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Ellis





The sound of the door slamming behind me held an odd blend of satisfaction and fear.

I'd hated the orphanage, for just about as long as I had been there. But now that the wide grey building was behind me, I suddenly felt like I had nowhere to go. They had been kind enough to give me a few coins, maybe enough for a couple of nights in one of the cheap inns, along with a couple of plain grey dresses and shoes that pinched my toes, but other than that, I had nothing.

My feet carried me down the street while my eyes kept a lookout for places where I could make a few coins. I wasn't hopeful. I wasn't strong enough to swing a blacksmith's hammer, or talented enough to sing. Too proud to beg or whore, too pretty to fight, not pretty enough to perform.

It was no wonder that, in the fourteen years I had spent in the orphanage, nobody had wanted to adopt me. Time and again, my friends had gone off with beaming families, leaving me with nothing. As I got older, I only grew more and more isolated. Was it my fault that I started to lash out?

Lost in my thoughts, I nearly missed the inn I had been looking for. The building itself was in poor condition, with a sagging roof that tended to pool water, wooden walls that hadn't been painted in at least a decade, and window hinges so rusted they wouldn't even open.

But the price was right. If I was careful with the money I had, I could survive for a week, maybe two. If I didn't have a job by then – well, I tried not to worry about that.

I pushed open the door, and winced at the squeaks it made. The last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself. I had learned that much from the orphanage. Fortunately, the only one who noticed my entrance was the man behind the counter. The rest of the inn was relatively empty, which wasn't surprising considering the sun had come up just over an hour ago.

I stepped up to the counter with more confidence than I felt. "Could I get a room, please?" I asked quietly.

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