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„We‚re not adventurers anymore, Rei! There are those of us that do have responsibilities. I don‚t even know why I bothered to come here! I should have stuck to what‚s logical, and never tried to search for Ryu in the first place. He knows what he‚s doing, taking the rest of the Brood and leaving Dragonier!š Momo‚s voice wavers with the extent of her irritation at Rei, and Peco notices second-handedly that Momo‚s extensively long feathery ears twitch slightly as she snorts her annoyance. Peco grins to himself as he remembers with satisfaction that the Brood, also known as the Dragon Clan, had lived in a tumbled down city called Dragonier. There they awaited the time when their őPrince of Dragons‚ would come and fulfill the destiny of a long told legend, freeing the world of the goddess Myria‚s control, or yielding the power of the Brood to her.
Peco didn‚t really like the goddess much, and his grin turned sour, Rei‚s and Momo‚s argument forgotten for the moment. It was because of her that Ryu, the őPrince of Dragons‚ had searched her out in a quest that had taken nearly his entire life to fulfill. True, that the quest had brought Ryu to meet the friends they had now, who were so devoted and loyal to him that even if they had to bring the entire world down to retrieve him, they would.
But it was also because of Myria that the people of Kombinat seemed like nothing but the emotionless, lifeless robots that they built. That they remained isolated on the Lost Continent, away from the rest of the world, separated by the Outer Sea. True, if they could survive the Desert of Death, or even if they could reach Dragonier, the people of Kombinat would be able to harness the Portal Drives, which would allow them to transport to the continent on the Inner Sea.
„Pukuuu!š Peco grumped in a high-pitched voice, stomping his large red foot, then crossing his leaf-like limbs. It was because of Myria that the Nature of the world was divided by Myria‚s separating of the Great Trees, the Yggdrasil. One had already fallen victim to a madman of engineering, the late Chief of the Chrysm crop plants. Alongside Ryu, Peco and Momo had stopped the Chief from conducting his experiments on reanimating the dead. Myria had then separated another from the others to the Lost Continent.
„At ease, my young one,š a gentle, serene voice chides in Peco‚s mind, not one voice, but seeming the whole world‚s, speaking in unison. The voice and voices of Yggdrasil. „Now is not the time to remember and wish ill Myria. Her intentions were pure, as ours is, but her actions were those of a mother who doesn‚t know when to let her children grow. Your friends argue over retrieving the lost prince and the Brood, correct?š
Peco nods, unaware that Rei‚s and Momo‚s arguments had not yet ceased in their ferocity.
„Ah, the bitter-sweet irony. They argue as if over a family member,š Peco inhales to argue, but he senses Yggdrasil acknowledge its error. „Yes. He is your family. It was his decision he take the Brood and leave this Continent. People here fear the Brood and the power they held∑the power your Ryu now holds. Are you willing to face that for him, my little Peccorel? Face the dangers of his return with him?š
„Yes,š Peco replies, unused to merely squeaking his answers. His voice is cool and low, in deep contrast to his usual squeak or beep. His voice draws the attentions of Rei and Momo, who turn and look at him in the middle of an argument. Rei‚s bushy tail twitches as he settles down, and Momo simply places her hands on her hips to wait.
„And I know my friends would face the world with him, as well,š Peco says, seemingly not sullied with Rei‚s and Momo‚s sudden attention. Both assume he speaks with Yggdrasil, and remain respectively quiet.
„Do you suppose it was easy for Ryu to come to that decision, Peco?š Yggdrasil‚s voice is extremely curious, and Peco shakes his head in reply.
„Why would Ryu leave the only family he‚s ever known, except to try and protect us? All we have ever done is look out for one another, and this is the way he tries to look out for us now. I believe Ryu is wrong. Whatever will face us in the future, we must face together, as a family should,š Peco reasons. He glances at Rei who claps enthusiastically, a large grin on his face.
„Damn straight,š the voice comes from behind Peco, and both turn to see Momo settled down, blue scholar‚s robes about her poofy pantlegs. The response had come from her, and from behind her circular wire spectacles, Momo‚s eyes glint with a spark of acceptance. Peco and Rei smile at her warmly.
„He will not give up easily, believing his leaving is the way to protect you. You will have to persuade him, but with more than just your loyalties. You will have to convince him of needing him with you, instead of being away. I also believe that you are missing the key player for this allurement,š Yggdrasil replies slyly. Peco bursts into a large grin, causing Rei and Momo to lean forward eagerly.
