Will blurted, “Not me!” Sayumi glanced at him, still scowling for all she was worth. Ruki smiled a little, and added, “Well I guess that means we are sharing Tsumi. Don't be shy, we are all guys here.” Sayumi grumbled and clenched her fists the whole way up to their room. She wanted to strangle Will for being so selfish. Once they were in the room, Sayumi looked at the size of the beds. To her horror, they were just barely big enough to fit two people. She realized she was going to have to sleep against Ruki the whole night, and she wanted to crawl into a very small hole and just hide. Does Will forget that this guy wants to kill me? What if he figures out who I am? Sayumi kept her cool outward appearance, but inside she was screaming and bawling with fear.
Ruki and Will let Sayumi stay in the room while they went back to the pub to try and win some more money for their trip playing cards. Ruki asked, “Do you think we should keep deceiving her like this? She is getting really scared.”
Will snorted, “Don't worry about her. Besides, you are just what she needs: a strong, handsome young warlock to save her from the evil king out to kill her.”
Ruki blushed a bit. “But won't she be really pissed because we lied to her this whole time?”
Will grinned mischievously, “Of course she will, but if my hunch is correct, she won't be angry with you for very long. Now, earlier you were telling me about an old prophecy, care to expand on that?”
“Well, its almost just a myth that some people repeat just to laugh at. But here it is:
'As the old ones say: there is a young maiden, deceived of her birth, with an untold secret. When met by another, robbed of his blue, our thoughts will be heard, and evil ones will cringe by the maiden aided by Faerie.'”
Will's eyes widened a bit, and he set down into thought. After a little while, he asked Ruki, “Is there anyone who knows what this prophecy means?”
Ruki shrugged. “This prophecy has been around for over a thousand years, and every generation had their own interpretation. Some claimed it was saying an evil witch would take over the kingdom, others claimed an elven princess would come and join the elven world and the human world as one. But as of yet, nothing even close to any of the claims has happened. So gradually, people lost faith in the prophecy and it was almost completely forgotten.
“Then, the witch hunts started. The Duke of Marmelupe's son started bribing the King of Repremendant to round up all the witch-folk and kill them, with no clear reason why except that they were witch-folk. I was about sixteen when they started, and they captured me in only one of them. I was eighteen, and I was sick of people dying for no reason except that they had certain abilities. So I let them tie me to a stake and make a fire at my feet. That was the first time I met Eliah. He smirked at me, and I just lost it. I put out all the fires of all the witch-folk in the arena, and a witch cut all the ropes. Most of us escaped, but I made sure to do something to each of Eliah's men, so they would remember us. I cut off the small finger on each of their hands, then I broke all the bones in Eliah's hand. Then I flew away, and didn't stop flying until I found my family again.”
Will nodded, then he remembered that all the bandits that had attacked their wagon earlier that day had been missing their little fingers. A frown furrowed his brow, and Ruki waited for a moment, wondering if Will had any more questions for him. Sure enough, Will asked, “Tell me about your family.”
Ruki replied, “My family consists of just me, my mother and my younger brother. My mother said my father couldn't stay with us and he died soon after she got pregnant with my brother. She never told me much about him, except that he was a very kind and powerful man. We have had it rough our whole lives, since my uncle inherited my father's fortune and didn't give us a penny. My mother hasn't told me who my uncle is, and that's probably a good thing because I would beat him to a pulp if I found him.” Ruki glared and cracked his knuckles.
Will still looked like he was thinking over the prophecy, so Ruki sighed, “I'm going to go see what I can win at the card game over there, see you in a bit.” Will watched him go, then an epiphany hit him like a club. He exclaimed to himself, “The current King of Repremendant is the younger brother of the former king, who died when his first son was barely two years old, and the queen was pregnant with a second child! The younger brother threw out the queen and the princes, without a penny to their names! Ruki is the Prince of Repremendant!!” Will's eyes widened, and he looked over at Ruki, who was now playing cards with a group of locals, and as he laughed with them, Will saw the uncanny resemblance to the late king in his face, and he knew that there was more to Eliah's hatred of witch-folk than just a personal prejudice.
Sayumi took off the heavy cloak, wondering for a moment why she still needed to wear it. Then she looked in a mirror and saw how the trousers highlighted her wide hips. She also wondered how no one had noticed how her chest stuck out more than most men. She shrugged, and hoped it was just their own ignorance. It didn't really matter to her if they knew she was female or not, as long as they didn't know she was Sayumi.
She stood in front of the mirror, and ran her hands through her hair (what was left of it). She tried to cover her face the best she could, but her bangs only came down to her eyebrows. She sighed and took off her boots and climbed into bed. She was so exhausted from her constant worrying all day that it didn't take long before she drifted off to sleep.
She probably should have waited until Ruki got into bed before falling asleep, because when she started to wake up in the morning she found herself sleeping next to a body that she didn't recognize. Thus, she started screaming and shoved Ruki out of bed and grabbed Will's sword and held it against Ruki's throat before she even tried to see who it was. Although, even when she realized who it was she didn't move the sword.
Ruki coughed a couple times, and Sayumi hissed, “Why the heck were you lying so close to me?”
Ruki gasped, “Wow, you have good reflexes for just waking up. And I wasn't the one who was lying so close to you, you're the one who snuggled up close to me!”
