I woke up drenched in sweat despite it being cold in the always chilly town, Aabin. The dark, damp, and frigid alley was not my preferred place to sleep, but it was the best I could do ever since they took my mother away. I still dream of the life I had before they took her. My mother was one of the wealthiest Aristocrats in the kingdom of Zariya being the seamstress for the queen herself. At least that was what she told me. I wouldn’t know because a year before I was born, the queen mysteriously disappeared. My mother sold her work from our house to anyone who could afford it. No one could best her work. Life was good. Until they took her.
“A Ms. Aurora Rose is asked to join Lord Tai Porter in the city of Packe for the discussion of one of your finest pieces of work.”
My mother couldn’t refuse an invitation like this at the risk of angering a lord. She had gone on trips like this before. The day she left was the last time I saw her. I took care of myself during the time she was gone. The next week, a group of guards stormed into my house and proceeded to burn my house down with me inside it. Miraculously, I escaped without even a burn. Fires are used very rarely in extreme cases. I was reliving the moment when a voice rips me from my daydream.
I turn toward the voice, expecting to find the group of boys who had been teasing me for quite a while. Instead, I find the only person I could possibly call a friend. Striding down the alley, Blythe tosses and catches an apple. Blythe Byrd lives alone with his dad. His father is probably the most wealthy person in our small town. I had met Blythe when I was ten, a year after my mother disappeared. That was seven years ago. He found me behind his house looking for food.
“I’m Blythe. What’s your name?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Just trying to be nice,” he murmurs.
“Oh,” I reply, deciding to trust him.
Blythe has been providing food for me ever since. He usually comes to visit me in my alley once a week. He finally reaches me at the end of the alley and stands there munching his apple. I meet his dark brown eyes.
“What do you want,” I snap at him. His black hair is shorter than the last time I saw him, but I liked his hair long. His lanky body didn’t change; even his clothes are the same color as always. Black. I’ve never seen him wear anything but black. If we wanted, we could pass as siblings with our brown eyes and bright smile, but the similarities end there. I guess my brown hair could pass for black from far away though.
“Just making sure you’re still alive,” he responds, offering me the bitten apple in his hand. The moist and sweet fruit tastes better than anything I’ve had in the past two days. Probably because I haven’t eaten anything for the last two days. Though of the five months Veriz, Kaith, Jayg, Berith, and Neriz, Neriz usually bears bitter fruit. Standing next to him, I see how tall he’s grown. Not a year ago, I was taller than him, but now he’s probably a few inches taller than me. He’s the same age as me, but I’m still not used to him being taller. Blythe is usually gloomy, but today he seems cheerful.
“Happy Birthday,” he says. I had completely forgotten that today was my birthday. The seventh of Neriz year ninety four. Nobody measured years until the the war with Khisfire began. That was year zero. I can’t remember the details about how the war started. All I know is that there was a disagreement, and the two kingdoms separated because of that. One side, Ice, the other, Fire. Ordinaries like me chose sides and separated into either kingdom.
“I’m, what now, seventeen?” I ask, amazed that I can still remember the numbers I learned as a small child.
“Yup,” he replies. Blythe leaves after embracing me in a hug. He always seems warm, despite the cold climate. I sit in the alley savoring the delicious apple for as long as possible.
The next day, I sleep until late in the morning and start moving even later. I’m barely awake when a shadow passes over me. A man that I have never seen before walks up to me. Jumping to my feet, I feel alarmed and alert. The man looks vaguely familiar like I have known him before.
“Hello,” he says.