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Fan Fiction – Brave New World

By Blinkypoet
I don’t own anything other than the original characters and new Gift concept.
This is set during the beginning of the Mage Storms

I ran, panting heavily, ignoring the yelling from behind, concentrating only
on getting away. My breath fogged the air around my face and inevitably my
glasses as well, but by then I was far enough into the heavier trees that I knew it
would take them awhile to stop arguing enough to bother asking Mik to track me
down. I cursed softly as my foot caught in a root and I went for a dizzying tumble
on cold, frost hardened ground barely covered with a thin layer of paper-thin
leaves and sharp smelling but brittle pine needles. Unfortunately for me, my
glasses went spinning off in another direction and I spent probably 45 minutes
running my hands futilely across the earth searching desperately for the small
shiny things. Finally I found them under the outermost branches of a giant pine
tree. Broken, of course. I sighed and stuck them back on my face as best as I
could. Continuing deeper into the pine trees that were more and more plentiful
here, I caught my glasses as they fell off my face every so often. My pace slowed
as I looked up in wonder at the towering pines, my steps hushed by a thick and
aromatic layer of crunchy pine needles beneath my feet. How had these
magnificent giants survived the clearing of this land for development? Not once,
but twice the land had been cleared, but these things looked truly ancient.
The wind picked up, swaying the thick needle-laden branches and I
shivered, having forgotten to grab my heavier winter jacket in my outward flight.
Stretching as I walked, I wondered at the pine needle covered track I had literally
stumbled into. It looked too well used to be from the old homestead that I knew
was somewhere on the property and it wasn’t on any of the trail maps. There
were no vehicle tracks and I knew the boss or Mik drove those trails every so
often to check them for trespassers and their trash.

A strange drumming tickled at my ears and I froze. The rhythmic thunder
of hooves got louder as it drew closer. Instinctively I scrambled into the depths of
a pine bough laden tree. Shivering, I peered myopically through the green
needles, wondering who would be riding a horse, full out, way back here? We
had specially cleared riding rings for that. As the horse and rider flashed by, I
gaped. The pair looked like an escaped equestrian performer team from a
Renaissance Festival. But this area was too sparsely populated to support
something like that, I knew. A shiver skittered across my backbone. After the
frantic hoof-beats had faded, I crept out of my hiding place and walked in the
opposite direction, figuring if that had been someone the boss had managed to
cajole into looking for me, it might be a good idea to go the other way.
The two pine covered furrows continued on for what seemed a long ways,
even though I thought it could have been no more than five minutes. Then the
overgrown path joined a wider, hard-packed dirt road. I shook my head. There
were no roads like this that I knew of on or around the property where I had
worked. I shivered. Oh well. I had wanted to get away from work and since I
didn’t drive, walking was the only way to do it. My feet protested as I continued
along the hard packed earth that looked like it had been in use for ages.
Somewhere along the way, I lost track of time while listening to the gentle
noise of the forest, which was soothing enough. Still something about this place
gave me the creeps. And I couldn’t get the image of a tall, thin, man with startling
white hair and a pure white horse out of my head. I’d never seen either one at the
ranch and didn’t know where my frazzled brain had come up with the image. I
was so engrossed in puzzling over this that I did not notice the traveler until he
called out to me from a top the well-trained horse that stopped at his unseen
The man seemed tall from his place on the well worn saddle, bright blond
hair waving in the breeze. Blue eyes stared at me from amid the brightest
costume I had ever seen. He was dressed from head to toe in bright red.

