A cool breeze carrying soft green leaves blew past Richard’s face as he dangled by his foot, arms crossed over his chest scowling at the nearest tree. He kicked out at one of the branches above him in frustration. The nimble branch sprang back, hitting him in the ankle, causing a shrill yelp of pain to irrupt from his mouth, which only helped intensify his burning rage.
Letting out a long sigh Richard tried to calm his temper, when he heard a twig snap some way behind him. Trying to swivel his had around in the direction of the noise all he could see was darkness as the sun sank below the horizon. There had been a few times when he was a boy Ryan had told him of rogue people that had been kicked out of their kingdoms because of crimes they had committed living in the woods. He never believed him, but it wouldn’t hurt to get out of this trap as fast as he could.
Looking up at his leg he could see the pouch he kept his weapons in strapped to it, the red ribbon wrapped handle of his knife sticking out. Looking around Richard could see a low hanging branch just above him, the emerald leaves covering its surface.
Moving his body he began to swing, going up and down. He could see he was getting close to the branch, if he could get higher he may be able to reach it.
Making himself swing again Richard reached out his arms his fingers just skimming the surface.
Gritting his teeth he tried again, this time managing to just grab onto the branch. Letting out a small sigh he pulled his legs as close to him as he could. Holding onto the branch with one hand he reached for the blade with the other, once in hand, he began to cut away at the thick rope. Slowly he could see the small strands begin to come away from one another. Finally, he could feel the rope give way, still holding onto the branch with his one hand Richard finally had the rope cut through, his legs falling under him. Landing on the ground below him with a thump Richard slowly sat up dusting his arms off.
Standing, he screwed up his face, as his ankle throbbed in pain, it was only a sprain nothing too much to worry about. Sighing he picked up his wooden sword and threw it into the bushes somewhere nearby, not carrying what happens to it. Looking up through the tree's thick canopy’s he could see it was still early evening as stars above illuminated in the dark blue abyss.
Making his way through the trees Richard reached the edge of the woods where he had kept Thunder tied. The black stallion whinnied when he saw him approach his black mane blowing in the light breeze. Running his hand up Thunder’s muzzle, he moved to stand beside the horse, making sure the saddle was strapped on Richard mounted Thunder pulling on his rains once they were untied to get him to run towards the mountain.
Once Thunder was in his pen Richard walked out of the mountains stables to walk outside looking up at the high rocks that was called his home. He walked for a while when he came across a window carved out of the stone, it was high up but you could still see the sharp edges of stone jotting out of it. Scanning the walls Richard carved out his rout up threw his mind before grabbing onto the stone and pulling himself up, placing his feet in other sections in the stone. He did this repeatedly until he reached the window pulling himself through.
The only source of light in the room was the soft beams of light coming through the window. Moving across the room Richard grabbed the pouch he had left on his bed before going to train with Ryan…if you could even call it that. Flipping it open he peered inside happy to see the Gem from before was still there. Maybe he should tell Ryan about it? Though he might return it to the King and that couldn’t lead to anything good. What was it about this Gem that was so special, so much so that the King sent his men after it? Scowling Richard strapped the pouch to his pants belt making his way over to the window again, leaving his sword behind. Jumping out, he made his way down the mountain.
Once he reached the bottom he looked up once again at the window the room inside dark. Smirking to himself he made sure his mask was secure and made his way to the Village. He knew there might be a small chance Ryan would be worried but he didn't care at the moment.
Once he reached the edge of the Village Richard made his way between the houses, back pressed against the wall Richard made his way to the other end of the narrow ally, only to see Guards patrolling the area. The King wasn’t kidding when he said there would be guards everywhere.
Stepping back from the wall Richard looked up, the roof of the house was low enough for him to jump up and grab, but someone may hear him. It was risky but worth a shot. Jumping, his hands just managed to grab a hold of the roof's hardwood, putting his feet against the walls of the house he pulled himself up onto the roof. A cool breeze blew past his face as he made his way over to the edge, flat on his belly he peered over the rim, two guards walked up and down the street there spears in hand and shields on their arms pressed against their bodies.
Standing Richard made his way to the next roof and so on until he found a spot where no guards were patrolling for the moment. Crouching he looked up at the palace, it was dark inside but the moon still bounced off of its surface making it shine in the darkness. Unstrapping the pouch from his belt he flipped it open removing the Gem inside, its blue surface still shining, even in the darkness.
“Why would the King want this?” Richard asked himself as he ran his hand over the Gem, hoping the answer would come to him. Maybe it was for power? To use to ally with other Kingdoms perhaps?
Suddenly a scream echoed through the silence bringing Richard out of his thoughts as he looked in the direction the sound came from. Putting the Gem away he looked over the edge of the roof to see guards running towards the noise.
Standing Richard leaped to the ground once the coast was clear he followed the guards making sure he stayed in the shadows. Watching the guards run into a clearing Richard climbed onto another roof to watch the proceedings. Looking out onto the clearing he could see there were about four guards, they were crowded around someone but he couldn’t make them out as the person was huddled in a small tight ball.
