Chapter 2

Often when the storms had cleared enough, Galvados would saddle the pegasus and we would fly down into the city to go to the market.  I didn't like those flights.  I didn't trust the pegasus not to throw me off.  But I loved going into the city.  The sights and smells were so different!  Seamless white marble took the place of grubby grey stone, pure air instead of the thin, weak atmosphere at the top of the mountain.  After one particular visit when I was two, he stopped taking me down.  He would leave me with work to do while he took his pegasus out to the city.  I was so angry with him.  I still haven't forgiven him, as a matter of fact.  I didn't even do anything wrong!

It was a special day.  The market was bustling with young couples and children and families.  It made my heart ache to see them, so many mothers and fathers fussing over their children.  Lots of them wore a length of brightly coloured ribbon in their hair as they gazed at each other with love in their eyes.  I tugged on Galvados' cloak, dodging around the people to keep up with him as he strode through the throngs of Synari.  As usual, he anticipated my question.

"A simple calendar event, Amarath, nothing of importance."

I didn't question him any further, simply following him.  I hovered behindhim as he stood at one of the stalls, bartering with the keeper.  Someone tapped me on the shoulder.  I turned around slowly, sensing the nervousness of whoever it was.  A boy about my age stood there, holding a bright red ribbon.  A mother lingered nearby, obviously trying not to be obtrusive.

"My mother told me that today is the," his eyes crossed slightly in an adorable way as he struggled with the syllables, "fes-ti-val of love and that I'm supposed to tie a ribbon in the hair of the prettiest girl I see."  He held up the ribbon, which gleamed slightly in the daylight.  "I would like to put it in yours."

I'm sure my embarrassment and pleasure showed on my face.  He thought I was the prettiest girl!  My face felt warn as I nodded.  A relieved grin split his face.  His trembling fingers gently combed through a lock of my black hair, braiding the ribbon into it.  I touched the long plait, looking at the red against black.

"Amarath!"  Galvados' warning voice broke me out of my reverie.  Automatically, I snapped to attention as Galvados' hand landed heavily on my shoulder.  I felt my knees start to shake.  Galvados was scary at the best of times, and this was no exception.  He was furious!  "I have told you several times that you are not allowed to communicate with anyone other than Senators, the High Priestess and myself.  Return to Yasla and wait for me there."  Keeping my head bowed, I turned and ran through the market to where Galvados' pegasus was waiting for us to return.  I sat with my back against the perfect white marble of a tower and allowed myself the privilege of a good sulk.  I thought about everything that had happened over the last two years of my life.  I had only really known Galvados and his home.  He taught me to read on the tactical accounts of past city guard captains and commanders.  When I started to walk, he taught me to march.  When I started to talk, he taught me the value of silence.  As soon as I could hold a knife, he taught me to fight.  But I didn't know any different.  I thought that that was what normal Synari children did.

Galvados wouldn't speak to me when he returned to the pegasus, roughly lifting me onto its back.  I hung on grimly to a strap of the harness, keeping my tongue to myself.  He was going to be angry enough with me for disobeying one of his direct orders.  I touched the ribbon still woven into my hair.  Maybe Gakvados would understand?

How shallow those words seem now.  He left me to take care of the pagasus as usual, stomping towards the house.  Once I had finished, I walked into the house, carefully closing the door behind me.  A hand seized me by the hair.

"You managed to disobey a direct order, Amarath!" Galvados snarled.  I fought against him, trying to free myself.  Rage was building up inside me at the injustice of the situation.  his hand hit my face with a resounding slap.  Something in my mind broke.  Rage and hatred prevailed.  The room turned red.  I tore myself out of his grasp just as something pricked my arm.

The End

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