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The Steam King

By RachelMG All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Prologue

The tavern was filled to the brim with patrons. Men coming back from the hard work in the mines or out on the raging water. Travelers hurried inside to escape the rain and seek warmth inside. The hard pounding rain couldn’t even be heard inside the establishment as pints slammed against the tables, chairs scraped back and forth and the volume of conversation was loud enough to cover any necessary whispering.

Two slighter figures hurried inside as well and they were able to quickly snag a table that was off to the side, the candle burning dim. The hoods of their cloaks were pulled down low but it was simple enough to assume they were women. The way they walked, their footsteps lighter and practically silent in the busy tavern, not to mention that there was the swirl of beautiful silk fabric that peeked beneath from under the shorter woman’s cover as she moved. They sat facing each other, the shorter one rubbing her hands together to keep warm while the other wore thick brown gloves more suitable for a blacksmith than for a woman.

The bar wench made her next rounds earlier than necessary, going straight for the newcomer’s table, her own curiosity obvious.

“What can I get you, loves?” she asked, empty tray balancing on her hip.

“Water would be fine, thanks,” answered the taller one. The server huffed, miffed that neither customer bothered to notice the copious amount of cleavage her corset and blouse provided. The shorter one was clearly a woman but the taller one was a bit ambiguous and she wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity for a more than generous tip. If they had glanced up, she could have gotten a look to see if they were anyone of interest or handsome enough for her own personal taste. Before she could try and encourage conversation, the door to the tavern was thrown open by the next customer coupled with the strength of the brewing storm.

The nearby window panes rattled and parts of the place quieted down to study the new stranger due to his strong entrance. His hood wasn’t drawn up as his entire figure was drenched with rainwater, allowing his ink black skin to be displayed as he slowly looked up, silver eyes flashing as he took everything into account.

Dark Elf.

Some people shifted uncomfortably once they realized the status of the newcomer. Elves rarely entered a purely human domain as they typically kept to themselves. The fact that one was willingly entering such a public domain could only mean that he was there for a very solid reason. Judging by the intensity of his glare, the reason was very bad indeed.

The waitress flinched as the customers at her table started to fidget. The taller one left a small handful of coins on the table to cover for the drinks she hadn’t even made. With their movement she was able to finally catch a glimpse of the taller one. Blonde hair had peeked from the safety of the hood and the sun weathered face was that of clearly a woman, bright light blue eyes flickering from the Elf to her partner.

There was sharp clatter as she dropped her tray, jaw falling open in recognition as she raised an accusing finger at the cloaked woman.

“You…you’re Anabee Bauble…! I know you from the Most Wanted poster! You’re on the run from the Steam Kingdom!”

The entire building went deathly quiet as every set of eyes fixated on the two travelers. No one moved, hell, no one seemed to breathe. The Dark Elf’s silver eyes fixated on the pair and that was when everything seemed to suddenly move quickly and slowly all at once. A glass shattered against the floor just as Anabee reached out to grab her partner’s hand. The Elf lunged at them from across the room, missing them by a hair as they managed to sidestep at the very last possible second, blue and silver eyes catching for a split instant. A chill ran down her spine.

Time seemed to resume normal speed once they burst out of the tavern. The rain was falling in sheets, soaking them instantly as they broke into a run. Their cloaks were gaining weight with the rain and proceeded to slow them down. Mud splattered as they ran, the ground unsure and daring to slip out from under their feet.

There was the creak of metal and the two let go of each other so to dive out of the way. The Elf’s strike caused mud to spray upon impact as they scrambled to their feet again. With the pair separated, Anabee could feel his silver gaze lock on her again as he sprinted toward. Unable to regain her bearings, she unclasped her cloak the instant he collided with her. The ground sank beneath them as they wrestled, the blonde doing her best to get out of his grasp. The cloak distraction didn’t last very long as she heard the now-familiar creak of metal as he raised his left arm, hand locked in a fist. It would just take one solid hit to the head and she would be dead. She didn’t stand a chance against his force.

Heart pounding wildly, and her friend too far away to help, she reached up and grabbed the Elf by the back of the neck. Her mind was whirling and she wasn’t even sure if it would even work, but it was the only chance she had to make an escape. Taking one last deep breath, she pulled the Elf closer just as he tossed the cloak to the side, his scowl and silver eyes inches away from her. The unseen force exploded from her very pores as she opened her mouth wide and the world fell silent.

She screamed.


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