Unbalanced Kiss

Episode One

ALICE

She takes a deep breath as she aims her rifle, prone on the ground, her eyes lining up the sight with the end of the barrel. The target rises, she fires a shot and reloads, firing another immediately after. She glances to her left after hitting the sixth target, her brows furrow as he is already watching her with a smirk.

She inhales deeply, her lips part as she lets out a long and slow exhale, her eyes narrows as her finger gently touches the trigger. Her eyes start to irritate but she refuses to blink.What is taking so long?

The targets rise, she pulls the trigger, it hits. The second set is much further away than the first.

She reloads as fast as she could following the final shot, gets up, and sprints for the next shooting position. Her breathing is rapid and heavy, her lungs fills with air as she inhales deeply but her heartbeat barely slows down. The target rises, she points the barrel with a sharp inhale, her aim wobbly. A second passes, she pulls the trigger and the target goes down.

A smile escapes her. A moment later he would have beaten me to the shot.She breathes deeply, trying to still her trembling hands. "I'll admit it, you're good." she slings the rifle over her shoulder, fixing her hair before she turns to face him, beautiful bright blue eyes stare as he approaches. “I never asked, why did you join the Military Police?”


A frown escapes her, her eyes fighting back a tear. “To enforce law and order, uphold justice.” she turns her face away from him.


“I assumed it was about your father, I am glad that you don’t dwell in the past. It tends to poison the soul.”
How long has it been? Ten years?Her heart aches,

why does it feel like yesterday? She wraps her arms around her. “I am sorry, I shouldn’t have.” 


“It’s fine. I think about him sometimes.” 


She forces a smile as she turns to look at him again, he is inspecting the rifle in his hand, its golden inlays are designed intricately, a beautiful piece of weapon. With a sleight of hand, the rifle spins around his wrist and he tosses it in the air before catching it as it falls back down. Offering it. "It's yours, a gift."


Her eyes wide.
I should be expecting this by now.She bows her head low,”I am honored, your royal highness. But you have given me so much already." She looks up to him as he takes a step closer. 


"You dare refuse a prince?" He stares down at her. 


"Of Course not, I-"


He shoves the rifle into her hands and holds his stare, he appears taller than usual. She hides her lips "And I did tell you to stop addressing me like that." He walks past and a smile escapes her, her fingers trace the intricate design, the gold inlay feels great against her finger tips. "Are you coming? You don't want your uncle nagging you again, do you?
Right.


She follows him back into the Golden Palace, the largest building in the whole Island, built with granite from the Northerns Isles, decorated with marbles from Dalkia and most importantly, the roof of the main keep that is made of gold. She walks past bowing servants and saluting guards before she reaches the carriage waiting for them at the massive front gate.

____________________________________________

A mansion built in front of an ancient oak tree that forever engulfs the mansion in its shade, with flora that flows neatly around it, a home embraced by its surrounding nature. Lively and beautiful. A place that reminds her of her greatest joy, but also her greatest sorrow. It feels more like a prison than home since her uncle moved in.

“Thank you, Christian.” 


She gives him a smile before stepping down the carriage, turning to wave at him as the carriage leaves. She enters her mansion to see her friends waiting for her, "A new rifle? Sure wish I was a Lavellan." Percy's bright green eyes laid their attention on her.

"Beautiful, isn'it?" Cass's sapphire eyes watch without interest, shaking her head softly with a subtle smile. "Look at these gold inlays." 

"I think this is beyond Lavellan." Percy brushes his fingers across the barrel, giving her an insinuating look. "I didn't take you for a gold digger." he smirks.

"I won it." She stares at him. “Do you need anything Percy, it’s not like you to be making social visits.” he smiles proudly before he brushes his dark brown hair to the side in a side swept style.


"He made it into Special Operations, can you believe that? I am still waiting for them to accept mine." Cass stares at Percy, to which he smiles sheepishly. "You pulled strings, didn't you?" 


"And why would I need to?" A slight raise in his voice before he squares up to Cass. "I don't doubt your skills, it's working together that's the problem." Cass's eyes narrow. "Special Operations is all about trust and teamwork."


"I can work with people."


"That you like, and you don't like a lot of people." Percy shrugs, "Take it up with recruitment Cass." Percy stares back, shrinking as Cass holds her stare, turning his face away from Cass to look at her. "Anyways, I need to be somewhere. Some other time perhaps?" He smiles.

"Sure, give your mother my regards." he turns and walks away. "So, Did you find anything?" She turns to Cass, who has a right fringe blocking her right eye, the only part of her hair that she keeps long.

Cass crosses her arms. “We’re not going to find anything up here, those involved keep tight lips, those not involved are too scared. Nana knows a place though." She meets Cass’s gaze. “Are you up for it? It'd be nice to have Overwatch."


"Will that be okay?"


"Why wouldn't it be? We'd be doing the city a big favor." Cass pulls the right fringe of her hair to the side. "What would your father do?”

ARTHUR

He walks through a labyrinth of shantytowns before entering the Lower City, going through corridors and hexagonal courtyards of the Gift, an abandoned part of the Lower City where most refugees live. 