I did not mean to startle you into losing your spectacles. young miss. He looked me up and down.” Where? None of those names sounded the least bit familiar to me and I frowned more at the thought that this was some elaborate joke. “You’re dressed like a field worker. “Uh. I frowned. milady. if somewhat grubby. And constructed of the oddest materials I have ever seen.” At least his voice was not totally outraged as it had been seconds earlier.” He took my hand and carefully placed my precious glasses in my palm. Where did you come from?” My jaw dropped. On a road that runs along the edge of the Forest of Sorrows. For miles? Oh dear. “These appear to be broken. the oddly costumed man had leapt off his horse. where am I sir?” Both blond eyebrows rose. I heard him turning the fragile things over in his hands and sighed again. along with another piece that had chosen the opportunity to escape. some still leaked through into my voice. young lady. but didn’t sidle. milady. He had my glasses and I couldn’t see a blasted thing without them. My glasses chose that moment to slide off my face and I cursed softly as I heard them hit the ground dangerously close to the iron-shod hooves of the man’s horse. muttering about his lack of manners and had snatched my glasses from beneath my very fingertips. The next thing I knew. “In Valdemar. . What was wrong with the way I was dressed? These were decent. at that. “My apologies. It had some training at least. work clothes. I slowly knelt in the dirt and began searching for the blasted things. trying to balance them on my nose again. I stood slowly. “Excuse me. but what are you doing out here dressed like that?” His horse snorted at me as if to emphasize his rider’s point. young lady. A man. There are no farms around here for miles. Sighing. At least I didn’t look like an escapee from a Ren Fest! “I beg your pardon? What seems to be the matter with how I’m dressed?” Even though I tried to suppress the sarcasm.” I breathed. “Thank you. Great. blue eyes twinkling.

Carefully wrapping one arm around his waist. holding onto my rebellious glasses with the other. in the northern United States. “I’m sorry. Or the blond hair.” I said as he wrapped his horse’s reins around his wrist carefully. The horse and I exchanged dubious looks. “Come come. But perhaps we should discuss it over some food. Either way. Again those blond eyebrows rose.” “That’s quite alright. “Where are you from. have never heard of those places either. growled eagerly at the mention of food and I shook my head. swung up behind him and settled myself amongst the saddlebags and bedrolls and things. young lady?” “Minnesota. Perhaps it would be best to play along with this charade for a bit and see where it went. there is nothing to fear! Bard Evan will not let any harm come to you!” Perhaps it was the blue eyes that did it. bowing deeply. My stomach. I thought disgustedly.“ he said. I wondered suddenly what the heck had I just gotten myself into? . Once his face came into focus from the surrounding blur of colors.” He mounted with an ease that made me instantly jealous and offered me his hand. “I don’t ride very well.” He had shifted some of the things that were attached to the saddle around so there was now room for me. I smiled. the Lady Brighteyes is a gentle steed and won’t offer you any trouble. I’ve never heard of those places before. “And I. milady. “Then allow me to offer you a ride to the next town. embarrassed. milady. I finally took the proffered hand and. I missed his amused smile as my glasses chose to make another break for freedom and I actually caught them this time. It would be better than going back to beg for charity from my now former employer. “Just put your foot in the stirrup there and swing up behind me.” His totally blank stare made my stomach sink. sunken though it was. sir. where we may break our noontime fast. lady. Have you had lunch yet?” He evidently had decided to go along with the charade as well. sir. The ass.

I am. my friend. why waste the effort on me? The hours passed and soon I dozed fitfully against Evan’s solid back. “Dream or not. a ranch hand and clerk at the Happy Hooves boarding stables.” I shrugged. It was nothing like what I had expected. our conversation wandered from topic to topic and I marveled at the depth of this charade. “Urghh. Unfortunately I was still on the horse. young Anna! We have come to signs of civilization at last!” A huge yawn made my jaw crackle uncomfortably and I fished for my glasses quickly. If this was all an act. I tucked my mangled glasses into a pocket on my work vest. I sat up quickly. it is time to wake. which is the capitol city of the country of Valdemar. giving in to the dizziness that made my head spin even worse than the strange surroundings. waking only when the horse stopped and my friend stirred from his position. “Wake. I am a Bard from the Bardic Collegium in Haven.a Bard he called himself. <~> I woke to candle light and a cool cloth at my forehead. “Because exercising the horses wasn’t part of my job. The scene swam into view. resolving into a dirt-packed square with people and animals walking here and there.” I mumbled.” “If you worked with horses. then why don’t you ride well?” He wondered.” The smile was obvious in his voice. then groaned as hammers seemed to pound inside my head and I nearly collapsed back into the .it had been in my dream. “My name is Anna Tessler. What a strange dream. or was. And I guess I never saw the need to learn more of it. if charade it was! This man. So I took stock of the available options and chose one: I fainted. From there.” That voice. “Ah. had to be a consummate actor to pull this off. Who are you?” Sighing. “There you are! Now my name is Evan Copperbright.

