Samara raced through the streets, away from the crowd chasing after her. She had no idea where she was going; she had no home. With nowhere to turn, the most she could hope for was that the crowd would get tired, and she would lose them.

Her long, golden brown hair flew out behind her. The pitter-patter of her bare feet on the cobblestone alley was barely audible over the cries of the distant crowd. She panted as she stuggled to reach the end of the alley. Just a few more steps, she urged herself, knowing subconsciously that she had to get out of the city, into the woods.

It was like a nightmare; the whole police force was chasing her on foot. How had she gotten herself into this mess? What had she done that was so wrong? This morning, when she had woken up and left the barn she happened to be sleeping in, the farmer had seen her and contacted the police. But she hadn't stolen anything from him; in fact, she'd rummaged through trash just to find something to eat. Was that so wrong?

The girl felt her legs running out of motivation; running out of energy. She heard the crowd gaining on her, at first a little, but they were drawing closer with every step she took. Samara had to stop...but where?

As she flew past buildings and raced through the curving alleyway, she looked around to her sides. Nothing...nothing...there was nothing that could hide her. She began to slow down as she passed a four-way intersection, and then she saw it: a trashcan. Samara was most definitely small enough to squeeze inside a trashcan. She dashed into the intersection, pulled off the lid, and slid herself inside the trashcan among rotting food. Hey, at least she could eat breakfast while she hid from the authorities.

Soon, she heard a stampede of footsteps chasing by the place she had stood only seconds ago. There were voices, too.

"Princess Samara!" they cried. "Samara!"

Wait--unless her hearing was going bad at the youthful age of fifteen, Samara could've sworn she heard the word "Princess" accompanying her name. Those authorities must be going nuts, she thought. I'm no princess; I don't even have a home.

She sat still and waited for the last of the trampling footsteps to pass before she pulled herself out of the trashcan, a stale piece of bread in hand. Munching on her breakfast, she stolled down the alley, wondering where she should go.

Soon, she came upon a gap in the buildings, which led to a dirt road. Reasoning whether to take the road or not, Samara kept chewing on her bread. She came to the conclusion that since it was a dirt road, and the buildings had become smaller and smaller the further she'd grown from the city, it was probably a little country road. Samara stepped onto the path and followed it away from the city.

It was probably about noon; it was a beautiful, sunny day. There wasn't a cloud in the light blue sky. This road brought quite a change from the city; Samara could see yellow rolling hills, and in the distance, she even caught a glimpse of a mountain. Of course, there was the occasional house leading off of the road, and there were trading routes leading off into the mountains or back toward the city. Curiously, as Samara walked on, she ran into no people. This was her lucky day.

As she turned off of the main road and onto a random trade route, the girl wonered how on Earth anyone could've mistaken her for a princess. She looked down at herself. Her curly, quirky, golden brown hair fell down into her face. Samara's soft, dull magenta-colored dress was soiled from so much wear and tear. An elderly woman had given it to her a year ago in exchange for Samara sweeping the woman's front porch, washing the dusty windows, and polishing the floor. She had also given the girl some nice brown boots, but Samara had sold them later for a warm coat. Eventually, the coat had been sold, and the teenager now heard the jingle of the coins she'd earned in her pocket.

Besides her unseemly appearance, the country of Librecus was a democracy--it had no king or queen. And because it had no king or queen, it most definitely didn't have a princess.

So why had the authorities been chasing her, then, if she wasn't a princess? In this town, sleeping in someone's barn was no crime; it was as common as eating and breathing. She knew she hadn't stolen any food; she hadn't even come within ten feet of any of the animals.

If, by some miracle, she was some sort of princess, how had the farmer known that she was? And moreover, why had everyone noticed just today? Samara had been alive for fifteen years already. This was way beyond weird.

She kept walking, and after a few hours, she came to a flowing creek, where she paused to have lunch. Stooping down next to the stream, Samara cupped her hands to scoop up water. She took several sips. They were refeshing, considering the fact that it was the middle of a breezy summer. This was Samara's everyday idea of lunch--a little water and maybe, if she was lucky, some plants, like corn or lettuce or tomatoes dug up from a garden or a field. She would've preferred not stealing, but it was her method of survival. She couldn't live off of trash every day.

Taking a rest next to the creek, Samara laid down carefully and closed her eyes. Maybe a little nap would help replenish her energy so she could run faster. She closed her eyes and desperately tried for the millionth time to conjure a mental image of her parents, but none came. For as long as Samara could remember, she'd been on her own. No parents, no siblings. No family. When she was little, it was easy to knock on farmers' doors and ask to stay for a night. They would provide her with food, shelter, clothes, and sometimes even money. The farmers' wives would always insist that she stay for longer. She gratefully accepted their generosity.

That was when she was six or seven, and sometimes eight. Now that she was fifteen, nobody took pity on her. Most girls her age were either working or being married off. Many a townsperson would say she had no excuse for being without a home or job. But if they knew her condition--that she had never had a home or a family--then maybe they would be a little more accepting.

There was no way Samara could sleep. She was too flustered, stressed, and confused. She had to keep running from the police. As she sat up rapidly, she looked around. It was a perfectly good day; she should keep on traveling. Before she left the creek, the girl took one last sip of water from the creek, then stood up and kept walking along the path leading to unknown lands, still a tad confused.