Moderator: Cadence Rayshon
Court Guards following me every step of the day. Maiden hands beckoning me hither and yon. Boring cotillions, parties and social gatherings were all loosing their appeal to me. Fancy dresses, money in abundance, suitor after suitor calling on me ... it was becoming more than I could handle. I could do nothing without the assistance of another.
Father was pressuring me to marry soon, for he was ill and on his deathbed. He wanted to see his Princess well cared for in his dying days, but Mother would be the only to somewhat understand my dilemma.
Thirty-six years ago she had been in the same position I was now and she had chosen her kingdom and her family over her heart ... the life of Royalty over matters of the heart. Not a day in her life did she ever actually ever really love my Father, she grew to love him and in a way only those of Royalty and arranged marriages could ever understand. She had been given the decision to marry for the lands or to be exiled for the rest of her days, and Mother being the woman she was fulfilled her place as daughter to the King and married a man she had never even met. She says even now that she regrets her decision not, but the ways of the lands were changing ever quickly and matters of the heart were much more important than those of the lands. Mother said the lands will always be there, but your heart's quarries will not.
I longed for the freedom to come and go as I pleased, to do what my soul and my heart wished of me, but living here in the Palace I could not. For even at my most secretive location now, nearby stood two court guards, watching dutifully over their Princess and future Queen. I longed to see outside the Palace walls, to live life to the fullest, but inside I was frightened to the very core. I had never been outside the Palace without my Father. I had no idea what would await me outside the protection of the Court Guards and my Father.
For twenty-four years this was all I had known in life, all I had breathed, ate, slept and been taught. Outside the Palace walls I knew there was a whole new world for me to explore, new things to learn, people to meet, ways to live...Mother always told me I could do anything I ever wanted in life, and that all I had to do was keep my faith. Now as I stood on the railing looking down over the last of the lights being extinguished, in my heart and in my soul I knew what would come in the next few days.
"Princess, it is growing late. You must rest now."
Perhaps if I ignored him long enough he would just go away? Unfortunately I was not that lucky as I closed my eyes and let the warm breeze caress the flesh of my arms, I was startled by the feel of calloused and rough hands grasping me by my waist and easily lifting me from the railing. I knew there was no use in fighting him, for that would only prove fruitless.
"Princess, I said it is growing late and you must rest now. Are you growing ill of hearing young Princess?"
I allowed my eyes to remain closed as Keel's voice again rang out and again I would not answer him or his brother Irid. I was carried to my chambers, where the Chamber Maids had already turned down my bed. Keel laid me in my bed with a caring and gentleness of an older brother and covered me, bidding me goodnight. I did not sleep more than an hour that night, for my mind was racing with the plans of the next few days and what would transpire. It seemed that I had only momentarily fallen asleep before the Chamber Maids again entered my chambers and drew back the curtains. The warm sunlight spilled through the terrace windows and warmed my face that was flushed with the lack of sleep, I turned over and buried my head within the covers and groaned ever so softly.
"Come now Princess, it is almost seven by the hour. Prince Ezekiel will be here within the hour to call upon you. Your Father has made arrangements for a late breakfast in the Garden for the pair of you. Come now m'lady we must make haste if we are to be punctual."
I screamed inside, shaking my head beneath the covers. Only a few more days and if all would go well then I would be away from the Palace and all of this nonsense. I threw back the covers and swung my legs over the edge of the bed, where warm slippers awaited my barefeet. I paused a moment, golden eyes blinking and with a grin, moved my feet three inches to the left, avoiding the slippers completely. The feel of the cool marble beneath my bare feet was exquisite! I heard the sharp intake of breath from my Chamber Maid, Mia as she stared wide eyed at me. I simply shook my head towards Mia, and she would say nothing else to me that morning as I was dressed and escorted to the Garden where the Prince was awaiting my arrival.
-----Later that day-----
All morning I had been feigning illness, as was the plan that was transpiring within my minds eye. I coughed into the silken cloth that I always carried with me, and with the lack of sleep the night before, I was quite pale. The color to my cheek was easily illusioned with some touches of rouge to my cheeks and it seemed that all was going well.
After the Prince had left, my Mother called me to Court, her eyes grew wide at the mere sight of me. Laying her cooler hand upon my forhead, she gasped when she felt the heat radiating from my body. Inwardly I was grinning to myself, this seemed to be quite to easy for me.
"Mia! Mia! How dare you. You should have sent word that the Princess was ill and could not meet with Ezekiel this morning. She is feverish, flushed and pale. Mia, immediately escort the Princess to her Chambers. No one is to enter her room for the remainder of the evening. Is that understood?"?
I brought the silken material of the cloth to my mouth and again feigned coughing into it, as I felt Mia's arms wrap around my waist, she escorted me quickly to my bed chambers, where I was again laid into bed and left to my own thoughts.
