A short story that stands by itself apart from my other little series.

And in case anyone is curious, this is just and idea i was kicking around. So no, have i have no idea what country or time period it takes place in.

Use your imagination. ^_^

I'd been at the hired service of others for most of my life. For the first ten years I was a child slave. A slave and handmaiden to the Emperors youngest niece. There were dozens like me and I wasn't special. Just a little girl dressed in simple white. The bands on my wrists marked my status as such and at the time I thanked my lucky to star to have a mother who worked for such prestigious masters.

My mother's life had been spent serving the Emperor and his many allies, but it turned her into a pawn for his Emperors wild affairs. As a child I didn't understand anything other then the fact that I was not allowed to see my mother. I was raised by other slaves who saw me as a parasite.

There was little doubt in anyone's mind that I was the illegitimate child of the Emperor, I was told not only was the I spitting image of my mother with a large mass of curly brown hair, but I had the Emperor's sharp gaze. Even knowing that, what did that matter when he had his sets of children? What was one more born of a slave mother?

Simply nothing.

The Mistress Dominic had little use for me. I was a stoic child and with the things I had seen already, fear was not high on my priority list. Because the Mistress couldn't make me cower with a simple look, and a beating didn't change my tune, she ignored me.

It suited me fine. Everyday I walked to the lake with Mei, who was only 6 years older then myself. She was pretty for a handmaiden but then that's what the Mistress liked I suppose. That's how important she wanted to feel, even her handmaidens were pretty.

To give me something to do, and prevent me from receiving another beating for not being of any use, Mei let me tag along with her. Everyday I helped her do laundry, whether it needed to be done or not.

The Emperor would watch me sometimes. Stare at me like I was some kind of bug he couldn't figure out. The truth was simply that I knew my place and didn't care for it. I had skills from working and I could get by on my own anywhere. I decided that at the age of nine.

When I was ten, I proved not to be as stupid as everything assumed I was.

I stood in the shadows with my basket of clothes at my feet as I watched the warrior's train in the courtyard designated for them only. It was hardly even connected to the palace. They were relatively new trainees, only about two or three months into their training.

I was enamoured with their movements.

No one paid any attention to the little slave girl watching them intently. They were busy and I wasn't important enough to bother with.

General Dason barked his orders and this rookies jumped to please his command. I remember watching him; he was strangely easy for me to read. He had pride in his work but training these boys for the Emperor's grand army was obviously not where he wanted to be at the moment. He needed men already trained to do his bidding and not boys who already thought they were unstoppable.

The General had experience and I was sure he was somewhere around twenty years older then I was. He had experience and everything about him screamed that from his expression to his posture.

A group of boys groaned inwardly when one of their speared staffs became lodged in the side of the wooden supply shed. They were trying to be discreet with the mishap but General Dason honed in on them instantly. He watched as the each took a turned trying to pull it out and I cringed. The odds of that working were slim to none but if they had it would slice right through them.

General Dason watched and shook his head slowly as he was undoubtedly thinking the same thing.

"Leave it." He finally commanded, and the boys turned to bow to him in acknowledgment. I saw them go red in the face in humiliation and it was well deserved. These boys were born of noble houses and should have known better, but then I didn't expect anything less from them. They were raised having someone else do things for them.

Someone like me.

Without thinking I walked along the corners of their training area towards the shed and looked at the staff protruding from the wall. They'd have ruined both the blade and the wall if they had succeeded in pulling it out in the way they had been attempting.

"Get away from there!"

Someone was yelling at me again. It was so common at this point I ignored it completely. It was horribly stupid this time though considering it would have been soldiers beating me rather then my ill-tempered Mistress.

I reached out, grabbing a hold of the staff and pulled it towards the ground until it was at an angle I could slide the blade out. It was almost too easy, though heavier then I realized. The curved blade looked undamaged and it pulled a sigh of relief from me.

"I would like to point out to each of you, how you were out classed by a little girl." General Dason announced, making his way towards me and holding out a hand for the spear. Pretending the weight of it didn't bother me; I reached out as if presenting it back to him.

