Michael tried to get his bearings. West side of the castle... The Mallory Mansion is to the south... but will she be there? He ran his fingers through his hair, feeling a light coating of cobwebs and dust where his head had brushed against the top of the air vents.

"I have to try," he muttered under his breath. "And someone there will probably know where she is." He made his decision and sprinted in the direction of the mansion, brushing dust from his palace-servant uniform as he went. He slid to a halt at a crossroads, blindly glancing from right to left.

You know the exact lay out of the inner palace, but you don't know the roads of the west side of Raillon?! He silently cursed himself. Some thief you are!

He rubbed his fingers into his temples, and finally spun around and headed back the way he had come, until he found the palace wall. Sprinting as fast as he dared with the dangerous traffic of carriages and people, he followed the wall until he reached a familiar crossroads. Slipping deftly through a meter-wide alley between two tall brick buildings, he passed unseen over a toll-bridge that spanned the river seperating west and east Raillon, hiding expertly in the shadow of a duke on a horse, as if pretending to be a servant. At least the loss of his normal clothes in exchange for that of the palace staff had been good for something.

As soon as the toll man had turned his back, Michael broke into a run again, this time heading along a road that paralleled the river, heading south. It wasn't far now, but he had lost so much time crawling through the air vents, what if...?

No! he mentally berated himself. Don't think that way.

He skidded to a halt, barely avoiding being trampled by a pair of hooves owned by a carriage pulling stallion. A noble crest sped by his face as the carriage sped by, the driver shouting, "Make way for the Duke! Make way for Duke Carmont of the third circle!"

Nobles! Michael silently fumed as he dodged around the corner. They think their lives are so much more important than anyone elses! \

He finally stopped at the cast-iron gate of the Mallory Mansion, panting, and waved to the gatekeeper, before leaning over and placing his hands on his knees, trying to regain his breath. The gates creaked open.

"The only reason I'm letting you in is because Miss Mallory said you are to be permitted, though I do not believe you have repented of your thieving ways," the gatekeeper called after him, his tone grumpy. Michael ignored him, there were more important things to deal with. He jogged around the side of the house, clutching a stitch in his side while he wiped his sweaty brow with his free hand. He bent down, nearly falling as his head swam from the movement, and scooped up a pebble, and then tossed it up against her window again. A shadow appeared, but he couldn't make out the features of thier face with the sun glinting against the glass.

Someone hand pushed open the window, unadorned by a ring, but it was a left hand, so it might still have been her. The figure moved out of his line of vision, and he began climbing the ivy, his limbs feeling like dead weights. As he pulled himself over the windowsill, he saw Rose sitting in a chair, ankles primly crossed, looking annoyed.

"Why are you here?" she demanded as he set his feet on the floor

Michael looked at her blankly, wondering why she was so angry. Hadn't she kissed him before he left last time? A wave of exhaustion swept over him, with a hint of anger. Hadn't he just run all the way from the palace, to warn her that an assassin was going to try and kill her?

He opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He gathered a breath in his lungs and tried again, pushing the words past his panting exhalation.

"Assassin's Creed... at the palace... had your name on a list... ran to warn you." He sank against the wall. He wasn't used to running. Sneaking? Yes. Slipping between shadows? Yes. Weaving at an even pace through crowds? Yes. Running? No. Maybe he needed to work on that.

Rose's eyes widened and she leapt out of her chair. "Assassin's Creed? At the palace? Oh no! The King!" She rushed out of the room, and Michael leapt to his feet.

"No! You! Not the..." Blood pumped through his head, and his eyesight went dark. "..King." He managed in barely a whisper as he slid back to the floor, hand touching his temple.

He heard raised voices, and then the sounds of running footsteps. His eyesight cleared slightly, and he saw the figure of a large man.

"He knows about the Assassin's Creed?" the man's voice was loud, angry.

"Yes, but..." Rose tried to interject.

"Then he's one of them!" the man roared. He swung his fist hard into Michael's face. He raised his hand weakly, trying to block it, but he felt a crunch as his nose broke, and then he succumbed to blackness.

I really need to work on... running... he managed weakly, before his thoughts slid away.

The End

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