Everyone was present as I started to light all the candles within the room. It had taken me all night to ready the candles and dip them in my own blood. Markings and symbols drawn in blood around the room were necessary as well in order for this to work. Dusk and the White Knight had even offered to help light candles when I struggled with a match as my eyes started to fail me. The lack of sleep was catching up to me and I worried that I wouldn't be able to perform my task. But I couldn't afford to feel like this, I needed to muster as much energy as I could and let it all out here in this very room.
There was the slight problem that was disturbing me more, though. In order to get the energy and power to make this successful, I had to release my inner beast that feeds off of other's blood. The blood that everyone was going to give me in order for this to work. Then there was the aftermath on my body from the beast once I used the energy…
"I need a cup of everyone's blood." I told them. Everyone gazed at me without complaint but I saw a spark of fear in Violet and Jade's eyes. They were not used to this sort of thing. But it was necessary. It was needed and they were willing to help. I even asked them again in private if they were okay with it. They just nodded silently, understanding that they were the only ones that had the ability to complete the needed ingredients.
Shortly later, everything was ready. Dusk was licking his wrist clean from the cut I had to open in order to extract blood while everyone else bandaged themselves up either on their wrist or their arm. Even Black who still had not uttered a word. All he would do is stare at the girl sleeping on the bed, deep in thought about his next action. Had he ever showed physical attention to a woman before, I wondered?
"We need to do this quickly." I told them. "Everyone surround the markings on the floor in a circle with Black and myself in the middle." I looked over at Dusk and nodded, "I'll need you to help Ryume get out of her sleep. We don't want her getting stuck in between consciousness'."
Dusk nodded back, hiding behind his scarf. "If that happens, she will be stuck in both worlds, helpless."
I did not need to hear that. "Let's finish this. Everyone concentrate on an aura that will surround Ryume once I activate the energy present in the room." I looked around me and no one was sure of this, not the White Knight, Dusk, Violet, Jade, or even Black. His face was tense and his eyes never left the girl he destroyed. How guilty he must feel.
I shook that away and threw it to the side. No time for that nonsense. Now was the time to concentrate. I took in a deep breath and closed my eyes, spreading my arms wide, preparing myself to release the beast that was inside its cage inside me. A sharp jolt of pain shot up through my body and my body jumped. Something inside me snapped and I gritted my teeth in order to contain control of my beast that was slowly crawling out of its cage. My fingers twitched violently and my nails grew into claws, making my fingers bleed. I heard a gasp and I yelled at them to concentrate. This shouldn't take long, I just needed to focus on the goal.
The beast roared and I heard myself scream along with it as my hair and clothes started to soar and fly everywhere from an unknown source of wind. The energy built and I felt everyone see the aura and tense. Their energy surged through me and I finally opened my eyes, feeling them burn red fire. I directed the energy that felt like fire towards Dusk and he channeled it to Ryume, signaling Black to do his task.
Black jumped at the wave of energy and quickly leaned over Ryume, putting his arms on either side of her head, leaning his head down closer and closer to her face. It was a slow motion movie in my eyes and I wanted it to fast forward and end. I wanted to close my eyes and not look at what his next move was going to be even though I was the one who told him what needed to be done.
His lips met hers and the fire suddenly turned into ice, freezing my body: the blood that was running down my chin suddenly frozen and burning my skin. I felt my body twitch violently and my eyesight failed me. All I saw was red darkness before I lost control of my mind and heard Black whisper something in Ryume's ear.
"I will bring you back to me."
I was frozen in a state of shock and desire. What did he mean, he would bring me back to him? Does he mean he's sorry? I didn't understand.
And the position I was in wasn't helping. After he'd said those words, I wasn't even aware of him moving me to lie flat on the table, his lips still to my hot throat. He was over me on top of the table, quickly moving a plate away, sending it crashing to the floor. The sound made my eyes focus and look at the shards of the glass. I felt myself gulp when I looked back up at him staring down at me with a heated gaze.
"S-Skylar?" I managed to get out.
He leaned down closer to my body, his arms bending so he was almost lying on top of me. "Ryume. I'm sorry, okay?" He whispered against my skin under my ear.
