Ruki blinked, then sighed. He slipped into a state of melancholy, and Haru stood there wondering what was going through Ruki's head. Haru asked in utter confusion, “The heck's wrong with you?”
Ruki looked up at his brother and sighed again. “Well if she loves someone now, that means I missed my chance anyway. She probably like that elf, I should have known.”
Haru burst out laughing. “Ahahaha! Ruki, you stupid idiot!! Haven't you noticed how worried she was about you when you were hurt? She was acting like you were made of feathers and could blow away at any second! That girl likes you!!”
Ruki blinked a few times, the news not registering in his mind. Haru sighed with frustration and asked, “Why don't you just ask her how she feels?”
Ruki exclaimed with shock, “There's no way I could do that! What if she doesn't love me? Then where will we be?”
Haru grumbled under his breath then replied with exasperation, “Look, if you want to remain in this state of limbo forever, that's your choice. But if you don't make your move soon, I will.” Haru turned on his heel and left, leaving Ruki to think over his options.
Sayumi and Will were out riding, Will trying very hard to keep the imprisoned dragon under control. Kayo kept as far from the dragon as possible, snorting and shying away when Sayumi tried to pull him closer. Sayumi asked, “Hey Will! Do you have any ideas about what we are going to do once we find this Midori? Are we going to just go back and kill Eliah and that will be the end of it?”
Will sighed. “There's no way Eliah will go down that easily. There's a reason he is able to kill all these witch-folk, and I have no idea what it is. There's no way he is a warlock himself, so that only leaves two options.” Will paused as they jumped a low fence, and continued, “Witch-folk have really only two weaknesses other than their own humanity: their powers don't work on beasts with true magic like dragons and faeries, and there is a type of stone that if it touches them will render their powers useless. This stone is known as the Death stone, since if it is in contact with a witch or warlock for too long it will kill them. What it actually does is absorb their powers somehow, but its affect usually isn't permanent. There are some people who believe that if they absorb enough powers from enough witch-folk, they will be able to take their powers for themselves and use them against them.
“So what I'm thinking is Eliah either has some faeries on his side, which is the preferred option, but he could also have found one of these Death stones, and is planning on trying to become an artificial warlock.”
Sayumi's eyes opened wide. But after some thought, she asked, “But if he wanted to absorb the powers of witch-folk, why would he want to kill all of them?”
Will replied, “That's what I was thinking too, but we must make sure we keep out options open. With a crazy person like him, one can never tell what he's thinking.” Sayumi nodded in agreement, and felt in her heart an unwavering determination to find Midori and ask for her help.
Meanwhile, back in Feresat, Eliah descended the stairs into the dungeon, going to check on his 'fiance'. “Rakelle,” He called, “Where are you, my queen?”
Rakelle leaned on the bars her cell and glared at him. “I'm no one's queen, especially not yours!”
Eliah smiled and walked up to her cell. “You know darling, it has been eight days since your father died. If your vermin friends don't hurry, you will be my queen soon and you can't say nothing about it.”
Rakelle spat on his shirt and snarled, “You ass, you said I had two weeks when I got here!”
Eliah shrugged and wiped the spit off. “I never said when the two weeks started now did I?”
Rakelle glared at him and snapped angrily, “I will never marry you! You might as well just kill me now!!”
Eliah closed his eyes and turned around. As he left the dungeon, he called back, “You may have a change of heart when you see your friends' heads mounted on the wall in the throne room.”
Rakelle waited until his footsteps had faded into the distance, then she sighed and collapsed on to the cot in her cell. Rakelle looked forlornly at the ceiling, wishing Sayumi and Will would hurry and come save her.
When Sayumi and Will returned to the farm house, Ruki's mother had returned, and taken quite the liking to Sayumi. She wouldn't stop fussing over her, and asking her a million questions. Ruki was feeling better, so he was sitting at the dinner table with everyone. Sayumi was obviously confused by his mother's sudden interest in her, so Ruki reminded his mother, “Mother, she isn't mine or Haru's fiance or anything, leave her be.”
