SIXTY EIGHT

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IT WASN'T LONG before a hand curled around Ravenna's wrist and she was being dragged through the crowd by a politely smiling Vyses. The chaos that ensued around them made it hard for her to think. A chorus of cheerful screaming echoed through the air around them and faces plagued with overwhelming smiles and happy tears flooded her vision. It was disorienting.

Lyth appeared beside her. His hand grabbed at her forearm as his small body struggled to remain ahead of the crowd. She glanced down at him, feeling somewhat sorry for the kid. Despite how inhuman he seemed at times, he was still a child caught up within a huge mess of her own creation.

The moment they reached the main gate, the crowds began to disperse, allowing them to breathe. Men scrambled to the tops of the walls, cheering as they opened the massive wooden gates before them. As they stepped through, to the outside world, another crowd greeted them. This crowd was smaller, yet their smiles were brighter and their cheers were even louder.

Vyses somehow managed to get ahold of two horses. The horses given to him were different from the horses that they'd used before. These were younger, faster, and a gracious gift from the townsfolk. Their saddles were adorned with ribbons, with flowers. Several small knapsacks were attached to the horses, overflowing with food and supplies.

Ravenna allowed Vyses to help her onto her own horse. Then he climbed onto his own horse, with Lyth following right behind him. She followed him through the remainder of the crowds, toward the forest. Once the trees had engulfed them, Vyses waved a glowing red hand.

"Where are we going?" Ravenna asked him.

"As far away as possible," Vyses answered. "The Blood Knights will return soon to investigate and we don't want to be here when they arrive."

She nodded and allowed him to take control of her horse. In the darkness, she could see a small glimmer of reddened light overtake her horse's eyes. Her grip tightened on the reigns and she leaned forward as the beast moved faster, the world blurring around her.

As they rode, Ravenna plotted.

She had already decided that the kingdom needed to change. The political powers had failed them, content within the comfort of their lavish homes and riches, leaving the small and feeble to suffer. The very men that were assigned to protect those individuals were corrupted.

In order to ignite a change, however, something drastic needed to be done. Ravenna had already gained the king's attention, simply with the murders that had already occurred. The Blood Knights were proof of that. Yet it wasn't enough. The king had merely sent his men to do the dirty work of taking her down, while he remained within the safety of his whores and other luxuries. The king needed a wakeup call. A massive one. The only idea that she could think of was to start a war, however. A rebellion against the king's rule. A fight between the comforts of old and the newness of reformation. If enough people could rise up, could voice their hatred for the guards, for their current situation, then the king might listen.

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