"Clever of you." He commented gruffly, taking it from me and handing it off to one of the boys behind him. "Who are you?"

I held up my wrists, showing off the bands on my wrist and he nodded in understanding, eyeing my curiously for a moment longer as the boys glared at my audacity.

"You should be careful child. These weapons are dangerous." He said.

I bowed deeply and turned away, aware of his eyes following me. I didn't like it, and I shouldn't have even been noticed. Mei waited in the corner I had started off in and gazed at me worriedly. When I returned I picked up my basket and she lead me away, carrying hers under her arm while we made our hasty retreat.

"You shouldn't bother them while their training." She said softly, patting my head. "Who knows what kind of trouble it would bring you."

"I don't mind." I said. I remembered the horrified look she had given me but didn't think much on it. She shooed me away to the lake to do the washing and keep an eye on me. Mei was a worrier and I knew that should I have a healthy respect for life, I'd need to be too.

My first surprise was never being reprimanded for my actions. I had assumed word would have gotten back to the Emperor over my behavior, or at the very least my Mistress Dominic. Nothing ever happened. I had to assume General Dason hadn't made an issue over the incident the way most would have. With that, I had my first taste of gratitude.

Before then I had always expected the worst so I was never surprised when it happened. The worst not coming about was strange to me. Strange and disorienting.

Mei kept an eye on me afterwards but it became a chore for her. She had things to do after all and I didn't. I was everyone's sore spot, and no one even knew for sure why I was around.

When she was busy I would go back to the courtyard to watch. I stayed in my dark corner and observed their every moment and knew from the start how I could have kept up with them. What I lacked in brutal strength I made up for in being quick on my feet.

"How many summers are you?"

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I realized General Dason was leaning against the wall not to far away from where I stood silently. I stared up at him with wary eyes and felt the trouble brewing in my gut.

"Yes, you. How many summers are you?' he repeated, turning his head to look at me.

I hesitated. I wasn't supposed to really talk to those of the upper classes but he had asked me a question. "Ten."

He nodded, satisfied with the information. "Name?"

"Tesla." I answered, looking up at him. Another 'no no' in the slave rules. Never look a better in the eye.

"Haven't you something you should be doing, Tesla?" he asked, raising an eye at me. I realized now who he was as a General and as a person were very different. He was not trying to be intimidating now. He was just a man who might have been worried my stupidity would endanger me.


He gave me an amused look and slowly strode towards me as if I would bolt if he moved faster. "Are you only capable in answering with one word?"


"Hm." He leaned down to he was nearly level with me. "Then tell me how is it that you have all the time in the world to be watching my men train?"

"I have no responsibilities other then to not be in the way." I answered. "Mistress Dominic is never in need of my services. I have no chores unless I volunteer for them."

"Ahh, I have heard of you." He commented, glancing back out at the training men. He seemed less and less interested in their training by the day. Bored even. I remembered staying quiet and staring at the floor. No one had ever spoken to me before other then Mei and a handful of others. Already I'd heard more from this man then my own mother.

"You ever handled a weapon?"

I looked up, startled with the question and shook my head. "The one I took from the shed wall and returned to you was the first."

He seemed to contemplate on that before deciding to speak to me again. "Would you like to?"

The shock I felt stayed with me. "I am a slave and a female. What use would I have in learning such skills."

"I don't very much care what you are. Would you like to learn, yes or no?" He asked, giving me the same look he gave the boys he trained.

I nodded with little hesitation.

"Good." He said simply. "Get out there."

It was so much harder then I had thought, and now I had felt bad for ever silently mocking the boys as they trained. They were all at least five years my senior and it took only a short amount of time before their resentment towards me turned into amusement.

After months I would like to think General Dason was proud of me. I had won and lost just as many one on one spars as any of the others. He commissioned smaller and lighter daggers and swords for my use and it only succeeded in pushing me harder. I would receive one as compensation for every spar I won.

