Remnants of the Sky
By Zell's Lollipop Ninja
Chapter One: Two Paths
Miss Yumi felt lost amongst the many people of Budehuc Castle. There was so much she did not know-- so much she had not experienced. Her life seemed so easy back in the village, but now with all this before her, she realized how simplistic things had been. Yumi greeted the outside world with alacrity. She was ready to complicate everything at a moment’s notice.
She watched her sister’s resistance to change with utter disappointment. Keeping the village teachings seemed to be much more important to her than knowledge and experience. Yuiri was stubborn and blindly loyal, and made sure to contraindicate everything outside Alma Kinan.
Since Yun’s sacrifice, Yumi’s faith had been diminishing. It seemed wrong. It didn’t make sense. Looking at the world, her death seemed to do nothing. Her little sister’s sacrifice was in vain. War was occurring and evil seemed to have prevailed in many occasions. Yuiri just seemed to disregard what was happening, which was more frustrating the anything.
The wind blew Yumi’s hair about as she watched the sunset from the deck of the boat attached to Budehuc Castle. Several others were scattered about, but none of them seemed to notice her. Jacques and Aila were silently watching the sky, Sharon and Futch were discussing some matters about the Toran Dragon Knights, and Luce was singing quietly to herself as she pulled some laundry from the lines.
It was quite a beautiful scene. The sun was a bright vermilion and the wispy clouds were a dark violet. Yumi sighed to herself, smiling.
“Why hello there.” A low, quiet voice whispered from behind her. Yumi whirled around, rather flabbergasted.
Behind her stood Ace, grinning widely. Yumi let out a sigh of relief, and returned a small smile. “Hello, Sir Ace.”
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Ace asked, gesturing towards the sky.
“Very.” Yumi agreed, unsure of what Ace was trying to pull. From what she’d heard from her older sister, Ace wasn’t a very nice person and should best be avoided. He seemed kind enough to Yumi, but he did come off as rather slick.
“Well,” Ace whispered, “not nearly as beautiful as you.” Yumi turned a bright shade of crimson. She had never heard such a thing before, and she wasn’t quite sure of what she should say in response.
“W-why thank you sir.”
“No need to thank me for speaking an obvious truth.” Ace said happily, a devious look spreading across his sharp facial features. As Yumi’s blush darkened, she turned away quickly to hide her face. Ace laughed quietly, careful to call his presence to the attention of the others. “Miss Yumi, would you like to join me for some drinks? I would really like to get to know you better.”
“Um, okay.” Yumi agreed. With that, she followed Ace off the ship.
Borus Redrum was always one for the beauties of nature, though most did not know it. Full moons and autumn leaves-- those kinds of things always enchanted him. As he and Lady Chris patrolled that evening, the picturesque sunset caught his eye. Borus stopped by the turbulent lakeside. Chris took several steps ahead before she noticed he partner had stopped.
Several gulls flew overhead darted towards the sun as Chris took her place beside Borus. Borus looked at her, then towards the sky. He knew this would probably be the best moment he’d find. He said a quick mental prayer to Sadie and drew a deep breath.
“Chris…” he murmured, “I… I’ve been…”
Chris looked at him in that concerned way that he recalled from many past occurrences. He closed his eyes and braced himself. “Is something wrong?”
Borus laughed nervously. “Apart from the fact I’m in love with you, no.”
Borus forced his eyes open to inspect her reaction. Her face seemed flushed and her eyes were wide. And with her reaction, he felt all his hopes that he’d held onto for years slip out of him, and fly away like the gulls.
“Borus, you know Percival and I…”
Borus forced a smile. “I know, milady, it matters not anyway. I just thought I should tell you, that is all.”
Chris looked towards he feet. “Borus, I’m sorry…”
“No need to be, Chris! As I said, it doesn’t matter.” It was so difficult for Borus to keep so calm after his heart was pulverized, but he would do anything for Lady Chris. And the thing he needed to do just then was to assure her that is was not important. “It’s nothing, milady.”
The rest of the patrol was quite awkward, and for the most part, silent. Once they were finished, Borus quickly retreated to his quarters.
Yumi looked down at the glass in front of her. The thick amber liquid was unlike anything she had tasted before. She actually found the taste unpleasant, but drank it as to not offend her companion. The bar was quite busy this evening. Miss Anne and Sir Leo appeared to be having some sort of competition that interested the other customers.
Yumi found it to be quite the spectacle. They were apparently seeing who could drink the most before they fell ill. Yumi noted how odd that was for a form of entertainment as she took a sip of her own beverage and to continue to watch the odd behavior of the two.
“Enjoying yourself, Miss Yumi?” Ace asked, grinning at her.
“I suppose.” She replied, finishing off the liquid. Ace eyed her empty glass. He signaled to the bartender to bring another round of drinks. “I really don’t need another drink. I would rather not be a waste of your money.”
“Oh,” Ace looked rather disappointed, “Well, I insist.”
“All right.” Yumi said. The Karayan warrior who was filling in for Anne brought her another glass of identical liquid.
“Please, tell me about yourself. Where are you from?” He leaned in close to Yumi, which made her rather uncomfortable.
“I’m from Alma Kinan. It’s quite a ways east of here…”
Borus peeled of his armor as soon as he entered the room. He shed all of the cold metal plates that were attached to his gloves and boots. Borus ran his bare hands through his messy blonde hair and fell backwards onto his bed. “Great job Borus,” he said aloud, “on how many plains must you screw things up?”
Borus stared up at the white ceiling and tried to analyze how horribly he had made things. If she decided to mention this to the others, he would be the cynosure of the group. Not to mention, he knew he’d sooner or later get a nice ‘talking to’ from Percival, which may or may not involve his fists.
It was all to be expected though. Borus knew this to be true before he had even opened his mouth. None the less, he knew he would have slipped this information sooner or later. His rejection was obviously inevitable. He had just hastened the fall of the blade.
It was something he wanted to say for years, something that he’d felt since he was twenty years old. Back when they were in school together, he knew there was probably a chance. The hope seemed to be justified. But as the years passed, she seemed to drift away. Despite this he said nothing. Damn it.
“Damn it all.”
Borus looked towards the wall. It was ten fifty. Borus smiled. A few drinks would be enough to calm him down, and to his advantage the bar was open until eleven.
Borus walked down the winding stairs and turned down the hall. He moved quietly as to not wake some of the younger castle inhabitants. As he opened one door to the bar, the other closed. Anne had closed shop early and had just left, so the entire room was empty and dark. Borus mentally cursed. He was about to leave when a noise caught his attention.
Borus turned back into the empty room. “Hello?”
“Hello, is anyone here?” he asked again.
Despite the lack of response, Borus knew he heard some heavy breathing coming from one of the tables. He turned on the light and looked about, quickly spotting someone at the corner table.
Yumi opened her eyes. Something was wrong. The bed she was in was so comfortable, so unfamiliar. Her vision was fuzzy and unfocused. She mentally began to panic. When she tried to move, her limbs felt as if they were made of stone. Through her foggy vision, She could distinctly see two pale brown eyes staring down at her.
End Chapter One
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Two: Cross
“Tuta! She’s awake.” Borus called as Yumi looked up at him. The young doctor walked over and stood opposite of the knight.
“Ah, that’s good to hear. Miss Yumi, how do you feel?” The doctor asked in a quiet, soothing tone.
“I’m… really tired. It is rather difficult to move. My sight also seems to be rather impaired…” she murmured. Everything in her foggy vision seemed to be bouncing and spinning in a dizzying manner. “What has happened to me?”
The doctor smiled and looked down at his notepad. “You appeared to have drunken far too much. You’ve been in here a whole three days recuperating. You’re lucky you’re so healthy or you could have suffered some serious damage. But, you’ll be fine quite soon.”
Yumi was rather confused. Drank too much? She wondered what he meant, but didn’t bother to ask out of fear of looking stupid. “I… see.”
“You are quite lucky to have protector like Sir Borus here.” Tuta told her as he marked something in his notebook.
“Well,” Tuta explained, “You were apparently unconscious in the pub when he found you. He brought you here to the infirmary. He’s been here ever since. Ha ha, I think you’ve gained yourself guardian angel.”
“Ah,” the woman yawned, “thank you Sir Borus…”
“Not a problem,” Borus said quietly. Seconds later, she drifted back asleep.
Borus looked to the doctor, folding his arms over his chest. “Are you sure she will be all right?”
“Quite sure.” Tuta assured him. “I will be back later to check her.”
Tuta and Borus exchanged quick nods as the doctor exited the room. Borus sat down in the chair beside the bed once again, where he had spent most of the last three days.
Borus really couldn’t understand why he had been there himself. Perhaps it was a way to distract himself from the awkwardness of patrolling with Chris. Perhaps it was due to the fact that he didn’t want to leave Miss Yumi there alone to wake up scared and confused. Regardless, beside her was where he had been, and where he remained.
After delivering Miss Yumi to the infirmary, Borus set out to find her sister. He had come to discover that Yuiri had been on a mission with Hugo, Mel, Cecile, Lucia, and Beecham; she had left early the morning of the day he found Yumi at the bar. Borus somehow felt drawn to the issue and had taken it upon himself to ‘defend’ the woman.
Silent hours went by as Borus sat there, watching the girl sleep peacefully. Her hair was spread about the pillow messily and uneven. Her face was stoic and expressionless, and her head rocked slowly back and forth with each breath.
The morning changed into the afternoon, afternoon to evening, evening to night. The crepuscular sky seemed to call to Borus. As he rose and attempted to open the far window, he heard a slight yawn. He turned to see Yumi, sitting up and stretching her arms.
“Yumi,” Borus called cheerily, “how do you feel?”
Borus walked back to the side of the bed. Yumi blinked several times. “Oh, hello Sir Borus… I’m feeling a little… ill, I suppose. But, it’s nothing I can’t handle…”
Miss Yumi pushed back the covers and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She massaged her temples with her fingers. She took one step, and her knees went weak. She began to topple over, and fell into Borus’ iron clad arms.
“You’re not too well, I suppose?” Borus mused, smirking at the woman as he sat her back down. She blushed, lighting up like a ruby in the sun. Borus continued to grin as he sat down beside her. “Perhaps you should wait here for Doctor Tuta to return?”
“I suppose.” She murmured, returning a tiny smile. “You know, Sir Borus… I really appreciate you being here…”
“Not a problem!” Borus assured her. It did some good for me, too.
The two continued to exchange glances and smiles silently. Yumi thought back to what Tuta had told her earlier. “Sir Borus, may I ask you something?”
“Tuta said my problem was that I drank too much, but to the best of my recollection I had only about five or six glasses of…”
Borus’ eyes widened. “Five or six?”
“Yes, that’s not much is it?” She asked, concerned by his astonishment. Borus continued to look at her.
“Well, yes.” Borus replied.
“I have drunken more water than that before. I didn’t know that consuming a large amount of liquid was so unhealthy.” Yumi shrugged lightly, tilting her head to on side.
“Do you seriously not understand?” Borus interrogated. Yumi nodded at the question, quite embarrassed. “Have you heard the effects of alcohol?”
“Alcohol? Is that what they call that strange beverage?” Borus jaw nearly dropped open at Yumi’s question. “You see, in the Alma Kinan, there is a far smaller selection of things such as drinks, foods, weapons…”
Yumi’s explanation was cut off by Tuta’s arrival. Borus immediately stood up and retreated several steps. “Hello there. Ah, Miss Yumi, are you feeling any better?” Tuta placed his black medical bag on the bedside table.
“Yes, quite a lot better than before.” She informed him. “But I still do not believe I have fully recovered.”
“Ah, well, let me run a few tests to see just how much you’ve progressed.” Tuta pulled out a small device with a light attached to its tip. “Now, follow the light with your eyes…”
After several minutes, Tuta had concluded that Yumi was just fine, though she needed a little more bed rest. She decided to return to her quarters, and bid farewell to the knight for the evening. Borus continued to his room, at least happy that he’d done some good for someone.
Borus awoke the next morning, slightly more exhausted than usually. He decided to do some training with Juan and master the art of parrying enemy attacks. He suited up quickly, and left with the rising sun to the Bujutsu shop on the edge of town.
He arrived at the shop to see some kind of argument occurring between Emily and Juan. The sleepy young man seemed to have the upper hand, sending the young girl storming off in Borus’ direction. With that, Borus decided it would be better to stay in the castle and catch to upcoming play, starring Roland and Ayame as Romeo and Juliet.
Yumi had decided she had to do something to show Borus her appreciation for watching over her. By Sir Dios’ suggestion, she had concluded that baking him a batch of cookies would be quite a good way to demonstrate.
Yumi was quite the cook, or so she had been told. She prepared the batter with quick precision, finishing with the batter after only a few minutes. She aligned the globs of dough on a tray and popped them into the oven. As the delightful aroma of the treat filled the air, she hoped that Borus liked chocolate chips.
When the cookies were cooled, Yumi unloaded the sweet pastries into a small wicker basket. She quickly jotted down a note:
Dear Sir Borus,
Thank you very much,
Yumi smiled at her creation, took it in hand, and walked to the room in which she had always seen the Zexen Knights congregate. She inhaled deeply. Yumi thought about what to say one last time, and placed her hand on the handle…
Here I go… she thought to herself.
