Peaceable Kingdom

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  1. Isra Maram was fuming. Actually, fuming didn't even quite cover it. And yet she still sat silently and properly poised in an ornately decorated chair as her assorted servants bustled around her. Her long, thick brown hair was being carefully brushed and tidied by two, while another two were moisturizing and lightly perfuming her skin with oils of rose. If she was honest with herself, being so taken care of did feel quite lovely, but that was not the point! It was the reason for the excessive pampering that was causing her blood to boil. Not two days ago, her father had called her to his quarters after not seeing her for several weeks only to announce that she was being married?! To some pompous, royal bastard twice her age? Thrown into his harem of wives? Her fists and jaw clenched reflexively at the thought.

    "It is for your safety, my sweet."

    It took all of her will-power not to spit on the ground at the thought. That was all her father had to say at her outrage. Well, his initial reaction, anyway. When her voice had continued to rise and her dark gaze flashed and broiled in that rebellious light he recognized all-too well, he quickly silenced her and demanded her exit. She knew he would not have hit her then; he could not risk bruising a king's young bride. But she had also learned that her father had other tactics to employ in order to make her life miserable...and when she had to stop pushing him over the line. She had ever-so-maturely muttered several curses under her breath and slammed the large door on her way out, though. Sure, he might have referred to it as a tantrum, but it was so beyond that. She had rushed to her own quarters, buried her face in her pillow and simply screamed. She wanted outside. But she could not get even close to it without another guard breathing down her neck. Typically it was Azrael and while he was the one she tolerated, was it too much to ask for some privacy?! Even in the haven of her room, servants quietly came and left, setting assorted fruits and drinks out for her and wishing her congratulations and a good marriage.

    "M'lady, please relax, we cannot finish this with you tense like this."

    She was jerked back into reality by the timid voice of the young female servant holding assorted cosmetics and clearly flustered in her failed attempts to properly apply and blend them due to the princess's furrowed brow. Isra exhaled a long, slow breath and forced herself to relax. "I apologize, Lina. My thoughts ran away with me," she conceded, to which the woman - she seemed more a girl to Isra - became even further disheveled.

    "N-no, i-it is fine." Guilt briefly crept through Isra's veins but she quickly dismissed it and closed her eyes when requested. Every fiber of her being was telling her to run - escape while she could. But that was just the issue. The palace was festering with guards and the damn-near impenetrable wall was even worse. Her only chance to even catch a glimpse of the outside world anymore was in this stupid convoy! And even then, she would be constantly attended to. She was aware that she would, eventually, have to submit to a life without time to herself to do as she pleased...but she had yet to completely succumb to the idea. That just was simply not her style. Like a wild horse that refused to be broken.

    By the time her internal self-wallowing was done, she had been dressed in the long, red skirt elegantly lined and detailed in silver. The top was matched, though emphasized her figure and revealed her sun-kissed mid-drift. Silver and gold bangles were slipped upon her wrists and ankles and in the back of her mind she saw them only as shackles. All of that beautiful ceremonial garbage for something she wanted no part in. Her feet were slipped into elegant slippers before her thoughts could get too carried away while the remaining attendants twined several flowers into her hair. They stepped back once finished and smiled happily at her before bowing.

    "You look wonderful. We wish for only happiness in your future." Her throat closed just a bit as a lump formed there. There was sincerity in their voices and she had to force a small, sad smile before nodding.

    "Thank you. I appreciate all you have done for me over the years." It was true - her servants had been like family, much to her father's disdain...again. "Might I...have a moment alone before I must go?" They nodded and dismissed themselves.

    She took this moment to scurry to her secret little nook in the wall behind her mirror. As she passed it, she was forced to take in her appearance. The make up was a tad overdone for her, but they had done a lovely job. If only her eyes reflected the happiness that she had always thought would come along with this moment. Instead, the dark brown irises broiled with contained frustration. She ignored this and slid the panel aside, revealing a box with her two most prized possessions: the daggers given to her by Raj before he had been dismissed. She smiled sadly, but knew she could not dwell on the gorgeous, sheathed blades long. She hurried and carefully brushed aside and lifted the slit in the skirt up to her waist. She lifted her left leg to strap one high up on her thigh and then did the same with the other on the opposite one. Like hell she would leave without them but, of course, she had not been allowed to pack her bags herself. She growled at the thought but, once finished, stepped back to see if they were too noticeable. Luckily for her, the skirt flared out just enough to keep them hidden, at least from those that did not need to know they were there, anway.

    "Princess Isra, the escorts await you."

