Disclaimer: I do not own Radiata Stories.

Author's Ramblings: It has been an ABSOLUTELY rough patch of weeks for me... I'm going through a break-up with (heart ache ouch) as well as some very heavy work loads within the office. I'll still update though, just not as often. So stay tuned. I'm not going to leave this floating in the wind.

CHAPTER III : Ridley Side

Ridley watched as Jack ran down the stairs and down into the lower corridors. She felt something clawing at her heart, something triggered by Jack's insensitivity to Ridley's feelings. But hey, that's Jack for you. He was always like this, always oblivious to most things around him... even Ridley's feelings. After Jack had left, she decided to return to her room. Finally, after all the events of that night, she felt weary and wanted to rest. All the adrenaline pumping through her body and keeping it standing must have finally run out and now having taken its toll, made Ridley long for a nice long period of sleep. Making her way down to her room, she opened it to find that nothing had changed ever since her departure from Radiata. The things she left were still where she left them, however, it did not at all look dirty. The maids probably came by to clean the room, but perhaps by order of her doting daddy, were told not to move around anything within the room.

Her body then collided with the familiar feeling which was her large four-poster bed. The drapes looked fresh. Her pillows were just as soft as ever, and that large stuffed cat in the corner looked as fluffy and cuddly as always. This was her world, her room, the one place where she could be herself without the prying eyes of her superiors, her subordinates, and of course, her father. Feeling her eyes grow heavy, she wanted to give in to sleep but the thoughts of Jack still lingered. Why was Jack always so oblivious about her feelings? Could he not see that she felt for him emotions that were no longer limited to just brigade mates, not limited to just being friends? She chuckled a little as she continued to think about the topic, realizing who she was thinking about and how he had always been that way. But it was her own fault as well, she never did voice her side in straightforward manner to Jack. Ever since they had met, she had only ever let Jack witness small glimpses of her inner and more feminine side. Ridley had always acted tough, tried to look strong and respectable. But who could blame her? Such was her upbringing... from the very day she was born, she was raised to be a knight of Radiata, a Royal Radiata Knight that would be fitting to carry the Silverlake family name.

All eyes were only Ridley ever since then. Etiquette, manners, swordplay... everything. It was all pushed on her, everything to turn her into a better knight. While she was studying how to be a proper lady and a good swordsman, Jack was probably out running around and playing hide and seek, building forts, maybe even getting into all sorts of crazy trouble when he was a kid. She giggled as she imagined him as a child, a very very hyper and vocal child. He was like that now, so who was to say that he was no different all those many years ago? And what else Ridley could not fully accept was how an amazing knight like Sir Cairn Russel would have a child such as Jack. They were so different, so very very far apart in attitude. Jack's father was chivalrous, strong, and probably even a perfect gentlemen. Jack on the other hand was abrasive, slightly arrogant and was a total moron! But... he was strong. And maybe the one thing that he shared with his father was their dedication to doing what was right, to protecting those they loved. Jack followed Ridley when she left Radiata, his objective to protect her. As for Cairn, he left to face the Water Dragon in order to protect the kingdom... but maybe he did it to protect those that he held dear even more than just his beloved Radiata.

She laughed a bit more as more thoughts swirled in her head and as her imagination played around with images of Jack. But soon enough, her fatigue took the best of her and whisked her away into a state of sleep. But just before she could fully fall into a deep slumber, her door burst open with a loud bang. Standing there in the doorway was none other than her father, Lord Chamberlain Jasne Colton. His face was as red as ever, and what a worrisome look he had about him. He shouted her name, pulled her up from the bed and brought her into his embrace. Ridley could swear that he smelled heavily of alcohol.

"Ridley!" he yelped out. "My Ridley!" he began to sob. "You're back! You've returned to me!" he began to shake her around wildly, something which began to annoy her especially since she wanted to go to sleep.

"Father!" she protested. "Let me go! Please!" she ordered her father to release her. "NO!" said Jasne, ignoring her request. "I'm not letting you go ever again!" This time, she struggled even harder to free herself from her father's hold on her, but his drunken strength was overwhelming. If he kept it up, he could eventually crush her body; the force of his hold combined with Ridley's thrashing about would certainly have that effect after a while. But due to her struggling, she accidentally placed a kick right on her father's stomach, sending a stream of pain into his gut and finally forcing him to let go of Ridley. After she was free, she gasped for air. She looked at her father and was amazed at how he looked not the least bit fazed by the hit to his belly. He just staggered a bit and yet again tried to bring Ridley into one of his alcohol-induced death hugs.

Seeing as she had enough of an area to make her move, she quickly maneuvered for the door and slipped out of her room. But knowing all too well that her father was drink, she knew that he would try to follow her wherever she went. And even with her being faster than he was, if left alone in such a state, Jasne would still be able to find her as long as she was in the castle. So for now, there was only the option of leaving the castle to make sure that he would not find her. So, upon deciding upon it, she made for the stairs that would lead her to the lower levels and out of the castle.

