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Fallen Joy

Dancing Through Deserts

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There was a forgotten time within Bairville, where a beautiful performance was once held. A time when a desert flower opened her heart through music and dance, blossoming pedals of joyous freedom and mythical talent. Gold streamed from the hypnotic bends of her caramel fingers, rhythm surreally rolled from a body possessed by the ocean. Her rolling hips were waves, slithering and gliding with marvelous grandeur, and the bending arch of her back cascaded her tresses like falls of great water. In this forgotten moment where mystical dreams manifested into reality before a mesmerized audience, this nameless flower was permeated in ecstasy.  She crossed the ties of the mundane and extraordinary. broke the barriers between heaven and earth. And as the melody embraced and made love to her soul, she felt the true purity of freedom through dance. 

 

But as with the fate of all purity, wickedness cast its chains and shattered the music. It ensnared her dance and purloined her freedom. The flower was shut away, into darkness. With time, the precious existence was forgotten.

 

The sun of the Velhatein Desert settled behind ascending mounds of drought laden earth. Its licentious fingers extended across the sky and made the clouds blush. Beyond and below the vaporous display, there was naught but shadows thickening into black. The ebony shrouded the shapes of the landscape, cursing the daylight colors into ambiguous contours that broke the horizon like broken backs of fallen soldiers. Truly they were broken skeletons of prehistoric creatures. Within this aphotic landscape, the twinkle of a lone campfire dared to take a stand. Sitting within its rebellious orbs of amber, was the forgotten desert flower.

 

Reflection of the embers licked up her endless raven streaks, shimmering off the silk textures whilst teasing her desert toned skin with whimsical light. Rusted chains rattled from her bound minuscule wrists, slithering to the rims of her ankles. Her face was down, forehead nestled into the curve of her folded knees, and through that curtain of locks, piercing blue eyes stared aimlessly. Her nude lips were agape and breathed soundlessly, her breasts heaved and compressed into the cushion of her thighs, and beneath its cavity, a heart pumped. Yet her eyes, the lack of luster and vibrancy, revealed nothing but death.

 

Three men heavily clothed in Saharan attire also rested around the flames, their dirty hands breaking off pieces of stale bread and shoving it into their mouths. They were quiet, most of their faces covered in scarves with slits of food and sight. Their eyes were cold and irritated, burdened by lights wrinkles suggesting their middle age and chaffed from desert winds.

 

“This is the last of our provisions, we will not be able to stay in the mountain for long,” said one of them as he finished his bread his voice as gruff and scratched as his fingers.

 

“We are also low on gold, how much longer before our contact returns with word of the rebellion?”

 

“It was supposed to be three days ago, something must have happened.”

 

A silence fell over the men again, the diminutive rattling of chains suggesting the imprisoned woman had moved.

 

“The king only has another week before we punish his lack of compliance. It's been two weeks now, and we’ve had her for a month now."

 

“He’s being a stubborn old fool, he will respond. We just have to wait.”

 

“We have to find a way to make a coin if we are to survive another week. If we steal too much, it will draw unnecessary attention from law enforcers.”

“Perhaps there is another way,” one of the men turned slowly towards the woman, eyeing her for a long moment. “The people of Genesaris are unlikely to recognize her. Perhaps we can use her to our advantage…”

 

The chains rattled again, the forgotten woman lifted her head. Deep hues shifted to gaze at the men through descending bangs, a spark of life twinkling distantly within her once dead sea.

 

When dawn broke over the world the following morning, flyers floated around the Yum Janus tavern near the outskirts of Joran City. They found their ways into people’s things, under their bags and pillows, and even tucked within their pockets. Upon the parchment were words of golden ink, cursive with living streams of light within the letters.

 

Come witness the spectacle of a woman enchanted by a grace and beauty you have never seen. Witness the rare advent of people from the Velhaltein Desert. Her mesmerizing movements will seduce your dreams to reality. She will purloin the tribulations that haunt your mind for a single night. Come, and be blessed at midnight, by The Dance of the Desert Flower.

 

The word spread rapidly. Mere mystery of how the parchment found its way into the most protected of spots allured people to the tavern. It was in the rear of the edifice, a circle of torches scattered through the empty plain. Their glows shed delicate light upon what appeared to be an unremarkable platform of an reflective ebony mineral. The full moon was out, its virgin glows eerily shimmering in streaks across the silvery sheen, intermingling with the flashing quips of the reflected flames.

Edited by Fallen Joy

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The sunlight poured over the horizon and flooded the outside of the city of Joran. A decently sized city, but in terms of elegance it was far from being anything like the capital city of Aelindra. On the outskirts of this small city was a figure of a man looking over it from the far distance. The man was covered in a dark cloak of heavy fabric. A steady arm reached from underneath the cloak with a parchment in hand as blue eyes reminded him of what it read.

Reward for the man who finds my daughter and returns her to safety. What happens to her captors is at the discretion of her savior.

The parchment was written with shimmering red ink, which resembled a lot like blood. The mark of a royal seal on the bottom of it with the king's signature. The parchment was tucked away as the man continued to approach the city. He came upon this request by pure chance being in Terrenus looking for clues of his missing brother. He needed the large reward to continue to help fund his journey. His only qualm was that it was back on Genesaris. He wore the cloak, hood and face mask to conceal his identity in an effort to avoid trouble, but he would do what he could to avoid the Southern Swell, his home.

As he continued walking, the quiver bag of arrows started to shake violently as a small creature poked its blue furry head up from the bag and gave a small yawn. "You're awake back there?" A soft voice spoke out from behind a flexible polyester microfiber face mask. Furry legs stretched out of the quiver and rested soft paws on the shoulder of the man and climbed its way out of the bag to examine the surrounding area with gentle yellow eyes as its blue fur rustled and shook to fluff and its twin tails twirled about.

Before reaching the city, the odd pair of travelers happened upon a popular chain of tavern in Yum Janus with pieces of paper fluttering about with every gentle gust of wind. A single piece of paper was snatched out of the air by the same strong hand that presented the previous parchment. Blue empty, piercing eyes read over the contents of the paper seeing that it was an invitation to a local event starring a woman that very well could be who he was searching for. "Well this is our first clue in a while. It will be worth a shot." It was lucky for him that the twin tailed fox was with him and he wore a face mask, otherwise, it would have seemed odd that the man was there talking to himself outside the busy tavern.

The man entered the tavern equipped like he was ready to fight everyone in the building with his bow and arrows on his back and his sword at his waist. As he walked in, his ears attentively listened to the surrounding chatter.

"Can't wait to see the show tonight!"

"I hope the girl is as gorgeous as they say she is! Wouldn't mind getting a piece of that pie!"

"I'll cheer to that, mate!"

To the man, this was mindless chatter. He approached the bar to speak with the bar tender who was, as if by cliche, cleaning a glass mug with a rag of sorts. The man presented the flyer that he found, "Where can I find this place?" He said with those same empty, piercing eyes staring attentively into the man as if to reach into his soul and pull the information out of him without him saying a word. The directions were provided by the bartender. The show wasn't until the evening, so he had nothing but time to kill.

The full moon shone brightly in the sky over the land. The night sky brought a sense of calming over his cloaked figure. It also would make the job of securing the beautiful desert princess and getting her out of the city. Having a whole day to survey the city and plan everything out accordingly, he was prepared for the snatch and grab. The thought of his plan not coming together did not occur to him. He only needed now to watch and wait for his time to put his plan into motion.

