The pink clouds filled up the crimson sky. Harpies have retreated and flew away. Orcs, wild wyrm spawns, poisonous toads, mushrooms and slimes scampered away and went back to their habitats. The atmosphere have gone quiet. The Grand Chase crew stayed inside the castle for several months before they separated to move on. The two Kanavan knights, Ronan and Elesis, explored the gorges of oath together in quest to find Elesis' father, Elscaud. The assassin, Lass, returned to Silvercross Town and brought the mage, Arme, with him for a vacation just for the two of them. Amy, the dancer, explored the Silver Land... while Jin, the fighter, stalked her for some reasons. Mari, half of her memories regained, crossed the Xenia Border and asked the gods which pathway leads to Kounat, while Sieghart went somewhere else to rest.
But what about the two Elves? Although they were not mentioned from the first paragraph, everyone will be wondering what have happened to them. And that is where our story begins.
There was a small period of peace after the defeat of Dark Anmon. The Elven Forest is yet peaceful once again. The organizations, like the Elven Corps and the Druids, returned back to their havens to rest, while the others continued to explore the forests for sake of living and discovery. The rest of the Archers stayed behind and did their daily combat training. One of them, Lire, a female Elf and the Nova of the Eryuelle Island, wandered around the forests in search for open fields. She haven't been training lately. Back from the old times she stayed with her friends and cleared missions, especially when she had an unexpected relationship with a Druid.
The two knew each other since childhood, yet they never had the chance to know each other perspectively back then. Not when the Knight Master would usually pair them both for missions.
As time goes by, Lire found a tree where she climbed up and sat on the nearest branch. She put down her composite bow and stared at the almost blood-stained sunset. A frown spread across her face. She remembered something. Something that opened a wound to her chest she won't forget, until now.
A ceremony was held at the heart of the Elven Forest. Lire, along with Elven Corps friends with her, attended the ceremony where they actually saw the Great Druid Magnus Dan himself. He is known to have powerful magic and a skilled swordsman over the lands, and the greatest hero of the Druids. The Elves admired his courage and boldness.
Ever since he sensed the Druids' downfall approaching, he required someone to succeed him and to whom he could pass his power and wisdom to. He sent a test to many Sentinels and Vikens. But when they returned, only a few survived, and they were too frail to receive his legacy. Slowly, he grew old until he became passive and weak to fight..
When Lire saw Ryan, noted by Dan and proclaimed as his successor, stepping forward towards Dan, she felt the joy in her heart that her he will be proclaimed with a new class. It's been a few months since she became a Nova back then until few of her Elven Corps friends invited her to attend this ceremony.
"So long I have waited, so long I've wanted a successor to succeed for me.." Magnus said solemnly. "I proclaim Ryan, my successor, as the Vanquisher of all evil. I'll pass on my legacy to you and continue to fight for the Elves." he leaned and whispered on his ear. "You show them the true means of a Druid." Then he was given a pair of Storm Blades as his weapon. Soon, he connected it into a Pike. The ceremony is followed by a feast. The Elves, from various and different forests, gathered around and enjoyed themselves.
Lire never felt so overjoyed in her entire life. Ryan will be the lead to all Druids (Sentinels, Vikens etc.) empowered with power and wisdom. When she saw him walking towards the trees, she told her Elven Corps friends she'll just catch up with Ryan and be back in a jiffy. But they were too occupied chatting with the other Elves so she sighed and left.
She passed through the crowd of Elves. She is close to the throne where Magnus Dan sat. She looked sideways until she saw the flashes of orange. She smiled, approached, and waved.
"Yoohoo! Ryan!" she called. The guy did not respond. She caught up with him as her hand tapped him on the back. Ryan's deep forest-green eyes glanced at her.
"What do you want?"
Lire looked at him in confusion. "Huh? We came all the way here to congratulate you. Isn't that great?"
The druid avoided her gaze. "Yeah, I know."
This caused the female Elf to grow worried. "Uhm.. what's wrong, Ryan? Did something happen?"
Ryan cleared his throat for a couple of seconds. He looked at every area if they're far away from the Elves, and Dan. Lire started to feel hesitated. Then the druid gave her a look mixed with agony and brittleness.