Destitute men and urchins litter the streets, the war is over but it seems things are getting worse. “Coins sir?” one of them approaches, wearing dirty worn out clothes with holes and torn edges. 


He pushes his red scarf over his nose as the beggar coughs, careful not to catch a disease. The beggar hangs his head low as he walks past him and continues deeper into the district. “Some things don’t change, and honestly. Maybe it’s better that way.” 


Three years. And instead of a future we were made lambs for slaughter, to survive death countless times only to go back to where it all started. He stops before a small house with cracked window panes, worn out woods that plants are growing out of, and a rusty door half off its hinges. No coins or glory to speak of, only bounties on our heads.


“I can't say I missed it.” Ethan frowns as his eyes harden. “Why are we here?” His voice teems with frustration.

"To remember who we are." He pushes open the door to see specks of blood on the floor and walls of the room, soft green eyes stare lifelessly back. Siela. I should have been here. "We had always fended for ourselves, no one would give us what we deserve, we have to take it ourselves."

“Are we going back to thieving?” The images from his memory disappear, leaving only the broken table and stools in the room, with dust and cobwebs as decorations. “I wish we could keep our hands clean.”

He turns to face Ethan who clutches at the amulet hanging from his neck. “Our hands were soiled with innocent blood and we were praised for it." Ethan holds the amulet close to his heart. “Anything goes in war, and this is our war. A war for survival.”

“Should we find Nazeer?” Ethan's dark brown eyes finally meet his gaze.

"Nazeer?" He turns to look back inside the house. “I’ll sooner have his head than work for him again.” Revenge is a dish best served cold. “I want Junior’s head.”

ALICE

The lights barely illuminate the streets as most of them are not working, she flinches as electric sparks from the street light above her. The buildings are all worn out, dirty, and hateful words of graffiti stain most of the walls she comes across. 

A lean woman stands under the dark sky, rocking a short blonde hair that is parted slightly to the right, with short bangs and an undercut. A handsome woman."This is your friend? She doesn't look tough..." She forces a smile at the remark.

Why do people keep underestimating me?

"But she's a good shot, and I trust her." Cass moves to stand beside the woman and gestures in an introductory motion. "This is Nana."

"Pleasure to meet you, Alice. Cassandra's -friend-." Nana presses at the word friend, offering her hand as soft amber eyes inspect top to bottom. She shakes Nana's hand but could not pull it back, "I heard a lot about you." She steals a glance at Cass but finds only an apathetic look, Nana lets her hand go with a smirk.

“Good things I hope.” 


Her hand remains on her rifle as she passes through the corridors, hidden beneath her oversized trench coat, the eyes that watch them are anything but friendly, the buildings appear more worn down the deeper they go, a few looks as if they might crumble from a strong wind.


“I haven’t seen a single patrol around here.” She passes through a few skinny men with tattered clothes, two of them without shirts, coughing and sneezing from the cold breeze. 


“It’s dangerous, plus, only refugees and pitiable souls dwell here. Why take the risk?” Nana’s tone mocking. A group of men stares back as she stops, they are discarding a corpse into a trash container, Nana pushes her to keep moving. "We don’t want to get involved in something else."


“Is that man dead?” Her eyes widens. “Shouldn’t we do something?” Cass ignores her and Nana raises her shoulders. “It’s probably just a thug from another gang, we have a mission.”

 


Cass holds up her hand and they stop. The abandoned warehouse is finally in sight, they go around the warehouse and a lone guard watches the back entrance, Nana pushes her into cover and walks towards the guard. She turns to Cass. "Just wait." 

 


A whistle, just loud enough for them to hear, she follows Cass through the back entrance and catches sight of the man lying further away from them, barely hidden out of sight. "He's not dead, is he?" A frown escapes her as her words fall on deaf ears.

 


The two move to hide behind several crates and she hurries beside them, a group of people take out packages from a wagon, they are armed with makeshift knives and blades. A man with a dragon tattoo across his right arm orders them around, big and muscular, a gang boss. 

"Should've brought more backup..." she keeps her voice low to which Nana smiles. "Are you sure about this?" Cass points to a mezzanine off to the side in reply.

 

"Stay there and cover us, got it?" Determination in Cass’s eyes, she nods and makes her way towards the high ground. She rests the barrel of her rifle on one of the boxes and watches.

 

"You got permits for those goods?" Cass and Nana walk casually towards the big man, Cass crosses her arms as she stands before him, Nana on the other hand stands casually with one hand on her hips, hiding the other behind her back, sneaking for her throwing knife. So much for sneaking around.

 

 

"Permits?" The man answers with an amused tone, patting at his pockets before pulling up a wide grin. "I guess not. I must've dropped mine in a dumpster, along with the last idiot who stepped up to us." She rests her right cheek on the butt of her rifle and closes one eye.

 

One of the thugs takes a step, Nana throws, his head whips back from the impact of the throwing knife and he drops dead. Cass dives into the fray, taking one down immediately.

 

Cass dodges and spins, slicing and piercing as she does, maneuvering the spear with her body perfectly as she moves into the center of the fight. A dazzling display of grace and deadliness in the midst of enemies. 

