Disclaimer: I do not own the Unicorn Chronicles, the name Hunter, or anything else in this story except my ideas. And my computer.
They say that from the hearts and lips of children, truth shall be spoken.
The orphanage was a quiet one, tucked deep within a wooded mountain, miles from the nearest town or home. The girls who called it 'home' were all younger than fifteen, a strange occurrence that they had soon learned not to question. Ranging from all different, all unknown backgrounds, it was a place that did not see much excitement, except for when a newcomer came. The building was cozy and well decorated, the dormitories kept at the perfect temperatures, the food never stale. To many, it would be an enjoyable childhood, even without it truly being a home.
But Tessan was never content there. Unlike the rest of the girls, who were pleased to go about their daily routines, thrilled at the chance to play in the fenced yard, without ever wondering why they were there, Tessan had always felt as if something were amiss. Once, when she was eight, she had asked how she came to be at the orphanage. The girl was told she had been left in a basket on the front step, with only a blanket and a note labeling her with her name.
It was only a year later that she learned that Miss Hunter had told the exact same story to each of the other girls, every time someone asked.
So while every other girl played and laughed and smiled, Tess sat on the sidelines, detached and silent, wondering why no one else seemed to be able to see what she could. That something in this place was terribly wrong.
SPEAK NO EVIL
The ringing of the morning bell, high and musical, rang throughout the long room, as bodies wriggled and tossed beneath their blankets, girls slowly waking from their slumber. A few groaned and muttered something about wanting more sleep, while others gleefully tossed off the covers and leapt from the mattresses. Soon the entire room was stirring with activity, the rows of beds alive with the girls who slept in them each night.
Sunlight streamed through the windows, a beam landing directly on the bed of the only girl not moving. On either side of the quiet child, girls were dressing and making their beds, already starting to chatter and giggle. Tessan sat cross-legged within the sunbeam, stormy eyes watching and following the movements of her roommates without a sound, her chestnut hair already in a carefully tied braid hanging long down her back. She was fully dressed in the clothing given to her, a pair of well-made black leggings and an emerald and white blouse. The bed she sat on looked untouched, as if she had been sitting there all night instead of sleeping.
She hadn't, of course, but no one else knew that. One girl gave her a funny look and whispered something to her friend. They both laughed quietly, only to be cowed into silence as Tessan sent a sharp look towards them, as if she had heard the comment. Slowly unfolding her legs, she stood from the bed, smoothed the sheets, and slipped out into the hallway, only to be met with the woman who ran the orphanage.
Miss Hunter, as they were instructed to call her, was quite a sight. Almost six feet in height, the hair pulled into a tight bun on her head was mousy brown streaked lightly with pale gray. Her eyes were gray and kind, unless angered, at which time they turned to steel. A few wrinkles lined her face, but otherwise she looked quite young, her trim body usually clad in professional looking skirts and blouses.
"Ah, Tessa, I was just coming for you." The older woman smiled at Tessa kindly, extending a hand. "Come, come, dear, there is someone here I'd like you to meet." Curious enough to smile back, the girl took Miss Hunter's hand and allowed herself to be lead into the office. Sitting in the carved chairs in front of Miss Hunter's desk were a young couple, both well dressed and obviously well off. They smiled at seeing Tessa.
"Tessa, love, this is my nephew, Jasper Hunter, and his wife, Rose. Jasper, this is Tessan, the girl I was telling you about."