( NOTE* Rebels Of the Bloodlands is one of the first complete English stories the author ever wrote. Its based on the games Suikoden X Wartune. Its a mixture of made up and existing characters. )
Rebels of the Bloodlands
Northern Bloodlands, Littsnow’s castle 01:45 am
Loud voices could be heard through the castle. A young woman opened her eyes and looked around to see where the clock was located. Ananchel was still half asleep when her eyes found the round object, hanging on the wall.
“01:45 am? You’ve got to be kidding me…” She mumbled and rose herself to a higher level. Another one of Littsnow’s great ideas. Waking up everyone in the middle of the night. Probably for some emergency meeting. Getting out of the bed she took her long gown and put it on. Ananchel rubbed her eyes and took out her purple hair from the dress to make it a little more comfortable. She stepped out of the room to find a lot of people roaming through the cold hallways. Like a bunch of zombies they made their way to the meeting room. Yup, definitely another one of Littsnow’s insomnia meetings. This was going to be a long night. Ananchel hated to be there in the Northern Bloodlands Kingdom. Their king was such a monster. Yet, she stayed by his side. He had found her and taken her in, and because of that she stayed loyal to him. The young female mage looked around her, to see everyone heading for the gathering room. She sighed deeply and shook her head slightly. She’d better hurry if she didn’t want an angry king.
As Ananchel entered the large room, most of the people were already there. The woman sat down as her eyes went over to the head of the table.
He wasn’t there yet… She thought and cleared her throat. At that time everyone who was sitting already, got back on their feet including Ananchel as Littsnow entered the room. His long silver hair fell over his muscular shoulders, it looked a little messy, like he just stepped out of bed like that. But Ananchel knew better. Littsnow wasn’t a man of going to bed early. He’d rather stay up all night, thinking of some plan to take over the Bloodlands. There were some black tribal tattoos on his face to hide the scars he had gained through the years he had been in wars. The powerful looking man was wearing a white and silver armor, which had a black cape covering the back of it. On his face there was a sign of satisfaction clearly noticeable. He walked around the table and sat down in his own chair. He slightly nodded his head, giving the permission for everyone to sit down as well. Apparently not all of his counselors knew about his plans. Even that could be told from the look on their faces. And most of them we’re sitting there, either drunk or still half asleep like Ananchel herself. You could easily guess who knew about the plans and who didn’t. Because they were sitting there full of energy as well.
As he began to speak, Littsnow mentioned a spectacular war that had been ten years ago.
A war that had taken place between Highland and the City State of Jowston.
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few months and I decided that I want to pick up what my foolish cousin Luca failed to do. Taking over the city-state, but not only that… We’ll take the Bloodlands as well. I want you to send out a patrol and bring in every person that was involved with Luca’s death ten years ago. I had a dream last night. The beast-rune… It was calling for me… And it wants me to become its new owner.
All of a sudden the room that had been quiet for a several minutes started to talk softly.
“Ehm… My lord… wouldn’t that be too dangerous? We all know that the beast-rune has destroyed sir Luca Blight in a very unpleasant way.” One of the counselors said carefully.
“Do you, Sir George, doubt my plan?” Littsnow hissed with a threatening tone in his voice.
“N-no sir, I’m just saying…-” George couldn’t even finish his line or Littsnow already went into attack mode.
“Do not speak against me!” He yelled, his voice echoing through the old castle. Some of the counselors pulled back a little. They were awakened now for sure. A shiver went down his spine when George saw the way Littsnow reacted. He swallowed softly and nodded slightly; “Not a smart move George…” Ananchel whispered and bit on her bottom lip. She held them tightly pressed on each other as Littsnow stood up and passed her by from behind. He walked over to a board and pulled out a huge map of the Bloodlands.
“Listen up, all of you people. This is the plan.” He explained with a loud and cold voice. Everyone was afraid of him. So no one would ever dare to interrupt the King’s plans.
“This map shows us all places of the Bloodlands who we will plunder. Everyone must know who the real King of the Bloodlands is, Including the Rebels. And I will not rest until the last piece of the puzzle has fallen into its place… There can only be one ruler! This is my land… and I want…All of it…” Littsnow took out a dagger and threw it at the map. He clenched his fists as the dagger got stuck into the place where the castle of the Rebels was situated. A force he had been willing to hunt down for so long. Ananchel’s eyes widened as she took a look at the map. Her heart was pounding in her throat as she swallowed softly and looked at George the other mage who was sitting next to her. This couldn’t be good… Not good at all…
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 02:00 am
People had come together as they heard of Answer training Nanami in her sword skills. Mahmudah, Robert and Jonoh, a few officers of the Rebels, had gone to see them as well. This would promise a spectacular fight.
During the first blows, Nanami concentrated on her defense and let her muscles settle into the rhythm of swordplay. She hadn't been completely honest with Answer. She'd fought with a sword before, in the last years during war, but she had not really been practicing and she didn’t get much better as time passed. Nanami knew she probably wouldn’t become as good as Answer was at this. He apparently had the knowledge of how to fight with any weapon, but if she would ask him where he had learned it, he would simply tell her, he taught himself.
After several minutes of attempting to get past Answer's defenses, Nanami lost her temper and began to batter at him as if to pound him into the ground. The woman had expected a quick defeat and easy humiliation, for she was not an equal opponent to him, So she wouldn’t be to Littsnow at all and her simmering anger about the evil king now boiled, and Nanami began to fight for her life.
“Harder! Littsnow wouldn't be content with pretending wounds and victory; “He is out for blood! Your blood! Our Blood! Or do you want to end up like your grandfather!?”
“Don’t say that! You know nothing about my grandfather!” Nanami hissed and hit his sword again. Nanami was right, Answer knew nothing but a few stories about the man, that Nanami had told him not that long ago. He didn’t even know a name.
“That man was a coward! And this was his easy way out, just to give up like that!
He was a weakling! And people will see you as a weakling as well! Your life has been marked, my lady.” Answer continued.
“How dare you?!” Nanami had no idea where these hurtful words were coming from. She was absolutely not used to Answer treating her this way.
Answer didn’t want to hurt her by saying these things but he figured that this was the only way to have her coming out of her shell, and actually fight the fight. Littsnow wasn’t going to have mercy on her. And if she kept being this vulnerable, she would be nothing more but a little mouse, ready to be stepped on.
“I said stop it!!” Her emotions were overwhelming that moment and without her meaning to do it, she pushed Answer on the ground. He fell pretty hard but quickly grabbed his sword again, before she would hammer hers on him.
The crowd, who had chattered and cheered for their local favorites, became completely silent, Nothing could be heard but the breathes of the small crowd surrounding them. Answer’s words felt like he had just pierced that sword through her heart.
Nanami thought desperately for a way out of this fight, she just kept telling herself she could never handle a sword. She was no knight, her interests lay with the crossbow and her nunchucks. But then again, she knew very well that these weapons would be useless in battle, if she was ever going to face Littsnow, someday. Answer's weapon slipped past her defenses and slashed toward her throat. Nanami dodged, and Answer laughing as if he was having a marvelous time. He praised loudly, "A wonderful strategy, my Lady." When Nanami slashed backhanded in a return blow, Answer trusted his blade vertically and caught it before it cut him in half.
"Very good... Now keep practicing that way and you’ll be fine," he said, placing the sword back on his hip. Nanami blinked as if coming out of a daze, and watched him walk away. "What the hell are you doing? Where are you going?!" She said stunned but Answer didn’t look back. “That’s enough for today.” He simply said before he left the hall.
Nanami glanced towards Jonoh and the others who stood white and silent, her hands clinched in painful distress. Holding onto the sword tightly, she looked down, closing her eyes for a moment. The woman felt kind of embarrassed. Answer surely knew how to free the anger being locked up deep inside of her for so long. But she knew he did it for her. No wonder the people in the castle didn’t always like him so much, he was simply ‘straight to the point’.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 03:30 am
“Move, move!” Nanami yelled as she watched everyone leave the building as fast as they could. She had figured out someone amongst them wasn’t really who they said they were. Sweat drops covered her face as she held on to her nun-chucks, waving her arms to tell her friends to go this way. Her eyes caught the elevator stopping at the same floor as the footsteps of the palace guards became louder in her head while she waited for the others to leave the building.
The next minute the doors flew open and there she saw them, her brother Riou right in front of their once best friend Jowy. Nanami's heart skipped a beat as both men raised their hands and called upon the runes they were carrying, her eyes scanned the area to see where Flik and Viktor had went, but she couldn’t find them either. “Please don’t?!” Nanami cried out, quickly stepping back as the lights of the runes began to glow brighter. The young woman leaned back and searched for cover against the wall. “Why won’t you listen!” She yelled as her eyes started to burn, and the first tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Jowy, Riou stop!” They were right from the beginning. The runes they possessed would in the end destroy them both. The lights became brighter and brighter, it almost blinded her. Nanami hid her face in her hands and prayed they would stop this war at last. She wanted everything to be like it was before. Just the three of them. The ‘Three Musketeers’ or so the people of Kyaro town used to call them. Nanami got ripped out of her thoughts as a loud deafening beep could be heard. The bright explosion of light made her pull back from where she was standing. And at once, it was gone, the lights the sounds. Nanami carefully lifted herself up from the arm that was covering her face and narrowed her eyes. Her brother was still standing, but Jowy wasn’t any longer. Running over to him, she knelt down next to him, and lifted him up a bit. "Jowy?" She whispered softly close to his face, and caressed it softly. "Jowy...? Please... wake up.... Don’t leave me..." The silence was deafening. And Jowy didn’t move. Tears came down her face, as footsteps through the stone hallways became louder.
Doors flew open as a group of archers appeared in the doorway. Aiming for them, they let go of the arrows. She could feel one of them got her, and everything went blank before she passed out.
Nanami opened her eyes to find herself leaning her head on her desk. Another damn nightmare that she had been having for some months now. The strange thing was that she had seen Jowy die in her dreams time after time, but the truth was, she had never been there when it actually happened. The young woman yawned and leaned back in her chair as a loud sigh escaped her lips. Getting up slowly she walked over to the window and stared out of it. The forest surrounding her castle was completely destroyed. Smoke was still coming from the broken trees. The smell of the fallen ones, she was pretty familiar with. She had been through a lot of battles out there. But the last one must have been one of the most difficult wars she had ever been to since Luca Blight and the Highland invasion. But it was worth fighting for.
Sitting down in front of the window she looked out over the completely destroyed lands.
How could they ever been able to win this? She wondered. Nanami knew people needed food during their journey and she wouldn’t deny they had ever plundered some places themselves, but it was just for the food, which made people call them The Rebels Nanami always made sure they had already left before someone got injured. Only this time it felt like she had to stay. Her eyes moved back to the trees. She couldn’t help but to wonder 'how' ? It had been awfully quiet for some days now. A feeling that brought up her suspicion with the day. Like a bad omen it kept causing her skin to crawl at this point.
A loud knock on the door could be heard. The young woman turned around and narrowed her eyes. Now who could that be at this late hour? She wondered.
"Who's there?" Nanami asked softly, hoping for a reply. She looked over to the door as it slowly went open. Squinting her eyes once more, to get a better vision of whoever it was, standing in the doorway. The Young woman straightened up a bit as she saw it was the big bad wolf himself; “Ans…” A weak smile appeared on her lips as she slowly got up from her chair and motioned him to come in. “You’re not sleeping yet, my lady?” Answer asked surprised when he saw her standing at the window. “What brings you here at this late hour?” She asked softly as she watched him closing the door behind him. She wasn’t surprised he didn’t reply to her immediately, for he was the quiet, more like mysterious one of the guild. She found it somehow attractive though. Answer never really talked to the other members but with Nanami he was a whole different person. He always called himself her ‘bodyguard’ Nanami always had to chuckle whenever he said that. She liked him a lot. Maybe it was his long dark hair and the way it fell softly across his forehead, Nanami couldn’t get enough of his deep hazel eyes who captivated her whenever she looked at him.
“My lady…I came to apologize about earlier tonight,” he said with a deep voice and bowed before her. Nanami smiled and tilted her head a bit to the side.
“Don’t be silly Answer… It’s alright… I understand why you did it. And you were right…” She said, and slightly nodded her head. Answer grinned and went back to his former position. “I was just wondering how you are doing, I thought that… maybe I had been a little too harsh on you, back there.” Nanami frowned and his voice trailed off when he saw the look on his mistress’ face.
“Okay, okay, and I brought you some tea…Wasn’t sure you were still awake, knowing that… it is a crazy… late time for a visit.” His voice once again trailed off as he figured it was a crazy late moment indeed. He snapped his fingers and the door went open as one of the kitchen servants entered the room with a cup of hot tea and a vase with a red rose in it. You’ve been working really hard today my lady, so it’s time to relax a little. A special tea with honey, for a special lady with a special flower…” He said and winked. Nanami’s cheeks turned pink as she shyly looked down to the ground. “Thank you dear…” She said softly and smiled at him. “Enjoy your tea…” Answer bowed and took his hat off. Then put it back on and told the other person to come with him. Nanami still had the smile on her face and sat down on the chair. She bit on her bottom lip and looked over to the rose.
Taking it out she smelled it gently and looked back over to the tea. “Wow…” She said and leaned back in the chair. No one really knew anything about Answer, his past was for so many people one big mystery. Nanami wondered why he had come to her in the first place.
He once saved her and from that moment the two were inseparable… He stayed by her side from the moment they had met. She would have loved to know a little more about him, but she didn’t want to force him into telling her anything. But besides all that, For some reason, Nanami knew she could trust him with her life. Just as Nanami wanted to go to bed, another knock could be heard on the door. Nanami frowned and looked up. Maybe Answer forgot something? She thought and walked over to the door. She opened it to find one of her soldiers standing in front of the door. The man bowed for her and handed her a letter.
“It is a message from the General of Sakaiya, my lady,” the man said a bit nervous and Nanami accepted it. She thanked the man and closed the door again. She walked back to the huge king-sized bed and sat down on it. She was surprised to receive a letter from across the borders and wondered what this could have been. Taking out the letter, she began to read it. Something about the handwriting gave her a strange feeling. There were some words written in a special way that Nanami only ever saw from one person: Jowy… But that probably had to be some kind of coincidence… She had probably been thinking too much about him lately.
“My dear Lady,
I’m writing you this letter, because I have a favor to ask. Our Kingdom has been fighting for freedom for the longest time. Now since a few weeks ago, there was another attack from the Northern Bloodlands on Sakaiya. We were able to defend ourselves but we lost half of our army. Now I was wondering if you would consider a merge with us. So that we could finally end this war, once and for all… I have heard that you have a powerful force at your side, and perhaps we could come to an agreement and discuss the possibility of joining forces, so we would stand a chance against King Littsnow and his army.
I ask you kindly, if you would happen to be interested, I would like to meet with you in person, my lady, for I have heard you are a great leader. I hope we could set up a date so we could sit around the table and discuss some opportunities to free our beloved kingdom from this war.
General J. of Sakaiya.”
Nanami stared at the letter in her hand, while the other hand slowly slid down over the piece of paper. Her thoughts trailed off as for a moment she thought back of the last battle they won. The letter made her think for a moment. What if they could do this if they would agree to join Sakaiya indeed? Maybe this war would be really over. Nanami couldn’t imagine a better thing than war to be over… Perhaps she could even pay a visit to her home town Kyaro in Highland.
She sighed deeply as she leaned back in the huge pillows. She was going to have to discuss this with her people tomorrow. Master Shu would know what to do. The man had helped them so much in the past. And Nanami felt honored to have him by her side. If someone would know good strategies, it would be him. She placed the letter under her pillow and rested her head on it. Blowing out the candles, who were lightning the room she closed her eyes, as she slowly drifted off to sleep.
Northern Bloodlands, Littsnow’s castle 05:00 am
Ananchel sat outside on the balcony as she stared over the northern forest. Sometimes she asked herself why she would be still staying in the North and with these people… She didn’t agree the way her master treated the citizens. It was cruel, everything just seemed like a game to him. Yet… She stayed by his side, making her one of them also.
“Can’t you sleep?” A voice said from behind, Ananchel turned her head and looked back over her shoulder to find Sir George standing a little further.
“Not really…” She said almost whispering and sighed softly.
“You shouldn’t worry too much Lass… You’ll be safe, no matter what our master will do… And if things get a little rough out there… Then I got your back, and I do have some little tricks behind the hand. Just so you know,” he said friendly and smiled. Ananchel nodded her head and continued to stare over the forest in silence. “You should try to get some rest… I know it won’t be easy but you need it…” Sir George said and walked away. Ananchel sighed deeply before she decided to give it another try.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 10:07 am
Nanami woke up to take a shower. Thank god they found a way to be able to bathe with warm water. She remembered the first time they got here. There was nothing in the castle only stone and trash. They surely made it better. As Nanami turned on the hot water she took off her night gown and placed it over a chair. She stepped under the shower and closed her eyes, enjoying the warm water that relaxed her body completely. She had to think of last night, Answer bringing her the tea and all. It made her giggle softly. All of a sudden her thoughts trailed off to the first time she met him. It was back in the days of the war in Forest of Doom, the place where their castle was situated.
They had almost won the castle and Nanami was trying to make her way out of the forest but ran into the enemy’s leader with a few soldiers by his side and Nanami had to take them out all by herself for her army was still out there fighting the war. She managed to destroy them all. But a few seconds later more of them came and they surrounded her completely. She remembered almost stumbling over the leader’s dead body and all of a sudden there he was. Answer on his horse, coming out of nowhere. He jumped off and covered her back as both of them began fighting the soldiers. Nanami remembered the cold look in his eyes as he looked down on her, still she felt pretty much attracted to him for some reason.
After they managed to defeat them he took her on his horse and brought her back and ever since, they were together in this. Nanami opened her eyes and turned off the water. She then dressed herself up and took the letter from under her pillow and left the bedroom.