but did not pry beyond what he felt necessary. The man was so kind! “Of course.” This was not a dream. The flicker of soft candle light on rough wood walls was more soothing than harsh light bulbs. . Clearing my throat. Mom would just kill for this kind of décor! Rough cut wooden tables and benches were just the beginning. I don’t mean to inconvenience you-“ I viciously quelled my rising panic. thankfully. The bartender behind it somehow made me queasy for some reason. A time-polished plank laid over several huge stained barrels made for a bar. I smiled. I did not want to faint again. I gritted my teeth. I realized sadly. Thankfully not much attention was paid to us until Evan guided me gently to a wooden bench next to the largest stone fireplace I have ever seen. Even my doctor doesn’t know what to do about them. “Nonsense again! You shall tell me stories of your homeland and I shall make sure you have proper food and drink so that you don’t grow tired of telling your tale!” An oddly callused hand helped me to my feet and out into the main room of what turned out to be an inn. Somehow I had been taken from the known confines of my small town to an unknown land. If my only guide in this weird place were to abandon me- “Nonsense! You were obviously weary from the ride! Now. She was dressed in many skirts and her hair was braided tightly. As soon as we sat down. “I’m sorry Bard Evan.soft bed from dizziness. A hand steadied me as I swayed back and forth. It would waste more time. nor a charade. I gratefully took the cup of water from him and drank. a girl about my age trotted up. are you still hungry?” I smiled. Inwardly. it seemed to mollify him temporarily.” Stalling though it was. Thankfully the healer says you’ll be fine. sir! But I don’t have any money-” He delicately laid my even more battered glasses in my hands. I have dizzy spells sometimes.” The frown was evident in his voice. I almost snorted as I noticed her stare. “You took a bit of a knock falling off my horse. “The Healer said you were fine. “I’m sorry. That must be how he had excepted me to dress.

“What’ll it be.” he said curiously. The other was dressed far more drably and once his initial greetings were exchanged. was silent. “Not usually. I gulped. Others wandered over to the bar and demanded food and drink and a few sat down at tables around us. Two sat beside me and I shuffled away uncomfortably. “No ale? It makes the mutton taste better. then. “The food’ll be ou’ ina bit. perhaps?” A smile formed. just an odd custom of mine. “Roast mutton and dumplings for me. Bard Evan?” She chirruped. Brown-almost shading to buttery gold they were. so I turned my head to study them. please. curious in spite of myself. simply sending up a silent paean of helplessness. as the door slammed open and several people tromped in. Thankfully they chattered animatedly with Evan. One wore the same brilliant white uniform- like dress that I had seen flying past before I ran into Evan.something about strange disturbances in the land. <~> . not knowing what to say or what to ask. of course. I shook my head. His green eyes looked seriously at Evan as he spoke. Not extraordinary in any way. merely listening quietly to the other two. except water instead of ale. another strange custom of your land.” The girl left. sending my glasses spinning off onto the table. ducking my head and hoping they wouldn’t ask me any questions. I captured my glasses finally and turned to watch as several greeted Evan like an old friend. but the ale would do much worse. His eyes startled me although I could not have said exactly why they did so. Surely it was the scars on his face that had frightened me! Surely! I clasped my hands in my lap and prayed. “I don’t drink. Sierra! And the lighter ale. Mostly leather and hard-worn cloth made up most of his garb. He glanced at me and I looked away quickly.” I jumped.” The mutton would no doubt give me a stomach ache.” “An yer lady friend?” “The same. Evan. despite my attempts not to.” “Ah.

