Keil laid there quietly, looking up at the cluster of leaves that was his shelter, thinking of her. He was disappointed that she had run away, but he supposed it was understandable. He truly had not meant to frighten her earlier, but he was just so curious! After all, had never seen a girl like her, with such light hair and skin. Back home in the skies all the men and women shared darkened hair and skin tones, and red or brown eyes like the dragons. Yet this girl had pale skin like a lily’s petals, her hair was golden like the sun, and those eyes! Those diamond blue eyes, they were something he never even imagined possible. Was there such a broadened variety of looks down here in the lands below the clouds? These people really were so different from his own…
His people. They certainly were quite the opposite from this girl and her people in many ways. His father, the Red King, always said the people who lived below the skies were primitive and self-destructive, prone to wars and poverty. Yet now he knew his own people were far from ideal themselves. Toko, Bagu, and Gera—his dearest friends—had been the ones to turn and attack him that fateful day. How foolish he felt now, thinking back on when they had invited him and Finna out for an evening flight, only to direct him closer and closer to the cloudline below! As soon as they attacked, his own dragon sensed their malicious intent. She flew as fast and far away from them as she could, despite being the small creature she was. However, the others kept catching up, and Keil could not fend off all their attacks while riding with his injuries. After Toko stabbed him again, Finna had maneuvered to give their dragons one last slip, only to throw him off her saddle to the ground below as she flew on, to be chased (and, most likely, killed) alone.
Why had they done it, though? They had all grown up together as friends! Keil knew he was a Red Prince, yes, but he was no threat to anyone, being the King’s illegitimate son. He would never even be in line for the throne! It was true that the people were not fond of him, but why attack him?
Keil clenched his fists with rage, wondering if it had perhaps been meant as an attack on the royal family in general. Were his brother and father in danger, too? Would Toko, Gera, and Bagu target them next? He simply had to find his way home and stop them! He had to protect his family and avenge himself. Yes, he was going to make them pay for what they had done to him and Finna that day!
Suddenly, his thoughts drifted back to the strange girl who came to care for his wounds. Judging by her dirty face and worn-out clothing he assumed her to be a poor peasant. He often wondered why she saved him that day. He could tell she was wary around him, especially after his harsh treatment towards her that first day, which he now regretted. At that time, though, he had feared that she would rob or kill him due to his vulnerable state and her people's barbaric ways. Or she might simply turn him in to her people to be tortured and killed, like the frightening stories he’d heard.
Yet she hadn't done either. Instead, the strange woman hid him in the woods and cared for him, tending to his nasty wounds all by herself. She had saved him, his very life, despite his foreign looks and language! He wondered who she was, exactly, and what she stood to gain from helping him. He nearly laughed again at the memory of her shoving the food in his mouth persistently just to get him to eat. She certainly was quite different than he’d expected her to be. She was so kind and thoughtful, though she often appeared tired and weary upon arriving. He found himself feeling ever more grateful for her kindness with each new day that passed, and ever more curious about her.
Keil sighed. He certainly did not want today to be the last time they met.