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116 Reason

    Reasons

    "I-I... "

    "Jareth!" She said as she quickly covered his lips with her hand. "Please, stop."

    "Astrid," he said through her hand.

    "No, no, no. Don't say it. I know you feel bad about what just happened. I don't know your reasons but I respect your earlier decision. Friends, nothing more. I won't think about it, so please don't say anything further."

    "There it was, she beat me to it. Now I was a jerk making her hurt. Who would apologize and kill such a moment after having what he wanted? I know it wasn't easy for her to say those words to me, but she did irrespectively. I guess it's her way to blocking out the pain. It may hurt more if I say it," Jareth thought.

    With her hands on his mouth, he could only nod in response. After some seconds, she removed her hand from his mouth and wanted to turn away, but he held her hand.

    "Astrid, I am sorry. I know you may hate me for being a dumbass, but I am doing this for your own good. You can't love me; you'll only hurt the more if you do."

    "Then let me hurt. I chose to."

    "No, you can't. There is no future for us. In a couple of days, all these would be over and we would go our separate ways. You, finding what it is you are looking for and me, back to the elves, where I belong."

    A tear drop broke forth from her eye and flowed down her face. He used his other hand to brush it away.

    "Hey, this is what I am talking about. I don't want you to hurt over me. You have your life ahead of you. Don't waste it on me."

    "You are not a waste, don't say that about yourself. Thanks for being my friend and for all the help, your training and all. I know I am stubborn and a pain in the ass," she smiled as she said the last part, and then casually brushed the tears away from her face.

    He pulled her close and lightly placed a kiss on her forehead.

    "Let's go, we need to start moving soon. This journey is taking longer than expected."

    "Is that the case, or are you so eager to send me off?" she jokingly asked.

    He felt a pain in his heart when she said that. He knew she was joking, but still, he couldn't help but feel bad. She had brought out a side in his life he locked deep within him.

    A part of him wished he could end everything and follow her but it wasn't that simple. He couldn't, no matter what.

    "Hey, don't say that. You know it isn't true."

    Astrid nodded and turned, together they both walked back to where the White Tiger-Phoenix Beasts slept.

    'You are back, it took you long enough. I'm glad you didn't think too deep and let your mental demons take over," White-Fire mind communicated to Astrid as soon as they came in its line of sight.

    "I admit, I almost did, luckily he came just in time. I bet you sent him, right?"

    "Yes, I did."

    "Thanks."

    Jareth noticed Astrid stopped; he turned his head and saw her smiling at the White Tiger-Phoenix beast. He shook his head and went to pack his belongings.

    "It's time to move on,' Jareth called out to both of them. "We can't afford to waste time, it's risky."

    "What happened between you two?" White-Fire suddenly asked Astrid. "He has gone back to his grumpy self."

    Before Astrid could answer, White-Fire saw a red mark on her neck and gasped when it took a closer look at her neck.

    "Oh my! Astrid, what is that on your neck?"

    "What?! Where?" Shocked, Astrid asked.

    She reached up with her hand, searching for what was on her neck but couldn't find anything.

    "At the nape of your neck, by your right."

    She touched the spot and felt that the spot was warm, true she hadn't noticed but when she touched there, she recalled and blushed a crimson red at the thought of what transpired between her and Jareth.

    "What did you two do?"

    "Nothing," she quickly replied, turning her face away from White-Fire.

    "It isn't nothing, your face is red. Though I may not look it, but I know a love bite when I see one. I have lived for a long time, young one. Don't take me for a fool."

    "Well, since you know, why ask me?"

    "Where is the fun in that? I told you he had feelings for you."

    "I don't know about that. We can't be, even if he does. He belongs here, on Elven grounds, I don't."

    "You never know what time would bring. Life can be tricky. Let us leave, this parts of the forest is a danger zone."

    "Thanks for reminding me."

    Just then, the little White Tiger-Phoenix beast awoke and yawned, stretching its paws forward. Its eyes landed on Astrid and rushed to hug her.

    She opened her arms wide to receive the incoming beast and hugged it in return.

    "Hehehe... How are you? I bet you slept well," she said out loud as she rubbed his fur and wings.

    Jareth cleared his throat and called on her. "Astrid!"

    She smiled in return, getting what he meant. She turned her gaze back o the little beast in her arms and said, "Little White-Fire, it's time to leave."

    The best whined as it didn't want to break contact with her. "Okay, I would carry you while we walk. Let's go."

    She dropped the beast, packed her thing, hung her bag and picked little White-Fire back up.

    In a matter of minutes, they all left, walking further into the forest.

    --------

    ~HUMAN KINGDOM - Lady Erwina 's Chambers~

    In the big room, Lady Erwina is seen sitting on one of the chairs, sorted opposite her was a man in his early fifties. He looked noble from the quality of the robes he wore, pure silk.

    His eyes dimmed as he looked at the lady before him as though he could see into her heart and soul.

    "Minister Clifford, you must have heard quite well about the happenings in the castle right? The issue with my daughter, Princess Cyrena and His Royal Highness, Prince Owen about proving the theft case right. Well I need you to support my daughter and rarely ministers on her side. What say you? Is my proposal quite alright by you?" Lady Erwina asked.

    "Well, My Lady," he began to say, then adjusted himself well on his seat. "You see, it is not that I do not want to render my help or support you and the princess... "

    "Then what is it?" Lady Erwina asked, cutting him short.

    He closed his eyes, took a deep breath before opening them again. "My Lady, as I earlier said, it is not as easy as you think. Let me explain. First, no one knows if the Princess would be able to deliver the main culprit, and even if she does, King Bayard may not do anything to his son."

    "And that is where you come in. If he wouldn't want to do anything to his son, the ministers should stand for what is right."

    "And what is that if I may ask, My Lady? After all if the princess succeeds, the King already promised her a chance to sit next to them during council meetings. What more can she possibly want? Don't tell me she seeks to take her brother's place as heir apparent and crown prince to the throne?"

    In anger, Lady Erwina slammed the table hard, the drinks and cup on the table shook under her attack. Her eyes blazed with untold terror as she shouted the minister's name.

    "Minister Clifford Marcus!! Know your place, you speak blasphemy, treason against the royal family. Do not forget you owe me."

    With the way she spoke authoritatively and loudly, Minister Clifford felt a chill run down his spine. He didn't want to annoy the woman who claimed the King's heart.

    True she new people, even down to their secrets, she wasn't a foe one should toy with.

    "Don't forget who helped you strengthen your position in the palace. Not to speak of, do not let me tell your secrets to His Majesty. All I ask os for you to initiate to the king to not play favorites and deal with the Prince in accordance." Lady Erwina said in anger.

    The Minister shook at her every word. He didn't need anyone to tell him, it wasn't a threat. Finally he spoke, "As you wish my Lady. We would put in a good word for her Highness."

    "Good!"

    *********

    ~The Throne Room~

    King Bayard sat gloomily on his throne as he listened to his adviser about situations in the kingdom.  This wasn't the news he wanted to hear.  He needed news about the hybrid.

    "Your Majesty, the next on the list is..."

    Gerald suddenly paused as he looked at the scroll in his hand, with wide eyes. King Bayard noticed the pause; he lifted his gaze to look at Gerald.

    "What is the matter?' He asked as he shifted on his throne.

    "Your Majesty, Pincess Cyrena..."

    "Yes?!"

    "She found the culprit."
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