The streets were dark except for the orangish glow cast by the lamps that lined the edge of the road. Although it was dark, it was only around six in the evening, but being the winter season, it often became darker early and the streets often were deserted by the time darkness fell. Four figures walked through the darkness towards the Lexing bank. Three out of the four were men, two of them wearing the crimson uniform of the Royal Guard, who stood on the outside of the two in the middle. The third man was well-dressed, wearing a business-like suit, carrying an air of importance about him. The fourth member of the group was a young girl, aged eleven, who clung tightly to the hand of the man in the suit. Her long, golden-blonde hair was pulled back in two pig-tails, and the dress she wore was a typical princess style dress; pink, and frilly. The discomfort of wearing such an outfit was evident in the girl's face, as she continually tugged on the skirt of the dress.
They paused outside the bank, and the suited man turned to his daughter. "Jadethia, I want you to wait here with Malcolm. I have some business to attend to. I should not be too long."
Jadethia nodded, and the dark haired guard who stood beside her placed his hand protectively on the girl's shoulder. The suited man turned to the shorter, light haired guard on his left. "Travis, come with me."
"Yes Your Majesty," Travis responded, following the King into the dimly lit bank.
Jadethia looked around the streets in wonder, then glanced up at Malcolm. "Are the streets always this dead?"
Malcolm shook his head, and spoke with a thick Arabian accent. "Usually Little princess, the streets are filled with so many people that it is difficult to walk. The market is often bustling with many villagers, from close and far away."
"Malcolm, do you think daddy will let me come to Lexing during the day sometime?"
"Little Jade, I think that one day when you are older, your father will let you venture into the city." He grinned. "It is a beautiful sight, and the people are all loyal to your family."
The sound of approaching footsteps echoed through the street, and Malcolm tightened his grip on the princess' shoulder. He turned to face the direction which the sound came from.
The man who approached had a mischievous look about him; his hair was long and scraggly, and blacker than the midnight sky. His eyes were dark, darker than eyes should be even in dim lighting. His clothes were dirty, with dried blood stains across them, and the smirk that crossed his face shot chills up the young girl's spine.
"May I help you?" Malcolm asked the man, his free hand moving slowly towards the dagger which hung on his belt.
The man grinned revealing a gold tooth which reflected in the street light. He moved forward until he was only a few feet away from Malcolm and Jade. "Yes actually…" In a swift movement, he swung his leg around to kick Malcolm in the chest.
Malcolm however was prepared for the attack, and blocked it, drawing his dagger quickly. Jadethia let out a small whimper, and began to back away from the men, towards the bank. Her retreat was cut short as another man grabbed her and covered her mouth. She began to struggle against the man's grip, but there was not much the small girl could do against a man of his size. Her eyes flew wide in horror as she watched Malcolm and the other man.
Malcolm had advanced on his attacker, but the man was quicker than he thought. Another swift kick knocked Malcolm backwards, but he recovered quickly. He jabbed at the man with his knife, catching him in the bicep of his left arm. The man growled and instantly brought up his knee into Malcolm's groin as hard as he could. Malcolm dropped to his knees from the sudden intense pain which spread through his body. He swung at his attacker again with the knife, but the man, now having the advantage, stepped aside, and grabbed Malcolm's wrist tightly. They began to struggle, Malcolm getting in one good shot with his free hand and the man's groin. The man dropped to his knees as well, and Malcolm lunged forward.
They began to roll around on the ground, the man's hand still clutching Malcolm's wrist. The struggle now was for the knife. Jade closed her eyes tightly, she couldn't bear to watch. After what seemed like forever, with the fight still going on, Jade forced herself to look. Bad choice on her part, for at that instant, the attacker managed to twist the knife out of Malcolm's grip, and stabbed him multiple times in the chest.
Malcolm's eyes flew wide open in surprise as the life drained quickly from him. Jade tried to scream, but the other man's hand muffled any attempts she made. She watched in horror as Malcolm's body went limp, and death overtook him.
With an evil grin, the attacker turned to his accomplice and the princess. "Bryant, get rid of the Guard's body fast." He paused, looking Jade slowly up and down, the smirk returning to his face, "Me'n the girl are going to have some fun."
Jade's eyes widened again in terror as the man approached. Bryant tightened his hold on her as she began to struggle again.
"Jacks, you sure it's smart to mess with the King's kid?" Bryant asked warily.
