EXT. COURTYARD – SUNSET

--

Close-up on a man's face, eyes huge and mouth open as far as

it can go. Tears are in his eyes. Pain. Pure, pain.

--

Wider shot--now we see why he's in so much pain. A crowd

cheers as he is burned alive at the stake. Fire crackles

against the dusk.

--

Nearby at a vendor cart, a man is looking at a gem-studded

barrette. He turns it over and over in his hands,

transfixed by its shine and beauty.

--

He is skinny, tall enough to stand out among the other

bloodthirsty villagers. His hair sticks out boyishly in

several places despite his best attempts at combing it

back. The bridge of his glasses has been repaired many

times and though his lenses are thick he has to squint at

the barrette. His hair is dark. He is twenty-nine. His

clothes are extremely shabby and his name is KALE SORREL.

--

The crowd cheers. The burning man has died and a new

prisoner is being lifted and tied onto the stake. He wears

the black martial arts-style uniform of an assassin--he is a

prisoner of war.

--

The crowd hisses and jeers.

--

CROWD

Are you ready to die for your

country NOW? Are you as tough as

you say you are? Where's your

leader now? Blind!

--

SORREL puts the barrette back where he found it. Shoving

his hands into his shabby pockets, he walks away. There is

a final shot of the first burned body being tossed in the

back of a death cart, on top of a pile of others just like

it.

--

INT. PARLOR ROOM OF ETZEL MANOR

Close-up: A noble-looking man BURKHARD is examining his

handlebar mustache in a small mirror held close to his face.

Across from him, seated in another chair, SORREL looks

uncomfortable. His hair is messier than usual and he has no

idea what to do around the strange man.

--

BURKHARD

(looking up from his mirror

but still stroking the

mustache)

What do you think,

d'Sorrel? Should I curl it a bit

more?

--

SORREL blanches.

--

SORREL

It's very nice, nomu-Burkhard. But

that's not really why I'm here...

--

BURKHARD leans forward in his chair, legs crossed. His

mustache seems to quiver.

--

BURKHARD

Then why are you here, Kale

d'Sorrel?

--

SORREL opens his mouth, but BURKHARD shushes his with one

awkward finger to SORREL's lips.

--

BURKHARD (CONT'D.)

No no, don't tell me. We've been

over this before, I know.

--

SORREL

Yes, sir. Five minutes ago, when I

arrived.

--

BURKHARD

No no no, I said don't tell

me! See, now I have to reconsider

giving you the job. How old are

you again?

--

SORREL

One year shy of thirty.

--

BURKHARD

Ah, I see. An old man, you are!

--

SORREL

Sir...we're the same age...

--

BURKHARD

Now now, don't interrupt! I'm

still thinking! How do you feel

about children?

--

SORREL

(putting one hand over his

heart)

It would be a pleasure to educate

any child of nomu-Burkhard and

noma-Engel.

--

BURKHARD

Ah, my wife. Do you love her?

--

SORREL

Excuse me?

--

BURKHARD

Do you remember our old school

years, Kale? Those were good

times, gave me good memories. Oh,

and don't you remember the ugliest

girl in school? Haha, my Engel...

--

BURKHARD takes a sip from his cup of tea. When he finishes

and lowers the cup, his eyes are still shining.

--

BURKHARD (CONT'D.)

You remember the rest, don't you?

--

SORREL

(flushed and staring down into

his tea, refusing to meet

BURKHARD's eyes)

May I simply have the job, sir?

--

BURKHARD

You're hard on your luck, aren't

you Kale?

--

SORREL

(mumbling)

Please don't call me Kale.

--

BURKHARD

What was that?

--

SORREL

I love children. How many do you

have?

--

BURKHARD settles back into his chair and points, amused,

towards the door. SORREL sees no one there.

--

BURKHARD

There was Felicie. But she's gone now,

cancer. Now there's just

Cacil. And one little boy that

likes to stay the days here

sometime. If I do recall, he is

related to you?

--

SORREL

I--

--

CACIL opens the door and stands just inside the

doorway. Her dark hair falls over and down her shoulders in

the front but is hacked into a brutal bob in the back. Her

left eye is light, the right is dark. She is eight years

old but small for her age.

--

For a long time, all three of them just stare at each

other. Then BURKHARD sips his tea with his pinky up.

--

CACIL

You two can't be related. You and

Sage don't look the same at

all. Sage is handsome.

--

BURKHARD

(setting down his teacup

again)

Now now, Cacil. What did I tell

you about being brutally honest

with strangers? Some of them are

sensitive.

--

CACIL

(bows)

Yes, Father.

(to SORREL)

But you are not handsome. You are

just pretty.

--

SORREL opens his mouth again to respond, but the door slams

shut before his words can find themselves. BURKHARD for one

looks pleased.

--

BURKHARD

You shall begin being Cacil's tutor

at once.

--

INT. SMALL CLASSROOM INSIDE ETZEL MANOR

--

SORREL is standing over the small table where Cacil sits,

balancing her quillpen beneath her nose like a mustache.

--

CACIL

Look! I am my father!

--

SORREL snatches it away and holds the book up to her nose

instead. She squeezes her eyes shut so she doesn't have to

see it--who likes learning?

--

SORREL

Don't you think it's about time you

learn proper script? A pretty

young lady should have a fine hand.

--

Staring straight at her dominant left hand, Cacil says

nothing.

--

SORREL turns away and balances the feather just under his

nose for a second before it falls away.

--

SORREL

(mumbling)

At least, that's what your father

said.

--

CACIL

(peeking her head around)

I'm trying to grow my hair

out. When it gets longer, will you

notice?

--

SORREL

(turning back around)

What if I said no?

--

CACIL

Then maybe I would cry.

--

SORREL

You wouldn't get me replaced as

your tutor?

--

In the moment his guard is down, CACIL snatches back the

quill-pen and puts it under her nose again. She looks

thoughtful.

--

CACIL

It is too early to tell. Fetch me

some tea!

--

SORREL

Lessons first.

--

CACIL

Tea first. It tastes better.

--

SORREL

(giving a small smile)

Better than

knowledge? Preposterous.

--

CACIL

I suppose I could have you

replaced...

--

SORREL stops smiling and slams the quill-pen down on

table. CACIL doesn't look scared and she doesn't

move. SORREL pulls his hand back.

--

SORREL

I think...twenty more lines of

script will be sufficient. And

then, lesson dismissed.

--

SORREL walks out as quickly as possible. CACIL stares after

and when he's gone, she snaps the quill-pen in half over her

knee without a word.