    She jumped when she heard the familiar, masculine voice of Azrael at her door but quickly calmed herself. She could do this. Perhaps a plan of escape would strike her on the journey - she could only wait and see. She emerged from her room and followed silently behind the man who had protected her since she was twelve. He had only been seventeen at the time, but was ever the picture of the appropriate and apt guardian. And for him, this whole situation just seemed so odd. This was not who she was...although he supposed it was the difficulties of her role in society. He also knew, though, that there was a reason he was assigned to continue to follow her. Her father expected some sort of resistance from her at some point and didn't trust the other king's entourage, either. At any rate, he supposed he at least got a trip out of it...and just pretended not to notice the little surprises she kept at her hips.

    He was trained to be attentive to all things involving her, after all...

    Demure had never been a word that could ever describe Isra. She still stood tall with her shoulders back and her chin held high. She refused to leave the castle any other way. She was escorted down and outside where a rather ornate, enclosed carriage waited, pulled by several gorgeous horses that tossed their heads restlessly as the men around them shifted to attention and greeted her. Her father received her first, placing a light kiss to her forehead. "Please be a good wife, my love." There were too many people in earshot for her to do anything more but bow her head and answer with a quiet "Yes, Father." Tears burned at the back of her eyes but she forced them away. She would not depart that way.

    She was soon handed from her father to an unfamiliar attendant, garbed in unusual clothing who announced himself as her driver for their trip. She greeted him, but was brushed aside as Azrael took it upon himself to assist her into the windowed but enclosed carriage, instead. He mounted one of the kingdom's horses while she carefully sat, cautious of the blades on either thigh before sitting back and flinching as the carriage jerked into motion shortly after. She exhaled a slow sigh. Well, she was alone in the carriage at least, so no one saw the tear slide down her cheek only to be just as quickly wiped away. Her guard adjusted the sheath of his sword across his back and gripped the reigns, making a point to keep beside the door of the carriage with a final glance back over his shoulder.
  2. "Cyro, we're gonna make so much money with this," Mari said, smiling. She was rarely in this good a mood, and it made Cyro slightly on edge. "It'll be really easy, too, just grabbing the princess and killing everyone else. Our employer's supposed to pay us amazingly, too, so that means you'll be getting a fancy sum of coin.

    Mari sat, where Cyro was standing, for she was above him in rank. The Assassin's Guild wasn't too organized, but everyone knew who was in charge and who wasn't. They also didn't just kill people. They also had retrieval missions, jobs where they had to get something or someone, or a thieving mission, where they had to steal something, without being caught. Cyro had always taken the actual assassination jobs, but the pay for this one was too big to pass up.

    The woman who sat before him was the master of coin for the Assassin's Guild, and any payments made to the assassins of the guild went through her first. When she recieved the coin, she divied it out to whoever had helped in the job, while taking a small amount for herself. Oftentimes, 'small' turned into more than one would think, too, but Mari liked Cyro, and tended to pay him more than she did with the other assassins.

    "I'm going with you, Cyro, okay? No choice in the matter, either. I'm a decent bow, and besides, I wanna make sure none of the others take any loot before me." In the Guild, loot was typically on a finders-keepers-losers-weepers deal, but on big jobs like this, Mari would come to make sure that the Guild's banks didn't go dry.

    "Fine," Cyro muttered, roling his eyes. "I'll see you out there."

    Leaving Mari's room, Cyro went to his own, pulling his armor on and strapping his longsword to his belt, as well as a dagger. Both were made from Elvish steel, a material that no one alive knew how to make anymore. Only a few weapons made from it still existed, but it was rumored to be even stronger than steel. It also was supposed to hold magical properties, but he had never seen any sort of magic coming from his weapons.

    Putting on his mask, he left his room, heading out of the Assassin's Guild Compund. Outside, about thirty assassins were waiting, some mounted, some not, all armed. "Let's go," Cyro said once he found Mari amongst them. Swinging onto a gray mare, Cyro rode away from the Assassin's Guild Compound, waving at the assassin's that stood atop the gate's walls.

    It didn't take long before they could see the prosession that was carrying the princess to her destination. Everyone on foot now, Cyro saw Mari notching an arrow, her yew longbow gleaming in the light. Hiding amongst the brush atop a hill overlooking the carriage, the assassins waited for Cyro to give the signal, upon which the bowmen, and Mari, rained arrows upon the guards that circled the carriage, while the assassins with bladed weapons raced down the hill. As he was running, Cyro drew his sword, careful not to trip, remembering a story of a man who had tripped with his sword drawn. At the end of the story, the man had the tip of his sword through his lower jaw. It was a troubling thought, but Cyro wouldn't dwell on them now, not with a big job so soon.
    #2 EquinoxSol, May 26, 2013
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  3. The trip had started quietly. Isra sat in the carriage, peering quietly out of the curtained window with a little sigh here and there. She had always wanted to travel outside of their kingdom and she supposed that this would stand as one of her few chances to do just that. Of course, she never thought she would just be forced to watch the scenery pass by and gradually begin to change to something unfamiliar. It made her sigh. She should've been outside on one of the horses. It was bad enough she had to leave her own stables. Those horses were more family than even her father had been been. She hadn't even been given one last ride!

