Blood. Slowly it slid across the white tiles. Violet clothe darkening as became soaked. Raven tresses danced in the warm liquid. Innocent hands stained red. With a crack, the log splintered in half with a fine cut. Knocking the pieces aside, Gavin Hargreaves turned to grab another. Lifting his axe once more, he brought the sharp object down. As the repetition continued, the memory slide back into the recesses of his mind. Yet the anger that surfaced remained as he continued his work. It provided the fuel to get through the heat of the day and weariness of hard labor. Sixteen years ago he had lived a different life. But that was the past – as his future seemed to be stuck in this meaningless task. Yet, Gavin longed for the opportunity to change the future. But there was not much he could do with the mark upon his neck. The circles and crosses arranged to signify what he was to the kingdom of Larimore. “Gavin, you must come quickly.” The woodsman put his tools down, rubbing his hands upon the sides of his shirt. From the edge of the woods approached a man whom he admired. Alvin had been the first one to teach him how to till the earth and use his hands for something more than combat. The aged man stopped for a moment to gather his breath before he motioned for the black haired man to follow, “There is news. News from Larimore.” = = = Her days of waiting were over. Life in the cold prison in one of Arcana’s high-rises hadn’t been too different to sleeping on the streets. However, she hadn’t seen the sky in so long. She missed the sun – the mornings and evenings of watching the sun appear and then disappear at the edge of the world. She missed running over the rooftops, the wind chilling her skin. And now she would never see this world again. She had made a mistake and she would surely die. Her punishment would be death, and those that claimed leadership of the city would not be gracious enough to grant her one last request. Now was the time of her execution. The walls of her prison had been replaced with walls of metal that hummed with energy. Phoenix rubbed at the raw skin at her wrists which were finally free of the cuffs that had bound her. Circling her new imprisonment, she tried to find an exit, but the walls were seamless. The ground shuttered, throwing her into one of the metal walls. Fear filled her as the temperature began to quickly rise. Over her beating heart she heard a loud buzz and the sound of static. “Citizen. Guilty of thievery. Punishment – death by disintegration.” The words chilled her to the bone. Out of all the options of how to die, she did not want to be pulled apart atom by atom – to leave nothing behind. And to die in such a confined space … all she wanted was to be free. The floor beneath her rocked and her cage grew louder as the gears whirled and electricity crackled. And then the world around her went quiet. The world turned white as a resounding bang resounded through the air. The machine rocked back and her head slammed into the metal. Blood dripped down the back of her head, and as she lifted her gaze, she felt as if the world had slowed around her. As the white haze thinned, time seemed to still. It was then that the wall seemed to melt away and she found herself falling backwards. The world of metal was replaced with bright blue. Phoenix could feel the wind whipping through her hair and she was enveloped in the sensation of falling. Instinct took over - habit developed from running through Arcana. In seconds her feet slammed into the ground. Her knees bent and her hands slammed into the ground, trying to absorb the shock of the impact. Her muscles and bones ached as she remained still, crouched down in the soft grass. Her rapidly beating heart evidence that she was still alive.