End Chapter Two
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Three: Experience
Yumi shook off what lingering nervousness she had. She quickly turned the handle and opened the door. Leo, Salome, and Percival turned around to face her as she stood just outside the threshold. She stared back at them without a word.
"May we help you?" Salome asked, eyeing the girl, then the basket. "Please don’t tell me you’re another one of Percival’s admirers paying homage…" Leo and Salome laughed while Percival gave them a vengeful look. Yumi did not understand the joke, but smiled none the less.
"I am looking for Sir Borus…" Yumi murmured, keeping her distance from the knights. "By any chance do you know where I may find him?"
"Ah, well, I’m not sure. Perhaps I should give him those when he returns…" Percival said, smiling down at the defenseless cookies with a ravenous look across his face. Yumi clung to the basket, shaking her head furiously.
"N-no thank you…"
Salome laughed heartily, rubbing his eyes. "Good thinking girl, if you leave those here we can’t even guarantee that Percival and Leo won’t eat them all, the note included!"
Yumi grinned happily at the men. "Do you know where I could find him?" she repeated.
Percival shrugged. "Try the bar."
"And the library," Salome included, "and the horse track."
"Thank you very much."
"……Romeo. Where are you?" Ayame called in a dull, emotionless manner.
"Here." Roland said, stepping out from behind the synthetic green bush. Roland plucked a fake leaf from his hair and stood before the balcony.
"…How did you manage to scale the walls? Aren‘t they …high for you?" She interrogated
"I made it over easily enough." Roland retorted, crossing his arms over his chest.
Borus smiled at the two performers, sipping some of the champagne from his glass. Poor Roland always managed to be cast in such important roles, despite the fact he loathed acting. Not to mention Roland’s counterpart always ended up having some sort of strange issue. In just the last performance of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, Viki had teleported Roland all the way to Chisha Village when she sneezed.
"If my family sees you, they will destroy you quite easily." Ayame informed him without the slightest tone of concern. Roland shook his head.
"It matters not." One cue, Roland returned to the plastic shrubbery that he had hid behind earlier. Fred and Reed dashed onto the stage.
"Lady Juliet…" Reed asked, "Is anything the matter? We heard talking…"
"I was conversing with the pathetic birds that somehow infest my garden at night…"
"I, Fred Maximillian," he declared, "know you were talking to that ruffian behind the bush! Reed, let’s grab him!"
The crowd of people roared with laughter as Fred completely changed the entire scene. Nadir was the only one who didn’t seem amused, his fists clenched in anger. Fred and Reed dragged Roland from his spot and stood him up in center stage...
"What should we do with him, Lady Juliet?" Reed asked, hoping Ayame would get the production back on track. Reed would have no such luck.
"It matters not to me." She said flatly, turning her back. She walked into the small room behind stage, rather pleased at how poorly things were going.
"I, Fred Maximillian think… we should execute him!" Fred pulled out his sword while the entire crowd cheered. Borus laughed quietly and sipped his drink.
Yumi walked down the hall quickly, avoiding the peering eyes of other castle residents. She opened the door to the library and peered in. Eike stood within, motionless and alone.
Yumi ran down the stairs and entered the bar. Quite a commotion was going on. "Though I may die, my love will not!" Roland called from on stage. Kidd and Cecile, dressed in black, led Roland to the makeshift guillotine.
Yumi ignored the show and scouted out the tables. She soon spotted the knight in the back corner table, alone. Borus’ attention was plainly focused on the stage. Yumi took a deep breath and approached him, lips pursed and hands holding onto her basket as if she would fall to her death if she were to let go.
"Hi…" Yumi whispered as to not disturb the other observers. Borus turned and smiled.
"Oh, hello Miss Yumi! It is quite nice to see you’ve recovered. Come, sit! The show’s been all improvisation for the last hour. It’s quite funny. You see, Fred, playing the guard in the scene…" As Yumi sat beside Borus, she placed the basket in front of him. "Oh… what’re these?"
"I… made them for you… I wanted to properly thank you…" She whispered, looking up at the performance. Borus’ face lit up. He grabbed a cookie and placed it into his mouth.
"Hey, these are really very good!" he told her, muffled from having his mouth full. "Thank you very much!" Borus raised his glass to his mouth. Yumi recognized the liquid.
"Sir Borus, that’s the drink that made me so very ill." She said in a shocked tone.
"Oh, yes." Borus replied, looking down at his glass. "I suppose it might be. It is called ‘wine’."
"Why are you drinking it then? It would be quite terrible if something happened to you…"
Borus shook his head. "It doesn’t have negative effects in moderation. See, it contains a certain chemical that…"
"Wait!" Ayame’s voice shouted from the stage. Both Yumi and Borus turned at the scream. "I would rather kill Sir Romeo myself! Do you believe in happy endings? I don't." The crowd gasped at the unsuspected turn. Borus and Yumi glanced at each other, returning to their conversation.
"If you drink too much, it’s bad. Otherwise, it’s no different than anything else. I actually collect different kinds of wine. I just really like the taste…" Borus smiled unsurely. "The stuff here isn’t nearly as good as the wine back home."
"Oh, I see."
"I have to do some Bujutsu training later… would you like to come with me?" Borus offered. "I would really enjoy your company."
"Oh," Yumi replied, "I’d love to. Let me get my crossbow."
Yumi and Borus finished training just as darkness descended on Budehuc Castle. They were both drenched in sweat after having improved some of their abilities. The two began to walk back towards the castle, passing several shops.
"Sir Borus, may I ask you something?" Borus nodded at her request. "Why do you have such a… sad aura? I haven’t noticed it until recently."
Borus sighed. He really didn’t want to talk about his personal matters with Yumi. He was just getting to know her, and just opening up didn’t seem like something he should do.
"Rejection from Lady Chris." He told her. Yumi understood. She had always noticed the way Borus eyed Lady Chris, and it made sense that being turned down would be upsetting. "Have you ever been in love, Miss Yumi? Have you ever just wanted to kiss someone even though you know that it will screw everything up?"
Yumi looked down at her feet, watching her boots with each step. "I can’t say that I’ve ever been in love, or that I’ve ever been kissed or…"
"Are you serious? You’ve never been kissed?" Borus asked. There was no limit to what this girl didn’t know! She had come out of seclusion into this world… and people prey easily upon such ignorance. It made sense why she and her sister never seemed to ever be apart. There is far more safety amongst others.
Yumi nodded quickly. “I truly have not.”
Oh, what the hell… “You know, we could fix that right now if you want.” He said, pausing in the same spot that he had with Chris days before.
Yumi was shocked at the offer. She immediately froze in place. This seemed rather… odd. Yumi looked him over quickly. He was quite serious from what she could tell. It wouldn’t be so bad… It was not as if she didn’t feel any physical attraction toward the young man. He was quite handsome among the men she’d seen, being bested only by perhaps Sir Futch and Sir Percival. But, didn’t such actions need at least some emotional meaning? Why did it matter? “Um, all right. What do I do?”
Borus smiled to himself. Apart from the ways of battle, Miss Yumi seemed to need instructions in everything. It was actually quite endearing, in its own peculiar way. “Well… just… go with it?”
“Go with it,” she repeated, “all right.”
Borus slowly placed his hands Yumi’s hips and pulled her close to him. Grinning, he took one last look into her eyes before closing his own pair. Very slowly, he placed his lips on hers. Her mouth opened slightly, allowing his tongue entrance into her mouth.
Despite what was going on, Borus’ mind was on the occurrence in this same place four days earlier. If only things had gone like this! What he would have give to kiss Chris similarly those days ago. What he would have given for her alacrity to such actions. He could almost feel it then, picture it in the back of his mind… how things would have been!
It seemed like minutes before she pulled back. When Borus opened his eyes, he half expected to see Chris, but there still stood Yumi. Borus smiled none the less. “How was that?”
Yumi took a step back, resuming a proper distance from her companion. She returned a small grin. “Not quite what I expected, really. But can indeed say it was a unique and pleasant experience.”
Borus turned and began to walk again, and Yumi quickly followed suit. The two walked into the castle, smiling and talking, as if nothing had all had happened.
End Chapter Three
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Four: Reunions
The sun rose as usual the next day, casting light into Borus room. The light hit his armor, which rested on the bedside chair. The sunshine reflected down upon his pale, white face. He grunted softly and rolled over. But, it was too late; he had been awakened.
Borus forced himself to his feet. He gingerly scratched the back of his neck and hobbled over to the mirror. Borus closely inspected his messy, lopsided hair. Opening the drawer, Borus pulled out some gel and a hairbrush.
“There’ll be a lot of work to do today.”
It took Borus almost twenty minutes to perfect his hair. With one task complete, he next changed his clothes, brushed his teeth, and shaved. Borus smiled at the mirror, pleased with his appearance. “Lookin’ good, man.” Borus said to his reflection.
“Hey Borus. Get your ass out here!” Percival yelled from outside the door. Borus gave the mirror one last toothy grin and opened the door.
“What?” Borus groaned, shifting his weight to his left foot. Percival gave him a smug grin.
“Well, I wanted to talk to you over a round of shots.” Percival offered.
Borus shifted his weight to his other foot. “Isn’t it a little early to be drinking, Percival?”
Percival let out a low, mocking laugh. “Yeah, too early? Too early for you? I thought that stuff was your substitute for air these days.”
Borus merely sighed and accompanied his friend to the bar.
The sun wasn’t even fully up by the time Yumi set out to the horse track. She had wanted to learn to ride since she saw both the Zexens and Karayans riding horses. All the better, Kathy had agreed to give her lessons.
As Yumi turned the corner beside Scott’s trading post, she noticed Barts pulling weeds from his garden. “Hello Miss Yumi! Beautiful day, huh?”
Yumi looked up and nodded. “Yes, it’s quite a fine day. How are you, Barts?”
Barts grinned. He wiped of his hand on his slacks and stood. “I am doing real good, so are my little guys here.” He gestured towards the grapes, his most prized crop. “Seein’ them do well makes up for how much work I’ve done tenfold.” Barts carefully pulled a bundle from the vine. He then tossed the grapes to Yumi. “Here! I tell ya, they’re the best outside Chisha.”
Yumi plucked a grape from the bundle and popped it into her mouth. He was right, they were wonderful. Not too sweet, not too sour. “Are you sure that the ones in Chisha are better? These are the best I’ve ever had.”
Barts beamed. “Really? Thank you! I have put in so much work! Not only are my grapes utterly splendiferous, I get to hear them complimented by one of the most beautiful women in the castle!”
Yumi blushed as Barts resumed fondling the plants. “Yuuuuuumi!” A voice called from above. Looking up, Yumi saw her sister’s face peering down over the railing. Yuiri dashed down the stone staircase and tackled her into an embrace. “What happened? I arrived here a few minutes ago and immediately heard from Lady Iku that you were in the infirmary for several days! Are you well, sister?” Yuiri peeled her right glove off and pressed her arm to her sister's forehead.
“Yes Yuiri, I’m fine! You needn’t have worried!” Yumi reassured.
“Tell me everything Yumi!” demanded Yuiri, “What happened while I was away?” Barts looked up from his beloved plants to behold the two. Surely, great grapes and two women hugging seemed to be a good start to beautiful day.
Percival (as always) had the first word once the two men received their drinks. “So, spill.”
Borus sipped his drink and looked about. “Spill what? My drink onto your lap?” Borus grinned evilly at the idea. Percival returned a daring glare. They had each other in check.
“Come on. Yesterday morning, that girl comes by with a batch of cookies for you, that evening I see you two lip-locked on the docks. So, I would like all the details. All of them. I could have had the others come too, but… I want to hear first.” Percival eyed Borus nonchalantly, watching his partner’s face contort in discomfort.
“That’s utterly preposterous! I did no such thing!” Borus wailed. “How dare you!”
Percival chuckled. “I am not a fool, Borus, and I saw it. Not to mention, that blush basically spells it all across your face. So, unless you’d rather tell everyone, I suggest you tell me.”
“Blackmail! Treason! You are going against every lesson of honor! It is none of your business even if anything was going on! WHICH IT ISN’T!” Borus bashed his hand against the table, sending his drink to the floor.
Percival merely laughed, shaking his head. “Are you done now?” Percival leaned back in his chair. “Now that you’re done wining like a woman, I expect you to tell me exactly what’s going on.”
“Damn you.” Borus murmured.
“Right back at ya, buddy.”
“That is utterly horrible Yumi! Dear spirits, I swear I’ll shoot an arrow through Ace’s throat when next I see him!” Yuiri growled. She stopped walking and leaned against one of the scarecrows that lined the outer limits of the Bujutsu shop.
“I would like to do it myself, sister. Let me handle him!” Yumi said. “I’ve been practicing with my arrows lately. I am becoming quite a lot better! I bet I will surpass you soon enough!”
“Oh, you’ve been practicing lately?” Yuiri asked, grinning to her sister.
“Oh yes,” Yumi nodded, “while you were away, Sir Borus and I did some training.”
“You didn’t mention him before…” Yuiri paused. “You spent some time with Sir Borus while I was away?”
