A commotion outside intruded upon the fragile order Madame Tirenn forced upon her young wards. Several stories below, in the barren courtyard between the orphanage and the old money lender’s, came shouting and the clash of sword upon cobblestone. For a moment Madame Tirenn attempted to keep the children in their seats, but as the sound of battle grew more heated, her own curiosity conquered her protestations, and she joined the children at the window.
Anafyn’s heart leaped. Not an eye in the room could tear itself away from the action; all backs were to her. She could not have asked for a better chance than this. Thanking the gods, as breathless in mind as she felt in body, she backed away from the long row of windows captivating her peers and inched toward the door. If the gods were truly on her side, then this room would not be the only one distracted by the clamor in the courtyard and she could make good on the escape she had planned a million times and more. That none of her meticulous plots had involved what sounded like it must be the heart of war itself only told her she needed to be more inventive.
The room gasped and cried out in shock collectively as a shaft of ice pierced the long arm of the money lender’s L-shaped accommodations directly across the way. Fyn lifted a brow in surprise, turned on her heel, and bolted down the corridor. A child fleeing danger should be no surprise, right? A lone child in an orphanage having the presence of mind to run away from danger should be able to get away, shouldn’t she?
Though panic gripped her heart, it lent urgency to her flight and forced her onward and onward, faster and faster, as fast as her well-toned legs could carry her. She had prepared for this day, training in the courtyard and anywhere else she could without being questioned for unusual exuberance, readying herself for the day when she could finally free herself from the constant fear of being “adopted” out to “nice” men who, by all rights, should have been married, but weren’t. The whispers about what these men wanted with girls her age were enough feed a lifetime of nightmares, but she wasn’t content to hope for the best and wait for her time to come; she was a girl of action. Speedy action. Wheeling through the deserted halls of Gao’aine Priory action.
In her dreams, it took an eternity to reach the Priory’s entrance where her new life waited to be claimed, and for some reason reality had decided to play by the rules of her dream lands. What she knew had to only be two minutes stretched out before her with a timelessness that spoke of eternities unrealized, which gasped and gaped at her heels. She whimpered at the thought, tears springing to her eyes as she finally lay eyes upon her prize. If she could just reach the doors, she could be free!
Spurred on with the desperate hope that no obstacle now defeat her, she pushed herself into a savage sprint down the Priory’s longest hall.
The doors exploded before her without resistance when she crashed through them at full force, but as the blinding light of day robbed her of sight, something else robbed her of momentum. She should have flown down the Priory steps and into the street. Instead, she collided with something solid enough to knock the air from her lungs. Before tear-slicked eyes could blink themselves right, she felt two strong arms wrap themselves around her, and before her feet left the ground, she found the breath to give voice to the scream of the damned.
[To be continued . . . ]