Chapter 1

I jumped over the large creek, landing lightly onto the balls of my boot and took off running into the forest. The wind whipped my face and the leave tickled my cheeks. Grinning to myself, I swung myself through the shrubbery and appeared over onto the large waterfall.

Free. I breathed and then peered down over the rocks and into the deep, crystal waters below. The height made it difficult to breath. The crisp air blew into my eyes, making it water. Smirking to myself, I measured the amount of footsteps I stepped back.

"WHEE!" I squealed and then I jumped over the edge, feeling the wind flop its way up my dress and carry my stomach to my throat. My hair sailed high above me in tangled tresses as I spiraled towards the churning waters below. The water hit me with strong impact of cold and then I drifted around. I sprang from the water, letting my hair whip the icy water around.

"Serena Thorn," someone gasped and then I peered over my shoulders. I saw my older sister brushing her way through the shrub, "Why are you in there? Shouldn't you be getting ready for supper, so you can be ready for tomorrow?

I began to wade back towards her grinning at the feel of the sunlight hit my dripping clothes, "Sara, I'll manage."

"We need this…." she began to say, her eyes darting to me, reproaching.

"Yes, I know, I know, don't worry," I said, feeling a bit saddened. Today was the last day for me here; they were auctioning me off. No, that seemed harsh. We were actually in debt and I have to marry a slob. Yeah, that sort of sums it all up.

Sara looked like she was going to hug me and burst into the tears, but thought otherwise, seeing that I was already dripping wet.

"C'mon," she murmured and held out a hand for me to hold. I took it without a complaint. I watched the back of my sister's pale brown hair and then sighed to myself. She couldn't be asked to marry because she's infertile if she hadn't, she would've hidden me away under the floorboards even to get away from this marriage.

Bearing children, supporting the house hold, cleaning, that's all we were supposed to be meant for. I hated it. I held my breath as I tried to keep in the angry breaths that would escape me.

"Serena," my father called from the house's porch. Jolly man, don't think bad about him. He raised us to be free spirits, both him and my mom. My late mom, though.

"Hello, dad." I gave him a big hug and I drew back to look at my father's withering face. Worry creased onto his forehead, warring with his smile crinkles on the edge of his chocolate brown eyes. I hugged him again and then smiled at his warm, maple scent.

"Sara said I had to prepare supper, right?" I said, feeling a bit unhappy again, but quickly hid it with faux excitement.

"Yeah," my father murmured. I nodded at him.

"I'm only buying groceries, it's not until tomorrow," I reassured. "But don't worry pop, dinner is going to be fantastic."

"Yeah…but if there is anything just ask me, and I'll make sure it'll happen," my father promised, but I heard a tinge of guilt and remorse under his proud, heavy tone.

"You make me sound spoiled," I chuckled and then followed Sara into the house. After a nice bath, my sister helped me brush my long black hair.

"You're doing the right thing," Sara noted. This was the millionth time I had her reassure me of that.

I stared at myself in the mirror, my brown eyes probing every inch of the uncomfortable face. My angular face had a distinct frown on it's full lips. I puckered up when the comb hit a gigantic knot amongst the vines of hair.

"A leaf…" Sara scolded disapprovingly as she pulled one out. "What is living in here?"

Sometimes, she sounded like a mother--a mother that was gone since the day I was born. Sara had a year or two with her, until I came along. I've always thought Sara blamed me for mother's death. She always had that look in her eyes every time she looked at me.

Sara trained her almond eyes at my face, her expression softened, "Just remember to smile."

I pulled the corner of my lips into a smile. I winced as Sara tugged viciously at my knotted hair , "Heaven forbids you to comb once in awhile…"

I finished up with a hat that I pulled over my head and then I pushed my feet into my slippers, "I'll be back."

I ducked out the door with a large basket in my hands as I trotted down the dusty trail into the market. People hollered and called their products as I looked over each item casually. My eyes scanning for any extra good ones. Looming over the large, expansive market was a ship that rocked at the docks. That was strange, there weren't any ships of that color before. I stared curiously at it as I wandered over to the stalls.

"Ma'am? Here to buy a potato?" The woman with extra muscles asked me, peering into my face. "They're selling cheap!"