    Azrael kept a keen eye on the surrounding guards and the unusual attendant manning the carriage. The neighboring kingdom of Jozrene was not known for the trustworthiness of its people, but he couldn't help but smirk to himself. With his level of training and judging from the way they carried themselves, he had the innate feeling that he could easily take down the silent guards around him without too much of a thought. Of course, that was assuming things got ugly, which he didn't imagine they would. Once they had traveled past the major establishments of their own kingdom, the men around him began to strike up casual conversation. He shook his head slightly and snorted.


    There was a sound, though, that caught his attention. His head whipped around and he swore loudly. "Take arms!" he shouted, grasping the shield he had strapped to the saddlebags of his horse and slipped it over his arm. The shield was specifically crafted for him and his duties, and stronger than those of the scrambling guards, several of which were knocked from their horses by the onslaught. The group of men barreling down the hill brought another curse from his lips. He drew his blade with his other hand, another piece of equipment he'd had made specifically for him. "Princess Isra, do not leave the carriage!" he shouted, dropping from the horse and setting it running as the carriage halted, the horses tramping and whinnying, unsettled. He would do better on foot and he knew it, waiting for those at the frontline to reach him and crossing swords with the first immediately.

    Within the carriage, Isra had heard Azrael's shouts and peered curiously out of the carriage only to recoil back at what she saw. A string of rather unladylike profanities parted her lips as she settled into the middle of the seat and flinched at the sound of what she figured were arrows hitting the carriage. Her heart pounded in her chest and she forced herself to try to keep calm, steady breaths. She remembered the daggers at her hips and fumbled to reach for them in her panic. Raj had taught her how to fight with them and had trained her quite well...but she had never seen real battle. And just as her hand enclosed around the handle of one of the blades, Azrael's battle with one of the assassins dislodged one of the carriage's wheels and sent her tumbling forward with another curse.

    What in the hell was going on?!
  4. ((Sorry Cyro's link went to my other rp. I guess I didn't copy the image's url. Fixed it now))

    Once the assassins reached the men guarding the princess, it was clear which ones were more trained than others. Cyro, who had been in the Guild nearly his whole life, spun like a whirlwind, slashing and cutting with his sword and dagger. When someone would lock up his sword with a block, he would cut at them with his dagger, killing more than one man that way. The lesser experienced assassins were clunky and not used to their weapons.

    Occasionally, as he grappled with soldier after another, Cyro would make a gesture to Mari on the hill, and she would shoot an arrow straight through the right eye of whoever he was fighting with. She was a superb shot, and almost never missed a target.

    The main battle only seemed to take a few minutes. Only a few of the guards still remained alive, the others lying dead or dying on the ground. One was a blonde man who seemed to be more of a personal bodyguard than just a guard, but Cyro was too busy to pay attention to it.

    Mari began coming down the hill with the archers, he gait as if she was walking to the stores to buy bread from the baker.

    As Cyro looked to the carriage, he noticed that one of the wheels seemed to have come off, and it was now lopsided. Sheathing his sword after cleaning it in the grass, the assassin strolled towards the door of the carriage. Holding his dagger tightly in his left hand, he opened the door to the carriage with his other hand, seeing the princess there.

    "Hello, princess," he said, a smirk coming to his lips. "Care to come with me, or do I have to force you?"
  5. ((No problem!))

    Azrael knew they were incredibly outnumbered, and while many of the assassins were not quite as adept as he, the sheer number and lack of adequate force on his side made it too difficult to match. There was clearly one who was much better matched than the others, and every time he attempted to make his way towards him, he was cut off by a swarm. In the process, he had also been pushed farther and farther from the carriage door, which certainly did not bode well. Particularly when he noticed the more trained assassin heading towards the door. He certainly hoped Isra knew how to use those daggers...

    He surveyed the scene around them from his peripherals while he fended off several more assassins. The horses that remained standing were being held and calmed. The carriage attendant was lying face down, blood around his abdomen and the guards he could see were all dead. A lot of good they did them. If he made it to Jozrene he would see to it that the king's guard received his own personal style of hellish training...

    Within the carriage, Isra struggled to right herself. She finally pushed herself backwards, brushing her then-disheveled hair out of her face in frustration when she heard the carriage door open. "Azrael what is-!" she stopped when she looked up, spotting an unfamiliar man's face. She tensed and felt every rebellious fiber in her being rise up against him. The weight of the daggers on her hips were a friendly reminder that she had several choices to make. She could lunge at him then and hope to catch him off guard...or try to get outside to figure out what was going on.