"Aaron please. She is ill. Look upon your daughter. She is pale of color, flush of cheek, not a few hours ago when my hand laid upon her, she was feverish. Mia said she did not even eat this morning at breakfast and spoke very little. Aaron I have never lied to you in our years together. Our daughter is ill, you must let her rest please Aaron, I beg of you."
I leaned against one of the bed posts, letting my body fall slightly slack against it, resting my forhead against the cool steel of the canopy. For emphasis on the feigned sickness, I brought the back of my hand to my lips and coughed gently. Through slitted eyes, I watched as my Father looked down on my Mother for the briefest of moments and then he turned on heel and stormed from my Chambers, uttering one phrase in his departure.
"Fetch the Doctor immediately."
I rushed to my Mother who was now quietly sobbing on the floor, I kneeled beside her and drew her close to me, embracing my Mother for what would be the last time. I knew that my escape must be made now if ever for when the Doctor arrived, he would deem me fit to attend the ball that had been planned for a mere two hours away from now.
It had to be done now if I ever had the courage to do it, it was now or never I thought to myself. I kissed my Mother's cheek as she left my Chambers. The doors closed and a tear slipped down my cheek as I quickly grabbed a bag and packed what I could quickly find and slung it over my shoulder. I took one last look around my bed chambers and pressed the button that was hidden behind the vanity mirror, a small secret door rumbled to life and opened. I did not look back, not once as I stepped through it and then pressed the button on the other side, closing the compartment once again. I stood there for a moment, my back against the soft earth and smiled to myself.
I raced down the quarter mile tunnel, pressing the side of my face to the earthen wall, I listened for any signs of life beyond the wall. Aside from the alley dwellers, there seemed to be no life beyond the wall. My fingers slid against the warm earth until I found the niche that caused the earth to shudder and shift, allowing me my first view of life outside the Palace walls. Moonlight streamed down on my face. I tilted my face up to the sky, looking upon it in a while new light, a smile curled my lips as I was pushed back against the wall by a passing alley dweller. I laughed softly.
Within the passage I had removed my tiara, necklaces and rings and stuffed them in my bag. I had quickly tied my lush, crimson curls back with a simple ribbon. Though I could not do much for the gown I had been wearing, I looked down on it now, and saw that it was darkened with the earthen soil of the passage. In my haste, I had also grabbed three bags of gold and two bags of gems to aide me in my endeavors outside the Palace, though would only resort to them in my dire moments of need. I would need a place to stay and new clothing for that was certain. Another smile turned my lips as I let my golden eyes take in the scenery around me.
It seemed like an hour that I waited, crouched beside the now closed earth wall in the alleyway, though my view of the woman and child never was far from grasp. Quietly I slinked my way down the wall and towards the woman. I knelt beside the woman resting against a nearby garbage can, I gently rested my hand against her arm, and shook her. Her eyes flew open in a state of panic, one arm wrapped tightly around the girl who whimpered softly.
"Pl...peez don don hurtey me meem. I not doin nuttin but layin ere wit muh bebe."
I smiled though was quite startled that she thought I had come to hurt her. My fingers slid against her arm, I could feel the compilation of dirt and grim on her skin and my heart cried out to her. I lifted my golden eyes to her, and they sparkled like diamonds in the night.
"Ma'am I've only to ask you a few questions you see. I am lost and need direction. As well as was wondering where I could find clothes such as those which you wear. My clothing is old and tattered. I've need for new garments. I would pay you well for your time and services Ma'am if you were willing to aide me."
The middle-aged woman blinked a few times, her grubby arm was removed from beneath my hand as she rubbed at her eyes, seeming to focus her vision on me. She quirked a dirty brow at me and then pointed her finger accusingly at me and waggled it around. Though her voice remained low, for that I was thankful.
"Choo der choo der are dat fincess, no? Choo lookey like her. Ches ches choo der are dat fincess!
My heart sunk and fell in my soul as I watched her. I shook my head at her emphatically and smiled to her. I had to think of something fast to get out of this predicament. Perhaps she had drank way to much and lived in a world of delusion. Either way, my mind was racing with a quick answer to her accusations.
"No ma'am. I am not the Princess, though thank you for your kind words. Your daughter is a very beautiful young lady. She is the Princess my dear lady."
I had to think of something, and I hoped against hope that this would work. I watched her as she looked down on the young girl who was blinking her eyes awake and her small gasp and wide-eyed look to her mother was quickly quieted as her mother spoke again.
"She be purdy ches'm she iz. Choo needy clothes huh? Choo clothes lookey nice and purdy to meez. Meez could feed meez bebe and meez fer a moonth on dat der dress of yerz."
An idea formed in my mind as I listened to the woman. Golden eyes quickly glanced around the alleyway. I told the woman and child that I'd return shortly. Quick steps took me to the alley entrance and I looked that way and the other, and finally saw what I was lookin for. I quickly returned to the child and mother, a smile on my face.
"Come with me ma'am. You and your daughter. There is an Inn up the road a bit. I will give you room and food for the night. I need to find my way my dear lady. Stay with me for the night, your child and you. Tell me the ways of the world and I will give you my dress and enough money to feed your daughter and you for a month. Please my dear lady. I will be forever in your debt."
