• Maruru stared bleakly straight ahead at nothing in particular. She finally stopped crying and her body stopped trembling. Her arms went limp around Ayn as she pulled away. It’s been three hours of non-stop wailing.
    Ayn got up and helped Maruru up too. They went back on his Aier and then took off for the cliff. Maruru felt weak and boneless. Every part of her body was numb and she was suddenly emotionless. If you made her lay on a bed with her eyes open she’d look dead.
    The cliff was in full view. Roe was lying on his back, staring at the sky. Fen and Keller weren’t back either. That means Non wasn’t found.
    “It’ll be easy” Ayn says blankly, saying it partly to himself, “It’s barely been a day since you met us so it’ll be easy to forget”
    Maruru didn’t answer. He didn’t expect her to, anyway. He landed the Aier next to Roe and opened his mouth to say something but was cut off.
    “Whoa, look at her! She’s totally lifeless, white as a ghost! And her eyes are so red. Was the fake crying that great?” he asked Ayn as if Maruru wasn’t there.
    “…fake crying?” Ayn answers. “Her fake crying wasn’t so great…”
    “Well, I would’ve believed it if I saw it” he laughed.
    Ayn glances over at Maruru, watching for a response, but none came. “Yeah, I would’ve too” he says to Roe.
    Roe gave him a look, confused at his boss’s reply. “You’re getting weird”
    Ayn turns his attention back to Roe and grinned. “You were always weird”
    He chuckled, “That’s the best part about me”
    Ayn walked over and sat next to Roe, his legs dangling over the ledge. Roe’s eyes trailed from the sky to Maruru. Fen and Keller came zooming by but he didn’t break his stare.
    “We couldn’t…” Keller pauses, taking in the scene.
    “…find him” Fen finishes. He and Keller followed Roe’s gaze.
    Now all three of them were staring at Maruru—lifeless, blank, ghostly Maruru. Then they slowly turned to Ayn for answers but they knew he wouldn’t give them any. They could tell by the way he was acting.
    Keller was the first one to act. She grabbed Maruru’s shoulders and shook her hard. “What is wrong with you?!” she says as if she was talking to a deaf person. “Did you fail at giving the king our conditions?”
    Maruru didn’t answer. She didn’t even give eye contact.
    “You are a walking corpse!” Keller says in the same tone. “Hey, look at me” she grabs Maruru’s chin between her index and thumb then lifted so that Maruru was looking straight at her. But she wasn’t looking at her. Her eyes were fixed in the center, moving in any direction her head moves to. And it was dull. No light could reflect anything off of them. “Creepy” Keller says in her normal voice as she lets go of her. She turns to Roe, “Got any ideas?”
    He shakes his head then closes his eyes. “Not a clue”
    And that was it. It was awkward silence after that. Roe dozed off, Keller sat on her Aier, Fen stared up into the sky, and Ayn looked at the horizon. They were all waiting for the sun to go down, waiting for the day to end. Maruru still stood in the same place, she didn’t even move a muscle. And it’s already been three hours. Non didn’t even show up yet.
    The sky was turning purple and pink. The bottom of the sun was very close to the ocean. It’s almost sundown and the king didn’t come yet. Does he even want his daughter back?
    “Give back Maruru!” a voice yelled from overhead. Then the bushes rustled and all the towns’ people came rushing out holding weapons. They were all shouting, raising axes and pitchforks to the sky.
    Roe, Fen, Keller, and Ayn turn to look at the angry mob. They were too tired to react to the situation.
    “Give me back my daughter!” the king came out from between the mob. He held a gemmed sword in one hand and a shield in the other.
    “Guess he isn’t going to give us money” Fen says, eyes droopy.
    “Yeah” Keller agreed. “What do we do, boss?”
    “Killing people for nothing isn’t for me” Roe commented.
    “Maybe…we could take it by force?” Fen suggests. “After all, they’re just towns’ people”
    “That’d be boring” Ayn finally says. “Nothing interesting would come out of that”
    The three of them agreed then got on their Aier, ready to leave.
    The king came rushing to Maruru. He was holding her, crying, glad that she was safe. The mob dashed forward at the same time, making Roe, Fen, Keller, and Ayn fly their Aier’s off the cliff. They were about to leave but Ayn stops as he heard a small voice.
    “Dad…” it was Maruru. Her voice croaked.
    “Yes? Yes, I’m here, what do you want? Where do you want to go?” her father asked desperately.
    “The…sky” her expression was still blank as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I want to go to the sky”
    Her father shook her hard, his eyes full of fear and desperation. “No, you can’t, you can’t. The palace is safer and I’ll be there to protect you”
    Ayn turns and looks at Maruru. The others were far behind him, but they stopped too, all waiting, watching.
    Maruru continues talking self-consciously. “Fallen Star…Ayn…Keller…” she pauses, tilting her head all the way back. “NON, REY!” she screams to the sky.
    On cue, Non and Rey came soaring on Aiers through the mob, stopping right beside the king.
    The king was shaken. “W-what are you d-doing here? Non? R-Rey?” he stuttered.
    “You know why we’re here” Non replies coolly.
    His eyes suddenly widen and his jaw trembled. “No!” he shouts instantly. “Never!”
    “Oh, you see, a deal’s a deal” Rey says. “And you broke your half so we’re going to break ours” Right as he said that, he started up his Aier and zoomed forward, snatching Maruru from her fathers arms.
    It happened so fast that the king couldn’t react until five seconds later. “Give her back!” he howls.
    “Not a chance!” Non speeds up, trips the king, and flew next to Rey. They went straight ahead without looking back.
    Ayn shook his shock away and went to catch up with Non. “Hey!”
    Non slightly turns. Once he saw caught a good glimpse of Ayn, he almost tipped off his Aier. “You! Where were you? Oh man, how are ya? What about the others? Heard about the Capton Ine! Wish I was there” he was talking way to quick.
    Ayn laughed. “I’ve been great. We all are. And where was I? Where were you? We were ready to build you a grave!”
    “I almost built my own grave!” Non chuckles.
    “Yeah, hate to interrupt your reunion but letting this chick ride with me goes against all I believe in” Rey says. “I’d rather one of you carry—”
    “Ayn…” Maruru mumbles. Her eyes were closed and she was sleeping.
    Rey and Non looks at Ayn. “You know her? She knows you?”
    “Uh I…” he breaks eye contact. “Not really”
    “Ayn…” Maruru says again.
    “Hey, looks like she wants you” Rey teases. He holds her out to Ayn.
    “Ayn…” her voice was soft, even when she said, “You jerk…I hope you die and go to…hell. Never…I never want you to say that to me again”
    Rey’s eyes narrowed. “What did you say to her?”
    Ayn hesitates before answering. “I told her to…stay away and forget about us” he lowered his eyes then glanced at Maruru.
    A tear trickled down her cheek. “You jerk…”

    to be continued