Life's not plain sailing for any single girl living in a city when you have no known family to speak of. Especially when the only adult that came close to being a role model tried to kill you when you're 12. Bringing yourself up on the streets whilst avoiding getting your soul crushed has been anything but easy, luckily, I was never quite alone.
From being snatched from my Mother on a busy market day when I was four by a tyrant of the cities underworld, I was forced to work the streets - stealing, begging, running, creating distractions. Basically anything that Gaedren wanted us to do to further his greed. As I grew, it turned out my knack of being able to relieve rich folk of their heavy purses made me one of the best.
But my life took a new direction the day I stood up to Gaedren. I was only 12 when he told me I was to be loaned out as a play mate to some twisted rich lord. I knew the difference between right and wrong of course, and understood that most of what he got 'his' children to do was far from honorable. But to extort me for my talents is one thing, to extort me 'as' talent is way across the line. Unfortunately, Gaedren didn't take kindly to one of his protégés standing up to him in front of the others, and he didn't hesitate in making an example of me by using the dark magics to rack my body with so much pain it left me wanting for death, anything to be free of the agony.
The pain stopped suddenly and I unclenched my eyes, I seemed to be... in another place. It was extremely calm with an eerie silence, as if all sound was being absorbed by the mist swirling at my feet. There was a vastness to the place I stood. I could not imagine it having any boundaries and the dull grey light seemed to come from all directions denying any conception of time. I could see shadowed people moving around all about me almost like they where looking for something. Curiosity started my feet moving, I wanted to know where I was and how I ended up here and it was as I approached one of these shadowed folk that I started to feel pain again, a shooting throughout my body that gradually increased to a point where it felt as if my bones were to shatter. I cried out falling to my knees, through tear streamed eyes a part of me noticed the shadows had ceased their searching. As the pain increased they moved towards me with deftly speed, suddenly they were everywhere swarming from all directions. A sudden jolt pushed me forward into, then through the mist, there was a brief sensation of falling before the pain lessoned as the stench of rot overpowered my senses.
As my vision cleared I witnessed a cutpurse standing over me, staring at me wide eyed muttering what sounded like a prayer before turning tail and scrambling away. It seemed I was back in the city, a back street alley no less, the dull humdrum of the hawkers selling their wares in the distance. My body felt broken, it took all my will to stand and the strength I never knew I had to walk out of the alley. I knew this area, there was a Seamstress shop nearby that I knew would take in a young girl in need. Two strangers took up support either side of me, I was in no condition to turn away their assistance. I remember the comforting voice of an elderly woman, a warm bed beneath me, and as I slipped in and out of a deep sleep, there was always someone at my side gently tending to my wounds.
When I finally woke with some clarity I was able to gather my bearings. It turned out that I was in no Seamstress' shop. The air was salty and the room dark and barren, no evidence at all of the nursing woman. I heard noises from outside the room, footsteps, laughter. I stiffly rose from the rough wooden cot, which moments ago felt so comfortable and ambled over to the door. As I opened it, the noises stopped. Another barren room with holes in its roof and moss on the floor greeted me. I thought I saw movement in the shadows when a gust of wind must of caught the main door, slamming it open, leaving it rattling on it's hinges. I walked over and stood in the doorway and looked out onto the sea, I was not overly familiar with the docks of the city but it's the only place I could be that made sense, yet the Seamstress' shop was a good mile inland, far from the alley I woke in. Only the relish of being alive and breathing the fresh sea air was keeping the barrage of questions at bay.
It was then that I heard the shrill of a young child's laughter from inside the house, accompanied by the pattering of running feet, before I could turn the child pushed past me and ran out onto the cobbled street. Only, there was no child to be seen. It dawned on me then that there was a chance I did not travel back from that vast world of mist alone, though at the time I had no idea then just how signifiant that was going to be.