Huffing and gasping for breath, Flynn dashed through the broad grassland, his ash-colored hair matted with sweat and blood. The sun fell below the horizon, casting long shadows along the way across the golden fields, heightening the sense of urgency in his flight. The rapid hammering of his heart resonated in his ears, drowning out the distant chirping of birds and the rustle of the wind through the grass.
Every muscle in Flynn's body ached with exhaustion as he pushed himself to the edge. His lithe body wove across the landscape with a dancer's elegance, a testament to his years of training as an elite assassin. He vaulted over fallen logs and hurdled over boulders, his motions almost ghostly in their fluidity. His senses were sensitive to every facet of the environment, his gaze seeking for any signs of danger, any opportunity to exploit.
The pursuers, wrapped in ominous black armor and cloaks that billowed behind them, were unrelenting in their chase. Their footsteps thundered with dread behind Flynn, a continual reminder of the coming threat. They closed in with an alarming pace, their breaths frantic and their determination unrelenting. Arrows whizzed through the air, slicing across the grass with deadly precision. Magical spells crackled with raw energy, leaving trails of sparkles in their wake.
Flynn's mind raced as he examined the ensuing chaos. "They're gaining on me," he thought, panic and adrenaline mingling within him. "I need to outsmart them, then find a way to turn the tide." His instincts kicked in, cultivated by years of high-stakes missions and near-death escapes. He could practically hear the gears churning in his mind as he devised his next move.
Flynn turned abruptly to the right in a flash of brilliance, his body skimming barely over the ground as he executed a beautiful roll. Arrows sped past, narrowly missing their mark as he vanished into the deep grass. He dived low, relying on the natural camouflage to mask his existence, his eyes fixated on the oncoming danger.
He examined their motions with bated breath, analyzing their patterns and vulnerabilities. His mind became a battlefield of calculations and possibilities, seeking the proper chance to strike back. A wicked grin curled at the edges of his lips as a plan began to shape.
Timing his moment precisely, Flynn sprang from his hiding place like lightning, surprising his pursuers. The grass exploded around him as he fired a flurry of throwing knives, each striking its mark with murderous accuracy. The enemy ranks wavered, temporarily disoriented by the sudden offensive.
Seizing the opportunity, Flynn weaved through the turmoil he had brought about, his lithe form a blur of action. He evaded swinging swords and parried furious assaults, his graceful movements dancing on the verge of peril. His mind was a maelstrom of instinct and flexibility, predicting the enemy's every move and proficiently reacting.
Internal dialogue occupied Flynn's mind, a mix of determination and survival. "I can't let them get me. I have to persevere, outmaneuver, overcome." His focus sharpened, narrowing down to a clear goal—to escape the clutches of his unrelenting pursuers and accomplish his mission to safeguard the Goldenleaf Kingdom.
As the pursuers regrouped and renewed their assault, Flynn's moves became a symphony of escape and accurate strikes. The grassland became his companion, assisting his quick footing and affording him tiny moments of peace. His heart pounded in his chest, a steady pace that mirrored the tempo of the combat unfolding around him.
With each passing moment, Flynn's resolve grew more firm. He would not allow himself to be caught, to be silenced. His every gesture emanated silent defiance, a testament to the unyielding fire that raged within him. In the face of overwhelming odds, he pushed on, inspired by the urgency of his purpose and the unshakable resolve that defined him.
"I can see it!" His lips arched upwards into a small smile when a tiny sparkling line, extending every second, came into view. The lush forest belonging to the Goldenleaf Kingdom spread before him, emanating a magical aura. At night, the forest sparkled with a beautiful blue-green tint, a testament to the rich mana it possessed. The forest's enchanting beauty, paired with its myriad benefits, was one of the many reasons Goldenleaf and Welsburg were in a hostile relationship.
As Flynn ventured into the dense forest, relief rushed over him, and the pain from his wounds miraculously vanished. Although his wounds remained open, the forest's magical energies relieved his pain and fatigue, rejuvenating him like a dip in the most famous hot springs.