Jacks looked sharply at Bryant. "If you question me again, you will secure yourself a fate similar to his." He nodded towards Malcolm. Bryant nodded slowly and closed his mouth. Jacks pulled Malcolm's blood stained knife up to Jade's throat. "You're coming with me. If you attempt to scream or escape, I will slit your throat. Do you understand me?"
Jade nodded, tears filling her eyes. Her mind was screaming for her father to hurry up and finish in the bank, but she knew the cries of her mind would never reach him.
Grabbing her by the arm, Jacks pulled her away from Bryant, keeping the knife pressed against her throat. "Dispose of the guard. I'll meet you at the rendezvous point when I'm done with her." Bryant moved over towards Malcolm while Jacks began to lead Jade over towards an alley located a few buildings down on the other side of the street. Jade made no movement to struggle, afraid of what fate may await her if she attempted anything. Glancing around to make sure there were no witnesses in the streets, Jacks pushed Jade into the dark alley, and up against the wall, using his body to hold her still. His breaths were deep and heavy, and his eyes filled with an evil lust.
"Wh-what are you going to do to me?" Jade asked shakily, though she didn't need an answer to find out what his intentions were. Her body was rigid and stiff, and her mind was working overtime to try and figure a way out of the situation. The longer she could make him delay, the more opportunity she had to figure something out.
He licked his lips and ran his finger slowly up and down the young girl's arm. "You're going to be a beautiful woman one day…" he drawled, ignoring her comment. "For a girl of your age, you're already developing quite nicely." He moved his hand to her breasts, which though they weren't fully formed, were larger in size than most eleven year olds.
Jade began to shake, terror overtaking her. Her eyes searched ferociously for where he had placed the knife, and if he was still holding it. She spotted it attached to his side, and began plotting. If she acted quickly enough, she could have the advantage.
Jacks continued to feel his way around the young girl's body, sighing in ecstasy as he went along. "I normally do not claim so young a prize. But deflowering a princess before her coming of age; that's an accomplishment for any scoundrel to be proud of.
"Malcolm! Jadethia!" The King's shout echoed down the streets as he exited the bank.
Jacks froze, and looked out towards the street, worry flashing momentarily across his face.
Knowing this was her chance, Jade used his moment of distraction to bring her knee up to his groin as hard as she could. Though for a girl her size, she was unable to cause much damage, what she could do served its purpose. "DADDY!" she screamed loudly.
"Why you little…" Jacks growled as he dropped to his knees in pain. As he dropped, he reached for his knife, and pulled it out.
Jade let out a piercing scream as she felt the cold steel pierce through her flesh into her side. Her body began to go numb from the intense pain, and using her every last ounce of strength, she reached forward and scratched Jacks across the face. Everything began to spin, and she was fast becoming unaware of what was going on. She heard voices, someone call her name, and then everything went black.
For a few moments, nothing happened; everything remained silent and cold in the dark abyss. Then, silent at first, but soon filling her head, Jacks' evil laugh echoed from every direction. Footsteps followed the laugh, and a large figure began to emerge. Within moments, the figure was clearly in view, revealing Jacks. The gash in his cheek had now become a scar, and the badge he wore on his shoulder represented loyalty to Lord Voiran. "I'll have my way with you yet Princess," he sneered. "You can't run forever…"
I bolted upright in bed, covered in a cold sweat. I was surrounded by darkness, and panicked until I remembered where I was. As my eyes adjust to the lack of light I steadied my breathing. 'Calm down Jade… it was just a nightmare.'
"Jade?" Dath's voice called softly. "Are you alright?" He sat up in his own bed and I could see him looking in my direction.
"Yeah, I've just had a nightmare, that's all." I replied.
"Must have been some pretty rough nightmare. You were thrashing around like a madman. I'm surprised Eian slept through it." He paused, and the pull-out creaked as he climbed off and walked over to my bed.
I slid over and gave him some room to sit. "Eian will sleep through anything," I said quietly. My voice was shakier than I had hoped, and my breathing was still more rapid than normal.
Dath sat down and crossed his legs. He sighed, and stayed silent a moment, before speaking. "Eian said a man bearing your Uncle's crest recognized you in the crowd and grabbed you… he also told me you refused to tell him who it was."
I looked up at Dath in surprise. When had Eian had the chance to discuss this with him? I should have known in the arena that Eian would have seen through my lie though. But why hadn't he approached me about it again?
