Ruki nodded and replied, “I know.”
“I killed them, just like Eliah did. I'm no better than he is.”
Ruki turned her to face him and gazed into her eyes with concern. “You are nothing like Eliah. You are kind, and you only killed them to save your people, and the people of Feresat. He killed for the pleasure of it, because he enjoyed killing.”
Sayumi started to cry, and Ruki held her close to him as she sobbed. She let out all the stress of all the time ever since Eliah had first came to Feresat. Ruki just held her, knowing if he didn't let her cry now it would be worse later. He whispered in her ear, “It's okay Sayumi. He's gone now. You're safe here with me.” Sayumi gripped his shirt, wishing she never had to let go. Ruki led her away from the burning remains, and back inside the castle. When they got back into the courtyard, Sayumi's tears were becoming less. She asked Ruki, “So what are we going to do now?”
Ruki sighed and replied slowly, “Well, first we are going to make sure Rakelle will be safe here, and then we will convince Will to stay with her while you and me go back to my place. I have some things I need to discuss with my mother about my father.”
Sayumi nodded, and wiped the last of her tears away. Ruki smiled and tilted her chin up. “Now you go in there and help those people you just saved.” He kissed her, and shoved her towards the main hall. Sayumi looked back at him, and he waved her to go in. Sayumi smiled, then dashed into the castle again.
Sayumi found Rakelle on the other side of the hall, feeding soup to the sick people from the dungeon. Sayumi asked her, “Are you okay?”
Rakelle smiled and replied sweetly, “Yes, and thanks to you so are these people. You were very brave Sayumi.”
Sayumi grinned with pride and gave Rakelle a hug. “It's so good to see you again. I missed you so much.”
Rakelle hugged her back, and added, “I don't know, you seemed pretty content with spending time with him.” Rakelle flicked her head in the direction of Ruki, and Sayumi smiled shyly. Rakelle grinned and whispered in her ear, “I think he is really into you, you picked a good one.”
They giggled together for a while, and Rakelle made Sayumi tell her all of Will's antics while Rakelle was gone. Rakelle smiled and found it hard to keep still after and asked Sayumi, “Do you think he really wants to marry me?”
Sayumi replied, “I know for sure that he does, not a doubt in my mind. But it's not an easy decision for him to make. Either he could bring you back to his home, and have his father throw him out and you two could live in poverty, or he could stay and become king. He is worried that if he became king that the people would hate him and not accept him as their king. And there's no way he could hide his identity as an elf forever.”
Rakelle sighed desperately. “Why do things never seem to work out the way we want them to? I couldn't go with him anyway: I'm the last surviving member of the direct royal bloodline. I need to get married quickly so I can take the throne before someone else does like Eliah.” Rakelle shuddered as she remembered being in the dungeon.
Sayumi put her arm around Rakelle and ventured, “Well, you could try telling him how you feel, and trying to convince him to stay and marry you. I think if you say the right things you will be able to convince him to stay.” Sayumi winked at her, and Rakelle blushed.
Rakelle asked after they had gotten all the ill settled into rooms to recover, “So what are your plans now? I mean, I wouldn't mind if you stayed. But I'm sure you and Ruki have some sort of plans after this.”
Sayumi explained, “Well, we were thinking of paying a visit to his mother before we do make any plans. We have something important to discuss with her. It's about Ruki's father.”
Rakelle's eyes widened with curiosity. “Is Will planning on joining you?”
Sayumi smiled mischievously. “Actually, we were thinking of getting him to stay here and 'guard' you.” Rakelle grinned deviously as well, and added, “You should leave without him, then I won't tell him where you are and he will be forced to stay here with me! You are a genius Sayumi!”
Sayumi giggled and replied, “That one was Ruki's idea actually. You should thank him instead.” Sayumi led Rakelle over to Ruki and filled him in on their scheme, and Ruki smiled thoughtfully. “That's quite the idea, I like it.” Rakelle eyes glowed and she hopped a few times. Ruki smirked and announced, “You're utterly smitten aren't you?” Rakelle blushed heavily and Ruki laughed happily.
Sayumi and Ruki left early the next morning, making sure they woke no one. As they flew over the landscape again (much slower this time), Sayumi commented, “I can't even remember how it was to not be able to fly, there's just so much freedom in flight! I think I would be really sad if I suddenly couldn't fly.”