"Let's end this." he told abruptly. The female Elf stood, her eyes wide open, feeling a stab of shock jolting her.
"I'm sorry." he squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his fists. "It's just... I felt like I took advantage of you. I know for sure ending our relationship will be the answer."
Lire felt her eyes watering. "N-no, you didn't! I-I... you didn't do anything.."
"That's why I want this to end!" Ryan said, raising his voice a bit. "You know, I'm not the right one for you. There're a lot of Elves there better than I am, right? I'll just move on and live without you then."
Tears streamed openly on Lire's eyes. Feeling the dreadful pain inside, she stomped her foot.
"Fine! I'll move on and live without you, too! I'll just tell the Elves to stay pure for the rest of my life!" Ryan froze on his tracks the moment she said this. Lire is sobbing behind him.
"You never did anything to take advantage of me... or even make me miserable." she added softly. Ryan avoided looking behind to see her tears as he spoke:
"Fine, do whatever you want. Trust me, life would be easy." He said as he walked away and disappeared in the trees, leaving Lire crying until she wiped away her tears. She slowly turned and went back to her friends. She stayed silent the entire feast, and ate in silence. She ignored the jeers of the Elves and stared into the noisy atmosphere.
"Where are you going, Lire?" one of her Elven Corps friends asked. Lire stood up and took her composite bow. She smiled, hiding the truth behind her happiness.
"I'll just go to that clearing not too far away from here for some training. Don't worry, I'll be fine."
"Uhmm... okay, sure. If you need anything or anything happens, don't hesitate to call us."
She left the Elves still feasting even when few hours have passed. Lire couldn't get the pain off her chest. What the heck is Ryan thinking? She didn't do anything, did she? Nor did he.
Trust me. Life would be easy. She remembered what he said earlier before leaving abruptly. Life would be easy. Life would be easy. Yeah, right.
She found the clearing ans gripped her bow. She shot at her targets. Thunk. Another arrow. She always wanted a moving target, even though shooting at unmoving obstacles are starting to bore her dead. There were no orcs, even harpies in the area. It's just her.
She walked to explore. A dummy made from wood and hay dropped on her step. It's in a pretty bad shape. The Elves must have used it back then. The funny face scribbled on the head is still visible. She knelt down and her fingers touched an arrow scattered on the ground.
"Ryan, you idiot." she heard her inner voice saying as she stared at the arrow. "You idiot. What did I ever do to you? You made me happy. I made you happy. And this is what you'll do in the end?" Her fingers tightened the straight length of the arrow as her fists clenched. "I'll make you pay! I'll make you feel the real pain!"
And then, Lire started stabbing the dummy angrily. Tiny strands of straw scattered the ground as the female Elf continued.
"Why? Why? Why? Why did you do this?" Tears started streaming down her face. "Did I say or do something wrong? Did I really try to make you miserable?No, I didn't! I'M NOT LIKE THAT, RYAN!" Her jabs grew more violent. The dummy looked worse.
"If only you're the dummy right here, I would have killed you now! I'll make you realize your mistake! Like you said, we'll simply move on and live without each other! BUT I CAN'T! IT'S TOO PAINFUL! I HATE YOU, RYAN! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!"
She expressed her complete hatred by stabbing the dummy continuously, imagining it as Ryan. Only there's no blood. She stopped and panted for breath. She dropped the arrow and cried again.
"You're an idiot... you're stupid. Someday you'll know that."
Lire returned to her hometown. She sulked herself in her room and placed her composite bow under her bed. She imagined herself living in a happy life without Ryan. Life would be easy, he says. Guess she'll try to move on.
"Have you heard about Ryan lately?" she heard her Elesis and Arme talking in her bedroom. They paid her a surprise visit to hang out with her after they haven't seen each other for a long time. Lire tried to ignore them when they mentioned Ryan.
Then Elesis nudged her to snap her out. "Hey, Lire! We're talking to you!"
The female Elf blinked. "W-wha..? Sorry I wasn't listening."