After noticing Flynn's condition, the soldier stationed at the outpost tower called out. With multiple wounds embellishing his body, curiosity and astonishment blended on the faces of the soldiers who quickly crowded around Flynn. They couldn't quite understand what they were witnessing. It might have been their first time watching a guy escape from a hostile land alone. Moreover, Flynn was known as the greatest assassin in Goldenleaf, and it was rare for him to return home harmed from his missions.
"Are you okay? What happened? We will summon a healer, so please take a break in the meantime." one soldier, most likely the head of the group, stepped forward, his face darkened with despair, perhaps after seeing the condition Flynn was in.
Flynn clicked his tongue, recalling his aggravation during this trip.
"Damn it. After this mission, I'm going to request a substantial break. The crown prince should find the information I obtained quite satisfactory."
He was grateful for the soldiers' presence, as there was a possibility that his pursuers would dare approach the forest.
"No need. However, I need everyone's attention. This is urgent, so I'll get straight to the point. I have a message that needs to be delivered to the crown prince. Even in my current condition, I have to move right away. I have pursuers from the Welsburg kingdom, and I can't handle them alone—"
A blade smeared with his own blood jutted out from his chest, leaving Flynn wide-eyed as he watched it being removed. Blood streamed from the wound, and a wave of weakness overtook him as he dropped with a thunderous thud.
From his vulnerable position on the ground, Flynn's sight did not fixate on the man brandishing the bloodied blade. Instead, he glanced at the frozen soldiers, their inaction speaks volumes. Their silence confirmed his deepest fear—betrayal. He didn't need to hear their excuses to know the truth.
"Why?" Flynn managed to utter a single word, a question with various meanings. Everyone present recognized the weight of the question. Yet, silence floated in the air, confirming Flynn's dismal conclusion.
Flynn coughed, spitting out a mouthful of blood. These traitors had turned against him. He didn't have time to assess the problem thoroughly, nor could he participate in a fight of words. There was only one thing left for him to do—escape this critical situation.
Pain coursed through his body, stretching from his chest, making him feel heavy and driving his mana to stagnate and leak out. Whenever he sought to use his mana, searing pain assaulted him. Not only was his body poisoned and immobilized, but something else prohibited him from using his mana.
'This is serious. It can't be happening. I can't die like this!'
The soldier encirclement exploded with tension as Flynn Nightwalker, the legendary assassin, was caught within their lines. A familiar voice ripped through the air, sending a chill down Flynn's spine. It was Erun Goldenleaf, the crown prince's most trusted aide, whose golden hair made him a royal family member. However, Erun's eyes, blue instead of gold, conveyed a darkness that belied his noble demeanor.
Wrath and disbelief twisted Flynn's heart as he locked eyes with Erun. Loyalty had been the foundation of their relationship, built over five years of serving the crown prince. If Flynn was the shadow, Erun was the light who wielded power and influence in the royal palace.
"How can you do this? Have you not taken the oath of loyalty to the crown prince?" Flynn's voice crackled with rage, his composure slipping as he spoke to his former ally.
Erun sneered, his lips twisted with scorn. "What's loyalty when you're dead?" he taunted with a cold glitter in his eyes.
The weight of Erun's indifference pressed down on Flynn's spirit. They had fought side by side, survived numerous trials, and safeguarded the crown prince from foes within the palace. Flynn had viewed Erun positively, despite his annoying personality. But now, faced with Erun's betrayal, Flynn struggled to fathom the extent of his old companion's deceit.
"You won't get away with this! Even if it costs me my life, the crown prince will know of your deeds," Flynn vowed with deadly certainty.
Erun scoffed dismissively. "You talk too much for someone dying."
These words kindled a fire within Flynn's spirit. He gathered every ounce of his remaining strength, disregarding the dangers that using his mana would bring. There was only one thing he desired—to kill Erun, even if it meant sacrificing himself in the process. To let him live would be an everlasting regret.
