Haru was still at the party when they returned, much to Ruki's surprise. “I expected him to just come right back. He may think he's quite the lady's man, but he usually just strikes out for a few hours and comes home. Maybe he actually found some girls who like him.”
Will smiled. “Nice to know you have faith in your brother. I'm sure he won't get himself into trouble, and even if he does, it might do him some good.” While Ruki and Will continued joking at Haru's expense, Sayumi was being dolled up by Ruki's mother. As she tightened the corset on the dress, Sayumi wanted to ask her so many things. She wanted to know if Ruki really was the lost Prince of Repremendant, but she also knew it would be very painful for his mother to talk about such things. So instead Sayumi asked, “So, Ruki's mother, have your sons always treated each other like this?”
Ruki's mother laughed and replied, “You can call me Shina. But those boys have definitely not always been like they are now. Ruki was very serious growing up, and since Haru is so playful, they often didn't see things eye to eye. Ruki always wanted to know who his father was too. It was rough, because I could never tell him. I'm lucky that I can guard my mind from his warlock abilities, or he would already know. I think I ought to tell him soon, he has a right to know.”
Sayumi almost wanted to ask, but she felt Shina would tell them at the right time. Also, she heard someone coming upstairs, and Shina wasn't saying anything more once she noticed. The person started to open the door, then remembered what was going on and shut it and knocked. Sayumi giggled and called, “We're done, you can come in now.”
Ruki opened the door, his face already starting to turn pink. When he saw how Sayumi looked wearing a dress, he turned a dark shade of crimson. Sayumi twirled a strand of her hair in her fingers, which wasn't very easy considering how short it was. Ruki cleared his throat and was just about to compliment her, before Shina exclaimed, “Isn't she stunning? Even with such short hair she is absolutely gorgeous! You picked a good one Ruki! Quick, propose to her before someone else snatches her away!”
Sayumi giggled, and Ruki scratched his head. Shina laughed and quickly left the room, wanting to give them some privacy.
Once Sayumi was sure Shina was gone, she added, “You don't have to propose to me or anything, its a bit early for that.” Ruki nodded, and looked at his shoes so she couldn't see how red his face was. Sayumi smiled and flew gracefully over to him, and placed her face so he had no choice but to look at her. She smiled and blinked a few times. Ruki looked away again, so Sayumi positioned herself in front of him again. This continued for a few minutes before Sayumi got fed up and held his face so he had to look at her.
She looked into his eyes and murmured, “You don't need to avoid me like that. I don't care if your face is as red as a beet.” She grinned and kissed him on the cheek. Ruki smiled as well, and he let himself drift into the air with her. He stuttered, “Well, what I was going to say before Mother interrupted was that you look really pretty in that dress. It definitely suits you better than trousers.”
Sayumi raised an eyebrow, and patted him on the back saying, “I'll accept the effort, it's better than what I usually get.” Ruki sighed with relief, and Sayumi pushed him towards the door. “Come on, we have things to discuss with Will.”
Once they were downstairs, Sayumi got Will and Ruki to sit at the table with her. “Alright, so we need to come up with a strategy here. How are we going to get into the castle?”
Will and Ruki looked at each other, and Will pulled out a piece of paper. “I drew this before we left. Its the entire layout of the castle, including the dungeons and stables. Now, the front entrance would definitely be heavily guarded, same with the rear. The easiest way to get in would to be to fly over the wall over here, where there is the least chance of being seen by sentries. Then, we could go through the main hall, and Sayumi could split off and go get Rakelle while Ruki and I distract Eliah and his forces.”
Ruki frowned, and he reached his mind out to find one of the guards from the castle. He stared into space for a while, then he blinked and replied, “We won't be able to go through the main hall, Eliah has set up his throne in there and has his most trusted guards in there. We should come in through the entrance closest to the stables.”
Will nodded, then Ruki added, “But we could still go into the main hall and distract Eliah's guards while Sayumi goes for Rakelle. Now, Eliah probably has some witch-folk on his side, so we will have to make this impossibly quick. No hesitation, no stopping. If you can't see a way out, make one. If you have people blocking your way, remove them. We are soldiers now, we can't afford to mess up.”
Sayumi almost shrunk back from the determination in Ruki's voice, but she nodded instead as his gaze met hers. Ruki sat back in his chair and asked, “So when should we leave?”