"For what?" What the hell was going on?
He lifted his face and it killed me to see the expression he was wearing. It was pain. I was so confused, I just wanted this all to stop-
His face moved to mine and I felt his lips crash with mine. My eyes widened and he wrapped his arms around my waist, bringing me closer to him. My hands moved up to his neck and I returned the embrace, closing my eyes. I felt my whole body grow hot and at first I thought it was the sensation of kissing this lovely man on top of me. But the heat continued to grow and it started to feel uncomfortable. I squirmed under Skylar and tried to free my lips away from his to get air. He wouldn't let me and I felt fear strike at me, making me panic.
I couldn't breathe, it felt like the air in my body started to drain away from me, leaving me to deflate and lay there hollow on the dinner table. It didn't feel good.
Then I felt Skylar vanish from above me. I flung my eyes open and tried to gasp. The gasp failed from lack of air, but the fear and panic was still there as I stared at the blackness I was floating in. It was like space, just without the stars and plants. Just blackness that I could float in forever in.
So much for dinner.
Dusk suddenly materialized out of the darkness. His clothes were floating and his scarf acted like it had a life of its own as it twirled around him like a flying object. I couldn't help but smile and reach towards him, glad to see someone I knew that could probably help me.
Then his bright eyes looked up at me and it showed tension. His eyes focused and when he actually looked at me, he smiled and glided towards me, his arms slightly wide to embrace me in a hug. I accepted the offer and hugged him… Only to find that I went right through him like a door and into a different room that wasn't space. I knew I wasn't in space, even though I still saw blackness. The problem with this situation is that I knew my eyes were closed. I still couldn't breathe and I clutched my throat, trying to gasp out air.
A familiar voice sounded in the room, "She can't breathe!"
"Help her!" Another voice yelled, her voice breaking.
I felt soft hair tickle my face as I groaned in pain from the dizziness I was feeling from lack of air and stopped struggling once I felt lips against mine again. I gritted my teeth in pain as the soft lips kissed mine, trying to force me to open my mouth. I open my mouth and I suddenly felt a sharp, metallic taste in my mouth. Blood. Someone was putting blood in my mouth and making me swallow it.
Fingers caressed my tight hands gently, trying to make me calm down and swallow correctly. Whatever, if I'm dying, I'll swallow blood, what the hell. I swallowed whoever's blood it was and suddenly could breathe.
I jumped up and sat up straight, gasping for air, my breathing coming out raspy. I opened my eyes and had not even two seconds to absorb where I was before being attacked by Red who had hugged me from the side and was shaking uncontrollably. I was in Red's room, the room where he had picked me off the cold marble steps and tucked me into his own bed. Now he had picked me up from dreams (or nightmares, I couldn't decide) and brought me back to the same bed in the same room, with the same person.
Tears built up around my eyes as I looked at Jade who had her eyes wide open and her hands covering her gaping mouth. She was crying too. Violet was on the floor, collapsed from shock. The White Knight was also in the room, which surprised me, next to my bed, on his knees with his arms on the bed, his head leaned down with his long shining hair hiding him. Dusk was there as well but passed out against the wall, his features calm and relaxed. And then there was Black. He was next to Red who was still hugging me tightly, as if I was going to sudden poof away in a puff of smoke. Black was just staring at me with his eyes bewildered. His eyes were shining as if he was going to cry.
A tear slid down his cheek and it was clear. Normal tears, not blood running down his face like before. He had real tears. I suddenly wanted to laugh. So I did. I smiled and started to laugh, my shoulders shaking and my palm resting against my forehead. Red loosened his grip on me and stared at me with a tear-stained face, extremely confused.
"Ryume, why are you laughing?" Red asked me, his voice calm
I looked up at Black, my laughs turning into soft, quiet giggles. I motioned with my hands for Black to bend down. Red sat on the bed next to me to make room and Black sat in front of him, next to my legs. I reached up towards him and brushed a tear on my finger. I put my finger in front of him to see. "Your tears aren't blood anymore."
This seemed to shock him and he touched his face with his gloves, looking down at the white cloth that didn't hold any wet blood on it. Just a small clear wet spot from the tears. It made him tear up even more and clutch at my hand, holding it to his face and kissing my knuckles.
