Asora gasped. That axe had barely missed her, a closer call than the last swing, or the one before it. This monster... a paladin? Seemed hell-bent on stopping her path, preventing her life's thread from growing any longer, intent on severing it. He'd already nicked her arm, and her hair was shorter by a good few inches on the left side. Wincing, she yanked herself to her feet and took off down the narrow path, careful not to touch anything around her. As she rounded a corner, she ducked down another hallway, off to the side. The nice thing about mazes... plenty of twists and turns to lose a pursuer. Bad thing... it was filled with traps and dead ends. This was one of such, a dead end.
Holding her breath, Asora didn't move a muscle, hoping that the paladin would bypass her. She was not so lucky, as it soon came into view. It quickly stalked down the passage, stopping in front of her, leering around. The young woman stopped breathing entirely. Until a saving grace came, in the form of an arrow, sinking deep into the paladin's armor. It screeched loudly, the sound of nails on a chalkboard, and surged off down the hall and out of sight. After Asora's newly enhanced hearing could not hear it any longer, she fell to her knees, a hand over her chest. She almost started laughing hysterically, but she knew that would attract the paladin again, and that thought scared her more. She stood up, dusting herself off.
Asora was by no means a large girl- or a small one, for that matter. She was lanky, standing at an average height, and was of thin build. She was wiry, muscles used to hard work, and she wore the garb of others like her. The drab, onyx grey leggings and tunic of the others like her, emblazoned upon the lapel with the signia of the king, the back engraved with the same, as well as her name and registration number.
Like many others in the Mavrathast, the Maze, Asora was a competitor. She was no different than the twenty three others down here, maybe weaker, more sentimental. She too was injected with a strange coloured vial, something that looked awfully like blood. She could still feel it pumping through her veins, the black sludge, poison coursing through her body. She didn't know if it was poison, but she wondered. What she 'did' know, was that it had enhanced her senses. She seemed to see with more colour, could hear more, taste more... smell more, unfortunately. She was sure the others were the same, if not moreso than herself.
She had been taken from her home on the small island of Crestes only a few months prior, shipped into the mainland with the others, and locked dozens of miles underground, in a large, spiraling and elaborate maze, filled with traps and monsters and all sorts of treasures. She'd watched others, not her, fight it out through the news and through the crystals, but never in person... she was expected to kill someone. She didn't know if she could do that.
Making sure the coast was clear, Asora quietly slinked out from the hole she had placed herself into, checking for the paladin, before quickly sprinting down the hall and out of sight, acutely aware of every noise and movement she made, and every shift around her.
Quick on her feet, she avoided many of the traps and holes set about the area, treading lightly around some of the hallways, not going into others at all. She frowned slightly. There seemed to be more than there were previously. Her eyes then widened- what if this area was more heavily guarded? A treasure, perhaps? That sounded exciting.
Peeking around a corner, Asora looked down what seemed to be a bunch of stairs. She was right. In the center, there was a raised pedestal, a duo of floating pendants, squares of what seemed to be faintly glowing stones, in the center of it. It was heavily armed by paladins, as well as the many traps in the area. A sly grin took on upon her features. She knew what she was going to do. A little chaos never hurt anybody.
Ducking down another hall, Asora set off a small trap that dropped sharp, jagged rocks from above, from a careful distance, wary not to make noise. Picking up a handful of the dagger-like objects, she snuck back to the circular area. Taking careful aim, she hit the pedestal, turning it off, the pendants dropping to the platform beneath it. As the paladins turned in confusion and immediate 'kill mode', Asora threw a second and a third one, setting off fire traps, catching a few of the monsters' cloaks on fire. As they turned on each other and the traps, a fourth and a fifth stone set off dagger traps, taking a few of the guards through the neck. They stumbled, but did not fall. Setting off more traps, as if the perpetrator were running away, the rest of the guards took off down that hall.
Chuckling to herself, Asora avoided the traps she could see, stepping on tiles that she had seen the guards take, quickly coming upon the pedestal and the pendants. She picked them up, examining them closely. She... could almost feel her mind opening up, as if something had unlocked a channel, or if she were broadcasting her thoughts.
