Ariax took a deep breath, she told herself not to worry, and that she would do fine and there was no reason to worry. The man just stood there waiting, how could he do that? He could tell she was nervous and all he could do was stand there! Ari was in shock. She thought all of this while she went over her next task. "God, I wish testing was over." She sighed and felt the wind rush past her hair sending it flying backward, red as the sunset. "Where did that come from?" Oh well, she jumped from the cliff she was leaning over and dived toward the sea below, shifting almost before she touched the water, she shifted into her natural phoenix and shot back up to the cliff top. She landed perfectly on the cliff top a few metres away from the teacher.

"Nice work, Ariax, you managed to keep dry this time," he chuckled heartily to himself. "Thank you, sir," "It's my pleasure, this will be going on your report." "Thank you, sir," "Now fetch!" So the teacher threw the stick high up into the air. Aaarrrgghh! Curse him! That is so typical! Ariax thought as she shifted back into a phoenix and went swiftly after the stick. She landed and shifted back into an elf for now. She threw the stick hard at him. He dodged it with amazing speed. Damn his elven side! Ariax yawned loudly as she watched him leave. I hope he heard that! She walked over to the cliff face and sat on the edge. She started to hum quietly to herself while she looked over the edge of the sea. The humming quickly turned into singing and soon little animals were flocking to her voice, attracted by the beauty of her voice. She patted a few of them absently and then got up to head back to the centre. The centre was this place where they took in the gifted, people whose ancestors had been something special, psychics, telepaths, dragons and phoenix. These children's parents had rejected them and left them to fend for themselves. The centres scouts went out every so often and picked out the special ones, the ones who had talent, they had to be able to shift, mentally or physically and have a control over their gift. I remember being picked up off the streets at three, being dragged through testing and having it discovered I had a great gift. Incredible natural control over shifting and being very alluring would make me useful for whatever I had in store for me. I loved to shift, I loved the freedom of it, I loved spending my time as an elf and as a phoenix. I walked slowly back to the centre, not really looking forward to it. I walked through door and down the corridor past all the guys rooms to get to the food hall. I could feel eyes on me as I walked past. I felt my long hair flow past my elven ears. The clothes that fit perfectly swoosh behind me. I really don't care what they think of me. All of a sudden, one form bounced into my way. "Where are ya going, princess?" said Polo, the big-tough guy of this place. "The food hall, do you have a problem with that?" I replied calmly. "Not if you wont join me." "I'll pass thank you," I refused. I started to pass him down the hall and he grabbed me by the wrist and started to drag me. Suddenly someone jumped in front of us and pulled Polo off me. Before I knew it Polo was pinned to the roof, by some telekinetic force. The elf, Elfron, a telekinetic, had jumped out of a shadow nearby and had pulled Polo off me and pushed him against the roof. "Lemme down, lemme down!" cried Polo. Elfron laughed, "Not until you apologise, I won't." "No, I wont apologise to her!" "Then stay there!" Elfron simply walked away. His friend Rial jumped in to save him from getting in trouble with a sigh as if he had suffered this many times before. He was also just in time to create a telekinetic 'mattress' to catch Polo on his fall. "Why did you do that?" I asked him. "Because if I don't Elfron will get into trouble AGAIN." "What do you mean again?" "Simple, he has the highest records of being a trouble maker until I came along." "Oh, are you talking about THE Elfron?" I said with a gasp. "Whoa, I heard he set fire to a teachers hair, just to see the reaction." "He did until I doused