Twilight Meeting

By White Crescent

A/N: Nothing much to say here except; I want to thank my friend Kaj (or Xuenay – Ffnet handle) for helping me proofread this one! If not for this (cool, kind, smart… all positive adjectives here) redhead’s help, I would not have seen the many flaws in it...err. Yeah. On with the fic.



The sound of clock ticking had kept the young leader of the Haemida Army awake. Riou lay, tossing and turning on his bed, unable to sleep. Finally, after having tossed and turned in his bed for long enough, he sat up and buried his head in his hands. Tired as he was, after all the ‘excitement’ earlier that night, he simply found it hard to sleep.

Shu had assigned two soldiers earlier that night to make sure he was and would be safe in the coming nights. The thought of that didn’t exactly make him feel any better, though. In fact, it made him somewhat even more uneasy.

‘I shouldn’t have thrown her in jail…’ he blurted out in a soft whisper, easily surprising him. He shook his head and reprimanded himself. ‘It’s not that way.. it’s just..’ he said out loud and then tilted his head. He found himself staring at the clock hanging on the far wall. It read 2:30 in the morning.

‘Way to go. And to think Nanami expects me to be out of bed by 6…’ he shook his head and with any prospect of sleeping gone, slipped out of his bed. He walked towards his dresser and pulled out a simple black jacket to keep himself warm from the cold night He stopped after buttoning it up and stared out of the window beside his bed almost longingly.

The shadow night cast over the land brought it peace. It was tranquil and it made Riou wonder if he could ever give that to the people who had made him their leader, chosen him. Before he knew it, he had walked across the room to that window and leaned forward.

‘The heart has its secret currents deep and without guide,’ he whispered softly, his voice containing a faint tune. He had always loved the chorus of Annallee’s song. It somewhat fitted him. ‘To find out, where they will lead, I take the plunge eyes wide…’ he continued and then closed his eyes, loving the way the cold wind blew against his face and ruffled his hair. When he opened his eyes, he smiled at the night, the moonless sky and the stars that shone proudly, like embedded jewels, on the sky and then turned his back at the window. He headed for the door.

The castle was deliciously empty and quiet. Riou chuckled to himself when he thought of how the soldiers Shu had assigned to guard his room were sleeping like babies at his door. He couldn’t blame them though, Shu had picked them out almost out of the blue and he figured they had a rough day. Shu, afterall, was very demanding. Riou grinned, remembering what a soldier told him the other day: ‘I don’t know whether to be glad Lord Shu doesn’t wield a sword… I mean, he could be a great general, what with his being a brilliant strategist, for us… but at the same time… err..’

Riou smiled when he remembered how the soldier had shivered at the thought.

Speaking of Shu, I hope I don’t run onto him tonight…’ he thought, stopping in mid-step. He knew of how late the strategist would stay up at night sometimes and he didn’t want the raven-haired strategist (and trader) to worry any more for him and then tell him to go straight back to bed.

One quick peek from the stairway once he reached the second floor told him Shu was fast asleep though. The lack of light seeping from the tiny hole beneath his door told Riou just that. As he walked down the stairs, Riou resisted breaking into a wide, giddy grin and hopping like Nina after spotting Flik all the way down.

‘You’re still awake.’ Someone said suddenly as Riou stepped out of the staircase and into the Hall. He almost jumped, but realization hit him fast. Of course Luc was still awake! Luc, who watched tirelessly over the Stone Tablet of Promise, rarely ever slept, or so it seemed. Riou wondered if that was the effect of the rune Luc bore on his right hand.

‘Couldn’t sleep.’ Riou replied conversationally as he walked over to the stone parapet and leaned forward on it. He watched Luc from where he was, though, honestly all he saw was the mage’s mass of brown hair and green clothing. He considered if he should go down or stay there.

‘You don’t need to get down.’ Luc said quietly, almost reading his thoughts. Riou was taken a back.

‘You read my thoughts?’ Riou inquired quietly and watched as Luc’s head shook slowly.

‘It’s predictable. All of your are just that: predictable.’