Edited by Tyveres

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As the darkness deepened on the night sky, the last breaths of the day blew clouds across the twinkling stars. With the advent of a new moon, the evening seemed as dense as ever, allowing the torch lit blazes to be astounding and vibrant. The flames appeared angry and powerful, the roaring flares like the sun itself. A few chairs and tables were set out before the ebony platform, but they were so immediately saturated that many of the patrons stood. Their curiosity had brought some initially, and the growing crowd drew others. As it was set in the rear of the tavern, many of them had drinks and refreshments, filling the bellies of registers and tip pockets. The men had bargained with the owner to share the portions of profit gained for the night, more than enough to last their future week of prison guards.

But it was more than money to the forgotten princes.  Thirty days trapped into chains and darkness, body dusted and stomach often panged with hunger. With no word of rescue from her friends, her father, or her bodyguards, she felt cold and abandoned. The despair within seemed eternal...up until that evening. They would allow her to bathe, to eat, and most wondrously, to dance. She could have a moment of euphoria, of freedom, and forget the tribulations of her breaking soul—for that one night, for that single performance, she could bring the heavens to the earth once more.

With the synchronous click of chronological hands striking midnight, the entire crowd gasped, startled as three men melted from nothing into the trimetric points on the stage. Their dark crimson robes appeared alive with shadows against the flames of the torches, but their bodies were wrapped viciously in fabric, only fortunate allowed the brief flicker of emotionless ice to shine in the dark slits of their faces. They all had wintry gazes.

With a lift of their gloved fingers, streams of crimson lights poured like rivers through the air from their hands, whimsically flickering and striking spontaneously like flames themselves upon along another until five runic inscriptions shined above the stage. The mystery of it all held the audience in an intrigued trance, but it was nothing compared to when the runes suddenly oscillated and music blossomed from their centers…

It was a ghostly chime of a thousand invisible coins raining down upon with other, embracing the elegant strokes of a violin that merged into their rhythm. The ebony platform suddenly became alive as fluid as tar, its once hard surface vibrating under the power of the orchestrating runes. A mound then rose from the center, causing the tar like substance to stretch and twist around its heart. The ascension was slow, tantalizing, but impeccable with the rhythm of the song. As layers of ink slid from the object, it became immediately clear that it was a woman.

Her arms came first, crossed were above her head, fingers elegantly spread towards the darkened heavens, and as the rest of her body followed. The ascension became sinfully lustful. The way the ink clung to her nude curves was dangerously explicit, glimmering with licentious flares of the flames that reflected and ravished down the flat of her stomach, the bends of her arms, and the underling curves, swells, and hardened points of her ample breasts. The sight was so seductively sweet and mesmerizing that even women who wished to turn their heads, were locked in their gazes, flushing and clenching their thighs to sensations they didn’t think possible to feel.  

The tar pulled at her hips, raising like a grand skirt that draped across the entire stage. Her breath manipulated the raise of her torso, and her stomach rolled hypnotically, but her motions were tender and minor, subtle yet powerfully rolled across her entire form. Then  a deep drum released the mold from above her hips and everything melted from her  skin, leaving only her breasts, forearms, and hands covered in a thicker tarp of black fabric.

The audience held its breath as her face slowly come into view, and then found the strings of their hearts plucked and strung at the expression over her beautiful face—unrivaled sorrow. It was a breath-taking combination of seduction and tragedy, a sight that burned fire to the loins but manifested tears. She opened her closed optics, the poignancy of sea glimmering under her low lashes.

Then with a change of beat, she twisted. The tension of her tar skirt tore open slits pregnant with golden light, and from them birthed a mass of sun-colored butterflies.

 

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The skirt ripped away, remnants clinging to the thighs and hips as she completed the pirouette and proceeded to dance.

 

Her exquisite motions are reflections of the despairing heart, but its beauteous cadence shows a majestic joy. Her hips separate from her chest, rippling in motions that rival the tides of the ocean,  fluidly coalescing into thighs that tense and shimmer when they carry her across the stage. The celestial beauty synced the waves of her body like a living serpent.

As the butterflies swirl around her in a golden galaxy, their magic permeates the ambiance around them. The colors of the worlds seem to disappear, the sky fades from existence, background sound dispersing. To each audience member, it was as if she were encased in a world with them alone—her perturbing yet teasing movements beg to be touched, to be comforted, to be saved.

As the beat raises as does her acrobatic skill, airbone flips in gravity defining caliber accompanying passionate churns on a single foot pirouettes the held another foot held high to the  sky, her head down and flowing in the free wind. When the music becomes climatic, elongations burst form the platform, as black and metallic as it, and she dances upon them with a wild exotic talent. She twists and leaps from pole to pole, at times spinning with her legs outstretched and strong, other times spinning with only the strength of her thighs. Her rhythm, her flexibility, her prowess, and her intense expressions were unrivaled by all accounts.  Its marvel stole the breath from her audience.  

As her dance drags into its final minute, she leaps like a gazelle, her long legs extending into a perfectly split in her height of the air,  and she lands on the platform with a twist that flings her long bandaged hair like a whip. Her hair crackles  the atmosphere with light and blows out the torches. The dense darkness, only alleviated by the orbs of the butterflies, teased the eyes with flashes of her scarlet lips, vibrant eyes, and an illustrious swaying body. That's when the tar begins to sink, her nudity peaking through the glimpses of light, widening the eyes of her onlookers. Her nudity is sinful, gorgeous, but so unbearably sad.

Then the music settles softly, falling towards its death.

Her hands grasped the sinful indecencies of her body, across her chest and hips. The torches relit and the butterflies vanished, showing only her…she was sinking back into the ebony platform. Her dance was over…and the impact of it  bursts from her expression. Her eyes overflowed with liquid. She had searched through the audience throughout her performs, hoping for someone to deemed capable of saving her, but they were no more than drunk patrons.

 

The disappointment hit her head, but she comforted herself in the fact that she got to dance one more time.

It wasn’t until she was sinking that she saw him, a cloaked man that radiated with the spirits of a warrior. She made eye contact through the shadows of his hood, two tears trickling down the curves of her cheeks. On a desperate whim, she whispered out inaudible words as the tar reached up and curved upon the features of her face.

Then she was gone.

The world reappeared around them. And the three men stood to accept the roaring applause that soon followed.  

Edited by Fallen Joy

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A crowd of patrons, many already drunk and wreaking of booze filled the tavern in preparation to the show that would take place on its updated platformed compared to the rest of the tavern that appeared very run down. A beautiful dancer must have an exceptional stage to perform on to highlight her beauty and grace. The young man did not bother to find a seat as he entered with the sea of bodies that flooded the floor of the tavern. His movements were calculated, not stepping on anyone's toes or bumping into anyone's arms or shoulders, doing everything in his ability to not bring attention to himself being in a town where he visited a few times in the past with ill intent toward the local government like many other towns in Genesaris. It was no doubt that he knew that he would eventually return here to the Rising West, but not for the same reason as his previous visits where he assassinated the previous mayor of the town not far from their current location. No one at the time caught a glimpse of his face then, but he had to conceal himself from possible would be people to identify him. The twin tailed fox was even tucked away inside his quiver of arrows.