it with water and made up an excuse for the fire being there, its funny how gullible teachers are. They will believe you if you tell them the sun spat at them." I laughed. We walked down to the food hall and grabbed a plate each. We walked past the food and I only picked up a little bit of each while he grabbed only the vegetables. "Not hungry today are we, dear?" ask Belle the canteen manager. "Not really, being tortured almost to getting very wet kinda takes your appetite." They both laughed and we walked to a table. My best friend bounced up to us. She shot Rial a weird look and then smiled brightly at me. Damn how is she always this cheerful! She had her own tray stacked with food, but all she seems to get from eating is stronger. "Shade, great to see you again, what did you do today?" "Flying lessons," she said, sounding almost bored with the idea. Strange. She usually loves it. "Like you need them, you must be one of the best in this godforsaken place," said Rial with a disappointed tone. "That's just it," she said, "I'm getting really bored with it. Wait a sec, what are you doing here?" "I let him stay, he and his friend saved me from a fate worse than death, having to sit through a meal with Polo." "Whoa! You're a hero," Shade said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. She bounced off leaving me speechless. Shade was a dragon, a crazy dragon. She had done just about as much as Elfron had to get herself into trouble. Some she got in trouble for, others, almost killed. I said goodbye to Rial and got up to go and find her. "Shade! Wait I'm coming." I generally create a lot of attention when I am alone, but when I walk with Shade we turn heads. Shade is very beautiful too, she was of medium height with long black flowing hair and gentle features on her face, we are both 14 and we both have the same birthday, she cares none for the attention too. Far too much work at the moment. Its examination prep time. Lessons often and lots of homework. We will start caring about the attention later. We share the same room, on the east wing of the centre. Its cosy and its fits us both perfectly and because we are the toast of the centre its big and we can fit us both in shifted forms in it, although we prefer to spend time out of it rather than in. We walk in and crash on our beds; we are both a little drained from our day. Nevertheless, not tired enough to not do anything stupid like go around and start trouble. We hang around a bit and then we walk down to the flying fields to calm down and get rid of the boredom before dinner. We both shift into our respective phoenix and dragon shifts and take off. After about half an hour of dodging and diving, a little kid walks out onto the fields. Shade and I both dive down and land neatly on the ground near to the newcomer. We both shift into elven form as we walked toward her. "Wow that was cool!!" she said. She was a little girl maybe ten or eleven. She had a fair face with a cute little button nose. "What are you doing out here kid? I thought children were meant to have supervision." Shade questioned but was quickly won over by the sweetness of the little girl's face. "I'm new, so I was allowed to have a quick tour of the building after I found you guys, they told me I could find you here," she said expectantly, "and they said that after dinner you guys can show me around." This little kid captivates Shade and is talking to her about her past, what she is, and I am only half listening. "I am a psychic, I was picked a couple of days ago from an orphanage, I never knew my parents though," she said in an excited tone, almost as if she was happy she never met her parents. There was a shadow near one of the trees that was beginning to get on my nerves, it was really creepy. The dinner people had really bettered themselves today. The grand hall looked beautiful, dinner was usually my favourite place because I could sit with everyone and the atmosphere was more formal; you actually needed to dress up sometimes for it, a special time. It looked like today was gonna be one of those dress-up days.