"Oh, yes, thank you!"

I weighed the potatoes carefully in my hands and then placed two in my basket, "Two potatoes." I handed the burly woman two coins and then I went to buy a few eggs. I didn't have much money on me, but it was enough to buy supper.

Grumbling to myself, I picked up the disoriented carrot but gave the woman the coins before putting it into my basket.

"Oh, look! They're here, I heard they were pirates…" I heard someone gossip.

"They look pretty villainous," another whispered. Villainous...what a word.

I turned around just before placing the bacon slices neatly onto the cloth that I brought along and then peeked between the people who clumped together on the port. My eyes glued to the huge ship that was docked on the piers. Their bright flags billowing majestically on the ship.

"Good afternoon fellow people of Bayport Lunar, we are here to offer you a special, try out and you may be able to get treasure by the shipload…" a man proclaimed, throwing his arms enthusiastically into the air and began to hand the fliers out.

I heard people start hissing as they started to disperse and continue with their afternoon shopping, but I thought otherwise.

"Sir? May I have a flier?" I asked in a polite tone, tucking a dark strand behind my ear and quickly added, "I think my brother would go."

The man with the short ponytail stared at me and then a smile eased onto his face, "Of course." He handed me the flier. I thanked him and then tucked it safely in my dress pockets before sauntering home, but for an odd reason, it felt like he hadn't stopped staring at me.

"Please, father," I begged.

"Absolutely not," he said sternly.

"Serena, that's the craziest idea I've heard yet!" Sara called from the stove as she stirred viciously at the pot of stew, "You know women will be slain, especially on that Silver Platoon!"

"Yes, Serena, Silver Platoon has guts to even show themselves on such a populated city. I'm surprised the officials haven't gotten rid of them," Father said gruffly and then flipped his newspaper with a huff.

"They are, but they could've bribed the officials. If they can bribe, that means they are stinking rich!" I protested, "like you said, we need money…and think of the adventure! How the sunset at sea would be like…."

"We aren't desperate for money!" Sara hissed from the kitchen. Anger flared within me as I glared at her thin form hovering over the bubbling pot.

"Are you kidding me, Sara?! You guys are selling me, I am being sold to someone and you're saying we're not desperate!?" I screeched as I tore angrily at my hair, "I'm going to be gone in the morning after tomorrow, off to live with this bastard who made us doomed in the first place!"

"Serena, you will not speak to your sister like that," my father said, "This is how your mother would've wanted it."

"Dad, please, mother this, mother that, I'm sick of it, how do you even know what mother really wanted?!" I blurted, tears springing from my eyes, "she's dead"

"Serena Thorn, you hush up right now!" my father bellowed, his face red, as he rose from his seat.

I turned from the den and scampered into my bedroom, locking it tightly behind me. I crawled into bed without dinner that night as I crawled under my covers, sobbing to myself.

I knew it was the right thing to marry off into the separate family, I know my father needed this, I know my sister needed this. She already feels so guilty because she couldn't replace me. I sniffled and then curled up and laid there silently.

Shuffling under the covers, I pulled out the folded piece of paper and unfolded it.

Silver Platoon

World's feared Pirates

I scoffed at that.

Scouting all males, must be at least 5'5 or taller. Deadline sunrise.

I stared at the date that was printed on the bottom of the sheet. It seems that tomorrow morning is the deadline. My brain knitted into confusion as I tried to decide. I closed my eyes and then I drifted off into a troubled dream.

A low click emitted through my covers and I heard the squeak of springs as someone got into bed.

It must be pretty late for Sara to finally be going to bed…. I peeked through a tiny hole in my covers and then glanced out the pitch black window.

Everybody was asleep. This was my chance!

I sniffled to myself and then I snuck through the trunk. My hands wrapped around a pair of over sized trousers and a white flannel shirt. Light snores emitted into the air as I pushed my feet into the large boots that sat in front of the large oak door. I finished stuffing everything else into my bag. Hesitating, I pulled a locket out that my sister has given me for my last birthday gift and hung it around my neck.

"Goodbye Sara, goodbye father, I swear, I will come back and make you dinner," I promised in a hushed voice and then blew a kiss into the dark living room.