Alais Talvas had been a very good girl.
At only the age of 14, Alais had been entrusted with a very important job, that she couldn't tell anyone about. Lady Natalia, the Noble who always gave Alais fun commands, had a very important meeting with Mr. Talvas - Daddy - and a friend that day. She needed Alais to help keep it private and a surprise for everyone else.
"Alais, you must stand outside and keep people from entering through the door. Only open it when you are given the password 'Roucy'. Please repeat the Obligation I just gave you back to me."
"I'm gonna go and stand guard outside the door! I can only unlock it when someone says 'Roucy,' right?"
"Yes! Very good. If you need anything at all, knock three times and your father will answer the door. Do not enter without doing this first."
Alais nodded and smiled, before going to stand outside.
She was so happy to be trusted!
She remembered when Daddy had first introduced her to Lady Natalia and her husband Aleksey. Aleksey was not special at all - but he was still very nice to her. Natalia though... Natalia had helped her unlock all sorts of magic and secrets and fun things with her power. She'd taught Alais that words from some very special people were like a key, and that she could continue to teach her all sorts of magical things if Alais promised to be her friend.
Because of the promise, Alais could not do anything that might hurt or endanger her or any of her family or their staff, even by accident. And she needed to be glad to be with Lady Natalia. And of course, because Lady Natalia and Alais were best friends now, Alais needed to listen to her, even if Daddy disagreed with it.
It was okay for Alais not to listen to Daddy, because he wasn't special. Not like Lady Natalia was, anyway.
When Alais' mother had disappeared, Lady Natalia had said that Mama had gone on a long trip to visit a friend. Alais had wanted to cry, but Natalia said that big girls didn't cry. That Alais should dry her tears, and she should be happy. Mama would be helping other people, and she should just forget about her, just as Mama had probably forgotten about Alais. It wasn't unusual for Magicians to do that, after all!
It wasn't long before Alais realized she couldn't remember Mama's face. But at least she didn't feel sad anymore.
And when other Magicians came to visit, Alais forgot them, too.
"It's curious that a child is out here alone."
Alais looked up to see a stranger with golden eyes, staring down at her. She could barely see his face with the sun in her eyes, but she frowned at him as he moved toward the door.
"You should go away," she warned, putting her hands on her hips. "You're not supposed to be here!"
"Oh, but I'm seeking passage to Roucy," he responded.
He'd said the password! She felt the command take control as she reached for the door, and made sure it was unlocked by using her magic. "Okay!"
The gentleman thanked her and opened the door, smiling in a way that Alais thought was weird and a little scary.
After he'd gone in, she'd heard the door click shut.
It wasn't long before Alais didn't feel as happy as she had before. Like Lady Natalia had taken away those words.
The words that kept her in front of the door had gone away, too.
But Lady Natalia hadn't taken them back.
She heard some noise from inside - like furniture was being knocked over, but then it stopped.
Curious, she tried the door, finding that Lady Natalia's friend hadn't locked it behind him.
"Lady Natalia? Daddy?"
She heard something in the sitting room hit the ground.
"...Are you guys okay?"
As she moved further into the house and reached the room where Lady Natalia was having her meeting, she froze.
The stranger stood there, hand glowing with a bright golden aura. He was a Magician. Something about this seemed wrong. He shouldn't be showing off like that.
Lady Natalia sat in her comfy chair, but she'd dropped her glass of wine and spilled it all over the carpet. She was staring at her ceiling, and didn't respond when Alais called for her.
Daddy... Daddy was on the floor. He'd been hurt, somehow. And he wasn't breathing, either.
They were both dead.
The Magician said something to her, but she hadn't heard it.
And then he left.
Alais had been lucky enough that Natalia's real friend - the one from the Traders Association - found her a few hours later.