Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for mature content.
CW: Molestation of minors
"Come on, Railyn. We gotta go." Ryun said in a hushed tone, like someone was watching them or listening in on them, when in reality it was just the rain accompanying them and their frantic thoughts. Well, Ryun's frantic thoughts.
"But, Ryun, they could be--"
"They're not." Ryun said harsher than he meant to, but at least the certainty in his voice gave Railyn enough pause to consider his words carefully.
"Where do we go?" Railyn managed to squeak out.
He didn't know the answer to that, and he didn't even think about that until Railyn spoke it into existence. But, he couldn't let Rai know that. He had to sound confident enough for the both of them. So, instead, he pointed to the darkness behind them, in the opposite direction of the dancing lights. The moonlight didn't allow for much more than guesswork, but he could hear the gentle roar of the sea in the distance, echoing gently underneath the babble of the river they had just been in. "We follow the cliffside, close to the water." There would have to be someone by the sea at some point. Hopefully they would be able to help them.
"Is home that way?"
"Yes." Ryun lied. He couldn't think about that now. They would have to cross the river to get away from whoever was tracking them. He scanned the river. The faint blue light bobbed with the rolling water. He learned early on, as every kid in his town did, that fast water was shallow water, and slow water was deep. It was one of the first lessons of the sea he did remember, and it barely scratched the surface of the delicacies of living by the sea, but it was all he needed to cross the water. He didn't know how far down the river went from his frantic time in the water, but he at least did recollect the rocks scraping against him while he tried to gain his footing. While the current was extremely strong on the shallow parts, they would at least be able to feel the bottom of the bank.
Ryun held out a hand to Railyn wordlessly, helping him to his feet. He couldn't decipher the look on his face, so he didn't try to delve. Instead, he stepped one foot back into the water. The rushing water soaked his sandals through once again and sent shivers up through his entire body. He grimaced for a moment, but tore the expression from his face; he couldn't allow his own discomfort bleed through to Railyn.
Railyn glanced back at the lights. Whatever he didn't say, Ryun knew was doubting Ryun's decisions. Ryun doubted himself. But, he'd much rather be wrong than be right and too late. He expressed all of this with a gentle tug on Railyn's hand he was still gripping onto. Together, they slowly crossed the river, their steps excruciatingly slow and exhausting. Railyn slipped twice, and Ryun slipped once, but they caught each other each time and continued on. Ryun didn't even look back at Railyn, or the oncoming intruders, because he knew his concentration would fail if he did.
Once the water went from their hips to their knees, Ryun pushed Railyn forward, helping him up the rocks onto the even ground before Ryun clambered up himself. Without the direct sound of the rushing water battering against his ears, Ryun could now hear the sound of disaster that was encroaching on them as they slowly passed through the river.
The thunder of hooves on stone and packed mud and hearty shouts rose above the sound of rushing water. Railyn had a moment to catch his breath, but Ryun didn't have that, because as soon as he heard the commotion, hooked his hand with Railyn's once more and took off running. He didn't have time to say anything to Rai, he didn't have time to think of anything to say. Thankfully, Railyn didn't physically object. Maybe he was hearing the same thing Ryun was finally.
The animals their pursuers were on had reached the river, judging by the splashes Ryun now heard. It was too soon, they were catching up to them too fast. Their shouts had begun to form the semblances of words, but one voice rose through the rest.
"Found us some runaways, boys!"
That one line sunk his heart to his knees and confirmed his suspicions. There was no help coming for them. Ryun let go of Railyn's hands to search his pockets. The fireplace poker he had taken from the cabin had vanished sometime in between their time in the mines and now, but he still had the knife given to him by Railyn. He unsheathed it from the folds of his clothing.
He heard an "Oomph" and glanced back. Railyn slipped on a rock and tumbled, falling to his knees and scraping them against the ground. Ryun slowed to a halt, his feet almost losing their grips on the rocks in protest to the sudden change of movement. Come on, get up! Ryun urged in his mind, but he didn't dare to say anything out load. Instead, he used his free hand to tug Railyn back up to his feet.
A spear landed in between them before Ryun could help, embedding itself solidly into the soil. Railyn recoiled in surprise and shock from the impact, landing back onto the ground before hurriedly scrambling back to his feet. They grabbed onto each other and ran once again. The rain intensified, but the moon shown through unbothered by the stormclouds, seemingly laying out the path ahead for them. As Ryun thought, they were indeed on the cliffside by the sea. It wasn't a terribly long drop to the coastline. If they were careful, they could slide down and be safe from the animals without outright falling into the sea. But what happened next?
His thoughts were splintered when a gruff voice shouted "Get them!" and he heard heavy hooves and footsteps behind them.
"Don't look back!" he shouted to both Railyn and himself. Railyn shrieked, and Ryun had to abandon his order to see what was going on behind him. Someone had gotten close to Railyn and almost grabbed him. Ryun yanked his arm and sent him sprinting forward. As the man got close once again, Ryun struck out with the knife, slicing at the man's arm. He was successful, as the man shouted in pain. But, before he could get back his speed, another man clutched his empty wrist so tightly he thought it would break. Instead, Ryun sunk the knife into the man's thigh and he let go, taking Ryun's knife with him into the almost pitch darkness.
Ryun turned to see how far Railyn had gotten, but his heart dropped. Railyn was struggling against the grip of another person, failing at it. They caught eyes, and they both knew... the fight was over.
