Notes and such -- I'm putting several excerpts from my various stories here. I'm cutting and pasting my best ryona-esque scenes with a little bit of editing here and there for clarity, but you're still getting this stuff mostly out of context. In this one, Aura is tracking down a criminal organization that abducts women and sells them into slavery. Unknown to the public, they also keep many of their slaves and force them to fight each other for the entertainment of wealthy clients. When a slave loses three fights, they are executed on the spot by one of the clients for a gargantuan price. So obviously, Aura is captured and enslaved, and is forced to fight for her life. Jake-knife - Aura's weapon is a small rod crafted by drake men. Depending on what motion she makes with it, it changes shape to suit her needs. It can be a sword, spear, bow, etc. She is constantly finding new uses for it throughout the story. ----- He looked like a sweet old man; a kind of grandfatherly figure who always had some sage advice or at least candy to offer. He was tall, but not very imposing due to the gentle smile he always carried. His thin hair was stark white like his eyes, and he moved with an unusual lithe athleticism for someone his age. Agility is important when one is in the business of abducting nubile girls. Aura crouched behind the short wall, poking her head just over its top as she watched her target walking around in broad daylight -- as if he had no fear of legal retribution for his lifestyle. That boldness bothered her somewhat, but she payed it little mind as the geezer met with who was likely his employer. This second man was young and short, but had broad shoulders and looked to be quite muscular. The employer handed the target a small pouch, and Aura guessed this was his pay for the latest slave captured. The bounty on the older man's head alone was two thousand disterci. If she could successfully expose their whole ring, the reward was a whopping five hundred sestence. Her breaths were quick and shallow, and her heart rate was escalating. Finally, she thought, brushing her messy red hair out of her eyes. She had begun to think he would never meet with his boss. But here they were, making their transaction right at the inn's entrance, guards within shouting distance. Speaking of the guards, it occurred to her briefly that she ought to involve them, rather than going at it alone, but then, what would have been the point of telling Mic and the others that she would handle this one? It would make this whole mission moot, proving nothing. But now what? She wondered. Do I take them down here and now? The two men shook hands and started to go their separate ways. Shit, which one? Which one will lead me back to their base? Her original target began walking down the street to her left, while the boss simply went back into the inn. After a moment, she stood up and walked around the wall, heading towards the inn. She opened the door, pulling out her pipe and small weed pouch. She stuck the tip of the pipe between her lips, filled and lit it, waving out the match. She took a slow draw from it, looking around as she did so. There were several patrons sitting at the tables and bar, but the mob boss wasn't among them. She turned her head and just barely saw him out of the corner of her eye as he descended a flight of stairs and passed through a door. "Aren't you a bit young to be smoking, kid?" a gruff voice inquired to Aura's right. She turned to see the large innkeeper glaring at her. She glared back, narrowing her large, green eyes. "I'm not a kid," she grumbled, taking another hit from the pipe. She released the smoke in a perfect ring towards the man's hairy face. He raised an eyebrow. "Well you don't look like an adult. You got your mommy and daddy with you?" Aura ground her teeth, then closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Don't prove this asshole right and blow up on him. "I'm actually looking for my brother," she lied, looking up at him. "He said he'd be staying here. You might have seen him. He's a little taller than me, bald head, kind of muscular. The innkeeper's other eyebrow went up. "You're Jon's brother?" Aura bit her tongue, holding back every curse she had ever used. "Sister," she corrected him, trembling slightly with unvented rage. Had he not pressed upon this, her most sensitive issue, she might have caught that red flag going up. "He actually just stepped in," the innkeeper informed her. "I believe he just went to his room a moment ago. He's in number eight." "Thanks," Aura said, forcing a smile. She walked quickly to the stairs and headed down. Underground accommodations? She mused. Bizarre. She opened the door, and her coat blew out behind her from the draft. What the hell? Can't be from an open window. She made her way down the candle-lit hallway, keeping an eye on the door numbers. She ran her fingers along the edge of her Jake-knife, drawing a bit of comfort from its weight. Smoke billowed from her nostrils like an angered dragon as she forced it from her lungs. Room eight came within view, and she tightened her grip on her ever-shifting weapon. Just as she pulled it from her belt, she became aware of a presence behind her. "Damn it!" she hissed, spinning around to face the one who had snuck up on her and saw the man she had been tracking. She didn't pause or hesitate, but she still wasn't quick enough. With a little grin, the older man struck her hard across the face, but she didn't let it faze her. Changing the Jake-knife from a rod to a small blade with a quick twist, she thrusted it to the man's gut. He barely caught her hand in time, his grin fading. He must have assumed the one blow would be enough to take such a small girl down. Aura twisted in closer, shoving her elbow just under his ribs. He coughed once, then slammed his left fist into the side of her head with three quick jabs. Aura staggered back, but before she could lunge back at him, she heard the door to room eight being thrown open behind her. Jon was immediately at Aura's back and put her in a tight head lock. "F-fuck!" she swore, struggling to break free. She raised her arms and dropped to her knees, trying to slip out, but Jon reacted too quickly and dropped with her. "Who are you working for?" Jon uttered. The older man quickly closed the distance and dealt a swift kick to Aura's stomach. She cried out in pain, but with the wind knocked out of her it came out as more of a squeak. "Lord Kelton put out a hefty bounty on me after I abducted her daughter," the older man answered. Jon must have given him a withering look, because he explained further. "Well, not me specifically, but...you know. Whoever is responsible for the disappearances." He crouched down and struck her several more times in the face so she'd stop struggling. Aura groaned, hearing about every other word spoken. Blood poured from her brow, cheeks and lips. "Just a bounty hunter, then," Jon said, almost sounding disappointed. "Shall I finish him off?" "I'm a...woman, asshole," she uttered reflexively, coming back to her senses. The two men shared a glance. "Guess not." They dragged her back to room eight. But as they passed the threshold, she pulled an arm free and slammed her elbow into Jon's nose and made a break for it. She got two steps before the older man grabbed her by the neck and slammed her into the wall. She grunted, then a desperate sound she'd never heard herself make escaped her throat as she tried to pry him off of her. Tears threatened to sting at her eyes, but she refused to regret declining her friends' help on this one mission. "I've killed men much more dangerous than you insignificant pricks!" she growled, but her voice was breaking. Jon reemerged from the room with a bleeding nose and furious eyes. He viciously punched her in the kidney four times. Aura reeled from the blinding pain. Her vision went white as she coughed up blood, and her body went completely limp. Once more they dragged her back into the room and slammed the door shut. "She's got a bit of fight in her," the older one said with a chuckle as they threw her onto the bed. She curled up into the fetal position as they approached. "I think she'll be a popular combatant in the pit." "Popular, yes," Jon agreed, tying her hands together. "But she's too small and weak to last more than a few fights." He wiped his bloodied face on the hem of her coat once the knots were done. "Still, red hair and green eyes are rare," the older man pressed. "And some of our...wealthier clients have a fetish for tomboys like her." "Fine, fine," Jon said. "You'll get an extra thousand disterci for her." "One?" "You made me do half the work," Jon growled. "You're lucky to be getting that much." He shook his head. "Damn near broke my nose. After she's lost her third fight, I may be the one to end her life, myself!" To be continued!