair was until we got here. By the way, can I get you're name?”
It took her a whole two seconds to remember her fake name. “Tsumi. Yours?”
“Ruki.” He replied. Sayumi nodded, then asked carefully, “Why are you looking for the princess, is she missing?”
Ruki nodded. “Actually, she ran away with Princess Rakelle. Eliah wants her to return so he can marry her and ascend the throne since the king died of an illness.”
Sayumi's hands clenched into fists. So that's the lie he's been telling everyone, not to mention this guy is lying to me now. She asked, “Any reason for this sudden disappearance?”
Ruki shrugged. “I didn't ask. He just ordered me to find her and bring her back.” Sayumi wanted to burst out screaming at him, but curiosity kept her calm. She looked at him, and gave her best sarcastic glare. “Well could you bring me back to the wagon then?”
Ruki laughed a bit. “You fool, I can't just let you leave now that you know my name and my mission. I'm going to accompany you until you show me where Sayumi is.” Sayumi's heart sunk. That means I can't go save Rakelle, or he will know. What should I do? “Fine. We are headed to Repremendant, come with us.” ...Wait what? That's not what I wanted to say! Ruki nodded, and Sayumi was still trying to figure out why she had agreed to let him come.
After another harrowing flight back down the mountain and to the wagon, Sayumi wished that Will would be waiting with his sword ready to save her. But of course, Will was standing leaning against the side of the wagon, and when they returned called out, “How was the weather up there?”
Ruki put Sayumi down and announced, “My name is Ruki, and I will now be accompanying you to Repremendant.”
Will eyed Ruki suspiciously, and after a quick glance at Sayumi, replied, “Alright, welcome aboard! My name is Yuki, pleased to meet you!” Sayumi glared at Will for welcoming this warlock so easily, then mounted Kayo and growled, “Come on, we're wasting daylight!” And without waiting for her companions to move, she cantered Kayo down the road, her mind swirling in mistrust and anger.
Ruki looked at Will as Sayumi cantered down the road and announced, “So that is Sayumi huh? Eliah described her very differently.”
Will eyed him even more suspiciously and replied, “So are you planning to kill her then?”
Ruki laughed. “Of course not! My orders were only to bring her back to the castle in exchange for my life, but I have no trust in anything Eliah says. Besides, she is interesting and I want to see how long it will take her to figure out that I know who she is.”
Will smiled. “The real name's Will, by the way. You and me will get along famously.” Will shook Ruki's hand, and the two men laughed together for a moment before Will got up on the wagon and Ruki mounted the black mare to catch up with Sayumi.
Sayumi almost fell of Kayo when Ruki called from behind her, “You could have waited for us you know!”
Sayumi steadied herself and whirled around and glared at him. “Why should I have to wait for someone like you? You shouldn't even be with us anyway.”
Ruki smiled and replied, “Well if you really want me to leave I would have to kill you. You know too much to keep alive. It's your choice.”
Sayumi looked away and grumbled to herself. Ruki smirked; he couldn't believe she hadn't remembered that warlocks can read minds. He added, “So Tsumi, care to tell me why you are going to Repremendant? Going to see family?”
Sayumi held her breath for a moment, then sighed. I might as well tell him the real reason I want to go to Repremendant, since he doesn't know who I am. “You see, for a long time I didn't know I was actually of Reprandese decent. My father didn't tell me until just before he died that I was adopted. One of the reasons I'm going there is to get away from my old home, but my main reason is simply because I want to live with my true people.”
Ruki looked into her thoughts as she told him and saw memories of the king dying, and then Eliah trying to kill her. He almost wanted to say something, but he knew if he did he would reveal that he knew her identity; he wanted to wait either for her to tell him herself, or figure out that he already knew. But anger stirred in his heart, for King Eliah had never told him that he had murdered the old king, and that he tried to kill Sayumi. His orders were just to bring her back, not to bring her to her death. Then he also saw in her mind the note that the bandits (actually Eliah's knights) had left for her, and knew immediately that not only did they have to save Rakelle, but they wouldn't be able to do it on their own. Ruki then reached to find King Eliah's mind, to see what he was up to.
Eliah was sitting on the throne, and a smiled crawled across his face as his knights burst in with Rakelle kicking and screaming bloody murder at them. Eliah stood up and motioned for the knights to let her go. Rakelle tore her arms away from them, and looked straight into Eliah's eyes and shouted, “What is the meaning of this?! How dare you take the throne when you have no ties to my kingdom!”
Eliah walked slowly down from the throne, and took a deep breath. “I had thought that even you, princess, remembered that monster and I were engaged. And since a woman can't ascend the throne without a husband to become king, I am the only option available. However, in case you have any male cousins, you must marry me for me to become the true king. So, the wedding will take place in two weeks. In that time, Sayumi will be killed, and I will finally be able to rid the world of those abominations known as witch-folk.”