I watched as the woman's eyes widened at my words. The young girl tugged on her mothers dress.
"Meme peez Iz ungry. Meme. Go? We go Meme?"
The woman hushed the young girl and then turned her eyes to me, squinting at me through the dark of the night.
"We go wit choo lady. Choo be true to yer wordz else Aisha be mad mad woman. Meez bebe iz ungry. Choo feed meez bebe first den we talk lady."
When we entered the small Inn, we were greeted with warmth and vibrant lighting. It was quell to what I was accustomed too, but I was not going to complain. I was...free at last. Free of the chains that had bound me from birth and a feeling I could not explain soared through me. We must have made an interesting trio to the Inn Keeper, I could see him wrinkle his nose and turn it up to us as we approached the desk. The mother decided to stay back against a wall, but the little girl hugged my legs close and approached the desk with me.
"Welcome to the Hampton Inn! Where the rooms are inviting and the service is warm!"
I could immediately tell that the Inn Keeper was not at all that pleased with our appearances, and realization coursed through me. No longer would I recieve the treatment of royalty, no longer would I be kept on a pedastool. I would have to fight for what I believed in, I would have to fight for what was right. I grinned and offered him my best smile.
"Goodevening to you Sir! We are in need of two rooms, adjoining if you have the vacancies and if not, then two separate will do fine. We are also in need of the washing services as well as food for our stomachs. Would you be willing to assist us, good Sir?"
I watched the man behind the desk seem to dance around the topic and question I had posed to him. Inside I began to become fearful and restless, afraid that either he would recognize me or he would deny us room and board for the night. My heart sank to my feet in relief when I heard him speak again.
"I'm sorry dear Lady but I've only the non-adjoining rooms this evening, which will be less costly to you and your guests. As for the washing services and the food, I can definately accomodate you until you are well pleased."
I was so greatful that I felt that I could almost hug the man as he showed us quickly to our rooms, they were one room apart and very spacious for the quaintness of the Inn.
"We will have our clothing ready within moments for the washing service Sir. For food, please bring whatever is convientient for you at this hour. Perhaps some warm breads and a thick, hearty stew?"
"Of course my dear lady."
I closed the door quietly towards the retreating Inn Keeper and turned towards the two other women.
"We need to remove our clothes and wrap in bedding so that our clothing may be tended to. Upon the return of our clothing I will give the young girl's hers back and you my dear lady will have the gown I am wearing in pristine condition. For which in turn I will take your clothes. Our dinner will be brought to us shortly as well, in the mean time I suggest a warm bath for us all."
I was a free woman...free of the chains that had bound me from birth. I was my own person, but who was that? All my life I had been raised as a Princess, heir to the throne that would one day be mine. No one had ever asked if I wanted to be Queen, no one cared. It was my blood, my duty to my lands.
I sank beneath the hot waters until I could sustain my breath no longer and rose, dripping wet, golden eyes moved to the half open window. A smile was on my face. The stark realization that I was standing naked before a half open window did not even startle me as I wrapped my arms around my breasts and looked outside the window. I was free at last, lest someone recognize me and call foul to the facade I was to play. I would travel to a land far far away from here, away from all who would ever have known me, that would be the only way.
Unlike my Mother, I chose freedom and my heart, though which through matters of the heart I had no clue. I would learn though, I had always been a fast learner. I was taught the ways of Royalty, taught the magics of the lands, taught to wield a blade if I must...I was an educated woman by far, though who exactly I was beyond the Palace walls was yet to be determined.
The harsh knocking on the door jarred me from my deep thoughts as I turned towards it.
"Your dinner is ready Lady. It waits for you upon the cart just outside your door. Please do not hesitate to call if you require anything else. Your wash will be returned by sunrise."
I heard his retreating footsteps and merely smiled to myself as I stepped from the wash basin, drying myself with a brisk cotton towel and then quickly making a simple toga from the extra sheets that I had requested. Quick steps brought me before the mirror, hope held high in my heart that now that I was clean, without the grime of the tunnel of freedom that my new companions would not recognize me. I quickly ran the courtesy brush through my damp crimson curls and tied them back with a fresh, simple ribbon and left my room to fetch my companions.
I was greeted by the younger girl, a brilliant smile on her face. She was quite the pretty young girl when she was bathed and clean. Golden blonde hair, and the gentle hazel eyes of curiousity. Her skin was fair as that of her mother. The mother had tried to fashion a child sized toga from the bigger bedding but it was ill at hope as I watched as the small girl tried vainly to not trip while walking. Golden eyes lifted to see the woman who would be the key to my freedom, lest she see recognition in my eyes, her own skin fair, her eyes a compelling brown, her hair was auburn and it fell below her shoulders. She was a remarkably beautiful woman as well without the muck of the alleys upon her face. I offered a warm smile to the pair as I spoke.
