The crowd's cheers deafened her. She watched him walk onto the stage. Time froze. A familiar feeling crawled beneath her skin; the feeling of loss, the feeling of hate. Everything about him irked her; that silver hair which fell perfectly flat on his head, those brown eyes that were like stone, and his posture that was as stiff as a statue. Most of all, she hated his uniform, the grayness of it, and that little red sun that sat tauntingly above his heart. His name was Fondore. Ten years ago he murdered her family.
Old memories once suppressed consumed her. She could almost hear the pattering of their feet echoing off the stone floor. "Hurry, we haven't much time!" She remembered it perfectly. She remembered running down an endless hallway, overlooked by defeated statues of once legendary heroes. The castle was desolate. An eerie silence stood where in the past children played.
She and her brother were pushed into a room at the end the hallway. And though the door was shut, an unwanted presence still lingered; they were constantly on the alert. Every crack of lightening and boom of thunder startled them. Calmness was no more, enchantment was long forgotten. She watched her parents carelessly empty the treasures she kept in her pink backpack onto their bed. She jumped at every little sound. "Don't be frightened, Anya. Everything will be alright," her brother said, his voice betraying his words.
Anya touched her cheek. She felt the kisses that lingered there from so long ago; the last touch of a mother, the last of a father, and finally, the last of a brother. She felt the presence of those moments that could have been, moments stolen from her before existence. She felt a tingling inside her heart, growing into nausea for the man that took it all from her and the people who applauded him for it. She thought of her mother, of how her skin felt like silk, how her hair looked like chocolate, and how her gray eyes were always full of love even in her strictest moments. And then her father, with a button nose and graying black hair, mischievous brown eyes, and his playful smile. "Kitten, in your backpack there's a map. You're going to Atziole. You will be safe there," her father had said softly. Those last moments passed by in a matter of seconds. Her mother muttered in an unfamiliar language and a small passageway appeared in their closet. She and her brother were hidden in it.
It was a secret room protected by advanced magic. Small and dark, it was almost empty. In the corner sat a pile of blankets and on the wall hung one candle. Her older brother crossed his arms and shivered. He hadn't looked as he normally did. He was only nine years old but his face had aged in the past few days. Pale skinned, with circles under his gray eyes, he looked unhealthily thin. He walked over to the wall that faced their parents' bedroom; Anya followed him.
Through the cracks they watched as men in gray uniform marched in, sneers on faces, red suns above hearts. Their leader's silver hair fell perfectly flat on his head. "Fondore," said her father, fixing his posture so that he stood taller.
"The children, where are they?" Fondore pointed an unfamiliar metal object at them. He pushed a lever which made an unfamiliar click. His brown eyes became cold like stone.
"They are not here," her mother said. She waved her arm but nothing happened. There were no glittering sparkles or gusts of dust, but instead there was the absence of something that once was.
"That won't work here any longer," Fondore said, becoming as stiff as a statue. There was a bang. And then another followed by the thud of a shocked body hitting the hard ground and the turning of a father's head towards a wall which protected an heir.
"Stay here, Anya. Stay silent," her brother said. He pushed the wall where the entry way once appeared. She watched a door open and then disappear once more. Anya watched her brother through the cracks and watched how Fondore smiled. Another bang left her world empty. After six years of life she had lost her family in a moment.
Anya forced herself back into the present, ten years later. She had not made it to Atziole, but instead she stood in the castle of the Jaet king on their annual celebration of the defeat of the Delamore family, of her family. "Ten years ago," the king began in a turbulent voice, "One man led our people to Zelione. Ten years ago, one man risked his life when he entered the Delamore castle. One man ended the Witch's rule, ten years ago. One man brought the Delamores to justice!" The crowd erupted and Anya joined in a silent reluctance. Fondore moved towards the king, waving. The king patted him on the shoulder. "This man, this hero, defeated the Delamore family ten glorious years ago. Fondore, this ball is in honor of your great service not only to Jaet, but to your great service to the world. Ladies and gentlemen of Jaet, let the ball begin!"