The scuffle had every attendee of the deliberation bewildered beyond surprise, and when the assassin appeared they all leapt back from the startle. Yvelle was the first to react, and almost too keenly timed, measured with suspicious convenience; by his hand the treacherous assailant met his demise. After the attacker was disposed of, everyone's immediate attention fell upon Ruby.
The young woman lay upon the ground, her body remained motionless and still. She seemed so fair in that moment, as her chest barely raised up then back down in gentle successions. One of the enchanters withdrew a small, glass bottle from under his robe, then he removed the top of the container and wafted it just under Ruby's nose. As all of the others gathered around, the Elder pushed aside two sages and peered at the unconscious woman.
"That won't work" he said grimly, then he extended one of his boney fingers toward her figure and continued, "Look, observe that wound upon her neck - that was no ordinary blade. This maiden has been poisoned!"
There was a general gasp that fell over the crowd, then a stunned silence. For a moment no one said anything, and even Cole remained too shocked and mortified to move. His petrification ceased when he noticed the assemblage was merely staring on, and he shouted "We have to do something!"
The Council of Sages was dumbfounded, and they all scratched at their heads and looked from one side to the other. Their faces showed a deep sympathy and regret for Ruby's plight, yet the individual to display the least amount of intrigue for saving the young woman was none other than princess Aira.
The Elder crossed his arms, and his expression portrayed deep concentration. He began to ho and hum, and finally he said "My king, I may possess an elixir that by chance could help neutralize the poison, but already it is beginning to course through her veins, and there is no certainty the potion shall aid her." The statement placed the princess in an uneasy stance, and she was becoming infuriated with the idea that Ruby might be saved and reunited with Cole yet again.
Tiergon the Seer stepped forth from the crowd of sages, and his finger was raised upward as his face glowed with the hope of an idea. "Perhaps it would slow the poison's course if some of it were drawn out from the wound somehow. I know!" he bent down beside Ruby's body, and he licked his lips saying, as if to whisper the words in secret delight, "I'll just suck the venom out of the maiden," then he lowered his head toward the wound with a licentious smile.
The mental image surfaced in Cole's mind, and his demeanor flashed into a sudden outburst of frantic rage. He crossed over to Ruby's unconscious body, and he quickly grasped the garments of the sage and yanked the old man away from his companion; with luck it happened just in time, Tiergon was less than a moment away from planting his face upon Ruby.
The sage tumbled backward and fell over, then he turned around and asked in a furious tone "Just what is the meaning of this, my liege?"
"If anyone is going to draw out the poison from her body, that person will be me." Cole's skin was flushed with the infuriated hue of wild fire, and his tone was more demanding than ever before. He was blinded by his natural sense of protection toward his friend, and his actions were deriving from his subconscious devotion to Ruby.
The Elder held out his hands waving them back and forth, and he protested shouting "You cannot do that, you are the king! If even the slightest trace of the toxin enters your body, you shall surely fall as the maiden has. Please my liege, reconsider-"
"To you I am this so-called king, and have been for less than a day; to her I am a friend, and have been since the beginning!" His attention fell upon Ruby, and his gaze met her dainty and beautiful complexion, which was now painted with a tint of mauve from the toxin's effect on her. "Don't worry, I'll protect you" he whispered into her ear, then dutifully he pressed his moistened lips against the exquisitely soft nape of Ruby's neck.
Although the young woman appeared peacefully dormant while she lay upon the floor, her mind was trapped in a hellish nightmare of illusions. The poison that was coursing through her was causing hallucinations to appear within her, and she was suffering the sight of a black sky ripping open and swallowing up the tree house in West Sparrow. The torment only continued as she perceived that she was alone, and no where could she find her friend Cole; no one was there to protect her from the void of darkness that was swallowing up everything around her, and she believed this was the end of her reality.
The first sense Ruby regained when she became conscious again was her smell, and the young woman's olfactory nerves unmistakably detected the natural fragrance of her long time companion. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief, and Ruby delighted in the thought that her dream never happened. The young woman then felt something strange; there was an enticing tickling sensation happening upon her neck, and she wondered why her body was exciting into a state of arousal. Her eyes were heavy, and for a moment they could not open as Ruby enjoyed the pleasure of the wetness and gentle tugging that her nape received; even Cole's body was responding to the fascination of his affection, as little by little he drew out the poison from his friend's wound.
"C-...Cole?" Ruby's voice uttered out, though it was shaky and weak. Her strength was dwindling, but her eyes opened once again as she glanced over at her companion. She was frozen by the sensations that tingled throughout her body, and the hallucination of her friend seductively sucking upon the nape of her neck was dispelled by the reality of the situation. "C-Cole!"
The king spat out another small amount of the poison from his mouth, and he wiped his lips as he gazed down at Ruby; his expression was mixed with panic and stern duty, and the young woman fixated her eyes on upon Cole. "Are you all right?" She asked in a faint tone, as she slowly recalled the attacking imposter.
Princess Aira was sickened to her core by the sight of the entire affair, and with each passing second her thoughts became more livid and spiteful toward Ruby; though she dared not dispute or protest her king's actions.
Cole laughed with disbelief, and he fought back rising tears of joy as he said "Why do you have to worry about me like that, even now?" He was comforted to know that his companion was still alive, and hope remained for her convalescence.
The Elder stepped toward the pair of friends, and he knelt down so he was beside Ruby toward the lower half of her body. He spoke grimly, "My king, we must bring her to my chamber - there is little time to lose! She is alive, but her fate is still in dire uncertainty."
Cole and the sage lifted her from the cooled surface of the marble floor, and they carried the injured young woman out of the room where the Council of Sages had been taking place. The pair swiftly traversed down corridor after corridor while attempting to keep Ruby in a comfortable position, and following close behind was princess Aira; though she was more concerned about the future relations between the king and herself, and gave little thought to the young woman's health or circumstance.
The royal maiden pursued the Elder and Cole until they had entered the sage's chamber, then the old man guided Aira to the exterior of his room. "Forgive me my princess, but this matter concerns the king only," and he shut the door on the royal maiden as she was uttering a word of debate; her face expressed her deepening disapproval and abhorrence she held for Ruby.