The men grew antsy as the clock ticked towards midnight and the start of the show. Many chanting and slamming their mugs on nearby tabletops and counters. The young man found himself standing about in the middle of the floor, covered in a blanket of dark material, with his eyes concentrated on the stage. This was the moment of if he would find out if this was the missing princess from a land from afar. The clock stroke midnight and the crowd roared with cheers and applause as the stage was filled with figures to get on with the show. The young able body couldn't help but think about his past in viewing shows on stages with his family. The thought brought a rush of emotions he had thought long left him, but as the female dancer took the stage, the emotions were quickly swept away.

He watched patiently, looking for a sign to see that this was the woman he was to bring back to the king. Her dance was beautiful, emotional, sensual and sexual all at once. Her body seemed to emanate a radiance like never before experienced. The crowd was clearly well involved in a trance-like state from the performance. This feeling escaped the young man, focusing on nothing more than a sign from the young woman. There was side banter and whispers while there were also loud whistling and howling from the pathetic bums that didn't know how to keep quiet in front of a well established performance. All of this was tuned out by the man as he waited, biding his time. For the moment that seemed like an eternity for most in the crowd, the dance was over. The man was almost a bit disappointed and turned his shoulder to leave, but there they were. Two small tears that glistened against her ebony cheeks like sparkling stars was a sign enough to him that this was the desert flower that he, like few others, was searching for along with the inaudible words that were mouthed in his direction as their eyes seem to link together for a brief moment.

The young lady that he believed to be the princess of the secret desert kingdom in Terrenus had disappeared from the stage as it was flooded with the men that started the show. The crowd was in a frenzied state, many shouting obscenities of wanting an encore.

"We want more! We want more!"

"Put the pretty bitch back on stage! I'm not finished back here!"

"Encore! Encore! Encore!"

It was during this rave of shouting and banging that the cloaked figure was removed from its vigilant spot and exited the building. The final preparations needed to be set to push things in motion to free the young miss from her chains. Causing a scene in front of so many was not the ideal way going through with a rescue.

Whether there would be an encore or not, it was no doubt that the men would take their prisoner through the back entrance to the tavern. He couldn't risk anyone from here getting involved, but he made preparations to be able to follow them upon their leaving and ambush them in their hideout. No doubt they would be distracted by booze, money and women which would provide ample time to extract the prisoner from her shackles and free her from this nightmare. Having sullied his hands with so much blood in the past, he did not want to bathe in their blood, but for the reward and clues toward his brother's whereabouts, he would not hesitate to do so given the opportunity. One thing for certain, this would be the princess' last night as a captive.

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Despite the yells for more, the men were unresponsive,. They remained there, silent, patient, but frightening—like an anciently stitched scarecrow looming in a cornfield at night. There were no faces nor movements, but the tension in their serpentine tranquility was more intimidating than the poisonous fangs hidden underneath. Perhaps this alone prevented the rowdy men from climbing on the stage or commencing with unmanageable behavior. As the crowd slowly began to lose it voice and the dense sea of people pulled back toward the tavern, the men descended the back of the platform one by one.

She emerged between them like a mirage, concealed in the same scarlet layered clothing. Her thinner and petite stature stood out like a child compared to their forms. She turned her head and gazed at the stage one last time, oceanic hues within the darkness of her fabric shining like the cerulean shimmer of a galaxy’s edge in the night sky. Mysterious thoughts pressed through her mind before she closed her eyes, lowered her head and continued on.

“I hope you enjoyed your moment of freedom, Princess.”

The man’s cold voice sent a shiver down her spine, as if the satan's hand extended from the ninth circle of hell and traced its fingers down her back. Her delicate features froze and tension broke through the cracks, she forced her head to steel before she slowly nodded.

“Will it be my last?” she whispered out to them.

“Perhaps...If your father doesn’t pull through on his part. For your sake, I hope he does. While it will not bring me any joy to shed your blood  in order to make a point, it would be a greater shame for you to die with the knowledge that no one bothered to save you.”

The words were like gnarled rusted knifes, stabbing deep with each syllable and twisting with every word. By the time he finished speaking, she was bleeding with too much sorrow to have any more room for tears. After a month of chains, she was allowing herself to believe them, not only from their words but from their frustration. Even they were astonished by the lax course of action of her father—it was beginning to take every ounce of her courage and strength to believe he was still working for the best way to save her without sacrificing the kingdom. That he didn’t just abandon her.

The man turned his attention from her and looked to his companions.

“Take her to the room and watch her, I’ll gather our earnings. We leave before sunrise.”

With a hand on each of her shoulders, two of the men guided the princess towards the back of the tavern while one of them travels towards the front, where the bar and crowd were still rowdy and dense. Many of the patrons who arrived just for the show had departed, but the amount that stayed for continued festivities kept the tavern busy. The man weaved and disappeared through the forest of intoxicated patrons.

 

Silently the princess traveled up the stairs to the second floor of the tavern, reaching the corridor of rooms and stopping before her own. They opened the door for her and let her inside. She watched as they closed it behind her, sighing lightly before removing the layers of cloth from her head and hair. Her raven tresses flowed freely down her back and curtained over her calves as she unraveled her locks and shook her head. She glanced at the window, walking slowly and reaching her hands out towards the glass. Immediately a spark of red aggressively shot out and singed her fingertips, causing her to yelp and retract her head.

 

“Of course…” she whispered in a depressed voice, rubbing away the pain from her hand and moving to the bed. After sitting down, she curled her legs to her chest, lowering her chin to her knees. From one of her fingers came a golden butterfly. She watched it flutter, her eyes glistening with a sadness. She thought of the cloaked man she saw, wondering if her plan would work, but even if it did, how could she expect a lone man to get backed her assailants? 

 

The men outside leaned on the walls, folding their arms with no interest of conversing with one another. These men weren’t commonplace kidnappers working for the greed of ransom—they did not find the pleasures of drinks and women more important than their cause. They were rebels in an army for control  over a kingdom they passionately opposed and detested. Nourishing their hatred held pertinence over simple indulgence, and this fact was one of the many that emphasized their danger.

 

The princess looked towards the window again. The butterfly fluttering within the room suddenly disappeared.

 

 I hope this works....

 

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Darkness surrounded the standalone tavern of Yum Junas. Only a dismal amount of light extended visibility from the tavern, being lit by a couple of magic powered torches in the front and back entrances of the tavern. The moon's light was shrouded in the overcast of night clouds. The only other light that could be seen was off in the distance coming from the city. The sun had long retreated under the horizon of Valucre, but it was around this time that the air had a slight chilling sensation to it as if wind had gusted over an iceberg and carried the chill from it.

The dark abyss concealed a night stalker that was posted upon the roof of the bustling pub dressed in the same dark robes. The cold air nipped at the visible portions of flesh around the man's eyes as they coldly peered over both entrances, being high enough to see them. The blue furry companion dared not peak her tiny head out, but likely was pleasantly asleep. It had been a short time since the show had ended and group-by-group patrons filed out, some stumbling about as they got on their various means of transportation from horse pulled carriages to small airships. The nearest Crossroad portal was located on the rim of Joran City. Still no sign of the captors and their captive. He had no doubt he had missed them exit, then there was a figure that stood out amongst the rest.

