I awoke sweating, shivering. A silver bearded old man in flowing blue robes crouched over my bed, the golden yellow flame of a flickering candle glinting in his eyes. As my heart slowly settled he whispered gently.
‘Come child. You are safe: the Order is caring for you now. No more nightmares. Sleep now. Sleep.’
It was difficult to sleep in those early days. My family had sailed north with dreams of a new life, a fresh start away its old troubles. Instead the chilling, frost tipped northern seas sundered those hopes, alongside the hopes of a hundred other souls. The memories were always so clear, so vivid. Every time I closed my eyes they were there. Waiting.
The creak of the Lady Kynarra’s aching hull as our passage raced through furious seas towards the safe haven of St. Verlox; clinging desperately to my mother, trembling in her warm embrace; my father reassuring us as he left to seek out the Captain.
As a distant glimmer of land cheered the weary passengers there came a thunderous crash. Thrown from my mother’s arms, I scrambled groggily to my feet. For the briefest of moments it seemed to become calm – there then came a second, more devastating crash. Splintered wood, darkness, screams, foaming water, terrified faces – they all flashed before me. Even as a child I knew what death looked like; I waited for it to take me.
Only three people were washed ashore with the shattered tinder that was once the Lady Kynarra. My mother and father weren’t amongst them. I was suddenly alone. My entire world now confined within the thick, foreboding walls of the St. Verlox orphanage.