I hope you all like this, the styling will not translate well to this format though.
Rated R: Strong language, Exreme violence, and adult humor.
Chapter 1: The Return
The storm was ferocious as it blew over the Cedar Woods. He woke quickly, staggering in a sleepy haze over to shut the door, blown open by the hellish winds. Behind him in the bed beside his own, a blonde haired woman muttered something and sat up, as sleepy as he. “Ryu?” She muttered, “What’s going on?”
Ryu turned to face Nina with a crooked, sleepy grin. “Door came open… storm’s really bad.” He yawned, stretching and popping his fingers. She offered him something of a smile before flopping back down and presumably going right back to sleep. He had to smile, mainly because she hadn’t slept well at all when she first came to live here with them.
…’Them’ being himself and Rei, the Woren man who had taken him in as an orphaned child and raised him. He passed by the foot of Nina’s bed and glanced down to her dress, which was folded neatly and lying on the chest that contained most all of her belongings; and bent down to examine the purple stone set on the chest of the red ferment.
It was cracked. A sign of all they had been through, through most all of their lives. He, the orphaned waif… she, the Princess of Wyndia.
…Now exiled from her homeland; for the sake of his friendship.
Ryu frowned and suddenly, wasn’t very sleepy anymore. He glanced over to see that Rei was still asleep in his bed in the far corner of the room; and then turned his attention over to the fourth member of their little family… a woman by the name of Momo.
Not wanting to wake any of them up, Ryu grabbed his shirt and made his way downstairs. He couldn’t tell what time it was for the storm; but he knew it was late in the night. Sitting at the table in the room below their bedroom, he rested his chin in his palm and stared out the window. The lightning flashed violently, the thunder shook their tree-top hut, and the wind seemed to sing a dirge.
…But from behind came soft footsteps. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Nina in her nightgown. “What are you doing up?” She asked, flinching as the next roll of thunder… just as loud as the one that had woken her up, hit. “The storm woke me,” He explained with something of a smile, “Don’t you remember? I had to get up and shut the door.”
Nina nodded absently and came to sit beside him, to lay her head on his shoulder. “I saw you looking at my dress… what was wrong?” She asked, “Was there a spider on it, or something?”
“The stone, it’s cracked.” Ryu explained with another heavy yawn. “Oh, yeah… that happened when I went back to the castle, after we got back from the lost shore.” Nina replied with a frown, “I fell trying to get to the teleport.”
Ryu lowered his gaze. He felt so guilty! She had gone back home, to try and make amends with her mother… only to find that, because she had chosen to go with him and their other friends, that she was no longer welcome. Sheila, as her mother was named, had apparently had enough of her daughter’s transgressions.
“I’m sorry.” He said quietly, looking away. “For what?” She asked, turning his face around gently. “For all I’ve done to you,” Ryu explained with a sad frown, “I am the reason you’re not welcome home anymore… I am to blame.”
Nina managed a weak grin. “I’m happier this way, being Nina. Not being the Princess of Wyndia.” She said simply, “It isn’t your fault. How many times do I have to tell you that, Ryu?” “…Besides, my big sister is coming back to take my place there, so I don’t have to worry about Wyndia anymore.”
Ryu gawked… even though he’d known about her ‘secret’ sibling for over six months now, after her exile. She hadn’t said a word for as long as he had known her; and that was saying something, considering they had just been little children when they first met. He was never, ever going to get over the shock. “So… Serenity, she will become the Princess then?”
“Yes. And eventually Queen, whenever… um… whenever our parents pass away and she is married.” Nina answered with a slow nod, “Maybe she’ll let me come back to visit then. I hope so; but I’m sure my mother has already started running my name through the mud, now.”
Ryu lowered his gaze. “I wish things were different.”
“Don’t we all?” Nina replied with a shrug; “But it is what it is; and there is nothing any of us can do about it. That’s fine, as far as I am concerned… as long as Wyndia is safe in the hands of my sister… I’ll be fine.”
Even if it wouldn’t be, Nina thought, I was and I am too selfish to sacrifice my life for my people.
That wasn’t it… but, that was her thought process on the matter. Ryu would have argued with her to the bitter end, she knew… which was why she didn’t say anything to him about it. “Rei says he found a back-road to Wyndia, through the heart of the forest, you know.” She said instead of voicing her torment, “Maybe he wouldn’t mind sending messages back-and-forth between myself and my sister, you think?”
