I climb the stairs, yawning.

It had been a brutal day at court. B-R-U-T-A-L.

Everything I said or did was criticized and made fun of by the ma’hars and ma’haras. The more I tried to correct my actions, the more they laughed at me.

“Just because they are old and in their twenties, doesn’t mean they should look down on a fourteen year old. I’m almost a grown up.”

I took all the critiques dressed in compliments and kept smiling. A smile that still feels frozen on my face.

I can’t live with the court but I can’t run away either.

Running away, now there is a thought!

With both hands, I rub my face to try to physically shake the day when I arrive at my living quarters.

I am still in the moment of reaching for the door handle when my mind catches up with reality — the door that I had locked early morning is now wide open. Only darkness waits inside.

I take a step back. I should not go in there. But I am so tired, exhausted really, and just want this horrible day to be over.

Besides, who could have had any reason to come into my room?

No one.

Maybe I didn’t lock it as I thought I did. It happened before.

Still, rushing in heedlessly would be insane.



With a shout I run into the darkness, flailing my arms, until I bump into one of the white sofas.


Holding my right shin, and jumping-shuffle around to drop down on the sofa.

I bark a command and the Fla’mma light turns on.

For a few seconds, I have to blink my eyes, unable to see until they adjust to the brightness.
There is no one in the room.

There is nothing missing.

I laugh into the quiet and get up. I was silly to imagine danger where there clearly was none.

Shuffling to the door, I lock it and check it twice to be sure.

I turn around and my gaze runs around the room with the two white sofas and a couple of bookshelves packed until they are overflowing with ancient tomes.

See? Everything is fine.

Then my gaze snags on a black, serrated dagger with blood on its edge in front of the dark brown bookcase.

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