Sayumi glared menacingly at Ruki, and pulled the sword slowly away from his throat. She replied, “We are not sharing a bed ever again, got it?” And with that, she quickly put her cloak back on and stormed out of the room. Ruki rubbed his throat where the sword had been and asked, Will, “Tell me, how does one protect themselves against a woman like her?”
Will yawned and shrugged. “She is definitely a cannon waiting to blow, that one.” Will smiled and added, “Don't worry, she has a good heart, but she need some time to heal after having her heart broken by Eliah.” Ruki nodded, and more anger stirred in his heart. He wished he would have killed Eliah back then, when he had the chance. But that was almost four years ago now, and he may have been a powerful warlock, but even he couldn't change the past.
Sayumi was in the pub wolfing down a massive stack of breakfast cakes, and when Ruki got downstairs, she looked at him and with a sarcastic smile she announced through mouthfuls, “Charge it to this guy.” The owner nodded, and handed a slip of paper to Ruki. Ruki took one look at the paper and his jaw hit the floor. Sayumi just kept eating as Ruki emptied his pockets, grumbling the whole time.
After the guys ate a quick breakfast, Will decided they didn't need the wagon anymore and sold it to the innkeeper, who was grateful for a good-quality wagon to make deliveries. So the trio got back onto the road to Repremendant, each riding their own horse. Sayumi was in front, her horse being the fastest. They cantered down the road until about lunchtime, when they took a quick break to let the horses graze and themselves eat. Ruki and Will sat on the grass laughing and talking, while Sayumi took some fruit to eat underneath a large tree. While she sat on one of the roots, memories swam through her head of when her and Eliah rode out to a large tree in the countryside and he sat in it. She remembered how light her heart had felt, and how happy she had been. She remembered Eliah's gentle smile, and as she envisioned his smile, it morphed into the hateful savage expression he displayed as he dived towards her with his sword pointed straight at her heart. She buried her face into her knees, and wouldn't have cared if Ruki had decided to kill her right then and there.
Meanwhile, at the castle, Eliah had rounded up the few witches and warlocks that people knew about in Feresat, and had them all in shackles made of cold iron in the throne room. Eliah sat on the throne, looking out across the room full of people, and all he could do was smile that sarcastic smile that was almost permanently on his face now. “So you are the witch-folk of Feresat, eh? I was hoping for a more lively bunch than you.”
A young man blurted angrily, “We may be a bit more lively if you had fed us this past two days!Why are we even here?” Eliah glanced at Takumi, and gave a curt nod. Takumi walked over to the offending man, and took his arm in one hand, and with a swift twist, snapped the bones in the man's arm. The youngster wailed, and pried his arm away from Takumi as fast as he could. He groaned with pain, and Eliah laughed. “I don't need to waste my rations on you. Besides, for most of you, this will be your last day alive.” He flicked his finger, and suddenly from seemingly nowhere, hundreds of arrows shot out and struck the witch-folk. The ones who had survived the first wave started screaming, and before they could even think about using their abilities, soldiers from the sides of the room descended upon them and Eliah watched carefully as the weaker of the witch-folk were killed easily by the soldiers. However, he quickly saw there was a handful of witch-folk who managed to fend off the better part of the soldiers, even killing a few of them.
Just before the soldiers struck the final blows, Eliah shouted, “STOP!” And everyone froze. Eliah clapped his hands a few times, and added, “Splendid performance everyone! We ought to make this a production and take this to every kingdom in the world, they would love it!” Even his soldiers were scowling at him now. One witch called out, “What the hell is wrong with you?!”
Eliah laughed, and replied, “I should ask you the same thing, monster. Normally I would have killed all of you without hesitation, but you five can be useful to me.” The witch glared savagely at him, and asked, “What makes you think any of us would serve a tyrant like you?”
Eliah walked in between his soldiers, and held the witch's chin. “Why, my dear abomination,” He leaned in close and whispered in her ear, “The answer is simple. I will make you the most powerful and rich person in the kingdom.” The witch wrinkled her brow and stared intently at him. He smirked and she glared at him as she announced, “Why can't I read your thoughts?”
Eliah burst out laughing. “Oh my dear, you must know that I've recently developed the skill of closing my mind to witch-folk! How could I kill your kind so easily if I couldn't?” She glared at one of the swords of a nearby soldier, and Eliah dived out of the way just in time to miss it. The witch cried out in shock, and Eliah laughed hysterically as a different soldier shot a crossbow arrow straight through her abdomen. Her eyes opened wide, and she clutched the arrow with all her might. As blood started to soak her clothes from the wound, Eliah walked up to her again and gave her a bored expression. “Oh you fool, you honestly thought after all the trouble I've been through to exterminate your kind that I could be killed by such a simple trick?” She opened her mouth to speak, but all that came out was blood. She fell to her knees, and with one swift stomp Eliah crushed her head and it was over.
He then looked up at the other four witch-folk that were left, and he held his hands out in a welcoming gesture (the effect was lost by the blood that was splattered on his clothes and face). “Well my little failures, there can only be one of you serving me. I will let that one live, but the other three must die.” He turned and started walking away, but before he left the circle his soldiers had formed he called over his shoulder, “Make it swift, if you please!”