She was startled out of such a daydream, however, when a loud alarm blared, and the closest paladins entered the room again, trapping her inside. She swore to herself, looking for a quick out. There were none. All exits were covered by paladins, and no matter what path she took, they had weapons and the advantage of distance, not to mention they knew exactly which tiles to touch and which not, and she didn't. Asora shook lightly. She wasn't going to lose here. She did not want to die, and was not going to.
Using whatever rocks she still had, Asora threw them wildly into the tiles, sending daggers, fire, and debris flying everywhere in chaos, the room dissolving into a battlefield. Waiting until the guards were distracted with getting free, Asora bolted across the room, directly up to a paladin, scaling and leaping over it's head with a grunt, landing hard in a roll, before popping up, returning to a sprint across the hallway, the other paladins in pursuit.
As she rounded yet another corner, short of breath, the monsters catching up, a hand darted out from another narrow side passage, yanking her in and around another false corner. She found herself deep in the scent of cinnamon, chest to chest with a human male, a complete stranger. ...another competitor. But competitors were known to kill each other in order to survive... so why did he save her? To kill her himself? She made to back up and run, but the male's strong hands held her close, and she could feel him motion to stay silent. Listening carefully, all she could hear was his oddly calm heatbeat, and the loud footsteps of the paladins as they ran by, not even bothering with the little alcove. After they were gone entirely, he let go, and she stumbled backward, gasping quietly, glaring at him.
"What do you think you're doing?" she hissed, "I had that under control, you had no business getting involved. What do you want?"
He frowned at her. She realized he was a good head and a half taller than she was... well built, long, silky hair. God, he was gorgeous. But how deadly could beauty be? Even the most elegant rose has it's thorns. She figured... probably wasn't a good idea to piss him off. He might have saved her for the moment... but he was a competitor. He didn't know her, and probably wouldn't care if she died, by his hands or no.
"Yes..." he started, slowly, calmly. Too calmly. "Getting chased and caught by paladins... after stealing a protected zone's item none the less... you definitely had it under control."
"Yes, I did! And you didn't have to do that, what, just so you could end me yourself!?"
He looked a little thrown off. "Kill you? ...why would I do that...? Preposterous."
That definitely threw Asora into a tailspin. He sounded sincere... almost... concerned, that she would think he would harm her.
"I've seen so many competitors throw each other to the wolves. I can only assume you mean to do the same."
"...No. I do not understand you, little woman, killing someone over... unsavory, selfish reasons... frowned upon."
"One would think..."
"I guess you aren't going to kill me. Thank you... uhm..."
"Ah. Thank you Navarre. I am Asora. I ah... sorry."
"Do not mention it. You... are not hurt, are you?"
"Just a little scraped, but I'm fine."
"...good." He turned and walked away from her, exiting the passage and starting down the hall. Asora hesitated, and then followed after him quickly, stumbling to catch up. He only turned to glance down at her, before looking ahead, proceeding to act as if she did not exist. She frowned. Someone was sure... grumpy.
She figured though... she had to do something to thank Navarre for saving her. The only thing she could think of...
Navarre stopped in his tracks, startled, when he felt something slip over his neck. He looked down, only to see one of the two pendants, this one a deep amber color, pulsing slightly with an inner light, around his neck. He frowned, and looked back to where Asora was standing... but she was already gone. He sighed, and adjusted the pendant, so it sat under his shirt, and continued on his way. Asora went her own path, and had quickly gone before he could rebuke her for her gift. The way she figured- if he had saved her life, he had, purposefully or no, stolen the charms as well. He only deserved half of it, as was right.
She wondered to herself just what kind of man Navarre was, and whirled around when she heard his voice answer, quietly, 'what a freak, stalking me', she growled. 'What an ignorant ASS, thinking it's okay to SAY that to my f-... where is he...?' she got his answer moments later. 'What the- hiding from me AND insulting me? After what I did for her? That little... where is she!?'
It took Asora a moment, but she finally realized what was going on. Looking down at the pendant, she grinned. 'So THAT'S what they do... you can hear my thoughts, can't you then, Mister Navarre? How interesting.'
She did not bother to indulge him with a response, instead trying to stop thinking entirely, though it gave her a headache. She continued walking through the maze, keeping track of Navarre's stray thoughts, and where he might be headed. If he had saved her... maybe more than once, she would be damned if she did not return the favor.