Sorry to those who might have been in the middle of reading this story when i removed the other chapters. I will be adding them all back up as a re-edit them. This is a reboot of the original story quite a few years old now. I thought it was about time.
You will want to read the first chapter before you start here is you haven't already. The first chapter has doubled in size with this reboot.
Chapter 2: Love's Regret
Surprised by the attack, Van quickly raised his sword to deflect the blow, but to his dismay it headed towards the girls on the river side instead.
Seeing the winding claws turn towards them, Hitomi pushed the shocked younger girl next to her out of the way, but with no time to move Hitomi braced herself as the world seemed to slow down. 'Good bye.' She thought as she closed her eyes, unable to watch as the blades drew closer still.
"HITOMI!" Van screamed in sheer desperation as the attack headed directly for her as she stood unmoving on the shore. He wasn't going to be fast enough, he wasn't going to make it and even as he drove Escaflowne forward, he watched in horror as a single thin metal crima-claw tore right into Hitomi, her eyes opening wide in shock as it ripped through her.
Dilandau's intercom crackled in his ear. "That's enough Dilandau, fall back now." Folken's deep voice spoke calmly. "A ship from Freid is approaching. If we're spotted, they might catch wind of our plans."
He growled in frustration, wanting to finish the fight before the Dragon had a chance to get away but he knew that he could not risk their plans for his bloodlust. At least not today. With a disappointed sigh he backed down from the fight. "Darn, just when it was getting interesting too." His cold eyes watched the blood pooling around the girl at the side of the river bank with a feeling of deep satisfaction but he turned from the sight, even as the Dragon rushed towards it's fallen companion. Dilandau jump into flight mode and headed back to their ship, the Viona, along with his few remaining men, vowing to take him down the next time they met. He had managed to draw blood this time, but next time he would have his head. Dilandau smiled to himself.
As the enemies retreated, Escaflowen knelt down in the shallow muddy water, opening its hatch for Van jumped down. Sprinting over to Merle, he came to his knees at Hitomi's still body.
"What do you mean there's no healer!" Van's angry shouts could be heard throughout the ship's narrow halls. Before them, Hitomi laid pale on a borrowed cot, bleeding from the gaping wound in her side. They had been unable to stop the bleeding, and with no healer... She was fading fast. He had to help her somehow, she couldn't leave him yet... Turning his sorrow to anger, Van glared darkly at the man before him.
He bearded man clasped his hands together, keeping his eyes on the floor before his feet. "I'm sorry, but we're just a simple trading ship that makes daily runs between Rampant in Asturia and Godashim in Freid. We don't have a healer who can handle a deep wound like this." The captain bowed his head in regret, unable tp meet their eyes.
At his side, Merle sniffled. "No, Hitomi..." She wiped the tears from her eyes, leaning into Van for what little comfort the contact could give her. She might not have gotten along much with the girl from the Mystic Moon but Hitomi didn't deserve to die. So many people had already died.
Looking down at Hitomi, he couldn't help but be angry with himself. She had trusted him, believed in him and he had failed her! His knuckles began to turn white at his sides has he fought back his own tears and outrage. She was going to die, all because he had been so careless. Because he hasn't been able to keep her safe.
"Van? Is that you, Van?" The light voice caused them all the jump. Turning, they were surprised to see the Princess Millerna looking at them all curiously, her head tilted slightly to the side as she looked over the small group crowded in the hallway, but her smile soon faded at the sight of the young king's sorrow. "What's wrong? Did something happen?" She looked from the captain, to the king and then Merle in turn. No one seemed to be able to find their voices.
It was Hitomi's hoarse whisper that broke the silence. "Van..." She called.
He quickly turned and knelt down at her head, carefully placing a comforting hand on her hair. "I'm here. It'll be ok. I'm going to find you help soon." He reassured her easily, even as the words sounded like empty promises to his ears.
Now that the small group had shifted, the princess was finally able to see the girl bleeding on the cot behind them. "Van, what happened?" Millerna rushed to Hitomi's side. It only took a single glance at the deep bleeding wound to know the depth of her friend's situation. The princess shot a questioning look to the young king, but he only shook his head slowly.
"There's no healer..." he murmured to her unvoiced question and even as the words left his mouth, he felt them twist his heart.
"No healer? Captain?" Millerna turned to address the man in question but found his back to her. He too could only shake his head. "No..." Her eyes dropped to the floor next to the cot. Without help, Hitomi was going to...
"Can't you do it Princess?" All eyes turned to see Moleman walk into the room. "You've spent a lot of time studying medicine right?" There was a small smile under his long whiskers.
She frowned slightly even as she nodded in reply. "That's right, but I've only studied out of books before." She said mournfully, keeping her blue eyes lowered but she could still see Van out of the corner of her eye as he lightly stroking Hitomi's cheek as the girl grimaced in pain. 'Van cares for her so much. I wish I could do something...' Millerna sighed. "I've never practiced-"
"That's ok." The short round man interrupted. "You want Lady Hitomi to live, don't you? Only you can save her." Moleman spoke with firm confidence.