"Move your feet Tesla!" Dason yelled. "You're opponent in real battle won't be a nice as these! Pick up your feet and move! Kail, don't tell me your going to let the little girl show you up! Defend your weak points!"

We fought and that round, I won.

I became the little sister to that regiment. The flower and mascot. I soon discovered how quickly each of my new friends were to come to my aid when it was needed and none of them were bothered with my presence any longer.

On the rare occurrence I couldn't make a training day due to my Mistress' whims, then I would have serious explaining to do the next day. I got the feeling they missed me.

"Skipping out, Tesla?" Laik chuckled, giving me a teasing shove. "They General will have your hide if you keep that up."

"Don't make such a fuss." Kail grinned. "She had important things do to."

Malo shook his head at them. "I bet she was training on her own. She'll come in here one day and beat the both of you with her hands tied behind her back. A surprising little bundle of power, she is. Just you lot wait till she's grown."

"You make such a fuss over the simplest things." I shook my head. It didn't seem to matter to any of them that I was still technically a slave. I liked that best.

Each of them treated me as if I were their little sister, and I assumed it was because most of them did have a little sister that they left behind at home. I was a welcomed replacement and distraction they liked to have in there off moments. For some reason, I fascinated them.

"Lets go, child." General Dason would say as he guided me back inside. It was a simple precaution in case someone was to come across me. As of yet no one knew he was training me with the others. The regiment wouldn't breathe a word of me to anyone and Dason surely wouldn't though he confessed to me once that it was hard not to talk about training someone of my age and skill level.

He would walk me back until I could slip into my quarters with the other slaves unnoticed and be there in case my presence was required for whatever reason. The only one who ever truly noticed my disappearing was Mei and she would pat my head every time she saw me as a comforting, familiar gesture.

I trained and I slept and no one was the wiser of my unheard of schedule. When I was fourteen, I betrayed the trust of those who had kept me a careful secret .

I was sleeping, curled up on a blanket and nothing else in the slave's quarter with the others. Nights were often still and silent. Mistress Dominic liked them that way so she could get her rest. It wasn't hard to maintain either. After she went to bed, the slaves quietly finished their chores and did the same. I was the only one who was silent enough to come and go as I pleased at all hours, but I didn't make a habit of it.

Mei woke me, startling my by shaking my shoulders roughly in he dead of night.

"Quickly Tesla!" She begged, shaking me still as I stared up at her. I was only so tired when my training had been particularly exhausting the day before.

"What is it?" I muttered, looking up at her. She wasn't the only one awake. All the handmaidens were shaking uneasily, near tears and wringing their hands together over and over again. Terrified.

"What is it?" I repeated, sternly this time and mimicking the look General Dason often gave the other soldiers and me.

"A man is cutting down the Mistress' guard. He's going to her room. We've already heard faint screams." Mei said quickly, looking tearful. For all of Dominic's unpleasantness, she was a decent owner to her slaves.

Without a second thought I tore from the room, armed with nothing more then a dagger the General had given me to keep on my person. He said it was always good for a growing lady such as myself to be armed, and I was trained well enough to handle it.

I counted four bodies as I ran down the halls to the Mistress's room, and I heard her scream just as Mei had described. I knew then what I was about to ruin but I was still her slave, and she was mine to defend when it came down to it.

I threw the door open and stared at the man who was far more then twice my size and weight. I didn't recognize his attire but I knew he must have been of some importance with how expensive the dyes and leathers looked. He had my Mistress backed into her corner of her room in only her nightwear, cowering before him with tears flowing down her face.

"It would be wise for you to back away." I said, swallowing slowly to keep my voice steady. It was my first real battle. It was more then a test and could have a permanent outcome for me. I needed to prove I could do it or I would have shammed both the General and my regiment.

The man turned to me and I was struck with how large he was. He gave me one stare and laughed haughtily. "Your men have failed you and now they send a handmaiden to come to your aid." He turned his taunting laughter towards Dominic to degrade her further. "The Emperor may be your uncle but you are obviously in no favor of his."

