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Suspended in Time



a part of Suspended in Time, by ChaosReborn.


ChaosReborn holds sovereignty over Avaandi, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

453 readers have been here.


Setting: Kingdom of Avaandi
Government: Dictatorship. There is one king and two princes
Source of income: Mercantile law. Avaandi is a trading kingdom who deals in resources such as crops, weapons, and people (slaves)
Allied with: Nyvallya
Nature of the citizens: Generally the citizens of this country are well educated, even tempered people. They are rumored to laugh alot. Drink alot. And spend their days in leisure. Very few can claim to have lived a hard life in this kingdom of abundance.
Landscape: This is a green region, filled with forests, and other vegetation. Rivers connect this area and Nyvallya.

Nearby kingdoms:


Nothing is known sbout Aradorn except for its a place of exotic people with exotic tastes.


Nyvallya is kingdom of war-Led by a brutal king with little to no regard for human life.
Government: Theocracy. Although the kingdom is led by one king, he takes his guidance from a priest who claims to be speaking for the gods.
Source of income: This kingdom is known for war profiteering. They make most of their money from the people via taxes, and the nation's income goes towards inventing weapons of war.
Allied with: Avaandi
Nature of the citizens: Hotblooded, impulsive people tend to spawn from this nation. They aren't cruel, or blood thirsty, but they are known for having a quick temper, and being vicious warriors.
Landscape: A nation off the coast, overlooking the sea. Alot of minerals can be found in the ground. And the soil is mostly fertile.
Ruler: Seraphina "Abby" Ulthi


A holy kingdom, led by a council of old men. This city is mostly scholars and artists, and is known for crafting beautiful artifacts. There are rumors of mages living here although that could just be a way to make sure the public doesn't revolt against the government. The people of Kesheen are superstitious, and full of unwarranted fears.
Government: Democracy
Source of income: Trinkets, baubles, art, tapestries, statues, etc
Allied with: None
Nature of the citizens: Cautious people who tend to be on the pale side because they aren't known for being active.
Landscape: A mountainous-desert region. This place has a harsh unforgiving climate, and one mostly navigates around by camel.
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Avaandi is a part of Suspended in Time.

4 Characters Here

Rueben Artai [1] Loyal Vassal to Seraphina
Anastasia Ordella Hakon [1] "You ask me why I do not do as is expected of one of my stature. The answer is simple. I do not like my stature, not in the slights."
Seraphina "Abby" Ulthi [1] A strong willed woman, nothing can stop her when she sets her mind on it.
Ventus Darkai [1] A young ambitious man, with a good heart and reckless nature.

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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.


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.


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The sun was shining, the birds where tweeting, even the slaves singing.

Oh, somewhere the world was right.

But not in the country of Nyvallya, it was one of the worst days in history; today the country was plagued with a rainstorm that pounded into the ground mercilessly. If one would see the dark gray that the sky had become with clouds that twisted and thrashed, they would of ran to their homes. It was cold, it was raining, and it looked like hell outside.

But that was how Seraphina liked it. Someone would call her crazy but if they had lived in the near melting temperatures of Nyvallya all their life maybe they could understand.

When Seraphina woke up and saw the storm, her first was reaction was to go out and splash in the puddles. A very childish idea, she would end up sick, but the idea plagued her throughout the day. Through her morning ritual, through her helping with the kitchen work, through training with the soliders, through listening the people’s problems at court, for some reason Seraphina “Abby” Ulthi, first and only heir to the throne of Nyvallya, wanted to embrace the rain like it was her lover.

As the rainstorm went throughout the next couple of days the desire continued.

Seraphina not only wanted to dance in the rain, she wanted it to wash her soul pure, to become one with it in the holy site on Umna. For those days Seraphina could be found looking through the window at the rain outside. The people around her passed it off as just their beloved princess being odd again. This is where the two falcons found her. Letting the poor birds in she gently extracted the letters from their legs and let them rest a moment on the open window sill. As she read she forgot the rain for a moment.

Rueben. Rueben. Rueben.

The thought of the man had her picturing the last time she had saw him. He was defiantly a beautiful man. He was different from any other man she had come across. He worked for her yes, but he did not worship the ground she walked on, he didn't lust after he, he didn't want in her bed.

Seraphina was sure if she asked him he would come to her bed with no struggle. Heck if she asked him to marry her and rule Nvyalla by her side he would to. If only life was so simple. Seraphina through all of beauty and her power was a unsure. Her last relationship with her ex-fiancé hadn’t gone as planned. Jonah was still her friend, but it pained her to see him court another woman. It brought up old memories, old memories from a past life she was trying to get over. Rueben was also different because Seraphina didn’t treat him like other men. Usually Seraphina was a shameless flirt. She was born with a body that drove men wild and she intended to use it. Screw those prudes enough to scoff at her. Rueben was someone she didn't want to hurt, she feared that if she were to go to fast she would lose him forever and that was something that Seraphina wouldn't allow.

Her mind turned to dark thoughts. She would hunt him down and chain him to her bedpost! Oh the horrible and nasty things they would do. Just think about it sent her heart a flutter and her breast to rise faster.

Seraphina after reading both letters learned that both targets where acquired and traveling back to Nvyalla. She nearly cheered that her plans were finally in motion. The plan was a hundred year plan that had started in motion during her great grandmother’s rule. For years and years the surrounding kingdoms had done injustice to the kingdom of Nvyalla. At the united nation council none of the other kingdoms would every stand as witness to back up the Nvyalla claims even when it happened on those nations’ soils. Those bastards had slowly been praying on her home country make their boarders smaller and smaller, stealing their women and children as slaves, burning their villages, and stealing their resources. If Nvyalla boarders hadn't included all of the sea ports, they wouldn’t be able to feed their people. Well no more! Her first action would be those fools in Avaandi. It was a year ago when the King had been having a party, a group of Nvyalla delegate had been sent to the party for none of the ruling nobles could go. Among them had been a few women. For Nvyalla was the only country that didn't discriminate against color, status, gender, sexual preference, religion, or creed, the people judged on strength and worth if you can do it the job is yours. The first prince had taken a liking to one pretty delegate and when she said no had raped her, the horror didn't stop there, he rapped her in front of his devil spawn friends, who then all had a turn with her.

This, THIS injustice had the whole country calling for blood. The delegate had been well liked among the people. She had done well for the country lowering taxes and setting up school for the poor to learn. She rallied for the poor and listened to the people’s voices. It was Seraphina herself that had led the armed force that stormed the castle. She had dressed for war, her long flaming mane left in its wild curls with feathers and bone beads, her face painted in red and black war paint. She wore heavy leather armor that protected but molded to her form. The army of hundred strongest of Nvyalla’s forces had teared down the castle’s huge oak doors. The slaves and peasants stayed away from the hooves of the black war horses that looked just as fearsome as their owners.

Seraphina and her army had stormed into the castle, the hooves of their horses pounding on the tiled floors. They burst into the throne room arrows flying free, noble men and ladies trying to flee, but just ended up hurting each other.

Seraphina had looked at them in cold hatred. The king and the crown prince looked frightened. An arrow had landed in wood right between their heads.

Not wanting to die by Seraphina’s hands the King agreed to pay a tax to Nvyalla and hand over their slaves to Nvyalla where they would be free. The money would go into the new programs built by the delegate and construction to rebuild villages that were burnt by his soldiers.

He had done neither of those things and he was going to pay for them.

For the Nvyalla was not alone anymore. Smaller kingdoms feed up with unfair with their treatment had decided to join under the gentle but stern ruling of Nvyalla. After all it was Nvyalla that came to their aid and they took council from. Territory was regained by small battles. Villages that had been a part of Nvyalla had returned to Nvyalla’s lands. Nvyalla’s true borders stretched far past the mountains and into a great many kingdoms.

Pushing aside her dark thoughts the princess turned to the rain. This is how the returning parties of Rueben found her, dancing in the rain. Dressed in a simple white night shift and bare foot, red curly mane plastered to her form, Seraphina danced her heart out. She danced to the fiery beat in her soul. A pounding of drums and the harsh shrill of cry of violins. Her body moved, jerked, twisted, spun, and performed many feats a trained performer would be in awe of. Seraphina danced like she was with a lover, a close friend. A pair of beautiful, ruby metal fans became a part of her arms. The fans gave Seraphina a slow grace to her dance. Her motions became slower, her fans sliding up and down her body, through her hair. It was at this point she noticed the arrival of Rueben’s party.

Through the loose wet curls of her red fiery mane, her eyes sparkled like the ruby planted into her cheek,as she watched the team approach.

“Rueben.” She called, her voice a sirens song, tempting. Maybe it was her thoughts earlier of him, maybe it was finally her heart speaking for her. “Come join me…”

She offered her hand out to the man. Hoping he would not break her heart.


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Turn your eyes upward, my friend. Peer into the mountains with all your might. For our story begins-

What? The palace? Oh, don't tell me you've never seen the Cahyan Palace before. A wonderous piece of architecture, that one. The ellegant archs, the adorned columns, the tall, tinted windows... Would you believe me when I say that the inside is even more magnificant than this beauty of an outer shell? It's fairly small, but you must understand that magnificance and size are not even distantly related. The rooms are enough.

See the far tower? Prince Basil Hakon and his wife, the lovely Princess Catrina board there. A fine set of chambers, I hear. They've even got a little room for their coming child, the unborn prince or princess. No I do not know the gender! No one knows! How could they know such a thing? Oh? They can tell in your world? In all due respect, this is not your world, not at all. I don't know what kind of sorcery occurs where you live, but our world is free from such hellish ways. As far as I know... But that's not the point. You asked about the Palace, did you not?