"Please, Millerna. At least try." Van's voice was deep with sorrow. Hitomi was losing more blood, she wasn't going to make it too much longer unless someone did something. Even if... Even if all they can do it try. He owed her that at the very least.
Millerna careful studied the young king as Merle put her small furry arms comfortingly around his shoulders and purred. "Lord Van..." Merle rubbed her stripped cheek against his in comfort.
'He must feel so helpless.' The thought hit her with a start and was enough for her to make up her mind. She had to at least try, for her and for him. She turned sharply to the Moleman. "I'll do it!" She exclaimed louder then she intended to, causing everyone's head to turn in her direction. "Mr. Mole," The Princess addressed the short man curtly. "Go bring me my blue bag, please." She ordered.
He just smiled innocently. "Is this it?" He brought a large blue medical bag out from behind his back with a small chuckle and knowing grin.
Hope filled him. Maybe things would be ok. "Hitomi." Van faintly whispered, resting his gloved hand on the side of her face. If he had just been able to protect her. It was his fault that this had happened and now she might... 'I don't want to lose anyone else.' Van closed his eyes tightly and prayed that Millerna would be able to do what he could not.
"Lord Van, it'll be ok... You'll see. Hitomi's strong." Merle squeezed his arm in an attempted to reassure him. She didn't want to see Lord Van lose anyone else. She had been there with him through it all, even when he had lost his parents and his brother, and more recently his country... Now he might even lose the girl he loved, as much as she hated to admit it to herself, she knew Lord Van and she understood his heart better then anyone else. Lord Van was falling in love with Hitomi. She'd known for some time, had been able to see it in his eyes. Her Lord Van could never hide anything from her. Hitomi had to be ok.
Van and Merle sat out in the dim hall on the bench, waiting for new of Hitomi. A few others had joined them, interested in what was happening on the normally dull ship ride between ports but they paid them little attention. Hitomi was in Millerna's hands now. Though the thought was of little comfort to him. Van couldn't banish the dark thoughts of losing her from his mind and the longer he waited, the worse they got. Head bowed, his hands were fisted in his hair as he fought between tearing it out in frustration or storming into the operating room for answers. They had been in there for hours already.
Light flooding the dim hall as Millerna stepped out from the operating room. Van looked up, his breath catching as he waited for the news.
"The operation..." Millerna sounded drained from hours of work and trailed off as she looked over the faces within the room, finally coming to rest upon Van's. She summoned up enough energy for a weak smile. "Was a success," At once everyone let out the breaths they had been holding. Van slumped in relief. "But... She's still unconscious from the anesthetic." Millerna's legs buckled out from under her as she slipped to the floor.
Leaping from his seat, Van rushed forward to catch the tired princess before she could fall to the cold tiles. Slowly looking up from Millerna's hunched form in his arms, Van could see Hitomi laying on the table within the operating room looking ashen, but alive. Even from this distance he could see the slow rising of her chest. She would be ok. She would be alright. He closed his eyes and smiled for. She would be ok.
"The third Princess of the Kingdom of Asturia, Princess Millerna Sara Aston, has arrived." They had no trouble getting into Freid thanks to the princess, at which Van was thankful. Though he still wasn't sure of the type of welcome he was likely to receive, he had yet to be haled off to the dungeons which he took as a good sign. Keeping his head bowed, he stared at the rich green carpet under his feet as he waiting to be addressed by the Duke.
Van and Millerna knelt patently in the great hall before the throne of the Duke of Freid. Hitomi had been taken away to a smaller room deeper within the palace to rest with Merle keeping a watch over her. He wished he could be at her side but he trusted Merle to watch over her in his absence.
"You must be tired from your long journey." A very young voice addressed them. Raising his eyes from the floor, Van saw a young child sitting on the throne. "The Duke is presently on a inspection tour of the realm, so I welcome you in his place." The young Prince smiled, his crystal blue eyes sparkling as he looked over his guests, nodding in welcome. His short blond hair to fall forward into his eyes at the motion.
"Chid? Is that you, Chid?" Millerna asked excitedly sitting a little taller, a large smile blooming across her face.
Young Chid smiled happily in return. "Yes, it's so good to see you again, Aunt Millerna."
Chid's mother had been Millerna's eldest sister and the eldest princess of Asturia, Princess Marlene. She had been married to the Duke of Freid at a young age and had given birth to Chid soon after. Two years ago however, she had suddenly fallen ill and passed away.
Millerna smiled brightly and despite her overflowing joy at seeing her nephew, still maintained to retain some of her manners. "Well Chid, allow me to introduce you to Van Fanel, King of Fanelia." She indicated the raven haired man kneeling next to her.
Van again bowed his head, placing his fist over his heart in a show of good will to the young prince and his kingdom.
"I understand that you have been through many hardships, Fanelia." Chid said solemnly and with a voice far beyond his young age. "And that one of your party, the Lady Hitomi, has been seriously injured on your journey here."
Not trusting his own voice, Van simply nodded.
