29 March 2012

Writer's Block and a Favor From My Followers

Found on google images
If you’ve ever had writers block you’ll probably relate.

Writer’s Block

He sat at his desk and stared at his typewriter. It mocked him. His head was full of tales of daring knights searching haunted castles above rocky beaches and liars stumbling through sentences as they promised more lies, but none of it could spill from his fingertips onto the worn out keys of his typewriter. He’d written a dozen novels, half of which had been published and half of those were bestsellers, but there was something about that paper hanging from the grasp of the type writer; it taunted him.

Goblins and princesses dashed through his head. Dragons reigned terror on unsuspecting villagers. Hordes of barbarians looted countryside towns. Yet the paper stayed white. He turned his head and looked over his shoulder and he could’ve sworn he saw an assassin strike down his dog who was napping in the corner. His imagination flowed like the rivers of Eden, but like Eden, none would know the beauty within.

The sun set as lovers kissed in a cornfield. Daring pilots flew under bridges to escape their enemies in a dogfight. Astronauts met intelligent life while exploring a moon in a distant nebula. Wives were unfaithful. Husbands were abusive. Typewriters were spilling ink onto empty pages throughout the world, but not his.

I know this is supposed to be a fictional blog and well it usually is, but I’d like to share some words with my followers.

I appreciate everyone who reads my work. And if you are among those who are wondering what happens in the Assassin series I promise you I will one day get around to writing it, but like the character in Writer’s Block I can’t seem to get it on paper. I sat down to write it and I pumped out Jazmin: Embedding. Sure you can ask me why, but I can’t explain it.

I know exactly what is going to happen to our three assassins. I have even seen the last sentence played over and over and over in that oh so overflowing imagination of mine. The biggest problem here is that I can’t seem to write the first sentence. So I’m going to ask my readers to do me a favor.

Write the first sentence of Assassin 5 in a comment and leave it in a comment. If I use your sentence all I can offer you is my thanks and give you credit on my blog as nothing I do on the internet is to gain a single penny (yet) so I can’t give you anything.    

