Ten years later...

Brielle roamed the damp halls she had grown up in and knew better than she probably should.

The walls were built with 38 layers of stone bricks except from the walls in the library which were taller for unknown reasons but Brielle thought that it made the room look grander. She knew the precise number because whenever she was bored, which was often, or anxious, she would count them. She also had a habit of mindlessly traversing the same corridors over and over and over again until each crack was as familiar to her as the lines on her palm. Other times she would sit on the cold floor and rest her head against the cool stone.

This was an underground sanctuary set up by the organisation made up of the endowed who managed to escape. They prioritised comfortable and furnished rooms over decorating pathways that served no purpose other than providing a passage between rooms, and so the bricks were exposed. They were as exposed as she felt every time someone would pass her and give her a funny look whenever she was lingering in the corridors.

Even though she had been in the sanctuary since she was a newborn baby and everyone knew who she was and vice versa, they would still give her funny looks for… well, she didn't really know what for. She guessed that it was out of one of two things; they found it peculiar that she was staring at the walls, or they saw that she was the 'special' one yet was doing absolutely nothing at the moment to help the cause.

She was the unusual one. Yes, everyone here could be considered unusual but she was unusual even in a group of unusual people. It was as though Brielle was the bullseye on a dartboard the player was aiming for; the rings got smaller and smaller until there was only a small proportion of the board that the darts player was focusing on. She was unusual for one reason: she had pink eyes.

Everyone knew her, yet she was the loneliest person here.

It didn't help that they weren't allowed cell phones because they could easily be tracked, not that they would work down here anyway.

The voluntary search had just returned so the halls filled fairly quickly. At different times in the day as to not alert anyone to their routine, the group would gather and leave together then spread out and search for the endowed that the King had 'disposed' of.

No one knew what the wording entailed but the volunteers were clinging on to blind hope as many of them had lost family members and friends. It was their belief that they were being held captive somewhere but the consensus among pessimists was that they had been massacred.

It had been when Brielle was only a couple of years old that the searches had started but to no avail. Nothing has been found yet, not even a piece of clothing or a belonging to use as a trail or a starting point.

Brielle had been told many times how lucky she was to have been saved by that nurse in the hospital. Sarah, she had been told was her name, was a member of the organisation working undercover to covertly transport as many endowed babies to the sanctuary as possible.

Everyone was getting desperate. After so long, people were scared that things would stay the same, they would have to stay hidden and the same monotonous things would happen over and over again.

Brielle didn't really see the problem as everyone else did but didn't dare voice it. She found comfort in the routine underground; it consisted of getting up at eight, having breakfast, attending lessons, then it was lunch, more lessons, have dinner, indulge in one of her hobbies and go to bed. Rinse and repeat.

There was safety in monotony, in repetition, there were no surprises and she would never have to step out of her comfort zone. It also meant that she wouldn't have to make any big decisions for herself, which she also didn't mind.

Right now, she was heading to breakfast and took her place on the bench at one of the long wooden tables lining the vast area.

Aria Kelsall and Eloise Sallow were already sitting with their heads close together at their usual spots across from Brielle's. They were the closest people she'd ever had and even considered them friends of hers, especially Aria who was most definitely the quieter of the two.

As Aria reached to grab a piece of toast from the rack, the dark brown hair covering the right side of her face shifted but not enough to reveal the eye beneath. No one knows why she covers half of her light brown face with her hair but Hiram Orton, another endowed child of their age, had joked years ago one time when they had first met that maybe it was an emo phase, but then nothing had changed and there were no other indicators to prove his theory.

Naturally, they were endowed. Aria had golden eyes which meant that she could sense valuable things nearby; both things that were of value to her and things that were valued by the rest of the world. Eloise had brown eyes, meaning that she had the power of earth at her disposal.

She often says that she has red in her eyes that sets off the colour of her hair which is ginger (she claims it's red but it's ginger to everyone else) but Hiram disputes this every time and says that the colours clash to wind her up. To this she gets very angry and defensive, which Hiram delights in because he can then go on to claim that it's the 'ginger gene's' fault she is so fiery and that it is also the reason why she is so pale.

It was all in jest though. Hiram had a habit of constantly joking and winding people up to pass the endless amount of time in their hands.

Brielle also reached for a slice of toast from the rack and started spreading the butter from one of the individually wrapped blocks.

"Hey, have you seen the news." Hiram came from behind her and sat next to Brielle at the table.

He didn't always sit with them, he was too popular for that so was always bouncing from seat to seat. Eloise also had other friends and was widely liked by most people but she seemed to like being close to Aria more than being surrounded by 'fake' friends as she called them.

There was a television in the main lounge room but it was only allowed on when the news channel was running so they could keep up to date with the most recent events.

Eloise rolled her eyes and said, "it better not be about your unhealthy obsession with your precious princess."

Hiram looked slightly sheepish and snatched four pieces of toast with one dark skinned hand.

"I just feel sorry for her; she's constantly confined in a castle of people who hate our kind, who hate her. Have you seen her when she has to appear in public? She looks scared stiff and ghost white every time."

Princess Adelaide was around the same age as them and adored by most of the members of the organisation for various reasons.

"You're right Hiram. It must be a horrible situation to have to live in," Aria agreed without an ounce of ridicule, only empathy.

"So what is the news?" Brielle looked quizzically at Hiram, hoping that something horrible hadn't happened.

He looked unwilling to speak anymore which was unusual for him and promptly stuffed his toast into his mouth as though to excuse himself for not saying anything.

After some pushing from Eloise he gave in and said, "Adelaide has dyed her hair. It's bright pink."

The others laughed and Hiram seemed to have become even more uncomfortable.

Eloise, not even attempting to hold back her chuckles, said mockingly, "does it set off her eyes?"

He rolled his black eyes in response.

Having black eyes meant possessing the gift (or more accurately curse) of seeing the dead in the last moments of their life in the places that they died whenever Hiram was present there. It didn't happen often though, luckily. There weren't many deaths in the sanctuary. The only ones were of natural causes or a member of the search that was killed by either an animal or a human hunter, but these didn't usually affect Hiram because they were mainly dead at the scene which was above ground.

"Yes it does actually; the purple and pink compliment each other quite well. Don't be jealous that yours don't, Ellie."

Aria stepped in before Eloise could retort something most likely foul back at him. "Look, Tristan's coming our way."

Tristan Fersane was approaching their end of the table. Not only was this unusual because he never sat with them, he didn't really sit with anyone but because at every meal time, he would sit at the bench closest to the exit then eat at record speeds before leaving just as quick.

Nobody knew where he went but they assumed that he headed straight to the training area where they all had their self defence lessons but was generally open to everyone whenever there wasn't a class running. Tristan was the youngest volunteer in the search and the only reason that he was allowed to take part was because of his physical strength and capability to fight.

He stood at the end of the table and said, "Julian wants to meet with us all, now."