Walking downstairs people were already busy with working on their daily jobs. In the hallway they were building some statues that would represent the Rebels. Nanami felt proud when she looked back at it all. For the first time in her life she felt like everything was going the good way. She was looking around to find master Shu, to discuss with him what they had to do about Sakaiya’s request. Stopping in front of his room, Nanami knocked on the door. A voice told her to come in and Nanami did as asked. “Master Shu?” She said softly and looked around to find him at the table. Answer was there also, Sitting on a chair, both feet on the table, as shameless as he was, it made Nanami laugh from the inside all over again.
“Ahh Nanami dear, what can I do for you?” Shu said and stood up.
Nanami smiled and looked at Answer. A warm feeling went through her body, every time she saw the man, but of course she wouldn’t admit it.
“Hi Ans…” She said softly and the man smiled back at her.
“Hey Nan…” Nanami took out the letter and held it up in front of Master Shu, who looked a bit surprised. “What’s this?” He said friendly and accepted the letter. Shu opened it as he started to read it.
“Good .. good…” He mumbled under his breath as he reached the final sentence.
“What is it?” Answer said and straightened up. He took his feet from the table and walked over to Shu. Looking over the man’s shoulder he quickly read through the letter.
“Sakaiya wants to join forces?” He said stunned and looked up to Nanami and Shu.
“I believe so…” Shu turned to the woman and nodded his head.
“This may be the way to get rid of NBK… So I would suggest, we would go pay them a visit, end of the week. I will send out a messenger to inform them about our consideration.” Shu took the letter and put it in his coat. “Now if you kids will excuse me…” He said with a smile and turned around. “I have some plans to make. I will get back to the both of you as soon as possible,” both Nanami and Answer nodded and left the room.
They stopped in front of the door as they closed it behind them.
“Would you like to go grab a drink?” Answer said and looked over to Nanami who smiled and nodded her head. “Sure…” She said softly, still smiling at him as they made their way back to the tavern.
Roaring Wetlands, Murken Forest 9:15 pm
A shiver went down her spine as she stood there outside in the dark. Even though she had been wearing warm clothes, the cold still managed to make her skin crawl. It had been a late night. Littsnow had thrown his plans on the table and there had been a discussion all night long. After the meeting, Ananchel had left for her room again. She decided to get back in contact with Zhalia who she knew had joined in with the Rebels, so she could warn her for what was going to happen.
They decided to meet each other again after a long time apart and in the distance she could already see the open area where they were about to meet. They had been there a lot of times before, when they were younger. So she knew the place like the back of her hand.
Ananchel arrived at the spot, but noticed that Zhalia still wasn’t there. Her violet orbs scanned the area and noticed the two rocks, lying in the middle not too far away from her. She walked over to it and slowly sat down as her thoughts drifted away for a moment. The stones reminded her of the last time they had been here. Both Zhalia and Ananchel used to come here almost every day. They would be sitting on the rocks as well, talking and laughing all night and right now they were again at the same spot. Ananchel snapped out of her thoughts as a smile appeared on her lips when she heard light footsteps coming her way from behind.
“I thought that maybe you wouldn’t come…” The violet haired woman said, without turning around. “You said it was important…” A female voice responded, there was something cold about it, yet such a familiar voice. A short silence appeared as Zhalia sat down on the other rock. “I see you’re still with Littsnow…” Ananchel didn’t respond, she just looked over to Zhalia and sat there a moment in silence. But then broke the silence once more and began to talk again.
“I asked you to come because I’ve got some news for you,” Ananchel said, her voice sounded seriously and it immediately drew Zhalia’s attention, which made her look up to Ananchel again. “Sounds important indeed.” Zhalia replied as Ananchel started to tell her what happened during their meeting; Their conversation which took all night.
“Our king has decided he wants to take over The Bloodlands very soon…”
“Your king is a monster.” Zhalia hissed before Ananchel got the chance to continue.
“He has sent out a party already, who’s heading for Olympus very soon.” Ananchel could see how Zhalia’s eyes widened in shock.
“I don’t know exactly when but they will be there soon. Sometimes our master doesn’t say a thing until he thinks it’s the right moment,” Zhalia noticed the sorrow in Ananchel voice and stood up immediately. She let a hand slide through her long dark hair, while the other hand was still holding her staff. “I don’t want war Zhal… And I don’t want you to think that I agree with my master’s behavior…” Zhalia looked up when she heard the woman’s words. She knew very well what Littsnow had done for Ananchel, when Zhalia wasn’t there.
And of course she knew she didn’t agree with the things her master did, but she never got the chance to tell her that she knew, for they hadn’t seen each other for the longest time.
Zhalia couldn’t help but to smile, which made Ananchel raise a brow.
“Why are you smiling?” She asked surprised.
“I’m smiling, because I missed you my little sister… And I never got the chance to tell you that… But I’ve always known you were not like him… Yes he has saved you, and you’re thankful to him, but that’s because you have a good heart,” Zhalia stood up and sat down next to Ananchel as she hugged her sister. Ananchel squinted her eyes as she noticed Zhalia’s cold attitude had disappeared like the wind.
“I should’ve asked you this a long time ago but… Come with me please? I would feel so much better to have you with us, so that I know you will be safe… And I’m sure you would love it there.” Ananchel looked down as the silence had once again returned.
“Zhal… I’m sorry… But I can’t do that… It’s better if I stay North and collect all the information that I can get, so that I can hand it over to you… We need to stop this war, sister… So many people are depending on us… On Rebels… If there’s someone who could stop this war… Then it will be you guys… I’m sure of it. And besides… They can’t find out we’re related… Or all hell will break loose,”
“I don’t want you to spy on NBK, that’s too dangerous… I could never forgive myself if I’d accept your offer and bring your life in danger.” Ananchel slightly shook her head as she looked at Zhalia. No one at NBK knew about her background and back home at the Rebels, no one knew that Zhalia had a sister either. “I will be fine… They trust me. And as long as they don’t know that I’m secretly seeing you, nothing will change.” Ananchel said and with a bad feeling Zhalia knew she had to respect her decision. And besides, she didn’t really know what to tell Nanami either. Zhalia remained silent as Ananchel turned around and started to walk away. When she reached the end of the open area, she looked back over her shoulder. “I’ll keep in touch.” Before Zhalia could answer, Ananchel had already disappeared into the darkness. Zhalia smiled weakly and got back up again. She let out a deep sigh, preparing for her trip back to The forest of Doom.
Shrine Of Sakaiya, Fetid Swamp, 2:30 pm
The days had gone by faster than Nanami expected and today was the day; Nanami stood there, feeling a little nervous as she could feel the eyes burning in her back, as they made their way into the castle of Sakaiya. The city who asked them for help. She had shown the letter to Shu and Answer last week and so they suggested to go and pay the General a visit and now they were there at last.
Answer looked at Nanami and smiled. The others had joined them as well; Jonoh, Mahmudah, Zhalia and even Robert came along on the trip, for they were all officers and some of the most important people of the Rebels. Nanami stood with her back towards the door where the General was about to walk through. She sighed softly and looked up when two men, probably officers as well entered the large room, followed by the General himself. Nanami smiled at Answer before she turned around to get a better vision of the man. The smile on her face faded from her lips when she saw the man that was called the General. Nanami’s heart skipped a beat as it began to race faster right away. The last person she could’ve imagined showing up in front of her was actually there. Nanami felt the ground disappear from beneath her and she felt like she was about to pass out. Everything went so fast like a strange dream.
“J…Jowy?” She said in shock, almost whispering. Her arms and legs began to shake, as the palms of her hands started to sweat. Nanami noticed that she wasn’t the only one in shock. The color on the General’s face had faded along with hers.
“Nami…” Jowy said also with a soft voice. He couldn’t believe she was here and alive. Answer looked at them, not understanding what was going on, but they apparently knew each other from somewhere. Jowy… Answer had heard that name before, he was positive about it. The man narrowed his eyes and looked over to Nanami, and from Nanami to the General again. He looked back as Nanami took some steps towards Jowy and held her lips tightly pressed on each other as she made her way to the general.
Mahmudah leaned in to whisper something in Answer’s ear; “Is that ‘The Jowy’?” She asked softly and Answer glared. All of a sudden a bell started to ring. Answer gritted his teeth as he stood there in silence. “I’m talking about the ‘lost love Jowy’ Ans…” Mahmudah reminded him and Answer growled softly. “I get it, okay?” Answer hissed, making the girl take a few steps back. He definitely didn’t seem to like the guy already. “How…?” Nanami asked softly as she looked up to Jowy. Jowy didn’t respond he just lowered his head and stood there in silence.
“Can we talk?” Jowy said all of a sudden as he broke the silence. Nanami looked back over her shoulder to see how Answer would react to it, but he didn’t say a word and looked down as well. Zhalia walked over to her and placed her hand on Nanami’s shoulder.
“You should go Nan…” Zhalia said and Nanami slightly nodded her head.
“I’ll be fine…” She said still barely hearable and looked back to Jowy again. Answer’s eyes also fell on the tall blonde guy, as he saw him motioning to his men, telling them to come to him.
“Could you two show our guests around?” Jowy asked them and the two officers nodded their heads. Jowy looked back to Nanami again.
“The lady and I, have some things to talk about. So I would like to postpone our meeting for a few hours.” Answer glared at Jowy, hearing the man’s words. But if this was what Nanami wanted, than he would accept it. Besides all that, they had to stay friendly with him if they wanted to stand a chance against Littsnow. He knew their mistress had to do this for their own sake. “I’ll see you guys soon…” Nanami said and walked over to Jowy. Her heart was still beating in her throat and she was still in shock that the person she thought was dead now turned out to be alive after all.
Jowy’s men led them to the exit of the large room and waited for everyone to follow. Answer stood still for a moment, thinking if he had to let her go alone with him. He watched them walk towards another door. “Yo, Ans? You coming?” Jonoh called out, waiting for him to come with them. Answer gritted his teeth once more as he gave Jowy ‘the look’ as he watched them disappear and followed his guildies out of the room.
Nanami froze when Jowy closed the door behind them. She could not get a word over her lips. The woman had no idea what attitude she had to take on…
“Nami…” Jowy reached out his hand to her, but Nanami stepped back.
“Don’t touch me…” She said, slightly panicking as Jowy wanted to touch her face. He pulled back immediately and looked away as he cleared his throat.
“How have you been?” He asked carefully as a short silence appeared. He noticed the look on Nanami’s face had turned from confused to anger now.
“How have I been…?” The woman hissed. Jowy didn’t answer, he could feel that there was more coming. “How have I been!?” Nanami repeated, her voice sounded louder this time. “Jowy… I have been mourning your death for … God knows how long, while this whole time you were alive? And all you can ask is; ‘How have I been’!? I thought you were dead!” Nanami couldn’t stop all the emotions that overwhelmed her.
“I’m sorry…” Jowy said calmly and moved closer to her. “I…Just… I… I didn’t know…” Jowy was just as speechless as Nanami was… Confused, hurt, just like her.
“I… I thought… I know it’s no excuse but… Last time I checked you were pronounced dead!” Nanami narrowed her eyes and glared at him. “Yes! Because YOU left me for dead! When Gorudo’s men shot me, you just walked away!” Tears appeared in her eyes as she looked at him. For years she had been telling herself that if she’d get one more time to see him, She would just hold him, and forgive him for everything. Just to see him that one more time. But now that he actually was here, things were different.
“We were enemies back then… You know that… I had no choice…” Jowy answered.
“That is not true! You had a choice, Jowy. You could’ve come home with Riou and me, but you didn’t… Right after we defeated Luca Blight, you chose to stay with Highland,” she yelled as Jowy tried to stay calm but it wasn’t an easy thing to do.
“I was their king for god sakes!” This time Jowy’s voice sounded louder.
“No, Jowy! You were just a kid! All of us were…” Nanami answered stubborn. “Sweetheart… I thought I could bring back peace to our lands…-”
“- By forcing my brother to surrender to Highland?! After all they did to us?”
Nanami truly didn’t understand, How could he just do that to them?
“It was complicated… You wouldn’t understand…” Jowy’s voice trailed off and the silence took over once again. “No, you made it complicated Jow… From the moment you joined Highland… You changed… You killed people… Lady Anabelle… You even let Highland into Muse City…” Jowy kept staring at the ground.
“And I wasn’t proud of that but I had to do it,” he admitted carefully.
“I cared about you… I even begged you to stay, so that we could be together again, all of us… But you… You just turned your back at us and walked away. How you think that made me feel? Or Riou… He was your best friend! You were like a big brother to him.” Jowy sighed deeply and looked at her. “I never wanted to hurt you… You know that…” He said softly and looked down on her. “I’m sorry Nami… I really am… I made mistakes… And I know that very well… I let you down, I let Riou down and for what? In the end it didn’t turn out the way I planned anyway, I only lost you…and Riou… The only people who cared for me.” Jowy meant every word he said. He just always seemed to have a hard time, expressing his feelings. Nanami on the other hand, was having a hard time, trying to fight her tears. But she could no longer hide them, and let them escape her eyes. Jowy noticed and moved closer to her. He slowly moved his hands to her face and wiped the tears away. He then looked into her dark hues to see that she had been hurt and right now he wanted to do anything, to make that pain go away. “I’m so, so sorry… But it seems destiny has brought us together once again…” He said close to her face. For a moment Nanami forgot everything around her, but then snapped out of it and looked away. “We should go.” She said softly. “The others are waiting for us…” Mixed feelings went through her and it only confused her more.
“We don’t have time for this right now…” She said with a low voice and cleared her throat as she cleaned the tears from her face. Nanami turned around and made her way to the door. Jowy decided to leave it aside for now and followed her out.
Everyone else was already waiting in the gathering hall. Answer jumped up when he saw the baffled look on Nanami’s face as she entered the room, followed by Jowy. Zhalia told him to calm down and that he could go to her after the meeting. Answer knew he had to calm down a bit indeed for now… They needed cooperation if they wanted to defeat Littsnow’s army.
Everyone sat down as the silence returned right away. Jowy looked around the table before he began to speak. There were six officers on each side of the table and Jowy cleared his throat. “As a few of you already know, I’ve been writing my lady a letter, asking her people to support us in our fight against the Northern Bloodlands. At first I didn’t know if this would be a good plan, because we don’t really know much about these people who would call them the Rebels. But now that I’ve seen that the Rebel leader is someone I used to know very well, a long time ago… I can be sure that we can trust them and continue our plans to join forces against Littsnow.” Jowy said and looked over to Nanami, who slightly nodded her head. “So… If the lady and her officers agree for us to move in with them during this war. I suggest we’ll start packing our bags and leave for the South, first thing in the morning. Are there any questions?” Jowy asked, looking around the room but everyone remained silent for a moment but one of Jowy’s officers raised his hand. Jowy nodded, allowing him to speak up.
“Where do we stay during war? Will we be setting up camp?” Nanami looked over to Jowy.
“I will make sure they’ll make place for all of you. We could head back together in the morning. Also, I will send out a messenger, so my people will be prepared well for your arrival.” Nanami agreed and looked over to her own officers. She was glad to see no one would speak against the offer, and now that they were here anyway, she felt like having a little break from all the obligations back home, if only for a day.
The sun was shining brightly as Nanami sat in the grass, staring into the clear water of the small lake. There was a waterfall coming from the mountains, surrounding the lake. The water looked so nice and the weather was so warm that Nanami couldn’t resist taking a swim. Answer was also sitting on a hill near the same lake. He was so busy cleaning his gear that he didn’t notice Nanami had arrived at the same spot as well. The young woman dropped her clothes, revealing her bare upper body as she took a look into her reflection in the water. A large scar was visible on the spot where Gorudo’s arrow had pierced her stomach ten years ago. She still couldn’t believe she actually made it through that horrible day. Nanami stretched her arms as she dove into the fresh water, and came up again.
Answer, who still seemed frustrated about their little meet up with Jowy, earlier, got ripped out of his thoughts and looked up as he heard the loud splash. Narrowing his eyes he looked over to the water and shocked when he saw Nanami coming out of it. Even though she had her bare back turned to him, he swallowed softly as he couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. His heart began to raise as his cheeks turned pink. It skipped a beat though when a voice sounded from behind him, calling out his name and Answer almost dropped his gear. Jonoh stood there, a little further as he waved at Answer to come to him. Answer didn’t doubt a second and quickly put on his boots as he walked up to Jonoh, making sure he wouldn’t notice Nanami down there. Before he left, Answer looked back over his shoulder one more time, to where his mistress was swimming. But she was no longer there.
Shrine Of Sakaiya, Fetid Swamp, 19:30 pm
“So, this is Sakaiya huh?” Nanami said with a grin and walked over to Answer who stood there against a wall, away from the crowded people who were celebrating. Music could be heard everywhere and Nanami was actually having a good time. It felt good, to have something to celebrate. Answer on the other hand seemed somewhat tense. She noticed he didn’t even hear her speak. “Are you okay?” Answer looked over to her as he finally seemed to snap out of his thoughts and nodded his head. “Yeah, yeah I’m fine…” He mumbled as he looked over to Jowy who exchanged a glance with him. “I just don’t trust him…” Answer said without taking his eyes off of Jowy. “Answer, you don’t trust anyone.” Nanami said and grinned as she all of a sudden took his arm and pulled him on the dancefloor. Answer looked up in shock as he got pulled away from the wall and now stood there in the middle of the dancing people. “Let’s just enjoy tonight, hm?” He once again glanced over to Jowy and noticed he seemed a bit irritated by them being out there together but Nanami didn’t notice. She was too busy stealing everyone’s attention on the dancefloor. Answer couldn’t help but to grin and shook his head after he finally gave in and decided to dance with her. Even though he knew he wasn’t that great at it, at least he was aware of the basics and if that’s what it would take to have his mistress’ attention, than he would gladly take it.