28 March 2012

Jazmin: Embedding

Jazmin: Embedding

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“Too ugly. Too tall. Too fat.” Lord Marikh walked in front of a row of slave girls, he was followed by his scribe Tryll. “Ahh! Why is this one even here? I’ve seen at least fifty girls and only one has been worthy so far.”
“M’lord,” Tryll said, “the seller has one with him. She is, uh.. exceptionally beautiful, but I think that um she might be a bit too costly. I heard him say, well uh, he called her Jazmin.” Tryll looked to the ground when Marikh turned to him.
“Take me to Hahg now. We are buying slaves for the Almighty Ga’ash; it is possible that one of these girls could join the Harem; we will spare no expenses. And what did I tell you about saying that word, 'um,' it makes you sound stupid. And lift your chin, you look like a sissy. None employed by the palace should look like sissies.”
“Yes Marikh.” Tryll looked at one of the slaves and was compelled to wipe her tears away, but Marikh would surely have him lashed for such kindness.
Tryll presented his lord to the slaver named Hahg. Hahg pushed the lowly scribe from his view of the potential buyer. “Aha Marikh,” Hahg greeted his old partner. “I can’t believe you’re working behind those walls. You should sneak me in there sometime, I might find some valuable merchandise. I’m expanding my business to the black market. I’m getting too old to be trekking slaves through deserts and stolen merchandise won’t try to escape when I'm sleeping.”
“You’re scum Hahg. Any priest would have me without a head for bringing you into this city. The City of Gold is only a two hour ride from these gates, you can stay there.”
“Get off your damned pedestal Marikh; you are employed by a man who fancies himself a god.” He paused. “Hell, I guess you’re here for the merchandise.”
“Where is she?”
“In the wagon. Follow me.” Hahg looked to his assistant before leaving his post and said, “Let the common folk in to buy now; the lords and ladies have had their turn.”
“Why’d you leave a slave alone?”
“She’s different Marikh, she knows her place and to put her with the common rabble would be a disgrace to the goddess Victoria.”
“How dare you speak of false deities while in the shadow of the City of Gods.”
“Whatever, Marikh. Your mother would have had you over her knee for such talk when we children.” Hahg held the wagon door open allowing Marikh entry. “She’s in here.”
“You’ve come to buy me,” Jazmin said. Her back was to the men. She was robed in thickly weaved fine silk from head to toe and her hair was made as if she were attending a summer’s ball. There was a necklace with a black stone hanging from it laced around her neck.       
“Why do you have a slave dressed in such lavish attire Hahg?”
“She has three pairs believe it or not. She came to me only a month ago as I was leaving Nord.”
“I can speak for myself slaver,” Jazmin said as she turned around. “The goddess Victoria came to me in a dream. She said I was to be a slave in the sea of sands. She would only call me Rousa. I am obedient to my gods and my goddess has told me to serve your gods, and so I will. I found the first slaver traveling to Dest and told him he could have my price if he took me there. I’m not a slave yet, not until I leave this wagon with you.”
“Very well, and what makes you think I’ll buy a free woman? I am not in the business of making slaves. I only buy and sale.”
“You never would’ve entered this wagon if you weren’t going to buy me. And would you want to disappoint the Almighty. If you don’t purchase me, somebody most certainly will and don’t you want to be the lord that presents the Almighty with the most beautiful slave in all of Dest.”
“She sure is a conceited one isn’t she, haha,” Hahg joked.
“Strip,” Marikh demanded.
“Excuse me, you are speaking to a free woman sir,” Jazmin said. She bit her bottom lip, it was a nervous habit, but any man who ever knew Jazmin couldn’t see it as such.
“Three hundred,” Hahg said.
“Are you out of your mind? Every other girl out their only runs between twenty and fifty gold shillings.”
“Lady Adira has already offered five hundred; the other lords have all offered between one and two fifty. I’m not going to sell her to that old hag if I can help it, but if you can’t offer three hundred you leave me no choice. And as I recall from my last visit to your pious little city that woman was repeatedly out showing you.”
“Fine take the bag.” Marikh dropped his coin purse into Hahg’s greedy hands. “Strip slave.”
Jazmin let the robe fall to the floor and took the wooden hairpin from its place letting her dark hair fall to the middle of her back. Jazmin asked, “And what will you have me wear?”
“Don’t speak unless told to slave. I own you now. Hahg will provide you with rags suiting to one of such a low status. You have one minute to meet me outside; the whip is the punishment for tardiness. Don’t make me remind you.” Marikh exited the wagon and joined Tryll.
Jazmin covered her chest by crossing her arms. “Thank you Hahg. When you get back to Nord City make sure my brother is safe and see to it that he treats Melisa as our father treated our mother. It will be a long time before I am likely to see any of you again.” She hugged Hahg and kissed his cheek. “Now give me those clothes. I plan on staying a virgin for as long as I can.”
Hahg handed her a set of sandy-brown ‘poor-man’s’ clothes, they were more cloth and rag then clothing though. “You better hurry, and I promise this will be my last time selling slaves. Whoever isn’t bought today will be taken to Miriam City to be set free. Thank you for opening my eyes. And gods be with you.”
“I had to, for the sake of Valc.” Jazmin touched Hahg’s hand softly one last time before she exited the wagon. A single tear escaped and she let it run its course until it settled between her lips.

15 March 2012

Assassin Part 4*

Art By: Hyuckshin Kwon found on digital-art-gallery.com

Assassin Part 4

“Who the hell are you?” Captain Gray asked shouting and pointing his sword back and forth between Sergio and Scott completely ignoring Aiya as a possible threat.

“We’re just three unfortunate travelers sir,” Sergio answered. “I thought we were goners until you showed up.”

“Captain that one killed Rodyer,” one of the guards said pointing at Scott.

“He was attacking my cousin, guard.” Shifting to a less defensive stance Scott said, “I kind of would like to know why your guard, Sir, attacked my cousin and not those things.”

Captain Gray sheathed his great sword. “Rodyer, rest his soul, knew better than to attack those which protect us in this forest. Are you and your kin not Ra worshippers?”

“No we’re not. We’re Mak worshippers,” Aiya spoke wiping dirt from her robe. “As you can clearly see we have our reasons not to worship those murderous creatures.”

“A feisty one,” Gray laughed.

“You dare allow these subjects to speak of the Greater Ones as such.” The emissary walked around Captain Gray; she was playing with her sword. She had an athletic body type, her satin top pressed against her arms, chest, and stomach, but loosened around her thighs where it came to a shredded end. Her stockings crisscrossed up her legs.

The tone of the emissary’s voice was very powerful, yet somehow seducing. Her eyes were dark green, like the forest just before the sun sets. Her mascara was running, probably due to the humidity and heat from the now dwindling fire. “Gray,” She said, “The Almighty would say it would be against the will of the Great Four to kill them, but he’s not here. If they are Makian they know too much.”

