68 Doomed to Watch
⊱————- Ofris' PoV ————-⊰
A wide platform was protruding onto the town square were thousands of men and women of all ages and races had gathered. It had been built against the palace wall, using the very same stones. Though it was much younger than the palace itself, time had long since left its traces on all of its sides in the form of cracks and discolorations. It was easily older than anyone waiting here for something to happen.
Aside from eight of the Royal Guards, there was nobody to be found on the platform. It had already been richly decorated with the emblems of the royal family, with flowers and banners, but the five seats in the middle of all of this were still empty.
«At least they will give her a seat...»
The royal family had only four members, with King Hensin, Queen Arienne and their son and daughter, Prince Laurin and Princess Janna. This obviously meant that only four seats should have been prepared, one throne and three of the four upholstered armchairs now surrounding it. As things looked, they at least saw her as important as the young princess. She wasn't treated as a mere slave.
«Thank the gods.»
Despite knowing this now, I was by no means relieved, as I could somehow guess what was happening inside of the palace where the eyes of the public wouldn't be able to reach.
Despite using Sahria's contact person, we had been unable to contact Rika as she had never even seen her and only a few selected servants were allowed to enter her rooms. This could only mean two things: either the king had decided to keep her as safe as possible, allowing only the most trustworthy servants to come in contact with her or, which was far more likely, had confined her instead.
It was this little piece of information that made waiting here almost unbearable. I knew they mistreated her, in some way or the other.
Half an eternity had gone by when Sahria finally pulled me out of my misery. "They come!"
She was right. When I followed her gaze, I quickly found a group of men and women making their way out of the large gatehouse on my right side. They walked on top of the wall, with only their upper bodies reaching over the parapet.
Six men walked in front of the royal family. Four of them wore the armor of the Royal guards, two others were magicians that probably specialized in defensive magic or healing spells. There were symbols and runes on their robes that could tell me more, but I didn't waste a single more second on them.
My attention was already focused on Rika who walked directly behind the king and his queen and in front of their son and daughter, making it look as if they were trying to prevent her from running off.
There was no way for her to escape, not with the second group of men guarding the rear of the group. Even if she jumped off the wall to somehow flee into the masses of onlookers, there would still quite a few among them willing to strike her down without a single warning. Not because they wanted to stop her escape, but because she had those ears and the tail which stuck out from under her dress.
Rika stood out like a sore thumb. While the royal family wore dresses and uniforms colored in various shades of red, accented with black and silver, she herself wore a mostly white dress. It was the one she had received from the goddess.
«At least they didn't take it away from her...»
Even without the dress, it would have been easy to spot her thanks to her ears and the tail which stuck out from under her dress. These features were enough to nasty insults to reach her, as men and women everywhere around me raised their voices to attack her.
To them, she was nothing but a slave, something too low in status to even use breath the same air as the king. Maybe they did not know of her being a fox or they just decided that a fox was as low of a being as any other beastkin. I didn't care what was their reason. I despised them, every single one of them and the king too, as it was him who made her endure all of this!
Right now Rika was climbing down the stairs leading onto the platform, accompanied by the sound of drums, flutes and other instruments played by a large music group that had gathered nearby. She was made to sit down on the seat the furthest from me, right next to the prince who sat on the left side of the throne.
The king did not sit down himself. He instead waited for the drummers to stop playing before he greeted gathered masses.
I didn't even listen. My whole attention was focused on Rika who just sat there like a statue. She didn't smile, nor did she show any other reactions to the king's speech, despite him mentioning her over and over again. It was only when the prince leaned to her side to speak to her, that she showed signs of life. A small smile grew on her lips. She even laughed at one point!
It was only a short laughter, a reaction that could mean anything and nothing at all, but it cut deeper into my flesh than any sword would ever be able to. She was happy with him. She was happy being here.
«It has only been a week! What happened here? What did they promise her?!»
I got my answers soon, far too soon, as the king's speech changed to a very different topic, one that wasn't about her being a saint or a fox.
"The goddess Shiro has blessed us with the presence her daughter, Rika Furumiya, and it is an even greater honor for me, Hensin Sebaar, to welcome her into my family as the fiance of my son and heir Laurin. She will be..."
His voice was swallowed away by a wave of panicked screams. Just as Rika was standing up to be presented to the masses, a white mist began gathering from her skin and clothes. It grew thicker and thicker until her shaky silhouette suddenly collapsed in itself, leaving behind nothing but a cloud of mist.
She was gone. There was nothing to be found on the floor, no dress, no traces and especially no little fox.
My mind went blank.
⊱————- Extra ————-⊰
Rika: He wants to marry me!
Rika: Do you hear me?! He wants to marry me!
Rika: Do something!
Rika: You are my summon! Shouldn't you fight for me or something?!
Rika: Damn it!
Rika: Where is Shiro when I need her?!
Rika: Shiro! Shiro! Hey! Vixen!
Rika: Dogs are awesome! Everybody should have a dog!
Rika: Wasn't there...
Rika: Here! Listen! I am ringing them!
Rika: You gave me those bells! Will you listen now?!
Rika: Get me out of here! Now! Shiro!
Rika: Please! Shiro! Hey!
Laurin: Such an intense prayer...