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Fairy Tales For Sophie

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"Come on Pete, just let me read it," she pleaded.

"Just relax Sam, it'll be finished soon," he responded quietly, pen poised upon his lips.

She shook her head at him but a faint smile played across her features as she ran a hand over the small bulge in her stomach.

"Have you thought of any names yet?"

He scribbled a few words upon the notebook and responded with a shake of his head, framed eyes stealing a glance at the tiny baby bump his wife was massaging.

"I'll give it some thought," he offered lightly, before returning to his own little world.

Samantha ran her fingers through his hair and reclined her head upon a pillow, still smiling at the prospect of motherhood.

-----

Peter lifted his head from the pillow, fingers blindly scrambling upon the bedside table in search of his glasses; finally seizing them, he hastily donned them and clicked his lamp on. With a quick glance at his watch, he shuffled out of bed and began murmuring to himself as he strode across the mostly darkened bedroom, pale moonlight failing to penetrate the many windows that adorned the walls.

Down the hallway he roamed, his hands gesturing at the invisible ideas flowing from his lips; on cue, his right hand found a brass doorknob, and he lifted the slightly tilted door upward to prevent it from squeaking as he opened it. He peeked inside of his daughter's room, which was awash in a soft pink glow emitted from a night light; he monitored her for a moment, watching her chest and the teddy bear she clutched to it in her sleep rise and fall without effort.

Sophie is safe Peter, now get to the typewriter.

He closed the door with a cautiously slow deliberance before proceeding further down the hallway, eyes on his watch once again. His bare feet met the familiar cool metal of a slender spiral staircase, the muscle memory of the repetitive action kicking in; within moments, he found himself within his office, a spacious third floor of the house that housed his writing materials and more importantly, his creative space.

"Ok, 3:23 in the morning," he mumbled softly as he approached his desk.

His slender fingers were punching keys upon the typewriter before he had seated himself, or even had turned the desk lamp on; he eventually treated himself to the lamp's light after fifteen minutes of writing, and only because he had stopped to remove his cumbersome watch.

His new novel was, sadly, coming along at a snail's pace; Peter was plagued by a nasty case of writer's block, but only because the characters of the story just weren't cooperating with him. His male lead, for example, refused to translate onto paper the way he visualized him inside his mind, which was infinitely frustrating.

"Come on Michael," he uttered platonically, his fingers flying across the well-worn keys.

It was going to be a long night.

-----

The mug of forgotten coffee had long ago turned stone cold, but Peter was far too gone to even realize the rising sun eagerly awaiting his attention. He massaged his stubble and peered up at the ceiling, his fingertips aching; he hadn't accomplished much and that was a disappointing omen. His middle of the night writing sessions had proved fruitful for many years, but lately, they had caused him more frustration than anything.

But why?

His head tilted and the dull gleam of sunlight filtering in through the window behind him reflected off his wedding ring, catching his sore eyes. He studied the ring for a few moments, the symbolism not lost upon him; even though he was extremely tired, he could easily recognize the connection between the ring and his faltering storytelling ability.

Somewhere outside, he heard birds chirping, their announcement of a new day causing him to flip over the watch on his desk.

It read 6:26.

Sophie will be awake soon and you need to get breakfast ready--it's a school day, after all.

Heeding his mind's advice, he stood to his feet and scooped up the watch before switching off the lamp, leaving behind his workspace of turmoil in search of a more positive environment.

-----

One of Peter's hidden talents was his ability to cook, and exceptionally well at that; it was a very therapeutic procedure for him, and sometimes Sophie would help him out in the kitchen. On most nights, he would let her choose what they would eat for dinner and he would set out to make sure the food knocked her socks off; he had gotten pretty good at it too, because she was even eating her vegetables now, which was a milestone victory in any parent's life.

On this particular morning, he was putting together sausages, eggs and cheese on English muffins with silver dollar sized blueberry pancakes; he surprisingly found that he was ravenous this morning, which was uncharacteristic of him, seeing as how he wasn't a breakfast man.

He set the table with care, plates and silverware for them both, though their beverages differed at orange juice for her, slightly-nauseating-reheated-burnt coffee for him. Peter patted his hands dry on his pajama pants and walked briskly over to the intercom; he had a system installed throughout the house, mostly because Sophie was sometimes afraid to venture to his room or office when she woke up in the middle of the night--the intercom eliminated that problem.

"Sophie," he called through the intercom, hearing his own voice within her room up on the second floor, "time to wake up sleepyhead."

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Turning herself over, face pressed into the center of her exceptionally soft pillow, Sophie continued the deep inhalation of the thin fabric that had encased it for several years. Though she did have several, this specific one carried the unforgettable scent of her mothers hair. She knew nothing of the hair products she used and nor did she care for them. They would never carry such a scent, warm and comforting, on their own. This pillow emitted a soft peachy tint with large, animated pink flowers all across its surface. It was her all time favorite pillow case. Other young girls had a favorite toy or a favorite dress, but Sophie had a favorite pillow case, along with the sheets and blanket to match. It might've been because of those stories her father told her at night or the ones her mother shared as well. Sophie had noticed a little before her mother had passed that she couldn't speak to them anywhere else than in her cozy bedroom. The living room had a television, the other smaller rooms were rarely ever occupied, the kitchen kept a person either busy, over eating or both and her fathers office was a complete mess. Along with that, her mother found a sort of peacefulness in her room as well, according to what she'd said and she had always slept beside Sophie on the days she was snuggled up into her bed with her favorite sheets on the bed. That was why she could still feel her right beside her.

Just as Sophie felt herself drift back into her dream, she flinched and lifted her head to the sound of the intercom. She had noticed it'd become quiite a bit louder than before or the fact that she spent her nights staring at her night light and the lack of sleep she had because of it could be the fault. Her thoughts consisted of parts of her life, her memories and the present mixed together. With someone missing daily, who she could only keep close in her dreams, it seemed harder to fall asleep. Depsite how tired she might've been, she slowly slid out of bed; her night gown that had bunched up and tangled itself with her blanket dropped back down to ankle length and as she sauntered lazily out of her bedroom she held one inanimate object, a small burgundy teddy near, against her chest.

Small yawns slipped past her thin lips with squinted eyes as if she couldn't handle the lights in the hall. Just as slow as she was walking, she disappeared onto the bathroom, brushed her teeth, splashed her face with three handfuls of cold water and shivered slightly before finally making her way down into the kitchen. She didn't look up, but instead set her teddy bear onto the table. Suddenly, the thought came up that she'd forgotten to name her. While entwined in thought for the moment, Sophie turned her head, eyes wide open as the delectable fragrance of her fathers "getting there" cooking entered her nose only to alert her senses.

"I'll name her ... Blue jiggly animal cake!" She exclaimed, her lips pulled up into a small yet bright smile. "Because the blue berries are blue, eggs are jiggly, sausage is an animal and pancake is a cake.. well.." She added.

It seemed she was attempting to create a name as clever as she noticed her father had done in his stories. He had meaning behind the characters and why they did everything. Their names usually were parallel to who they were and their backgrounds. Though for the moment, it was a start, but she knew she was on the right track. She trusted her thoughts and attempts as she knew her teacher was the smartest man she'd ever met.

"I think that was a little childish.." She finished off before dropping her eyes to the food on her plate, a small pout across her lips. "I wish I was as smart as you." A long and almost dramatic sigh slipped from her lips. It seemed she was expecting another array of compliments from her father. He was too gullible.

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Prter waited patiently in the kitchen as he heard his daughter crawl through her morning routine; she wasn't unlike Samantha in that aspect, and the similarity caused a knowing smile to crack the otherwise tired and emotioneless features of his face. He had abstained from starting in on his food, because he and Sophie always ate together--it was family time that he cherished.

And so he waited for what seemed like a good twenty minutes when in reality, only a few minutes had passed by before the familiar shuffle of his daughter's footsteps approached the kitchen. He turned in his seat and watched in muted amazement as her teddy bear appeared at the table before she did; with a raised eyebrow, he looked towards the floor and caught the first glimpse of his daughter.

She was the spitting image of her mother, having inherited most of, if not all of her features, and the precise likeness both haunted and delighted him; she was a beautiful reminder as to how precious life really was, and he remaimed silent to reflect upon his own musings.

"...sausage is an animal and pancake is a cake.. well.."

Her words snapped him back to reality; the far-off distant gaze that his eyes had accrued vanished, and he began to busy himself with a mouthful of pancake as he focused intently upon what his daughter was saying. It was only a matter of time (and a few short bites later) before she began self-deprecating; this too was a routine of her's, one he was prepared to oblige her in.

"Sophie, you are a very bright little girl; you may not be as smart as me, and that's just ok--one day, you're going to be much smarter than me and then I'll be the one sleeping with teddy bears named after breakfaat foods."

He offered his daughter a soft smile, before glancing at his watch again, because muscle memory dictated that he do so; after breakfast, they would both head their separate ways and get dressed for the day. Sophie was at the age where she could dress without his supervisory fashion sense, so he mostly left her to her own devices.

"Now hurry up and eat your food sweetie, it looks like we might be running a little late this morning."

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"Late again?" She mumbled, simultaneously stuffing her mouth with the eggs from the muffin and the sausage. For some unknown reason the muffin didn't look so good with the cheese, but she was confident her father wouldn't mind if she left food on her plate again. The pancakes and orange juice had disappeared when he was busy reassuring her of her lack of brains. Sophie preferred it more if he cooked up a IQ raising concoction. She wouldn't have to listen to his compliments, which she somewhat believed held a bit of emptiness. Just as empty as the one chair always looked at every meal.

With another sigh, Sohpie grasped her teddy and hopped over toward her fathers side, only to reach up and plant a single kiss to his cheek. Often times, when she doubted anyone in her head, she couldn't help but display the fact that she still appreciated they tried. She gave him another one of her gummy smiles and nodded twice.

"I'll make sure to impress you next time, okay?" She assured. "Oh and I'm going to wear the dress with the yellow sunflowers.. The one aunt gave me? It's Katie's birthday today and she's bringing cupcakes and pop."

