Kalarae held slabs of meat as she exited the butcher's shop, Daemon at her heels. They had been about to close for the day, and she was able to get the scraps at a lower price, though with the amount she had gotten, it was still expensive. The smell of raw meat filled the air, bringing all the street curs to her. The first to arrive was a scrawny brown and gray dog with more scars than hair on his body. He warily closed his jaws on a piece, and dashed off a few feet. When the woman made no move to either punish him or retrieve it, he sat down and carefully began to eat.
The princess could feel the dog's hunger radiate off them as they crouched closer. She gave each dog a piece as they arrived at her, attempting to lessen the chance of fights for the food. Slowly, the dogs' hunger faded, and was replaced by curiosity. Rae felt the change, and felt her own curiosity rising to meet theirs'. The fear she had felt the previous day was not her own. She hadn't known what was happening, so there had been no cause for alarm. However, the dogs had felt fear. She could see it in their eyes. They were afraid of humans, afraid of the hands that fed them, and afraid of fighting, because the fights had always been to the death, before yesterday.
The black dog snuck forward, the last to move, the omega of a crowd of curs. Its jaws closed slowly, painfully, and dragged it backwards. The meal would have been stolen immediately had not the dogs' hunger been assuaged. As it was, many eyes watched as the meat was delicately devoured. A dull steady ache filled the princess's senses.
Kalarae reached out towards the dog, which cowered and bared its fangs. The sensation of intense fear grasped her mind again, but she beat it back and withdrew her hand. The fear subsided, but the agonizing feeling remained.
Daemon was watching her. She could feel his concern. The princess shook her head, shoving the emotions away from her. The concern only grew. When she looked up again, her eyes were bright with pain. She coughed lightly, before forcing words from her mouth. "Back."
"I need to leave."
"But we just got here! The dogs won' hurt ya if we run. You shouldn'a given them the meat, I say."
He continued to talk until he realized Rae was walking away from him. She didn't speak until they reached the castle.
"I will meet you in the city tomorrow by the butcher's."
She shimmied through her window and disappeared from sight before he got a chance to reply.
The princess changed and went immediately to her meager library. No more than twenty books lined the walls, an immense sum for one not of noble birth. As it was, the number was quite few for one of the royal family, though not, perhaps, for a princess, for princess were gentle creatures, never taking to reading except when required. . Each pertained to a lesson of study that she had undergone with her tutors. Delicate fingers were run over the spine of the texts, removing dust from their titles. She continued until she found one that read "Mythos."
Removing it from the shelf, the full title was displayed. 'Mythos: a study of the mind and the psychic powers thereof.' Each page laboriously copied by hand, spanning over a thousand pages. Kalarae sat down and read.
Her tutor found her that way the next day, sprawled on a chair, open book in her lap, fast asleep. It was the first time she had not been awake when he had entered, in the five years that he had come here. He glanced over her shoulder at the passage she had been reading.
Mental powers are not inherited or learned, unlike the more common magical powers. They appear randomly in any given family, and the greatest scholars, myself included, have not been able to learn their endless depths. The recipients of said wealth often learn of their powers by experiencing a strong surge of emotional overflow from companions. Documented sources tell of these overflows as dangerous, and potentially disabling to a feeble mind. For those of strong mind, such as the author of this novel, harnessing these surges of emotions can lead to great power. Those who have these mental powers can, with experience, tell if someone is lying or telling the truth, or, with extreme cases, even read someone's mind. As these are unnatural powers, unlike my own incredible intelligence, they are dangerous, and should be suppressed by their owner, if not destroyed by a licensed power wielder, such as myself.
The tutor was interrupted by the book being abruptly shut. Turquoise eyes watched him as he stepped back and bowed, curiosity still present about her reading materials.
His curiosity was the unpleasant kind, Kalarae thought nervously. She widened her eyes innocently. "I'm glad I don't have to deal with powers, they seem so unpleasant!"
Her eyes had a hardness to them that her teacher thankfully missed, caught up in her act. He found it a sufficient lead in to a lecture on powers, and how evil they were, while the princess ignored him and thought about her new discovery. The tutor was a self-confident man who had an undertone of faint servility. She supposed it was only natural, given that he was no more than common street trash in the eyes of most of the nobles. Had he been anything other than an arrogant fool, she would have felt compassion for him. The day wore slowly on.
The night found her tracing her steps of the previous day, and into the butcher shop. She could feel the dogs' hunger far before she could see them. They were still afraid, but the hunger drowned any other emotions. Again, she fed them, and, again, they ran once receiving her gift. Only the black dog stayed, though a safe distance away. He trailed morosely after them as Dameon led Kalarae back to the thieves' tavern.
Treyen sat perched atop a stool, in appearance, the same as all the others around him, but the deference shown to him told a different story. His slightest whim was met with the compliance of every thug in the room, and most likely a few outside of it. They practically tripped over themselves when he asked for ale. Every one of these men turned a hostile glare to the princess when she entered their midst, clothed demurely in a maid's outfit. Ignoring the dangerous men, she walked straight to Treyen, only to be blocked by swords, daggers, maces, and every sort of weapon one could imagine. Her spiteful stare turned to the men who guarded him.
"If I hadn't know he was your leader, I think you just gave it away quite clearly."
The thief lord sighed and gestured for the men to put down the threatening weapons. "It is merely a girl, men. And worse, she is right. I can hold my own against anyone who came to threaten me," his arrogance made Rae grind her teeth together, "But even I would have trouble fighting off the entire Guard if they figured out who I am. And with you all being so protective, as if I were a prize lamb, it wouldn't be hard to figure me out. If the nobles had any intelligence."
The princess raised a delicate eyebrow. "May I speak to you in private? I don't believe I am any cause for alarm among your men."
The muscular man shrugged, and gestured for her to follow him. Daemon had disappeared into the crowd of thieves, conversing with his, albeit much older, brethren. "So literate," Rae muttered under her breath, too quietly for the violent thieves to hear her.
Once alone, the young girl confronted the thief. "You are foolishly arrogant. If a young princess can figure out who the leader is, do you think older nobles wouldn't?"
He shrugged offhandedly. "You knew who I was before you entered the room. But I am not that arrogant. I suppose arrogance will be my downfall as well?"
"It may be."
"What a pleasant portent of the future you are. What did you want to talk to me about?"
She took a deep breath. Provoking the man was not in her best interest. "I wish to learn how to fight." That startled the man who was balancing on two legs of a chair. He fell off, much to his disgruntlement.
"What causes this new love of fighting? I thought you were only in it to be a prophet of unkind futures."
She shrugged absently, as if she didn't know. In fact, she knew exactly what caused this urge to learn how to protect herself. Because, if she didn't, no one else would, if they knew what she was.
Treyen was absently tapping his fingers on the wooden chair, deep in thought. In a smooth motion, he drew out a dagger and tossed it in Rae's direction. She reflexively reached out and caught it. He nodded slowly, seemingly not surprised by her display of skill. "As you wish."