Peeking out her small window she saw the moon was high in the clear night sky. She began to count the stars, only getting to 10 before her mother came into her room.
“My little one, it’s time for bed.” Her mother sung to her as she sat on the edge of her straw bedding. Pulling her covers back she motioned for Cassie to get under them.
Making a huffing nose in protest, Cassie tossed her long, fire red locks in front of her face. She was hoping the adage, “I can’t see you, you can’t see me”, would work. She felt her mother’s soft hand brush her thick hair out of her face.
“You’re going to say that adage one to many times and the fairy king will grant it. What will you do then?” Her mother’s voice, full of false concern made Cassie open her eyes and smile wide.
“I know EXACTLY what I would do, Ma!” a wicked smile plastered her face. Her mother raised an eyebrow in question, though she already knew the answer.
“I will wish to disappear, so I can run and frolic in the moonlight!” Excitement started to run through her veins. She quickly glanced to the window again just willing herself to be out in the moonlight.
Her mother let out a sweet laugh as she covered Cassie. “Nights only carry the worst of characters. There is no reason for a young girl or woman to be out amongst the thieves, mercenaries and drunks.”
A confused look plastered Cassie’s face as she pulled the covers up to her nose. “What about the demimondes?” Her mother shot her a narrow glance and she knew she shouldn’t have asked.
“Where did you hear that word?!” Her mother snapped at Cassie. Her tone of shocked matching the expression on her face.
“Father told me when he was last in town Ma…” Cassie trailed off as her mother sighed.
“Those women have no choice but to sell their bodies to survive. It is not a life for us but most have no choice.” Her mother stood patting down her dress, “I will talk to you Father about this next time he is home. Good night love.” Her mother said as she walked towards the door.
Before her mother made it all the way through Cassie blurted out the question that has been on her mind for months, “When will father be home again?” This caused her mother’s back to stiffen as she stopped dead in her tracks.
Without turning to face her daughter she took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, “Your father is a solider, he must travel with the King’s army. You know this, but he should be home in a few more months.” Before any more questions could be asked her Mother quickly shut Cassie’s door.
Staring at the ceiling Cassie pictured the last time her father was home. He was teaching her how to use a sword. Her mother did not believe any girl who wanted to be a lady should pick up a sword. Her father ignored her mother’s protests and showed young Cassie anyway.
“You should know how to defend yourself. What if no one was around to help you, then what?” His deep voice bellowed over her mother’s huffs. Cassie thought for a moment than shrugged, “Shouldn’t the King’s army be there to protect the people?”
Letting out a deep laugh her father shook his head. “Am I around all the time Cas?” She thought on the question for a moment then shook her head no. “You can’t count on a man to be there always and definitely not an army.”
He handed her the small metal sword he had forged for her at the blacksmith’s down the road. A stern look crossed his face as he looked the young girl directly in her eyes, “You must learn to defend yourself at all cost Cas.” From that point on their lessons began. She had a month of sword training every day before her dad had to leave again.
“You’re a natural, kiddo.” He told her on the last day they were together. A smile crossed her lips as she fell to sleep to the thought of her dad’s words, still hearing his voice echoing in her mind.