"Souls far too different from one another but interconnected in a way none of them would have ever expected are drawn to each other. This is the start of their story."
The night had always brought a different sense of serenity and danger. The Kingdom of Therone was no different. Citizens have either already retired to their respective houses or have gone to the bar to drink their night away and perhaps spend a night with someone. Guards patrol the empty streets in pairs but most are sluggish and stick to one spot for an elongated amount of time. Even they need rest too, you see. Drunken men and women shambles through the streets, and thieves and criminals meet under the blanket of the night - none holding the knowledge of what happens beneath their feet.
The Underground Reformation Center is still very much alive - each step of the diligent guards resounding against the walls. Many things can be heard here. There are pleas of pardon, taunts, cries, screeches, mutters of insanity, groans. There is no peace in the prison even as the guards pull the prisons through the bars to tell them to shut up, they merely succumb once more to the insanity that claimed so many. You jolt back as one prisoner lunged forward, arms slotting through the bars but the guard was quick to take out his sword and hit the prisoner with the pommel.
The guard shrugs - might want to keep away eh?
They say there was only little hope of escape… legally or illegally. It was quite obvious to a newcomer. Walking down the unholy halls of the prison, you watch as prisoners stare at you as if they haven't seen another being in years. Or perhaps they truly haven't seen anyone aside from the masked and heavily armored guards that patrol in front of their cells and feed them. Such poor, unfortunate souls who turned to the life of crime to survive only to never see the light of day ever again.
The deeper you go, the more dangerous the captives. When you pass through a certain gate, an eerie silence envelops the area. There is no sound aside from the guards occasionally chatting. The prisoners are silent, giving a thousand mile stare as they sit on their cots or on the ground. These are hardened criminals. These are the criminals who could fight back squads of soldiers without breaking a sweat, they often say, so dangerous that some are even chained to the ground to prevent them from even getting close to the patrolling guards. But they are far more disciplined… or perhaps resigned to their fate. Though it is ill-advised to ever look at them for an unsettling feeling would overcome you. There is something about those cold and unfeeling eyes that makes you shiver in fear; it is as if they are imagining what kind of joy it would bring them to strip you of everything you have and be free.
You ask the guard - who are these people?
He grins at you - the people you would never want to meet.
He extends a baton and begins rattling the prison bars as you two walk - murderers, serial killers, arsonists, the criminally insane. They're the kind of people you could have passed by or even drank with and they just didn't target you. You gotta be thankful.
You suddenly stop as the guard spits at a cell and he receives a cold glare - why?
The guard draws up to his full height - just some traitorous scum.
You peek from behind him and the person inside looks genuinely surprised to see you. But there was no feeling of malice like the others. You look away and proceed forward and never look back. Once you were above ground again after inspection, you ask - who was it, the traitor?
The guard snarls - The Captain of the Royal Guard.
Admittedly, the silence was more damning than the imprisonment. Aside from the occasional tease from the guard and the steps, there was nothing. The door to her cell was just a wall with a small door, a slide window to check up on her and this small hole for the food.
Solitary confinement sure was something.
She still vividly remember what had happened a few days prior as her hands were tied and she was shoved down to the URC. Cassandra had known what was inside - she filled a couple of cells with her own catches during her captain years and even more before that. It was maddening to see them again, eyes wide with surprise but that all-knowing smirk they gave her made her blood boil.
You're no better than us, Captain.
Too bad she never really heard anything from their mouths. They were far too silent, even the most boisterous ones she had put there simply stared. There was something wrong with them and she could feel it. Had they been driven mad completely? Cassandra never understood the fact why it was better to catch then alive and simply stick them inside a jail for the rest of their lives. Sure, this prison had nearly a zero chance of escape without some complicated plan but if they managed to escape. Well, that would just be disastrous.
Cassandra leaned her head back onto the wall with a loud thunk. She was unsure how long they were planning to keep her in there, or if they were even planning on taking her out. All of this due to a misunderstanding with the princess. Despite their explanation, no one was having any of it and she was thrown in the most guarded part of the prison as if she would even think of escaping.
It’s been days since she had been thrown into the jail. She had heard prison doors opening and more footsteps - she assumed that prisoners were being taken somewhere. To where, Cassandra didn’t exactly know. She wondered what they were doing considering there wasn’t any chances of playing with your fellow prisoners. So for what reason were they being taken out? And it’s unnecessarily risky considering they could fight a couple of guards unarmed. Still, there was no attempts in escape.
The longer she stayed, the more she wondered what exactly happens beneath their feet and to the people she had placed in here.
Somewhere, in the dark halls of Therone's infamous Underground Reformation Centre, was a figure clad in thick armor with face hidden by a masked helm. Perhaps a normal sight in the prison considering guards would normally roam around, however, this particular one seemed to be having difficulty lumbering through. It was as if the guard wasn't used to wearing such heavy pieces as they half-dragged themselves onward. The scene earned sharp giggles and laughter from the crazier ones while the rest were alarmingly unresponsive. Nonetheless, their mockeries fell in vain as the figure continued what it was doing since half an hour ago, which was pausing in front of every cell to look at each convict's face before moving on to the next.
Finally, the limping guard has reached a new environment. The cells in the particular area were enclosed unlike the rest. There were only small slide windows to peer through which meant the mysterious persona will have to exert more effort. This and the sight of the seemingly endless hall were more than enough for them to let out a heavy sigh and remove their helm.
"Oh fuck me..."
Behold, as short blonde locks were released from their confines and a lady with regal features revealed herself. It was none other than the Princess of Therone, Regina Victoria Honora Serana Lavinia Euphemia Alexandria Celestina Gwenllian y Emhyr IX, on a quest to save her Captain. For the past few days she has spent her time cooped up inside her room, throwing tantrums and futile attempts to convince her parents to set Cassandra free. They were being big jerks and even forbid her to leave her room without at least ten guards. She couldn't take it anymore so she decided to sneak off and seek Cass whom she missed dearly... and maybe convince her to start a grand adventure with her.
"Captain, are you there? Say 'Aye, Aye' if you are..."
Came her small whisper as she peeked through a cell's window- only to be met with the sight of a man carving an eerie image of something on the wall. She couldn't quite describe it but it looked otherworldly. The Princess leaned away, face contorted in mild disgust and confusion before limping to the next and asking the same question. Alas, it seemed as if luck was not in her favor as she almost got her eyes clawed out by a female inmate muttering some ominous words. The process continued and her efforts were all sent to the gutters as none of the numerous cells she has checked contained her Captain. To make matters worse, the people locked up in the URC seemed to be heavily fucked-up. Not in the way she liked.
Eventually she reached a point where she was too displeased that she was half-ready to just scream for Cass. Thankfully, her logical side got the best of her and she opted to be more patient. It'd be bad if she end up gathering the attention of the guards. Surely they will send her back to the palace. No! She doesn't want to go back and see her parents! She wants freedom! She needs freedom! So she will run away with the Captain and nobody can stop her!
The Princess found herself in front of another cell when her musings ended. She slowly reached out for the window and slid it open before taking a careful peek inside, keeping in mind not to lean in to close in case another prisoner tried to attack her face again. The blonde squinted her eyes, she could make out a figure of a human leaning against a wall but she couldn't tell if it was the Captain or not, seeing that the room was dimly lit.
Cassandra had heard the footsteps and the rumblings of her fellow prisoners far before whoever was walking had come to her door. It was an odd thing, really, since the prisoners were so easily agitated. There was a lot of rattling and banging. Perhaps this was a new guard? Nevertheless, Cassandra stayed in her position with her eyes glued at the door.
Was this foolish guard making his first rounds and making sure everyone was inside? This guard must have pulled the short straw. Poor lad.
The window slid open - carefully. Must have learned their lesson after the first round of people they had to check up on. Cassandra was about to let it go, to be honest. She could still be seen and that was usually enough for the guards before they moved on. Their teases often came but she imagined that this new guy must still be intimidated enough by her presence. It happened the first day she was there until they got that feeling of superiority because they were on the other side of the door.
But her voice came through and that snapped Cassandra out of her thoughts.
“Princess?” She said, low and slow - barely a whisper. She pushed herself off the wall and slowly walked towards the door. But it was full of suspicion and wariness. It was likely some sort of auditory illusion her mind. Why would the princess be here? And alone? Yes that was impossible. After everything had happened, the king and queen probably wouldn’t have allowed her outside.
But as she grew closer, she could see the face of her visitor clearer. And it was her - Cassandra couldn’t mistake her for anyone else. She stopped a few inches from the door, as if afraid to step forward. “It is you.” She said, louder this time. A few moments passed with her just staring. Something familiar that wasn’t a guard giving her a sneer.
Then logic prevailed in her mind once more. “What are you doing here?” She asked, trying to control her voice so it wouldn’t be too loud. The last thing she wanted was attracting the attention of a guard. “You’re not supposed to be here princess. It’s dangerous down here.” She continued. The princess wasn’t a combatant and this area was crawling with the most dangerous fighters who ever passed the kingdom of Therone.
The Princess felt her eyes water up when the Captain revealed herself to her. Finally, her great struggles has been rewarded as she stared back at the other woman’s brown eyes. Seeing Cass brought joy to her heart along with the feeling of wanting to touch and be touched by her. She wanted to run to her embrace, tell her how lonely she has been, and, perhaps, continue their endeavor which was rudely interrupted, giving birth to this tragic event. Alas! A door separated them from each other. The Princess can only press herself towards it to reach a hand out for the Captain through the small hole.
