Chapter One

She could hear their heavy footfalls thudding against the cobblestone ground, echoing through the alley, as they chased after her. Clutched tightly to her chest, she held two small loaves of bread and a bright, red apple. The food was stolen. That was why the guards were chasing her. She was a thief. That was what they told her. They told her stealing was wrong. She knew it was, but she had to. It was the only way that she could survive.

She quickly ducked through a small gap in one of the wooden fences that lined that particular alley. It was big enough for her to fit through, but too small for her pursuers. Within seconds, she had disappeared from their sight, their angry shouts falling on everyone's ears but her own.

Though she was out of their sight, she did not slow down. She hurried along, ducking through dark, twisting alleys, finally slowing as she neared a small, broken-down, old house.

The dull brown paint was chipping away, exposing the rotting wooden beams holding the house up. The windows were full of cracks and holes. One was even completely smashed through, shattered glass still lying on the porch in front of it. It was a dismal thing to look at, but to her, it was home.

She did not go in the front door. No, she did not want to wake him. Instead, she slipped around to the side of the house, gently prying the shutters there open, and climbed in through the window. She carefully closed the shutters behind her and tiptoed through the house. She stashed one of the loaves, as well as the apple, in the small hallway closet that she called her room before quietly making her way towards the kitchen. It was empty. She gently set the loaf on the table before turning towards the old cabinet where they kept their silverware. She carefully opened the drawer and quickly found the sharpest knife that they had before closing the drawer and turning back to the table. The bread was gone.

"Where'd yew get dis?" she spun towards the source of the deep, gruff voice, dropping the knife in surprise as she did. He stood in the doorway, filling the frame with his large body. Greasy black hair fell down to his shoulders, tangling itself in his bushy beard on its way down. His clothes were stained and tattered, but he didn't care. He never cared. His dark grey eyes flashed at her as he raised his hand to his disfigured nose and sniffed, revealing the small loaf in his hand.

"Smells fresh," he grumbled. "Yew spend ma monay on dis?" He thrust the loaf towards her accusingly.

"N-no, Papa," she stuttered, hanging her head to avoid his piercing eyes.

"Yew stole it, dinen yew?" he snapped. "Look at meh, child!" She slowly looked up at him, scared by the anger in his voice.

"Y-yes, Papa," she replied softly, nodding her head.

"Come 'ere," he ordered. She stood frozen in spot, unable to move. "COME 'ERE!" Shaking, she slowly stepped forward, foot after foot, step by step, until she stood right before him.

"Thief!" he cried, smacking her hard across the face with the back of his hand, the force sending her crashing to the ground.

"No supper fer yew," he laughed, closing his fingers around the small loaf. He then bent down and picked up a brown bottle that he must have set down earlier, the dark brown liquid sloshing around inside of it as he moved, before turning and leaving the room.

She slowly brought a hand to her stinging cheek and gently touched the tender skin, wincing with pain as her fingers brushed against the already swelling flesh. Tears pricked her eyes, but she quickly wiped them away. If he saw her crying, he would only beat her more for being so weak. She slowly picked herself up and brushed the dirt off of her plain, brown clothes. She slowly snuck back towards her closet room, stopping briefly before his room, chancing a quick peek inside.

He was already passed out in his chair, the now empty bottle clutched tightly in his fingers against his chest. Crumbs of the bread were speckled across his dark beard. A low, deep snore emanated from his throat and she felt herself breath a sigh of relief as she quickly slipped past his room and went to her own.

She pulled out the apple and the other loaf that she had hidden and quickly filled her stomach with them. She was glad that she had hidden some of the food, or else she would have gone hungry, like she often did most nights.

Whenever she brought home food, her father would always find some reason for her not to get any of it, causing her to toss and turn all night, her stomach growling in pain from being so hungry.

She hated being so deceitful, but it was the only way that she would ever get enough to eat. She had thought about running away, but she couldn't. She would have no where to live and her father would find her eventually, because Farden was a small town and she would never be able to make it to a different town alone. The only reason her father even let her stay in his house was because she brought him food, whether she worked for it or stole it, which meant he didn't have to leave his chair and could continue to drink his life away.

That was the only thing that made him happy - drinking. Ever since her mother had died from a dreadful plague years earlier, her father had become a dark and careless man. He used to be so full of life and love, but over the years he had continuously turned to his bottle for comfort, caring less and less about his daughter. But despite her father becoming such a horrible man, she still loved him. He was the only family that she had left.

There was a sudden knock at the door. Not her door, but rather the front door. She heard her father growl and curse as he lumbered down the hall to the door. She slowly opened her door to peek out, seeing her father open the door to reveal two guards.

"Oh crap!" she cursed as they started talking to him. She couldn't hear what they were saying, but she could see her father's shoulders stiffen. He yelled something at them before slamming the door shut and storming down the hallway towards her room. She quickly backed away from the door as it flew open, backing up until her back was against the wall.

"Where is it?" he demanded.

"Where is what?" she replied quietly.

"Don't play dumb wit meh, gurl!" he snarled. "Where is da food?"

"It's gone," she whispered, hanging her head.

"Yew don't share food," he growled.

"I don't share house!" He grabbed her shoulder, her tunic scrunching up into his fist, and dragged her down the hallway.

"No, father!" she cried, grabbing at his hand. "I'm sorry!" He ignored her, throwing the door wide open and shoving her out of the house.

"'Ere she is, officers!" he announced before slamming the door shut. She stumbled, tripping on the broken steps, and fell to the ground. Within seconds, she found herself staring at a pair of black boots. She looked up and saw the dark silhouette of a guard, sun glowing around the edges of his figure. Rough hands pulled her to her feet and held her tightly so that she couldn't run away. She struggled against the hands anyways, but it was useless. All she could do was glare at the guard before her.

"Emelia Devern," she was startled to hear her name fall from his lips. "You are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent."

And she did.