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Zeroth Post
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Zeroth

Synopsis

Set in fantastical medieval times, this saga is about the lives of a royal knight and a rogue thief who form an unlikely alliance to protect their home kingdom. Faced with long journeys, warfare, politics, mercenaries, and more, the two are forced to navigate a world in which they are stretched on all sides to defend the people they care about without losing their lives, themselves.
Over the course of it all, they also find themselves unable to keep from falling in love, a problem which brings about trouble of its own, since romance between a knight and a thief is forbidden in their land. Because of this, they are pressed to find a way to be together in spite of the cultural pushback, all while fighting to survive in the harsh era of the medieval ages.
It is an adventurous tale about the conflicts of love and war; chivalry and lawlessness; and above all, the wills of two very different people trying to overcome their hardships and make their mark on the world, one day at a time.

Maps

*WARNING: Contains Some Spoilers





Table of Contents


Hidden 4 yrs ago 26 days ago Post by Summer
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Crow rolled over on the hard stone mattress of his prison bed. The chains around his wrists and ankles clanked noisily, and he winced. Usually, he tried to practice moving silently, but today he was feeling careless. Why? Well, today marked the one-year anniversary of his confinement in this wretched place. He had yet to come up with a feasible escape plan, and the guards had started to poke fun at him about it on their daily rounds. “Oh, you’re still here?” they said; “Do you really like us this much?” they said; “Can’t take the embarrassment of facing your ‘admirers’ after you got arrested?” they said. He was tired of their attitudes.

He rolled over again to face the wall, his chains rattling obnoxiously, when he saw the dim glow of a lantern outside the bars of his cell. He really didn’t want to see the guards. Not today. Their prodding had been frustrating before, and he dreaded to think what they would say now that he had been locked up for an entire year. He closed his eyes. Maybe if he just ignored them, they would go away.

If only it were that simple.

Crow heard a loud grating sound as the door to his cell slid open. He cracked one light green eye open and glanced over his shoulder. Two guards stood in the entrance, looking irritated. He sat up curiously. This was different. The guards never entered the cells of their prisoners. Even food was delivered through a small opening in the bottom of each door. He wondered why they were here now.

“Lockton,” one of the guards said stiffly. “Your presence has been requested.”

“Oh?” Crow raised a brow. “I didn’t know I had admirers in such high places. Who shall I thank for this opportunity to see daylight again?”

“You’ll see when we get there,” the guard spat. “Now, come with us.”

“No,” Crow laid down on his bed again, rolling back over to face the wall.

“‘No?’” the guard glared at him, clenching his fist. “What do you mean ‘no?’”

“I mean,” Crow said. “I’m not moving until I hear the name of the person who wishes to see me.” He had to force himself to keep his voice steady so they wouldn’t hear how truly curious he was. Whoever had requested his presence would have had to have quite a bit of influence on the king to order his release from prison. He couldn’t help but wonder who he knew that held such a high position.

“You little—” the first guard took a step forward, but his companion stopped him.

“We’re under orders, remember?” the second guard said quietly. “We can’t hurt him.” He turned to the thief. “Your presence has been requested by the King of Brerra.”

“Thank you,” Crow said casually, trying to hide his surprise. The king wanted to see him? He had been imprisoned for attempting to steal the king’s crown one year ago. The man loathed him. The only reason he hadn’t ordered his execution was because he believed the thief would suffer more by rotting in a cell. What on earth could have been so important that the king himself would choose to bring him back out of confinement?

He climbed down from the stony bed and followed the guards out of his cell. They remained silent as they led him down the dark corridor, each one standing on either side of him in case he made any sudden movements. He ignored their tenseness. They had no reason to worry. He wasn’t stupid enough to try and run away while they were still within the boundaries of the prison. The place was crawling with guards. He would never make it past the first floor.

Eventually, they came to the doors that led out of the building, and Crow felt his heartbeat quicken. He was so close to freedom, yet so far. The guards pushed open the doors, and his excitement was replaced with a sharp wave of pain. After spending so long in complete darkness, the sun was blinding. He cursed loudly and shielded his eyes against the light. The guards snickered unsympathetically and dragged him along the road. In rebellion, he dug his heels into the ground, making their task as difficult as he possibly could. They then proceeded to pick him up by either arm and carry him down the road in a completely degrading manner.

“Alright, alright,” Crow protested, struggling against their grips. “Put me down. I can walk on my own.”