Elesis rolled her eyes and sighed. "Duh-uh, we've been asking you if you've heard about Ryan. It's been a long time... we haven't been seeing him in the forests lately."
Lire slowly shook her head. "Uhmm, no.. yeah, I haven't seen him for awhile, I guess."
"Well? When was the last time you saw him?"
"I... I dunno. It's been a long time."
Elesis and Arme started exhanging glances. The mage narrowed her eyebrows and glanced at the Elf. "Did something happen between you and Ryan?"
Lire gasped and her chest skipped a beat. She saw two pairs of red and purple orbs staring at her. She swallowed and pulled herself together.
"Nope." she lied. "Nothing, really. We're just... cooling ourselves off. You know..? Distance ourselves.."
Arme sighed. "Lire, if this is something about your relationship, you can at least tell us. We're all ears. Maybe we can help you."
"No! I-I, no thanks, Arme." the Elf smiled sheepishly. "Honest, we're fine."
Now back to the present, it has been like three years since then. Lire couldn't count the months, days, weeks, and years after their tragic breakup. If he haven't proposed to end it, they would have been happy and together. No wonder why would he do something like that. Lire continued the suicidal thoughts from her previous years, even when she have said them to herself repeatedly. But now, she is feeling regretful. After all, Ryan managed to live without her. Life was easy for him, only for him..
She heard voices calling her. She looked down and saw two Elves, no, two people standing below the branch where she sat. Standing were Jin and Arme.
"What are you doing up there?" Jin asked in a loud voice. Tne tree was a little high and Lire didn't thought about her phobia towards heights.
"Oh, uhh, just a sec!" She grabbed another branch, then the other. She stepped her feet on the trunk until she landed on her feet.
"Oh hi, guys! How did you find me here?"
Jin rolled his eyes. "Arme's fussing to look for you because of some kind of an emergency or something. Ow!"He made a loud growl when Arme grumbled and poked him strongly with her elbow. She turned to Lire, her eyes containing fear.
"Lire, you have to get in there quickly!" she hesitated. "Please, you have to."
"Huh? Why..? What happened?" Lire asked in confusion. Jin and Arme gasped and exchanged shocked glances.
"You didn't know?" the mage shrieked. "Lire, how could you not know?"
"Can you tell me at least what happened?" the female Elf demanded. Jin sighed.
"One word: Ryan." he replied.
Ryan. The female Elf couldn't help but to twitch. She suddenly felt herself growing anxious.
"R-Ryan? W-what happened to him?"
"You'll get your answer by following us." Arme told her. "We'll explain everything.."
As they ran, Lire approached Arme. She asked the mage about it when Arme finally responded.
"You see... Lass told me few months ago, that Ryan actually told him he'll go to Xenia all by himself and go to the Forest of Life. Lass and Ronan confronted him many times and they mentioned about you..."
Lire listened intently when Jin continued. "I dunno why would he say stuff about..." he winced and blurted out. "...your broken relationship. He has complicated reasons. He said he actually broke up with you the time Magnus Dan proclaimed him as his successor. Well, you were there, right? There's no way we'll be telling you again."
The female Elf stayed silent and said. "Alright, you don't have to. Go on.."
"When we went to the Elven Forest to pay him a visit, we ended up meeting some of his fellow Druids." Jin narrated. "We asked where Ryan is. Then they told us, he have gone missing. Arme and I grew worried. So we thought if we could find you here, and lucky for us we did."
"Lire," the mage bit her lip. "I don't how to say this. But the Druids and your Elven Corps members told us they found him not too far away from here.."
The Elf froze. He... he was here?
"That's what they told us." Jin stated. "They never told us where."
Lire looked down and stayed silent for a couple of seconds. "You guys can go now... I... I'll just find him myself."
"Uhmm, okay..?" the fighter blinked, as if he's patronizing her. "Have it your way.."
"Fine, let's go then.. good thing we knew.." Arme said as she and the red-haired fighter left. Lire watched them disappear from the distance. She realized it's getting really dark.
"They said he's not far away from here.." she mumbled. "Fine, I'll look for him. I'll just see if he's doing fine without me." She ran forward and went to different directions.
