When people spoke of Alderune, they did so with scorn or pity. How could they respect a country whose royalty had abandoned the throne? But Vanessa never understood this sentiment. She was barely ten years old when it happened. Neither was she born into a situation where she was forced to sew to survive even as a young child.
She only realized the harsh truth years later, when talks of Vanessa's betrothal with a nameless prince of Gallus circulated. She lifted the veil of her carriage, and for the first time, she faced the piercing stares of the people. She felt a surge of frustration as she met their eyes that were full of anger, longing, contempt, envy, and even disgust. She could not comprehend the complex emotions that they projected onto her. After all, she was not smart enough to decipher the hidden meanings behind each glance. Despite this, for some reason, she still couldn't bear to look face-on at the hungry eyes of the children she saw.
Time flew by. She had opened Pandora's box, and now she wanted to know more. She soon regretted her previous ignorance. She learned the names of the forbidden books that were read in off-limits places, and collected any discarded newspapers she could possibly get her hands on. She became skilled at sneaking around—something she had a natural talent for. It was then that she cut her hair. She had no choice. For other girls of her age, hair was a commodity—something to grow and sell, nothing more.
Then came the night when she made the choice. The choice of leaving Alderune of her own accord. She wanted to restore the rights that the Empire had stripped from the people, and to uproot the corruption of the royal family. Above all, she chose to betray the world she loved, for the sake of the same world. And then she realized: the end was near. And it would come before the changes she dreamed of were to come true.