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Chapter 1

Kiara:

“Good morning” I smiled at Nina who was laying on the forest floor, the fall air getting colder as we neared winter, her and I knew that we needed to find a place to stay soon or else we would all end up dying from the winter’s cold air.

It’s been four years since she had found me in that forest the other night, and since I found out that she was the leader that held everything together here I was honestly impressed, it was then that her and I became inseparable.

“Good morning” Nina said removing the hood from her eyes revealing her green eyes, she smiled when she saw me sit down by her side, my blue dress which was worn out from all the stitching I had done to fix it over the year, but I didn’t mind, it covered me and that was technically all that mattered, she for some reason liked wearing tights despite me telling her that these were men clothing, she said they were better when maneuvering around.

“Sleep well?” I asked, I was surprised to find her up at this time, she usually slept in till at least mid-morning, but it was barely the crack of dawn and she was awake laying in front of the river rather than sleeping.

“Yes” she said sitting up, she removed the hood revealing her blonde messy locks which were tangled as it wasn’t washed or cleaned for weeks, since she didn’t like cold water, I however couldn’t stand the smell or feeling of my hair being dirty plus the water temperature didn’t bother me, whether it was cold or hot water, neither of them phased me, she shivered due to the cold weather hitting the back of her neck and I sighed.

“We need to find a place to stay Nina, the kids are going to freeze in the cold winter, and you and I both know that we don’t even have enough food for then” I said looking her in the eye, despite her leading us, she had made no attempt of trying to find a solution since she was technically used to me finding one.

“I know Kiara, you really don’t have to keep reminding me that whenever you see me” she said snapping slightly, she didn’t like being reminded of her responsibilities, but I had to remind her of them, there were children’s lives on the line, and since she won’t take matters into her own hands, and won’t allow anyone to help her as she feared that one of the boys would want to take leadership, but that didn’t mean that she was doing any good to them by neglecting her duties toward them.

“I do Nina, as you tend to forget that everyone’s life literally depends on what decision and action you’re going to take during this period” I hissed glaring at her, she may have been three years older than I was making her twenty right now, but she was a lot more reckless, wind picked up around us and both Nina and I frowned in confusion as our hairs flew as the wind blew around us, I frowned in confusion when I felt a slight shock coming from my wrist where my birthmark was, but being used to it by now, Nina told me it must’ve been my nerves being sensitive in that area, which was why I could usually feel the mark tingle when a change happened around me.

“We’ll just sell another girl’s virginity, it gets us every time” the way she said it disgusted me at times, it was the fastest resolve and it did the job at times, but that shouldn’t be the only solution, there had to be a different one that did not include putting the girls in the pain of selling their bodies for a few months’ rent, the wind still picking up as the leaves flew around us making me frown in confusion, it was a clear sky less than a few seconds and ago and now clouds were covering the sky?

“Nina, you know that we can do things differently, why do you keep resolving to that solution every year?” I asked her, she however refused to sell hers as she claimed that she was saving herself for the prince of the kingdom, Prince Nathan, she has sadly been in love with him for years now, and she claims that she will be able to marry him, the thought alone annoyed me, though I had no idea why it did in the first place, and she wouldn’t sell mine as she knew what I struggled the night they had almost sold me to a man for pleasure years ago.

“Kiara, I am the leader here and I get to decide what or what we don’t do, please let Celeste to get herself ready, we’ll find a place to stay soon” she said casually, not giving me a chance to answer, object, or even speak her out of it, she got up and headed toward her tent.

I sighed and walked toward Celeste who was sharpening her dagger, with a kid, Mathew, watching her with wide eyes, he was one of the youngest children here, having found him in front of the door step of an orphanage, his mother gave him up when he was less than a year old, he couldn’t even walk when we found him, I had begged Nina to allow us to bring him with us, despite her saying that we would not be able to care for him, I had proved her wrong in doing so.

“Kia!” He called smiling, he ran toward me, as fast as his little legs could take him, he was two years and a half right now, I laughed and lifted him in my arms, his legs wrapped around my waist as he put a hand behind my neck and I rested his weight on my right hip.

“Hello love” I smiled kissing his cheek making him laugh, my smile widened simply looking at him, how much he’s grown in the past two years, it’s actually crazy to think about, how we’ve taught him how to sit, walk, and even talk.

