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> The Accidental Eavesdropper
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 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 06:52 PM
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NICOLETTE KLE LOCKHART, 18, has been prone to ill health her entire life. As a result, she is small, waifish, and underweight due to a poor appetite. Her skin bruises easily and her occasionally shadowed large brown eyes dominate a face pale from both anemia and a life kept mostly indoors. She looks breakable and is often treated as such.

Nicolette has been sickly ever since she was a babe and never for a day in her life allowed to forget it. Born premature, the chances were unlikely that she’d even survive past the age of one, but somehow she clung to life. One year turned to two and to three and so on. She was a little light that refused to go out. As the third daughter of the Duke, she was born to live a sheltered life of privilege. As a Duke’s daughter with mild hemophilia and resulting anemia, the sheltered aspect has been taken to extremes— bundled up and sent back inside the moment she thought to go out, cautioned if she ever became “overly excited,” and an aunt and three older sisters who babied her (well, perhaps not Mackayla). While she couldn’t say she never enjoyed the babying, the entire situation was made more frustrating because they weren’t wrong, Colette was fragile and there was nothing she could do about it. If she got so much as a paper cut, she’d bleed for hours. If she were clumsy and bumped into a table, or grabbed just a little too roughly, she’d bruise.

As a child, while her sisters were out riding or engaging in some more active past time from which she was forbidden (for her own benefit of course), Colette stayed in her room and ready fairy stories or stared out at the ocean, imagining herself a princess locked in a tower, or, if she were in a more morbid frame of mind how might her family react if she jumped (not that she could even do such a thing from her room). Colette never liked the look of concern in her family’s eyes when she was not feeling well. In her more dramatic moments, she felt like she was a shadow or a ghost among the living. They were just watching to see if she’d fall over and die. None of this was true, of course, and Colette knew that. The doctors seemed to think she would be just fine so long as she avoided absolutely everything fun. So there was that to look forward to.

Colette’s favorite person to spend time with is ironically their father. No such worry in his eyes, only disappointment because who would want to marry his sickly youngest daughter? For her part, Colette wasn’t even certain that she wanted to marry. She only had her family to judge by. Her father was bitter and (or as she personally believed), still grieving over the loss of their mother and the son he was supposed to have. To Colette that was extremely romantic and off-putting all at once. She supposed she’d never have to worry about that as chances were she’d be the one to leave any husband and then they’d remarry someone healthier and forget all about her. (This was entirely unappealing).

Then there was Arelle who had entered into an arranged marriage which sounded to Colette the very opposite of romantic and yet, they’d fallen in love and Arelle had given birth to Colette’s three most favorite people in the world, the oldest of which she could no longer play with now without adult supervision now that he’d reached the age of rough-housing. Her second eldest sister, Mackayla, seemed determined never to marry at all, and Eleanora as soon as possible. Really, how was one to make up their mind? Mostly, Colette wished that she had a choice in the matter one way or the other. Sometimes her day dreams involved a man scaling the tower and carrying her off to freedom, other days she ran away and joined a band of highwaymen. She could not help but be secretly jealous Mackayla running around and doing as she pleased or Eleanora as she dressed up in her pretty clothes on the off chance of attracting some handsome prince, or Arelle, so sweet-natured and with such beautiful children. These were all merely thoughts left to die unspoken because Colette knew they just wanted what was best for her and loved each one of them (even Mackayla).

Colette’s attachment to their father was always perhaps somewhat baffling. Her sisters were certainly nicer (except perhaps Mackayla) and their aunt more nurturing. But perhaps, Colette just did not want nurturing. She wanted gruffness and the honesty of telling her no she couldn’t come along because he did not want her to get an accidental nosebleed all over the royal family’s fine rug. Sometimes, she uses her illness to her advantage and he lets her sit in the corner while he looks over his books. Sometimes he’ll even as her opinion on what he’s looking at. Usually her opinion is wrong, but the important thing is that he asks her. Colette hopes that should she remain a spinster that the very least she could stay at home and look after her father into his old age. Probably she’d soon follow anyway. She’d be found in a pool of blood from an untreated nosebleed (it certainly felt sometimes like she’d just bleed forever and ever and bleeding out the nose was slightly more elegant than bleeding out during her lady’s time). It was only a pity it could not be her eyes. Perhaps she’d clutch a dagger just to keep it interesting.

Her favorite view has always been the ocean and Colette spent much of her youth trying to convince her aunt that she was quite well enough to walk along the beach. Swimming was out of the question, but she did sometimes sneak her feet into the frigid water. The scolding was typically worth it and occasionally, so was the cold that occasionally followed. With so much of her time relegated to indoor pursuits, Colette is often somewhere in hiding, reading, painting (typically ocean scenes and mermaids – another fantasy that figured heavily into her daydreams, slipping into the sea, finding she had fins and exploring the watery depths), and singing, but only if no one is around to listen.

Then there is Nicolette’s deep dark secret. The one that will probably get her into trouble some day. It started when she was thirteen years old. They were visiting Arelle and Colette had a fainting spell right in the middle of dinner. Right in front of those handsome princes, in front of the beautiful princesses around her own age. Fainted right into her soup in fact. If only she’d drowned in it!

She’d been carried off to a place where she could rest and found herself quite alone in the sitting room once the doctor had left. Feeling morose, she tilted her head back, eyeing the upside down table and the bit of silver upon it. Sitting up right, she turned to see what it was. A letter opener with a pretty little pattern etched into the side. It reminded her of waves. Colette did not know what possessed her. Before anyone came back into the room, she had picked up the letter opener and slipped it into the deep pockets of her dress. She’d been so certain she’d be found out, that the Amir would come demanding his letter opener. She realized how silly the thought was once she’d grown older. As it was, no one ever even noticed and it became a victory, a rush for a girl that was forbidden from excitement. Her body was out of control, her life was out of control. Here was something that was hers. That was the start to her collection. Colette never needed the things she took, they were always what caught her eye, usually something small and simple, perhaps something shiny, perhaps not. It was not quite a compulsion, but her collection had become a part of her. No one ever noticed.