Sure enough, I look up to the grand table and there is a floating sign, held up be a few telekinetic standing around (probably on detention), proclaiming we are to go to our rooms and put on the clothes that we were given. I notice that the person who saved me was standing there, looking bored. So that's Elfron, I thought to myself, cute. I head back to our room with Shade and the little kid, her name is Shinta, to get changed, I didn't really worry about Shinta coming back to our room, the centres psychics would have already seen her coming with us and given her something to change into in our room.

Sure enough, we get there and there are three dresses set out for us. Shade with a long black dress that goes gold in a different light, Shinta with a small almost shimmery gold to make her blonde hair stand out, mine was a long shimmery red dress. We got dressed and did out hair up, then we did Shinta's hair and made her gorgeous too. Then we walked to the hall, Shinta looking in amazement at all the different girls in their dresses and the guys in their tux type clothes. Some of them look really good. We make our grand entrance into the hall and ignore the usual round of turned heads. We do the usual walk past the table, say hello to all the teachers, and turn down to where our seats are. I look at where we are to sit and curse the tradition of sitting opposite the boys of this place. We got the seat opposite Elfron and Rial. Now I have to sit through dinner and be polite because Elfron saved me. They looked good today. The tuxes fit perfectly and their hair was casually messy. Rial was the taller of the two, he had short black hair, misty blue eyes and a kind of rugged appearance as if he didn't really care what others thought of him. Elfron was only a little shorter than Rial and a little taller than I was, he also had short black hair, with grey eyes and his features were neater and very striking. They were both o.k. as people, rude, but sometimes really funny and fairly gifted with their telekinesis although neither could shift well or lift people with a weapon. Both were naturally elven. They didn't say anything but they just looked with mischievous grins. Then the ichna (the boss, leader, principal type person) stood up to make his speech. "We are very glad to see you all here and dressed up," laughs from the crowd, "and I bet you are all wondering why we bought you all here for this special dress up shindig and that is simple, the exams are coming up and this will be the last dress up dinner before that so we called this for that rea..." He never finished his speech, something flew at him from the shadows in the roof, my eyes picked it up immediately and I watched as the principal was swept away to the shadows of the room. There was immediate panic within the next 2 seconds the room was clear of people, even teachers, I just sat in shock, at how quickly the room was cleared of teachers, don't they realise that that man had to be rescued? I also wondered at the thing that just swooped down. Before I knew it Shade was next to me, she was panicking because another one of those things just swooped down and snatched Shinta. Now all that was left was Shade and I, and then out of the shadows another one swooped down at us. I thought he was going to get me but to my surprise, this one grabbed Rial and Shade. Elfron appeared at my side. "Go after, Rial!" I yelled, "One of the shadows is over there." "Ok!" I watched him go and then I shifted to a phoenix and flew up to roof, I hovered for a little and searched out one of the corners. Gees, how many places are there to hide here?? All of a sudden, something leapt out at me and I instinctively ducked and landed on a beam nearby and shifted into an elf, which is necessary for balance. Strangely enough, my clothes shifted too and was dressed in warrior clothing. I pulled a sword out of my belt jumped to another beam where the shadow was lurking. I stabbed at him with my sword and the cloak fell off. What I saw shocked me to the bone. There stood this shrivelled version of an elf, this twisted being, and when it shrieked it hurt my ears more than was manageable. All of a sudden, I felt this rage and I just started to stab at it. This thing to me was evil, pure evil, and it needed to be destroyed, it shrieked terribly as it went down. Its blood was grey. Just before this thing died it let out one horrible shriek. I stepped over it with disgust, turned around and spat at it. Then I walked over and shook the cloak off the person who was sitting there. The principal's eyes stared back at me and I gave him a quick hug and then shifted back to a phoenix and flew back down to where Elfron was fighting the other shadow. His eyes were filled with the same rage as he destroyed the body. He ran up to Rial and shook the cloak off him. He grabbed Rials hand and pulled him to his feet and asked if he was ok, there was a quick nod and I shifting into a phoenix as I went. I flew up to the top and killed the shadow guarding Shade. Shade shifted into a dragon and flew down to the ground. The principal was already down "I think you all had better go to bed," he said, panting from his swift climb down the poles. "Shinta you may sleep in the girls room tonight." "Ok, sir" We all turned to go. He turned to face our retreating backs. "And you will spend the day with me tomorrow." We walked slowly back to the rooms and not a word was spoken. When we got to the canteen, the link between the west wing and the east wing, the boys and the girls side, we paused and decided quickly to have a snack to calm the nerves, Shinta was still very pale and she was still quietly whimpering on Shades shoulder. The canteen was empty so I called the canteen woman and asked her if she would mind terribly is she came and gave us a snack. Somehow, she knew about the whole thing and she was all too obliging.