“Celeste, I need to speak to you” I said softly, her gaze met mine and she stopped sharpening her dagger to look at me, frowning in confusion as she knew that I rarely spoke to her, not that I didn’t want to, but her and I didn’t really get along, her being jealous that I was Nina’s best friend, and the fact that she saw that I looked far more attractive than she did, not that I understood how that was possible when she had the neatest golden hair, blue eyes, sharp jaw, fair body, she still hated me for who I was and what I looked like, but my curly brown hair, and brown eyes were nothing compared to her beauty, and that was just the bit of it, as her breasts were bigger than mine were, and as was her backside making her a whole lot more attractive to men if you may ask me.

“Mathew dear, how about you go and watch Ashton as he made his bow?” I said smiling, I looked at Ashton to find his eyes on us, mouthing a silent ‘please’ he smiled and nodded.

“But Ash doesn’t like being disturbed when he was busy” Mathew pouted, Ashton was already making his way toward us, chuckling as he heard what the child had said, his blue eyes met my own and he smiled ruffling Mathew’s black hair, Mathew glared at him with his big brown eyes and I couldn’t help but smile as I saw Ashton lift Mathew in his arms.

“Now, who said that I didn’t like you being around me when I was busy?” Ashton asked Mathew whose eyes widened upon hearing that, I smiled at Ashton and nodded at him, he gave me a quick wink before heading back toward where he was initially fixing the string on his bow.

“Nina wants you to get ready Celeste” I said once I was sure that Ashton and Mathew were out of earshot.

“What?” Celeste asked confusion lacing her voice, though judging by her wide eyes, I was sure that she already knew what I was talking about, I however, avoided her eyes as I knew that this was not the way any girl wanted to remember how she lost her virginity.

“We’re going to need to find a place for the winter, she said we’ll start looking soon” I said sadly, her tears welled up in them before she frowned glaring at me.

“Why doesn’t she sell yours? Why is it always the other girls? Huh?” Celeste snapped suddenly making my eyes widen as she suddenly pushed me making me almost fall to the ground, I knew that I could easily fight and pin her to the ground, Ashton and Nina taught me well when it came to self-defense, but I didn’t want to hurt her, as it was against the rules.

“Celeste, I don’t make these choices or rules, if there’s anything to be questioned or asked, then Nina’s tent is right back there, feel free to head to her and ask” I said as calmly as I could, but Celeste had a different opinion as she suddenly attacked me, pushing me back as hard as she could, she brought the dagger which she had been sharpening to my collarbone and I could feel her cutting through the skin, though I made no attempt to move knowing that being at knife point, I would probably end up injuring myself more than I would be needing to, thunder roared in the sky, it was as if the sky itself was angry as the lightening started crossing the sky in random patterns,, the river’s water moving more rapidly that it ever had as Celeste started getting blown away from me by the wind, which as well started picking up once again.

I could see the others gathering around as they worried about Celeste hurting me and about Nina coming out of her tent, which just happened as she walked out to witness what was happening.

“What is the meaning of this nonsense?” Nina yelled as loud as she could glaring at Celeste, Ashton was at my side in a blink when Celeste removed her dagger from my collarbone, she had indeed made a cut, which happened to be bleeding.

“I asked a question” Nina snapped at Celeste, she knew that I would never harm anyone, the thunder had stopped completely making me frown in confusion, though the sky was now pouring as I stared at the poor girl with sad eyes, despite what she had done.

“Nothing” Celeste said looking down avoiding Nina’s eyes.

“Nothing? Then how about I teach you a lesson about it” Nina said snapping.

“Nina stop!” I said quickly “you need her uninjured if you were going to…”

“You’re right” Nina said roughly letting go of Celeste, her eyes welled up in tears as she cried, my heart aching for the girl as she felt helpless in her situation.

“Go and get yourself cleaned and ready, we’re going tonight”

“But…”

“I said a word Celeste, you either follow or you know your punishment” Nina said glaring at the girl who lowered her head and nodded as she walked toward the girl’s tent which had the dresses and whatever she needed to be ready for this evening.

“Kiara, I expect you to be back with goods, we need to be settled for the winter” Nina said looking at me her voice somewhat cold as she spoke “oh, and Kiara” Nina called, the sky was still cloudy as rain poured down from it, I turned to face her with a raised eyebrow.

“Do be careful”

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