⇢ Innocence ⇠

"Princess, it's your World."

Chapter Four

Ryota had his eyes firm on Kei. – Kei's positioned himself with his elbows on his knees, pushing his back forward. His head dropped to the ground, leaning his head on the palm of his hands. His hair was all messed up. He looked unhappy at that moment.

Maria sat beside Ryota, wrapping her arms around Ryota's arm. She leaned her head on his arm for support. She yawned. Ryota looked down at her.

"Are you tired? Would you like to sleep for awhile?"

"No thanks. Although, it would be nice to sleep right about now; I am truly tired and exhausted from today." Maria yawned once more. Her eyes were vaguely teary.

"Are you sure? A distinct young lady should not be up at this hour." Ryota patted her head, brushing her hairs away from her face. She felt really sleepy, and he knew that.

"Yes, I am sure. Thank you for your concern though. I appreciate it a lot." Maria looked at her pet. She smiled gently. – The face that only smiled to those who were close to her.

"Just cut that crap!" Kei suddenly shouted out without hesitation.

"Pardon me?" Ryota raised his eyebrow at him. He seemed awfully rude just before then. Was it a bad idea to tell him? But when could he actually say those important words that were needed to be said? It was either now, or never. His precious darling would've died by then. Things would've been much worse if that happened. – Especially if something were to happen to his valuable treasure.

"Kei…?" Maria whispered to him. Maria looked frightened. She'd never seen Kei so depressed like that. – He was always the caring type around Maria no matter what happened. It was the first time Maria ever saw Kei so different.

"I'm ailing whenever I hear such proper vocabulary! Can't everyone just loosen up a little? A little! That's all I ask of you people! I hear Maria say non-proper terminologies before, so why start now? Is it because Ryota is here, you want to start being all 'proper' and lady-like now?" Kei didn't feel like himself today. It was like his whole body had been taken over by a possessive demon.

Maria was startled from the shouts of Kei. She grabbed hold of Ryota's arm. Ryota put his arm around her, comforting her that everything will be alright.

"Hold on a minute! Maria did not do anything wrong, here! Leave her out of it!"

"Or what? There's nothing you can do that'll change things." Kei started cooling down a little by little. The more he talked, the more his anger was lit out. But his voice cooled down, softly.

"Honestly, Kei, you are just taking things way too far. If you cannot handle the rolls of what means to be a Master, then do not bother to show up to the banquet coming up." Ryota said in his most serious tone. He was enraged with what Kei had to say, but it wasn't his fault. He could feel the tension building between them, but it wasn't from hate. It was the stress that they all had in their rolls. – Or as he thought it was. "And I'm sure 'she' will be glad to be gone."

Kei pushed his back onto the couch. He pulled his arm up onto his temple and mumbled to himself quietly. "What's going on with me lately?"

"I suppose there is nothing else we have to say. We have no business of you, now." Ryota got up with Maria holding onto one of his arms tightly.

"Wait!" Kei managed to say. "I'm sorry; please stay." Kei apologized. His arm was still covering his eyes. He didn't want to look at them directly. It'll just cause more trouble from what he thought. He was foolish enough to shout at them when they told him they needed to talk about something important.

"It is getting late. We must get going now. Good bye", Ryota turned his back to him, about to walk out the balcony. Kei's words stopped them from one step away.

"I'm sorry. I really am. Won't you please stay?"

"How will I know that you will not raise your voice at us, Kei?" Ryota questioned.

"I promise I won't raise my voice anymore. A lot has happened, even if it had just been one day." Kei answered in his earnest voice. It was sort of deep, but his words made it sound like he was becoming all feminine. "I… want… to know what will happen to Alice."

Ryota sighed. He was behaving properly like his old self. But Ryota hearing such things from Kei, he was surprised he'd be nice to help a female other than Maria.

"Very well; I accept your apology. Let us get to the point. It is nearly midnight. Maria must leave here tomorrow, at three in the afternoon. She is to meet her servant after such long years. We had already premeditated the meeting tomorrow." Ryota began. He walked up to the seat and sat down with Maria beside him.

Kei sat still, hoping to get the information through. Ryota adjusted his voice being all serious with his words. He explained. "Firstly, as you have already guessed, the Queen has taken over our land. A ruler like her would deem to heave all those she dislikes to hell. A never-ending hell is sometimes known to us, as Abyss." Ryota paused.

"Go on. I am listening" Kei said.

"Alright then…" Ryota began. "I also suppose you have met Alice today, am I correct?"

"Of course," Kei responded straightforwardly.

"Then I suppose you have already heard that if the Queen ever hears about Alice's return, we are all bound to die in Abyss?"

"Yes," Kei responded again.

"Certainly, this is something you do not wish, right Kei?"

"Where are you going with this?" Kei replied in a puzzled reaction.

