Write to Rank: The Queen's Guard

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"Shadu!" The scream tore from her throat, shrill and raw. "Help me!"

Shadu spun, turning away from the towering Shriveman, a thin throwing blade snapping from its wrist holder into his hand. Without hesitation - even as the Shriveman roared and brought its horrendous axe down towards his head - Shadu threw the blade towards her.

His aim held true, as it always did.

The knife sang through the air, straight towards the Queen's forehead. She pressed against one of the marble pillars of the courtyard, with three Shriveman slowly circling her, madness and cruelty in their gleaming eyes.

Shadu's knife cut between two of them, but before it could pierce into her forehead, a hand burst out of an electrical explosion of smoke and caught it deftly between two fingers. Sparks of electricity fading from about him, Shadu spun the knife and slipped it back into his wrist holder.

He turned, presenting the Queen with his back and taking up guard before her. His chest heaved, breath coming in shallow pants - using his ability always took a physical toll on him.

"Shadu," she breathed, the relief clear in her voice. "My Shadu."

"My Queen," he murmured, more out of habit than anything else, for his attention was focused on the three Shriveman before him. Soon to be four, as the one he'd been facing on the far end of the courtyard angrily charged towards them.

"Give it up, guard dog," spat one of the Shriveman in their ugly, guttural language. "You will fall today, as will that filthy who-"

Shadu's eyes narrowed behind the black lace mask he wore, and he lunged, the tip of his bluesteel sword plunging deep into the Shriveman's belly. Then he ripped it free, an arc of crimson blood following his blade, and he spun towards the next Shriveman, a blur of motion that never slowed, never stopped.

He wasn't the Queen's Guard for nothing.

His blade sang as it slashed through the air, slicing through flesh, cutting through bone, painting with splashes of red. In a matter of moments, he'd cut down all three.

A mad shout told him that the fourth Shriveman was about to reach them. With a soft sigh, he sent a throwing knife hurtling towards it. A grotesque grin flashed across the Shriveman's face as it easily dodged the projectile. Yet it failed to notice the second knife, which Shadu had sent in the shadow of the first, and the Shriveman toppled with the knife buried deep in one of its eye sockets.

Shadu turned, finally facing the Queen. She had regained her composure, he noticed, her gaze steady though her face remained pale. With a lift of her chin, she observed him closely, her eyes roving over him without restraint, taking in the bloodied bluesteel sword in his hand before traveling up his black-clad body to his face, where the upper half was covered by the black-lace mask she herself had put on him.

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