 

A thug lunges a swing at Nana, Nana slices his hand away, finishing him off with a thrust through the heart. Shoving the corpse and slicing another man's thigh as she ducks under his swing, he drops to one knee, Nana slices his neck. Nana turns to look at her with a proud smile, Nana, her heart melts. She shakes her head, snapping out of her awe. 

 

The big man approaches. Nana lunges forward, he leans back, her knife falls short. She places her finger on the trigger. Nana slices and dices, he dodges them, Nana stabs. He catches her knife hand and raises his own knife.

 

She pulls the trigger, her rifle kicks back, the man staggers off to the side. The bullet catches him on the shoulder, disarming his knife-hand. He stares at her before stumbling away, she loads another bullet and aims at him but he is already out of sight.Shit.

 

A few rushes to her direction, she watches the staircase that leads up to her. "Stand down!" The man stops for a moment before charging, she shoots him in the knee cap, he falls face first into the ground. 

 

She reaches for her pocket. "Shit." The bullet slips from her fingers and falls to the floor. What's wrong with me?She turns away, running as she pulls out another bullet from her pocket.

 

She reaches the end of the mezzanine, bullet loaded, a tug on her arm turns her. Her face snaps to the side, darkness all around her, her back crashes and her eyes widen. She is on the ground, a blurry image of a man standing before her, she turns over to see her rifle a few inches away from her. She reaches for it.

A wince escapes her.A hand on her hair, a wince escapes her as he pulls her up. She grips at his wrist with one hand and reaches for her baton with the other, his grip loose as she smacks his leg, then his thigh, his arm, and finally she goes for his head. 

 

Her lips part, eyes wide. Her strike stops midswing, his hand tight on her wrist, she stumbles back as he pushes her. Her back slams against the wall and a grimace escapes her, he puts together her hands and pins them against the wall with one hand, wrestling the baton with the other.

 

A grunt escapes her. He tears the baton out from her clutches, she slams her forehead against his jaw, kicks him between his legs, he falls to his knees, her fist cracks against the side of his skull. Her breaths ragged.

 

She rushes and strikes him in the face, she musters her strength and strikes him again, she grunts with the third punch and all her strength withers.She catches her breath but the man is still conscious, in pain and weak but conscious. She crawls for her baton, he catches her by the legs, her hand falls short of reaching it.

 

She reaches further but only the edge of her fingers touches it, he drags her back with a tug, she pushes herself up but his weight forces her back down. He is on top of her, his arm on her neck, her breaths suffocating as he presses her neck tighter against him. "You little bitch." Cass. Her voice did not leave her throat.

 

Sweats all over her, her vision blurring as pain radiates in her chest. Her limbs are wearing out as the world grows silent around her, her breathing is stuck in her throat, her head hurting. Her heartbeat stops racing, a painful but fleeting sensation, scary yet peaceful. Like a dream, a nightmare. Father.


EPISODE TWO

 

ALICE

A gasp escapes her.

Her eyes widen, coughing as her breathing rags, and the world returns with it. A thud behind her, she pushes herself up and turns to see beautiful bright blue eyes watching her. "Christian?" her vision clears. "Oh." She turns her face away, placing a hand behind her neck.

"Are you good?" She nods softly, pushes herself up to pat the specks of dust off her trench coat, taking a deep breath before she returns her attention to Cass. Just play it off.She mounts a blank face,  trying her best to appear calm and collected. "Christian huh? You two that close now?" her cheeks burn.

 

"He insisted I call him that." She places a hand behind her neck, turning her face away. Her eyes widen, the thug lies dead with a dagger stuck behind his head, she averts her gaze from him to see her baton a step away from her, and her rifle a few more steps ahead. She clears her throat and bends over to pick up her baton.

“Handsome.” She sheathes her baton and moves to pick up her rifle. "Royalty." She winces at the sound of flesh, she sneaks a glance to see Cass wiping the bloody dagger she pulls out. She lets out an exhale through her mouth as she slings her rifle, refusing to look at the corpse. "Just perfect, right?"

"My uncle seems to think so. I am starting to think so." A smile escapes her.

A scoff escapes Cass and her brows furrow at the reaction. "What?" Cass ignores her and walks away. "You still don’t like him? He’s your cousin."

________________________________________________

The Military Police headquarters, third largest building in the city located at the center of the Upper City. She walks through the gate to hear drill officers yelling instructions on the training ground on her left, a typical Tuesday, she steers off to the right side and holds her light duty paper high on the left side of her face to avoid being seen through the fence.


She enters the building and proceeds to the right wing, passing through offices to reach the lounge at the end of the hall, raised voices and yellings escape one of the rooms and she turns to look at it. It is Major Reinhart’s office, chief of operations. 


She smiles at the few veterans sitting in the lounge area and takes a seat on an empty sofa, caressing her bandaged right hand that is still hurting from last night. A few moments pass and she turns to look at Major Reinhart’s office, the shouting is finally over.


The door bangs open. Cass exits the office with an apathetic face, while Major Reinhart appears fuming from behind the desk. Nana closes the door behind her. "How's the hand?" 