With that said and enough energy in her steps, she quickly skipped back up to her room. Once inside, she hurried into her closet and reached up to pull the dress from the rack. The hanger took a few tries to pull down, but in the end she managed to get it down plus another shirt and it's hanger. Usually, there was a small stool in her closet and she used it to retrieve clothing a bit easier, though there was no time to use it. She didn't want to miss her classmates birthday. It was one of the few happier moments she still had to keep her mind away from her current situation.

Dressed and with her backpack on her back Sophie retreated back down stairs. She walked toward the door and slipped her shoes on. "Dad! I'm ready!" She exclaimed while trying to fit every toe into her white flats. "We can't be anymore late... Come on!" She added, reaching toward the front door to unlock it.

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The disgruntled author observed the seemingly equally disgruntled author's daughter's antics with slight perplexion; she was rather mature for her age and sometimes he couldn't help but feel as if she had ran him through a wringer with the gift of her silver tongue.

He let out a sigh of his own as he pushed himself away from the table: parenting never got any easier.

And things weren't shaping up for him either, because as he was throwing on a jacket and collecting his cell phone and car keys (and ignoring the fact that he would be embracing the public in his pajama bottoms), he realized that he owed a debt to Sophie. He had promised her a brand new story, starting tonight, about a week ago over dinner.

With his daughter waiting for him at the front door, he began to brainstorm ideas as he approached her, ushering the both of them out into the crisp Seattle morning.

-----

It wasn't as bad as earlier that morning, but it was bad enough.

He had dropped Sophie off at school nearly two hours ago and all he had come up with was some flimsy medieval setting situated within a kingdom.

"How original," he mumbled to himself dejectedly.

The character he had in mind wasn't the issue--Silas was a protagonist he had thought up a while back, but never really did much with; unfortunately for Peter, that was as far as he had gotten, as the graveyard of crumpled sheets of paper that surrounded his desk indicated.

The setting and potential plot were already mediocre and unoriginal at best; the fact that he was considering a romance angle should have been grounds for his typewriter to be repossessed.

What he needed was something bold, edgy, just to get the ball rolling; maybe something a ten year old girl shouldn't bear witness to, if only to get his creative juices flowing.

Pen clenched between his teeth, Peter sat up straight and began to type.

-----

Incessant shouts and howls rang throughout the damp dungeon as meal time inched nearer and nearer; by the time the main chamber gate had swung open, the general population had reached a fever pitch of epic proportions. These weren't men being housed in this hellish hole--they were nothing more than rabid, feral beasts, doomed to their fate until the executioner was ready for them.

A pair of guards slowly made the rounds, deliberately teasing each and every prisoner with the dinner they held in hand; this heinous act was met with foul language, death threats and even dry, crusty excrement.

"Keep your skirts on you animals, or nobody will eat tonight!"

The raucous crowd noticeably quieted at the very notion--all except for one man, who purposely cajoled his overseers with an arrogant chuckle from within the confines of his cell.

"Is that you out there Arnette? I should have known you wouldn't have the gall to come in here and make a fool of yourself to me," the prisoner challenged.

Muffled words and heavy footsteps approached his cell, prompting the man to move into position; once the door opened, he would be ready. The cell door creaked open, two guards standing in the doorway, one of which was bearing a lit torch.

Before either of them could speak or move into the cell, the naked prisoner that had goaded them into this trap hurled his entire body at the men from the safety of the inky darkness. Searing pain blossomed within his right shoulder as he hit the floor, but both men were temporarily dazed and on their backs.

The prisoner scooped up a heavy ring of iron keys, ignoring the flaming torch that had fallen onto the floor; flames began to spread and consume the unconscious men, but that wasn't his problem.

"Silas! Silas! Silas!"

The dungeon cheered and howled his name as the other prisoners impatiently awaited their freedom, as the one they called Silas was slowly proceeding past the row of cells with keys in hand. He contemplated freeing them for a moment, but thought better of it--later on down the road, that decision could come back to haunt him.

Silas dropped the keys to the floor, just as the two guards who were being burned alive began to scream in agonizing pain; it was time to leave. Without a look back, the free man escaped the dungeon as the flames began to grow, dooming all of those who remained.

-----

"Have you heard? Half of Silver Ore prison burned down earlier today--apparently, one of the prisoners escaped."

He was already the talk of the town.

Silas was seated within a gloomily lit tavern, listening to the brazen merrymakers spin their tales; he was clad in an outfit he had stolen from a wandering traveler in the wilderness two towns back. It would have been foolish to stick around anywhere close to the prison, but he figured he had evaded recapture for the night; tomorrow, he'd get his hands on a horse and put some real distance between him and the prison.

The pack situated upon his back came with a detachable hood and he had opted to attach it to his tunic to conceal his identity; he would have to become accustomed to observing his enemies and surroundings from beneath the hood, which he found somewhat difficult because his peripheral was obscured.

A gloved hand raised the mug of warm mead back to his lips as he considered turning in for the night, his mind mulling over the events of the day and what was to become of it.

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Sophie laughed and wished Katie the happiest of birthdays once they were released outside for recess. This usually happened after lunch and during lunch they had the cup cakes and the soft drinks she had brought. "That blue icing was delicious! I hope you get tons of presents!" She exclaimed, jumping up and down with her best friend who seemed all too eager for the gifts she would receive.

"I know, I just wish I could have a birthday party today, but I can't wait until Saturday!" Katie squealed, simultaneously leading the way toward the two swings that had finally emptied on the play ground. Sophie pouted a bit in response to her first words but quickly brightened back up as she realized that she'd gotten an invitation earlier to Katie's party.

They quickly took the swings and sat on them only to immediately push off back and fourth. As they swung, they spoke of the barbecue they'd have and the pool in Katie's backyard. They laughed and joked about her older brother who they were planning on pranking and how they'd open up the presents inside while having ice cream and cake then watch a movie afterward. It seemed Sophie had for the moment forgotten about her sadness about her mother and perhaps if she continued living in a better reality, she'd be able to escape the sad thoughts altogether. She didn't necessarily wish she'd forget her mother as her mother was always in her heart, but she sure did need something else to occupy her mind.

-----

Sitting in the corner of a dirtied kitchen, large enough to house at least 100 commoners and beggars outside, Avalon coughed. Dust invaded the air she needed to breathe which caused the others annoyance who slept soundly beside her. She wondered how they did it. Falling sleep on a mere three pieces of cloth over some hay or whatever seemed to be stuffed underneath their effortlessly made mattresses seemed like work on its own. They even shared their dreams every morning and never complained about a single itch, poke or any irritation they might've felt. If Ava could, she'd slap them across their dirtied faces and tell them all to wake up. Though all she could do was complain and ask why they all seemed to be so happy.

"Because we've got to choose to be happy Ava. By the kings rule, you will always remain a maid, nothing more." The eldest of the maids,

Margery, so proudly stated. The other women, older than Ava giggled and teased her for having nothing else to say. Margery was the maid who had searved the merchant and his family for the longest and she seemed to find it her place to keep the dark and dreary kitchen and their home clean. She had never tried to escape and would always advise against it.

"Don't you ever feel like you could do better than this?" Ava asked, curiosity and evident anger all across her expression.

"No and there is no good in trying, I can assure you that." She answered and quickly scurried away, her grey dress and a few maids following her as she carried the vegetables the chef needed from the garden. Ava took a deep breath birds chirping above her head as she squinted and attempted to stare the the sun. She wondered why the sun forced her eyes to close, but it was obvious she wondered too much.

Avalon knew nothing about her past and she couldn't understand her present. The only part of her life she could think to have any control over was her future and if she hadn't yet started planning on how to escape, she was not going to have any productivity in her life. Everyone seemed to oppose her. They were all afraid and held fear in their hearts that if they left the premises, they wouldn't end happily.

[ a few moments later ]

"It's a good day, cover me. I've got to buy some wheat for the bread. It might rain tomorrow!" Ava exclaimed while keeping her voice down.

"Please, cover me. I will do half of your days work.. and you know I'd never offer for such a thing!" She added, looking to the side, hoping no one would overhear her plan to leave for the day. Often times, she would escape for a few only to sketch out the land in her mind just in case if she needed a cover from danger or the search team for the night and she believed one of her best friend would be more than happy to support her.

"I'm not so delighted about you leaving..." Ava's friend responded, furrowing her brows as she continued to worry about Ava.

"I'll be back soon!" Ava grinned while leaving, letting her long blonde braid fall to her back as she slid a dark brown hood over her head and tied it right under her chin and pulled on a cape of a similar color but different tone to cover up her clothing. This way, she'd catch little attention and look like a mere homeless beggar or someone of unimportance. Her grey toned dress would attract all types of attention and the people would shun the merchant who expected all of his maids to remain in their proper places.

After sneaking out of the back, rolling through a small hole in the back wall, Ava proceeded to take mental notes of her surroundings. The homes, shops and cottages around her were unidentifiable unless she look up which would force her hood to fall so remaining cautious was also necessary. Instead she'd learned to identify them by the people that wandered in and out. The ones who wore cleaner, shinier and heavier clothing were obviously of a higher level and those that lacked these appreances usually were of a lower level. This helped because the ones of the lower level were less likely to turn her in, which meant they would help her if she were to find a place to lodge for the night.

..

Time had gone by faster than she had expected and for some odd reason she felt she might've gotten too far from home. It wasn't helping at all that she had a few suspicious eyes on her; men around prostitute hotels and taverns. She hadn't yet expected that they knew she was a mere helpless maid with no weaponry to defend herself underneath the long cloak that, according to her knowledge of it, kept her dress covered pretty well. Unfortunately though, a few of them had already noticed the dull grey.

Avalon ran, just as fast as her feet could carry her, but it wasn't until she fell that she realized how her uncomfortable shoes had failed her. Back home she would work days and nights, running around the Manor without any pain and did not expect escaping on foot would be a problem. The men, dragging her in between a few random cottages seemed to be a problem. Once she'd started to escape, the group of men had already caught up and were mere seconds away from taking a hold of her, but once she'd fallen, they tore off her cloak and pushed her hood back before pining her up against the wood of the cottage behind her.