For the most part, she tends to be as solitary a creature as she can, simultaneously longing for excitement while wishing to stay out of the eyes of court. She knows when it comes down to it, she is likely an embarrassment for her family, whether or not they’re willing to admit it and she’d prefer not to embarrass herself.

~~~~~~~~~~

Nicolette lay curled up by the window, a book in hand and the blanket her Aunt insisted on if she insisted on sitting there. She did so her aunt did. Colette did not mind, the cold seeped through the window and she was grateful for the blanket. Despite the penetrating cold, she liked this spot and its view of the sea. She never tired of staring at it, occasionally glancing up from her book to watch the curl of the waves. The only better spot would be right down by the water. The weather was too cold for it, of course. Even if it weren’t, she’d unlikely be allowed to go. Ten minutes at most. Perhaps she could get ten minutes if she bundled up warmly.

Probably not. They had guests at dinner tonight, a lord of some station or other and his sons. Colette falling ill tended to put a damper on such affairs. Quite frankly, she wished she could skip dinner. Colette did not like social situations such as those. Sighing dramatically, she looked down at her book again. A drop of red splattered on the page, followed by another. Augh. Another nosebleed. Yalek was cold year round, but the winter months always exacerbated her condition. She needed a rag of some sort. Considering the blanket for a moment, Colette discarded the idea. She had no wish to bloody it. None of the servants seemed about. She was clearly going to have to solve this problem by herself.

Tilting her head forward and pinching her nose, she hurried out of the room, watching the ground rather than where she was going. Between watching her feet so she did not trip and the state of her freely bleeding nose, she could perhaps be forgiven for not paying attention as she rounded the corner and smacked right into another person. Thankfully, her hand cushioned the blow to her nose, not so thankfully, she found herself at eye level with a man’s chest, a man who was wearing a fine white shirt that was now smeared with blood. Colette recoiled in horror of what she’d done.

Colette lifted her eyes up to… one of the dinner guests. ”Aughh!” Unwillingly, an inelegant cry made its escape. She was doomed. Doooooomed.

Her life has been defined by her illness. Had she not been raised to a life of privilege, she likely would have died as a child. She's led a very sheltered life and it shows. Colette is shy, but this does not mean she’s meek or at least certainly not in her head. She hates to be the center of her attention and is mortified when her illness leads to public embarrassment which has happened on occasion from fainting spells. She has a terrible penchant for liking people who are mean to her because this tends to mean that they're treating her less like an invalid. She is prone to morbid thoughts, melodrama, and crazy daydreams to entertain herself. While her sisters are occasionally subject to Colette's whimsical thoughts (more often when she's feeling particularly sensitive), for the most part she keeps it all bottled up. She loves her sisters and has a huge soft spot for Arelle's children. She has no idea what she wants for the future because most of the time she thinks she does not have one at all. She's is a definite daddy's girl whether the man likes it or not. Because her illness has left her helpless, she's become a bit of a kleptomaniac because as she sees it is her own way of exerting control over her world.
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Prin ti Demsiri
 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 06:56 PM
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Life on the streets of Arcadia was better than the chaos and unseen dangers of the Great Desert and her surrounding villages, towns, and cities; and just as any large city, it has its homeless, out on the streets. As a youth, Prin began to beg, but gave a portion of the food he cadged each time to one particular group of boys and girls. Over the years, the children grew to trust him; befriended him; and, finally, took him on as their leader. The relationship worked perfectly, far better than anything Prin had known among his fellow humans. And this history become a bond between friends that could last; even if they were considered an outlawed band.

And thru those years of adolescence, and to this present day, the city guards came to know of Prin's life, but could not wrest him from the streets. He was not deemed a detriment to the security of the Kingdom, nor any criminal of import to such; just a pain in the ass for the city fathers. Many times he would escape his would-be captors, by using his athletic ability. That ability, his skill with the sword, and his likeability by the people prevented him, many times, from being imprisoned. Albeit, Prin, and his cohorts, resisted the establishment… and in such became a petty outlaw.

Over the years of youth, living in the criss-crossing streets and alleys of Arcadia, Prin developed, refined, and taught to his friends a holistic training discipline using movement using only the body and available surroundings for propulsion, with a focus on maintaining as much momentum as possible while still remaining safe. His training included obstacle courses in the market, running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, animalistic movements on all fours, and the like, depending on what movement is deemed most suitable for the given situation. People would often watch him dodge the guards by running towards a high wall and then jumping and pushing off the wall with a foot to reach the top of the wall, leaving his pursuers lingering below.

Even to this day, despite the guards valiant efforts, Prin’s skills are often displayed in vaulting over obstacles imagined too high; or jumping and landing accurately with the feet on small, or narrow, impediments; or moving from a position hanging from a wall-top or ledge, to standing on the top or vaulting over to the other side; or jumping and catching a ledge with the hands while the feet land on the vertical surface below, or using a rolling motion to help absorb large impacts.

Now here we go… Another day… Another opportunity to increase his financial status… That is if he can avoid the patrols. But even on lazy days like today, the city guard patrols made their rounds in the marketplace. But today would be something a bit more daring. The royals were out of the palace, and it was time for him to snoop around, and see what he could pilfer.

Pilfer, no not steal… for stealing could result in his hand being cutoff, or worse, gaol. The key word was pilfer… Okay, semantics…
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 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 06:57 PM
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Nicolette huddled quietly under the table, staring at a pair of feet that had been there for what seemed like hours. Years. Decades. Centuries. With no signs of walking off as feet were supposed to. Yes, Colette had made a huge mistake. And it had all started out so innocuously…

An indiscriminate time earlier (eons), Colette had been doing what she did best, hiding. Or perhaps it would be more apt to say, keeping out of the way. Uncomfortable as she was at the court in Yalek, she was even more so in Arcadia. She was fascinated, but as much as she loved to read about far off places, the culture was entirely unfamiliar. Perhaps she should just be grateful for the change in scenery. Indeed, perhaps she might if she were allowed to go out and explore. Instead she was fortunate indeed to have a new room to look at. Colette wasn’t grateful. Not for the pitying eyes that followed her wherever she went, nor the awkward social situations, nor for the realization for the realization that for all her daydreams of running off to join the brotherhood (bringing an end to that very problematic name) or to secretly elope with some non-existent mystery lover or just simply to slip into the sea and never come back, she was actually terribly homesick. She'd been so excited to go to Arcadia despite the sad situation that had instigated. How could she honestly profess a desire to seek out adventure when she was finally away from home and still longing for her lovely safe little nook where she could watch the sea? Everyone also had less time for her now. While she was often solitary, Colette always liked to believe that choice was there at least. By everyone, Colette meant her father. No time for his youngest daughter at all. Woe.