“But I missed you.” she whispered with small sniffles, “What was I supposed to do? It has been days and you’re still locked up. I have been so lonely without you.”
Uncertainty passed her face when the princess reached forward. Many thoughts passed her head - how this was wrong and how this landed them in this position in the first place. Their relationship - whatever it was - had been the main cause of this all. But she couldn’t deny the fact that she was craving for something to ground herself to reality. She can’t deny her body the physical affection the princess could give.
She took measured steps forward, taking the princess’s hand with both of hers. It had only been a few days but who knew such a familiar feeling would feel so foreign? Feeling something else aside from wood and metal… her grip on the princess tightened and she let a smile slip from her facade.
“And I without you princess.” She admitted. She had half a mind to question the princess whether she sought out Aveline or the others - people who knew Cass by both reputation and personally. She wanted to ask how they viewed the situation. But… perhaps that can wait until later. “I imagine his excellency did not listen to you?” She let out a dry chuckle. “Though I can understand as much, I would be furious if my daughter was… ah, caught in that situation with one of his trusted subordinates.” She knew better than to truly make light of the situation but, for the princess, she’d rather look calmer than she really is.
It saddened the Princess that the hands she adored so much has grown so cold in the confines of such dejected place. Clearly, the Captain does not belong there and it pained her to be the reason behind it. Seeing her smile and receiving a squeeze from her, however, were enough to lift her mood up.
“I told them you weren’t assaulting me that time and I loved what we were doing!” she whined, briefly forgetting about their whereabouts, before wincing at the volume of her voice. “...I’m sorry. You wouldn’t have been down here if I've been quiet.” she muttered as she felt another tear run down her cheek. Truly, she felt bad. She knew the Captain for years, even before she rose to the title, and was aware of the hardships she had to go through for it. To think that all of it would be strip from her all because of a simple misunderstanding and her parents’ refusal to listen was more than absurd!
Cassandra found no will to be embarrassed by the admittance of the princess. Normally, she’d be looking away by now while someone laughed close to her and patted her back. Normal wasn’t exactly something she had the privilege of having for the past few days. However, what alarmed her was the volume of the princess’s voice and she was about shush her - though she seemed to understand that quickly and lowered her voice again.
She slowly released the woman’s hands and inched closer to the door and reached out a hand to wipe the tear that escaped her eyes. “Come now princess, don’t cry. It’s not your fault.” Cassandra wanted to curse the door that was between them - having the urge to hug and comfort the princess. Not even in that sense, she just wanted to let the princess know that she was fine.
Fine? Was that how one could count the situation she was in. Stripped of her honor, her position and the goal of her life, now placed with the same people she hunted down. Her family surely disowned her by now. Not even her brother had descended to this prison to see her.
But this is not about her, no. Her focus was the crying younger woman on the other side of the door. “It’ll be fine. I’m sure it will be.” She caressed the princess’s face, rubbing her thumb against the woman’s cheek to be as reassuring as possible.
The Princess took comfort in the Captain’s words. She felt relieved that Cass didn’t blame her for this whole fiasco. If she did then she would neither know what to say nor do. The blonde allowed herself to be consoled by the other’s touch, willing her eyes to stop crying as the brunette wiped her tears away. She retracted her hand from the hole, put it on top of the Captain’s hand on her face, before tilting her head a little bit to the side to plant a gentle kiss on her palm.
“I’ll get you out of here.” she said as she fixed her gaze on her brown eyes.
Fine? This wasn’t fine. The Princess had seen what would become of the Captain if she stayed in the four-corners of her gloomy cell. She would end up just like the other prisoners; carving horrors on the wall, chanting endless curses, and the likes. No way she’d allow her to freely go down this one-way trip to insanity! Besides, who else would help her kickstart the grand adventure she has been longing for so long?
With a strong resolve, the Princess took a step back and began to warm-up. She rotated her shoulders, massaged her neck and tapped her biceps before grabbing onto the door handle. The royalty began to pull on the object, exerting as much force as she could to try and get it to open. Unfortunately, the door wasn’t even budging despite her efforts. Needless to say, the Princess wasn’t exactly known for her physical prowess.
“Hnnnnngggggg! J-Just wait a bit, hnnnnggggggg…!”
When the princess promised to get her out of there, Cassandra had been honestly thinking she would charm a guard to give her the keys. She had those kinds of skills. Both she and the princess knew that. So she stepped back, retreating her arm inside the prison and was going to wait for however long it takes for her to either get the key or ultimately give up. She wasn’t sure which one she was expecting to happen.
So when the princess started to limber up, the previous Captain tilted her head to the side with an eyebrow raised. “What are you-”
Ah yes, of course. The princess was trying her hand at pulling the bolted door - mind you, even she couldn’t budge, human as she is - to obviously no avail. Cassandra would have been endlessly amused by this, truly she would have. In fact, deep inside her, she was thoroughly amused.
“Princess, I say this with only the purest and most honest intentions.” She started. Despite however close they were, respect was still demanded between soldier and royalty. “I highly doubt you will be able to open that door in your physical condition.” The princess wasn’t sick - she was just untrained in the physical department.
The Princess paid no heed to the Captain’s words as she continued on pulling and grumbling uncontrollably. She could feel her muscles straining, her veins about to pop, and her spine about to break. It was then that she decided to pause and step back. However, do not be fooled for she was far from disheartened to accomplish her goal.
She figured that it must be because of the hefty armors covering her body. Where did she even get them? Let’s just say somewhere in the underground prison was an actual guard, lying naked and unconscious, in one of the many empty cells.
The blonde female slowly and carefully slipped out of the metal coverings, making extra efforts to avoid creating loud noises. Finally, she was wholly out, with her nightgown- thin, silky and highly skimpy- on full display. A variety of extravagant jewelries were scattered on her body in a ridiculous amount and it was obvious that they were all from the Royal Vault.
She grinned at the Captain sheepishly. She knew she wouldn’t be thrilled to find out that her protectee had been sneaking off and borrowing some stuff in one of the most highly protected vaults in the kingdom. Nonetheless, she was the princess so she should be fine!
Dainty fingers wrapped themselves around the door’s handle once more. The royalty opted to put a foot against the wall this time to gain additional force. She started her attempt to pry the door open once again, tugging on the hard object with the best of her might.
Nearby, something was dreaming. Their dreaming mind flashed here and there, from memory to memory and place to place. Scraps of summer days and free skies relished as they passed. Darker memories lurked there too, loss, loneliness, and more recent sharper ones. Screaming, thrashing, struggling with no escape and to no end. Throughout there were scraps of a voice and a face, something that would never be forgotten. The voice that would be remembered until the drawing of the last breath. The sleeper almost didn’t notice that the voice had become real, until it became tinged with affection. The voice was many things in her head, teasing, taunting, amused, irritated, playful, flat. Never affectionate. Something awoke in it’s cell and simply listened. It could hear voices nearby, caught in quiet conversation. The mind there moved fast. It knew exactly what the presence of that voice here meant. That mind started moving without a moment of hesitation when it realized that the other voice would not be able to successfully free the first.
Down the hall from the princess there was a whisper of movement, something rising and moving. It was almost paradoxically quiet compared to what came next. A thud and a crunching sound of stone giving way almost at the same time as a huge, grating, thundering crash, the sound of a large solid metal door slamming into the opposite wall. There was no slow effort or great exhibition of strength. One simple impact and the door was gone.
“Eeeeeeeek!” the Princess visibly jumped in both fear and surprise before she whipped her head to the direction of the unanticipated noise, “Captain, something’s coming!”
She tilted her head, panic now overcoming amusement. There was the crunching of stone and that already meant that someone was coming - something was breaking out. Then a loud sound that seemed like something hitting the wall with force. Then came the princess’s worried tone. “Then get out of here. Quickly.” She urged.
There was a faint lavender glow as something stepped out into the hall. When the figure became apparent it was almost anti-climactic. A gaunt, scarred woman who looked half starved and was wearing vaguely clothes shaped rags. The only clean cloth on her body was the bandages wrapped around the entirety of her left arm and shoulder that were almost too clean and tidy. Her eyes were flat and empty, but despite her obvious hunger she stalked down the hall with an unconscious grace. She barely appeared to notice the princess, although she scanned the hall as she entered it so she was aware of her presence. She approached the door the captain was behind instead and gripped it. It was a large solid door, and besides the door itself there were bolts and hinges invisibly hooking it into the stone. Lean muscles throughout her body flexed, most visibly so considering her garb. With a crunching screech the door simply lifted free of its moorings. With little visible effort the strange figure stepped to the side with the door and placed it against the wall before walking wordlessly back towards her cell, intent on returning to her bare metal cot.
Of course, the last thing she really had expected was anything happening. The princess had made no move and Cassandra wanted nothing more than to get out and confront whatever was walking down the halls. It was a heavy presence, the one that approached. Cassandra wasn’t a pushover when it came to hand to hand combat but she had always been at her best with a blade by her side - or any kind of weaponry really.
But she knew she was way in over her head when the door was ripped from its hinges without even a grunt from whoever was responsible. And maybe the first thought in her head was: How am I going to beat whoever that is and escape?