but had yet to see one himself. had his former comrades been here. they were so thick. He’d scared another one. what he could see of them behind those strange spectacles. Well. at least. that might be for the best. down on his luck. He kept his seat next to the odd lady. She fell asleep at some point. The only other time he had seen a pair was at the Guildhall. Soft blond hair drifted slightly in the heavy draft from the fireplace and her eyes. She was no highborn lady. would have been the talk of the tents. Those strange looking spectacles suggested that she didn’t see well. he noted as she lifted a fork-full of noodles to her mouth. Brennan smiled sadly. But with just enough padding to add soft curves right where they should be. Not that she was over-endowed. Soon there were calls from the others in the inn for Evan to give them some entertainment. when the Guildmasters had ruled in the hearing about him and his former comrades. The man in question grimaced. noting Evan’s worried pleading glance at him and interpreting it to mean that the Bard didn’t want her bothered. He pushed the memory away. From the sound of things. The young woman gasped as their food arrived and he eyed her curiously. He’d heard rumors of the strange change circles. beaten up merc? Hah! He turned his attention back to what the Herald was babbling about and had been for quite some time. taking his accustomed seat before the fireplace. These he doubted she could do without. were pale blue. The Bard produced his favorite lute and drum. he could take care of that much. A thin clean face untouched as yet by the ravages of time perched above a body that. Then said spectacles had been used only briefly to read some handwritten notes. for all her outlandish clothing. At least he hoped it didn’t. That had no bearing here. although calluses she did have. That was obvious from her clothes! Yet she didn’t have the manners of a whore or the calluses of a fieldworker. head resting on her arms upon the tabletop and he carried Evan’s lute and drum upstairs behind him as the Bard carried the . Damn! And a pretty one at that.almost grey. Not that she’d look twice at him! A rough and tumble. Idly he wondered how someone so nearsighted could survive into adulthood.

the Bard left. please lady. Sir Brennan. this is Anna. of all people. Now I’m going to go find her a proper horse.” With that. “Found a new playmate already. “I am pleased to meet you. nodding. Please look after her while I attend to business. And the cobbler’s for boots! Those strange shoes she has won’t last long on the road. “No and yes! Besides. Brennan. old friend. chuckling at his old friend’s surprised and outraged look. to take a lady clothes shopping! “Where is she from then?” The Bard grinned excitedly. The young lady-Anna. take her to the jeweler and see if he can fix those odd spectacles of hers. “Brennan.” Brennan tucked the money away carefully.Brennan. I just met her yesterday. Evan? Isn’t she a bit young for you?” Brennan joked.” Evan chided as he pulled a money pouch from his belt and counted out several silver and copper coins. Also.” she said softly.” The scarlet clad man turned away to speak quietly to the very strangely clad young woman with the wire and glass contraption perched on her face. She must be important to him if he were asking the merc to look after her. beside to Evan’s brown gelding. bowed her head to him. The merc returned to his own rooms and fell into bed and silent slumber. he reminded himself. Her words brought back memories he did not wish to be reminded of . She does not know the customs here. <~> The next day he found them in the stables. He turned back to Brennan.” The Bard snorted.lady to her rooms next to the Bard’s. And she must not be from around here if the Bard were asking him. “Take her to the weaver’s and get her proper travelling clothes. “She’s too much of a puzzle to ruin by a quick roll in the hay. “Just. “Somewhere I’ve never heard of. I’m no temple knight.” He blushed in spite of himself. Make sure no one accosts her please.

She took them back from him with a nod of thanks and laid them on the jeweler’s bargaining table. The weather seemed like it might hold again today. he could never return there. “Then please call me Anna. he measured her feet and promised them within a day or two. Predictably. Out of curiosity. the heavyset lady had measured Anna and determined what kinds of clothes she would need from questioning Brennan. In almost no time at all. drenching them. although there was always the chance it would dissolve into heavy storms as it had for the past few weeks. seemingly overcome by a dizzy spell and the skies opened up. fishing for the pieces that had come loose in her pockets. if nothing else. Even though his soul longed for the quiet domed ceilings and dusty prayer cells of his once home. the old man started to hammer her with questions about the making of those strange spectacles and she stuttered out a few confusing . shoving the door closed behind him with his shoulder. he added a roll of the heavy stuff. He scooped the girl up and carried her into the shop. he caught her glasses as they finally came and now. Anna stumbled three steps from the door. Brennan noted Anna’s longing glance at the cobbler’s rolls of leather lacing and figured he would ask later.” He grinned at the hint of soured steel in her voice and gestured for her to follow him. It was not until they had reached the jeweler’s guarded shop that they ran into trouble. since after the first round of pleasantries. Quickly setting her down next to a chair the jeweler gestured to absently. it was clear to her that Anna had some very odd notions of dress indeed! Next was the cobbler and while the man was surprised that a lady such as she would want or need heavy riding boots. He figured she would be best off with clothes first and lead her to the small shop stuffed with cloth and the large weaver. figuring he could use it for re-lacing his boots. hoping someone would hire him. not ‘lady’ as everyone around here seems so fond of doing. Anna.” This was definitely going to be more interesting than sitting around at the Guildhall. “Gladly. Jenna.