Rakelle's eyes opened a bit wider, but she quickly took a determined stance and boldly announced, “I will never marry a bastard like you. And there is no way you will kill Sayumi, you have no idea who-”
“Who her father is? As a matter of fact, I do. I also know that she is being escorted by an elven soldier under orders from her father. That girl is not only a witch but also half elf, so she has no place in this world. No worries, I have a powerful warlock who will kill her when the time is right. Not even an elf can stop a warlock with his abilities. And if you don't marry me, an unfortunate 'illness' will befall on you as well, princess.” He stood in front of her, and kissed her forehead. Rakelle slapped him out of rage and disgust, and his knights grabbed her arms again. Rakelle kept cursing as Eliah ordered them to take her to the dungeon.
Eliah then turned to Takumi, and asked, “Takumi, you made sure you kept the witch servant right? The redhead?” Takumi nodded, and Eliah clapped his hands. “Excellent! Bring her to me!”
Takumi left the room, and returned with a girl about Rakelle's age, with flaming red hair and bright blue eyes. She clung to Takumi's arm, and once he was near Eliah he threw her off his arm and announced with hatred, “Here's the wench.”
Eliah eyed her, and as she lay there trembling, he murmured softly, “My dear girl, there is no need to fear. I am in need of your abilities, would you be willing to help me?”
The fragile girl held her arms out defensively, and replied quietly, “I won't help you. You will just kill me anyway.”
Eliah burst out into cruel laughter, and without hesitation stabbed the heel of his boot into the girl's leg. The poor girl shrieked, and Eliah grabbed her arms and shouted in her face, “You will help me you abomination, or I will kill your whole family!!”
She looked at him through her tears, and replied with a whimper, “Please let me go. I'm not useful to you.” Eliah lifted his foot off her leg, and kicked her viciously in her torso. The girl yelped and fell backwards onto her back, and Eliah stomped on her chest. She wailed as Eliah screamed, “Your kind are a plague upon this world! I will exterminate each and every one of you until there are none left!” The girl looked up and her eyes widened with terror as Eliah pulled out his sword. She screamed and fought to wriggle free, but nothing could save her as Eliah plunged the sword through her chest.
Ruki shuddered as he pulled his mind away from Eliah's. He felt himself break into a cold sweat, and he pulled his horse back to tell Will what he had just seen.
Meanwhile, Sayumi's mind was racing (this was becoming a normal thing for her). A thousand emotions swirled around in her heart, and she couldn't tell which one she should show on her face. But the one that troubled her the most was heartache. She remembered how only a short time ago Eliah was trying to win her heart with kind words, and how he had smiled so gently at her. Her vision blurred as tears formed in her eyes. I shouldn't be sad about not winning his heart. I should be happy I saw the true Eliah before I ended up dead. I should be glad! Her thoughts pierced her heart like daggers, and tears overflowed from her eyes. She whispered, “Why did it have to be you?”
She heard Ruki's horse trot up behind hers, and she suddenly remembered that she was supposed to be a man, so she quickly wiped her tears away and was thankful for the sunset, as it would hide the discoloration on her face. Ruki asked, “What's up Tsumi? Were you crying?”
Sayumi snapped, “Of course I wasn't crying you bastard! Leave me alone!” And she kicked Kayo into a gallop to evade this strange warlock that was just another thing she had to worry about. Ruki looked at Will, and Will shook his head. Will called to him, “Go after her, or she could take a trail off into the wilderness and we may never find her again!” Ruki nodded, and galloped the black mare after Sayumi.
After a while Ruki realized that the black mare could never catch up to Sayumi's buckskin stallion, so he slowed her to a walk and leaped into the air. He took off like a hawk, since not even the fastest of horses could outrun a warlock in flight. He flew very high, then dived towards her at incredible speed. He made the call of an eagle, and when Sayumi looked up her expression instantly changed from frustration and confusion to terror and she ducked as Ruki swooped just past where her head had been.
“ARE YOU INSANE??!” Sayumi screamed as he flew next to her and Kayo. Ruki laughed as he did a few tricks in the air. He replied, “I'm not insane I can assure you, but I do enjoy scaring you!”
Sayumi growled as he laughed more. “Can't you go play pranks on Yuki? He seems to like you good enough!”
Ruki drew his breath quickly, “Is that jealousy I hear? Tsumi, I'm not that kind of guy. Go find yourself a nice girl instead.”
Sayumi scowled at him and retorted hotly, “Jealousy? Please! As if I would be jealous of your creepy relationship with that guy.” And as Kayo slowed down and Ruki started to fly back to get his horse, Sayumi shouted over her shoulder, “And I'm not like that! I like girls just like you do!” Ruki laughed hysterically at how hard she was trying to hide her identity.
Pretty soon they reached the first small town on their journey. There was an inn at this place, but it was considerably more expensive than Sayumi had anticipated. Not only that, but when they walked in, Sayumi realized Rakelle had their money. Sayumi sighed, and murmured to Will, “We don't have any money.”
Will smiled at her, and replied, “Don't worry, Ruki said he would pay for our stay.”
Sayumi glared at Will, and she asked suspiciously, “Will, would you happen to know something about him that I don't?”
Will smirked and replied, “Not a thing Sayumi, not a thing.” Sayumi continued to glare at him for a while, until Ruki came back with the key to their room. Ruki scratched his head and announced, “There's only two beds in our room, so someone will have to share a bed with someone.”