‘I guess..’ Riou trailed away. Despite Luc’s cold manner of speaking, he didn’t feel any bit uneasy. He liked the company of the brown-haired mage. That was followed by nothing but silence. Riou, however, remained, watching the mage in, what could pass for, awe.

Luc bore the True Wind Rune on his right hand. That, Riou thought, must make him feel out of place. Riou knew, even with just his half of the Rune of Beginning, at least how it made him feel just that. It didn’t grant him immortality, it was just a half of a True Rune afterall, and he wondered how being granted immortality would alter him. He then wondered what Luc would be without his rune.

‘You’re not usually up this late.’ Luc said suddenly, cutting through the silence and his thoughts. He blinked, surprised. ‘Is it because of what happened earlier?’

Though his voice remained somewhat monotonous, it surprised Riou just how ‘talkative’ Luc could get. It was nowhere near how talkative his sister could get, but coming from the silent, somewhat-narcisstic (as Viktor said) mage, it was just surprising.

Hiding his amusement, he shook his head and responded normally, ‘Quite… but not quite. To be honest, I’m not so sure why I’m down here.’

‘Instincts, eh?’ Luc never ceased to surprise Riou. However, it was probably nothing Viktor and Flik or Tir had never seen before.

‘You could say that. So, what about you?’

‘What about me, you ask?’

Riou shrugged, ‘What do you do here every night?’

‘I watch over the Stone Tablet of Promise, as Leknaat ordered.’

‘That much I can see every single day, but come on… you don’t just stand there, I’m sure.’

Luc did not reply and for a few moments he just stood there unmoving.

‘I’m not like you.’ Luc said finally just as Riou was about to open his mouth. Riou blinked, not quite sure about what Luc said. ‘The man from the dungeon has a habit of downing a couple of bottles down at the tavern at this time. You’ll like the silence.’ Luc added quite mysteriously and the way Luc became silent after that told Riou there would be no more words exchanged between them that night.

‘Where are you from? Where are you going, Water Traveler…?’ he hummed quietly as he walked in the general direction of the staircase. ‘The mournful wind blows ever on…’ he stopped and stared quietly at the two staircases before him; one going up, the other going down.

‘The river it goes ever on, can heart keep pace rushing swollen til’ dawn? Now I shake off weariness and go to meet what I can’t guess…’ he murmured, the tune still there as he allowed his legs to take him to the staircase leading down.

Somewhat in a daze, as if he was no longer in control of his own body, he watched as his feet led him down into the dungeon, where they kept their captives and her. Half-wondering what would happen next, he made no objection when he found himself walking towards the cell at the edge of the dungeon, where a small young woman with long blonde hair was kept captive.

She didn’t notice his presence until he was right in front of her cell, however. She seemed lost in thought as she lay on the floor, broken and defeated. Riou hated himself for that.

‘What do you want?’ Lucia asked quietly, hostility present in her voice. She did not turn her head to face him and instead fixed her eyes on the cold, damp floor.

Lucia had to be at least a few years older than him, two or three at most, he thought as he watched her quietly. Grasslands had to be far from Highland or the State too because he had never seen anyone with that skin color. He crouched down and sat himself on the cold floor.

‘I honestly couldn’t sleep.’ He answered innocently as if he was speaking to another one of his soldiers and friends. His response earned him a deadly glare from the Karayan. ‘What? I’m telling the truth!’ he retorted with a smile.

‘Hah, you were scared, weren’t you, kid?’ Lucia sneered, leaning forward the cell. Riou blinked as Lucia continued. ‘Let it be known, you cannot keep me in this cell!’

Riou blinked some more and then shook his head, ‘Why are you still here then?’

Lucia turned away and folded her arms on her chest, obviously defeated.

Riou watched, amused, as Lucia seemed to think of ways to fight back, verbally. Shrugging, Riou hung his head and stared at the floor on which he sat on. Lucia could take her time; it didn’t really matter. He himself didn’t have an idea why he was there anyway.

