a/n- not really much to say...just r/r.

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Disclaimer: the song 'Streets of Heaven' by Sherrie Austin doesn't belong to me.

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Dedicated to Lindsay and Raven.

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Phil stood off to one side of the bright, crackling flames in the center of the village. He had a blank, emotionless face. Standing outside the warm glow of the embers and the milling crowd of laughing, talking men and women, he shoved his hands into the pockets of his breeches. He blinked his dark eyes; his face was hard and cold. Barely seventeen, he had grown up far too quickly.

He pulled out a cigarette, lit it, and walked away from the fire, through the village, and into the forest. He reached the field of their horses and walked over to the stream that ran along the northwestern edge. He took the butt of the cigarette and threw it into the stream. As he stood, glancing darkly at his wavering reflection, Sheelkhan walked calmly up to the boy, gently nudging him with his strong muzzle, his normally proud eyes etched with secret concern that he held only for the orphaned child.

Phil turned to the powerful stallion, moving to his right shoulder. He buried his right hand in the silky tangle of Sheelkhan's mane, then put his left hand on the powerful hindquarters and boosted himself up. Once he was positioned on Sheelkhan's back, the stallion moved off at a slow walk with startling grace for his muscular frame. Phil sat slightly slouched; his riding skill was diminished as he sat deep in thought, though externally his features were as hard and emotionless as stone.

They wandered deep into the forest; after some time, Phil came out of his reverie and pulled Sheelkhan to a stop. A large, round, smooth rock protruded suddenly a few feet past a break in the forest. He slid off the stallion's back and, putting his hands in his pockets, walked up the rock. He reached the summit, and in front of him, on the other side of a steep drop, was a large lake. The water sparkled, reflecting the soft, silvery moonbeams. Phil sat on the top of the cliff, his elbows resting on his knees.

He drifted into thought once again. The dark sky reflected his mood; the silvery moon, reflected in the water, reminded him of that night, so long ago it seemed now. The last breaths of Alianna, taken during a night like this. Her last view, the moon; shining just as round and bright as the one being reflected in the dark waters in front of him. Alianna...

The candles were green. Alianna's favorite color. Seven of them, lined up like wax soldiers, their hair sparkling, dancing flames. Her laughing face, dancing green eyes-so like to Mother- blowing out all seven at once. Her last piece of cake...vanilla. Her favorite. The day was perfect. She loved the gift from her brother; eleven-year-old Phil had made small wood carvings of horses and given them to her.

So different was that happy day from the weeks that followed. The small cold, then the fever. Scarlet fever, the neighbor-woman said. There were no cures for it after the fever started. Phil was sickened by the sight of his laughing, playful sister lying so immobile in her bed.

The fever broke, and they thought she would be okay. Phil would never forget that night, only weeks after celebrating a wonderful birthday party. The day was clear, the air warm and bright. Phil had taken Alianna outside for just a few minutes. That night she broke into the worse fever yet.

He felt it-her forehead like a coal, her skin damp with sweat. He saw it- her chest heaving maniacally as she tried desperately to breathe. He felt it- her fear and pain. His mother and father sitting, watching her worriedly. Alianna shivered with cold, her eyes wide and glassed over, delerious and frightened. His parents left the room for a few minutes, leaving Phil to watch Alianna. Her eyes flickered in recognition; she seemed almost normal, but for the sweat and her breathing. She looked at Phil, then turned to the moon, shining through the window, before returning to her delerious state. They took her to bed with them, putting the small girl between them and hoping that their warmth would somehow help her survive.

And as Phil lay in his small room, he could hear her. The wall that his small bed was against was shared with his parents on the other side. He listened, his heart stabbed with fear as he realized for the first time that he may never see his laughing, joyous sister again. And his mother sang.

Hello God, it's me again. 2:00 a.m., standing by the door.

Daylight hours are over, time for our bedside tug of war.

This sleeping child between us may not make it through the night.

I'm fighting back the tears as she fights for her life.

Well, it must be kind of crowded,

On the streets of Heaven.

So tell me: what do you need her for?

Don't you know one day she'll be your little girl forever.

But right now I need her so much more.

She's much too young to be on her own:

Barely just turned seven.

So who will hold her hand when she crosses the streets of Heaven?

Tell me God, do you remember the wishes that she made,

As she blew out the candles on her last birthday cake?

She wants to ride a pony when she's big enough.

She wants to marry her Daddy when she's all grown up.

Well, it must be kind of crowded,

On the streets of Heaven.

So tell me: what do you need her for?

Don't you know one day she'll be your little girl forever.

But right now I need her so much more.

She's much too young to be on her own:

Barely just turned seven.

So who will hold her hand when she crosses the streets of Heaven?

