There were sounds of creaking floorboards & knobs being switched. These were the first noises that permeated the princes head as he slowly regained consciousness. A voice wafted through the ether with notes of surprise & a splash of relief, then more floorboard shuffling. His whole body felt pummeled & his mind kept having the sensation that he was tumbling over & over. The prince hadnt done much drinking in his life, but he imagined this is what a hangover felt like. His unease was immediately relieved as the thief phased into the room.
The prince had never been so elated to see a familiar face ( even if half of it was covered by a mask ). She sat down on the bed he was lying on. Due to the small size of the bed, the thiefs posterior was forced to nestle gently against the princes thigh ( even with the slightest amount of contact he could feel his pain being relieved by that familiar tingle ). She spoke softly & explained that he had stumbled out of the palace half dead & that she dragged him back here to safety.
Here turned out to be a small mountain hideout, mostly inhabited by ne'er-do-wells & charlatans about 8 klicks from the palace ( the thief had apparently dragged him for 3 before help arrived & rescued them both ). The prince vomited up gallons of thanks & appreciation, but no amounts of words could convey how grateful he really was.
It took another 6 days before he could get out of bed, but once he did the thief gave him the grand tour. The inhabitants of the hideout were an interesting lot, none of them were mean or rude, but they all seemed standoffish to say the least. They all appeared to be especially skeptical of outsiders & regarded him with extreme caution, but after about a week, a couple of the younger denizens started to warm to him. It started with an occasional meal, but quickly turned into late night parties & debauchery. The thief rarely imbibed or intoxicated herself ( mostly she just puffed on a flower pipe ), but she hung out most nights anyways. The prince was slowly starting to see her real personality creep out from behind her mask ( which she still rarely took off ).
A month in & the prince was having the time of his life. No one back home was like these people, they were flawed & free. In his little world back home he was someone special, but out here in the greater world he was nobody. It was amazingly freeing not having a past.
One night after an evening of gyrating & merriment at the local dance hall the prince & thief stealthily parted ways from the rest of their group & went for a stroll. They wordlessly walked back to her place ( the prince had been crashing at an embarrassingly run down hostel for the past couple weeks ). The thief phased through her door & the prince was left standing alone outside for a moment until he heard a small click & the door creaked open. The prince walked in to find the thief waiting for him.
She stood in darkness for a moment, just staring at him, then slowly moved towards him. She grabbed his hand while simultaneously pulling her mask off. Her smile was like an obtuse triangle that was wider than seemed physically possible & was quite possibly the most mesmerizing thing he had ever laid eyes upon. The prince couldnt even imagine what it was like to smile like that, it felt like he hadnt really smiled in years.
She was getting close to him, but his body was frozen, suddenly the prince now felt more intoxicated than at any point previously in this current bender. He wanted to move, to talk, do anything, but the incoming stimuli was far too overwhelming & all he could do was try to take it all in & hope that he could process it later. They were together for 3 minutes. 3 brief infinite minutes. Then the sirens started.
The thief bolted out of the room & the prince stumbled after her. For a moment everything seemed normal, but then he saw it. The tip of a zeppelin pierced the cloud bank off to their left. It was a sortie from the dark palace.
Below the inhabitants of the town were amassing into uncontrolled hysteria. Some people were shouting & crying, some were struggling desperately to get what little belongings they had together. A second zeppelin appeared to their right & feared gripped the prince like a bear trap. The thief grabbed his hand & they both took off running.
They zigged & zagged down dark tunnels & hallways. The thief yanking the princes arm left & right ( it felt like they were back in the palace for a moment), the prince had no idea where they were going, but he trusted her. After 5 minutes of desperate course correction they entered a room with a strange machine. It glew with a hint of blue ( the second instance of color in this dark dimension ). The exposed core of the machine was smooth one minute & then would spike up a second later. The thief explained that they needed to leave & this portal was their way out. They stood still for a second as she punched some data into the console. The thief turned & nudged closer to the prince. He lunged forward & wrapped himself around her. For a moment they stood still with the princes arms enveloping her body, then she silently phased out of his arms and pushed him towards the prism portal. The prince hadnt even noticed she pulled away because that familiar sensation had crept over his whole body the moment he embraced her. The prince contacted with the prism portal & was diced into a million pieces.
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