“Stop fighting with us, or I swear, I will personally carry you into the king’s palace,” one of the guards growled as they set him down again. Crow shot him a venomous look and dusted himself off.

--

After a while of walking through the crowded streets of the citadel, the trio arrived at the palace. The guards led Crow through the long hallways until they came to the king’s council room. His Majesty himself stood by the window, looking out over his kingdom. He glanced at the doorway when they entered and wrinkled his nose slightly at the sight of the thief. One thing hadn’t changed, at least. The king still hated him just as much as he did before.

“Your Highness,” the guards said in unison, bowing deeply to their ruler. One of them elbowed Crow harshly in the ribs when he failed to do the same. He winced and dipped forward in a curt bow, then straightened again.

“What do you want?” he said bluntly. The guards glared at him icily for his blatant lack of respect for their ruler.

“I have a task for you,” the king replied, ignoring Crow’s obstinate tone.

“Lovely,” Crow said with a false note of cheerfulness. “What can I do for you today? Would you like me to steal some bread from the poor? Or perhaps you would prefer me to steal a brooch for your mistress?” If it was possible, the guards looked even more taken aback by his disrespectful words.

“You would be wise to hold your tongue,” the king said sharply. “Do not misunderstand. I do not require your abilities to complete this task. You’re merely a tool to make the job easier, and I can find another thief if you are not willing to cooperate with me.”

“But you still requested me specifically,” Crow pointed out blandly.

“Yes,” the king growled. “As much as I hate to admit it, your skills are… hard to come by, and the object I need is not easily accessible.”

“I accept the compliment,” Crow nodded. “Now then, what is it you need me to steal?”

“I will have you go to our neighboring kingdom, Younis, and take their king’s staff. For generations, that staff has been a symbol of divine right in Younis. They believe that only a man who has been hand-picked by their gods is able to hold it. This man is in turn made to be their leader. If I can get my hands on it, I can annex Younis without a war.”

“But,” Crow objected. “What if they’re right and only the rightful king can touch the staff?”

“Then I only lose one worthless thief,” the king shrugged. “I can still take over Younis by force if need be.”

“Wonderful,” Crow muttered.

“I have also assigned a group of knights to accompany you on your journey,” the king went on. “After all, I can’t risk giving the most infuriating thief in the kingdom an opportunity to escape, now can I?” He gestured at a table in the back of the room, where three knights were seated. They had been so quiet that Crow hadn’t noticed them until now. There were two men and one woman.

The king smirked at his look of disappointment, “These three will go with you to Younis.”
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The woman, who sat at the end of the table of knights, looked upon Crow with stern, icy gaze. Perhaps even some disgust could be detected if one was sharp. Penelope straighted slightly, holding her head slightly higher as Crow finally took notice of the three. She gracefully rose to her feet, followed by the two men, and approached the king and Crow. She stopped and bowed to the King. "We're pleased to be able to help in such an important task." she said respectfully to the King. Her expression changed according to the person. As she looked at the king, it was one of admiration and respect but still held a similar sterness as before. "Yes... It's a shame, though... To be forced to put up with such a vile thing." grumbled an older looking solider. His name was William Pewter and had been serving the king and his army since before Penelope was born. He glared hostilely at Crow. The old man had a temper worse than her own and with much less restraint. If any rash decisions were made, it would likely be by him.
Hidden 4 yrs ago 26 days ago Post by Summer
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Crow looked over the knights individually. The eldest was a man who looked to be in his early forties. He had long brown hair that appeared to be well-maintained. His face was stern and his jaw was tight. The female knight was just as harsh looking. Her light brown hair was pinned back in a tight and formal bun and her jade green eyes were piercing. Even though she looked to be about the same age as him, her sternness gave her the appearance of a more mature woman. The youngest knight, however, seemed to be a bit out of place among his older companions. He had an absent look about him, with sandy, unkempt hair. If he hadn’t been wearing the same armor as the other knights, he would have thought the boy to be a poet or a wandering artist.

The three knights stood and walked over to stand beside their king. The older two eyed the thief with disgust, as if he was a bug they wanted to squash, while the youngest just gazed upon him with interest. He could already tell he wasn’t going to like any of them.

The woman spoke first, “We’re pleased to be able to help in such an important task.” Her tone was respectful, and her facial expression softened quite a bit as she shifted her gaze from Crow to the king.

“Yes,” the older knight nodded. He wrinkled his nose at the thief, “It’s a shame, though... to be forced to put up with such a vile thing.”