"He said you seemed petrified of this man, that he'd never seen you so scared in his life." Dath added before I had the chance to respond. "Was he the cause of your nightmare?"
A cold chill ran up my spine, and I hesitated before answering. If I started talking now, I knew Dath wouldn't leave me alone until I had told him everything. "Yeah…" Before I fully realized what I was doing, I spilled out the whole story to him. Every last detail from Malcolm's death, to Jacks' attempt to rape me, all the way to running into Jacks in the middle of the auditorium. Tears began to roll down my cheeks as I spoke, and for the first time, I couldn't stop them. Dath never spoke a single word as I talked, but listened intently. I was vaguely aware at some point during the story that his hand had taken hold of mine, and he was squeezing it reassuringly. It surprised me; Dath was never this sympathetic, it was something I never expected from him.
"The man is called Jacks," I said slowly, coming to the end of the story. "When he grabbed me in the crowd… he threatened that he would have his way with me when they catch us, and that he would make me regret what I did to him." As I finished the story, gazing down at the bed, I felt Dath's hand on my chin. He tilted my head up towards him, and smiled.
"He's going to have to get through both myself and Eian before there's even a chance of that happening," he promised.
Our eyes locked, and though it was for only a few seconds, it felt like an eternity. I looked away, and tried to cover up what had just happened with a joke. "I'm not too sure how great of a bodyguard Eian would make for me."
Dath laughed, and the look that had been in his eyes momentarily before was gone. Or had I imagined it altogether? I wasn't entirely sure what had just happened, but I was glad that it was quickly forgotten. I didn't like being confused, and it had definitely made me confused. "Well, I suppose if he had a sword in his hand you'd be alright," Dath added, breaking my thoughts.
I joined in the laughter, shoving the confusion to the back of my mind. Though Eian was an excellent swordsman, he lacked greatly in any other forms of combat, save for archery and jousting. But neither of those would really help much in a one-on-one attack by Jacks.
A growl emerged from where Eian slept as he rolled to face my bed and turned on the lamp. "If you two really feel the desire to get frisky in the middle of the night, please wait until I am not around!"
"UGH! I can't believe you would suggest such a thing!" I exclaimed, shoving away from Dath.
It was now Dath's turn to growl as he lunged at Eian. "You are so dead!"
"Ow! Dude get off of me!" Eian yelped, as Dath completely schooled him in the battle.
A loud bang echoed through the main level of the café. Someone had just come in the front door. "Guys, stop!" I said, motioning for them to be silent. They froze, and we all began to listen.
Micah's voice could be heard now, drifting in through the cellar door, as well as at least two other voices, both male. All was silent for a moment, then footsteps echoed from the kitchen above us.
"Look, there's no-one here but me," Micah was saying, a hint of annoyance in his voice.
"But you could be lying, and that wouldn't help us very much now would it?" The deeper of the two voiced growled. "Should we place you under arrest for failure to co-operate with an officer, or will you answer our questions and allow us to complete our search."
There was no doubt in my mind that these were Uncle's scumbags, out to find us and bring us in. Most likely lower level soldiers from his army, looking for an opportunity to elevate their position. I shivered and pulled the blankets tight around me. If Micah slipped up now, or they discovered the trap door, not only would Eian and I be strung up by morning, but Dath and Micah would have also secured themselves their own personal nooses.
"Search as much as you want," Micah replied calmly. "But you won't find anything. Why would I risk my life for people who never did anything for me?"
Ouch. Even though it was purely Micah playing along, the comment still stung. I couldn't help but wonder if that was possibly how some of Lorwald's citizens felt about the royal family.
"Don' get smart with us boy," the other man snarled. "Yer comin with us an' givin us a little tour o' the house, ya hear? I don' trust ya, an I ain't gonna give you any chances to run."
The footsteps faded out of range for us to hear through the door, and Eian sighed in relief. "That was close."
"It's not over yet," Dath replied quietly. "They'll eventually make their way back down to the kitchen and test for any secret doors, probably look under the rug if they're smart enough." As he spoke, he stood and examined the ceiling and the door.
"Won't the entire kitchen have a hollow sound to it then?" I asked, not sure what exactly he was trying to calculate.
Dath shook his head. "See how the ceiling is a thick layer of cement? That's why we could only hear sounds through the door. It prevents sound from coming into the room or up to the kitchen." He stopped underneath the door, and looked up. "The only thing we're going to have to worry about is the door. If we can muffle the sound from it, we might be safe."
