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Kira crouched behind a rock watching the group in the distance setting up camp. An interesting group with potential, she thought. If nothing else they might be good for a meal or two. Some of them even looked like they might have a gold piece stashed. Hunger knotted her belly for a moment before she hushed it; she’d only resort to stealing if she had to. She should have planned better and taken more food with her when she left the caravan.

Thinking of the caravan brought back the realization of what she’d done. There was no going back now, not that she would knowing what she’d be going back to. Marriage to her step-brother was out of the question. But Gypsy tradition said that her husband would be clan chief after her father and her step-mother had ambitions for her slovenly idiot of a son. She wondered what drugs the woman was using to make her father go along with such an obviously bad decision. Of the 3 eligible males (being that they were distant enough in kinship to be safely mated with her) in her clan, one had been outcast a year before. Ramone?, with his orange skin and red eyes, hadn’t been seen since he’d returned from another misadventure with that new aberration and been declared outcast. The other, Guaril?, was the only one she would have considered if she’d been inclined to marry. They’d been friends since childhood and he actually would make a good clan chief. With her gone, he probably would be voted by the clan as her father’s successor if he survived her step-mother’s machinations. She cringed at the thought of Zindello? ever having any form of control over the clan. In a way leaving was the best thing she could do for the clan.

She shuddered at the thought of becoming married. Tied to hearth and home, bearing baby after baby while her husband made all the decisions and had all the adventures. No more dancing to the wild music of a gypsy violin, no more walking the highwire or sneaking about rooftops of the towns they came to or juggling the throwing knives with the rest of her troop. Better to remain a virgin and take the road to adventure. Even if the stories told to young girls where true and she ended up raped, suicide was better than life married to that... that thing she was ‘promised’ to. In some ways she was envious of her Gajin sister, Tsura. She had the freedom of her mother's people to marry or not as she chose. She had a feeling the little feral thing she'd met 2 years ago would not be marrying any time soon.

Sighing, she pulled herself out of her reverie and stepped out from behind the rock she’d been hiding behind. It was time to go and meet her future.