“I agree completely,” Crow chimed in, raising one of his bound hands. “Your Majesty, how can you expect me to work with these awful people? I suggest you keep them, and I’ll go on by myself.” He spun around to leave, but one of his guards grabbed hold of his chains before he could take two steps.

“Nice try,” the king scoffed. “They’re coming with you, whether you like it or not. And William,” he turned to the oldest knight. “You only have to deal with him for a few weeks. Please, try not to kill him in that span of time.”

Kill?” Crow squawked, his eyes wide. “Your Majesty, please! These people are dangerous. Let me go by myself.”

“Make sure he behaves himself,” the king went on to his knights, ignoring Crow’s outburst. He gestured for one of the guards to remove the thief’s chains so he could move freely. “Your supply wagon should be ready for you outside. You may leave immediately.”
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"We'll take our leave right away then." Penelope said with a small dip of her head before turning on her heels. She took the lead in heading towards the exit of the room William, being hostile as usual, shoved Crow in front of him. He clearly didn't want to leave the thief in the back for any possible chance of escape. He wanted him where he could keep a close eye on him. Once out of the room, Penelope seemed to become less restrictive of the words she spoke, now that she no longer had to worry about any impression they would have on the King. "You should consider yourself lucky to even see daylight again. Be more considerate of the chance you have been given." she said with a stern gaze at Crow, glancing over her shoulder at him. "Pft. Lucky is an understatement." grumbled William. "The King is a man whom I respect greatly but I have to question his common sense because of this. Sending some worthless thief to do the same work one of us could do and with much less trouble!" "Leave the petty jobs to petty people, Pewter." Penelope responded in a very level headed manner. "It would be degrading to give a knight such a dishonourable task." She seemed rather confident in her words and William only muttered something in agreement. Looking out of one of the castle windows they passed by, Penelope located the supplies and horses that stood there, waiting their arrival. Two horses and a horse drawn-wagon that carried the majority of their supplies. From what she saw it seemed that they were well prepared for this trip.
Hidden 4 yrs ago 26 days ago Post by Summer
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The knights wasted no time in following the king’s order to leave. The oldest knight, William, shoved Crow between the shoulder blades, forcing him to walk where he would be fully visible. Naturally, the thief didn’t appreciate being herded like a child, so he slipped out of William’s grasp and shot him an indignant glare, “I know where I’m going, thank you very much.” He proceeded to walk just beyond the other man’s reach, so he couldn’t attempt to guide him again. Between all of his guards, he’d had quite enough manhandling for one day.

“You should consider yourself lucky to even see daylight again,” the female knight said to him sternly when they left the king's chambers. “Be more considerate of the chance you’ve been given.”

“I would have gotten out on my own eventually,” Crow bluffed with a casual shrug of his shoulders. “The king just happened to beat me to it.” He glanced contemptuously at William. “I am grateful for the early release. Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to appreciate the people I’m being forced to spend my time with.”

“Pft. Lucky is an understatement,” William scoffed. “The King is a man whom I respect greatly, but I have to question his common sense because of this. Sending some worthless thief to do the same work one of us could do and with much less trouble!”

“My profession is much more difficult than you think,” Crow muttered vainly. “It takes talent to scale a palace wall without getting caught or pick a ten-pin tumbler lock in just seconds.” Of course, no one bothered to do him the courtesy of responding. He doubted the knights were even listening to him.

“Leave the petty jobs to petty people, Pewter,” the woman replied simply. “It would be degrading to give a knight such a dishonourable task.”

“Alright,” Crow narrowed his eyes at the two knights. “Now you’re just being rude. I’m beginning to rethink my decision of letting you come with me.”

--

As the king had said, the horses and supplies were already prepared for them outside of the palace. It seemed the king had spared no expense. Their caravan was large enough to fit about five or six people comfortably when empty. There were four posts holding up a cover for the top of the wagon, with curtains that could be drawn to cover its open sides for complete privacy. The best parts to Crow, however, were the piles of large, burlap sacks, filled with supplies that had been stocked for them.

He immediately headed for the wagon, naturally curious as to what was bundled inside of those bags. However, before he even had a chance to peer over the edge, he felt a hand tug him back by the collar of his shirt. He spun around in annoyance to see the knight, William, standing over him.

“Don’t you even think about stealing our supplies,” the older man growled, shoving him against the side of the cart.