“Your husband is paying me Lelya, not you,” the captain countered. “I can’t just go about killing my own people. They’ll belong to the Almighty soon enough. They’ll come with us. If they prove trustworthy we’ll employ them, otherwise we’ll enslave them.”

“Hello,” Scott said sarcastically waving his hand, “you must be out of your mind. Who the hell-”

Captain Gray looked at one of his men and pointed at Scott. The guard hit Scott in the back of his head sending him to the ground. “How dare you talk back subject,” the guard scolded.

Scott jumped up and charged the guard. Sergio tackled his ill-tempered cousin as the guards and soldiers stood ready. Sergio whispered, “This is our only chance now. We can’t screw this up.”

Three of the guards began stripping the assassins of their weapons. “Let them keep their possessions for now, they’re our guests,” Gray ordered.

“First mistake,” Aiya whispered to herself.

“What was that, girl,” Lelya snapped at Aiya; suddenly the seductive tone in her voice seemed absent.

“I said, thanks mate, we talk like that in our country.”

“Ha!” Captain Gray laughed, “I like that girl.”

Lelya looked at Aiya almost jealously. Once they got back on the trail it became clear that the number of Destian soldiers protecting the emissary was in the hundreds. They walked northwest for about twenty minutes when eventually they came to a series of meadows housing thousands of tents. Whatever this camp was it seemed almost permanent.

At least now the assassins didn’t have to sneak in. A fiery smile grew on Aiya’s face and Sergio knew why, the only time she ever got that look on her face was while she was contemplating an assassination.

Lelya left Gray’s side and talked with what appeared to be high ranking Destian soldiers. “Put her with the other girls,” Lelya ordered one of the soldiers. “Have those two questioned. Don’t let Gray know.”

“Yes Empress. How do you want us to keep that from the Makian Captain he asks a lot of questions when he’s here.”

“Leave that to me. I didn’t marry a god, because I was shy. Now go.”

Aiya, Sergio, and Scott walked through the camp towards a tent that an officer of the Elite Guard told them they would stay in when three soldiers approached them. “Is there a problem boys?” Sergio asked. Aiya slowly reached for a blade, but suddenly her mouth was covered from behind. Over a dozen soldiers quickly subdued the three assassins.

Aiya watched as Sergio and Scott were blindfolded while she was carried away. She couldn’t fight. Her mouth was gagged stopping her from screaming and whoever was carrying her was built like a rhinoceros. Eventually the cloth was taken from her mouth and she was thrown into a huge tent with about two hundred other women.

“The prostitutes,” Aiya said to herself, smirking. She grew accustomed to talking to herself during countless hours of solitary training as well as hiding in empty houses for days on end waiting for her target to return home. “Hi I’m Aiya, what’s your name?” She asked one of the girls.


Sergio and Scott were bound to each other by the wrists with their backs against each other. After about an hour of silence the blindfolds were taken off. “My boss thinks you guys are a little bit too in touch with your combat skills to be common travelers. So why don’t you let us what you’re doing in this part of the forest.”    

“We were hunting, this is still our country. Even you of the sand should understand that,” Sergio replied. “Captain Gray said we were to go unharmed, and that we could keep our weapons. He seemed eager to talk with us; you wouldn’t want him to find out about this now would you.”

“Who do you think ordered this?” A deep voice came from shadows. Its speaker showed himself. He was as huge as the man that carried away Aiya, maybe it was him. He clenched his fist and struck Scott in the stomach.

“Now why don’t we try this again,” the first soldier spoke. “What are you doing up here? You better be honest or Beast here is going to start hurting you.”

“He told you, are you deaf or something,” Scott snapped. “I swear it I’ll kill you myself when we get out of this. I don’t forget names Beast.”

Beast grabbed Scott’s neck with one hand. His thumb and finger connected at the back of Scott’s neck. “I could snap your scrawny neck with one hand son.”

“You’re not going to do that Beast,” Sergio said with a calm demeanor. “If you started snapping necks you wouldn’t get any answers.”

“Stick to punching them Beast,” the first soldier ordered.


Captain Gray washed his face with water from an ivory bowl and a clean towel. A slave cleaned the captain’s body. Lelya entered the captain’s tent. Her face had been clean and her mascara was reapplied.

“Leave slave. Go back to your tent I’m sure you’re needed for something of a more carnal nature,” Lelya slapped the girl as she exited the tent.

Lelya walked to the bathing bowel and wetted the towel. She began cleaning Captain Gray’s chest. “You are important Gray,” Lelya said as she wiped around his neck. “A slave for you is too low.” She kissed his chest. “You showed mercy today, many would call that weakness.”

