They're staring at us. I'm not surprised, though. We're out of place. Our appearance doesn't blend in as well as we had hoped. Our clothes are threadbare and soiled. Damion's tired eyes confirm he hasn't slept in a while, which is true. When we heard the first wolf howl, we agreed to stay awake in shifts in case any found us as we slept on the dusty ground. But, I'm only eight. I couldn't stay awake that long. So Damion was usually the one to stay awake and watch for wolves.
We are fugitive orphans. Damion and I have to steal if we wanted to eat. The government, naturally, prohibits robbery, so we have been running between cities. As soon as we get discovered, we leave for the next city. We're running out of cities. There are many left that we haven't seen in UK. Most cities know of us, so even if we haven't ever been there, they know us and try to arrest us. Damion found out there are only a couple of nameless cities we haven't been to on the opposite side of the country that don't know about us because they're so out of the way. This was supposed to be one of them, but it looks extremely medieval.
A grey-stoned castle towers over the meek village. An elevated wall circles the castle, probably to keep out intruders. As Damion and I walk through the streets, bustling with countless civilians, I notice their clothing. Most of the women wear dresses made of old pieces of cloth sewn together. There aren't many men out and about. I only see a couple and they seem to be working rather than running errands.
Suddenly, a beautiful woman steps in front of us and studies us. She is dressed nothing like everyone else. She wears a deep emerald green gown with elegant gold designs across her breasts and along the seams. Her chocolate brown hair is braided over her shoulder and falls to her hip with strings of gold spinning around it. Her warm brown eyes stare at us, noticing how we stand out. My light dress with flower designs on it and the white sandals that show my toes, which are painted pink. Damion's once white shirt, now beige, has the name of the school we used to attend, but meant nothing to us now.
"You two don't quite fit in, do you?" she asks, smiling ever so slightly.
Damion shook his head. "We're not from around here," he explains.
The woman frowns and circles us, examining our apparel. "What country are you from?" she asks. "I have never seen such peculiar clothes and I've been to all 10 countries."
We stare at her, confused. The woman's eyes widen slightly before returning to her original gaze. "You must come meet my father," she says, motioning for us to follow as she walks in the direction of the castle.
"Who are you?" Damion asks.
"Sikirah," she replied. "Princess of Moravia, the country you are in now."
My eyes widen. "A princess?"
The princess chuckles. "Yes. I am a princess, but please call me Sikirah. I dislike being call princess."
"Why?" I ask. "Being a princess is amazing!"
"Because being a princess reminds me of that one foolish decision could cause the fall of Moravia," she explained, as her warm smile turns to a bothered frown.
Wow. The first princess I ever meet and she doesn't even want to be a princess! That's terrible!
I become so immersed in my thoughts that I don't notice we're inside the castle until Damion bops me on the head to get my attention. I missed the entry hallway apparently because we now stand in the throne room. Stained – glass windows occupy the wall behind the tall deep red and gold throne. On it sits a man with a thick grey beard. He wears a gold crown with blue, green, and red gems decorating the protruding points of it. It feels as though his dark brown eyes are staring at my very soul, as opposed to my outfit.
"Sikirah?" the man asks in a deep, commanding voice. "My daughter, who are these children?"
He's the king…
"I have reason to believe they are the ones," Sikirah replies.
The king looks back at Damion and me.
"Who are you children?"
Before Damion can speak, I step forward. "I am Darby Kim, daughter of the deceased Grace and Daniel Kim," I say in a voice so confident, I'm shocked it's my own. "This is my older brother Damion Kim. We are orphaned as of three years ago and are fugitives to the government of our country."
The king nods. "How old are you two?"
"I am eight years of age and my brother is sixteen."
"That is a large gap between the two of you, is it not?"
"It is, my king, but Damion and I have grown very close after becoming fugitives."
"Why do you run from the government of your country? Why not stay in an orphanage where it is always warm and dry?"
"Damion and I do not wish to be separated from each other. And the conditions in an orphanage may seem pleasant, but, in truth, they are foul. There is never a large enough quantity of food to feed all the children what they would like and there are times when the shortages of food cause fighting."
"It seems as though you know much of orphanages. How is that?"
"I had a friend in an orphanage. She often stayed at my house so she wasn't involved in such horrid frays."
The king nods and looks at Sikirah. "Daughter, please escort the siblings to a bed chamber which they may share if it pleases them, and then meet me in my study." He stands and leaves the throne room.
Sikirah smiles at me. "You were very wonderful," she compliments. "Very few have the confidence to speak to my father in such a controlled tone. You did well, young Darby."
I smile and take Damion's hand as she leads us to our room.