Liliyet awoke with a start from another nightmare. The dark dream still held sway over her as she mechanically wiped the sweat from her forehead. She was still uncertain that she wasn’t in the darkened room she always found herself in, hiding behind her family’s rich tapestries in the castle they called home as agents of 1151 went from room to room searching for her father. They were there to murder him she knew but didn’t want to take a chance that they might be there to murder her too, perhaps the whole Snorsgard family.
So in her dream, just as it had been in life, she hid behind a tapestry while their family’s guards were slain in a commotion outside her bedroom. She felt helpless, waiting to see if she would be next. The door to her room creaked open, and she jumped awake. Every time it was the same. She bolted upright in her bed, covered in a thick layer of sweat.
Liliyet was a refugee of sorts. The scion of a once-proud family of Dukes and Duchesses from a once-favoured kingdom created by the mighty Empire of Australia. But a squabble between her father, an insult he levelled against the Thirty-Second Empress of Australia, had left many of her family dead and the rest destitute. She was now the fallen scion of the world’s smallest failed state.
She was often just a few days away from destitution herself.
So, she did what she had to do to survive.
She had fled to Cascadia, the famed Land of Hope, and she put her substantial intelligence, wit, and knowledge to use conning idiots out of money they didn’t need or deserve. Cascadia was full of them. The Land of Hope drew them from all over the world, and she was there to feast where she could like the scavenger she had been forced to become. She was a lone wolf, roaming the wilds of a land she hadn’t known long.
She lived simply, partly to avoid unnecessary attention and partly because she sent almost every sovereign home to her family in the Duchy.
Her family, once proud, had fallen into ignobility long before the final break with the Empress of Australia. They had long been plagued by a madness that often rendered them incompetent imbeciles. Now, her grandfather long buried, and with her father dead, it was just her to care for her afflicted mother and baby sister.
Liliyet got out of bed and took the very short walk across her one room to her kitchen sink. She splashed some water on her face and looked in the nearest mirror. She didn’t look like the victorious wolf who had just scammed an unsuspecting sheep out of the largest score of her crime spree. She looked like a wreck. She would need to work on that. The black-market network she used to send money back to the Duchy was full of its own scavengers, some more dangerous than others, and it would never do to show weakness in front of them.
She needed to show she was a strong wolf that they’d better not test. Not a wolf that had eaten her first meal in two days as part of her latest con.
She glanced over at the clock by her bed. At least she’d slept longer than average this time, gotten almost a whole night’s rest. It was 5:55am. How auspicious.
Suddenly there was a loud knock at the door.
Just as suddenly, a note slipped under her door and slid across the room.
Hesitantly, she walked over to it and regarded it cautiously, almost as if she was afraid it was a snake that might bite her.
She unfolded the note and read it.
Run Liliyet. They know.