“I am fine.” She shrugs. "Why is he all worked up?" Cass crosses her arms and looks at the veterans eating their breakfast on the lounge table, they avert their gaze immediately, Lisa holds her book higher to cover her face from Cass’s glare.

"I understand it was unsanctioned, but who cares? We stopped a criminal operation." Cass's attention returns to her.


"I am sure he was more pissed off about you talking back." Nana smiles as she holds back a laugh. "Thanks for pitching in last night, it was a close call." Soft amber eyes gaze fondly at her and she wraps her arms around herself at the praise. "You're a good shot." 


"I am an excellent shot." A smile escapes her.


"I wouldn't argue, but next time." Nana points at her head.


"I wanted to make arrests, not kill them." She takes a step closer to whisper. "How do you suppose they managed to smuggle those drugs?"


"Corruption, how else?" Cass turns to look at Reinhart’s office. "And I think I know who's behind it." 


"That's one hell of an accusation."


"But one I am inclined to agree with." She turns to Nana. "He personally inspects the goods coming in every once in a while, I bet one of those times were when the illegal goods are being carried in.”

 

“So how do we go about it? Follow every wagon he personally inspects at the checkpoint?” The door opens and she forces a smile, he lets out a subtle sigh, she stands in attention and salutes. “Morning, Major.” Nana stands in attention while Cass ignores his presence, standing casually..


“Late again, Miss Lavellan?” His voice soft, his fury has died down, he motions his head for her to follow him. Nana nudges Cass as she moves to walk beside him. “I served with your father, he was a good Commander.” She hangs her head low. “And I respect your uncle, so I will let you off with a warning.”


“A warning?”


“Yes. A warning.”


“For a job well done?” The major stops and turns to look at her, adjusting his spectacles as if to get a better look. “I meant no disrespect, sir.” She bows her head low.


“Things aren’t as clear cut as it seems.” His tone tenses. “There are bigger things at play here, just follow orders, no more initiatives. This is a direct order.” Her eyes widen, a small and brief smile escapes her. “Do you understand?”


“I-” She turns her face away. “I am not sure what to say.”

A crowd enters and the Major walks away. “Captain!” she squints her eyes to search the crowd, light brown eyes stare back with a smile. “I thought you were a slacker, didn’t know you were off being Miss Vigilante.” Her eyes widen as Carla approaches with open arms, her jaw tightens from the hug, Carla is all sweaty from training.


“I am so proud of you.”


“I am glad someone feels that way.” Carla lets her go and smiles widely, Alice places a hand on her chest to find her uniform damp with Carla’s sweat. “Wait, A slacker?” Carla raises both shoulders as she makes a face. “I thought you guys were fine with me-”


“We don’t care. I know I don’t care. Pfft.” Carla laughs it off. “But that doesn’t mean you weren’t slacking, again, we’re fine with you slacking.” Carla smiles widely. “If you’re on another vigilante run, count us in.”


“The Major wasn’t too happy with us.”

“Why do you care? You’re  a…” Carla gestures. “Lavellan.” Carla presses at her family name. “If you’ve got our backs, I am not worried.” Carla raises a fist towards her. “Are we in?” She bumps her fist against Carla’s.


“Wait.” Her brows furrow. “Don’t I always have your back?”


“This is a different thing entirely.” Carla stares intently. “How about we patrol the The Gift instead of Aurelian Street this evening?”

________________________________________________

She walks into the dining hall, a long dining table for twenty two before her, though only her uncle sits at the end of the table with a freshly cooked lunch waiting for them. “I do miss having everyone on the table. I don’t know why my uncle is so against it.” Lilia smiles. “How is he?”


“He’s in a terrible mood.”


She approaches her uncle, taking a seat beside him as Lilia pulls out the chair. “How was your day, uncle?” Her words fall to deaf ears.
Terrible mood. Very.She inhales deeply before picking up her cutlery.


“I was informed that you came home late last night, very, late.” Her jaw tightens, his focus remains on his plate but with a deeper frown, she hides her right hand under the table.
“You’re not fooling around with him, are you?” Relief washes over her.


“I would never. You know me better than that.” She stares at him with a frown but he does not look her way still. “Why are you so upset? You pushed me to be with him.”


“I did. But there are limits between a man and a woman.” He turns his face, soft blue eyes that finally meet her. “Would you rather marry Percy?” her uncle scoffs.


“What?” She pulls back, eyes wide. “I don’t want Percy.” a raise escapes her voice.

“Then I don’t see a problem. Who else is there for you? Sebastian Vael?” He puts down his cutlery on the table and leans his back against the chair, “Robert fancies you but he is too old, everyone else is beneath you.”

“Christian’s perfect but.” His brows furrow. “I just don’t feel it.” He leans forward, both elbows resting on the table. She turns her face away, placing a hand behind her neck. “I like him but I don’t think I love him…”

“Love is built my dear, not found.” She meets his gaze. “You’ll learn to love him.” His eyes squint, her eyes widen, she removes her hand from her neck and hides it under the table. ”What happened to your hand?” Her heart skips a beat, and she turns to look at the food on her plate.


“It’s nothing.” She resumes eating, his eyes still on her but he does not probe further.

