~8 Years Ago
It was a cold night. Stars shining alongside a brightly lit crescent moon with a strong, freezing wind blowing away any stray clouds that happened to wander through the sky. Despite the dark and chilly evening, all around the Lana realm, nobles and royals were drinking and toasting to one another in celebration. Bars, pubs, homes, and anywhere with glasses of wine or beer were filled to the brim as everyone knocked back drink after drink with smiles on their faces. Today was the day the king's daughter, the future ruler of Argio, turned six years old and finally began training her skills to inevitably become a Guardian Knight, a mage of the highest class.
While this event usually wouldn't be regarded as astounding or cause for rejoicing, it was different when one considered that the king himself declared that all alcoholic drinks in the Lana Realm would be free of charge for that one night. Every adult whether they were nobility or royalty immediately took advantage of the free booze and rushed to the stores and pubs to shove as much as they could down their greedy gullets. Praise and admiration for the king rose through this one action, each person raising his or her own glass to give a toast to the ruler of the kingdom. Merry and cheery, words to describe most of the population.
Of course, not everyone in the Lana realm felt like celebrating. There were plenty of people who despised that night and the majority of them were slaves, citizens who had lost all rights and were forced by a mark to do as their owner says. Not a single one of these slaves was feeling celebratory, instead feeling a sense of fear, annoyance, or anger. Having to put up with a drunk owner was more than most of them could stand. Some would be beaten for no particular reason, others would be raped, while some would have to put up with even worse scenarios that could only be imagined, subjected to the drunken whims of those more powerful than them. While the nobles partied it up and royals drank away without a care in the world, slaves wallowed in their misery and suffering.
However, it wasn't all doom and gloom for the downtrodden masses. There was a small glimmer of freedom for the ones who seized the chance, for the ones brave enough to take the opportunity and risk it all. They could ditch their drunken masters and make a run for it, heading towards the Gate, the one that would transport them to the Rasa realm, the realm belonging to those deemed no more than trash and slop. If caught then they'd be tortured to death as slowly as possible, but if successful, they'd be free at last. It was a high stakes game of chance that few would play. Of course, as long as a game was set out, there would always be those willing to play regardless of the cost.
The sound of the young girl's bare feet slapping against the concrete resounded off the walls of the alley, creating a rhythmic echo that went quite well with the child's rapid breathing. The young female's breath was visible in the chilly air as she ran on, looking over her shoulder every so often as if expecting to see someone or something suddenly appear out of nowhere. Even when she saw and heard nothing other than her own breathing and the steady drumming of her feet, an expression of fear and anxiety still remained etched upon her face.
Eventually the child began to slow, her pace decreasing until she was at a dead stop, her breaths coming in sharp gasps as she clutched her side. She was cold, the rags that had been stitched together to form a dress offering no protection against the biting wind. Hunger caused by fear and ceaseless running gnawed at her like a painful itch she couldn't scratch. Her small feet were scraped and bleeding profusely from the numerous broken glass bottles that littered the alley.
However, despite everything, she had to keep moving no matter what. Numerous slaves had risked their own lives to get her this far, distracting nobility and Guardians alike so she and a few others could make a daring escape. She didn't want their sacrifices to be in vain. Regardless of what happened, she had to reach the gate and head to freedom.
After catching her breath as much as possible, the young slave began to run once again, this time ignoring the sharp pains in her lungs and sides. She was prepared to run all the way to the gate despite being practically dead on her feet.
It wasn't meant to be though as just when she found her rhythm, a sound sliced through the still air, causing her to nearly skid to a stop. The mark on her stomach, just above her belly button, began to heat up as another sound rang out through the night. The sound of drunken laughter dead ahead caused her heart to nearly stop. Judging from the laughter, it was a group of three men with rather quick paces as the sound drew ever nearer.
"But I.....was.....so close," She breathed, close to tears as she turned around, backtracking away from the approaching voices. She was scared and felt like crying, but she had to remain strong. If she could wait them out and let them pass then she could just walk past them.
Her plan was shot down almost immediately as, at the other end of the alley, three more men dressed in vibrant colors wobbled forward, clearly drunk. She was now sandwiched in between two groups of people who had way too much to drink. Her only escape was a side alley with a dead end. It didn't offer much to hide behind, but it was much better than nothing. The only way to survive this was to crouch in the darkest corner and hope for the best. While the moon did offer some form of light, it wasn't enough to cover everything, casting dark shadows that could easily hide a person in its depths.
The young child darted down the side alley and crouched low in the corner, her hand over her mouth. Meanwhile the men were getting closer and her mark was beginning to burn even hotter to the point where it was almost painful. Still, she remained quiet and prayed as much as she could. She hoped that the mark was just acting up and didn't mean what she thought, though that hope was ever so small.
"Oh....did ya find her?" A slurred voice asked. It sounded like glass being dragged across concrete, an unpleasant noise that could make one feel very uncomfortable. "The slaves told me she had come this way. When they realized they could save themselves they were quick to give up the information. God I hate slaves."
Raucous laughter followed this statement and the sounds of footsteps got closer and closer. It wasn't long before both groups were standing at the entrance of the alley and the mark on the child's stomach was burning akin to a raging fire. The slave child herself was frozen in fear, having just heard the voice of her owner and what he had said. She was so close to breaking down, the tears already beginning to overflow, and she had to struggle not to make any noise lest all hope leave her completely. She still had the chance of making it out as long as she kept quiet. If caught, she would no doubt suffer a worse fate than simply dying. She herself had witnessed what her master was capable of and the monster he truly was.
"Why don't we shine a light down tis alley," another equally drunken voice asked. "The moon may be out but it's rather 'ard to see anything down tis one. I'm sure almost certain she's 'ere though."
