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Prologue For A Story I Was Writing.

MIDNIGHT
The steam horse did not whinny or rest. It did not frighten easy and it certainly did not stop unless made to. All the above reasons made it the perfect option for a carriage that neither wanted to stop or be stopped.

There was only one steam horse, it stood higher than any horse could ever hope to. It was clad in a dark dismal grey paint, the untidy sploshes of paint evidence of the makers haste and general lack of bother. In terms of style it scored a perfect O for none existent, but the Light Merchant cared not for style or grace, he had paid a hefty sum of Coupulets, the bright greedy eyes of the Steam smith all too telling of his day light robbery. It had been worth it, he would have paid higher if he had too. He needed to escape the city as soon as possible, and all the Coupulets in the Red City were not worth risking a day more.

Still, a little comfort wouldn't have hurt, he thought as the carriage bumped it's way across the city. My arse will be as red as a *****'s lips, he grumbled. The carriage was dimly lit by one dying ancient lamp, it only held a third of its steam capacity, another comfort sacrifice. It would do for their plan, or to be correct his plan. The other man in the carriage sat hidden from the light in the darkest corner he could find. He was the man who had suggested the carriage, the **** poor lamp and the midnight escape. He was the man whom the Light Merchant hoped, and prayed would save his life.

The man was silent, he barely moved save to tighten his grip on whatever weapon he had concealed about him. It had better be useful The Merchant prayed, they would need what ever it was, he was sure of it. His name was Hansei, they had been no one willing to help or to be exact work to protect a man who was just as good as dead, no matter how many rewards or coupulets he offered. It just wasn't worth it.

He'd almost given up, when he was approached by the thin, red haired fellow, offering his services. He'd been delighted and best of all the gentleman wanted not a a pound of his coupulets, just one rare but worthless silver ring from the merchants fingers. Of course he'd been happy to part with it and they'd set about making their plans immediately. He would have parted with it immediately but Hansei had insisted on recieving it at the end of his duty. "When the time comes," he said. "I'll take it then."

Hansei did not look much of a fighter, his tall thing frame did not instill confidence in the merchant, but he hadn't a choice, no one else would come and he needed to get away. Even then he still had his doubts till he saw the scars, just three on the back of Hansei's neck. He'd been in the Mortredon.

The carriage proceeded through the city, they were in the dusty roads of The Evenly Greens when the steam horse proceeded to stop. The long silence that filled the carriage unnerved the Merchant. "Why have we stopped?" he squealed.

Hansei glanced up for a moment seemingly disinterested, "The driver is coming on," he said simply.

Driver, What driver? That wasn't in the plan! thought the Merchant. "What driv-"

"Think fool," scowled Hansei "We are nearing the gates, guards must be paid to open the gates at this ungodly hour, would you rather they knew you were in the carriage."

"The driver will pay the guards, it will save us time from any unnecessary searches. Understood?"

That makes...sense. Thought the Merchant uncertainly with a nod. There was a knock on the carriage roof, the driver was on. Suddenly the carriage was away once more. Still as bumpy, the merchants nerves frayed he settled into a calm reflective state.
If Hansei isn’t worried, I shouldn’t be. He reasoned. He’s the professional. He glanced up at Hansei who was as silent and impassive as ever. Yes, I shouldn’t worry, we are almost at the gates…almost out of the city. He felt calmer now, there wasn’t a need to worry. Yet there was something nagging him, at the corner of his mind but surely it couldn’t mean much. Could it?
Have we stopped? The Carriage came to a sudden stop. They couldn’t possibly have reached the gates thought the merchant, visualising the route in his mind, The Elders Way, Blades Row, Belst- “Why have we stopped?” said the Merchant his eyes trained viciously on Hansei. “This will simply not do. We need to urgently leave the city and stopping every few minutes is a delay we can’t afford…HANSEI!” he exclaimed at the unresponsive man. He reached forward to shake him then he noticed it. The silence. There was nary a sound to be heard, even at this time the streets should have been bustling with all types of ****** and drunks. He pulled the carriage curtains apart and fear crept into his heart.
They weren’t in the streets, they were in a grave yard. “Hansei!” squealed the merchant throwing himself at the man, then he noticed the blood. Across Hansei’s neck a stream of blood flowed freely. The Merchant recoiled Horrified. “HANSEI!”
I must escape he thought panicked He’s coming for me, He’s coming! With barely a glance at his possessions the Merchant prized open the doors and in his haste stumbled out of the carriage. He quickly returned to his feet, then noticed a figure slamped in the drivers seat, he wasn’t moving. By all gods! He began to ran, he didn’t know where but he had to try, the grave yard was as silent as death, nothing moved save the swirling trees that danced to the winds silent song. They were many graves, it was an ancient grave yard. The Merchant ran as far as his feet could take him but his lungs couldn’t take it, he’d seen forty summers and he hadn’t the strength of his youth. He paused for a moment at an old oak tree, eyes watching the shadows for an attacker, maybe he’d lost him he began to think. Mayb-
Snap
The sound of a snapping twig set panic into his heart, he hadn’t a weapon or anything to defend himself with. He thought back to Hansei’s concealed weapon, damn fool you should have searched him first.
Snap
The fear was beginning to paralyse him, his eyes darted to every shadow but he saw no one. He could still see the carriage from here, it wasn’t too far off, he could make it. All he had to do was reach Hansei. But what if he didn’t re-
Snap
He ran for it, his legs summoning reserves of strength from somewhere, he lept over a few graves with sudden athletism, he was almost there, then suddenly he was falling. He must have tripped over something, he scrambled to his feet and made it the last feet to the carriage. It was dark, the lamp cast the feeblest of light, he grapped hold of Hansei’s coat hastily searching the man when he realised something. The man’s hair.
Brown hair? He thrust the corpse into the light, it wasn’t Hansei. Hanse- the corpse whoever it was had a mask made of something resembling skin My god. It was a trap.
That was his last thought as the blade pierced his neck and he slumped lifeless to the carriage floor.
NofaceMichael NofaceMichael 16-17, M Feb 2, 2013

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