Ryun stopped in his tracks, letting himself get caught. He was shoved to his knees, but he didn't care. His attention was on Railyn. He couldn't bare to look away, because he knew this was the final time he would see him.
"Look who we have hear, boys! A couple of strays." The same gruff voice from before shouted above the downpour of rain, and was met with roars and guffaws from his crowd and fellow people. "Looks like some were trying to escape! You know what to do, boys. Search 'em!"
The others cheered at that. Railyn was also brought to his knees. That was the last thing he saw of Railyn, though, because someone grabbed his jaw and forced him to look up. The man smiled down cruelly at him, and his face was cast in shadow, with only his few teeth shining from the sparce moonlight. Still staring at Ryun, the man spoke up. "We're gonna have to do this the hard way, boys." That garnered even more cheers from everyone. Two men surrounded Ryun on each side and pulled him up to his feet, holding onto his arms. The other one, still smiling, wiped curly strands of hair out of his face and unsheathed a sword.
Ryun struggled against his human restraints, with little success. He was going to die here. This was it.
But, no stab came. Instead, he felt his clothes being torn apart by the man's blade. He hesitantly opened his eyes and looked down. The man had pealed Ryun's shirt away from his body and sliced the fabric all the way up to his collar. He then sliced the sleeves of it, tugged at it, and let it fall to the ground in a crumpled mess. The rain and wind battered his bare chest, and he squirmed instinctively. The man seemed to enjoy his uncomfortability, and grinned sourly before looking down at Ryun's trousers. As soon as he registered what was about to happen, Ryun pulled against the two men holding onto his arms. Then, a split moment before the others, he realized his legs weren't being restrained and kicked the man straight in the crotch.
The man groaned and crumpled. "Get the legs!" he seethed out, and two more men immediately crouched down and held his legs still. Ryun tried to protest by buckling his knees, but he was being held up against his will. "You little shit," the man scowled out. "Now, I'm going to enjoy this." He stashed his sword and instead pulled out a dagger. Starting at Ryun's waist, he cut down one leg with one fell motion, scraping his thigh in the process. "Whoops," the main said, clearly lying. He hovered on the other pants leg, staring up at Ryun with sinister glee. Ryun couldn't help but watch in horror as the man sliced his other pants leg, and Ryun's trousers felt around him. His entire body, besides his sandals, were now exposed to the harsh elements and the harsher men who were not subtle with their intense staring at his groin. The man chuckled and hovered his dagger close to Ryun's nether regions. He glanced up into Ryun's eyes. No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't look away. He just had to watch on as his dignity was stripped from him, washed away piece by piece with each droplet that disgraced his bare skin.
After what felt like forever, the man chuckled and tapped the tip of Ryun's penis with his dagger. "This one's clear!" he shouted without looking back, but he stood up so he was eye to eye with Ryun. He got unbearably close to Ryun and whispered so only he could hear him. "Someone's excited." He then turned his back on Ryun. Heat rushed to Ryun's cheeks and he swore he could see steam rising from the droplets the touched them.
"This one's clear, too."
"Release them." This voice was not one Ryun had heard yet. It was deep and silky smooth, almost alluring in the way it cradled the 's' before it moved on. As the voice said the order, all four men holding Ryun let go and he dropped to the ground. His first instinct was to look at Railyn, who had similarly fallen to his knees. He was just as naked as Ryun.
Ryun forced himself to look away as the source of the smooth voice stepped out from the darkness and held a lantern out, shining light onto his face and the area around him. Judging by his sharp looks and sharper clothes, he was important, and didn't belong with these ruffians. He walked up to them both, standing equally between them.
"Stand up," he ordered, and without thinking, Ryun obliged. Covering up his delicates, he struggled to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Railyn do the same. The man studied the both of them, then focused his attention on Railyn. Ryun took the moment to glance at him as well, making sure to keep his eyes on Railyn's face. Both of their dignities had been tarnished enough.
However, his attention was immediately drawn to Railyn's shoulder. The handprint from before was still there. It was blue, cool against Railyn's pale skin. The man leaned in on the handprint, then suddenly he grabbed Ryun's right hand, which was still planted firmly on his groin to cover himself up. Ryun struggled for just a moment, but the man was too strong, and he peeled Ryun's hand from him and held it against the lantern. It was then that Ryun noticed that his palm was also completely blue. The strange man placed Ryun's hand against his lantern, and instantly a burning sensation surged through his palm and shocked his arm. He recoiled, and the man let him, releasing his arm. Ryun stumbled back, and suddenly he realized just how close they were to the cliff edge.
No one else seemed to notice him almost falling, and the man had focused his attention back on Railyn. He pulled Railyn's left hand up. The palm was pale. He pulled Railyn's right hand up, completely exposing him to the men once again, which garnered some hoots from the onlooking crowd. The stranger didn't seem to care, and instead frowned at the blue palm of Railyn's right hand. He held Railyn's palm to the lantern, and Ryun braced himself to make sure Railyn didn't fall from the recoil.
But, Railyn didn't recoil. He didn't move at all, but he just stared at the strange man with awe plastered onto his face. The man turned to his fellows, not letting go of Railyn. "This is the one. Dispose of the other."
Before Ryun could register what exactly he had just said, the man who stripped him before stepped forward and stabbed Ryun in the stomach.
Ryun didn't even feel anything. He just stared at Railyn as he was pushed off the cliff. Water embraced him as his vision faded.
AN: And this is it! The final part of the prologue. If you've made it this far, thank you for sticking with it!