On The Roof
When Sauro and Amia came out onto the roof, Chiharu rushed towards them.
“Sauro! You’re sweating so much!”
“Chiharu. Don’t worry about me.”
Sauro was being supported by Amia, but he nodded and then stood on his own. But he was still unstable.
There was suddenly a swirl of wind, and then the usual, winged Sauro was there. His face also seemed less pale now.
“I’m really not my best without my wings.”
“You say that, even after bending iron bars with your bare hands!”
Maki joked. Well, Sauro would do it, the others thought. And there was now a relaxed atmosphere around them.
“Really, thank you so much.”
“What? It was nothing.”
But Sauro looked happy because of Chiharu’s gratitude. Still, his expression did not shift much, and he remained calm and cool, Maki thought. As Chiharu’s face was beaming with genuine emotion, she did not joke about it further.
Amia had taken a step back and was watching them with a smile.
“And thank you, Amia.”
“Beloved child, it was nothing.”
However, he was not one to hold back, and so as Chiharu moved towards him, he wrapped his arms around her. The others sighed, knowing that it couldn’t be helped if it was Amia. Maki realized that the birdfolk and merfolk might be even more special than she thought.
In the meantime, Aeris’s airship was moving even closer. It seemed like he was going to land right in the center of the castle garden.
“Even they did not prepare to deal with an invasion from the sky. Though they may have bows, the birdfolk will prevent them from hitting the airship. Besides, the soldiers look confused.”
Apparently, these castle guards were not capable of dealing with the situation. Edwy analyzed them cooly.
“Of course. They were told that their own prince had taken their king hostage. Such things are hard to believe. Oh, the airship is going to land now.”
“Arthur has come, right? With Aeris. I wonder if it’s alright. The king is going to come here directly.”
Chiharu sounded worried. Maki talked to her in a stern voice.
“Chiharu. I hope you’re not thinking that this is your fault.”
Chiharu looked at the ground. So she did blame herself a little.
“Look, Chiharu. If I’m being honest, I did think we were partially to blame when we snuck out of the castle and caused the others to worry. But it’s different this time. This was all the doing of inland…well, Lord Adol.”
Norfe had looked up suddenly when he heard ‘inland,’ but this was no time to worry about him.
“You’re the victim here, Chiharu. You were abducted, made to suffer, and locked away underground and behind iron bars. And they made you make magic stones, didn’t they? And I heard they even pointed spears at you.”
Upon hearing this, the others on the roof gasped. Maki looked at the captured birdfolk from the corner of her eye. They had expressions of shock.
“You are being way too kind if you think that any of it was your own fault! In fact, this time, I won’t forgive anyone who was involved in your abduction!”
Chiharu raised her face.
“Okay. I get it. I’ll stop thinking about what I could have done differently. And…”
Chiharu thrust her hand into her skirt pocket and took something out.
The familiar thing sparkled.
“A magic stone?”
“They did force me to make them, but I brought all of them with me. So they didn’t get their way. The stones were so heavy that I thought my pockets would rip, but it seems to be fine.”
Norfe muttered. Chiharu smiled.
“Since before you arrived, Norfe. So I could run away at any time.”
“So that’s why you didn’t change when sleeping…”
“Chiharu. Really now.”
She had worried, perhaps a little too much. But in the end, Chiharu was just Chiharu.
“Now, Maki and Chiharu. People will be coming out of the airship soon. See, the door has opened.”
There were soldiers who pointed their bows and swords at the airshop, but the people that were inside, just walked out slowly as if they took no notice. Then the birdfolk descended quietly and walked while surrounding them. The soldiers stepped back as if they were pushed.
Arthur was in the lead, while the youth of the other countries followed him. Arthur was the only king there, but Aaron and Nyran came from Lowland to the south, and the white sage, Aeris came from the elf lands. Kaider and Grudo represented the dwarf lands, and Zynis and Leia the beast lands.
And from the other side of the gate, they could hear many voices shouting for the soldiers to open the gate.
“Now, what will Lord Adol do? Will he stay inside, or come out boldly?”
Edwy’s cold voice echoed.
It seemed like he had chosen to come out boldly. They could only see his back from the roof, but Lord Adol and a line of men walked quietly out of the castle and towards Arthur.
“Well, well. King Arthur. I am surprised to see you visit us in your airship without any prior word.”
Lord Adol spread out his hands and tilted his head as if he did not know what to do about this lack of manners.
“You are wrong, Lord Adol. I rushed all of the way here, due to a request from this castle.
Arthur said without backing down.
The castle guardian was very quiet, and so his authoritative voice could easily be heard from the roof.
“I’ve only ever seen Arthur while he’s furrowing his eyebrows, but he is actually quite cool when seen like this.”
Chiharu whispered to Maki.
“That’s true, but now is not the time to be thinking of such things.”
Yes, this was no time for that. They were still talking in the garden.
“I’m sorry to say this, but we made no such request. Now, please return.”
“I am also sorry. But the request was from the future king of this castle, Prince Norfe. Now, please step aside and lead me to the prince at once.”
“Prince Norfe? I see…”
Lord Adol laughed most evilly.
“We’ve been trying to do that very thing. But Prince Norfe has taken the king hostage. And so we have no time to deal with the other countries. Please leave.”
“The king has been taken hostage? What nonsense. Why would the future king do such a thing? Adol, get out of my way. I have business with Prince Norfe.”
“Out of your way? This has nothing to do with you. It’s Highland’s problem. You need not get involved.”
Arthur said. His voice was still calm.
“And what authority do you have to stop me?”
“Authority? I’ve been governing this country for the sick king. I am the substitute for the king. As long as he cannot rule, then I am the king’s replacement.”
Arthur sighed deeply. Then he muttered.