Prologue

My death was an accident. Well, not really. I'm sure whoever it was we were fighting had intended to kill us, or at least capture us. But it's my fault they all died. If I had been there, maybe this wouldn't have happened. If only I had lived a little longer. Maybe I could have prevented any of this from happening.

They had killed Nauri, my sacrifice, which had killed me as well. How am I still alive? Because a sacrifice takes in a fighter's heart during battle, taking the damage for both of them. When they had killed Nauri, my body had died, but my soul was still intact. And now I am cursed to wonder this world forever, a hollow reflection of my true self. Neither living nor dead.

And what of the rest of the squad? Where had they gone? Did they abandon me? Or had they been slaughtered as well? That, I did not know. It didn't matter anymore anyway, even if they were alive, they would never accept me. What use was a fighter with no sacrifice? It was all my fault that Nauri was dead. I had failed to protect her and now she was gone. I had lost my partner, my best friend, my unspoken love.

She would never know, and now I could never tell her. How I really felt. We should have been more than just partners in battle. I had never let my affection for her show; I had been ashamed for thinking such things about another girl. The High Counsel back home would surely disapprove, and I hadn't wanted any harm to come to her. It was obvious, though unsaid, that the Counsel and the Empress herself thought very little of sacrifices. They were expendable.

But now, I wish I had told her. I wish I could tell her. I wish she hadn't been killed. I wanted her to realize the feelings that I was to scared to admit before. I wanted her to accept me, like no else ever had. I wanted her to be here now, to ignore my flaws and secrets, and just listen to her tell me it was going to be all right.