"Not far away from here. Which means he was here." she thought. "But wait, they said he's going to Xenia all by himself. How was that possible?"
She keep on running while pondering on her thoughts. She pried through the bushes, abruptly swept dead leaves and thorns off her skin and dusted her armor from dirt. When she found herself stepping on the grass, she walked. The area is empty. She can only see the full moon as the source of light.
She stepped her feet on the grass. She looked around and saw nothing. She doesn't know the things she's stepping at but grass, rocks, the soil and... blood?
She looked down. She is stepping on the grass contaminated with fresh blood. But where is it coming from? Curious, she continued on walking until she almost tripped on an obstacle below her.
Right below her is a body. A bleeding body. Lire stepped on something. She knelt down and saw it as a Storm Blade stained in blood. Her eyes opened wide. She has seen one before. When she suddenly remembered, her hands started shaking. She again looked down and saw the familiar green eyes.
Ryan... She was right. It was Ryan. He's there, bleeding. The Elf tapped a shaky hand on his shoulder. Ryan moved, his head looking behind. When he saw her, he winced. There was blood on his lips, even on his throat. Lire examined his wounds, that's when she saw cuts.
Ryan was cutting on his skin, and slicing his throat, but he failed. He just let the Storm Blades cut through his skin.
"R-Ryan!" she shrieked. "W-why did you-"
The injured druid winced again. "Why are you here..?"
The female Elf grimaced. "Ryan! How could you do this to yourself?"
"Who cares?" the druid managed to answer back abruptly. "I deserve it! Even you don't care."
Lire felt taken aback. She didn't care about him, after those suicidal thoughts about him and-
"Of course I do!" she retorted. "You thought I'm that careless?" Now that she saw him, the actual Ryan bleeding in front of her, she is starting to regret.
"You are stupid... I'll make you pay! I'll make you feel the real pain!"
Oh no... what have I done? she thought, her heart stabbed with pain. He's killing himself because of me. He thought I wouldn't care...
"Ryan, you idiot..." her inner voice says. "I'm the reason, right..? But this is not what I wanted."
Knowing it's all her fault, tears are leaking from her eyes.
"I hate you, Ryan. I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!"
Can she really blame him? She can't. Those three hateful words she said from her mind started to make her regret even more. Now he's there, bleeding in front of her eyes. She saw his green eyes glaring at her, waiting for her to say something.
She silently started cleaning his wounds few minutes later. Luckily there's a stream nearby to get water. She saw slits on his arms. The cut on his wrists were shallow. She avoided looking at him while doing the cleaning on his neck. Ryan knew she was crying.
"You shouldn't be doing this." he said. "Kill me instead."
Lire shot him a glare. "No." She abruptly put the cloth down. "Do you think I'll be satisfied if I'll kill you?"
Ryan snorted. "It depends on you. I can only say I do deserve to be killed, after I ruined you."
"I said NO!" she yelled. "I know you ruined me! But I was horrible! I want to forget about it but now you're bleeding, I can't after you told me!" Her hands curled on her lap. "I...I... I still..."
She was interrupted when a pair of hands grabbed hers and pinned her on the grass. Ryan is still glaring at her. She felt his strong grip and knew she couldn't escape.
"You wanna know why I did this to myself? You wanna know why?"
"I know you will cry. Cry like a helpless Elf. I do deserve to be killed. I was a jerk to you! That's why I am planning to kill myself when you saw me. Dunno how'd you find me here." he hissed. He stayed silent for a couple of seconds before he whispered. "Lire, do you still love me..?"
The female Elf blinked. Does she still love him? It's been three years. He has changed lately.
"You tell your answer. I'll tell mine."
Lire fought the senses of regret, until she finally blurted out. "...Yes."
The druid stared intently into her eyes. He sighed. "...same here."
She snorted. "Huh. You still love me, after you - "
"Let me finish!" He cut her off sharply as he continued. "I know what I've said. Somehow, I realized it hurts not living without you. Like I said, I'm a jerk. I deserve to be injured or, better, killed. I wanted to say... I'm sorry. It's okay if you won't accept my apology, the important is I told you the truth. I suppose you have already found someone else."
