Ruin Explorers - Chapter 6: Magic Lesson #1
Yuki-hime - bishoujosenshi_hime@hotmail.com - PG-13

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Ihrie fell onto the bed. "What just happened?" she whispered aloud. And to her surprise, she received an answer.

"I'm so sorry, my dear," a female voice echoed. Ihrie recongized it from when she first opened the chest, and then again in the field, singing.

She sat straight up in bed. "Who is that?"

"I'm sorry my dear princess," the voice faded as a knock sounded on her door.

"Who is there?" the woman asked as she stepped off the bed and walked toward the door. When it opened, she saw the last person she could possibly want to see at the moment. Shigeo. Then she tried to close the door. Things were already bad enough. She knew he wouldn't help with the situation.

Shigeo's hand shot up to stop it and pushed his way in. "I want to know what is going on Princess," his voice dripping with anger at the last word.

"It's none of your damn business Shigeo, now get out," she replied as she took a step back from his forward one.

"Oh I think it is." By now, he was in the room and had shut the door behind him. He grabbed her arms before she could escape him and brought her close. "I'm only worried and concerned about you," he whispered in her ear, which sent chills over her body.

Ihrie relaxed herself against him and felt his arms around her waist. She needed someone to talk to. "Shigeo I'm scared. I don't know what's happening to me," she whispered as her voice cracked. Her arms found them around the man's waist. She couldn't control her actions, and deep down, she wanted someone to comfort her as she cried. Even if it was this one time.

They stood a moment before Shigeo spoke. "I'm here for you Ihrie. Please don't forget that." He pulled away enough to see her face and the silent tears she shed. "Hey now, what are these for?" he asked as he gently wiped the salty water from her face and then leaned in.

Ihrie stood frozen as his lips touched hers and his tounge found its way into her mouth. The kiss was something she'd never expericenced before and leaned heavily into his frame for support. The hands that were around Ihrie's waist were now supporting her back and head as Shigeo deepened the kiss. Her grip tightened at the sudden action and he rubbed her back to reassure her.

As Shigeo cut the kiss off, he stared at the woman in his arms. "Ihrie?" his voice held uncertainty. She replied by opening her eyes. There he found such undescribable emotion. He carassed her face with his left hand, leaving the right one on her back, and whispered to her. "I've wanted to do that since the first day I meet you, Ihrie."

"Shigeo," she whispered as she realized what had happened and tried to pull away but his restraining arms refused.

"Ihrie I have something important to tell you," he said as he rested his head on her left shoulder.

Ihrie shivered as his hot breath carassed her neck and shoulder. "I don't want to know," she replied as she closed her eyes, trying to block out what was coming.

He pulled away but left his arms around her. "I'm not letting you go that easily. You're going to hear me out."

Her face hardened at his words. The faint memories of something her parents had said drifted out of her grasp. She shook her head, trying to clear the imaginary fog. "No," she cried. "I don't want to know. I don't want to."

Shigeo wrapped his arms around the crying woman and held her close. "Ihrie please don't cry. Shhh.... don't cry. I love you," he whispered to her.

Her sobs stopped. Both knew that this was what was to be said. Her eyes showed her shock and fear. She shoved the man away and took a few steps back, putting some distance between them.

Shigeo looked stunned and a little hurt at her reaction. "Ihrie?"

"No, I don't want to hear anymore Shigeo!" she said as she ran by and out of her room.

He stood there in shock and fear. He had given away too much. But was it a mistake? Shigeo had to find out. He couldn't leave her upset. So he did the only thing he knew, he turned on his heel and followed the woman's trail.

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Lyle sat under the tree that was outside the back of the kitchen. It was a nice shading spot during the day, but tonight he felt like being in the shadows. What had happened back there? He had felt the sudden urge to hit Shigeo. Ihrie was fine where she was, in his arms.

He heard the kitchen door open and saw Ihrie run out crying. "Ihrie?"

She stopped, and looked at him. "Who's there?" she asked, and Lyle had forgotten that she couldn't see him. He stepped out of the shadows.

"Ihrie, what's wrong?" he asked. Concern was written over his features, and she couldn't stand for him to look at her like this. She was suppose to be the strong one.

