My mother was a queen. Not in any literal sense, but I always thought it was true growing up. She was beautiful, beautiful and strong with an aura that brought men down to their knees.
However, I don't remember much about her. Only her gentle but fierce hazel brown eyes that resembled honey and a lingering trace of her smile.
I never knew my father either, he had left my mother before I was born to fight in a war I don't remember. My elder sister, Lydia, was only a year old then, but she swore he was the kindest and most caring man she had met till this day. He was also the one who gave me my name 'Aristomache' which meant she who is best in battle.
Lydia enjoyed telling me stories about our mother whenever we were starving and cold at the side of the street waiting for our mother to return from her third job of the day. It was a pastime for us and gave us a spark of hope that things would get better.
When our mother married our stepfather, we thought that was the savior we were looking for when we moved from a tiny shabby shack in an alley to a large well furnished mansion in a good neighborhood. We didn't know that that was the start of our sixteen years of miserable existence.
Our stepfather was a cruel man, and we never got to learn his name. We learnt how to cook and clean before we could read and write, and we slept in the crammed servant's quarters on a good day, sometimes in the stables when our stepfather's temper got the better of him. He also never told us about our mother's death, until years later.
We lived like slaves and prisoners in our own house. Correction, in his house. Our mother had to sneak away at the dead of night to catch a glimpse of us when our stepfather was out getting drunk and partying with his friends. I remember those visits being the only bright spot in my entire week, second only to visits from Alestro.
Alestro was a boy from the neighborhood but to the child version of us, he was like Santa. His father was a wealthy businessman so he often followed his father to visit us during business discussions. It was during those discussions that Lydia and I learnt how to read and write, sometimes even getting new toys to play with.
Lydia was always too preoccupied with her new books and toys that she never realized he taught me how to fight. Alestro's father was an avid fan of gladiator's games so Alestro himself picked up a few tricks which he taught me. Teaching me weren't his intentions but in the process of showing off, I had already picked it up and mastered it.
In my free time, I hang around the guards, following them around like a puppy. Some of them even took a liking to me and snuck sweets for me and let me wield their weapons and try their armor.
In all honesty, I had a better childhood then my sister and I've felt guilty about it. While I was out having fun, living up to my name, Lydia was doing errands and cleaning up after me so our stepfather won't go off on me and kick me out.
Looking back at it now at where we are, maybe those simple times weren't that bad at all...