In those halls, you can find a throne room, a council room, the music chambers, an extraordinary library, a dining hall, the kitchens, the royal study, a training room, and somewhere in those very halls, you will find the Hall of Heirs, as the in house servants call it.

In this hall, there are ten rooms, but only four of these are occupied. (There was five, until Prince Basil wed, but that aside.)

The first door to the right is that of Prince William. You will find that it is full of books, with a mahogany desk running the length of an entires wall. Papers are stacked neatly across this desk, the prince himself more than likely poring over them with utmost intensity. He enjoys law, you know. Very much so. He knows the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and just how every kingdom's political system works.

The nest door past Prince William's is that of Prince Lionel, a mischevious young man who refuses to waste time with such trivial things as law and studies. No, he is interested in where the real action occurs - the battlefield. He is an expert on using each and every weapon you can name - bow and arrows, spear, straight sword, curved sword, throwing knives, slingshots, fists, etcetera, etcetera. Yes, I did say fists. He has been known to attack his brothers when they disagree, having a rather short temper and all.

Across from Prince Lionel's door is that of the youngest Hakon son, Prince Fahd. He's a rather quiet young man, kind and just. Makes it kind of ironic that his horse's name is Demon, you know? Well, maybe not. Demon was a gift from Lionel, years ago. Oh yes, and did I mention that Prince Fahd is betrothed to a princess from a few kingdoms away? He's rather excited; the fine girl is in for a treat, truly.

Bypass some empty rooms, and step into the last room on the right hand side. This is the chambers of King Marshall's only princess, Anastasia. Chances are that the balcony door is wide open, the gauzy curtains fluttering carelessly in the gentle breeze. And most of the time, you'll see the beautiful princess herself, leaning out over the balcony, arms spread, eyes closed, smile wide as her hair and dress whip around. But alas, the princess has not smiled for nearly a month. Every since Queen Kendra's untimely death.

Which brings us back to our story. Now, peer into the mountains once more. Look long and hard, and you'll be able to see-

What is it this time? The Kingdom of Cahya? Well, I'd gladly tell you, but I really must be getting on with the story or- Okay, I see your point. Just this once, I'll concede.

The Kingdom of Cahya is set in the Milaki Mountains and in the range's wide valley. It's a rather small kingdom, compared to its neighbors. Many of the kingdom's citizens farm the fertile land down in the valley or live a nomadic life hunting in the thick-forested mountains. It is very odd to see a Cahyan who goes on for an education or pursues a trade. When they do decide, they're taken to the capital to learn. But many just don't have the interest. I suppose you could say that, overall, the Cahyan people are... naive. Their kingdom rarely gets involved with wars (makes Prince Lionel seem odd, eh?) and they are a peaceful and content people. They love their simple life in their fairly-young kingdom, they cherish it. They trust their royal family one hundred and fifty percent. Period.

There. Are you happy now? Now, if you don't mind-


Ahem. My apologies. I, ah, temporarily forgot myself there. Please forgive my idiocity.

Now, where was I? Oh yes.

If you look long and hard into the mountains, not too far from the Palace, you'll be able to see a girl in a flowing blue gown, her blonde hair pulled into a simplistic braid tied in place with a bow of the same hue. And upon her head sits a little tiara embedded with sapphires, a tiara that she only wears in rememberance. Princess Anastasia herself.

Anastasia wanders aimlessly around the forest, thinking to herself. Mother... Dead. Her... All alone. No one to trust, no one to turn to.

She hasn't allowed herself to shed a single tear. No; she has to stay strong,she knows. She can't afford to allow herself to fall apart, can't afford to feel sorry for herself. Mother had said to hold strong, and therefore Anastasia refuses to cry in the slightest. Besides, where had crying ever gotten a girl?

That's right; nowhere. Anastasia isn't sure she herself believes it, but she holds to it all the same, desperate to make her mother proud of her, even for something small, microscopic in proportion to the things all her brothers are doing.

Anastasia draws herself deeper into the woods, wondering vaguely if she'll be able to find her way back. Sighing, she sits on a rock near a mountain stream, allowing herself to take it easy and think about something else, if only for a few scarce moments.

The woods is of great beauty, a sight for her straining eyes. Anastasia allows herself to look up upon the twittering sound of the birds' melodic song. Somehow they always sound better than any instrument, she marvels silently, closing her eyes in the midst of this peaceful world.

The birdsong lulls her, like a mother singing her newborn baby into a sleep of sweet, sweet dreams. Soon, Ananstasia finds herself singing, carefree along with her feathered friends, making up lyrics as she goes. She sings of sunshine and happiness, romance and flowers, children and meadows. A once-in-a-lifetime song. A song she'll never remember, never again sing. A sacred song, known only by the birds and the trees. In other words, by her only friends.

Then the world goes silent. The birds stop singing. The trees quit rustling their leaves, the air now motionless, stale. The only sound is the water lapping up against the rocks.

Anastasia opens her eyes with a deepening frown, her pain and her song long forgotten. She glances around tentatively, but sees no one. Now a soul in sight.

"I could've sworn..." she mutters, and that's when the hand clasps over her mouth.

Her attacker had came up from behind on silently treading feet- she had failed to see or hear him before it was too late.

"My apologies, Princess," says a man's voice, dripping with disgusting sarcasm.

And before Anastasa knows what's happening, she's gagged, blindfolded, and bound, in the man's arms. He runs for a while as she flails, eventually shoving her in the back of a carraige.

((Sorry for the abrupt ending; I kind of have to leave, like, now. xc So sorry.))


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At the speed they traveled it didn't take long for Rueben's war party to arrive back home. It had only taken a few days to cross the border between Avaandi and Nyvallya. The journey across the countryside had been quiet, and there had been almost no delays. No soldiers stopped them. No one spared their caravan a second glance even though Ventus Darkai himself was tied up in the back. So with speed on their side, and the wind at their backs they quietly trudged over the dusty road. As they filtered into the city that never sleeps, droplets of rain splashed against their armor, and thunder cracked against the sky. Rueben chuckled as his men began to groan and complain about the weather. His boots were sinking into the mud as he turned to smile at the men behind him. "Don't Whine. We grew up in this unforgiving weather...Soon enough you'll be able to bathe and rest." He promised, as he led them through the slick cobblestone streets.

On a good day, Nyvallya was bustling with activity. There were exotic warriors and women lingering in the alleys, and people singing boisterously in the streets. It was always noisy. Always fun, and there was never a dull moment in Rueben's home. Even as he led his weary troupe back to the heart of the kingdom where Seraphina was waiting, he was greeted warmly by other citizens who offered him happy smiles--and some of the single women blew him kisses that he pretended to catch and trap against his heart. To outsiders he was charming and mysterious in his own way, but the local women knew better than to take his flirtations seriously. Rueben was known for being a heartbreaker, not because he didn't care, but because no woman wanted to play second best to the princess.

There wasn't a universe that existed, where he would put his own wanton desires before his duty.

He warned the women who fell into his bed that he only wanted a good time. They would never be priorities in his life.

Not while he was Seraphina's vassal.

Someone tapped his shoulder, and he turned to see the drenched figure of his lieutenant peering up at him. "We're almost home. What are your orders?" The man yelled, his voice rising over the screech of the wind.

"Take the prince to the dungeon, and then divide the contents of the caravan between the men. The rest of you are dismissed." He sent the majority of his unit away so they could go home to their wives and families. Only a few were stationed at the barracks with him, so there were only three or four soldiers behind him as he approached the center of the city.

The heavens continued to weep as he sloshed his way through the pounding rain, only pausing when he saw a familiar figure moving to an unknown beat in the cold. The silky red hair plastered to her face marked her as the princess, and the fluid way she danced against the freezing droplets was making everyone behind him stop and stare.There were plenty of desirable women in Nyvallya, but none of them held a candle to Seraphina. She was in her own league. As she moved gracefully to her own beat, he found himself entranced by her skill and beauty. The feeling of awe was a familiar one that he had to bury. She wasn't his to gawk at, and he was able to compose himself faster than any of the nearby soldiers.

Rueben...Come join me...

He chuckled at the enticing invitation. Seraphina knew the allure she had, and she knew the power she had over men. The effect she had on him wasn't quite the same though. "You want me to get sick too princess?" He drawled, his stormy gaze glittering in amusement as he stared her down. Seraphina is the only woman he knew, that could get away with discarding all of her worries in the rain. She wasn't concerned about getting sick, her only real concern was the flow of her limbs, and the sway of her hips. Despite his incredulous tone, he couldn't say no to a pretty woman. Before he was consciously aware of it, he found his body moving of it's own accord. His callous fingers closed around hers, accepting her dance. Without missing a beat, he fell into step with Seraphina. His hands slid down her hips for a brief moment, as his legs flawlessly glided into the passionate dance. "Or did you just need a dance partner?" He asked, smoothly matching her move for move. There were brief moments of contact. Whisper like touches that only lasted for a few seconds before the dance tore them apart again. After a while he had to stop, because there were certain boundaries he refused to cross. Their flirting had always been a game. But it had never amounted to anything before.

Because she was a princess.

And he was nothing but a loyal vassal.