“Who, me?” Crow held a hand to his chest, his eyes wide in mock surprise. “I would never do such a thing!” As he spoke, he smoothly reached his other hand behind his back to snag a loose piece of bread from the edge of the cart, which he then stuffed into his pants pocket. “How could you even accuse me of such a despicable act?”

“Really?” William said skeptically. “Turn out your pockets.”

“Oh, come now,” Crow rolled his eyes. “Friendship is based on trust. You’ll never—”

“I said,” the knight interrupted icily. “Turn out your pockets.”

“Fine,” Crow sighed in defeat and handed over the stolen piece of bread. William replaced it with the rest of the food stock and turned back to the other knights, taking charge of the group, “Abraxas, you will ride in the wagon with the thief. Make sure he doesn’t attempt to take any more of our rations.” He shot Crow a cold look before he turned to the woman knight. “Penelope, you and I will ride the horses up front and keep watch along the road.”

“Good plan,” Crow nodded. The young knight, Abraxas, didn’t seem to be very sharp. The boy probably wouldn’t even notice if he stole his shirt from right off his chest. Out of the three, he was the one Crow most preferred to guard him. He clapped his hands together, “Let’s move out, then. We’re losing daylight.” He climbed nimbly into the back of the wagon and leaned out over the side as he waited for the others to take up their own positions.
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Penelope eyed her comrade. William was a good knight but she disagreed with his decision to make Abraxas the one to keep an eye on Crow. The younger knight had yet to completely prove himself and Penelope didn't feel like taking such chances with this mission. The thief should not be given the opportunity to steal or escape. "Abraxas, switch positions with me." she said casually, knowing that he wouldn't argue with her. With a simple nod of the head, the younger knight backed away from the wagon and moved towards the horse besides William. William shot her a look, as if to not degrade his authority but did not testify to the change so Penelope easily went about her business. Penelope climbed into the wagon swiftly. With everyone set and read, William took the lead. "Let's move out." he announced, as he rode in front of the wagon. The wagon was then tugged forward and set off at a rather slow pace until the wheels began to move with more ease. Penelope glanced over at Crow with a sharp gaze before looking out at the road ahead. However, she always kept him in the corner of her gaze, cautious of any movements he made. The great gates that protected the castle rattled and raised as they left. Once outside one could see clear distinctions in the surrounding area. The town in the distance seemed much less vibrant than the castle and everything behind those great walls that protected it. "It's been a while since I've left the castle walls." Penelope mumbled to no one in particular. She earned a small nod from an otherwise uninterested William and Abraxas didn't seem to hear her. Perhaps he was spacing off?
Hidden 4 yrs ago 26 days ago Post by Summer
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Unfortunately for Crow, the woman, whom he had learned was named Penelope, also seemed to have realized that Abraxas would not be the most effective guard for Crow. He watched with a twinge of disappointment as she told her comrade to switch places with her and took up the guard position in the wagon. He frowned. He was still confident in his ability to get away from these jesters, but with a more vigilant guard at his side, he would now have to be clever about it.

At the front of the caravan, William didn’t seem happy about the change either, but Crow guessed he was more concerned about his authority being challenged than anything else. Once Abraxas had mounted his horse, the older knight took charge once more with a curt: “Let’s move out.”

The cart lurched forward as they began to move, the wheels rolling slowly until they gained momentum. In the back, Crow made himself right at home, finding a comfortable place to sit where he could lean against a pile of folded blankets. He could already feel excitement bubbling up in his chest, though he did his best to hide it. The king had practically offered him back his freedom on a silver platter. Go to Younis and do some lowly job for his ruler? Yeah, right. He was going to take this opportunity to escape back to his home in the outer villages.

He looked out the side window of the wagon as they approached the main gates of the inner citadel. A guard signaled, and the gates slowly opened, groaning loudly as they did so.

This was it. Once they passed though those gates, they would be on their way to the neighboring kingdom in the north, and with it, the peasant villages that laid directly south of that border. He smiled to himself, continuing to stare out the window so Penelope wouldn’t see his expression. It was only a matter of time now.

It didn’t take long before Crow grew bored of watching the towns roll slowly by. He glanced at Penelope, who was staring out the window on the other side of the wagon. She seemed lost in thought. He was just beginning to wonder if she would try to stop him if he made another attempt to go through their supplies, when she suddenly spoke up, “It’s been a while since I’ve left the castle walls.”

