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Cassandra heard voices coming from her father's throne room.

Alarmed, she halted her progress in the corridor and paused, rushing toward the door at the familiar sound of her father's voice. As she caught the drift of words through the door, she paused, her hand on the door knob, and stared at the great wooden impasse as she concentrated.

"For your services you have commanded a high price. But the reward is yours. In a year, you may have Cassandra as your wife."

Cassandra strained to hear Kell's low reply. Her heart beat rapidly in panic. She couldn't believe her ears.

"She wants to work in a laboratory? How absurd. She will have to pretend to be a human every day. And what does she know of this work?"

"As she did when she was in school, my lord. And her degree was in animal studies. Even then she was seeking knowledge to help our people."

"You have allowed these fantasies? I must see her immediately."

As Cassandra recoiled the door was wrenched open, and Cassandra fell forward. "I heard your voice, father. I must speak with you."

She met his gaze, less kind than the wolf's she had encountered earlier in the throne room. He was in a fine state of nerves thanks to the hardships that had fallen upon their race. Their people were starving.

She could not meet Kell's gaze. She could not think of the first words she had heard through the door without bringing the tension between all of them to the breaking point.

Cassandra breathed a long sigh. "The garden in the tower is all dead. I believe someone poisoned it. Everything died so quickly."

"It doesn't matter. The plants are useless to us now."

Kell helped Cassandra to her feet, but still she did not look at him. The words of his and her father's betrayal were still burning in her ears.

Author's note: This song is the first in my The Empty City soundtrack. It really suits how the story will turn out in the end.

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