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30 May 2002 @ 01:08 am
After Nightfall  
"It is said when the eagle flies high, its shadow covers the world. How then can you fear the darkness? The eagle is always flying..."
        - Duke Stephen Tirome

Rain pours down from a blackened sky, glinting silver against the backdrop of the surrounding trees. The forest seems eerily still, only the constant patter of falling raindrops breaking the silence. The night seeps in, no starlight visible to cast aside that heavy blackness. Amid this all stands a lone figure, cloaked against the stormy night. As still as the surrounding trees, faltering only with the wind which blows relentlessly against that solemn form.

A rain-soaked hood is pulled back to reveal the face of a woman, little more than a girl. Her vivid green eyes peer steadily into the distance, locked on some unseen target. Rain slashes against her face, wind whipping her flowing black locks wildly. She gazes up slowly at the dark sky above, a curious expression crossing her face. Wind tears at her body, yet she stands, fearless. Closing her eyes, a soft smile graces her lips. Arms outstretched, she feels the force of the storm, and seems almost.. fueled by it...

Lightning strikes in the distance. Thunder rolling loudly across the sky. In an instant, eyes snap open once again, and in one swift moment she is set into motion. Racing against the beating rain, she dashes, merely a flash of movement. Eventually, she comes to rest at the side of a well-trodden road, the dirt ground soaked by the falling rain, making it a difficult journey for any wishing to follow this trail. She pauses, looking down the path, waiting... And then she vanishes once again, climbing swiftly up a nearby tree and perching upon an overhanging branch. She watches steadily for any sign of movement from farther down the trail.

And then it comes. The distant shape of a horse and rider, struggling against the force of the storm. Her eyes fix on this target, never faltering, never seeming even to blink. A slow breath is drawn as the rider approaches, and she raises a slender hand crossbow, fixing sights on the oblivious horseman, steadying her aim. He draws nearer...

A muffled *thwack*, and a cry from the rider as the bolt strikes him in the chest, knocking him from his horse. The girl, again, is set into motion, dropping quickly from the tree branches and racing towards her prey. The startled gelding rears back and flees farther down the road, leaving only the wounded man and the assassin. For a brief moment, the sky is lit by a strike of lightning, and as the thunder roars, the woman takes her dagger and finishes the man with one clean slash to the throat.

Silence ensues, the rain pattering dully against the muddy trail. The young woman glances over her victim, searching through his belongings for her quarry. At last, she comes across a tiny scroll, rolled and sealed. She takes a moment to read over this document before stashing it away and looking to the dead messenger at her feet once more. Raising her hood to cover her face and shield her from the rain, the girl turns from that sight, and, without a word, vanishes into the darkness once again.

Somewhere in the distance, an eagle cries...