A figure dressed similarly to the men that were on stage. He watched the man carefully as he walked with purpose. On the side of the tavern was another horse drawn carriage that he checked on. This was believed to be their ride out. It was also noticed that he seemed to be carrying something. If these were common thieves turned kidnappers, they wouldn't have much money to afford an airship, so he thought. Hence why they were forcing the young, beautiful princess to dance for their own benefit.

A muffled sound caught his ear. It was short, but sharp that seemed to be louder than the bustling noise from the main floor. He couldn't put his finger on what it was, but the man didn't let it distract him as he continued monitoring the man down below him, but with that short interruption, he was on his way back inside.

With their mode of transportation being the carriage, it would be easy to follow them. He could place himself underneath it, but that had the highest risk for being detected. He settled for procuring one of the patron's horses that was tied to the post outside. He just had to wait for his time to move. For now, he remained vigilant.

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Please reach him, please get help…

The golden shimmer of the lone butterfly transpired from one of the brilliant lights of the tavern, twirling fantastically over the vast patrons drinking jubilantly below. For quite some time, it fluttered searchingly through the rafters, appearing majestic yet somehow desperate. Many looked up sporadically, but none of them saw the lonely and beautiful beacon. Like a celestial spirit, the enchanting entity existed through a plane beyond their vision, conjured by the ancient light magic of an underground royal family. Time drifted and it coursed through the tavern to no avail. After some moments, the butterfly burst into a shimmering light.

The desert princess looked up, blue eyes deep but bright through her curtain of raven bangs. She gazed at the return of the butterfly, waiting. Its wings suddenly vibrated, ringing as soft as a cat’s bell, and to its melody, the princess frowned with a deep sadness. She lifted a finger and touched the tip of the antennae, the contact like a pebble to a golden lake as ripples danced through the light.

“Please keep trying,” she said in a soft and tired voice. “I can feel him. He must be here. Please try again.”

The butterfly bursts into shimmers once more. The desert flower withered into her knees, clinging her thighs with dilapidated hope. Though living in a month’s void, she refused to stumble in dark. Dancing gave her hope, and convinced herself that she could create her own light to salvation. In her brief contact with the mysterious man, she felt him looking for her as much as she was him. Like her connection to the audience, to their energy, she felt him reach out for her.

Through the light of the late moon, the golden butterfly transpired high above the tavern. Carrying the burden of its creator’s ambition, it fluttered with struggle against the evening shadows. Then, upon the edge of the rooftop, the man was perched. upon ceramic plates. The golden messenger spotted him and was there in an instant.

Through his eyes, when the butterfly crossed his vision, it would be an intriguing and uncanny spectacle. The wings oscillated and through the vibrations came beautiful sounds, like wind through chimes. In the peripheral window of his vision, he’d see the princess as if she was standing just in the stand of his shoulder, but when he turned to look at her, the image would be gone. Only through the light and sound of the magical insect, was she seen. Thus it was only the rivets of her hair, the vibrancy of her eyes, and the crimson of her lips that ensnared his focus.

"Help me…"

Her voice traveled through the emptily, echoed as faintly as if from a distance mountain, yet strong enough to caress his skin with its resonance.

"Can you hear me….?"

"I need your strength….I am a prisoner…"

Her words often repeated, even if he responded, communication fickle and fading.

"Come to me...please….help me…"

The butterfly started to pulled away, the image of the ghostly beauty extending from his vision and vanishing with the disappearing aura of the golden hue. The beacon fluttered, with hope of him on her heels.

The princess opened her eyes and lifted her head from her knees. astonishment imprinting upon her features before she stood and rapidly moved towards the window. A red spark immediately chastised her, preventing her from peering at a distance in which she would be seen. However she sensed him approaching, felt him, coming closer. Folding her fingers delicately in a prayer, a smile, the first one since the last swell of the moon, transpired upon her face. She dared stepped closer, skin sparkling crimson at the edge of the barrier…

The butterfly paused in its travels, allowing him to catch up and penetrate its light once more.

"I am here…"

They were below the window of the second floor.

