Chapter One

Three-year-old Toeto skipped through the woods as she headed towards the stream the ran through the middle of it. Her parents followed close behind.

She was a bright cheery neko. She wore a pink jacket, a black tank top, a long denim skirt, and black boots. The bright golden rays of the early-morning sun dyed her pale silver hair a deep blond color and made her pink eyes sparkle.

She turned around to see how far behind her parents were. "Hurry up!" she called. "We don't have all day! Once noontime comes, it's gonna be too hot for us to even make it back to the cabin!"

"Maybe you should slow down and enjoy the scenery a little bit more," her mother replied. "It's very beautiful, you know."

"Of course I know it's beautiful! I see it every day, why should I slow down just because we're going out to the stream? It's the same all through the whole forest! Rabbits and squirrels and birds and trees and bushes. What's so amazing about it? And anyway, we only have a month until autumn and then it'll be too cold to go swimming for half a year!"

Then her eyes widened as she saw someone drop, almost silently, from the shadows of the top of the trees with a knife.

"Mama! Papa!" Toeto screamed. "Look out! Right behind you!"

Her mother turned her head to see the assassin behind her. "Run, Toeto! Get out of here! You know how to get to town, so run there as fast as you can!"

Toeto couldn't move; she was parlyzed. She just watched her parents die in front of her.

The shadowy figure blocked or dodged every punch and kick that was thrown at him. He lodged the knife into her mother's stomach, yanked it out, and slit her father's throat. He stared and laughed as the rocks were wettened with the blood spilling out of Toeto's parents.

Toeto looked up and glared, her eyes free of tears. "I will track you down. You are going down one way or another. I will find you when I'm older, and I will slaughter you mercilessly."

The assassin stared at Toeto. "Brave, heartless little girl. Your parents were just killed off and you're don't even shed a single tear. I thought for sure you'd be fun to mess with. Whatever. I'd kill you now, but I would love to see how long it'll take for you to die out here on your own." He threw the knife and Toeto ducked.

Toeto felt something slice through the soft flesh of her right hand. A warm, wet, slightly sticky substance dripped down her arm. She opened her eyes slowly and looked at her right hand. Had she really...?

She had. She looked up, pure hatred burning in her pretty rose quartz eyes. "I'm only three and I can catch a dagger thrown by a pro. Think about how skilled I'll be when I'm older."

"Ooh, I'm so scared!" Sarcasm.

"I don't need sarcasm. Look, I will find you when I'm stronger and then you'll be in some big trouble."

"And to think you're only three years old..."

"So what if I am? I'm not mentally three. Mama and Papa have told me that plenty of times. I'm smarter and more mature than most other kids my age. I'd be able to read The Hunger Games if I really wanted to."

"You definitely are special, but that won't matter once winter comes along and you freeze to death."

With that, he left. But his voice was permanently burned into Toeto's mind. She could never forget it whether she wanted to forget it or not. Lucky her.

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