T H R E E

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I jump, startled by the voice. Turning around, I see a boy around fifteen, my age, staring at me with cunning emerald eyes. I stare back at him.

"The person who's been murdering off royal soldiers and killing the homeless, then," the boy begings coolly. His tone is not the most welcoming.

My eyes widen in fear, but I quickly regain my composure. Act calm. "And this concerns you?"

"Don't worry, I'm not going to kill you on spot, not here," the boy says. His words chill me. Not here. What if we were somewhere else, would he kill me on spot, then? I shudder at the thought. He must have the power to do so. Judging by his looks, he is certainly one of the Elvenfolk.

He continues, "My family is actually searching for a person with your sort of ability. My father, you see, is interested in dark magic. Would you mind coming with me?"

I am taken aback by his sudden, kind invitation. This could be a trap to take me to a prison. I chuckle. "Like I would trust you."

"Hm." He shoves his hands in his pockets. "I don't exactly trust you either. Let's just say that you can come with me for now. You can decide whether or not to trust my family and me once you meet them. Even if you get put in a cell, you can surely shadow walk out."

Shadow walk. So, that's what the shadow traveling magic is called. I consider his reasoning. It seems completely possible. I nod cautiously. "Alright."

The boy nods back, not even bothering to smile. "The thing is, my father isn't home right now. In fact, none of my family is. They've gone on, well, a little trip, and I volunteered to stay home and do this job. My father, he wants to talk to the person who's been doing all the killing. You, to be specific. So, you'll have to stay a few nights at my house. Everything will be provided if you wish."

I gape at his suggestion. Free food, shelter, and care for a few nights could do me a lot. The offer is irresistible, and I find myself nodding eagerly.

"Okay, that's settled. Now, what's your name?" the boy asks. He makes his way onto my side, the other side of the garden fence. I narrow my eyes as he stops in front of me.

"Why should I tell you?"

The boy's emotionless face holds. "Because you are coming into my house in a few minutes, so we should probably get acquainted."

"Well, maybe you should tell me your name first." I tap my foot and drop my bags in the freshly cut grass.

"I asked first, but since you're so stubborn, I'll ask you another question. Do you promise not to murder the hell out of people and to cause trouble during your stay?" he questions, running a hand through his dark brown hair. I stifle a laugh, and he raises an eyebrow at me.

"Of course," I answer, still chuckling, "but only if you give me the food and shelter I need." I clench my hands as a reminder to myself that I can't kill anyone. Not that I would ever want to.

He nods. "Well, alright. Now, I ask again, what is your name?"

I decide to make up a name to make him stop asking me. "Verina."

"Pleasure to meet you."

"And your name?" I ask.

He raises his eyebrows slightly, his voice commanding. "In some lands, they call me Zehîr Kesangeth. For now, you may call me Zehîr."

"Okay," I reply, not sure what to say. I hadn't been taught proper manners in the slave fields. I was a slave, after all. But this Zehîr, he seems like he was taught manners at a young age. His back is completely straight, his movements as graceful as they can be, his gestures flowing.

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