Crow stared at her for a moment, unsure of whom she was talking to. When no one responded, he decided to take it upon himself to reply, “I can honestly say I know what you mean.” He stretched out his legs and leaned contentedly against the pile of blankets. “Although, I think I have you beat. This is the first time I’ve left the prison walls in a year.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of bread. Back when William had been harassing him beside the wagon, he had secretly taken two pieces, handing over one as a decoy in order to secure the second for an early lunch. The simple plan had gone perfectly well, earning him a full belly.

Crow took a bite of the bread and looked back up at Penelope, “Oh, sorry. Did you want some?”
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"That's only because you made a poor career choice." Penelope commented with a slight smirk as glanced over at him. Her tone was more mocking and teasing than cold like usual. It still wasn't overly friendly though, one could easily be sure of that. As he took out the bread, her gaze quickly narrowed. "William, make sure you pat him down completely next time... I suppose the king didn't hire him for nothing.." she said, hating that she found herself rather surprised, maybe even slightly impressed though she would never admit it, with the thief. William was a vigilant person but he had managed to slip the bread past him somehow. "No. I'll have mine when we stop. We'll consider this your portion of lunch." she stated simply, letting him finish his piece without interruption. It would go without direct punishment.
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Crow grinned at Penelope’s stunned expression when he revealed the second piece of stolen bread. The look of surprise on a person’s face when he or she realized something had gone missing was always one of his favorite parts of thievery. He liked to think of his profession as an unwelcome magic trick, where he would make someone’s valuables disappear. Of course, he never received an applause from his audience, but he did get his face posted in taverns all across the kingdom. The goods he traded for money along with the wanted posters were his fame and fortune. No matter what Penelope thought, his ‘career choice’ gave him everything he wanted in life.

“No.” the knight declined when Crow offered her some of the bread. “I’ll have mine when we stop. We’ll consider this your portion of lunch.”

“That’s not fair,” Crow complained. “They barely fed me in prison. I need to build up some muscle for the king’s assignment. If I try to scale a wall now, a strong wind might blow me away.” He poked despondently at his bicep. It was a valid point in his mind, at least. He had lost a lot of weight throughout the past year, and he wasn’t nearly as strong as he used to be. It was more likely that if he tried to scale a wall now, he would wear himself out and fall to his death.

“How can I be of any use to anyone if you starve me before we even reach Younis?” Crow popped the last piece of the stolen bread into his mouth and narrowed his eyes at Penelope, crossing his arms over his chest. “You’ll have to live with the guilt of knowing that you started a war all because you didn’t feed the king’s thief his rations.”
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"Then maybe you should think twice about stealing from us." Penelope rhetorted. "If you're on good behavior then you get the same portion of food like the rest of us. Keep up with your usual nonsense then you starve. It's a simple system that you should be familiar with." She spoke rather coldly towards him, giving a look of disapproval as usual.

"Starve or don't starve. You're just a theif and you can be replace. Even the king knows that much." Penelope continued leaning back against the side of the wagon. She sat with good posture, having a straight back with her head held high. It definitely gave off a feeling of arrogance.

"So I'd suggest behaving for the rest of the time we are stuck together. I think it's for both of our better interests." She said with a small sigh.
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Crow sighed and turned back to gaze out the window on his side of the wagon. This woman was even more stubborn than he was, and that was saying something. He decided to take her arrogance on as a challenge. He would just snag some more food later if she wasn’t going to let him have lunch with the others. Perhaps she would eventually tire of fighting with him and let him have his extra shares. The portions they seemed to have been rationed by the king were not nearly enough to satisfy his ravenous, prison-induced appetite. He needed the extra food to put on weight and restore his old energy.

They both lapsed into silence as the wagon bumped slowly down the road. He drummed his fingers impatiently against his knee, watching houses pass sluggishly by the window. They were all large and in great condition, which meant they belonged to men and women of the noble class. He exhaled. They hadn’t even come close to the outer provinces of the kingdom yet. It was going to be a long and boring journey if they continued at this rate. He glanced discreetly at Penelope.

She definitely looks like she’s paying attention, he mused. But she obviously isn’t used to guard duty. His lip curled upward in a mischievous smirk.

It was time to have some fun.

Crow looked around the supplies in the wagon, chose one particularly large, lumpy bundle, and crawled over to it. He glanced over his shoulder at the knight, “Don’t mind me. I’m just looking.” His fingers worked deftly to untie the twine that bound the objects, as he uncovered them from the thin cloth they were wrapped in. As expected, he had found a collection of miscellaneous weapons that had been stowed away for the knights. He whistled and lifted a finely crafted sword, drawing it from its sheath to get a better look at it. He turned towards Penelope with an impish glint in his eyes, “This is an impressive piece of work. The king must think highly of you three to supply you with a blade this lovely.”
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Penelope sighed and rolled her eyes as he moved to mess with the bundle. His personality wasn't quite what she was expecting. He made her feel like she was babysitting some annoying toddler than keeping an eye on a skilled thief. What made it worse was his ablity and skill. Such a pest.