“You think me a fool Lelya,” Gray said stepping back. He robed himself. “You’re the third wife of a man-god. I like my head where it is and I’m sure you do as well. Let’s not forget the meaning of these meetings. I’m already betraying my king I won’t do the same to a god. And if you think that a slave is too low for me why don’t you order one of your men to go fetch me that girl we rescued.”

“She may not be a slave now, but soon enough.”

“If that’s the case, why’d you have her put with the morale?”

“I did no such thing.”

“Don’t lie to me Lelya. There’s very little you can get past me. This may be your outpost, but it is, for now, still in my country. I was going to have them questioned too; I was just going to go about it a bit differently. I guess a few bruises won’t kill them.”

“Fine I’ll have her fetched.”

“No don’t worry about it. Like you said, she’ll be a slave soon enough. But for now she’s not to be touched. Do you understand?”

Lelya exited the tent for a few seconds then reentered. “She’s being sent after and taken to my tent Gray.”

“Now let’s get to business. I have charts here,” Gray said as he pulled some maps and documents from a pack. “The dragons are being gathered next month from our, Mak’s, daughter countries. My King is doing whatever he can. The king does not want to be known as the king that lost the oldest country in the world to his desert neighbors.”

“We can get to this later Gray, I want you.” She unrobed and gently removed the map from the table.

“Stop it Lelya. You might do this to your husband, but I won’t to my wife and daughter. Don’t make me put my armor back on.”

“Don’t you want an Empress?”

Gray nearly laughed. “What I want is for the emissary in front of me to robe and finish this meeting so I can get back to the city by tomorrow night.”

Art work by Marat Ars found at http://digital-art-gallery.com/picture/5013 ********

Aiya was fighting off a lonely soldier when Lelya’s runner showed up. “Back off or I’ll cut it off damn it,” Aiya protested.

“Leave her be Esgard. Empress Lelya sent me to get her. She wants her unharmed.”

“Not fair, she’s the only one in this tent that hasn’t been had by the infantry.”

“Lelya will be expecting you sober during duty tonight. I’m not covering for you again Esgard.” The runner turned his attention to Aiya and said, “Let’s go, before I let him have you.”

Aiya was taken to a lavishly decorated tent. Lelya’s runner stayed with her. He remained silent just watching the girl.

“Do you know where they took my brother?”

The runner remained silent.

“Hello I asked you something.”

Lelya entered the tent, “Don’t answer that soldier. You’re dismissed; I can handle myself until your replacement gets in. Report back in the morning.”

“Yes Empress,” the runner complied.

“So you’re a hunter,” Lelya stated.

“Aye, that’s true,” Aiya lied.

“Where’s your bow?”

“I’m not very good with a bow. I can throw a knife straighter than I can shoot a bow. They don’t travel as fast, but I can throw five or six by the time any archer can nock a second arrow. Now my brother, Sergio, he’s good with a bow. He can nock an arrow in the time it takes for me to only throw two knives. Speaking of Sergio, where is he?”

“You don’t beat around the bush do you? The Almighty would like that,” Lelya attempted to get off subject again. “You know the Almighty hasn’t had a tenth wife in about twelve years.”

“Yeah I’ve heard the stories. Her name was Jazmin right? I heard she killed two wives before finally leaving the Almighty as you like to call him. I hear he favors himself a god. I prefer to call him Ga’ash; it is his real name after all. Speaking of wives, my brother has one and she would probably like to know where he is; tell me where he is.”

Just as Lelya was about to respond a knock sounded on the post just outside of the tent. It was probably the runner’s replacement.

“Enter,” commanded Lelya.

It was Esgard. “Empress,” He said. “Muhtmel said they broke one of them. He said you better come take a look.”

“Hunter huh,” Lelya laughed. “Esgard stay with this one. Don’t let her out of the tent.”

“You can beat a lie out of man,” Aiya yelled to Lelya as she left the tent.

“You shouldn’t speak to the Empress with such a tone, her husband is a god.”

After a few short seconds Aiya noticed Esgard was looking at her the way he was when they were back in the morale tent. Aiya slowly loosened her belt and stood up. “You’re right I shouldn’t. I know what I should do though,” she said. Her robe opened revealing her bra. She walked to him. “Grab me,” she said.

He complied pulling her close. His eyes widened. He had to feel many of the knives that were attached to the inside of her robe. Aiya pushed him down and kneeled over him. She put her mouth to his ear. “Good night,” she whispered as she released her spring assisted blade into his temple.