In the moment of stunned silence, whoever ripped the door had left. Cassandra cautiously stepped outside, looking towards where the footsteps had gone and noticed the door that had embedded itself onto the wall.
“Okay.” Cassandra started slowly, logic not exactly catching up with her actions. She turned to the princess. “Are you okay princess?”
The event which unfolded right before her eyes caught the Princess off guard. She stood frozen in place and only moved when Cass stepped out of her cell so she could stare at her with a gaping expression.
“T-That was….” she stuttered just as her eyes began to twinkle, “THAT WAS HOT!”
The Princess vividly recalled how the mysterious woman’s muscles flexed right in front of her eyes. The feat which she found extremely difficult to accomplish seemed so easy for her and, needless to say, the blonde found it to be very spectacular. She wanted to see her again. No, she needed to see her!
With mindless thinking, she rushed to where she saw the prisoner walk off to- which was a cell only a few steps away from the Captain’s.
What did Cassandra expect really? Fear? In the face of the princess? Of course, she wasn’t expecting for her to scream and rushing towards where she suspected the being - likely an actual very hot person for the princess to act like this - but she should have expected that this might happen. Cassandra knew that plenty of the criminals she had placed here were within the princess’s standards.
She followed behind the princess and peeked inside the prison room where the lone figure was back on her cot. Largely uncomfortable - Cassandra knew that much. Something about her screamed familiarity, however, but she couldn’t quite place it. “Hey.” She called out, still cautious but still… this person practically saved her and didn’t bring any harm to either her or the princess. So, the Captain took it a step further and entered the prison. “So, uh, thanks for the save. Do you… want to come with us? I’m sure the princess wouldn’t mind.” She absentmindedly gestured towards the broken doorway.
The gaunt woman was oddly still for a few brief seconds. In one smooth movement she rolled up into a sitting position, leaning back against the wall with an air of familiarity, the kind of ease that comes with doing the same thing thousands upon thousands of times. When she spoke her voice was, not fun, to listen to. It was rough and slow, as if unused and damaged, and above all else carried an air of exhaustion, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Cassandra narrowed her eyes at the woman as she sat up. And that was when she understood who exactly this person was. She… looked different from when they last saw each other all those years ago. Just different would be an understatement if she was going to be honest. Still, to think that the person she fought and worked with had been under her feet this entire time. And she carried the tone of brokenness in her speech, nothing like the snarky pirate she once knew.
All caution was thrown out of the wind as the Captain closed in, fast strides towards the cot and placed two hands on the prisoner's shoulders. "Kate?" She mumbled, unsure but she knew. Oh, Cassandra can't mistake her for anyone else. "All these years and you were here the entire time." She looked down, examining her. Everything was different… and being locked up in solitary confinement for years was obviously the reason for that. "You have to come with us. I can't leave you here." Cassandra said with an air of finality. They were enemies but they were also friends… however that worked.
Kate briefly went very still under the Captain’s hands. There were a number of reasons and a number of thoughts running through her head, but ultimately it came down to a very simple calculation. She had made enough noise to guarantee an official rather than unofficial reaction, and while that meant a number of things, the key point was that they did not have much time. She didn’t have time to try and get Cass to leave without her, and she knew the Captain well enough to know that doing so would be no easy task. She needed the Captain to go, and now that meant going with. When she spoke only a moment or two had passed and she let out a soft sigh, “As you wish Captain. We need to go.” She brought her hands up to meet the Captain’s as she spoke and gave herself a brief moment of contact befores she gently moved them away and stood. When she spoke again her voice was rough but businesslike, “We have a few minutes before the cavalry hit the area. We should be as far away as we can be before then.”
The Captain gave her a nod and let go of her once she started to stand, moving backwards to give her enough space. "Yeah, I know." She knew that the URC would mobilize quickly but they had time. She gestured with her head for Kate to follow before exiting the prison cell. "Okay, so escape first then we're taking the princess back to the castle. I have a safehouse no one knows of where we can lay low for a while." She pointed out. It was supposed to serve the purpose of being a safe space for when someone takes over Therone but this works too. She paused for a moment as she looked down the hallway to the entrance.
"I have to get my sword back." She mumbled to herself, fully knowing that her weapon was locked up in there. She looked back at the two. "The only way out is the only way in. Luckily there's a lot of passages we can take to avoid the main brunt of the troop." Cassandra took a deep breath to prepare herself for the inevitable fight. No armor. No weapon. She's had worse odds before. "Any questions before we dive ourselves headfirst into a death wish?" She gave the two a small grin. The battlefield was always where she would belong after all, and this was familiar. Better than rotting away in a jail.
The Princess was shocked to find out that the two women apparently knew each other. She would have pried on it further but she opted not to. Clearly, this wasn’t the moment for long chitchat as she felt an adrenaline rush to her system. This was it! The start of the adventure she has been longing for!
“Actually,” the blonde piped up, “I’m not going back to the castle.” she admitted with a bright smile, acting as if it wasn’t going to be a big deal. It was then when her eyes lit up with more excitement as she announced, “I’m going off on a grand adventure! I want the two of you to come with me.”
Cassandra looked at the princess with a blank expression as she processed what the princess just said. Then looked over to what she had on - aside from such proactive clothing - were jewelry that she normally wouldn't have on her. She narrowed her eyes at the princess, took a deep breath and brought her fingers to pinch the bridge of her nose. "Seriously?" She grumbled. She couldn't just say no to the princess - she kind of saved her after all.
After another moment, she dropped her hand and just sighed. "Fine. We're getting off this island one way or another." She looked back at the only exit they had. "No need to make this sneaky. Kate, you think you can break down another door?" Cassandra asked as she walked over to the discarded armor the princess had. Inspecting it for a while, she decided it was large enough to fit her and she began putting it on. "Three doors down the hallway you'd find a black, metal door." She began to recount. "Break it down and clear immediately. I'll talk to her." She continued and gestured for them to go ahead first as she finished up dressing herself appropriately for battle.
Kate gave a short nod and turned away. The door itself was easy enough to find, a large black metal edifice in the stone. Kate stared at it for a moment. Before she would have declared it impassible. Now she took a short turn away and then turned back into a single solid kick. She threw the full weight of her frustrations and her strength behind the blow. The door exploded. Really that wasn’t quite accurate. The wall around the door and the door itself shattered inwards, breaking apart into the room beyond. Kate glanced into the room and then turned to the Captain and said in a slightly deadpan tone, “Oops. Door’s open.”
Cassandra's head snapped up when Kate kicked the door open - or well, destroyed the entire prison wall to be more accurate. She had questions but that was for later. She sauntered into her prison room and grabbed the singular blanket they provided her before heading up. "It sure is." She muttered before peeking inside the hole and then suddenly bringing her entire body back to cover when a huge fireball soared through the door. "Whoa there Heliora!" She yelled out. "We're busting out and you're gonna help us." She continued. After a moment of silence, Cassandra looked back inside to see that the fire elemental was staring blankly at her.
"I never thought I'd see the day." Her hollow, nearly eerie voice echoed in her metal room. She strode forward, magical flame left in her wake but soon dissipating into nothing. The temperature rose as she grew closer before eyeing the blanket, snatching it up and burning it to ashes. There was a sound that was akin to that of a sharp inhale. "Breaking out will be easy." She said, her entire body igniting even further - causing a flash of bright light to which Cassandra squinted. "At your call Captain."
The mocking tone was not lost to Cassandra but she shrugged and grabbed the dagger the armor had and spun it in her hands. "Excellent. I'd like to not kill any of these guys but if they leave you no choice…" she trailed off, her meaning clear. "We go to the armory first where they kept our weapons if you had any, then let's bust out of here." She turned to Kate for a moment. "Do you have a ship we can use to get out of here?"
Kate suddenly had a terrible idea for a momentously bad plan. When she spoke her voice was vaguely apologetic, “Hey Captain, I’m going to need you to trust me and get surfaced and to the north of here. If you can be on the surface north of here in ten minutes there will be a ship. Sorry about this part.” She smiled an apologetic smile and then her eyes went empty and dark, her face gone limp along with her body. Her fall wasn’t gentle or smooth, instead she fell like a puppet whose strings had been cut. Her body still lived but only just, and only if you looked carefully for her breath.
Cassandra turned to Kate, keeping the time in mind. Ten minutes was doable… barely. They would have to make a lot of shortcuts and- Cassandra was moving forward before she could process what had happened. Kate was now unconscious and slumped in her arms. But why? Could it be the she used the last of her energy breaking the elemental out. Nevertheless, she couldn't carry her and fight at the same time. But Heliora couldn't carry someone and be expected to not burn them - especially with the hunger she quite so clearly displayed. That left one person.
"Princess, I apologize for giving you this task but do you think you can carry Kate?" Uncertainty was clear in her voice. The princess did occasionally agree to help, she just wasn't sure if her body would hold up.
The Princess blinked. She has neither carried anyone nor anything bigger than a dog before. Her role has always been to be carried, not the other way around. This doesn’t mean, however, that she never dreamt of doing it. The thought of having the mysterious lady in her arms excited her as her mind wandered back to the images she has been looking at ever since she was a child, depicting brave knights carrying damsels to safety.