"I hope that the bath helped to wash some of the sadness I saw in your eyes earlier, as well as the fear that lays in your heart of me Ma'am. I mean you and your child no harm. I am merely seeking assistance from you. I hope that by which you are standing, you see that the words I speak are truth. Our dinner is ready Ma'am, if you will follow me to my room, we can sup together."
Aisha and her young daughter followed me to my room, where I found no set table and fine china to dine on. It was an old wood table, beaten and weathered with age. Chipped and tattered silverware by which we were to eat by, and this alone caused a smile to turn my lips. I laid out that which the kind Inn Keeper had brought to us and was quite delighted with what I had found. On the simple cart, he had laid a tray of fresh fruits and cheeses, a variety of warm breads, though slightly stale. He had what seemed to be an endless bowl of a thick and hearty chowder, a smaller platter of sweets as well as a medium sized platter of steamed vegetables and meats. I watched Aisha and the girl's eyes widen in utter surprise at the meal that was set out before them. What I did not realize in my ill teachings at the Palace, is that the meal that was set out before them, was indeed a feast of rare occurences.
Aisha was the first to speak as her facial features took on a skeptical visage and turned towards me.
"Choo eat first. I not stoopid like da others. Aisha no there be evils in da world. Choo eat first, so Aisha no iz ok."
I tried to hide a small hint of a laugh at the words from the woman. I had thought that only Royalty were to be poisoned by way of food. I was wrong indeed again, as I smiled and quickly took a bite of the bread after being dipped in the hearty chowder, chewing slowly and savoring the bitter taste of the creamy earth colored liquid. Aftewards, I spooned up a bit of the chowder and brought it to my lips and tasted it's flavorings. It was different than that which I had been raised on all my life, yet wonderful at the same time. After swallowing my second bite, Aisha seemed satisfied enough that the food was safe. To imagine, all my life, others had sampled my food as well. Since I was a babe at my mother's breast, someone had always had to make sure the food was pure before it could ever pass my lips. I smiled inwardly as I watched Aisha and the young girl eat their fill. I picked as a bird at my dinner. I ate only that which I had to, to keep my energy for my journey ahead. I was full enough, watching the two ladies before me. The smile and laughter that I soon learned were few and far between in them.
Goosebumps rose on my flesh as I listened to Aisha regail her tale to me. Tears welled and threatned to spill over as I shook my head and looked out towards the window. The night was quiet, there was no clank and hourly knockings of the Palace Guards at my Chamber doors. There was nothing but silence outside and the laughter and smiles of the woman and child before me. I swallowed hard and leaned forward to sip from the cup that held the chilled juice, leaning back with it cradled in my hands.
"Now now Lady, no need to be sad fer Aisha. Aisha jus fine an da girl be fine too. But tell Aisha, what of choo Lady? Who are choo? Aisha tell choo her story. Choo now, choo now tell Aisha an girl bout choo. Why Aisha help choo? Who are choo hidin from Lady?"
I blinked a bit and looked at Aisha and Amanda. My conscious within started to turn with turmoil. What was I to do? I could not very well deny the very woman that would be the key in my freedom, nor could I tell her the truth. I had never lied a day in my life, I could not lie. Lying was not who I was. I had been taught all my life, that to lie would be cause for death...at least that was behind the Palace walls, but here...I was not. I took a deep breath as the proverbial wheels in my mind began to weave a tale half fiction and half non fiction. Smiling I nodded to her.
"Very well Aisha. It is only fair that I as well tell you of my own tale. I simply wish to leave these lands as quick as possible. Preferably by nightfall of the next evening."
I was quickly interrupted by piercing eyes quite near to my face as Aisha studied me. Chowder dripping from the corner of my mouth. I could not help but to start backwards a touch at the intrustion.
"Choo name Lady. Choo name. Tell Aisha choo name. Choo say choo are not that fincess, but Aisha no. Tell me Lady."
My very being began to shake in the presence of this woman as she attempted to call out the facade I had only began to star in. Though I swallowed hard and held my ground, light laughter breaking the moments of uneasy silence.
"Lady Aisha, I could never be a Princess. My name is Elise. My reasons for leaving in such haste is because my father is ill and I must travel to different lands to fetch a cure that might help him in his recovery."
It was quick, it was short and fast thought as I looked deep into Aisha's eyes. My entire body trembled as I silently willed within for her to settle back and resume her sup and believe my fast thought tale of woe. It seemed like hours before Aisha finally nodded her approval and sat back on her legs to finish her sup. The little one had remained silent, though I could see that she was still eating her fill of her sup. I smiled at that as I watched her. I turned my focus back on Aisha as the night grew later and I grew weary of company, but I pushed on for the information must be fulfilled this night if I were to leave by nightfall of the next.
"Tell me Aisha, is there a land that I could travel too that perhaps might fetch a cure for my ill father? Where can I find simple clothing such as that which you wear in the morning when the sun rises. I need of answers dear lady and then your rest will be sweet."
