Now here's Chapter Four...about as far as I've written so far. After this you'll have another wait before the next chapter. Sorry...

Oh! Check out the link in my page to the first cover concept for Angelwings! Tell me what you think!

* * *

Chapter Four: Nightmares

* * *

Keane sighed as they sat down, watching as Brianna paused to work the soreness out of her limbs - she was not used to hard travel, after all. Dominyk simply sat down, not pausing to say or do anything before folding his arms, his legs crossed, and bowing his head. His breathing went almost instantly even as his blue eyes closed, masking what Keane recognized to be terrible pain behind his eyelids.

The unicorn closed his eyes as well, sending out as his mind as Brianna began complaining about how much her back hurt and how many blisters she had gotten that day. Keane pushed the girl's voice to the back of his mind, although he kept a portion of his consciousness reserved for her, should she need help, then let go of his mind.

It was suddenly very dark and very cold.

"Lord Dominyk!" he called, although he knew that no sound emerged from his mouth. "Lord Dominyk, where are you?"

"Please just let me be, Keane," the boy's voice echoed in the empty dark. "I need some time to think, my friend, please leave me to it."

The unicorn thought for several seconds before heading forward. "You must think of what, Milord? What is it that is troubling you?"

There was a chuckle, and then Dominyk - his physical voice, not his mental one - replied with on simple word. "Nightmares."

"Keane, are you asleep? Jeez, wake up and help me set up a decent campsite! Come on, Keane!" Brianna was tugging on the man's shoulder as he returned to himself. His silver eyes fluttered open, focusing on the princess slowly, but effectively. "What is it? Sorry about that; I'm very tired, you know."

"You and me both, Keane," she replied. "Well, I'd like to know if you could help me with some sort of shelter, just in case it rains." She narrowed her eyes. "Dominyk's just sitting there, fast asleep, while we work our tails off..."

Keane smiled. "He had a hard night, Princess, let him rest." She shrugged and mouthed a swift '...whatever' before heading to work, gathering materials. Keane turned and looked at Dominyk as he rose to his feet, memorizing every breath he took, as though he was going to carve the boy in stone one day. The way he breathed in silent, even breaths, the way his long bangs fell on either side of his face, blocking his pierced ears from sight - Keane knew that he was wearing a silver stud in each ear, although he was certain no one else did - and shadowing his face ever so slightly. This boy, this strangely beautiful, amazingly sorrowful boy, was his master. His lord and master, the one person he had ever trusted enough to swear allegiance to since the end of the war. The one person he had ever cared about, since his parents left. Since his family left him behind, shunning him for his love of the mortals - and his caring for Dominyk.

He recalled with a sad sigh how they had hated Dominyk, how they had ordered Keane not to associate with him, how they had ordered the boy himself never to allow himself into their sight. Dominyk had been so badly treated in his life that Keane was surprised he hadn't killed himself yet; with a vague mental admonishing he reminded himself that he wouldn't - no, he couldn't. That was part of who Dominyk was, what he was; he couldn't die, not by his own hand, nor by the hand of a mortal. He could be killed by only two things... The unicorn broke off the thought before it went any deeper, and went about helping Brianna set up a camp.

"It will be dark soon," he said softly, turning to look up through the trees. "You'd better rest well tonight, Princess. We have a long way to go tomorrow..."

She nodded. "I know." She was silent for several seconds. "Keane?" He turned back to her. "Uhm...what are you going to do, anyway? You can't be thinking of taking on Kortha by yourself."

He smiled, though it contained a hint of melancholy. "No, not alone - Lord Dominyk and I are going to attempt to hold back the Afirihen army until reinforcements arrive. We have made all the arrangements that we can." He placed one hand on her shoulder, his smile broadening. "Do not worry, little one, everything will be fine."

"Dominyk is going to fight?' she asked slowly. "But he's just a little boy!"

Keane sighed and sat down, leaning back against one of the huge evergreens all around them, turning to look down at the Hathkoren. "Sit, Princess, I am going to tell you a story, one that should ease your doubts about Dominyk's ability to fight." She warily sat down next to him, her eyes clear and curious, like those of a kitten. "All right, there was once a young boy, a boy who had run away from home..."

