• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 04
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They said they would give me a head start. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but after studying the row of guards’ expressions, I was definitely fighting off the latter. They all faced in my direction but not a single pair of eyes was fixed on me. They were all looking beyond as though I was a ghost, transparent, transient, lasting for a mere blink. I tried to appeal to the Chief Commander but he didn’t want to know.

‘Please, Sir. Please have mercy on me.’

With a single raise of his large callused hand, I knew that I was a condemned woman.

He turned away, his boots sending a spray of feather-white snow soaking through my stockings and gestured for the Deputy to take his place. I swallowed hard, not wanting to show my fear in front of my extended family because that’s how I thought of them now despite our differing bloodlines.

My eyes scoured the blank expanse of snow glittering like tiny diamonds until I found who I was looking for. Dinah. Tiny, imperfect Dinah, with her two-tone eyes and penchant for biting. My heart soared like a bird as she gripped Buddy, her overlarge stuffed rabbit in one hand. One of its eyes was missing and for some reason this disturbed me more than I cared to admit.

‘Nonah,’ she called, and reached out with her tiny flower of a hand. I smiled through the haze of tears clouding my vision and watched as her figure blurred beyond recognition. I scrubbed my eyes with the back of my hand and when I looked over again, Dinah had disappeared. Dinah, the girl who was responsible for my condemnation.

The Deputy’s voice cut through the eerie silence swamping the glade, stilling the breath in my body.



‘Nonah, you have been found guilty by the Order of the Clan, and as such, are sentenced to exile.’ His words were stones, striking each and every bone in my body reducing me to a fragmented mess. He paused for a moment, more for dramatic effect than anything else.

‘We are not so cruel as to let you wander off on your own.’ His eyes were sharp flints, dark as obsidian, his mouth a thin cruel twist on a jaundiced face.

‘The guards will track you…eventually, but of course we will give you a head start. We are fair like that.’

I fought the urge to laugh in his face. Fair. He didn’t know the meaning of the word, none of them did, and yet impossibility had become my reality.

I knew it was futile to try and outrun the guards especially in my emerald gown and burgundy cape with no chance of camouflage in this bleached wasteland but I wanted to savour every precious second I had left.

So I picked up my skirts and ran.