“I’m sure he wouldn’t mind that at all.” Ryu replied; “But then again you never know.”
Nina nodded. “I’d go with him if he wanted me too. It would only be fair, after all… he doesn’t owe me anything.” She sighed, “Actually I guess I’m the one in debt here. I can’t ask anything of you guys…”
“…Nina, you can ask whatever you want of me, of any of us.” Ryu replied with a strong grip on her shoulder. Nina replied with a smile that made him blush and turned her gaze towards a coffee maker in the corner… an old metal one they had to put over the stove to make their coffee. “How about some coffee?” She asked, pushing away from the table and rising to stretch, her small wings stretching out with her arms. “A good cup would do me wonders right now.” Ryu declared with a renewed sense of happiness as he rose and made his way off with her.
Oh Boy, He thought as she stopped and glanced back at him, Here we go again with the game.
‘The game’ being an increasingly frequent series of flirtations between them, mostly started and always finished by Nina. “Ryu…” She said, “Will you show me again how to work this thing?”
Ryu swallowed hard and nodded.
…Upstairs, then, did Rei wake. The thunder had literally bounced him out of bed! “Oh, damn…” He muttered, rubbing the back of his head as he picked himself up off the floor and looked around… to find Ryu and Nina’s beds empty. To the side, Momo was startled by the thump he made and sat up like a bolt of lightning.
“What’s going on!?” She asked, glancing around rapidly and grabbing the bazooka sitting beside her bed. “Easy!” Rei exclaimed, ducking as she turned it on him, “I fell outta bed! Sheesh!”
Momo breathed a heavy sigh of relief; but her nose began twitching. She was a member of the Grassrunner clan; and could smell the coffee below with her dog-like nose… the only thing, other than her large purple-furred ears, that told of her race. “They’re down there making coffee; and they didn’t wake us up!” She huffed, ears standing on end in anger. “It isn’t even morning yet, either.” Rei added as he stretched and grabbed his old vest, “Let’s go crash their party…”
…Back downstairs, Ryu’s entire face was red as he reached around Nina, holding her hands and guiding them to do what needed to be done. “What’s wrong?” She asked with a giggle, “You’ve got a really goofy look on your face, Ryu.”
Ryu swallowed. “I’m fine. Just… just tired, that’s all.” He muttered in response. “Oh, ok.” She replied with an all-too innocent grin… shortly before blowing him over in fright as Rei started banging on the wall as he came to the bottom of the stairwell.
“Doesn’t this just beat all?” He asked rather sarcastically, leaning against the wall and grinning like the devil, “Trying to make some coffee and love at the same time there, Ryu?”
Ryu’s gawk was priceless, as he aimlessly poured water out on the counter like a fool in his distraction.
“…Yeah,” Rei went on as he pushed off the wall and made his way over to the table, hands held up ‘helplessly’, “I kinda thought that, y’know, you’d wake us up if you were making coffee; but I guess that wasn’t all you were up to.”
Nina scowled and blushed to the side. “Shut up, Rei. He was just showing me how to make the coffee again! Go back to bed!” She barked, stamping her foot. “How many times do we have to show you how to make coffee?” Momo asked sleepily as she came to sit at the table, “I showed you again yesterday.”
“Well… I forget!” Nina huffed, crossing her arms and giving Rei the most evil look she could muster as he methodically made his way over to Ryu… who by that time had realized what he had done and was holding the container out the window to collect rainwater.
“So,” Rei sighed, leaning against the – dry – section of counter with his back and glancing over to his blushing friend, “What’s this all about here? I thought you two were ‘just friends’.”
“We are.” Ryu muttered quietly, trying to ignore him. “Ah-huh.” Rei chuckled with a glance to his nails, “Ok. I understand now, thanks…” “…And hey, make some for all of us, eh?”
Ryu glanced over his shoulder with a frown as Rei made his way back over to the table and sighed. Nina was kind enough to light the fire for him… of course not without a little ‘Woo’ from Rei; and within the next twenty minutes they were all enjoying their coffee… and the sunrise.
“…So what are we going to do today?” Nina asked, moving to the window as she finished her coffee to see the horrid storm was moving away. “We’ve got to go hunting, or something.” Rei answered with a frown, “We’re running out of food; and McNeil village is run by Wyndia nowadays, so we probably can’t go there.”
Momo sighed. “We haven’t tried, though. How can we know if we don’t try?”