RAVENSTONE KINGDOM SQUARE

Titus was once a vain, evil, cruel man with a black heart. He was the son of a renowned and feared Boss of a group of thieves that plagued the kingdom of Ravenstone. Titus' parents had died, leaving him as the Boss of the thieves at age twenty-one. Titus quickly gained a reputation as the cruelest and most efficient Boss the gang had ever had. He'd only had his title for two years, but in those two years, the man had made mistakes. At the time, they were little, insignificant mistakes, but even the smallest of actions can have big consequences. The Lair was raided. Only a handful were captured, and all the others killed without a second thought. Over a few months, the handful who had been captured were hung one by one, and now, after many months, it was his turn.

Titus half marched-half stumbled across the cobblestone road. His toenails, which were forever shaped, pointed, and as sharp as claws, scraped at the ground in protest. His legs could barely hold his weight, and, even though he was dangerously thin from many months in captivity, he kept a steady pace on his way to the gallows in the kingdom's square. The rough gloved hand of his executioner shoved on his bare back when he slowed or stumbled, forcing him to keep at his current pace. Each shove made him growl, and further aggravated the marks and scars, new and old, that littered his bare back. On each side of him, the people lined the streets, cheering as he approached his death. Some booed and hissed and threw things at his bare, marked chest. Titus glanced up through the pale blonde bangs that hung lifelessly over his amber eyes, glaring at the gallows looming a mere ten feet from him, then glanced at the ground again, tracing the wrinkles of his pale blue jeans down to his bare, clawed feet. His eyes followed the movement of the two feet of chain that stretched between one ankle and the other. On each ankle was a tight silver shackle. His wrists were also chained, but closer together and behind his back so he couldn't use his hands, which also had claws, to hurt anyone or try to escape. His amber eyes were lifeless and almost bored.

All around him there was the ear splitting cheering or hissing, until it just, stopped. The things being thrown at him were stilled in the hands of the throwers. All noise simply stopped. Titus waited, standing still as a statue. He felt no gloved hand pushing him along. Out of the corner of his right eye, he saw the edges of a brown cloak flapping gracefully in the breeze. He turned his head just enough to look.

Behind him, a young child was reaching up, her little fingers straining for the star shape on the end of his two and a half foot tail. That tail was a genetic mutation all members of his family had. If you had a tail, you were a Blackgrass Thief. His tail was like his hair. It was a light blonde in color, but had short, fur-like fuzz on it. It ended in a four-point star that was about five inches tall and four inches wide. The girl, who was probably no more than six years old and three feet tall, strained her hand, trying to reach the star that loomed too far out of her reach. Slowly, he lowered his tail into her hands so she could get a better look at the odd shape. He studied her with curiosity.

Her skin was pale, and her hair was white, despite her young age, and rested on her shoulders. Her hair covered her right eye, leaving only her left brownish-red eye to see. In her tiny hands, she studied his tail. Behind her, a light brown scarf blew in the easy breeze. It also blew the dark brown cloak she wore. At her waist, a black strip of leather was tied behind her back and being used as a belt. Her pants and shoes were a simple pure white. To Titus, this was unnatural. White was an easily stained color, and a poor choice for the child of a typical working family, as most were. However, unlike everyone else, she was not afraid of his tail. Others were, because it marked him as a Blackgrass. He smiled, tilting his head slightly to one side as he reasoned with himself,

Perhaps she is too young to understand I am dangerous. But what parent wouldn't tell their child the tales of the Blackgrass? My family is well know. Where is her mother? Why was she allowed to come up to me and no one stopped her?

His foggy mind struggled to find the answers and paint an understandable mental picture, but it frustrated him that all of his questions remained unanswered.

A tiny fist curled around his left pants leg. He looked down at her, then down the street. The people lining the street were also in an uproar. His mind was too foggy, tired, and pain-filled to make sense of anything. Numbly, he peered farther down the cobblestone path.