as the table was at the center of the . My heart was already pounding. it was starting to get dark out. Anna gaped and stopped in her tracks. but the table next to us erupted into violence and I was flung in the opposite direction. unconsciously backing away.” He led her to a bench safely out of the way of the seemingly insane dancers. The jeweler quickly apologized. There was nowhere to escape to. Brennan chuckled. falling against one of the serving wenches who had a platter full of food and three drinks in one hand. The merc watched curiously as the pieces were painstakingly re-assembled by judicious application of a candle and metal shaping rod and then reinforced with thin practice wire from his apprentices’ stores. Brennan caught the jeweler’s attention with a cough and shook his head. By the time they were done. There. where they finally stayed. “They don’t. I heard Brennan shouting as I rolled under another table and curled into a ball beneath it. Suddenly my shelter was gone as someone landed atop it and sent it crackling downward. Brennan escorted her back to the inn from which they’d started. in the midst of a knot of dancers who made up for their lack of knowledge of dance with sheer enthusiasm. <~> Hours later I stood. “How do they avoid tripping over each other?” She murmured. I dared not move from under my shaky shelter for fear of being stepped on. molded them to her face. intending to follow the Bard as he headed for the stairs. after waiting for them to cool. but this sent it into overdrive and I watched as the thick planks came towards me in seeming slow motion. Just watch. with a lot of laughter and raucous comments and Bard Evan started a softer. Between the two of them. Finally Anna pronounced them done and.answers. Not two minutes after they sat. They sorted themselves out. they found Evan with a fiddle tucked under his chin. one dancer went a bit too fast and tripped. The sounds of breaking furniture and shouting were all around. knocking her sprawling onto a table of travelers. they determined how best to cobble the crushed pieces back together. slower tune.

“But she didn’t show any evidence of it before!” Brennan glared at his little brother in his ‘shoot me’ suit. “Sometimes talents manifest under extreme stress.” He shrugged. even the way she reacts to everyday things make that clear. shuddering as another dizzy spell swept over me. The Herald shrugged.” A third voice intruded and the Herald beckoned them up the old shadowed stairs.fight. Shoving sprawled bodies out of the way. Evan nodded and followed his brothers up the stairs. I was planning on bringing her to Haven and seeing what the Queen’s advisors make of her. grimacing. he knelt beside the still form and carefully checked her pulse. I closed my eyes and prayed. Her manner of dress. wondering at his brother’s odd reaction. thank the Sunlord! He breathed a sigh of relief and scooped her up gently. “Is she all right?” Evan had come up beside him and rested his hand against her forehead and yanked it back quickly. “She’s not from around here or anywhere else I’ve been. “She’s alive.” . Yes. Tiernan. speech patterns. she was alive. intending to stow her in her rooms until she woke. hoping that she was still in one piece under all that mess. where it’s quieter?” “I think that would be a very good idea. <~> “That’s quite a Fetching Gift she’s got. bringing with it painless unconsciousness. <~> Brennan watched in utter surprise as the table that Anna had chosen to hide under exploded outwards.” Tiernan said as he closed the door behind them. We don’t want any more exploding tables.” Evan shook his head. “Maybe she’ll wake up faster upstairs. throwing the mix of combatants outward against the walls. Although I don’t understand how a bar fight could be that extreme. He winced as one or two bounced off the ceiling before wading forward.

