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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.

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