As he drew the sword, she became slightly tense. Surely he wasn't foolish enough to actually use it? Even if he did manage to win against her there was still William and Abraxas to go through, leaving him little chance if any. Her hand was now slightly closer towards the hilt of her own sword which was at her side. "Put it down." she said sternly with her gaze focused clearly on him. "Wouldn't want you to cut yourself. You're the king's thief afterall." She spoke sarcastically, in reference to his constant defence against how the knights treated him.

"You let him touch the weapons?!" William snapped from outside the wagon.

"He's a thief not an assassin. Besides, the back of a wagon isn't exactly an easy fighting ground." Penelope stated matter-of-factly.
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Crow just grinned when Penelope tensed and reached for her own weapon. Of course he wasn’t so foolish as to attempt to use the blade in his hands. He wasn’t completely lacking in talent when it came to sword fighting, but he knew he was no match for a battle trained knight. She would cut him down in seconds if he even tried to attack her; so instead, he had other plans for the weapon.

“Oh, relax,” he rolled his eyes and waggled the sword in front of him to keep the knight’s attention. “Despite my appearance, I’m not so useless with a blade that I would injure myself.” While he toyed with the sword, he gently pushed a small dagger behind him with his foot. It was a slight and almost unnoticeable motion. “If it makes you feel better, I’ll put it away though,” he went on, sliding the blade back into its sheath. As he put it back in the bundle with the others, he swiftly dropped the dagger into his right boot with one hand, keeping his body positioned between the small weapon and the knight so she couldn’t see the movement from where she sat.

“I wouldn’t want to make a lady uncomfortable,” Crow smiled wryly and dipped his head to Penelope, waving his hand in a garish bow, before going back to sifting through the weapon stock. Having already attained his prize, he pointedly knelt at an angle where the knight could see both of his hands as he looked over the other blades and bows.

When he was finished, he wrapped the weapons back up in the cloth and retied the twine that kept them bound. “See?” he patted the bundle and looked up at Penelope. “No harm done. I just wanted to have a look.” He moved back to his spot by the blanket pile and laid down again, stretching out contentedly.
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His stealing went unnoticed by Penelope, despite being careful. She shot a glare his way as he spoke. For now, she did not speak up and just sat in quiet contempt for the thief. Things seemed to be in order, which was enough for her not to realize a dagger has gone missing.

Once he was laying back down, Penelope seemed more at ease. The less movement, the better. But this little hint of peace was quickly destroyed.

An arrow lodged itself in the wood only a few inches away from hitting Penelope. It's intended target had originally been William, who rode at the side of the wagon. However, it's archer had shot much too early and easily missed William and almost hit Penelope.

"We're being ambushed!" William shouted as he tried to calm his frightened mare as it reared up in panic.

Penelope ducked down to avoid any further incoming arrows and heaved herself off of the wagon which had now been pulled to a violent and sudden stop as two of the bandits now blocked their path. A few others began to emerged from the surrounding areas. It was clear that they had been labeled as a huge target. Coming from the king, surely many bandits wanted whatever they could get from the wagon and they knew they needed numbers to do so.
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Crow leaned into the pile of blankets, stifling the triumphant smile that threatened to take over his lips. This was far too easy. Both William and Penelope, the most observant of his guards, had failed to notice his simple practice exercises! What did he need with a dagger? Absolutely nothing. He had just wanted to test what he could get away with in the confinement of the wagon. His little experiment proved to be very informative, telling him that these knights were obviously not used to guarding a thief such as himself; otherwise they would have searched him numerous times by now. If he had tried the same trick with his old prison guards, they would have taken the weapons away from him immediately and patted him down.

This was good news for him, since he was relying on their incompetence in order to make his escape in the coming days. With how things had been going so far, it seemed that he would have no trouble slipping away when they reached his homeland.

Crow yawned as he continued to watch the houses slowly roll by the window, eventually being replaced by trees as the little procession entered the woods. The scene was repetitive and therefore boring. He closed his eyes. He had nothing left to say to these knights, and the outer villages were still a fair distance away, so he decided he might as well take a nap to make the time go by faster.