This all had little to do directly with her current predicament, but it certainly helped set the scene. She’d slipped the watchful gaze of the servants who were supposed to mind her in the case of an incident in order to wander the palace. This was all a marvelous plan because there were so many rooms that it was easy enough to find a nice little study that remained unoccupied. Just because she went wandering did not mean she wished to wander into other people. She perused the walls, picked up little knickknacks and set them back down again, ran her fingers along the exotic curved swords on the walls (they were sharp!), peered out the window while touching the thick material of the drapes, bunching it in her hands. Eventually her attention finally fell upon the heavy table near the center of the room and the map of the five kingdoms that lay upon it. She traced the route they’d traveled from Lothimas with her finger and wondered at the pins in the map, wondering what they might indicate. Looking thoughtfully at one of the pins in Yalek, Colette pulled it from the map and put it into her pocket before continuing her perusal. She was still studying the map when she heard voices outside the door and the turn of the knob.

If she were a rational more socially adjusted woman, she would have just nodded in greeting and sauntered out the door as if she owned the room. Instead… she panicked and faster than she thought she was capable, Colette ducked underneath the table, huddled and out of sight by the time the door opened and the people entered. She realized the error of her ways almost at once. Why oh why had she gone beneath the table? What if they found her? The matter grew worse when they began to speak and now she was guilty of eavesdropping. She was eighteen years of age, old enough to be a mother. But there she was, underneath the table. And the longer she was under there, the harder it was to come out because the worse it looked. The only possible recourse was to wait it out. She could hardly just climb out from beneath the table give a little wave and run out the door. Once the room was empty, then it’d be safe to come out. Colette even thought she’d have the chance when one of the pair left, but then the other sat down at the table, the very feet she’d now been looking at for a millennium. Probably she would die here.

With nothing else to do, she thought about whether she knew those voices and if she could identify those feet, knowing very well she’d heard things that she absolutely ought not. Colette was no gossip. She just wanted her nook by the sea. And for the feet to leave. Why had she ever climbed beneath the table?

Of course, because Colette was a girl who would always suffer a miserable fate, her generally barely existent appetite decided to rear its belly at the very worst possible time. Hurry hurry hurry, feet. Go go go go go go. Colette clutched at her belly with a silent plea and a futile attempt to calm it.

Colette’s stomach growled, an unladylike roar that would put the fiercest of jungle cats to shame. Oh gods.
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Prin ti Demsiri
 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:00 PM
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Prin looked around the corner, then behind him… and with one swift move, he made it to the ladder… up, up, he scurried, to the flat rooftop. And with a swift 4 steps across, he leaped into the air, bounding over the small street, where below, walked four guardsmen. Building after building, rooftop to rooftop, he bound… until… he stopped at the edge, kneeling down and looking left and right. Then with a small hop, he lept over the edge, one hand on the brick, the other waving in the air for balance… and with a thud, he landed on both feet, knees bent, in a cloud of dust that spiraled upward. With a smirk upon his face, he dusted himself off and entered the shop.

Through the shop, out the back, and into another, then run out with a broom by an old woman, cursing at him. Snagging an apple, he stuffed it in his shirt, and with two large steps, bound one foot on a table, the other against the wall, twisted and bound upwards grabbing the circumference of the palm tree with a waist band he freed and using both hands wrapped in the material shimmied up the tree. Then at the top, he left onto the narrow outer wall of the palace.

With a smirk, he managed to outmaneuver three guards and made his way from the wall, across the open courtyard, and to the palace wall, he bound side to side in the corner of the building until he gained access to a balcony.

A quick look… no one there, he shifted his weight, and hip-bumped the locked door. It opened and he entered… he was finally inside. It seems to be forever since he was in the large quarters of the royalty. Walking around lifting one thing then another, and making sure it was back in its original place.

Hearing something he quickly turned to defend himself, only to find his young friend and protégé, Aziz… Whispering… “What are you doing here?”

Aziz was about eight years his junior, and looked up to the older man. “I wanted to see too… besides you said I could the next time you went.”

It was Prin who held up his hand to quiet the lad… He canted his head to listen… it sounded like a cat purring… and he looked to Aziz who was initiating his mentor.
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 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:02 PM
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Colette had studied a fair amount of feet in her time. This was not because she had any particular fascination for feet, but because when attention was upon her in public, she became nervous and looked down. The feet she’d been inwardly cursing and begging to move were not particularly finely attired feet. In fact, they were quite the opposite, both sets. Colette cared far too little about shoes for a respectable young woman, but she was not completely oblivious to value. Were they servants? They didn’t sound like servants. They sounded like they were up to no good. Delightful. No terrible with the caterwauling of her stomach. She did not know how they could have missed the growl of hunger, but perhaps she’d deemed it worse than it was. No, they’d fallen silent. Any moment now, they might peer under the table and then where would she be?

Caught. The table was unfortunately placed in the center of the room. In her fantasies, she was a fleet-footed runner, but in reality, she was a sickly young woman and any running swiftly tired her. There was no way she could run out and not get caught, and this was just assuming they were not supposed to be there either. Colette also considered the fact that she was in a foreign kingdom and they might attire their feet in a different sort of shoes. To be caught running away from someone of the court was both better and worse than to be caught by someone who was not supposed to be in the room either. Was there another way out?

