I looked up to the sky, sighing. I hadn’t seen Ariana in two months, and now she was leaving again. I wish the mayor hadn’t given her that job. Why couldn’t she have a normal job, like cleaning maid, or carriage driver? I shook my head. She was an ambassador. The ambassador. I should be proud, not upset. But I’d heard what people were saying about her over the year since she’d been assigned, even if she hadn’t. I knew that people from the other countries didn’t like what she had to say. They didn’t like her courage, and they hated her attitude. I knew she was in danger. I looked up. The clouds floated over my head, and the sun shone brightly through the wall. I took it as a sign that no matter how cloudy your day is, there’s always a sun behind it, waiting to come out.
I took a deep breath. “Um, hi, I know I don’t talk to you very often,” I began, “but that’s only because I’m not sure who’s right. I don’t know your name or face. But I really need you right now. My sister, Ariana, is away on an assignment as the ambassador. She’s gone lots of times before. But people don’t like her. I think they’re going to try to hurt her. I don’t know why I think this, I guess it’s just a feeling I have.” I paused, and took another deep breath. What I was about to do might kill me. But better me than my sister. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to her. So I want you to do something for me. I know that if you want to protect her you have to send the bad stuff elsewhere. So please, send them to me. Anything bad that might happen to Ariana, make it happen to me. Don’t let her get hurt. Thank you.” I bowed my head and finished the long prayer. Then I went inside to where my mother was calling me in for supper.
That night, I lay awake in my bed. A deep sense of foreboding had overcome me and kept me up. I had a dull knife under my pillow, and a slingshot and artillery of rocks beside me. I was ready to defend myself if anything happened.
I heard a rustling outside and whipped my head around. Nothing. At least, nothing I could see. I sighed. I was just being paranoid because of earlier. I laid my head down and tried to sleep. But sleep evaded me. I heard a small creak and the shuffling of more than one pair of feet near the front door. All chances of sleep had now evaporated. I sat up and like lightning, loaded my slingshot in one hand and brandished my knife with the other. Then I realized something. They might not hurt me if they thought I was sleeping. So I covered my weapons with my body and closed my eyes almost shut. But I left them a teeny sliver open so I could see what was happening.
Five men entered the house. Three had weapons I couldn’t make out, one was holding a net and burlap sack, and the leader wore a cloak with a hood over his face and carried a vial of clear liquid. He gently parted Zinea’s lips and poured some liquid down her throat. Then he turned to me. He nodded at the man with the net, which he threw at me. I rolled out of its path and swung at them with my knife. I shot some rocks blindly until I realized the low rumbling sound I heard was the hooded man laughing.
“She thinks she can beat us,” he chuckled. “How cute.” Then his voice turned serious. “Get her. Use the weapons if you must.
I froze. Weapons? These guys were dangerous. I sighed and dropped my knife and slingshot. “Fine,” I sighed. “I give up.” The men picked me up and put me in the sack. I fell limp, hoping that if they thought I was too easy, they’d let me go. No such luck. The hooded man poured the last of his liquid into my mouth before closing the bag and letting the men carry me away. I blacked out after a few seconds. My last free thought was, thank you.