but not quite. Evan.” Tiernan smiled. I decided not. interrupting their long-standing argument.” He looked from one brother to the other and shrugged.” That sounded like the Herald that Evan had been talking to this morning. some Farsight and Thought-Sensing. .” Brennan snorted. Opening my eyes turned out to be a mistake as pain stabbed into them at the soft candle light. She says ‘she has a good soul. then looked off into space. The Herald gently placed one hand on her forehead and closed his eyes. And something else that kind of looks like the Bardic Gift. If I were. wondering why I was laying on something soft. Tier?’ Evan asked. grimacing at the taste. as confused as the rest of them over that remark. “Aspirin. but is needed elsewhere’.” I mumbled. Maybe the folks at the Colegium would have a better idea.” “That’s sore rump to you. “Good idea. “I’d go with you. but I’m carrying dispatch notices and have to run. beetle crusher!” “Can you tell if she has any other Gifts. it was highly unlikely there would be a card game going on. “Alyssa says ‘probably not’. or know someone who knows. “I don’t know what that is. There’s also some Mages at the Court who might know. She might know where she’s from. Hotfoot. The argument over the card game stopped at my groan and Bard Evan asked if I needed anything.” He shrugged. “You’ll beat us there by a week. forgetting they probably wouldn’t have that here. “I certainly don’t know what to make of it. but here’s some willowbark tea that should help with the reaction headache. I’d talk to the Weaponsmaster Kerowyn. “A lot of Fetching. <~> I woke slowly.” The Bard frowned. I took the warm mug and drank the whole thing. “Is there any chance she’ll be Chosen?” Tiernan blinked. Was I dead? No.

Anna. which means you can hear what people think if you try and also communicate without having to talk. “We should let you get some sleep. “Yeah. “Why did you call it a ‘reaction headache’?” My brain finally caught up with me and asked before I could close my mouth and I heard rather than saw the looks being exchanged.” “I see. I looked at him. “Thank you. “Do you remember what happened downstairs?” Brennan asked softly. Even though she had taught me about them. You seem to have the one we call ‘Fetching’. even though she had trained me in them.” I eyed them. “Well. But I had never seen the need for things like that. do you remember the table collapsing?” The Herald asked carefully. someone started a fight and I ended up under a table. It didn’t seem like he was teasing. In fact all three of their faces were serious in the soft candle light. but I had never been capable of such things.” I said. “You also seem to have what we call the ‘Farseeing Gift’. noting how all three of their faces looked so similar in this soft light. some people have certain abilities.” Evan said. “I don’t know what it’s like where you come from. We are leaving for Haven tomorrow and should be heading out early. That is: you are able to move things with your mind. It means you can see things that you would normally be unable to. Aunt might have. “Yes. my memory whispered and I winced.Gifts. Why?” “Because you made the table explode. Aunt had called them scrying and telepathy and had said that I could do such things. Call out if you need anything. “How?” That was something Aunt might have done. Evan sat down beside the bed. the Herald took up the story. And you have the ‘Thought- Sensing Gift’.” . Evan stood. Instead. we call them.” I frowned. but nodded for him to continue. if I wished. but here.” I rasped as the pounding headache receded.” “Do you remember anything after that?” “Not really.

I stood and unsaddle my horse. After regaining my breath. I knew she was not a Wiccan. I had never learned what or who she truly was. I beat him to it and giggled. I wove it into a wardingsong also. However. I would live with her until my 18th birthday or until I chose to leave. “Goodnight. Brennan’s horse snorted as if amused and it looked like he was holding back his own laughter with an effort. Rolling myself up in the bedding. but had been able to patch them back together at least. My legs buckled under me and I landed in an annoyed heap next to the thankfully tranquil horse. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. I slid off the horse. even though it earned her the enmity of her neighbors. <~> Evan turned his horse off the road and found us a small copse away from the main path.” I said as they trooped out. All I knew was that while my parents had hated her. wondering what my venerable Aunt would think of this place. But the soft noises of the forest now seemed magnified a thousand-fold and I could not seem to tune them out. in the days after my parents’ deaths when I could not sleep. I didn’t get the chance. should they die untimely. Since we were out in the wilderness. But that was the religion she claimed. since she was capable of things that very few of the Wiccans I had met even considered possible. intending to remove my gear and the saddle once I got my feet on solid ground. Breathing a sigh of relief. My nose wrinkled at the squelch that greeted me when I hit the ground. Finally. She would probably love it here. setting my things well away from the muddy spot that I’d fallen into. Thank goodness my glasses stayed put! The jeweler had been surprised by their construction. they had set out in their wills that. She had taught me a great deal of the things she knew and while I was not anywhere near as good as she at most of them. I grimaced and began to hum one of the smaller soothingsongs Aunt had taught me. I still soaked up the knowledge . Evan turned to look and couldn’t hold in the chuckles either.

