Chapter I: Not What I signed Up For

The trees and bushes of the thick forest swept past him as he ran swiftly and quietly through them. The sound of shouting and metal clanking told him they were still chasing him. He couldn't understand why though. It had been days, how had they found him? How had they not given up their chase yet? He didn't understand what was so special about this small object wrapped securely in a pouch at his waist. He had been hired only days ago to steal an artifact from a temple, which seemed simple enough. He had been assigned to many jobs in his lifetime, most far more dangerous than this, or so he thought. He had been hired to kill kings, be a bodyguard, steal goods from rich families. This seemed no different to him than any other job.

"Go to the Mersian temple in the south. There is a very rare object there that I want." The old man had found him in a pub. When he sat down he pulled out a large pouch that jingled and clinked signifying it was full of money. He had been warned it would be heavily guarded and that the people would do whatever it took to protect the object. Yet, he had shrugged off the warning and accepted the job. It was nothing he hadn't done before.

Now, he was having second thoughts. This probably would have been happening if he had only taken the artifact. But, he had found a peculiar old looking scroll lying next to it that he seemed to believe he could get a good enough price out of. If he hadn't grabbed that, he probably would have been too far ahead for these men to catch up to him and he would have gotten away rich as a king.

He tripped over a root and swore and he tumbled and rolled into a clearing. The shouting and heavy footfalls were growing louder. They were getting closer. He made sure his pouch was still firmly attached and sprinted across the clearing only to find himself at an end. He slid to a halt only narrowly stopping himself from tumbling over the edge and plummeting to his death. His breathing was heavy. He turned to see the heavily armored men running toward him waving their swords.

He drew his own sword from it's sheath and waited as the eight men surrounded him. Each man wore full body armor. Helmets, breastplates, the whole bit. He couldn't see any of there faces, but he had a feeling they were pretty upset. Why else would they waste three days chasing him across the country for this ridiculous object?

"This must be a pretty special item!" He shouted plucking it from his belt and swinging it for them to see. He wondered if he could bargain his way out of this...

The men said nothing. One held his hand out in front of him expecting the thief to hand it over. "You have nowhere left to run, hand over the pouch boy or your punishment shall be far worse than it will be already."

He snorted. Hand it over? Just like that. He didn't think so. "What do I get in return?"

"How about you get you get to keep your head!" One of the men snapped and a couple others snickered.

The thief frowned. He could see he wasn't going to get anywhere with these fools. He took a step back as one of the men threw a knife sending it flying over the ledge. He glanced behind him as rocked tumbled down the cliff to the hidden, most likely rock, bottom. He heard a thud and realized the knife had torn a gaping hole in his pouch and a large black gem fell to the rocky ground. It was smooth and round and looked as delicate as glass. He dove for it just as the others' did and swung his sword. It sliced through the armor of one man and made contact with the soft flesh of his throat and he fell. The thief quickly swiped the gem. Then he was falling.

One of the men had quickly lunged at him and sent them both toppling over the edge. They fought for the gem the entire time. They were accelerating faster and faster towards the unseen ground. The thief kicked the armored man in the groin and shoved at him, but the man grabbed at his ankle. They could see the ground now, zooming towards them at the speed of light. The thief gripped the gem and held his arms in from of his face ready to embrace the impact./p
p style="text-align: left;"emThis is it. I'm done for.

There was a pull at his stomach and the feeling of falling was gone. Instead it was replaced briefly by floating and then it was as if he was being pulled down. Not falling, but being pulled. He tried to open his eyes but they seemed glued shut by some invisible force. He could feel the grip around his ankle loosen and then it was gone. The gem in his hand grew hotter and seemed to be vibrating. Then, everything stopped.

He could feel something hard underneath him...ground? Had he actually fallen and survived? Was what just happened a dream?

He pried his eyes open. It was dark. Am I dead?

There was a pounding of feet and a flash of blinding light. He looked up to see a girl standing next to a door. She was about five-one he presumed with long midnight hair and piercing blue eyes. She was fare skinned and seemed to be quite small until his gazed lowered slightly to take in her barely covered, full, round breasts. He looked back up to her eyes and saw a lash of fear. She covered her mouth and screamed.

This is not what I signed up for. He thought before his vision went dark.