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Cut the Damn Rope

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There were many things Crai – Feldspar considered himself apt at. Sneaking into a lord’s place and stealing enough loot to get him by was as easy as outrunning pursuing knights on horseback. He could hold his own in a one on one duel; his agility and overall heaviness of armor his opponents wore were in his favor. And ambushing, by God, was ambushing child’s play. But today hadn’t been one of his days. Actually, he never had anything happen to this degree, which is what made his current situation so frustrating and shameful to a thief of his caliber.

Dangling over six yards from a tree trapped in a net he cursed God, the current, past and future kings of this land, and whoever had the brilliant idea of meshing rope to capture.

To make matters worse, he didn’t have any provisions on his person. Everything he owned was on his faithful companion, who had been stolen by the very person who put him in the trap. He made extra sure to use all the expletives he knew, including elven and any other language, in his condemnation of the blonde woman. If any clergymen were around to hear he was sure they’d order for his imprisonment for blasphemy and insults to the kings. He couldn’t care less. All he wanted was to be let loose and follow the path he saw the woman heading in with his horse in tow. If anything happened to Stripe he was sure he’d make her pay tenfold.

It had been hours since he’d been duped and it was looking like the chances of anyone coming by the forest he was stuck in were pretty low. Feldspar considered praying for a miracle to occur that would get him free before the sun started to set in a couple hours but his pride had been damaged enough as it was and figured the best use of his train of thought were where he should look for his companion. Though he knew he sort of had this coming in the back of his mind, taking his horse was something he never thought the band of girls would resort to, even after all the times he’d come across them. Goddamn Bebe, he thought bitterly. Her laugh still resounded in his mind as she strolled away on her own horse with Stripe in tow; he wasn’t even sure what she’d do to him but he hoped their not-exactly-friends type of relationship would keep her from selling him.

But above all else being a thief took precedent over staying irritated, which is why he heard the light patter of hooves on ground meters away. Turning the direction of the noise, he saw a figure on horseback that would pass right by him so he called out to it and was relieved when the person was heading his direction. As the person approached he was able to make out the lack of clothing and unnaturally light hair that gave the young man on his equally light colored horse a fey like quality but human nonetheless.

The boy almost strode right by him but Feldspar made sure to make himself as known as possible. “Hey! Hey, wait, over here!” the half-naked blond turns up to him. “Cut me loose,” he orders.

“Why,” the blank-faced youth asks, the slight tenseness in his voice made him sound younger than he looked.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because I’m twenty feet from the ground dangling from a net in a forest where the chances of someone else besides a semi-exhibitionist coming through here are slim.” Feldspar couldn’t believe he actually had to explain why he’d like to be freed from his hovering rope prison that made his back hurt from the uncomfortable squatting angle he was in. “Actually, you know what I rather like it here I always dreamed of getting stuck in a net in the forest with the only viable chance of being released come from a weirdo with markings all over his body who isn’t going to help. Rope burn has really grown on me, I think I’ll enjoy dying up here alone in the most humiliating way possible.” He knew he shouldn’t be his usual sardonic self to the person he wanted something from but by God, was the guy getting on his nerves as he stared up at him with a smirk on his face. That asshole is enjoying this.

“Really? That’s a shame, but if the damsel wishes it I can’t refuse now can I?”

“I am not a damsel.”

“Are you not in distress?” the boy arches a brow with an even bigger grin on his face that made Feldspar want to wipe off with both fists.

“One could say so,” he tersely replied back. As much as he hated this meeting and the guy, he still needed him to cut the rope.

“Then you’re a damsel.”

“I’m as much a damsel as you are a knight.”

“And what makes you think I’m not?”

“Last time I checked knights don’t go around armor less, let alone topless. And they’re courteous to damsels. It’s a chivalric code,” a code which he himself has never abided by and used to his advantage before.

“Well, can’t argue with that. But I could have just been robbed.”

“Then I’m sorry your lordship had to go through that, I truly can’t think of a worse thing than losing a suit.” He made sure the comment lacked as much emotion as he could.

“Thank you, milady. And may I ask why someone as lovely as yourself found themselves in such a predicament?” the boy dismounted his horse, a good sign Feldspar thought until he saw the boy lean cross-armed against a nearby tree, getting as comfortable as he could as he kept his amused gaze on his suspended body.

“Ambush,” he explained. Maybe the boy would take that and get on with the rescuing but it was short-lived as he gave him a look that asked to explain in more than one word. Oh how he wanted to strangle him.

“I tried to steal from this group of women I know but it was a trap and got Stripe taken from me.”

“Stripe?”

“My palfrey. Now can you cut me out of here.” He was tired and just wanted to go off and search for his friend. Now that he was thinking rationally, he was confident Bebe wouldn’t sell Stripe off. After all, the relationship between her group and him was always stealing from each other over and over, enough that they developed some odd form of respect for each other. It just so happened they were both assholes and best communicated through asshole like means.

