“What is the meaning of this?” Asked Krzysztof as the Imperial soldier walked quickly over to his commander.
“Midnight,” Nikz said happily as the young Princess ran up to her and embraced Nikz in a hug.
“I’m sorry I made you worry,” Midnight said, trying not to become too emotional.
“The important thing is you’re safe,” Riku said as he came beside them, his wrist still bleeding.
“Riku,” Midnight said in shock upon seeing the wound, “What happened?”
“The commander and I had a small disagreement,” Riku said, failing to hide his pain by wincing as the bleeding continued. “Are you okay?”
“I am,” Midnight replied, “But we need to get this boy to a doctor immediately.”
The two commoners came forward now, the girl supporting most of the boy’s weight. As she lay him down on his stomach, Riku and Nikz’s eyes widened at the large wound on the boy’s back. Midnight seemed to have applied bandages, but the only one of them who could possess them would have been the Imperial soldier.
“Who did this,” Riku asked.
“The soldier,” Midnight replied, looking over to him now discuss something with the Imperial commander. “As we were heading for the Viceroy Building, he attacked, but I convinced him to take us to his commander. I had no idea you’d be here too.”
“Please,” the common girl said, tears beginning to stream down her face, “You have to save him. You have to save Tobias.”
“I’ll do what I can,” Riku said, but as he was about to leave their little huddle, Nikz grabbed his sleeve. “What is it now Nikz?” Riku asked, a slight amount of frustration vented in his voice. But Nikz’s wide eyes were focused directly on the common girl.
“G-Ginny,” She asked in shock. “Is... Is it really you?”
Riku stopped in his tracks and turned around, now examining this girl in shock as Nikz had. All of the characteristics were there: the curly brown hair, the hazel eyes resting behind glasses, even her height was the same.
“Yeah,” She sniffed before attempting a smile, “It’s me. It’s good to see you two again.”
While Riku stood there, Nikz slowly moved around Tobias and embraced Ginny tightly, tears beginning to swell from deep inside.
“Thank the Gods you’re alright,” Nikz whispered, resting her head against Ginny’s shoulder.
“I’m-I’m sorry for worrying you,” Ginny replied, hugging back. Midnight sat there beside them, smiling at their reunion.
“Duke Riku,” The commander’s voice spoke out, causing Riku to avert his gaze from the scene in front of him. The young Imperial soldier now stood at ease beside Krzysztof. “I apologise for interrupting your moment, but this soldier has said you refused the offer of Alisia. Is this true?”
Riku turned to Midnight, whose smile remained on her face. “I told him what I thought you two would have done,” she said, placing one hand behind her head. Riku smiled before turning back to Krzysztof.
“We upheld our Policy of Neutrality, which prevents us from taking sides in any form of conflict.”
“But we saw their ambassador leave your city,” Krzysztof replied, confusion filtering through his voice for the first time.
“He left because we rejected his proposal,” Nikz said, regaining some compose despite the tears of joy still streaming down her face, as she stood while helping Ginny to her feet as well. “We have no interest in national alliances.”
“I see,” Krzysztof said with a sigh. “Then that means I have brought misery and death onto you for no reason. I am sorry.”
“That must be a first,” Nikz spoke up, her confidence returning, “An enemy commander apologising for attacking. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?” Riku nodded in reply as he stepped forward and offered his hand to the commander.
“We can save these pleasantries for another time,” he said, wincing from the wound to his outstretched wrist. “What matters now is that we stop this senseless violence around us.”
“I agree,” Krzysztof replied, accepting the handshake as the two walked towards the battlefield, the Imperial Commander pulling a horn from his belt and blew three sharp notes a few times before handing the horn to the Duke, who blew the long loud note of the ceasefire order.
Shards’ eyes slowly opened to the darkness of night. As her blue eyes became accustomed to the darkness, Shards sat up to find herself resting on Terrya’s master bed, the covers having been pulled over her after she fell asleep.
Pushing the covers off, Shards turned to get out of the bed, but something tugged at her leg as she moved, grazing against her skin. Curiosity turned slowly into dread as Shards pulled the covers back to find a shackle clamped to her left ankle, the chain leading to one of the corner posts of the bed.
“I see you’re awake,” A familiar voice stated from within the darker side of the room. Shards turned and could make out the silhouette of Ales sitting with his back against the door, his sheathed sword resting against his shoulder.
“No thanks to this,” Shards replied sarcastically, gesturing to the chain on her ankle.
“Well I don’t want you going anywhere just yet,” Ales came back casually, ignoring Shards’ barbed reply as he stood, back still facing the door.
“But why do all of this? Why hurt Angel, send Terrya away, threaten Lydia and kidnap me? What purpose is there to all of this?”
Ales slowly walked over to the foot of the bed, face showing no emotion as it left the dark side of the room. Shards crawled backwards on the bed as far as her shackle would allow, not knowing what the Prince was planning.
“The purpose, Shards,” Ales explained, his voice as emotionless as his face, “Is to build a better, stronger Incasta, one that stands on top of the ruins of the old.”
A gasp escaped Shards’ lips as fear slowly started seeping through her, the very thought of what Ales would do being the nightmare of Incastan Royals for generations.
“You’re-You’re going to start a civil war?” She asked in a hushed tone. Ales nodded slowly, his self-confident smile beginning to creep back onto his face.
“If you would call it that then yes, although I like to see it as a revolution.” Ales now circled the bed, edging closer to Shards.
“But that can be explained later. As for you, Mistress of Secrets, I have a question for you, about the past of a family member.”