Lord, don't you know she's my angel

You got plenty of your own

And I know you hold a place for her

But she's already got a home

Well I don't know if you're listenin'

But praying is all that's left to do

So I ask you Lord have mercy, you lost a son once too

And it must be kind of crowded,

On the streets of Heaven.

So tell me: what do you need her for?

Don't you know one day she'll be your little girl forever.

But right now I need her so much more.

Lord, I know once you've made up your mind,

There's no use in beggin'.

So if you take her with you today, will you make sure she looks both ways,

And would you hold her hand when she crosses the streets of Heaven.

The streets of Heaven.

Phil lay back onto his pillow, staring up at the ceiling. His eyes were blank; his stomach gave a jolt as though he had swallowed a fistful of slimy things. After a few hours, he finally sank into a fitful slumber.

Alianna had not made it to morning.

Phil shook his head slightly, looking out across the water. He was surprised to see that dawn had begun, the area tinted slightly silver as the sun rose. a thick fog lay over the lake. Sheelkhan was grazing on long grasses that grew on the edge of the lake to his right. Phil sighed as he thought how his life had gradually worsened; his mother's death during the birth of his little brother. Then the disappearance of his father months later.

He stood, glancing across the lake, his face once again emotionless. His thoughts turned to the friends he had made. Rhiannon reminded him so much of Alianna...and that hurt. It was hard, remembering what he had tried so hard to forget. He hadn't been born, but Phil could tell that Tommy felt a connection with the girl, too.

Sheelkhan glanced up as movement on the rock caught the corner of his eye; he turned and trotted to where the boy was walking down the hill. Phil pulled himself onto the stallion's back and Sheelkhan slowly took him back to the village.

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"Let's see....how we found the village." Amy began.

"Well, it was Mollie's birthday. I had been promising to take her to explore the forests and mountains for a long time; she'd lived near the ocean all her life-"

"What's an 'ocean'?" asked Meren.

"It's similar to the mith**." explained Amy.

"Let her get on with the story!" exclaimed Enelya.

Amy smiled and continued. "So, for Mollie's seventh birthday, I took her out to ride through a well-known path. We were riding calmly through the forest, when suddenly the horses took fright. They froze in their tracks, just under a huge cliff. Suddenly, a cougar leapt from the top of the cliff! Mistique, the Naibaran mare that I was riding, shot foreward, jumbling into Mollie's mare, Shalkiin. Both horses took off, and the two of us were stuck to ride them out...finally, I drew Mistique under control, and helped Mollie to stop Shalkiin.

We soon saw that we were lost...and began trying to find our way back. From the top of a hill, we saw smoke. Later, we found it was the smoke from your village woodfire. How long ago was it, now? Three or four days ago, Bill woke us up early. We each took a horse, and rode out to find the source of the smoke. And our guesses were correct-the fire was in fact the Naibaran village. And you know the rest-we've been here ever since." Amy grinned as she finished. Enelya, Solana, and Meren were slightly wide eyed as Amy finished, leaning foreward, their eyes glittering in the firelight.

"Now I will tell you about the legends of the Naibarans." said Solana, after a few minutes of silence.

"Long ago, there was a magnificent creature, the Unicorn, who was given to a group of bad people. They did not treat Unicorn fairly, so he ran away. He came to our village, and was glad in the respect our ancestors gave him. Unicorn was granted powerful gifts...speech and magic, among others. Then his family decided that they wanted Unicorn, and came for him. They had a great fight with our people, and it ended in battle. Unicorn's old family were the victors, and they went to take him back. Unicorn ran, and they chased him. He came to a large cliff, and flung himself from it. He would rather his soul be free in the fields of the passed, than captive in the forests of the living.

The healer of our village, an ancestor of the healer I am learning from, had been studying Unicorn. She was pretty sure she had found an organic mixture that gave Unicorn's magical powers to others. She passed the knowledge on to her student, and she to hers, and so on.

One of our horses at that time was Sailee, a beautiful stallion the color of stormclouds. He was extremely tame, and was allowed to wander alone. He brought the pure white horses and their golden foals. Unicorn was golden when he was a foal. I am understudy to the healer that gave the mixture to the foals. After that, the elders said the foals made noises similar to a human baby. Perhaps they can speak now...." she trailed off.

The girls remained silent for a little while. Solana shook her head a little, then glanced around at the others and continued with the story.

"Their owner came, with many many other men. They tore down our old village...I was just a baby. But my older brother told me that they lit the whole place on fire. They killed quite a few...and several young children went missing. That was when we lost the horses to their awful owner and moved to this place." concluded Solana.

"We're going to get them back. Mason doesn't deserve them." said Amy. Mollie and Rhiannon nodded in assent.

Rhiannon had been silent for quite a while; although she didn't miss a word that Solana said, she was thinking of her past. Amy was having similar thoughts.

Both girls were separated from their families by a fire.

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a/n- what didja think? r/r.