Ava gasped and struggled, knowing her life would not end in the hands of a few useless thugs. It was either God punishing her for recklessly leaving her home or he was giving her a glimpse of what she is to expect if she did decide to live on her own. The world was cruel and she knew it, but this time, she refused to believe that this was punishment.

"Release me immediately.. Or I will have your heads." She hissed, her brown eyes squinted and face covered in cold sweat. One man of the group chuckled and spat to his right. He lifted and hand and slapped her across her cheek, leaving a light pink imprint across the skin as she moaned in pain. She'd never been slapped by a man, she'd only ever felt a hand of a woman or a girl older than her strike her. This time, it seemed to hold five times that pain.

"Have our heads? You don't look like the queen..." He responded, letting the foul breath from his lips infiltrate her already weak lungs, eventually making them weaker. "You might want to tell us why you're wandering around without your owner. If you don't.. Well it would make no difference now would it?"

With another deep chuckle, the man speaking tore open her hood and tossed it aside and took a hold of her hair. Within moments he undid her braid and pulled her hair forward, pressing It against his cheek and nose as if he had never taken in the scent of a woman's locks before. Ava shuddered and struggled a bit more, but the man kept on. He tore at the laces on her dress and continued slapping her across her cheeks every time she begged and pleaded for her freedom.

Her wrists started to bleed and her eyes blurred with tears, wondering if she still had the courage to call out for help. Death was waiting for her, her cheek swollen and red and her virgin body exposed to a complete stranger. He'd only managed to losen a few of the laces before she had started to scream. The other men, three more of them scraped the back of her arms against the wood, causing them to scratch and pierce her skin and the man busy with her dress continued to abuse her in attempt to cease her screams.

"Somebody! I am hurting! Please.. Help me!" She continued as well, refusing to stop even as the men continued, finally making her arms bleed and her face completely numb. It was too dark out, too cold and it seemed no one would help her. They might've been asleep or they might've been too afraid, but this man had already scarred her. If anyone were to help, she would know that it was not a punishment.

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Shadowy tendrils spawned from slowly advancing dusk invaded the tiny window of the rented room Silas inhabited. He sat on the edge of the bed, peering intently at the pages belonging to the journal he had stolen along with his new outfit. Long ago, he had been taught how to read by a traveling scholar who had stopped in his village; he had made it a point to make the orphanage one of his distinguished destinations, and Silas remembered the encounter even to this day.

But now, so many years later with next to no practice in between that experience and now, he found the task to be an exercise in futility; disgusted with his inability to decipher the words before him, he tossed the book across the room, watching as it skittered away into the darkness.

Silas found that he was too anxious, too restless, to fall asleep; he had tried, frustratingly to no avail, an hour or so earlier, when a sliver of sunlight still touched the sky. His instincts kept him on edge, pessimism at an all-time high as he predicted something detrimental toward his clean getaway would occur sooner rather than later. Experiences in the past, he had learned from them, and he had no intention of succumbing to history's cruel sense of humor.

So consumed in his thoughts Silas was that the loud, almost barbaric shouts coming from beneath his floor had gone unnoticed by him until a few bottles shattered, grabbing his attention. Ears perked, attempting to pick up on the words being spoken, Silas jumped to his feet, made his way over to the window and stole a peek outside. Situated outside the tavern door with torches in hand stood half a dozen city guards; the rest of their group was still smashing through the bar downstairs, no doubt soon on their way upstairs to find him cornered.

Not entirely enthralled with such a scenario, the escaped prisoner quickly crossed the room and opened his door, stealing a glance up and down the hallway; satisfied that he was clear to move, he jogged down the hallway towards the end of the rooms, before trying one of the door handles. The first didn't turn, but the second one did, and he nimbly escaped into the dark room, shutting the door behind him.

Silas crept toward the far window, his heart beating fairly quickly as he heard doors opening and slamming shut; they were closing in on him--it would only take moments now. He pushed the window open and glanced at the drop that awaited him; it wasn't at all inviting, but he was a desperate criminal very close to being caught and executed--a twisted ankle was just fine by him. Without further hesitation, he threw himself from the window, bracing as best he could for the impending impact.

His feet met the ground first and he rolled through with the aid of his momentum, shielding his face from smashing into the ground with an outstretched arm; surprisingly enough, he escaped the ordeal with only a tweaked elbow, rising to his feet to observe the situation. His ears picked up no additional noises from the tavern--he was clear, for now. He flipped his hood up and over his head, and took off in a moderate jog to leave the tavern behind him.

As he ran past small cottages and dilapidated shacks, with his left arm cradled against his chest, his eyes were scanning the environment for a horse to snatch; his luck had apparently abandoned him back at the tavern, because there wasn't a single horse in sight. He didn't think much of it as he slowed to a walk to catch his breath--he was still free, and that was his number one priority.

Panting lightly but still wary of his situation, Silas ducked into a dark alley and studied the path he had taken to get here; he saw the orange flames of the torches in the distance, but they didn't seem to be moving.

Somewhere down this alley, a commotion was occurring--the muffled moans of distress and soon after, a plea for help were what gave it away; it was most likely a customer getting rough with a working girl. He almost ignored the situation entirely, until he noticed that the city guards were now heading in his general direction.

Silas turned and proceeded down the alley with haste, eyes straining to decipher his environment through the thick darkness. Rounding a corner, he discovered the source of the noise: a few men were indeed roughing a woman up on the side of a cottage, but she didn't appear to be a prostitute, at least from where he stood.

"Hey, shut that woman up, the guards are on their way," Silas issued in a harsh whisper.

One of the men in the group, without turning to address him, told Silas in a slew of colorful words he would be next if he interfered.

Without another wasted second, Silas lashed out at the man, dropping him to the opposite knee of the one he buckled with a well placed kick to the fleshy backside of it; he followed that with a quick punch to the side of the man's head, leaving him motionless upon the ground.

The next combatant swung wildly at the hooded criminal, who caught the fist in his gloved hand; his boot met the knee of his opponent, who crumbled next to his unconscious buddy in obvious pain. Silas caught a fist to the jaw from the side, rocked to the balls of his feet; blood seeping through his teeth, and his capture seemingly inevitable now due to the screams of the guy who's knee was shattered, Silas drew his sword quickly, ramming the hilt into the assailant's gut.

The man keeled over, gasping for breath, and Silas dropped an elbow to the back of his neck, bringing his casualty count up to three; the only man who remained was the one who had the woman hemmed up against the cottage.

"Let her go," he panted, before spitting out a mouthful of blood.

The man was visibly perturbed by what he had just witnessed, and Silas took the opportunity to close the distance between them with a single lunge.

"Wait--"

The man's attempt to sway Silas' racing mind from taking his life was promptly interrupted by the blade that stole the very essence he was so keen on retaining; Silas pushed the corpse away from the blade lodged in its neck, freeing the crimson-stained steel. Ignoring the carnage that surrounded him, he observed the naked woman, who was bloodied and beaten in her own right.

"This way, he's over here!"

He had been spotted--within seconds, the entire city guard would descend upon him. He pushed the woman aside and onto a dark path that led away from the approaching guards.

"Get out of here," he mumbled, turning towards the oncoming enemy.

As the now free woman seemingly fled, Silas had only a few seconds to wait before he was surrounded with no hope of escape.

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Avalon continued to call for help with her own eyes closed as if refusing to stare into the eyes of the aggressors, but once she had she noticed the grip around her right arm and wrist had dispersed, it seemed, into thin air. Beyond the thick darkness she could see a figure moving about, disposing of the men's sinful intentions with quicker strikes than they could all handle. The one who was on her continued and refused to stop as this time he started to quicken his pace, tearing away at her clothing. Before she could push him aside, she flinched instead as a visible arm and hand holding a blade so easily ended the nightmare she was forced to endure. She stood in silence, astonished to find someone had surely helped her. As he observed her, she took in the contours of his face and the colors that accompanied them, essentially forming a copy of his appearance inside of her head.

This was her chance. Just as the stranger pushed her aside, she crossed her arms across her chest, pulled the laces and loosened cloth together and took a hold of her hood and cloak while simultaneously running out toward the darkness. Deep breaths pulled in and out of her lungs as she took a spot to rest behind a cottage, only to peer out from the corner. An array of guards with torches had surrounded him and it seemed they were eager to arrest him.

Ava felt a little disturbed and tainted severely by the uncivilized men who abused her so and she figured, even if they had been beaten, the guards should've taken them in instead. She wanted to rush out after him only to persuade the guards to release him. He'd done nothing wrong. He'd merely helped a young woman who should've been prepared for what was to come. Though, she knew they'd take her back to her place and she'd be punished twice as much as she'd just been.

Her head ached and she wanted to end the thoughts from continuing and the temptation from occurring. This was her cue. He had sacrificed his freedom for hers. It only made sense that she move on and never ponder over the situation again. He would survive fine in a jail cell and she knew he'd be able to escape with the amount of strength he'd displayed earlier. Why would he need the help of a woman who couldn't defend herself when she should've been prepared for it?

The moon and stars covered the sky as Ava silently sauntered home, her arms continued to bleed. The drops of blood slid down toward her hands and finger tips, eventually disappearing into the ground. She kept her head up, as she mapped out her way back toward home. Home didn't quite seem like home to her any longer. Especially since she'd lead herself to such a disaster, she might as well take her chances and hide out in the woods. Despite her thoughts telling her to do the opposite of what she thought was sane, Ava knew if she decided to run off now, she'd be more lost than she had ever been. With no food, water, supplies and now the ability to protect herself from thieves, animals and guards, the young woman would not survive a day out in the woods on her own.

Just as she had managed to crawl through the hole in the back wall of the Manor and made her way toward the back door of the kitchen, she noticed a few guards and Margery speaking of something she wished she had never heard.