"Lyle," she burst into tears again, and ran away. What was she going to do? Nothing made sense anymore, and the memories that she could barely remember, didn't help anything. She felt lost and alone in the world, and she ran blindly into the forest.

Ihrie didn't know where she was running to and she didn't care. All she needed was to get away from everything. If not forever, then maybe just a little while. The chaos was getting to her. And she desparately wished to have someone to confide in. Lyle's voice floated across the breeze. "I'm sorry," she cried again.

Glancing around, she saw a path that looked hidden and quickly turned onto it. Branches blocked most of the path and Ihrie had trouble walking it. She heard Lyle's voice again and tried to hurry. The path ended suddenly and Ihrie glanced around. She didn't know where she was, so the only logical thing that came to her mind was to move forward.

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Shigeo walked out of the kitchen's door. The cook had said that he had seen her run out crying. He hadn't felt sorry that he told Ihrie the truth, but he wished he had told her the whole truth. She needed to know. She deserved it after what had happened to her. She deserved to not hurt anymore. Ever.

He looked around. Ihrie could have gone anywhere. How was he suppose to find her? He strolled slowly out a few feet and stopped to look around. "Ihrie," he whispered. Then a few seconds later, a woman screamed. And Shigeo ran into the woods toward the voice.

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Lyle stopped as he heard Ihrie scream. It sounded like it came from his right, and as he glanced around, Lyle saw an old beaten path. He followed it, and could see the broken branches and distrubed grass where Ihrie had walked. He heard her scream again, and this time it was closer. He moved forward, quicker than what he had been.

He came to an open field and saw her. There was a glistening silver lake and a whited winged unicorn was floating over the water. Lyle couldn't clearly see the unicorn and only saw Ihrie's back from where he was. "Ihrie," he called out. But he received no recognition that she heard him. He slowly approached her, not wanting to scare her or the unicorn. But his presence seemed not to bother either one. As he came into arm's length, the floating unicorn looked at him and snorted. But Ihrie never took her eyes off of the animal. "Ihrie," he whispered to her.

When he could see her eyes, he saw the same look she'd had had earlier. In the battle with Durgail. The look of emptiness. "Ihrie," he said and reached out to touch her.

"Do not touch her," a voice stated. Lyle looked to the source, the winged unicorn.

"What's wrong?" he simply asked.

"She's growing."

"I don't understand what you mean." He looked from Ihrie to the unicorn and then back to Ihrie. "What's your name?"

"You can call me Jungin," he replied.

Lyle merely nodded his head. What's going on here? he thought as he looked at Ihrie. He glanced at Jungin. What part does he play? Lyle was staring at Ihrie, when he heard Shigeo's voice. "Jungin, I have to take Ihrie now."

The animal nodded at his request. "Bring her back in three days," Jungin replied, disappearing before Lyle's eyes.

When Lyle turned back to the woman, she still stood frozen. "Ihrie," Lyle said, gently touching her face. A tear slipped from her eye before she fell into her friend's arms.

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It was raining. Her clothes were soaked in the shower and blood. There were no other people, the city was on fire and all she could do was watch as her life, family, and everything she knew went up in smoke and the flames of betrayal.

She was the only surviver, the only one who could carry on the responsiblity of her country. The six year old child of King Degian and Queen Mellia, Princess Ihrie of the Old Kingdom of Galoia, cried for herself and her unstable future, but most of all, cried for the loss of lives.

The little girl never noticed the man, who had caused it all, casting a spell on her.

Ihrie awoke in a bed. It was dark and she was sweating from the dream. "So that's what happened to my family. My country," she whispered to herself. She took a deep breathe, trying to hold herself together. Even though it was only a dream, it seemed so real. She could feel the heat from the fires and taste the salty tears that she shed. But in reality, it was memories of the past and not just a dream.

"Where am I?" she asked herself as she asserted the room. The curtains were of a deep purple velvet that hung to the floor with the royal symbol and as she looked around closer to the various objects, she knew where she was. The King's chambers. A sudden fear rose in her. Fear of what had happened.

A knock at her door brought Ihrie to her feet. She felt nervous and scared. Had the dream done this to her or had that man, Durgail, or was it the lack of memory of how she had gotten in Lyle's bedroom? She didn't know which one it was but felt that a big piece of the puzzle was still missing. The door opened to reveal Lyle. Inwardly, she sighed in relief. At least it wasn't Shigeo. But she knew the lecture that she would still get. And she still had to ask him how she had gotten in his room.

