Betrayal in the Snow
"Where is she?!”
“She couldn't have gotten far!”
“Search every building! Leave no stone unturned until we find her!!”
"All of you will find her," a deep voice growled, Galem Darkhand. The Grarrl stepped out of the shadows, his scarred mouth pulled into a vicious snarl. “She turned against me, and she will suffer the consequences.” Close to him, a hooded green Acara stood silently with an equally menacing glare, Masila.
More angry voices filled the otherwise silent nighttime air of Terror Mountain as a cloaked Mynci, Draik, and a muscular Kyrii charged through the streets, their faces contorted with rage.
It was common knowledge among thieves that no one could just abandon their fellow thieves not without an explanation. Insubordination was just as bad. Even worse, betrayal was a huge no among thieves. Anyone who dared try their luck with betrayal was often met with a swift and sometimes ugly punishment.
But of all thieves, no one dared betray Galem Darkhand, the most vicious of them all, or Masila, Mistress of the double-cross. It was well known among thieves that anyone who did turn against them was never heard from again.
But _A2_ didn't care about the consequences. She didn’t care at all.
The christmas Ruki stood behind a particularly large home, only poking her head out when she saw fit. A shadow of the Kyrii darted past, with _A2_ quickly shifting back into her original position before the Kyrii could spot her. Dirty white bangs hung in her shadowed face, with her jet black clothing perfectly blending her into the shadows. Dark markings circled around a pair of green eyes, with three notably dark marks tearing down each eye, resembling claw marks. At her belt, a short sword hung, the hilt notably scratched and pale white flames seeping from tears in the leather sheath. Despite her rather jolly coloring, a look of intense discontent stretched across _A2_'s face.
She had never planned on staying in the Thieves Guild for long. In fact, she didn't stay of her choice – Masila, Galem Darkhand and several of their cohorts had come across _A2_ at her lowest, starving and collapsed in a dark Shenkuu slum. They coerced her - either she steal for them under Darkhand's leadership or they leave her to eventually starve in that slum.
That was months ago. Now, she had to leave.
_A2_ frankly, had enough. Enough of the constant threats for the sake of power, enough of having to keep one eye over her shoulder at all times and seeing her face on wanted posters, she had enough of the Thieves Guild as a whole. It wasn’t just the Thieves Guild _A2_ disliked; she had grown to utterly loathe Darkhand as well. His constant aggression, his reliance on violence to ensure his status, _A2_ held nothing but disgust towards him. As for Masila, _A2_ never trusted her from the start, as everything about her was shady. She had enough of it all, and she wanted out. Even if it meant being hunted down endlessly by Galem and Masila’s minions, _A2_ was going to take the risk if it meant being able to escape.
Taking in a breath, _A2_ peeked over the corner again and scanned the snowy street. "Nothing," she noted silently. Darkhand, Masila and their three thugs must've lost her. Now was her chance to make a run for it.
Slowly, the Ruki crouched down slightly and dipped her head back, her antennae dropping from atop her head. She was now facing a snow-covered forest, the greens of the trees were barely visible amidst the snow, which would make for a perfect cover.
But _A2_ quickly found herself to be hesitating, her entire body shaking somewhat. “Why?”, she asked herself internally. Was it fear that Darkhand and his thugs were going to catch sight of her while she ran and they would follow in pursuit? Was it the possibility that she could be caught and face her untimely end for such a treacherous betrayal? There were many possible reasons that _A2_ could’ve been hesitating, but she quickly pushed them to the very back of her mind. She had to run, now. It was either run or continue a vicious cycle, or worse, face her end at Darkhand and Masila’s hand.
So under the cover of night, she sprinted forward, against the falling snow. As fast as her four legs could carry her.
"HEY! There she is!," a voice yelled out behind her. _A2_'s fears were confirmed - one of Darkhand's thugs had spotted her. And the sudden sound of running footsteps behind her confirmed _A2's_ theory.
_A2_ barely had time to spare a glance behind her, and sure enough, the Draik had spotted her, with the Mynci, Kyrii, Darkhand, and Masila behind her. All of them except Masila had their weapons drawn and their teeth were clenched in fury. Just looking at them, _A2_ felt ice knife down her back. Galem’s snarl especially was especially menacing, seeing the rows of razor-sharp fangs.
Reaching for her belt, _A2_ pulled out her sheathed sword, the blade ablaze with white and blue flames. It was her prized treasure after one particularly challenging heist, her go-to weapon. As she sprinted, _A2_ thought of how she could throw them off her trail. She couldn’t turn around and fight them in close combat, that was a death wish. Her gaze went up from the snow to her surroundings, and her eyes widened at what was surrounding her on both sides. Thinking on her feet, she swung her blade at a passing tree, the burning metal of the sword quickly slashing the trunk apart.
The tree crashed behind _A2_ with a rumbling thud as the Ruki continued to run, sheathing her blade away at her belt. At the same time, angry yells filled the freezing air, but the footsteps continued behind her, even with her diversion. Her head whipped around, and once again, the group was still after her. “Persistent thugs,” _A2_ thought with disdain.
_A2_ felt her teeth grind together in frustration as she sheathed her blade once again. The falling tree wasn’t enough to dissuade them; she should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy. Her eyes went to her surroundings once again in the hopes of finding something else to divert their attention. Or maybe…she found her eyes fixed upon the snow covering each tree, and another idea hit her.
_A2_ slowly took a breath in, then out, before crouching and leaping in the air, her feet almost acting like springs. She instantly landed on a branch, snow falling beneath her boots and her entire body concealed by the surrounding branches and the dark of night.
“What the?!,” an angry and confused voice cried out, the Kyrii. But behind them, Galem skidded to a halt, his dark eyes scanning the trees.
“Don’t lose sight of her!” His fangs gnashed as he gripped his dagger tightly, while beside him, Masila turned to the Draik.
“You. Take to the skies and find her. If you spot her, cut her down.”
“Yes, ma'am!,” the Draik nodded before unfurling his wings and taking off, into the trees. In one hand, he clenched a knife. _A2_ slowly crouched down again, fists clenched. Her eyes were stuck onto the Draik, watching for the second he flew in front of her.
“Closer…closer…” Her voice was a near whisper, until...
The Draik finally flew an inch past her face, with his red eyes widening as his flight came to a screeching halt.
“YOU! You die he-!” His sudden yell was cut off by a strike to his nose, and then a full-on kick to his chest, causing him to spiral downwards, down to the cold, snow-covered earth. Beside him, his knife fell to the ground, the Draik not having had enough time to draw it.
More yells filled the air as the Draik hit ground, and _A2_ finally found her opportunity. Turning around, she launched herself off the branch onto another, then another, and when Galem, Masila, and their cohorts were out of sight, she finally dropped to the ground before taking off sprinting, not daring to look back.
As she ran farther and farther away, _A2_ thought more and more of what she would have to do. From here on out, she couldn't rely on anyone else. She would have to work alone, in the shadows. Do anything to avoid Galem and Masila. They would come after to make her pay for her sudden abandonment, no matter what it took.
But _A2_ would never stop running. She couldn't stop. No one stops.
For that was the burden she set on her shoulders the second she broke away.