Chapter Four: Starting Up


“Ana, you are not going out there, period.” The stern, commanding voice of my grandmother sounded close to my ear, and I resisted a frown. I have to go, I thought, knowing it was my only choice. Well, the only choice I would be satisfied with.

“Okay, I won’t.” I lied, my reply coming out a bit stiff. She knew I was lying, but she also accepted the truth that whether she said yes or no, I would go regardless.

“I love you Anastasia, you know that.” Her voice softened, penetrating my wall of rock, slipping through a crack.

Missing her was going to come on hard, but there was a war to be fought, and the warriors were low on female soldiers. Tucking a strand of hair behind my shoulder, my hand gripped the sword fastened around my waist. Using it on real flesh, killing real people… could I really do that?

Of course you can, A voice whispered. You’ll feel them die, it will be quite… rewarding.

“Silence,” I hissed at the voices at they began to cloud my mind. Kissing my grandmother on both cheeks, I left our humble abode, slamming the door behind me and heading toward the armed ranks. They would find a use for me, in this strange war we were all taking part in.

I had a feeling I would be very useful indeed.


The hilt of my sword struck the wood with a loud impact, and I was rewarded with a resounding clack. Next time it would be a bone, hopefully. The other warriors around me watched with curiosity, those fools. They should have been practicing, showing the others their skills. That was the way to become higher in the ranks; showing how good you could be. All that was left was to wait, and the higher rankers would find you.

I knew I was next; they would promote me soon enough.

“Is that all you’ve got child?” A loud shout was heard near my ear and I turned to face the owner, my features getting dark. The man was older than me by a few years, an inch taller, and had the clearest blue eyes I had ever seen. Honestly, it made me nauseous. Water was not for a Roman Warrior, that was for sure, and this man stunk of it.

“To what are you referring to, wise man?” I countered, glaring at him with my black eyes. Hopefully he would envision bottomless pits, death, just as he should. These eyes were made to kill, as was the sword in my grasp and the shield across my back.

The man looked me over, ran a calloused hand through his sandy blonde hair, and chuckled.

“Gods kid, I wasn’t looking for a fight; just a laugh. Ease up, it’ll be good for you.” Of all actions, he clapped me on the back before turning back to the remainder of trees across the field. They were more of logs by now, reduced to a pulp of axes, clubs, swords. I watched quietly as the man thrust a silver trident deep into the heart of one tree, knocking it halfway over. Then, with a quick flick of his wrist, the weapon came back to his outstretched hand.

Yes, this man absolutely reeked of Neptune.

I wondered how he would feel if he drowned.