____________________________________________

She changes into her casual outfit, a short cape over her doublet, shirt with billowy sleeves, trousers, fingerless gloves, and high topped boots. With a scarf wrapped around her hips. "How do I look?" She turns to Carla.

“I am not sure if you’re investigating or trying to catch a date.” Carla smirks before rising to her feet. “Are you sure about this, Captain? I think it’s better if you have your rifle with you.” She reveals the dagger she hides under her waist scarf. “You’re the worst at close quarters combat.”

“Still makes me better than anyone I’d meet down there.” Carla raises a brow and crosses her arms. “What? You don’t think I can handle a few thugs?” She frowns. Even my team underestimates me.“Carrying a rifle around would attract attention.”


“It was only yesterday you got your ass kicked.” Carla lets out a sigh. “I am just saying, why can’t we just wear our uniforms? It’ll help with the investigation.” 


“The people there hate the Military Police; they won’t cooperate if they know who we are.” 

 

“Is it as dangerous as they make it out to be?”


“Only at night.”

____________________________________________

She passes through saluting guards and walks down the thousand steps, the blue ocean glitters in the distance, with different sizes of merchant ships coming in to enter the harbor, the Lower City appears beautiful from where she stands. 


At the end of the stairs is Copper lane, the heart of the Lower City, there are Guardsmen wherever she walks through the busy street, though the number of guards dwindles as does the sense of safety the further out she goes.


She turns to look back at Topside but could see nothing of the Upper City, only the wall glittering overhead, she places a hand over her mouth and nose the smell of smoke invades her nostril. Foundry smoke smothers the area but  some markets still line the streets. 


“Would you like to buy some apples, Miss?” One of the peddler calls, She shakes her head softly with a smile. “Would you like to taste some of the finest bread in the Lower City?” Another approaches, She bows her head low with a smile and walks past a few more imposing peddlers before she reaches The Gift.


It doesn’t look as abandoned. Beggars and urchins loiter around the streets, she turns to look at an alley but does not see signs of thugs, only an indecent woman taking a man into the alley. “I don’t see why we bother ditching our uniforms, they seem to hate us all the same.” She glances at a group of men, eyes that stare with resentment. “Should we turn back?” She stops and turns to face Carla. “I am starting to feel uncomfortable.”

“Walk all the way down here for nothing?”


“I actually expected Reiner and Cooper to come, and Marvin. Definitely thought he would come along.” Carla looks around, “It’s just the two of us, and to be honest, I don’t have much faith in you without a rifle.”


“It’s only dangerous at night, we’re fine.”


"Coins, please?"


They turn to a young boy looking up to her. Scrawny and dirty, she smiles and rubs at his head before placing a gold coin in his bowl. His eyes glitters and his lips curve into a wide smile. "Is this real gold?" Excitement in his tone, to which she nods softly. The boy runs off to a distant stall. 


“Kids are walking around, do you really think-” She staggers off to the side as a man bumps into her, she turns to look at him but he simply walks away.
Prick.She returns to look at Carla. “How dangerous can it be when-”


“Hey!” Carla walks past her and the man turns to look at them, “Yes, you.” He bolts and Carla chases, she picks her feet up and runs after them both, trailing further and further behind through the streets and finally stopping in the middle of an alley.


Ragged breaths escape her. She leans a hand on the wall to hold herself up, the other hand on her hurting stomach.
I must've eaten too much. She takes a deep breath but retches from the inhale, coughing at the smell of piss and garbage. “Seriously?”

“Are you lost? Little lamb?” Her eyes wide as she snaps her attention to the voice, it is a giant bald man in a tank top, a lot of tattoos on his body and piercings on his face. His gang behind him. “You’re not from around here, are you?” Her heart races.


“I am not.” She turns to look around her.
Which way did she go again?She takes a deep breath before taking a step back. “I am here to meet a friend.” She forces a smile and walks into one of the alleys.


Her breaths remain deep but it does not slow down her heart,she glances behind her, they are nowhere to be seen. She hurries further into the alley only to find a dead end.
Shit. She turns, taking several steps before they appear. They are following me. “Do you need help?”

A gulp escapes her as the bald man approaches, a scar over his left eye. “Thank you but ah. I can manage.” She moves to the side with her head down, he raises his arm before she walks past, baring her exit .Her hand slowly reaches for the hilt of her hidden dagger.


“Careful. There are a lot of dangerous criminals around here.” He lets his arm fall and she turns to look at him, he is staring down at her with a wicked smile. “They’ll eat you alive.” His voice a hoarse whisper.

"They can try." She holds his stare and musters her fiercest frown, her heart stammering. Her jaw tightens, eyes wide as he yanks her up by the collar, her hands on his wrist. Sweat breaks off her forehead. “Put me down.” Her heart beating against her ribcage.


He breaks into a laugh. “Or what?” His tone amused as he scratches a finger down the scar of his face, she sneaks for the hilt of her hidden dagger.
I can’t take them all. "Exactly." He smirks. "Why don't you be a good little girl instead, and we might let you live." He leans his face close, she shut her eyes as she inhales deeply. Cut his arm and run.

