The Thief Lords opposed my claim. But the followers kept coming. I rewarded and paid my people. I treated them like people, not servants. Two of the Thief Lords came for my head. But they lost their lives. Their followers quickly became my own.
-writing on the cell wall
Lady Almi couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She couldn’t believe what she had been seeing. All she could do was stare into her daughter’s defiant gaze as the girl tried to explain what she was trying to do.
Tyala hadn’t answered when she’d been called for supper. Lord Almi had asked his wife to see what was keeping their child. Tyala never missed a meal. Slim as she was, Tyala could eat. Rolling her eyes and muttering that the girl was probably daydreaming again, she had gone to find her daughter, only to find her hastily pulling out all of her clothes and stuffing them into bags.
“What are you doing?” Lady Almi had shrieked.
Tyala had bolted straight up, not having heard her mother’s approach. Her mother’s cry had also brought her father to join them. He hadn’t looked surprised, but he did have a reproachful look, as though he knew his daughter’s plans, but couldn’t believe she was putting her mother through this.
“What is going on up here?” Lord Almi had asked in his deep, calm voice.
“I don’t want to be a part of this feud,” Tyala had said stubbornly. “So, I’m going to run away.”
Lord Almi had shaken his head. “You’re only sixteen, Tyala. Old enough to be married but certainly not old enough to live on your own. Where in Needle City would you go? Where would you go where we could not find you?”
Tyala had tilted her chin up slightly, the stubborn chin she had inherited from her mother. “We’re going to leave Needle City and go to Aunt Celycia’s home in Mercaido City.”
Lady Almi’s eyebrows had arched so high they nearly disappeared under her hairline. “We?”
Tyala’s slender body had jerked slightly at that and a flush had come over her face, but she remained silent, pressing her lips together. She took a step back and stared at her mother with silent reproach.
“Tyala,” Lord Almi said gently. “What do you mean by ‘we’?”
“That’s none of your concern,” Tyala had whispered.
Now they stood staring at each other. Lady Almi had collapsed onto her daughter’s large bed and Lord Almi had clasped his hands behind his back. Tyala had backed up against the window, he back resting against the cool glass.
Lady Almi shook her head. “But…why? Why, Tyala?”
Tyala looked away. “I don’t believe in this feud. I don’t want to be a part of it. It’s ruined so many lives, cut so many lives short. Lord Sarlik killed someone a few nights ago, someone who was probably somehow involved with this feud. Caidy is in fits over it.”
Lady Almi’s eyes narrowed. “Caidy? Caidy Sarlik is in fits? And how would you know this, Tyala?”
The girl’s eyes darted between her parents. Her father knew she didn’t want to be a part of the feud, but he didn’t know she was best friends with Caidy Sarlik. She found no sense of safety in her father’s face. Her mother was staring hard at her with anger flaring up in her eyes.
“Caidy and I are classmates at the Academy,” Tyala whispered. “You knew that.”
“But you are not in school right now.” Lady Almi’s voice sounded dangerous and it scared Tyala.
“No,” Tyala said, her voice quivering, “but Caidy and I became friends. Good friends. She doesn’t want to be a part of this feud, either. So, we’ve decided to run away to Mercaido City.”
Lady Almi stood up quickly. “You will do nothing of the sort,” she said, her voice sounding powerful, so powerful it made her husband flinch and her daughter cringe. “You will stay here and do as your duty demands.”
With that, the woman swept up her daughter’s clothes and bags and stormed from Tyala’s rooms. Lord Almi looked over at his daughter with sadness in his eyes.
“Father,” Tyala whispered.
He shook his head. “You brought this on yourself, Tyala. I understand your desire to not be a part of this feud, but to run away?”
With that said, he shook his head and left Tyala alone