    At his words and smirk, her dark eyes broiled furiously in a glare. She always had a tendency to act a bit rash when her temper got out of hand. "I'd be happy to get the hell out of this carriage," she spat and pushed a hand through her hair, yanking out the flowers in the process and throwing them onto the ground. "Just not for you or any other thief!" Foolishly, she jumped at him with fist raised. She had opted away from the daggers for the time being, a move she might regret in the near future.
  6. "Theif?" murmured Cyro, not at all concerned with a princess wanting to hit him. "I'm no petty theif, princess," he told her, just before he grabbed her wrists, pulling her to him so she couldn't run. "I won't say I'm sorry," he told her, even as he bound her hands together with a length of rope. Every time she would struggle or attempt to hit and kick him, he would place his dagger at her throat, making a silent threat with just his eyes, "but this is too endearing to pass up." The smirk once again coming to his face, he lifted her bound hands above her head, making a point of looking her up and down that way. However, he could care less about that at the moment. Right now, he was more interested in the amount of coin he could get from the employer who wanted her.

    Letting her arms fall, he said, "You can get out by yourself, or you can get out over my shoulder, your choice."

    Outside the carriage, Mari had reached the bottom of the hill. By that time, all but one of the guards were dead, the blonde bodyguard-type one the only one still standing. She could probably have killed him from the hill, but she thought that someone who fought so well deserved a better death. Coming from behind him, she moved one arm around his waist while the other held her dagger to his throat. "You are all idiots," she called to the assassins. "This was the easiest thing you could've done, didn't any of you see that? I've half a mind to just let that guy have all the money." She gestured towards Cyro with a nod. During a job, assassins were careful never to speak anyone's name, and sometimes created fake names for themselves. It was all so that if anyone lived, they couldn't pay a mercenary group or a different assassin to kill you.

    "Why don't you drop that sword?" Mari asked, letting her free hand lightly trace along the man's sword arm. She was going to kill him anyways, why not kill him just a bit slowly? "Come on...I'll give you a kiss for it." She grinned mischevously, letting her dagger cut just a little bit.
  7. Isra knew the moment his hands gripped her wrists that she had made a mistake. Of course, she was not going to let that show on her face. "I wouldn't expect you to apologize because clearly you've planned this out quite nicely," she spat, moving to struggle again only to have his dagger threateningly at her throat. For a split second, fear flashed through her eyes, but it was quickly replaced with the stubborn fury she was known for. She felt her tied arms pull above her head and her glare only darkened.

    She was fuming. So much for Jozreane's great and powerful guards. With her hands tied and trying to contain some bit of her temper in hopes of developing a plan, she was realizing her options were slim. Even if she could discreetly get to her daggers, freeing her hands would be difficult with the size of her blades...not to mention she had the feeling she was going to be quite well-observed. With a frustrated expulsion of breath, she tossed her head to get some hair out of her face and straightened the best she could in the downed carriage. "As if I would let you carry me anywhere," she growled, knocking his shoulder as she stumbled out into the open to see what had really happened.

    Azrael froze when he felt an arm around his waist and the cold metal of a blade against his neck. Shit. The fact that the voice that come from behind him was clearly female was not helping his decision, any. It was foolish, but old habits were difficult to overcome...and when a woman held a blade to your throat, well...certain things niceties flew out of the proverbial window. He was considering multiple ways to disarm her, when, from the corner of his eye, he caught Isra stepping out of the carriage with her hands tied. "Princess!" he shouted, a line of blood forming where the woman's dagger rested against his neck. The sting of pain reminded him of the situation and he cursed once more, relenting and dropping his sword.

    Isra's head whipped up, her eyes wide. Her head jerked around to the thief - or whatever he was - and whatever ounce of diplomacy she retained from her father's work came forth in her stance. "Release him! I'm sure whatever you want in this is just me, so let him go! We're far enough away from my home that even if he makes it back the rest of you could be long gone." It seemed wrong for her guard to die if they were just interested in her for whatever reason...

    Azrael's surprise at her words was poorly hidden. Royalty typically didn't think twice about the deaths of their guards. It was part of their sworn duty, after all. If he couldn't protect her, then death was the only appropriate punishment. But he had the faintest feeling that she was starting to piece things together in her head...and she was.

    "How much are you getting for all of this?" she spoke once more. "I assume that if you're not 'petty thieves', then you're clearly getting paid..." The idea that flashed through her eyes was evident. "I can assure you I can at least double, if not triple whatever you're getting. And I don't mean by you returning me home."
  8. "Leave no survivors," Cyro told her simply, reciting what the letter from their employer said. "Only the princess is to be taken prisoner. No one else." He nodded to Mari, who let a slow smile spread across her face. However, she didn't move, letting her defiant side show. She wouldn't take orders from Cyro, he was beneath her in rank. She'd kill the guard when she was good and ready.