She put herself back together and snuck out of the tent and eventually caught up to Lelya. She kept a safe distance from her target. Lelya stopped to talk to a man outside of a tent. Aiya couldn’t make out what they were saying, but the man kept pointing to his arm and Lelya looked as if she were growing increasingly madder with every word he spoke.

Aiya cut a large slit into the back of the tent and silently slid in. In the dark she managed to see two figures bound together, back to back. Aiya cut the rope that was binding the assassins. “You guys-”

Beast appeared almost out of nowhere. His huge fist came smashing down towards Aiya. She grabbed his hand with both of hers and was still sent to a knee. Sergio unsheathed the scimitar from Beast’s belt and in one quick move he liberated Beast’s head from his shoulders. Scott reached out catching the massive head by the long wavy black hair and slowly put it down as Aiya and Sergio quietly lowered the body.

Scott’s left arm appeared hurt. He kept it held against his chest. “Are you okay?” Aiya whispered to her cousin.

“I’ll be fine. Let’s go.”


Idea for Lelya. Art by Marat Ars

09 March 2012

A Mother's Last Poem

A Mother’s Last Poem
            According to her parents the first word she ever uttered was ‘book.’
            Kelli always wanted to learn to write like her mother did. She had many journals piled up in corners and stuffed in drawers. Some journals contained written love stories, some held memories, others held stories of monsters and heroes, and many were stained with coffee and tea. Thousands of pages of paper cluttered her bedroom. She had poems tacked to walls, her favorite quotes were written on sticky notes that now framed the room, a few romantically erotic shorts were hidden in a shoe box under her bed, and her favorite diary entries dangled from her slow revolving ceiling fan. A flash fiction story of two hundred words was framed next to a picture of her and her mother during a camping trip nearly thirteen years ago; Kelli was sixteen.
            The picture was taken a week before the car crash. The crash killed her mother nearly instantly, it left her father in a wheel chair before he died of complications four short months later, and Kelli walked away from it without so much as a broken nail and so did the drunk driver that hit them. Her mother was writing poem at the time of the crash. Every Saturday her mother would write a poem. Some were simple. Some were complex. All were beautiful.
Found on https://angelnjuly.wordpress.com/
            Her mother often wrote of flowers in spring and weathered light houses outlasting a storm. Sometimes she’d write a poem about their golden retriever named Charlie and their horse named Buck Roger. Though, mostly she wrote about her husband and her daughter.
            Behind that framed picture of the last camping trip Kelli had taken were the beginning stanzas of her mother’s final poem. She’d always wanted to finish it; her father had asked her to. She had written millions of words, but none, in her eyes, seemed fitting to be her mother’s last words. Tonight, she said would be the night.
            It was the thirteenth anniversary of the fatal crash and Kelli knew she needed to write something or it would haunt her forever. She sat at the desk and unframed the poem from behind the picture. She read it. It told of whispering winds, of the calm found at the creek’s edge, it testified to the kiss of the forest’s mornings, and the embrace of the night’s campfires. She began to cry; a tear fell onto the poem, it wasn’t the first.
            Kelli put the pen to the paper. She wiped tears from her eyes. She wrote. She told of drowning in the tears of the night’s stars, of the morning’s mourning dew, she testified to the comfort from her mother’s kiss, and to the warmth of the embrace of her father’s arms. And it was beautiful.     

05 March 2012

Tommy's Letter

Tommy’s Letter

Mickey held the gun firm in his left hand, a pen loosely in his right. He paced furiously. The cigarette, nearly out, was stuck to his bottom lip. He spit the burning cigarette butt to the floor and stepped on it. His feet were bare. He went for his pack. It was his last cigarette. He lit it and put it to his mouth. The pile of books on the table didn’t stand a chance. They flew wildly across the room. The cigarette was the best he’d ever had.

The hotel room's plaid wallpaper ran with water stains. Mold was in every corner. It was a nonsmoking room. It came with three ash trays. There was no bathroom, just a crapper and a hose port above a drain. It was a decorated jail cell with more porn glued to the walls than in any wooden hooch in Afghanistan. The smell seemed toxic. Mickey wouldn’t even use the crapper.