"You're awake. That's good. I was afraid that you would never wake up," he said smiling as he entered the room. He carried a tray with a glass and a plate of food.

"How long have I been asleep?" she asked, he wasn't acting like himself. He sat the tray on the edge of the bed.

"A few days. I have to ask you something," he said as he sat on the end of the bed, beside the tray. He looked exhausted, like he hadn't slept well or at all.

"What is it?" Ihrie asked cautiously. Something still felt off and she couldn't shake the feeling.

"Who or what was that at the lake?" The question seemed to have lifted a burden off of him but was only replaced by her answer.

Ihrie seemed to be confused by his question. "I don't know what you are talking about."

He found it hard to believe what she had said but when he looked into her eyes, he found that it was the truth. She really didn't know. How could she just forget what had happened at the lake? "You don't remember anything about what happened at the lake? Nothing at all?"

"What lake? What are you talking about?"

"I guess I should tell you then. You might want to sit down." He waved to the chair opposite of him.

Over the next hour, Lyle told Ihrie the events with winged unicorn and the silver lake. "After you collapsed, I brought you back here. God, was Shigeo mad," he smiled at the memory of the man yelling at him.

"How mad?" she asked, a little afraid of the answer. She knew he had a bad temper and it was hard for him to control it sometimes.

"He was cusing and everything. I put you in my room so he couldn't do anything. I was afraid he shake you to death trying to wake you. I had everyone I knew try everything they knew to wake you, but it was impossible. We just had to wait til you woke."

They sat quietly for a few minutes. Each thinking about what had happened but only one knew what was coming. Lyle sighed and stood up. "Ihrie I want you to come with me, I have to show you something." He stretched out his hand towards the woman in his room. There were feelings there that he had never known before. And he couldn't begin to explain them to himself much less Ihrie. She would surely think that he was crazy. So he just kept his mouth shut until he knew what to do. He had never loved anyone besides ... He left the thought unfinished. Just for the sake of his sanity.

She smiled and took his hand. For some reason, she felt complete when she was around Lyle. She felt calm and safe and warm. Feelings that she's never had before. The words that he had uttered seemed to slip from Ihrie's consious grasp. All she knew was that he had asked for her hand. She unawaringly followed him down to the back door from the kitchen.

Ihrie follwed Lyle's lead. The path seemed vaguely familiar. After a few short minutes, the pair stood beside a lake. Ihrie noticed that it seemed to shine, even with no sun around.

"Was this what you wanted to show me Lyle?" she asked. It was a very beautiful lake. And for a brief moment she let her thoughts wander to what it would be like to be in Lyle's arms.

"This was where I found you." Ihrie stared at him for a minute, not fully comprehending the statement.

"What's so special here?" she whispered to him.

"You need to call him, Ihrie. Call out Jungin."

"What are you talking about Lyle? Who is Jungin?" her voice cracked. She was beginning to become a little frightened by the King's actions.

"I have no idea who he is or really what he is, but you have to call him."

"How?" she voiced the word she already knew the answer to. She cleared her throat and sealed her fate as the next word came out of her mouth. "Jungin."

The earth shook and water rippled as an image of a white winged, horned horse galloped to them. Ihrie stepped back behind Lyle as the unicorn stopped before them and spoke. "It is nice to see you again, Princess. Let me introduce myself properly to you. My name is Jungin."

"Princess?" Lyle choked the word out as he turned to look at Ihrie.

She smiled. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, Lyle."

"How long have you been a princess?" Lyle never really gave much thought to what Durgail had said on the battlefield.

"My whole life."

"No I mean, how long have you known you were a princess?" he huffed out.

"I've suspected something since my curse was lifted but I wasn't sure until Durgail showed up at your castle." She turned from Lyle and spoke to Jungin. "I'm not sure how I found you or why you are even here. Please fill me in on what's going on and how my country burned. I have a thousand questions for you. How did it start? Who was the one that killed my family and put me under a curse? And why would they even do this in the first place?" The words came out rushed as Ihrie became excited that maybe someone could answer them.

