Chapter 1

The First Encounter

It seemed like it would be an ordinary night for Francis Harcourt. Well, if you count having previously snuck out of your mansion to ride to London ordinary. He was thinking back on how it had seemed more difficult leaving tonight than his in his previous excursions. Perhaps his father suspected something? The thoughts of worried looks on the faces of his father and aunt sent a pang of guilt to his conscience. However, his beliefs prevailed and he would continue on. Francis, or as he was known by some, as the Phantom Thief Black Rose, was seen as a champion to the poor and a threat to the wealthy. The oath his mother taught him, noblesse oblige, gave him all the courage he needed. It was his duty to give to the poor in whatever way he could. Be it through traditional charity or stealing from those who had obtained their wealth dishonestly, he dedicated himself to the cause.

Francis was pulled out of his memories by a far off scream. He looked up and saw billowing smoke in the distance. He immediately rode towards it, trying to stay on the path for the sake of the horse. Another scream but this time to the left of the burning building. Francis veered towards the nearby woods and came upon three figures illuminated in the moonlight. The screams had come from a young girl has was being held down by two men dressed in black. He saw what they were after, an ornate brooch with a ring inside. As he went to pick it up the thieves charged him, but they were quickly dispatched with two well aimed blows to the back. He continued undisturbed, and replaced the brooch onto the girl's bow. "I'm so s-scared", she stammered in tears. Francis tried to comfort her by gently kissing her cheek. Getting her attention, he told her "You must never part with this brooch." She nodded slightly before her legs gave way underneath her. Realizing she was no longer safe, he briefly racked his brain before remembering that he had seen the Dandelion Troupe's Carrier Car not too far from where they were. As Francis approached, an old woman, Ana that had been sitting outside asked, "My, what is this?" He and Ana had become good friends, as both were travelers. Ana allowed Francis to take the girl inside with a remark on the "wheels of fate" beginning to turn.

Deciding to leave before his presence was made known to the villagers, Francis whistled for his horse and rode of into the night, leaving the young girl, Nadja to dream about the starry-eyed knight.