"The principal called me and told me you might want something to eat so I got something prepared for you all," she said almost merrily, "here is some chocolate for you, it will warm the heart." We sat and ate, Shade was whispering to Shinta to calm her down when Rial got up from where he was sitting sat next to them and spoke hushed words to them to. Elfron leant over to me and started to whisper. "Are you ok?" "Yes," "Thank you," "Its no problem," I wondered why we were all whispering but it didn't matter, I was distracted by the closeness of him. I shifted in my seat, almost hoping to lean closer to him but he leant back to his own seat and didn't say another word to me, but I knew we were both thinking the same thing. Who were they? What were they? And more importantly how did they get in? At that moment Shade got up. "I'm taking Shinta to bed, are you coming Ari?" "I think I'll stay here a little while longer if that's ok with you." "Ok, sure, I probably wont be awake when you get back though." "Ok, goodnight." She walked away in silence. I watched her go. After a while Rial also got up and left, leaving Elfron and I alone. "What a night ey?" he said in an exhausted tone. "You can say that again." "What a night ey?" I laughed. We sat in silence for a while after that. Then he got up and decided it was time to go. "I'm leaving now, though I doubt I will get any sleep." "Ok, I'll see you tomorrow." I got up and grabbed some more coffee, my eyes flicked toward the clock. 10 o'clock? Is that all? It felt a lot later than that. I got up wearily and started to walk toward our room, but as I passed the door to the outside, I decided I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight so I should probably go for a fly to shake off the shock. I was almost at the fields when I noticed a light glowing from the air. I shifted into an elf and melted quickly into the trees. I watched it for a while and it slowly appeared to me as another phoenix, flying around peacefully. But why? I decided I hide no reason to be hiding from whomever that was; although for some reason, I didn't want to reveal my identity just yet. I shifted into a wolf and walked over to the middle of the field. It saw me and shot over into the trees. I shifted into an eagle and shot after it. We went deep into the forest and I put in one burst of speed shifting into a wolf as I went. I tackled it to the ground and it let out a small eep! I shifted into an elf and instinctively went for a pressure point in the neck forcing it to shift into its natural being, for some reason it didn't change. "Ok," I thought to myself," next approach." I held out my hand and suddenly a small knife appeared in it. That really surprised me; I had never done that before. Did that mean I was getting more powerful? Or was it something else? I turned my mind away from these thoughts and forced the knife to the bird's throat. "Show yourself!" I yelled, knowing I wouldn't stab it. Slowly and sadly, it began to shift, I stood up and walked to the edge of the clearing I had found myself in, my back turned to him. I turned around and saw nothing scary, nothing harsh or concerning. It was Elfron. He coughed and then looked directly at me. "I said it once and I'll say it again," he said with a laugh, "What a night ey?" I just looked at him speechless. I really couldn't say anything. He gestured that we get out of the forest and I nodded numbly and followed. I walked alongside him for while not saying anything. He wasn't a natural elf after all, he was a natural phoenix. like me. I began to wonder. Why did he keep it secret? Why was he so good at everything, when he usually mucks up all the time at school and make a fool of himself? "Say something?" he said questioningly. "I truly don't know what to say." "Then try explaining why you were out here, interrupting my flight?" "I needed a break." "Ahh ok, I guess you want to know about me." "You could say that," "Ok, there is something special about you," he sensed my discomfort. With that and he continued, "and I and all of us. I don't know what it is but it was apparent at the dinner. When the other saw the shadow things they were struck with grave fear, but us, we were only struck with great hatred." I nodded; he was saying exactly what I had been thinking about. "I don't know why, but when I got here the principal tested me himself, as he probably did you. And he told me I should not show my gifts off. I should keep them secret and safe. Since then I have managed to keep it that way. Until now," he said pointedly "I'm sorry if I seem dumbstruck, it's just that you always strike me as somebody who has no cares in life. You do whatever you want, whenever you want and you never seem to get into any trouble with it. I guess that's Rial covering your tracks for you." We found a peaceful rock garden, sat on two large rocks, opposite each other, and just sat there watching the other. "Yes, I suppose it was," he said at last. "But for the most part, the principal gave me special attention, I don't know why he holds me so high in regard, I don't know why he hold all of us in such high regard. I suppose we shall find out tomorrow." "I am weary and I have but two more questions." "Ask away." "What about Rial?" "Ahh Rial, he is an original dragon too, he also was told that he should not show himself, and we were thrown in the same room together, not unlike you and Shade. And the second question?" "Hows is it you are telekinetic also?" "We all are, you have never really tried have you?" "No, I can't say I have." "Well, try now."

