"I'm sorry, Aria, but I just couldn't find anyone willing to trade with us today. All I could get was this stale loaf of bread." Alastor apologized to his younger sister, who was only five years old. Aria looked up at him and smiled.
"I'm just thankful to eat, and to be with you... still my feet are really cold." Aria said, looking down at her bare feet in the white snow. Alastor hugged her.
"Don't worry sis. We'll get through this, just like we have every winter. Granted, the orphanage was open then, but still, we'll make it."
"Why did Prince Shadis close down the orphanage?" Aria asked.
"I honestly don't know, sis. He's not a very nice man from what I have been told, but he loves his country. Perhaps he needed to cut back in order to help the other villages." Alastor thought, but Aria looked up at him with pleading blue eyes.
"It makes no sense. Why must we suffer for others to be saved?" Aria questioned, and Alastor brushed some of her bright red hair out of her face.
"Don't know, but we'll survive this. We always do. That is what is important." Alastor stated, and he picked up his kid sister so she wouldn't have to walk on the cold ground. "Come on, let's get out of here."
That was when they were suddenly stopped by a bunch of royal guards. "Hey kids. Why aren't you at home?"
"We don't have one. What's it to you?" Alastor stated frankly.
"Gee, that's too bad. But by order of the Prince, any child that has no home can work for it." One of the guards grabbed Alastor by the arm, and another grabbed Aria, who kicked and screamed.
"Let my sister go!" Alastor shouted, drawing a knife from his pocket, slipped out of the guard's grip and attacked the guard holding his sister, leaving a nasty cut across the nose.
"Stupid whelp! Screw the prince's orders, both of you are dead!" The guard shouted, grabbing his rifle and aiming.
Alastor looked at his sister. "Aria! Run for it!" Aria stood paralyzed for a moment, and with tears in her eyes, she nodded and ran.
She didn't see what happened, but she heard the shot. She turned to see her brother laying in a pool of his own blood, and another guard taking aim at her. She continued running.
The ball ran straight through her back, and she fell off the railing down to the river bank below. The guards did not check to see if she was alive or dead, and left her there.
Aria lay there for a few minutes, still clinging hard to life, when a stranger cloaked in black approached her. He bent down gently and picked her up. "Shhh... there, there." He said, stroking her hair, which was no longer red, but a lovely snow white. "You've had an awful day. But you don't have to worry. I'll take care of you."
"Who... are you?" Aria asked, breathing hard.
"My name is Scathe Harmastier."