“Oh yes! He found me after the incident with Ace and stayed with me. After I grew well again, we watched some of a play, went training and…”
“Yumi, what’s going on with you?” Yuiri asked in a concerned tone.
“What do you mean, dear sister?”
Yuiri leaned forward and grabbed her sister’s hand. “First you find trouble drinking with Ace, now you’re… dating a Zexen knight! The teaching say that…”
“I am not dating Sir Borus!” the girl protested. “I am just trying to meet people about the castle! This may be the one chance we get to see the world outside the village, Yuiri!”
“But you are being reckless,” Yuiri hissed, “this world outside isn’t a safe place for people like us…”
“I don’t want to be ‘people like us’ Yuiri! I want to find my place out here as a person! A normal person! The people out here are the exact same beings as us! Spirits!”
“But the teachings say…”
“The teachings say this, the teachings say that, I KNOW THE TEACHINGS OF OUR VILLAGE, SISTER!” Yumi roared. “Don’t chastise me! I see you flirting with Sir Dios, and I never throw the teachings in YOUR face!”
Yuiri turned a bright shade of red. “That is a completely different matter.”
“Really?” Yumi questioned, fuming. “How so?”
“I would never act upon such emotions! Not to mention we have known Sir Dios for months now, and when did you meet Sir Borus first? Yesterday? The aura around that man frightens me…”
“You do not trust me, sister? I'm outraged! And I never noticed this dark aura of which you speak… The notion of which in itself is preposterous!” Yumi’s face was a bright shade of crimson and she was nearly screaming in indignation.
“Yumi, calm down!” Yuiri said calmly, grabbing her sister’s shoulders. “You’re very unstable! When was last you meditated?”
Yumi inhaled deeply, trying to tranquilize herself. “Since the day before we left the village.”
“Yumi!” Yuiri gasped, disheartened. “That was two months ago! We are supposed to meditate every day to keep in contact with the spirits!"
“I know, I’ve just had other things on my mind.” Yumi tried to defend herself. Her attempts were in vain.
“I am worried about you sister…” Yuiri murmured. “Please, meditate with me this evening. Your bond with the spirits must be weakening.”
“All right, Yuiri.” Yumi mumbled. “Where?”
“I’ll meet you by the lakeside this evening. You know the normal meditation time.”
“So, Percival, that would be everything.” Borus said, signaling Anne to bring another round of drinks.
Percival stopped running circles around the edge of his glass with his pointer finger and looked to Borus. “That’s it? Are you lying to me, Borus?”
“Nope,” Borus said, grasping the glass Anne just delivered him. After He mumbled a ‘thank you’ to her, Borus continued what he was priorly saying. “That’s everything. I am sorry if my life doesn’t have as much smut in it as you wished."
Percival grinned. “I was hoping you’d get over Chris,” Percival placed his hand on Borus’ shoulder mockingly, “I’m proud of you boy. This is the your first big step!”
Once again, Borus was left stunned at Percival’s knowledge. “I… what… Huh!?”
“Sometimes I wonder if you are playing stupid, or that you’re just a moron completely! I’m not stupid like, I notice these things.” Percival smirked. Borus remained confused. He continued blushing, his face hot, red, and pulsating.
“Damn you threefold, Percival.”
“Hey, how ‘bout you bring that girl for a double date with me and Chris? Doesn’t that sound fun?” Percival looked up at the ceiling. “Even though you don’t think so now, I know something’s gonna happen. I can always tell with these things.”
Borus sat silently. Percival grinned and laughed at his own jokes, amusing himself. After several minutes, Percival became bored again.
“How ‘bout you join me, Chris, and Leo for some training out on the Yaza Plains? Gotta keep sharp.” Percival smirked. “Or are you going soft?”
“Percival.” Borus stated flatly, polishing off his glass. He returned it to the oak table with an inaudible click.
“What?” The brunette knight asked.
End Chapter Four
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Five: Reflections
Borus strolled into his room, not bothering to close the door. He eyed his armor, which sat peacefully in the chair beside his bed. Borus quickly placed the covering on and closed the clasps at his sides. He peered into the mirror and smoothed his hair. Then, he grabbed his sword and ran.
Training, ah, training! It was by far the best pastime for a Zexen Knight. There was nothing quite like talking women, politics, or anything else over a battle with a forest demon. It was a wonderful experience in Borus’ eyes. Not to mention, Borus had to keep up his reputation as the best swordsman of the knights. Borus was NOT willing to let Percival take that away from him.
Borus walked silently to the town common. The fountain had a certain shine to it that day, the water seemed clearer and almost enchanting. The whole area seemed so… beautiful. The smell of freshly-cut grass billowed about the country air.
Borus sat upon the marble fountain and allowed himself to soak in the moment. Despite the scattered socializing citizens, Borus felt quite distant and alone in that moment. It was quite pleasant, to say the least.
“Sitting in the sun, Borus? Ha ha ha, it would do you some good.” Borus groaned, his quiet moment crushed by Percival. “Chris’ll be here in a minute, she said she had to discuss some stuff with Salome. Leo said something about needing a drink before being ready.”
“Oh lucky me, we get to spend more time together!” Borus cheered sarcastically.
Percival laughed. “Sometimes I think you’re just a sourpuss, Borus. Or perhaps a sore loser?”
“A loser in what?” Borus asked, eyeing his friend.
“The game of life! You see, you and I, it’s like a game of chess, you know?” Percival offered, rather confused himself by what he was saying.
“I don’t follow you.”
“You see, you were black knight and I was a black bishop in the game for Chris’ heart.” Percival stated flatly. Borus raised an eyebrow at the comment. “You were useful in some ways, and you had your ups and down in the game, but you really didn’t have a chance to capture the white queen. While you were busy with pawn to pawn, I moved in.”
“Strange analogy… ” Chris said, standing inches behind Percival. The dark-haired knight turned around to see his rather displeased commanding officer.
“Hey, I made it up as I went along.” Percival shrugged. “You can’t expect me to just pull genius out of the air.”
“So, does that mean you see our, a’hem,” Chris let out a quiet cough, “relationship… as some sort of game?”
“No!” Percival defended. “I just was trying to pester Borus! That’s all!”
Borus watched the couple merrily. It was nice to see someone whip Percival into line. Though, he really wouldn’t mind being in Percival’s shoes. Borus doubted that Percival noticed how lucky he was. Borus settled back into his own thoughts, starting to tune out his two companions.
Where’s Leo? He’s at the bar quite often, but most of the time he comes back sober. That’s a lot different than back home… Hmm… He seems to be spending a lot of time with that Karayan woman… what’s her name? Whatever…
Borus looked blankly at the sky, still mentally consumed. I wonder what Yumi’s up to right now? Probably picking flowers or something like that. Those village maidens are really into that, I suppose… Hm, I am making assumptions again. I bet Miss Yumi has many unique traits. She seems to be quite the cook… Very kind too. She’s so sweet, so innocent… A little on the unaware side though… Then again, she hasn’t seen much of the world. How everything’s new to her is quite… refreshing…
“Are you feeling well, Borus?” Chris asked, a few mere inches away from Borus’ face. “You’ve gotten quiet.” After snapping back to reality, Borus noticed the concern in her voice and expression.
“No, fret not, milady. I was just… thinking.” Borus assured her.
“Eh?” Chris looked at him, interested. “Is something bothering you?” Percival grinned, quite aware of his friend’s situation.
“It’s nothing of any importance.” Borus said flatly.
Chris looked at the blonde knight, perplexed. Percival remained silently smug in the background, watching. He had something to say, as always, but was waiting for the perfect time to interject.
“Hey guys!” Leo boomed, marching down the main stairway from the castle. He seemed to be in a splendid mood. “Who’s ready for an old-fashion monster hunt like back in the day?”
The knight laughed merrily. It had been quite a while since they had the opportunity to train together. Here at Fire Bringer Headquarters, each officer was busy with different things. “Yes, lets head out,” Chris said, “We only have until nightfall.”
Yumi strolled down the path to the ranch after parting ways with her sister. Getting back to her initial day plan, Yumi was ready for those horse-riding lessons. So, down the path she walked alone.
Yumi inhaled the sweet summery air. The easterly wind pushed the scent of the sea towards her, which softly mixed with the aroma of the scattered wildflowers. As she strolled down the path, Yumi plucked a violet from the ground inspected it as she walked.
Things aren’t as bad as Yuiri sees them, are they? Am I losing my spirit connection? And what did she mean about the ‘aura’ about Sir Borus? Hmm… Perplexing. Borus never seemed to have bad spirits about him… He seems kind and intelligent. Not to mention, I think he’s quite attractive and that kiss... Wait…
The young woman sighed, “Oh Yuiri, why must you always be right?” Yumi smiled sadly to herself as she lightly stroked the amethyst petals. That was a memory was something she’d treasure, despite it was against the teachings.
But, what did the others know? They had never been out in this world. There are so many things to see, feelings to experience. Fearing such things seemed preposterous. Yuiri, the others… why did they shun such things? Was there something Yumi was missing? Or did she actually have something more? Perplexing.
“Hey there!” A familiar voice shouted. Kathy stood at the stable ahead, waving to the other girl. “I thought maybe you’d forgotten! You ready, Miss Yumi?”
“I’m sorry I’m late!” Yumi let go of the flower, gently letting it float to the ground. “But yes! I’m ready!”
The clicking and clattering of Zexen armor echoed throughout the Plains. Borus had taken the lead of the group, walking several paces ahead of Leo, Chris and Percival strayed behind, quietly chatting.
“We have a mission. We’re heading towards Iksay to pick up a Golden Hammer this time in two days.” Chris informed her men. “Roland is feeling ill and has to sit this one out, as will Louis who volunteered to stay behind and look after him.”
“Wow, a mission! That new Flame Champion really hasn’t been giving us much work in the last month.” Leo roared, looking about field.
“I think we another person to accompany us,” Chris stated, “the monsters about seem to be getting stronger. Anyone have any suggestions for who we should take along?”
“Oh, I do!” Percival chimed. Borus knew what he’d do. Borus glared at the empty space before him. “How about Miss Yumi?”
Chris eyed Percival, confused. “Any particular reason, Percival?”
“Well,” Percival grinned at Borus before answering Chris, “since Roland’s sitting this one out, we need an archer, and Borus and Yumi have trained together so he can probably vouch for her skills.”
Borus stopped, turning to his fellow knights. “Yes, yes, I must say she’s quite talented.”
“In how many ways, Borus?” Percival interrogated mockingly. Borus turned a bright shade of red, fuming. Leo laughed heartily while Chris was once again confused.
“Shut up Percival.” Borus groaned, in a rare attempt to contain his anger. Grinning nonchalantly, Percival said nothing. This only continued to anger the blonde knight, and Leo’s chuckling didn’t help the situation either.
“Just be quiet, all of you!” Chris shouted, placing her hand on her hips. “It’s decided, we’ll bring Miss Yumi with us to replace Roland on the upcoming mission. And all of you had better be ready, equipped, and sober for it!”
“Lady Chris!” Leo murmured.
“Quiet Leo! I am not done yet!” Chris screeched in return.
“There are two Blue Dragons approaching us from the left!” bellowed the knight, gesturing with his axe towards the oncoming monsters.
Immediately, the other three knights drew their weapons and charged towards the monsters, completely done with discussion. This was one of those miracle moments on the battlefield.
Yumi dismounted the white spotted horse, which Kathy affectionately named ‘Sugarloaf’, as the sun began to set. Kathy rushed over, clapping merrily. “Wow, you’re really good with this! It’s like you’ve got a knack or somethin’!
” Yumi bowed happily towards Kathy. “Thank you very much. I think things went quite well too. Thank you for the lesson.”
“Not a problem!” Kathy said shrilly, “I really think that you were meant to ride, Yumi! After a couple more lessons, I think you’ll be riding like a pro!”
“Thank you!” Yumi grinned, taking in the girl’s praise. “I’d best be on my way though. I’ll see you later, maybe a week from now?”
Kathy grinned. “Works fine by me. I don’t give many lessons and the only one on the track usually is Sir Percival. Any time should be fine! Just stop on by!”
“Goodbye Kathy,” Yumi bade, “goodbye Sugarloaf.” Yumi patted the horse on the head before heading off down the grassy path.
Yumi walked quickly, knowing Yuiri had probably already started. Meditations began at sunset. That was tradition, so that is what Yuiri did. Feeling rather poorly, she began to run down the path. She moved as fast as her legs would take her, stopping as she saw the ceremonial fire already started on the beach.
Yumi stopped, short of breath. Great job, she started by herself. She probably thought I wasn’t going to come… Yumi, regaining her stature, walked towards the shore, lightly jumping over the stone wall.
Quietly, making sure that she didn’t break here sister’s trance, she took her place at the other side of the fire. She lowered herself into the sand and assumed the usual cross-legged position. She put her middle fingers against her thumbs and placed her hands down on her knees. She closed her eyes, the bright fire casting light through her eyelids.
Yumi slowly began to listen to the voices of the spirits. Move, keep moving, don’t stop. Silent, stealthy, move, tangle, mingle, whispered the wind. Move, keep moving, never stop. Press on, east. Move east, press on.
Crash. Taste the shore. Move towards the shore. Oh we miss the land. Let us stay here. Crash against the shore… descend. The water always seemed so desperate.