Red sighed and leaned against my shoulder, apparently exhausted. He had a finger hooked through one of my belt loops on my pants and I noticed all the blood on his hand. I looked at his face more closely and saw dry blood at the corner of his mouth. I asked him what happened.
"We brought you back. This was a minor consequence." He nuzzled his nose against my neck. "Thank the gods you're back."
The White Knight suddenly spoke with his head still down. Even with his clear crisp voice, I still understood what he said through all the hair, "That was most difficult." He lifted his face towards me and I smiled down at him. "But it was necessary."
Black dropped my hand from his face but made sure to keep it in his hand on his lap. "Is everyone okay?" I asked while looking around the room. Everyone nodded except Dusk who was still passed out against the wall, or so I thought. I heard him grunt and mutter a 'yes' with his eyes still closed. Poor guy. I was so grateful for what they did to bring me back. I was just an outsider to them and they did all this for me.
I thought about what happened before I passed out and with my free hand lifted my shirt to look at where a scar should have been. Nothing was there. I looked at Red whose face was on my shoulder so I was basically touching his cheek with mine. "Thanks" I told him.
"You're very welcome, My Princess." He said, hugging me again. I sighed and suddenly felt exhausted. My eyes felt heavy and started to drop. Next thing I knew, I was asleep in a room with new people I cared about still around me.
I dreamt that Hikuro had me on his lap in the same park we were in before I fell in the hole. He was laughing at a memory I had told him and it felt good see him laugh. His eyes would always sparkle and his canines would show if he smiled big enough. It made me so happy to see him smile and enjoying himself. If only it could always be like that.
But then he showed up. Skylar walked over the small bridge we had run across towards the scream and headed right towards us. Hikuro's laughing stopped and I instead felt him growl deep in his chest. How he hated Skylar. They had even sworn they'd kill each other one day. Hopefully I would be dead by the time that happened. He kept walking towards us but never reached his destination because I suddenly woke up.
I was lying in Red's bed in his room that was back to normal. All of the markings on the walls and floor were gone and the bed was again next to the window instead of in the center of the room. His desk and drawings were back up and it felt very homey to me. Even the men that were lying next to me felt homey. One had his long arm lazily stretched over my stomach, his fingers slightly curled and loose on the other side of me while the other had his hand on my waist a little lower the other arm.
It was strangely comfortable having Red and Black next to me like this. It reminded me of Hikuro and Skylar back home when the three of us would be together at my place. They'd argue over who got to stay the night at my apartment and who got the couch or bed. I decided since it was birthday for them both to stay with me in my queen-sized bed. The answer was praised but after a moment's of hesitation, they accepted it and got on either side of me, holding me closely to them.
This felt like it was no different. Black and Red hated each other just like Hikuro and Skylar do, but deal with each other only when needed. This was a similar situation. Red's face, being the tallest, was at my head and his lips were near my eyebrows, his breath hot against my eye. Black, still tall but not as tall, was a lot lower with his nose under my chin and his lips barely touching the side of my neck. It felt similar from a recent event. It felt like what Skylar had done to me on the dinner table earlier…
The memory made me squirm slightly and I felt my face turn hot. My movements caused Red to tighten his grip around my waist and to nuzzle closer to me. Black, on the other hand, woke up and was staring lazily at me while leaning against his elbow so he was staring down at me. I blushed at the gaze he gave me and how similar it was to the one Skylar gave me in my so-called coma.
Black saw my blush and I saw a small smirk form at the ends of his lips. He had changed his clothes and even washed up a bit. His hair was brushed and looked even more shiny than usual. What I liked the most, though, was the open shirt he was wearing. It was a black button up shirt that you would wear under a suit or something, but it was open and I had a nice view from where I was lying down. It made me blush harder.
This time he really did smirk and he leaned down towards my face. "Do you like what you see, Princess?"
"I'm not going to lie, yeah, I like it a lot."
His smirk turned into a smile and he leaned down towards my lips while my heart started to beat faster and faster. He stopped and hovered above my lips, on centimeters away from contact. "May I?" He whispered, his breath hot against my lips.