Chid, although young, could easily see the worry on the King of Fanelia's downcast face. Lady Hitomi must be very important to him, although he hadn't heard of any news of a royal engagement from the small country. Maybe they had been unable to announce the news before their country had fallen to the attack. "My deepest heartfelt apologies, Fanelia. I most humbly welcome you to Freid." The prince smiled. "Please feel free to think of my country as your own during the duration of your stay."
Relief that their relations with the Dutchy had not change since the attack, the King of Fanelia found his voice again. "Thank you," His strong voice rang though the spacious thrown room. "I'm sincerely grateful to have Freid's friendship." Van held his gaze to that of the young prince.
Chid nodded, his smile returning to his young face. "You must worry for your friend, Fanelia. You're dismissed to do as you please."
Slowly raising to his feet, Van bowed again before taking his leave from the throne room. As the doors closed behind him an armoured guard moved to his side, bowing low. "This way please." The guard gestured for Van to follow. "I will lead you to your room and that of the Lady's." Wordlessly, Van followed him deeper into the castle, coming to a stop when his guard indicated which room belonged to Hitomi.
He thanked the guard before quietly walking into the room. Hitomi lay on a cot near the window, allowing some of the sun's rays to run over her through the creaks in the wooden blinds. Van knelt by her bedside, noticing that the colour in her skin was already returning to the healthier shade of pink. Millerna had reassured him that she was out of danger now, and just needed time to regain her strength after loosing so much blood and that she should awaken soon.
Merle watched from her shadowy corner as Lord Van entered the room, eyes narrowing slightly as he knelt down beside Hitomi. Her tail twitching in aggravation at their closeness. It had been made clearer to her over the last weeks that Lord Van's heart might never be hers in the manner she had wished it to be and even though it hurt, she loved him far too much to see him unhappy. He loved Hitomi, she could tell.
It was nearing supper time when Van finally stepped out of the room. She waited till she could no longer hear his footsteps in the hall before slipping out of the shadows and to Hitomi's bedside. "If you break Lord Van's heart," The cat leaned closer with a sneer. "I'll kill you myself, Hitomi." She hissed before jumping out the window.
Looking out over the gardens as they made their rounds around the palace, the young prince turned as a soldier stopped before himself and his adviser, bowing deeply with respect. "Prince Chid." The man addressed the young prince.
"Yes?" Chid eyed the armed messenger curiously.
"An Asturain levaship is approaching from the south, your Majesty."
"An Asturain levaship?" The young Prince turned to his adviser, Voris, for his counsel. It was unusual for an Asturain ship to enter their boarders unannounced, but to already be within sight of the city, was almost unheard of. He knew that Asturia one of their most powerful ally, but he felt uneasy in his father's absence.
Voris nodded to the man before them. "Let them land."
"Freid..." Allen sighed as he looked over the lush green kingdom before him. He had left Palas as soon as possible to warn the Duchy of Freid about the oncoming Zaibach attack, but Allen's confidence was shaken by the number of Zaibach forces they'd passed on route. In fact, they hadn't seen any.
"Huh, will you look at that." Gaddess remarked, coming up next to his captain in the cockpit's viewing window.
"Hmm?" Allen followed his colleague's gaze to Freid's guymelef training ring and was surprised to see Escaflowne challenging one of the Freid's guymelefs within the sandy ring.
"Looks like the young king had the same idea as you, ya boss?" Gaddess chuckled as he walked back to the helm.
'If Van's here,' Allen thought with a smile. 'then so is Hitomi.'
Van smiled with smug satisfaction as he jumped into his opponent, knocking its sword down to the ground with a mighty blow. He was getting better, he could feel his skills increase with every battle. Soon he would even be able to take on Allen with no trouble at all. The next time they fought, he would come out the victor.
He rose from his fallen opponent, thoughts lost at the sounds of an approaching levaship. Van was surprised then to see the Crusade moving to land over by the castle. His heart jumped. 'Hitomi.' If that was really the Crusade, then that would mean Allen was also on board.
"Allen Schezar," Voris's stern voice could be heard throughout the assembly room as he address the knight in question.
Lined with ivory stone pillars and various tapestries along the walls, the room was filled with many of Freid's advisers sitting tightly around the conference table at the very center. At the very head of the table, sat a young worried prince, looking small in his father's seat.
"Do you mean to tell us that Zaibach is planning on attacking our country?" Voris continued, the note of disbielf growing in his voice. "You must be mistaken, Schezar, because Zaibach is one of our allies and there have been no sightings of any Zaibach forces within our borders." He frowned down harshly at the knight kneeling before the council.
'Allen Schezar...' Chid thought wide-eyed, looking at the regal looking knight before him. He'd heard many tales about this legendary Knight Caeli, mostly from his mother, but he had never met him before. He found himself distracted from the issue at hand as he continued to look upon the knight kneeling before him.
"Just because you can't see them doesn't mean their not there." Everyone turned to look at the Fanelian King leaning with his head bowed, arms crossed, against one of the many stone pillars. He glared at the counsel through fringes of his hair. "Zaibach attacked Fanelia, burning it to the ground and now they're moving here." Van raised his eyes to meet Allen's fierce blue ones in a challenging stare. "I'd been wondering when you'd show up." A small smile tugged at the corner of Van's lips.
To Be Continued