Clutching her stomach and willing it not to growl a second time, Colette considered her options. What if she crawled on her belly like a snake to the door? Would they spot her? The dreadful feet were at the opposite side of the table. For them to not notice, though, would be highly unlikely. Whatever was she to do? What were they doing her? What did they want to see? Why were they even bothering to whisper? People whispering in a room was far more likely to draw attention by someone walking by than normal casual talking, but then again, whispers of course were used in order to be below the range of hearing. They clearly had failed at that. She’d heard them just fine. What if she just came out? Would it be so awful? She could just climb out, stand up and saunter out the door. With the manner of utmost casual…osity.

Or she could wait for her stomach to growl again and be noticed. Or she could run for it. Or she could shimmy for it. Crawl quickly. What if there were something to distract their attention? Colette did not know for the life of her what that might be. She could throw her shoe, but it seems like that would just give her location away. She could pretend to be a ghost and scare them away? No, she was not so foolish to believe that would work outside of fiction. Why were they so silent??? They had to know she was there.

She needed to be very very quiet… Perhaps they hadn’t deduced where she was. This could be terribly embarrassing or she could be in serious danger. The first was worse. At least danger was exciting. There was nothing exciting about public embarrassment. Colette knew that quite well. What would Nate do? Probably saunter on out. This line of thought sent a twinge through her because she was still upset by what had happened. She just wanted to curl into a ball and will them away.

Why couldn’t they just leave?

She could reach out and grab an ankle if she wanted. Colette closed her eyes. They really should have searched under the table if they were here for no good and well if they weren’t, at least she could be assured those were not the king and queen’s feet. She was the daughter of a duke; she had nothing to be ashamed of. At the moment.

Her stomach growled again, forcing a decision. If she was going to go out, it would not be cowering beneath a table, tummy rumbling. Colette climbed out from underneath the table, on the opposite side of the pair because she certainly wanted the table between them, and popped up. They certainly did not look like they should be in the palace. Colette had no other recourse but to curtsy. “Gentlemen,” she acknowledged and then began to saunter toward the door. Or at least, that was her intent.
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Prin ti Demsiri
 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:04 PM
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Prin looked back to Aziz. “I know what I said, but we could…” he held his hand up again… there was that cat purring again… and he canted his head. Then after a few moments, shaking his head, he pointed to several items that Aziz needed to get, then they started looking at other items that may be useful to sell or use, but not too obvious to be sought after.

Outside in the hallway, boots rhythmically thumped against stone flooring… faint at first, then louder, and the two young men hid behind a changing screen... and only emerged after the boots faded again. “Hurry Aziz… this and that… we must go…”

And as they walked toward the table, on their way to the balcony to escape, the female emerged… curtsied… and they had frozen. Aziz hid the burlap bag behind him, the items rattled. And Prin had drawn his dagger from his boot, but hid it quickly as the maiden curtsied. “M’Lady…” Prin responded and bowed in the style of Utican nobility… though he definitely did not look like a noble.

And Prin noticed she was attempting to leave… and he moved nearer to her. “M’Lady, please do nothing that would cause me to harm you…” He held the dagger by his side so she could see it, and lightly grasp her arm. Meanwhile, Aziz was making his way to the balcony.

As Prin stood with the girl, his hand at her elbow, Aziz slung the bag’s rope over his shoulder, took one last look at the pair, and disappeared from the balcony. Then the man looked at her. “M’Lady, I am so sorry for the inconvenience… but…” and he paused and looked at her. “You are not from here…”
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 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:08 PM
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Colette obviously realized her error in judgement the moment she caught sight of the two men (well a man and a man-boy) and the sack hastily shoved behind the younger one’s back. She’d been watching the feet of course, but she hadn’t realized the feet were shoving everything they could into sacks. She would have thought it’d be much noisier than that. Truly, she should have stayed hidden. Colette was not fast on the best of days and she’d been deliberately trying to not look like she was fleeing a couple of thieves, but that meant she was certainly easy enough to catch up to.

She certainly had not gotten far before he’d caught her arm and flashed the dagger. The appropriate response would be fear, of course, but Colette quite rarely had the appropriate responses. While Colette was quite certain she was not the only young woman prone to flights of fancy, she assumed they were not quite so morbid. After what had happened at Qarataraq, Colette’s thoughts had taken somewhat of a darker turn of late. She was still fuzzy on the details, but the consequences Colette knew very well. Nathaniel was dead and she was quite certain it was her fault. She’d never particularly had friends outside of her sisters, she was far too overprotected and given her limitations, few so rarely bothered unless they were attempting to weasel in with her sisters. Colette had felt like the prince was the only one who might truly understand her. She supposed they’d both been racing to the grave and he had won.

“What would cause you to do that?” Colette asked before she could stop herself. Why was it in situations such as these that she was able to find her voice and yet in front of three young court ladies she could barely get a word out? The question was a legitimate one. Was she supposed to unsee what she’d seen? Keep her mouth shut? Start crying? Be certain not to start crying. Probably she shouldn’t scream, but that seemed given and it would be quite awkward to start screaming now. The moment for it had already passed.

The man-boy, Aziz, disappeared by way of the balcony while the man with the knife stayed behind. To remove the witness? Was this to be the way she died? Throat slit, blood spilling out across the floor in a foreign land? As far as deaths went, she supposed it was not the worst. At least there was an heir of mystery about it. Well no, perhaps not. They were thieves after all, it would seem quite clear. If she was going to be murdered, they might at least be nice enough to add a little mystery to it. Scrawl some symbols on the floor in her blood…. or or something.

Her sisters would be devastated of course. Would their father be relieved? Colette was after all a burden upon her family and now upon the Arcadia royal family for the time being. She was there because of what had happened in Qarataraq, recovering. And yet, still not allowed to do much of anything fun. Well, probably because of what happened in Qarataraq, well and they knew very well about her illness. At least this was interesting, a handsome potentially blood-thirsty thief appearing in Arcadia palace. A rather bold move. People did not bow to someone they were about to kill did they? That seemed rather a waste of time. Unless he thought she thought he was a noble. No, he wouldn’t have flashed the dagger then.

