Her first solo job is decorative rather than useful: she's hired on as an oddity, an exotic female bodyguard to accompany a princess of one of the little border kingdoms, a lady too innocent and fragile to be exposed to presumable roughness of male sex.
The princess is an image of pious maiden, all fluttering innocence and sweet naivety. It takes Balsa, trained by Jiguro to observe and discern, about a week to discover a cold, ruthless mind and implacable will behind white virginal robes and humbly lowered eyes. The lady is locked in an unending, intricate battle with her stepbrother, a vain, grasping creature, and Balsa knows who she'd bet on to be left standing in the end.
She understands and observes, not lowering herself to be a part of the struggle, and the lady smiles at her lazily sometimes, but lets her have her neutrality. And then there's a picnic and an ambush, and five people bleeding out on the stone floor in a space of ten heartbeats, no more, and Balsa still panting from this ever surprising ease of turning life into death.
The princess walks to her across the bodies, blood crawling up the hem of her robes, and drags a finger across Balsa's gore-splattered cheek. Smiles, smiles.
It's Balsa's habit to sleep guarding the door to the princess' chamber. But this night, and many nights after that, she's invited in.