"No." Lire said softly. "I never want to be with someone else. "
"I thought you told everyone you want to stay pure from the rest of your life."
"Actually, I didn't... honest."
Ryan smirked. "Huh, seems like you've taken back your words." His grip loosened as he allowed her to sit up. He inched his face close to hers and saw there were tears streaming openly from her eyes. His gaze darkened. He doesn't like to see her cry.
"I'm sorry," Lire sobbed. "I shouldn't have said it! I... I'm a jerk, too.."
"I know, I'm sorry, too." He wiped off her tears and whispered a solemn "I love you" on her ear. Lire couldn't help but to blush deeply. He pulled her into his arms until she felt his warmth. Her face landed on his shoulder.
"Will you ever forgive me, Lire?" he said. "Life was never easy. I guess I'm gonna take back what I've said before."
"Same here.." Lire replied, leaning her hands on his chest. "I love you, too, Ryan. I..."
He slightly pushed her away and held on her shoulders, and let his lips brush against hers. Soon they shared a passionate kiss. His arms grasped on her back while hers carressed his chest like they were sacred. They departed after a few seconds. He pulled her into a tight embrace and shared their moment under the moonlight.
Long enough within dawn, Ryan kissed Lire again. She kissed him back when the kiss grew aggressive. He slipped his tongue inside her mouth while she let out a muffled moan. They kissed until they undressed. Ryan pushed her on the bed, planting kisses on her forehead, her neck, her chin and her chest. Their hands clasped together as they made love.
Ryan later woke up and his naked body covered by the sheets. He looked beside him and sees Lire sleeping peacefully. The sheets covered her chest level. The male Elf's lips formed a smile. His hand wounded into her golden locks to see her beautiful face. The female slowly opened her eyes and smiled.
"Mmhh... is it morning yet?"
"Nope. We've only slept for two hours." He leaned onto her and planted a kiss on her forehead. He put his arms around her to give her warmth. Lire's head snuggled on his bare chest. His hands touched her bare back, then his fingers wounded on her hair. He lifted the sheets and, while she's asleep, kissed her gently.
"Lire," Elesis blinked. "You're not..."
The female Elf smiled sheepishly and blushed. It's been a long time since the Grand Chase was formed. Now they managed to move on. Elesis placed her hand on the Elf's stomach, that's when she felt the small bulge under her dress.
"Ohoho," she smiled. "You're pregnant, alright."
"Congratulations!" Arme giggled. "Hope you'll maintain your health. Eat vegetables and the proper nutrition so you'll have a healthy baby~"
"Aww thanks." Lire chuckled. "It was unexpected when they planned on coupling me and Ryan."
"Coupling?" Elesis and Arme blinked in confusion.
"Haha! It's equivalent to marriage, silly."
"Ooh, I gotta go now. Lassie's waiting for me for our date. Catch ya later~!" Arme waved goodbye as she left. A guy with silvery-white hair and azure eyes stood not far away from where they are. Lire can tell Arme's gonna tell about her pregnancy. She just laughed sheepishly as Elesis teased her about miscarriages.
She left few minutes later, telling that Ronan will be leaving for a vacation and she's bringing Elesis along. Now Lire is all alone. She sat on the grass and listened to the chirping of the birds. The fresh air. And the fresh and warm atmosphere. She heard Ryan's footsteps approaching. The druid placed his hands on his hips and smirked.
"C'mon! We can have some fresh air in here~" Lire waved at him to come. He approached and, instead of sitting beside her, hoisted her up, carrying her like she's his princess.
"Ow! Ryan! Put me down!"
"Heh. I've been here outside for long. How about you go to bed with me?"
"Don't tell we're Doing That again."
"No. That's not what I meant." he shook his head. "You need your rest, so the baby can sleep peacefully."
Lire laughed and swatted him playfully. "Oh, Ryan."
He chuckled and took her back to their bedroom. He put her down as he joined her on the bed, pulling her close to him. Lire rested her head onto his shoulder. His hand stroked her stomach sacredly. They cuddled each other on the bed and rested into each other's arms.