A warm gust of air hit you as you opened the heavy oak door to the tavern. It was a simple establishment, and quite empty for that time of night. A few men sat at the bar, and a few others were scattered around the room in various places.
Your eyes and your body was drawn towards the crackling fire, which you could feel warm your bare feet. You were careful not to peel off your cloak and expose your fancy dress to prying eyes. Instead you pulled your hood farther over your face and sat as close to the fire as possible.
Flames licked at the wood placed in the hearth slowly, occasionally giving a crackle of life. You held your hands out, watching as droplets of water ran down the backs of your hands and evaporated.
The warmth of the fire heated your skin and rested within your chest. You sat back after a few minutes, resting on your hands and allowed yourself a small sigh of contentment. You closed your eyes,feeling the heat of the fire soak through your skin and make itself home in your chilled bones.
It was only after a few minutes that you noticed the sensation of a pair of eyes burning into your skin. Careful as to not look suspicious, you glanced around, and at last your eyes came to rest on a certain figure in the corner of the tavern to your left.
His feet were propped up on a second chair, and he held his cup backwards to his lips. His dull gray eyes watched you from afar, observing.
You looked at him from the corner of your eyes, pretending to be focused on the fire and warming your hands.
He was pale, almost unnaturally so. His dark feathery locks fell over his brow, just barely covering the tips of his eyebrows. He regarded you with a apathetic, disinterested look, like he couldn't care less about your existence. He wore a simple button up shirt, a jacket that was just a tad too large for him hanging from his shoulders.
You silently prayed he didn't come over, and thankfully, your prayers seemed to be answered, for he sat there as you continued to warm yourself by the fire, just watching you.
Consciously, you pulled your hood farther over your face, hiding your hair and face. You couldn't risk yourself being seen.
After a while, you became used to the man;s odd stare. After drying off, your found yourself leaning on a nearby chair and resting your head.
You hadn't realized you wee asleep until you had opened your eyes hours later. Drowsy with sleep, you glanced around the tavern, to find the man gone, and the tavern emptier than before. It was getting late after all.
You glanced over at the door when it creaked open.
Only to look away with mounting panic.
Two Military policemen wandered into the tavern, their faces taut as they shrugged off their dampened cloaks and stumbled over to the bar. It was obvious they were drunk, hopefully to the point where they wouldn't notice you.
"Bartender!" One called. "Give us a bottle!"
The bartender complied eagerly. It was obvious these two were regulars here.
After a few minutes, the taller of the two spoke, his words slurred.
"So 'parently the duke's kid managed to slip out, and now he has half the MP out of their beds searching for her. But Franco and I here, we know there's no way to find her in this rain, so we come here, eh?"
You could almost feel the bartender's eyes slide over to your form. But he remained silent.
Your heart fluttered in your chest rapidly. You tugged your hood over your face and huddled inside your cloak, trying to avoid the bartender's glance.
Thankfully, the Military police did not follow the bartender's line of sight. Instead, the other of the pair now spoke, his voice loud and boisterous.
"They say that whoever finds her is likely to be promoted. wouldn't that be great, Gino?"
'Gino' coughed, and chuckled deeply. "Imagine!" he laughed. "Captain Gino!"
"What do you mean Captain 'Gino'? It'd obviously be me, you doofus!"
The two continued to bicker back and forth. You took this as your chance to stand and silently wander over to the door. As the door creaked open, you could hear one of the policmen call after you: "Have a good evening~!" You couldn't help but flinch at his words, despite how ignorant they were.
You once again stepped outside into the rain, which had faded to a light drizzle. You tilted your head to look back up at the sky, inky clouds blotting out the stars and moon.
Gathering your cloak tighter about your form, you walked forward to an unknown destination.
You walked for hours it seemed, looking for another place to take shelter but finding none. You transversed the streets back and forth, wandering aimlessly. Your feet splashed through icy puddles, aching to be back near that warm fire again.
Doubt began to creep into your mind, icy black tendrils wrapping around your thoughts. Maybe you were wrong to run away, maybe this wasn't a good idea, maybe it would be best just to turn around...go home...
The words struck you a deep pang of emotion in your heart, sadness, anger, and hurt morphing all together into one feeling that seemed to split your very being in two.