I saw a little rock nearby and willed it to move, to my surprise it rolled over. "Ahh," he said," you are rusty with that gift, but, not to worry, you will get better." "We should try to get some sleep, although I see it pointless. I am going now, goodnight," I said as I got up to head back to the centre. "Wait!" he said sternly. A wanted to keep walking but I turned around. "Don't tell anyone about me please, not even Shade, but do show her telekinesis," he said pleadingly. "Alright." I walked away, got to my room and gazed around, not really noticing that Shinta wasn't there. I just put on my pyjamas and went to sleep. The next morning we all awoke to a beautiful day, it was the best I had seen in ages, the sun was shining and the grass was green. We found a note on the desk, explaining to us that we were to put on the clothes provided and to go to breakfast as usual. The clothes were made of beautiful material; the feel of which I have never known before and they were loose fitting, because there were no classes for them today. I walked quietly with Shade to the canteen and took up a seat next to the principal and Elfron with Shade and Rial on the other side. Shade, for some strange reason did not seem happy with the seating arrangement. I would have to ask her about it when I got the chance. The principal, ignoring the people who stared as they walked passed, told us that we were to spend the day walking with him. He would tell us all about those. things. We ate breakfast quickly and started to listen to the principal as we walked around. "Those things you fought the other night, they are dark and evil creatures, they are names the Immorans, they were once elves but they were so twisted they were bent beyond the mean of orcs, they were tortured to death and then had powerful dark magic place unto them to bring them back to life, knowing only their masters orders. They can fly but not for long distances. A smiling woman with brown hair let them in, she has since been fired and sent off to jail for her crime. " "But what about Shinta," Rial gasped. "What do you mean? What about Shinta?" I said with a start. "She was gone before we got to the woman who had her. Our guess is that another Immoran took her," he said "Would someone tell me what is going on?" I said with a pout. "Last night as I was going to take Shinta to my room, Rial came up and started to walk with us. Then up came this smiling woman with brown hair, she told us that she was to be taken to the medical hospital to tend the wound on her arm. I didn't want Shinta to be taken away from us, but Rial told me it was for her good. She was already 10 minutes gone when I realised there was no wound on her arm. I doubled back but the woman was long gone." "But why?" "Shinta is not all that she seems, none of you are. There is a fanatical group on the planet that believes in a religious prophecy that will bring ultimate power. To bring about this prophecy they need five people, the five that have the ancestry of the great leaders of old. Do you know of whom I speak?" I couldn't believe it. I knew of this story but so far, it had only been a memory of I distant story I had heard when I was little. The story of the whispers. Once these five people sat on the chairs in the Vale of Amun, this planet would become all-powerful and destructive. In the scrolls it declared the story as thus, In the shadows they would be found,

