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Snippet #2487028

located in Avaandi, a part of Suspended in Time, one of the many universes on RPG.

Avaandi

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The sun bore down on the sprawling green landscape of Avaandi, as a rickety old carriage creaked and groaned it's way through the forest. It was the last day of summer, and the rich green leaves of the forest had brown streaks coiling through their veins, because Autumn was on the wind. The tell tale signs of fall were ripe in the air, meaning the time had passed for planting seeds and cultivating the land. All of the farmers, and all of the laborers who tilled the soil in Avaandi were meant to be harvesting their crops before the cold season set in. Out in the blistering heat of the fields, slaves poured over the soil, picking cotton, wheat, and corn for their masters. Even through the thick trees of the forest one could hear them singing as they worked.

From the safety of his carriage, Ventus Darkai, the infamous prince of this land tilted his head to the side as the distant song reached him. "For people who have lost their freedom...They sure sound happy in those fields." He mused, and his icy amber eyes flicked over to silent driver of his carriage. "Is it possible to be a content slave?" The quiet retainer glanced back through the narrow window that separated prince from pauper. Between the driver and the prince there was a wooden wall separating them, and even without the physical barrier there was an immeasurable distance. They came from two totally different worlds.The homely looking carriage rider took a moment to consider his response before addressing the Prince in a wary tone.

"No slave is ever truly content. But it's good to pretend. Sometimes the truth is too cold, and too cruel to accept." The driver replied, pulling the tattered brim of his hat down so it covered his eyes. Ventus hadn't expected such an eloquent response, and he just stared at the man spurring on the horses. After a moment of intrigued silence, a chuckle escaped the prince, and he turned to stare out of the window again.

"I think my father would agree with you." He shook his head ruefully as he focused on the sea of trees, outside of the carriage. Ventus's father was the one that enslaved those people in the first place, and the king earnestly believed sometimes it was better to lie to his subjects. To tell them slaves were a necessary commodity, when in reality they were simply a luxury. To say the people's taxes were going to rebuilding the country's bridges and forts when in fact it was going to the country of Nyvallya to pay off a debt. All politics were, were elaborate lies. And Ventus was a master at deception by now.

Grunting as the carriage began to shake, Ven gripped the edge of his seat tightly as he as thrown to the side."Hey, what are you doing? Pay attention to the road." he hissed, glaring towards the front of the carriage. Hauling himself forward as his world rocked tumultuously back and forth, he peeked outside of the little window that separated the front seat from his own reclining area. "Damn you, I said..." He trailed off when he noticed his driver's head was hanging limply to the side. The horses were in a panic, and the reins had fallen into the dust. "What is-" He cut himself off as the metallic scent of blood invaded his senses.

Glancing down he noticed for the first time that the shaft of an arrow was protruding from the man's lungs. "Oh no..." he murmured, watching in horror as blood trickled from the man's mouth.

The carriage driver was dead.

His gaze lingered on the man he had been talking too less than a minute ago. He didn't even know his name. He had only glanced out of the window for a few moments and in that sparse amount of time someone had killed his driver. Scowling fiercely, his hands clawed at the roof of the carriage until he was able to grasp the edge, and with nimble movements he pulled himself out of the backseat so was sitting right next to the driver's dead corpse. There was someone in the forest following him.Someone who wanted him dead. But who? Pushing away the guilt and anger welling up in his chest at letting someone in his service die, he tried to plan out what he needed to do next. He had to get control of the horses, and escape the forest. He was too exposed out here, and there was no way he could fight a large group by himself. He was unarmed and most likely outnumbered.

Pursing his lips together a low whistle escaped him. One of the horses, a huge black stallion, responded immediately to the urgent sound, slowing down and forcing the other horses to slow down with him. It would be faster to travel with one horse and let his pursuers chase down the carriage instead, and the darkest horse leading the carriage was the same one he'd been training for years. "Aslan." He commanded the beast to stop, and obediently it's hooves clawed into the soil. As soon as the carriage skidded to a stop, Ventus leapt off the driver's seat, and was confidently striding over to his loyal steed. The night kissed stallion pawed angrily at the earth, as Ventus detached him from the other horses. One calming hand was placed on the horse's mane. "We have to move."

Before he could take a step.

Before he could mount the waiting horse, there was a faint rustling in the bushes.

From his peripherals he could see formless figures approaching him from the shadows.

The last thing he felt was an explosive pain in the back of his head before everything went dark.

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His slingshot had found it's mark.

Rueben Artai, glanced down at the prince of Avaandi with an annoyed expression. He had been following Ventus Darkai for days now with a small assortment of men. The boy didn't follow any particular schedule so it was almost impossible to memorize his movements. Kicking the boy's unconscious form he glanced at his subordinate with visible contempt. "Search him for weapons, and strip him of anything of value. Then Carry him back to the cart." His stormy gaze slid over to the man on his right who was also waiting for orders. "Send a falcon to Serafina and tell her we've succeeded in our mission. Ask her if that other idiot she hired accomplished his prerogative and captured princess Anastasia?...The rest of you get rid of the horses and do something about the corpse stinking up the carriage" He dismissed everyone in the clearing with a quick flick of his fingers.

Everyone in his company nodded and went to do as they were told leaving Rueben alone. He felt tired, and hungry after days of trekking through the woods. Dragging his hood back so it no longer covered his face, he massaged his temples tiredly. Recently he had been doing more work than ever before. Serafina the princess of Nyvallya had something new in the works. Something big.

Men were being mobilized. New weapons were being forged. Rueben was being sent out on more dangerous missions that forced him farther and farther from where he wanted to be. And now he had been tasked with capturing the prince of an allied nation? "What are you up too?" He murmured glancing at the sky, with a rueful shake of his head. By taking the leaders of other countries, Serafina was basically declaring all out war. What he failed to understand was why? Why did she want to go to war so badly?

He hadn't bothered asking her before he left.

Rolling his shoulders, he grimly pulled his hood back over his head as one of his men returned. He trusted everyone under his command with his life, but he liked looking mysterious so he always kept his face covered when others were around. The man he had charged the prince's life with was back, and there was a laidback smile on his face. "Now that we've carried out our orders can we go get a drink? All these boring missions are making us thirsty." Rueben grinned beneath the shadows of his hood, and shook his head at the one track mind of his subordinates.

Despite the gravity of their mission, only one man had died.

Killing the carriage driver was considered boring.

"No. We can't linger here for too long or we will risk discovery. Everyone knows the prince was on his way home from the village of Entei. So they will look for him in this area first. We need to be long gone by then. We travel at full speed back to Nyvallya, and then we can drink. The first round will be on me." Rueben promised, clapping the soldier in front of him on the arm. It was a tradition that Rueben always shared with his men. Getting drunk after a successful mission. The hangover was well worth it. Exchanging jokes and witty quips, they made fun of each other as they wandered back through the woods to where they had hidden the cart.

Since the prince was precious cargo, they had hidden him among other wares and disguised the cart to look like a merchant caravan. Fish, furs, tapestries, fruits, and other things any merchant would be carrying filled the inner confines of the cart . No one would suspect they had nobility tied up in a barrel in that condensed space. Rueben's voice rose to address the small group of eight he'd brought along with him. "Let's go home men!"

And with that, they were off to Nyvallya.