"Please save me... "

~~~~

"You understand is it in my best interest to keep a low profile..."

The back of the owner of the tavern slammed against the floor, lips breaking apart in a sharp gasp as the wind expelled against pressure of the muddied boot digging into his abdomen. He was alone with third crimson robed man, in the quiet back room of the tavern where the patrons could not enter. With his icy gaze darkening from deviant to sadistic, he leaned his weight more into the diggomg of his heel and compressed the stomach more until the gasps became groans.

"So believe me when I say I would prefer not to lose my temper over something so trivial. So please correct my understanding of you refusing to increase our share of the profits. "

The owner's face was turning red, but as he reached for the assailant, the man lifted his boot and instead stomped it with a controlled force on the man's windpipe, making him choke and grasp. He squirmed and killed his feet but the quick loss of oxygen immediately spin his focus and found his limbs all but dead. With trembling consciousness, he finally nodded in agreement.

"Oh, I thought I had misunderstood you. Afterall, you seem to be doing quite well tonight. We are dealing with royalty..Oh."

He lifted his food, the man had passed out. He shrugged his shoulders, a dirtied hand sliding from one of the folds of his attired and collecting a sanction of currency he had been negotiated plus more. The fallen owner would likely wake in a few minutes, but the man would have returned to the heart of the tavern once more without concern.

Edited by Fallen Joy

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The shadow on the rooftop of the tavern was still. Mind focused and meditating to enhance the scope of the range of perception to the surroundings of the tavern. The mind attempted to peer at the events occurring inside the tavern. There wasn't much that could be heard aside from boisterous laughter and shouting. Nothing else could be depicted from this mind traversing, as the man only had adept skills at perceiving surroundings.

The meditation was broken by a shimmering light nearby. Cold blue eyes opened and sought out the light to see a shining butterfly-like fairy. It was a brilliant spectacle to witness, and when his eyes fixed on it, a form appeared next to him, only when he looked there was naught to be found. His eyes cast back upon the golden fairy as the form appeared once more. The chimes of the wings vibrated within his ear as if to warp his mind as if to communicate. The chiming was loud enough to even wake the sleeping Kimi who once more poked her head up over the shoulder of the man to see the butterfly.

The man easily recognized the beauty even though she wasn't clearly seen. Her figure and every inch of what was scene on stage was memorizing by the man as he marked her as his target. The memory would stay locked away until the contract is fulfilled. He knew who she was, though she wouldn't have known he was here in honor of her father's contract to rescue her.

Shortly after, the fairy light began to flutter away. The words that were spoken passed by his ears to hear her soft cries for help. Without hesitation, he followed the light to the source of this strange magic. Something that the contract giver failed to specify about her when asked about every detail of her. There must be more to this desert lily that he doesn't know about.

There was a red spark that shined through one of the windows on the side of the tavern. The light traveled to that point before the window. There was only the wall and windows, no place to stand on, though he didn't need it. His hand reached out toward the window and with concentration he controlled the shadows against the wall to pop out in a three dimensional form and create a platform strong enough for him to stand on. His body fell from the roof with Kimi holding on tightly with her paws on his shoulder. A graceful, quiet landing he made on the physical shadow platform. His eyes peered through the window, past the red magical sparks that were flying due to the touch of the princess.

He could hear her words that were mouthed only through the golden fairy next to him. There were no words that needed to be said as he gave a simple nod as he looked about the window. A barrier of sorts, but he knew no magic that could break the spell. She was alone in the room from what he could see through the window, but surely the barrier surrounded the entirety of it beyond the window, otherwise he could cut his way through the wall to get her out. He raised his hands to her, again not speaking through his masked face, and used them to ask her to remain patient. Past his icy blue eyes was a calming rush that could be seen if she made eye contact with him, a feeling strong enough to ease her mind and let her know that everything would be okay.

Kimi let out a soft mew, feeling saddened by the tone of her voice and the anguish on her face. If the man could not get her out of the room, he simply had to wait for her to be out of it.

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Her oceanic irises, designed like the burst of a sapphire, gazed at the empty night through the window's eye. She peered into the darkness, heart racing with anticipation. The Princess felt him more and more with each passing moment, her breaths deepening with hope and muscles tense with anxiety. An eternity seemed to pass as she waited for a glimpse of the one that heard her message. The man that answered her call.
 
Then he was there.
 
He descended like an dark angel, the sway and dance of his cloak reminding her of spreading wings, and she was startled. At first she only stared at him, imbibing the fact that he was there, and then her smile brightened with contagious spread to her entire demeanor. She immediately advanced towards him, but is promptly forced back by the barrier, causing her to catching her breath at the seething pain and force her restless body to settle. 
 
"You're here..." she whispered.
 
He rose his hands, she mimicked him, spreading her fingers and closing her eyes to imagine feeling those large fingers caressing her own, gripping her wrist, and pulling her to freedom.  The weight on her shoulders and the reeling agony within her stomach dared to alleviate. The beauty of her exquisite face flourished and blossomed with warm jubilance. Opening her eyes again, she slowly nodded to his gesture. He didn’t act to destroy the barrier, she assumed him possibly incapable, it initially stabbed at her hope, but was quickly dismissed. He was there, filling the loneliness and distracting her from bleeding wounds. Even if he couldn’t get her out, she basked in having someone there for her. Watching his gestures, she acknowledged that he wanted her to wait. She nodded, willing to wait forever so long as he stayed there with her.
 
She settled on the ground, folding her legs with her tiny feet tucked underneath her thighs. The thick layers of desert robes bundled up around her, long  raven hair draping on the outside of the fabric and framing her young and aesthetic imagine with a cascade that pooled in rivulets around her. She almost appeared as a child would in oversized outfits, and as she gazed at him, her face held the very same tender innocence, filled with the utmost appreciation at his presence. The butterfly landed upon his shoulder and began to vibrate once more.
 
“Who are you? Are you here to help me?”
 
 The princess was new to the world outside her desert kingdom, having barely tipped her toe into the possibility before a monsters from her homeland reached up and snatched her away. She spent most of her time here within chains, hidden under layers of clothes, blindfolded inside carriages, and trudging through the darkness of wastelands. The princess wasn’t sure if anyone from this world was trust worthy, why would a stranger seek to help her?  She asked him, hoping he could tell her something to further ignite her morale.
 
~ ~ ~
The desert man, leaving the tavern with his hands full of gold stuffed sacks, made his way back to the room. The other two were leaning against the wall, shifting only when he came upon them.
 
“Change of plans, we’re leaving early.”
 
“How early?” 
 
“Tonight. The owner of the bar and I had a disagreement, but we have more than enough to last us the remaining of the week. Better to leave now and avoid any annoyances when he regains consciousness. One of you prepare the girl, the other the horses, I’ll get some supplies. We leave in a two hours.”
 
One of the men rose a brow, but nodded before immediately turning to place his hand on the door knob.
 
~~
The princess whipped her head, hearing the click of the door and standing to face her assailant as he entered the room. She steeled her face, not daring to glance over her shoulder and hoping her visitor had hidden himself. She clenched her fist and felt a tightness rise within her as he approached, uncertainty chilling her spine and manifesting apprehension. The man glanced down, slow in a trail along her hidden body, and paused at her reddened fists. His hand snapped and gripped her wrist, making her winced mildly at the roughness as he inspected the scorched irritation.
 
“Don’t be an idiot,” he said gruffly, throwing her hand down again. “If you harm yourself more than necessary, you’ll make it harder for both of us."
 
She only glared at him, why shouldn't she make it harder for them? The man's eyes glowered and the cold glint within his frosted hues darkened at her silent defiance.
 
“Shower. We are leaving in a couple hours and returning to the mountains. I’d take advantage of the luxury while you have it, princess.”
 
The news slapped away her glare, eyes instead widening as she took an intrepid step towards him. “We’re…leaving already?”
 
“Waiting for something?”
 
She remained silent, not wanting to be suspicious. Biting her lip, she glanced away from him. Grunting, he grabbed her by the collar of the robe, forcing her to yelp and struggle as he dragged her to the bathroom, opened the door, and forced her inside.
 
“Don’t take too long or I’ll come in for you myself.”
 
A sinful threat shone within his eyes before he slammed the door shut. The princess recomposed herself, rubbing the soreness in her reddening neck. He nearly choked her by the brusque handling of her clothing. Bastard. She stared ostensibly at the shower for a moment, anger boiling within her and nearly bursting from her throat in a frustrated yell. She placed her hands on her face and lowered to the floor, sighing huskily. Only two minutes passed before…
 