    Not letting the man get any leverage over her, knowing that if he got the right angle he could easily throw her, Mari watched Cyro carefully, watching as the princess spoke to him. Cyro was an assassin, through and through, but he could be a bit impulsive, and hardly ever cared for loyalty. "I still owe you that kiss," she told the guard lowly, "for dropping the sword." Leaning up, she placed her lips gently along his jawline, pulling away a second later. "There you go," she said, a mischevous grin on her face.

    Cyro listened silently to the girl's offer. One could pratically see the gears turning in his mind. "Triple...?" he asked. That was a lot of coin, he said, doing the math in his head. With his cut of it, he could probably buy a nice home in Agnatis, which was well known for its beautiful seas. He wouldn't be able to completely retire from the Guild, no one could ever, due to the blood vows, but he could take a nice long break.

    "Let's say we took this deal..." Cyro said, his eyes narrowed slightly. "Where would you want us to return you to?"
  9. Isra's pulse doubled right along with Azrael's at the man's words and her stomach dropped. Her gaze darted to the woman restraining her guard and found that she had yet to move and she calmed just a bit. Perhaps there was still hope for him, yet. His thoughts were swarming. She knew what she was doing, but the fact that the princess seemed to be working out a negotiation was a bit alarming. He couldn't even begin to imagine what was up her sleeve. She could be rather...unpredictable.

    He was distracted from this thought by the woman behind him and his jaw instinctively tensed at the feel of her lips against it. "I didn't drop the sword for the kiss," he grumbled lowly. Perhaps a part of his pride was injured by the whole situation. He had prided himself at being one of the best his instructors had ever seen...and yet there he was, trapped in a situation he couldn't seem to work his way out of. Of course...there was another part of him beyond his ideal guard persona. And if he was going to die anyway, he was starting to think it wouldn't matter what he said. "Although I will admit it's a slightly better feeling than the blade at my throat."

    A brief mental shout of victory pierced her mind but she quickly brushed it aside. He had obviously taken to consider her offer, but that was only a single, small victory. She was going to have to work much harder than that to really convince him that this was the better option. She watched him mull it over and was momentarily taken aback by his question. It seemed so unusual a concept. The easy, and technically proper answer would be to escort her to her betrothed. But that was hardly on her mind. She hadn't wanted the marriage, anyway...

    Her back and shoulders straightened before she spoke definitively, the malice in her eyes gone although the stubborn confidence remained. "I don't want to be returend anywhere. I want a horse, some...normal clothes," she paused to glance down at herself. "...and maybe a map to go anywhere I wish."
  10. "Don't lie," Mari teased the guard, laughter in her voice. "You did drop it for the kiss, didn't you?" Watching silently as one of the assassins picked up the dropped sword and practiced a few cuts with it, apparently liking the weight of it. "Drop it," Mari commanded. "We might be able to sell that, get you a better one later." The assassin nodded, before skulking off to a small group of assassins who were discussing what they would do with their split of the coin.

    "That's all well and good, princess," Cyro said, gazing levelly at her. "But if we do send you off with clothes, a horse, and a map, how will our payment reach us? We may be hired swords, but we're not least, not all of us. Besides," he continued, "to get you those things, you would have to come to the Assassin's Guild Compound. I'm certain a princess like yourself wouldn't want to be among that sort of company. The gods only know how much you hate being near me..."

    Shrugging nonchalantly, he turned from her, asking softly, "How much is that guard worth to you, princess? What would do to prevent his death?"
  11. Azrael found himself smirking still, despite the entire situation. Perhaps it was a bit sadistic in a way, but what could he say? A lot goes through a man's head as death approaches...and sometimes it just seems like a good idea to flirt with death rather than stare it down. "Well, now, I am only a man. Who am I to deny a woman's kiss?" His glare sharped, however, at the assassin that picked up his sword. That sword was his pride and joy. Even in death, he wouldn't want some inexperienced fool touching it. Relief passed over him when she instructed him to drop it. "Is it odd to thank you for that?" he chuckled, referencing the dropped sword.

    Isra rolled her eyes at his words. "I wouldn't expect to be released until you have your payment...and excuse me for being a little less-than thrilled to be around a man who has killed my entourage, tied me up to presumably kidnap me and kill my guard," she scoffed a bit indignantly. He assumed she would attempt to escape without payment...but vastly underestimated her will to get away from her old life of captivity. But it was at his next question that her stomach dropped once more. Her gaze dragged back to the blond and she exhaled a quiet breath. "Azrael is the closest thing to a friend I've had since I was little..." she replied, her voice no higher in volume than his had been when he'd asked the question.

