Our childhood was anything but what would be expected. I, the child of my father (the resident co-ruler of Rivany) and one of his housemaids, was tossed into the dungeon to die as soon as my "mother" gave birth to a healthy child.

I was lucky. My younger sister, Gabbi, who had been sick all of her life, managed to smuggle me food whenever I got desperate, and by the time I was 12, I had dug myself to the surface. Wandering in the forest, looking for shelter, was where I found the scientist.

He taught me everything I know about humanoid engineering. In fact, he used to say that I was the only reason he'd gotten as far as he had. I took his compliments modestly, but they always meant so much coming from my mentor and hero.

Gabbi brought our little sister, Cassandra, to visit me for several years. The scientist's mostly underground house resided only an hour's walk from the fortress my "parents" had built up around them.

We have always been close as siblings; I trusted Cassandra and Gabriella. When I wasn't studying with the scientist, I played hide-and-seek in the woods with my little sisters. I was fourteen at the time, too old for childish games, but somehow I could never turn them down.

Soon after Gabriella's 10th birthday (and my 15th), she became sick again. It was a completely different ailment this time -something the doctors couldn't figure out. Cassandra was only six years old, but sometimes she made it out to visit the scientist and I on her very own.

Finally, after Gabbi had suffered for a year without any improvement, I asked the scientist to take a look at her. It didn't take him long to determine her sickness; Apparently, the disease was very rare, and there had never been a recorded case. She was allergic to the hormones her body was putting out, trying to make her start puberty. I suppose if anyone was wondering, that's how Gabbi never grows older. She was always so strangely wise, in her own innocent way.

I had to leave Rivany not long after Gabbi was well again. The scientist passed away and left me to continue his work. I hated to leave my sisters, but they'd be able to join me someday.

Though those days are long gone, I still recall playing amoungst the willow trees, hiding and giggling and rushing all about. Those memories will never leave me.