As she was walking through the castle halls, she unexpectedly met with Lord Larks. Just minutes ago, she and Jack were in his office having a discussion about their current status in Radiata. But now, he was the one person Ridley did not want to see, aside from her own father who was probably now in a drunken stupor either somewhere in the castle, or still in her bedroom. But as fate would have it, Larks called out to Ridley.

"Lady Ridley. I was just about to come find you. I guess this saves me the trouble of having to go to your room." said Larks. "My lord," Ridley sounded hesitant to further talk to him. "May I ask what for? And if I may add, what are you doing here in these parts of the castle?"

"I was merely checking on some of the activities. But since you are here, would you please come with me to my office. I have things I wish to tell you." he said. "May I say that I object to your offer?" said Ridley, just putting it out there immediately. "I... I feel quite fatigued and would like to rest." she said.

Larks rubbed his chin in thought, closed his eyes and then nodded a few times. "Hmmm... I understand. Let us skip with meeting in the office, then. Let me escort you back to your room so we can talk on the way. How does that proposition sound?" he asked with a smile.

Ridley really didn't want to have to deal with him at the moment, but what could she do? He was, after all, the Prime Minister of Radiata. Aside from that, what he had to say may be really important, something concerning her, Jack, and their status as of the moment. So, running it through inside her head and after telling herself to just endure for a little longer, she acknowledged Lark's proposition and the two began to make their way to Ridley's quarters.

"So," Larks began. "Since you are once again back in the castle, I would like to discuss with you your new assignments as part of the knights." he said. "What?" Ridley was a bit perplexed that he brought such a topic up, especially after what just happened moments ago in his office along with Jack.

"I mean, I would like you to once again take up the task of being a Royal Radiata Knight." he continued. "I would like to once again place you in charge of your own knight brigade. The Argent Faucon Brigade, if my memory serves me correctly." he fixed his spectacles. "That is correct, my lord." Ridley replied. "I was indeed the former captain of that brigade. However, I think I am not worthy of such a title... especially after my recent actions."

"Please," Larks stopped in his tracks and held open both of his arms. "Your recent actions were of your own accord, such is true. And yes, they were actions which would merit a great amount of repercussions." he let his arms down and rest at his sides. "However, you have more than proven worthy of such a position, Ridley." he said. "You and Jack were the ones who have given humanity a fighting chance, nay, you are the ones who have given humanity the power to stand on their own feet." he went on. "I believe that THAT is more than enough to vouch for why you deserve an honorable position such as being a captain of your own brigade."

Ridley sighed. "But..." she stopped and looked down, holding her palms open in front of her eyes. "Ridley." said Larks in a gentle voice. When Ridley looked at him, he was now down on one knee and placed his hand on her shoulder, giving her a reassuring pat. "There are many who would support you and would agree with me that you deserve such an honor. However..." Larks rose to his feet and looked a bit saddened. "I cannot say the same for your friend, Jack Russell." he said.

"W-what do you mean...?" Ridley stuttered a bit, her concern for Jack suddenly being triggered by Lark's mentioning of him. "Your father holds a great amount of dislike for Jack. Aside from that, he does not have the protection of the knights, even if he is Sir Cairn's son." he said, looking a bit disappointed himself. "Also, I believe that there are those who view Jack as traitor within the town, of course, after the entire affair that went on, who could blame them?"

Ridley denied it. "No!" she threw her fist to one side. "They don't understand what we had to go through. No, they don't understand what Jack had to go through just because of me!" tears began to fall from her eyes. "I... I was the reason for everything!" she cried out. "I'm the reason why this all happened!" she dropped down onto the floor, her legs giving up on her.

"I-its... it's all-" Ridley fell to the floor, her body finally shutting down due to all the stress and fatigue that had built up. She hadn't rested in a long while, it was about time that it all built up and finally got to Ridley. Larks acted fast and was able to catch her before her head hit the ground and cradles her in his arms. He called out for some guards and they came running towards him.

"The poor girl is fatigued. It must have been a very grueling fight..." he said, ending with a sigh. "Please take her back to her room." he ordered them. "And by the way, he got up to his feet, dusting off his knees. "And if you see Lord Jasne, who is probably intoxicated, please take him to his chambers and do not let him out until he is sober." he added another order. "That will be all."

One of the guards saluted to Lord Larks, the other not being able to do so as Ridley was in his hold. As Larks watched them walk away, he couldn't help but feel sorry for Ridley, and a bit angered with himself. "Why did I pressure the poor girl...?" he said softly. He shook his head and let the thoughts fade out. "I'd best return to my other duties. I'll handle things another time." he said and walked off towards the opposite direction which he and Ridley had been walking.

Larks had arrived at the upper halls of the castle and peered out of the window that was at the foot of the stairs. The sun had already begun to rise. As for Jack, he was already up bright and early, eager to face a new day...

Took me a while to finish this chapter. I had to alternate between doing my work and just getting in some little work done on my stories. Hope the readers like this chapter. Remember to read and review please~