The spirits didn’t speak to Yumi this meditation, unlike they always used to. The elements seemed consumed. Her bond had dissolved. Yumi continued to wait, quietly, for the spirits to acknowledge her presents.
Leo, Chris, Borus, and Percival strolled into Budehuc. “Let’s get some food down at the restaurant.” Leo suggested. “I’m starving.”
“Good idea.” Chris replied. “I’m utterly famished.”
The group walked down the stairs and out towards the dock. The moon shone brightly, reflecting off the silver armor of the knights. The group walked happily chatting down to the docks, where Mamie’s Cookery stood.
Just as the others sat at a table, something caught Borus’ eye. Fire. Since the events in Karaya, Borus couldn’t help but flinch at the sight of fire. Borus looked over the railing to see what was going on.
Below, a small fire burned gently and peacefully. Lightning bugs buzzed about, quietly. The water pressed up against the shore, waves moving forward harmlessly. There, beside the fire, sat Yumi and her sister, meditating.
Yumi’s hair moved gently in the ocean breeze. The fireflies flew about her as the fire cast a vermilion light upon her pale skin. Though Percival was calling for him at the table, Borus did not move. He couldn’t tear his eyes away. It was in that moment when Borus realized how beautiful Yumi was. She was so kind, so sweet, so innocent, so beautiful…
Sadie… What if Percival is right?
End Chapter Five
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Six: Belonging
The shame from the night before stayed with Yumi the next morning. She had strayed. She had betrayed her sister and her teachings. This world was enticing and interesting, filled with so many experiences and people! The hours of meditating could be used for many other things. The spirits probably also had better things to do as well! She didn't feel like bothering with it all anymore...
Despite all the reasoning that Yumi tried to use, she couldn’t remove the guilt. She had lost her spiritual bond, maybe forever. Yumi hadn’t mentioned the way the spirits disregarded her sister, since Yuiri would have probably become panicked. Keeping it all within was hard, though. She needed space, time.
Yumi thought carefully on where she could go. The beach would be filled on a day like today, and so would the bar. Yumi had been avoiding the library since her encounter with Ace; the library was his favorite hangout.
“I don’t give many lessons and the only one on the track usually is Sir Percival. Any time should be fine! Just stop on by,” Yumi remembered Kathy had said the day before, saying it aloud. “That seems like a good place to go.”
Yumi set out for the ranch as the sun rose over Budehuc.
Borus was awake early that morning, quietly working on some paperwork in the library. He silently scribbled away. This was one of those mornings that he dreaded. One of those days that he dreaded, to be more precise. The files had built up, disregarded over the past weeks.
The library was empty this morning, apart from the inconspicuous Eike. The room was dark and filled with the scent of old paper. Borus didn’t mind the dreary atmosphere; he had learned long ago that there was more to being a knight than fighting on the clear open plains. So, he sat quietly, his pen moving rapidly as he wrote about the events at Fire Bringer headquarters.
Borus caught a glimpse of the rising sun out the window. The sunrise wasn’t as impressive as some days, but it was enough to catch his attention at that moment.
Borus sighed, looking back down at the paperwork. If he worked quickly, he could probably have enough time to catch dinner and the second theater presentation of ‘The Little Match Girl’ staring Louis.
“Quite the day ahead,” he sighed. Eike turned and shushed the knight angrily.
When Yumi arrived at the ranch, Kathy was feeding the horses happily. The girl was merrily rushing about, offering each creature some apple slices. Busy with her work, Kathy did not notice Yumi as she walked towards the stables.
“Hello Kathy.” Yumi greeted the girl, grinning happily. Kathy turned, surprised to see the Alma Kinan woman there. Nonetheless, she seemed happy, and continued to feed the horses.
“Hi Yumi, I wasn’t expecting to see you!” Kathy said, her back turned to the visitor. “Percival is out on the track with Sugarloaf like he is every morning at around this time running a couple laps. You can take one of the others here, like Blue Lightning or Lulu.”
Yumi turned to the track. Though she hadn’t noticed before, there was Percival, riding around the circle. He was moving quickly, maneuvering the horse between the obstacles with ease. They moved quickly, melodically, nearly poetically. It was quite a beautiful sight, the bond between man and beast.
“I’ll wait,” Yumi told the other girl, eyes locked on Percival. “Would you like some help…?”
“Sure! That would be great,” Kathy chimed happily, “Percival usually helps out some after his morning ride, but getting the stuff done early would be great! Grab some apple slices and feed Enrique, er, third horse from the right, would you?”
Yumi turned and grabbed some slices of apple. She strolled over to the white stallion and put out her hand. It lapped the pieces up quickly. It neighed, then softly nuzzled Yumi’s neck. She patted the creature happily, enjoying the affection it offered.
“I think you’ve made a new friend, Miss Yumi,” a strong, deep masculine voice said from behind her, “but you’ve been having good luck with that lately, haven’t you?”
Yumi whirled around to see Sir Percival behind her, smirking in an unfamiliar fashion. He looked from her face to her feet, then focused back into her eyes. Yumi forced a grin.
“Oh… Hello Sir Percival.” Percival’s gaze mellowed as he noticed the lady’s unease. He shrugged, still smiling.
“I didn’t mean to worry or offend you, I just noticed you were here. I’ve been hearing a lot about you from Sir Borus lately so I thought I’d say hello.”
“H-h-hello,” Yumi stammered, still rather nervous. Percival raised an eyebrow.
“If you didn’t know, I’m Percival, I work with Borus and Chris.”
“I know you, er, I know who you are. I just don’t like people sneaking up on me. You frightened me.” Yumi looked to her feet, frowning.
“I’m sorry to have upset you,” Percival stated sadly. “I’m not really making a good impression, am I?” Yumi looked back up towards the knight, who seemed quite remorseful. “Well, now that I’ve probably soured your opinion of me, I should probably let you go see Sugarloaf. You were waiting for him, right? Kathy mentioned that he took a liking to you yesterday.”
“Yes. Thank you.” Yumi bowed and walked towards the steed.
“Oh by the way,” Percival said, “You must have missed the morning announcements, right? You’ve been assigned to come to Iksay with Chris’ team tomorrow at fourteen hundred hours.”
Yumi looked back at Percival. “Really?”
“Yes yes, you can check later at the castle if you want. Well, anyway, I suppose I’ll see you later than.” Percival grinned, then turned to Kathy. She grinned and directed him to Enrique, handing him a brush.
Yumi walked over to Sugarloaf, stroking the side of his face. She slowly mounted the horse, and took off onto the track.
The sun was setting by the time Borus signed the last page of paperwork. He picked up the papers happily, hoping he had not missed the show. He then stopped by the Zexen storeroom and placed the papers on the shelves, and then he walked cheerfully down the stairs, and towards the bar.
When Borus entered the bar, the people were clapping. The show had just ended. Borus cursed to himself. He then spotted Leo and Percival sitting in the back of the room, talking over large bowls of soup, so he strolled over and sat beside his companions. Leo shoveled the miso soup into mouth, disregarding his fellow knights. Percival grinned at Borus, pushing his bowl towards Leo, who gulped it down quickly.
“Hey, I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” Leo bade the other two knights farewell and walked out of the bar.
“Hey man, finish the paperwork?” Percival interrogated.
“Yeah,” Borus said flatly, “it was EVER so much fun. How was your day, Percival?”
“I encountered Miss Yumi this morning, she seemed rather upset. Being a heartbreaker like always, Borus?” Percival asked, clasping his glass of wine.
“Hey, ease up,” Borus murmured, “she’s been through a lot lately. The last things she needs is your shameless flirting thrown at her.”
“Your words hurt, Borus,” Percival laughed, “but you’d know about hitting on other men’s women, wouldn’t you?”
“You’re just looking for a fight, aren’t you?” Borus grunted.
“What would you expect?” Percival yawned. “I think I’m hitting the hay early. I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” Percival gulped down the rest of his drink and left.
Borus sat alone for a minute before Anne walked over. She handed him a slip of paper. “What’s this?”
“Since the other knights departed, you’re left to cover the bill.” Anne said happily. Borus groaned and pulled his wallet out of his pocket.
Damn you Percival!
The next day past quickly before the mission. Yumi sat at the fountain and waited for the others to come. She had arrived there about a half an hour early, wondering about the days ahead. When she checked the listings like Percival had suggested, the group had apparently been told to look for a strong hammer that could be used to forge the ‘ultimate weapons’. Borus arrived first, spotting Yumi quickly. He waved happily, glad to see his friend ready for the mission.
“Hello Yumi, how are you today?” Yumi smiled as Borus sat beside her on the fountain.
“Oh, I’m doing just fine. And you?”
“I’m doing well. How have you been the last couple of days? Percival seems to have thought something upset you.” Borus interrogated, staring the woman straight in the eyes. She looked at him for a second, not wanting to respond.
“Are you two ready to go?” Leo boomed, walking up alongside Salome and Percival.
“Yes, yes, I’m ready to leave,” Yumi agreed, standing. “It is an honor to serve at the side of the Zexen knights.” She bowed quickly, receiving grins from the Zexen men. Chris arrived minutes later, ready to leave. Borus stood as well, taking his place beside Yumi.
“I know you’ve met Percival and Chris, but I don’t think you’ve been introduced to these two.” Yumi shook her head. “This is Leo Gallen and Salome Zeal, members of the six Renowned Zexen Knights. Leo, Salome, this is Miss Yumi of the Shaman clan.” Leo and Salome extended their hands, which Yumi shook grinning.
This is how she had imagined the world. Yuiri and the teachings were wrong. Not every person was out to hurt her. Most of the people outside the village seemed kind, loyal, and unique.
This outside world seemed to make so much sense to Yumi. She knew, then, that she belonged out there.
End Chapter Six
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Seven: The Moment
Chris Lightfellow’s team walked across the Yaza Plains. An eastern wind blew lightly against the six warriors. The empty plains seemed to have less monster activity than usual this day. Borus and Yumi stayed towards the back of the group, chatting away.
“I’m sorry you ended up here,” Borus said, “we needed an archer and you just ended up being the one. I know you probably had more important things to do.”
“You needn’t worry,” Yumi reassured, “this is war, and I go where I’m needed. Though you may not have noticed, I am a well-trained Alma Kinan warrior.”
Borus laughed nervously, and muttered out, “I guess I forgot.”
“Sometimes I do, too.” Yumi told him. Borus raised an eyebrow.
“Yes. I mean, it might be different for you guys, but back at the village we are taught to be more than warriors. And even now, outside the village, I am finding out so much more about being a real person…”
Chris smiled at Percival, eyeing Yumi and Borus who seemed to be talking happily towards the tail of the group. Chris’ lavender eyes were bright, happier the Percival had seen them in a while.
“Ain’t that cute?” Percival whispered, grinning at Chris. “Our little guy’s all grown up!” Chris continued to grin.
“Must you always mock Borus? It’s good to see him happy.”
“If he had half a nerve he’d do the same thing to me,” Percival protested, “not to mention I never said I wasn’t happy for him. At least he’s away from you, I suppose.”
“So, anyway,” Chris said, changing the subject, “do you know if they are actually together, or just ‘friends’?”
“He claims just friends, but it doesn’t matter. Before we know it, before he knows it, he’ll be sucked in, far too deep.”
“Such wonderful views on women,” Chris murmured. “Why do I bother with you, anyway?”
“I wouldn’t know. Maybe you’re as crazy as me?” Percival smirked. Chris pushed him lightly, continuing on the path towards Iksay.
“I must be,” she replied.
Percival whispered in a low voice, “I don’t mind, not at all.”
Salome let out a sigh and looked at Leo. Leo raised an eyebrow, looking back at the strategist.
“Here’s to us lonely people.” Salome murmured.
“Lonely?” Leo repeated. “Who ever said I was lonely?”
“Being single with all these couples around,” Salome sighed, “it makes me feel so old. Single guys like us have it hard.”
“Who said I was single?!” Leo protested, glaring at the smaller knight. Salome looked back up at him, questioningly. “What about you and Lady Lucia?” Salome coughed, trying to restrain some laughter.
“She shot me down a looooooong time ago, Leo. And now, the question is, who’re you with?”
“You know, Anne,” Leo informed, “Karayan woman, curly blonde hair, runs the bar back at the castle…”
“Why am I not surprised!” Salome laughed. “When did this happen?”
“After the drinking contest a few months ago, we got to talking, and hit it off I suppose.” Leo shrugged.
“What do you mean, ‘I suppose’?” Salome questioned.
“I can’t completely remember…”
It was around six in the evening by the time that the six reached Iksay. The town was settling down, people heading back to their respective homes. The group was for the most part disregarded as they walked into the small town.
“All right,” Chris spoke, “Leo and Salome, check the armory and inn. Borus and Yumi, ask the civilians up by the windmill. Percival and I will scour the rest of the area. All right, men?”
“Yes milady!” The four men chimed together. Yumi nodded, making sure not to single herself out. Each group went to search the areas Chris had assigned.
Yumi looked about Iksay. She had never seen the town before. The fields about the area seemed well cultivated and livestock seemed to roam about freely. Iksay was obviously a farming village. There weren’t many houses, and the entire area seemed small. The architecture seemed rather simple and linear, a traditional Zexen style. Scattered about the village there seemed to be some minor fire damage.