Colette watched him wide-eyed, wondering if he was apologizing for the inconvenience of catching them stealing, for taking so long about it so she was forced to sit under the table for so very long, or for some future inconvenience that she would not like. Did murderers apologize about inconveniencing the murderee?

“No, I’m not,” Colette agreed. “Does that make a difference?” She asked half-hesitant, half-curious. While there were many fascinating aspects of Canasian culture, Colette had quickly learned to loathe how easily she stood out. She was never one to look for attention. At least in the courts of Hanasim she could fade into the background at least some of the time. Here, she was so clearly not one of them.
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Prin ti Demsiri
 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:09 PM
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Prin had taken the first act of aggression, and he wished he had not. But, in most circumstances, when fear would be the result on his display of the threatening dagger, this beautiful girl did not respond in the usual manner, and he canted his head, momentarily confused. Oh he had threatened many people before, usually they cowered and he was able to do what he intended, but this time? His eyebrows narrowed.

In the face of danger, the girl just looked at him, and his hand loosened against her arm. Her subtle breathing, her eye flutter, the unconscious movement of her jaw, and a swallow; he could see she was mulling over what to do, and how to act. Oh, her doe eyes, big and brown, were captivating… and the dark hair that framed about her face…And he let go of her arm… and put the dagger away; “Apologies m’Lady…”

“No, I’m not, Does that make a difference?”


And as she responded to his question regarding her nationality, she caught him off-guard. “Ummm… no not really. I’d steal you regardless of where you are from… ummm, errr, steal FROM you.” He blushed quickly for his mistake, and could not keep a straight face. ‘DAMN,’ he thought. So much for professionalism.

Fade into the background? With him, it would be most difficult for her to do that… the way her silk and pearl headband held her hair around her face, just in the right spots, even if she moved her head… the way the hair framed her in order to illuminate her doe-like brown eyes. No, there would be no fading into any background. Not even if she wore the best of dresses or the poorest of breeches.
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 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:11 PM
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Colette did not truly want to antagonize the thief or die for that matter, but this was a situation outside of the norm and certainly more exciting than sitting in her room, even a room in the Utican palace. She certainly had no intention of admitting such to a thief, but it really must be a romantic life style in a way. Not entirely, despite her flights of fancy, Colette was also fully aware that most people did not willingly choose such a life. She’d sat in her father’s office and listened in on enough conversations to give her a somewhat practical perspective, or so she liked to believe, but one that obviously warred with her wild imagination. Colette was quite fortunate he had not grabbed her too roughly; she bruised easily.

Colette stared at him, watching the slight flush of his tan skin, wondering if she had misheard him. The blush set her more at ease. Surely someone who blushed could not be a murderer of innocent young women, plus he’d let go. “That word is quite crucial,” Colette said after a quiet moment, assuming the slip up meant he was thinking about ransom. Colette did not know exactly why he blushed as anything that resembled flirting (intentional or not) tended to go quite over her head when it was in her direction. She was observant enough when it came to other people, but Colette was far too used to people looking at her as if she was going to do something dreadful such as faint or bleed on someone. (In all fairness, she’d done both of those at the Utican courts). Though the dry desert had not exactly help with the nosebleeds, now that she was in the palace closer to the sea, the climate was actually doing Colette some good.

“Though I’m afraid you’d have far better ransom with one of my sisters. Not to mention valuables…” Eleanora would be the best for baubles… though depending on which sister he got, far more trouble than it was likely worth. Colette liked to think she could cause trouble, but hers was sadly of the less than thrilling and annoyingly helpless kind. Not trouble at all, but imposition. Colette was not offering up her sisters to the thief, for neither were in Arcadia at present. She was not wrong either in her statement. As far as bargaining chips went, as much as Colette adored her father, she had no illusions that her sisters, both healthy and of prime marriageable age, were of more value to him than the sickly youngest child.

“Are you often in the habit of stealing people?” Colette inquired politely as if she were talking about the weather or asking after his mother. She was curious, but she also wanted to know what exactly he intended. Would he tie her up to insure she did not call for the guards? Kill her after all? Run away? The boy had taken the bag. What did he want?
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Prin ti Demsiri
 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:14 PM
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Prin was a man of the city… having grown up in Arcadia, he knew every street, backroad, and alley there, as well as here in Utica. And if he did not know the people of the streets, they knew him… or at least *of him*. But by the grace of the Amir, the people of Utica were not overly oppressed nor were there an over-abundance of poverty, like many cities the same size. But still, there were those who he considered haves, and have-nots… and over the years, he had become the supporter of those have-nots. Thus the reason he was in the palace this day.

Through the years, assuredly the Amir was aware of Prin and his group, who were of little consequence… for the guards basically looked the other direction at times rather than punish each offense, or seek to wipe them all out. But Prin and his group knew that stealing outright without obvious restraint, would be a different matter and the thief or thieves could, and would, be caught and punished.

It was as if Prin and Amir, via his city guards, had some sort of unwritten and unspoken arrangement – Prin would keep his thievery to a minimum, not stealing things vital to Utica’s security, and the powers to be would not seek total annihilation of the thieves with the Amir showing some mercy toward thieves in general. The gracious Amir would, by acts of moderation, allow the thieves their pettiness, but would oppress a horde of pickpockets if they roamed the market taking people's coin purses, even if the amounts in the purses were small, for this would be bad for business and ultimately hurt the economy.

Now as for Prin being in the palace, it was clear that he was there in order to steal, or rather pilfer, should there be a distinction. And if caught, he knew that it would be upon the Amir’s discretion whether or not sympathy would be shown.

This was an odd situation. In all the years of sneaking into the Palace, he was always able to sneak in, pilfer, and sneak back out unseen… that he knew of. But this young lady came out of nowhere… from under a table. What the hell was she doing under a table? Unless… unless she was not supposed to be here either. And that brought a smirk to Prin’s tanned face.