People were leaping out of the way as a black carriage pulled by two massive white horses with black hooves tore down the street, not minding the people who jumped to one side to avoid getting hit. Driving the carriage, was a young man in a butler's uniform with a white flower in his breast pocket. His black hair was a type of messy-neat, and his skin was pretty fair in color. His eyes were a pale yet intense brown. The carriage he drove was large and black, with a large golden raven painted on either carriage showed no signs of stopping and seemed to have every intention of cutting him down. He refused to flinch. His tail curled instinctively around the child's waist protectively as he faced the carriage head on. Slowly, he rose his chin, amber eyes glinting as who he believed to be Death's Messenger approaching him.

It got closer, and closer, and Titus' calm breathing got a bit more uneven, but barely. The horses neighed loudly, and the approaching carriage began screaming to a stop, horse's hooves and wooden wheels screaming in protest as they slid across the cobblestones. Titus' eyes grew a bit wider and his shoulders rose as he sucked in a breath through his teeth. Just barely, the carriage stopped, his face a few inches away from one of the horse's faces. He slowly let out the breath and relaxed, his tail unfurling and falling back into its usual place. The driver slid down from the reigns.

He was a six foot young man with a thin, lanky build that looked as though it would blow away in the breeze. His tail coat was trimmed in golden X-shaped stitches that were about an inch tall each and connected to each other. As he walked, he put the toe of his polished shoes down hesitantly, as if he feared the ground would run out from under his feet, before setting the rest of his foot down boldly. Titus looked into his pale eyes and smirked, musing silently,

He's blind.

The child slipped farther behind Titus' leg, holding onto his pants leg with both tiny hands. She regarded the other curiously and boldness, but had a look in her eyes like a child looks when they are caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The man put out his hands as he neared Titus. The wind picked up and blew her scarf towards the one searching for her. He clutched it and followed the soft fabric until his fingertips brushed her shoulders. Confidently, he put his hands on her shoulders, dropping to his knees so they were seeing eye to blind eye. She did not release her grasp on the fabric in her hands. The man exclaimed,

"Princess! We were all so worried when we called and called for you, and you did not come to us from the courtyard! Thank the King you're safe!"

Titus glanced around to see the people lining the street had dropped to the ground and were bowing. Unable to do so, he simply bowed his head low. He could feel the man's hand gently unfurling the young princess' fingers from his pants. Both stood back up to their full heights respectively, as Titus was a good five to six inches taller than the six foot man. Both locked eyes. For Titus, it was awkward, since he was looking into the unseeing eyes of the princess of Ravenstone's guardian. The man bowed his head respectively, saying politely,

"My name in Kenkyo, head butler of the King and Queen of Ravenstone. This is Ayama Ravenstone, Princess of Ravenstone. I am sorry for any trouble or discomfort she has caused. She has a habit to wonder away."

He nodded numbly. A small voice peeped,

"Ti-tus…"

Both looked at the princess in disbelief. Kenkyo looked at Titus, his unseeing eyes wide. He asked,

"You? You are Titus?"

Titus nodded half-heartedly, momentarily forgetting the other was blind. Quickly yet coldly he snapped back,

"Yes."

He seemed to mull this over, a mess of indecision. The princess yanked her hand away from her guardian's loosened grip in favor of wrapping both arms around Titus' left leg. His head dropped to look at the princess, who glared back at her caretaker defiantly. Despite his blindness, Kenkyo shifted uncomfortably, as if he could sense his princess' harsh eyes upon him. He let out a sigh.

"Titus. On behalf of the King, Queen, and Princess Ravenstone, I would like to pardon you of the crimes on your head and offer you a new life as a Ravenstone butler. If you take it, you must prove you deserve to be granted clemency of your crimes."

Titus paused. His mind was a mess, his vision was cloudy, and being a powerful thief one minute, to going to his execution, to meeting the princess of the land that hated him and his family, and now being offered a place among her servants, well, that would confuse anyone.

A hand grabbed one of Titus' fingers and he dimly realized the princess was behind him. He turned around to look at Ayama, who said boldly,

"Come."

If it was an adult saying this, it would've been asked and heard as a question. Coming from a child, a powerful child, it was a question spoken as a demand and with a commanding confidence she probably didn't know she possessed. Titus struggled to one knee, having to settle for a position that didn't allow him to place one knee entirely on the ground, since the chains restricted the movement of his long legs. He looked into the princess' eyes and spoke,

"Yes...my Lady."