Chapter One: Avagail Papillion

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"Brian, give it back!!"

The boy was no older than thirteen years old. He was holding a worn-looking book, extended high above his head. A girl hopped in front of him, reaching to grab the book. However, this young girl was only eight and she was smaller than him. They stood in front of a large brick building that had a yard of brown grass. The boy laughed at her, saying cruelly, "You're always reading this baby book! What's so special about it!?"

"It's mine!" wailed the girl. "Give it back, Brian!"

"Oh, I may," Brian sneered. "If you do my chores for me!"

"That's not fair!"

"Brian Welliums, give that back to Avagail this minute!"

A man came out of the building, his hair a messy silvery grey. He was tall, but his body was built with the strength of an ox. His eyes were narrowed as he warned loudly, "Give it back, or I'll make you do her chores as well!!"

Brian scowled, throwing the book in Avagail's direction. It flew past her head and landed in a heap on the ground. He then raced past the old man shouting, "Like to see you try and make me, old man!"

"That's an extra chore for you! I want those fireplaces cleaned spotless!"

The girl named Avagail had stooped down by her book, sniffling. Brushing the dust off the pages, Avagail felt her tears slip down her face. A hand grasped her shoulder strongly, causing her to look up in fear. The man looked at her as he asked gruffly, "Are you alright, lassie?"

Avagail nodded ever so slightly. The man seemed satisfied as he responded, "Good, now why don't you hide that well and finish your chores. We have visitors coming today."

Avagail hurried away from him then, holding the book like it was the greatest treasure in all the world. For this young one, it was the greatest treasure in her whole world. It was one of the few possessions she had from the family she knew nothing of. In fact, Avagail had no clue if it had even come from her family. For you see, Avagail was an orphan. She had been in the foster system since she was only a baby. After several foster families, Avagail found herself in this orphanage in a small town in Maryland. And Avagail worried that she would be here for a very long time.

It wasn't a terrible fate, Avagail would admit. However, it was hardly as lovely as the stories that were printed in her book.

The stories were what many of the older children called 'baby stories.' Ms. Regan, the cook, would call them 'troublesome myths that rotted young people's minds.' However, the elderly man named Mr. Rochford call them what most called them: Fairytales.

Avagail climbed the back stairwell of the brick building, trying to be as quiet as she could. On the second floor was the kitchen and Ms. Regan didn't like any of the children to be in it when she was cleaning. However, Avagail didn't want Brian or any of the other boys to know where she hid her treasures. Going through the kitchen would assure her secret stayed safe.

Avagail opened the door of the second floor, hearing the clanging of the pots. Ms. Regan seemed in rare form, muttering to herself as she cleaned. Avagail closed the door quietly as she heard Ms. Regan say in a huff, "Telling me to make enough snacks for our guests! And he doesn't even keep those children's grimy hands busy and out of my kitchen."

Avagail tiptoed behind the old table in the middle of the large kitchen. She had made it past it before she heard the thing she dreaded.

"Avagail Papillion!! What in heavens are you doing in my kitchen?!"

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