“Ransom?” he was taken aback, and surely the expression would display sufficient surprise. “I… I… I did not mean that m’Lady. Oh, no, you have that incorrect for sure.” He stepped closer to her and smiled… his hand reaches up and pushes her hair back into place near the headband. “I would never harm you… besides I am not in the habit of stealing PEOPLE…” and the blue eyes would scan her head to toe. She looked small, waifish, and underweight, possibly due to a poor eating habit, or maybe the unavailability of food. He noticed that she protected her skin like it would bruise easily, and she appeared to have a pale face from a life kept mostly indoors. She appeared more like the ones he would care for in the city… the ones who could not care for themselves for one reason or another. “Unless they wanted to be stolen…” and he chuckled.

Reflecting back on her hiding under the table, he canted his head at her. “Umm, are you being held captive here? Or if I may ask, why were you under the table in the first place?”
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 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:20 PM
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Colette was undoubtedly in a more sensitive mood of late, feeling particularly abandoned by her sister’s return to Lothimas. This of course let to wondering if her family was sorry she hadn’t died in the cave in; which in turn led to thoughts about how sorry they might be then if she wandered off into the desert and died, her bones bleaching under the unforgiving sun. Her skin was already the color of bleached bones or so Colette occasionally imagined (admittedly much more so now that she was in a place where this sort of thing happened). She’d burn first, though. While bone white was a perfectly acceptable and elegant death color, the burnt red of a boiled lobster was much less of a romantic notion.

Anyway, when she was feeling particularly oversensitive, she was more prone to mood swings and also ever so slightly more inclined toward risky behavior. While this was typically Colette-risky rather than normal person risky (for Colette, even drinking a tea of willow bark to soothe a headache was risky because of its effect on her blood or eating a hard candy that might cut the roof of her mouth). The smallest injuries on others could prove life-threatening to Colette. That was probably why her sisters left her, because what did another injury truly matter. Given her current sensitivity, Colette was more inclined toward recklessness with the thief. Colette never met anyone interesting like a thief and had always imagined that if she did, it would not be the dashing rogue from one of her novels, but a wizened old man with a perpetual cough who had nimble fingers but smelled faintly of onions. But there she stood, dashing thief in front of her indeed. It was almost a pity when the young man did not seem to be thinking about ransom at all.

“Unless they wanted to be stolen…”

“How did you mean?” Colette asked, confused, more so when he stepped closer and brushed back her slightly disheveled hair (one could not exactly keep a perfect coif when hiding beneath a table, now could they?) Eleanora probably could. Mackayla never had perfectly coifed hair. Instead, it was perfectly un coifed. Her sisters had different types of loveliness to them. Arelle, though the oldest, seemed to be a mix of the two. Perhaps a bit more like Eleanora in nature which was probably why those two had always been particularly close.

Her inappropriate disappointment at his statement about not stealing people was quickly replaced with interest when he said he might kidnap those who wanted it. Colette might be oblivious to any flirting with her in particular, but she wasn’t oblivious to his smile and wondered just how many ladies had taken that offer up (for lack of a better term). She seriously considered telling him that she was indeed kidnapped and in need of a rescue, a scenario she’d certainly dreamed up many times before (but then she just as often if not more often was the instrument of her own rescue. In her fantasies, she could be or do anything. Why not orchestrate an escape and become a Queen of Thieves. She was already somewhat of one, with her little box of treasures.

“What do you do with the items you steal?” Colette asked. Melt down the golden candlesticks? Find someone to fence them? The novels she’d read never seemed to quite deal with that part. She’d never been one to enjoy such scrutiny and the thief was quite thorough. To be fair, so was Colette. She was not often in the presence of a notorious thief (Colette actually had not the faintest idea whether he was a notorious thief or not, but she chose to pretend he was as that made the encounter even more interesting). Whatever was going through his head?

Oh, right, the table. She’d been hoping to avoid such questions. And all questions. And social interactions. Which was why she was under the table in the first place. Colette decided that this was an exception. Her father would certainly not call this a social interaction. Her aunt would call it corruption of Colette’s youth or something else absurd. She was uncomfortably aware that there had been some concern about her honor when she’d disappeared with Prince Nathaniel. The very idea was absurd, of course. He had just understood and shared her interest in the macabre. No one else understood her. Certainly not her long-gone sisters who were off promoting their marriage prospects in Hanasim. Honestly, Colette liked being in Utica well enough. It was the abandonment that she took issue with.

“Captive?” Colette echoed before shaking her head, the teensiest bit of regret in the gesture. That was at least more interesting than her remaining there because she was ailing. “I was hiding,” Colette admitted before realizing that was quite perfectly obvious. Looking down in embarrassment, she hesitated to explain. Saying she was hiding from the people of court was not exactly impressive and was certainly a bit pathetic. “What I mean is, I heard voices and panicked. I do not do very well at court.”

That did not say what she was doing in the room, but Colette did not know if she should not be in the room either, and he certainly was not supposed to be there. “Are you not worried they will catch you?” Colette asked, referring to the palace guards. Stealing from the Amir seemed exceptionally risky. Perhaps he was making a political statement of some sort.
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Prin ti Demsiri
 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:24 PM
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Prin stood before the girl, and as he looked down at her, not socially or psychologically, but physically, because of his height compared to hers, and he smiled. But her expression was a bit subjugated… maybe not particularly by someone, but by life in general. For one who lived, the length unbeknownst to him, in an arid environment, her skin was all too pale… ripe for painful burning if one was careless… and her eyes looked tired. But Prin could not feel sorry for her, for life in general was not easy, and certain things could easily bring one to the point of desperation. But, in his optimistic opinion, though she was subdued by life, surely her spirit was merely hidden, and only needed a reason to blossom. By most standards, she was not overly beautiful, like many women of Arcadia; but not the least ugly… but even beautiful swans begin life much different than their adult state. Cygnets, as they are called, are the basis of the beloved stories about personal transformation for the better. This is how Prin’s optimism sees her. But the man is a realist, and knows how cruel people can be; especially siblings, external relatives, and others close to her.

“How did you mean?”