With nothing else to do really, he thought and wondered of the might-have-beens, could-have-beens and Jowy amongst other things. ‘Jowy,’ he thought and an old wound seemed to have opened in his heart the moment he uttered that name. Jowy, his best friend, his brother, and bearer of the Black Sword Rune.

‘Hey… um.. how’s Jowy?’ he asked suddenly, taking Lucia by surprise. She stared at him in disbelief after that.

‘And why should I tell you about Lord Jowy?’

Riou smiled, though traces of sadness were clearly present on his face, ‘Just a friend asking for a friend. So, how’s he doing then?’

Lucia did not reply immediately and Riou watched her with, somewhat, hopeful eyes all that time. Lucia must have noticed that, though what she thought of it, Riou didn’t know.

‘He's gathering an army to crush down your army...’ she announced proudly and then she paused, thinking. She looked at him once before continuing, this time her voice was more hesitant, ‘..other than that.. he.. is well.’

As if a burden had just been removed from his back, Riou sighed and a truly grateful smile formed on his lips. ‘I’m glad he is…. Thanks.’

He did not say anything after that and remained seated quietly on the floor. He was aware of the look Lucia was giving him, but he ignored it uncaring of whatever the Karayan was thinking of him. Almost grimly, he wondered if Jowy told her about his relation with the leader of the Haemida Army and his sister.

‘…..may ask, why did you seem so… relieved to hear of his highness’ well-being?’ Riou heard Lucia say and he snapped his head to face her. ‘You….. you are his enemy.’ Lucia added, watching him carefully.

Looking at her, Riou almost felt like telling her everything he had kept bottled up inside of him. Here was a woman willing to hear his woes, or at least she looked it. He needed someone to listen, and then and there the Gods seemed to have answered his plea. But, he decided against it though.

‘That strikes you strange, hmm?’ Riou asked with a grin, ignoring her previous question. She continued watching him with those orbs of green however and it was not long until he gave in. He was, at least, going to answer that question.

‘This…..’ he began then before proceeding to remove the leather glove off his right hand, ‘pretty much answers everything, you know.’ He lifted his right hand and showed Lucia the glowing rune embedded on its back with slight smile. It glowed in the cold darkness of the cell and as it reflected on his eyes, they seemed to glow too with an inner light and grow older.

Lucia gasped, which both surprised and amused Riou at the same time.

‘Jowy has this rune’s other half,’ he explained, ‘we.. got it together.’

He watched, as Lucia seemed to be at loss for words, and then put on his glove on once more. The cell darkened and he realized just how late it was and how close daylight was.

Riou, satisfied, stood up and then proceeded to brush the dirt off his clothes. He gave Lucia one last glance before beginning to walk away, his boots echoing in the empty dungeon.

‘I didn’t want to throw you in here in the first place,’ he announced, not expecting a response, as he walked to where they kept the keys. Picking the small key that would unlock the door to Lucia’s cell, he smiled, ‘And I don’t think I want you to stay here any longer…’

He walked back and ignored Lucia completely as he moved to unlock the door. ‘You have your own beliefs and reasons… You fight for yours, Jowy fights for his and I…’ he stammered, ‘I fight for theirs and maybe mine too.’

With a click, the door was unlocked and it swung open with a squeak when he gave it a little push. ‘Your whip is kept in the room back there,’ he said, pointing at the room behind him.

‘Why… are you doing this?’ Lucia asked quietly.

Riou did not answer and instead left the key on the floor right beside the door, ‘I’m leaving the key here,’ he said and then turned his back on her. He took a few steps forward and then stopped, remembering something suddenly. ‘It’s cold this time of night, by the way.’ He proceeded to unbutton the buttons on his jacket, ‘I’ll leave it here too.’ Carefully, he laid his jacket neatly on the floor before, with a smile, turning away for good.

‘If.. If you think I’ll remember this.. and.. and actually be grateful.. you’re wrong! You made a foolish mistake and... you’ll live to regret it!’

The heart has its secret currents,
deep and without guide,
to find out where they will lead,
I take the plunge eyes wide….’

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