“Cute little town, isn’t it?” Yumi said, scanning the area. Borus grinned.
“You should have seen it a few months ago after the attack. The whole area was shredded. The townsfolk repaired most of the damage by now.”
“I see…” Yumi looked up at the windmill as she approached it. That structure seemed to be the only destroyed thing in the town. The wooden planks that used to be covered in cloth were black and burnt. The foundation seemed to be covered in ash.
“It’s quite sad…” Borus sighed, looking about. He saw several villagers talking while sitting at a small picnic table towards the side of the enclosure. Borus began to interrogate the people as Yumi merely watched the sunset.
The golden sun seemed to fit perfectly amongst the fields of wheat, the colors blending together with ease. Yumi leaned against the wooden fence, watching as the celestial light edged its way down the sky. Such beauty she hadn’t seen in a long time. Borus watched her moment of distraction, despite the fact that he was busily talking to the group of farmers. Yumi turned and looked at Borus before she began interrogating some of the other villagers.
Percival shouted ahead through the darkness, screaming, “Borus! Yumi! We’ve found it!” Chris, Leo, Percival, and Salome ran up the path to the area near the windmill. The other two soldiers turned from the villagers they were interrogating towards their companions.
“Really? Great!” Borus grinned. “Where was it?”
“The items shop,” Chris informed. “That is where the problem lies.”
“Problem?” Yumi asked, looking between the dark faces of the knights. “What would this problem be?”
“Well, you see, the gold hammer was expensive and we don’t have enough money to get a room at the inn. Truth be told we have no money left at all.” Percival told them. “It’s around ten so we can’t get back to Budehuc tonight so… We’ll have to camp outside on the plains.” Borus groaned. He had not come prepared for more than a day’s journey and did not have any camping supplies. Sleeping out on the monster-riddled field didn’t sound too appealing.
“I suppose we should rest up now and leave at the first lights of dawn tomorrow.”
It was quite late by the time the knights set up camp in a small grove. Borus had ended up getting first watch. He sat by the fire that Salome has started, leaning against a large stone. Borus had removed his armor to offer himself some slight comfort. He prodded the fire with a tree branch, staring blankly into it.
The crepuscular sky seemed bright this evening. The full moon offered more illumination than most night. Stars above sparkled in the cloud sky, offering a picturesque atmosphere. The only thing that ruined the atmosphere would be Leo’s loud snoring.
“Hey,” Yumi whispered, approaching Borus from where the other knights lied resting, “have you seen anything?”
“No, nothing seems afoot this evening. Shouldn’t you be sleeping though? We’re departing early tomorrow,” Borus cautioned, continuing to manipulate the flames.
“I could not manage to fall asleep. It is just so very cold.” Yumi extended her hands to the fire.
“It never gets this cold in the Alma Kinan Village.” Borus peeled of his brown overshirt and offered it to Yumi. She smiled at the knight graciously, wrapping it around herself. “Thank you.”
“Not a problem. It’s nice to have some company.” A silence fell upon the two as the fire crackled loudly. Borus shivered slightly, his undershirt supplied little to no heat.
“Sir Borus, I would like to thank you…” Yumi murmured, moving slightly closer to the knight. Borus grinned.
“It’s not a problem, I have a much better tolerance for weather, the least I could do is aid you."
“Not just that.” Yumi looked at the knight sleepily. “For when you helped me at the bar, when you stayed with me, for the time we spent together, and… for refuting some of the teachings.”
“What?” Borus asked, confused at her last comment. Yumi looked heavenward, watching the lightning bugs move about the treetops.
“I was always taught… that the people outside the village were not to be trusted. I never believed that other peoples were any different than the Shamans. Knowing you gave me proof that there are genuinely good people in the outer lands…”
Borus stared at the fire. Good person? Borus hadn’t seen himself in such a way for a long time now. He’d done so many terrible things… His actions were unforgivable. But somehow… she saw him as a ‘good person’. Borus smiled at the girl as she leaned lightly against him, resting her head on his shoulder. In the last few moments she had drifted off to sleep.
The fire burned, casting reddish light upon the two. The stars and fireflies glowed in a pleasant, welcoming way. She believed in him. Maybe he should have faith in himself? Yumi breathed lightly against his neck as she slept peacefully. Borus let out a quiet sigh.
Several minutes later, footsteps echoed with the sound of crushing leaves. “Borus,” Salome yawned, “You can go to sleep now, my shift.”
“Shh….” Borus hushed, looking down at the girl, then to the Salome. “Just… let me stay here… for a little while longer…”
End Chapter Seven
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Eight: Call to Arms
Nearly a month went by, a wonderfully pleasant month for Yumi. She had made many friends at the castle, from the obsessive bath-builder Goro to the quiet elevator operator Shizu. Yumi had even struck up a pleasant friendship with the ever-mischievous Sir Percival. Yumi had become a very close friend to Sir Borus over this time as well. The two seemed inseparable most of the time, when Yumi wasn’t with her sister.
Borus, though happy, noted how fast the final battle drew. Though the True Runes had been retrieved, the past month or so had been used to prepare. A time to find the best runes, the sharpest swords, and sturdiest armor. These things, he knew, were being gathered at a quick and steady pace. But still, Borus used this time to pursue his own interests, his own friendships.
Borus could feel in the pit of his stomach the end drawing near. It would all be over soon. Whether the outcome was to be favorable was yet to be determined. The battle with Luc would surely be difficult, but how difficult? What if something happened to him? To Percival? To Chris? To… Yumi? Borus tried not to panic, tried not to worry… but in such circumstances, it did not come easily.
It was a cloudy September morning. Yumi rose in the morning and walked down to the stables. In the past couple of weeks Yumi had been spending the first couple hours of the morning with Kathy and Percival, and on some occasions Borus too, at the ranch. Autumn was descending upon the castle, and several of the oak trees were already changing color. A brisk wind blew from the west, blowing directly against Yumi as she walked down the path. The change of season was a new, wonderful thing in Yumi’s eyes.
“Hey Yumi! How are you today?” Kathy chirped, looking at Yumi as she brushed Lulu. The horse snorted a hello as well. Percival eyed Yumi as he fed Sugarloaf. He nodded, smiling.
“Hello guys. Is Sir Borus coming today?” Yumi asked, looking about the stable for the blonde knight. Percival shook his head.
“He’s working on some paperwork today. He said he will be done around noon time if you wish to see him then.” Yumi sighed.
“All right, shall we ride?”
Borus sat in his room, writing feverishly. He had already finished eight of the twenty-two forms, and at this rate, he could be finished by ten o’clock. As he signed the ninth form, Borus brushed a lock of saffron hair away from his eyes.
Borus hated those mornings when he had to let Percival and Yumi ride alone. Knowing Percival, he’d probably say something terrible just to make Borus squirm. Borus mentally cursed. Why was he stuck with the paperwork? Roland or Salome would probably do a much better, more thorough job anyway.
A knock sounded at the door as Borus placed form ten before him.
“Who’s there?” He asked without even looking up.
“It’s Louis,” the attendant called through the door, “Sir Hugo has called a mandatory Fire Bringer meeting in a half an hour!” Borus raised an eyebrow, continuing to write.
“I see. Thank you Louis.”
“Not a problem!”
Borus felt worry sink into his stomach. This was the end. This was the determining battle. Who would win? Would there be casualties? Who? Damn…
Louis ran down the path to the ranch as fast as his legs allowed. He had to tell Sir Percival and the people who had not heard. The meeting was ‘a dire matter’, and Lady Chris had sent him to get all the Zexen Knights together. What a dreadful task, Louis thought as he reached the stables. He did his best to catch his breath before he made the declaration. He looked about, and saw only Kathy before him.
“Kathy, there’s a mandatory Fire Bringer meeting at the castle in about fifteen minutes! Where is Sir Percival?”
“He’s out on the track with Yumi. I’m headin’ towards the castle, bye!” Kathy bolted down the path without another word. Louis turned to the track. He could see the two riders circling the track, maneuvering quickly around the many obstacles.
“Hey guys!” Louis screamed. They did not respond, still riding about the track. “HEY GUYS!”
Louis pondered for a moment. How could he catch Percival’s attention? “Percival! PERCIVAL! Lady Chris ran off with Nash!” Percival stopped abruptly and turned to the squire. He rode over to the boy quickly. Yumi followed, close behind.
“What?” Percival asked, looking at the Louis.
“There’s a mandatory Fire Bringer meaning in about twelve minutes!” he chimed.
Percival raised an eyebrow. “Oh, that’s not what I thought you said…”
“Well, it was! Bye!” Louis rushed down the path. He only had a couple of minutes to find Leo and then head back to the castle. What soldiers do for their people! Meanwhile, Percival quickly dismounted and then assisted Yumi off her horse. The two exchanged quick smiles and dashed down the path. They didn’t have much time to spare.
By the time the knight and the archer reached the castle courtyard, over a hundred people were already gathered. Yumi couldn’t see over the crowd. She looked for Borus, who she could not find. She sighed and remained close to the brunette knight as Hugo, Dupa, Lucia, Salome, Chris, and Geddoe approached from the castle. People continued to speak, with no reverence of the Flame Champion’s arrival.
“The day that I know that many of you have dreaded has arrived…” Hugo opened. The entire crowd became silent. “In fifty hours we are going to attack the Wind Rune Sorcerer, Luc.”
With distress in her eyes, Yumi eyed Percival. His eyes were focused blankly on the leaders of the group.
“We have gathered the best equipment possible. We have trained, prepared, and done the utmost possible things to ready us for over a month now. We have finally become completely ready for what lies ahead. Lady Chris Lightfellow will now announce those chosen to fight in the final battle.” Chris drew a deep breath.
“These people will be accompanying Bishop Sasarai to guard the ceremonial site: Dios, Fred, Rico, Thomas, Cecile, Rody, and Edge.” Yumi looked about and noticed the many different reactions. Fred and Rico actually seemed excited, as compared to Cecile who hugged Thomas nearly crying. Yumi could only pray Yuiri was not convulsed in tears for Sir Dios.
“These people have been summoned to fight alongside Hugo, Geddoe, and I to fight Sorcerer Luc: Tuta, the elder Viki, Borus, and Duke. All who have been called to arms should immediately report to be equipped and debriefed after this meeting. I suggest you also say good-byes to those you hold dear; there is no guarantee we’ll all come back alive.” Yumi felt her eyes water. Borus was going to fight the strongest magician of the current age? How could he… How could he survive that? What if something happened... such painful thoughts…
“I tell you all this,” she continued, “we must try not to worry. We, the Fire Bringer, have brought down many other foes, including his two right hand officers. I must thank you, all of you, for coming this far. That is all.” The aforementioned people parted through the crowd towards the castle. Yumi watched as Borus ascended the staircase. He paused, taking one last look back. His eyes locked upon Yumi’s for a fraction of a second before he entered the castle.
“I’m heading back to the ranch,” Percival said nonchalantly. “You gonna come too?” Yumi paused. He was taking the whole matter rather well.
“Yeah… Yeah I guess.”
The walk to the ranch was a silent one. Yumi was obviously lost in thought, and Percival didn’t see the need to draw her out of it. Percival had learned from his experiences with Chris that breaking a woman from her chain of thought usually resulted in getting screamed at. Yumi watched each of her steps hit the ground. The familiar rhythm of her steps echoed in her head. She looked up to Percival, who still seemed completely calm. Her curiosity got the best of her.
“Yes?” He asked, turning his gaze to the distressed woman.
“I… I don’t understand how you can be so calm! The woman you love and your best friend are going out there to risk their lives and you… You seem so… unconcerned.” Percival looked to her, slightly offended. “I meant it not to insult you, I swear! You see, at my village such emotions are usually…” Yumi’s explanation was cut off by Percival’s deep, loud laughter.
“I understand, I understand, don’t worry.” Percival drew a deep breath. “I needn’t worry for Chris and Borus because I have faith in their abilities. And, even if something happened to them, there’s nothing I can do. You see, they know how much I care for them, and I pray that’ll bring them strength… And I suppose I just don’t see the need to worry, so I don’t.”
“Oh...” Yumi murmured. Does Borus know what I feel for him? Do I even know…? “I see. Thank you for explaining that to me.”
“Not a problem.”
End Chapter Eight
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Nine: Hope
The attitude in Budehuc was as dark and dreary as the skies. Rain poured down relentlessly, and the people in the castle all seemed consumed and quiet. Even Mel and her obnoxious puppet barely spoke. Everyone just seemed… cloistered.
Yumi and Yuiri had both spent the day quietly, seldom speaking. It didn’t need to be said. They were both worried. They were both hurting. After this battle, they knew they both must leave Budehuc and head back the village. Either way, they knew that this was the end for all the relationships they’d formed.
Yumi decided to pack her things. She gathered her books, clothes, and other belongings into her black leather travel bag. Yumi looked about the room she shared with her sister for the past couple of months. It had become a second home. It would be so hard to leave. Yuiri lied on her bed, flipping through her diary carefully.
“Sister, does it pain you to leave this place?” Yuiri eyed her sister as her question staggered in the humid air.