He had said it, and that itself gleaned a curiosity from her that surprised him. Now he was to explain how he might abduct those who wanted it. “M’Lady, tis a treacherous path to tread… though the person to be abducted desires it so, others shall deem the act as villainous.” He chuckled. “I do not need the Amir’s guard after me anymore than they already are.” He sided next to her and side-glanced at her with a smile. “For example, a father may not wish to marry his daughter off to a particular man, though profit be involved for the betterment of his family… so he agrees to the arrangement. Meanwhile, he, or some go-between, hires me or mine to abduct the woman AFTER the deal is struck. And with no ransom asked, tis the engaged man’s responsibility to get her back.” He smirks, and cants his head briefly. “And tis no harm or foul unto the girl’s father.” Then he laughed. “Not many seek that avenue, but a pretty coin has been made that way.” He could see a sort of sparkle in her eyes as he told the tale.

“What do you do with the items you steal?”

He canted his head and smiled again; her interest was so unusual. What generated the interest in his profession… or hobby? His blue eyes veered to the ceiling, then back to the girl. “Well… there are those that need certain things, yet cannot afford them… then there are collectors, but those must be careful… and some things we melt down, and reform it, so not to be noticed. Gold and silver are usually what is melted down. Jewels are removed from jewelry and used elsewhere.” And he just shrugged, “tis different with each case.”

“Captive? I was hiding,” Looking down in embarrassment, “What I mean is, I heard voices and panicked. I do not do very well at court.”

Now her admittance to the fact she was hiding made him curious. “Hmmm… m’Lady, you are at court, but do not do well… and you were here, hiding?” Prin shifted his feet and placed weight evenly on both. “Are you here with family, or as a ward?” And then his brow arched. “Why were you hiding in THIS room?” and he tried not to chuckle as he shook his finger at her in a teasing manner.

“Are you not worried they will catch you?”

He inhaled in preparation to answer her question, but the rhythmic thud of boots to a stone floor gave way to a bit of anxiety of being caught. His finger went to his lips as he looked at her. The boots seemed to pass by, but the latch of the door moved as if being checked or opened; and Prin canted his head, looking to the balcony, or an alter means, then back to her. If he remained, he would be caught. If he fled, she could report him… or be leaving her to explain why SHE was there.

Seeing a changing screen near a corner, he pulled her with him… snatching some clothes from a cabinet, he pulled her behind the screen, dropped the clothing in her arms, and set two chairs close together. “When they enter, throw some clothes atop the edge of the screen, announce you are changing…” he whispered to her. Then, setting the chairs leg-stride apart beside her, he lifted his legs up, and propped them on the chair backs; that way no one could see his boots beneath the screen… and the shadows prevented his being seen thru the screen.

It was a scene most people would laugh at when telling about it after the fact; but when the two guards entered, there was no laughing matter. His thighs tightened from his outspread legs upon the chair backs, as he did a sort of balancing act; the dagger withdraw from his waist as he inhaled. They would not take her, nor arrest him.

All he could do was put his faith in the frail young woman.
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 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:30 PM
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Colette was well aware that she should be following the guidance of her mentor and in particular, the lectures for dealing with rogues and thieves. She was quite sure the lecture mentioning one must scream for help, or stomp the man’s foot and run away (still screaming loudly so as to attract a rescuer). Then once rescued by the handsome thief by an equally handsome, but more socially appropriate, man of good breeding, one was to faint delicately and allow the courageous nobleman to carry you off to safety. Actually, there was no such book, but the screaming for help and step on the man’s foot and run away was a lesson often told by her motherly chaperone. Colette just filled in the rest of the bits because it seemed like something she might suggest as she was very keen on seeing Mackayla and Eleanora marry some respectable man with a great title and preferably a prince. After all, one sister was a queen, why not another?

Fortunately for the thief, Colette did not tend to react like most young ladies. Or perhaps this was merely what she wished to think. After all, did every young lady not dream of being unique? Well perhaps not Colette. She dreamed of melting into walls on occasion. If she had a magical gift, that would suit her well as an escape from curious, pitying eyes. Waiting eyes. The thief had kind eyes, Colette decided. Not brown like one might expect, but blue. He clearly was not of a pure Arcadia bloodline, though, Colette could hardly see that it mattered. His eyes were quite inappropriate as well because as far as Colette was concerned, thieves should have calculating eyes with a certain degree of viciousness and perhaps greed. Well, not thieves like Colette, not that she’d call herself that anyway. She could not quite pinpoint the difference, but there was a difference. After all, the boy had left with a sack full of candlesticks and such (at least she would assume so) and Colette hardly ever took a candlestick. Just that once and no it was not actually the candlestick, but the candle itself because it was such a lovely shade of crimson, light enough and bright enough and orange enough to match her blood. She’d even compared once during a nosebleed. That she’d identified the color correctly was immensely satisfying.

His explanation made Colette feel that he did in fact abduct people often. At their behest or not. Colette frowned slightly as he gave his example of a father wanting a daughter abducted. Why would he agree to the marriage in the first place? And what if the daughter did want to marry and why was it the engaged man’s responsibility. There were a whole lot of men involved in this and very little of the poor woman being kidnapped.

And what is the daughter’s say in the matter?” Colette asked. “But what about unto the girl? What is her advantage?” It wasn’t his fault, though, if he had an answer she would like to know. Perhaps the daughter LOVED the fiancée. Or perhaps she hated his guts and was just as thrilled to be done with him. But if her betrothed went to retriever her, it seemed like it was all for nothing. “Does her betrothed usually bother to retrieve her and what if he decides not to?” The matter provoked a fair number of questions. Would he get paid only upon arrival of the ransom? Of course for all this, Colette had certainly dreamed of getting kidnapped on occasion, but the outcome was mostly her ruling over the thieves, or perhaps not that grandiose, just joining the highwaymen or occasionally just to live by the sea where no one pulls her away from the beach or tells her she cannot go in the water. Admittedly, the water in Hanasim was frigid even in summer, but there were still festivals where people ran and jumped in the cold waters.

