Perhaps in his mind, she had simply risen to a challenge and not succumbed to defeat. Now, though, Mithrim chose to look at it as neither. This was simply an act to ensure her safety. Thinking on it afterwards, she decided that this so called apprenticeship (God knows what it actually was) put her in a very convenient position: in Uru'baen, heart of the Empire. Truly, the perfect place to reach her ultimate goal: to bring an end to that pervasive, pulsating heartbeat.

Mithrim bowed her head. At least, her bed was much more comfortable, she thought as she reposed on the goose feather mattress in her new and much more welcoming room. It wasn't exactly luxurious, but you had to be thankful for what you had...

Looking at the bright side, there was decent vanity in the far right corner in the room. Indeed, it held all possible beauty essentials and inessentials in its vast drawers. It had been a long, long time since she'd done primping of any sort and her face hadn't seen cosmetic paints in ages.

She looked in the mirror...she looked tired and her tan skin looked abnormally pale. All her grown life she been trying to remove those ugly grey bags underneath her eyes. No matter what new-fangled beauty product she purchased, be it special creams or that horrid herbal paste, the weary look never left her appearance. Perhaps, it was her thoughts reflected on her features in the same way her likeness was reflected in the mirror before her. Perhaps, it was her outlook and her tendency to find the darker side of things.

Sighing and looking down at her boot toes, Mithrim stood up and slowly began to change. Her clothing was dusty and sweaty and they made her feel disagreeable. But as Antuin would say teasingly, "I don't notice a difference. Aren't you always this way?" She'd then punch him in the arm and tell him what an arrogant prat he was and that he didn't deserve her company. Sometimes, Antuin would laugh and jokingly give her a little hug and other times when he was feeling downcast he would tell her that if he didn't deserve her company, no one did. She'd be better off by herself after all. Then he would get up and leave her by herself in some dusty alley in the middle of Helgrind. She wouldn't cry like most girls her age or run after him and tell him she didn't really mean it and that she was truly sorry. Certainly not. Mithrim sat there and told herself that someday when she became that person she dreamed of being... she would be able to laugh along with him and they could really be friends. Because then she would deserve his company.

Antuin had been her best friend in her childhood, even though their relation had been quite an odd one. They had always been trying to annoy each other and constantly trying to outdo one another. Mithrim had been above average in all possible ways as a youth. She'd been intelligent, cunning, creative, fast, skilled in swordsmanship and archery. She had even been considered pretty. Only, she hadn't seen herself as any of that...she had seen herself as nothing bought failure. She pursued perfection only to reap (in her mind) the fruits of mediocrity. Bitterness ensued.

She now saw herself for what she was... She had possibilities...possibilities for greatness. Her confidence had allowed her achieve even more. But she hadn't yet seemed to notice the few major flaws that were bold scratches on a cold, immaculate surface.

She had not seen Antuin in long time, though. And their brief reunion two day ago had not been gratifying. Why had he treated her so? She had missed him…apparently he had not missed her. Never mind. From now on, he wouldn't be remembered as friend. He was simply a rival and she was the stronger of them. She was not hurt…not at all.

Mithrim let out another heart-wrenching sigh and walked to the forgotten vanity. Her finger slowly traced her mirrored self. Then if all was going her way…

Why was she so disconcerted?