Chapter 17: Riza and Edmund

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Edmund, engulfed in his giant White Peacock spirit's core, was flying through the endless skies, carrying Riza, Tiger, Tamie, and Tiger's three pets - Blizzard, excited to be flying for the first time; Christo, indifferent of the flight, but instead snuggling in the Peacock spirit's warm feathers; and Astra, frightened of such heights so cuddling with Tiger. Riza had now already calmed down. She enjoyed the look from above and greedily breathed the fresh air in - so this was how freedom felt... the freedom of a volatile Air spirit.

Only flying spirits can feel this kind of freedom... she thought and felt a sense of regret for having a Mouse spirit only now. If I had a flying spirit like a Rooster or a_ But once she thought of 'Dragon', her face turned gloomy again: I'd never want to be a Dragon, like him...

Edmund easily sensed her uneasiness as the spirit was linked with his own heart and soul, so he began singing a song very much familiar to Riza, with his melodic voice:

"Up high, so high, where the clouds touch the top,

She's been dreaming and yearning to take off,

So she could run and jump and dance in the rain,

Never to go back again..."

(The song is 'Up High' by Lisa Schettner (see the video above). Available on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Pad2Om8MjU )

Riza widened eyes - the Magister remembered that song? It was so long ago when she first wrote and sang it! Remembrances flowed back to her, bringing a teary smile to her face as bittersweet emotions embraced her...

She was only twelve-year-old, running on a dusty road with her feet bare, crying hot tears as she had just fled from her father's estate with the help of her mother, to join some order and become a strong Zodiac Mistress and start her new life. Her mother couldn't follow her, as she was, by the rules, bound to the Wagner estate, but she still had helped her little daughter take flight... So she was crying and running, still sad to have lost ties with her mother for long, because who knew when they would ever reunite again?

She arrived in a town and began knocking on order doors and asking for a shelter, but all the doors were being shut right in front of her nose, as the order leaders didn't want to take in some stray children who weren't experienced already - not everyone wanted additional newbies on their heads. Riza was getting more and more scared - what if she became obliged to stay out on the road at night?! And her stomach was grumbling too... She sniffed and tripped on a stone, falling off. Her knee bled. She began crying even more bitterly and continued running, and soon, came up to a giant mansion, where there was a rose-and-cross symbol depicted and was written with big red letters: 'Rose Cruce Order'. 

Another order... She shivered - what if they scolded her and sneered at her to 'get out' as they did in all the other orders? But then she heard her stomach grumble and ache from hunger. She gulped and decided to try her luck, or else she was going to starve there in the street. She tremblingly raised her hand and feebly knocked on the mansion door. There was silence for some minutes, but then footsteps approached the door and it opened, revealing two crystal blue eyes of a young fifteen-year-old guy with bushy orange hair and glasses, who curiously and surprisedly looked down at the crying child.

"I... I ask for shelter, please..." little Riza sobbed out, already trembling - what if they rejected her from here too?

The boy's strong hand tenderly stretched out, and his voice, already deepened as he was in his middle teen years, spoke softly:

"Come".

She hesitantly looked up at him. Seeing the kind smile he had gifted her, she blinked and slowly raised her hand, putting it in his one. Instantly the guy's soft manly fingers clutched her tiny palm and took her in, closing the door behind. There were many people - children, youngsters, and adults - sitting at tables in the hall, and had such a cheerful time, laughing and having drinks! Riza's eyes brightened - such a joyous place... Then she heard the big boy's voice again:

"What is your name, child?"

She shyly looked down, blushing:

"R... Riza... Riza Wagner..."

"Where are your parents?"

"Not here," a tear streamed down her cheek, "Mom is away... and father is no more my father".

The boy raised both of his eyebrows at such a strange tale, but he asked no more questions. He just caressed her on the head and grinned kindly:

"Well, since you have nowhere to go then, you can stay here. You will become one with us - the Rose Cruce Order. Do you accept?"

Riza's eyes brightened:

"You will take me in?"

The boy smilingly nodded. Riza jumped with happiness, cuddling with him:

"Ah, thank you so much! I'd gladly join!"

The boy took a small ring of the rose-and-cross symbol out of his pocket and put it on the girl's finger.

"Well then, Riza Wagner, you are officially a member of our family, and from today on, I, Edmund Jaeger, am your father," he rubbed her head warmly, "You are to call me 'Magister', though".

Riza was dumbfounded - a... a new father?! And his hands were so warm... his smile was so bright... Tears gushed from her eyes as she cuddled with the guy:

"Magister..."

"So you say your father has given up on you, huh, child? Well, I will never give up on you, whatever may come..." 

From that day on, Riza's life changed forever... and on that very day, she revealed she could sing - once she caught a glimpse of the stage there in the hall, she happily ran up on it (for she was sad no more after Edmund had treated her marvellous dinner and afterwards sweet cookies) and sang the very first song she had come up with - 'Up High', revealing her lust to fly up in the sky and run from her estate back when she still lived there. That song was the beginning of her sweet memories within the Order, so she had always kept it in her heart, but it was a total shock for her to find out Edmund had not forgotten it either - he perfectly remembered their first meeting, her first arrival in the order? It was so many years ago...

"You remembered now, didn't you, Riza? I told you I wouldn't give up on you. I always knew you wanted to unfold wings, fly high and be free... Well, I swear to you now - once we fly back from Wagner estate, that will be your flight of freedom".

"H... How did you remember all that, after so many years?"

"It is just that, I hardly forget anything..." the boy awkwardly chuckled, apparently shy to reveal his true feelings he kept deep at heart.

But soon their conversation was cut off by Tiger's exclaim:

"We're there! Isn't that giant palace the thing?"

They all attentively looked below and indeed noticed a giant stone palace, which brought disgust to Riza immediately as she caught the sight of it. She clenched her fists hard:

"We're there..."

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