 

EPISODE THREE


ALICE

Her eyes open, her grip tight around the hilt of her dagger, she stumbles back from a shove. Her back crashes against the wall and she takes out her dagger. “Back off!” She raises it against him. 


“A feisty one aren’t you?” He walks slightly off to the side. “Put that away before that pretty face of yours gets scarred.” She swallows the lump in her throat, he lunges forward, she slices but her blade catches air and he smiles from his successful feint. 

She swings back but he catches her hand, he yanks her arm, a short wail escapes her as the dagger falls out of her hand. He throws her and she stumbles across before falling into one of the thug’s arms, “Careful Miss, you’ll hurt yourself.” The thug steadies her, she takes unwilling steps back from a shove and falls but someone catches her from behind.

“Let go of me!” 

She struggles but could not escape his hold, her eyes wide as one approaches, smiling menacingly. “Don’t hit her face.” Her jaw tightens, her body lurches forward, she lets out a cough as all her strength leaves her body. Laughter all around her. “Not so feisty now are you?” He lifts her up by the chin.

 

"Hands off her." Her eyes wide open, she turns to see a young man with sideswept hair. Percy? "Or you lose the hand." She falls to her knees as he lets her go, placing one hand pushing against the ground as she places the other on her stomach. A grimace escapes her as tries to get up. God.

 

“It’s the new kid.” One of them snorts. “Kicked out the weavers and now he thinks he’s some kind of hotshot.” She glances at the young man, he has the same hair but he is no Percy.

 

“We tolerated you because you weren’t being a problem to us.” The Giant lumbers towards the young man. “Stay out of our business, kid.” He stares him down and the young man rests his arm on the hilt of his sword, turning his face away.

 

"I have a soft spot for damsels in distress." The young man stares back and the gang moves to corner her, she turns to look at her dagger, taking a deep breath before exhaling softly through her lips. She turns to look at them.

 

The young man swings, her eyes wide, lips part. The giant stumbles back and falls on his ass. Shaking his head in disbelief. The other three rush forward. He kicks one back, grapples the second, throwing him against the third and turns his body sideways. One hand behind his back as the other hand beckons them to try again.

 

The giant gets up and swings. The young man leans back, the giant stumbles off to the side, off balance as his punch misses. Another thug follows up an attack behind the giant, he slips the stab, ramming his elbow against the thug’s face in the same motion. He wrestles the knife away, killing the thug with his own blade.


He kicks the giant in the balls, another thug comes from behind, swinging a bat with spikes. He ducks under, shoving a knife through the thug’s armpit as he turns. A wail escapes the thug, he kicks him behind the knee, forcing the thug to drop to one knee and he slits his throat. A wince escapes her.

 

The thug presses both hands against his throat to stop the bleeding. She averts her gaze, looking only through her peripheral vision, the giant bolts, leaving his two goons dead on the ground, the last one falls to his knees and clasps his hands together. “Please. Spare me.”

 

He approaches the thug and stares him down, he takes a moment before letting out a sigh, a gasp escapes her and she slams hand to her mouth. The thug falls sideways with a knife deep in his forehead. He turns to look at her, her heart racing as he takes slow steps towards her, she looks at her dagger but it is a fair distance away.

 

“Are you okay?” She turns to charming dark green eyes that sizzle her heart. “You’re lucky I was around.” He smiles, a charming smile. Her heart flutters in a mix of fascination and fear, charming thug. She shakes her head and snaps out of her awe.

 

“I am fine.” She pushes herself up and fixes her hair and collar before turning to face him, he is slightly taller than her. “Thank you, that could've ended badly..." She places a hand behind her neck. “You are?”

"Arthur.”

“Thank you, Arthur.” She averts her eyes away from him as she hugs herself. “Quite the crime you have around here.”She clears her throat. “Didn’t expect it to be this dangerous with the sun still high up.” She returns her attention to him.

 

“My advice? Stay Topside.” He rests his arm against the hilt of his sword, shifting his weight on its side. “What’s someone like you doing in a place like this anyway?” Her brows furrow, noticing the mail underneath his jacket.


“I was looking for information.” He raises a brow. “About smugglers.” 


“Now why would you be interested in that?” He crosses his arms and stares intently to which she turns her face away. “Ah. One of those people then? Too bored you figured you might try exotic things.”


“Do you know any smuggler?”


He scoffs. “Well, you pay enough coins someone might tell you.” He chuckles, circling around her, her brows furrow.
Is he checking me out?“I can be that someone.”She turns her face away, placing a hand behind her neck.


“I can trust you, right?”


“Considering I just saved you. Perhaps.” She turns to her left, her heart pulsating, he is standing close to her. “Even a crook would know better to have a long standing relationship with a client, and your people pay a lot.”


“My people?”

“Rich. Bored. Nothing better to do.”

 

Her jaw tightens. “There you are.” They turn to Carla, “You should’ve seen what I did to that thief.” Carla approaches with a smile, holding up a pouch,  she looks at her waist belt, her eyes wide. That prick“Who’s our new friend?” Carla stops as she takes in the dead bodies behind them. 

 

“Arthur.”

 

“I am Carla, what happened here Ca- .”