It seemed to me that the two would never cease their sup until every morsel of the delictable meal was gone from the table. Though indeed I was privy to that which I had asked of. Aisha told me of a land that was three days travel from here. Perfect I thought to myself. No one there would ever have means to know whom I was. She said that there was a clothing shop three streets over that opens well before dawn in the morns and the seamstress was always open to newer patrons. I was singing inside as my plans were coming to fashion. Now the last of the plans would be a means of escape. Three days travel would make for a week on foot. Though I didn't even have to pose question as Aisha continued on and told me that there was a carriage service that went out ever three days towards Rhydin and returned three days later. Excellent I thought to myself! The sound of light snoring filled my ears and I turned my gaze from Aisha to Amanda, whom had fallen fast asleep on the floor by the table. Without a word or comment of thanks, Aisha scooped up her daughter and left my room that night. I took a deep breath, by midday perhaps even I would be gone from these lands and I would look back not on who I once was.
That night, again I slept very little and rose when I heard rustling outside my door. Our clothes had been returned to as promised, before dawn. I looked out the window, by the tell of the moon, dawn was not far away. Aisha had said the clothing shop opened even before dawn. I nodded to myself as I slipped outside the doors and retrieved what was to be Aisha's package of simple clothing. I slipped into the simple, worn garbs and smiled at the reflection in the mirror. Inside the wrappings I left as I had promised the woman, enough gold for a months worth of food, board and bed for her and the girl. My heart saddened at the thought of leaving them. What would become of them. I could only hope the best for them both. Then I thought better of it. I quickly grabbed the quill and vial of ink and a few pieces of parchment and penned a quick letter to Aisha. I could only hope that Aisha was educated enough to be able to read my work.
"My dear Aisha and Amanda. I leave you this note only because you have been so kind to me. My conscious even now turns in turmoil from decieving you. In less than a week I am sure, perhaps even by the morning light. There will be flyers circulating the town due to the disappearance of the Princess from the Palace. I assure you if you take this ring to the Palace and ask for Keel, he is one of my childhood guards. He will know that I indeed sent you and it was not that of foul play. He will reward you in kind my dear Lady. Any that which you should ask for shall be yours and your daughters. I have left more than enough gold to care for your expenses for the next six months. That which the Palace shall issue you shall take care of you for far longer. No one must ever know Aisha, no one must ever know for it is key to my survival. I thank you my dear lady for your assisance in my escape. I know my secret will always be safe with you.
I nodded to myself as I rolled the parchment together and then fashioned it with the wax and seal of the Palace, along the ribbon sparkled the family ring that I had been wearing around my neck since birth. Leaving it atop the packages of clothing for Aisha and Amanda.
I laughed softly and quickly fled the Inn, leaving payment on the desk for the Inn Keeper.
I had managed to escape the gates of Tearana and leave it well behind me, quite luckily, as I had thought it would have proven to be more fitful than it had been. My stomach growled towards me, as it had been three days since my last meal with Aisha and Amanda and though food was not the first on my mind, I felt the weakness pull at my body and knew that I must answer it's call, lest illness befall me worse. Above the flow of people and shoutings and noises of the streets, I could not make out any Inn or Tavern of the such to where I could find sleep for the night and a warm meal to quell the stirrings in my stomach. Though then again, I was so compelled with everything that was going on around me, I was not looking all that hard either. I took a deep breath and continued to watch these Rhydinian people for what seemed like hours, which in reality was only about half an hour before I decided to give the flyers a glance about. I was ecstatic with the words on the paper, which led me to quickly glance at the other paper as well. Golden eyes went wide with what I read on these simple colorful flyers and I stood from the bench, glancing frantically around for this place called, "Red Dragon Inn."
Crimson curls bounced here and there as I took off at a slow run, or perhaps more of a jog and followed this path and that path for about an hour it seemed I was making progress, when again I found myself in the middle of Rhydin Proper and the same two young men were handing out their flyers. I pursed my lips, glancing around once again. I stomped my foot like a child throwing a tantrum. I was so sure that I had been near the establishment, but I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere, for I had done nothing but rounded my path to where I had begun. Slow steps brought me towards the blonder of the young men as I softly inquired to him of where abouts exactly was this fabled Inn and he whispered to his companion and before I knew it he had grabbed my hand and was quite literally dragging me through the streets of Rhydin. He ducked his head full long as he weaved his way in and out of the stream of flowing people, out and around the various carts set out along the street, he lead me, gripping my hand quite tightly as he turned this way and that way and back stepped once or twice before taking off at full light once again. Quite breathless when he finally came to a halt, his cheeks were of the brightest red as I would assume mine were too as he pointed to the sign triumphantly. I smiled to him, a smile of gratitude and much thanks as I dug in my pocket for a few gold to reward him. Palming the coins I outstretched my hand to him, verbally thanking him, when suddenly he was gone again before I could even give him the coins or properly thank him. Quite the odd beings these Rhydinian's were I thought to myself as I stepped through the door to the Inn.