He captured her wrists, to still the movements of the fans, and peered down at Seraphina with a questioning expression. "You're too happy." He observed, after taking a few minutes to intently study her expression. "...Why?" His tone wasn't accusing, or angry. In fact he sounded utterly exasperated, like he knew she was up to something. She was strong enough to tear out of his grasp if she wanted, so if she really wanted to avoid the question all she had to do was leave.

Rueben wanted answers, but he would never force Seraphina to do something she didn't want to do.

...No one could force Seraphina to do something she didn't want to do.


Deep in the dungeons, Ventus was just waking up.

There was a frigid cold invading his limbs, and as his comatose senses drank in his surroundings he began to notice things. The damp stone beneath him. The distinct lack of sunlight in the room. The heavy weight of chains encircling his wrists. As he moved his hands, the dismal clank of metal echoed in the tiny space around him--Startling him to a fully alert state. "What...Where..." His eyes widened at the raspy tone of his voice. He didn't even sound like himself. He had no idea where he was. Or why he was waking up in an unfamiliar place. "What the hell is going on?" He groaned, letting his head thud back against the slab of stone behind him. As his skull impacted against the wall a familiar javelin of pain coursed through his head.

This wasn't the first time he'd bruised the back of his head today.

It was all coming back to him.

Leaving Entei, the journey through the woods, and being nearly killed were all fresh memories. He massaged his throbbing temple to deter the oncoming headache. The pain in his head was constant, and it wasn't the only body part that hurt. All of his limbs felt battered like he'd been mercilessly thrown against sharp rocks all day."I don't even remember whose responsible for all this." he breathed, a soft exhale escaping him as he glanced up at the endless darkness above him. The shadows were dancing around in his vision as his eyes adjusted to the dim light around him.

He was in a small cell, with no windows, and the only exit came in the form of long vertical bars that he couldn't even reach. His captors had locked him up like a dog in a cage. As he sat their ruminating over his future, he began to realize just how serious his situation was. No one knew where he was. No one knew who his kidnappers were. He was completely alone in a foreign place with foreign people.

His heart rate began to accelerate as he forgot to breathe.

"I'm so screwed." He murmured, addressing no one but the air.

How was he going to get out of this???

He was so lost in his thoughts, and consumed with irrational fear, and concern that he hadn't noticed the other presence in the room. There was another prisoner in his cell, who looked just as battered and worn as he did. Covered in dirt, and grime, he didn't look like a prince, and he didn't feel like royalty right now. He felt like he was on the cusp of losing everything. Unless a miracle happened, there was no hope of him escaping this situation. Helplessly his fingers clawed against the cool surface of the stone, scraping against the floor of the cell until his nails began to bleed.

His brother Ambrose never would have gotten kidnapped.

What sort of poor excuse for a prince was he??


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Seraphina had felt something stir in her for a moment something that warmed her from head to toe even in the dead cold of the rainstorm. When had took her hand and those calloused fingers and wrapped around her own hand, she felt everything fall right into place. This was what she wanted, needed. Those small touches were added fire to the warmth burning inside her.

And then he had pulled away, and Seraphina thought ‘This is not what Rueben wants…’

Seraphina in her daily life she never once thought of her status, she worked all stages of life every day. She had friends from all stages of life none commented on her status. None shoved it in her face. The horrible thought that they were just humoring their princess crossed her mind, and she felt the self-consciousness come running back. She felt like that frizzy haired girl again.

As Rueben captured her wrists she didn’t let this show instead, she gave a flirty smile. Daringly stepping close to the man and rocked her hips against his, her arms snacked up into that hood of his and brought his ear down to her lips.

“All will be explained in dear time Rueben, Praebe mihi cor tuum amorem, et dabo vobis cor meum. Ego autem, et volo me exspectat.” She ended the Latin phrase with a kiss to his cheek. She slowly released him, letting her hands caress his face. She let herself show her feelings in her eyes for a second. Seraphina then turned to regular flirty smile and turned away from the man.

The sway in her hips was just for him, though she didn’t but her regular strutinto it. She was tired, and doubting herself very much. For next week no one is the castle would see her besides few of the servants, she still did her duty, just at an earlier hour. Seraphina right after she left Rueben had headed straight towards the castle and then after a couple of hours to her longtime friends house Lumia Knight. The Knight’s had a bakery at the edge of the city in the poorest district. So when 17 year old Lumia answered the door it was to see Seraphina drenched with shoulders hunched, and the saddest expression she had ever seen on the girls face.

“Abby! My Goddess women you’ll catch your death out here!” The pretty rave haired woman ushered the princess into her small home and fetched a towel for the woman. Seraphina was ushered to sit next at the wooden table in the kitchen where Lumia had been rolling out dough for tomorrow’s customers. Seraphina toweled off as best she could, then she went into helping her friend.

Lumia just shook her head at Seraphina knowing from experience the woman did what she wanted and nobody could stop her.

“What happened?” Lumia asked.

Like water spilling, Seraphina told her friend everything, from the plans to expand their borders, to her the weird dreams from her past life, and lastly Rueben.

“I don’t see what’s the problem just shag him already like you always do.” Lumia told her friend unless….

“You think he’s the one!” Lumia screeched happily.

Seraphina looked around. “Shhh don’t say it so loud!”

Lumia’s face somber seeing her friend’s predicament, even though Seraphina wouldn't hesitate to be in a relationship with Rueben. Rueben would hesitate to be in a relationship with Seraphina because she was his princess and he her vassal. Lumia felt sorrow for her friend.

“What about Jonah?”

What about Jonah?” the retort was defensive and Seraphina softened her expression at her friends hurt look. “He has moved on….he is going to married to her soon.”

Lumia felt her sympathy for her friends grow even more. Still one question plagued her. “What was the parting phrase you said to Rueben?” She asked putting the finishing touches on a few cookies.

“Give me your heart love, and I will give you my heart. But leave me waiting and I will take what I want.” Seraphina replied.

Lumia snorted. “You are such a romantic Abby.”

Seraphina frowned the parting phrase was actually a phrase said between courting lovers. It showed her respect for Rueben, how she saw him more than a vassal. (She barely used his services anyway…) but short of roses and chocolates it did sound really cheesy.

The parting phrase was not only a decoration of love, but a warning if Rueben wanted to know Seraphina’s secrets he had to be close to Seraphina. It was also the biggest well-kept secret in all of Nvyalla. Only the highest of high knew the plans, and that was Seraphina, the King and Queen, the council of elders, and the highest ranking officers in the armies and navies. The plans where to publicly expand their boarders when in reality everyone knew that the cities not arpart of Nyvalla in the eyes of the Kingdoms untided council were actually proud Nyvallains. They hung the Nyvallain flag, celebrated Nyvallain holidays and culture. When in trouble it was Nyvalla that was contacted and Nyvalla who came to the rescue.

The council was still in debate if they should go to full fledge war or just hold the two nobles for randsom and the prize being boarders’ expansion. Some wanted to spill blood, others were afraid of the down fall. Through it all Seraphina stayed neutral, she had her own plans to fill. A revenge on a couple of nobles. With her powers as Preistess she was shown all her past lives, in all except one she had lived successful lives as men and women. But in one life she had failed. She had been a man in a mountain tribe with two childhood friends, the witch and the heir. She had loved the witch dearly and confessed to the witch, only for her to decline him not wanting to mess up their friendship. Only later for the heir to come and say he and the witch were in love. In this life Seraphina was born to farmers, she was unsatisfied with her plot in life and was terribly jealous of the heir. His father didn’t beat him and his mother didn’t yell at him. She began to hate both her friends. It was her who told the council of the two’s relationship. She watched emotionlessly as her friend was killed, and the heir died of heart break. After his death Seraphina’s past self helped bandits slaughter the whole town, and then light it a blaze. After that the past brightened a bit he settled down had a family, and had a pretty wife that birthed nine sons. He was the most handsome man in the village, and was happy.

But his revenge plagued all of Seraphina’s past lives after him; from then on her past selves always seem to have a fiery temper and a need to get revenge on wrongs against their person. Though they never acted on it because the couples souls where never there. Now that Seraphina knew who they where she could not get revenge on those traitors, friends that ignored the abuse dealt to their friend were dirty. Was it not she that helped the witch in all her times of need. Was it not she who cheered up the heir when his father put him down.

Shaking her head from the powerful visions it was hard to separate her present self from the man’s view his angry, and self-hatred were the loudest amongst her past lives. Thinking about the prisoners. She grined at the new postion they would find themselves in, She had threw a hallucinate into the room, knocked the two out and using a cart slowly pushed the two away. she herself had moved them in the dead of night to a different location. Seraphina could not trust anyone with this job besides herself. Failure was not an option. She had heard to many prisoners sweet talking the guards and starting a revolt. She had made sure to feed them. She had made all of the dishes from the princes and princess cultures. She had tested them herself to see if she had gotten the taste right. And she had. There were no drugs in the food. But knowing the prince from reports he would assume that a drug was in it and not eat it. Instead very mild bacteria had been put in one item. The water. No one could survive without water for long. There was no light source in the cage and no water. Not even a trickle from the walls. There were no rats in the sealed tight room. Thin, tiny holes had been built into the brick to trickle air and noise from the torture chamber below.

The bacteria would only affect the stomach, making the person feel slightly hungrier. The plant like bacteria would stick to the stomach and release very small amounts of oils to keep the person feeling hungry. It was undetectable, no smell, no color, not even a feeling when it went down the throat or was in the stomach. Seraphina knew for a fact because she had tried it on herself. It had been a reverse version making the user feel full. Effects had left the princess weak and hospitalized. She was gave a stern talking to for that stunt, and told the effects it had on the body. The bacteria had no bad effects if eaten with the right foods such as vegetables, but the princess and princes foods were mostly starches, grains, meats, and few vegetables. She had left enough nonperishable and perishable for two weeks, a jug of water that would last four, and a set of 12 matches, a candle.