I couldn't find my voice at first and wanted to just nod my head but realized that would require moving against Red's face so I managed to strain a 'yes' out. He took that answer gladly and pressed his lips against mine, kissing me ever so gently. I kissed back and felt that heat rise up again. His kiss, his lips, his gentleness, it all reminded me of Skylar. It was like Black's body was just a disguise with the real Skylar inside, watching the show, too much of a coward to show his face in front of me. Too bad that's how I was supposed to feel, not him.
His lips left mine and he sighed, putting his head to the side of my face, brushing his lips against my cheek. I closed my eyes and tried to control my breathing. He noticed and I heard him give a low chuckle deep in his throat. "If only you could stay." He whispered to me.
I opened my eyes and found him staring at Red who was now also awake. Red turned his gaze to me and smiled. "We have found out how to return you to your own world." He said, his smiling fading.
I sat up and leaned against my elbows, looking at Red. Was it true? Did they find a way for me to go back home?
Then I asked Red in a suspicious voice, "How long was I out?"
Red's eyes widened and his lips parted, trying not to gape at my question. I felt the bed move on the other side of me and looked over at Black who had his face in his hand. He, on the other hand, was smiling and trying not to laugh.
"What?" I asked loudly. "It's a simple question!"
Red laughed and rubbed his eyes, sitting up next to me. "I just told you we found a way for you to go back home and you ask how long you were asleep." He shook his head, still smiling. "You are still as interesting as ever."
"You've been asleep for three days, Princess."
The voice startled me and I jumped in surprise. It wasn't Red or Black's voice, and it came from the door that lead into the bedroom in Red's home. It was a voice that had made chills run up my spine in both pleasure and fear. The owner of the voice walked over closer to the bed and belonged to none-other than The White Knight.
His shining white hair was in a loose ponytail at the very ends of his ankles with various blue and silver beads with complex designs on them. His clothes were the same ones I had seen when I first entered the Silver Queen's castle. Even though I had already seen him in the exact same clothes and expression before, he was still marvelous to look at.
"Three days…" I repeated to myself. I stared at a wall for a moment, thinking of all the possible things that could have happened in three days.
Red eventually got up with a grunt and went through a door-less room into his kitchen. I heard the coffee machine start and couldn't help but smile at his addiction to coffee.
Then it got too quiet. It wasn't a normal quiet where you could hear a steady breathing and maybe the shuffling of feet, but more of a silence that involved something else besides an awkward silence. No, it was more than that. I was missing something. Looking between Black and the White Knight glaring at each other, I was definitely missing something important. Curious me just had to know.
"So what happened within that three day time span?" I asked casually but carefully.
The White Knight moved his gaze to me and tried to smile. "It would seem that your new friends put everyone in this world against me."
I raised an eyebrow at him. "Excuse me?"
"While you were still deep asleep and in your own mind, exploring the other side of this world -ahh, what would you say, a coma?- Everyone else was either in this very room helping with getting you back into The Fraud or in the other room, waiting for results. Once you had awakened, no one moved until they at least saw you, even though you had fallen back to sleep again. Every important figure, with a role, in this world, was in this very building. Everyone except myself." Black tensed beside me as the white man spoke. "I was outside, rebuilding the world I had created." He raised his hand when he saw me react to that last sentence. "Before you ask questions, let me explain.
"You know that every individual in this world that has a duty, such as myself, Sir Red, Sir Black, Lady Ivory, The Queen, and so on, each have come here from a different world, correct? Yes, now, the question is who was here first. You would say Dusk, which is true, but who created this world? We have no religion here and Dusk just appeared here, not knowing anything about this new environment.
"This is where I come in, my Princess Ryume. Whether you believe in a religion or not, I know there is the devil in Hell, for he is my father."
My heart skipped a beat.
"My father has three sons: the oldest takes his interest in other worlds and pays no attention to his own, and the middle son obeys his father's every command, at the same time enjoying taunting and torturing every creature and being. I, on the other hand, am the outcast of the family. The devil himself hated me, and still does. My lack of obedience towards him cost me banishment from my own world and into another he created loosely and lazily. This world. The world he called The Fraud, for he said I would live among Fakes because I, myself, am a Fake. I am the ruler of this world and everything that happens in this world, I control."