"You see, if Queen Eris finds Alice, she knows that she will be vanished to another world. She will do everything she can to stop this from happening. Excluding the fact that she will lose her crown, her throne, and most prized possessions, Alice will become the next ruler of her world."

"That is wonderful news, right?" Kei questioned.

"Positively, yes, it is. However, since Alice will become ruler, she has a chance of choosing whether she will want to stay here, or live in peace in the real world." Ryota paused for a dramatic effect. "If she stays here, she will have to stay on the other side of our world and rule for them. But, if she decides to request to go home, then she will."

"How is that a dreadful thing if she rules on the other side? Could you, or could you not send another person, or a knight there to slay the dreadful Queen for her throne?"

"That is the issue we have. We thought about it, and there is no way of helping it." Maria quietly replied. She wasn't scared of Kei anymore after hearing Kei apologize. She learnt the fact of accepting people, even if they were cold-hearted.

"Maria is right. There is no way of helping it. Alice is the only person who can eliminate the Queen. We have had countless knights trying to eradicate the Queen, but no matter how many we send, she just sends them all to Abyss." Ryota responded in a worried tone. "And if Alice becomes Queen, she will decide to choose her path. If she decides to stay, I believe we have no choice but to… purge her and her army."

Kei's eyes were wide open. His heart pounded quickly, panicking what Ryota said. Sweat drops were forming on his temple. Was everything Ryota saying true? Is it all a dream? Kei wasn't sure of anything. "Is… is that so…?" Kei's lips trembled, almost like he'd just heard a death threat. "What will happen to Alice if she desires to go home?" Kei asked out of curiosity, recovering from his sudden shock.

"We thought about it, and we figured that her fiancé will return from the Abyss."

"Alice has a fiancé?"

"That is our theory. – Yes, she does have a fiancé." Ryota answered unsurely.

"How is that possible?" Kei wondered.

"Honestly, we are not entirely sure. That is our presumption for now. We were thinking that the ruler will be more violent than Queen Eris. Of course, we cannot let that happen."

"If Alice's fiancé gets the heir of her throne, then I assume Alice will be safe?"

"Correct. Alice will be safe, but we will not be, until we find some way to defeat the next ruler." Ryota finished.

"I see…" Kei looked at the time on the side table beside him.

"To sum up everything we have just said: Alice has to be the one that eliminates the Red Queen. She shall decide her path based on her decision, not ours. Things do not work that way." Ryota made things clearly for Kei to understand. Kei nodded his head, looking as if he wasn't paying any attention. "If Alice wishes to choose to become the next red Queen, then we have no choice but to kill her. However, if she chooses to leave this world and return back to her life, then Alice's fiancé will have a high chance of visiting us. So, what will it be?"

Kei wasn't sure of anything. He knew what Ryota meant, but he just wasn't sure whether to go for it straight on. Instead, Kei said, "I will think about it…"

"Ah, I figured you would say that."

"Of course; I need to sleep, that is all." Kei said. Part of his words was true; the other half was that he unsure whether to risk his own people to save Alice, or the other way around. What bothered him more was whether he was starting to fall for her? Or was it just paranoia bothering him?

"Why yes, of course. I suppose that is all I have to say. What about you, Maria?"

"Hmm… Not that I could think of." Maria answered. She yawned in a tired expression. "But, I am tired, Ryota." Maria said, rubbing her eyes after yawning.

"Mmhm…" Ryota faced Kei. "Because we are all worn-out and had quite a long session on talking, Maria and I should go." Ryota got up. Maria pulled gently on Ryota's shirt, while rubbing the other side of her eyes.

"Ryota… It's nearly two in the morning." Maria pointed her index finger at the clock. "I think we should stay here with Kei." Maria suggested. She was about to walk up towards Kei, but he fell asleep on the couch. Maria smiled.

Ryota said nothing. Maria pulled Ryota's hand gently, trying to get Ryota's attention. "Ryota? You there?"

Ryota snapped out of his thoughts. "Sorry; I was thinking so much."

"Well, please do not. We can do that tomorrow. Now, sleep!" Maria climbed onto the white duvets of the bed. She fluffed up her pillow then crawled herself inside the blanket. "Good night, Ryota." Maria said before shutting her eyes closed.

"Good night, Maria." Ryota replied in his gentle voice. He smiled as he patted Maria's head good night. He walked over to the light switch near the entrance of the door. Ryota switched it off. He walked over to the couch and drowned himself to sleep.

"Good night, Kei…" Maria whispered to herself. She didn't want to wake both of guys up, so she kept her words to herself. "I wish you'd look at me... like you use to…" Maria whispered to herself, looking as if she was mouthing her words to someone. A warm tear slid off one eye. "You know I love you more…" Then, she dozed off.