Location: Forest, Kindred territory.
Naaji was hissing to the man, ready to jump. He certainly wouldn't let that happen to anyone ever again... He only hoped Taiah could get away safely. But even before they could do anything, the man looked at them and said:
"I am sorry"
As he said that, the other hunters closed it. Immediately after that, both Taiah and Naaji were pulled down from the tree by invisible tendrils, as strong nets were tossed on them.
Naaji tried his best, but there were simply too many hunters and the net was making it so he wasn't able to move himself properly.
He fought with all his strength, the only things he remember after the man's words were his claws, his fangs and the hunters. He remember feeling the taste of their blood, he remember hitting some of them but they were too many and it was impossible to concentrate on them and the net at the same time...
But even after they threw the net over Naaji, he didn't stop fighting. He knew it was useless, he knew he wouldn't be able to escape, but the only thing he could do was fight.
After being dragged for some time, the worst thing that could happen to Naaji happened... He could see from the holes in the net as they approached the cages... He tried to bite the net, he tried to cut it with his claws, he tried to attack the ones that were holding the net but it was useless. After being put on the cage, he roared, enraged as he threw himself against the steel bars, again, again and again, until he could no longer stand from exhaustion... And like that, he collapsed, completely exhausted. The time he spent sleeping wasn't peaceful... It was filled with nightmares and his burning rage towards the hunters.
Naaji woke up after several hours, completely lost. He wasn't in the forest anymore. There were strange voices, strange sounds and smells all around them. He could smell Taiah too, but she was the only familiar smell around. He could feel the cart stopping, he smelled and listened the furs being taken from the cart... Even if his cage was covered, his other senses were still sharp and told him a lot of what was happening outside. Sadly, there was no way to escape that cage... At least not for now.
Soon after they finished moving the furs, both his and Taiah's cage were taken, the covers were removed and the cages opened, leading to a bigger cell. The new cell was dark and silent. He was able to smell other animals, but none of them made a sound... It was strange... The only sound he could hear was screams echoing through the stone walls.
” We need to get out of here now. Any plans?” A familiar voice interrupted his trance-like state, bringing Naaji back to reality.
"Taiah, are you ok?" Naaji said, with a shaky voice, trying to hide his anger as he stood up, walking around the cell back and forth, smelling every nook and cranny, inspecting everything on the cell, looking for anything that could give them any hope, even if small, to escape.
It was quite obvious that Naaji was extremely stressed and uncomfortable with the situation. After several minutes walking back and forth, he let out an enraged roar throwing his front paws at the steel bars...
"It's useless... I know." He said, trying to calm himself down without much success...
Aisha heard as Mikahiel spoke about his life. Every word that came out of his mouth only made her even more intrigued about the man. She didn't knew much about the man, but even before he said anything she knew that he had already seen many things. Just like as she somehow knew that he was an artist, she knew that. It wasn't just a coincidence... It was his words... His eyes, the way he looked at the things... Those weren't eyes of a merchant that was only worried about his money, or a nobleman that knew nothing about the world other than his own mansion and his precious city... He knew more, much more...
But before they could reach the Crimson Brothers or even before they could continue their conversation, a courier interrupted them, delivering a fancy letter to Mikahiel and an equally fancy letter to Aisha.
The envelop was quite fancy and flashy. It was sealed with a golden wax seal, emblazoned with an intricate sigil, exactly the same sigil as the letter delivered to Mikahiel.
Who could have sent those letters? Aisha didn't knew anyone on the city, nor was she expecting to be contacted by anyone...
As she opened it and her eyes met with the words written with a fancy and flourished calligraphy, Aisha didn't know how to react.
It was a letter from the queen of Hyall... She wanted to make a proposal to her... Until then, it was only a bit shocking, since such an important people was contacting Aisha. What could she want with her? By that proposal she meant that she wanted Aisha to work for her?
But the most shocking part came right after that... The queen invited Aisha for a... ball... complete with formal clothes & everything.
"A ball?!" Aisha said out loud, shocked as she read the letter. She had never been to a ball before. Aisha was genuinely lost and didn't knew how to react to that. Rejecting that invitation would be incredibly rude, and could potentially bring some problems to Aisha. She was aware on how the noblemen wanted things their way and they wanted it right on the moment they asked. She most certainly didn't want to ruin her stay on the city...
"Really? A ball?!" She said to herself, sighing. After a few moments lost on her own thoughts, her head almost exploding trying to find answers to all the questions that rose on her mind without much success, she looked at Mikahiel.
"It seems that the queen sent a letter to you as well... Am I wrong?" Aisha asked, with a forced smile, trying to hide her troubled expression.
"She wants to make me a 'proposal'... Probably she wants to hire me... But she also wants me to go on her ball..." She said, looking to Mikahiel, almost as if she was looking for answers for her problems on his eyes. Even if she didn't say much after that, it was clear that her mind was almost exploding with questions and problems.
Should she go? Should she just politely reject her invitation? Wouldn't that make the queen angry? Did the tailors even make formal dresses to centaurs? Wouldn't it be incredibly difficult and uncomfortable to move around with them? What did the queen possibly might to want with Aisha?
Such questions and many other more flooded her mind, as she looked to Mikahiel.