"If she is found, she will be put to death. He will not tolerate this foolishness." One guard stated as he lead the other guard into the back door of the kitchen and disappeared. Margery on the other hand sobbed into a dirtied handkerchief as she pleaded to spare Ava. She screamed about her being a child and that life was a mere game to her. Ava had no real intentions. She was just bored and ran off for a little while. She'd done nothing she would not regret. There was no harm. Give her a second chance.

Ava released silent breaths past her lips as the kitchen door closed and Margery had disappeared behind it. She stood behind a tree, hidden in the darkness. A few stray tears slipped through her eyes and slid down her red cheeks. There was no going back. If she so much as valued her life, she couldn't go back. They'd kill her and her life would be over before she could even think to travel the world. The world she believed she deserved to see. Along with that, the man that had saved her and given her the freedom to escape would eventually whither away as he could've run off and escaped without saving her life. If she walked into her death and refused to fight for the mere thought that she might not survive out there, she'd be doing him no good.

The young blonde crawled back out of the wall and pulled her hood over he head. She wandered about, in search for a weapon as sharp as the one she'd seen before, in the hands of her savior. Ava learned fast, though she rarely ever portrayed what she learned as quick as she had learned it, but she knew that with enough practice, she'd do surprisingly well. After finally finding a long stake, she broke it in half and tossed the dull end away. No one seemed to be out at this time and since they'd probably seen all the guards running around, they might've been hidden inside.

Ava rushed into the forest nearby, one she didn't quite know the name of and sat down leaning against a tree. There was something he had to do for him, she just had no idea what. Earlier, she'd been taken advantage of by a few men, all of which melted into a puddle of molasses when the stranger had arrived. She noticed that they held one desire, all of them and she knew what it was. Ava had gone through life being teased by the men working around her about her youth and envied by the elder women as well. She knew her youth was what people found alluring and constantly wanted a piece of. She was a victim of youth and beauty and if she couldn't use that to her advantage, she'd be running into another death trap. If she wanted to retrieve him from his current fate.

"Breaking someone out of a place where the worlds most foul creatures lurk.. should be pretty easy." She mumbled to herself while stabbing the broken end of the stake into the dirt. She'd only have to daze them with her youth, stab them and release him. With no other choice and no other weapon in hand, this was all she had and when morning had come and night had fallen once again, she'd lead herself to the prison and release him. She needed his stealth and protection if she ever wanted to escape the town. He'd proved himself earlier and she would not tally in proving herself as well.

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Soft saxophone and edgy trumpet notes of a local jazz band Peter fancied drifted through the air, pleasing the author who had seemingly gotten his groove back. Bare feet exploring the plush carpet of his office, the man paced about the room with a small grin on his face; it was always satisfying to get a new idea off the ground, and this occasion was especially sweet considering his recent struggles.

With the weight of self-doubt and confusion lifted from his shoulders, Peter brainstormed clearly now, ideas and inspiration coming to him with such fluidity that he was afraid to make a trip to the bathroom--he couldn't very well jot down a fresh idea if he were indisposed, now could he?

No, you can't--just stay focused Peter, you're on a roll here.

"So," he said aloud, surveying his impressive bookshelf for clues, "where are we going from here, Miss Avalon--what's your story? And what about Silas?"

As he mulled over where to take the story, he caught a glance at his watch; it was one in the afternoon, and he would have to be picking up Sophie soon. There was still a bit more he wanted to do with the characters before then, so he would have to move with haste.

Situating himself back behind the typewriter, Peter returned to his story.

-----

For Silas, escaping prison had proved easy enough, as had killing a man and saving a woman from certain rape and death; but the world in which he currently found himself didn't even begin to scratch what he would describe as 'the surface of a cornucopia of dung'.

For starters, he was fairly certain that his arm was mangled beyond use now; the same one he had injured when jumping from the tavern window had been subsequently bludgeoned with a cudgel--it was all he could do to resist screaming out in pain as he was dragged through various dungeons.

Unlike the prison he had escaped from, this smaller jail was devoid of life, the cells free of inhabitants; it was a small jail, used only for petty crimes such as thievery and the like, but the guards seemed eager to soften him up before either shipping him off to a larger prison or executing him, no doubt publicly.

The burly men escorting Silas through his new home stopped to knock upon a heavy iron door and the muffled voice inside issued a hasty response to allow them entry. One of the guards opened the door and the other stepped past him, shoving the prisoner inside the chamber; Silas fell to his knees, his useless arm dangling limply at his side.

"Well well well, what have we here?" asked the man seated behind a wooden desk.

"This is the escaped prisoner from Silver Ore, sir; we found him in a nearby alley, felling men with his blade," one of the guards responded.

The man behind the desk, obviously a superior, rose to his feet immediately and motioned for the guards to leave; the two men turned and left without a word, closing the door behind them. The tall man stepped around the desk and approached Silas, who was diligently trying to restore the feeling in his arm.

"Fate is a fickle thing, isn't it Mr. Silas? Who would have thought that you, of all people, would have ended up here, in my office, after what you've done?"

Silas fixed the man with a curious gaze, still on his knees, after failing to find the energy to stand.

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Of course you don't--how were you to know that my son was a guard who worked at Silver Ore, who brought you your food day in and day out? And you repay him by setting him on fire?"

The man was visibly becoming upset, as the color drained from his face, a malevolent gleam forming in both his eyes and his lips; the gravity of the situation didn't escape Silas, but rather, encompassed his next statement with a ringing tone of both irony and a sealing of his own fate:

"Oh, you must mean Arnette--that was your son? His screams were surely fitting for that of a virgin wife during her first time."

The insult earned Silas an extremely violent kick to the already bruised side of his face; his vision swimming and his hearing fading, he was just lucid enough to look up in time to watch the boot rush towards his face.

-----

Silas' already impossibly long night had just taken a turn for the worst.

For the first portion of the torture regimen, he was barely conscious; completely naked and already broken, he was bound by rope that was tightened to such an extent that his circulation was cut off. He gasped for air repeatedly as his head leaked, the blood rolling up past his forehead and dropping into the water below him.

He was dangling upside down over a deep wooden vat; as he was being lowered, he attempted to find any give in the rope so he could catch his breath, but it simply wouldn't happen. His head breached the freezing water, and soon, he was completely submerged in the frigid liquid; he thrashed about, valiantly trying to free himself, but nothing came of it.

A few moments passed before he was slowly raised up out of the water, and although there was air to breathe, what good what it do him with his lungs constricted as they were.

The commander surveyed Silas' pathetic form with a perversion that was unmatched by any of his subordinates.

"Again," he quietly told the guard who was operating the pulley system.

Unbeknownst to them, the prisoner was unconscious before he hit the water.

-----

The midday sun was unkind.

Silas found himself stretched out and tied down upon one of the parapet's upon the jail's roof; still stark naked, his back was seemingly melting upon the stone as his front was being cooked by Helios himself.

Throughout the night, he had endured water, fire (his fingertips were gone and his back sported coal marks), earth (he vaguely remembered being buried alive at some point), and air (he was forced to inhale noxious fumes that caused him to vomit for hours). Had his situation not have been so serious, he would have mocked the commander over his penchant for the elements, but he was already in a world of pain because of his mouth.

Silas briefly thought of the woman he had rescued the night prior, as his body burned and sweat rolled off him in sheets; he certainly hoped that rescuing her was worth it, because if he did manage to make it out of this place and were to discover that she had died anyway, he would be a bit angry.

-----

Night had, thankfully, fallen.

His entire day was spent in the sun, and after succumbing to dehydration and fainting upon the rooftop, he awoke in a deserted courtyard. Burned, battered and dying of starvation, Silas considered himself lucky; after being revived last night and again earlier today, he held onto a sliver of hope that perhaps his life would be spared. The commander was sadistic and enjoyed torturing him too much to kill him off right away--perhaps he could escape before he was considered expendable.

Silas was not tied or bound in any way, shape or fashion; the only thing preventing him from scaling the pathetically small wall that housed him was the fact that he was broken. He found that just lifting a leg a few inches off the ground proved too much to handle--the pain was overwhelming.

And so he laid there as the sky grew increasingly darker, in too much pain to move and in too little pain to die.

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Avalon tossed the stake aside, still contemplating whether or not she'd break him out of the prison. Thoughts severed her brain so much that she wished she'd died earlier. If he hadn't saved her, if he had just left her to be, she'd have gone back to where she came from in the first place. With a long night of nightmares and agonizing thoughts about how he was being punished left yet more contemplation. She didn't want to feel responsible for someone else's choice. If he was going through this situation it wasn't something a woman of young age and no experience whatsoever should be fit to handle anyway

After awake and still wishing she hadn't lasted the night, Ava pulled herself up from the ground. She touched her cheek and realized her face had lost a bit of the swelling and momentarily checked her forearms. A few small pieces of wood remained inside her skin and the blood had dried up. Despite the stopping of the blood, she still felt a stinging pain every time she moved them or they touched the thick fabric of her brown hood.

She silently made her way back to the Manor. She slid down under the wall and wondered what would happen if she'd decided to go inside, the death trap would take a little while to activate, would it not? Just as she had rolled through the entire wall, she noticed a figure not far from where she was. It was one of the maids, worriedly walking back and fourth with a small basket in her hands consisting of what appeared like dirty laundry.

Ava gradually snuck in and walked toward the tree she'd hidden behind when she was listening to what Margery and the Manor guards had to say. She took a look at the concerned face of the maid and gasped, so loud that the maid turned toward her direction and spotted her.

"Ava!" The maid exclaimed, whispering as loud as she could without anyone hearing. The blonde maid on the other hand scurried off before she could be spotted any more, but the maid chasing her had already tackled her onto the ground. Ava struggled underneath her, pursing her lips so she wouldn't scream and was eventually turned over by the one following her.

"Elizabeth?" She asked, taking a good look at her best friends face. "Elizabeth don't turn me in... I'm begging you!" She pleaded, furrowing her brows in anxiousness.

