How Amaria found Gulla Valik.
I found her bloody, blackened, and weak. The limp strands of hair stuck to her filth rubbed clothing. Her dark eyes blazed with utter defiance. She welled up her face and spittle landed next to my foot. “Try me, try to kill me. Attack like the dog you are.” The words raw with the hoarseness of her voice.
“You think I am an assassin working for the Nobles?” It startled me. In a way I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I walked with near silent steps, and my eyes were always watching.
“I can tell a killer when I see one.” A grim smile at odds with the youth of her face, “like recognizes like.”
The sorrow in her words struck me. A part of her, a hidden part, hated to admit what she’d done. “In these times we are all killers. If we hope to survive. That is the nature of war, rebellion, power, and freedom.” I showed her my hands were empty as I knelt beside her. “I don’t work for the Nobles. Nor have I ever.”
The girl, the only way I could think of her now, scrabbled back her body scraping against the half shattered building behind her. The sunlight glancing off her making her state even more obvious. “Why should I believe you?”
“I’m not sure there is a reason. You don’t know who I am. You don’t know who I work for. We only just met. Yet, I am not lying. If I intended you kill you, I would have done so already.” I let the statement sink in. I tipped my head downward. “Gulla Valik.”
Gulla hissed. “You liar.” A flash of metal flew passed me as I leaned away from the thrown blade.
“I do not lie. I can see your soul, and what you are. Look at my eyes, what do you see?” I changed position my eyes now in the light.
She sucked in a breath. “Your pupils they have a gray star around them. A Star Child? You aren’t even an Alaget.”
“I’m not a Soul Merchant either. They own me.” Even I could hear the calm in my voice break. The Powerless, all the people who weren’t Soul Merchants, thought they knew what slavery was. No one owned their soul. That was true powerlessness. “I mean you no harm.”
“I know about Soul Merchants. As much as anyone does, probably more. Ko,” The curse rolled off her tongue easily. “I can never catch a break.”
“Come with me, we’ll get you cleaned off, and something to eat.” I held out my hand.
Those ancient eyes in a child’s face stared at my hand. “Where would that be?”
“The Rebel’s camp. Sure, you wish to join them?” Gulla’s parents had been murdered by the Nobles. They had been genetic researchers, civilians, in every sense of the word.
“With Harl leading them, hardly. The Rebellion is failing. Every day the Nobles become more powerful. The citizens are afraid to even feel discontented. There is no hope.” A cry off pain as Gulla managed to stand. I could tell either her ankle was broken or badly sprained.
“There is always hope. I’ve seen more desperate situations before. The game wasn’t finished until there are no players left.” My masters always sent me when things were truly terrible.
The dark eyes narrowed. Her head cocked to the side. “You awfully preachy, is that normal for a never ending being. Are you going to spout off more sayings. Oh, like when its darkest the light is around the corner?”
The attiude should have annoyed me, it did a little bit. The rest was beyond amused. No one who knew what I was had ever been. “Perhaps. I have the wisdom of many lives times. I have great power. Do you not fear me?”
Gulla shrugged. “Since, I was twelve I’ve been running. I saw my parents murdered, my brother.” She paused as tears made tracks down her face. “I could have died a lot. Death scares me, but it’s kind of become something I’ve used to be being scared off. An old friend, fear, we’ve been through a lot together. You are terrifying. The only thing that kept me alive is my wit. And, I’ve gotten good at saying whatever pops into my head. It isn’t going to change any time soon.”
A laugh escaped my control as a smile settled onto my face for the first time, in a very long time. “I will enjoy your outputting, annoying mannerisms.” My eyes swept over here. “We have to get you ready to meet the Rebels. I’ll take you to my home until you’re ready.”
Gulla rolled her eyes. “Fine, fine, I’m hungry anyway.”