Black interrupted him, "You have yet to tell her the most important fact."
The White Knight slowly moved his head towards Black and stared at him long and hard. Without looking at me, he answered, "I control who comes into this world and I can control who leaves."
I gulped and tried to make it sound as quiet as I could. So that hole in the park was made by the White Knight because he randomly decided that he would want me in his little world his daddy created. "So everyone in The Fraud is from a different world?"
The White Knight looked back at me and nodded his head. "This world needed requirements on who was to live in it in order for it not to crumble and wear away. You were the last piece I needed." His gaze moved to the window and he stared at the cloudless sky. "I am able to escort you out of this world but that would mean I would either have to escort everyone else out or let this world crumble with everyone inside it."
"What about you?" I asked.
All he did was smile softly, which was a shock for me, and tilt his head towards me, his hair sliding all over his shoulders and face. "I will most likely crumble along with this world. I am attached to it by the devil himself. If he wants me alive, he will bring me back. If he does not care for my life, he will let me fall with this world."
Damn it all. "Can't you find someone else that fits my description of what's needed in order for this world to stay?"
I gave him a look. That was too quick of an answer. "What do you mean, 'no'?"
His eyes closed and he sighed softly but harshly. "It took me years to find all of the right people for this world and the last person was especially the hardest: you. All the individuals in this world match your own world. Everyone with a duty here reminds you of a person that you know in your own world."
I stared at him and gulped again. My eyes searched for something else to look at and they landed on Red who was drinking his big gulp full of hot coffee. "I'm going to need some of that, Red." I said.
He raised his eyebrows at me and hid his smile with the cup in his hand, muttering a "No problem, Princess."
Everyone here reminded me of someone I knew in my own world. It was true. Red reminded me of Hikuro, Jade reminded me or Risu, Violet reminded me of Rynn, Black reminded me of Skylar… But besides the White Knight, there was one other person who was still a blank spot for me.
"There's one person who I didn't know who to compare to from my world." I finally said. "The Queen. She doesn't remind me of anyone I know in my world."
The White Knight, for some reason, looked at Black. "That is because you have not met this person yet."
"What does Black have to do with that?" I asked, feeling the tense friction between the two.
"He is not aware of anything." The White Knight said. "No one knows, except for myself, that is."
"What on earth are you talking about?" I asked, fed up with all this.
The White Knight sighed and Black stared at him with hard, black eyes. Someone was not happy.
"Never mind." The white man sighed. "Let us just say that I plan on escorting everyone in this world back to their original ones. This will cause less conflict and everyone will be happy."
"Except you." I added.
Icy blue eyes stared at me and I suddenly felt very cold with my goose bumps running up my arms and back. "I have no interest in pleasing myself. This isn't even my body. I'm borrowing it from another soul that was on the verge of death." He raised his hand in front of our faces and flexed his white and light blue gloved hand. "This is not my body, my voice, my clothes, my hair, my eyes: nothing. None of it is mine except for my memories. I do not speak like this in my true form; I'm more dark and wild, not calm and light."
Red entered the room with my coffee and I took it from him, happily taking a sip from the mug. Perfect. My attention went back to the White Knight and there will trillions of things going on in my head. "What's your real name, then?"
"My personal name, from my true body, is-" He was cut off from the sound of a knock on the door.
Without waiting for someone to open it, Violet barged through the door and let herself in. "Is it true? I can go back home?" She yelled at us. The White Knight sighed and Red put his palm to his face. Black, on the other hand showed a bit of his old self: "Go away, pest. We are talking."
"But I can go home, right?" She walked up to the White Knight and grabbed his sleeve. He brushed her away sharply and muttered a 'don't touch me'.
Peace keeping time. "That's what we're talking about, Violet. We'll tell you about it when we're done, okay?" I said.
She quieted down and backed away from the Knight slowly nodding her head. "Okay," she said quietly. "Just hurry up and tell us!" And she ran out of the room.