    The idea formed before she could stop herself from speaking it. She just hoped Azrael would understand. "Here is my proposition. If you want to make sure you receive your payment, one of you complete the journey to Jozreane with me posing as my guard. I will get you into the palace, we'll get in, take a sufficient amount, and return where you will release Azrael and myself." She glanced around her and gestured to the dead guards with her tied hands. It wasn't the first time she'd seen carnage...although perhaps the closest she had been to it. "As you can seen, the fool's guards are a little lacking. Two of us should be able to get in and get out easily and quickly enough."
  12. Mari couldn't help but blink in surprise at the man's answer, but her eyes soon narrowed to an almost seductive level. He was a strange man...answering a question like that with an answer like that while he had a knife pressed to his throat was definitely something she hadn't seen in a while. When Mari had been a working assassin, she had been known as the Succubus, for her skill at seducing her targets before killing them. She thought she had seen every thing one could see with a man, but this was new. Smiling to herself, she answered his question with, "Not at all...a man's sword is an extension of himself...I know how I'd feel if someone took my bow."

    Cyro, seeing the exchange going on between the guard and Mari, chose to ignore it for now, and instead focused on the princess. That could work, he decided. And he'd be swimming in gold by the end of the ordeal.

    Taking a deep breath, he thought it over again before saying, "Fine...Jozreane...there's some pretty wealthy men in that country," he mused. "Here's what I say to your plan. Your guard...Azrael, was that his name? He'll go to the Assassin's Guild Compound, and stay there under Mari's guard, while I'll escort you to Jozreane. Provided that I get back safely and with the payment, both of you will be released without a hair on your head harmed. However, for a year after the release, assassins will be monitoring you all the time, in order to assure that you do not send for any of us to be killed, regardless of the reason. What say you, princess?"
  13. Azrael chuckled quietly, forcing himself not to move with the blade at his threat. "My, my...not everyday you meet a woman who understands that idea...too bad the circumstances are a little..." he paused to find the right word. "...unfortunate for. For one of us, anyway," he smirked once more. Every man had a different reaction to this type of stress. He'd never really been in a situation quite like this one before, and if he had a chance to look back, he'd probably find it rather, well...mortifying. He hadn't even gotten a good look at her, yet!

    An optimistic light flickered through her gaze and she did what she could to contain the proud smile. She had successfully navigated her first real negotiation! She nodded slightly at his words. "Not only are there wealthy men there, you will be in the wealthiest one's home," she affirmed after a pause. Perhaps she should feel guilty...but in all honesty, she had no sympathy for the bastard. The man was nearly thrice her age and was confirmed to already possess a harem of twelve. She certainly was not comfortable with being added to it...although the idea of being monitored after the fact wasn't exactly comforting, either. She extended her tied hands towards him as a means to shake on their agreement. "I agree. Whole-heartedly."
  14. "'For one of us,'" Mari mimicked teasingly. She had opened her mouth to say something else, but Cyro called over to her, "Let him go. We made a deal." Sighing, the woman did as he said, for once doing as she was told. Her arm was getting tired besides. Walking in front of him, she looked back at him to give him a wink, a wide grin on her face.

    As the princess extended her hands, Cyro unsheated his dagger, and in one move he had cut the rope. Sheathing his weapon, he grasped her right hand with his, shaking it once. Gesturing for Mari and the guard to come over, he said, "Don't look so down about having to leave your plaything," he told Mari. "You're gonna be spending a long time with him." Watching as a slow smile spread across her face, he looked to the princess, "Anything else, princess?"
  15. To say Azrael was surprised at the order was an understatement. He had not been paying attention to the other conversation, but the fact that the princess - the headstrong young woman he had been told to protect at all cost - had apparently just saved HIS life (at least temporarily) was a bit unnerving.

    Once freed, he reached up and wiped at the already drying trickle of blood at his neck. His eyes immediately landed on the woman who had been restraining him and he felt that embarrassment creep up on him. Well...this would certainly be interesting.

    Isra felt sweet relief on her wrists and once her hand was freed from the handshake, rubbed them both a bit. The rope had certainly done enough to irritate them. She let her hands fall to her sides with a nod at Azrael before returning to the question posed to her. "The only other thing to add is that my name is Isra, not 'princess', and I'd prefer to be addresses by it."

    Azrael could no longer contain himself. "Princess, are you sure this is wise?" He began and was about to continue when she cut him off.

    "I would rather travel with assassins and thieves than be stuck in another palace for the rest of my life." She exhaled sharply through her nose. "You know as well as I do that this is a good choice for both of us. You will keep good on my word and not give them any trouble and once this is done you can go off to do whatever you please just like I will."