Ruki grinned and added mockingly, “You haven't experienced anything until you've done some dives and flips! Here, I'll show you!” Ruki held his arms at his side, and dove down almost into the trees. He came right back up, and started to twist in a variety of loops and spins. Sayumi snorted at him when he was done and announced, “Show off! Watch this!” Sayumi tried to copy his dive, but she misjudged the distance and crashed into a tree. Ruki burst out with hysterical laughter as Sayumi crawled out of the tree and spat out a branch that had wedged itself in her mouth.
“You shut up! I'm not very experienced alright?” Sayumi grumbled a little later after she had fully recovered (well, she was still picking pine needles out of her clothes). Ruki patted her on the back and replied, “Come on, you gotta admit it was funny! Don't worry, I promise not to tell Haru or Will.”
Sayumi half-glared, half-smiled at him. “You'd better not! I'd never hear the end of it!” They chuckled together for a while, simply enjoying each others company.
It wasn't until they had almost reached Repremendant that they started to talk serious again. Sayumi asked, “You're going to ask Shina who your father really was?”
Ruki nodded. “I think it's about time me and Haru finally know the truth. Besides, I'm sure Repremendant could use a new king because the current one sure isn't doing anything good for the people.” Sayumi looked down, and as they landed in front of Ruki's house, Sayumi dashed away quickly to see how Kayo was doing. Kayo! How have things been while we were away? Kayo? Where are you? Sayumi then noticed that the house looked more beaten up than usual, and she walked more slowly into the stable.
Sayumi muffled a scream when she saw Kayo: he had welts all over him, and one of his knees was swollen. “Kayo what happened?!” Then Sayumi noticed Kayo was standing protectively over a body. Kayo stepped away from it, and when Sayumi rolled it over, she screamed when she realized it was Haru. He was a fright; he was beaten just as badly as Kayo, and he was barely breathing. Ruki rushed into the stable, and knelt with her next to Haru. He looked over Haru, anger boiling in his heart and twisting his expression. Haru coughed, and opened his good eye and smiled as best he could. “Brother, I'm so glad you're back.” He mumbled, pain showing on his face.
“Haru, what happened here?” Ruki asked, with a serious tone Sayumi had never heard him use before. Haru let his mind wander into memory, and Sayumi and Ruki looked in to see what had happened.
What they saw was Haru and Shina eating lunch after they left, when suddenly Reprandese soldiers poured into the house, breaking everything in sight and seizing Haru and Shina. They shouted, “Where is the one named Ruki?!” Haru and Shina refused to tell, so the soldiers started beating Haru, and Shina was screaming as they dragged her away. Before Haru passed out, Kayo burst in and managed to fight off the soldiers. However, he sustained severe injuries. Just as Haru blacked out, Kayo dragged him outside, and into the stable.
Sayumi gasped and Haru added, “Before we ate lunch, Mother told me about our father. He really was the former King of Repremendant, she even still had a portrait of her and him together, and he looked just like you! You were in it too, but you were just a baby back then.”
Ruki stiffened, and Sayumi told him, “You should stop talking Haru, you are hurt and you need your rest. Have you eaten yet?”
He nodded. “Your horse brought me some bread and water. He's definitely a smart animal, that one.” Sayumi smiled, and before he could say any more, he drifted back into sleep again.
Sayumi used her mind to transport Haru into the house and onto a bed, while Ruki was walking around with her in a haze. Once she was finished helping Haru, Sayumi tapped Ruki on the shoulder and asked, “Ruki, are you okay?”
Ruki replied, “I really am a prince.”
Sayumi blinked. “Yeah, I guess you are.”
“Will was right. He was right all along.”
Sayumi smirked. “He had the annoying tendency to do that. But why so dejected? You can go and save your people from the tyrant that has been plaguing them for so long and take your rightful place as king!” Sayumi raised her arms to show her enthusiasm, but Ruki was still dazed. Sayumi dropped her arms again, and instead looked into his mind. She realized he was looking for Shina, trying to find where she was. Sayumi's heart melted for him; at that moment she remembered that she didn't have a mother anymore, and an aching feeling appeared in her chest. Sayumi hugged Ruki, and murmured, “We will get her back, and we will make sure he pays for what he's done to your family.”
It took Ruki about ten minutes to find Shina, and he realized then that Shina had no idea where she was. She was in a dark cell somewhere, like the cell Rakelle had been in. Their first thought was that she was in the royal palace in the middle of the major city. However, according to the image Ruki took from Shina's mind, the temperature in her cell was very cold, and there was small amounts of snow coming in the window. “That must mean she's somewhere in the mountains. There wouldn't be snow in the city.”
Sayumi nodded, and asked, “So... what are we going to do?”