His mother looked up from Sayumi, and waved her hand at him dismissively. “You two will never get married unless someone shoves you into the arms of a woman. This one came on her own volition, so its even better!”
Ruki sighed and dragged Sayumi away from his mother before his mother started dressing her up in the one valuable thing his mother had: her old wedding gown. Sayumi followed Ruki outside the house, and into the pasture with the horses. Ruki let go of her, and she sat on the grass. Ruki stood a short ways in front of her, staring into the night sky. There were no stars out tonight, just the moon which was slightly covered by dark clouds.
Sayumi asked, “Ruki, what do you want to do after we rescue Rakelle and kill Eliah?”
Ruki shrugged after a few minutes. “I figured I would wait and see what happens. I was thinking maybe get married, settle down somewhere, raise a family.” He turned and gazed at Sayumi, then added, “But that will depend on what happens. What about you?”
Sayumi met his gaze steadily and replied, “Well, I'm not really sure. I can't really live in the castle anymore, since I'm not royalty. But I know nothing about the culture of any other place, so I wouldn't really be able to live anywhere else. I have no money to my name, so I don't really know what to do.”
Ruki announced boldly, “I know! You could stay with us! My mother would love to have another woman around the house, and we would really love to have you with us.” Then after he said that, he realized the implications of the situation, and started babbling about how she didn't have to marry him or his brother.
Sayumi smiled and shook her head. She stood up and walked over to him, and just as he was about to say, “What I'm really trying to say is,” Sayumi stood up as high as she could, and kissed Ruki.
Ruki was caught completely off guard, and if it weren't for him using his flight abilities he would have fallen over. He regained his balance, and gently wrapped his arms around her. She did the same, and for a few minutes the pair were in a complete state of bliss. When she pulled away, Sayumi looked at him with her chocolatey gaze and asked sweetly, “You were saying?”
Ruki was redder than a tomato, and Sayumi giggled as he smiled. “I wasn't saying anything, nothing at all. Was I even talking?” Sayumi laughed, and pulled Ruki closer to her. Ruki just went along with it, enjoying the moment. He reached into her mind, to find the one thought he had never imagined a girl would ever have for him: I love you. Ruki thought to her, Did you mean it?
Sayumi jumped a little with surprise, but she replied Of course I meant it! I really do love you! Ruki lit up like a firefly and he leaped into the air, holding her tightly as he spun in circles a few times. I love you too!! resounded through her brain, and Sayumi felt light enough she thought she could fly herself.
They came inside again later to have dinner, and Ruki made sure Haru knew she was now taken, so he had to keep his hands to himself. Haru was very disappointed, but he agreed to comply. Sayumi endured Ruki's mother's badgering for the length of dinner, and actually found his mother was a very kind lady. Will was sitting at the table, eying Haru and his mother the whole time. Sayumi turned to Will and asked, “Why are you staring at Haru and his mother like that?”
Will shrugged, “I have some suspicions I want to look into about them.”
Sayumi gasped quietly, “Nothing bad I hope!” She whispered frantically.
Will shook his head. “Its about who Ruki's father was; I think he was a very powerful man. A VERY powerful man.” Sayumi looked at Will like he had lost his mind, but then she remembered that he had been right many times before, so she decided it was best to just trust his judgment.
Ruki's mother made sure that Haru and Will would share a room, and that Ruki and Sayumi shared a different one. Ruki told his mother that it was an absurd thing to do, but his mother insisted, “If you don't keep an eye on her Haru might try to steal her away from you!”
Ruki started making a cot for himself on the floor, but Sayumi exclaimed from behind him (nearly giving him a heart attack), “There's no way you are sleeping on the floor! Did you forget that you were stabbed today? No sir, you are sleeping in the bed! Now!!” Ruki was not ashamed to admit that he was scared of Sayumi when she used that tone of voice, so he obeyed. Sayumi finished up the cot and got settled into bed.