Once lit the two would see the red and brown stained walls. The stain couldn’t be removed and would leave haunting images combined with the sounds from the torture chambers below. If they drank the water they would most likely have resorted to cannibalism by the time she decided to go check on them. And if not they where week without water and would be on the death bed soon. The room was locked from the outside and impossible to escape from the inside unless you were Seraphina herself. It was also hidden in the place where only Seraphina could reach. The room was hidden between floors and needed a ladder and several different keys to get out. The only form of the outside world was a thin slot that brought the food in. The door held no key holes.

She had triple checked the room before putting the two in the place, set up the hole for where they would release waste( it was sinful to smell your own waste), a stone tub of still water with the same bacteria for wash, a soap with hallucinating effects was placed in the room also. The room was designed to be impossible to leave without help. No one but Seraphina had escaped and she was half crazed and had already started drinking her own piss. Her father had placed her in the room after she had boldly told him she wanted to be the heir at thirteen. He had set up the test for her.

It took her a full two months to get out of the room. So Seraphina knew how to get out. But she had covered her escaped route between mounds and mounds of stone and concrete. A false an escape route had been made to drop anyone into another chamber below with spikes, or one with hungry rats.

The conclusion was that the nobles where going no one anywhere time soon, and whn Seraphina summed up the courage to deal with them she would. With no weapons on their person. (Seraphina had even stuck her hand up certain areas.) and only fabric items for their shoes, hair accessory, buttons, anything that could be bent or melted into a weapon was removed.
She was glad she had gone straight to the castle to take care of those two first, now she could enjoy her time with her friend. Her true, loyal, friend. She had hesitated to tell Lumia this but she supposed she could just kill her if she betrayed her. It wasn’t like Lumia could tell anyone how to get there. So she simply told her friend that the two nobles were going to be in a cell until they gave up certain key information.

Lumia had shrugged saying something about not getting on her bad side and then after finishing the dough and letting it to rise decided to party the remaining night away.

So the to went out into the still pouring night and danced like maniacs with each other. Then they went soaking wet to the nearest pub were the people knew the princess and with a couple of gold coins the whole pub was drinking rounds because of Seraphina, who danced with Lumia, with men, with women, with children. She danced with everyone, she danced with no one. Later in the morning hours she snared Lumia and the two headed back to Lumia’s place where they gorged on bread and sweets.

For the whole week of no court the Seraphina let switched to Abby and caught up with old friends, flirted with old flames, and danced her heat out. During the day if not doing her own work to avoid Rueben, Abby helped Lumia at the bakery, or Oscar at the blacksmith, or Litilh at the seamstress shop. This kept her movements jumbled; Abby’s friends lived all over Nvyalla, from the capital, to the slums, to the merchant district. When Rueben didn't come finding her the first week she decided to continue with her week for another week. She saw more friends, did less dancing, and flirting this time. Petal at the flower shop, Missy at the orphanage, Ulessa in the red light district.

It was in the red light district that Abby ran into Rueben by accident or not Abby didn’t know.

Ulessa had thought it a good idea to dress Abby up like the rest of the red light women. This was meet by cheers and they got to work on her. It had been history night an attempt at the Cat’s Paw to bring in more high paying customers. So the women had dressed in traditional outfits of Nvyalla women except more kinky. The dresses were short compared to the long wraps that were worn.

Abby was dressed in a short pink bandage dress, the dress wrapped around mid-thigh and ended at as a halter top around her neck. The dress was secured with a couple well placed pins, it enhanced her figure, and pushed up her generous assets. She wore the traditional hood and a wrap for her lower face. The print was a darker pink and white floor that was Nvyalla’s national flower. Long pink sleeves covered her shoulders from finger; the sleeves had dark pink swirls with the same flower. She wore the simple leather sandals that went up the claves. The pink outfit popped against her red hair and dark skin. Her red hair had been set free and curled into bouncy, shiny curls. To complete the outfit she had her ruby fans tied around the waist. Her makeup was thick, bright pink glitter lips, shadow, thick red eyeliner, and a glitter body perfume that smelled like flowers on her dress.

It had been a fun night. She had danced and flirted shamelessly with men her father’s age. Before they could proposition her another girl would skillfully come and take the customer. Abby was stationed in the street to draw more customers in, she had cat called out to one particular group of men and had locked eyes with Rueben’s shadowed gaze.

Well I guess the jig is up now.


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Anastasia edged away from the slamming carraige door quickly, eyes worried beneath her blindfold, hands groping around, trying to yank free of her bonds, trying to keep as silent as possible.

Honestly, she had absolutely no clue what the whole thing was all about. All she felt was the relentless pounding of her heart, the spasms of her breathing, the tearing of the bounds against her wrists, rubbing them raw, digging in without mercy. She froze at the sound of a cold, cruel laugh of amusement, a plague of a sound.

"No use doing that, Miss," the voice said without a single hint of emotion, kindred or cruel. Huh. The laugh had been more revealing. "It won't work. Keep trying, it won't work. But it's fun to watch, you know, so keep trying." She can practically hear his grin now.

After what seemed like hours, Anastasia, having long given up and tucked herself in a corner fearfully, not knowing how to fight, what to think of her situation, heard voices muttering to one another, apparently thinking her to be asleep. Pssh. As if she could sleep in this kind of occurence. Were they mad? Anastasia decided that was questionable. They had kidnapped her had they not?

"We need her unconcious, she can't be allowed to know."

“But she’s blindfolded, and it’s not like she could even begin to overpower us,” another voice pointed out. Anastasia couldn’t help but scowl behind her blindfold.

A sigh of exasperation. “But she can still hear. We don’t know what this girl has been trained to do, in this kind of situation, especially.”

For some reason, this statement frustrated and saddened Anastasia. Why hadn’t she been told to do in this kind of scenario? Why, in all her lessons, hadn’t her parents thought of something like this?

A grunt. “Fine, I’ll take care of it, then.”

Anastasia heard a quiet rummaged, a sense of impending dread overcoming her. No, no, no, no, no!

Something sharp pierced her skin, and she couldn’t help but whimper in pain. A quiet chuckle responded. “Just relax, Miss. You’ll be able to rest shortly.”

With that said, he poured a small vial of liquid into Anastasia’s bloodstream, and she felt all consciousness leave her being.

Anastasia let out a small groan, feeling drowsy and sick, barely able to move in her weakened state. What the Hell had happened to her?

Then it all came flooding back, and she let out a barely audible whimper of despair. No, no, no. It couldn’t be true. It’s impossible, it couldn’t be.

As her fuzzy eyesight began to straighten out, Anastasia inspected her surroundings, more out of curiosity than anything else. A dank feeling room, with gray – stone, maybe? – walls. Chains held her already raw wrists, irritating them further.

And a little ways away, another human form, gender, age, and appearance unclear to her clouded eyes.

Anastasia forced herself to sit up, but it only makes her eyesight go fuzzy once more. Groaning, she held her head in her hands, trying to connect at least a few coherent thoughts.

Finally, she managed a single, simple yet slurred word.



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“All will be explained in dear time Rueben, Praebe mihi cor tuum amorem, et dabo vobis cor meum. Ego autem, et volo me exspectat.”

Her breath fanned out against his ear as her lips pressed against his cheek. He went utterly still as her body pressed against his, and her wrists that were held captive in his calloused hands tugged themselves free. Soft fingers caressed his face, and his stern expression softened beneath his hood. He didn't know how to respond to the look he was receiving, or to the words that were just now making sense in his head. Not only was she crossing the imaginary line that had always been there between them she was verbally smashing the boundaries to pieces. He was rusty in Latin but loosely translated her words meant this: “Give me your heart love, and I will give you my heart. But leave me waiting and I will take what I want.” Stunned to silence, his gaze followed her as she took a step back and walked away from him. His eyes were automatically drawn to the purposeful sway of her hips as her steps were swallowed by the pounding rain.

Behind him, one of his men that went by the name of Varron wolf whistled through chattering teeth. "What the hell was that Rueben??...You didn't tell us you had that kind of relationship with the future queen." The soldiers around him laughed, and jeered, but Rueben was curiously silent still staring at the spot where Seraphina had been standing less than a minute ago. He had no words to describe how he was feeling. He had never taken the flirting between him and the princess seriously. She was so far out of his league that he'd have to touch the stars to reach her. But today, she was offering him a chance to the unthinkable. She wanted to be with him, and he hadn't missed the smoldering look she had sent him before she left.

She had sincere feelings for him.

Smiling uneasily beneath the shadow of his hood, he turned on his heel and roughly smacked Varron behind the head. "Shut up, it's not even like that." He denied all of the lewd things being said about him and the princess with a subtle shake of his head. "You all always think I'm trying to get laid. I have some restraint." He snorted indignantly, as he was playfully shoved into the mud. "Let's just go to the bar. I still owe you you guys some drinks." They hooted around him, and began pushing him towards the main street. They arrived at the bar in record time.

He drank with them.

He laughed with them.

