PROLOGUE
"The first casualty of war is innocence."

The light of the crescent moon shone a path against the pebbled dirt walkway for a plump young man hurrying his way down towards a large forest. Much of the greenery that once existed had turned a terrible colour brown, much thanks to the drought and surrounding poverty the locals suffered from. Thirsty trees bent every which way into the sky, blocking out any moonlight for the man as he was forced to turn on a small flashlight once he entered its depths.

His feet padded along dry soil, crumpling dried leaves and dead petals, as he made his way through. Following the path at first, he approached an old treehouse that was once filled with giggling children and at night animals that once inhabited the forest. He veered off the path then, turning left at the treehouse and making his own way further into the forest.

There were no more sounds from animals skirting around in the shadows, though he knew he must be careful to avoid getting caught in the abandoned woods. It was a risk to be seen in areas that were no longer allowed to be crossed into. Some trees had been charred since the new reign of terror began, in an effort by the reigning Queen to make her mark.

He counted his footsteps until he reached twenty, then took a right through tangled shrubs. He ducked through fallen trunks and branches, finding himself in front of a deeply dug hole with iron clad bars keeping just one man, at once the most powerful man, inside.

The man took off his hood, revealing a thick scruff of blonde hair, and waved his flashlight around into the manmade prison. A man with distinct age worn wrinkles framing his blue eyes and a defining ginger mop of hair with grey peaking through in strands.

"Sir, they've found her," the younger man whispered into the darkness.

The man looked down at his visitor, lips pursed together, "It's time."