Dwelling on these thoughts, you didn;t notice the three men walking down the street until it was too late.
There was a breif shout before you felt your body connect with something solid, and you were sent sprawling backwards. You landed with a splash, water sokaing through your cloak and dress.
"Oi!" The man with who you collided shouted. You looked up quickly. Too quickly. Your hood fell from your face and exposed your features.
"What do you think you're doin, you bloody little....!" the man trailed off as he noticed your face, and stopped. His features were warped by a sick smile.
"Hey gents, we've got a little lady here!" he declared. Your eyes widened with fear.
Oh no. Oh No.
The second of the three bent forward to examine you, You tugged desperately at your hood, trying to tug it back over your face, to no avail.
"No kiddin~! She ain't bad lookin either."
A deep chuckle echoed from the first man. "Say, girlie, why don;t you come with us?" he asked, reaching forward for your arm.
Instinctively, your kicked out your foot, kicking the man's hand away with a sharp crack. the man paused to howl in pain, giving you the chance to stumble to your feet and bolt away from the trio.
Almost immediately, you could hear the tell tale footfalls and splashes behind you. Adrenaline raced through your veins, making your heart hammer wildly in your chest. Your breath came in short, quick gasps as you ran, pushing yourself faster, and farther away from the men.
You turned down a side street, hoping to out wit the men. However, as you turned again onto another street, you found yourself facing another figure up ahead. You stopped, eyes darting around wildly for an escape.
Without thinking, you leapt down a side street, the cape of your cloak fanning out behind you as you ran. You bolted, hoping, praying that this alley bled out to another street and that you outrun the men on your tail.
Unfortunately, luck was not in your favor.
When you came face to face with the brick wall at the end of the alley way, you couldn;t help but let a terrified cry escape your lips, ripping through the night air.
You spun to face your attackers, eyes wide and full of terror.
When the first one reached you, you ducked away from his outstretched hand, spinning out of reach, only to collide with another figure beside you. You had enough time to let forth a scream before a hand enveloped your mouth and silenced you.
You tried desperately to pry the hand off, clawing at it and letting muffled screams echo through the alley way. Your arm was twisted painfully behind your back, making you cry out in pain.
"Help, somebody, help!" you desperately pleaded, hoping, praying that someone, anyone would come to your rescue.
You watched as the first man approached you, the tell tale glint of a knife in his hand. Your squirming and thrashing began anew, but the grip on your arm only tightened to the point where you could hear an audible 'snap'. A fire filled with pain shot up your arm, making you cry out with fresh terror.
In a last ditch effort, your craned your neck forward and bit down on the man;s hand covering your mouth until you could taste blood. You could hardly hear the howl of pain over your heart hammering in your ears.
You were spun around quickly, and before you could even comprehend why, the bloody hand connected with your face. The impact was so harsh you were flung to the ground, stars filling your vision.
Propping yourself up on your hands, you tried to focus on the cobbled street before you. Your vision focused and unfocused, tilting sideways and making you sick with vertigo.
You were just able to look up when you heard the cry of one of the men. You could see as he was sent flying backwards into the wall of the alleyway. Thankfully, whoever had done so had attracted the attention of the other two men, leaving you to try and prop yourself up.
There was a sickening crunch, and a cry of pain that made you look up. You knelt, watching as the man before you seized the knife in the leader's hand and slash at him wildly, making the man stumbled backwards.
You watched as he flipped the man who grabbed him from behind, sending him sprawling towards the other. He threw an uppercut towards the man who was closest to you, sending him falling backwards into a pile of crates.
The man stood in front of you now, his back towards you, Water dripped from his hair, and his chest heaved only slightly as he faced down your attackers, knife in hand.
"You'll pay for this!" one of them screeched, before hustling off with his comrades, all nursing bloody wounds and broken bones.
There was a long silence as you observed the man before you. The jacket that had hung from his shoulders was gone, his button up shirt sticking to his fair skin in the rain. He turned to you, glancing over at you over his shoulder.
He had no words. He just stared just observed.
It took you a moment for you to speak, but when you did, the words were breathless.
"Who are you?"
The man regarded you silently for a moment before speaking, but when he did, the name echoed softly from his lips.