One of the guards reached out grabbing their arm in a firm grip hulling them to their feet. Richard’s eyes widen as the child screams for help her eyes full of tears that poured down her round cheeks. The guards paid her no mind as they began to walk towards the palace, the girl still crying.
Richard watched them walk off, there was a very small chance the child would live, if she was lucky the King would make her a maid, but that chance was small and unlikely. Richard stood there on the roof his eyes following them. Should he help? The child had made a mistake, surely they wouldn’t kill a child? Though it was Damien they were talking about, the man was ruthless, and any order not followed will be punished accordingly. Was it worth making a scene and maybe being taken to the king himself? Clenching his jaw Richard jumped off the house landing on the ground below with a thud as he ran off after the guards, his mind made up.
He wasn’t sure what the outcome would be but he knew getting the girl out of trouble was the best thing to do, no one should die because of a simple mistake, a child even more so. Looking around Richard scanned the houses and between them in search of the child’s parents, but he saw nothing. Did they just abandon her out here? Who would do that? Narrowing his eyes, Richard reached into his pouch grabbing a knife, he wished he had his sword on him but he will have to make do with what he has. As he approached, the guards didn’t seem to notice him, as his noise was drowned out by the child’s screams, and the faint sound of thunder in the background. She kicked and bit and clawed as they carried her by the arms. Richard could see the hold on her tighten as one of the guard's hands went to the hilt of his sword.
Richard knew he was running out of time as the palace was only a few miles away, and if they moved any further into the city more guards would come running to investigate. By then it would be too late to get the girl out of there.
Looking around in hopes of an answer Richard scanned over the rooftops, he had to get up to launch an attack. Dashing to the side he jumped up grabbing onto the roof pulling himself up, standing he dashed across the tiled roofs, jumping from one to the other to keep up with the guards. Securing the blade in his hand he waited for the right moment to make his move. He had to time this perfectly.
Looking between the group of guards Richards eyes saw the child allow herself to be pulled along, her will to fight drained as her hope of living slowly drained away.Looking to the other side of the ally Richard saw many things lining the other side that would make it easy for him to make a quick escape if he had to.
Letting loose a low sigh Richard gripped the blade in his hand with an iron grasp as he built up his speed. Jumping down he landed in the center of the group in front of the child, his azure eyes the only thing that could be seen as the rest of him seemed to melt into the shadows. Letting loose grunts of surprise the two guards he was facing took a step back as the two behind him turned with alarm.
He took advantage he had over the guards as they stood there shocked trying to get their heads around what had happened. Swiftly turning he scooped the child up, the guard's hold on her loosening for a second. Holding her with one arm Richard jabbed his blade into one of the guards at the back of the kneecap sending him shouting in pain to the floor.
This seemed to wake the other three up from their daze as they sprang into action. Weapons drawn, they each jabbed and swung their swords at Richard who had to duck, jump and twist out of the way. Quickly he jumped onto a discarded crate climbing onto the roof, the girl still in his arms. He could hear the outraged shouts of the guards below.
His heart pounding in his chest his grip on the child tightened as he ran across the rooftops, Richard could hear the sounds of mettle boots churning up the ground as the guards chased them. Rapidly picking up speed Richard found himself shooting from one roof to the other faster than before. Gripping the child closer to him, he jumps between two houses, his one hand still gripping the roof and his other holding the silently crying girl, he placed his feet on the wall of the house keeping him and the child in the shadows.
Slowing his breathing he could hear the guards made their quick approach, and the slight sound of raindrops now falling on the mettle drains as it began to drizzle. Holding his breath Richard tried to remain as quiet as he could as the guards ran past mud and rainwater now flying through the air. He could hear one guard barking orders as they searched.
Time seemed to move slowly as Richard hung there his arm beginning to ach with the extra weight. As he dangled there he made sure the sounds of the guards had left before dropping down to the floor. Making his way over to the end of the ally he peeked out looking around before dashing down the street, he knew the guards would be on his tail in no time.
It didn’t take him long to reach the edge of the city as the tree line came into view. Behind him, he could hear the sounds of heavy feet against the ground chasing them. Richard wasn’t sure how far back they were but he knew the only way to escape was in the trees. Once his feet touched the grass he dropped to the ground skidding behind a large tree, he and the girl sheltered in the darkness.
“I saw them go this way!” Came a gruff voice as the feet moved along the edge of the village border away from them. Richard knew they were lucky they didn’t investigate further into the woods, he only thanked the rain for drowning out more of the noise.
Resting his head on the tree Richard let a low sigh of relief leave him as only the sounds of rain filled his ears. Looking down he could see in the dim light a trembling body huddled into his chest. He doubted the child even realized what happened.
“Please don’t hurt me.” She mumbled in a soft voice dripping with fear.
Holding her tighter Richard whispered into her ear in a hushed voice. “You’re safe now, no one is going to hurt you.”
Crouching there he let the girl cry into his chest, a soft wind rustling the leaves around them as the soft patter of rain fell onto rich green leaves. Slowly the clouds parted allowing the moon's rich color to shine down, covering everything in soft whites.