The music turned a beat and charged the hips of some of the guests. Though the prince kept idle; making conversation with the vivacious Aya.
“… and I heard this is your first visit to Fahržan. What is your impression of the capital thus far?” asked Mithras.
Lady Aya replied, “It is beyond compare, my prince. So vibrant; full of life. We were greeted by a full welcoming party, and when my train was carried up the road to the palace, I saw warm faces line intersections, and thresholds of homes.”
Mithras grinned and was about pry further, when something caught his eye. He looked over Lady Aya’s shoulder thinking, perhaps it’s a glimmer of moonlight, or a— when suddenly every thought running through his mind was lost.
Dazed, he spied an ætherial creature crossing the veranda. Their gazes were locked, but she managed to keep moving while Mithras found himself unable, and numb with vertigo.
The fair lady swept up the balcony in a dimmed shade of indigo. Diamonds shimmered in her silk, her velvet bodice purred unembellished and her lavaliere glowed silver and celestial. But Mithras cared little for the gown or the necklace and was more intrigued by the lass within.
It mattered not that she was petite. With a swift stride she tore up the promenade like a stalking tigress. Her skin was satin, and her form was faultless. People talk about poise and grace, thought Mithras, but I’ve never seen perfection.
Her duskly hair would have rolled off her shoulders, and beaded down her dress had it not been platted and pinned. Thin wisps, got away from her but she didn’t seem to mind. Her confident smile was wide and bright, and her cheeks were flush.
She was divine, but it was the girl’s eyes which had ensnared Mithras; had paralysed him. Auspiciously they shone ablue; a myriad of symphony and mystery. Mithras felt her piercing stare, and wondered, how long will this moment last?
Then the young woman strolled behind the prince, brushing past him, as she did. Mithras didn’t even notice the jewel she’d pried off his belt. Mithras found he could move again, but he wasn’t free of her, and his wandering eyes followed her as she headed indoors. Briefly, she glanced over her shoulder at Mithras to his delight.
“Sire?” said a concerned Lady Aya, trying to collect Mithras’ attention. Slowly he refocused on Lady Aya, and she asked for perhaps the umpteenth time, “Sire, are you alright?”
Drawing out his answer, Mithras replied, “Er, yes… Will you excuse me for a moment?”
A spellbound Mithras gave a slight nod and retreated to the palace, anxious— desperate to catch up to the woman in navy.
He scanned up and down, and about and around. Eventually he spotted her scaling a flight of stairs beyond the bounds of the party, and he began tracking her. Winding as he went, Mithras came upon a hall leading to his chamber. He smiled at the thought: What a promiscuous girl.
Upon opening the door Mithras found only an empty room, or what appeared to be one, with long shadows from centre to corner. A few stray moonbeams attacked the suite from behind the clouds. Aside from that, it was pitch black, and deathly silent. He shuttered the door behind him.
Mithras wondered, could she be lying on the bed? So he crept over to where he knew his bed was, and asked aloud, “Where are you… princess?” He placed emphasis on her rank, for he wasn’t sure what her true status was, but he was sure she was too young to be a monarch, and too angelic to be a simple lady.
It was clear he wasn’t alone. As he came nearer however, he felt a truly dark umbrage hiding within the room; something sinister laid in wait.
A vile and serpentine voice answered instead, “I don’t know about any princess…” and the speaker stepped out of the shade.
Before Mithras was a frightening beast. One he had only ever heard of in stories. Stories related to him by his father’s generals. It had a face and a body like a man, but it was clear this was this was the spawn of a dæmon. A creature known to the Tandarians as one of the Vagan V’asi. An eater of fire.
His rotting skin was pale and his head was bald. His mouth was full of daggers and his tongue flicked like poison. But most haunting of all was his stare. His eyes looked like pits of tar seemingly vacant, but decidedly treacherous. Then the fire eater spoke again, “But we’ve been waiting for you.”
The hair on Mithras’ neck stood on end, and he discreetly placed his hand on the pommel of his sword.
“Is that so?” whispered Mithras.
“We’re going home soon…” the villain stated. Four other figures stepped forward, from their hiding places either behind tapestries or drapes. One even descended from the ceiling in front of the bed, though his landing was padded. It gave the girl under the divan a start but she was quick to stifle any noise that could have escaped her lips.
“Care to join us?” hissed the reptile.
Some of the finest warriors in the land had trained Mithras in combat and dueling. And while he was skilled, Mithras was outnumbered and severely outmatched. He unsheathed, and made certain to point the blade at his every foe. Threefold were human, but that wouldn’t make any of the intruders less dangerous.
They were uncouth, and had their sharpened arms pointed, or their claws honed and open. The acrobatic one even snarled; baring fangs dripping with the blood of innocence. The criminals rushed him immediately after, and Mithras was forced to take on a defensive stance.
A massive clatter of metal smashing metal erupted as Mithras deflected swipes from his enemies’ blades. He swung the blade like a cudgel, simply hoping to make contact with anything. If I draw blood, even better.
Mithras made contact with his sword and a man, and they whinged. Then Mithras struck another one, but not hard enough to make him complain.
Although he put up a good fight, his efforts were for naught. And the bout did not last long, nor did it end in the prince’s favour.
Some blood was spilt. Mithras scimitar was knocked from his hands and then he was forced to his knees. He continued to writhe however, (to no avail) as the intruders lashed limbs and gagged him. Then with haste, the intruders dragged him to the fenestra and flew from the balcony, whereupon they became abductors.