A/N: I had planned to make this into a full story, but as it looks now, it's going to stay a one-shot...or is it? :P

The Riddle

The midday sun's heat was merciless; beads of sweat rolled down and stung Ariana's eyes. Her attempts to wipe them away had become futile as her sleeve was already too moist to help. Truthfully, her hope was waning, right along with her cocky confidence because suddenly the yellowish-stone maze expanding before her felt larger and more intimidating in its mystery.

Grumbling, the teen threw her hands into the air before using both palms to pull the disheveled strands of her hair back, some of it already having clung to her damp skin. When she allowed herself to fall backwards against a dusty golden wall, someone annoyingly familiar spoke in his usual casual manner nearby.

"Having doubts, are we?" The sorcerer purred tauntingly from all too closely next to her, though she refused to visibly acknowledge his smug presence. Ariana already knew that his arms would be crossed arrogantly and that he would make no effort whatsoever to hide his annoying smirk. Of course, he was impervious to any discomforts the physical condition could bring as all of his kind, especially that which pertained to the torturously hot weather.

"If you don't mind, I want to be left alone – I don't recall you breathing down my neck as being part of the rules, Cavin."

"Actually, this isn't your game, remember? It's mine. Have you not figured it out yet?" the being taunted with a tone that was ironically smooth as silk.

Ariana didn't have to grace him with a glimpse to know that at that moment he crossed his arms proudly to supplement his palpable self-righteous air.

"I think I've realized that you're naturally annoying." The human girl commented monotonously.

"Indeed, these past two weeks have been enjoyable, have they not?" The irksome being didn't miss a beat.

Why couldn't she just ignore him? All the things about him that would have mildly irritated her before now grated on what remained of her precious but overheated and fraying nerves!

With what the girl had intended to be a motion of dramatic flare, she turned on her heels but was abruptly stopped by a cloaked arm that had swiftly moved to block her intended path. In a huff she threw him a dark glare of annoyance which also demanded an explanation.

Near her flushed face, Cavin's fingers were splayed onto the stone wall; the smug being cocked one of his perfect brows, his silver-blue eyes glinting mischievously.

"You only have two more days left, my dear," His eyes swept her face in a way that made her uncomfortable.

"And it seems that you're obstructing my efforts." Ariana countered deciding to avoid his eyes.

"But I though you would appreciate the company," The being replied with a mock-sad tone.

"As lovely as that gesture is, I prefer the solitude to think clearly." She rebuked coolly, braving a quick glance at his face but was feeling growingly more awkward in his presence.

There was a heavy silence and from the corner of her eye she though she saw his lips spread to a satisfied smile.

"You have no idea what you're doing, do you?" His tone matched his self-satisfied demeanor.

This made her look at him. Now the being was smirking with those flawless features that were akin to a god's and that would have made any girl swoon…

Except the princess and me!

At that thought, Ariana wondered whether he had ever revealed this lighthearted side of himself to his royal prisoner through her years of captivity…?

"A rather unfair disadvantage is that I don't know what any of these symbols mean." Ariana grumbled just above a whisper, now sounding like a sulking child.

"Oh, I am certain that you are more resourceful than to just give up…"

The teen scoffed, "You sound so confident – like you know me!"

"Oh, I know a lot about you, Ariana."

Again she scoffed, even louder this time and now accompanied the noise with the rolling of her hazel eyes.

"Perhaps it's that you assume your little correspondence with my prisoner would be confidential?"

The human girl stopped dead and her eyes snapped to him in shock. Suddenly she was struggling with two sensations: indignant fury and nausea.

"You eavesdropped on our conversations?"

"I am that book's creator. Why do you look so astounded?" Cavin chuckled – and she felt all the more patronized.

"I'm not 'astounded' you arrogant arse, I'm offended at your…oh my God, those conversations were private!" The trembling girl roared.

"Well then it was naïve of you to think a puny little princess could create such a method of communication all by herself." His tone was nonchalant, as though he had just described the weather.

"Forgive me for being naïve then, you pompous, pig-headed being of power! I didn't grow up with notions that you seem to take for granted. In my world, we work for things, not expect them to appear out of nowhere like spoiled little children!" Arian hollered back.

"Oh, the human race as a whole is in its infancy, my dear…" He began with fervor, and then his words turned soft as though he had just come to a surprising realization, "there are only exceptions." Simultaneously, she felt a heated blush spread to her cheeks.

Ariana now realized that she had lost sense of what was physically occurring until she became aware that there was no space remaining between her and the haughty male being; Cavin was pressing her against the warm stone wall, his lips absurdly close to hers. And she couldn't quite understand what sentiment it was that laid in his intense gaze.

She was torn from the depths of his azure eyes when he began to recite something.

"Blossoms bend toward the warmth;

Soft, tender petals yearn much;

Heat is captured between them as they bloom;

Restraints unravel at their touch.

"Tell me; if you were the princess, and I, the long-awaited heroic prince who has finally arrived to rescue you, how would I solve the riddle?"