"Sush.. I'll do no such thing." She whispered, pulling herself off of Ava and quickly ushering her up. Elizabeth turned around and picked up the basket in her hands before instructing her worried friend. "I wanted to try. I could not last night because the guards had kept watch.. Ava, you cannot be here. You've got to leave and I won't let you come back... I brought you something Ava.. But you've got to Leave." She said, running a hand over the dirty tunics and bloomers only to push them aside.

Ava looked down, curious and silent as she noticed the dress underneath. It seemed as though her best friend had stolen from the merchants daughter herself. Elizabeth was the sneaky type. She knew how to lie and how to steal, which was why she had successfully covered for Ava for years every time she wanted to escape. This time, it was Avas fault as she did not return before sunset.

"A red and gold dress, one of the merchants daughters.. She did not find it so lovely anymore, I thought I'd take it and give it to you. It's not so astonishing... But--" Ava quickly wrapped her arms around Elizabeth's neck, pulling her close and wishing she would never need to let go.

"Thank you Elizabeth.. Thank you."

--

After several hours of story telling and an immense amount of hugs and tears, Ava pulled off her grey dress and slowly slid on the red dress. Elizabeth shook her head and ordered her to leave just as the blonde maid had started to fold her grey dress and set it onto the ground near the hole.

"I can't. I've got to save that man. I need him if I were to ever survive out there and I must repay the debt... God knows what punishment he's forced to endure.." Ava mumbled, expanding her chest for a deep sigh to emit from her lips.

"Fine. I'll keep all attention and eyes away from here. Return before nightfall." She responded and walked off before disappearing behind the kitchen door.

Ava slipped her brown cloak on and slowly walked through the town, but appearing panic stricken. She looked around and panted softly, setting her trembling hand on the shoulders of random people who seemed to glance at her with a worried look upon their faces. With the town mapped out, Ava expected the more gentle of all people to quickly respond to her. The cottage on the corner, with the old man seated near a small shop. He seemed qualified. And the woman with the happy child, her husband who would work hard for an entire day only to provide for her and her son also seemed as though he would help.

Despite all of these qualifications, Ava took in a deep breath and started to wail and cry. Her dress glistened just as clear as her tears that streamed endlessly down her bruised cheeks. She lifted her arms and displayed the cuts, splinters and dry blood crusted all across their pale surface. Her lips quivers and her body trembled as she asked for help.

"The guards the prison, they've taken my brother! We were causing some mischief.. Nothing too serious and they came for me! They beat my brother and they used me as they would a mere animal! Somebody help!" She cried. It seemed at this point all Ava was good at was screaming for help, but surely it worked before and it was bound to work again. Along with that, the lords Daughter had a brother and though no one knew what they looked like, They could tell by her clothing that she was of a higher level.

"Let us go and teach them a lesson!" A few of the men roared after listening to Ava's helpless screeches. They immediately grasped their sickles and torches as if they had the intention to burn down the prison without a second thought.

Ava followed, artificial yet somewhat real tears streamed down her face. Once they'd arrived to the prison, she exclaimed. "Break down the door! They will never open!"

The men kicked the door down and rushed inside, beating the guards mercilessly and tying them up. They roped their arms and legs and tossed them into a cell before handing Ava the keys. Just as Ava started to unlock the door, one of the men, still tied up, but conscious spoke. "I've recognized your face... Await your death dear.. It will be coming soon." He hissed before another man pushed his fist into his temple and his jaw right before he'd fallen unconscious.

Ava turned around and offered a gentle smile, eyes still blurred by her tears. "Thank you.. I promise to repay you in the future for what you have done.. Leave my brother and I." She murmured, keeping her innocence intact as the men rubbed their napes and walked out. They left with a hoard of encouragement and wishes which left Ava in a twist. She wanted to give the good people of the town hope and something they could all value, but knowing that her path was of lying and deceit and that she was a mere maid was something she may not be able to live with.

Once she'd returned to reality, Ava slowly made her way with extreme cautiousness toward the man that had saved her earlier. He lay there, bloodied and and mangled, sweat pouring from his body and a lack of clothing on his back. She identified scars and burns from excessive beating or some sort of fire torture. Her fingertips touched his skin and it seemed to tremble underneath even though it felt as thick as leather. She sat there, wondering what she'd do with him, but realized that the guards were sure to have horses. She'd seen them, several horses in the back. Some pulled along a prison wagon, which would be essential for the man to stay concealed in.

Ava removed the rope from his wrists and slid her arm underneath his lower back to pull him up toward her. After catching him as he fell toward her, she slowly stood up and pulled him up with her with hands still wrapped tightly around his abdomen. Her fingers jumped as she felt the burns on his back which eventually had her stumbling backwards. Though, just as she was about to fall, the wall behind her had caught her and she had retained her grip on him. Despite the quick save, Ava noticed that he'd unintentionally hit his head against hers, causing her a sudden stinging pain before turning her head to the side only to allow his head to fall onto her shoulder.

With a deep breath, the young blonde backed up slowly, unable to contain his feet as she dragged him along, heavily pressed onto her as if she were a board or a bed. She wouldn't blame him and if he were to blame her for not having enough strength, she would probably want to end his life. Therefore, she wouldn't find it necessary to repay his debt any longer. Now he owed her one.

Finally after setting him atop the prison wagon and tying his wrists with the ropes again, Ava mounted the horse and made her way back to the courtyard. Dismounting and pulling the man off of the wagon, she called for Elizabeth only to have her assistance in carrying him in past the walls. Elizabeth had prepared a bed of leaves underneath him. Ava on the other hand, out of fear of getting caught, disposed of the wagon and rode the horse to the forest, where she'd been earlier. She tied it to the tree and walked back, noticing that the sun had already disappeared. By the time she'd arrived, Elizabeth was expected inside and had already left.

Ava swallowed her fear for the millionth time and kept watch, peering behind the tree in case someone would spot them. She scratched her head and wandered back and fourth, wishing Elizabeth would return, but she had not returned and if she'd gotten into trouble, she may as well turn the two of them in. Ava had only asked for escape, she'd only asked to leave and for her selfishness and a reason she could tell no one about, she'd caused so many people trouble. Margery, Elizabeth, the man lying unconscious behind her, the good towns people and of course one of the men at the prison. She wondered if he was tracking her now. She wondered if he had already found her and was waiting to strike. Panic and fear rose back up and traveled freely through her veins, but a sudden shuffling behind her had caused her quick beating heart to speed up.

Within a second, Ava kneeled down beside him and set her hand across his mouth as lightly as she could to avoid any excess straining from him, she looked at his face, widened her eyes and set her pointer finger to her lips, as if telling him to quiet down.

"I'm Avalon.. You were the one who saved me." She whispered, again observing the bloodied marks across his face and the burns. Slowly, she removed her hand from his mouth and joined it with the other on her lap and smiled as much as she could due to the pain in her cheek as well. "I was unaware.. Would they harm you more if I hadn't taken you away from there? This seemed a crime near close to treason. You had only killed a man and for a good ... reason." She murmured, curiously running a finger over the bump on his forehead, a bit of it still bleeding out. "... Can you hear me?" She asked, staring down at his face in pure curiosity. Almost feeling as if she'd done a victory relieving this man of any more pain. Though even so, she knew it wouldn't last very long. The guards would scour the land for any clues and if Elizabeth were to be found with Ava, she couldn't live knowing her friend had died for the good of a girl who needed and took the help anyone provided her for her own good.

The moon shone bright up above and the stars seemed calm. The blonde maid had figured out what she was entitled to do and had accomplished it. Her thoughts were in her head, but reality was around her. For now, it seemed he was the reality and if she were to back out and return to the seclusions of her mind again, she might lose an opportunity long time in the making.

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Peter's office telephone began to ring, ejecting him from the world he was so utterly immersed in. Breaking away from the adventure featuring Silas and Avalon, he answered the phone, peeling his eyes away from the typewriter and relocating them to the window, observing the outside world.

"Hello?"

"Hello, is this Mr. Thompson?"

"Yes, this is he."

"Good afternoon sir, I'm calling on behalf of Seattle's Children Hospital. Your last visit was September of last year and you requested then that a reminder call be placed to your home before your child, Sophie Thompson, went a year without a check-up."

"That's correct, I remember that now," he said calmly, removing his glasses to rub his eyes.

"I can set up an appointment for your daughter Mr. Thompson--how does two weeks from tomorrow sound?"

"That sounds perfect, we will be there," Peter replied as he scribbled himself a note.

"Wonderful. We look forward to seeing you and your daughter soon Mr. Thompson."

-----

The charcoal grey crossover SUV Peter drove was parked in the exact same spot as it always was: at the curb at the end of the walkway leading out of the school. He didn't drive it because it was flashy and it looked nice, or because it came with a load of features--all of that nonsense was lost upon him; he drove it simply because it was the highest safety rated vehicle in its class.

It was no secret that Peter was a tad overprotective of his daughter; when it was just the two of them at home, sure, he was normal and found it easy to relax; but when it came to appearing in public or driving his daughter around, he was understandably very cautious.

And so he remained vigilant on this day, leaning up against his car five minutes before school let out, canvassing the scene. As usual, as soon as the bell rang, children began to pour from the school's innards like water from a tap; it, however, didn't take long for his daughter to materialize.

As she approached, Peter smiled and opened up the car door for her.

-----

CNN was covering the same story as yesterday: minimum wage reform. Seattle kept getting tossed around because the city had recently announced that the minimum wage would be raised to fifteen dollars an hour over the course of a few years.

The television was sometimes a necessary distraction when Peter cooked, because sometimes the kitchen became too silent. Whatever the case, tonight was spaghetti night, and he also had garlic bread already baked and ready to eat. Within a couple of minutes, the table was set, he had summoned Sophie over the intercom and his watch was checked.

It was almost nine.

After dinner, Sophie would take a bath and then he'd meet her in her room for story time. But for the moment, Peter resigned himself to watching the television with interest, arms folded across his chest.