"We'd be safe from hollow sound, but not them checking under the rug," I pointed out. Despite the fact that his idea was good, it still didn't ensure that we would not be discovered.
"I don't think they will check. You heard them talk, the one can't even speak properly. I doubt they'll lift up an old dusty rug that looks like it hasn't been moved in years." Dath was gathering blankets into his arms as he spoke. "Give me all the blankets we have. If we can wedge them tight enough to cover the door, it will at least muffle the sound for the most part."
I watched him move, impressed by his quick thinking. He worked quickly, instructing Eian for help when needed. Realizing that my blankets were the only ones left after a few moments, I was about to slide out from them, when I remembered my lack of pants. "Uhh, Eian, think you could maybe toss me my pants?"
Eian grimaced and tossed them at me. I wriggled around under the blankets in a desperate attempt to put them on. Putting on jeans while under a blanket is a lot more difficult than one would think. I paused momentarily to adjust the wedgie my underwear had decided to give me, then zipped up my jeans, then bundled up my blankets and took them to Dath. When he finished, he slowly climbed down the steps and returned to where Eian and I sat on the pull-out. The door had been our only way of knowing what was happening, and now that it was blocked off, we heard nothing. So we just sat there, waiting in silence.
I hate waiting and silence when combined. They always cause you to do the only thing you can do in those situations; think. Thinking always leads to the sudden snap-back to reality that you had been avoiding. At this particular moment of waiting in silence, it began to hit me how dangerous our mission was; how the chances of us succeeding were slim. It wasn't really that I had not been aware of any of this before, as it was impossible not to be aware of such a situation, I had just shoved the reality of it in the back of my mind. I had tucked it away, partially in an attempt to help me deal with what was happening.
I began to fidget nervously. The minutes seemed to drag by, and the silence was beginning to get on my nerves.
"I don't like this," Dath muttered, shifting his position. "If they figure out that door, we're screwed. Micah should have come down with the all clear by now." Immediately he stood and walked over to his bags, which had been there waiting for us when we had arrived. He opened up the larger one and pulled out a bow and full quiver, followed by two swords.
"Jade, hide behind the couch. If those goons come down here, I want you to shoot right away," he instructed as he tossed me the bow and the quiver. He handed one of the swords to Eian, and took the last one for himself. "Eian, take the far side of the cabinet. I'll take under the stairs."
I slung the quiver over my shoulder and crouched down behind the couch. There was barely enough room for one person behind it, and for once I was actually happy about my small size. I closed my eyes as I strung the bow, running my fingers along the arrow and each part, getting a feel for it. Archery had always been my area of expertise, and I had fast become the best archer in the Royal Militia. I was terrible with all other weapons, but put a bow and arrow in my hand, and I could hit any target.
A loud thump sounded from the door, and we readied ourselves. The door creaked open, and I could hear the blankets being pushed away.
"What are ya hidin here boy?" the soldier with bad grammar growled.
As the final blankets were pushed out of the way my heart beat quickened. The wood creaked loudly as he made his way down. One step. Two steps. I needed to wait until he was far enough that I would have a clear shot at his chest. The shot would have to be precise, causing instant death. We did not need shouts drawing attention from outside. Thankful that my position was shadowed from the light cast in by the kitchen, I slowly began to stand up. Three steps. Four. Almost there. FIVE!
I sprung upward, aimed, and fired. The arrow glided gracefully through the air, and struck the soldier in the chest, piercing his heart. A small grunt escaped his lips as he fell to the ground with a loud thump.
"Jon are you al—" The other soldier was cut off by his own yelp of surprise as Micah shoved him down the stairs and slammed the cellar door. Fortunately for the guard, Jon's body was there to break his fall as he crashed down.
I ran my hand along the end table beside the couch in search of the lamp. Finding it I switched it on as he scrambled to his feet. He squinted for a moment at the sudden brightness. When his eyes had adjusted to the light, they flew wide open in surprise at the sight of me.
"Why you little wench!" he yelled, drawing his sword.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Dath threatened as he came out from under the stairs, his own sword drawn. The soldier spun to face him. "Didn't your mommy ever teach you not to call ladies names?" Smirking cockily, Dath edged forward. Eian also stepped out from his hiding place, sword poised for attack.