“Oh course,” Yumi sighed, “there are many friends I’ve made that I will miss dearly. I have become quite fond of this town. What about you?”
“I can’t wait to get home. I miss Great Auntie and all our people but… I will miss Sir Dios a great deal.”
Yumi grinned at her sister. “Does he know that?”
“Perhaps you should tell him,” Yumi said. She folded up one of her dresses and placing it in the pack. “We don’t have much time left here.”
Yuiri looked up at the ceiling. “I think some things are better left unsaid.”
“But do not think such matters, Yuiri. I don’t want you to regret this. I want all the happiness in the world for you, dear sister.” Yumi smiled over at Yuiri, continuing to fold clothes.
Yuiri started, “I think I should but...”
“I don’t know… I just don’t know, Yumi.” Yumi sat in the small armchair which sat alone in the corner of the room.
“Yeah, I mean,” Yuiri looked down at her sister, “Sir Dios is really rather busy later. He’s going on a mission. He probably needs to concentrate and train, and I am not even sure if Sir Dios… You know…”
“Hm?” She replied, leaning forward slightly.
She stammered, “I don’t know if… he cares about me.”
Silence befell upon the room. It seemed to last for minutes before Yumi finally asked, “Are you going to see him?”
“I think… I will,” Yuiri murmured. “Thanks Yumi.”
Yumi chirped, “Not a problem!” Yuiri quickly took off down the hall to talk to Dios. Yumi remained alone in the empty room and listened to the raindrops fall against the window for several moments before she herself stood and walked towards the door.
Okay, I guess it’s my turn.
Yumi walked quickly down the hall, turning towards the Zexen Knights’ gathering place. It was getting late; it was already dark outside. Without a thought of what she should say or do, she flung the door open with a loud crash. Alone in the room was Salome, who was sitting on the cedar desk reading a thick book. He looked up at Yumi, smiling happily.
“Why hello, Miss Yumi! You are looking for Borus, I suppose?”
She muttered, “Y-yes… um… do you know where he is?”
“I’d assume he’s in his quarters. He said earlier that he wanted to finish up some paperwork before the mission tomorrow.”
“I am most sorry for disrupting you, Sir Salome, but would please tell me where Borus’ room is?” she asked nervously.
“Oh,” he said flatly, “third door on the left down the hall. It has a light blue door.”
“Oh, I see,” she stammered, “thank you very much Sir Salome.” Before he could offer a ‘your welcome’, the girl was already out in the hallway. Salome sighed. Being alone sure was boring…
Borus lied on his bed, vacantly staring up at the sword he held. The magnificent blade… How it shined! Too bad it would soon be tainted with blood. Borus and his sword would soon have so much in common.
Upon the chair beside the bed sat the armor he had been issued for the battle ahead. The Windspun Armor was well-crafted and beautiful, shimmering in the candlelight that illuminated the small room. It was clearly new, bought only for the use in this one fight.
The finished paperwork sat alone on the small oak desk in the corner of the room. He had finished everything that was expected of him, apart from the fight ahead. To think, mere months ago the only things that seemed deadly was paperwork.
Tomorrow at noon… Tomorrow at noon everything would end. The Fire Bringer would enter the Ceremonial Site, fight Luc, and then… either way… it was over. Hopefully, though, it would only be over for Luc.
The rain pattered against the outer window. It was peaceful, rhythmic. Borus placed his sword down beside him and closed his eyes. He absorbed the moment. This could be his last night. This could be the last time he heard rain.
As Borus sat and thought, a soft knock came from the door. Borus sighed. It was probably Percival, with the usual ‘come drinking’ proposition. Borus didn’t want that. He liked it here. He liked the quiet, the calm. Tomorrow there would be chaos. He wanted to hold onto the peace…
“Borus… Borus are you there?” Yumi asked from beyond the door. Borus felt like an idiot. How rude he was!
“Come in. The door’s unlocked.”
The petite Alma Kinan girl opened the door and walked in. Her face was panicked, and her eyes seemed distant. Borus watched her as she closed the door, and remained towards the entrance. She murmured something.
“Borus, I need to tell you something.”
Borus looked at her sadly. Her face was usually filled with joy, and her eyes seemed to sparkle brightly. But now, probably because of him, she seemed dark and empty. Borus felt the guilt seep in, knowing this was what he did to the people he cared for. He hurt them.
“What would that be?” he questioned quietly.
“I… well… I think…” she stammered quietly. “I think I love you.”
Borus smiled softly at the proclamation. “You think you love me?”
She whispered, “Well, yes. You see… I was never taught about this kind of love back at the village. But, but I am pretty sure I love you.”
“It’s just… when I’m with you I feel so happy… and when you leave I feel my heart sink. And my heart jumps when you say my name… your lips move forward ever so slightly when you say the 'yu' part and… And when I heard you were summoned to fight, I worried so much, I just wanted to cry…”
Borus stood and approached Yumi as she stood there, trying to express the feelings she couldn’t comprehend. She was hurting. Yumi’s pained gaze cut through him like knives. She was on the verge of tears, doing her best to explain the problem at hand.
“Regardless of what happens though, I’ll never see you again. I’ll have to go back to the village and I won’t be allowed to leave. It’s over and there’s nothing I can do and I don’t want to lose you… I…”
Tears streamed down Yumi’s face as relentlessly as the rain fell outside. Borus took her hands in his, looking sympathetically into her eyes. She went silent for a moment, focusing on the knight’s face. Slowly, his lips move gingerly over hers.
This kiss was in no way like their last. Borus thought only of the woman before him. Her eyes…. Her smile… just Yumi… just this moment. No pain, no sadness. All their sorrows ceased momentarily, melting away into the night.
As the tears dried against Yumi’s face, she moved her hands behind his head, feeling his soft, saffron hair. Her thumb lightly grazed his temple. Borus snaked his arms around her, holding Yumi close to him. It would soon be over, before they had a chance, it would be… over.
When they were both short of breath, Borus continued to hold Yumi close to him. She buried her face into his chest. She wanted to take what could be her last opportunity to be with Borus and savor every moment. Yumi loved the blonde knight, despite what he’d done, despite his obligations, despite anything that could be considered wrong. In him she only saw the sweet, wonderful man that had watched over her and cared for her.
She embraced that little ray of hope that they might have a future together.
And the two stayed together into the night, silently holding each other and listening to the rain fall.
People gathered at the blinking mirror for the departure of the soldiers. Yumi and Borus walked hand-in-hand to the main foyer, watching the tearful goodbyes that were being exchanged. Yumi hugged Borus one last time before he took his place among the fighters.
Yumi looked over at Yuiri who was quietly watching Sir Dios and Bishop Sasarai talk from the staircase. Despite how the two Harmonians were chatting, Dios’ eyes were firmly locked on the elder Alma Kinan woman. Yumi smirked and tapped her sister on the shoulder.
“Good morning, dearest sister! How did things go yesterday?” Yumi questioned, smiling.
Without bothering to look at her sister, Yuiri muttered, “Well. Things went well.”
“Oh really?” Yumi chirped.
“Yes.” Yuiri stated flatly. “How did things go for you?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“You never came back to our room last night. I assume you must have been somewhere,” Yuiri murmured.
She spat out, “Oh, I went on a long walk yesterday.”
“In the rain?” She interrogated without even looking at Yumi.
“You needn’t lie, Yumi. It’s utterly transparent.” Yuiri informed her sister.
“That’s not a problem than,” Yumi chimed, “since it’s not a lie.”
“Whatever…” Just as the last words were exchanged, Hugo came down the staircase. Every head turned, watching the Flame Champion assume his place amongst his men.
“Has everyone who was summoned been accounted for?”
“Yes Hugo, everyone is here!” Viki called through the crowd.
“Okay, we’re shipping out then,” the young Flame Champion announced. “Goodbye everyone.”
Viki waved her wand and opened the mirror portal. Hugo walked through first, followed by an excited Fred and Rico. The other warriors seemed to hesitate. After several seconds, they all took their turns walking through the magical portal.
Borus turned and stared up at Yumi as he made his way towards the mirror. He waved cautiously. Yumi waved lightly in return, and watched as her knight disappeared into the mirror.
End Chapter Nine
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Ten: Return
The first day the fourteen soldiers had left for the battle, the people of the castle were in ghastly moods. By the third day they were gone, a cloud of depression had sunk across the entire village. Yumi went through the normal day plan as best that she could. She continued meeting with Percival for a morning ride and watching the play at suppertime. Yuiri, on the other hand, seldom left her position by the blinking mirror.
Though Percival kept up his nonchalant attitude, Yumi could easily see the fear that was building within him. He became more reflective and far less outspoken. It was rather odd to see one of the Zexen Heroes so… scared.
A somber, reflective four-day period left the entire castle dreary. The actors in the plays even seemed quieter, which made Nadir bubble with rage. It was good to know that at least some things didn’t change.
After the melodramatic performance of the ‘Little Match Girl’ (starring Louis for the fifth and final time), Yumi grew concerned about her sister who was standing alone in the main foyer. She left the bar, amidst the clapping for Louis’ amazing acting, to see Yuiri.
Yumi walked down the quiet hall and exchanged quick glances with a disgruntled Estella. Rounding the corner, Yumi chirped, “Spirits bless you, dearest sister, your devotion is quite admirable!”
“Oh,” Yuiri yawned, “it’s good to see you, sister. How was the production?”
“Quite nice. How was your… waiting?”
“Uneventful and fruitless. Oh spirits, Yumi, what if something has happened?” cried the older girl.
Yumi assured her sister, “Worry not, Yuiri, I have faith in our soldiers. They will come back alive, all of them, I’m sure of it!”
“Such optimism… I am blessed by the spirits to have a sister like you.” Yuiri hugged her sister for a brief moment before putting her back at arm’s length. “Yumi, I must tell you something.”
“You know how I said ‘things went well’?” she reminded, “They didn’t. I knocked on Sir Dios door and was greeted by Bishop Sasarai, they share a room, you see. And I… I froze. You see I told the Bishop I had the wrong door and I immediately went back to our room. I feel like such an idiot!”
“Yuiri, it’s nothing to worry about. You can tell him when he returns.” Yumi smiled reassuring.
“But what if he d…”
“Don’t worry, he’ll be back! As will all the others. Sir Percival has told me that worrying doesn’t help any. And I know he’s right! Just keep calm…” I never thought I’d be repeating advice from Sir Percival… Yumi thought.
A strangely familiar light emanated from the blinking mirror. First came Edge dragging a panicked Rody by the arm. They were followed by Dios and Sasarai; the subordinate carrying his master carefully. Yuiri rushed over to the two Harmonians, looking back to her sister.
Yumi took one last look at the group before darting down the hall. She flung open the to the infirmary and yelled, “Lady Mio! The soldiers are coming back! Some appear injured!”
Mio nodded and grabbed several bottles of medicine and bandages. She offered Yumi a quick smile before rushing down the hall. As the nurse headed for the foyer, Yumi followed close behind.
By the time Yumi reached the foyer, everyone had returned. She quickly spotted Borus. The blonde knight has sustained a few minor cuts and had a bruise forming below his left eye, but seemed all right.
She walked over to Borus, who smiled at her widely. Yumi looked happily into his soft, hazel eye. Spirits, it was wonderful to see him alive!
People began to gather in the foyer to catch a glimpse of the triumphant heroes. “You know what…” Hugo stated as Mio wrapped the deep gash on his left arm, “I think this calls for a celebration.”
Duke agreed, “Here here.”
“I’d be happy to oblige! Free drinks for everyone!” Anne cheered.
The entire gathered group cheered. Everyone rushed to the bar except Mio, Borus, Yumi, Yuiri, Sasarai, and Dios. The young nurse seemed quite concerned with the bishop’s condition. “Sir Dios, please bring Bishop Sasarai to the infirmary. I want to get a look at some of those cuts and burns.”
“Sasarai… can you walk?” Dios asked his commanding officer who was lying on the dusty foyer floor.
Sasarai shook his head. “It’s too bad though; I wanted to do some drinking too,” the young-looking man joked.
Dios slowly and carefully lifted his master carefully, easing him onto his feet. “Borus, would you?” Dios asked, gesturing towards the other side of Sasarai. Borus nodded and quickly grabbed onto the bishop. Slowly but surely, the three men made it to the infirmary, with the two archers in toe.
The two soldiers lowered Sasarai onto the bed in the infirmary. Mio nodded and smiled. “All right then, thank you boys.”
“Dios, go enjoy the festivities.” Sasarai commanded, looking up at his subordinate.
“But Bishop Sasarai, what if something were to happen to you? It’s my job to…”
Sasarai shouted, “I ordered you to enjoy the festivities! Should I fire you for disobeying my commands? And for that disrespect, I order you to party TWICE as much to make up for my lack of ability!” Though orders were sounded disgruntled, Sasarai smiled the entire time.
“Sir, yes sir!” Dios agreed, running across the hall to the bar.
Sasarai smiled at Yuiri. “Make sure Dios doesn’t cause too much trouble.”
Yuiri chirped, “Yes, bishop!” She bowed quickly and ran across the hall, trying to catch up with Sir Dios.
“May you be blessed with health, Bishop.” Yumi nodded.
“Thank you. You both are dismissed.” Borus and Yumi exited the infirmary as Mio applied some medication to the wound on Sasarai’s leg.