My first night within the Arena was quite interesting as the official and his friend were quite verbal on their assumptions of myself, though at the time I chose to ignore their snide comments and focus on the match at hand. I was very well versed in the use of a blade, though my battered broad sword was much on the verge of breaking. The man that I came to know they called "Max" was very kind in heart, or so it seemed to mine own eyes as I dueled with him and spoke of idle chit chat. I believe strongly if it weren't for him chiding me to speak during our encounter, I probably would not have spoken much at all that night, for the fear wrought in my heart and soul still had me shaking to my very core. The fear of discovery, non-acceptance and failure weighed heavy on my mind. There was also a verbal confrontation that night, that in the next days to come proved to be very intriguing as the man they called Artemus spoke of a love that he'd soon lost that had made him the ill-tempered man that he is today. Not less than a week later would that man offer me a job and a place for me to stay.
Quite intriguing were my findings of the Rhydinian people and the creatures held within these lands. There was one though who took a fancy to me, and I had to admit, he made my heart flutter a few times. I would not speak of love, for love I do not know of, but I can be honest and tell one that he has brought to light several different aspects of my being. He's become my friend and my companion in my walk within freedom. I cannot imagine my days or my nights without him now. How odd that would prove to be. I had thought over the job that Artemus had offered me for a couple of days and had come to a conclusion that I would accept his offer of employment and a place to live. By all means I would not wish to embellish in the small fortune I had taken with me in my flee from Tearana, so in finding work and a place of temporary housing, this would prove wise and fruitful for my future security.
During the days I would work as a hired hand at the Keep, overseeing the paperwork and staff of the Keep. In return Artemus had agreed to my wages and offered me and Random both a place to lay our heads at night. To me things were going perfectly. I was fitting in, in this strange new land, finding friends, and perhaps...even that love that so many had spoken kindly of back in Tearana, the love my mother and my family had never been privy to because of our bloodline. Things were going all to perfectly, things were finally falling into place.
I closed up the Kurgen Office for the day and stretched languidly. Amidst thoughts and paperwork, my edge to duel had called to me. I slipped out of the gates of the Keep and headed over towards the Arena, for a night of relaxation, laughter and good training, but what I found that night, was not to be expected in the very least.
The next shipment of mythril was due to arrive in a matter of days and he still had to print up the inventory list for Cadence to go over. "Since hiring her, I seem to have more work than before." He chided himself jokingly. " Work...oh! that reminds me" Smiling briefly he tapped on the window of the office and waved at Cadence when she looked up and walked away, not wanting to bother her for too long. Moving up the stairs he headed for his 6th floor appartments.
Headmaster of Arcanum Academy
Proprietor of Dark Wolf and Leopard Jewelers.
"Do I get your whore for the night if I win?"
I turned my gaze towards the Dark Elf, leveling my gaze with him as he spoke, and I promptly saw Random's hand slap the Vampire across his face. I had never been one for random acts of violent, but to me, he'd well deserved what he had recieved. Though a moments fear swept through me of what would become of Random, instead I saw the Dark Vampiric Elf make his way towards me. His movements were quicker than I had anticipated as I felt his hand smack me hard on the left side of my face, my lip split and I tasted the blood in the back of my throat. As calmly as I could I turned and returned that level gaze towards the Dark Vampiric Elf, they called Vanion. My voice remained calm, though if any were keen of eye I was shaking beyond anger, beyond fear as I spoke. "If you ever put your hands on me again, you will pay dearly for it." I heard Random's voice ever so faintly as the anger within my body roared through my being, it sounded much like the ocean roaring in my mind.
"He already is."
I could hear people talking in the Arena, I could feel the looks that they were giving me as well as Vanion. Though it was Vanion's lifeless voice that drew me from my state of comatose thinking.
"Oh, a threat? And I am so sure you are capable of backing it up"
His voice was soft, but lifeless and the laugh afterwards caused my nerves to cringe just that little more. How dare he chide me after slapping me in the face. How dare he assault me! I remained as calm as I could as I answered him, bringing the back of my left hand to my lip and gently wiping at the trickle of blood. "It is not a threat, it is a promise." Though the Dark Vampiric Elf, would say not much more to me as of yet. I felt Artemus' hand on my shoulder, though ever so vaguely even remembering him voicing something to me, but what I heard and what I knew was that I needed to shed blood. I needed to exert the adrenaline coursing through my slender body and I accepted a duel from a man in a mask, hoping it would quell the flow of anger within my body. Being as naive as I was, I heard not the warning that Artemus issued and Random, himself was busy tending to his own duel with that vile creature Vanion.
The duel between me and the masked one commenced and I would have to admit he was a strange one. He made me very wary of him. I could not discern what type of creature he actually was. The duel had progressed and surprisingly in my anger and adrenaline rush, I was winning sufficely, then there was a sickening pop within the ring and I looked towards my opponent and saw what resembled snakes, the color of blood appearing from his sleeves. I had not much time to think over matters before he spoke to me, his very voice chilling me to the bone. There was something wrong about this man, this creature, this being for me. He seemed to emit pure evil.