“What to do about the Bard and the merc. I thought ruefully. In the morning. little was said as Brennan deftly cooked a small camp breakfast and we packed our bedding and other camping things. We ate in companionable silence and fell into the routine of long travel. Evidently he figured either the forest could have me. but it still seemed familiar from half remembered dreams. The forest held no fear for me. scrambling out of my blankets and bolting instinctively for the forest.” I murmured. Then. struggling to relax and focus at the same time. remembering those amazing years. I whimpered. I reached out in a direction that I had never been a hungry sponge. Then I frowned as I remembered the Herald’s words. I memorized the positions of the guards and how they had bound their prisoners. I knew I was safe in it. Fighting not to dismiss the vision that rose in my mind as my own stressed imagination. I owed them! Resting beneath the great tree. It was perhaps three days later that I made the mistake and forgot to set my wardingsong before falling asleep. I had not used it beyond Aunt’s teaching. I hoped something useful would answer my callingsong soon. pressing the heels of my hands into my eyes. It hurt! After several calming breaths. I snorted in amusement as I curled up under one of the great pine trees. <~> . I whispered a calling to the slight breezes that wandered here and there beneath the great pine. The scene vanished and a vise tightened around my forehead. I smiled drowsily and fell asleep. Those two had helped me when they could have just abandoned me and washed their hands of the matter. I woke to shouting and smoke-filled confusion. could it help me here? And Farseeing? I removed my glasses and closed my eyes. Safer perhaps than among my own kind. trying to remember his words. sifting though the lore and songs my Aunt had given me. or I’d come crawling back to my own kind out of fear of the wilderness. but this ‘Fetching Gift’ the white-clad man had spoken of. They followed me a ways before turning back at the shouted commands of their leader.

praying that they hadn’t cracked Evan’s skull. you planned it after all!” He shook his head. He continued to pummel and shout at Brennan.” The man’s scarred face leered at him from across the fire. I’d like to talk to him. . well met. It looked like a small raccoon. don’t you? Hmm.” A gust of onion-laden breath almost made him choke as he was lifted and shaken. “’E’s awake. The rest of them sat or sprawled listlessly around the small fire and I spotted Evan’s mud blemished reds to one side. Marc. Brennan stifled the groan that tried to slip out as his head throbbed in time to his heartbeat. but thankfully hadn’t beaten him yet. But of course you do. I only answered their questions truthfully. Sir Brennan. “Well met. hopefully heading to the Bard. His hands and feet tingled painfully. “I’ve been hoping to meet you again. “Put him down. Finally it chattered quietly at me and disappeared into the light undergrowth. That also explained why someone would have attempted to capture a full Bard. not torture him. <~> I eyed the madman from the cover of the trees and wondered what was going on. You know what the guild did to us. At least not yet.” Inwardly he cursed.” His vision exploded in sparks as the bandit punched him in the jaw. except its mask was silver. madness glimmering dangerously in his eyes. Somehow they’d been taken unawares and bound. who finally curled up into a ball. “You expect me to believe that?” Marc hissed. Harse. “I planned nothing. He knew that voice and had hoped never to hear it again. They’d bound and gagged him. There was a breathy hiss from the creature that clung to my back and I set it down. I pointed to the Bard and tried to get across to it what I wanted it to do.

