The sounds of Trusdia could be heard before Tara saw the gates. Merchants crowded around the trade quarters, hollering at prospective customers. She lowered her head as she walked inside, careful to not look suspicious. Weaving her way her way through the streets, she found the store she was looking for. She waited for most of the customers to clear out before approaching the merchant. He was an older man, his body starting to bend at his back. What little hair he had was solid white. His blue eyes were still vivid and a sapphire shade. He began cleaning counters, his back to her.
“It’s been a while, Tara.” His voice wavered slightly, but he didn’t turn to look at her. She gave a slight chuckle.
“You don’t miss a thing, Sarn.” She hopped up on an empty counter. Sarn, the only name he had ever provided to Tara, turned to frown at her. She smiled sheepishly and got off the counter.
“What is it you need?” He looked her over, shaking his head. “Besides better clothing.”
“Well, that and---.” She hesitated for a moment.
“Now, now, Tara. You can trust your old friend.” He softened his voice. He had been the person who came to King Andon’s orphanage, where Tara grew up. He provided clothes to all the orphans. Tara had taken a liking to him, and he to her as well. She smiled affectionately.
“I need to alter my appearance.” She watched him look her over silently. Sarn motioned for her to follow him into a back room.
“Are you in trouble?” He asked as he searched through crates of clothing.
“Yes, but I’m not sure why yet.” Tara sighed. “The King’s men came to my home. They had an order to take me to the castle as a prisoner.” Sarn frowned, tossing several pieces of clothing at her.
“Put those on. Does seem strange. How long have you been gone from the orphanage?”
“Since I turned 18 one month ago.” Tara moved behind the screen to change. “I haven’t done anything. But I overheard two scouts say the King’s advisor was the one looking for me.” She pulled the tunic over her head, frowning as it fit snug to her curves. The britches he gave her were comfortable, but also form fitting.
“Be careful, Tara. Malas is a powerful person to make an enemy out of.”
“He’s the one out to get me!” Tara stepped out with her hands on her hips. Sarn chuckled and began mixing ingredients for a dye.
Once she left Sarn’s, Tara immediately acquired a room at The Black Hole, the closest pub to the military quarter. She examined herself in the mirror over the basin in her room. Sarn had cut her hair from her shoulder blades up to her chin and dyed it a dark red. She almost didn’t recognize herself. Now, she could set about fin
Del was a friend Tara never expected to find. The orphanage held outings every summer and winter for the festivals in Trusdia. Tara had just turned ten when she attended her first summer festival. She got separated from the group and found herself roaming around the darkened streets of Trusdia. Scared, she started running, her mind playing tricks on her with sights and sounds. Rounding a corner at a quick pace, she ran right into a lanky young boy. Even at age twelve, Del’s eyes were astounding. They were an intriguing shade of grey. At certain times, they could appear blue or even purple. His chestnut hair was going every which way. He had immediately taken a liking to her and shown her around the village. Their friendship had only gotten stronger over the years. Del knew her better than anyone. She smiled as she made her way toward his regular hideout.