[ Part 1: Situation ]

Section 1: Lenore

My name is Leala.

It means "loyal". I'm not. Loyal, that is.

You don't think so?

Well, if you think that running away from the person who took care of you all your life to find his enemy, a criminal fugitive, to join forces with her is loyal, then you need a better dictionary.

So I'm changing my name. To one that has more meaning: "light." I tell this name to the guard at the gate.

"Lenore Harch."

"Lenore?" the guard clicked his tongue against his teeth. "Not Leala?"

"Nay, that's my cousin." I lied. "Why?"

"I've orders to capture her and bring her home. She ran away from her father, lord of this here town." Suddenly the guard became suspicious. His eyes narrowed. "What's yer business?"

This didn't faze me. I was ready. "I'm supposed to deliver this message from my uncle, Lord Donovan, to the lord of the next town." I showed him the envelope I stole from my "uncle". He was going to send it with an official messenger boy tomorrow, but I grabbed it to serve as my "pass".

The guard took it, and examined it carefully. It passed his inspection. Frowning slightly, the guard handed it back to me. "Okay, I'll letcha go." He lowered his spear, and opened the gate for me. I walked through, exulting. Yes! It worked!

He called after me, "You see yer cousin, you send 'er this way, k?"

"Sure!" I yelled back.

Walking quickly, I reached a corner. Making sure the guard wasn't watching, I turned a corner. As soon as I did, I started running as if my very life was at stake.

It happened two days ago. I saw it with my own eyes, though I wasn't supposed to.

My father, Lord Donovan Harch, was what we call the lord of our little town of Rosiplain (a.k.a. RP). I used to live in a grand, well, castle, with many rooms. I knew them all but one; my father's "secret" room. Only he was allowed to go in there; not even our servants could come in and clean ("T'must be very dirty," one of the servants, Stacy, said of it).

Two days ago, I was feeling quite mischievous, so I secretly followed my father to the secret room. I stayed outside and looked through the large keyhole.

There was another man in there. He greeted my father with a grim smile. "Don," he said, extending his hand to shake with my father. My father ignored it.

"Well, Floyd, what news have you?" he asked in a cold voice I never knew.

"Good...good news, Don!" Floyd tried to smile, his mouth twitching nervously. But before he could go on, my father said in the same surprisingly cold voice, "Keep it down, you fool," he hissed, "Do you want the whole of Rosiplain to hear you?"

"No, sir...at once, sir..." Floyd said very quietly. He cleared his throat. "Well, anyway-" he lowered his voice to a whisper, I had to really press my ear hard against the keyhole to hear him, "- we caught the spy!"

My father smiled. It wasn't a happy smile, and it made me shiver. "Ah, so we have, haven't we, Floyd?" he seemed to be mocking the other man. "And we would have to, eh...dispose of him, wouldn't we?"

"Cer-certainly sir, y-yes, as-as-as usual" Floyd stammered.

"Well, then, that takes care of that..." my father went on, and Floyd nearly sighed with relief. But before the sigh of air escaped him, my father whirled around, and brandished something.

I couldn't see what it was, but I heard a surprised gasp from Floyd and a heavy 'thump' on the floor. I put my hand over my mouth to muffle my gasp. I was scared, but my father was speaking now.

"Foolish Floyd," he sneered, "there was no way you could have tricked us." He laughed hollowly, then kicked the lifeless body.

I ran away from the door then. For two days, I went over every possibility and finally decided I couldn't be in the same castle, same town, as my father, the murderer.

"Mom is the key..." I murmured to myself now. My mother had run away, (or "disappeared" as my father told me, but I knew better) just after I was born.

I had to find her.