I was feeling very nervous as I entered the strange village, clutching my small satchel and looking anxiously at the few people wandering around in the early morning light. I could feel the weight of this situation resting on my thin shoulders. I knew how much I needed to succeed, my family was depending on me.
Taking a deep breath I walked into the marketplace. There were quite a few people around for this time of the morning and I looked fairly inconspicuous in the crowd. Not that people pay much attention to me anyway. To most people I'm a scruffy looking urchin who you wouldn't trust to come too near your purse, which is probably an accurate description of me.
My family wasn't exactly rich, in fact quite the opposite. I have four brothers and sisters and my mother has to work hard enough looking after us, she hardly has time for a job too. My eldest brother, Fabian, always joked about how I took it upon myself to be a second mother to the others, acting far more mature than my fourteen years. I always teased him back saying he was our father, and to some extent that was true. He was the closest thing I'd ever had to a father, my own disappearing shortly after I was born. We managed, despite our situation.
But that was before Mum got ill. She wouldn't tell us what was wrong with her, but I could tell it was serious. She was tired all the time, suddenly having to stop and lie down because she couldn't stand.
Fabian was working all the hours he could, trying to earn enough money to pay for our food and for mother to see a doctor, but it wasn't enough. As the second most sensible sibling, I was the one who had to leave, find a job and send money home. And that is what had led me to this moment.
I was told where Flint Whispers lived, I recognised the house immediately from the description I had been given, and stood dithering outside the door.
I heard footsteps coming towards me and darted back into the shadows, not wanting to be seen in case I changed my mind. The front door opened and a young girl walked towards the market. All I could see of her was her strong athletic build and shirt cut of her dark hair. I didn't think she'd seen me because she didn't even turn her head in my direction as she left the house.
When she was out of sight I re-emerged from the darkness and approached the door again, not even attempting to make my hair look more presentable, knowing it would be a hopeless task.
I slowly raised one hand and knocked on the door. As soon as I'd heard the sound echoing in the house I thought I should have drawn my dagger before I had announced my presence. I was trying to gain entry to the house of an assassin. You never know what reaction you'll get.
The decision was made for me, because before I could pull my dagger from my boot, the door opened to reveal an unfamiliar face.
'Excuse me,' I said, my voice sounding very small and pathetic and my body shaking with nerves. 'I'm looking for Mr Whispers?'
'What do you want?' The man's voice was gruff and his manner abrupt. The way his eyes stared at me made me feel very uncomfortable. But I still managed to force out a response.