"Guard your soul, little one...and run as soon as you leave this ring...You were warned. Your future rests in your own hands now..."
Using a simple portal spell I had learned I appeared in a shadowed corner. With a simple glance I saw Hantei Daigotsu and the nice woman, Cadence, dueling. That was it, that was where I sensed the pure evil. Moving to Daigotsu's ring I wondered what I would do. I had learned a lot of magic and strengthened my powers, but nothing as great as this man. Cadence was winning, and that eased me somewhat, but what would Hantei do to her?
She waved to me, but I still worried. I curtsied politely to Cadence, but never removed my sight from that man. His aura was pure black with strings of crimson red. Cadence on the other hand was a white, and very white blue aura. The first man I had seen after casting that forbidden spell arrived. He seemed to command respect just by his presence, and so I curtsied low to him.
"Glad to see you did not flee this time," he chuckled.
There were drops of blooding raining in the ring. I knew this should not touch anyone so pure as Cadence, and so I worked the aether into a shield around her. It would not affect the duel, but it would protect her from any magical attempt to harm her. That's what I hoped any way. She was weak, and so I worked a second stream of magic to heal her. The wards did not seem to help any, and I was very worried.
I poured all my energy into the barrier save for the reserve I kept in case of emergency. While healing and protecting her I watched Hantei for any movement. Seeing his tendrils leap out at her I immediately set up a third barrier in front of them. I began to tremble; this was taking too much concentration. Cadence won the duel, but I knew Hantei wouldn't stop there.
To my surprise he let lose a tendril towards me. I deflected the tendril at the same time as the man beside me. He looked at me, instructing me to heal Cadence further. I refocused on her and let Hantei dwindle from sight. When Daigotsu was surrounded by a dozen men, all dressed in robes of his style my focus wavered.
Another man came right behind me and I felt the blade slice through my chest. I winced and I knew the pain would remain for the blade seethed with evil. Letting the reserve take place the wound closed slowly. I realized then what a true asset being magical was. Cadence ran to hide behind something and I concentrated on her.
"You all have no idea what you are toying with. None of you know what it is to have true unity...and that is why you will never succeed against me" Hantei's words put fear into my heart. "My Blood speakers are loyal beyond your comprehension...they serve me to the very end." Hantei's spirit flared again as the Rain of Blood grew to cover the entire Arena. "The very end..." With that, the Blood speakers remaining in the ring finished their ritual, all ten bodies simply exploding in a bloody mist, sending organs and bone shrapnel in all directions.
I trembled slightly hearing his words and being very scared. It was time to leave, but I had to take care of Cadence. I created a simple evacuation portal for Cadence to go through. Cadence tried to take me with her but I could not support us both and so the portal collapse. My eyes grew wide with fear as I saw Hantei's spirit leap from his body, move towards Cadence, circle around and then he vanished with two followers. It was black all around as another being placed the arena in a pure darkness.
Shaking violently I could not do anything as the Drow who had stabbed me put an iron grip on Cadence. With a flash of light they were both gone, the pure energy I had aimed at him passing through an empty space. Moving quickly I tried to trace where they went.
"Can you follow them?"
I didn't now if I could or couldn't but I was going to try. I felt the trace and nodded to the man called Artemus. Opening a portal I went through trying to find them. I sensed him behind me as I followed a path of aether. I could feel myself weakening and I was becoming lost and confused. The man was no longer with me and I didn't know where to go.
Returning to the arena I was exhausted. This had been a chaotic night and it wasn't over yet. Seeing Hantei's faint outline I stiffened. He was still here. He matched my gaze but I didn't move a muscle. I wasn't going to run, not yet.
Crouching down slowly he offered a hand to me. I looked at it but did not accept. He was not one to be trusted. Backing away slowly I awaited for him to release his spirit.
He raised the hand and slowly removed his porcelain mask. "Fear shows weakness, and there is no place for that in this world." He spoke sternly, and his features clearly spoke of royalty.
The man who had placed the arena in darkness originally offered me his hand; I looked from on to the other. Standing firmly I looked at Hantei and then moved forward bravely till I was just out of his grasp. I would not show fear!
It wasn't long before I realized my stupidity, a blood tendril lashed out and wrapped tightly around my arm. I used the last of my reserve to attack the tendril with a magical fire. "I spared you once, child and expected you to not interfere." The tendril was released and he looked at me for the last time that night. "As I told the other...your life is in your own hands."
I returned to the Dojo frightened, weak, and hungry. I looked at where I had been stabbed and saw the wound had opened. My last magical reserves were gone and I could no longer continue to heal myself. Grabbing a cloth I pressed tightly on the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. I’m not sure what happened afterwards, but I made a final resolve to not leave the Dojo alone.