Upon entering the hallway, Yumi embraced Borus with as much strength as she had. “I am so happy you’re all right.” Yumi held onto the knight for what seemed like hours without the slightest resistance. When she let go, she looked up into his dark eyes.
“I suppose we don’t have much time left… Yuiri and I are probably leaving tomorrow afternoon…”
“That is…” Borus sighed, “that’s too bad.”
Yumi muttered, “I must finish packing but… But you enjoy the party. I’ll be down later… Maybe an hour or so.”
“I’ll see you then.”
As Borus watched Yumi walk off, instead of heading for the party he departed for his own room. On the mission, Bishop Sasarai gave him some great advice. Borus was going to write a letter to Yumi, a tangible object of his affection that she could hold on to.
Borus knew exactly what to write. He had a precise plan of every word and how to slip her the letter secretly (which is far more romantic) for her to find someday later. A wonderful plan indeed.
Borus sat at his desk and pulled out his stationary. He wrote quickly and rhythmically, rushing to complete an artistic and eloquent declaration. Borus almost felt silly, but he knew it had to be said and he probably wouldn’t get a chance to say it.
After completing the letter and folding it carefully, Borus ran down to the empty stairway to the dungeon. Sure as day, Kidd, the investigator, detective, and mercenary in non-warlike matters, was still in his office.
“Hello Kidd. I need you very quickly to slip this note into Yumi’s bag, and make sure you are NOT found.” Borus placed the note in the boy’s hand. “I need this done TONIGHT.”
Kidd gaped. “Are you serious? How much money am I getting for such a short notice task!?”
Borus dug into his pocket, praying he had some money on hand. He pulled out several gold and copper coins and mentally counted them. “Is two thousand all right?”
Kidd thought for a second. It wasn’t like he had much time left at Budehuc, so he knew he should try to make as much money before setting out to the Black Rose Empire. “Okay… But you owe me.”
“Fine, fine! Just go already!”
“Okay, I’m on the case!” Kidd chimed, dashing past the night and up the stairs. He had a lot to do.
Kidd edged slowly towards the room that belonged to the two Alma Kinan women. He looked under the door. The lights weren’t on. Good. The coast was clear. Kidd quickly opened the door and slipped into the room.
Kidd looked about the room. It smelled of Yumi’s chocolate chip cookies and the green walls seemed to scream ‘nature’. Kidd scanned the area, and noticed two bags. One was a simple black leather bag and the other was blue, adorned with many blue and green beads.
Kidd starred at the two bags. What was he to do?
Outside, Kidd heard footsteps. Kidd quickly slipped the letter into the blue bag and dove under the bed. The door handle turned. Kidd watched two familiar leather boots move across the floor.
“Ah, there’s the book.” Yuiri murmured, approaching the desk to Kidd’s left. The boy watched quietly, praying to Sadie not to be discovered. “I should remind Yumi not to leave the door unlocked…”
And with that, Yuiri left, shutting the door. Kidd let out a sigh of relief and waited for a moment, before taking his own leave.
End Chapter Ten
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Eleven: Parting
Yumi walked into the bar, pushing her way through the over-packed room. The entire place was loud and disorderly, which usually was how parties ended up. Looking about frantically, she quickly spotted Sir Percival, Lady Chris, and Sir Salome talking in the corner of the room. Yumi walked over, assuming these were the people he’d look for if he were here.
“Hello there, Lady Chris, Sir Percival, Sir Salome,” Yumi greeted, “by any chance, have you seen Sir Borus?”
“Can’t say that I have.”
“Oh,” she sighed, “do you know where I could find him?”
Percival laughed, “He’s probably getting a drink or something. Well, anyway, I suppose you’re leaving soon, Miss Yumi?”
“Uh huh, when Yuiri gives the word, I’m leaving. I’m already packed and ready to go,” she informed the knight.
“It was very nice to have met you, Miss Yumi.” Salome offered.
“We’ll miss you, Yumi. You’re a good fighter,” Chris said with a nod.
“It was an honor to serve here at the sides of such famous knights. I am glad to have met you, Lady Chris, Sir Salome. And you,” Yumi chirped, pointing at Percival, “it was great getting to know you. I am truly blessed to have a friend like you.”
Percival beamed at the praise, which made Chris and Salome grin as well. “I enjoyed our time together, Yumi, I hope you have a wonderful time back at your village.” Percival gave Yumi a friendly hug. When he let go, she shook his hand.
“Hey guys, how are all of you?” Borus asked, approaching his fellow knights. “Hope you guys saved some fun for me.” Yumi turned to see Borus behind her.
“Hello Sir Borus.”
“Miss Yumi,” He bowed quickly, “will you be departing tomorrow?” Yumi looked sadly towards her feet.
“Yes… yes I think so. Whenever Yuiri decides to leave I’m going with her. She’s quite anxious to get back to the village, I think.”
Borus sighed, “then this would be goodbye?”
“I suppose,” Yumi murmured.
With that, Borus embraced Yumi tightly. He quickly whispered into her ear, “I love you.” The room was loud so only she Yumi heard him, or so he hoped.
“I love you too,” she whispered in response.
Borus let her go.
He let her go forever. Tomorrow she’d walk out of his life. Tomorrow she would disappear. He was given so little time, but he knew he loved her. It was all far different than what he had felt for Chris. What he fel for Yumi was much more quiet, much more peaceful, not as much a feeling as a part of his spirit.
As she pulled back, she held onto the knight’s hands. “May the spirit bless you all the days of your life.”
She didn’t want to let go. Neither did he. Tomorrow she’d be gone but tonight… they had tonight. She knew his crimes, she knew his pain, but they didn’t matter. What mattered was now. What was palpable this moment… “Best of luck to you too,” he murmured. Borus continued to force a smile.
“Yumi!” her sister shouted, making her way across the floor. The elder Shaman girl pushed through the crowd, forcing her way to her sister. “Miss Viki said she could teleport us home at around eight tomorrow morning. Are you all packed and ready to go?” Yumi turned to her sister. She blinked several times.
“Yeah. Yes, I will be ready to go then,” Yumi muttered. Borus’ gaze became more hollow and distraught with the conformation of her departure. Yuiri grinned and departed, en route to find Sir Dios once again.
Yumi looked down at her feet. It was over.
The party lasted well into the next day. People were still drinking and chatting in legendary numbers even as Yumi and Yuiri stood at the portal waiting for Viki. Borus was waiting inconspicuously near the door to the appointer’s, watching Yumi. Yumi stared at him. He silently stood there and watched, he waited. Yumi smiled at the knight, who grinned in return.
“I’m coming!” Viki yelled, running down the hall. As Viki skidded into the room, she accidentally knocked over a Calerian urn that sat on a small brown desk. “Oops! Sorry I’m late! I was visiting Bishop Sasarai in the infirmary and kindddddda lost track of time!
“Well then, are you ready to teleport?” She asked cheerily. “Alma Kinan Village, right?”
“Right!” Yuiri nodded.
The dark-haired mage waved her staff about, opening the portal within the blinking mirror. “Okay, all aboard!”
Yuiri smiled and offered a quick ‘thank you’ before running to the other side of the mirror. Yumi paused. She gave Sir Borus one last look. He waved at her, smiling. Yumi waved back at him, and walked through the mirror.
She then walked out of his life for what could be forever.
Borus walked back to his quarters, a wave of depression coursing through him. He walked up the stairs sadly. When he opened the door and found the room empty, he sat at the oh-so-familiar desk.
There, on the desk, waited the usual stack of papers. He had work to do, which the others were relying on him to complete. Though his life had changed, his world had changed, he was still there. He was still alive. He was still bound to his duty and bound to that paperwork.
He could only hope that Yumi was happy and was resuming normal life too.
“Sir Borus! We’re departing tomorrow night after dinner!” Louis called through the door. “Salome says to finish the paperwork before we leave!”
“All right Louis.”
It looked like he was going back home to his normal life too. Things had changed so quickly, which didn’t surprise the blonde knight at all. As easily as she entered his life she left it. All the while, there was change, and after, more changes would still occur. Change is the one constant in life.
Yumi blinked as she reached the other side. The familiar green grass and wooden cabins sat peacefully beyond the pine wall. Yuiri walked through the gate and Yumi quickly followed.
“One two three… Surprise!” cried an entire village of female warriors.
“Welcome back Yuiri and Yumi! It’s been so long since you left!” chirped a young villager.
“This was so nice of all of you! How did you know we were coming back?” Yumi asked, smiling at all of her people.
“Great Auntie said the spirits foretold your return.” An older woman informed.
“Oh yes!” Yuiri recalled, “I have that runic book for her! Is she still in the main building?”
“Yumi, I’ll take your bag back to the house. We’ll unpack later, okay? I just need to drop off that book.” Yuiri told her sister. Yumi handed her black bag to Yuiri as she began to speak with Yulen and Yensa, two of the members of her old platoon.
Entering her house, Yuiri dropped her bag on her bed. She placed Yumi’s near the door, leaning it gently against the wall. She opened the bag happily and quickly spotted a piece of paper. “What’s this?”
Yuiri unfolded the paper and quietly read it to herself.
Is love something that can be found? Is it something that is tangible to your average person, or is it only for those the Goddess deems worthy? Perhaps it is just falsehood, an illusion the human mind concocts? Love is the question and answer, the paradox.
The world seems like a cruel place. People are manipulative, and will do anything for power and money, including hurt each other. In a world like this, where does love fit into our lives? Somewhere between the cracks? In the unnoticed cogs? Love is something that seems unnecessary some days, but it’s all that matters on others.
Love is not something to be forced. The heart makes its own decisions. It defies knowledge. It spits upon the greater good. Love seems senseless and stubborn. It seems to fool and deceive the most reasonable of people. But, for every shadow, there is twice as much light. That light is just unnoticed when we’re blinded.
But, even the blind can sense things. It does not take much to read a person’s eyes. The human face gives us many kinds of signals. Signals can be crossed. Signals can be misinterpreted. Not to mention, there is the hazard of a lying tongue. With all these risks, why do people bother?
I’ll tell you, it’s not because of pride. Nor is it because of stature. It is not due to selfish needs or self-pleasure. It is not to keep that one, lingering moment of happiness. Love, truly, is a selfless act. As the ancients said, ‘The only reasonable act is love’.
Grasp that notion and take it with you. Never lose it. There’s something reassuring there. Despite the pain, despite the sorrows, despite the situation, love is there. It’s sensible and reasonable and logical to love, to feel. It’s not a sin to have a heart.
Love looks past so many things; love is blind. The past, the present, the future; they don’t matter—love is timeless. Love makes you believe in yourself and in others. Love can make a believer out of most people, regardless of who they are.
Troubles may arise. Faith may be broken. But regardless, love is there. Love is a wonderful thing. I am happy to have known it. I am happy that you may know it. At least, we have that. Despite dilemma, despite chaos… I know that I have loved.
In your smile I have seen all the love the world has to offer. In your tears I have suffered more than any blow a sword could deal me. In your heart, I have seen more truth than in anything else. And in your eyes, I have seen sparkling rays of hope.
You made me believe in myself. For that I’m thankful. You treated me so kindly. I am most gracious. You made me laugh and you made me smile. Thank you. You were always yourself, and for that, I love you.
I swear I will fight for love. I will fight for you all the days of my life. I put this upon my honor and I hold it close to my heart. The heart that used to be so cold, so frigid, which you thawed with such ease.
Just a few short days before I wrote this letter, you told me you didn’t know love. I know, now, that then, neither did I. You see, though I have seen much of the known world, I am far from omniscient.
Perhaps we have met before, in a different time, a different reality. Perhaps each time we have left each other in the same way. I know in all these possible times before, if we parted ways, I always loved you. As I swear, and may have sworn many times before, I will always be at your side at heart.
Do you believe in happy endings?
As of now, I most certainly do.
I believe this in the depths of my soul—I did not know love until I knew you. This is one of the greatest gifts you could give me. I know that as you read this, we have already parted ways. But, even if years have past since I wrote these words, I swear that even now, I love you. Now, Forever always.
With all the love I am able to offer you,
Yuiri blink several times. She knew what this would do. Yumi would read it… and she would leave. She’d walk out of the village (if not run) without the slightest consent of anyone else.
Yuiri knew what she had to do she’d regret. She’d look back on this day and rue her action. But… she’d lost too much. Yun was dead. Dios was gone and out of her life. If she lost Yumi… She would be alone. She’d have no one left.
Yuiri then committed the most selfish act of her life. She pulled a small chest out from beneath her bed and opened it. Closing her eyes, Yuiri took the letter and placed it amongst several small trinkets and pieces of jewelry. She closed the box and returned it to its former place.
Yuiri shook her head and grabbed the book she’d come for. She walked quickly to the main building, trying to cast away the guilt.
She did what she thought needed to be done.
Humans do as humans will. They betray, they lie, they cheat, they steal. But, humans can only rely on other humans. Betrayal is constant. Pain is constant. Change is constant. Love is trapped somewhere in the middle, going on into dharma and chaos, unto the end. Loves gathers up the pieces of life and holds them together, the same as the heavens gather together the remnants of the sky…
End Chapter Eleven
Remnants of the Sky
Chapter Twelve: Believe
The moon was full and bright above. Fireflies fluttered about outside the window, streaming beams of light all about the sky. The familiar cobblestone streets of Vinay Del Zexay were empty of any human activity. The night was up for the taking.