Sayumi glanced at Will, who was also looking to her. She shrugged, and replied meekly, “I don't know, tomorrow?”
Ruki clapped his hands together, his usual lightheartedness returning. “Tomorrow it is! Now, should we go see if we can find Haru? That idiot probably got drunk and got himself lost again, this happens every time!”
Now that Sayumi could fly, it was definitely much easier to travel. Distances that took hours on horseback took a few minutes flying, and before they knew it, they had reached the house where Haru was partying. Will waited with the dragon outside, while Sayumi and Ruki went inside to look for Haru.
Haru was passed out in the corner, and had some witches drawing on his face. They giggled, and as Sayumi and Ruki looked into their minds, they saw memories of Haru earlier making a complete fool of himself in front of everyone. Ruki sighed with embarrassment, then he cleared his throat. The girls whirled around, startled, then Ruki quickly explained that he had to take Haru home. They looked disappointed, but Sayumi caught one of them eying Ruki with impure intentions. Sayumi glared at her and shot a quick threat in her direction. The witch backed off, glaring back at Sayumi.
As they left with Haru strung out across Ruki's shoulder, Will burst out laughing. “Well looks like we weren't far off, he didn't even get out of the party!” Ruki sighed, and Sayumi held back her own laughter. Ruki slung Haru across the dragon's back in front of Will, and the dragon snarled at Ruki. Ruki backed away, holding his hands up. Then he floated upward saying, “Let's go home before something else happens.”
After they got back to Ruki's house and Shina had made sure Haru was okay, everyone decided it was time to hit the sack. By the time Sayumi was ready for bed (the corset took a long time to get off, even with Shina's help) Ruki had taken the cot on the floor to make sure she slept on the bed. Sayumi smiled at his chivalrous behavior, and before she climbed into bed, she made sure to give him a goodnight kiss on the cheek. Before she drifted off to sleep, Sayumi reached in her mind to try and find Rakelle, wondering if she was okay.
Rakelle was sitting in her cell, wondering if she would ever be free. Rakelle? Are you okay? Rakelle nearly jumped off the cot, not expecting to hear Sayumi's voice in her head. Sayumi? So you are a witch huh? Sayumi replied, Yeah, its amazing! I can even fly! I don't know what else I can do, but I think when we come get you I may find out. Rakelle's heart lifted instantly. When are you coming?? Sayumi paused for a moment before replying, I can't tell you, but it won't be much longer now. I promise we will come for you. By the way, I got myself a guy now.
Rakelle smiled. What's he like? Is he Reprandese? Sayumi sighed happily and replied dreamily, Yeah, and he's a warlock too. He is really kind, but really oblivious to women. He blushes all the time, he loves me a lot. Rakelle giggled a bit and responded, That's awesome! I can't wait to meet him, and see Will again. Well, you should go, Eliah likes to check on me and he could come at any moment. I miss you, and I can't wait to see you! Sayumi felt tears moisten her eyes, and replied forlornly, I miss you too. Goodnight, I will see you soon. With that, Sayumi let go of Rakelle's mind and she stared at the ceiling for a moment, then whispered, “I will come for you Rakelle, I promise.”
The next morning, Sayumi woke up to find Ruki was already awake, and in the middle of getting dressed. She yelped as she saw his half-naked body, and pulled the covers over her head. Ruki glanced over his shoulder, and exclaimed, “So you're awake! Good morning!”
Sayumi cried, “Could you put your clothes on please? I'm not used to seeing nearly-naked men when I wake up!”
Ruki laughed as he put his shirt on, and replied, “Sorry, I was expecting you to sleep more. You usually don't wake up until I've already got breakfast started on.” Sayumi peeked out from under the covers to glare at him, and Ruki laughed at how serious she looked. He sat on the edge of the bed and poked her toes through the blanket. “Come on, you can't be that mad.”
Sayumi kept the covers over most of her face, not wanting him to see her smile. “I'll be as mad as I want!” Ruki laughed and pulled the covers off her face and laughed more when he saw her grinning at him. “I told you! Now I'm going to leave so you can get dressed, come downstairs when you're done.” He kissed her before he got up, then dashed out the door to avoid the shoe she threw at him.