Even I had to sigh. Everyone's starting to worry, and I didn't blame them. I wanted to go home so bad but I know more than they do about why and how we got here. My gaze shifted back to the White Knight who was also looking at me. What was going through his head right now? Did he really have no care as to what would happen to him? If you ask me, he may act tough and strict, he actually has a kind side to him that puts others in front of him.
"When can we do this?" I asked without any confidence or even excitement.
"Any time. Even now, if you'd like." He answered.
Red spoke up, "I say let's just get this over with before some of us start to change our minds and it's already too late."
"He is right…" Black muttered to himself. His head was down, long hair covering his face so I couldn't see his expression. I imagined it being either expressionless or even mournful. How long have these men been here? Years? Decades?
"Very well." The White Knight said starting to stand. "I can do it right here if you wish."
I looked back at the door and debated on whether or not to say bye to everyone. No, it wouldn't be any good. I knew I would never see them again. Plus it'd be harder to leave. I might even think about changing my mind.
I looked back at Red who reminded me or Hikuro and instantly changed my mind. No way. I had to get back home with my real family. Everyone else here had to as well. Red had to find the girl in his drawings that never had the face drawn on and Black needed to go find happiness. No… This was the right thing to do for everyone, whether some of us liked it or not. Violet's excitement to go home was too much for me. She was originally scared of even being in the presence of Black but she had barged in the room begging for answers.
It was no use. "Let's do this now." I said, standing up.
"No goodbyes?" Red asked as he walked over to me.
"Nope. Too hard. I might even change my mind." I said.
He laughed shortly and patted my head. "We don't want that, now do we?" He was smiling when he said it, but his eyes told something else. He was stuck on what to do. He wanted to stay but he wanted to go home too. I had a feeling we weren't the only ones feeling that way too.
The White Knight raised his hand in front of him horizontally and pointed at a wall the room. At first nothing happened, but then a small wind picked up from an unknown source and started to draw towards the spot on the wall he had pointed at. The wind soon died down and a door stood in place of a section of the wall. The door had a fancy handle on it, but other than that, it was a normal door.
"That's it? No fancy magic?" Red joked.
The White Knight didn't laugh, though. "All you have to do is walk through that door and you will fall back onto your home world." His face held no expression and I had a lucky guess as to what he was thinking.
"I'll go first." Red said. "I don't want to change my mind." As he said that, he winked at me and grinned. I smiled and rolled my eyes. He was just like Hikuro. Maybe a little more mature.
Red turned to the door but then stopped. He turned around, pecked me on the lips, then ran through the door, laughing his pretty little ass off. "Farewell Princess Ryume!"
I stood there gaping at the door, which started to slowly close by itself. Beyond the door was just blackness and it kind of crept me out to go through it.
A hand landed on my shoulder and Black was standing next to me. "I shall go next, Princess."
"Ryume. My apologies." Black raised my wrist to his mouth and kissed the back of my hand lightly. I blushed hard and looked away. I'm such a girl, ugh. "Before I depart," He suddenly said, making me turn back to him, "I must tell you that I hope for the best between you and your former friend, Skylar." The air in my throat caught and I just stared at him, wondering how he knew about that. He smiled as I thought that and continued, "As I was bringing you back to The Fraud I managed to glimpse a sight of him and your current relationship. You are scared to approach him but he is as well." H took a step back from me and towards the door. "I wish the best for you two. Farewell, Ryume."
And just like that, he was gone too.
"It is your time now, Ryume." The White Knight said from behind me, his hands both on each of my shoulders.
I nodded my head and made my way to the door. I put my hand on the handle but stopped after cracking it open. "Wait, I never got your name."
The white man smiled at me and laid his hand on top of the mine that was on the door handle. He open the door quickly and pushed me inside with his body, but catching me by the waist with his free hand. "Such a persistent girl." He whispered in my ear. "You will see me again, do not worry, my Princess. But I will not remember you. For now, remember the name Reuben, for that is my true form's name."
"Reuben." I repeated.
"Yes." He breathed into my neck. I blushed and was instantly confused. "See you, one day, Ryume Kazemizu."
And he pushed me through the door, his lips brushing my neck and his hand outstretch before us as I fell through the door and into the bottomless pit of blackness.