Plotting strategy was the province of Shu, possibly Apple as well. But they gathered for a meeting, much of the discussion was mostly Shu laying out the facts and everyone nodding their heads. That was undoubtably the reason the meeting chamber remained bare-- meetings were short, to the point, and allowed Pilika to run around freely, hop-scotching in the squares of sunlight streaming through the windows.
The mission to locate Mayor Teresa went like all the others, until Shu sprang his surprise.
"I'd like you to accompany them as their bodyguard," Shu tells Flik. Flik reacts appropriately, which means he looks absolutely horrified. Nanami and Pilika on the other hand, takes the news very well.
"FLIK SENSEI! FLIK SENSEI! FLIK SENSEI!" They scream, dancing happily around Flik. For some reason, he has a sudden and vivid mental image of brightly painted savages, dancing around their cooking pot, with a helpless victim trussed and ready for boiling, while the savages continue ulalating cheerfully as they shake their spears. Behind him, Viktor is howling.
Oh, how Viktor will /pay/.
"You'll come, of course?" says Riou, so softly Flik nearly misses his words. He looks up, over Nanami's bobbing head, where Riou stands just before the slanted sunlight of the windows, in the foreground of the eastern wing of the castle. His eyes, Flik thinks irreverently, shine like Nanami's and Pilika's and his smile is still boyish. But he stands like a soldier, head up and sword-straight, one hand curled loosely around the grip of his Twin Star Fangs. Not so very long ago, Riou had struck down Highland soldiers without hesitation, lips white but firm. The first time he'd seen Riou, the boy had been lost and bewildered, worried for his best friend and thinking only of going home.
He looks away, and this time meets Shu's eyes. Shu meets his gaze just as steadily too, dark and fathomless, and Flik has to look away. "All right," he says, dropping head in defeat. "I'll go."
He studies the stones beneath his boots. They built this castle, he thinks, on the ruins of North Window. They build a leader now, out of the ruins of Riou's childhood.
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