“I was brought up in a small village outside the largest city, Fallique, where the emperor’s palace is located.” Nina poured herself a glass of wine, propped some pillows up, then reclined.
“My parents were very poor. The emperor, Zarek, cares nothing for the people. He lives in luxury while they suffer. If he desires anything, he sends raiders into Fallique, or out to the surrounding countryside. They take whatever he orders. They plunder the villages.” She sipped at her wine.
“I was one of six children. Unfortunately, for my parents, four of us were girls. In Chiran, girls are a liability, an expense to a family. The cost can be devastating to a poor one.”
“I’ve heard that in Chiran, some people destroy their infant daughters and keep only their sons,” Mara commented.
“That is so today. But things were a bit different when I was a child.” Nina hesitated as footsteps came down the hall, passed the door, then grew quiet.
“As I said, there were six of us. Every winter grew a little harder as our stomachs grew a little larger.
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