He helped one of them stagger home before going to the barracks that were adjacent to Seraphina's estate. His home was perhaps 20 feet from hers so he could always be nearby if he was needed. It was a comfort to them both that he could be there in an instant if he was called.. All she had to do was call his name, and he scale the wall to her room, and climb in through the window in a few seconds. Tugging his cloak off his wiry form, he dropped his drenched hood onto the floor, and tiredly climbed into bed. The rain had seeped into his pores, making his skin icy to the touch. And he was freezing as he climbed onto the feather bed. But he didn't care about the cold. His thoughts were consumed by Seraphina. He stayed up thinking about her. Ruminating about her words.

And that night he had a dream about her.

But was it really her? Seraphina's smile was there. Her laughter. But the ferocity that governed her character was gone. It was like all of the passion that drove her had disappeared, leaving only a cheerful, impressionable woman behind. He couldn't believe his eyes. The naive girl in front of him was only a ghost of the woman he knew. He watched her flit around a village he didn't recognize. And mingle with people who were neither Nyvallyan, nor Avaandian. And when the dream ended he watched her dive into a lake. Becoming one with the water, in the same way she had become one with the rain. And when he stepped over to the shimmering surface of the water. When he was able to gaze upon his own reflection--It wasn't his own eyes that stared back at him it was the eyes of stranger in unfamiliar clothing. The person mirrored in the transparent liquid was tall with long elegant tattoos, tan skin, and an unyielding stare.

He woke up the next day in a sweat.

What the hell was going on??

After changing into clothes, and armor that weren't damp from the rain. He looped his swords into his waistband, and then went to seek out Seraphina. His dream was still fresh in his mind as he began seeking the princess out. And it haunted him for the rest of the day when he didn't find her. Rueben was meant to be her constant shadow. Part of his daily routine was accompanying her when she ran errands all over the kingdom, but he couldn't do his job if he had no idea where she was. After a couple of hours of pointless searching he began asking around. And apparently, he was always a step behind her. The words "You just missed her."became a recurring nightmare. And that was only the first day.

This hellish game of tag continued for two weeks.

And after the first week he knew she was purposely avoiding him, and it was beginning to drive him mad. He had completely forgotten about the prince and the princess in the dungeon. He had slacked off in training, and he couldn't seem to focus when he was leading his unit. One day a thief had been bold enough to steal some golden trinket in the market. In the midst of his distracted thoughts Rueben had mindlessly given the order to hunt him down and cut the thieving hand off since it was such a problem. Varron sent him a confused look--Wondering where this sudden dose of brutality was coming from. But the orders were carried out without pause and somewhere in Nyvallya there was a man wandering the streets with only one hand because Rueben couldn't focus on anything but the princess.

After putting up with two weeks of Rueben's nonsense, Varron cornered him at the barracks to demand some answers from him. "What is wrong is with you??...You keep giving us stupid orders. You're never around for training anymore. Yesterday you held Damien up by his neck because he called your hood stupid. You've been an angry wreck for the past two weeks..."

Rueben scowled darkly and pointed to Seraphina's estate. Since it was night time the area was dimly lit like only a few people were home. "She has been avoiding me for two weeks...and I keep having these dreams about her...."

Varron's eyes lit up in understanding. He supposed for someone like Rueben who's entire world revolved around one person, it was difficult being away from Seraphina. She was torturing him and didn't even know it. "Look you need to get your mind off things...We're gonna take you to the Red Light district so you can get you can relax a little. The princess will talk to you when she's ready." Varron muttered, pulling Rueben up by his shoulder, and guiding him out of the barracks despite his vehement protests. He shoved the hooded vassal down the main street and towards the less savory side of town. The Red Light district had a section all it's own. Very few adults hadn't been there, and even though Rueben's unit was dressed in padded armor, and loose fitting tunics, and breeches, they were recognized by the women there. Females of every shade swarmed around them, shamelessly flirting with them to ensure their business. All of the women were similar. They all had seemingly perfect bodies. They all wore thick vibrant makeup. They were all dressed in low cutting material that emphasized their curves.

One stood out from the rest though.

None of the other men noticed but Rueben recognized her immediately.

As soon as his gaze locked with Seraphina's he found his feet moving of their own accord. He pushed his way through the throng of men until he was standing in front of the princess. The initial shock of seeing her here, had faded under the weight of his anger, and the attraction to her he couldn't deny. It seemed she was a hot commodity in the Red light district and he would have to be crafty if he wanted to whisk her out of there discreetly. Circling around her, his hands glided around her waist, pulling her away from the other men that wanted her attention. "You were right guys...All I needed was a distraction." He addressed Varron with a smile, his voice raising over the pounding music around him. "And I found the the best woman in this place. If I don't take her with me now, I'm sure one of these other losers will get lucky." He drawled, glancing down at Seraphina who was resting against his chest. His arms were possessively hooked around her hips to deter her from escaping.

Although his words were light and teasing, his eyes were anything but amused as he met her gaze.

She had avoided him for two weeks.


He leaned down so his lips were pressed against her ear. "Come to the back room with me?" He murmured.



Ventus went utterly still as he heard a distinctly feminine voice. The words were uttered in a tired croak like the person was just waking up. How had he not noticed someone else in the cell with him? Glancing to the side, he was able to detect the faint outline of another human. The long slender curls, and the tattered dress confirmed that his cellmate was in fact female, but he couldn't discern any other features because of the darkness blanketing their prison. "Who are you?" He demanded, his voice an exhausted rasp that echoed in the condensed space.

"Do you have any idea where we are, or who captured us?"

He had questions, so many questions.

But the girl in front of him didn't seem coherent enough to answer them. If she really was waking up for the first time there was a chance she was more clueless than he was.

He was a prince. A future king. What was the woman across from him? A slave? A free woman? A noble? He had to know because maybe if they understood each other's origins they could understand why they had been captured, and they could start planning a way to escape. Their future looked bleak because even if they did escape, there was still the matter of getting home. They needed transportation, and they needed to disguises, and they needed to avoid getting captured again. All of this was weighing heavily on his thoughts, and he noticed as he waited for this woman to reply his vision was going in and out of focus.

There was a constant buzzing in his ears.

And he was starting to see double of everything.

There appeared to be two women in front of him instead of one.

His chains felt heavier, and he swore that there were four hands resting on his lap instead of two.

"Why is everything in the cell multiplying?" He muttered, talking more to himself than to his cellmate. He was cognizant enough to know his senses were betraying him. But with every passing minute he was becoming less and less lucid. "Are you seeing the same things I'm seeing?" He drawled, glancing back and forth in a daze.

He felt numb.

His thoughts were hazy.

His body felt heavy, and foreign to him.

Reaching out because he needed human contact. He needed to know he wasn't seeing things, and the woman in front of him wasn't a hallucination, his shackles jingled dismally in the silence as he grabbed her arm. His fingers circling in a bruising grip around her wrist because he had to reassure himself there was a person in the flesh nearby.

Okay so he hadn't gone completely crazy, but the possibility was still there.

If he was forced to live in this pit for an extended period of time he could go insane.

The thin reedlike claws of rats, and the stench of death was permeating from the floor. It was like there was something beneath the cell just waiting for them to descend into the depths. Ventus had a fleeting thought of digging an escape that died rather quickly because he didn't trust what was beneath his feet. A thin opening in the wall, that was like a slot opened up shaking him from his dark train of thought. Glancing up at the shelf that was pushed out above his head, the faint smell of food filtered to his nostrils.

It smelled like a dish from his homeland too. He could smell the sauteed meat, and steamed vegetables.

But he didn't move to touch it.

He didn't even acknowledge that there was something to eat.

The possibility of poison was there, and he wasn't willing to risk it.

Until he was starving. Until all he could feel was the hunger clawing at his belly, he refused to accept anything from his captors. Falling back bonelessly against the damp stone behind him he rested his head against the wall of his prison. He was warrior trained, so he knew exactly how long he could go without food and water. It was a depressingly short amount of time.
So he was going to have to make use of the strength he had now, because he wasn't going to be in the best state two weeks from now.

Idly he wondered if anyone had noticed his absence yet.

And he wondered if his horse, Aslan, was still alive.


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While Seraphina had enjoyed her time away from Rueben treating it as a vacation, to relax and play, Rueben did not seem to enjoy the time away from Seraphina.

The man looked like he was losing sleep; the tight grip on Seraphina’s waist and the angry in his eye told her he was not pleased with her. The only other time she had seen the man this angry was when she had taken that bacteria to make her more pretty and had been hospitalized for weeks. Rueben hadn’t spoken to her for a long time. She later found out that he had a fear of burying people, and that Seraphina had come close to death.

Seraphina guided Rueben to her present quarters in the Cat’s Paw. Her small but rich in design apartment was a smaller version of her room back at the palace. Seraphina didn’t know if Rueben knew the true owner of the Cat’s Paw was Seraphina. This was the place she came to every time she needed alone time. Or she just wanted a nice lay.

The silence stretched between the two. Rueben to angry at Seraphina to say anything, and Seraphina unsure what to say it was the first time in her life were she had been tongued tied.

Seraphina opened her mouth to break the silence when Rueben silenced her with a glare.

“Two weeks.”

Seraphina stared at him confused for a minute before remembering…

“Oh…” was all Seraphina could say.

She hadn’t thought Rueben would care for her absence. Seraphina had assumed that to Rueben she was just his princess, his future queen, his priestess, his master, or even his paycheck. Sure she and Rueben flirted. It was a game they played. Rueben had been assigned to her during the dubbed ‘Red Period’ where Seraphina had been getting pussy and dick. He had not registered on her radar at that time but she did notice faintly that he was male and a nice specimen at that judging by his body. So Seraphina had flirted with Rueben. Rueben had guarded her door and walked into a number of Seraphina’s conquests.