The soldier looked between the two young men, a sneer spreading across his thin lips. "Lord Voiran suspected there was an outsider helping you escape. I don't think he ever dreamed it would be you." His voice was laden with disgust as he watched Dath. His sneer turned quickly to a smirk before he continued. "Yes, it will be a glorious moment when I present the three of you to Lord Voiran. I'll receive a promotion to Captain for sure."
Dath raised an eyebrow and Eian stared at the soldier in disbelief. He obviously did not know our Uncle very well.
"You little pukes will be hanged, and it will be a glorious day…"
I was growing bored rather quickly as he droned on. He had not turned back to me once since Dath had emerged, which meant either he had forgotten about me, or he felt I was not a threat. Whichever was the answer, it gave me an advantage. I pulled two arrows out of the quiver and strung them on the bow. Both Dath and Eian were too busy watching the soldier to take notice of what I was doing, so I cautiously took aim, then loosed the arrows. Both arrows struck their targets; one through his back, hopefully piercing his heart, the other straight through his neck.
His eyes bulged out, and he began to choke and cough up blood, more blood splurting out from around the arrow. As he slowly sank to his knees, he began to claw wildly at the portion of the arrow which had protruded through the front of his neck. After a few moments, he stopped breathing and fell lifelessly to the floor.
I watched him die, void of all emotions. I was always emotionless when I killed, something I had trained myself to do in the first battle I had ever fared. If I took the time to be affected by killing, I would never survive war, especially not this particular war.
Dath stepped forward and crouched down to check the man's pulse. "He's dead." He confirmed. He stood back up and glared at me. "What'd you do that for? We could have gotten important information from him."
I shrugged and placed the bow and quiver on the bed. "I can't stand it when they monologue." I turned back to him. "Besides, do you really think Voiran would be dumb enough to tell his lowliest soldiers his plans?"
"Well I guess we'll never know now will we?" he retorted angrily.
Eian stepped forward. "Calm down guys. What's done is done. We need to focus on getting these bodies out of here first." He placed his sword on the bed and pulled up his sleeves. "Dath, you and Micah can help me hide the bodies. Jade, clean up the blood."
Micah came downstairs, and the boys set to work. When they had left, I went into the washroom and splashed cold water on my face, sighing loudly. I knew eventually the emotions would catch up with me, but I didn't have time to deal with them now.
I quickly found some soap and water and set to work. By the time I was done, it was nearly seven in the morning, time to get started. I gathered up our belongings and waited for the guys to return. It was going to be a long day.
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews so far!! Sorry it took so long for the second installment, but I will try to get the next one out a bit faster.
Casey C – I'm glad you have patience to wait for the next chapter, because I rarely have patience in waiting for people to update. Haha. Bad I know. Don't worry, you didn't miss the reason why they didn't escape when they were first released. It will be fully explained later on, but basically, the dungeons are below the auditorium, and if they had attempted to escape before the crowd was there, they would have been caught by other guards. They had to wait until they could blend in to get out. How far in the future is this? 2553. Long time ahead. I've started working a bit on the prologue story that explains how the world ended up regressing so much, but I'm keeping most of it a secret until it's posted :P. You'll find out bits and pieces throughout this story, but you'll never get full details. As for who Dath is, well, you'll have to be even more patient to find out. . Ages I probably won't fully come right out and say for the most part, but Jade is 18, and Dath and Eian are both 20. And yeah, the Lil thing was a typo. When I first wrote the chapter, I couldn't get the right name for Jade, so I had just thrown down the first name I could think of as sort of a place holder name.
Clair-a-net – Thanks for the review! I hope you continue to read it and enjoy it :)
Juu-Chan – Wow, you really tear things apart when someone asks for a few things to be pointed out :P. Thanks though, most of your pointers were helpful. :) Hope you enjoy reading it further.
Cass – Another typo on my part. Should have been Dath. Thanks for pointing that out to me though. And thanks so much for reading the story. It's awesome getting reviews from you! I heart you!!!!
Stratiotes – Of course all my female characters are brats! I have to have some part of me in them somewhere :P . I updated as pronto as I could, hope it was fast enough for you :P.
CarrCarr – Pfft. I should hope you would find it hilarious. After all, our little conversations over coffee at Second Cup were what inspired most of these happenings. Haha. Especially Micah's Coffee shop.. gee doesn't the description of his little café ring a bell? And don't worry, you'll love the torture of Dath that is to come :)