Jowy looked over to them as he stood there talking to one of his officers.
“I don’t trust that guy…” He said with a low voice and the other man looked over as he also noticed Nanami and Answer out there having fun in the dancing crowd. They surely were the couple who would steal the night. The man however, couldn’t tell if it was his general’s true opinion or just the jealousy talking right now. “I want you to keep an eye on him. There’s something about this man…” Jowy narrowed his eyes and slammed his drink back nervously.
“As you wish, my lord.” The man said and looked over to them.
Jonoh and Mahmudah were sitting in front of the tavern with Zhalia and Robert. They didn’t really care about the party now that they had their drinking party every day. “So, looks like we just won ourselves a new force, that’s worth a toast, I guess!” Jonoh grinned and raised his glass. “To us Rebels! And may evil king Lithsnow fall very soon!” The others agreed and also raised their glasses. But Zhalia didn’t seem that happy. The concern on her face would give it away. “Are you okay, babe?” Robert asked her and Zhalia slightly nodded her head. “Yeah, there’s just something I need to discuss with Nan, but it can wait until we get back home.” She said and swallowed her drink.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 5:30 pm
After they arrived home the next day, Nanami immediately went to master Shu. She told him how they came to an agreement and that the general would join them later that day. At first she was afraid of how Shu would react if she told him that it was Jowy who wrote them the letter. But he wasn’t surprised at all. On the contrary, Shu knew that Jowy was alive. He had always known and Nanami still didn’t understand why he had never told her.
Zhalia removed the final curler from Nanami’s hair and released her long curly locks. The woman noticed that the color of her hair had changed through the years. Her usually dark hair had now even become lighter. Nanami smiled as she sat there in front of the oval mirror and looked at the masterpiece for a moment. She loved to just make herself beautiful for a dance and tonight was the official celebration of their reunion with Sakaiya. She still had these mixed up emotions, which gave her a funny feeling in her stomach, although it wasn’t that funny at all. Jowy was back and Nanami had no idea how to act towards him. She had been avoiding him ever since their last conversation and right now she was still a total mess, emotionally. They were expecting Jowy and the rest of his officers that night so they came up with the idea to celebrate it with another dance. The beginning of their victory they called it. Nanami watched how Zhalia was fixing her hair in the mirror as her thoughts drifted away for a moment.
“So… Jowy is back huh?” Nanami’s heart skipped a beat as she got ripped out of her thoughts, by hearing his name. She carefully looked up to Zhalia, still in the mirror and bit on her bottom lip. “Yes he is…” Nanami answered softly and looked down on her hands as Zhalia smiled and started to braid her hair. She left some of the curls out to make it look a little more playful. “How does it feel? I mean… He has been on your mind for years… And in your heart also hasn’t he? And now that he appears to be alive…” Zhalia asked, still focusing on Nanami’s hair. But Nanami didn’t answer. She had no idea how it felt. She felt relieved that he was still alive, yes… But on the other hand, she just started to accept he was gone and all of a sudden he was there again. It confused her a lot.
Zhalia noticed and smiled weakly. “Do you still love him?” Nanami looked up as she heard Zhalia’s question and stared in front of her for a moment.
“Things are different now…” She simply answered as her thoughts went to a different man. The one who has always been by her side and never left her, even when things got rough. But of course she couldn’t deny that she still cared about Jowy, but that was all. They had been friends as long as she could remember.
“A lot of things have happened in the past… Between Jowy and me. And I’ve missed ten years of our lives together. And I don’t think it could become the way we once were… Not anymore,” Zhalia didn’t answer, she just stood there in silence, listening to what her friend was saying. Nanami was like a little sister to her. The sister she had been missing for the longest time. But now Ananchel was back too, so it felt like she had only gained more. Nanami looked at her hair and Zhalia noticed the twinkle in her eyes.
“It looks beautiful…” Nanami said and stood up to hug her friend.
“Hey… There must be someone out there looking beautiful for Ans,” Zhalia joked and Nanami’s eyes widened in shock. “Hey!” She cried out and pushed her softly.
“There’s nothing going on between me and Ans, Zhal, we’re just friends,” Zhalia rolled her eyes and turned around. “Yeah, yeah… Keep telling that to yourself. You might wanna believe it for real one day.” The young woman chuckled and walked over to the door.
“I’ll be in the ballroom, our guests will be arriving soon. This is gonna be one hell of a night,” Zhalia said with a grin and left the room. Nanami turned around to look at herself in the mirror. She loved the gown she was wearing. The red color really matched her hazel colored hair nicely. Nanami smiled once more before she left the room also.
Jowy’s army had already arrived a few hours ago, so they had some time to prepare themselves for tonight’s event. Jowy stood in front of the huge mirror, fixing his collar as he looked at it silently. He felt somewhat nervous but wouldn’t give in. It wasn’t too hard to agree with the merge as soon as he saw Nanami. Jowy knew he had to fix a lot of things if he wanted to make up with her for all the lost years. He just didn’t know how or where to start.
The ticking of the clock became louder as it jumped on 8:00 pm and Jowy looked up. He knew he had to hurry up because the party was about to start. He quickly brushed his hair back and took a look at it. Sometimes he wondered why he hadn’t cut off his hair a long time ago. He grinned by the thoughts of how much better his hair looked now that it wasn’t in a long tail anymore. Shaking off the thoughts he turned around and left the room.
As he reached the ballroom everything just looked so beautiful. Flowers everywhere, made the place look and smell so sweet. He looked around to see Answer standing there, talking with the woman he remembered was called Zhalia. Her long dark hair kind of reminded him of Princess Jillia Blight of Highland, the woman he once was married too. She was beautiful but their marriage had no future, so he had left her and the little girl Pilika, he used to look after, back in Harmonia. So they could live a peaceful life right after the war between Highland and the City-State was over. He made the people of his kingdom believe he had killed the Blight princess with his own hands. Making the people believe he had pierced that dagger right through her heart as they all witnessed. But it was just a doll. Jowy slowly walked over to Answer and Zhalia, as the music started to change. He stopped immediately as Nanami in her huge dress appeared on top of the stairs. Both Jowy and Answer’s jaw slowly dropped as they watched the beautiful appearance walk down the stairs. Nanami’s heart skipped a beat when she saw both men standing bellow her, and it all of a sudden began to race faster as soon as all eyes were on her. Nanami focused on Answer who looked back at her stunned, as his eyes met hers which brought back the balance. When Nanami almost reached the final step, Jowy wanted to walk towards her but Zhalia grabbed his arm and pulled him back a little, almost making the man lose his balance.
“I’ve heard you’ve got some great… ‘fighting’ skills with a Bo staff… Perhaps you could tell me some more about it? I would love to learn how to do that…” Zhalia said with a smile, using her charm to take him away from Nanami and Answer. Jowy looked at her surprised and forgot about Nanami for a moment, which gave Answer the opportunity to get to her first. As he walked up the stairs and reached out his hand to her, he helped her down. Nanami smiled and let him lead her down gently.
“May I have this dance, my lady?” Answer asked charmingly. Nanami smiled and allowed him to lead the way. He brought her hand up to his shoulder while he took the other in his and leaned in, close to her ear.
“I’m a bad dancer, you know?” He whispered in her ear, while his free hand went down to the woman’s waist. “I wouldn’t say that…” Nanami responded. “You did pretty well last night.” Her eyes went to Jowy for a moment, who was still standing there with Zhalia and he looked back at her. The annoyed look on his face made Nanami’s teeth clench on each other for a moment but she couldn’t help but to giggle from the inside. Her eyes went back to Answer again, locking them with his. And like always, it felt so confident.
All around them, servants were walking up to the guests, to offer them either a glass of wine or champagne. Robert took two glasses of champagne and walked over to Zhalia who looked up with a smile, and accepted the drink. “Looks like those two are finally starting to hook up.” He said with a grin and pointed at Answer and Nanami, who were still dancing. Jowy heard what Robert said and looked away. Zhalia carefully looked over to Jowy and couldn’t help but to feel a little sad for him.
“Excuse me…” Zhalia said to Robert and quickly took a glass with red wine from the servant, who just passed her by and walked over to Jowy. Handing him the drink, Jowy accepted it and nodded his head thankfully to her. “Are you okay, Jowy?” Zhalia asked a little worried, as her eyes went from Jowy to Answer and Nanami. Jowy looked at Zhalia and slammed the drink back at once. He swallowed softly, making the drink disappear fast and placed the glass on the table behind him. He then grabbed Zhalia’s hand and pulled her on the dance floor.
“Let’s dance.” He said softly and before Zhalia could say another word, they were already waltzing amongst the other people.
Answer smiled and twirled Nanami around. At that moment Master Shu told the orchestra to stop playing and the silence returned immediately. The only thing they could hear was the guests talking to each other. The man walked up to a servant and took a glass of wine from the plate. “Ladies and gentlemen, May I have your attention please?” Everyone looked up to him and stopped talking at once. Nanami smiled as she looked over to Shu, while Answer was still holding her hand. She had seen Master Shu change through the years as he slowly, but clearly turned older. The long dark hair he used to have had slowly began to turn to grey, yet he still seemed to be in good shape, and his strategies didn’t lie.
“First of all, I would like to welcome our guests who came all the way from Sakaiya, to celebrate this night with us. The Rebellion forces of the Bloodlands.
May our joining forces lead us to victory and beyond!” Everyone cheered and raised their glass up high.
All of a sudden the cheering got cut off as the doors flew open. Everyone looked up in shock, when they saw a woman covered with blood and scratches, rising on her horse. She brought her hand up in the air as a small light slowly grew bigger in her hand. Once it was big enough, she threw it through the ballroom and hit the huge crystal chandelier that was hanging above the dance floor. It began to shake heavily and within a few seconds it came down from the ceiling and hit the Floor. Small pieces of the lamp flew through the ballroom and people began to scream everywhere.
“Is that Amateur?!” Nanami said and looked over to Answer who was as shocked as she was. Then the other way, where the screaming was coming from. All of a sudden someone passed her by in a rush, making her almost lose her balance. She noticed something strange about Master Shu. He stood there in silence, looking at his chest in shock as well. Nanami looked back to the woman on the horse, seeing the person who seemed to be in a rush, jump on the back of the Olympus’ leader, as they quickly rode off into the night. Her eyes widened even more when she noticed that it was Soffell, who had just left with Amateur. Everyone stood there stunned, trying to find out what just happened. At that moment Master Shu just collapsed. Nanami’s heart skipped a beat when she noticed the dagger stuck in his chest.
“Get a doctor, right now!” Nanami commanded as she slightly panicked, and ran over to Shu, while Mahmudah took off to find a doctor. “Shu…” Answer said and knelt down beside the man who was lying there in a pool of blood.
Jowy stood there in silence as everything came back at him at that very moment. He knew very well what this was. He did the same thing, to Lady Anabelle, ten years ago... He was too weak to say much more, but Master Shu looked over to Nanami.
“I’m sorry…” He said softly under his breath and took Nanami’s hand.
“I’m… Not gonna make it… This time…”-
“No, no, don’t say that Shu…” For a moment she closed her eyes and opened them again, as tears appeared in her dark orbs. “Don’t leave us… We need you…” Nanami couldn’t stop the tears rolling down her face, and held on to his hand. “Nanami… I’m so proud… Of you. I’ve seen you grow… So much…” Shu’s breathing became heavier as he spoke. He felt he was slowly slipping away. As he still lay there on the ground, the pain he didn’t feel any longer, for his body had become numb. “Sshh… Please don’t talk… The doctor will be here any second now. You’re gonna be fine Shu…” Mahmudah had already returned and the doctor followed her quickly. But as they arrived, the doctor only had to take one look at the wounded man, to know that this wasn’t good. He was fatally wounded and couldn’t be saved anymore.
The doctor looked over to Answer and shook his head, sadness clearly noticeable on his face. Answer didn’t need much to get the hint and closed his eyes as he lowered his head.
“Nanami… I have… One last request…” Shu said softly and Nanami opened her eyes to look at him. “What is it?” She whispered softly as she leaned over him.
“Find Apple… She’ll know how to win this war…”
“Apple…?” Nanami said but those were Shu’s final words before he blew out his last breath.
“Shu…?” Nanami’s voice sounded softly, she moved her hands to his face, but he didn’t respond any longer. “Don’t you stand there!” She snarled at the doctor and looked over to the man. “Do something!!” Nanami cried out as she broke down. Zhalia placed her hands on Nanami’s shoulder to calm her down a little, but it didn’t help much.
“It’s done Nan… He’s gone…” The woman said, holding on to Nanami. Clenching his fists, Answer gritted his teeth and stood up. Without saying a word he ran away, hoping to find any trace of Amateur and Soffell. For weeks now everyone had a feeling that someone amongst them, was exchanging information with outsiders, but no one knew where it came from. But now they finally did. Now that it was too late… But that it had to be Soffell… No one would’ve thought that, cuz she was one of the officers as well. And people thought she truly was loyal, even though she kept herself most of times on the background.
“Ans, wait!” Jonoh wanted to follow him, but Jowy pulled him back, as everyone stood there in silence.
Answer rode until he reached Edena village but no sign of any of them. He should’ve known they would be gone long time before he got there. He looked around but the silence was overwhelming. Moving his hands in front of his face, he sat there for a few minutes, before he turned around and rode back to the castle.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 22:30 pm
Later that night, Nanami had made her way to the rose garden. She was sitting at the fountain and stared into the water. Her dress was still covered with Master Shu’s blood, but she didn’t care. Nanami felt guilty for talking him into joining them, after he retired. Still, he wanted to help her. “If your kid brother could do it, then so can you.” His words roamed through her head. How much she missed her brother Riou. She had no idea how he was doing, or where he would be right now. But how much she wanted to see him right now. A tear rolled down her cheek and into the water. She looked up slowly as footsteps approached her.
“I’m sorry for your loss…” A well familiar voice said all of a sudden and Nanami looked up to find Jowy standing there.
Answer had also appeared. He stood there on the balcony, and looked out over the forest.
The moon had reached her full cycle and was now spreading a ghostly glow out over the high trees. From below Answer could hear some people talk. It was quiet so not that hard to miss it. Looking down, his heart skipped a beat when he saw Nanami with the new guy standing there… He couldn’t forget the look on her face when meeting him again after ten years. Answer all of a sudden felt like the third wheel. He didn’t understand why he felt that way. He had no rights to claim his mistress like that, but he did know about her childhood love for this Jowy guy or whatever the hell it was. And now he was a general…
Answer clenched his fist and hit it on the stone wall, causing a hole in it. Why did this man look so familiar to him? It just didn’t feel right to see him. It wasn’t jealousy, or at least not all of it… But Answer had the feeling he had met him before. But the thoughts of not knowing, nor remembering, simply frustrated him. He clenched his fingers in his long dark hair. He had to remember…
“Why didn’t you look for me…?” Nanami asked as she looked up to Jowy.
“I… I don’t know… I just…” Jowy didnt really know what to say, really. If he had known she was still alive he would’ve come back for her. But he didn’t. He could tell she had been hurt, and he hated himself for not finding her earlier. It had been ten years since the highland army had fallen. He had done so many bad things in the past… And for what? Power… It had always been about power. He even married the princess of Highland, Jillia Blight for the wrong reasons. There had never been love between them, just some stupid protocols and Luca. They respected each other yes, but love… Never… “There wasn’t a day, I did not think of you Nami… You must know that. When Gorudo’s men shot you…-” Jowy swallowed as his words trailed off. He looked down and closed his eyes tightly.
“They said you were dead…” Nanami could hear the sadness and the regret in his voice.
Jowy took a rose from the bush behind them and handed it over to her.
“I’m here now… and I’m not going anywhere… Unless you want me too,” he said and caressed the young woman’s face. Nanami slightly smiled and smelled the rose she had gained gently. She loved roses. But they all had a different meaning for her. Jowy then pulled her into a hug and held her close for a moment. He had been longing to do so for such a long time, but he never thought he would ever be able to do that again. Until the moment he saw her again. It was perfect… And she, more beautiful than ever. Nanami closed her eyes and enjoyed their reunion for a moment. Not knowing Answer still stood there on the balcony, watching them in silence as they spoke. “What happened to Jillia?” Nanami asked softly as she released herself from his embrace. Jowy raised a brow and looked down.
“We got a divorce…” He said and turned around. He didn’t want to show Nanami the guilt he felt towards her. “I assumed you loved her…?” Nanami answered confused.
“Love had nothing to do with our marriage… It was Luca… I thought you knew that,” the tone of Jowy’s voice changed to a somewhat colder way. He didn’t like being reminded of the mistakes he had made in the past. But from Nanami he could take it.
“Im sorry… I thought…-” she said and looked down as well.
“It’s alright… Don’t worry about it… I know I was wrong but I changed… I’m no longer the foolish kid I was ten years ago… I’ve learned from my mistakes. But my past will always be a part of me… Like a nightmare that doesn’t seem to get to an end… There’s nothing I can change about that.” Nanami nodded her head as a slight smile appeared on her lips.
“Well… Welcome back Jowy Atreides…” She said and looked up to him, her eyes blinking in the lights of the full moon. Jowy smiled at her and for a moment his eyes were locked with hers. His hand moved to her cheekbones as he slowly leaned in, not able to resist her beautiful appearance. He couldn’t think of anything else but to kiss her beautiful lips, right now.
But he could tell that for some reason she was holding back. Nanami’s heart skipped a beat and began to race as she noticed he was now pretty close to her. She swallowed softly and froze for a moment. Answer’s eyes widened as he was still standing there, watching them. He didn’t want to witness the whole thing so he just closed his eyes and looked away as he made his way back inside.
“Jowy…” Nanami said softly. Jowy looked up and pulled back a little as he got the hint. He noticed that she wasn’t ready for this… yet.
“I… Understand…” He said sweetly and kissed her forehead gently.
