Chapter 1

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She was waiting for it now, for the past hour without any particular reason. Nothing else mattered, just the feeling of waiting for a minute event to stir some excitement within her. The cherry colored window curtains were now wide open for a clear view of the sky. Its soft golden blue could be seen over the vast rich maple trees that covered a hill. The sun would come any minute now and kiss her face with its good warmth of a new day.

Closing her gentle green eyes for a moment, she sighed to herself how much this tiny occurrence that happens every day could entertain her so. This seemed like the only new thing in her life. Her days have been bland with the usual schedule of delivering mail to local residents in her small town. The thought of just walking the wrong way on her normal route to the city occasionally crossed her mind; however, it was only for daydreaming purposes, she knew she could not survive alone in the wild.

Here it was. Tips of the suns rays came peeking over the bright orange maple leaves, filling her entire room with a haze of the color.

"Hello…" she sighed with a slight flare of hope within her. The bringing of another day only to end again and bring about tomorrow.

It seemed years since she had seen her family. They all resided in Ayar-Crest, the Queen Majesty's kingdom. Tabytha can still remember the sent of that morning when she and fifteen others of her age were sent to the different skilled villages. It was tradition to leave for seven years and live under your skill teacher. No one had contact with their families. Not even with their fellow students who left Ayar-Crest with them.

Getting up from her soft golden bed, Tabytha slowly recollected what her father told her.

She had asked why she must be sent away, her father replied, "First of all, it is the Queen's wish and nothing could ever stop that." Looking down at her, he stroked her top of her head. "Second, is that we are very lucky to have such a gracious and kind Queen of Ayar-Crest! She requires all children of your age to study the Phoure Ways: Eyto, Lopate, Direw, and Rumbo so that you could have a job for the kingdom and not waist your potential like those of Taihaku."

Tabytha remembered looking at her father, "but what if I don't want to become what she assigns me to learn?" Mr. Cayo bent down to her eye level, "Count your blessings, dear one. Since you're from this side of town, you won't be sent to Eyto."

Tabytha, now nearing 17, picked up her sheets and began to fold them while the morning sun still illuminated her bedroom with happiness. A small laugh once again made its way to her lips; when she was younger, she thought she would be sent to Lopate. She wanted to. The young girl once thought she was the best at everything and anything.

Lopate was overflowing with dance, music, and the free spirit of imagination. This was quite different from that of Eyto, which was a Way of the discipline of fighting, weaponry, relentless work and no mercy. That Way was almost cast upon most of the population of men.

The young girl took one last look outside, remembering the forming clouds and birds. 'Hopefully,' she thought, 'hopefully today will be different.'

She walked over the dresser and put on her mail strap, then reached for her ribbon.

"Tabytha! Tabytha Cayo, get out here right now!" The shrill cry of Mrs. Penelope echoed through the archaic rooms that held memories bitterly forgotten. Stumbling over her feet through the narrow hallway, Tabytha ran to her. Clouds of dust filled her nostrils as her boots hit the dirty stairs down to her Skill Master in their homely kitchen. "Y-yes, ma'am is something wrong?" She asked as she straightened out her uniform, patting the dust.

Sitting in an old wooden chair in front of her and reading a letter, Mrs. Penelope slowly turned her frizzy head. Tabytha could smell the morning meal of hot porridge steaming in the cold. Her deep blue eyes examined her from head to toe with a sense of annoyance. She gave out a snicker when her eyes fell upon the young girl's boots. Without a word the old woman turned back around to continue reading the letter. "Ma'am?" Tabytha paused for an order.

"Get out of that stupid uniform and go properly dress yourself." She sighed, "You have a long road ahead of you." Tabytha glance over Mrs. Penelope's shoulder and saw a familiar signature at the end of the letter.

Tabytha could feel a rush of excitement within her, "You mean that today's the Journey? Honestly?" She darted for the letter for she remembered her father's signature. Tabytha scanned the writing over and over again in disbelief. "I can't believe it!"

"Mmm…too bad I can't keep you. You're a good student. The Queen did right in sending you to Direw, you're obedient." Mrs. Penelope once again scanned her student and thought of how lonely she would be again without company of a fellow female.

Direw was the Way of Knowledge, or intellectual studies of all things good…and officially approved by the Queen herself. The Children of Direw, as they were called, learned of how people are and their characteristics and why they do them. Of course, they would also be taught of the Ancient Truths of Ten and all literature, science and language. However, Tabytha only seemed to pay attention to what clouds were trying to write in the sky.

She did well in her studies, even if they were an unconscience cue to start daydreaming. The young girl was not a fool, and was only new at knowing what mattered.

"Listen to me, Ms. Cayo, I want you to take care of your self! Do you hear me? Like I said, I would steal and keep you, but…"

The old lady's pale eyes gradually fell upon another delivery package that arrived just days before the urgent letter. It's simplicity of parchment and string sent a chill down her back. She had never laid eyes upon something so dull and dead. "I don't want to be taken to that Prison in Taihaku…not like my son…"

Tabytha stalled in her step and tried to think of something comforting to say, but decided to keep on smiling at her event. Mrs. Penelope has mentioned her son more frequently now. The young girl new it was the return of his belongings and clothes from the Prison that always haunted her Skill Master's mind. When one receives any fragment of property from an official from Taihaku, it means that you will never see your beloved one ever again.

The deep brunette teenager's sympathy slowly urged her to speak up and say something. "Mrs. Penelope…I'm so sorry," Tabytha remembered when he would throw snowballs at her in the winter just before he was arrested for High Treason. "I'm sure it-it'll all pass in time…"

Mrs. Penelope jumped at the touch of her student's hand upon her frail shoulder. "Please, Tabytha…take care of yourself and those you love." Her sky blue eyes blurred, full of tears. One fell down her wrinkled face, "Don't let them slip through your fingers…you never know when your last moment together will be."