Ruby sprang up from the table and was no longer straddling Cole. The young man scrambled to his feet, and he was embarrassingly startled; the color of his face resembled the roses that remained in the decorative vases and glass cylinders of the dining hall. The wild passions of that moment were dispelled almost immediately.
In the entryway where the deep voice sounded stood Duphan the noble and one of the five enchanters. They too had absconded away from the celebrations, perhaps to discuss different policies of magic or perform a little recreational alchemy of their own, and had thought they discovered a fellow practitioner enjoying the evening with one of the castle's royal handmaids. Their eyes went just as wide, and their jaws dropped nearly to the ground upon the revelation they had stumble onto. For a second the only noise was the rapid beating of hearts.
"M-My liege." Duphan stammered and bowed in fragmented nods of his head.
Ruby had returned to the reality of the scene, and a flash passed over her eyes as she remembered the reason for her sudden arrival to the castle. Once the lightning streak finished crossing her sky-like orbs, she bolted with astonishing agility. In one bound she cleared most of the dining hall, landing mere feet from Duphan and the enchanter accompanying him. The young woman forcefully pushed them aside and escaped into the corridor.
"Ruby, wait!" Cole shouted. He needed a moment to adjust his loins before he could perform any such act of acrobatics, but the king merely rolled over the table and began to pursue her. This time the two wizards were more hastened to react, and they parted enough to create a space for him to pass by.
Once in the hallway his head turned from shoulder to shoulder; Cole was anxiously scanning his surroundings to see in which direction Ruby had darted. The blur of a figure rounding a corner and disappearing came from the right, so the young man sprinted down the corridor as swiftly as he could.
When he turned the corner, there was a moment when he flinched as an object came whirling toward him. A slender throwing knife planted itself into the threads of the long, golden cloak that draped over he back and flapped in the wind while he was running. After examining himself for any possible wounds, he looked up but whoever had hurled the weapon had already vanished. He endeavored to continue the pursuit, but his ceremonial garment was pinned to a heavy piece of furniture embellished with special décor for the wedding.
Cole struggled to remove the cloak, but after some frustrating tugs it was loosened and softly descended to the floor. "Ruby, come back!" he beckoned.
These words struck a very ill-tempered chord when they entered the ears of Aira. The now queen had departed from the indoor garden in search of her husband. The hour was drawing neigh for the two to consummate the marriage, and she had become increasingly excited with each minute of the dance. She was in the corridor the king had sprinted down, and spotted him in time to watch as he turned and corner and called after Ruby. This irked Aira to a very indescribable degree, and a vein appeared to throb in one of her temples.
At that moment she beheld Duphan and an enchanter poking their heads from out of the entryway of the dining hall. They were witnesses to this spectacle as well, and their faces were painted with curiosity and bewilderment, however their expressions changed drastically when they heard someone clearing their throat, and their glance met the evil eyes of Aira. Duphan instantly shrugged as he threw his hands up, obviously forcing a laugh. His accomplice was as white as a corpse, and he was frozen just as stiff as one too. Needless to say the queen interrogated them with all of the fury of a wild dragon.
Meanwhile Cole arrived at a four way intersection of the castle. Technically there were five directions he could choose between, because one of the corridors split into a stone stairway leading to the next storey of the castle. "Damn, which way did she go?" he uttered to himself while his gaze surveyed each course he could take. The only option for him was to randomly guess, so he dashed down another hallway to recommence the pursuit. It was now more than ever that he cursed the labyrinth-like structure of the castle.
It seemed hopeless to find Ruby, though after rounding another corner in great haste Cole collided into a meaty figure. "Oh!" Malachai said in surprise. "My most sincere apologies, my king. You look like you are in a panic. Tell me, what has happened?"
"Ruby! It's Ruby - she is in the castle. Have you seen her?"
"Ruby?" The woodsman's inflection courted the honesty of his reply, "I was unaware that she is back. This is joyous news! Aye, what a wedding present."
"You don't understand, Malachai. She may have returned, but I don't think she is here to stay. I was about to find out how she got away from Felgroth and came back when-" The king took a moment to finish the sentence once the reminiscence of the lovely young woman returned to him, "when she ran off."
"Well, she must be around here somewhere." It only took a few flighty seconds before the masterful wisdom of Malachai conjectured with acute accurateness, "She may be here for the tome."
"The book?" Cole said inquisitively, then repeated with affirming disclosure. "The book, of course!" Not another word was spoken. He pivoted on his heels and ran full speed to the guest chamber Ruby had occupied when living inside the castle.
Finally he could see the door of the chamber in the distance. He was out of breath, but nothing could slow Cole down at the rate he was sprinting. He perceived the door to be ajar, and he was convinced Ruby was inside the chamber. As he arrived to the room he tossed the door open completely, but to his dismay his companion was nowhere in sight. He studied the sparse chamber, and he noticed the naked bed in the corner had been shredded in a frantic fashion with white plumes of feather billowing out of the lacerations.
His eyes followed along the trail of feathers, then he observed a few of the bed's linens which were bound together and tied to one of the wooden posts. The tether of sheets led his gaze to the window. He crossed the chamber and leaned out of the porthole; what he witnessed baffled him. Ruby had already scaled down the exterior of the castle, and she was crossing one of the courtyards with a speed that seemed to rival the royal steeds Cole was used to riding. Was all of this agility the outcome of her captivity in the hands of the enemy?
He dismissed the thought as he watched Ruby shrink more and more in the distance. "Ruby, come back!" The young man kicked one of his legs out of the window and straddled the stonework pane. He looked down and thought to himself that the span between the window and the ground below was not exactly a short one; this made Ruby's escape all the more impossibly astonishing.
"If she can do it so can I," he reassured himself and commenced to gradually repel down the wall. After only a few feet something did not feel right; it was like the makeshift rope no longer cared to support his weight. Before he could think of a way to climb back to the window, the sensation of his stomach rising to his throat overtook him as he plummeted downward. There was a loud smack or thud that followed, and the starry sky above went totally black to Cole.