Alluring Flower

By all means, Willow Atchinson was no extraordinary girl - she was not gifted with magic like her peers, her fencing skills were subpar, and she held little to no interest in the life of the court. This was held in contrast to her mother, who possessed a sharp blade and a sharper tongue, who could easily light up the skies with her arcane works, and whose mere name invoked awe and fear in the nobility.

For all intents and purposes, Willow was nobody, and her mother made a decision to discard of her shortly after her 10th birthday. The necessary arrangements were made, and Willow was arranged to be kidnapped by muggers and thieves while enroute from the family home to the higher courts.

"We have got to stop running into each other like this, young lady." Willow sharpened Inum, staring at the little girl who managed to follow her down a dark alley. A stray thought appeared - Willow could silence the girl, and none would be the wiser.

The girl smiled, and leaned against the wall, waiting for the lady's next move. Willow smirked, and brought her silver dagger to bear, when she felt a heavy hand grab her shoulder. Immediately flipping over her assailant, she brought Inum forward and struck the new interloper in the stomach with the blade, and smirked, shortly before she found herself dragged forward and experience the sharp pain of her head impacting a solid mask. The pain was short but intense, and brought her to her knees, before a boot kick put her in the dark.

Willow's eyes snapped open, and she attempted to jolt up, before the pain wracking her body put that effort into the ground. Having slumped back onto the surprisingly comfortable bed, she slowly turned her head to look around - to her astonishment (and growing paranoia), the room she was would have been considered lavishly decorated, perhaps belonging to a high noble. She internally scoffed - did her stain of a mother attempt to capture her and bring her back as a trophy daughter?

"You're awake, thank goodness." The voice of that little girl sounded in Willow's ear, and she looked up, seeing not only the little girl from the alleyway, but also the masked figure, wearing a heavy leather coat and carrying a weird contraption attached to a tank at their back. The little girl was wearing a neat peacoat and had a wonderfully woven dress on, with a coronet on her head.

Willow frowned. Being in the home of a royal never meant good news for those in her line of work. "What do you want with me, little princess?" Willow spat that question with venom, her disdain for the courts and nobility showing even at such a time where she was being held at their mercy.

Stella laughed, while Cardan immediately stood fast as an older woman entered the scene. "Dear Stella, can you go and make some tea for ourselves and our guest? Cardan, be a dear and stay with me while Stella goes." The masked man nodded, while Stella curtsied to her mother and darted off to the kitchens.

Adrienne looked upon Willow, and smiled. Taking a seat near her bedside, she faced the bedridden woman, and sighed. "My, my - you were such trouble to find. To think my daughter and her bodyguard would have found you first instead of Julius or Reina." She giggles, all while regarding Willow with a soft smile.

Willow wasn't having any of it. "What do you want from me?" For Willow, this was a bad situation to be in - in the house of the Royal Family, and being accosted by the Queen herself - the thoughts of the drawn out torture and execution began to play through her mind, a horrific caricature of medieval and magical torture rolled out for the robbers and treasonous fellows that have plagued Sereste since time immemoriam.

Adrienne held her hand out and waved it away. "I'm not going to torture or execute you. And, before you could ask, yes - I can read your mind, and there is nothing you could do to hide it from me." She smiled as Willow stared in confusion that gave turn to a muted form of horror. "Instead, I wanted to see who my daughter witnessed taking out a large organized crime ring - a feat that not even my own investigators are capable of performing.

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