    Azrael breathed a sigh and ran a hand through his hair. She had given him trouble before, but this was an entirely different thing. "As you wish," he conceded and stooped down to pick up his dropped sword and sheathe it once more. At least it wasn't in the dust any longer.

    Isra nodded at him before turning back to the assassin. "Are we ready to move on, then?"

    ((On my phone, sorry for autocorrect typos!))
  16. "Then call me Cyro," the assassin answered her when she told him to call her by her name. All the assassins were silent as the two others exchanged words, the blonde one questioning Isra's sense in going with Cyro. Most of the assassins were also questioning Cyro's state of mind. Sure, the money was good, but this was an act of madness, in their eyes. Plus, it would take longer for everyone to get paid.

    Eyebrows rising as she spoke to him, Cyro said, "Nope. Guess we can leave now. We won't have horses, since Mari and them will need them more, but we'll make good time. Let's go." He turned from the other assassins, only waving once to them before starting down the road, not even checking to see if Isra was following him.

    Mari looked to the guard. "Guess you're mine until Cyro gets back safely," she said, grinning. Speaking to the assassins next, she said, "Loot the bodies for any gold and things we can sell. That'll be our pay until Cyro gets back." Hanging back with the guard, she asked, "So what's your name? Simply calling you 'Handsome Guard Man' won't do anymore. After hearing his answer, she smiled before saying, "My name's Mari. I hope you enjoy numbers, 'cause that's most of what I do every day."

    Once all the loot was taken, hidden away into the assassins' pockets, Mari told them, "C'mon, let's go. I want to get home before it gets dark out." Gesturing to the man to walk in front of her, she followed, making sure the assassins did the same. Going up the hill from where they had attacked, they soon came upon the horses. "Take your pick," she told the man before climbing up onto her own horse.
  17. Isra nodded at his introduction and couldn't help but feel a little downtrodden by the fact that they would not have any horses. It had been far-too long since she had ridden, but what could she do? She would have one when the little ordeal was over...and maybe while she was trying her hand at this whole 'thieving' thing, she could attempt to take a horse as well. He was rumored to have quite the impressive stable. When Cyro began to walk down the road, she glanced back at Azrael one last time with a bit of a grin and nod before moving quickly to catch up with and walk beside him.

    She let silence settle over them for a few minutes and ignored the shuffling of the others in the opposite direction. She was soon to be alone with an assassin who just minutes ago had been set to kidnap her...perhaps she was being a bit naive in trusting him. She brushed the thought away. Even should something happen, she figured her other options weren't all that fantastic, either. Absently, she reached up and freed her long hair from its restraints and tousled it. It had been a mess since the carriage toppled. After she had run her fingers through it a few times, she lifted both hands to tie it up in a simple low ponytail. "I suppose we can tell a slightly fabricated story when we arrive. Say we were attacked and the rest were killed. Close enough to the truth. It will also give us an excuse to keep to ourselves for a while. I'll say I need time to myself to recover...or something along those lines," she mused aloud.

    A part of Azrael still found it difficult to believe that Isra had come up with and agreed to this plan. Since when was a princess capable of such thieving, conniving plans? Then again, she had been quite good at sneaking out of her room and the palace...he sighed and shook his head before returning his focus back to the woman who was to be his charge. Something told him she was much more dangerous than she appeared, even after the blade at his neck. He smirked slightly at her words and found himself watching the rest of the troupe raiding the remainder of the convoy. It was...certainly odd to just sit back and watch.

    He felt the warmth of embarrassment creep up his neck once more at her name request. "My name is Azrael, milady," he replied with a bit of an awkward smile. "Numbers? Can't say I've ever had to do much of anything with them. Always been my job to be the muscle," he chuckled sheepishly. When instructed, he strolled in front of Mari without too much thought. It was certainly unusual to be on the other side of things. He approached the nearest horse and pulled himself up and onto its back with ease. He gripped the reigns and turned the animal towards hers. "Ready whenever you are," he offered with a nod.
  18. Cyro didn't speak much with Isra, preferring to keep to his own thoughts. Besides, if he was going to be posing as her personal guard, he would need to learn how to use the mannerisms that a guard would use. My lord, my lady, never say no, no matter what, he listed to himself, keeping his eyes on the road for any sign of a traveler on the road.

    "There should be a town a little ways up the road, right?" he asked her. "We can get a horse or two there. But just in case..." he began unbuckling his belt, taking off the one that held his dagger. "Here. You may be a princess, but a dagger's better than nothing." Brushing his light brown hair out of his eyes, he watched her carefully, wondering what her reaction would be.