She’d almost moved on from that as he began to tell her what he did with the stolen items. Quite fascinating in fact. She supposed they needed them a great deal more than the people here in the palace. Though certainly if they did this often, they would end up in huge trouble. The Amir gave her the impression that he could be quite fierce when he wished, particularly with those tattoos on his face. Or perhaps he was just fierce looking to begin with. Not unkind. Interested in all the ladies of court or so she’d heard. She certainly had not experienced anything untoward and did not expect to. No one ever acted untoward… toward her. Which sometimes she thought was quite the shame and other times she was wholly glad about. Colette had still not made up her mind about where she fell on the whole romance spectrum. Most of the time, she’d far rather just stick to her imagination and books. She flipflopped between the romantic sentiments (or lack their of) of her sisters. Then she’d grow tired of such thoughts and wonder if there were a thousand ways to kill a person and if she could think of them. Not that she wished to, of course. It was purely speculation. She’d be a fabulous assassin though if she put her mind to it.

Colette ducked her head when he apparently gleaned how miserable she was at the whole acting at court. “My sisters have abandoned me,” she admitted with a touch of morose drama. “I met with an accident and they’d far rather look for husbands elsewhere. Well not Mackayla. She does not wish for one at all.” Now she was just saying whatever popped in her head. Colette clamped her mouth shut and looked around the room. “No one was in here,” she told him, as if that explained everything. “I got lost,” she then admitted a moment later.

It just went to prove that she probably was a witch when they heard the sound of footsteps in the hall. The young man reacted much more quickly than she did, pulling them both behind a screen. Colette gave him a scandalized look when he suggested she act like she was changing. Had he gone mad? This was not even a bedroom for it to be believable! Not true clothing but richly decorated batiks. Her eyes widened as she saw the dagger in his hand.

“This is not an appropriate place for—” Colette hissed at him, cutting off as the men entered the room. She shoved the clothes back in his direction. What would they do if they caught him? Or them together hiding behind the screen? No, she’d have to go out and send them off. Colette poked her head out.

“Don’t come in!” She said in a nervous near-squeak that actually suited the situation quite well. “I’ve spilled wine on my dress and I am waiting for my lady’s maid to return with a new one. Please not another step closer!” She pleaded. The guards stopped in confusion, and the one in front abruptly laughed. “Of course my lady,” he said with a wink and began to walk out of the room. Just in case the wink were not enough, he nudged the other with a laugh clearly under the assumption that she was having a tryst and not hiding a thief. She couldn’t even look at the thief.

Well… today was as good as any to die. Wait, why had she just done that? Shouldn’t she have told them? He might have stabbed her she supposed. Too late to take it back now. Colette sighed. “You should probably go before they come back,” Colette told him. Everyone thought she was resting, if word got back, they’d be charging right in. But then… perhaps the guards did not truly know her. No she did not look like an Utican, but she still had brown hair and brown eyes like many of them. Perhaps it was fine and her maid would not come charging in like leopard with its claws out.
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Prin ti Demsiri
 Posted: Nov 22 2016, 07:35 PM
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His *visit* to the palace on this day had taken an odd turn… for never had he ever been caught… or run into someone during one of the *visits*. Verily, this would be one for the memory book of the brain. But Aziz could vouch for what happened, couldn’t he?

“And what is the daughter’s say in the matter? But what about unto the girl? What is her advantage?”

Her question would surprise him a bit. Did she not know why a father would kidnap his own daughter? “M’Lady… in arranged marriages, fathers will make financial deals for the betterment of the entire family, often to chagrin of losing his favorite daughter… and in such cases, they make the deal begrudgeonly… Now if the daughter finds the prospective husband agreeable, then the father shall not feel so bad, and the deal is brokered… but if she does not, and is adamant about not marrying the man, that man may… not often because of fear… hire a thief to steal her back…” and he canted his head at her hoping she would understand.

“Does her betrothed usually bother to retrieve her and what if he decides not to?”

He wanted to chuckle, but only smiled. “Sometimes… and if the betrothed decides not to, then he may try to regain his money.” He smirked and shrugged. “Hopefully the father had planned to move his family to avoid the return of the money…” then he laughed… “or suffer repercussions.” His hand upon her arm hopefully would intrigue the levity of the conversation.

He had inquired why she was at court and how she came to be here. And would be surprised as to the answer.

My sisters have abandoned me; I met with an accident and they’d far rather look for husbands elsewhere. Well not Mackayla. She does not wish for one at all.” she then admitted a moment later “No one was in here; I got lost”.

He was going to her as to the validity of such an excuse… but was interrupted by the rhythmic footfalls upon the floor, heading their way. His feet unto the chairs, balancing his weight evenly, the girl offered him a scandalous expression. And in return, all he gave her was a canted head and eyes that could silently ask her, what did I do?

“Don’t come in! I’ve spilled wine on my dress and I am waiting for my lady’s maid to return with a new one. Please not another step closer!”

It wasn’t the most original, nor even the best excuse one could think of… but hopefully it would work and keep the guards at bay. If not he was in BIG trouble – in her alone with her… him a known as an outlaw no less. Oh THAT did it… Prin started to step off the chairs !! They had insulted her honor, and that would never do… He had killed men before… usually in defense… or in battle… but never for a woman’s honor…. Should this be the first? But the girl had done her duty. She had kept faith with him and not turned him in.

“You should probably go before they come back,”

“Yes m’Lady…” and he walked from behind the screen. “You are a brave soul… and I thank thee…” and his hand went to her arm again. One quick look to the horizon to see what was coming, then below the balcony to see what had already arrived. Looking back into the room, he gazed upon her…

Checking the rope again, he looks back at her, then walks quickly toward her… and into his arms she was pulled and he kissed her… willing or unwilling, she would be kissed by the stranger. “Farewell My Lady…” He smirked and ran for the balcony, his hand grabbing the rope and he jumped headlong out the window, swinging downward, and under the force of gravity swung toward the opposite, and lower, wing of the main building. From its rooftop, he would wave at her…

Turning his head quickly to the right, he saw guards running after him… and he ran away from them... and from her balcony, she could witness his athletic skills jumping, bounding, swinging on anything available to make his escape.


{to Watch Prin's escape, Click Here}
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