((Cross-Posted in Silence))
Ward of Xenograg
From nowhere it seemed, this rain of blood cascaded down onto me and the masked man inside the ring. It had fallen so that the floor within the ring was slick with it's masses. I again looked skywards, but could not find an answer to this rain of blood that had stained my once white silk shirt with it's kiss. I was clearly perturbed by this, and this alone caused me to pale even more so. I had read fabled legends of such things, though had never paid much mind, as I was protected by Tearana and her prowess. I blinked several times, nothing but evil emanated from this creature. But was I not protected within the wards of the ring? It was quick and sudden that I felt the warmth of magic work around me, I could not discern exactly what it had been at that very moment, but the feint traces of an aether shield danced around me, as the droplets of blood slid down it's protection. Who though? I knew not many in this place that would risk their own powers to help me. I noticed the masked one was not happy with this change of events. I took a brief moment to look over my shoulder to see Mystic and Artemus together, the child was chanting and I knew then who was protecting me. I did not have much time to ponder on this matter as the duel was yet over, for in crouching low to steal this glance, I felt the sting of the masked one's blade. His voice caused me to shudder once again and stumble backwards from him, from it, from whatever evil he was.
"Stand up straight, child. Do not be frightened, it doesn't take long..."
Frightened? I was beyond frightened, but my hard trainging and proper upbringing caused me to ignore the fright that danced through my veins as I leveled my gaze with the creature in the ring with me. I was trying desperately to end the duel, win, lose or tie, I did not care. I just wanted as far away as possible from this being in the ring with me. It was at the last moment that I deflected his blade from my body, securing the win, but it was to late for me to see the blood snake-like objects slithering quickly towards me. I felt the presence of magic once again as the tendrils slammed into a second aether shield worked by Mystic. The duel was over and I had remembered the warning the masked man had issued, but I had never run from anything in my life, but this this was beyond me and beyond anything I had ever known. Utter chaos began to break out. I was trying ever so carefully to scramble from the bounds of the ring and due to the "Blood Rain," kept finding myself on the floor of the Arena.
I heard Artemus' warning, more of an order of anything, which finally snapped me from my panic to try and think more clearly now.
"Cadence...get out of here..."
I gathered some sense about me and scrambled safely behind a very large something. My breathing was rapid and shallow, I was quite pale and quite weak. Confused and startled, I had no clue what the hell was going on. I finally found the strength to stand, though was supported by what seemed to be an old ragged couch that had been bronzed, golden gaze looked towards the door, but it had been bloocked by Daigotsu's henchmen. There was no means of escape for me. Panic again began to wrench at my heart as the rain of blood began to encompass the entire Arena. I saw the small porthole Mystic had opened and I glanced quickly between her and the porthole, I summoned everything that was left in me, and I ran full speed towards the girl, scooping her up and making way for the porthole, but it was to late.
The porthole closed, and it felt as if I had slammed into a wall. I felt the presence of great evil all around me once again. I did not know where Mystic ended up, my own thoughts were that the child had crawled away to find shelter from the chaos that rained this night. I was very disoriented and then it was to late. I opened my eyes trying to find my way in the Arena, but I could see nothing. I could feel the warmth of the blood that rained down from skywards, but someone had a death grip on my body. It was growing hard to breathe, it was so dark, so cold. The voices all began to meld as one, and then suddenly a bright light, silence and then darkness...
How much time had passed?
Where was I?
Who had taken me?
What were they planning to do with me?
I could not recall much of my journey to this place where I was now being held captive. I was bound, my entire body was binded to whatever surface this was, or even if it were a surface. There was the steady drip of water somewhere nearby, but that was the only other noise, aside from my heartbeat and own breath there was naught but silence. I could not move. Fear like I had never known until this night coursed through my body once again as I tried in vain to wiggle my way free of the binds that held me still, but it was to no avail that I would succeed. My mind was racing alongside of my heart, I was afraid...for the first time in my life I feared for my very breath that I breathed. What I wouldn't give to hear Keel's voice right now...then a startling thought brought me away from those times...What had become of Random, Mystic and Artemus. They had tried to save me, tried to protect me from my own fate this night, but I had been brask and had braved myself to try and save Mystic, when in fact, my heart dreads that instead I've only brought harm to them all. What was I to do now? How many more were wounded this night? I was to blame for the chaos that rained this night, there was no other explanation that I could come up with.
I had to escape, somehow I had to escape.
The little magical prowess that I was gifted with, I was very adept and attuned with, though within the walls of Tearana, I had only merely used them in training to strengthen my abilities. I had never been privy to a position where I would actually have to use them to save my life. I closed my eyes and slowly began to let my mind come to some form of meditation, I tried to let my telepathic abilites reach out to anyone who could recieve the messages, but I found quickly that all I was to recieve for my troubles was nothing but an excruciating headache...this was indeed odd and troubling to me. I had always been able to use my telepathic powers, perhaps I had not focused enough. So again I tried to outstretch my mind's eye, but again I found myself thrown back into my body. Something was terribly wrong, other than the predicament I was in...someone or something was blocking my magical powers.
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