Luckily, he didn’t have to wait long before he was roused by something entertaining.

Crow was jolted awake when he heard the thump of an arrow hitting one of the wooden posts of the wagon, barely missing Penelope’s head. He sat up and looked around, wondering where the arrow had come from. In the next instant, William shouted frantically from outside: “We’re being ambushed!”

Crow laughed and hit the floor as another arrow zipped past him and flew out through the window on the other side of the caravan. He lifted his head just enough to peek outside, only to find an unusually large group of bandits springing towards them from the forest. It was definitely a coordinated attack. He grinned and ducked down again when another arrow shot past his head. He hadn’t felt this excited since he had made his attempt at stealing the king’s crown! His green eyes flicked towards Penelope. They were still quite far from the outer villages, but perhaps he could use this raid to his advantage, as well.

“What are you waiting for?” Crow waved a dismissive hand at her. “Go on; get rid of them. I can’t do it. I’m just a common criminal.”
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Penelope glared over her shoulder at him as she drew her sword. "Keep talking like that and I'll use this on you instead." she threatened before quickly turning her attention to their attackers.

William and Abraxas were already in the heat of the fight that took no time in starting up. The clashing of metal hitting metal was distinict.

Penelope took her place in the fight, though she purposely stayed near the wagon. She blocked the attack of a bandit with ease and then managed to make him unbalnced before injuring his right arm with her sword. Her movements were fluid and clearly very skilled. While the knights were no guardsmen, it was clear they were very trained in battle, as expected.

The bandit angled himself for another attack despite his minor injury. He was encouraged as an ally came to his aid in this fight against her. Penelope clenched her teeth as she spun on her heel and tilted her sword sideways in order to bock both of her attackers. It seemed that two attackers was a bit more troublesome for her to keep up with, despite their own lack of skill.
Hidden 4 yrs ago 26 days ago Post by Summer
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“What?” Crow rolled his eyes sarcastically. “You and I both know I would be useless in a fight. In my profession, we generally try to avoid that sort of confrontation—or any confrontation at all, really. So, would you please—whoa!” He let out an undignified yelp as an arrow sailed past his nose, a bit too close for comfort, and crouched down on the floor again, returning the knight’s glare. “You see? Completely useless. Now, please get rid of them.”

Crow waited for her to climb out of the wagon to join the fight, and then crept towards the back end of the caravan, slithering along the floor to avoid getting hit by any of the stray arrows that flew overhead. He pressed his back against one of the corner posts and glanced through the back window. The road was still crawling with bandits, and the fight was still raging strong. He clicked his tongue in annoyance when he saw Penelope staying close to the wagon to guard him while she fought. She just had to make things difficult for him, didn’t she?

He startled when the caravan suddenly lurched. One of the bandits had jumped inside while the knights were distracted. The man caught sight Crow and grinned cruelly, drawing a short sword from a sheath at his hip. He stepped slowly towards the thief, raising his weapon to strike. Muttering foul things under his breath, Crow leaned into the corner and hurriedly looked for an exit point, but the cursed wagon was too small. So much for getting away without a fight.

When the bandit tensed to bring his sword down, Crow leaped forward, bowling him over and knocking the weapon from his hand. Pinning the man down, he retrieved the hidden dagger from his boot and held the blade against the man’s throat, although he didn’t press hard enough to draw blood. He was a thief, after all, not a killer.

“Yield,” Crow hissed, narrowing his eyes at the bandit. The man swallowed and nodded his head vigorously. Crow let him up, keeping the small blade trained on his chest in case he made any sudden movements. He forced him to the edge of the wagon, “Now, kindly get out of here.” He shoved the bandit over the side and slipped the dagger back into his boot. It had proven to be more useful than he had first expected, so he decided that he would keep it.

He glanced back to the other side of the cart, where the knights were fighting off the last of the bandits. They were still distracted, so he hadn’t missed his chance. He slipped over the far side of the wagon and ducked underneath it while he looked for the safest exit point. The dagger had helped him fight off one bandit, but it doubted it would protect him against four of them. He wasn’t going to make a run for it until he found a path that wasn’t dangerous.
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Penelope was aided by Abraxas in fighting off the last of the bandits. The knights were much more skilled and,despite being out-numbered, were able to easily drive away the bandits. She let out a breath and sheathed her sword. Her breathing was a bit ragged now, as was William's and Abraxas'.