Jungin spoke his next words carefully. "Ihrie I can only answer some of your questions. No one really knows how the fire was started. But it was suspected the Durgail was at the center of it all. In my opinion, it was Durgail who both killed your parents and had the curse put on you. As for why Durgail did all of this, the answer to that is pretty simple. He wanted power."

"Why didn't he kill me too?" her voice cracked at the thought of being slain like her parents.

"Because of your enormess power. He thought that one day he might could use you. He wants to control you, and he thinks that if you two join in marriage and bed that the offspring from that union would have both your power and his and that the children would be his to control."

Ihrie let out her breath slowly. "So that's why he's attacking my friends, to get to me."

"It's a large possibly," Jungin answered.

"Who exactly is Durgail?"

"He could be titled as a High Priest, but that's not an offical one. Your father used him to help when there were illnesses, war. Durgail was a very powerful person. He healed diseases and fatal wounds. Even used his magic in the battle field to help our soldiers."

"So why the sudden change in him?" Ihrie asked.

"When you were born, Durgail saw his chance at the power he wanted. You two were very close, became best friends in a sense. He taught you everything he knew, which only increased your power. You were only six when he planned the attack and destroyed Galoia."

"Durgail not only destroyed Galoia, but neighboring villages and other kingdoms that depended on Galoia," a voice came from behind the standing couple.

"Shigeo?" Ihrie said as she turned to face him. "What are you doing here?" Ihrie received no answer to her question as Jungin spoke.

The winged and horned horse bowed to the young man. "Prince Shigeo, it's nice to see you again."

"Prince?!" Ihrie gasped out as she looked from Jungin to Shigeo. "You never said anything about you being a prince."

"You never asked. Ihrie I have many things to tell. We need to speak in private," he said as he advanced upon her.

"No, I don't want to speak with you." She stepped behind Lyle. "I still have a lot of questions that need answering."

"Then what are they?" Shigeo spoke with urgency.

"Whose voices do I hear? They whisper to me in my dreams and when I'm awake."

"Is it a male or female voice?" Shigeo asked.

"Both," Ihrie answered anxiously.

"I can only think that it's your parents, King Degian and Queen Mellia."

"How do you know all of this and why haven't you told me?"

"I planned on it before you ran off into the forest. And then Lyle wouldn't let me speak with you," the temper in his voice was apparent. "There's more that we need to discuss, Ihrie please come with me."

She slowly shook her head. "I don't know if it's a good idea, Shigeo." She was no longer behind Lyle, but beside him.

"Fine, I'll just tell you here. Naloina, my kingdom, was neighboring Galoia. We were allies and a kingdom to rival. Our parents were friends and all grew up together. They hosted many parties. It was a very prosperous time for both our kingdoms. My parents had found out that they were with child and a few years later, you were born. Our birthdays were celebrated together and we became friends. On your sixth birthday, both our parents announced our engagement. It was tradition for a sorceress to marry a swordsman. I was only nine and, at the time, we didn't fully understand what was happening to our future. A few days later, Galoia lay in ruins and you had disappeared. We searched everywhere for you and in the end everyone thought you to be dead, but I knew you weren't. I've found you and now we can go home and start over. We'll rebuild Galoia and return our nations to their glory."

Ihrie was stunned by the revelation that had come about. "Shigeo, I don't know what to say, but I can't go with you. I hardly know you and I ... I just can't marry you."

Shigeo rushed forward and caught Ihrie by the arms. "Look at me Ihrie. Look into my eyes. I love you, I'm in love with you. I know you haven't regained all of your memories but once you do, you will remember me and what our friendship was like. You'll see that we belong together, that we were meant to be together."

"But that was a long time ago. I'm not going to commit myself to marrying you because our parents decided on the engagement. Galoia is gone, so are my parents. I have no wish to carry on their hopes until I know who and what I am. And until I know how I feel for you, there is no engagement." She struggled from his grasp. "I'm sorry, but that's how I feel and unless you want to force me into this, knowing I'm unwilling, you still won't get anywhere."

Lyle stood to the side, taking all of this in. Until he heard Shigeo's words, he never really knew how he felt about Ihrie. Now, it just seemed like he was fighting a battle that couldn't be won. Ihrie was engaged to Shigeo, even though she said that it was off, it couldn't really be broken that simple. How did he really feel about Ihrie?