Growing up on the streets is hard. Growing up on the streets in Juvavum would kill you. You learn three lessons and you learn them fast; comfort makes you weak, anyone will turn on you for a price, and always stay away from desperate people.
Best Anastasia could figure out she was about 10. She was sure she had parents, everyone does, though she never remembered having any nor could she remember a time when she did not live on the streets.
But, life for young Anastasia was not all bad. She had her spot under the waste pile at the pottery. It was hers, she fought more than once for it and no one was going to take it away. Yes, it was noisy and always smelled of smoke. But, the kilns would keep you warm in the cold and that was a big deal. Plus on Wednesdays, she could even scavenge some of the meat scraps from the butcher alley and cook them late at night when no one was there.
Life was looking up soon, when she turned 13 she could start to earn money at the pleasure houses with the older girls. The old woman who ran the place would not let Anastasia work yet. Made her mad every time she thought about it. To young to work in the houses, come on, nothing that happened in there could be worse than what she dealt with every day and they had food inside.
It was an early spring morning. Sun had just come up and Anastasia was sitting in her favorite spot on the edge of the market, just across from the bakery but upwind from the fish seller. That stuff always smelled by midday.
Her eyes fixed on the solder. She liked the solders they always had coin, and most were drunk, or at this hour of the morning recovering from a night in the houses. They were easy picks and this one was deep in conversation with baker over something about the sweet breads he had cooked that day. She made her move.
His coin bag hung from his belt. It was full. Here plan was simple. She would make her way to him thought the crowed. One slit across the bottom of the bag with her dagger and the coins would all drop. She could grab two or three and be gone in the crowd before he could stop her. At least that was the plan.
But that as over 10 years ago now. Anastasia, sat in the office of Princeps Lucas Rayden Pierce, her feet up on his desk and she picked her fingernails with the tip of his dagger. Anastasia thought about those events often and how that moment changed the course of her life.
Rayden, looked at her across the large wooden desk. “Will you stop that” he said watching her pick her nails with his dagger. “and get your feet off my desk” a smile crossed his face as he shook his head.
Anastasia looked across the room at the two guards standing in full leather battle. She put the knife down and started to take her feet from the desk. There is no way she would ever say no or question Rayden. From the day he took her in he became her protector, her mentor, her commander. Over the last ten years they have travelled the world and seen and done thing few people could dream of. There was nothing she would not do for Rayden. There was little doubt in her mind that at some point anything would include giving her life to protect him and she was perfectly fine with that it was the life he had given her.
Now, the two idiot solders standing guard, they were a different story. Guards, there to protect her Princep. She smiled realizing she could most likely kill them both before she even got her feet down from the desk. From them she delayed doing as Rayden asked. They needed to understand how things worked.
Rayden looked at her and then to the guards watching the power dynamic unfold.
“Why did I ever take you” he asked still shaking his head.
“Because you need me, and there are things your proper army can’t do” she replied placing her feet on the floor. “So what’s up boss and what kind of trouble we getting in to this time?“
“We have an interview for the core team. A new explosive expert. His name is Spurius Axius Centumalus
He’s out in the waiting area. Why don’t you go let him in. “