A gifted mind,

Two with the power to move,

A great flame,

And a great lizard,

Taken away to learn their gift,

And in the coming of the great hour,

All of them shall be lift,

Up to shadow and far away,

To sit on the seats of Amun the wise,

To bring power again to this planet,

And avenge the leaders of old. That is only part of it, the most I can remember from the long tale told to us before we went to sleep. I looked around and jumped in shock, it was about the same time that Shade noticed too. We fit the description of the prophecy. It couldn't be, it just couldn't. We were all just ordinary school kids learning how to control ourselves and our gifts, nothing special, there were hundreds of other kids why couldn't they fit the bill. Yet, we were the only ones left and those. Immorans or whatever they were called did go for us. I locked eyes with Elfron for a second and then looked away. "Yes, my dear, you are correct, it is you five they wanted and yet, thanks to you five they only got one," he said knowingly. Oh damn, I remembered he was telepathic, but if he was telepathic how could he not read that stupid woman's mind and prevent her from letting in the Immorans. "That woman was the chief psychic in this centre, we trusted her with our lives and she had the power to seal her mind to anyone else," he replied answering to my thoughts. "You are going on a journey to that same Vale and to deny from sitting on the seats, for when you deny the seats they will become powerless. You will stay here for a while and advance your training, becoming the best in this school. You will become more powerful and have greater control. You will eat and drink little to help you get used to your journey and when you do feel the need you will drink the substance we give you, it will recover your strength and fill you up for a day." The training went on for a couple of months, at first, we were worried about Shinta but we realised that those. things, had to keep her alive and healthy. We mainly trained the four of us together, learning how to work together as a team, it was pretty hard near the start because the boys were show-offs and took every opportunity to try and prove they were better than us. They quickly gave up when we started to run circles around them- so to speak; they started to work a little harder after that. Then we had the one on one session, with a teacher and only one of us, they were the hardest lessons, more intense and a lot longer. We also had partner training, how to deal with only one other person and their gift. It was strange how well we worked together without knowing it. I saw it in Shade and Rial and didn't see it as much in me and Elfron. We soon came to the stage where we worked so well together that it seemed as if we had a telepathic link, we could anticipate the others move and place ourselves in a position to help them. The training programs of the centre just weren't cutting it anymore. On the final day of training, they assessed us, how well we worked with each other, with one other person and by ourselves. It was a long day and very tiring. They told us to go to our rooms and we would find a drink and a note. Shade and I shifted back into elves and walked along wearily to our rooms, marvelling at how much the guys had changed. When we got to our rooms we took a big gulp of the drink, I felt the heat rush back through my body and my hunger vanish. I picked up the note and read the contents, it said that we were to get dressed into the clothes provided and put on the circlets, we were to be guests of honour at dinner that night. We both walked over to the cupboard and saw these beautiful elven dresses and circlets set out for us. The material of the dress was similar to what we wore today. But it was different, unknown but it held a memory in it also. I slipped it on and the skirt part of it fell down to the ground in folds of material. Across my neckline appeared a necklace, a silver one, with a single bright emerald set into it. It puzzled me that I had received Shade's colour. I fixed the small silver circlet onto my head and left my hair down straight. I looked across at Shade and noticed her dress was identical to mine, a very dark green, melted through a dark blackish colour with a purple tinge. Around her neck was a necklace same to mine, set with a fiery ruby. The ruby in fact was my colour; we had always worn each other's colours. It almost gave us a telepathic link to each other. I didn't think it really meant anything until now, when it was obvious that we were supposed to wear them that way. On our notes another message appeared as we picked them up, both different, Shade's read; You now present your ancestor, the queen Ashtanteil, most esteemed dragon queen, the dragonstar and protector of the Mountains. You have earned her place in the seats, even as you turn it down. Mine read; as shadow passes over your heart, you shall persevere and prove yourself to be worthy of the seat in which your ancestor, Mistantiel, Ashtantiel's sister sat. She was the protector of all, the leader of the council, you now represent her, in all of her glory, a fair warrior and leader and a great friend. The evenstar of her people and a great phoenix with a fair song. We both sighed as we looked into the mirror, our hair flowing down to the small of our back. At that moment, there was a knock at the door. Shade reached it first and took a few steps back to let me see who they were. There stood Elfron and Rial although they were hardly recognisable, they both wore kingly robes in the colour of ours. "We went to the hall and got sent back here, they called us rude and told us we should come together with you," said Rial accusingly. "OK then, lets go," said Shade Elfron jumped in, "We have to wait another 10 mins when everyone else will be there and seated." I groaned quietly to myself, this was going to be harder than I thought. We had to walk in with them and we had to do it in front of the whole centre. I didn't know if I could do that. Then I chuckled to myself, of course I could. We all sat in an awkward silence, but I kept catching Rial looking at Shade. It was time to go, I linked arms with Elfron and Shade with Rial (because it seemed like the right thing to do) and we walked as slowly as we could to the hall. We reached the doors, took a deep breath and listened to the chatter that could be heard from inside. The doors opened silently and the room grew silent. It was often said by onlookers that night, that it was as if the queens and kings of old had returned, but the young and beautiful faces were renewed, bringing with them peace into the hall, as if they had strayed into a fairytale. The principal stood up and heralded us. "I hold no words here, what has been accomplished by these fine people is incomprehensible by words. To the Whispers! May they complete their task with outstanding courage and fairness." All around the hall went up a great shout of agreement and the banquet began.