Mickey sat down at the desk. He was frustrated, angry, depressed, drunk, and in tears. He pressed the barrel of the gun to his head. Weak, he couldn’t do it. It wasn’t time yet, there was still Tommy. He sat the pistol down next to a weathered journal. He tore out a piece. He wrote:
By Slim45hady
Found at http://slim45hady.deviantart.com/
Dear Tommy,
            This aint right, but it never was. Not any time since we came to Mexico. We never should’ve left Puerto Rico.
There’s a briefcase with 10 grand in the mattress. Flip it over you’ll find it. I’m sorry Sarah didn’t make it. I wish it’d been me instead. I love you little brother.

Mickey stood up. He paced a few more times. He tossed his cigarette into the half eaten bowl of cereal. The door began to open, Tommy stepped through. Mickey put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Click!

I hope you enjoyed the post. Please leave comments and feedback. Criticism is always welcome just please keep it in good taste. Oh and don’t forget to Subscribe and become a Fictional Escapee.

22 February 2012

Assassin Part 3*

Sergio pocketed the letter against Sloan’s wishes. “They just got a three hour head start is all,” He stated looking at his sister.

Scott scratched his head in confusion.  “Gave who a three hour head start?” He waited for an answer, but his older cousin just got up and went to his room. He turned his question to Aiya, “You read the letter. What is it?”

“Captain Gray,” She replied, “headed out at lunch time today guarded by twenty of the Elite Guard. He’s meeting the emissary in a hidden camp in the Ra Forest near Dryads’ Retreat.” She looked at her hidden blade and feathered the length of it once. “I’ve never been that deep into that forest before. I’m nervous.”

“You don’t believe those stories do you?”

“Just, because I don’t worship the Ra doesn’t mean I don’t believe they exist. Most people don’t believe in conspiracies, but here we are.”
property of http://fictionalescapes.blogspot.com

“You’re almost seventeen Aiya. You should stop letting dryads and nymphs scare you,” Scott said mockingly. “You probably believe in merpeople too, don’t you?” 

“All I’m saying is that our government hasn’t outlawed Ra worship. Mak is where the gods created us. We named our country for Mak. Just five blocks from here is where our god,” she paused placing a clenched hand over her heart, “created humanity. Right here in Hiarlym City cousin. Our entire country is founded on the belief that Mak is the creator. If the Ra didn’t exist the King would’ve outlawed their worship years ago.”

“Enough you two!” Teagan quieted her only living inlaws before they could get into another one of their pointless arguments.

“She’s right,” Aiya said. “We should go get ready; our target is three hours ahead of us and I’d like to get him before he risks more of our countrymen’s lives. We have friends in that army. Don’t forget the matches and the kerosene. You never know when we’ll need some fiery arrows.”

Aiya went to her room; she was one of the few with her own room, a privilege for the best assassins. Not having time to bathe, she took off her wet and bloodied clothes, wiped away dirt and blood from her face with a damp towel. She dried off and put on her undergarments on before going to her trunk. Opening it she pulled out a white robe bearing a golden ‘V’ above the the right breast, Aiya did not know what the ‘V’ stood for, but one day she would. At least according to her brother she would. She laid the robe on her bed.

She grabbed her extra pair of leather boots from the trunk and set those aside. She grabbed her left forearm bracer, she rarely wore it. The bracer was leather and started at the bottom of her elbow. It didn’t end around her wrist, but continued to her index finger where it wrapped around it coming to a point. She tossed it on her bed.

“Where are you? Damn it,” Aiya spoke quietly to herself. “Ah there you are.” She grabbed a thin leather strap with a clip on either on end. She sat on her bed and put it around her ankle. “I miss you mom.”

She donned her left bracer with the finger armor and iron reaver claw then the right with the hidden blade and then she robed. She sat back down and strapped her leather boots onto her feet. Finally, after she stood, she went to her glass locker where she kept her knives and black dagger. The dagger was a gift from Prince Hamlin of Tannia, he told her that the blade was formed from the scale of a dragon injured in combat.

She opened the robe and slid throwing knives into hidden sheathes inside of the robe and clipped three onto both of her bracers. She sheathed the black dagger on her belt. She looked into the mirror on the wall above the glass locker and gave herself a smirk as she lifted her hood over her head. “Let’s go kill us a Makian Captain,” She spoke to herself.

She met her brother and cousin in the den before departing. Sergio sheathed his two backswords as they left the den. “Hope you kids are up for a run.”

It was dark by the time they entered the forest. Luckily one of the moons was full and the other was partially eclipsed behind it. The unfamiliar sounds made Aiya uneasy. Fortunately, Sergio had ventured through the forests for many years with their father before their parents were killed. Unfortunately, their dad forbade him from going anywhere near Dryad’s Retreat. They had no idea what was waiting for them.