“Aye aye, Captain!” she exclaimed with an enthusiastic salute. The young woman approached the Captain, eyeing the unconscious body of the pirate before slipping her hands underneath her upper torso and knees. It was then when she picked her up from Cass’ arms, and if either her or Heliora were watching then they wouldn’t miss the way her face danced between triumph and displeasure. She gave the captain a shaky grin, “L-Let’s go.”
Cassandra watched as the princess attempted and surprisingly succeeded in carrying Kate in a bridal carry. After a moment of mulling it over, she sheathed her dagger. “You might collapse if you continue carrying her that.” She moved over and shifted Kate’s position with ease. “There we go, in that position, you’ll be able to move more.” She grinned and patted her shoulder. “Good luck princess.”
The thuds of heavy footsteps and the metal boots hitting the concrete floor were getting louder. “Ah yes, the guards are here.” Heliora observed. Cassandra gave her a nod before moving forward and grabbed her dagger. “Do you know where the armory you were talking about is?”
The Captain merely gave her a nod. The two walked forward and as soon as one guard reached the entrance, a fireball was sent forward and exploded. Screams. The smell of burning flesh. The unfortunate guard that was leading was now slumped to the ground. The two didn’t stop as they trudged forward as more guards came through the entrance. Heliora, conserving energy, had chosen her targets well - mainly aiming at the archers that had positioned them at the end of the bottleneck.
Cassandra strode forward and met the guard headfirst. She raised her dagger and allowed the longsword to brush against the side of the dagger, effectively redirecting it to her side. She brought her weapon up and slid the blade in between the helmet and the breastplate - piercing the flesh of the neck with ease. She pulled it back and the guard dropped his longsword and grabbed his neck to stop the bleeding before keeling over.
Giving her no time to rest, she pivoted and slammed the pommel on the incoming guard which caused the guard to stumble to the side. She switched the hold on the dagger and held it by the blade. She aimed and threw it at an archer preparing to send another arrow their way, hitting their shoulder and the archer retreated.
The next thing she knew, the entrance had become an inferno - magical fire licking at the guards and the walls and those that could move retreated. Cassandra looked to the side and grabbed the shortsword of a guard that had passed out. She let out a sigh. This wasn't her proudest moment, watching death permeate around them, but she couldn't say it was the first time.
"Come on. They're regrouping."
The two moved forward and Heliora dispelled her magical fire. Cassandra led them to the left and noticed that the guards weren't present. They must be trying to recover from Heliora's attack or preparing mages to counter her. Nevertheless, it does seem like a good idea to get their bearings first but now that they knew what they were up against, the guards would surely make a squadron that would directly counter them. Which only means they have to move quickly.
With the two leading the way, they weaved into the multiple passageways the prison had - passing prisoners who were begging to be let out as well but was paid no heed. They stopped close to the armory where some guards were posted, being handed out their preferred weaponry from within the armory.
Heliora was just about to start yet another encounter but Cass motioned to the other side of the hallway which was another route they could have taken. Getting the idea, Heliora turned and threw another fireball at the hallway and it exploded in a grand display. The guards all jumped to attention and ran towards the flames, expecting their prisoners to be lurking around.
They snuck into the armory where one person was going around and arranging what the soldiers had practically ransacked through. The captain gave them the signal to rest up. Cassandra crept forward and knocked the quartermaster out with a swift strike. She grabbed the keys from the unconscious body and went through the various detained goods. She was just glad that the quartermaster was kind enough - or bored enough - to lock their equipment separately according to prisoner. She grabbed the contents of the one for her, taking a breath of relief as she felt the familiar weight of the sabre by her side and took the remaining weapons inside. She grabbed the quartermaster’s bag and shoved in her clothing and Kate’s stuff before walking back outside where the others were waiting.
Cassandra looked rather disturbed about something. She had found a name there that she was quite surprised to see among the inmates. Bastien Jaeger was a man of great renown for his combat abilities but also his loyalty to the country. This must be some sort of misunderstanding yes? She looked towards the group. “I need to check something out. Keep out of sight.”
With that, she began to traverse her way back into the thick of the prison. Many of the people were shouting inside, practically rioting by this point, and trying to get out of their own cells to no avail. That was when she came upon a rather silent room and she peeked inside, spotting the familiar blonde in his cell.
“Bastien?” She called out but she already knew that it was him. There was no mistaking the stoic soldier for anyone else. She headed towards the controls and released the lock on his door before making her way back and opening it. “I would ask why you’re in jail but we have no time.”
She looked back to the way she had used before looking back to him. “I need your help. We need to escape and you’re the perfect person for that. The princess somehow wormed her way inside too so we need to keep her safe. So what do you say?” There was a small voice in the back of her mind that told her that he wouldn’t be open to this kind of idea. But she held out her hope for him to help.
Bastien had been a good soldier, of this he was sure. He had been loyal, efficient, and had never so much as complained during his service. He even went as far as specifically volunteering for operations during his leave, despite wanting to visit his sister. He had been awarded commendations for his service and distinctions for his skill at arms. He had even been a special instructor at training camps and academies, teaching cadets how to arm and defuse bombs. All of this pointed to him being a good and valued soldier. Yet despite this here he was, sitting in a cell in the infamous Underground Reformation Center, framed for treason.
The guards had been nervous when they marched him to his cell, and so had the prisoners. The sight of the tall man, his face as expressionless as stone, coupled with his reputation had kept all but the most foolhardy and the furthest gone silent. It wasn't that his silent anger overwhelmed them, but the opposite. It was the lack of emotion they felt from him that scared them. Everyone showed something when they came down here, be it madness, anger, or despair. They would beg, cry, scream, shout, or, if nothing else, mutter to themselves with hollow eyes. Bastien, who showed nothing and offered no form of resistance, was something new to them, something they didn't know how to react to, and that unsettled them.
Bastien's mind was brought back to the present by the sound of the small window in his cell door sliding open. He looked up to see the face of one of the guards peering in at him. "What're you in for then?" The guard asked with a sneer, his voice rough and hoarse from shouting at prisoners, "Finally snap eh? Want something more that the army won't getcha huh?"Bastien simply gazed at the man in response, his icy blue eyes locked on the other man's, giving nothing away.
"Start blowing up little kiddies or something huh?" The guard continued, his face cramping slightly when he didn't get the response he'd anticipated. He began to get visibly unsettled as Bastien's silence began to stretch on, eventually turning and spitting on the ground so as to have an excuse to look away. "Creepy bastard, no wonder you're in here," He called over his shoulder as he began to stomp away from the cell, moving a little faster than he normally would.
Not long after the guard left, Bastien sprang to his feet as he heard the sound of an explosion, or rather of a large amount of fire being released in an enclosed area to be specific. He was not alone in noticing this as the other prisoners began to clamor too, he could hear shouts echoing from other parts of the prison, people begging to be let out of their cells too. In short, it would seem that Bastien was witnessing a prison break. His suspicions were confirmed a short while later when the door to his cell was opened, revealing the figure of Captain Cassandra Robin Breaux, who had been arrested before Bastien, also on charges of treason.
As soon as she began speaking Bastien stood rigidly at attention, his right hand snapping to his forehead in a crisp salute. "Understood," He replied curtly to her order to assist her group, which he was inwardly surprised to hear included Crown Princess Regina Victoria Honora Serana Lavinia Euphemia Alexandria Celestina Gwenllian y Emhyr IX of Therone, to escape. Wasting no time, he followed her out of his cell and to the armory, ignoring the shouts and pleas of the inmates on the way. His admiration of the Captain and the military mannerisms that had been drilled into him meaning that the thought of not helping her never even crossed his mind.
Once at the armory Bastien stopped and knelt in front of the Princess in accordance with military etiquette for meeting royalty, "Bastien Jaeger, former specialist to the Theronean Armed Forces, at your service your Majesty the Crown Princess."His introduction having been completed to an appropriate degree considering they were in a hostile environment, Bastien stood up, retrieving his belongings and relieving the Princess of the burden of the person she was carrying. Easily slinging the unconscious pirate over his shoulder, the tall man moved with the group towards the main gate, utilizing large-caliber revolver he had conjured in his free hand to dispatch those guards that tried to stop them with machine-like efficiency.
Upon arriving at the gate Bastien set the woman he'd been carrying down and banished his revolver. "Please get to cover,"he cautioned briefly, before beginning to create several large satchels of explosives, setting them at various points on and around the gates. With this done he conjured two massive tower shields with spiked bottoms before returning to the group and driving the spikes into the ground, using the shields to create a protective wall between them and charges.
"Detonation in 3... 2... 1..."
No sooner had he reached one when a massive explosion ripped through the air, a wave of concussive force slamming into both shields as Bastien held them, driving him back a few inches in the process. Once things had died down Bastien released his dented shields, causing them to dissolve into the air as he did so, revealing a gaping hole where the once-sturdy main gate had stood.
The Junkie and the Lady A collab between @Athanas and I
The rhythmical clanging had been going on for well over an hour now. Every five minutes, he would stop hammering away at the hinges and check to see if the door budged enough for him to fit his crowbar through. Yet the damn thing was proving much sturdier than it’s appearance gave it any right to be. It looked decrepit, any components found on the outside torn and battered beyond belief. Yet for some god-damned reason, this door appeared to have been spared the wrath of the elements and looters. “Just my fucking luck.”
