Elise dove into the dark forest, fear and total uncertainty resonating through her bones. The trees around her seemed to reach out their long branches to block her path and whip her limbs and cut face as she ran, causing the sweat that reached the bleeding cuts to have a new unpleasant purpose – making the cuts burn like fire.
She pumped her legs harder than she ever had before. Blood rushed by her ears, drowning out any other sounds through the woods except for the wind now whistling and howling by her ears. Sweat dripped into her eyes, but she didn’t slow, and she certainly didn’t dare to stop. Her heart pounded in her chest and her head throbbed. Her feet cried out for mercy, but she had to get away from her old home.
You’re only 9! her mind screamed, making her head feel light and dizzy. You can’t survive in the woods yet! You’ll die!
What ever is here is better than what is behind me, she countered.
She dodged the trees – which were becoming thicker around their trucks – and leapt over the fallen giants. Her feet thudded solidly on the moss-covered ground over and over again and her arms were constantly moving to help her navigate her way through the close trees.
She tried not to take too long or make too much of a trail, but the forest was just too dense and thick – making this action quite impossible.
The sweat pouring into her eyes burned and she squeezed them shut, blindly stumbling through the thickets.
All of a sudden, she fell 3 feet onto hard packed dirt face-first. She heard the sound of metal on leather and fearfully looked up to see 4 men dressed in purple and brown and equipped with a lot of weapons pointing their swords at her throat. Unfortunately, she recognized the people they were.
Genovesans. They had set up camp in the clearing she had accidentally stumbled into and a lazy curl of smoke was rising from their fire. Of course, looking around her, how did a clearing form in the middle of the crowded forest?
“Who are you?” one demanded. He held two daggers dipped in a sticky blue liquid. Both weapons were an inch from her face.
She eyed them all cautiously, but came to the inevitable conclusion that if she didn’t tell them, they would kill her anyway. If she did, she had a slight chance of surviving this encounter.
“Elise,” she replied, still not moving from her facedown position. “Elise Lila Hazelwood.” The man nodded thoughtfully.
He bent down on one knee, not withdrawing his very dangerous (and very fatal) weapons. “And where are you from, Ms. Hazelwood?”
Elise gulped. “Redmont Fief-” she started.
“YOU LIE!” he screamed. “Redmont is in an entire different direction than the one you just came from.” He pointed behind her. She didn’t turn to look – surely they would slit her throat at the first chance.
“No,” he smirked. “I’d say you’re from Norgate Fief, yes?” Her eyes widened. She hadn’t run in a straight line, had she? She’d felt so twisted around in the woods that she might as well have walked ninety circles around this clearing.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he continued. “Well, you’re about one league, or 3.5 miles, from the outskirts of town, so that begs the question…”
He leaned in closer. “Why are you all the way out here?”
She took a deep breath. “I was playing-”
“STOP LYING TO ME!” he demanded. “Why-are-you-here?” He said the last bit forcefully, saying each syllable individually.
“I ran away,” she said, and she told them everything. She didn’t know why, but she was sure that she could trust them. Truth be told, she was terrified of these men, but she wasn’t about to give in. Apparently, the Genovesan noticed this quality as well.
“So, you have nowhere to go, yes?”
“You need something to do to help you earn your living, yes?”
She nodded again.
The Genovesan stood and put away his twin daggers. “The job of an assassin is quite worthwhile. I have been looking for a new apprentice, and I now offer that spot to you.” She considered the thought.
Me? Become an Assassin? I…I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it before…
“No one will push you around,” he said. “No one can tell you what to do ever again. And the best part-” he leaned closer to her ear and started whispering. “We kill whoever we want, or whoever our clients want. It really is a win-win situation.”
Elise thought of everything that she could do. The possibilities seemed endless. Her heart twisted and a seed of revenge and anger grew and spread through her chest until her whole body burned with anticipation.
She grinned devilishly. “I’m in.”
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