Chapter 1

Out of the Night

The room shuddered with the echoing sounds of crisp footsteps against the dark stone floor. The room was dark, with an absence of natural light; there were no windows in the room. The only light was a bald light bulb hanging from the ceiling directly above the man who huddled on the floor. The other man, who was pacing the room's medium length, suddenly stopped in front of the cowering prisoner. His strong arms crossed against his muscular, black clad chest. His face, veiled in his shaggy black hair, was chiseled in a solemn expression, was as gray as the stone walls. "So," he spoke, and the timbre of his Russian-accented voice bounced off of the walls. "Are you going to tell me, or do I have to use other methods of persuasion?"

The other man, clad in brown-stained rags, raised his head upward, but only to scowl and spit at the other man's feet, defiance flashing in his green eyes. The Russian man smirked, and kicked the prisoner in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him and sprawling him on the floor. "Stupid man. Ah well, you've made your choice." He reached inside his jacket and began to fumble around in his pocket. The prisoner visibly gulped as a metallic clink rang through the fabric of his pocket, but his face showed now expression of fear or anxiety. The Russian furrowed his brow, then smiled and said, "Here it is...a present for you." He began to pull his hand out of his jacket.

Knock, knock, knock.

The Russian turned his head to the wooden door at the far side of the room. "What the hell is that?" he said aloud, and stalked across the room to see who was there. He threw open the door, and in sauntered a woman, dressed completely in black. The prisoner looked up and the Russian surveyed the intruder closely. She was dressed in black from the stiletto heels on her boots to the dark metallic chopsticks that held her raven locks in a bun on the top of her head. Her clothing contrasted sharply with the smooth alabaster tone of her skin. She was slender and tall, and her demeanor was calm and composed.

"Gwen, what did I tell you? I am to deal with the prince! Now leave!" The Russian bellowed, the confines of the room magnifying the noise to extensive decibels. "Hold on a minute, tiger," the woman called Gwen answered in a sexy alto tone, "you can't kill him." The Russian's face switched from its gray tone to an irate shade of red. "What do you mean I can't kill him? I can do whatever I want! You are not in charge. Now leave us." Gwen crossed her arms and said, "You will not kill the prince." The Russian's nostrils flared. "How are you going to stop me?"

"Like this." In a flash, Gwen had pulled one of her chopsticks out of her hair and threw it like a dagger at the Russian and hit him square in the jugular vein in his neck. The Russian gasped and fell to the floor, writhing in pain. Gwen walked over slowly as she watched the Russian draw his last breaths, then expire in a pool of blood on the cold stone floor. Gwen then reached into her jacket and pulled out a packet that looked like a wet-nap. She pulled her chopstick out of the Russian's wound, wiped his blood off on his clothing, then wiped the stick down with the wet-nap and stuck it back in her bun. She looked at the prince and smirked. "Don't worry, it's disinfectant." Then she approached him slowly, and bent down to remove the iron shackles that chained him to his spot on the floor. The prince cowered as she got close, and she said, "Don't worry, your majesty, I'm going to get you out of here." She saw the distrust in the Prince's eyes, but he held out his arms and let her pick at the locks until they sprung open. Immediately, the prince jumped to his feet, but stumbled. "Whoa, cowboy, you're not completely healthy better just take it slowly, and if you don't mind, I'd rather begin your healing back at the castle, as opposed to here." She held out her hand to the prince and looked into his face. The prince stared back.

His green eyes sharply surveyed her face, looking for any sign of deceit. Her eyes opened widely, and her deep purple irises stared back at him, waiting for his decision. "Well," the prince began slowly, "I guess you're the only hope I've got now, so whether you mean me harm or not, I must trust you." Gwen scoffed. "Trust me? Believe me, if I wanted to kill you, I would. Look! See him?" She pointed at the Russian. "I wanted to kill him. See? He's dead. You, you're alive, and it's my job to keep you that way, so let's go." Gwen turned and began to walk out. The prince tried to follow, but stumbled and fell to his knees. "Gwen...," he cried out, and she turned and rushed to his side. "I'm sorry, your majesty, I forgot how long you've been here...let's get you home." She put his arm around her shoulders and supported him as they exited the room together. "Thank you, Gwen...oh, and you don't have to call me 'Your Majesty'. Just call me Eric." Gwen smiled and said, "Well, you don't have to call me Gwen, either. It's not really my name." Eric looked confused, and asked, "If that's not your name, then what is?" The lady smiled and said, "Well, let's just call me by my code name...You can call me Agent Gypsy."

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