Chapter 1

"Move faster!" The guard shouts. We shuffle our feet faster. A few feet in front of me, a girl trips and falls to the ground, nearly knocking everyone else down with her. Some people shout at her, others curse, and no one helps her up. What has happened to us? She quickly apologizes and tries to stand up, only to be pushed down again by a boy in front of her. He steps on her wrist, and she cries out in pain. He smiles a crooked smile, showing very yellow colored teeth. Others around her mummer and some even still glare at her. No one helps her. No one stands up for her. No one cares. Of course they don't. I curl up my fists and walk to where the girl is. I can feel everyone's eyes on me as I reach my hand down to her. Her eyes widen in shock, but after a moment, she hesitantly lets me help her up. Her perfect blue eyes stare into my amber questioning, why? And I merely shrug. Her eyes seem to widen even more. I ignore the not-so-nice comments from the people as we stand. The boy looks at me with disgust. I return the look, pointing my finger to his chest.

"Touch her again, and you will lose a hand." It was clear. Simple, and direct.

"What can a girl do?" He sneers at me, "Yell at me? Oh no I'm so scared!" He laughs in my face, swatting my finger away. "I don't have time for your little petty threats little girl." I glare at him. Just because my sixteen-year-old body is a little tiny, people call me little girl. But they also don't know what I can really do. I tilt my head, and smile up at him. One punch won't do much damage. I start to lift my hand but just then, one of the guards comes running.

"What's going on here?" He looks really old, and tired. "You're not in your backyard, in here you work!" He says sternly. I turn my eyes back to the boy and smirk.

"Why sir, just a certain someone was trying to stop this poor girl," I gesture to the girl next to me, "-from moving in line. And when I tried to get them to move again, he goes and tries to start a fight." I put on my best innocent face. I am just a little innocent girl trying to follow the rules. No one can blame me right? I turn in time to see the boy go pale. The guard looks at him and brings his whip in a swift motion, and strikes the boy on his arm. The boy screams and crumples to the ground. The guard, satisfied, turns and walks back. I look away in disgust.

"Get back in line!" He yells over his shoulder. The boy, now on the ground being ignored by everyone else, clutches his arm. I walk over to the boy, and grab him arm to pull him up. I don't give him the chance to speak.

"I'm not sorry, I will do it again if I have to." My gaze pierces through him. "Hope you've learned your lesson. How's little lightning girl for you now? Try not to get hit again." He winces at my last words. Slowly, everyone gets back into line, the girl behind me now.

"Um-I...thank you." She mummers. I shrug.

"I did what I thought was right." That seems to quiet her. For a while, anyway. After a few minutes, she speaks up again.

"I'm Celia, by the way," she speaks quietly.

"I didn't ask for your name." I turn to look back at her. At her messy blond hair, way better than my dark brown uncontrollable hair. She goes red at my comment. She looks like she's hurt. But why? I didn't even touch her, then Why is she so hurt? I sigh, sometimes people were so difficult.

"Margaret, Mar," I say after another couple of minutes. She grins immediately, and somehow her ocean eyes glow up.

Before us, the hall spreads out into a huge room. The walls seem to made of very expensive materials. Shiny pieces surround the room. Wonder how much one could get me? So, this was one part of being a servant in the royal castle. I gape in amusement.

"First time?" Celia whispers. I nod ever so slightly, still staring at the room. I wonder how old she is. She looks about my age, if not a bit older. She's also pretty tall. Way taller than me. At least she has something good about her. Although she seems one of those people who have so many mood swings, you can never determine when they might turn mad at you. I turn my head back to the room. The old guard comes out from the back off the line, and scowls at us. I scowl at him right back. He's a monster, and want to turn us into to monsters. I pay no respect to him, nor will I to any of these dirty scumbags. They do this work right under the king's nose, and the king doesn't even know. Who knows where we will end up now, us criminals.

"Keep your eyes down!" He says to me. I bite my tongue from saying not-so-nice things that may get me into more trouble. Hesitantly, I let my eyes down.

"Sorry sir, but what is going on? It's kind of my first time here?" He glares at me like I'm stupid.

"All of you here are responsible for crime or are bad influences that need to be punished. And you-"He points at me, "You are held responsible for assaulting a courtsman!" His voice booms and everyone stares at me. I just stare at him in shock, I want to laugh so bad, that I have to cover my mouth with my hand.

"Wait, you're telling me bumping into someone is assaulting. Right." The old man laughs in response.

"You won't be smiling when you get your punishment." He grins. I roll my eyes and look to the front of the line. I've seen the worst, nothing that he can give me as an punishment will hurt more than what I've already seen, and witnessed. That day, when I was just ten…I had seen something that would burn as a scar in my mind forever. My mind wouldn't ever be the same, and I wouldn't ever think the same. I shouldn't even think about it, because of the deep ache inside my chest, that keeps pulling me towards something that lurks beneath the shadows, dark and threatening to open. And when it does…well, let's just say…all hell will break loose. And I don't want to be a part of it.

"Hey, you okay? You look lost." Celia whispers in my ear, that sends chills down my spine.

"Yeah, just...um, nothing, nevermind that. Hey, where are we anyways?"

"Looks like we're right before the court…" She stares at what now looks like the entrance of a very high ceilings and very professional looking brown wooden benches and rising above all, is a judge seat surrounded by pictures of people on the walls. Our line keeps moving straight inside, where there are more guards instructing people to sit on the more dirtier benches behind the polished brown wooden benches that were almost impossible to see until now. They were like hidden in the dark, almost purposefully, I suspected.

As we reach the guard, one of them points to me and then to the benches to the right. When I look back, I see Celia moving to the left benches, as she turns around to pout slightly at me. I don't return it, but I do scoot more towards the left a bit. Not because of Celia, but because I just happened to notice bully-boy next to me. He sort of looks afraid of me, and I guess he should. Remember that the next time he decides to cross me, it would probably end in a whip on the arm. Ouch! I laugh darkly to myself. Honestly, sometimes I think I have a living devil inside me, merciless. And ironically, I'm not the only one who thinks that. I smirk and lift my head towards the front.

"Shut the hell up before I hang you all!" A loud voice thunders and I look to see who it is, only to find a relatively tiny man with an abnormally large grey beard, standing on a podium to the right of us, facing us with a angry look in his face. "You all are criminals, so you are treated like criminals," He shrugs. Suddenly, I notice a bit too many people with fresh new whip marks all around me. A man dressed in full black comes out of nowhere, and whispers into the man's ear.

"I need Margaret Langan to come up here right now!"