The man currently banging on the hinges swore loudly and paused for a moment, trying to gauge if they had weakened at all. He cursed at length over not having the foresight to steal a few lockpicks from somewhere prior to trying to explore this abandoned building-the lock appeared simple, and he could’ve opened it within minutes. But no, instead he was condemned to trying to bust through the door like some half-witted ogre.
He stopped this train of thought-after all, it was not taking him anywhere- and refocused on the door. In a stroke of luck, it appeared that his continuous hammering had paid off. The door hung somewhat more loosely now, and he could finally use the crowbar to pry it open. A few more taxing minutes later, the door gave way with a satisfying CLANG, Letting him through to the building. He gave a silent thank-you to whatever Gods looked over techies such as him, and lit his three lanterns (Experimenting requires plenty of light, and whatever little could slip through the dust-caked windows just would not do). He set them on a workbench and tried to get a feel for what equipment was still functional in there. His heart missed a beat as his eyes took in the sight: Clearly, the strong door was a blessing in disguise. For while it had been broken into, It had also kept the many simple-minded looters away. Wherever he looked, tools, heavy machinery and blueprints. Quickly, he stuffed as many of the tools as could fit in his pack. Several kits for chemistry, maintenance and enchantment were also retrieved, and he squealed in delight. This place was definitely shaping up to be exactly how he wanted it to be.
Finally, the high starting to fade, he picked a bench that looked not as dusty as the others, set several of his tools on it, and began putting together the base materials: He was going to create a special brand of firearm, one that fired electricity! This was an idea that had been floating around in his head for a long while, yet only now could he truly begin seeing it through. He sang a happy tune as he worked, his cheerful attitude having returned fully.
On that same delightful summer day, ashy clouds floated across midnight blue as streets below spewed smoke and chemical fumes, covering the whole city in a dreary haze. Breaking the picture of the industrial revolution in action was a girl, no, a woman dressed in a skirt, looking very out of place in the sooty environment she strolled in.
Lace tapped the end of her umbrella against her metal-tipped oxfords, humming a discordant children’s song as she studied the grimy surroundings. It was a novelty to her, seeing how people worked and worked in these unsanitary factories without ever gaining anything of importance in return. She slowed down her brisk pace and smiled at the passing workers, not minding their dead eyes and unresponsive attitudes. She knew their minds were muddled after living so long in the toxic gas produced, so she didn’t take their disregard of her personally.
It wasn’t long before the sounds of metal clanging and machines whirring faded away and she ended up at the outskirts of the manufacturing district. There were no labourers walking to and fro here, only the silence of buildings long left unused. She blew a hair that had fallen in front of her eyes to the side, back to where it framed her heart-shaped face, spotting a building that seemed less weather-beaten than the rest. Curiosity beckoned her closer, logic telling her that the least dilapidated one must have more to see than the rest.
Lace skipped towards the crumbling exterior of the building, hoping it wouldn’t take much work to access the insides of the steel behemoth. Maybe her luck was good today since the dented door had been forced off and sat beside its bent frame. She whistled in appreciation and proceeded to saunter into the building until she noticed a man at a bench, hammering away at a hunk of metal under the light of three lanterns. Inching closer, she noticed it was somewhat in the shape of a firearm. Her eyes gleamed as she scanned his surroundings and her lips curved in a nefarious smile.
The dark-haired man was hunched over, so she couldn’t tell exactly his height, but she knew he was tall. Likely taller than her. He was dressed plainly, if one ignored the red gloves he wore, and seemed rather built. There were two holsters by his sides and the same number of hilts sticking out of his back, not good signs for a future thieving going well. The man didn’t look like one to be messed with, so her just-made tactic was to take his attention away, grab her item and skedaddle. It wasn’t much of a plan, sure, but there was really nothing else she could do without resorting to gems. Worry niggled at the back of her mind about being hacked to bits and pieces but she brushed it away, firming her conviction that he wouldn’t find out about his missing possession. Well, at least until she was far, far away from firing range.
“Good day, gentleman.” Lace put on what she believed was her most charming smile, walked towards him and tapped him on the shoulder. “Forgive my overstep of propriety, but I couldn’t help but peek at your work. What skill and ingenuity you have to make such a uh, creation!” She batted her lashes.
Jake was starting to grow really, really happy with how his project was turning out. This workshop was all he had been wishing for, and more! The contraption itself was building up to be quite the marvel! Oh, the mayhem he could cause with this! His cheerful song increased in tune and vibrance, and his feet had began to shuffle in a joyful manner.
“Good day, gentleman”. The words came from behind him, and they were followed up by a light tap on his shoulder.
Maybe it was the fact that Jake really, really didn’t get to talk to people very often. Maybe it was the fact that Lace was a goddamned blonde beauty. Maybe it was her flirtatious tone and behavior. Whatever it was, it made Jake’s mind have a total shutdown.
“Wha..How… uhhh…” was all his addled brain managed to muster. He took a few seconds to regather his thoughts. Luckily for him, she mentioned the tech he was working on, praising his skill. His heart did a little dance over getting praise by such a fine specimen. “Oh, you like it? This is nothing compared to the stuff I’ve uh… compared to some of my other projects!”
His mind buckled again as she batted his lashes at him. He was most definitely not used to this. Desperately trying to get some words out, he asked: “I don’t, uhh, I don’t usually see many people around workshops. What brings you here?”
Normally, he wouldn’t be anywhere near this trusting with someone, especially in such a loot-rich area. But there was no way this beautiful creature meant him any harm!
Lace cocked her head and felt a little bit bewildered. Did he have a speech defect? An aversion to talking with strange ladies? No matter, this only needed to distract him for long enough. Lace turned around with a quick one-two so her back was blocking his sight of the workbench.
“Yes, I do very much like it so! Oh, I would absolutely adore seeing some of your other projects another time. That would be such a dream come true,” Lace flattered, buttering him up as much as she could manage. “Maybe we could have a cup of tea at this lovely cafe I know of then.” She gave him a coy look and curled her hair around a finger. While her mouth was spewing enough sugar to give one cavities, her finger was steadily inching towards the man’s tools behind her skirt.
“Oh, I’m here because… I was taking a walk in the area and heard some noises coming from this building.” She giggled, trying to cover up her incompetent excuse. Her brain worked quickly to think of another topic to converse about. “How was your day?” Basic, classic, so, so boring but also the obvious go-to when a discussion was dying. She felt a smooth handle under her fingertips and her smile got a few watts brighter. Almost there. Freedom was literally at her fingertips.
Suddenly, Lace’s eyes lit up and she looked down at her wrist. “Oh my. I have a meeting I must attend that I am quite overdue for. I must be going, do have a wonderful day!” Carefully stepping around the debris littered on the dusty floor, she waved goodbye and started for the door.
Jake was bewildered when she said she liked it. Oh, why couldn’t more pretty girls be like that? Most just made up excuses to leave when he tried to explain the intricate machinations behind his contraptions. “Yes, I’d be delighted to uh, show you the ropes! Any time you want!”
His heart did a little dance as she gracefully leaned against his bench. As if though she intended to somehow stress him, she gave him a playful look, curling her hair in just the cutest way imaginable. He felt his mind locking up again. He turned his eyes to the ceiling, trying to avoid a complete shutdown again. Her next words about getting coffee, however, pleased him to no end. He smiled sheepishly. “Of course! You know what? I live in that small inn, “The Squire’s Choice”, at the north outskirts of the city. How about we meet there at dusk? I’ll be… I mean, it will be a pleasure to get to.. To get to know you!”
He cursed silently when Lace mentioned she had to go. No matter, he reminded himself. He’d see her soon enough. He waved at her as she stepped out the door. It took him several seconds after she vanished out of sight to get his mind back to working order. Who was she? What on earth was she doing here? And could he really be so lucky? Well, clearly she meant him no harm, or else she’d have simply attacked him when his back was turned. Maybe she wanted information? Schematics and the such? Jake would happily divulge that information, should he realise it was worth his while.
In the end, he simply decided to wrap up his project and go from there. It wouldn’t take that long and it would give him plenty of time to go back to his room and make himself more presentable. He looked in dismay at his extremely plain clothes, some dry blood still on his black combat pants, while his tank top was stained with several splotches of oil and grease.
He returned to his tinkering, now practically brimming with excitement. First the workshop, then the girl… It was glorious! Maybe his luck would change from here on out! Months of failures, scraps, and pointless would finally come to fruition! He would—
He suddenly stopped. His hands usually went on autopilot when he worked, unless he was making something really complex, so he needed a second to understand why he had stopped. He then realised it. His pipe wrench was missing. He had no clue why. He quickly checked his tool belt, where he kept all of his basic tools- nothing. And then it dawned on him. That little one-two she had done at the bench—she must’ve taken it. He groaned loudly as he began packing all his tools and the unfinished contraption into his backpack. Of course, she’d only flirt with him because she wanted to steal his stuff! Why else would she? A damn idiot he was for thinking otherwise. With haste, he donned his mask: There was probably going to be violence, and he didn’t want his face to end up on posters all over the city. Then he broke into a full sprint, taking to the rooftops with inhuman speed. There was no way she could’ve gone far.
Lace hummed a lively tune while she skipped, looking forward to what she could use her new treasure on. She hadn’t seen the likes of this wrench before, but she thought it looked interesting enough and pretty useful. Pausing at a street corner, she laughed gleefully at her thieving success.