“I just need some time… That’s all…” What was she doing? For years she had been thinking of him.… And now… Now that he was here… Now that he was about to kiss her… She looked away? What was stopping her? Nanami didn’t understand. For some reason her eyes went up to the balcony of Answer’s room and a short silence appeared.
“You should get some rest, Jowy… It’s been a long journey… Tomorrow we’ve got a lot to talk about…” Nanami said and nodded her head again. She moved closer to him and kissed his cheek softly. “Good night…” She whispered and without waiting for a reply from him, she took off and went to her own room.
Jowy stood there, as his eyes scanned the area. They stopped when he saw Answer coming out again, standing on the balcony. Answer just looked down on him in silence, as a cool breeze made his long hair dance in the wind. Although it was dark and Jowy couldn’t see well, he could tell that this man’s stare was a deadly one. Jowy narrowed his eyes and slightly shook his head as he stepped back and walked away.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 09:30 am
The next morning footsteps could be heard through the empty hallways of the castle.
Answer decided to go see Jowy in person and find out what he was really up to. He didn’t sleep all night and he sure as hell didn’t trust the guy and Answer couldn’t help but to feel like he had met him before.
He was about to enter the gathering hall, when all of a sudden he heard a familiar voice speak. Answer quickly pulled back and hid himself behind the wall. He slowly looked around the corner, finding Jowy talk with one of his men. “Littsnow has been on killing spree again, my Lord. He invaded Olympus last night and there’s nothing left of the city…” Answer’s eyes widened in shock after hearing the man’s words. He held his breath and carefully continued to listen to what the two were discussing. Jowy slightly nodded his head. This all sounded so familiar to him. He closed his eyes as his thoughts drifted off to the past, those old days, when he was fighting alongside Highland. This Littsnow guy awfully sounded just like Luca Blight in those days. “I will send out a patrol team to search for any survivors,” Jowy said.
Answer narrowed his eyes as his head began to feel really heavy on his shoulders. A horrible headache came up, almost knocking him off his feet and he couldn’t help but to grab his head with both hands.
Flashes of the past went through his head, a city under attack, screaming people all over the place. Answer snapped out of his thoughts as a loud bang of a door could be heard. The man looked up as sweat drops rolled down from the sides of his face. The informant had left the room, giving Answer the perfect opportunity to speak to Jowy in private.
Jowy looked up as he saw Answer appear in the doorway. “Can I help you?” he asked surprised as he saw the strange look on Answer’s face.
“Answer, isn’t it?” The one that’s called the Mistress’ protector?” Answer didn’t respond. He just stood there, observing Jowy, Who gave him the feeling he was making fun of him. “Why did you come back?” Answer simply asked. “Now I don’t really think that’s your business… But I believe you do know I’m here to help.” Jowy replied coldly and raised a brow. He had no idea what this man wanted. He walked over to the table, not saying another word, which only frustrated Answer more. He clenched his fists as he watched Jowy standing there with his back towards him. The look on his face changed from cold to anger but he remained silent.
“Everything that’s making Nanami feel bad is my concern..” His voice sounded icy and cold, for hatred came across it. “Why don’t you just concentrate on your job then which is protecting the mistress and let me handle the real stuff,” Jowy said but didn’t look up, he just focused on the map that was lying in front of him on the table.
“Protecting her from people like you?” Answer said all of a sudden, he had no idea where this was coming from but there must’ve been a reason why he was reacting like that. Jowy looked up and tilted his head a bit to the side. Now he got curious.
“Is this about the job? Or is this something personal?” Jowy’s voice sounded somewhat sarcastic, which made something snap inside of him.
“Both.” A short silence appeared and Answer took another few steps towards Jowy. He needed to take a look at him a little closer. He was so close to remembering, he couldn’t miss out on that.
“Maybe you were once important to her, But that’s all in the past now. Now it’s my job to protect her and give her the future you walked away from, a long time ago.” Answer said, his eyes following every move of Jowy’s, who chuckled sarcastically.
“So it is something personal…” He said as his voice trailed off. This time the expression on Jowy’s face changed to anger. “She will never love you the way she loved me… Nanami deserves someone special, you’re just a bodyguard to her and it will always stay that way.
It won’t take long until you will find her back in my arms… The man she truly loves and always has loved.” Jowy moved closer to Answer and looked him threatening in the eyes. “I’m back… And I’m not going away anymore… so get used to it soldier…” Those words were the last drops that made the bucket flow over. Jowy did not get the chance to say another word, as Answer had already grabbed the collar of his shirt and threw him over the table.
Both men raised their fists and started punching each other. The table broke and they both rolled over the floor. Jowy climbed on top of Answer and punched him in the face.
Answer who was trying to throw him off of him and release himself from Jowy’s grip, finally managed to do so. A third pair of footsteps could be heard from the hallway.
Nanami had been looking for Answer ever since she left the rose garden last night but didn’t succeed to find him. And right now he wasn’t in his room either, so she figured he would probably be on the rooftop again. Knowing Answer liked to get some rest up there. She could hear men yelling, groan and growl and looked up surprised. She noticed the sounds were coming from the gathering room which wouldn’t mean anything good. She started fastening her pace and made her way over to the gathering hall.
With Answer on top again he was about to strike the final blow, until he saw the look on Jowy’s face. He knew that look… He had seen it once before… A long time ago; Muse City… The place where he was born. The night when his family was killed by the hands of the ruthless Luca Blight and his Highlander dogs. And this man… Jowy Atreides who killed their Major Lady Anabelle after they successfully managed to defend the city. He now remembered it all. The look on his parents faces… His baby brother…
“It was you…” This time Answer’s voice sounded threatening. He quickly grabbed a knife from his pocket and pushed it up against Jowy’s throat; “Murderer…” Answer hissed.
“What are you talking about!? Get off of me man!” Jowy cried out as his fear started to grow on him. Jowy tried to release himself from Answer’s grip, but he was too strong.
“You were there the night my family was killed. I remember it now…You are the one responsible for the Highlander Invasion into Muse City ten years ago! Lady Anabelle’s death. They blamed the mercenaries for her death. But it was you who did it!” The sharp knife Answer was holding against Jowy’s throat was now causing a small blood drop coming out of it. “The Highland attack on Muse City!!” Answer repeated shouting.
Nanami’s heart skipped a beat as she stood there in shock, seeing the two most important people in her life attack each other. Answer’s words confused her a lot. What did he know about Muse City? How did he know? Nanami slightly panicked. She wondered if Answer knew it was her and her brother who let Jowy run off after he fatally wounded Lady Anabelle. For years Nanami had been trying to forgot those awful memories, but now everything came back to her. “Answer, stop!!” She cried out worried as she saw him pushing the knife to Jowy’s throat even harder. Nanami’s heart began to race faster. “They killed my family in front of my own eyes! And there was nothing I could do about it! And you…… You were just standing there, watching them die by the hands of your KING!” Answer hissed as he looked down on Jowy who was lying there, no chance of escaping him now. Nanami stood there, her thoughts drifting off as he spoke. She snapped out of it when she heard Jowy groan softly. “Answer, stop!!” Nanami begged as she woke up from her trance.
“He killed my family Nan!!” The man yelled angry, there was a mix of emotions in his face and attitude, anger, sadness, loneliness… Nanami could tell there were tears, appearing in his hazel eyes, she could not stop herself from watering her eyes as well. She had never seen him this vulnerable, “Please don’t…” She said softly. “How could you protect a monster like that…” Answer didn’t understand, how could she? “You’re right...” Jowy said all of a sudden.
“I am a bad person… I did this to you and your family… And I can’t take it back ever…”
“Shut up!” Answer yelled, pulling Jowy up a bit.
“So just go on… Kill me… For I deserve it…” Jowy closed his eyes and Answer gritted his teeth as he stood there, his body trembling from anger. A short silence appeared and Answer decided to let go of Jowy roughly and stepped away from him.
“I hope you’ll rot in hell Atreides…” Were his last words before he left the room. Nanami’s knees were shaking as well. While watching Answer leave she slightly shook her head at Jowy and left the room too without saying a word. Jowy gasped for breath and cleaned the blood coming from the small wound in his neck. He then hit his fists on the table and hid his face in his hands.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 09:45 am
“Answer wait!” Nanami called out as she followed him through the hallway.
“Where are you going?” Nanami panicked as she spoke, but Answer didn’t respond.
“Wait! Please… Let me explain?” She said, hoping he would just stop and turn around.
“I’m leaving… There’s no way I will stay with him in this place,” Nanami got scared hearing his words, she didn’t want him to leave. She didn’t know what to do with Answer gone.
“Ans, please?” Nanami reached out to grab his hand and pulled him back to her, almost making herself losing her balance. “Don’t leave me…” Those words broke his heart, he may looked like a cold person from the outside, or at least his attitude showed it off, but when it came to Nanami… One look of hurt in her eyes already turned his stomach around. Answer calmed down a bit and let out a soft sigh as he turned to face her.
“I need you…” Nanami whispered softly and pulled him closer to her. Answer couldn’t do anything but to close his eyes as he enjoyed the closeness between them.
“You don’t understand…” He said softly and pulled back from the hug a little.
“I want to understand… But I need you to let me in…” Nanami whispered. She wanted to help him, she just felt useless being like this, Because she really did care for him. But it was so hard to break through those stonewalls he had built around him. Answer sighed softly and moved his hands down along her slender arms until they reached Nanami’s hands.
“Come with me…” He said softly, and held on to her hands. He was going to take her to Muse City. It was time to open up to her, if he didn’t want to lose her.
City State of Jowston, Muse City 08:30 pm
Night had already fallen when Answer and Nanami reached the gates of the completely abandoned city. Nanami swallowed when they stopped in front of the broken gates. It had been such a long time since the Highlander invasion. Answer could still hear the voices of the lost souls, whispering in his ears. Muse City had become nothing more than a Ghost town now.
They got off of their horses and started walking through the gates. Without saying a word, Nanami simply followed Answer and waited for the moment he would start talking again. She wondered how it was even possible that after ten years, this place still smelled like Death. It surely made a shiver run down her spine. She looked up when Answer stopped in front of a small house, It looked so cute, yet, It showed there was a lot of history behind those walls.
“This is it…” Answer said softly. “The place I once called home…” Nanami didn’t respond, She could tell he was having a hard time to not show any emotions. It was a miracle the place was still standing after all that had happened in the past. She followed him inside and looked around the place who looked like a living room. Nanami noticed the picture on the wall and took it off carefully. She looked at it and smiled softly.
“Is that you?” The young woman asked, showing Answer the picture. He couldn’t help but to smile himself, when he saw the family portrait.
“Yeah that’s me… My brother… Parents…” he said softly, and sighed deeply as he stood behind Nanami looking at the picture from over her shoulder.
“You know… We didn’t have much… But we were a happy family…” Nanami smiled and turned around to face him. She figured out she was slowly getting to know the ‘real’ Answer and she felt thankful to him for letting her in. She held on to the frame and gently pushed it into his hands; “You should take it with you… They deserve to be remembered… And I’m sure they’re here right now… Watching over you…” Answer listened to what Nanami had to say and looked down in silence. He held the picture close to him, knowing that she was right about that.
“Thank you… For coming with me…” He said softly and looked down on Nanami. Their eyes locked with one another as they stood there in silence. Nanami had a hard time fighting the chemistry that was clearly between them for the longest time. It was him she secretly wanted all along… She reached out her hand to his face and caressed it gently. The silence surrounding them seemed to be bringing them closer to each other. She had no idea what was happening but the attraction was so strong that she couldn’t stop herself from kissing him any moment now. As their lips almost locked with each other, light footsteps could be heard upstairs. Both Nanami and Answer got roughly ripped out of their moment, and both looked up to the ceiling. Answer took off running upstairs with Nanami following him in his trail. When they reached the top floor, both eyes scanned the area to see where this sound was leading them to. They slowly made their way over to the bedroom section of the house but didn’t let their guard down. Answer grabbed his crossbow and took the lead. The silence had returned again which made Nanami feel a bit uncomfortable.
A few seconds later the same footsteps could be heard again and Answer fastened his pace. He kicked the door open to find a shadow figure, hiding in the dark corner of the room. He aimed his crossbow towards it and looked up surprised as a kid spoke; “Please don’t hurt me…?” The boy said softly and Answer lowered the bow a bit.
“Who are you, kid? And what are you doing in my house?” Answer replied with a cold voice and the little boy hid his face a little behind his knees that he had pulled up to his chest. Nanami noticed the kid as well and pushed the bow down.
“I… I’m sorry, sir… I didn’t know someone lives here…” The little boy said, shivering as he looked up to the two strangers standing in front of him.
“It’s alright, We are not going to hurt you…” Nanami said friendly and knelt down beside the boy and helped him back on his feet. He was half the height Nanami was so she figured out he wasn’t that old yet.
“I’m Nanami and this is my friend Answer,” she said with a smile and looked over to Answer and back to the boy again. “What’s your name?”-
“I’m Momo…” The kid answered shyly. “Momo… That’s a nice name.” Nanami replied.
She hoped she could win his trust and that he wouldn’t run away again. Answer just stood there, watching their conversation. Not sure what attitude to take on.
“Where are your parents, Momo?” Nanami couldn’t imagine they would actually live there.
“Mommy and Daddy are home, there was a scary man in our city and they told me to run away and hide. Daddy was sleeping, he didn’t wake up, and I couldn’t find mommy anymore… So I was running… I don’t know for how long… And now I’m lost…” Nanami’s heart broke, hearing Momo’s story. He was so little…
“Are you from Olympus, kid?” Answer asked all of a sudden, Nanami looked at Answer and narrowed her eyes. Momo nodded his head and looked down on the ground. Answer pulled Nanami closer to him and started to talk to her softly. Just to make sure Momo wouldn’t hear this; “I overheard Jowy talking to one of his men this morning… Littsnow has… well… He attacked Olympus… It’s no good…” He whispered. Nanami’s eyes widened, her hands going up in front of her mouth as she looked back over her shoulders. Seeing the lonely little boy made her heart sink even more.
“Why don’t I know anything about this?”
“Ask your Jowy…” Answer said, sounding a bit annoyed.
“He is not ‘my’ Jowy…” His words made her angry. He had no idea what this whole situation was doing to her. She felt like she had to make a choice between the two of them.
Answer knew what she once felt for Jowy… But what Answer didn’t know was that she was growing more on him every day. Only she didn’t think he would notice. The only thing he saw was the love she once felt for Jowy. Jowy was a part of her past she had to let go now. When he died, so did she. And Answer blew new life into her, made her the person she was today. Answer had no idea how much he meant to her. “I’m sorry…” He apologized and turned to Momo. Nanami walked away, leaving Answer with the boy.
“Hey kid… I think it’s safer if you’d stay with us for now. It’s too dangerous to go back home now.” Answer said to him and Momo nodded his head and sat down on the bed.
“You’d better go get some sleep…. Tomorrow we’ll be heading back to the castle, and you’re coming with us. There’s people out there, looking for your parents and the others so let’s hope they will find them,” Answer nodded his head and turned away.
“Wow… You live in a castle?” The little boy said excited and Answer could see the twinkle in his eyes. The expression on the cold man’s face, turned softer now.
“A big, big castle on a mountain… I’m sure you’re gonna like it there… But most importantly, you will be safe there.” Momo nodded again and lay down on the bed. Within a few minutes he had already fallen asleep. Answer placed a blanket on the little boy and looked down on him. He already knew this kid was going to be growing up without his parents. Just like himself. A wave of sadness overwhelmed him but he didn’t allow it to get to him. Instead he turned around again and left the room, to see what Nanami was doing.
“Nan?” Answer called out softly, but didn’t get any response. He passed the master bedroom when his eyes caught the old, once white curtains dancing in the wind that was coming from the balcony. Answer entered the room and slowly made his way to the balcony. Finding Nanami standing there with her arms crossed, as she stared out over the destroyed city streets.
A cool, yet gentle breeze went through her hair as it made every little hair on her arms rise. Not because it was cold, more like a spiritual thing. Even though there was nothing or no one left in Muse, she could feel the presence of the fallen ones still hanging above the city.
“What are you doing out here, princess?” Answer asked softly. He couldn’t resist but to place his hands on her slender arms, caressing them softly with his warm hands and pressed his body slightly against her back. Nanami didn’t say a word, she could only look out over the city streets. A short silence appeared but soon Answer broke the silence again.
“You know… I swore to myself that I would never return to this place again,” he said, almost whispering. Allowing the silence to strike again. Nanami slowly turned around to face him and looked up into his beautiful hazel eyes. They matched his dark hair perfectly. They were just like magic; Once she looked into them, she felt like hypnotized. Those two mysterious orbs simply took in her soul, making her forget about the world around them. Her heart couldn’t help but to start racing, every time their eyes met. Nanami was grateful to have him in her life still. He could’ve left a long time ago yet, he stayed faithful to her and wouldn’t leave her side ever. She could once again feel his eyes draw her closer to him. Only this time Answer brought his hand up to her face and caressed her cheek softly. Nanami could only close her eyes and enjoy the touch of his warm manly hands as he pulled her closer to him. She would just let it all happen to her. He slowly leaned in to press his lips against hers.
Locking them together in a passionate kiss. Both hearts began to beat faster as he slowly went down to her neck, kissing every spot that came across his full lips until he reached her shoulder. Nanami couldn’t resist him any longer and decided to enjoy this very moment. Answer smiled against her lips and moved his hands down her arms until he reached her hands and took them gently in his own. He then slowly led her back inside, still kissing her tenderly. Her soft lips he had been dreaming to kiss for so long. And this moment… Longing for her to be in his arms. And now they were here, together… In the house that held all the keys to his past. Like she was a delicate flower, Answer lifted Nanami from the ground and brought her to the bed where he softly lay her down on. He lay down next to her and leaned in to kiss her lips passionately, while his hand moved up from her belly to her neck which he gently stroke. She was a flower in his eyes. A beautiful Rose ready to come out on a warm spring day.
