1. The Announcement
As with every year, all children between the age of eleven and fourteen are gathered in the King's great hall for the ceremonious proceedings where eight boys and girls are chosen to train with elite members of the King's army. And today I find out my fate. I am twelve (thirteen in three weeks) and today is the 23rd of July. We arrive in the hall at 8.30 but I don't enter the examination room until around ten. I participate in 7 events in total: 1. Intelligence, 2. Strength, 3. Steadiness of hand, 4. Hand to hand combat skills, 5. Agility, 6. Capability of horse-riding, and 7. Stealth and camouflage. One member of the army stands at each station and examines you as you complete each task. They stare at you like vultures,they do not blink, they frown like a disapproving mother, and they stand like a plank of wood, straight-backed and feet solidly planted to the ground.
And then afterwards we wait. One by one we are called up to hear our fate. It is a slow progress but soon I am only metres away from the front. I can feel sweat bristling upon my forehead and my heart thumps in my chest. Two people in front. Only one. It's me! I follow the routine, bow and stay kneeling on the cobbled steps as I await my fate. My ginger plait slips over my shoulder and dangles next to my head. I wait. But the king is still undecided. Only when I am about to shout out loud for him to hurry up, does he speak. His voice is deep and clear. He only says one word "Chosen".
Suddenly I am grabbed from behind and dragged away. In shock I daren't not move or say a word, and I just allow them to drag me away to whatever godforsaken place they wanted. And so that's when I decided to start this, when they threw me into this 'room'. I needed some source of sanity to keep me alive. There is no light. The windows are planked up and barred. The door creaks in the wind and the hinges are rusted. My bed is not a bed but some wooden planks to lie on and think instead of sleeping. And sometimes when I lie there at night, I dreamt of what I thought would come the next day.