Dominic hardly looked at me she was so terrified, and it only made the man feel more dangerous to her. He had her in complete terror of losing her life painfully.

I ran in, keeping my steps as light as I could before jumping on his back and wrapping my arms tightly around his neck.

"Run Mistress!" I screamed and she stared with wide eyes before getting to her feet and taking off from the room. The man thrashed around with me still on his back. I had hoped to cut off his air but he neck was so thick it became a harder task then I had first thought. He slammed his back against the wall, squishing me repeatedly until I was forced to let go.

"You little bitch." He said, panting heavily as he looked down at me.

"You old bastard." I yelled back, rolling back before he could succeed in catching me.

Back on my feet I moved to a fighting stance, and judging by his darkening eyes he recognized it. He pulled a sword from his side and I swallowed in anticipation. I was nearly weaponless against him and he had me outclassed in strength alone.

I dodged the first thrust of this sword but failed miserably when trying to disarm him, his grip was too strong and he was built like an ox I couldn't knock back. I scrambled away from him, and it only took being kicked by him once to learn that I didn't want to be kicked again. I'd had enough beatings in my life to know when a hit would do the worst amount of damage.

"I will kill you and skin you." He growled, trying to corner me before reaching to grab me by my hair, but last think he seemed to expect was my rushing towards him and slip between his legs. Dason couldn't stress enough how being cornered in a fight was the last place I ever wanted to be. Being there for only a moment, I agreed.

"I'd like to keep my skin if it's all the same to you." I muttered, feeling for the dagger I had strapped to my thigh.

"You being here is going to end up causing me a world of trouble. May as well send you along to hell." He glowered. I had barely noticed him maneuvering towards me again before feeling the slice of his blade across my shoulders blades. I hissed from the pain but moved before he could use a finishing blow.

I had Dason's voice in my head. "Move your feet Tesla!"

There was nothing in Dominic's room that would have helped me win a fight, but it wasn't overly cluttered with things. It made it easy to move but hard to improvise.

"Sit still you rat!" He growled as I dove across Dominic's bed to put some distance between us. I definitely had no plans of sitting still when he was trying to kill me.

In a fit of rage he sliced his blade down the middle of Dominic's bed and I took the opportunity to lounge at him while his blade was indisposed.

He was shocked as he fell back and I had my dagger pressed to his throat before slipping his sword from his hand. The moment he tried to move I pressed the blade harder until his throat bled and picked up his sword to press the point into his chest.

Panting softly I stared down at him from where I sat on his legs. "I very much suggest you don't move again or you won't have to worry about what the Emperor will do you to."

In seconds guards stormed the room and the sight of my pinning the man with two blades must have been a surprise for him. I was hauled up and dragged away and it took me a long time before I realized it was Malo who held me, pressing a cloth to my bleeding shoulders.

"You crazy little child." He held me tightly to his chest. "Worry us to death."

"That was kind of scary." I admitted softly, letting him fuss over me before the others showed up with alarm, worry and questions. The guards had beaten the man into submission and locked him away before the news came that I was to be sent to the Emperor himself to recount what had happened and answer for myself.

"You ain't done nothing wrong, remember that." Kail said softly and the priests came to drag me away from them. I wanted to stay with them more then anything but I had little choice in the matter. I would be killed if I didn't respond to my summons.

I was brought to the grand hall and forced down to my knees with my back still bleeding slightly. I kept my eyes on the pretty tile of the floor rather then look around the grand hall where the Emperor sat on his throne, surrounded by his women and most trusted advisors. He had already been told of the events.

A slave girl had the ability to defeat a man who was supposedly a warrior himself. It was unheard of and if I didn't have any answers for him then I might never answer anyone again.

"This child?" the Emperor asked with an exasperated tone.

"Yes, your majesty." The priest answered with a deep bow. "She had him fully incapacitated before the guards arrived."

