Oriana was by herself now. She could still see people through the gaps between the houses she passed, but she had never felt so alone. Hostility seemed to emanate from everyone and everything in this place, and the only person she could trust had just run into the face of danger to try to protect her.

Was this what it was like, being a Cynic? Feeling so alone and scared all the time?

This thought and the stress of the whole situation bore heavily on her, and she found herself wishing she could just use her happy eye and relax for awhile. She closed her left eye as she ran, testing the waters.

Maybe it wasn't so bad. She would be safe here, behind the houses. No one would find her. And... what if they did? She hadn't even waited to talk to the guards. Maybe they weren't going to hurt her? Everything in this part of the village looked so much nicer. Someone who wanted to kill her couldn't live in such a nice place, could they?

A silly smile had just begun to break across her face when she rammed it into something unseen on the side of her closed eye. The shock knocked it back open, and left her sitting on the ground, again. She was beginning to lose track of how many times she'd fallen over today.

Someone seemed to be trying to pull her back to her feet, though, and Oriana was ecstatic to see her mother again until she realized it was not her mother at all.

It was the little boy from the market.

She fixed the boy in the most angry gaze she could muster. "You ratted me out!" she accused, rounding on him. "After I tried to help you! Butthead!"

The boy looked petrified, and was shaking his head. Oriana realized he probably thought she was going to hurt him.

She laughed derisively. "I told you I wouldn't hurt you, and I meant it! Even if you're a huge jerk! Now go away!"

The boy shook his head some more, and grabbed her arm, pulling her away from her destination and back in the direction she had come from

"Oh what, you're trying to help capture me now? Real nice!" She pulled away, but the boy was surprisingly strong for one so small and malnourished. "Stop it!"

Shocked by her volume, the boy let go and stared at her again.

"You want a reward for catching me or something? Here, take the rest of my money and leave me alone!" She threw the rest of her coins at him and ran away before he could react.

Soon she could see the walls ahead, and she quickly came out into the open again.  The gate stood across the street, with no guards to be seen. It had even been left open. The guards must have abandoned it in the middle of opening it for another visitor. Naomi's distraction had worked, then.

After looking around to make sure no curious Cynics were still in the area, she pulled her patch back over her eye and darted toward the gate.

She only got halfway there before she was grabbed from either side by two pairs of strong arms. These were not the hands of her mother or the little orphan boy. These were guards, and she had fallen right into their trap.

"Let me go!" she screamed, kicking with all her might. The same guards that had searched her when she entered quickly picked her up off the ground and pulled her away from the gate. One of them removed the patch from her eye and glared at what was hiding underneath.

Oriana never figured out what they intended to do with her.

A sound a hundred times louder than thunder erupted from the middle of the village just then, and the ground shook beneath her feet. She took advantage of the confusion to kick one of the guards in the ribs, causing him to let go, and wrested herself from the grip of the other one.

She ran through the gate without looking back to see if they were chasing her, and didn't stop until she made it to the forest beyond.

She was never going back to that place.

The End

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