    Mari chuckled as he addressed her as 'milady'. "I'm no lady, Azrael. I'm the master of coin at the Assassin's Guild. I've proven myself to the assassins more times than you can probably count. Even before I was an assassin, I wasn't a lady. I was a gutter rat, begging for my meals." Leading her horse off once everyone was ready, she started at a light pace, not in too much of a rush now that they were all on horses.

    As they rode, one of the assassins started singing a light tune. The song was an older song that not many people knew anymore. "A sailor went to sea, to see what he could see, though the water was the color of jubilee, and on the ship was a girl named Bree. The girl had hair of a bea, the girl smiled like thee, and gave the sailor a grin of glee. The song continued much in that manner. Though it wasn't too good of a song, it lifted everyone's spirits, and soon many of the younger assassins were singing along.

    "They're in a good mood," Mari told Azrael. "We're all looking forwards to three times what was promised. That's Will who started singing...Whenever he gets into any sort of mood he starts singing." She smiled, looking back to the man she was talking about, a younger assassin who had hair the color of spun gold. "He was a lord's son before he joined us. We're not all gutter rats and killers with no where else to go," she explained.
  19. At his question, she shrugged slightly. "I honestly wouldn't know. I've never been away from the area surrounding my own home before now," she admitted with some disdain. It was still something she was mildly embarrassed about. What surprised her, however, was the dagger he offered her, and she was reminded of the comforting weight strapped to her thighs. She studied his dagger for a moment before tilting her chin up slightly to meet his gaze and smiling slightly.

    "I have a bit of a confession to make," she began, breaking his gaze to focus on brushing aside the slit of her skirt to remove one of the two daggers she had taken with her. She gripped the hilt with a fond smile and held it up between them. The blade was on the long side for a dagger, and not unlike the shape of a scimitar. "I have two and have been quite well-taught to use them...for a princess, I suppose, perhaps not to you and your people," she admitted with a light flush of her cheeks. "Don't ask me why I didn't draw them on you earlier...I suppose I let my temper get away with me and my fists seemed a better option..." She glanced up at him through her lashes with a little shrug.

    The guard's brows quirked up as Mari revealed a bit about herself that surprised him. He only quirked a small smile. "Lifestyle does not a lady make, Mari. I see no reason for the correction," he mused rather honestly. By her assumed definition, Isra wasn't much of a lady, either, quite frankly. He nudged the horse to follow after Mari's, and kept an easy pace to her left. "My life before the palace guard took me in wasn't much of anything comfortable, either," he offered with a shrug as his eyes became somewhat distant with memories. He shook the thoughts away before they could distract him. It was the last thing he needed to think about.

    Luckily, the song the assassins struck up was enough of a distraction, and he glanced back to take it all in. An amused chuckle part his lips and he couldn't help but shake his head. It was certainly something that would have never happened amongst the other guards. His attention shifted back to Mari as she addressed him once more. His brows rose as she mentioned Will's roots. "The prin-...Isra," he hesitated to correct himself. "...certainly surprised me with that one...although I can't say I'm surprised she was so willing to rob the king blind," he admitted with a sigh. "Who knows? It would not surprise me if she ended up wanting to join you all after all of this," he chuckled.
  20. Cyro was genuinely surprised when she revealed that she had had daggers with her this whole time. If she had wanted to, she could have stabbed him in the back and killed him as soon as they were out of sight of the assassins. That sent a chill through him. Putting his belt back on, he was secretly glad that he had both his weapons on him again. He hated fighting with just his longsword; he always felt naked when he did, unable to gain the upper hand very well in a fight.

    Running a hand through his hair, he chuckled a bit before nodding. "Fine. I'll take your word on your skill with your daggers, but if we get into a fight and you're getting cut up, don't blame me." Running a hand through his hair, he glanced at the dress she was wearing. "Maybe, when we find a town, we can steal some better traveling clothes for you...I'm sure that dress might sell nicely on a market, if we end up needing money. Let's keep moving," he ended, turning and walking again.

    Chuckling, Mari asked, "That so? The Guild always needs more assassins...too many of us have gotten sloppy, and a lot of us have been killed." She looked down mournfully for a moment, before forcing her grief down. "I think she'd be a good addition to us...if she made Cyro tie her up, then she's obviously good for something." Mari smiled good-naturedly, before reaching a hand up to twist a golden necklace that she had gotten off of an assassin earlier that day for neglecting to pay a loan she had given him.

    Yanking it off her neck, she reared her horse around to look at the assassins. "If anyone beats me back to the stables in the compound, you get this fancy gold necklace!" she shouted before turning her horse around and spurring it into a gallop. "Try to keep up, Handsome Guard Man," she called to him teasingly as she rode off, the golden pendant flying behind her like a banner, its chain firmly held in her left hand as she rode.
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