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Sophie yawned as she sat on her carpet and unzipped her backpack. She pulled out her folder and opened it up only to retrieve the invitation. Katie had been her friend for a year and a half and the two seemed inseparable. Once, when Sophie was blamed for knocking over another classmates block tower and Katie knew she wouldn't do something so unruly, she gathered witnesses and proved her innocence. There was something about Katie and her excessive kindness and Sophie seemed all to grateful for someone she could tell her secrets to and share lunch with.

Tearing open the envelope, the curious young woman opened up the card. Inside, consisted of all that the two spoke about during recess and lunch. It was princess themed and every girl invited was to dress up as a princess that she favorited. In the end, it would be an array of snacks, movies, a pool party, cake and a ton of older brother pranking.

Sophie sighed and set the invitation on her mini dressing table. She poked the card with a smile and silently made her way back down before Peter could call her through the intercom. Silently, following the mouth watering scent, the young brunette snuck up on her father only to scare him as he watched his pointless shows, as she put it. She hated the news. It seemed every moment of every second something negative and something painful was occurring. The events in the world seemed to be more doomsday related and with no hope whatsoever. Even the apocalypse movies had people who had hope, but the News was just horror, massacre, genocide, and destruction everywhere. About the apocalypse movies. Sophie could never admit to her father that she'd watched a random episode of The Walking Dead on Katie's Netflix while sleeping over. He'd surely throw her a lecture bomb if not more.

"HEY!" Sophie shouted, her voice sharp and loud in Peters ear as she sat on the counter in the center of the kitchen behind him. "Gotcha.." She laughed, sticking her tongue out playfully at him.

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Peter jumped up as his daughter pranked him from behind; his moment of vulnerability subsiding, he chuckled away his embarrassment and went on the offensive, tickling Sophie's sides. He tortured his daughter for only a few moments, until her laughter echoed off the walls; once he was finished, he grinned and kissed his daughter on the cheek before picking her up and carrying her over to the table, placing her on her seat.

Peter sat opposite of his daughter and fixed her with an accusing gaze.

"You may have won this battle, but you will most certainly not win the war, Lady Sophie."

He began to eat his spaghetti, slowly though so he could engage his daughter in the typical 'how was school' conversation that was seemingly encoded into every parent's DNA. It waa then he learned that Sophie was to attend Katie's birthday party on Saturday--this, he didn't really have a problem with. Katie's parents were good people, he had known them for quite some time now; he was comfortable with the situation.

"Well I have some good news for you: tonight, I have a brand new story to tell you, as promised. So the faster you finish your food and take a bath, the quicker I can share it with you--just don't choke on your spaghetti."

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Sophie coughed and laughed all together, a few screams echoed through as she sincerely disliked being tickled anywhere. At least he was happy. Her father did seem to watch too Many of those hope lacking and overwhelming News channels. She enjoyed seeing him a little bright as well even though his eyes seemed tried due to his excessive story writing. One of her wishes consisted of a typewriter that would create his story for him instead of spending hours in thought of how to portray a message as clearly and creatively as he so generously did.

Just as he set his daughter onto the seat and spoke of the story, she started to devour the food faster than her esophagus could handle. Still simultaneously laughing at his previous usage of words. She knew he held an interest in traditional story settings, something in the centuries before now. How those people survived without Netflix was totally out of this universe to Sophie.

"Lady Sophie? You must be the general.. Wanting to rage war against me!" She exclaimed playfully, letting a small giggle slip her lips. Somehow, she'd survived the spaghetti pushing through her esophagus and the intense laughter as she continued on. "I challenge you.. just beware.. My knights will defeat all of yours!" She finished, throwing her arm in the air with a fork covered In scared and a few strands of spaghetti.

"Oh and I don't .. Want to take a bath. I wanna try the shower." With a soft frown she looked at her father, her eyes wide open as if pleading. "Katie says she takes a shower now, but her ...mom helps her.." She mumbled the last part, moving her fork around on the empty bowl, aside from three strands of spaghetti.

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Peter's hazel eyes focused on the frown plastered upon his daughter's face; her large, doe-like eyes were seemingly pained by the words emitted from her own mouth. With the proverbial wind knocked out of the sails of their conversation, Peter picked up the remote and switched off the television.

He wanted to discuss Samantha with his daughter, but the sporadic attempts upon the topic in the past always yielded intensely uncomfortable situations that sometimes lasted days; it was incredibly difficult trying to explain the nuances of death to a child, especially when that child was, for all intents and purposes, collateral damage.

As was he. He didn't enjoy the topic either, and as a sign of his uneasiness, he removed his glasses and set them on the table; the wound was still so very fresh--he had fooled himself into thinking that a year's worth of grieving was enough for him to move on, but for all of his intellectual ingenuity, he was wrong.

"Alright Sophie," he said quietly, standing up from the table, "I'll show you how to shower."

He stepped around the table and scooped his daughter up into his arms, holding her tightly against his chest; he carried her through the dark house, up the stairs and down the hallway to the bathroom, where he stood her up on the floor and switched on the light. Pulling back the shower curtain, he explained the process of starting and turning off a shower, and how to adjust the water temperature.

Since she couldn't reach the fixed shower head, Peter turned the adjustable dial until it clicked, leaving it on the softest pressure setting available. After he was finished, he turned and looked down at his daughter, offering her his best attempt at a smile.

"That's all there is to it sweetie. I'll give you some privacy, but if you need help, just call for me."

And with that, Peter retreated from the bathroom, leaving the door cracked just a tad so he could hear if or when his daughter called for assistance.

Making his way through the second floor, he opened the door to Sophie's room and slowly crossed it, before sitting on the edge of her bed. On her bedside table sat a picture of her and Samantha, which he had taken, of them smiling widely within the observation deck at the Space Needle.

As he observed and stufied the photo, the frame gripped tightly within his palms, he thought of all of his worldly possessions he'd give just to have those days back.

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Sophie closed her eyes and buried her face into her fathers shoulder. Thoughts of her mother started to flashback just as the topic was brought up. At times, she felt bad for him. She knew he was in pain just as much as her and after seeing those pictures of the two happily in love, she wondered if he felt a pain sting a little extra than she had. They had spent practically their entire lives together before she could even meet up to the amount of years spent with her own mother.

Once he'd set her down and explained, Sophie nodded and returned a smile. She had managed to remember due to the fact that she'd been counting the years her parents loved one another, that it was all like a fairy tale. A princess and a prince who believed in a happily ever after, but who was to say they still couldn't be happy? After all, a person could choose happiness over sadness. Her mothers death was just an occupation of negative thoughts when it could be a home to positivity.

After she'd showered, she stepped out and wrapped the towel around her. Never again would she turn the large knob to the letter H or turn it too far toward the letter C. She knew what they stood for, she just didn't understand that it would be so intense.

Making her way into her room, the brunette, with wet hair hurried into her closet. She pulled her pajamas on and excitedly hopped out of her room only to land onto her bed. "Story time dad.. Whatcha doin'? She asked, curiously looking for what he was up to from across the room. "I bet you didn't notice how fast I got done.." She laughed, pulling the covers over her legs and setting her brunette teddy onto her lap.

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He replaced the photo upon the table when Sophie entered the room and busied himself with one of the many, many assorted stuffed animals that lined the windowsill as she got dressed. He was well aware that his eyes had misted over as he was observing the picture, and so he rapidly blinked away the moisture, clearing his throat loudly.

"Hey pumpkin," he said casually as she hopped in bed, "I was just admiring one of your stuffed animals. And hey, I'm proud of you for taking your very first shower all on your own."

Slowly beginning to relax now, Peter laid with his back against her headboard and pulled his daughter close to his side, his arms wrapped around her.

"So, my dear Sophie, this is a story about two individuals who meet underneath strained circumstances; the man, Silas, isn't necessarily a bad person, but he's escaped from jail with the help of a woman named Avalon; now, he's a little beat up right now, but he'll be fine. This woman, Ava, she needs his help with something, which he will soon discover.."

-----

Throbbing, pulsating, nausea inducing pain was the order of the day, topped off with a healthy dosage of numbness and a fair share of atrophy.

Silas almost wished he had died back at the torture chamber; he was in so much pain and discomfort that he could think of nothing else, and still could barely move. It took all of his resolve and stubbornness to sit himself up, his head pounding, a massive migraine running rampant throughout his rattled brain. He hardly noticed his foreign surroundings at first, for he was acquainting himself with the many, many bruises, welts, cuts and burns that riddled his body.

"Jesus...," he managed to choke out.

He was still naked, but that didn't bother him much anymore, although he would be grateful to have his gear back; he would certainly need it, his blade especially, as he was now a two-time escaped convict. As he assessed his situation, he realized that it would behoove him to return to the prison, retrieve his things and kill the commander; if he didn't, life sure would become interesting out on the road as the man would certainly pursue him for killing his son.

"Alright you swine," he murmured as he struggled to get to his feet, "I'm coming for you."

Swaying upon his calloused feet, it took Silas a moment to realize that he was not alone; standing before him was an attractive young blonde, who looked oddly familiar. Was she the one responsible for caring for him in his state of vulnerability? Surely she hadn't rescued him from his perpetual hell?

"Wait a second--you're the woman I rescued the other night," he said with a grimace, "you made it after all. Good. I'm glad."

Their eyes met, Silas' green orbs glazed over in obvious and apparent agony; his teeth gritted together as a raw wave of pain assaulted his nerves, forcing him to clutch his chest.

"I appreciate the help lady, but if you'll excuse me, there's a certain commander of the guard I need to have a chat with."

The foolish man turned and began to walk in a random direction, but didn't make it more than a few yards before one of his knees buckled, dropping the man straight on his face. He groaned his protest of gravity and rolled onto his side, panting from the small amount of exertion; it was painfully obvious that he was in no condition to pick a fight, let alone take a midnight stroll.

He looked up from his prone position on the ground and found the woman's gaze once again, his hands raising and falling in defeat.

"So. Tell me who you are, stranger."

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Sophie alerted herself after her fathers continuous usage of compliments. Though she knew very well how she'd brag about taking the first shower on her own, she just needed to retain her "coolness" so he'd see she was all grown up and needed no more help. She was still a child like any other, wishing her dad would stop with the cheesy nicknames and move on, but after noticing the slight glossy look in his eyes she noticed that he still hadn't left her response about Mom behind.