Once Sayumi had her dress on, she ran downstairs, and instead of running down the stairs she flew into the kitchen and landed rather hard in one of the dining chairs. Ruki smirked and started eating his breakfast as Will held back laughter, and Sayumi scowled at him. Sayumi started eating as well, and she looked into Ruki's mind. Hey Ruki, when are we going to leave?
Ruki shrugged his shoulders, I don't know, whenever you want. Are you worried about her?
Sayumi stared at her breakfast, and sighed. I just don't want her being near Eliah like that. Especially since Eliah wants to marry her to make his rule official. Tears formed in her eyes as she imagined delicate Rakelle being forced to marry the crazy Eliah. She shuddered as she remembered how hateful he looked when he tried to kill her, and Ruki grabbed her hand under the table. Sayumi's thoughts came back, and she glanced at Ruki to see that he had a very concerned expression on his face.
We won't let anything happen to her. And we won't rest until Eliah is dead, I promise you will never have to worry about him again. Sayumi squeezed his hand, and let him wipe her tears away. Will had been watching the whole thing, and announced to Shina loudly, “It's unfair; now that Sayumi is a witch they can have completely private conversations without us.”
Shina called back from the kitchen, “You have no idea, his whole childhood he rarely talked... if he wanted to say something he just put the thought in your head. It wasn't until I started using a switch on him that he started talking all the time.” Sayumi giggled, and Ruki turned pink from embarrassment.
After breakfast, Ruki led the trio into the small forest behind his house. He led them into a normal-looking shed, and at first Sayumi was very confused, but once she got inside, she gasped. She saw armor all over the walls, swords piled up in the corner, and a few shields here and there. Will asked, “Where did you get all this stuff?”
Ruki replied, “I used to be an active member in the Resistance against the nobleman that owns most of the property in Repremendant. They gave me this, in case I convinced more people to join the fight. However, the Resistance was caught a few months ago and now this is all that is left of them.” He walked over and picked up the only set of armor that was fitted for a woman, and handed it to Sayumi. He instructed, “Try it on, it shouldn't move around a lot, but it should be enough that you can move and breathe comfortably.” Sayumi put on the armor, and tightened the leather straps until it felt comfortable. She tried a few moves that she remembered using when she fought the thugs, and found it wasn't too hard to move in. “It fits good.”
Ruki nodded, then told handed a suit to Will and took one for himself. Sayumi helped Will put on his armor, and once they were all suited up, Ruki dug to the bottom of the sword pile and pulled out a golden sword, and handed it to Sayumi. “This is a sword forged by faeries, and is stronger than any metal known to man. The only thing that can stand a chance against this sword is an elven sword, but no human can wield an elven sword.”
Sayumi looked at Will with a puzzled look on her face, and Will replied, “You are half elf, you moron. Or did you forget?”
Ruki wasn't even paying attention as he pulled out his own sword, which was a bluish-silver color and was curved in shape. Sayumi remembered seeing a sword like that in the marketplace, at one of the shops. She saw on the hilt it had a blue gem with a water-drop etched in it. Sayumi asked, “What is that gem on the hilt?”
Ruki looked at it and replied, “Well judging by the fire seal on your hand, it's probably the seal of the water faeries. I was told this was found washed up on the shores of the Elven Sea, so that would make sense.” Will admired the gem, and nodded with agreement. Ruki also handed Sayumi a belt for her sword, and then gave her a helmet. Sayumi put it on, and when she tried it with the visor down, she exclaimed, “I can't see at all with this thing!” She put the visor up again, and Ruki looked sternly at her. “If you don't keep it down your opponent could injure your face, and that would end the bout much quicker than if you keep it down.” Ruki flipped it down again, and Sayumi grumbled as she fought to adjust it.
Not long after, the trio was grabbing anything from the house that they thought would be useful: a blanket, all the medical supplies they had for injury repair, some food in case they couldn't fly back. Before they left, Will walked up to Sayumi (more like hobbled, his armor was a bit seized up) and gave her a small draw-string bag. Sayumi took it and asked what it was, and Will replied, “Only use it in the case of extreme emergency.” Then, he walked away and Ruki helped him get on the dragon. The dragon didn't appreciate the extra weight, but with a yank on his reins, the dragon quieted down again.