"I'm going to go make sure they aren't regrouping for another attack. Stay alert!" William ordered. He gave no one the chace to reply before mounting his horse and riding off into the coverage of the surrounding woodlands. Penelope only gave a nod that was never acknowledged.

Penelope then turned her attention back to her previous job, which was keeping an eye on Crow. She peeked into he backof the wagon, quick to realize that the thief was not there. She gave a furious look and turned her head towards Abraxas. "Abaraxas! Keep alert and start looking. He isn't in the wagon anymore!" she announced.
Hidden 4 yrs ago 26 days ago Post by Summer
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Crow cursed under his breath when he heard Penelope call out orders for a search. He crouched in the shadow beneath the wagon a set of boots walked past him. His eyes flicked from one side of the caravan to the other as he tried to decide which one would be safer for his unplanned escape. He had to move quickly. It wouldn’t be long before one of the knights grew clever enough to take a look underneath the wagon, and the opportunity for freedom would slip through his fingers.

Watching the feet of Abraxas and Penelope—William had gone off somewhere else—Crow angled himself to make a run for the northwest side of the wagon. He held still until the two knights were further away and weren’t looking, and then darted out from beneath the cart. He sprinted into the tree line with the silent, light-footed steps of his trade, and quickly ducked behind a cluster of thick bushes. Risking a quick glance back at the road, he could see the two knights still searching for him on the south side of the cart. He smirked to himself. His escape was going perfectly. Soon, he would be free of these ridiculous, armored ruffians.

Crow was making his way into the deeper parts of the woods, weaving between the trees to leave a confusing trail in case either of the knights had managed to follow him, when it suddenly occurred to him that he had no idea where he was. He was unfamiliar with these parts of the kingdom, and he often had trouble navigating through forests since he usually traveled through towns and villages. He had no idea where he was going.

“We were travelling north towards Younis, and now I’m headed northwest…” Crow muttered, trying to form a mental map of the area. He stopped and looked around again. Even if he knew where he was in perspective with the palace, he still didn’t know if there were any towns in the area where he could take refuge. All of the trees looked the same to him. There were no landmarks he could use to direct himself either. He crossed his arms over his chest and let out a frustrated huff. He should have waited until they were closer to the outer villages before he made his escape. At least there he would have known how to get back to the parts of the kingdom he was familiar with.

“What are you doing out here?”

Crow jumped and spun around to see William pointing a sword at his chest. The thief shot his hands into the air and took a step back from the tip of the blade. He glanced down at the ground. In his concern about finding a path of escape, he hadn’t even realized that he was standing on the side of an old, overgrown road. The knight must have spotted him on his way back to join the others.

He met William’s eyes and gave the man a lopsided smile, “I don’t suppose you would believe me if I told you I was sightseeing?”

“If the king hadn’t ordered me against it, I would run you through right now,” William growled, pressing the point of his sword against Crow’s chest once more. “Get back to the wagon.” He shoved the thief along the road and grabbed the reins of his waiting horse, tugging the animal along as they walked.

William didn’t take his eyes off of Crow until he was inside the back of the wagon again. He shot him one more threatening glare, “The next time you pull a stunt like that, I won’t be so generous.” With that, he spun around to face Penelope, “Watch the thief more carefully next time. We can’t let him slip away like that again.” William hitched his horse back to the front of the wagon and climbed on while Abraxas did the same with his. “Let’s keep going. We’re behind schedule, and we have to reach the next village before sundown.”
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Penelope turned as she saw the approaching figures of William and Crow. Relief waved over her as the mission hadn't been completely destroyed due to her negligence. She began to approach the carriage whenWilliam spun around to address her. "Of course." Penelope replied in a monotoned way. Once the older knight left to attend the front of the wagon, she silently climbed into the back of the carriage.

Her gaze was serious and gave away no clear emotion. Though, she felt deeply ashamed of herself for messing up so much. Penelope lowered her head slightly to look at the wooden floor. It only remained that way for a short second before she quickly raised her head again. After all, lowering your head was a sign of weakness. Pretty much any emotion shown besides hatred to an enemy was a sign of weakness. Or at least, that was what Penelope was taught.

"Damn thief." she muttered bitterly as the carriage suddenly lurched forward. The wheels began to roll again and soon they were on their way once more. Penelope could tell that their pace had increased slightly from before. She supposed William was rushing them forward now.

Penelope looked out the carriage at the passing area. Very frequently, she would glance over at Crow, study him until she decided he wasn't doing anything, and then look away again.
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