A dark red mist gathered around Flynn, defying the limits of his paralyzed body. Unconcerned by the continuous blood dripping from his lips, he summoned two ethereal shortswords, gripping them tightly in both hands.
The troops, who had gasped in surprise at Flynn's surprising movement, could hardly believe their eyes. Flynn had been poisoned by the Dragon Poison, a deadly toxin produced by the alchemists of Welsburg Kingdom for their ill-fated mission to the Sky Dragon's lair. How could Flynn resist its effects with sheer resolve alone if it could incapacitate a dragon?
Even Erun, who expressed cockiness minutes earlier, couldn't help but wince. He retreated behind the soldiers, warily peering to see the unfolding commotion.
"Erunnn!" Flynn's cry tore through the air as he sprinted toward his erstwhile comrade, swiftly eliminating anybody who dared stand in his path. Given his shattered mana core and awful anguish, it was a miraculous display of strength. Flynn teetered on the brink of consciousness, fighting against the encroaching darkness.
"Kill him!" Erun's word resounded, and the men moved to assault. Some were caught off unprepared, incurring injuries from Flynn's surprise prowess. Despite the paralysis and the supposed disruption of his mana caused by the Dragon Potion, Flynn withstood the poison's effects. He harnessed his remaining strength to manifest his weapons. This feat prompted the soldiers to recognize the danger and raise their blades against the seemingly mad assassin.
Flynn fought with unflinching determination, his twin shortswords slicing through the enemy ranks precisely, finding their mark on throats and hearts. However, time was not on his side. Exhausted, his body finally gave in.
Blood streamed from his wounds, his coughs getting more frequent, and his mana exhausted. Even with the forest providing him its regenerative power, his stamina, and fatigue, gained through days of continuous pursuit, took their toll. Thus, the miracle he exhibited vanished.
One soldier successfully struck Flynn from behind, but he paid no care, retaliating with his own devastating attack. Unaware of another soldier closing in, Flynn felt another sword puncture his front, followed by a deadly strike to his side.
Sword blades protruded from Flynn's wounded chest, red liquid pouring and mixing with the soil beneath him. His ethereal weapons evaporated, and he remained agonizingly far from Erun, who stayed hidden behind the soldiers.
With everything in his arsenal gone, Flynn had failed to drag Erun into the afterlife with him. His life was devoted to service to the kingdom, ended by the kingdom's own hands. Now, the one person who had treated him as more than a tool, the crown prince, was left alone in a den of wolves.
Flynn's consciousness faded, his body falling with a lifeless thud, exhibiting the demise of the Goldenleaf's Shadowblade.
The soldiers, despite their victory over an opponent far stronger than themselves, did not exult in their success. Their hearts were heavy with despair. The loss of Flynn Nightwalker touched them deeply, for the Goldenleaf kingdom had lost one of its pillars.
Silence and melancholy filled the forest, a mournful mood that echoed the soldiers' remorse.
"You've done well," Erun stated with a trembling voice. Acting the part of a ruthless schemer had taken its toll. Suppressing the urge to expose the truth, Erun struggled to keep his resolve.
"Is this the right path?" a soldier wondered.
"Flynn dedicated his life to serving the crown prince. We all know his loyalty surpassed our own. If we were to reveal that the crown prince ordered his death, it would only burden him further. All we can do now is grant him rest, allowing his virtue to shine bright," Erun explained, his voice tinged with sorrow.
"Couldn't we have told him the truth and ensured his safety?" another soldier questioned, seeking an option.
"We could have done that. But it would have been us and Flynn's loved ones who shall pay the price, not him," Erun replied solemnly.
Erun cast one final gaze at the lifeless corpse, surrounded by a puddle of blood. He gently closed Flynn's empty eyelids, bidding farewell to a miserable existence.
"Let's go. Bring him to the carriage," Erun instructed, his voice tinged with grim resignation.
"We served the wrong man, Flynn. These royals are no different. Someday, I -" he muttered, the weight of his words carried by the wind.