Him I dared not touch. there is no danger. He’d finally stopped hitting Brennan and stood. He reached behind him. Then I began the breathy. I sang. whispering the soothingsong the whole time. I sang to the tired. I mounted up clumsily and pulled a piece of rope from my saddle. Now I just had to figure out what to do about the madman. praying that the rest of the group wouldn’t notice him. He still sleeps. arms hanging loose at his sides. sleep. They seemed halfway there already. amazement on his face as his guards ignored him and fell asleep! Then he spotted the madman silhouetted against the fire and his face hardened. Rest. <~> . but Evan just handed me my pack and we tiptoed to where the horses were tied. He does not move. He was obviously mad and might react dangerously to a soothingsong. slowly pulling a heavy halberd out of a slumbering guard’s hands. He evidently knew that one. whispered melody of a seemingsong and spun its gossamer threads about the Bard. The rest I could probably put to sleep relatively easily. I murmured to the former mercenaries. Evan stirred slowly in the shadows and I held my breath. Evan looked around. Then Evan uncoiled from his almost prone position and brought the weapon crashing down on the madman’s head with a final sounding thunk! Brennan uncurled and helped roll the man away from the fire while I poured my own energy into the soothingsong and prayed it would hold long enough as I stepped out of the brush. We fled. He tied me to the saddle quickly and mounted his own horse. as my strength began to fail me. But this one presented a problem. tying a lead rein to my palfrey’s bridle. tossing it to Brennan and explaining with gestures what I wanted. The man stirred and snorted in his sleep but did not wake. spittle dribbling down his chin as he ranted about some trial. Brennan stared. directing my song to the group and ignoring their leader. leaving behind a slowly stirring camp full of drowsy bandits and an unconscious madman. hard- worn guards.

“I barely know anything of it. When they’d both finished and we all had something to eat. Brennan had lead in choosing our camping area this time. long winded explanation of what they were and what they contained. The saddle-sore days ran together into a blur much like what I saw without my glasses. even the raccoon creature that still followed me. but had not tried to capture or injure it.I learned all that I was able to learn and still don’t even know what it is called. Then he and Brennan began to ask questions of their own. This place had very little technology. Brennan cleared his throat quietly. You seem well trained in its use. his eyes shining in the soft light from our fire. with the shocking exception of Gifts. there would be consequences. if unused to applying it. Aunt had told me time and time again never to Sing in front of others. which Evan also happily answered my questions about. But you reappeared and somehow freed us. It was perhaps the equivalent of Medieval Europe. How did you manage that?” His voice was gentle and Brennan seemed to have more interest in his food. for none of us wished to repeat the happenings of a few days ago. I had broken that training in order to save two lives who had helped me. “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to. but I was not fooled. Evan started a small campfire. We had camped for the night a ways off the road. the little raccoon creature had rejoined us and clung doggedly to my shoulder. The other two had remard on it. Somewhere along the line. launched into a fascinating. It’s just that what you did was like no Gift we’ve ever seen nor heard tell of.” “Trained?” I snorted. as always. however. And we have both worked with Mages a time or two. My heart sank as my suspicions were confirmed.” The look on Brennan’s . Bard Evan said it was probably from somewhere called the Pelagirs and when I showed no recognition of the name. it seemed we were lost. “When we were taken prisoner by Marc. choosing the sticks and things that he fed it with care to the amount of smoke it gave off and Brennan dug out our dwindling food supplies with an eye towards making dinner. the two glanced at each other and Evan cleared his throat. thankfully.

” “Thank you. Within a few minutes.” With that. Brennan sat several feet away. When he saw that I stirred he ducked his head. I stood and went for a walk. embarrassed. It was not too long before I fell asleep beneath the sheltering branches of the spicy smelling pine. I sat beneath one of the now rare giant pines to think. even though his movements through the dense forest were all but inaudible.” I stretched and stood carefully. I think I am beginning to understand why. I knew Brennan was following me. “I am sorry if we frightened you.face made me bite my lip to keep from laughing. It was not our intent. <~> . evidently keeping watch. “Besides. Aunt warned me against using it around others. “Are you ready to go back to camp?” He asked cautiously. He came no closer and for some reason I felt safer with him there. “Nor what it is ultimately capable of. I never dared to use it that freely before. although it made no noise of protest. I nodded and followed him silently.” A shrug disturbed the little creature on my shoulder. When I woke.

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