Disclaimer: Nope, don't own it. Promise.

A/N: This is actually the ninth chapter I've written for this story, I just wrote the prologue after I finished writing the eighth. See next chap for A/N!

Pretending To Live



My torn and battered sneakers slipped on the cold marble staircase, making me stumble into a small group of twittering, black clad people. Ignoring the stony looks I received, I pushed them roughly out of the way and fought breath after breath, trying to keep myself upright.

Move, dammit!

I was slowing down, I knew. It felt like I was running through a vat of wet cement, every step somehow clinging onto the hard surface of the ground: a scene from my very worst nightmares. Each and every individual muscle in my legs was crying, begging for surcease...it stung my bloated pride more than I could say to realize that I was crying too.

Sweat beaded across my forehead as I grit my teeth and through sheer willpower staggered forward another few steps.

What was I doing? What was I doing? I was truly a fool, like he had said. I could not change anything, I couldn't just stay here—

Focus, I thought. Focus is the key...focus on anything...the ground! The walls, the sky...

The pulse ran through my shaking body again, and I fought it off, concentrating instead on the ground beneath my feet, the place I was in, the time I was in.

One of my legs gave out then, as though part of a marionette whose strings had gone slack and I collapsed with it, snapping my head painfully against the stone wall behind me. My hands were shaking, trembling, though not from fear.

Salt exploded in my mouth; red stained my lips and then hands.

I was splitting at the seams, like flimsy burlap sack made frail from overuse. This was it.

It was almost insulting to realize that there were really only a few minutes left, that what I had been counting were not hours, but in fact, minutes. Time stood still for me, now. I was out of His authority.

I had been used.

And though I was dying, this small, insignificant thought managed to kindle the small spark of rebellion inside me that I thought had been crushed, stamped out long ago. Yes, this was it. For me.

Only for me.

As I reached into my robes to take hold of the item that had been the cause of all of this, the cause of everything, and brought it out to clench tightly in my fist, the resonating gongs of the clocktower boomed mockingly in my ears.

A/N: Yep, the prologue. Changed a few times...hope you enjoy the rest of the story! Please understand also that this story has a real plot that I plan to stick to, and is hopefully not some shameless self-insert...

It's an adventure story, after all.