Chapter I

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"You're not focusing child! I said ghost maneuver! Not sheep. Ugh your footwork is a disgrace." Father had been criticizing my swordplay all morning. 

He's not usually this grumpy and I know for a fact I rolled then parried as ghost is supposed to go, he's just being picky. 

I threw down my sword, tired of his attitude. 

"Father, if you don't mind me asking, what the hell crawled up your ass?'' I asked, crossing my arms over my chest while glaring at the middle aged man in front of me. His salt and pepper hair was slightly ruffled from sparring practice and his blue eyes alight with emotion. He sighed and rubbed his forehead before giving me a guilty look. 

"I'm sorry dear. I've just got a lot on my mind, you know, with your birthday coming up." He's hiding something, I can tell. "You know I love you right?"  

That's it, he never keeps things from me! 

"What's going on?" he twisted his hands telling me he was about to lie, a habit we share. "Don't lie Father, I know you're not telling me something." I told him sternly and he smiled faintly at the power my voice held. 

"You always were a bright one. Okay, I should have told you long ago, for that I'm sorry." He gently took my shoulders and guided me down the rope ladder to the floor below. Our tower had six floors, two bedrooms, a family room, a kitchen, a dining room, and a bathroom. It was the only home I'd ever known. Father won't even allow me to visit the roof, nor do we have any windows.  

He stopped guiding me in front of the window and forced me to look at my reflection. "Sweetheart, what do you see?" He questioned while smiling sadly. 

"Father, what is this about? It's a mirror, I see myself of course." I huffed and looked away, casting my gaze down to the plain wooden floor. 

He's worrying me, normally he doesn't beat around the bush. 

"You're in danger."  

That's the Father I know, wait, what?  

I jerked out of his arms and turned to face him with suspicion. 

"What's going on?" my voice flat, giving away nothing even though I was freaking out on the inside.  

Father knows I can handle myself, he trained me himself, if he thinks I'm in danger it must be huge. 

He tried to step forward and envelope me in a hug but I stepped back and a hurt look crossed his face.  

"You turn fifteen tomorrow, at noon you will be taken away from me forever. Oh Alexus I'm so sorry honey, I tried everything!" at that moment my father broke down in front of me. Never before had I seen him this weak, this...vulnerable. I gave in and wrapped my arms around his broad chest as cries wracked through his body and tears wet my hair. I patted his back awkwardly and allowed him to let it out before making him explain this nonsense. 

"Sweetheart," He sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of his hand, "I had hoped that by hiding you away, the villagers would forget about you, but I was wrong. Remember that very important notice Edmund gave the night before you were born?" I nodded but then realized he never told me what was said. 

"Father, what did the notice say?" I felt fear claw it's way into my chest, another first. 

"Dear, I have told you everything I can about the world we live in. Everything you could possibly know, except one very important detail." Now the fear had left and anger boiled inside me.  

How could he hide something from me?  

"Alexus, we don't live in a Safe Zone anymore, we haven't for fifteen years." I just stared at him with a dumb look and he just stared back. It took a few minutes before I grew impatient and voiced my concerns. 

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