I looked up slowly and was stunned instantly. I was surely the bastard child of the Emperor, and if that wasn't enough, my mother herself sat on the dais in front of him as if claiming how important she was to be there. I personally didn't think banging the Emperor was any large feat. He had all the women he wanted. On the other hand, I suddenly have the urge to want to tame my wild curls to look less like her.

The Emperor made an irritated sound and stared down at me, knowing full well who I was, I imagined.

"You've some skill with a blade then." He stared. When I didn't answer he grew impatient. "Answer me!"

"Yes, Your Majesty. I've some skill." I bit out.

He made another annoyed sound and those around them whispered about me as if I were an animal there for nothing more then their amusement.

"Fancy work for a slave." He commented.

"If it is as you say." I muttered, going back to stare at the tile, this time because I found it more interesting. I'd never before been the center of such speculation, and I didn't care for it. I felt a sudden anger I wanted to take care of.

"Where did you learn such skill?" he asked in a coaxing tone. I stayed silent still. He could kill me, and probably would despite whatever answers I gave him so I saw no reason to satisfy him. He could sit there and wonder forever.

"Answer me." He frowned.

I said nothing still.

"Child you try my patients. I guarantee you I haven't much at this time of night." He said in a stern voice and it was obvious to me that he was not often used to someone disobeying him.

I could feel the tension in the room growing. Everyone silently wishing that I would just tell him what he wished to know. Wishing I wouldn't make things so hard, not just for myself but for them afterwards. I didn't care about what happened to them afterwards. When I heard footsteps behind me I hoped it was someone else with news that would pardon me but it was much worse then that.

I felt and hand on my head and looked over to see General Dason kneeling next to me with even his head bowed low before the Emperor. My heart lodged in my throat and the second I tried to speak he pushed my head down lower.

"She is my responsibility, your Highness. I am the one who has trained her in combat." Dason said, his voice just as steady as if he had been planning on it all along.

There were cumulative gasps and even the Emperor himself didn't appear to know what to say.

"A child? A slave girl? Have you lost your sense? How long has this nonsense been going on for?" The Emperor demanded.

"It is hardly nonsense, your Majesty. The girl could win in a spar against any of your own guard and is fit for battle as any man. She has trained for four years." Dason said and I was so ashamed that I slumped down in my bow until my forehead touched the cool tiles. I never wanted Dason to be punished because of me.

The Emperor snorted rudely. "You place your faith in this little girl?"

"She had never once failed me." Dason nodded.

I wanted to curl up and cry for what he was saying. He would end up saving me from a horrible fate and I couldn't do a thing but try to prove his words right.

"I hardly see how this should impress me." The Emperor shook his head.

"Uncle." Dominic said softly, moving into the room before she bowed. "This girl was a gift you gave to me, and she did come to my defense."

Even Dominic was trying to save me.

"She is strong, your Majesty. Being underestimated is only to her advantage." Dason continued.

"Then we shall test that theory of your." The Emperor chuckled with a bored shake of this head. "We'll have a little test in the morning to see how good this child is."

"One week," Dason corrected. "She sustained battle injuries and just like any other fighter she should receive her time of rest. When she is at her best she will fight your warrior at their best."

The Emperor sighed and waved us off. "Very well."

Dason bowed deeply again before pulling me up by me arm and walking out from the room with me in front of him. He kept waking until he were nearly on the other side, closer to the courtyard where we trained.

"Dason. I am so sorry." I whispered.

"For what?" He said quickly, staring down at me with angry eyes. "You did what you were trained and honor bound to do. Don't you dare apologize for that. A warrior does not apologize for such things."

I nearly cowered but swallowed back my tears. "I never meant to involve you. To drag you into something like this."

He touched my face and pushed my hair back out of my face. "How dare you not give me my credit in your training."

"That's not what I meant." I muttered.

"I know this." He agreed softly. "The Emperor may be your father but he gave up any claim to you he might have had. We will train, and you will fight and show that old man what you're made of." He wiped the tears from my face. "You'll do us proud."

I nodded slowly.