He caressed her upper body while moving his hand to the buttons of her shirt and slowly started to undo them. Nanami’s sorrows had completely disappeared for a moment as his warm touch roamed over her tense body. She knew now for sure that he was the one she wanted, not just for days, weeks, months, or years… But forever she wanted him by her side. He was her strength the shoulder when she needed one to lean on. He gave her the courage when she lost it, She just didn’t know what to do without him. Nanami had finally found her soul mate. Answer meant the world to her, even though she had been denying it for a very long time. Yet, he wouldn’t give up on her, he was still there and never left her.
Nanami’s hands went to the back of his neck and pulled him close to her in a kiss. Her heart beating faster with every touch of their lips. His hands went over her stomach, discovering the scar, and he stopped for a moment, caressing it.
“What’s this?” he whispered sweetly but Nanami took his hand off of it and continued kissing him. Answer noticed she clearly didn’t want to talk about it so decided to leave it as it was.
He had almost undone the last button of her shirt when she suddenly grabbed his hand and stopped him from continuing.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” He whispered close to her lips but Nanami didn’t answer. She could only look in his eyes, making her want him even more.
“Am I going too fast?” He asked sweetly and kissed her again. His voice sounded so sweet that he really knew how to comfort her.
“It’s not that…” She said softly, still looking into his eyes.
“I just never… Been this close to someone-“ Her voice trailed off and Answer smiled down on her. “You really are special… You know that?” Answer was surprised yet relieved and so happy to hear those magical words. “It’s alright, love… We don’t have to do this… We can wait,” He said against her lips and smiled sweetly. Nanami smiled back at him as her nerves had calmed down a bit. “I’ll wait for you forever, If I must…” He said sweetly and leaned in to kiss her forehead.
“No…” Nanami whispered under her breath. “I want this… And I want this with you…” She took Answer’s hand and brought it up to her chest, to make him feel her heartbeat. Answer could feel it wildly pound in her chest. “This heart is beating for you… And for you only…” She felt so safe with him, because he made her feel that she wasn’t walking alone.
“Are you sure?” He asked and Nanami nodded her head.
“I… I love you Ans… I loved you from the moment I first saw you… I never felt this way before… I don’t know what it is that I feel whenever I’m with you… All I know is that I don’t know what to do if I’ll ever lose you…” Answer placed his finger on her lips to make her stop talking. “You will never lose me princess... Even if I die, I’d still be with you. And when that day comes… It’ll be protecting you…” Those words brought up tears in Nanami’s eyes.
She didn’t want to think of that… Nanami stroked the hair out of his face and started to kiss him passionately, forgetting the world around them for just a moment…
City State of Jowston, Muse City, Answer’s place 1:35 am
Nanami sat out on the balcony, she had been there for a few hours now while Answer had fallen asleep. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she sat there in silence. Her arms wrapped around herself. It still wasn’t cold outside, but a cool breeze caused her to shiver now and then made her skin crawl a bit. She remembered everything that had happened ten years ago.
Answer’s words reminded her of what a bad period it had been. Everything that had happened to the city state and Highland. Luca… His evil eyes still haunted her in her dreams. That night when she and Riou found Lady Anabelle lying there, bleeding to death. She would never forget those words. The apology lady Anabelle had made to her and her brother, before she blew out her last breath. An apology about how the state had treated their Grandfather before he died. How they were blamed for Anabelle’s dead… Everything now came back again. She had to tell Answer the truth. But she didn’t know how. She was afraid to lose him if he’d ever found out the truth. Nanami’s thoughts trailed off with the wind. She had to tell him the truth… It was a risk she had to take, but Answer deserved to know the truth. She was so far away with her thoughts that she didn’t notice the sound of Answer’s breathing had appeared, and that he was now standing behind her. He placed his hand gently on her shoulder and Nanami’s heart skipped a beat but she stayed calm. Placing her hand on top of his, she stared out over the streets.
“Couldn’t you sleep?” Answer asked softly and Nanami shook her head slightly. She looked up to him and then back down again. “Hey… Is everything alright?” Answer’s voice now sounded a bit worried. He could tell something was bothering her. Nanami took a deep breath and withdrew her hand.
“There’s something you need to know…” She said softly, not knowing what was going to happen if she told him the truth. This was more than just a coincidence. Only Nanami wondered how it was possible she had never noticed Answer before, during her time in Muse City. Yet… She felt like she had seen him before. Nanami looked at Answer and patted on the empty spot next to her, telling him to sit down. Answer did as she asked and sat down next to her. He rested his hands in his lap and leaned back, wondering what she had to tell him.
“Ten years ago… During the war between Highland and the City state, I was here…” She began to tell carefully. Answer didn’t understand.
“Here in Muse?” he asked.
“Yes… For all of the leaders of the city-state; Muse, Tinto, Two River, South Window, Greenhill, Matilda Knightdom. There was a conference, where Annabelle shared the information on the Highland Army's imminent attack. We were about to discuss what action to take when Luca’s army arrived at the gates. I was there Ans… So were Jowy and my brother… We… We were the Rebellion army or… Viktor’s mercenaries… However the hell they called us. The ones who got blamed for Lady Anabelle’s death. Because Jess found me and my brother next to Anabelle when she was attacked… By Jowy, who was forced to do so… So he assumed that we did that to her. Because Jowy had escaped before he came in. But we only came to her because she had to tell us something about our grandfather who died not long before the war started.”
A short silence appeared and Nanami looked down on her hands who were nervously playing with the blanket around her.
“She told us to run… So we did and went southward to South Window… During our escape from Muse we came across some highlander soldiers and were forced to fight them to make our way out. We got the news that South Window had fallen to Highland as well and so we traveled up to North Window which became our new base. Soon we started building up our own forces… I was only sixteen at that time, didn’t know much but I’ve been seeing so many things ever since… Fought so many battles… Killed… Later Viktor came to us with a story Anabelle had told him… She said that our grandfather had been a heroic general for the city state, who also wielded the Bright Shield Rune worn by my brother… But he was betrayed by the then mayor of Muse, which was Anabelle's father. He participated in a duel against his Highland friend and fellow general, Han, to decide the fate of Kyaro town, the place where I grew up… Anabelle's father coated my grandfather’s sword in a poison that he detected before the duel began, planning to blame grandpa for the death of the Highland general. My grandfather could not bring himself to strike his friend, and was defeated in the duel, with Kyaro becoming Highland territory and my grandpa’s name disgraced for many decades. It was this connection to my grandfather that led my brother to be named leader of the new Dunan Unification Army, and brought him to recruit people to join the cause. We started recruiting people to gain the support of the remaining city-states to challenge Highland. During this time, Luca Blight sacrificed nearly the entire population of Muse to the Beast Rune after running down refugees trying to escape the city. By that time Jowy had rose in ranks of Luca… And even married Luca’s sister Jillia…” Nanami looked down and closed her eyes. She remembered how hard it was for her to hear the boy they grew up with, had joined the enemy and married their princess.
“He even poisoned the king so that Luca could take his place… He attacked us but he failed… Thanks to Jowy who was still on our side, he betrayed Luca to give us the information of the pending attacks… I was his contact person… With this information we were able to set an ambush for Luca and his army. All this time it was Jowy's intention since his betrayal of the city state to bring peace to the land; he never expected my brother to have such success against Highland. Still because of the runes they both were carrying; Jowy the Black sword rune and my brother the Bright shield rune, they were destined to fight each other. From that moment I never saw Jowy again. Apparently my brother let him go… And they pronounced him dead. For he could no longer go by his own name. I thought he was dead as well… But before the battle between Jowy and my brother, An arrow fired by Gorudo’s knights hit me in the stomach, right after we defeated highland, and don’t really know what happened after that.
They fixed me and I went back to Kyaro town… My brother thinking I was dead, because I asked master Shu to tell him that… I found out there was nothing left for me anymore… I could no longer see my brother fight… So I took off and never returned..”
Answer listened carefully to what Nanami had to say. He couldn’t imagine she had been through so much… That explained the scar he felt on her stomach. But he could understand the situation a little better now. Even though it wouldn’t take away the pain of his parents’ and his brother’s deaths. Jowy apparently just followed orders… He wanted to stop war. Answer knew he had to accept it… But he would never forgive him for opening the gates to let the Highlanders in.
“I was there too… On top of Jowston Hill… I’m starting to remember things… You were the Nun-Chucks girl with the kiddo, weren’t you? I saw you staying at Leona’s…” Answer said, narrowing his eyes as he slowly began to remember. “Leona was my aunt… Never saw her again after that night…” Nanami looked up surprised, not only because of his calm response but also because Leona was his aunt. And she knew her well.
“She joined our forces…Created her own tavern at our castle. Last time I saw her, she was still alive and doing well…” Nanami’s words shocked Answer a bit. He didn’t know his aunt was still alive. “When this is all over… I could take you to her if you want… I heard she headed out and rumors were going around that she would be staying in Two River,” Answer looked down in silence. Nanami noticed, and moved her hands up to his face and made him look at her.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” He said softly, his voice sounded disappointed.
“I couldn’t… I was trying so hard to forget all of it… I tried to block it out, until Jowy all of a sudden turned out to be alive. I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything… To help your family…” Nanami’s voice trailed off as she spoke.
“Hey… You did all you could… You freed us all from Highland… You and your brother… That is something I never could’ve done myself… And for that you helped… There’s nothing else you could’ve done…” He whispered softly and Nanami moved her head closer to him as she rested it against his chest. Answer wrapped his arms around her and held her close while kissing her softly on top of her head.
A lights glow slowly appeared from behind the city walls as the night started to make room for the day. Nanami hadn’t been sleeping all night, so it was going to be a long day. She sighed deeply and closed her eyes for a moment. Even the birds had left the city, no singing no nothing only the silence of a fallen city surrounding them. “Promise me something…” Answer said Softly but kept staring in front of him. “Hm?” Nanami replied, still her eyes closed. “No more secrets from now on…” She looked up to him and smiled weakly.
“No more secrets… I promise…” She said and placed her head back on the same place as it was, before she looked up to him. “There’s something I need to do…” Nanami released herself from Answer’s grip and cleared her throat. “And what is that?” Answer cocked a brow as he spoke.
“South?” Her words made him even more confused now.
“My brother’s headquarters… Remember what Shu said? We need to find Apple. I’m sure she’s still there… I don’t think she ever left my brother’s side for I saw how she liked him.” Nanami stated and looked up to Answer. “Sweetheart, we’re talking about ten years ago here… Who knows what happened in the meantime. Maybe they’re not together at all.” Answer scratched the back of his head as he spoke.
“Ans… I need to do this… I’m so close now… Before I’m changing my mind.”
“As you wish…” He said and kissed her forehead.
“Just… Let’s make it quick, before someone notices we’re not there. We have a lot of important things to do today.” Answer reminded her and Nanami agreed.
“And finding Apple is one of those things… We should head for Coronet town first, it’s about an hour away from here. From there we could take a boat straight to the headquarters,” Nanami explained and Answer nodded his head. “I’ll go see what the kiddo is doing. Should wake him up soon,” he said and took off.
Nanami stared over the city and sighed deeply. This was it. Today she was finally going to meet her brother again after ten years...
City State of Jowston, Coronet town 07:30 am
Coronet town was as busy as usual. Boats were coming and boats were going. People working hard to earn their bread. The closer they got the more nervous Nanami became. She was looking around everywhere just to make sure no one would recognize her. Holding onto the hood of her cloak, she looked down nervously. Answer noticed and grabbed her hand, while his other was holding on to Momo. He noticed people looking strange at them. Thank god they had the little boy with them or else someone might’ve even thought they were spies or something. Heading over to the harbor a few sailors were already waiting to take them to the other side. Answer walked over to the captain and pointed over to Nanami who stood there with Momo.
“Could you please take me and my family to Dunan Unification’s HQ? My ‘wife’ likes to visit her family,” Answer said and waved at Nanami and Momo, who both waved back. The captain nodded and Answer handed him some gold. He then let them enter the ship and took off.
City State of Jowston, Dunan Unification Army Headquarters 08:30 am
Arriving at the port, Nanami’s heart began to beat faster. She swallowed softly as all of them stepped back on land. It had been ages since the last time she stood here. Looking around so many memories went through her mind. Nothing had seemed to have changed from the outside. It all looked just the way it did, when she left ten years ago. A moment of panic struck her and Nanami wanted to just turn around and walk away, But Answer grabbed her hand gently and stopped her from taking another step. He looked over to her and smiled; “You’ll be fine…” He said sweetly and Nanami swallowed again. God, how nervous she was. They walked over to the entrance of the Headquarters, and a knight stopped them. Nanami didn’t take her hood off, she just hoped she didn’t have to show her face right away.
“Who are you and what brings you here?” A familiar voice sounded. Nanami’s eyes widened when she heard it. Looking up she saw Camus, looking straight at her.
“Camus?” Nanami said in shock and bit on her bottom lip. Of course she recognized the man’s voice as no other. Nanami remembered how she was in seventh heaven when she met him the first time back at Jowston hill. He was a few years older than her and called her a lady and she pretty much had a crush on him ever since. But then again, which little girl wouldn’t if they were called a lady by a knight.
“Who are you and how do you know my name?” Camus said with a loud voice. Another man appeared at the gate and asked what was going on. Of course that would’ve been Miklotov, another familiar person from the past. Nanami couldn’t believe they were still there. To be honest she had no idea if they had ever left at all.
“You know these people?” Answer asked and looked at Nanami.
“Actually yes… I do… They were fighting along with us during war of Highland.” Nanami said and took off her hood. Both Camus and Miklotov’s eyes widened in shock. They were now just as shocked to see Nanami as she was by seeing them again.
“Lady Nanami?” They said and both bowed their heads.
“How is this possible? We thought you…-”
“It’s a long story… Perhaps one day I’ll explain it all. Right now I’m here to see my brother,” Nanami said as her voice slightly trembled.
“Lord Riou is out on a mission, my lady. We will not expect him to come back for a while,” Those words made her heart sink. Nanami was really hoping to finally see him after such a long time… But now he wasn’t there. She looked down and pressed her lips on each other as both men opened the gate for them. “Is Apple still here as well?” Nanami asked as they entered the gate. Both men quickly closed it behind them and walked over to Nanami.
“Miss Apple is still here, my lady,” Camus said and took her hand gently in his, as he kissed it softly. “As much as I am in shock, It’s good to see you alive…” He said with a charming smile and winked at her. His orange long hair covering part of his face. He surely hadn’t changed at all. Even after all those years he simply looked the same.
Nanami looked over to Answer as they heard Apple was there. She felt relieved she didn’t have to search all lands to find Apple. Now that Camus and Miklotov were still there, it only made her more nervous to think of who else could’ve still been there.
“Is there a lot of people from back then still living here…? Or just the two of you?” Nanami asked carefully and looked at the knights. “Well… A lot of people left back then, but a whole lot of them returned again, not long after the war was over.” Miklotov explained and Camus nodded in agreement.
As they made their way up through the castle, Nanami had this déjà vu feeling coming up all over again. It felt like she had just left yesterday. With her heart still beating in her throat they followed the two knights to where Apple was.
“We will take care of it from here. Please stay here and we’ll get Apple for you.” Miklotov said and motioned for Camus to come with him.
“How do you feel?” Answer looked at Nanami who only shrugged her shoulders and looked around the place. Not five minutes later fastening footsteps could be heard.
“Nanami!” A high toned voice cried out and all three of them looked back over their shoulders. Momo hid himself behind Answer and looked over to the woman who rushed over to them. Her hair was in a bob line and her glasses were even bigger than her face.
“Apple?” Nanami walked over to the woman and grabbed her hands gently.
“It’s so good to see you again! Dear lord! Married and all I see, Look at that little darling, he has your eyes!” She said happily. Her eyes went up to Answer for a moment as well;
“Such a handsome man!” The woman blinked her eyes.
“Ehm.. That…-” .Nanami didn’t even get the chance to properly introduce Answer and Momo “Shu told me all about what happened. Why’d you leave? Riou was so broken over the whole thing.” Apple said, and from the moment she mentioned Shu’s name, Nanami looked down.
“Is everything alright?” Apple asked, her voice had changed from excited to worried as she tried to make eye contact with Nanami, who still looked down.
“Nami? Shu is okay right?” She asked as her voice faded somewhat.
“Actually… he’s not, he was murdered, by Amateur of Olympus.” Answer said with a cold voice, he could still feel the anger, thinking back of that night.
“Ans…” Nanami said carefully.
“She has to know Nan.” He replied, the anger was clearly hearable in his voice.
“M…Murdered? When?” Apple stuttered.
“Not that long ago. We came here to fulfill his last wish.”
“I see…” Apple was stunned as she heard the bad news. Shu was such an important person to her. He taught her so many things in the past, made her the person she had become today. Apple nodded her head, still in shock and closed her eyes as she inhaled softly.
“Let me grab my stuff.” Apple said, she already knew he wanted her to take his place, for he had told her before. Some while ago Shu had told her about Nanami still being alive. He made her promise him, not to say a word about this to Riou, Nanami’s brother. He knew Nanami would go to see him when she was ready to do so. He had asked Apple if something ever happened to him, she would take his place, helping Nanami out. Nanami frowned as Apple turned around to go back and take her stuff, she didn’t even have to ask what his request was. Nanami felt a bit confused. Perhaps he had stayed in contact with Apple the whole time. Not really a surprising thing though.
“Can we offer you a drink or something?” Miklotov asked and Nanami shook her head.
“We should be heading back as soon as we can.” She said and Answer agreed. Not too much later Apple appeared again and walked over to the knights. She had another girl with her. “This is Mynx, she will be accompanying us on our trip.” Apple said and turned to Camus and Miklotov.
