Prologue: The Story of a Girl

At six, she'd been very clever.

No one had realized it at the time, of course. She'd always been so boisterous at that age. The only daughter of the wealthy Darcy Family of Philadelphia. They were proud and dark, 'old money', but honest 'old money'. And like any honest man, her father had joined the U.S. Navy, looking to serve his country. In the midst of this obsession, he'd met and befriended Max.

Max Fuushiro was a Japanese entrepreneur. He never mentioned what business. The two had become inseparable to the point that she'd been required to call him 'Uncle Max'. She'd watched him from the top of the stairs when he'd visited, quiet and watchful. Something about the way he'd... she'd never known what it was about him that made her reject him.

She'd never known a time when Uncle Max hadn't been in her house. She'd grown up hearing their stories and seeing their fake camaraderie. Fake on Max's part, of course.

On her sixth birthday, Max Fuushiro was made her godfather and legal guardian should anything befall her parents. She'd sensed that something changed when that happened. Where Uncle Max had once been a twice a year headache, he suddenly rented an apartment downtown and came to dinner everyday. This lasted for months before Uncle Max was suddenly called away on business. It seemed that when he left her father suddenly became more paranoid.

Her parents had always gone out for dinner on Tuesday nights. It was a sentimental event - the couple had met on a Tuesday and they were still deeply in love. That Tuesday her father came to the girl's bedroom, looking relieved and sad at the same time.

"I want you to know how much we love you, honey."

"I love you too, Daddy."

He'd then told her something that had made her blood run cold. He'd told her his suspicions and given her a plan to beat her Uncle Max at his game. She'd wanted to go with them that night, had simply known that something was gonna happen to them after they left. But he'd sworn her to her course of action.

The report said that they'd swerved into the path of another automobile and then flipped into a streetlight. They'd died almost instantly. The girl barely knew what happened those next few days. She was taken onto a boat in a whirl of tears and funeral arrangements at which she was always present, Uncle Max faithfully at her side. Before she knew it, she was stuffed into a kimono, an outfit she'd never even heard of, and put to work in her Uncle Max's kitchen.

She was hated among the other servants; hated for her dark skin and strange language. Hated her for her silence and her awkwardness. But the girl was clever, and she kept her silence. She made her plans and listened carefully to the new culture that she suddenly found herself in. She waited for the time when she'd be able to follow her father's instructions. It would be years before that could happen: the eve of her 18th birthday to be exact. But for now she could be patient. She could play the role of an unpaid servant in her uncle's house and take the abuse that went along with her new station.

At age eight, Areyn Darcy was still a very clever girl.

This story takes place in an alternate universe (AU), one old enough to still include certain forms of slavery, even if it is frowned upon but modern in some parts enough to include things such as early forms of air transportation and polygraphs. Comments, queries, flames... I loves them all! Feel free to send any input you want, I'm looking to have my work critiqued, after all.

- Minghella