Lighting cracked the darkness of the night sky. Thunder boomed as the bolt of electricity struck a iron rod atop a high tower of a massive castle.
The flash illuminated the dark for an instant and revealed, high on another spire, a shadow-
veiled figure perched silently.
Un-phased by either the lightning or its thunderous sound, the figure peered down upon the empty court yards below. None were out on this stormy night; none but the black-clad figure on their dangerous task.
The second after the next flash of lightning, the figure leapt deftly off the high ledge and fell quietly through the thick air. A rope trailed loosely behind as the shadow of the figure plummeted down and then went taught as it reached the end, which was tied securely to an old stone gargoyle; its horrid face watching passively as the figure swung back towards the tower.
As the thunder rumble in the sky, the intruder slipped into an arched window, leaving the harsh outside and entering the castle without a sound; a phantom in the night.
Inside, the figure rolled to a stop within the shadows of a small chamber; the only room of the highest spire of all the sky-scraping towers of the castle. A chamber that housed the treasure the thief had come to steal away.
Across the land, the fabled Princess' Heart was a gem that was said to have given the light of life to the once inhospitable desert that was now a lush and verdant kingdom; the capital of all the world.
The thief knew that such things were just romanticized mysticism told to add to the grander and illusion of the fat and bloated men that had used the riches and resources of weaker nations to further fill their stores.
But if the Heart could be stolen away, then perhaps the world would see that its capital was not as all-powerful as it would seem.
Perhaps, but whatever. The thief only cared about the fame of stealing the most coveted treasure in the world would bring!
Across the room, atop a glass pedestal, it shone.
Outside the chamber there were no doubt guards stood ready, but inside, the chamber was empty except for the brightly shining gem the size of a grown man's fist.
Careful not to make a sound, the shadowy thief made their way across the chamber floor into the gem's glow.
The light the massive, clear jewel shed was brilliant but not at all harsh. So as they approached the thief needed not squint or shield their eyes from its beauty. Reaching the pedestal the thief stood in awe of the gem's purity, and fumbled with the black wrap that hid their face.
Pulling aside the gauzy material she revealed her beautiful, flushed-cheeked face. Her jade eyes danced with the light that pulsated from within the gem. Her tongue licked her ruby red lips as she cautiously reached out for the Princess' Heart.
She lifted it up from its cradle and was surprised at how light it was. The light within it pulsated faster, matching the beating of her own excited heart.
A flood of warmth came over her, as if she was being embraced by invisible but familiar arms that made her feel safe and at home.
“Thank you.” a small voice came from behind her.
The thief turned quickly to see another young woman coming out of the shadows, unseen until now.
“Who are you?” the thief questioned as she guarded her newly acquired treasure.
The young woman was wearing a flowing gown, that of a noble or princess. And her pale cheeks became warm as she smiled and approached.
“I was once drawn here as your have been.” she said dreamily. “to steal away the gem that my father the King had locked away up here. I thought such beauty should be shared and seen by all the world, not locked in a lonely tower chamber. But I became a prisoner myself.”
The princess drew closer to the thief, who pulled the gem away instinctively.
“But now you have come to set me free.” the princess whispered happily. “Thank you.”
She leaned in and kissed the young thief's now pale cheek, then turned to walk back into the shadows.
“Wait, what do you mean, prisoner?” the thief asked confused. “I didn't come here to rescue you, I only want the Princess' Heart.”
The princess turned as her image began to fade into the darkness.
“Oh but you can never leave.” the princess' voice was sweetness, but underneath was a tone of malevolence. “For you now hold in your hands the Thief's Heart. And now you and it are one and the same.”
She smiled slightly as she disappeared from sight, leaving the thief alone in the empty chamber, her treasure; the gem of her heart, beating brightly in her hands.