“I don’t hear water,” came the man’s voice. The knob twitched and the princess glanced up in panic, rushing to the door and locking it.
 
“Don’t, I’m going.” She said.
 
The man laughed again and she listened to him walk from the door. Releasing a long sigh, she sullenly walked to the shower and turned it on. The raining sound of water and promise of a warm cleanse did nothing to sooth her depression. There just had to be a way out of this nightmare. She leaned against the wall, ignoring the rise of the steam moistening her hair and exposed rose cheeks. Tears soon mingled with the sparkling droplets of steam on her face, she couldn't even see her savior anymore.
 
....
 
Then, from nowhere, a brisk breeze slithered across her cheeks, cooling the water, and rising bumps on her skin. Blinking twice, the woman shifted her gaze; a small bathroom window hung above the shower. It was open, was it barricaded like the others?  Noting the size of the window, her hands moved to the fabric of her clothing and peeled the layers away. They slumped  to her feet with a thump and she stepped from the mound, entering the rain of the heated shower. The rivulets of steaming water poured onto her body, damping the waterfall of ebony ravens and sealing them to the curvaceous coutours of her petite body. The water caught in diamond droplets along her long lashes and dripped from the tip of her nose and chin as she gazed up at the diminutive opening. It was too small for most adults to escape through, but her body was slimmed and small by years of acrobatic dance and natural petite frame. Though her frame was small, even for a woman, her swollen breasts and bottom would have to painfully compress for her to squeeze through. However, she could fit…
 
Wherever the man and his foxy companion was, the butterfly remained on his shoulder. Suddenly it vibrated drastically, fluttering from his shoulder and hurrying away. When he followed the beacon, it circled around a small rectangular window nearing the larger one, though higher. Steam ascended from the opening and dissipated in the night. If hewatched for a moment, he’d see pair of small hand jumped into view and grip the edge.
 
“Mmph!” The princess groaned, her wet  feet sliding on the wet tile walls. Using her flexibility and strength, she spread her legs and gentle placed one on the shower head and the other on the glassdoor.  She pushed herself up, her soaked hair and head transpiring in the view of the window at an awkward angle. With her skin silk with water, her breasts slid into the tile rimmed window seal with ease. However, the compression was as painful as she predicted, displayed on her struggling face as she fought to squeeze through. Holding her breath so her chest wouldn’t expand and vision blurring in tears from the sting, she forced them through and exhaled deeply with relief once out. She rapidly shot her eyes looking for him.
 
Her legs, still in the bathroom, flail blindly in the air. Distracted by her excitement of escape, her foot accidently kicks the metal rim of the shower door, sending a violent vibration and sound throughout the bathroom.
 
"...."
 
“What’s going on in there?”
 
The bathroom door suddenly rumbled. The princess looked back, barely able to see past her the raise of her own rear, but witnesses the top of the door shake on its hinges. Low on time, she pushes herself forward, hands on the edge of the window. As aspected, her rump caught on the window seal. She was slippery and her soft flesh slowly albeit painfully began to compress, but her she was running out of room to pull herself. She groaned and struggled. Even if she managed to get out in time,  it was a twenty foot fall to the ground, she needed him. 
 
The door to the bathroom broke open.   

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Though wall and glass separated the two of them, the man balancing himself on the physical dark matter platform could feel the desert orchids anxiety of wanting to be free from this nightmarish prison. Blue eyes studied her every form and feature and her depression was clear to him. The feeling was all too familiar to himself as he regressed to remember his past of depression from losing his family, but that didn't stop him from wanting to do anything about it - just like now he couldn't let her be trapped in this despair any longer for he needed to free her to get intel on his brother's whereabouts.

Her voice chiming through his ear from his shoulder broke his train of thought, as he had neglected the presence of the golden fairy light that hovered by his shoulder like a guardian angel. He nodded his head to when the young beauty asked if he was here to assist her. Once again, he didn't speak for fear that she wouldn't even hear her through the mystical butterfly, but from underneath his dark robes he pulled the parchment that was given to him by a representative of her father. The paper was unrolled and displayed with the font facing her so she could see the proof behind his being here that he was under contract to help find and return her to him. At the bottom of the sheet was her father's signature along with his royal stamp to decree this document to be real.

However, before she could get a good close look at it, the door to the room swung open as one of the burly men that the shadow stalker remembered seeing earlier on stage. Quickly, he concealed himself out of view of the man, leaning against the wall next to the window while still maintaining his footing on the dark matter under his boots. The parchment was rolled up and put away once more.

There was a sudden yelp that stung the man's ear that came from the luminescent butterfly. The man peaked over through the window to watch the events that took place. Her mistreatment brought forth a fiery passion that just about made him want to try to break the glass, barrier and all, to destroy the man inflicting harm upon his prisoner, but the rage was quelled by the words that they would be leaving soon. Finally, it would be his chance to take her away from here.

The sneaking shadow could only watch as the woman disappeared into the bathroom. It wasn't long after that the golden butterfly fluttered away. At first, this did not grab his attention as he was concentrating on what the next steps to freeing her would be, but a small cry from his shoulder companion alerted him to look and that's when the fairy was noticed encircling a nearby smaller window. At that moment, he could see delicate hands reaching the ledge of the window sill. Was she trying to escape out of the small window?

Quickly he leaped off the dark platform and at first it seemed that he would fall straight to the ground, but as leaped, he concentrated his energy to form more platforms as the entire side of the building was within his range of shadow control to carry his steps toward the window and by then there she was in full naked glory and wet. Breasts plumply bouncing from her fidgeting in the window. For a short moment he was in a frozen state, not being prepared for such a sight. By no means was this his first encounter with a naked woman, but none could hold a candle to the beautiful radiance that her body put out.

Snap out of it and help her.

He ended up telling himself as he reached forth to grab her by the arm to help her pull herself out of the window. There was more pressure as the door to the bathroom was being rammed as one of the burly men tried to get in. His strength alone wasn't enough to help her get out of the room, so he summoned forth two strands of shadow vines from the shadow of the wall that was cast by the moon's light. The shadow strands were about the size of ropes and wrapped around her wet waistline. The feeling of these physical dark vines touching her bare skin can be described as a cold void, similar to the feeling of being in space. Finally, she was pulled free of the window, her bottom and thighs likely scraped from the window sill, just in time as the door was opened forcefully. He held her closely to his body to secure her on the platform with him.

Without hesitation, he removed his cloak from his form while maintaining his quiver and bow on his back and wrapped it around her to prevent her from catching a cold or worse due to the temperature drop. The man from early had turned off the hot water and poked his head out from the window after climbing the tub. The two of them were still standing near the window, but before the man could utter a word, the former assassin used those same shadow vines to wrap around the man's throat, grasping tightly and slowly sucking the life out of his body until his eyes rolled into the back of his head and there was no movement from his body. The strands dispersed, letting go of the man's body as he fell limp back into the bathroom, and falling into the tub.

Normally, this man would confirm his targets to be dead, but there was a more pressing matter. Now that she was freed, they needed to get down and get away from here. Even as he used his powers, he never let go of the princess who seemed to need the physical contact to ensure her security. The platform began to descend towards the ground like an elevator. It too dispersed as they reached the ground.

"Are you okay?"

Finally, she could hear his voice which was softer than his appearance, though partially muffled through his face mask. Kimi too gave a delighted cry from his quiver bag. He did not dare check her possible wounds from the window sill with her being in the state she was, but after they got away from this place, he would tend to them if necessary.

"Come. We must go."

He took her by the hand and led her toward the carriage that was owned by her captors in hopes to use it for their escape.

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The princess’ eyes lit up when he appeared, her small hands grabbing his and groaning only minorly as he tugged her further against the window. Her rear compressed more, aching with a pounding discomfort, and she knew she would be bruised tomorrow. Then the dark manifestation of vines slithered forward. Their cold bite was alarming, and her skin paled. It was uncertainty rather than fear, for she intrepidly trained one of the most feared beasts in Terrenus, but then she remembered that so familiar signature of her beloved father. With that, her trust was forced to rekindle and she strengthened her grip. Just as the gruff man rushed into the bathroom, she slipped through and flew with the force of his pull into her savior’s arms. Her arms clung to him tightly and her face tucked into his chest, her skin steaming in the brisk air and wet body darkening his clothes.

 