She cuddled up beside him and sighed, getting ready for the story despite what he might've been feeling. If he still had the ability to write her these wonderful stories, she knew that was still the biggest sign of hope that he hadn't yet given up.

--

Avalon panicked as he'd started to move and was almost astonished that he'd managed to stand up. He was in a condition no regular man would even think taking his next breath was worth it yet his intention was to go back and get his gear. They could've tried to set him up, use the gear as bait knowing he'd come back to retrieve it. Ava pressed her palm to her temple as she realized she had forgotten the most essential part of the man that she'd so valiantly ( or not ) saved. She'd almost set aside the fact that he'd been naked and kept her eyes away from what did not need to be seen. The burns and bruises seemed to catch her attention and the obvious condition he was sporting did leave her with a hoard of questions.

But he was running off and she wouldn't be able to catch him. Though once he'd fallen on his chest, she realized he wasn't going anywhere. The blonde maid stood up and situated herself once again beside him. She reached over him and pulled up her robe. With it being the only item of clothing other than her dress, she covered him with it and momentarily looked behind her in case he'd caught any extra attention before gazing back into his eyes.

"I'm nobody, a nobody you'll have to get used to.." She mumbled, looking over his fresh cuts and the blood over them. She did the most basic thing, reached over and tore off a piece of her grey dress, which she was not yet wearing and dabbed the bleeding spot on his forehead. "I almost want to kill him for doing this to a human being... Oh and I've got a name. Call me Ava." She whispered, leaning over to set a single kiss to his cheek. "I'm thankful for you. Saving me selflessly. No one dares entwine themselves into such a heroic deed." She added, her face heating up as she spoke.

The last time she'd spoken to a man so up close and personal was never. The conversation either involved work or she was being teased and played with foul words she knew the same people barking them would never say to a woman of higher class. She looked down at her dress and mumbled incoherent words before realizing that the dirt was staining it and causing it to tear. It was the nicest dress she'd owned in years and would never want to further damage it.

"I've.. got to change. Don't you dare sneak a peak." She coughed, pressing her hand delicately to his cheek only to push it towards the wall.

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Silas had sapped all of his available energy; perspiration dotted his forehead just from the few steps he had taken. From his back, he stared up into the sky, contemplating the next course of action. As much as he wanted and needed to go back to the jail in order to tie up the loose ends, he quickly came to terms with the fact that he was in no situation to do so.

With the first option being shot down on account of his physical state, the next option was simple: flee. He still had no idea where he was in relation to where he had entered the town, but he had more than worn out his 'welcome'; it would be utterly unwise of both of them to stick around much longer.

At the thought of the woman, Ava, he turned to say something to her but froze as she stepped aside to change; he looked away, conscious of his own lack of clothing--he would need to gear up before they left. Growling in pain, he pushed himself back to his feet, his body protesting every move he made.

The woman intrigued him--there was something endearing about her, whether it was the pleasantries, or her willingness to kiss random, brutalized men she came across; this was a special circumstance, sure, but this nobody was certainly a somebody to him--he would most likely be dead had she not have returned his favor.

"Look, Ava--we need to get out of here, get as far away from here as soon as we can; I don't know about you, but I don't think I'll survive another stint in jail."

Holding his side gingerly, he tried to gain his bearings, taking in slow, deep breaths; it seemed to ease the pain a bit if he drew out his breaths and controlled the flow of oxygen that entered and exited his body. Armed with new knowledge, he proceeded a few feet away until he could observe the edge of the town.

"My name is Silas, by the way; now that that's out of the way, let's find me some clothes, a weapon, grab a horse and be on our way."

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Ava took a hold of her grey dress and rushed over toward a thick vine. Dresses seemed to have their own problems, pulling off laces and then sliding them off. It didn't quite help that she had no underwear as Elizabeth had taken it inside earlier. If she was to bring anything back, she'd only find it essential in the morning, not when several guards kept watch.

Just as she'd reached down to grasp her grey dress, she pressed it up against her chest and sighed. If he wanted to leave now, he would die or he'd just break even more and Ava was in no healthy phaycial situation herself to carry him along a dark forest. If a group of bandits or maybe even worse, a group of wolves attacked them, she'd have nothing to defend the two with. She had left her stake back there, which would maybe kill one, but the other attackers would not hesitate to leave them for dead.

Ava walked out, tightening up the last lace and noticed that he'd stood up again. She looked down and then back toward the kitchen door. Knowing she hadn't yet said a proper goodbye to Elizabeth. The thought almost brought tears to her eyes, but being emotional in their current situation might not pledge for the best. It wasn't everyday that she escape with the only person who seemed to care. Considering the man in her memories, that had left her with not a clue about who she was. Ava was a nobody as she herself had no clue from which parents she was born and from where she was found. All she'd been told was she was an orphan; mother unknown and father in a town several kingdoms away.

Shaking her head slightly, Ava pointed toward the only exit underneath the wall. A hole with a few bricks removed. "I still don't think you'd survive out there like this... I've got people searching for myself as well." She sighed, picking up her robe from the ground and setting it onto his shoulders before tying it up around his chest. She looked up at his bruised face again. "Wear this, it's cold and you'd be of no use to me sick .. or dead." She added, holding onto her other dress before walking back out and taking her stance behind him.

"Go on. Silas. Where will you retrieve these clothes and weapons?" She asked. "Anyway.. I've a horse in the forest." She added, looking down at the leaves under her feet.

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Ava's words fell on deaf ears for the moment, as Silas not only struggled with squeezing through the exit in the wall, but he just couldn't come to grips with what he was curently wearing. On the other side of the wall, he grabbed a handful of the robe, stared at it in disbelief and then sighed his disappointment.

"We'll find a traveling merchant hopefully, perhaps a highwayman--doesn't matter, somebody is going to 'donate' an outfit to me."

Silas waited for Ava to join him before he set off at an excruciatingly slow pace, heading away from the town and in the direction of the forest she had spoken of earlier. Before them, a wide plain stretched before them, shrouded in darkness as night fell. A glance over his shoulder confirmed that they weren't being followed, as the absence of torches illuminating the night air was evidence enough.

They walked for what seemed like hours, in silence save for Silas' chorus of grunts and groans; he would love to lay down and recuperate for a few days, but they'd have to get pretty far from this place to afford a luxury such as that. Eyebrows furrowed in anger over his helpless state, he pressed on faster, ignoring his body.

A single light in the distance, however, stopped him in his tracks; extending an arm, he pressed a hand delicately into Ava's stomach to stop here. From where they stood, atop a grassy hill sloping down toward the forest entrance, they could observe the solitary torch bearer. Silas squinted his eyes for a few moments, trying to study the person from afar, before a grin came to his face.

"It's a city guard. Wait here, I'm going to go have a chat with him."

Silas proceeded to walk down the steep hill, stepping gingerly through the tall grass; he, whether intentionally or unintentionally, tripped over a hidden root within the grass and was sent tumbling down the hillside, his already battered body absorbing even more punishment. At the bottom of the hill, Silas ended up in a tangled heap of limbs, grass and robe, growling in pain.

The guard who was wandering the path observed the event in its entirety, and hesitated before approaching the victim, torch raised high over his head.

"Hello? Are you alright?"

Silas struggled to make it to his knees as he sensed the man closing in on him, understandably cautious but naive all at once; gritting his teeth, the robed man paused to allow the guard to move closer, his head turned slightly to peer over his shoulder.

"Yeah, I'm fine, just give me--"

With all the energy he could muster, Silas stepped to his full height, catching the guard on the chin with a sharp, rising elbow; the contact made a sickening popping sound and knocked the consciousness from the good-samaritan's body. Pleased with himself for performing the feat, Silas moved with haste in liberating the man of his equipment.

It took a few minutes struggling with his aches and pains, but he was now clad in lightweight armor, outfitted with gauntlets and boots, assorted pouches and pockets filled with tools and survival essentials, and most importantly, a blade. There was also a hood to conceal his identity, but he wouldn't be needing it at the moment, considering the perpetual darkness that surrounded him.

Silas bent over and retrieved the man's pack, which was no doubt filled with more supplies; his leather canteen, which was nearly full of water; and the torch, which was still lit. Straightening up, Silas turned toward the hill and waved the torch, signaling for Ava to come and join him. After doing so, he quickly paused to take a long pull from the canteen, rewarding his parched throat for its patience.

Gasping from the sweet feeling of satisfaction, he surveyed the man on the ground; he was close enough to the city that when he woke up, he would be in no real danger of exposure or starvation--his jaw, however, would most likely be a different story.

Without much more to do for the man, Silas turned and began limping towards the forest entrance with the torch in hand, confident in the fact that Ava would close the distance between them with relative ease.

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Ava followed him in silence. She wondered if she could help. Maybe stand beside him and allow him some support, but before she could figure out how to ask, she pursed her lips and continued on with the silence. It might've been the assumptions that she somehow brought up in her head before any real proof of them. All she really wanted was to return to where they were and maybe spend a single night just to see if Elizabeth would return. She could've stolen the merchants suit and a few kitchen knives would've done fine in weaponry, but they'd already gone far enough to turn back. It'd waste too much time.

As she continued, still entwined in serious thought, she felt a hand against her andomen and looked up. The single torch from afar approached them and it seemed Silas had just suggested robbing him. Ava knew stealing was alright especially since he had nothing, but hadn't he muttered earlier about them donating? The guard surely wouldn't have a second suit and armor for him to give away and especially to a prison escapee.

Dropping herself onto the grass, laying flat on her belly, Ava observed the scene which was obviously a bit more calming when he was taking careful steps. Once he'd tripped and dropped onto the ground, she gasped, stood back up and hesitated about how reliable he was. Was he trying to kill himself? If she were in a situation where she'd been "punished" or tortured with all types of methods for hours without an end, she'd be grateful for just the robe and move on to heal before walking into another death trap.