It had barely been 5 minutes before he spotted her in a stroke of luck, although his position from a vantage point definitely helped. Wanting to make his appearance as flashy as possible, he continued stalking her for some seconds, before she reached a street which was pretty isolated, by all means. Then, with a leap, he landed behind her, softening the fall just before impact, and in a split second had tackled her to the ground, a hooksword at her throat.
“Think you can steal from me, huh?”
“Wha--?” She had just started to take a step when she was unceremoniously tackled to the ground and heard a question that froze her in a familiar voice. How did he get here so fast? Lace wanted to strangle her luck by the windpipe and toss it down a mail chute.
A subtle hum in the distance, all but imperceptible, yet there. It was a hum of a very particular origination. Old navy soldiers talked about it sometimes, the hearing of it almost more an art than a scientist. Oddly enough it was rarely the sharp-eared scouts and lookouts that heard it, it was almost always the grizzled old gunners and engineers, the ones almost more attuned to the machinery of a ship than their own heartbeats. It was a valued trait because it was one of the only mundane ways to detect a Witch Queen ship.
The ship that dropped out of the sky at a slightly worrying speed was somewhat strange to say the least. To the inexperienced eye it was still an intimidating ship, all solid runesteel with obvious and sizable twin cannons. To a more experienced eye the Pink Pearl showed rather more of its age, as well as signs of a significant period of neglect. It was battle-scarred, scraped and dented. The lightning cannons, while exceedingly impressive tech even now, were also clearly offline, and from the debris visible even at a distance would remain so short of repair work. The stranger part was the dirt. The ship had clearly flown at some speed, and through clouds at that, and yet there were still unmistakable marks of dust and dirt as if it had lain still for a number of years before it had been.
Perhaps more worrying was the way it landed, which wouldn’t be recommended by any sane pilot. It shot past above the gate with no sign of slowing and simple dropped, coming to a landing best described as barely short of a crash right outside the gates. With a slightly rough grinding sound a door at the base of the ship opened, revealing a dimly lit corridor beyond. Beyond that corridor, invisible to the exterior, lay a relatively small gray room that opened off the end of the corridor. It was about seven feet across with plain metal benches built into the walls and no visible way out other than the corridor behind it.
on the interior of what would be considered an utter hunk of junk when it came to airships, was one room that seemed better maintained than most it lacked any dust or grim form the vessel long period of inactivity, there was going reason for this however wasn't imminently clear, however the contents of the room was strange, in the center a large pile of gold and silver coins as well as other trinkets made of said metal laid there surrounded by smaller piles of assorted trinkets, polished stones, and gems, as well as a few bones... picked completely clean... whatever they used to be was impossible to tell now, but the likely culprit sleeping half-buried in the central pile was a woman, she seemed normal side from a few distinguishing features such as a set of horns protruding from her red hair... and a rather long scaly tail ending with what appeared to be a pincer-like protrusion.
the sudden jerk of the vessel moving woke the woman up as the contents of the room shifted with the sudden forces applied. "what the heck? how did? what? right..." the woman when form surprised, confused and then to annoyed within the span of a few seconds. finally deciding to get up out of the pile of valuables, it became apparent that the woman wasn't wearing too much overall. taking a moment to stretch she then left the confines of the rather clean inventory room into the dusty hall of the once-grand vessel down to its beating heart the engine room, the woman looked around at the arcane device following some unseen force around it seeming to almost analyses then thing running her hand gently over parts of it as the vessel continued to its unknown destinations she sighed appearing incredibly annoyed with the current goings-on "great.. how did someone? perfect... just perfect" the woman said to herself, as her scaly tail seemed to retract itself into her body, as she noticed the sudden drop of the ship assuming that perhaps it was finally getting to its destination? no, looking out at small viewport the ship was going over a city with what seemed to be a huge hole on one of the structures what was that all about? moments later the ship practically crashed into the ground... that would leave a mark on the hull. with that one of those big doors on the base of the vessel had opened, the sound was a dead give away things where practically rusted so much the door merged with the damn ships hull great... visitors then? the woman rolled her eyes grumbling to herself, as she walked down toward where these visitors would probably be coming in waiting just inside the ship so once the did get past that small gray room that in all honesty, she didn't really understand they it was there. but it was, and in the woman's mind, it was a convenient place to wait outside of as she leaned against the wall hoping to get this over with, perhaps just eat them? or maybe keep one or two of them...for later.
Being pressed into dirty cobblestones would garner a complaint from most, especially from one who's only clothing was the set on their back, but Lace had no time to care about the state of her future attire. She was almost absolutely sure she was going to die within the next few moments if she didn't do something drastic, so something drastic she did. She squeezed a few tears out and started wailing.
"Oh, woe is me!" Speaking a dramatic line from a script she had managed to locate in her panicking mind, Lace looked up at the man above her through her eyelashes, remembering to bat them twice at the last second. Her mouth, like it was taking a hint from that line, started spewing nonsense from stories she had once read. "Please spare me, kind sir, I have young siblings to care for and a sick mother I must attend to. I only took your wrench to gain a feeble bit of coin for her medicine."
Reaching into her back dress pocket, she pulled out the stolen item and shoved it into his empty hand. "Please, take your tool back. I realize now I shouldn't have done such a morally depraved thing, it was only a moment of desperation, believe me." As an added precaution, she gripped his hand in a beseeching sort of way while hoping her strength stood a chance if he decided to cut her down right then and there.
Jake was a second away from slitting Lace's throat when the suddenly an entire wall exploded into debris and shrapnel. A ragtag band emerged from the hole, piquing his interest. Convicts? Revolutionaries? Criminals? Whoever they were, they clearly were against the authorities, a fact that was made readily apparent by the guards that had begun to converge on the location. This looked like it would be quite the thrill! He refocused his attention on the pretty blonde, pressing his blade further against her throat... But abruptly stopped when she started crying. Jake was no stranger to murder, but contrary to what his overall appearance suggested, he was far from a cold-blooded murderer. Sure, he'd killed plenty, but he wasn't really thinking about it. They just happened to stand in his way while he was trying to get his fix. Lace clearly understood that, and so she piped on, batting her lashes once again in a manner he found absolutely adorable and began telling a tragic tale about how she had to provide for her sick mother and younger siblings. Dazed as he was, Jake was able to tell this story was utter bullshit. A pipe wrech is a relatively common tool. It would barely buy the day's food for her, much for her "family". No, this was clearly a half-assed ploy to get him to spare her. Still, what harm could there be in doing that? She had returned his wrench, and for the most part seemed harmless: If she had any magic, she'd already have used it.
Just then, an airship that appeared to have seen it's fair share of battles landed-no, crash-landed on the street near them. And just in cue, too! This must be what this ragtag band was planning to use in order to escape! However, there definitely seemed to be plenty of enemies between it and them. And none of them really looked like the fighting sort. In a second, he knew what to do. He stowed his wrench and helped Lace to her feet. "There's about to be plenty of crossfire here, darling. Get your ass inside that ship and stay there until the screaming has stopped. Run along, now!" He emphasized this last statement by shoving her towards the newly opened corridor. Time for a little fun!
With that, he drew his pistols, and turned towards the big opening. Guards were beginning to surround it, but they weren't expecting there to be help. The gunshots rang out in quick succession, two guards dropping to the ground, one clutching his stomach while the other gurgled blood and tried to cover the fresh hole on his neck. Jake willed himself to speed up, feeling the magic course through his body. Before the third guard had even managed to turn properly he had lunged on him, hooksword directly to the mouth. A second guard tried to stab him in return, but Jake was too fast. Expertly, he dodged to the side, delivering three rapid stabs to the man's sides using the blades on the hilts, who joined his friend in collapsing on the ground. Two more blocked his way, as he piroueted around the first one's swing while deflecting the second one's lunge. Using the one blade to pin the guard's blade, he used the other to slash him in the chest, the hook getting stuck inside. With a strong twist of his body, he sent the now-heavily bleeding man crashing on his friend, throwing him off his feet and landing on him. The man barely had time to look up Before Jake gleefully stomped on his skull, turning it into a bloody mess. Two more Archers appeared further down the road, Aiming their bows at him, but he did not fret in the slightest. He extended his left arm, a black tendril suddenly shooting out of it and attaching to the ground mere meters from the Archers. Jake began rapidly soaring in the air, as if though the tendril was reeling him in(which it was). Near the end of his leap, he somehow impossibly propelled himself a few meters in the air, the sudden change of position causing both Archers to miss. With a gleeful laugh that could probably echo all across the street, he threw one of his swords, impaling the first Archer's face. Then. while still in midair, he brought the other down in a rapid motion, Lopping off his arm and causing him to drop the bow. The man took a few steps back, shock and pain causing his expression to switch from determination to panic. Jake just laughed at the spectacle: "Oh my! How're you gonna use a bow now? Dammit man! You'll have to request a crossbow!"
Much to his surprise, the man actually fixed him with a look of hatred, pushing past the pain and trying to stab him with a dagger. Jake easily sidestepped his clumsy attack and lopped off his other arm as well, kicking him to the ground. "Holy shit, man! You even know what giving up is? You're like, a berserker!"