Once Ruki was in bed, Sayumi asked, “So Ruki, are you going to come with us to look for Midori tomorrow?”
Ruki laughed a few times, “You kidding? Of course I am. I've never heard of this witch before, and I have some questions of my own for her.”
Sayumi nodded, then she called happily as she nestled herself in the blankets, “Goodnight Ruki.”
Ruki replied, “Goodnight, sweet dreams.”
In the morning, they ate breakfast early, and those who were going into the city were out the door and on the road after all the chores were done. Sayumi was shocked just how many things they did every day, and she asked Will once they got on the road, “Why is it if they work so hard that they are so poor?”
Will sighed. “The lords of Repremendant require their serfs to pay ridiculous amounts of tax, not to mention the royalty requires a tax as well. This is why the king of Repremendant is worried about civil war, and has been telling the lords that they must stop taxing the peasants so much. But as of right now, nothing has been changed, and I wouldn't be surprised if there will be a revolution here in the next decade or so.”
Sayumi didn't say a word, but instead thought for a while. She wondered how kings actually got their wealth, since she had never really thought about it before. The thought that it came from taking the peasant's money from them was a thought that bothered her. But before she could think any further on the subject, Haru and Ruki dashed by on their horses, shouting up a storm. Sayumi smacked her forehead, and Will burst out laughing.
Sayumi galloped Kayo after them, and once she caught up she shouted, “What are you idiots doing?”
Ruki was shocked for a moment, then blushed a bit as Haru replied enthusiastically, “Ruki said his horse could run faster than mine, so I figured we had better settle that argument once and for all!”
“What does it matter that his horse is faster than yours? My mount is faster than all of yours put together!” Will called as him and the imprisoned dragon flew above them, the dragon roaring as he did so. Sayumi laughed, and the brothers grumbled together as they slowed their horses and Will got the dragon back on the ground.
After about ten minutes, Haru asked, “Hey Will! How come that dragon is imprisoned in the body of a Pegasus?”
Will replied, “Well, about fifty years ago, there was an uprising of a group of dragons who wanted to kill all human kind. Their leader was a black dragon named Goran, and he was a very ruthless creature. The dragons had managed to take over the three major kingdoms: Goran took Feresat, a green dragon took Repremendant, and a lithe blue dragon had Hetalia. The humans seemed doomed, but then the elven king sent a group of his best warriors to kill the dragons. The elves killed the dragons from Repremendant and Hetalia, but they couldn't kill Goran. So, before he could destroy the city, the elves managed to cast an imprisoning spell on him. They got him into a nearby white horse, but Goran was so powerful he almost managed to escape. This Pegasus is what is left of Goran, the wings, fangs, coloring and eyes are all his. The only people who can ride him successfully are elves, and humans that share his passionate hatred for other people.”
Haru's eyes widened, and asked, “Did you fight in that battle?”
Will laughed, “No, I would be a grumpy old elf if I had, but my father did. He was regarded as a hero, and the king rewarded those elves who defeated the dragons with Pegasus to ride. My father looked down on me my whole life, expecting me to live up to his achievements. I don't think a elf as incompetent as me could ever do something so great.”
Sayumi realized then why he didn't want to marry Rakelle; he wanted to make his father proud, and from the way he described how elves regard relationships with humans, there was no way his father would accept his son doing something like that. Sayumi almost wanted to cry, she felt so sorry for him. And as they traveled on, she found herself feeling respect for Will that she hadn't felt before.
They reached the city in about an hour, and by that time the marketplace was full of people. Now that they were looking for someone, Sayumi started taking time to look at what they were selling there. There were shops selling weaponry that she had never seen before; swords of all shapes and sizes, bows with golden accents and arrows tipped with poison. There were shops selling jewelry as well, the finest Sayumi had ever seen. The crown jewels she used to wear were nothing compared to the beauty of the necklaces and rings the merchants were selling.