"If your here Little B*tch," the first voice said, his voice rising a few octaves. "I command you to let us know with some sort of sign."
There it was. The command that she had been dreading but knew was coming. She tried to stop herself as best she could but she was no match for the slave mark as she removed her hands and let out a shout. "I'm right over here!"
"So she WAS down there," The slave owner said as the alley got brighter, glee coloring his voice. A bright ball of light made its way down the narrow passage, illuminating everything as the two groups followed the light. "That little bitch is in for the time of her life."
There were a total of five men. Each one was dressed up in what could only be described as expensive clothing, suits, and vibrant outfits that were rather pretty to look at. The person in front of the other four was a fat, obese looking pig of a man seeming to be in his mid to late forties with greasy brown hair and rolls of fat taking up the majority of his face. The only thing that could really be discerned from the man's head was his small beady eyes and crooked mouth which was pulled up into a sneer.
"Hellooooo," the man said with a small laugh. "Fancy meeting you here Little B*tch. I thought you'd be back at the house with the other pieces of trash. I'm surprised that you're here."
Laughter followed these comments, as if they found it hilarious of what was going to happen. It was clear that each of them intended to have some fun with the little girl. Whether or not they killed her was no longer something to worry about. What really scared the slave child was the look in the men's eyes as they stared at her. Greedy, animalistic stares that threatened to devour her, eyes that made her feel disgust and revulsion throughout her entire body. At this point, death would have been a blessing. Her life was over, she had been caught.
"Now now, there's no need to get all nasty." A voice filled with laughter easily cut through the rather tense atmosphere as a rather dark figure hurtled down from the top of the alley. The dark unknown individual landed in between the child and the master without making so much as a sound, the light illuminating the alley making the intruder visible.
"If you want to really impress a lady," the figure said as he tapped the twin daggers he held against his legs. ""You have to be a lot more...smooth than that. R*pe is SOOO last year man! Get with the times you old fart!"
The world seemed to freeze for a few seconds as the men took in the sight in front of them. This pause only lasted a few moments though as the adults burst out laughing, their horrible voices echoing off the walls. While it was clear the new arrival had startled them, they could no longer take him seriously.
"Oh? What the hell are YOU gonna do about it?! You're just a kid. Get lost brat. Your momma's calling."
The figure ignored them as they continued laughing, instead turning his attention onto the child and allowing her to get a clear glimpse of who had just jumped down from so high up. She hadn't sensed any magic being used which, being a part of the elven race, she would have picked up on. This person had used only physical strength and yet hadn't made a single sound when landing, it just didn't make any sense.
Wild, white hair rested on top of a youthful face as the young child knelt down and gave a warm smile. The boy wore all black, shirt, shorts, and an equally dark cloak that covered his entire back. The only thing he was missing was shoes, his bare and rather pale feet sticking out from his cloak. The girl couldn't help but feel as if this young boy was more than he seemed, and he seemed rather goofy at first glance.
"Well hey there hot stuff," the young juvenile said, now completely ignoring the drunk men behind him. "Which realm did a beauty like you come from? Wait wait, don't tell me...you're an elf from the Elven Kingdom right? Taken as a slave through war? Or was your mother taken and you born into it?"
The way he talked, the casual way he knelt down and ignored the men behind him, it was as if he wasn't at all fazed by the situation, as if he were used to this sort of thing.
Regardless of who this kid was, the girl was intrigued by him. It was the first time in her life that someone had called her a beauty. With long and messy blonde hair, sharp facial features, and rags that rightfully belonged in the trash, one could hardly call her pretty. She was used to being treated coldly and with indifference, but this youth had looked past it without a second thought. He had without a doubt captured her attention and her curiosity.
"What's your name?" The boy asked, bringing her back to reality. "Surely you have one right?"
It was around this time that the slave owner spoke up, his rather hoarse voice interrupting the elf girl from answering. "Of course she has one. From the moment her slut of a mother brought her into this world, she had gone by the name Little B*tch. Dumb brat. Watch how I deal with you if you don't step aside. That's my proper-"
The mans words were cut off when something wrapped around his throat, nearly keeping him from being able to even breathe. Long red ropes as thick as a mans waist extended from the boy's shadow and wrapped around all of the drunken men, pinning them in place. The rope squeezed tight, almost crushing the men in its grip that could even crush concrete to powder.
"Thank you Kuu," the child said, glancing behind him. "As a treat, feel free to eat them. I'm sure you'll feel full afterward."
Turning his attention away from the drunkards, the young boy smiled again. Behind him, shouts of fear and sound of crunching sprang up from nowhere. However the girl couldn't see them as the boy blocked her line of sight.
The white-haired lad sheathed the daggers he had held in his hands, bright green eyes gazing into her blue one. "That name doesn't suit you. How about I give you a new one? Will that work?"
"A...new name?" The girl asked.
"That's right," The male answered, standing up and reaching out his hand. "How about Julia? Julia Fortis?"
"Julia Fortis," the young girl repeated as she looked at the hand. Her heart had finally slowed down, her previous fear still remained but she could better control it. "It sounds....nice."
"Then from today onwards how would you like to be my wife?"
The wind picked up, a chilly gust blowing down the alley and ruffling the youth's hair. He looked strong and confident despite his obvious young age. The young girl now named Julia felt mesmerized as she finally reached up and took the hand that was offered. "What's your name?"
"Oh, my name?" The child said with a smile as he helped Julia up. "My name is Koda Fortis, the next Legendary Guardian. Pleasure to meet ya!"
Join the discussion over on my discord and have some fun. Answering questions any time of the day........except when I'm sleeping
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