Even on the dimly moonlit road the wagon tire tracks and horse hoof imprints were easy to track.

Ahead on the road Scott noticed a flickering light. “What is that, Sergio?” Scott asked his cousin.

“It’s probably just a torch,” Sergio answered almost condescendingly.

“It’s too close to be a torch,” Aiya added. “It’s only about ten yards away.”

“There’s no way that a fire is burning that close to us and we're just seeing it now. We’ve been on this trail for the last fifteen minutes,” Sergio sought reason even though he could clearly see that his sister was right.

Then as the flame so suddenly appeared it disappeared. Thwip thump! Thwip thump! Thwip thump!  Aiya looked between her feet where she heard what sounded like an arrow hit the trail. That is exactly what it was. An arrow for each of them.

“There were three shots. If there was more than one archer we would’ve heard one single shot. You know, so they wouldn't give away their numbers,” Aiya said. “Where are you,” She yelled.

“If that was only one archer he sure is quick. I’ve never seen anybody nock arrows that fast,” Scott said.

Sergio lifted his crossbow. He attempted to look for who shot the arrows. “Get off of the trail now!” Just as he yelled the command an array of arrows littered the trail. One arrow ripped Scott's pant leg as he dove off of the trail. There was easily over three dozen arrows protruding from the very ground the trio had just been standing atop.

“Still think there’s only one little sister?” Sergio yelled across the trail.

“Only one way to find- Agh! Let me! Sergio help!”

Immediately Scott and Sergio ran through the trees pursuing whoever was swift enough to both sneak up on Aiya and then carry her away at such a fast pace. It was hard to see what was ahead of them as they ran by the trees, over the tangled roots, and under the low hanging branches that littered the forest, but Aiya kept screaming giving the boys something to follow. This was probably the narrowest deer trail Sergio had ever ran through, and he had ran through many.

 As Sergio jumped over a fallen log he was tackled by what felt like a mossy tree with the force of a bull. Scott looked back momentarily, but knew Sergio would kill him if he gave up on Aiya so he continued forward. Something swung out from behind a tree, it felt like a thick cane when it connected with the side of Scott’s face. He spun twice while airborn before finally hitting the ground.       

Aiya was forced down against a tree. A bony figure scratched her as it roughly used twine to tie her wrists together. Aiya finally stopped screaming, but only because the terror that grasped her commanded silence. She was always told that dryads resembled beautiful women and protected the trees of this forest. The being that handled Aiya was more tree than anything else. It was made of branches and was definitely more male than female; it had a beard of moss that reached its knees. The thing turned and ran back the way they had came from.

After a few short moments a light appeared floating towards Aiya. The closer it got to her the more she could make out what appeared to be a tiny winged man wearing leaves. It landed on her shoulder. Aiya shot her hidden blade, it ripped through the twine. With one quick move she grabbed the tiny man and pinned him against the tree.

“Who are you and what was that thing?”

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A tiny whisper could be heard coming from the little man-light. Aiya was confused it looked like he was trying to yell. He kept pointing at his shoulder and then up to hers while screaming. Aiya reluctantly put him on her shoulder.

The tiny being stood on his toes and grabbed her ear getting as close to her ear as he could. “My name is Ghillie Dhu. You can call me Ghillie. That thing was an elmborn.”

“And what on Sebat are you?”

“I told you I’m Ghillie. I’m the one that tried to scare you away on the trail. The dryads don’t like nonbelievers in their territory. You shouldn't have came here.”

Annoyed at the response Aiya continued the question and answer session. “Where are we?”

“We’re near Dryad’s Retreat by Elm Father,” Ghillie Dhu answered.

“The Elm Father?”

“Yeah the one the Dryads protect. He is my life source. The elmborn are his spawn, well the Dryads create them from his bark anyway.”

“Where are my brother and my cousin?”

“They’ll be taken to the retreat.”

“And what then?”

“Probably gonna be sacrificed to Elm Father unless they swear fealty to the Dryads and the other Ra.”

“Which way to the retreat, Ghillie?”

“Follow me but stay quiet the Dyrads aren’t kind to ladies especially the pretty ones.”

Aiya stayed close behind Ghillie. The pixie flew right through many spots that Aiya struggled with in the dark, but eventually they made it. Aiya hid behind the trunk of a tree and looked towards her brother and cousin who were forced to their knees in the center of the retreat.

“Milly,” said a beautiful feminine voice, “the elmborn have brought us two travelers.”

“I see that Mila. Look at them; How handsome are they?” Milly’s voice was just as beautiful, but sounded completely different it was as if her voice was draped in song.

