"Find her!" Shouted the captain of the palace guard, as several Black Scorpion's spread out to search the hallway. Mathayus heard the order as he was escorting a pair of concubines back to his room for the night; one on each arm. The two women screamed in terror as some of the guards roughly inspected them. "Spread out men! The retch could not have gotten far." Sure that they were not the one he was looking for, the captain allowed the women to retreat to the safety of their room.

"What's going on?" The newest Black Scorpion graduate asked slightly upset that his girls had fled."

"The king's new slave has escaped somewhere in the palace. You would do well to help find her;" came a rather gruff reply of the Captain of the Guard, as he headed off with two other men in search of the fugitive.

Finding himself alone in the hallway, the young warrior shrugged before heading off in search of the escaped slave. Thinking that if the woman was smart enough, she would attempt to blend in with her surroundings Mathayus headed back to the harem; where if he was correct she would either be trying to pass as a concubine or one of the female slaves in that area. The swordsman was forced into backtracking, because he was not quite familiar with the palace layout. However just around the corner the Black Scorpion was about to round, a commotion startled him into drawing his weapon. Without warring the young warrior was slightly taken off guard to see one of his fellow soldiers was forced into view. Then before Mathayus could move, the poor man was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head from a chain connected to an unknown object skill hidden by the bend in the hallway. Cautiously the young Akkadian peeked around the corner ready for anything. That is anything but what he found.

Slack-jawed the young man watched as a slender, well-muscled female blocked, parried, and retaliated against another guard. She was unarmed except for the chains that restricted her movement, but even still she exhibited great skill. The shackles around her wrists where connected by mere inches, which was a large contrast to those around her ankles being long enough to allow a somewhat uncomfortable gait. It was amazing to watch her wield her lead chain like a whip, which much to Mathayus' surprise this teenage girl was quite proficient with. She made short work of her last opponent, before rounding the corner. As the smaller black haired girl rounded the bend, she smacked into the other teenager with such force that he dropped his sword. With a loud grunt, the fugitive was knocked over. Nevertheless the newest scorpion was shocked when, like and expert, she rolled back to her feet ready for a fight.

A smile worked its way onto the boy's face when he was suddenly reminded of his childhood friend Layla. No warning was given as she lunged forward trying to hit him. This time he was ready for her. Easily Maths evaded the clumsy chain, what he was not expecting was the sweeping kick that followed directly after. Had it not been that he grabbed the chain, when the young woman bolted she would have gotten away. Instead she was jerked to a stop with a funny sound. It was hard for the other teenager not to laugh as he pulled a coughing girl to her feet. Once again she tried to hit him, this time with her hands but she failed. Kneeing didn't work either because the chains around her ankles prevented it from being effective.

The more the fiery woman struggled, the more Mathayus noticed just how injured she was. He saw the sores that had formed around her wrists and ankles from the shackles that held her, the cuts and bruises from resisting her captors, and the whip marks through the holes in the tattered and torn clothing; all obvious signs of her defiance. The young woman may have winced occasionally, yet she refused to yell out in pain as the newest recruit struggled to keep his hold on her. The young Black Scorpion actually found himself admiring her fiery spirit that blazed behind her defiant irises in spite of the trouble she was giving him.

After a great struggle, Mathayus was able to heft the light creature over his shoulder. Even with all the kicking the girl was doing, no sound ever escaped her lips. Unfortunately the trained warrior didn't get to admire her spirit for long, because shortly after restraining the fugitive voices of the other guards could be heard closing in on them. Quickly he picked up his weapon before bolting down another corridor, even then this strange girl refused to make a sound when she was practically thrown into a nook in the wall. Mathayus was quite a contrast in size, with his broad shoulders and a visible height difference the runaway slave hid well behind him. It was a close call as the palace guards came bounding around the corner after them. "I thought I saw her go that way sir;" came the convincing performance of the newest Black Scorpion graduate.

"You heard him men, after her!" Ordered the captain of the Palace guards; they rushed off on the wild goose chase attempting to follow a ghost.

Once Mathayus was sure the others were gone, he turned to retrieve his captive only to receive a solid punch to the jaw. It was very evident that she still did not trust him. The still defiant young woman elbowed the other teenager in the gut as she tried to push past him. Seeing no other way to stop her, the Black Scorpion again grabbed the lead chain as once again she was jerked back coughing and sputtering. "You go running off around the palace you're going to get caught again. Let me help you." He growled into her ear.

The young female fighter looked at him suspiciously, but this time she did not struggle as once again the fugitive was lifted over the boy's shoulder. Mathayus ran straight to his quarters that he'd been given for the night. Gently he set his burden down in the middle of the room, finally having a chance to study her. The runaway slave looked to be no older then he was. Despite the recognizable signs of mistreatment, the eighteen year old girl didn't seem to be broken like the rest of the slaves he'd seen in her condition. It was hard not to be drawn to the spirit in the deep sapphire colored eyes that observed her rescuer with distrust. The son of Ashur reached for his weapon, trying to explain that he wanted to remove the restraints, but she stumbled away from him. The young swordsman could tell that the woman he wished to help was frightened by the ridged body language. Fear was also written in the eyes that darted around the room looking for either an escape root or some other weapon to use. "I'm not going to hurt you. I'm just going to remove the chains." As the Akkadian spoke, he tried to acted out what he meant thinking for the first time 'She might not understand me.'

For the first time the silent girl smiled. Suspicion still radiated from her features, but shocked Mathayus watched her produce a thin lock picking tool. In moments her hands were free, and soon enough the cuffs around her ankles fell open. Suddenly both the teens jumped at the sound of the door opening. The tan slave girl dove under the bed just seconds before a drunken guard busted threw the door. "Where is she?" Hollered the drunkard, swaying on his feet; he was one of the older soldiers in the court and well known for his drinking habits.

"Who? As you can see there is no one here but you and I?" Mathayus smiled, quickly kicking the discarded chains under the bed with the hidden girl.

"You lying little maggot, I know she's in here! Where are you hiding her? I saw you." The old bellowed starting to knock things over and tearing the room apart. "You can't hide her from me. I'll find the ungrateful little wench!" The newest Black Scorpion tried to reason with the man who reeked of alcohol, but drunks are hard to reason with.

End Chapter 1