After the ‘Red Period’ and Seraphina had settled down and started dating like everyone else, she still flirted with Rueben. By the time Seraphina was engaged to Jonah the flirting was a part of their relationship. You could not describe Seraphina and Rueben without using the word ‘flirt’. Nothing could come out of it, for Seraphina was the princess and Rueben her vassal. Rueben also had plenty of women in his bed, and Seraphina had walked in on in a number of times. Seraphina hadn’t thought anything of it. Rueben was just another man. He was just another good looking man that bed lots of women. She hadn’t realized she treated him differently at all.

Until one day Jonah had pointed it out.

Jonah was a slender and tall boy he had thing shoulders that drooped down instead of stood straight and board. He was also very awkward with stick arms and legs. He was pale, pale skin, pale blond hair, pale green eyes, and pale wardrobe. The one thing that wasn’t pale about him was his love for books. It had been the light in his eyes that had sparked her curiosity. Seraphina had gone into the castle library to get a book when she ran into the boy. At seeing who he had bumped into Jonah had become a stuttering mess.

Seraphina had waved his apology away and asked for a book on herbs.

It was as if a change had happened before her very eyes he suddenly grew taller and his green eyes sparkled like emeralds. The next day Seraphina came back and that started the relationship between Jonah and Seraphina. The relationship was soft and caring, compared to past relationships Jonah cared about Seraphina. It was a shocking thing to think relationships just weren’t about sex. When they did have sex it was later it was months after their first date. In a way it had been both their firsts, Jonah’s first time and Seraphina’s first time making love, not fucking. Jonah even in that business had took his time and cared about Seraphina. No one had done that before. After that Seraphina had fallen in love with the boy. It had been one lazy afternoon the couple had sat in the gardens Jonah with a book and Seraphina with her head in Jonah’s lap. Jonah stroking the long red mane, instead of focusing on his book like normally Jonah was staring with narrowed eyes in a certain direction.

He was looking at Rueben.

Jonah had stilled his petting causing Seraphina to look at him.

“He always follows you.” was Jonah’s reply.

Seraphina had raised an eyebrow. “And…Rueben is my vassal he is supposed to follow me.”

Jonah shook his head. “That’s not it you treat him different, even different from m-“ Jonah paused in what he was going to say returning back to his book. Jonah did that if he didn’t think you would like what he wanted to say he wouldn’t say it. Seraphina had understood what he meant; at the time she didn’t see how she treated Jonah different from Rueben. He was her vassal and Jonah her fiancé of course she would treat both differently.

It wasn’t until after Jonah and she had broken up that Seraphina started to notice what Jonah meant. She had been sitting in the spot she and Jonah usually sat at. The princess had not cried over her relationship trying to keep up appearances. She had let one tear slide down her cheek and Rueben was at her side. He had kneeled in the grass by her feet.

“Princess what’s wrong?”

Seraphina had thrown herself on Rueben and had cried her heart out. Rueben had just rubbed circles in her back comforting her.

It was like a switched had turned on in her head and her radar only included Rueben and only Rueben. Seraphina felt herself falling for her vassal. The flirting game stepped up small touches and glances were traded. Each touch left Seraphina on fire and wanting the next round. When she had seen the women he had taken to his bed Seraphina felt a rage burning in her. She would then go flaunt her newest flame in his face usually a noble from a different land, sometimes a king.

The two had played the game for months till Seraphina realized her love for Rueben. Then she couldn’t bring herself to lay with another and flirting felt dirty when not with Rueben. She had realized the situation she was in. In love with a man below her station, a man would didn't take steady partners, and most likely saw Seraphina as a babysitting job. It had hurt her. It had hurt her heart so much that she had to avoid the man for two weeks.

Seeing him standing in front of her just as hurt, Seraphina guessed that the separation had really done neither of them any good. Seraphina stared at the anger and hurt in Rueben’s eyes and felt as if she had hurt herself. Seraphina crossed the short distant between them pressing her body to Rueben’s she wrapped her arms around her Rueben’s torso and buried her head in his chest.

“Rueben I’m sorry!” Seraphina wailed fat tears falling down her face and soaking Rueben’s shirt.

It was the second time that anyone had seen her cry, and both times she had cried in front of Rueben.

Seraphina felt arms wrap around her and the she was lifted and pressed onto the silk sheets of her bed. The wrap came off easily without the few pins holding it up.

What came next was a night of passion between Seraphina and Rueben that was more tender than anything Jonah had done and fierier than Seraphina had every experience before.

Between kisses and touching Seraphina whispered “I’ll never leave you again, Rueben. So don’t leave me.”

The next morning the two were still joined at the hip, having fallen asleep clutching each other. Seraphina had cried tears of happiness. She had finally got what she wanted.

Later in the day after a lot more cuddling Seraphina told Rueben about the plans for the other kingdoms. She clutched at him tightly as the words spilled from her lips. She didn’t want to lose Rueben now that she had him.

In the back of her head her mind reminded her of the prisoners. Seraphina told her brain that she would do it.

And she did. The two prisoners were so out of it clutching and mumbling to each other nonsense. She placed the fresh food for them to eat, took out the spoiled. This time the food was things that wouldn't spoil jerky, and breads. The food was still seasoned with the ingredients from both prisoners homeland, one plate each of cooked food was left to drive them insane. Another water jug was placed next to the second this one containing a bacteria that would neutralize the first but cause painful stomach cramps then lead to vomiting blood. Seraphina was still cautious masking herself in black cloak, that left her a mystery.

Not like the two could notice in so much pain.

Seraphina then returned to find Rueben, she had a nice idea of bathing together...for some reason she had the desire to bathe in the blood of her enemies with Rueben. How weird.


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Character Portrait: Ventus Darkai Character Portrait: Anastasia Ordella Hakon
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Even as she managed the raspy word, Anastasia had no hope within her that the other being would both hear and understand her. That's why when she hears the myriad of questions, she can hardly believe her ears.

"Who are you? Do you have any idea where we are, or who captured us?"

Even in her drugged daze, or rather, because of it, Anastasia knows that there is a possibility that she imagined the voice, the response that she hadn't dared to even begin to hope for. It could easily be her imagination, playing tricks on her, channeling in to both her worst of fears and her deepest hopes. Perhaps she is just more delusional than she had at first supposed.But no. She can't bear think like that.

Though she has permitted herself to label the voice as real, Anastasia still isn't sure that she should answer him. (The voice she heard was male, she knows. No girl could have a voice like that, that much she's absolutely certain of. And if there is a girl with a voice like that... Oh, bless the child!) For all she knows, he could've been planted by whoever brought her here, to ensure she has absolutely no idea what's going on, that she didn't somehow learn their scheme, whatever that scheme may be. He could be on their side, merely posing as a fellow prisoner. (The word sends shivers up Anastasia's spine. It's a nasty term. Why would someone want to imprison her of all people? She's no one. No one overly significant, anyway.)

Even if he is a spy, she realizes, she has no information to give him, no knowledge of the current situation past the crimes that had just been commited against her. And if he isn't... Well, why not answer him? Perhaps he knows something about something he's not inqiring about. (She realizes the futility of such a foolish thought, but she deep down wants to convince herself that it's safe to speak with this man, beneficial, even. So she procedes with her foolish internals, knowing very well that she may judge herself harshly at a later point and time. But then again, perhaps she will, instead, praise herself for it. There's no way to know at this time.)

Anastasia lays in silence for nearly an hour before she feels enough strength to respond, as she feels she must do, no matter the risks. She looks over at her companion from her perspective on the ground, having failed to register his brief touch prior. "Anastasia," she says quietly, hoping he understands her meaning and speech. (She may feel better now, but she's still far from one hundred percent. She really, really doesn't want to expand, feeling as though too many words will deem her useless, dead to the world, even.) "And no." Her voice is even quieter as she realizes just how in the dark she is. She hadn't even glimpsed her captors.

The smell reaches her as though dreamily. The smell is good, but the affects of the smell... Well, not so much. Stomach still clenching from the drugs, the smells only suceed in making it a million times worse. The pain consumes her, the monster within her desperately trying to eat her alive.

Anastasia - to her own horror and dismay - upheaves the contents of her stomach onto the floor beside her.


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For two days all Rueben cared about was Seraphina. She had always been a focal point in his life, but being able to touch her. Being able to take her to his bed, and show her how much he wanted her, was surreal. She surpassed all of his expectations, and left him feeling gratified, like she was the only thing that mattered in his life. He never thought they would be able to be together like this. He remembered when he first assumed the position of her vassal. He had mindlessly done his job, and protected her from the shadows. He couldn't count the number of assassins he had caught, and eliminated over the years. He had cut down so many enemies in Seraphina's name that his armor had permanent blood stains darkening the metal. And that was before he ever got attached to her.

When he had first entered her service he considered her nothing more than a job, and a tedious one at that. She had some redeeming qualities. She epitomized the country of Nyvallya. She was young, exotic, and wild, and she fit every stereotype he could think of for a princess. He remembered never uttering a word to her because he thought she was too arrogant to listen. Members of the royal house didn't understand the heart of a soldier. They didn't like lowering themselves to speak to a commoner. And they didn't like getting their hands dirty. Every book he had ever read had told him so. Rueben had devoted long nights of study, to understanding his kingdom, his government, his princess.

But Seraphina could not be surmised in the lines of a scroll. There were no characters in the Nyvallyan language that could adequately describe her.

