Summary: Drucen had only one simple task to complete for his brother. To find Emmora, the lost fabled village of Terithiea, kidnap the youngest child of the Warden and wait for the ransom to be paid. But what he didn't count on was being attacked by thieves and left for dead. Nor did he count on people of Emmora finding him and holding him prisoner in the dungeons. Now he must take the risk of simulating a friendship a child of the Warden in order to steal her away from her beloved home. But what happens when his friendship becomes more than just a fabrication and the need for the ransom becomes greater than he anticipated?

Chapter 1

Folly. Nothing but sheer folly. That's what it was.

Drucen looked up through the falling rain drumming ominously, echoing like tiny footsteps sprinting through the empty woods. Against the coming ashen clouds, the moon shone brightly, grinning wickedly down at the world below. One large grinning full eye. Drucen felt a shiver creep down his spine. He didn't like the prospects of this at all. Especially with the torrents of rain hammering down on his chilled skin.

"Ash of hell," he cursed silently under his breath as he willed his body to climb the steep slick muddy hill. An impossible task with the extra burden from his pack weighing him down. The man swore as his foot slipped again. His hand shot out to catch the loose thin branches of the nearest tree…only to have the tenuous branch snap from the force of his weight.

He cried out as his body flew down hill before coming to a halt, slamming hard into a sturdy tree.

Pain lanced through his head as skin and bone connected with bark and tree. Sliding down the length of the tree, he fought to breathe through aching lungs, wheezing like a mortally sick man in his deathbed. Drucen shuddered and closed his eyes momentarily against the pain, reminding himself again why he was here.

Cursed brother, he thought miserably. Why his brother sent him to find that fabled village of half-breed Demons, he wish to the gods he did not know. But fate was rarely on his side. The man sighed, leaning his head against the tree, allowing the cool rain to ease the pain.

"I must be an utter dupe to have believed Vincint," he chastised himself quietly. What fool would believe Emmora exists? You may be the Lord of the Lithian Province, but you certainly are not of the omniscient, he cursed his elder brother inwardly.

From his pocket, he produced a leather map given to him by his brother, Vincint. In the heart of the northern woods, the very woods he rest as of this moment, was a large X. Drucen sighed and began rambling silently again. And even if I did find that cursed Emmora, who's to say I'll be able to even…

A sudden portentous snap of a branch broke his train of thought and his eyes snapped open, blurred briefly by the rain. He shook his head, sending droplets everywhere and cleared his eyes. There wasn't a single soul in sight. He listened harder. Only sounds of rain pulsing in an eerie cadence met his ears. Shrugging, Drucen stood up, deeming it safe. Perhaps it was a mere animal and nothing more. Hopefully.

But before he could lift a single limb, he heard a audible crunching of underbrush to his left and a man curse crudely. With a single fluid motion, he turned, drawing his rapier from the sheath and holding it deftly in his right hand.

"I know you're there," he shouted into the dark shadows of the forest. His eyes drifted across the shadows, looking for the aberration. He narrowed his eyes.

Then he heard it before he saw it. A burly man rushing out from the shadows, bearing a heft ax in one hand. Drucen swallowed hard as his eyes watched the ax arch high above the man's head and nearly severing Drucen's arm as he dodged the sharp metal, throwing the pack off his shoulders quickly. He regained his balance and looked for the man again, readying his blade. But how in hell's bells was his narrow rapier going to parry something as massive as that ax?

However,where one man stood, a group of five appeared. Five conniving thieves, no doubt. Drucen swallowed down his fear. There was no denying it death when he saw it. He didn't have much time to react the moment he realized the odds were against him as he felt a single arrow pierce his skin, right below the collar bone.

But even as he laid there with the world turning gray, he heard one of them snicker.

"Hah. Knew it. He's one of them nobles. Bet he's got lots of gold on him."

He heard another voice whine, "Aw, but you could've at least let me have a bit of fun with him."

The first man spoke again. "No, not this time. Besides, we did as Daevon told us to…"

If they spoke any more, Drucen didn't hear it. Not as the world faded away, leaving him to deal with the calling of death through hell's bells alone.

A/N: Laura Barton, LOTRMS, andLaDameNoir, thank you so much for pointing out my errors! I really appreciated it. Apparently, I'm not the greatest when it comes to finding my own mistakes.