He felt his heart pound in his chest, the thrill of danger exciting his spirit to no end. Ah, how glorious! Just half an hour ago he was tinkering away at an old workshop. And in such a short span of time he had met a gorgeous little thing, threatened to end her when she stole his stuff, and was now killing Theronian guards while helping a bunch of escapees. What an amazing day!
He noticed more groups of guards coming down the street. As much as he wanted to charge them, the little bit of logic that somehow still existed in his mind advised him against it: There was plenty more of them, and they had at least two mages-he figured as much when two firebolts flew inches from his mask. Therefore, it was time to make his exit. He had helped clear a path, after all. The posse of escapees would be fine. And if they turned out to be hostile? Well, more thrills to be had! With that happy thought, he turned over to the group: "Come on, ladies, get a fucking move on! The Airship can't stay here forever!" And with that, he turned and bolted towards the door.
Cassandra knew that she had made the right decision of bringing Bastien along as the doors proved to not be an insurmountable challenge but rather a mere pebble in the way of the bombardier. Once the smoke had cleared, the door had a sizable hole in the middle of it. Wonderful. She placed a hand on Bastien's shoulder and gave him a nod. "Good job Bastien." She complimented before gesturing for them to follow as she pushed forward. Due to the explosion, a lot of the guards had scattered and were trying to recover. Of course, by the time they reached the door, a lot of them had already filed up once more to take them out.
As Cassandra prepared to fight, the loud crash of something accompanied by a rather heavy magical presence resounded among them. In the distance, she could see that the Pink Pearl had docked - the exact ship she had sought out for, to either find Kate for information or to apprehend her. She hadn't seen that ship in years and now here it was, somehow. But Cassandra couldn't let herself dwell on the questions any further as Heliora hurled a ball of flame in the middle of the formation and watched as the men scattered to avoid it. She was making a straight path towards the ship for easier access. The chaos didn't stop there as gunshots from beyond the wall of soldiers sounded off and Cassandra could feel another burst of magical energy from what seems to be a man who was running at a speed faster than regular.
He was... helping them? Well, more like killing the Theronian guards but...
"Go, go!" She shouted as she unsheathed her saber and headed towards the charred path left behind by Heliora who kept on hurling fireballs to prevent the guards from even getting close. Keeping herself behind the princess to control the royal's pacing, Cassandra kept the ground heading towards the ship where the mysterious, speedy man had gestured towards.
Alreen was now facing a group of people who seemed worse for wear - three who were wearing what seemed to be prisoner's clothing with one of them being carried by the man, two who radiated an aura of elegance and richness one would expect from those human nobles or whatever they were called, and the last one seemed to be exuding an aura of pure mayhem. The door had closed behind them of its own accord, locking the mob that had been chasing them out.
One of them, the female prisoner, stepped up for a moment - looking at you in the eyes. "We need to go, now." The ship seemed to rumble as it began its preparation to move before it gets serious maimed by the guards who were trying to tear their way inside. Despite giving orders, the prisoner kept her eyes only at you as if expecting that you would let them pass. From what you can see, they were obviously some form of danger - to what extent, you aren't quite sure yet but you know - call it your instincts of self-preservation - that they meant trouble if there's a fight that would happen. And yet, you still don't know who you are nor do they look like they had any intentions of introducing yourself first.
"Now if you'll excuse me-" Despite your intimidating presence, this particular person seemed to not care about what you are. She seemed aware form how tense she looked, or maybe that was from the escape earlier. Still, your home for a couple of years just suddenly jumpstarted as is now being commandeered by this human prisoner. You're unsure why the ship had responded this way so some part of your gut is telling you that this group was meant to be in the ship.
Jake continued sprinting merrily towards the open ship, pausing for a split second to deliver two quick shots to their pursuers. As soon as everyone was inside, the opening slammed shut. Much to his surprise, the rust bucket of a ship they were currently occupying managed to take off, and at decent speed too. Normally, he would want to analyse this, to see how on earth such a feat was possible, but currently he couldn't focus at all. His heart was pumping, his mind was racing, and there was blood on his blades. He grabbed Lace from the hip, dragging her as he hastily twirled around for a few seconds, like an excitable, clumsy and deranged dance.
"Lace darlin', I have not the slightest clue who you are, why the fuck you wanted my wrench, or what you're doing here. But by God I'm so fucking grateful you lead me to this! This. Is. AMAZING!"
He continued holding her for a few moments more, just letting his energy vent in the movement. Then, as if snapping back to some semblance of reality, he realized that everyone else was staring at him. He must've seemed a bit weird. However, they most certainly weren't ones to judge. An odd bunch they were, for sure. A lady with glowing eyes and surprisingly little clothing, that would probably cause him severe discomfort if he wasn't pumped up to eleven. A black-haired woman, wielding what appeared to be a blood-splattered saber and who looked awfully familiar. A man with some of the coolest-looking firearms Jake had ever seen. A burning(?!) lady, who somehow appeared to be on fire! Another black haired woman, who seemed to have an injured arm and a serious case of Undernourishment. And a Whore-no, that was far too much jewelry for a whore to have on her. What was she, then? Daughter of a Noble? She did sport a Tiara, so that was probably the case. He thought for a few long seconds about what he should say to all these strange people. Clearly, violence was still entirely on the table, but he didn't mind at all. The women all looked weak, the man with the awe-inspiring firearms was probably perfectly dodgeable... Maybe the fiery woman would give him trouble. Wanting to however at least make a chance at a solid impression, he tried his best at expressing his questions.
"Welll, Quite the band of misfits aren't we. I, uh, am too confused currently for proper questioning n all that, so! Answer these in any order:
One: What are your names?
Two: Why in the Blazes were we killing Theronians? I mean, I'm not complaining. Fuck the Theronian guards, most of em are on a power trip anyway, but why today and here in particular?
Two: I think I know you, Saber-Lady. Have we met?
Three: Why are you two dressed like you came straight out of a brothel, although definitely brothels of varying qualities
Four: How did you make these AMAZING weapons?
Five: Do you need some food, skinny lady? You look right about ready to drop dead
Six: Lace, were you part of this...coup? Plot? Conspiracy?
Seven: Are we going to fight now? Cause like, I wouldn't want to kill you guys, you seem cool, but at the same time... Eh. I could, if I needed to.
Eight: What in the nine hells happened to you? What experiment turns people into living torches? I must know!"
He paused and took a deep breath, as he had been asking these questions in rapid fire. He couldn't resist a joke at the saber-lady's expense first, though. "I suppose I should introduce myself first, too. Common courtesy."
In a blink of an eye he was right in front of Cass, one of the Hooksword hilts at her throat. "I am..THE DOOM-BRINGER. I AM THE END, I AM THE BUTCHER OF NEWHARBOR. NO MAN HAS EVER SCORNED ME AND WALKED AWAY, AND YOU'D BE WISE TO REMEMBER THAT, SCUM!"
He managed to keep the act for a few seconds before he retreated, laughing heartily at her shocked expression. He raised his hands apologetically: "Nah, Nah. I'm fucking with ya. I'm Jake, just a speedy lad of no real importance."
He noticed something alarming as he laughed, though. The jewelry-covered woman seemed to be terrified of him-no, not him. Her eyes were instead transfixed on his mask. He couldn't blame her, honestly. It was a rather intimidating design. Admittedly, he felt bad for causing such terror on a helpless woman like that. Trying not to think about how unwise that decision was if he and the others came to blows, he unlatched and removed the mask from his face, revealing his features and exposing it to harm: "Hey, Hey! There's no need for that! It's just a mask, see? I'm not some steel-faced monstrosity, though admittedly it would have it's uses. It's fine! Just calm down, ok?
Who would have thought that the princess’ impulsive idea would lead to a chain of catastrophic events.
The streets of Therone immediately turned into a battlefield as soon as the group of misfits managed to get out of the prison. Chaos plagued the night as the Theronian guards chased the escapees. The sounds of gunfire resonated throughout the area in the same way that the smell of fire wafted through the air while both parties fought with fervor. In the middle of such mayhem was the short-haired woman in a revealing nightwear with dozens of exquisite band and jewelry on her possession. Each gems were shining in the light of the fire but all of them paled in comparison to the tiara sitting on her head which only signifies one thing.
The Theronian soldiers called for their princess in alarm but all of their cries fell into vain. The princess has her hands pressed against her ears and her eyes were shut tight all while she was letting out a banshee screech. Behind her was the former captain of the royal guards, making sure that she was going in the right direction and occasionally giving small pushes to encourage her tiring legs. Needless to say, it wasn’t far-fetched to mistake the whole scene as the former captain abducting the crown princess.
After what seemed to be an eternity of blind running and screaming, the princess picked up an unfamiliar voice calling for them to hurry up and get inside of an airship. She managed to make it to the aircraft thanks to Cass before she heard the sound of the ship’s metallic door shutting behind them.
Slowly, the princess removed her hands from covering her ears and opened her eyes. Emerald eyes wandered all over the room while she took in her new surroundings. The metallic walls were a drastic change to the Underground Reformation Center’s creepy interior yet she spent no time to linger her gaze since she found herself in the presence of many strangers. She knew Cassandra, of course. Then there were her three friends: the hot elemental, the prisoner with nice muscles from earlier, and the male prisoner with the explosives and bomb body who helped them out. The rest, however, were completely alien to her. One of them was a female with horns sticking out of her messy red locks, fashioning an outfit which was equally as skimpy as hers. The next one was another woman with long blonde hair, letting out an aura similar to the fancy guests visiting the castle some days. The princess can’t deny that everyone in the vessel were up to her standards. She would have jumped right into action if not for the masked man.
