The first time I saw him kill someone, I was thirteen. I was so afraid, but all he did was wrap his arms around me and hold me close, telling me that everything was going to be alright. He was fifteen, then, and I was in love with him so I took every word that he said and kept it with me. It comforted me to know that this was all business to him. For some reason, a crime of passion, one that is bloody and messy, was worse than what he did. He killed for a reason. He killed those who were no longer loyal to him and the gang. And, as he always told me, loyalty came before everything else.
I joined his gang when I was nine. He wasn’t the leader of our little band of orphans then, but he was already on his way up. Eleven years old and already a hardened criminal. They called him the Lynx, simply because of the way his eyes, delicately slanted, seemed to glint in the light before he had a truly genius (and mostly heinous) plan. I admired him. He was everything that I thought I wasn’t. He was cool and confident and calm and collected. He was strong and tall and graceful. I was short, naïve and rather pudgy then. I had come from the palaces at the top of the hill, next to the market district. My family had been a clan of wealthy businesspeople. They traded and sold easier than they breathed. But my parents were not well liked. So, when my parents died, my family rejected me.
Andry, the Lynx, found me. Sometimes I feel as if I should have run away from him, joined up with one of the Temples and become a priestess. The time I saw death, when I was thirteen, was the time when I wanted to change my life so much. But, by then, it was too late. I had already changed too much. I was in love with Andry and the goddess Lakone had already sealed my fate.
"Railey, ya dumb girl, get ova'ere!" a voice called in the distance. It was only Thadari. He was a loudmouth and an annoyance. More stupid than anything. I sneered but did not move from the book. I was fifteen, after all, and I didn't listen to no one ever. Besides, I didn't take to people calling me "dumb," just because I didn't talk. I just chose not to speak with anyone outside of Andry. People just assumed that it was because he was the leader and I had to talk to him. I liked them believing that. It hid the truth.
However, I could speak badly of Thadari all I wanted, but he was a persistant little creature. I heard his heavy footsteps- too heavy to really be of much use anywhere else- approach me but my eyes did not move from the page. That is, until he kicked it out of my hands. It skittered across the floor where it finally came to a stop right out of my reach. His bare feet annoyed me and I grabbed on to his ankle and suck my fingernails in his skin out of pure spite. He jerked away and I laughed to see him clench his jaw. He knew better than to hit me. He might be older than me, but he knew who my friends were.
"Them traders are out back. Them's yer 'sponsibility." I cringed at his almost backwater accent. The gang had "adopted" him when he showed up wet and cold on a trader's ship a year ago. I voted that we just leave him to starve, but Andry saw something in him that I still couldn't figure out. Maybe he was there to be the scapegoat.
I just nodded to his statement and stood up. We all lived together in a warehouse by the docks that was rarely used and only by those traders we controlled. Bribed. Some of that kind were waiting for me. For some reason, they trusted me. I found it ironic, but I hadn't found cause to swindle them too much yet. I was expecting the normal load of food and other supplies, but they didn't have anything with them. My eyebrows shot up at their empty hands.
I gave them a hard glare to wait for an explanation.