❅ Chapter 4 ❅

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A few hours had passed since Sebastian left, leaving me in that small stone room with only my thoughts to keep me company. At least the room was beautifully decorated.

I escaped the cocoon of covers and paced the small room back and forth, barley taking the time to realize I was in a nightgown of the softest silk I'd even felt, and not in my usual stained tunic and leather pants.

That's funny... I didn't remember changing.

Sebastian's last words kept bouncing in my skull like ping pong balls. "Why, sweetheart, you're in the Witches Academy, and you're about to become a student here."

First off... sweetheart? I was really getting tired of hearing that. And second, Witches Academy? What the hell? My birthday wasn't for another three months yet. I wasn't even old enough to become a soldier and fight on the front lines. So why would I be qualified to become a witch?

Because you're a dumbass and exposed yourself while dueling.

Oh yeah. Forgot.

With a groan of well deserved frustration, I flopped back on the bed, face first.

Could life get any worse? I mean, I know there were probably people out there that had it worse than even I, but why couldn't I catch a break?

Being an orphan taught me one thing: Don't count on anyone but yourself. But the shitty part about that little life lesson was that I didn't have anyone else to blame but myself if something took a turn for the worse.

But I guess I could blame my parents, whoever they were. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't even be in this little predicament in the first place.

And I guess I haven't been completely honest with all of you. Legend has it, as Maggie tells me, it was the night before the war started and she heard a knock on her door. January 1st, she said. When she opened her door, a baby girl lay bundled in a small wool blanket, wailing and crying. Me.

I never got to see that small wool blanket, nor did I really want to. It was the last thing there was of my damned parents, and why would I want a reminder of them? They left me. Abandoned me. And I sure as hell wasn't going to honor their precious memory by carrying around the only thing they ever gave me.

Screw that. I was better off alone.

But look where being alone has got you, that traitorous voice in my head sounded, and I groaned into the comforter. If only I'd let Jack and Lucas help with retrieving food...

Tears prickled my eyes. I had no idea how long I'd slept, so were they awake now? Was Buddy playing with his little toy horse, and was Emma making sketches in the dirt? Was Lucas trying to woo the girl two alleys down, and was Lucy asking Jack to brush her hair because I was absent? Maybe they didn't even realize I was gone. No, no they wouldn't. They rarely saw me as it was; only when I was hauling food back home or to confront Maggie about stealing one of the kids items.

I flipped onto my back and sucked in a ragged breath.

Were they even going to miss me?

A knock sounded on my door and I shot upright, wiping tears out of my eyes with the back of my nightgown. "Come in," I said tentatively.

The rounded door opened with a squeak, and I small woman with beady eyes stood in the threshold, a plate of steaming food in her hands. She was pretty, with her hair pulled into a tight bun and high cheekbones. "I was told to bring this to your room," she said.

I eyed the food, and for once, my hunger didn't roar to life. The thought of food made me want to vomit. "Just leave it on the nightstand," I replied bleakly.

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