Dason was like a father figure in my life, or a big brother. Having never had either before I cherished him above all others. With only one real day of rest I went back into training, and if the Emperor sent someone to visit on my progress then they were in for a rude awakening when they came into contact with my regiment who wouldn't let anyone pass.

"Don't over think!" Dason demanded. "You don't have time. Move your feet, move your body, watching your opponent for the chance to strike him down! Where's your blade at, girl! Get your head in this!"

When the day of my test came, I stunned the Emperor with my abilities. Even my mother looked on with wide eyes and I couldn't bring myself to feel anything towards her. She had no objections to watching me fight and was startled merely to see for herself that it wasn't all talk. I took down seven of the warriors the Emperor had set up to fight me and done so easily, and without killing a single one.

My regiment cheered for me the entire time and didn't look at all surprised when I won. I collapsed from exhaustion when I was declared the winner, a smile on my face as I was lifted into Dason's arms.

"Satisfied, your Majesty?" Dason asked, cradling me in his arms.

"Indeed." He muttered, watching me as I fell asleep.

Shortly afterwards, General Dason presented me with new wrist bands. Instead of the ones worn by the slaves or handmaidens, there were worn by warriors in the Emperor's army. The same as him. I'd never felt so important before in my life. He said I deserved it and I was thrilled.

But I learned then that all good things come to an end and couldn't last. I was quickly put to work, and I was almost back where I started under the Emperor's thumb. I was to be covered at all times, my face and hair included, tied back so only my eyes remained. My white clothes were exchanged for black ones and I discovered I was to be a lap dog. An assassin to do battle in secret . My enemies would never know I was a woman, and I would fight in darkness.

I was the secret weapon of the Emperor, and by the age of twenty, I was well known across the nation, and I'd turned all my rage onto the Emperor himself. His guards kept him locked away when they suspected I was near for fear of my sneaking in and assassinating him as easily as I had his rivals. They had a right to feel that way. It was what I wanted after all.

I would have been happy in the army, in my regiment with the people I had grown up with, but it was taken from me. I was unrivaled with a blade and owed all my reflexes from the training I had done as a child. I didn't know how to be anything but a killer.

I'd heard my mother had died and as badly as I wanted to feel some kind of remorse, I felt nothing. I wanted to mourn but I didn't have it in me to truly mourn for someone who abandoned me for a chance at a status. I had also heard that the Emperor wanted to get into my good graces. I wished him the best of luck.

"You've lived behind a mask to long. It's become apart of your face." Dason commented on one of the rare occasions I was able to visit him. "Don't you ever be ashamed of who you are, Tesla. You're not the bastard of a King. You're a warrior princess and you earned that title all on your own. You find something in your life to hold onto. Find something worth taking the next step in your life."

"What if I never find anything?" I asked, my voice soft out of habit.

"Then you keep looking." He said. "You never once backed down on your training, don't you think of backing down in life. It's all a battle."

"Am I loosing the battle?" I asked. "I had only wanted to protect myself. I never wanted to be the grim reaper."

"You won't lose, Tesla. I've far to much faith in you for that." He said.

The words rejuvenated me, as I was accustomed to. Whenever I was feeling horrible, Dason had a way of bringing my spirits up, and like always, his encouragement meant the world to me. He was the one who knew from the start that I could be great. He'd given me the chance to find myself and be more then just a simple slave.

Behind my mask I could smile, knowing that he was proud of me. I was still a child when it came to him, and imagined I always would be.

By twenty-four I was a legend. The reaper in the night that could disappeared as quick as I appeared in the first place. I grew stronger with every passing day, and pushed myself until exhaustion struck.

I was so tired of war and fighting and death. I might have welcomed death had the opportunity appeared but I never did. Life seemed to want to keep me. I never thought I would have had a problem with that but if the only thing life held for me was more fighting then I was done with it.

There were time I thought about going to Dason to ask him to end my life for me but just the thought of his expression when the words came out was enough to know that I couldn't ever ask such a thing of him. He was like my father and I knew he thought of me as his daughter.

At least I had him still.