“Mathilda.” She offers her hand and Arthur turns to look at her. “My name’s Mathilda.” Arthur furrows his brows suspiciously before shaking her hand. "It was rude of me not to introduce myself." she forces a small laugh. “How much for the information?”

____________________________________________

She takes out her uniform's coat, designed in shades of blue and gold and throws it on her bed. My people? She takes her dark trousers and white silk shirt, not part of her uniform but they look similar enough, and are a lot more comfortable on her skin. Human trafficking?"Night shift huh." A gasp escapes her, it is Cass.

When did she get here? "You should learn to lock your door."

 

"Oh please. We're in the Upper City, why worry?" She takes off her clothes.

 

"It doesn't hurt to be safe." Cass sits on the bed and watches intently, "I got enlisted into Special Operations." Her eyes wide, she turns her face away as she puts on her uniform. 

 

"I guess I'll be on my own now." She clears her throat, fighting back the frown that escapes her. "What are you going to be doing anyways? The war is over." She puts on her shin length black boots. 

 

"We have our first mission next week, a bunch of rebels. Former soldiers of Tenebria." 

 

"Exciting work. Just what you always wanted, who cares about the crimes and corruption in this city." 

 

"This is what I've been waiting for." Cass gets up but she refuses to look, not wanting to show the frown that refuses to leave her face. "Just work with Nana, she is capable and I trust her, she'll protect you."

 

"I don't need protection, I need you." She turns to face Cass, sapphire eyes that watch in surprise, she turns her face away again. "I mean. It's not just Military Police that are corrupt, it's people in high places." She rests her back against the wardrobe. "I don't know how high, but I know I can't do this alone."

 

"You don't have to do this." Cass places a hand on her shoulder, "Why do you care so much about people who hate you? If the tables were turned, they wouldn't waste a second thinking about you." 

 

"Are you telling me to turn a blind eye?" She folds her arms and stares, "You kept saying what would my father do, I didn't do it because of who my father was." She pushes Cass's hand off her shoulder. "It is my duty, Noblesse Oblige." Cass turns her face away.

 

Cass rests her back on the wardrobe, crossing her arms with a sigh. "It's my fault isn't it? I never should have entertained the idea." She turns her face away from Cass. "Do you want me to stay?"

 

She places a hand behind her neck. Her brows furrow, her frown relaxes. "It's selfish I know, you don't have to. I'll just...forget this." She inhales deeply. "Checking licenses, shipping orders, menial paperworks. I can live with just that." 

 

"I still have a few days here. We could go on for another operation." She turns to meet Cass's gaze, "Expose Reinhart’s corruption and retire on that, how does that sound? Miss Vigilante?" 

 

"I do know about a coming shipment." 

 

“And how do you know about this shipment?"

 

A smile escapes her. She lifts her back off the closet and walks a few steps away, hands behind her back. "Let's just say..." she turns to face Cass. "I have friends in low places."

 

"Now when did you have time to make such friends?"


"Was it fate or chance?" She rests a palm on the right side of her chin, the other arm across her stomach, a smile escapes her as she looks up at the ceiling. "Fate?" she bites softly at her lower lip. 

 

"What are you talking about?"

 

A chuckle escapes her. "You should meet him."

 

They turn to a knocking and the door opens. It is Christian, "Taking your sweet little time?" Her eyes wide as he enters, a bouquet of flowers in his hand. "Evening, Cass." 

 

"It's Miss Leonhart." Christian scoffs, a wide smile of frustration on him. "I thought you were about to go on duty?" Cass stares at her. "Are you shirking your night shift?"

 

"What harm would it do? Nothing ever happens." She moves to take the flowers off Christian's hands, "Thank you." she smiles at him before walking away to put it on her table. "I'll see you later?" She turns to Cass who simply answers with a raise of her brows.


“It is nice meeting you again, Cass.” Christian leaves and she hands Cass her golden hairpin in the shape of a butterfly, her mother’s heirloom, she turns her back and lowers herself slightly.

“Be back before the bell rings.” She nods and Cass pulls her medium length dark hair back, leaving a side swept bang on the left side of her face, twists and pins the rest high behind her head in a loose ponytail. “Did I do it right?”


“Perfect.”

____________________________________________

The room is large with gold and red colorings, a bedroom with a living room in it, he hangs his paintings on the walls of the room. His father and mother’s, his own, and the painting of the palace itself. 

She fights her urge to smile as he did, his eyes watching her intently, taking in every detail of her. His every stroke masterful, precise, she stretches her neck subtly but he takes notice. "Tired?" She shakes her head gently and maintains her pose, taking a deep breath. "I think we could finish this next time, when's your next shift?"

 

"I have a graveyard shift in two days." He puts down his paintbrush, she stretches her back and relaxes, exhaling deeply as she stretches her hips. It has been an hour. 

 

He approaches her, her heart stammers, eyes wide. He is standing close to her, too close, she averts her gaze as he holds his stare. "Close your eyes." Her lips part as she returns her attention to him, “Just close it.” She closes her eyes, inhaling deeply and catches the scent of lavender, she pulls back slightly as he brushes her left fringe to the side.