And after spending a couple of years as her vassal he realized it wasn't just her appearance that was beautiful. In one of the expeditions he had personally been forced to partake in--She was the one that ended up leading the war party. In Nyvallya it wasn't uncommon for a woman to lead a garrison of men into war. But what set Seraphina apart from the typical commanders was her uncanny grace, and power on the battlefield. She soaked the earth in the blood of her enemies, and the men at her back absorbed her endless passion, transforming into monsters themselves so nothing could touch their commander. Rueben had never seen an army so loyal, nor had he encountered anyone so lethal.

Seraphina singlehandedly rallied her men into a frenzy.

And the day she had conquered her first city, and put down her first rebellion was the day he had really begun to notice her. Because that day was when she had glided through the dismembered corpses on the battlefield. Red wavy hair in disarray. Lips tugged downwards into a frown. Blood was dripping down her face, and the red liquid was clinging to the tattered remains of her clothes. In one hand she held a blood crisped fan, and in the other she held the mutilated head of a child. A child of no more than 10. Holding the head up for all of her men to see, she systematically circled around every last soldier until one man fell to his knees, horror domineering his features as he claimed responsibility for the child's morbid death. Seraphina sent him a cold glance, then without any hesitation she grasped his face between her hands, and twisted the head to the side.

The crack of bone echoed in the clearing, stilling all other movement. "We don't...Kill children." Seraphina declared darkly, as the man in her hands fell lifelessly to the damp soil.

Rueben had started to like her then.


After that scintillating experience he approached his job with a new vigor, seeing the princess as more than just a means to end. She added new purpose to his life and he made great strides to be there for her. He was there when Jonah ripped her heart out. He was there to pick up the pieces, and he was there for every relationship and fling that followed. Although he found himself dealing with his first inkling of jealousy every time another man left her bedroom. It became unbearable after awhile, and in order to keep his mind off of Seraphina he decided he needed to devote himself to his job as vassal more. He donned a hood, and became the mysterious figure that no one ever wanted to cross. And when he wasn't working he was sleeping with the other eligible women of the kingdom. Finding pleasure where he could when he could.

All the while his feelings for the princess blossomed.

Now he didn't have to hide them anymore, because the woman he had yearned for was finally his. And he was ready for everything that entailed. Seraphina had confessed all of her plans to him. She had informed him of a plot that had been in the works for several generations, and how it was just now bearing fruit. Seraphina was meant to conquer the world, and Nyvallya was preparing for a battle the likes of which they had never seen before. They were going to dominate the nearby nations, and create one great country, and if he wanted to


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he needed to prepared to stand on level ground with the princess. Which meant he had some preparations to make. After two days of becoming intimately familiar with Seraphina, and of the vixen like qualities she possessed he was ready to do something different.Something that only he could do. Striding over to the barracks where his men were resting he gathered his lieutenants in a room. "I want you all to start preparing for a long journey. Get your armor in order. Prepare your weapons. When Seraphina gives the signal, we're riding out to battle." He drawled, a smile tugging at his lips as he got he mentally prepared the people under his command.

Varron took one look at his satisfied grin, and an undignified snort escaped his subordinate. "...Your lover's quarrel is over isn't it? You sound a lot more intelligent now than you did a couple of days ago."

Rueben sent his second in command a look that said shut-the-hell-up before I skewer you. "Get out." He grumbled, dismissing the smirking man with a flick of his fingers. Adjusting the swords in his belt, Rueben sighed and carefully placed all of his weapons on the table, before leaving his home. Directing his men was his first prerogative, but not his only one for the day. Circumventing the routes Seraphina would usually take to find him, he breezed through the ruler's estate, and headed for the throne room where the king was no doubt working on battle plans with his council. Slamming open the doors of the room, with authority he didn't actually possess, Rueben smiled a rogue-ish smile as he swept into a grand bow. "My king, great members of the council..." He addressed every man in the room that was now looking at him with undisguised confusion. He didn't have the rank to be standing among them, or to be interrupting their meeting, but that's what he was doing anyways. Now that he knew everything, he was going to have to do something impressive with this war so he could stand on equal footing with the princess. Even though the moment he began trespassing in the throne room, the sharp end of a spear was pointed at his face.

Two guards held sharpened blades to his jugular. Daring him to make a false step.

"I know everything. I know what the council is debating about. If I may pose an idea to your...dilemmna, why don't we stop playing around with these half measures?...We have the leverage to expand our borders. We can use the prince and the princess to bring the foreign armies to heel, then with Seraphina at the head of our army we can crush our enemies, and dominate their countries. And if you're really that concerned about the fatalities...Allow me to assemble a coalition army, that is so formidable our enemies will have no choice but to bow to it's power." He offered the idea loosely, making sure his tone was lofty and dismissive. If he was too arrogant they wouldn't even consider the idea. If he was too weak, they would assume the idea would end in failure. Rueben was walking a fine line by even admitting that he knew what the king was up too. But if he didn't do things this way, he would never truly be able to say Seraphina was his lover.

If he offered the council something invaluable like a coalition army, they would have to listen to him, and give him something in return.

"I'm asking for a steep price though. If I do this...I want a new rank."

It was all he could ask for.

Seraphina could never be with a vassal.

Vassals couldn't be king.

Rueben needed to be something much more ambitious if he wanted to stay with the princess.


"Anastasia?" The name rolled off of Ventus's tongue like he was tasting the letters.

It was a pretty name, befitting a refined lady. He knew of no commoner that was graced with such a royal pseudonym."I'm...Ven-" The words died on his lips as he heard a horrible wretching sound. His nose wrinkled in disgust when he saw Anastasia upheaving the contents of her stomach on the ground. Grunting, he had the grace to look away as she divulged all of the food she had eaten in the last 24 hours on the ground. The stench that filtered to him from her side of the cell was anything but pleasant, and he sighed as he tried to ignore the odor that was burning his nostrils. The smell was vile enough that he could taste it.

And he had to fight back his own bout of nausea.

Inhaling sharply he focused only on breathing in short shallow breaths through his mouth. As the combined stench of warm food, and sweltering vomit invaded his senses, he realized he was fighting a losing battle. And his own stomach began to protest violently. Not too long after the princess lost her composure, he lost his, and ended up spewing his breakfast on the floor next to him. A mixture of half digested eggs and pork poured over the stone's grimy surface in a startling mixture of chunks. Ventus shivered at the taste still present on his tongue, and he glanced helplessly at the ceiling. "So much for dignity." He murmured, his tone a flat drawl, that conveyed just how much pride he had left.

Falling silent in the face of despair, he kicked at the ground, and with a grunt he tried to maneuver himself around so he was facing his cellmate. "No. No. No. You don't know anything either. This is great." He breathed, his voice dissolving into an uncharacteristic cackle as he got comfortable on his side. "I woke up this morning a prince, and I'm going to sleep a slave. Ya-yo, Ya-yo."

He didn't know what he was saying anymore.

He was tired.

Still staggering under the weight of his hallucinations.

And he was beginning to feel the first inklings of hunger.

But even with the food just above his head he couldn't bring himself to eat. To eat meant to surrender to the evil that had captured them both.

And that was something he wasn't ready to do.

"Night 'Asia." he grumbled, closing his eyes, and succumbing to the exhaustion invading his limbs. He couldn't talk coherently anymore. His entire body was throbbing with pain, and all he wanted to was sleep off the confusion clouding his mind. Maybe if he slept his hunger would go away. And he could be lucid again. But as he embraced the darkness, it wasn't silence and serenity that waited for him. No that brief moment of relief wasn't possible. Instead what waited for him was a memory.

A memory of a different time

Of a different place.

When he was a different man.

His name back then was Raviel, and just like now, he was the son of a reputable leader who governed over a powerful nation. Raviel was the chieften's one and only son. Great things were expected of him. There was a prophecy that Raviel would lead their tribe to glory. The memory was so vivid, it was impossible to ignore:

(Dream Sequence)

Cloaked in darkness, the tribe was drinking around the campfire. Man, woman, and child were dancing to the beat of the drum, and trying to outpace their shadows. It was a joyous the occasion the coming of a new Harvest, and this year the crops had been truly bountiful. To celebrate the entire tribe was gathered in one place, singing their praises to the gods, and showing their devotion to the spirits. The Chieftain, and the leader of the tribe was at the head of the camp, feasting on the roast his wife and the other women had made. A successful elk hunt had provided a feast for the entire tribe to enjoy but the chieftain always got first pick of the meat.

Followed by his wife.

And then his first born.

Licking his lips, the broad chested leader, filled his plate before sitting cross legged in the grass. "Eat drink, and be merry my children." He held his skin of wine up in the air, and the tribe became lost to their enthusiasm. Going from a quiet murmur to a loud uproar. Smiling at their exuberance, the leader took the first bite of his meal, savoring the hard earned fruits of his people's labor before a thought struck him. Turning to his wife, he tilted his head to the side curiously. "Where is Raviel? Did your son wander off again?" Her son. Whenever the reckless boy did something wrong, he was her son.

"Who knows. His feet belong to the wind. He goes wherever the breeze takes him." His wife shrugged unhelpfully, offering an enigmatic smile in response to his words.

The leader scowled but held his tongue.

Damn that boy.

He never listens.