“Please give this to our master as soon as he comes back,” she said and handed Camus a letter. The man nodded his head and looked up as Apple left with them. Nanami hugged both Camus and Miklotov and turned back to the others.
“Take care guys…” She said as they walked away.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 10:15 am
“What do you mean her bed was unslept?” Jowy said in shock, almost sounding angry.
“I don’t know, my lord… But she’s not here and it seems like she hasn’t been home all night,” Jowy narrowed his eyes and looked out the other way. “What about the bodyguard?” he asked, trying to stay calm. “Not here either, sir…” Jowy clenched his fist and gritted his teeth. He turned around to the mirror that was hanging on the wall and took a look at the small wound Answer had caused, the time of their small reunion. “Any sign of the Olympus citizens?” Jowy asked, changing the subject. The soldier looked down disappointed and shook his head. “No one, sir… “ he said softly and Jowy punched the vase that was holding some flowers, angrily off the table. “That’s it… It’s time for the next step,” He said, with a low voice and turned to the window, staring out over the forest.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 7:30 pm
Nanami giggled as they walked up on the hill. Answer had been telling a story to Momo about his brother and the boy just couldn’t stop laughing it was too cute. Nanami glanced over to Answer, noticing he had calmed down a little. She could tell that going back to his hometown did him good. It seemed that he had finally given his past a place and she couldn’t do anything but to smile when she saw the look on his face. Her smile did disappear though when their castle came in sight. Soldiers, on feet and horses marching down the hill. Was that Jowy’s army? Nanami’s eyes widened in shock, not knowing what to think. Answer noticed it too and stopped his horse while Momo was sitting in front of him. “What is he doing!?” He asked confused and Nanami pulled the strings, preparing her horse to speed up.
“That’s what I’d like to know.” She said and without saying a word she took off. Answer immediately followed her back to the castle. What was Jowy thinking!?
Nanami made her way back to the castle and got off of her horse. Jowy’s army had stopped moving and she was now looking for their leader.
“Where is Jowy?” She asked but the soldiers just kept staring in front of them.
“Where is he!?” Her voice sounded louder but still no response. She looked back over her shoulder to find Jowy coming out on his horse as well, getting ready to leave.
“Jowy, wait!” She shouted and rushed over to him. Nanami stopped in front of him to find him looking down on her with a somewhat cold look on his face.
“What are you doing!? Where are you going?” She asked confused, looking up to him. Nanami didn’t understand what was wrong with him but she knew him well enough to know that something wasn’t right. “We are leaving.” He simply answered, still looking down on her. “Leaving to where!?” Nanami asked confused. “Why now so sudden?” Nanami looked around to find Jowy’s men still staring in front of them. “Well I was looking for you last night but you weren’t here.” He said and waited for her reply. “I had to go somewhere…” Nanami narrowed her eyes, not seeing what the problem was that she had to go somewhere for one night. “With him?” Jowy motioned over to Answer who came riding towards them. Nanami tilted her head to the side wondering what had gotten into Jowy lately. He was acting pretty weird. “Can we talk?” She said and straightened up. Placing her hands on her hips she waited for him to come off of his horse. “In private.” She hissed and stepped back as Jowy looked around and at his men, and then decided to climb off his horse. Answer stood there, looking away as she followed Jowy inside. It was hard for him to control his feelings for Nanami whenever she was around Jowy, but he trusted her and knew he had to accept it. For the sake of their Kingdom.
Nanami followed Jowy inside and stopped in front of him when they reached the main hall.
“What the hell is going on with you lately!?” She yelled, it frustrated her that he was just simply ignoring her like that. “Nothing’s going on, everything is just fine.” He mumbled. “Stop lying to me… It’s not just fine, I can tell when I look at you!” Nanami tried to keep her voice down as someone passed them by and watched the person, waiting for him to leave and then turned her head back to Jowy again. “I’m trying Nami! To get everything right by helping you out and where were you!? Going out on some romantic trip with your bodyguard!! While the whole state is depending on us! See, that’s the problem!” Jowy yelled back at her. Nanami narrowed her eyes when she noticed the jealousy clearly in his voice. “You’re jealous…” She stated, looking at him in shock. “I’m not jealous but this is war!” He said, quickly trying to change the subject. “It’s been ten years Nami…” Jowy said as he calmed down a bit. “Yes… It has been ten years… But does that matter? What’s going on, Jowy for real?” She asked softly, still sounding confused and worried at the same time. “Nothing, I have to take care of some things…” Was his response. “Some ‘things’… And for that you need a whole army behind you? Come on Jowy, quit the bull, I know you better than that… I can see something’s not right…” Nanami crossed her arms and waited for an answer. “Look… I just think it’s better if I’d just head back to Sakaiya… We’ll be helping you, but for now it’s better if we’d just keep… some space between us. “Jowy… I don’t want some space between us… For ten years there has been this ‘empty’ space already…. You know I care about you… We’ve been through so much together.”
“Maybe you don’t need it… But I do, Nami…” He took her slender hand gently and placed it against his chest on the place his heart was beating fast. “This needs to be away from you… I see the way you look at him… And I also see the way he feels about you… I don’t think I should come between that…” he whispered sadly. “Jowy…” were the only words escaping her lips. Jowy looked at her and leaned in to kiss her forehead, turning around as he started walking away from her. “I’ll stay in contact… Don’t worry about me… I’ll be fine… And we will succeed.” Nanami didn’t answer, she just stood there stunned, watching him leave. She didn’t even stop him. She could still not understand what the hell just happened. Nanami knew she had to snap out of it and shake it off of her. They still had two weeks left until the attack on Littsnow’s army. There was a lot of preparing to do and she had to go see Zhalia now. Nanami turned around and walked towards the castle’s tavern. The place was still under major construction so a lot of things still had to be done, but the tavern was most likely the place where she would run into Zhalia, now that they had built a lounge in there as well. Nanami sighed deeply and left the huge hallway.
The tavern was outside on the second floor so she had to walk about five minutes to get there. As she finally reached it, Mahmudah and Jonoh we’re sitting out on the terrace. Robert was there too but surprisingly Zhalia, her mage was nowhere to be found.
Jonoh looked up when he saw Nanami walking over to their table and took a sip of his huge glass of beer.
“Well, well look what the cat dragged in… Lovely day ain’t it boss?” He joked and winked at Mahmudah, who was eating some snacks as usual. It was kind of funny though, Nanami wondered how a slim little girl like her could eat so much all day without gaining any weight. It was kind of cute but in some way pretty scary as well.
“Hi Nanny, what brings you here?” Mahmudah asked and grinned as she took another bite of her food. “Yeah Nan, shouldn’t you be sneaking around with Ans?” Nanami cleared her throat and looked down shyly, hoping they wouldn’t notice she was actually blushing. “Uhm… I was actually looking for Zhalia, Rob… I need her but I haven’t seen her for a few days.” Nanami explained. “Yeah well when you keep sneaking out with Ans like that, you would simply miss out on her.” Robert continued. He knew pretty well about the developments going on between those two. Seriously the whole castle could see the chemistry between them. Only they didn’t see it. Nanami rolled her eyes and sighed deeply.
“Well thanks for the help guys… “ She said with a sarcastic tone in her voice and turned around. “Try the chambers, she might be there…” Robert said and nodded his head. Nanami turned around and started walking towards the chambers. “And you’re welcome!” Jonoh shouted after her but Nanami didn’t hear it already for she was in a hurry.
As she arrived in the chambers, Nanami could hear some voices coming from one of the rooms. She slowly walked over to the door. Looking down where she stood and carefully listened if she could understand any of the words that they had been saying. Nanami recognized Zhalia’s voice, but the other one she had never heard before. She would stop in front of the door and placed her ear against it. Looking down still as she tried to focus even more, she couldn’t really hear what they were talking about only about a meeting;
“Meet me there in tomorrow … At midnight… I hope I’ll have some more news by then,” the voice said and Nanami narrowed her eyes and quickly pushed the door open to find Zhalia standing in the corner, her back turned to Nanami. The look on the mage’s face looked quite shocking when she saw Nanami standing there in the doorway.
“Who were you talking to?” Nanami asked as her voice sounded a bit suspicious. Zhalia smiled and placed her staff against the stone wall. “I wasn’t talking…” She said calmly and walked over to the bookcase. “I was working on a new formula.” Nanami cocked a brow in disbelief and looked over to Zhalia as she started to feel quite unsure about their situation. Lately it had been hard to trust the people around them. After Soffell’s betrayal, Nanami didn’t know who else to trust anymore besides Answer. “Did you hear the news?” She said, still sounding a little suspicious.
“Littsnow has destroyed Olympus… It looks like there isn’t much left of the city anymore…”
“yes I’ve heard… He took Soffell, no one has found their city leader either,” Zhalia answered calm as she opened a book and placed it on the table. “I found out the ultimate healing spell. It could still bring you back to life a few hours after you pass…” She said, changing the subject consciously. “Amateur is missing?” Nanami said, sticking to the first subject.
“I do not believe a powerful mage like her would be killed that easily… Not even by a monster like Littsnow. I think I do know what he wants…” Zhalia said, closing the book that was still lying in front of her on the table.
“What’s that…?” Nanami asked carefully as she walked over to the table and sat down on it.
“It’s a long story… But not the right time to tell you now,” Zhalia said and looked up to Nanami. “All I’m asking you is to trust me… I’m working on something that could be of use to our guild. But I need a few days… Could you give me that time?” Zhalia asked. Her voice sounded seriously, so Nanami didn’t have a choice other than to go with it. “Jowy left…” She said softly and looked over to Zhalia. “So he finally admitted it?” Zhalia said and took another book from the case.“Admitted what?” Nanami asked surprised. “His feelings for you, silly.” Zhalia said it in a way that made Nanami think that she had known it forever.
“Who told you that?” Nanami said confused and slightly shook her head.
“Honey, I’m a master of magic, I look into people, It’s my job to know stuff like that…”
“No, It’s not your job to spy on me…I will not approve such thing!” A short silence appeared and both girls looked at each other, then couldn’t help but to giggle.
“Oh god… It’s a mess…” Nanami said, looking down as she still leaned on the table and had to think of last night’s happening. “Quite a night wasn’t it…?” Zhalia said all of a sudden and grinned as she saw the shocked look on Nanami’s face. “Will you stop looking into my head already!?” She said in shock and gave her a playful push. “Answer is a great guy, darling… Don’t take it for granted…” Nanami sighed deeply and looked back to Zhalia again.
“You’re right… He is…” She said softly and smiled weakly…
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 09:38 pm
Answer was sitting on the bed as he leaned back and looked up to the ceiling. He had to think about last night and couldn’t help but to smile as he remembered. She was amazing… Answer hoped that Nanami would feel the same about all this. He could make her happy, if only she would allow him to do so. He couldn’t deny he was a little worried as he thought of Jowy. Answer felt like the man was going to do all to get what he wants. So he could do nothing more than to just sit back and give her some time. He just hoped that she would make the right decision. But she was a grown woman who makes her own decisions. Whatever she would choose, she would do the right thing for herself and seeing her happy was all that mattered to him. But it was hard to just sit back and watch it all, not being able to do anything about it. Or to know what would happen in the end. All he knew was that she had giving him that one night he would carry in his heart forever, no matter where the road may take them.
An unannounced knock could be heard on the door and Answer sat up straight.
“Yeah?” He said with a cold response and waited for the person to enter the room. He was surprised to see Nanami standing in the doorway. Looking stunning as always. Answer noticed the weak smile on her face and motioned for her to come in. Nanami’s smile brightened up and closed the door behind her. She walked towards the bed and crawled on it, without saying a word and rested her head on his chest in a cuddle. Answer’s heart began to race because of her sudden action but he stayed calm. Kissing her head he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly.
“Did you get Jowy to stay?” He asked softly and Nanami slightly shook her head.
“He went back to Sakaiya...” Nanami said and sighed deeply.
“He went back to the Shrine? But… Is he still going to help us?” Nanami was surprised to hear the worry in Answer’s voice and slightly smiled.
“Don’t worry… He will… We want the same things for our people.” Nanami stated and closed her eyes.
“You really trust him don’t you?” Nanami didn’t respond for a moment. But then looked at her hand that was playing with the collar of Answer’s shirt.
“Not as much as I trust you…” She said, looking up to her man who leaned in and kissed her sweetly. “There’ s something I need to do tomorrow night... So don’t wait up for me…” Answer frowned and looked down on her. “Do what?” he wanted to know.
“I can’t tell you that right now until I know more…” Nanami said.
“Babe… No more secrets right?” Answer said with a low voice and Nanami closed her eyes again and pulled back a little as she rested her head on the pillow.
“I went by to see Zhalia today… But when I got there, I heard her talk to someone who’s voice I did not recognize. When I entered the room uninvited, No one was there…” Answer leaned back as he placed his hand behind his head and rested on it as he looked over to her.
“I think she’s hiding something from us… Or at least… There’s something she’s not telling us,” Nanami stated. “Nan.. I understand you’re being all tensed and insecure about things ever since the whole Soffell happening… But aren’t you being a little paranoid right now? I mean… Come on, it’s Zhal we’re talking about here… If there’s someone we can trust… It’ll be her… right?” Now Answer started to doubt those thoughts also. Nanami remained silent. She just bit on her bottom lip, not sure what to believe anymore… Maybe she was being a little too paranoid at this point indeed. But still… Tomorrow night she was going to see what Zhalia was up to and if she had to follow her at some point, then she’d be glad to do so… Even if it was just to make sure her friend would be safe.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 08:30 am
As the morning arrived, Nanami woke up to find herself alone in Answer’s bed. She looked around the room to see where he was but no one was there. She looked up surprised and just when she wanted to step out of the bed, the door went open. Nanami took the sheets and wrapped it around her to cover her body. She smiled when Answer appeared in the door way, bringing her some breakfast, and of course there was another rose with it too. Nanami giggled and sat up in the bed as Answer took place next to her.
“Good morning my queen,” he said with a grin and placed the food in front of her.
“I brought you some breakfast, because… guess what? You need to get up! We’ve got some visitors from across the borders. They are the Rebellion army of a city called Kaos and they came here to talk to us about what’s going on. They said their leader wants to speak to you.” Answer said excited and kissed her forehead. “I’ve heard stories that they have a pretty powerful army. About twice as strong as we are.” Nanami looked up shocked.
“They’re here now?!” Nanami’s eyes widened as she looked around for her clothes. She got back on her feet and took her clothes from the ground.
“Don’t worry sweetheart, I covered for you. Said you were in some meeting and that you’ll be back in an hour or so,” Nanami smiled as she leaned in and kissed Answer’s head.
“So just relax and eat… You’re gonna need it… It’s gonna be a long day,” he said, taking a strawberry from the plate and took a bite from it. “You’re such a sweetheart…” Nanami said and decided to make some time for her breakfast. “No, I am not… Only to you I am,” he said and winked at her.
After Nanami had finished her breakfast, her and Answer went downstairs together to meet their guests. When she arrived at tavern she saw them sitting around the table with Robert and Mahmudah. Laughing and talking it looked like they had found some nice company. Nanami was surprised to not find Jonoh there with them and once again Zhalia wasn’t there either. Nanami walked towards them with Answer accompanying her. And the guests stood up and bowed their heads respectfully to the Rebel leader. There were only two of them so it seemed like they didn’t feel threatened.
“You must be Lady Nanami?” A young woman said. Nanami looked at her and came to think that they had to be around the same age. “My Name is Missy Black… This here is my friend Jambo.” Both shook Nanami’s hand and nodded at each other. Answer stood there with his arms crossed, taking on his cool and tough attitude who always seemed to interest Nanami a lot.
“Yes, I’m Nanami and this here is my…-” She looked over her shoulder back to Answer, finding herself in an awkward position. “My.. uh… This is Answer.” Jambo reached out his hand to Answer who did not move a muscle only looked at it and back to Jambo again. Jambo shyly pulled his hand back and swallowed a bit embarrassed. “Awkward…” He said, scratching the back of his head. Robert tried not to laugh when he saw the look on Jambo’s face comparing to Answer. Answer did stand there quite scary and powerful comparing to the somewhat smaller guy. “Oh come on Ans… Don’t be so cold… They’re cool…” He said and Mahmudah nodded her head in agreement. Answer cocked a brow as he looked over to Robert with a cold look in his eyes indeed. One that even made Robert’s skin crawl for a moment. “Okay, okay… I’ll shut up already,” he said, rolling his eyes.
“You’ll be fine, Rob…” Mahmudah said, patting his shoulder, almost looking like she wanted to comfort him. “Please follow me…” Nanami said to the duo and led them to the gathering hall.
As they arrived, it was pretty quiet inside. Nanami noticed it for sure. Now that Jowy was gone everything seemed to have become quietly again. She knew he would always be hanging around in the gathering hall. He definitely had grown in his knowledge… Jowy’s strategy had become so much more stronger than it ever had before. Shaking off the thoughts she told them to go ahead and sit down around the long table.
“So… What brings you two here?” Nanami began to speak and looked at Missy and Jambo.
“Well we came to bring you an offer.” Missy said and Jambo also nodded his head.
“Interesting… Go on…” Nanami’s eyes fell on the huge blade this girl was carrying around.
“Well as you would probably know, we came all the way here from the borders of Erandel. Our master has sent us to ask you if you need any back-up. We’ve heard that you’re planning an attack on the NBK.” Jambo said and looked over to Missy. Nanami actually was in shock to know that they knew about the plans and her heart began to beat faster as she started to become a bit nervous. Answer who had taken place next to her noticed it and brought his hand up to hers under the table, and squeezed it softly like he wanted to tell her to calm down a bit.