Her heart beats furiously, her jaw tightens, she shuts her eyes tighter as she feels his face close. Her brows furrow but the kiss never comes. "Open your eyes." He pulls away from her, a smile on him as his eyes remain on her chest. It is a necklace, a sapphire gemstone that is iridescent, bright and beautiful. Though it has an odd shape to it, and its edges are jagged. 

 

"It’s beautiful…but odd. Where did you get this?"

 

"Some merchant." He chuckles. "He said it has magical properties to it, a gem with a soul."

 

"Like the age of heroes? A gemstone that gives immortality?"

 

"Eternal youth." He waves the thought away. "It's probably his way to justify the price, some people really believe in those kinds of things and would pay good money but I don’t believe in such things.” he turns away and moves to sit on the sofa, pouring himself a cup of tea. "Sit with me?"

 

"I should be leaving already…" She turns to the ringing of a bell, it is coming from the Bell Tower. “Curfew.” She forces a smile.

"Didn't you go down to the Abandoned District with Cass? Can't you break one rule for me?" A sinister smile on him as he stares intently, she turns her face away and covers her yawn with her hand. "I have a guest wing if we take too long, not that I am restricted by curfew." She moves to sit across from him.


"How much longer do you intend on keeping me here?"


"Long enough." He leans his back against the sofa, legs crossed, hand holding a teacup. "You don’t want to stay?" 


“Nonsense.” She clears her throat. “You say you don’t believe in such things, yet every time you lead the rituals. I mistake you for a pious man.” He tilts his head slightly as he holds her gaze.


“Would you prefer a pious man?”


“No. I am just curious as to why you lead rituals you don’t believe in, you’ll never find me in a Cathedral.” A chuckle escapes her as he finishes the cold tea and puts it back on the table, his eyes not leaving hers.


“It is expected of me.” He turns his face away as a frown escapes him. “I have to become many things that I am not, a charade, but if it gets the desired result what is the harm?" He returns his attention to her. "Without the Church everything falls apart." 

ETHAN

Voices muffling behind closed doors, fearful exclamations all around, sweats all over him. The hot air churning his skin as flames crackle around him, the slain villagers litter the streets. Their blood soaks the earth, it was a slaughter, a mass murder.

 

What are we? Soldiers or criminals? This is worse.A sharp pain on his back, he turns with a swing and blood splatters, his eyes widen at the sight. Cold sweats all over him, he clutches at the amulet of god hanging over his chest.

God forgive me.


“You’re finally awake.” He turns to menacing dark green eyes, his hand already holding his curved knife, the full moon looming behind him. “Another nightmare?” The bell rings them all the way from the Bell Tower in Copperlane. He lifts his back off the roof and scans the ground below.

 

“Memory of past sins, ghosts of the past that haunts my every sleep.” He places a hand over his head. “Will she be okay?”


“We will make sure she is okay.” Arthur flips his knife before rising to his feet.


The Cathedral. One of the larger buildings in the upper city, a place of salvation and safety, at least that is what it should be. He jumps down to the balcony and pulls open the door, it is locked. “Shit. Someone must have relocked it.”


“I did tell you to pick up lockpicking.” Arthur kneels to one knee and picks at the lock, it takes him quite some time but the lock eventually clicks. “There, time to earn our pay.”


Humility is a virtue, but when he walks into the Cathedral it is anything but an embodiment of humility, the painted windows, decorated walls and pillars. Carpets and banners made of finest materials, gold for decorations, symbol of pride and greed.


The priest stands behind the altar, Mirabelle kneels before it, uttering words that whispers through the hall. He makes his way towards the stairs while Arthur goes the other way, “Stop!” he hurries down the stairs. “Let go of me!” 


He draws his sword, its blade grazing against the sheath loudly in the silent hall, they turn to look at him.
A predator dressed in the garments of a priest. He holds his sword by his side as he approaches slowly, Mirabelle’s clothes half torn from the struggle. “Your reckoning has come, -Priest-”

“I am a Bishop, you fool.” His voice bellows across the hall, Mirabella tears away from his clutches and runs off to the side. “You dare draw your blade in the hall of God?”


“Your death would be the lesser sin in the eyes of God.”


The Bishop snaps his hand up, a pistol in hand. His eyes wide, his steps slow into a halt, he takes a deep breath, eyes narrow, his grip tight on the hilt of his sword.
Just a step off to the side. He exhales slowly through his lips.


Arthur lands behind the Bishop, the Bishop turns, Arthur strikes. The gun flies off to the side, blood sprinkles out of the Bishop’s wrist, his scream of pain echoing. He turns and walks towards the pistol.
A priest with a pistol?


“Please!” The Bishop groans from a stab, blood all over his garments and on the carpet. “Please.” his voice a faint whisper. 


“Do you remember me?” The Bishop’s breath rags, his back flat on the floor as he raises a hand against Arthur, as if to shield himself from another blow. “It was only four years ago that I gave you that beating, should've killed you then.”

“You…Siela.” A scream escapes him, three of his fingers cut off in a single slice, whimpering as he holds his bleeding hand with the other. “Please…” he coughs blood, staining Arthur’s boots. “Mercy.”


“Sinners need no mercy. Nor sympathy.”