I would like to dedicate this first chapter to Nick Miaskowski. We can all get through the hardest times. Reviews are appreciated. Limited author's notes.

Chapter 1

Looking back at my life, I once had only seen happiness. Of course, at some point, there was grief, sadness, anger, fear... never hatred though. I had not been accustomed with that emotion to truly loathe someone. It brought me sorrow to look at my life before with wonder and adoration, only to look to this day as it crumbled apart. My life fell from the seams. Most of what I cherished was gone forever, an empty sea shell left behind.

I missed the sea already. Its beauty and mystical powers to calm the human nature of people. Yet, the sea had now been my downfall, the course to all the agony I was suffering. I was in despair, in such torture, that suicide could have been an easy option for me. But I could not die and leave them. I was bound to this world in which I longed to desert by them. Bound to suffering and pain. I had it all and lost it all just as fast. Many say life could be worse. If my life was worse, I wouldn't sit another second out here. I would be heaven, joining my family.

My life seemed over. Finished. It hit the peak and breaking point, and toppled to the bottom. It was unfair for my life to be over so soon. I was only nineteen.

* * *

The market was bustling with people at the moment. I could only stop and stare at the wonderful goods they had, wafting in their amazing scents. I could not enjoy the delights of food for I had no money. This thought itself concerned with the fact that I had a family to feed. I had no idea what to do.

I only stared at the stands, looking at the standmen with a pleading look that they might be kind enough to throw me a fresh melon or just a loaf of bread. Anything would be good, anything to get us through. But the standmen were not so kind at all. They looked at me with disgust, like they would at a beggar. My heart cringed at the thought. I was a beggar.

After a few hours of hopelessly standing there, looking aimlessly at the crowds of people with food, the sun began to set. No one had been kind. These people were different than the ones of Astania, who were always kind, gentle, and easy to bargain with. But these people were cruel-hearted, whose only concern was money, and as sunset approached, the standmen had begun to lock up their stands. I watched it with disappointment. We would starve for the night, and perhaps even the night after that, by the looks of these people.

The sun was nearly gone. I noticed a man watching me from the corner of my eye, but as seeing he had no food or money to offer me, I did not seem interested. I began to turn away, until I felt something gently grab my arm. I shifted my gaze towards the handsome man who had been smiling at me.

"You seem hungry," he said. I pulled my arm away. Was it that obvious? Of course, I had been wearing nothing but a cloak, but I suppose it did not hide my pale face well enough from strangers, and I only revealed it to standmen. Realizing that the man was still watching me, I slowly nodded. He dug his hand into his pocket and out, only to reveal several copper coins. My cheeks flushed at the sight of money, and I was tempted to grab it and run. The man must have noticed my reaction for his hand closed up.

He walked over to one of the remaining open stands and bought a loaf of bread. The standman then locked up his shop, as the man returned to me and extended the bread towards me. I did not know what to do, but just look at the bread with amazement.

"Here you are, my lady. Hope it satisfies you for the night. Can't have a pretty young thing such as yourself starve now, can we?" His hand was still extended out to me. With a shaky hand, I grabbed the loaf from him. I did not shift my eyes up to meet his eyes, too fearful of what I should see. This had been the first act of kindness I had seen.

"Thank you," I croaked, my voice broken and my throat dehydrated. The man once again must have noticed, because he pulled out a canister, opened it, and handed it to me. I wearily took it and enjoyed a small sip, trying not to seem greedy. But why would it matter? The man had already given me bread. I had nothing. As my lips parted with the canister, I shoved it back into my mouth and greedily finished the contents. As I returned it to the man, his eyes had a sense of amusement to them.

"Are you content?" he asked. I gave him a faint nod as I looked back at my bread, hoping for the man to leave. He did not. He continued to stare at me.

"What is your name, my lady?" I did not like that phrase. I looked up at him and answered with an uninterested tone.

"Amelia. Amelia Talia."

"Why, that is a beautiful name, my lady. Jack Stone, in your presence. May I ask for your age?" He asked another question I did not want to answer. I would have handed him back the bread and walked away, but my family needed it. Therefore, to make sure that he would not take it back, I answered him.
"Nineteen," I quietly whispered. The man's eyes widened.

"My lady, look at yourself! You are only nineteen and yet so poor that I must give you food and drink? What have you done with yourself to engage in this lifestyle?" He questioned. I only had a temper every so often. In the last year, I did not have a temper at all. Yet, at such cruel, mocking words, I lashed out at the man.

"I am not your lady, good sir. I am poor not because I choose to be, but being rich once, I lost it all. You must not give me food and drink," I said, sticking out the bread towards him, "And with that, I might at least leave with my dignity with the fact I did not accept your precious gift, the only luxury I currently own." I pushed the bread into arms and began to walk away, but he followed with a temper similar to mine.

"Foolish wretch! I am offering you at least one simple luxury, and as I ask of you to tell me of your predicament, you shun me with a cold shoulder. Is that any way to treat someone who is merely trying to express kindness?"

"You did not ask of my predicament, but of what I had done to be in this predicament. I have done nothing, but it is of what has happened. It is the past now."

"What has happened, my..." Jack stopped midway as I turned back towards him, "...lady." My eyes began to burn.

"I do not have to explain myself to you, Mr. Stone. Good day."
"But aye, what if I were to explain myself to you first? Would you then share your tale?" He pressed his body closer to mine. He was very attractive, with smooth-looking chocolate locks and dirt-colored eyes. Curious, questionable eyes.

"Why do you want to know of my past?"

His hand took mine as he placed a gentle kiss upon them. He smirked with a sense of pride at the thought of winning this feud. He leaned in closer to my ear, even though no one had been around to listen to his little secret he placed in my ear.

"It's a shame someone as beautiful as you had to go through it and who is now accepting food and drinks from strangers," he whispered, placing the loaf of bread back into my hands. I did not know much of this man Jack Stone. But he was charming. Very charming and interested in me. I accepted the offer.

"What is your tale, Mr. Stone?" Jack seemed pleased with my answer as he fixed the collar of his shirt and bestowed upon me a slight bow. He once again grabbed my hand and placed another delicate kiss upon it.

"Ms. Amelia Talia, I am Jack Stone, an eager businessman with bright hopes for the future. I am twenty-four, never married, and interested in women with class, but not the class you would think of. I like my maidens with a littl fire in their hearts that have to be tamed, such as yours. I hope to soon leave the business, and enter the world of literature. I hope to one day marry a lady as beautiful as yourself and have a son, whom I might teach to love the hunt as I do. When I die, I hope to be remembered for my love of culture and life."

He seemed very into what he believed. His goals have been set.

"Sir, that is more of your future than your past," I remarked. Jack smirked.

"Aye, my future for your past, my lady."

"My past is bleak, my story long. It is dark out now. I can not tell it now," I sadly gazed off to the sky and upon the stars. My head was heavy, but not as heavy as my heart. My depression deepened, I felt my knees wobble. As I was about to fall, he caught me in his arms.

"It may be dark, but it is not late. And I'm full of enthusiasm to hear your woeful tale with my full attention. Do you need to be seated?"

I wearily nodded. He helped me towards one of the locked up stands that had a roof over a table and four chairs. Jack placed me in one and sat two chairs away from me. I placed the bread on the table. My eyes blurred from the heavy wreck of emotions burdened upon me. Jack quietly stared at me and softly said, "It feels better when you share your burdens with another. It feels lighter." I nodded again and stared at the table for a moment. A tear managed to escape.

"My past is horrid. I wish to take it all back. I will tell you of my woeful tale about my personal doomsday. But please, I ask of you. Forgive me when I cry."