Milly stepped into the moonlight. Her body was what men dream about and she wore nothing but a few leaves connected by twine. “Tell us humans, what are you doing in our forest?”

“Couldn’t you have asked us that without beating us half to death first?” Scott asked sarcastically. The right half of his face was covered in blood and Aiya was pretty sure there was vomit on his shirt.

Aiya readied an arrow. A female’s body pressed against the back of Aiya and slowly covered her mouth. “I wouldn’t do that human,” Mila whispered into Aiya’s ear. Startled Ghillie flew away from the forest floor and high into the trees.

Aiya slowly released the arrow and put the bow on the ground. “Smart move,” Mila said as she pushed Aiya into the retreat. She grabbed Aiya’s wrist took her into the retreat to stand in front of Sergio and Scott.

“Maybe now you can answer my question,” Milly said as she ran her hand across Aiya’s throat.

“Don’t harm her you demon!” Sergio yelled.

“Hehe! They all call you that right before you kill them sister,” Mila said.

“Okay, okay. We’re here to stop a meeting,” Sergio admitted.

“The only meeting that's taking place in this forest is by our worshippers, now why would I want you to stop that.”

“Because, if this impending war isn’t stopped the Makian Defense Ministry will cut down at least half of this forest to fight off Dest’s humongous army. Centuries of growth will be cut down in months, dryad.”

Mila spoke, almost singing, “Sister I believe him.”

“We are gods. Do you not think us capable of hindering a few saws and axes?”

“You’re not gods. Mak is god on high,” Scott said. “His daughter and son are the only other gods. The rest of us are merely his creations. What have you created besides those damned elmborn?” Scott stood. “I only now believe you exist, that doesn’t mean I’m willing to worship something that is not a god. You’re not even fit to walk amongst the heavens with the angels as I will one day do. Diabolus doesn’t even want you in hell. You’re stuck in this damn forest forever aren’t you?”

“And one day you’ll be stuck in this damn forest when all of your precious trees are gone,” Aiya added.

“We Makians love this forest. We’ll only cut it down if our hands are forced. You’ll be forcing them if you don’t let me do this.”

Creator not found retrieved from http://abstract.desktopnexus.com
“Aren’t gods supposed to protect their subjects? So tell me now why my subjects are safe from you murderers and Mak’s subjects, you, are bound by twine in my retreat,” Milly argued.

“Our god,” Scott paused clearing his throat, “rewards us as well as protects us.”

“I’ve killed many believers of Mak. Many of them are among the elmborn that captured you.”

“We won’t be as easy,” Aiya said, smirking. She spun around deeply scratching Mila’s face with her claw. Mila screamed and fell back. The wound healed immediately, but it still pained the dryad.

Art by Anastasiya Igolkina
Scott and Sergio both broke the twine around their wrists the same way Aiya had done in the forest. The dryads retreated into a hollow in the Elm Father ordering the elmborn to attack the assassins.

Scott ran to Sergio grabbing a flask from his pack. Sergio unsheathed his blades and allowed Scott to pour the contents of the flask onto them. “Hurry with the matches little cousin.”

Scott took a match from his pack and stroked it along a patch on his pants. He tossed the lit match onto a blade causing it to become engulfed in flames. Sergio connected the blades causing the other to catch fire. He turned swinging and striking an elmborn. As if the creature was made of dry sticks it immediately caught fire and began flailing wildly.

Risking injury Aiya dipped her metal claw and dagger into the kerosene flask and ignited them against her brother’s sword. She struck an elmborn in the eye and pulled it forward. As she advanced she stabbed it in the back as it fell screaming to the ground. Soon the fire in the retreat allowed increased visibility for the assassins.

Aiya stabbed the ground with her claw once the fire engulfing her finger became too hot for comfort. While she was down Scott grabbed her shoulder and threw her back. One of Gray’s Elite Guard barely missed Aiya’s neck when Scott rescued her. Scott jumped forward punching the guard in the face. He stripped the guard of his weapon and continued to pummel his face and stomach. The guard fell to his knees. Sergio kicked him in the jaw. Three audible pops where heard. The first was the sound of the guard’s jaw cracking, the second and most quiet was the dislocation of the jaw, the third was the sound of the guard’s neck breaking.

“Stop!” A commanding female voice yelled.

The three assassins were surrounded by the Elite Guard and many Destian soldiers. The commanding voice was the emissary from Dest. Next to him stood Aiya’s next victim.        
Captain Gray
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