The prince galloped towards the tower on his noble steed, intent on his purpose of rescuing the beautiful, fair maiden who had been captured by the hideous dragon that very morning. As the prince neared the tower, his deadly weapon held aloft so as to strike down the beast when it came for him, thought of saving this maiden, who could only be his true love, so that they could be wed in his castle in a far away kingdom where they would reign together as king and queen. When the prince reached the foot of the tower he jumped from his white horse and ran to the open doorway. He raced up the spiraling staircase, not stopping to think of what dangers might lie ahead, and finally paused at the door at the top of the staircase. With his fist clenched on the handle, the prince thought once more of the beautiful maiden who would be his queen. Gathering all his substantial courage, bravery, and chivalry, the prince opened the door, sword held aloft, ready for anything…

Wait, scratch that, Prince Darius wasn't ready for anything, especially what was behind that door. 'Cause when he opened that door he saw…nothing. The room was empty, except for a single red rose and a note. The prince crossed to where the flower and note lay on the floor. He picked up the flower, and immediately dropped it as he pricked himself upon a thorn, a single drop of blood fell from the prick on his finger and landed on the note. Forgetting the pain, the prince picked up the note, looking for some clue as to where the fair, beautiful maiden, the love of his life, his future queen and wife, might have been. The drop of blood stood out against the pale paper, a drop of crimson in a sea of white, and that spot of blood was next to some words. Three words to be precise. LOOK BEHIND YOU. As the gallant prince spun around, fumbling for his sword, I stepped out of the shadows and knocked the poor cove out.

By the time Prince Darius came around, Guenther, Ashford, and I had hauled him to the horse and cart waiting for us. As Ash and I hefted the prince up into the cart, Guenther had gotten behind the reins. As soon as Ashford and I climbed into the cart, he started down the road, heading towards the dense woods. Then we got down to business.

As Ashford bound the uncoinscious prince's feet together, I worked on his hands. The he started moaning when Ash dumped his bound feet onto the floor of the wagon. it was clear that he was at least partially conscious when the wagon hit a rut in the road and he yelled as was tossed over onto his side. Ashford snickered beside me. We were sitting on benches built into the wagon's walls and floor.

"What…what…what happened?" He mmbled in a soft voice.

"I gave you a little...shock..and you passed out," I informed him as I non-to-gently rolled himback onto his back. I gave him a shock all right. The Lightning Stick, George's newest invention, worked pretty darn well. I'll have to apologize to him for being skeptical.

"What? But you're just a culdn't have detered me in the slightest," Prince Darius mumbled. He seemed to be coming around faster than I expected, alot of power had run trough he stick and into him. I wouldn't be surprised if he passed out again.

Ashford chuckled beside me, "you don't want to underestimate Thorn, little princeling. She can do whatever she sets her mind to. And she doesnt care who she has to pummel in the process"

I rolled my eyes at Ash and then smiled down at the bound prince. He looked up at me for a moment, and then turned and stared at Ashford as if he was crazy. Unfortunatly, an idea came to him and he started to gab his mouth. "You! You must be the one who has hijacked this young lady and some how tricked her to go along with your plans! Release me at once, Villain, and fight me like a man! You used trickery to disarm and capture me, but now fight me in the ways of the knight!"

I lost my smile. Ash and I exchanged looks. I hate it when this happens! Nobody ever believes that I could be the one to have attacked and bound them, especially not the bags. They see my curly aurburn hair, big green eyes, slim but "proportioned" figure, and pale skin and imediatley think that I have to be the one that needs taken care of. Well, news flash, I certainly do NOT.

Unfortunatley this has become a fairly common expirience for me. Ash knew how much it bothered me, so he ussually let me do the physical contact work. But, still, some people just don't believe that a girl can fight.

"To hide behind the curtain and threaten a young damsel such as her to do your dirty work, it is a thing of cowardice! Untie me and fight me at once!" Prince Darius was swiftly getting on my nerves. Bag or no bag, i was gonna hurt this cove if he called me a damsel one more time.

"First I tricked her and now I threatened her? Make up yer mind, bubblehead. Yer muddlin yer story a bit." Ash, was tryin to lighten the situation. Though the prince didn't realize it, he was close to very dangerous gounds.

The prince looked fazed for a second and then he shook it off. Before he could open his mouth for another bout of heroics, no doubt, I spoke up.

"he ain't gammoning ya. I'm here cause I want to be, and I was the one ta knock ya on yer backside, ya gilly wit. Now hush up. We got a long drive ahead o' us, and aint gonna be able to stan' yer ramblin' fer two whole days!" Oh Hellfire! Prince Darius's posturing had maddened me enough to go back to straigh out theives cant. Richard had all but broken me of that habit when I first joined the gang. I had been talking a mild mix since then, only reverting back when I let my temeper slip out.

Ash looked at me sharply, his eyes widening a bit. I knew that look. He was telling me to tone it down. All this talk of damsels, and fights, and chivalry and all that trash had gotten me riled up, and we both knew it. People have told me to put the past behind me, but it's always there, lurking in some dark corner of my mind. I now you can't run away from teh past, but I can sure as hell try.

Darius was looking at me like a had sprouted a second head. His maw opened and closed, doign a great impression of a fish. "Madam, you must understand that you don't know what you're saying. This vile being has tricked you. You do not know what you are doing..."

"You do not know what you are doing" An image of a dark alley, a light dimmned by the silhouette of a man came unbidden to my mind. He was blocking the light, but I could clearly see the arrogant snear on his face as he looked back at the woman huddled around a small child in the dirt and trash on the ground. He had said those words as he had left. He left them, the child crying and the woman, though clearly hurt, trying to calm the child down, telling it everything would be okay.

The image disappeared almost as quickly as it had gone. But it was never entirely gone. 'Cause I was that child. The woman, my mother. And nothing had been okay.

In a moment of fury at the past, at that gentry cove who had said those words so long ago, and at this one who had said them now, I picked up George's lightning stick, pressed the button on it, and shoved it atrince Darius's chest before Ash could stop me.

The prince went stiff as a nail, and then slumped down as the current of power ran through him, knocking him out.

I was breathing hard when I felt a tentative hand on my shoulder. I turned my head and found myself looking straight into Ash's hazel eyes. His eyes were full of understanding and concern and love. I felt all the anger leave me in fell swoop and I slumped back against him, leaning my head on his shoulder. He could always do that, making me feel like me again, not angry or hurt or lonely or sad. Just me. That's why I loved him, though why he loved me, I have no idea.

As Ash ran his hand over my hair, I closed my eyes and relaxed against him. "That was a bit..excessive," he said in a whisper, as his warm breath tickled my ear.

I sighed. He was right. Great. This was going to be a long, long ride.