The blond made an act to think on it for a minute before letting out an upbeat “sure” that Feldspar let a small sigh of relief.

Moving away from his position, the blond moved to his horse where he retrieved a bow and arrow and before Feldspar could object he felt himself falling before making contact with the ground on his backside. The pain on his back end was enough that he let out a cry and closed his eyes, waiting for it to pass.

The slight chuckling from in front of him fastened the process and he sent the boy, who was much taller than he anticipated, a glare. “Thank you, that was so chivalrous of you how can I ever repay you,” he spoke each word with venom as he looked up at the carefree freckled face of his savior. Now that he could get a good look at the young man he noticed there was a barely discernable vibrating his body seemed to be in.

“If I’m not mistaken, isn’t it customary for a maiden to give a token to her beloved?”

“I’m not a maiden and you’re not a knight and this,” he gestured to the two of them, “is nothing.” He turned to the direction he saw Bebe go through and started walking. The sounds of walking behind him bothered him but he chose to ignore it. Hopefully by daybreak he would be reunited with Stripe and would be plotting his retaliation. It would be much easier following the tracks on horse than walking; he could cover much more land and get to his destination sooner if he could find a horse in the meantime. But as much as Feldspar though it, it was no use since he’d been in the parts of the Kupa Keep forests that were desolate. Though the best route for a thief like him who dealt in the shadows, it was a goddamn bitch of an unsatisfactory situation to be stuck on foot with the only company someone his age with a knack for getting under his skin. No matter how attractive the half-nude boy was his penchant for getting on his nerves just by looking at his face was frustrating.

“Are you going to be following me the whole way,” he finally addressed the boy who’d been walking besides his horse, petting it occasionally as he listened to the sounds of the woods. He didn’t know how someone could be so relaxed yet seem unnerved at the same time.

“I was heading this direction already.”

“Wonderful,” he muttered.

“It would be much easier if you had a horse.”

“Really? The thought never came to mind.”

“You could use mine,” the blond said as nonchalantly as he could that Feldspar stopped in his tracks. “And why would you do that,” he asked the boy, even more confused about him.

“It’s easier and faster. It’s not like you’d get much ground covered if you keep walking at this pace.”

“You’d really let me use your horse,” he asked, looking up the stranger’s face to see if he was joking but came up short. “What do you want in return,” if there was something he learned that’d stick with him forever it was that nothing was free unless he made it. There was a price for everything.

“I’d say nothing but you wouldn’t believe me so how about that,” he pointed to his ungloved right hand which held a ring on his third finger. It had been the first thing he’d stolen years ago and given to his sister, who gave it back recently after she married. It wasn’t an heirloom but it still held some significance to him.

“I’ll give it back just as I’ll get back my horse from you,” the boy said and Feldspar, as untrusting as he was about everyone, could tell he was being truthful. As much of a sarcastic ass as the boy was, he didn’t take him for a liar and besides, Stripe was worth more than a sort of sentimental ring.

Taking it off his finger, he handed it over to the boy who in turn put it on his own ring finger. As odd as it was, Feldspar thought the green of the emerald stone went with the green from the stranger’s eyes. The boy handed over the reins to the white horse and offered his hand, which Feldspar took.

“Well, looks like we got a deal. Sir damsel from the tree, you can call me Tweek.”

“Feldspar.”

“That’s not a real name.”

“And Tweek is?”

“Strangely enough, yes. Barbarians aren’t that creative with names. I twitched a lot even as a baby so they named me Tweek. But I’m fairly certain you aren’t ‘Feldspar.’” So the stranger was a barbarian. Feldspar guessed it made sense, he’d only heard of the tribe but never cared enough to travel to their land and try his luck stealing from them. So he could trust he’d be getting his ring back and Tweek would get his horse back, after all the one thing everyone knew of barbarians were their impeccable tracking and combat skills. He supposed he already trusted Tweek enough, so when he told him, “Craig,” it didn’t feel so out of place. Strangely, it felt natural despite the vexing feelings the young barbarian gave him.

“I’ll be seeing you Craig of the netted trap. After all, I finally got my token,” he raised his hand, showing off the ring with a smile on his face.

“Whatever. You’re giving it back soon anyway so wipe that smile off your face,” he rolled his eyes at Tweek as he mounted the horse. It felt much different than riding Stripe, who was much smaller and made for long distance riding.

“Then I guess I’ll have to rescue you again.” Even if he didn’t want to, Craig couldn’t help smiling back. “We’ll see,” he told him as he ordered the large horse forward, heading to the place he’d soon be reunited with his beloved companion and the blond from the forest, feeling lighter than he’s ever felt before.