While finished one more job I was told the war was over and I could relax. The treaties had pulled through. There were a few casualties that would need to be dealt with but as a whole, things were better. There would be no more serious battles for me, not unless we entered another war, which I would see to it that we would not. Even if it meant taking the Emperor's head.

I strolled down a path that lead to a small town I'd visited on a few occasions. The people would move out of my way but they never shied away from their business. They knew I wasn't there for any of them. There were times they would even offer me food as a sort of offering.

They hoped I would protect them in return and on many occasions I had. It was the sort of place I enjoyed staying when I had the time, but already I felt as if something was horribly wrong. It was a feeling I'd gotten on more then one occasion and it was painful.

As I neared I could smell the smoke before I could see it, and I broke out into a sprint to get there as fast as I could manage, but there was nothing to get to. The town was a sea of smoldering ashes and there wasn't a scrap of life left. Everything was gone and every person had been run through.

"A few casualties." I whispered softly, choking on the words as I walked down the empty road. Everything was rubble and dust. The ache in my chest was complete. I had never felt so horrible as I did at that moment. I should have been here to protect these people but I wasn't omniscient. I couldn't be in two places at once for a battle.

It was as bitter and empty as learning that a few of my regiment brothers has died in battle. I knew it would never go away.

I was preparing to run away when a sound caught my attention and I turned around to see a child standing a few feet behind me. I remembered him, the little boy Ellis. Only four years old and now orphaned. He had dark brown hair and onyx eyes and judging by the state of his clothes and the cuts and scrapes that covered his skin, this day was hell for him.

Everyone else was dead, I was positive of that though it wouldn't stop me from looking now. He stared up at me with tears in his eyes and I felt pathetic, more so then I'd ever felt before in my life.

Slumping down to my knees I waited for him to make his move, whether he was to run away or try toll kill be for betraying his home and not coming to their rescue. I deserved that at the very least. Maybe there would have been some justice in that.

When he finally stood in front of me, I don't know what I expected, but he kneeled down too and pulled the masks off my face and I felt the tears finally fall. No one had seen my face other then Dason in almost ten years and now in front of this little boy I sobbed. All of those repressed tears fell and I couldn't stop until I felt the little boys arms wrapped around my torso. He cried loudly and clung to me until I pulled him into my lap and held him until we were both spent.

"I don't wanna be alone." He said, looking up at me with fear I'd never seen before.

I sat there, surrounded by smoke and rubble with a little boy in my lap and nodded. Slowly I took off the rest of my masks and looked down at the black fabric I'd worn for so long. I couldn't even remember why anymore.

"You'll come with me." I promised. "You won't be alone."

Two months later I walked through the streets of a loud town, Ellis holding onto my hand. The best part was that no one recognized me. I wore a light lavender instead of black and my hair was free to move in the wind, back in a mass of curls and I never felt so perfectly free.

I still had blades tucked away for a 'just in case' situation, but I'd given up on fighting. Ellis was worth giving everything up for. He needed to stay safe. I wanted a brand new life with him and I was going to have it. I couldn't with my past looming over my head. He smiled up at me and I was sure everything was going to be all right between us. He had even taken to calling my mommy in the last few days.

He was looking forward to meeting the great General Dason, who he'd learned about in stories I told him, and I was excited to see him too. I had heard my General was retiring at long last and with that, I thought a little visit would do all three of us some good. I may have been starting a new life with my new little son, but Dason would always be apart of it too. I didn't have to be alone just because I used to be a hired assassin.

I'd given far too much of my life to please the Emperor, even when much of it was against my genuine wishes. But even that old man didn't matter to me anymore. Not so long as I had Ellis. It was my turn to be happy and smug in life.

"Close, mommy?" Ellis asked, tugging on my head as he looked up at me.

"Yes, yes. We're close." I smiled. "Dason's going to be very excited to see the two of us. I know he'd love to meet you."

He smiled sweetly and right then and there I was sure he was everything sweet in life. Everything life was supposed to be. How my mother didn't want me was beyond anything I could understand. This child was beautiful, and he was mine.


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