“Don’t worry… Your plans will be safe with us… We’ve been trying to destroy NBK ourselves for a very long time now but the only thing we managed to do was stopping them from plundering our city. We’ve lost so many people and… Well then we’ve heard our neighbor city Sakaiya has decided to join your side. To stop us all from getting into war. So that’s why we’re here… We would like to offer you our support. Together we may succeed to defeat NBK once and for all… If you would accept our help of course,” Nanami was stunned. She looked over to Answer who still looked a little suspicious. “So… from what I understand, you mean, Jowy told your master about our plans?” Nanami asked confused… Why would he do something like that? “Yes he did, in fact, the two are companions for a very long time. And so they have been into battle together a few times before…”
“Who is your master?” Answer asked and looked at the two.
“His name is Granhex… He is a very powerful Mage but even with him we didn’t stand a chance facing the NBK… They’re ruthless… So I guess we’re in the same boat here,” Missy said and crossed her hands. “And how do we know we can trust you people?” Answer said all of a sudden, his voice back into the cold way as usual. “You can’t… But we trust our master… And you could give us a chance to prove that we’re sincere… We would like to help… I lost my family because of that man and his army… And if I must fight in a war against him... I would take that chance. Even if that would mean joining forces with others. You don’t have to decide right now… We understand that this is something you can’t decide at this very moment,” Missy’s words struck something inside of Answer which made him have a little more faith in them.
Nanami bit on her bottom lip and looked over to Answer. She could still see the doubt in his eyes. He never was a person of trusting people so easily. But she was sure they both knew very well, that if they would decide to join forces with Kaos as well, they would have an even bigger chance of succeeding the war. A short silence appeared and Nanami got up.
“I will consider your kind offer, and I will discuss this with my people. But if Jowy has faith in you, then I will as well,” Nanami noticed the smiles on Missy and Jambo’s faces and slightly smiled herself. Only Answer didn’t seem to be that excited, yet. But Nanami knew that he would come along when she had made her decision. He stood by her side no matter what choice she was going to make. And of course she understood very well that he didn’t trust them. But who could be trusted these days anyway? It was a risk they had to take.
Missy and Jambo stood up and waited for Nanami and Answer to lead them the way.
“Tell your master that we will get back to your offer in a few days. Also… I would like to pay him a visit and talk to him in person,” Nanami stated and led them the way. “We understand, and you’re very welcome. We will be waiting for your visit,” Missy answered and followed them outside. As they stood at the gates watching the two get on their horses as they left. Nanami watched them slowly disappear. She turned around to find Momo play with some dogs who were wandering around in town. Waving at the little boy she smiled and he did the same. As they walked back to the castle Nanami turned to Answer and looked down. He saw immediately that she had something on her mind; “What’s wrong?” he said and waited for her response. “I would like to pay a visit to Olympus…” Nanami decided at that very moment. “Oh darling that…” Answer didn’t get the chance to finish his sentence.
“I have to Ans… Maybe we’ll find Momo’s mother.. I mean look at him… It breaks my heart to see him like that… She must be still out there…” Nanami refused to believe the woman was dead until she would see it with her own eyes. It had been days now since the attack, maybe people started coming back to look for their families.
“Do you really want to go?” Answer said softly and Nanami nodded her head.
“Then we will… But not alone… Who knows what’s still out there… Let’s ask Jon and Mah for back-up…” Nanami smiled and threw herself around Answer’s neck, hugging him happily. “Thank you…” She said with almost tears in her eyes.
“I’d do anything for you… You must know that by now,” he said sweetly as he looked into her eyes.
“Look it’s our love birds!” A voice could be heard from behind them. Answer and Nanami both looked up to find Jonoh coming their way.
“So… What’s the news?” He asked curious but both Answer and Nanami remained silent.
“Okay… Something I cannot know?” Jonoh cocked a brow and crossed his arms.
“We’ll have a meeting tonight during dinner,” Nanami said keeping it still to themselves.
“But first I need a favor from you Jon,”
“Me!?” Jonoh chuckled as he looked at her.
“I feel honored lady but shouldn’t Ans be the one giving you the ‘favors’?” He said with a big grin but cleared his throat fast when he noticed the look on Answer’s face.
“Ehm, okay what is it?” He asked, sounding a little more serious this time. Jonoh was a great guy, funny, but also a little bit of a geek sometimes, but who wasn’t amongst the Rebels, they were such fun loving people and Nanami was grateful for finding a family like them. Every person was unique… They really grew closer through the years.
“We’re heading for Olympus…” Answer stated as he looked at Jonoh.
“We?” He asked surprised, it sounded pretty interesting to him though.
“Yes ‘we’…” Answer repeated.
“And we would like to ask you and Mah to come with us… See that little kid over there?” Answer pointed at Momo who was still running around, playing with the dogs.
“Yeah, it’s that kiddo you guys found a couple of days ago right?” Both Answer and Nanami nodded. And Jonoh looked over to the kid again. “That’s Momo. He lost his parents during the Olympus invasion a few days ago… Or at least… One of them… His mother is still missing… Nan, wants to go back and see if she perhaps has returned home already… To look for her son… Every mother would do that for their child… And besides, it has been some days now since the attack…So who knows…” Jonoh understood and nodded; “Sure… I’ll go see where Mah is right away… Stay here, don’t move!” He said and quickly took off. Nanami looked up to Answer and smiled as they waited for Jonoh to come back.
Jonoh arrived at the tavern as he saw Mahmudah who was about to order her daily tequila.
“Oh no, you’re not!” He said, and grabbed her hand as he pulled her away from the bar.
“Hey!! Jon!!” Mahmudah cried out as he pulled her further away from the drinks.
“Tonight you can drink all you want girl, but right now we’ve got a mission to accomplish,” he said softly as he looked down on the slender girl. Her Black hair up in a ponytail, he thought it was too cute. Mah was just as crazy as he was and they were almost perfectly made for each other. But they never really looked at each other that way. Nanami and Answer were joking about them all the time just as much as they did about them. It was fun.
“What mission?” Mah said confused and followed him outside.
“We’re going to Olympus to find the kiddo’s mom,” Jon said as they walked to the stables.
“Olympus?!” Mahmudah’s eyes widened in shock as she heard his words and wildly shook her head. “Oh no, no no!!” She said, slightly panicking.
“What if we run into Amateur?! We will be her toast for breakfast! With bacon and…-” The girl said and looked over to Jonoh, who placed his blade on his back before he took out two horses from the stables. Amateur was also known as Ama, Mahmudah just never really got it why a person would call themselves ‘Amateur’ it was too crazy for words. Mostly because she wasn’t an Amateur at all. No, she was very mean and powerful. “Don’t worry cutie, I’ll be there to protect you… And besides… Not everyone likes human dishes the way you do Mah…” He said with a grin, they were always joking about Mahmudah being a cannibal who ate people. Because she could eat so much all day. And still always hungry. They even told Nanami and Answer to be careful that she wouldn’t eat their babies. Because of that they always joked they would never ask Mahmudah to babysit their kids someday. It was nice to still have some humorous jokes during the hard times they were going through. It always made things look less worse than they were.
“Well in that case… I don’t mind… And I do not eat people Jon!” She said and also took two horses out of their stables. Leaving the place they walked towards Answer and Nanami who were still standing there, waiting at the gates for them to come. With both leading a horse on each hand, they made their way out of the city. Mahmudah handed both horses to Answer and Nanami and walked over to Jonoh, who gently handed her a horse as well. Soon everyone got on their horses and left the city on their way to Olympus, which was situated about three hours away from their homes.
Autaric plains, City of Olympus 03:47 pm
Arriving at the border of Autaric plains, they could see clouds of smoke not too far away from there.
“Is that…?” Nanami narrowed her eyes and looked over to the others.
“Littsnow…” She hissed and told her horse to start running again. Without saying a word the others followed her. Another destroyed city in a week time… Nanami remembered that the city situated out there was Shinigami. She sped up and rode down the hill until she reached the city. High flames were burning down the old houses of the city. Nanami’s heart was beating in her throat now. They were no friends with the people of Shinigami, no, far from that. But this was something she would not wish for anyone to happen.
The warmth of the fire was burning in her face but all she could do was stare into the destructive flames. This had to be stopped before there would be any more victims. Nanami entered the city without a word and started to ride through the burning streets. Looking for any survivors but it seemed that everyone either had burned to death or fled the city.
“Nan, wait! Damnit!” Answer shouted and quickly followed her into the city. Jonoh and Mahmudah looked at each other, both in a quite bit of a shock;
“And they call us crazy?” Jonoh said stunned and shook his head, motioning to Mahmudah to follow him into the city.
Nanami was now going even faster. With Answer still following in her trail she rode through the small streets. “Is anyone there!? Hello!?” She yelled, hoping to get an answer but the sound of the cracking wood took over and she could barely see anything through the thick smoke. Nanami coughed as she suddenly heard a woman scream. The young archer looked up to see where it was coming from. “Nan!! Are you out of your mind!?” Answer yelled outloud, not that he was angry but more worried. “Someone’s there!” Nanami shouted and sped up her horse again. “Nan, stop!! It’s too dangerous!” Answer had to cough as well, a loud crack could be heard and he quickly looked up to see the roof coming down from the burning building. Just in time he managed to get away and had no choice but to follow Nanami further into the city. He gritted his teeth and groaned loudly. “Argh, women!” He snarled and held his arm in front of his eyes and continued his way.
Nanami moved quickly through the smoke to find a woman standing in the middle of what once used to be the market place. She quickly rode towards her and grabbed the woman’s hand just in time as another building started to collapse, while pulling her on the back of her Ruby-eyed steed the roof almost came down on them. Nanami quickly turned around and came running back towards Answer again. Taking the other way around to see if there were any more survivors they met up with Jonoh and Mahmudah at the gates again.
Nanami couldn’t believe there was only one person left in the city. They had looked pretty much everywhere in a short time but no one was there anymore. Stopping her horse in front of the gate, Nanami jumped off and started to cough loudly. Her knees were shaking and her heart was beating in her throat but she saved the woman just in time. If she had been a moment later the burnt building would have fallen on top of her. Answer finally caught up with her and jumped off the horse as he began running to her.
“Don’t you ever do that again! It was a foolish and reckless thing to do!” Answer shouted and looked at Nanami, angry. For a moment he felt like he had lost the control over her and that he was about to lose her for real this time. It was more the fear, taking over who made him react like that. Nanami didn’t respond, her face was covered with black dust and her clothes had caught the smell of fire. Gasping for breath she let herself fall on her knees and looked down at the ground. As soon as she caught up with her breathing the young woman closed her eyes and looked over to the crying woman. Thank god she was okay…
“Thank you… For saving my life…” The woman cried. Her clothes were all messed up and her hair and face were black and covered with bruises and dust.
Answer reached out his hand to help Nanami back on her feet and pulled her closer to embrace her. Mahmudah and Jonoh also got off of their horses and hugged her too.
“And you always say that ‘we’ are crazy…” Jonoh said, shaking his head. Nanami released herself from the embraces and turned to the woman.
“Is there anyone or anywhere we can take you to, lady?” Jonoh asked softly and the woman looked down, starting to cry as she shook her head.
“I lost my husband and son… And I have no home anymore.” Nanami narrowed her eyes as she looked down, clenching her fists. She felt so useless at this point.
“We will take you with us, lady…” Answer said and placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “We’ve got place enough for everyone, just stay with us as long as needed.” The woman nodded her head and followed Nanami back on the horse. “But before we go home, we need to pay a visit to Olympus,” he said and saw the color fade from the woman’s face, or at least, from what was left of it… They all moved out of Shinigami and continued their way to Olympus which was only fifteen minutes away from there.
The fire was already gone when they stopped at the gates of Olympus. Although the smell was still there. Some buildings had still smoke coming off of it. But at least the city was no longer empty. The woman got off of Nanami’s horse and looked around in disbelief.
People had actually come back to this place? They could not believe their eyes. There wasn’t a lot of people but at least some of them. Nanami felt sad to see them sleeping on the streets now that their homes had to be build up from the ground again.
The Rebels left their horses outside of the gates and entered it carefully. Nanami noticed the woman started to run into the city as if she was looking for someone. The friends had a hard time keeping up with her.
As they finally made it to the place she had been running off to, Nanami saw the woman fall on her knees in front of a destroyed house. There was a teddy bear lying on the ground and she took it and held it close while bursting out in tears.
Nanami couldn’t help but to let a few tears escape her eyes too as she saw the broken woman in front of her. Answer noticed and moved closer to her as he wrapped an arm around her. Even Mahmudah and Jonoh lowered their heads as they looked down. It was sad… A true sad situation.
“You people are PATHETIC! Look at this place… It’s a MESS!” A woman was screaming from the center stairs of the city. Everyone looked up confused as they saw the woman stepping down the stairs. She was wearing a white robe, while carrying a broken staff.
“Is that…-“ Nanami got interrupted by Mahmudah’s voice. “Amateur!” Mahmudah cried out and hid behind Jonoh’s back. “So she did make it out alive…” Answer mumbled under his breath and took a few steps forward as he pulled out his sword, ready to attack her but Nanami pulled him back. The Rebels watched Amateur’s every move. She looked definitely defeated and now apparently had to take it out on the people of her city. The woman raised her hand, making her long white hair dance in the wind. A small light orb slowly appeared in her hand as she aimed for one of the citizens. Answer saw it happen and ran towards the man, pushing him aside as he got hit by it himself. Answer flew away a few meters and landed hard on the ground. Nanami called out his name and ran towards him as she also got hit by a second orb. She fell on the ground, next to Answer and looked up in shock. Luckily their armor could handle most of the attack so they were able to get back on their feet again. “That’s one hell of an angry kitty…” Jonoh said stunned and looked over to Mahmudah who was still searching for cover behind him.
Amateur slowly continued walking down the stairs. Her eyes kept on Answer and Nanami.
“Do I know you from somewhere?” The woman hissed and tilted her head a bit to the side. The way she looked at them almost seemed demonic… Even her voice sounded dark.
Nanami swallowed as Amateur raised her hand again preparing herself for the next attack. Firing another energy orb at them, made Answer and Nanami both roll down the other way. They looked at the spot between them who got hit by the light ball which had now turned into a deep hole in the ground. They both got back on their feet quickly and ran over to Mahmudah and Jonoh who got back in position. People were panicking everywhere around them.
“We need to stop her!” Nanami yelled as she looked up in the sky that had become a strange picture, dark clouds gathered above Olympus, the wind started to pick up even faster. Nanami’s heart was beating in her throat, which made it hard for her to control her nerves.
All of them stood there in shock, watching as the woman collected all that seemed to be a dark power. Jonoh pulled out his blade and the rest took their weapon also, preparing for the next attack. Jonoh was the first to take a chance on her. He ran towards Amateur and hit her with his weapon but instead of causing any damage he got swung away. Amateur’s eyes had turned darker and she looked really threatening now. The friends gathered together as they got back into a fighting position. They didn’t know how they were going to finish this but they had to at least give it a try. All of a sudden a bright white light appeared from behind Amateur. The demonic woman slowly turned her head and looked back over her shoulder. A man with long blonde hair stood behind her. There was a light glow surrounding him and he was also carrying a staff. The Rebels couldn’t believe their eyes. Everything was going so fast that they couldn’t keep up with it any longer.
“You have broken the law of magic, Amalia,” The mysterious man spoke. All four of them had to keep their hands in front of their eyes for the lights were just too bright. Amateur’s eyes went open widely. How could this man know her true name?
“Her name is Amalia?!” Mahmudah asked surprised and looked over to Jonoh, who simply shook his shoulder. All of a sudden she thought it didn’t sound that scary anymore.
“You abused your gift and exchanged your soul for more power...” The man spoke.
Nanami narrowed her eyes as she stood there, watching the whole happening.
“Who are you!?” Amateur hissed while raising her hand. The mage created another energy ball and threw it towards he stranger who just appeared out of nowhere. But it was no use. It just went through him as if he was some kind of ghost. Amateur got frustrated and threw another one at him. But still it wouldn’t do much.
“They know me as White Prince, I was sent out here by Leknaat to strip you from you magic.” He said calmly. The man’s voice almost sounded serene.
“What…?” Nanami said while stepping forward. Did he just say ‘Leknaat’?
“What’s wrong, who is Leknaat?” Answer asked her when he saw the colors fade from Nanami’s face. “Leknaat is a seers… a Prophet… Also known as the keeper of balance…
The bearer of the black half of the Gate Rune… A true rune which has kept her alive for in over 400 years… She appeared before Jowy and my brother when they got their runes… From that moment they had become enemies…”
“She sounds powerful…” Answer said and cocked a brow.
“She is…” Nanami didn’t say much about it. It was better for some things to be left unsaid.
Amateur began to laugh out loud, her voice almost scared them. “You came to take my…-“ Amateur didn’t finish her sentence it seemed that the only thing she could do was laughing hysterically. She began firing energy balls all around her. People started to panic and ran around in the city. “I command you to stop that immediately!” White Prince said with a low voice. His eyes started to glow as he noticed the woman wouldn’t listen to his commands. The glow around him began to grow even more from white slowly to pink and then purple as the man raised his hands and aimed for Amateur who had completely gone mad. The Rebels couldn’t tell if he was attacking her or simply draining all of the power out of her. Then again, it seemed like Amateur’s powers were decreasing as she stood there.
“No…. NO!!” The woman cried out loud feeling the energy got sucked out of her real fast and a few seconds later she collapsed and fell on her knees on the stone city stairs. The man disappeared as well and it seemed like there was nothing else left of the powerful mage then an powerless wreck who just looked insane. Amateur was no longer Amateur but now simply Amalia again. She looked at her hands, trying to create another energy ball but it was all gone… “Get her!” Nanami commanded and Jonoh and Answer ran over to Amalia and pulled her roughly back on her feet. They took a rope from the ground and wrapped it around the insane woman. “I don’t see a reason to not kill you right here at this spot!” Answer hissed as the woman reminded him of that one moment back at the castle, when they took master Shu’s life. “We’re taking her to the castle…” Nanami said and looked around the city. She had to ask around for Momo’s mother. “Stay here guys, Mah… Could you come with me?” Mahmudah jumped up and ran over to Nanami. “You boys keep an eye on her.” Answer and Jonoh nodded their heads and pushed Amalia to the ground.