„You mean Princess Nina of Wyndia?š Peco asks out loud, thinking of the bright-eyed, blond haired descendant of the Byrd Clan. She was one of the few of the Wyndians who had sprouted butterfly-like wings with which to fly. Rei looks at Momo with a happy grin, swishing his tail, while Momo sits back, twitching her ears in contemplation and furrowing her brow.
„Yes, we‚re on our way to Wyndia right this instant!š Rei snatches Peco up and swings him around in the air, dancing around the room. „We‚re going to get Nina!š
„Yes,š Peco decides, coming back to his senses completely, Yggdrasil having left his thoughts. „We should retrieve Princess Nina. Yggdrasil believes that since Ryu changed into a dragon to protect Nina, that she is what will convince him to come home.š
„Then what are we waiting here for? We can make it there in no time with our rakda from the Desert of Death!š Rei yelps, eager to move out quickly, satisfied they were finally taking action to find their lost friend. Rei leaps onto a chair, pointing towards the direction of Castle Wyndia.
„To Wyndia Kingdom and Princess Nina∑ho!š Rei cries out happily, before sprinting for the door.
„You‚re going to find Ryu, the Prince of Dragons?š the royal inquisitor asks for about the hundredth time. Rei nods, swishing his tail impatiently.
„That‚s what I said, isn‚t it?š he snaps, his temper flaring playfully. „And we‚re here to get Nina to come help us find and bring him home.š
„Unless you have a problem with that, in which case I breathe my Dream-breath on you, and have you personally lead us to her,š Peco murmurs, hopping forward, his pink eyes gleaming. The Inquisitor breaks a sweat and shakes his head.
„No, to tell you the truth, we we‚re planning on coming to find you,š he stutters. „Really. Princess Nina has moped and drooped and sobbed since she returned from the Lost Continent, and she barely eats. She‚ll literally die from her depression if something gets her spirits back up. Poor thing misses you and that Prince so much. I thought he was quite a nice fellow, but her parents don‚t trust him, coming from the Dragon Clan and all.š
A round of glances is passed between the three friends. The inquisitor opens the door to the castle, then makes room to let them inside.
„She spends most of her time in the Portal Drive room, simply fiddling with the controls. She‚s given up searching for him on her own. If you can get Princess Nina happy again, the Kingdom of Wyndia will give you their gratitude.š
„No need. Portal drive∑I remember where that is,š Rei yelps, bolting off. The others have no choice but to follow. Rounding two turns then hopping down the stairs to the dungeon, then to the kitchen as though simply take steps, Rei whirls around the whine cellars, nothing but a yellow blur. He leaps down the ladder∑to nearly run smack into Nina, a tired, pained look in her eyes. Momo is quick to take the princess in her arms.
„Are you really here?š Nina asks weakly, clutching Momo‚s sleeve. „I‚ve missed you all so∑Is Ryu here?š Rei and Peco look away, unwilling to break Nina‚s moment of hope. She looks to Momo expectantly. Momo bites her lip, droops her ears, and shakes her head.
„Oh,š Nina sighs, leaning back against Momo. „At least you‚re here now∑š she sighs, ignoring a tear that slides down her cheek. Rei moves forward, placing a hand on her wings encouragingly.
„Don‚t worry, Nina. We‚re going to find Ryu right now,š Rei replies, patting her shoulders. „We need you to come with us.š
The hope that had died in Nina‚s eyes suddenly returns, and she straightens to look into Rei‚s blue eyes.
„Really, Rei?š Nina asks, hope surfacing. Rei nods, grinning.
„Would I lie to a princess?š he asks. Nina looks at Momo, who nods with a smile, before hugging Rei and Peco, then returning to Momo.
„What are we waiting for? Let‚s get out of here!š Nina replies, showing spirit and keeping it for the first time since their visit.
„All right then!š Rei rubs his hands together, steeling himself. „Let‚s find Ryu!š They gather onto the portal drive circle, and Momo sets the coordinates for Dragonier, the last place they had seen Ryu and the Brood.
„Hang on to your tail, Buddy, we‚re coming for ya‚!š Rei cries as a column of light encircles them∑then it‚s gone, and so are they, as though they had never been there in first place.
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