Despite this, Borus Redrum sat alone in his study. Clenched in one hand was a glass of twenty-year-old kirschwasser, and in the other was his pen. Borus had plenty of paperwork to do this fine night. Borus had started writing after dinner, and had continued working for many hours.
Borus sipped his brandy as he continued to document the recent conflicts with the Republic of Tinto. This paperwork was essential to the upcoming decision on whether or whether not to declare war. At the moment, the council was taking the diplomatic approach, but making to progress whatsoever.
Page after page was filled with text. Hour after hour went by in a blur of ink. The night had begun to fade into morning as the young man completed his work. Borus stood from the oak desk and stretched his aching limbs.
The blonde knight soon caught sight of the sunrise outside the study window. The sun shone in a familiar state of gold as it rose over the roofs of the city’s houses. A bright new day stood before the knight, but he couldn’t help but feel if something was missing.
Can you feel us pushing against you? We move west this day. Move west, daughter of the spirits. Move with us. Float as a leaf. Come. Come west. We know you are leaving the sanctuary. Move with us, The wind pleaded.
I know not of whether I will go with you today, Yumi admitted, but worry not, wind, I will go with you when I can.
Move west, move west with us!
“Yumi?” Yuiri called frantically, “Yumi are you out here?”
Yumi’s eyes shot open, her trance broken. The embers of the ceremonial fire died simultaneously. “Yes, I’m right here.”
“You’ve been meditating all night, sister. Are you up for a last sunrise patrol, or maybe you should sleep up. Yes, you should catch some sleep. I’ll make the rounds then fix up a goodbye breakfast.” Yuiri said without the slightest pause.
Yumi asked, “Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?”
“Yes, yes I’ll be fine! I’ll take one of the younger villagers with me.”
“Okay then, I’ll head home.” Yumi rose from the ground and stretched her aching limbs. As Yuiri went from the seal site back towards the village, Yumi looked up at the golden sunrise. Today she would begin her journey out of the village; but she couldn’t help but feel something was missing.
“Sir Redrum?” the young maid called from outside the study door.
The maid bowed quickly as she entered the room. “Sir Percival has just arrived. Do you wish to see him or should I turn him away?”
Percival had come to deliver the paperwork to the council building. But of course Borus would tag along and then they’d stop for drinks. It was all very routine these days. “I’ll handle Sir Percival.”
“Yes Sir.” The girl bowed again and took a step out of the room.
“And Kara.” He said to the girl.
She chirped, “Yes Sir Redrum?”
“For one, call me Borus. You’ve been working here far too long for all the formalities. Also, it is so beautiful out. Take the day off.”
“Thank you so much Sir R—Borus!” Kara chimed, rushing out the door and down the stairs. A grin spanned Borus’ face for a moment before he remembered Percival was waiting for him at the front door.
Borus grabbed the stack of papers and headed towards the door. Waiting for him at the threshold was a smirking Percival Fraulein.
“What?” Borus asked, staring at his comrade. The two men began the walk to the council building, which was about eight blocks away.
“Your maid just went running out of here and seemed quite a deal happier than when she greeted me. Did you ask her to tonight’s ball?”
Borus laughed, “Of course not! She’s my servant and she’s only eighteen years old.”
“Hey, you’re twenty-eight. It’s legal, at least. Maybe you just have a thing for younger women? How should I know? All I know is there’s a ball tonight and it looks like Mr. Redrum is gonna be spending it alone at the punchbowl.”
“Why does it matter?” Borus interrogated. “Why should you care?”
“Well,” for once Percival seemed to be caught off guard, “it’s more about you worrying Chris. You haven’t been on a date in three years. She’s beginning to think something’s wrong.”
“It’s nothing to worry about.” Borus told flatly.
“Did you think Yumi was ‘the one’ for you?” Percival asked Borus, stopping for a moment. “Is that what it is?”
“Does it matter?” Borus continue to walk. He clenched the stack of papers in an attempt to keep himself calm.
Percival protested, “Of course it does! She’s gone, Borus.”
“Yes, she’s gone, Borus. Gone. You know about the Alma Kinan village? There is a Runic Field outside of it or so Chris has told me. You can’t just walk out of a Runic Field as you please.”
“She left it before to come to Budehuc initially, didn’t she?”
Percival sighed at his friend’s reluctance to face fact. “It’s been three years! Did it occur to you maybe she doesn’t want to leave her people?”
“It’s her choice to make, I suppose.” Borus murmured.
“You are making a martyr of yourself. Don’t you think that maybe she’s adjusted back to her normal life and maybe wants you to be happy in your normal life too? I knew Yumi quite well, Borus, and I think that she’d want you to find happiness even if she happened to be uninvolved.”
Borus sighed, “Perhaps you don’t realize I’m perfectly happy with my lifestyle? I don’t need a relationship. At least not in any time soon. There are much more important things in the world right now, Percival.”
“True, true. What were the findings in your report?”
Yumi inspected her outfit in the full length mirror in her bedroom. It has been a while since Yumi had worn her traveling clothes but they still fit perfectly. She straightened her headband. She decided she looked perfectly fine for her first day of travels.
Yuiri knocked on the door. “Yumi, breakfast is ready!”
“Great! I’ll be there in a second.” She evened her dress and walked down the hallway. The area was filled with the wonderful aroma of pancakes and sausage.
Yumi walked into the kitchen and beheld what Yuiri had done. An entire feast was placed on the table, enough food to feed eight or nine people. There was a tall stack of flapjacks beside some venison sausage, a tray full muffins and pastries, a bowl stacked high with fruit, and a tall pitcher of grape juice.
“Spirits, Yuiri! This looks wonderful!” Yumi exclaimed, rubbing her hands together. Yuiri turned and smiled at her sister.
“Come on, sit! Eat! I have no guarantee you’ll get good meals out there so you should just eat a weeks worth of food to make sure you get through!” Yuiri grinned and sat at her usual side of the table.
Being as utterly famished as she was, Yumi happily agreed. “Hee hee, okay!”
Yumi stacked her plate high with the assorted edibles. She decided she’d start with an oatmeal muffin, those being her personal favorite. Yuiri, on the other hand, didn’t eat a thing and just watched her younger sister.
“Yumi, why are you leaving?”
“Hmm?” Yumi murmured, mouth filled with food.
Yuiri repeated, “Why are you leaving? Why did you bother with the time consuming and painful spiritual training to be granted exit? I didn’t think you’d bother to finish considering how terrible it is supposed to be and just contently stay here at the village! It has been three years; I thought you’d have decided this place was better for you by now.”
“I want to see the world.”
“Can it be just that simple?” Yuiri bit into an apple, looking at her sister quizzically.
Yumi nodded. “It is a simple wish, sister.”
Sure, seeing the world was a very important agenda to Yumi, but one of the main reasons she was leaving was to see Sir Borus. Surely he had made an effort to see her, to find her, to write to her or something. Or at least he would have waited, wouldn’t he?
Yumi couldn’t bear to think about Borus with anyone else. The thought was far from unrealistic though. It had been three years! In a conversation with Estella during her Fire Bringer days, she was told some males dated eight to ten women a year.
Yumi dismissed the thought. Even if Sir Borus had moved on, it would still be wonderful to see him. Regardless of circumstances, just to know things were going well for him would unload a huge burden from her heart.
“You are going to see Borus again, aren’t you?” Yuiri inquired.
Yumi shrugged. “I will work to within my best efforts to have reunions with those who I met in my time at Fire Bringer headquarters. If I arrive in Zexen territory, I will most definitely try to see the knights. They were all such nice people.”
“Do you think that Sir Borus has waited for you?”
“That if you return to him nothing will have changed at all and he will welcome you back into his loving arms? For all you know he could be married and have children by now.”
Yumi took a deep breath, feeling sorry in advance for the lie she was about to tell. “Yuiri, going back to Borus is not even something I’d considered. The teachings say that such a relationship, like the one I had with Borus before, was wrong. I learned the errors of my ways from the teachings. I will not show any weakness if I see him again.” Having lied to her sister and spoken so terribly of those treasured memories, Yumi slouched back into her chair.
Yuiri moved her head to one side. “I don’t know whether that should reassure or upset me.”
“Don’t waste time with worrying, dear sister.”
Borus moved the ladle about the punchbowl, making the liquid shift from side to side. Borus found himself rather bored, being as it was that all of his usual companions had dates and he was playing the role of the loner at the refreshment table.
“Are you going to get any punch or are you going to just play with it all day?” barked an unfamiliar socialite, who seemed rather angered by his actions.
Being that the former sanctum of his refreshment table had been invaded, the knight retreated to the balcony. The sky was dark and empty of any moon or stars. The clouds that had come during the afternoon threatened rain at any moment.
Borus’ ears perked as noticed the ballroom went silent. He watched a familiar face take the stage. The chanteuse that worked at the club he and Percival usually attended grabbed the attention of every socialite in the hall.
Borus turned back out towards the land below as a familiar song began. He rested his arms against the banister and leaned so his shoulders were exactly parallel to his arms. He silently watched the lightning bugs fly about leaving patternless trails across the sky.
“Ah, I found you.” Borus didn’t bother to turn to see Chris as she approached him from behind. “You don’t seem to being enjoying yourself.”
“It’s nothing, milady, I’m just thinking.”
Chris moved beside her friend and mimicked his position. She turned her head slightly to get a clear look at his face. “Are you sure you are not depressed about anything?”
“Yes Chris, I’m absolutely fine.”
Several seconds of uneasy silence went by.
“I've always loved this song.” Borus whispered.
Chris nodded in agreement. “Yes, I remember you humming this back in our days at the academy. That seems like lifetimes ago, doesn’t it?”
Borus sighed, “Yes, it most certainly does.”
“You always used to retreat to the balcony at school formals, too. Some things never change.”
Silence once again fell upon the knights for several minutes.
“How are you? You know, emotionally. You have seemed quite distant lately.”
Borus smiled at his longtime friend and commander in a way he hadn’t before. He seemed to have a look of contentment, shadowed with remorse and the slightest tinge of fear. “I’ve just been thinking a lot lately.”
“The Fire Bringer days mostly.”
“I wonder about what Yumi’s up to sometimes. I miss her very much, you know. I just keep coming back to the thought of why I let her go so easily.”
Chris shrugged, “You really didn’t have much of a choice.”
“But if it were you, I doubt you’d let someone you cared about just walk away, would you?” Borus asked. “How could I just stand idly by and watch her leave? I just thought everything would work itself out.”
“Maybe things are better this way,” Chris mused.
“May I ask you something, Chris?”
“Do you believe in happy endings?”
Yumi lifted her heavy bag onto her shoulders. Nightfall had already come and she had not left home yet. The day after the moon was full was the only day that the barrier around the village could be broken. If she didn’t leave tonight, Yumi would have to wait another month to take her leave.
“Yumi, where do you intend to go exactly?” Yuiri asked her sister quietly.
“Well,” Yumi started, “In Karaya village there is a festival to mark the start of the harvest every year in early August. Being it is late July, I thought I’d head there first. Then I think I will head towards Budehuc and see how Budehuc Castle is doing. Then I will travel towards Harmonia and see Crystal Valley like Bishop Sasarai suggested all that time ago.”
“When do you think you will return?”
“Perhaps five or six months. I know that is a rather great deal of time but I think I will be able to see many things in that span of time.”
“Would you do two very important things for me, Yumi?” Yumi nodded. “When you go to Harmonia, will you please tell Sir Dios that I miss him and pray he is well?”
“I don’t mind at all. I will make sure to send Sir Dios your regards. What else do you need me to do?”
Yuiri paused for several seconds before finding the courage to ask for her second favor. “Forgive me.”
“For what, dear sister?”
Yuiri knelt down and reached under her bed. She pulled out a small oak chest from beneath it and placed it atop her bed. Opening the box, she pulled out a neatly folded paper. Yuiri placed the note in her sister’s hands and quickly turned away and walked down the hall.
“What is this?” Yumi stared at the piece of paper for a second before she unfolded it. Her eyes widened and soon filled with tears as she read the words her knight had written several years before.
With this story told, there is one thing left to be asked:
Do you believe in happy endings?
Love is a hard road to walk, but a journey worth taking.
VIOLA! I just have a few things to say before I let you all go away and soak out your brains with something satisfying like a REAL book or a better fanfiction or perhaps a good ol’ game.
I loved writing this story. It was like an extension of my head. I wrote feverishly and with more passion for the story than I’d ever felt before. Doesn’t show, does it?
I wrote this and I tried to integrate the Budehuc lifestyle into it. Many in-game characters made cameos. I did that to make the story feel real to the game. Making things convincing and believable is a must!
And lastly and not leastly (hee hee, leastly), I want to thank Al Kristopher, my beta dude. Without him I’d have twice as many errors than usual in my stuff. He’s my muse and #1 smuffybunny, and you should read what he writes. He’s about… 87.6 times better than me!
Well, that’s about it. Did you like this story? I hope so. I loved writing it and I am so happy I finally finished.