The princess let out a sharp gasp upon seeing him and automatically hid behind Cass. Her entire body trembled as she peeked over the captain’s shoulder to watch the scary man dance with the other blonde lady in a weird manner. He was saying something but none of them registered into her mind. She could feel the sweat dripping down her forehead and the way her heart was racing faster than it did when they were being chased. She was absolutely frightened.
It certainly didn’t help when he moved with great speed and appeared in front of Cass, pointing the hilt of his sword against her neck before proclaiming that he was the doom-bringer. The princess squealed in fear, losing her grip on Cass and stumbling backwards before dashing to Bastien. She hid behind his bigger frame and tightly clutched on his garb. “I-I’m scared!” she squeaked out, tears welling out of her eyes whilst her mind feed her with fragments of broken memories she couldn’t understand. She continued to sob until the masked man claimed that he was just ‘fucking’ with them and his name was Jake.
Reluctantly, she peeked out from behind Bastien and saw Jake remove his mask. He explained that it was just a mask and urged her to calm down. “J-Just a mask…?” she repeated with a sniffle before wiping her tears with the back of her hands, “...Okay…” she choked out. She carefully stepped away from the former guard’s back with a shaky: “...Please don’t hurt me…?”
Nevertheless, the royalty evidently felt better upon seeing his true face, and she found herself somewhat calming down. So it was all a joke, right? Perhaps it was how peasants joke nowadays? Yes, that must be it. She half-sobbed and half-laughed as she said, “G-Good one, my citizen. You got your princess good there.” she forced a smile although it was obvious that she wasn’t entirely fine yet.
Damn, she could use a hug… or something even better.
“I am Regina Victoria Honora Serana- um,” she paused before silently counting her names, “Euphemia… Lavinia..? Wait, I think Lavinia goes first, then Euphemia… then…” she trailed off, looking very lost, before ultimately giving up and pointing at her tiara with a grin, “I am the crown princess!”
Bastien nodded slightly at the Captain's praise, signalling to the soldier that he had adequately performed his duty. He did not revel in the feeling though, as the Captain immediately pressed through the opening, with him following close behind. Due to the fact that he was still carrying the unconscious woman over his shoulder Bastien was unable to summon his rifle, instead being forced to rely on his revolver to return fire at the guards that attempted to prevent their escape. Interposing himself between the hysterically screaming princess and the Theronian regulars, he opened fire, dispelling and re-summoning the rounds so as to keep up a steady stream of fire. He of course noticed the unnaturally fast man cutting his way through the guards as well, but given that his primary objective was to get the Princess to safety and the man was not yet obstructing that, he chose to focus on the guards rather than the man.
Once aboard the ship, after the doors had closed, Bastien set the woman he'd been carrying down, leaning her up against one of the walls of the small space they now occupied. As he did so, he turned his attention to the masked man from earlier, who was now ranting at the group, clearly in the midst of what appeared to be an extreme adrenaline high. Either way, the man was clearly a potential threat. As such the soldier kept himself on alert, and his gun out.
This designation that proved to be correct as the man abruptly brought the hilt of one of his blades to the Captain's throat, prompting Bastien to whip his revolver up to level with the man's head, ready to blow it off at the slightest movement, his other hand reach out to shield the Princess who took refuge behind him. In fact, the sole reason he didn't open fire was that the Princess was near, and he feared the concussive sound in such an enclosed area might damage her eardrums. Fortunately, the man relaxed after a brief moment, the whole thing appearing to be some form of deranged prank rather than genuine hostility. Even so, while Bastien lowered the gun, he did not dispel it, his evaluation of the man, who he now knew as Jake, as a potential threat remaining unchanged.
Still, the Princess, while she still appeared quite shaken by the ordeal, forced a laugh to smooth over the tension, offering her own name in repsonse to Jake's introduction. However as she did so, she stumbled over the order of her many names, and forgot some.
"Regina Victoria Honora Serana Lavinia Euphemia Alexandria Celestina Gwenllian y Emhyr IX, your Highness," he said quietly, leaning down to correct her before straightening back up.
"I am Bastien Jaeger, formerly of the Theronian Armed Forces," He said, snapping to attention and speaking with the tone of a soldier reporting to a commanding officer, his face devoid of expression all the while.
The assortment of people that stumbled into the room where interesting but loud bunch... first there was the scared female that wasn’t wearing all too much she definitely had a lot of jewelry that was for sure the tiaras looked like it would make a nice centerpiece so this female was definitely a keeper, she smelled like one of those nobles, although there was something slightly off about her smell alreen really didn’t know what probably just some sort of weird perfume. There was another one that had a similar noble look and scent to her, she seemed a good deal more believable than the first one as she lacked the odd scent the first noble had. still promising but it was very disappointing that she lacked the amount of treasure the first one hand. Then... there was the male with the mask, god did he smell bad like engine grease mixed with sweat and adrenaline... and there was the same strange smell from the first noble... where the related no, he seemed to scare her way too much, interesting but very very annoying. There was another woman that honestly there wasn’t much to say about her seeing she was unconscious seemed to be sporting one of those prisoners style outfits... whatever a prisoner was to be alreen never really cared enough to listen to although she had the vague smell of some pirate and different weird scent she couldn't pin down . There was another male who appeared to be protecting the first noble, his scent gave away little as did his expression, alreen could respect that, although he did sport similar prisoner outfits to the unconscious female, and he wasn’t too amused with the action of the masked male, in fact, his comment about brothels annoyed alreen enough for her to growl slightly she was a dragon not some half-witted damsel although the two nobles could probably be considered that, so they perhaps they could agree on getting rid of him later, there was a fire elemental well that is was they looked like she smelled slight of burning flesh rather pleasant and would probably be nice to curl up by. Last but not least was the conscious female prisoner she was staring at alreen then talking to her like she expected her to do something for her it was cute. but, in general, seemed like they would be extremely tiresome to deal with and alreen was already tired as is, in fact, even the female that decided to order alreen around also appeared tired and fed up, maybe a bit of intimidation might get them to leave? spitting a small glob of acid to the side of her letting it sizzle on the floor not really doing any damage, during this her pincer tipped tail re-emerged form the base of her back making it clear the wasn’t human just in case the group though that her expression turn to one of grumpy disapproval “Right I don’t know who you lot are, and what your doing hijacking my home, but I don’t care right now I’m tired and I want to go back to sleep and when I get up you better have a good explanation. unless you lot actually have one a good one now, because I'm not in a good mood at all" her voice held no anger or hostilities only the sound of a tired and fed up sounding creature.
Jake's was so engrossed in his joke that the fact that Bastien has put a gun next to his head failed to register for a few moments. Once it did, however, he slowly turned, looking incredulously at the big man. In but a moment, he was overtaken by laughter again. Once his laughter had subsided somewhat again he began mocking the soldier. "Wha-Did you just point a gun at my face? That is just... Maybe one of the stupidest things I've seen all month!
So let me get this straight: You see me have this incredible speed, okay? That you also see me use to avoid projectiles with ease. So when you see me threaten your friend, your masterplan is... to throw ANOTHER projectile at me? Like, I couldn't dodge it like I dodged all the other ones? Dude, come on. You need to work on adapting strategies for different opponents, different situations... Gah. At least you gave me a good laugh!
His attention was promptly shifted as the attractively-dressed blonde stepped forward from behind the big man, still clearly shaken at his mask. Rather bizarre. He looked intimidating, sure, but nothing to the point of causing panic attacks of such scale. Of course, he could not dwell on this matter much more as his brain now seemed wholly focused on the female's form, a form she, unfortunately for him made no real effort to conceal. It took him a moment too late to realize that with his mask off, his sudden shift in attention was wholly visible to the others, and he managed to refocus on looking aloof. He cursed the ease with which anything pretty was capable of distracting him. He would need to find a way to counteract this somehow.
"No, no. I'm not going to-Why would I- No, I won't hurt you, I have no reason to! And-hold up, my princess?" He paused in confusion. As he heard the blonde go on to explain that she was, as a matter of fact, that Tiara was not just some gift from her daddy for her birthday. No, that actually signified that she was Theronian Royalty. Given the nature of their encounter, it was clear that the princess, for one, was not being dragged off against her will. And since the other guy with the amazing weapons introduced himself as a soldier of Therone, that would make the Raven haired one.... oh no.
Rapidly, his mind put together the most logical outcome: "Oh wow. It all makes sense now! You orchestrated your own kidnapping at the hands of the former captain, who would have a reason for such a grudge due to her imprisonment. Along the way, you will be "Rescued" by the Monarch of another country, who will use your presence in his court to justify his invasion of Therone. He will depose of your parents, and put you in the throne, and in return you will give him... Uh... okay I admit the plan kinda falls apart here but this is REALLY nice! Holy shit. Never thought I'd manage to be a part of a plot like this!
He changed his stance, turning to attention-or more precisely, a mimicry of a soldier's attention stance. "So, Devious scheming captain, what is your first order? Where shall the staged "Rescuing" take place?