Meanwhile Raviel had wandered far from the party, because although he enjoyed the games, and the music, he didn't feel like giving offerings to the gods. The gods weren't the ones who had been working the fields. The gods weren't the ones that planted the seeds for the crops to grow. The Markena Tribe was responsible for that. His people deserved the credit. Not the gods. Shaking his head ruefully as he wandered through the forest, Raviel paused as he came upon a clearing. On the outskirts of the Markena territory there stood a shack. A rusting looking thing that no human being should live in. It looked disproportional. Unsanitary. And structurally unsound. There were rumors that a witch doctor lived there.

There were also rumors that the witch was part of the Markena tribe.

"Helloooooooo. Is anyone there?"

Raviel wanted to test these rumors to see if there was any truth to them.


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Character Portrait: Rueben Artai Character Portrait: Seraphina "Abby" Ulthi
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The two days she spent with Rueben had been….Amazing. Seraphina had finally got to hold him, love him, and be taken to his bed. She could not imagine a life without him by her side. The thought of him not being there would crush her.

That is why something must be done. She had confessed the plans to him the morning after their first time. Seraphina had clutched Rueben to her, the pink paint nails digging into the flesh of his back. It had first come out in a rush, she had shook badly, afraid to even look at him. She couldn’t lose him!

She should have never doubted him. Rueben, her Rueben had taken the information with a calm expression. He had then given advice add to the plans.

Suddenly it had become a real thing for her. The plans had been something that had been in the works for years. It never seemed that it would bear fruit. But now….

As Seraphina stood in the throne room behind her parents throne’s in traditional robes of the persistence. The only two allowed to sit where the King and Queen, other nobles were standing in various levels around the raised dallas. The higher the level the higher the class and status. The council took up the top level, then nobles of the royal court with monks and maidens of the temples, then the lower classed nobles with high ranking soldiers. The last rank where the people’s delegates, clan heads of middle class families, and merchants, on the very bottom floor was royal guard stationed around the ground live.

In the throne room everyone was dressed in traditional robes, men in wraps around the waist, decorated in bone beads from enemies, clan tattoo’s displayed all over bodies, faces painted proudly to show rank. Women wore the wrap dress and hood, the colors and design differed between clan and rank, feathers and bone bead necklaces from enemies decorated them, they were also tatted and painted.

Seraphina was the only one wearing red. A color only the high priestess can wear in the throne room. She wore a full body wrap, only her eyes shown. The material was thin and wrapped tightly, small peaks of skin peeking out in between wraps, a several big ruby pin that matched the ruby in her check kept the wrap together. She held a long staff made out of red wood. She stood tall in between her parents listening to the conversation around her.

The topic had turned to the all present plans when Rueben burst in.

He didn’t wear his ordinary outfit. No he wore red. Seraphina’s ruby, blood, red. That only meant one thing….

On the outside Seraphina remain calm and composed, but when she locked her eyes with Rueben the emotions bubbled to the surface. She showed her love, confusion, and fear. She didn’t want Rueben to get hurt.

Then Rueben made his intention clear. The whole throne room went into an uproar.

“The Vassel!? With our future queen?!”

“So the bloody shadow thinks he can be in the same light as the princess!”

On and on the insults came. Rueben stood tall through the storm; he stood tall looking into Seraphina’s eyes.

“SILENCE!” yelled the king getting up from his throne. His skin was dark as night, he stood tall and wide. His hair was a flaming red that stuck up in spikes, and when he moves strongly resembled moving fire. His rust colored eyes where as hard as diamonds. The queen was his complete opposite. Her skin was a gentle caramel, with dark red curls; she sat daintily on her throne. Her chin held high and a nasty sneer on her lips. Her light brown eyes shooting icy daggers at Rueben. Both dressed in golden color of Nyvallya royalty, both held matching golden broadswords.

At once the court fell silent.

“So you are aware of our plans are you? What of it? You’re just a simple vassal. A mere speck of the great nation of Nyvallya.” The king asked stroking his beard. The queen’s sneer grew.

“Seraphina. Set forward.” The king said calmly. The court collectively held their breath.

Not showing any emotion Seraphina stepped by her father’s side dropping down on one knee. “My king.”

“You told this...” He paused looking at Rueben. “Vassal. Of the plans, and you let him wear your color? Why?”

“Yes my king.” Seraphina didn’t move a muscle, afraid that her next words would provoke her fathers ire. “I wish to wed this man.”

Her words brought the court into a frenzy. Noblemen and women were voicing their concerns at once, some wanting to marry Seraphina themselves, others wanting Seraphina married into their clans.

“SILIENCE!” Screeched the queen from her throne. The words a mere whisper but had such power. “If there is someone who wants to challenge the vassal for the priestess hand let them step forward!”

A few fools step forward. None of which had heard of Rueben’s strength. The battle that came after was quick, painful, and ended with a lot of broken bones. Ten enemies later Rueben stood unscratched. Impressed with his strength and skill no one else tried to fight him.

“Very well the vassal may have my daughter’s hand. Step forward Rueben Artai son of Warlord Artai.”

Rueben step forward as Seraphina rose from her kneeling position; the two grabbed each other’s hands. The king sliced the wrist on the two’s joined hands mixing the blood together with his fingers, he smeared it across their foreheads and lips, then back over the open wounds.

“You are now pronounced joined in the eyes of the court. We shall hold the ceremony later in the week.”

The members of the court clapped politely for the strong union in front of them.

“Now what are these plans you have?” The king asked sitting back on his throne.


The nation of Nyvallya was all decked out in their colors of blood red, gold, and black, clan and house colors, mixed in, but the biggest flags where the nations flags. They were proudly shown all over the nation, on ships, from homes, adorned on clothing, painted on bodies. The national flower, the blood blossom was also making its appearance, decorating the hair and necks of women and girls, in food and drink, the smell pressed into bottles and powdered cosmetics.

It was a grand affair for the kingdoms only and beloved princess Seraphina was to be married. The story of Rueben battling for the hand of Seraphina spread throughout the kingdom and even to other nations. It gained Rueben the faith of the people and the backing of many nobles. Not everyone would get to see the bonding ceremony but the kingdom would still celebrate.

In the temple of Umna the mother goddess Seraphina stood naked except for the blood blossoms in their hair. The official ceremony for the nation had been a splendid affair. Seraphina and Rueben had dressed in white to signify their bonding, and the rebirth of a new life together. They had exchanged weapons in front of the capital. From Seraphina she gave Rueben a pair of white and blue war fans. The fans had a picture of a pouncing tiger once full extended. The fans were made out of a metal and human bone. A beautiful white ribbon hung from the fans, characters in the Nyvallya language spelled out “BELOVED”. It was customary for the woman to give the first gift and the man to give the woman his most beloved weapon. A week after the bond the man would give the woman a gift and the woman her most beloved weapon. This unique exchange symbolized the good intentions in a bonding. No one would give their enemy a weapon to use against them. Rueben had gifted Seraphina his well trusted knife. It was made out of bone, with knuckle holes. The small knife had Knicks, and dents, but Seraphina had known that this small knife had been the last chance between life and death for Rueben several times. In the handle had been craved recently the words “beloved”. Seraphina clutched the knife close to her chest like it was as precious as gold, and to her it was.

After saying the traditional bonding phrase the couple began the first dance. Soon the rest of the capital followed the couple onto the dance floor. After much merry making, the couple was taken to the temple and stripped of clothes and weapons. They were taken to the chamber of the mother were they would be one with the goddess. The chamber was made out of smooth stone, a slow steady stream of water poured into the huge pool. Thousands of blood blossoms filled the water and added their fragrance to the air.
In the eyes of the mother, with no one besides herself and Rueben, Seraphina gently touched the man in front of her. She knew deep in her heart that he was the one for her, and that she would never let him go. As she thought this her hold became tighter and her eyes shined in the low light of the chamber.

No. She would NEVER let him go.


Seraphina was not dressed in her usually affair. No, she was not dressed in princess finery, or priestess robes. She wore the simple clothes of a warrior. They were well worn and in good condition. The clothes over all were to big for the princess smaller frame. The sleeveless shirt was long enough to be considered a dress, it fell to her knees. The tall boots took several pairs of socks to fit her smaller feet. Her hair had been left in the messy ponytail, bone beads, and feathers tangled the hair. On leather cord around her neck a small bone knife hung between her breasts.

The clothes didn’t belong to the princess, they were a dark blue, and had a long hood attached. Seraphina had spent the following week at Rueben’s home in the barracks to finish the bonding ceremony. The men of the barracks had no idea of Seraphina’s stay since she still did her princess duties. Today would be the day that Rueben would gift her with her weapon, and she would give him her most precious. Tied around her waist next to her war fans was a long spear red spear, decorated with a simple red ribbon handle. The spear was collapsible and able to hold various poisons. The first time she had put down a rebellion she had used this spear in battle. Instead of the customer words beloved, the handle had the phrase, “Praebe mihi cor tuum amorem, et dabo vobis cor meum. Ego autem, et volo me exspectat.” Instead engraved into the wood of the spear.

Seraphina walked with purpose towards the barracks where do doubt Rueben and his men were eating the first meal. Some of the men who were late getting up stared wide eyed at the princess. They had heard of and went to the bonding ceremony but it was still hard to believe that their commander was now their future king. Seraphina paid these people no mind instead she walked up to the big double doors and with one great push through the doors open. Spotting Rueben at the head table she put a sway in her hips as she walked toward him.

“Good morning soldiers I hope you’re ready for battle.”

She had plans for a certain pair of nobles locked in the dungeons. As she stood in front of Rueben’s men they were being fitted for chains, and branded with the seal of high priestess. They were also in for a round in the torture chambers.

She couldn’t have hostages that wouldn’t act the part could she now?