“Shit!” The man yelled, catching the disappearance of her legs, and rushing into the bathroom. He turned off the water before climbing with ease to the window. He knew he was too large to fit through it, but was perfectly content with blowing the entire wall away. However, serpentine shadows rushed and coiled his throat as soon as he looked through the window, the sudden fierceness purloining his air and blood before he could think. The man disappeared from the site of the window, supposedly hitting the tub floor below him. The princess looked up. A shine was within her eyes, but she knew as well as he that she had not escaped her prison yet.

 

She became painfully aware of her nudity when the cold sent shivers across her form and he removed his cloak for her, Blushing a mad shade of scarlet, she wrapped the cloak around her body and held it shut with a hand. Before she could say anything more, he directed them to go, so she ran. One of her hands held the cloak shut as he embraced her other, the cloth and her long raven hair waving in a long stream  behind them..

 

He led her to the carriage, but would find it preoccupied. As they rounded to the large horses, the second robed man there--having been sent to prepare them--glanced up at a noise made by the princess. The princess, though as soft and silent as a feline when dancing on stage, wasn’t nearly as graceful in the common world. Her naked feet kicked up dust clouds, and when she stepped on a rough pebble, she yelled with terrible timing, nearly stumbling and falling as she tried to shake the painful protrusion from her heel. The man, having left not long after the first entered the room, was just strapping the reigns on one of the horses when the two arrived and she drew his attention.

 

“What the…” His words on trailed for only a moment, eyes falling to the ruffled princess that panted and touched her companion’s arm. It was immediate, from the palm of his gloved hands a bright orb of silver transpired and he threw it directly at the chest of her jailbreaker. It jetted through the air with a flashing speed, and if connected exploded with a power that could send its target spiraling back. Whether it missed or not, the man did not stop, within his other hand, another sphere transpired as the first left his hand and he threw that as well. The princess clenched her eyes shut, neither running or defending, her reaction time was far too slow, and she only flinched and her arms over her face. She was directly behind him.

 

The princess was not a fighter, she had lived in a pampered world with bodyguards and servants. Though training the Suujali was an incredibly dangerous task, there was an art to taming the wild animosity of nature. This was simply violence, war, and chaos that she had grown to utterly fear. The muscles within her legs felt immensely heavy, nothing like their weightless state in a dance, and her very breath hurt to control. The calamity within her was incredible, a maelstrom of so much terror that time itself froze within her and...she simply couldn’t move.  


The assailant didn’t appear to care if she was caught within the crossfire. A broken leg, arm, or rib was worth more than the princess being gone all together--he didn’t ask questions, only attacked.  

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Damn...

The only tight that crossed the hero of the night's mind as they came around to see the carriage wasn't alone, and in that same instance he damned the idea to think that a naked girl wouldn't attract any attention as her cry alerted the robed man of their presence. Surely if he was alone, he would have been able to sneak with the shadows, blending in as if he belonged to it and dispatched the carriage guard without incident. He also noticed that the area was dimly lit by a torch on the side of the building they now stood on. 

Now, only after just rescuing the desert orchid, he stands to confront another one of her captors. He barely had any time to plan his move, but fortunately for him he had been in tougher situations that required thinking on the spot. The man attacked, as expected, but what was unexpected was his form of attack. A sphere of silver was launched in their direction with lightning pace. Thankfully, he was equipped in his own right with his own ability and they were in his world: the night. 

Out of protectiveness for himself and his rescued partner, he reacted by conjuring forth a wall of abyss from his own shadow that was cast from the light of the torch he noticed. It stood from the ground to about his neck. Being that it was nighttime, his powers were enhanced, being able to strengthen the physicality of his creations. They should be able to withstand both impacts. Unbeknownst to him was what element was blasted his way. If it was a light-based element such as fire or light, the first attack would shatter the dark manifested shield like glass, but otherwise still deflect it, while the second sphere that was cast would not allow much time to avoid. 

All in this instance of him casting his protective shield, he made sure to stand just in front and off to the side of the princess while drawing his bow and nocking and arrow for use to fire upon dropping the shield aimed for the mage's thigh should both attacks be dealt with, otherwise he may be taking a hit if he couldn't avoid the second one before equipping his bow. 

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The princess released a feminine yell as the collision of the silver spheres collided into the shadow walls. She couldn’t see the assailant behind the barricade of darkness, as shadows had a habit of robbing vision beyond their presence. Unfortunately, as suggested with the princess’s ability to harness light based illusions of golden butterflies, the people of her kingdom specialized in different varieties of light magic. The silvery sheen was taken from the lunar glow of the moon itself. Despite its advantage, the quickness of the attack made it weak—it took each assault to crumble the wall, but when it did, restoring the vision beyond it, the man had vanished.

 The princess breathed heavily behind him, her small hands softly reaching up and gripping the back of his shirt. She spoke rapidly.

 “Some of our soldiers can use the light of the sun or moon to disguise themselves in illusions.”

 The man would have a few seconds to understand what she said before a wavering of colors occurred on his left and the princess’s long hair was yanked, causing her to stumble back with a yell. The tug was so fierce that her stumble turned to a trip over her own feet and she fell back to her rear. It was quick, and between her and the man the rouged villain reappeared with two silvery glints of curved daggers within his hands—one sliding across the air at the savior's throat whilst the other guarded his body on standby. The blades of the weapon glowed with the same silvery magic that extended the lethalness of their swing.

 She fell to the ground, tears in her eyes from the sting of the pull, but quickly recovering to a roll on her thighs. She sat up in a crouch. As the two exchanged blows, which she watched for a whole five seconds before feeling too useless not to do anything, she got up and ran. At first she seemed to be running away, but she was rushing towards the horses. Upon reaching carriage she began to work on detaching the reigns of two of the horses from the carriage. Maybe if she could detach them, she would provide them a quick escape.

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A crash of sound like a similar version of metal breaking glass - loud enough for nearby patrons of the tavern walls to hear - was heard as the two silvery spheres of energy blasts shattered the hero of the night's dark abyss of a barrier. In the moment of the barrier collapsing like a sheet of broken glass, the man aimed his arrow for where he last saw his current enemy only to not find him there.

Soft words reached his ear as he was given a clue to the robed man's whereabouts - hidden by the shine of the moon's light. This confirmed that his magic would counteract his shadow ability. This fight would need to be ended by physical combat, the analysis he made in his mind.

The woman he rescued was soon yanked away from him, which gave away the enemy's current position. He was better off having tried to pierce him with his blade while hidden by magic. The shadow of the night's reaction time was heightened by years of training. With the corner of his pupil and just past his hooded face, he could see the glint of metal and magic coming his way from his left in which he reacted by using the metallic part of the front of his bow as a shield to parry the near fatal blow aimed at his neck.

The clash of the two weapons caused a bright glint which the two of them were able to back off slightly to put a bit of distance between them. In that slight hesitation before the next attack, he could feel the presence of his freed prison running in what he believed to be the direction of their carriage and horses, but his eyes never removed from the form of his enemy.

Through his clothed face, the man whistled a short tune as a command to  his fox companion - causing her to leap out of the bag of arrows and follow the woman to the horses. They didn't have a lot of time before others would join them outside the pub. He nocked the arrow with intense speed and fired it toward the chest of the man who stood a few yards away. The arrow was parried away with ease as expected, but that momentary lapse gave the man time to put the bow away and draw his blade from the sheath attached to his waist and follow with a few slashes towards his enemy. Each attack was either blocked, avoided or parried by the twin dagger wielder, but each time the two weapons clashed, more glinting magic flew like sparks from a firework, lighting up a few yards of the area around them.