Mahmudah and Nanami walked around to find some people who would perhaps know if anyone was looking for a small boy. The name Momo didn’t ring a bell for many people. There was only a few who told them that his house had been empty ever since they came back to Olympus. Nanami sighed deeply and rested her hands on her hips as she looked around.
“I was really hoping I could find his mother… Poor child…” She said sadly and looked down on the ground. “Nanny… You tried…” Mah tried to comfort her and placed a hand on Nanami’s shoulder. “That’s all you could do…” Nanami didnt respond. She sighed again as they started making their ways back to the others.
“We should go home…” Nanami said as they arrived back at the others.
“We might be able to get Olympus on our side, now that they have seen who their leader is for real…” Mahmudah said and looked over to the others. Nanami looked back over her shoulders as all eyes were on her.
“Go talk to them…” Answer said and took Nanami’s hand as if he wanted to say he was there with her. Nanami swallowed and walked over to the center of the city, with Answer by her side. She climbed on a wooden crate and stared over the city.
“Hello everyone…” She started, Nanami had no idea what she was going to say to them. But it was her job to do so… Her brother knew how to recruit people so she could do it too.
“My name is Nanami…” Seeing the looks on the people’s faces made her quite nervous. For she had no idea how they would react if they heard the Rebels were in town.
“I am the leader of the force that’s called Rebels by many…” Surprisingly everyone stayed cool and listened to what she had to say. “First of all… I want to say that I feel terrible about what they did to you… and I’m truly sorry for your loss. But I have an offer to make… To all of you… Now that there is nothing left of your homes… I would like to ask you to come and stay with us as long as this war isn’t over yet. You’ll be safer if you do… And we’ve got enough place for everyone…” Nanami said, raising her voice a bit. She could see the people starting to talk to each other. Everyone knew damn well Littsnow’s army could return again. Nanami watched them in silence and noticed that they slowly started to step forward.
“I assume that is a ‘yes’?” She said relieved and everyone now started to move. She looked down on Answer who helped her to get off the crates and made her land safely on the ground again. “I’m proud of you…” He whispered with a smile as his eyes went to the people surrounding them. “We should leave soon, if we want to make it home before dinner…” Answer said and Nanami nodded. “Well done boss…” Jonoh said with a grin and looked over to Mahmudah, who stood in front of a woman who was selling fruit.
“Mah… You hungry again?” He asked her and chuckled out loud. Mahmudah bought two apples and walked back to her horse and gave it a piece of the apple.
People had prepared themselves to leave and took their stuff with them. Everywhere, they were carrying bags and Nanami walked over to one of the people who took the lead.
“We have an important meeting coming up tonight… So we need to go ahead… If we wanna make it back in time.” Nanami said and took out a map. She placed a circle around the place where their castle was situated and gave it to the old man. The man nodded his head thankfully and smiled at Nanami. It made her feel good whenever she could do something for others to help. “We will be preparing a place for all of you to stay. So we will be waiting for you… All of you,” she said and got back on her horse. The woman she had saved earlier that day had already returned and looked exhausted so Nanami decided to take her with her again, while Jonoh placed Amalia on the back of his horse, waiting for the other Rebels to follow her out of Olympus.
Forest of Doom, Rebels Headquarters 08:58 pm
Dinner had already been served as the Rebels made it back to their castle. Nanami got off of her horse and helped the woman to get off as well. Nanami noticed the look on the woman’s face and looked down disappointed.
“I’m sorry we didn’t find your family.” Nanami said a bit sad and sighed softly.
“It’s alright… I didn’t expect we would… I told my son to run when our city got attacked. He’s an eight year old… I’m just so scared he truly is still out there, all alone and lost.” The woman said as she almost began to cry again. Nanami didn’t know what to say as the silence returned.
“Mommy?” a little voice called out all of a sudden. Both Nanami and the woman looked up. Nanami noticed the bright look on the woman’s face as she saw Momo come running their way. “Momo!” The woman cried out as tears began to roll down her face. Both ran over to each other and Nanami witnessed the woman kneel down in front of the small boy and hugged him tightly. Nanami’s hand went over to her mouth as she held it in front of it. Looking up confused but also so happy at the same time. She couldn’t believe all this time the woman had been looking for Momo, not knowing if he was still alive, while he had just been hanging around their castle. Nanami felt a little stupid for not thinking of that possibility before. But then again, she had a lot of things on her mind right now. She looked over to Answer, who smiled and winked at her. Making Nanami smile a little herself. She walked over to him and asked him if he was ready for dinner. Answer nodded and walked along with her, following the others inside while the stable boys brought the horses back to their stables. Nanami also told her people to take Amateur away and lock her up for their own safety. With eyes kept on her all day long.
Nanami waited for everyone to sit down at the table and looked around. She cleared her throat and spoke up, loud enough for everyone to hear the news she had received earlier today.
“So, what was so important that we had to wait until dinner?” Jonoh said and took some meat on his plate. Nanami nodded and looked over to Jonoh; “As you guys know, we had some visitors from Kaos today. They were sent by their master Granhex to offer us a helping hand in battle.” The expression on Nanami’s face looked serious and everyone remained silent. “We all know that at this moment we’re not strong enough to defeat the NBK all by ourselves. So I was thinking… Perhaps we should give them a chance?” The servants went around with a bottle of wine and filled their glasses as Nanami spoke. Nanami slightly smiled while nodding her head friendly and the servants left the room. She waited till they were gone and then looked back at the others again.
“I decided to agree with the idea of joining forces with Kaos. So we need to start making some place in our headquarters, because they will be moving in with us during the whole war.”
“That’s great news!” Robert said and looked around excited.
“Yes, it is… But do you think we can trust them?” Jonoh asked all of a sudden as his voice sounded serious. “And here I thought Answer was the one with the trust issues?” Mahmudah said and grinned. “I still don’t trust you either, Mah…” Mahmudah looked up hearing Answer’s words who stood there with that same old cold look in his eyes which made the girl pout shyly. He couldn’t help but to laugh from the inside. Of course he did trust her, but there were only a few people who he knew he could trust, and yes even Mahmudah was one of them. “Don’t worry, we’re good…” Nanami said and looked around again.
“Granhex is a good friend of Jowy’s… So if he trusts them, then so will I.” The young woman stated and reached out her hand for the glass of red wine in front of her.
“In that case… I got your back.” Jonoh said and looked over to the others, who nodded as well. Nanami took her glass and raised it to make a toast. “Well then my lovely friends… Let’s make a toast.” Nanami said and smiled as she looked around the table, meeting everyone’s eyes. Answer who stood up next to Nanami raised his glass as well. “To our victory!” Everyone else followed their lead and stood up as well. Repeating after them everyone raised their glasses and drank from their wine. Nanami’s eyes went to Zhalia, narrowing them as she glanced. Tonight she was going to find out what the hell had been going on.
That night Nanami waited for Answer to fall asleep and got out of bed. She softly put on her clothes and took her green cloak with her. Her long hair bungled over her shoulder and covered her back with half of it. It was still a strange feeling, knowing that her hair usually never made it down to her shoulders. It had always been short, up till now. She looked over her shoulder one more time to find Answer still asleep and left the room.
Outside she stood at the chambers and waited for Zhalia to come out, so she could follow her. Nanami was wearing a dark green cloak with a hood that was covering part of her face. She hid herself behind a tree when she heard footsteps coming out of the chambers. A few seconds later, Zhalia appeared in the dark entrance of the old fallen building. She looked around carefully if no one was there and made her way into the forest. Nanami followed her at a distance but close enough to not lose sight of her.
Zhalia was making her way through the dark forest and Nanami noticed she was walking in the direction of Edena Village. A village on the other side of the small forest that was about ten minutes away from the castle. There were walls surrounding the village. Walls who went through part of the woods and even around the castle so it was basically one area. Nanami held on to her dark hood and kept following Zhalia until she saw her stop at the foot of the small village. Nanami quickly hid herself behind a tree when Zhalia turned around to see if the coast was still clear.
She stood there in the dark, her eyes scanned the area when they caught another figure walking up to Zhalia. It was a womanly figure, she was wearing a dark purple cloak with a hood, who just like Nanami herself covered part of her face. Nanami narrowed her eyes and carefully moved over to a different tree who stood closer to the two women. She still couldn’t clearly hear what they were talking about but it was just enough to understand what this was about. Another informant? Nanami wondered what the hell was going on. She narrowed her eyes and continued listening to them.
Zhalia smiled when she saw the young woman coming her way. She stood there waiting for her to start talking. Yesterday the woman had come to her, telling her that she had more news about Littsnow’s plans but that she had to wait one more day, before she could tell her the news. Now all Zhalia wanted, was to know what their next move would be. The woman had been her informant for the longest time. But Zhalia had always kept it to herself, for she couldn’t take the risk to bring this person in danger. Nanami could see how the woman handed Zhalia a piece of paper and narrowed her eyes again. She couldn’t exactly see what it was but it was all rolled up.
“Oblivion will be next in two days… All the information I have for you is written on this map.” Ananchel said and placed it in Zhalia’s hand. The woman looked around nervously.
“I should be heading back home soon… It’s too dangerous to stay out here for too long, in case my master needs me. He has like this weird episodes now and then. Calling us out in the middle of the night for a sudden meeting. If he sees that I’m not there… He might lose it.” She said and looked around again. The woman leaned in to hug Zhalia and held her close for a moment.
“Take care, sister… And good luck… This was the last piece of information I could give you. After this we won’t be seeing each other for a very long time… We shouldn’t…” She whispered, her voice sounding sad.
“You don’t have to do this… Come with me Ana…. You’ll be safe with us and no one can hurt us if we stick together…”
“Zhal… I can’t, you know that… After everything my master has done for me… I can’t just turn on him and be ungrateful, he saved my life. He may be a bad person… But he did so much for me…” Nanami who still stood there behind the tree, witnessing the whole thing, shook her head in disbelief. She couldn’t wait any longer and stepped away from behind the tree.
“What is this?” Nanami asked with a cold voice.
“Are you exchanging information with someone from the NBK?” Both Zhalia and Ananchel’s eyes widened in shock when they saw the woman stand there, looking at them.
“Nan, calm down, it’s not what you think!” Zhalia told her, trying to stay calm.
“What is not Zhal? You tell me!” Her voice sounded even louder this time. Once again she felt betrayed, just like when Soffell left them. Nanami took out her bow and aimed it at Zhalia who had covered Ananchel. “Just, please… Let me explain this!” Zhalia cried out, holding her hands up in the air. Of course she wasn’t planning to hurt Nanami. She was her best friend. How could she even doubt her? Zhalia couldn’t understand.
“Speak!” Nanami responded, not moving a muscle as she still stood there aiming for the two women. “Okay, okay, calm down Nan… I will tell you… But not out here…” Zhalia said, looking around. Her eyes went back to Nanami as her heart was now beating fast in her throat. “Can we go back home please? We should not take the risk that someone may hear what I am going to tell you.”
“Alright… Move…” Nanami said and stepped aside and the two women started walking back into the dark woods. Making their way back towards the Rebellion castle. With Nanami following in their trail, still aiming her bow in case she had to use it.
As they reached the chambers back home. They all sat down at the table. The silence was overwhelming and deafening. Nanami frowned, waiting for Zhalia to start talking. Ananchel took off the hood, making her violet colored hair appear over her shoulders.
“Where to begin…” Zhalia mumbled under her breath. While Nanami observed her. She knew someone was going to find out one day, but she didn’t expect it would be that soon.
“Well how about starting with telling me who she is?” Nanami said, pointing at Ananchel, who just sat there, looking down on the table.
“Of course…” Zhalia said, snapping out of her thoughts.
“My name is Ananchel.” The violet haired girl said and slowly stood up.
“I am Littsnow’s mage…-”
“Ana…-” Zhalia’s words got cut off as the woman continued to talk.
“Also, I am Zhalia’s twin sister.” Zhalia pressed her lips tightly on each other.
“Now that is one I haven’t heard before.” Nanami said with a sarcastic tone in her voice.
“It’s true, Nan.” Zhalia interrupted and stood up as well. Nanami looked up even more confused. “You don’t have a sister…” She said softly and narrowed her eyes, who went from the one to the other, trying to compare the two women. “Nan, before you would understand, I have to tell you a story… Some history.” Zhalia sat down again and looked from Ananchel, who slightly nodded back to Nanami.
“About 300 years ago, in a small village far away from here, a twin was born. The two girls grew up together, just like all the other kids, nothing ordinary. Until the day they turned 15. That day, on their birthday a prophet came to them. This woman was called Leknaat.”
Nanami’s eyes widened when she heard that woman’s name again. She hadn’t thought about her for the longest time, until the White prince showed up in Olympus, earlier today. “Leknaat…” Nanami said under her breath, clenching her fists with anger. Zhalia frowned as she saw the way Nanami responded to the prophet’s name. But decided to continue her story.
“She brought the twins news, about how they were actually two powerful Mages. And that one day both girls were taken away from their home. To the Temple of Ibalize. There they were trained to become even better and stronger Mages. Never in history it had happened that by the birth of twins, both children became Mages. Anyway… Both girls lived a peaceful life inside the city walls. Until one day something happened that no one could’ve ever seen coming. The girls were practicing their skills, when one of them found a book with magic written in it, which you could only do with more than just one mage. They thought it wouldn’t hurt, trying some of the spells…”
Zhalia sighed and bit on her bottom lip.
The temple got blown away completely and the whole city within, had turned to dust. The power that was released was so big, that it destroyed everything around it even miles away from the temple. Since that day people speak about a myth about two girls who are Mages, who would be the most powerful weapon in the world. Years people have been hunting them down. They destroyed every Mage they ran into.”
Zhalia swallowed softly and looked over to Nanami, who sat there stunned, not saying a word. A short silence appeared again but Nanami broke it soon enough. “And you two are those Mages?” She asked softly, looking around again. She could now understand why Zhalia had been hiding it from her all this time. Yet… She should’ve told her.
“Yes… We are those girls.” Ananchel said and looked over to Zhalia.
“And the reason why Zhal never told you about me, is because she was protecting our lives.” Zhalia agreed with her sister and looked back at Nanami again. “If the wrong people will find out about this… People like Littsnow things could get even worse. Littsnow is a man, continually looking for power. If he gets his hand on both of us… There’s nothing going to be left of this place. They didn’t know that someone else had heard the whole conversation. Answer was standing at the entrance of the room. He had indeed heard of the myth before. But he always used to think it was just a story. But now, hearing all this, would change their position. If they would get Ananchel to join them in battle. They could clean up Littsnow’s mess once and for all. He didn’t do anything, just continued standing there, listening to what else they had to say. “What I don’t understand, you know that Littsnow is a bad man… Nothing but evil. Why would you continue to stay by his side when you know what he has done?” Nanami asked, not understanding why on earth Zhalia’s sister would help the bad guys. “I owe him my life… He saved me and took me in as his own, when I had no one. For years he has been a good person to me. I would never betray someone one who saved my life.” Ananchel answered and looked down. Nanami just couldn’t seem to understand.
“What are we going to do now? Now that she knows about us?” Ananchel asked and looked over to Zhalia. Answer had already reached for his crossbow in case he had to do something. “Ananchel… If you stay with us… No more people have to die… This war will be over once and for all. Ananchel… We can stop this. Look around you… So many cities have been plundered by your master… Shinigami… Olympus… So many dead people, innocent people… Women, children. This has to be stopped.” Nanami almost sounded desperate for she really felt horrible about all the things that had happened. “We can’t do anything about that right now Nan… Ananchel will be heading back to NBK right now… If Littsnow finds out she’s not there, there’s gonna be trouble.” Zhalia said and Ananchel agreed. She placed her hood back over her head and turned around. “You got all the information I could get you… Use it well…” The woman said, before leaving the large room. Nanami wanted to stop her from leaving but Zhalia pulled her back.
“She’s having a hard time as well Nan… I forbid her to help us out, because she’s putting her life at stake for us. But it was her own choice to do this. All we can do is sit back and focus on our mission for now…” Nanami watched Ananchel leave in silence and sighed softly.
“Oblivion will be Littsnow’s next target… If we start making a plan… We might be able to stop them from invading another city… We got two days left. So I suggest, we’ll report this to the others and sit down around the table by tomorrow.” Zhalia stated and placed a hand on Nanami’s shoulder who had no choice but to agree with her. “You should get some rest now…We both should. We’ll be having another busy day tomorrow.” Zhalia pulled back her hand and walked away. Nanami watched her leave as well and turned around to go the other way.
Answer had already left and waited for her to come back. He still sat on the edge of the bed, leaning his elbows on his lap, as he watched Nanami enter the room. Nanami didn’t notice and took off her clothes as her back was turned to Answer.
“I’ve been waiting for you…” His voice sounded all of a sudden and Nanami’s heart skipped a beat when she quickly turned around to find him still sitting on the bed.
“Are you okay?” Nanami didn’t know what to say for a moment and walked over to the bed, as she sat down in silence, next to Answer. “I’ve heard the whole conversation…” He said and Nanami’s eyes widened in shock. Not because of him but it could’ve been anyone witnessing the conversation.
“Why didn’t you tell me you went out?” Answer’s voice sounded disappointed.
“I’m sorry dear.... I… I just didn’t know what to expect after following Zhalia out. I was going to tell you… I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t imagining things.” Nanami said softly and looked at him. Answer reached out his arm and moved it around her, pulling her into a hug, and kissed the top of her head as they both sat there in silence.
“Don’t ever do that again… You know you can trust me…No matter what…” Nanami closed her eyes as she rested her head on his shoulder.