Despite her assumptions, the blonde gripped onto the dress, pressing it against her chest as she took a single step down the hill. She flinched as she noticed him move up and with a loud thud, the guard dropped. The sound almost made it seem like he snapped his neck, but even in previous endeavors, he'd only killed a single man and it was when he was in defense mode.

Ava stumbled down the hill, wide eyed and again astonished. She hadn't yet realized what was to arise later in the escape or expedition. Though whatever it may become of, she'd still find it surprising beyond her mind set. Instead, she bit her tongue due to the many questions she had and followed him closely, looking back occasionally at the seemingly dead guard.

"The horse is in there.." She mumbled, pointing at the approaching forest. With a turn of her head, Ava looked at him and then at the new clothes on his back. "What was that? Back there? You were lucky he was foolish enough to not reach for his weapon. I even pity humans as careless as him." She added, noticing Silas's stature. He was limping and with what she'd seen all over his body, she knew the clothing must've been irritating him.

Stepping a bit closer, yet still with hesitation, Ava gently set her arm across his back and allowed for him to lean on her. With her open hand, she reached over her left shoulder and pulled his right arm onto her shoulders. She'd already endured carrying him before, but with him awake and holding a bit of his own strength, she could better assist him. After all, she hadn't done much since they'd left and he'd already managed to purposefully trip down a hill and engaged in putting a man down.

"You should know that I saved you from that prison.. It doesn't mean you should be walking into your death the minute you get out." She whispered, looking down at the grass as she opted to focusing on supporting him. The forest seemed only a few large steps away and Avalon suddenly felt a rush of excitement slip down her spine. It was dark out, she was away from her previous life and it seemed she could do whatever she wanted. Maybe after watching Silas she would learn a few tricks to using a blade and possibly her own strength and wouldn't need him any longer. With a subtle frown tugging at the corner of her lips, Ava silenced her thoughts for a moment just to focus on keeping the person who'd given her longer to live than she was expecting standing straight. Her selfishness, despite whatever she'd tried, remained. It was only until later she'd find out about it.

"I told you. You wouldn't be useful to me dead." She finished, entering the forest as carefully as she could, still keeping close to Silas.

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"Yeah, I might have been lucky, but what's done is done," Silas said nonchalantly, his eyes assessing the woman.

Ava had some spunk to her, and despite her self-deprecating ways, owned enough courage to be able to embark on a run from the law with a complete stranger such as himself, a proven killer; it was something that he found himself admiring about her, more so than her youth and tempting appearance, though that was far from being lost upon him. Had he have been a man of malice and sadism, coupled with her looks, he would have made off with her the other night in the alley instead of freeing her from her would-be captors.

Caught within his own thoughts, it took Silas a moment to realize what she was doing; standing rigid upon his weary legs, he was careful not to burn her with the torch in his hand. He relaxed upon her delicate frame once she had gotten into position, relieved as some of the pressure on his legs was alleviated. He casted a sidelong glance in her direction and smirked only just, before looking before them, his eyes now observing the mouth of the imposing forest. The trees reached high into the sky, and were packed so tightly together that he wondered if sunlight ever breached through the top. As it was now well after nighttime, the moon already in the sky, he briefly envisioned how dark the first leg of their journey was going to be.

Ava began to lecture him on the spot, which raised a knowing grin to his lips; he had wondered how long it would take her to launch into this particular subject, and she didn't disappoint, as they had yet to take a step forward.

"I'm far from walking into my death Ava--as it stands right now, I've never felt better," he said with a chuckle, which caused him to immediately clutch his chest in pain.

Ignoring his own poor joke and Ava's sound advice for thr time being, the man cleared his throat and the two of them began to move in the direction of their objective. Alongside his new companion, Silas shuffled awkwardly into the forest with Ava's continued assistance. The trees looming overhead cast much darker shadows than he had anticipated, which was a slight cause for concern; whatever the case, as they moved along the dirt path, he was glad that he had pilfered the fallen guard's torch, which he held in front of them both with his free hand.

Overhead, a gust of wind rustled tree branches and sent leaves swaying in the current; Silas remained unperturbed until the far-off howling of a wolf met his ears, causing the hair on the back of his neck to bristle. He turned his head and caught Ava's gaze for a brief moment, his ears desperately straining to pick up any new sounds over the whistling wind.

"About that whole being dead thing," he whispered, his eyes on Ava's, "I think that goes for the both of us for the time being."

They had deliberately come to the forest to retrieve the horse Ava had waiting here, but now he wasn't so sure that it would be prudent to go looking for it; unless it was relatively close by, it wss simply too dark and too risky to go wandering about the forest searching for a steed. As Silas turned in a circle to observe his new surroundings, it became more and more apparent to him that even if they did find the horse, they couldn't ride through this thick veil of darkness that pressed in from every direction.

"Is that horse nearby? If it is, we need to find it quickly; I wouldn't be surprised if a pack of wolves tried to take it down. We should find it and set up a camp until morning."

With Ava still attached to his side, he and the woman walked, his arm tightening ever so slightly around her slender frame; his eyes were adamant in attempting to use the scant light issued by the flames to scrutinize any object just a few feet in front of him, to no avail. With every step they took down the dark path, the anticipation of something unforseen, of something or someone unknowingly leaping from the darkness, caused his heart to ramp up in terms of it beating against his ribcage. It wasn't fear that gripped it--it was past experiences fueling him with a rush of adrenaline.

He was certainly going to need it at some point, but he just didn't know when.

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Ava hadn't yet noticed the thick darkness of the forest in which they had already entered. The most she could make out was the torch. Aside from that, she felt the darkness out by the town was no different than the one surrounding the two of them. Once the wolves had started to cry out, Ava stumbled a few steps toward Silas as if she knew he'd be capable of handling them. Though she knew as well that he was not ready to take on another living creature until morning at the least so expecting him to successfully ward off or fight was clearly asking too much. She was smaller and less experienced, but if she had his blade, an attempt was possible.

"Can we stay the night in here? The animals will kill us at night.. Won't they?" She asked, unconciously trying to find the features of his face through the blanket of darkness covering whatever she laid eyes on. "I can't quite see you--"

With an abrupt stopping of her words, Ava fell to her front after tripping over a large root from one of the trees. Clearly she hadn't seen it due to her inability to see past half a foot of her face. Though she still had the ability to feel what she had fallen into. With an outstretched hand, Ava frantically pressed her palm around. She felt the bark on the tree, though she had noticed a lack of leaves or dirt underneath her as she'd fallen, but instead she felt a

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Ava hadn't yet noticed the thick darkness of the forest in which they had already entered. The most she could make out was the torch. Aside from that, she felt the darkness out by the town was no different than the one surrounding the two of them. Once the wolves had started to cry out, Ava stumbled a few steps toward Silas as if she knew he'd be capable of handling them. Though she knew as well that he was not ready to take on another living creature until morning at the least so expecting him to successfully ward off or fight was clearly asking too much. She was smaller and less experienced, but if she had his blade, an attempt was possible.

"Can we stay the night in here? The animals will kill us at night.. Won't they?" She asked, unconciously trying to find the features of his face through the blanket of darkness covering whatever she laid eyes on. "I can't quite see you--"

With an abrupt stopping of her words, Ava fell to her front after tripping over a large root from one of the trees. Clearly she hadn't seen it due to her inability to see past half a foot of her face. Though she still had the ability to feel what she had fallen into. With an outstretched hand, Ava frantically pressed her palm around. She felt the bark on the tree, though she had noticed a lack of leaves or dirt underneath her as she'd fallen, but instead she felt a softer surface. With a hand pressed down against what she figured was a softer pile of mud or grass seemed to have flesh. With a hand traveling yet further, Ava noticed the conturs of a face, a chin, lips, a nose. And without any more investigation, the blonde gathered herself and started to panic once again. She looked up and around and saw that Silas had disappeared yet she knew nothing of where she'd dropped.

The guard that Silas had caught earlier had just returned from his catch. He'd been ordered to check the bandits and wanderers they had caught deep within the pits they'd dug around in the forest. Several of them seemed to fall deep and if any man unknowingly wandered into the trap, they'd fall and break their legs or they'd fall unconscious. Later a guard would climb down with a rope and kill them off before leaving them as food for the animals of the forest.

The only reason Ava hadn't been severely injured was because her fall had been cusioned by the dead men underneath her. Every step she took, Ava realized she had been trapped with thick dirt walls surrounding her. She could see nothing, feel nothing and hear nothing. Still panicked and a little disturbed, the blonde pounded her fist against what she thought was a dirt wall and called out for help without thinking twice about the consequences.

"Silas! Silas where are you... I've lost you! There are dead men everywhere! What is going on!?" She jumped, scratching her nails against the dirt. The dead man underneath her had started to break under her boot, eventually to the point his blood covered it.

"Silas!" She screamed, kicking away the wet substance as it stained her dress and her pale calve. Ava hadn't had much experience with foreign liquids spewing from a dead man she couldn't see though the woman knew well how to call for help.

Ava looked up, feeling yet an array of dead bodies underneath and every step she took and every jump she made, another one crunched and cracked underneath her. If she had stopped, her boots, dress and legs wouldn't have been so red with blood and sounds of cracking skulls and bones wouldn't have aroused her fear any more than it already had. And she gave little thought to the fact that Silas was unwell, knew the whereabouts of her horse and was set to leave. He didn't quite need her and if anything, Ava was just a burden. She knew she was from the start. Her parents wouldn't have left her in the dumps if she hadn't.

"Silas?" She murmured, looking up as if searching for him. "The horse.. It should be nearby. Take it!" She exclaimed, stepping to her right only to feel another bone crush underneath her boot. Taking yet another jump upward, Ava slipped on a bloodied body and fell backward and tore a hole into her dress in her back. Her arms had caught her before she had nearly impaled herself onto the bone that had tore into it. She slowly pulled herself back to a wobbly stance, her emotions playing tricks on her as sweat mixed in with tears stinging her cheeks all over again.

This was not how she expected death would take her over. Not in another place so walled up, trapping her again only a few steps away from her previous home. She'd have to pull herself up somehow.

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