The robed man was clearly a skilled fighter as was the night stalker before him. It was during this standoff that Kimi joined up with the desert rarity, but her small stature prevented her from being able to assist in freeing the horses from their shackles, but she sat upon one of the horses' backs watching diligently.

The two men collided again in a mixed martial arts contest using their physical abilities to try to take one another out. A leg sweep thrown by the robed man was avoided with a quick raise of the front left leg of the shadow caster. As it landed on the ground, it rose again to follow up in a succession of quick kicks which were checked. The checked kicks were followed by a spinning slash attack from the light caster. Three quick rotations where each was faster than the last, but each metal swipe was blocked by the sword of the weapon master, who held the sword with his right hand and braced it with his left. The final spin was met with a thrust of the right foot into the abdomen of the dual wielding foe, the force causing him to stumble back.

This fight was going no where fast between them. They were matching each other blow for blow and without the use of his shadows, he was at a distinct disadvantage. Both their breathing was a bit labored from the fight, but this only fueled the blood lust within to want to surface. The former assassin had no intention of killing this man unless it was absolutely necessary, trying to cast off the former shadow of himself. Part of him had hoped the earlier robed man wasn't dead even after witnessing the mistreatment of the young beauty. However, this short fight brought back glimpses of himself.

Shortly after the short intermission of fighting began, there was a low sound of footsteps coming closer toward them, but not from a person. The horses were recovered by the former prisoner that in this moment seemed to shine as the hero of this night by riding with two horses, one freed for him to ride on - Kimi sitting on the horse with the desert beauty. The shadow caster didn't hesitate to run in the direction of the horses' path to cut them off. He sheathed his weapon and leaped up upon the back of the freed horse - just in time as the two other robed men had also joined them outside to watch them escape along with other spectators for the fight. There were some that recognized that the girl on the horse was the dancer from earlier and groaned and complained based on their interest in wanting to see her performance once more, not knowing the true ramifications of what transpired. The shared hero of the night looked back and had mixed emotions toward the man from the bathroom still being alive, but they were finally off toward freedom. Surely they would pursue them, but his number one goal was to bring the princess back to her home in the desert kingdom.

While riding upon the back of the bare horse, he looked toward his savior from what could have been a brutal fight and grinned slightly under his clothed mask. He removed the face covering, "I guess I should thank you for saving me." Little did the princess know that he was referring to saving him from himself in almost getting the urge to kill the dual wielding man. Kimi even shouted a delighted cry to see her companion safe. They rode off into the night to get a safe distance away from their pursuers and away from the city of Joran.

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The sound of clashing metal and masculine grunts echoed behind the princess as she frantically worked to untie the reigns of the horses. Several times she heard an exclaim too uncomfortable to bear, but was forced to steel herself. She knew each moment counted and she didn't have time to turn around to be a gasping damsel. She didn't know the man, but she had to trust him. She had to trust that he was skilled, and that her father would only allow the most proficient to save his daughter.  Finally a distinctive click announced the release of two strong stallions and the princess leaped on a golden steed. Gripping the black mane of the other, she clicked her tongue and ordered them to gallop.

He heard the thunderous hooves before she needed to call to him. She released the moving horse so he could leap to its back, then kicked her heels her own's flanks, yelling out for it to release all its speed. Grateful for the chance to run free without a carriage, the horses were all but desperate to run. Dust rose behind them as they rushed towards the distance. The princess glanced back to see the shrinking man jumped to his heels.

 

"Shit!" The man yelled as the others came to the outside. His hands immediately glowed silver, announcing another sphere of silver soon to blast the hooves from under the horses' legs.

Princess acted before she realized what she was doing. Using her advanced acrobatic skills, she gripped the blonde mane of the horse, leaping from its running form and planting a single foot to the rushing earth.  With an incredible and rapidly timed precision, she sprung back into a elegant flip that resulted in her sitting backwards on the steed. A chant burst from her rosy lips, and from her fingers and palms, a grand mass of golden butterflies swarmed behind them like a plague of locus. The sky was literally lit up from the spectacle, the princess' ravenous hair flying in the wind from the potency of power and her caramel tan skin illuminating into a bronzy glory. The patrons of the tavern cheered at the butterflies swarmed them, thinking the amazing art apart of a secret new show, but the brilliance blinded the trio of men. By the time it faded, the two would have vanished into dots against the night.

 

"What the FUCK just happened!" Exclaimed on of them as he rapidly gripped the collar of his moon-skilled partner. "Who the hell was that!"

 

"Ugh, I don't know." The gripped man responded, breaking the hold angrily. "He must have been sent from the kingdom."

 

"I doubt it," said the third, rubbing the bruising on his neck. "He's a shadow user. No one like that exists in our kingdom."

 

The first man, noted to be the one who incapacitated the tavern owner, quaked angrily before he yelled out and punched a wooden beam of the carriage. The impact alone caused the entire structure to not only blow away, but combust into an explosion of flames. The drunk patrons grasped, turning towards the three men, who ignored them all.

 

"I don't care who he is," he stated gruffly, his hand glowing in a violent red. "He's just became a dead man walking. Send messages to the others, we can't let her reach the kingdom. They'll have to cross the ocean to get to Terrenus, and will likely be heading to the nearest port. We worked too fucking hard for this, find them."  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

The desert flower blossomed, a beautiful smile radiating from her face between the tossing rivets of the raven locks beyond her face. Never before had she accomplished such a great fleet of illusionary magic. Even when the tavern was for from their vision, the glow of her magic illuminated a fragment of the horizon like the ascent of the sun. Strong thighs gripping the rushing horse tightly, her hands settled on the rear and she watched the luminescence until the light finally dispersed from the night.

 

"I guess I should thank you for saving me."

 

She glanced over at him, lifting a hand against her streaming hair so it sailed above her oceanic gaze. She flashed her teeth, shaking her head at his gratitude and preforming another impressive feat to flip herself forward again.

 

"No. Words cannot express my gratitude for what you have done for me. It is I who should be thanking you. You risked your life for me."

 

She moved to press her hand upon her chest and bow her head respectfully at him, but when she felt nothing but raw breast and warmth, a glance down made her realize her utter indecency. When riding backwards, the open cloak covered her completely, but upon her flip it flew back and sailed with her lengthy tresses, revealing how her slender and sculptured body galloped with the steed. Blushing madly, she quickly struggled to pull the cloak around her body, nearly falling off the horse if it weren't for her clenching legs.  When she finally gripped it, she turned her head away from him, falling to a long silence. It wasn't until her heart calmed down and the tension of the awkward moment took a breath that she managed to speak again.

 

'Uhm," she began, loud enough to penetrate the sound of the rushing wind and tromping hooves. "I would appreciate real clothes. Where are we going?"

 

Still  refusing to look at him, she glanced forward and finally noticed the furry fox sitting cutely in the notch of the horse's neck. As a trainer of beasts, the princess illuminated with fascination and demonstrated a classic feminine enamorment of the adorable creature.

 

"Oh!" she exclaimed, nearly forgetting her embarrassment (though her continual tight clench of the cloak demonstrated she clearly didn't), and she reached with her free hand to pet the fox. "Hello there! Is he...erm...she?" She hunched her shoulders, peaking between the fur covered legs to verify. "Alright, he. Is he yours? What is his name?"

 

She laughed delightedly as she tickled the fox behind the ears. The ease of her riding without hands announced her dexterity on a horse. In her homeland, she often performed acrobatic feats upon running desert animals, horses included. Her elegance was unfathomable, saturated with harmonious movement that made her appear to  not only understand the stride but the sheer freedom and thoughts of the golden mustang.  With this, the beast tamer was breathtaking beautiful against the night ride. In her natural element, her exquisiteness and synchronous cadence to the movement of the horse made her appear to be dancing on the very wind. Her hair, blacker than the night, was a long river behind her, extending beyond even the slithering tail of the steed.  Her laughter chimed and her starlight eyes sparkled, the princess appeared to blossom straight the pages of a fairy-tale.

 

After enjoying a soft moment with the fox, she finally gained the courage to look at her savior again, though it was noted she didn't peer into his eyes.

 

"My...father sent you?" She said, remembering the signature and royal mark. "What is your name?"
  

Edited by Fallen Joy

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