* * *

Dominyk opened his eyes slowly, looking about in silence. Brianna was asleep, lying down in the grass. Keane was asleep next to her, leaning back against a tree, his pale hair shining in the moonlight. The boy sighed sadly and rose to his feet, walking carefully between the Hathkoren, which now glowed brightly, reflecting the moonlight they were named for.

His footsteps were soundless, not causing so much as a stir of flowers as he passed. He reached the edge of the clearing, then turned to face his companions, the already strange beauty of his face now intensified by the light from the moonflowers. He opened his mouth as though to speak, then closed it again, shaking his head sadly. He turned and walked off, his shadow drifting away quickly, leaving not so much as a footprint in the sand to mark his existence.

The moon was full tonight, full and bright; yet not so bright was the flowers that grew all over the forest floor, lighting it up as though all the stars had fallen to earth. In the daylight they looked something like miniature evergreens, but in the moonlight the tiny needles expanded and the minute branches unfolded into massive silvery petals, softer than velvet and far more delicate. That was how Dominyk liked to see them, at their very best. The flowers soon grew scare, however, as he broke through the edge of the wood, into open air, unhindered by the trees. He turned back to face the silvery pool of light, brightening the night's darkness, and smiled slightly, still awed by the sight, even after all the years he had come to see it.

He liked the night, the darkness of it, the shadows it cast. It was cold and silent, with no eyes to see his secrets, no voice with which to tell the tale of why he had left his friends alone in the night.

The boy thought of this as he removed his pale blue tunic, folding perfectly and laying it down on a fallen tree beside him. He turned and faced the moon, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. He continued to breathe evenly for several seconds, then clenched his hands into fists and his eyes snapped open as he ground his teeth.

It always hurt; especially after remaining in a false form for an extended amount of time. It hurt more now than he could ever recall. With a sigh he realized that it was because he had joined up with Keane - their auras clashed, making any change difficult and painful for either of them. The boy took a ragged breath and closed his eyes again, letting the world go all around him, focusing on the sharp pain in his back. As he stoked the fire that was in his blood he felt pain, every vein burning.

Dominyk screamed.

* * *

Brianna was running. Everything around her was dark, and the ground under feet was hard and cold like stone. Her feet were bare, and she could hear each of her heavy steps as she ran. It was hard to breathe, she felt as though she had been running for some time, but she also knew that she did not want to stop - not until she found whatever it was she was looking for.

"Keane!" she called. "Keane, where are you? Keane!" There was no reply from the darkness all around her. She felt tears begin to sting her eyes and she stumbled slightly. "Keane?" She slowed down slightly, but continued moving forward. Her loose dress billowed about her, the breeze her long skirt created blowing against her ankle. "Keane?"

With a start she realized that she was alone - Keane was not here anymore. He had left her, just as her father had done, and her sisters. One my one, all of them had left, either by choice or by death. And now she was alone again.

She stumbled, tripping on something she could not see in the shadows, and fell forward. She did not rise, but remained laying down, sobbing. "I don't want to be alone...Someone...please..." She took a deep breath.

"I don't want to be alone again," another voice said, joined with her own. She started and looked up to see a boy, his hair was the color of flame, his eyes glowed brightly. In fact, there was such a light around him that he seemed to glow himself. He smiled as he turned to face her.

Her tear-filled eyes were wide. "Wh-who are you?" she asked shakily.

The boy opened his mouth to speak, then his smiled faded and he closed it again, shaking his head. He knelt down and placed one hand under her chin, looking deep into her turquoise eyes, and smiled sadly. He took both of her hands in his own, small hands, and helped her to stand, then looked up at her with the same melancholy smile.

The boy remained silent, but slowly released her hands, letting his fingers spread. Slowly, she let her hands slip off, but still looked down at the boy's hands. On each was a dark scar, contrasting with the brightness that surged all around him.

Brianna gaped, looking back at the boy's face, which was turned down, looking at his own hands with complete sorrow. "Are you - "

She cut off as the boy clenched both hands into fists and took a step back. "I'm sorry," he said, his voice echoing, layering over itself until it reminded her more of the ringing of metal against metal than a voice.

The boy was backing away now, his eyes closed, shaking his head as he held both fists to his heart "I'm sorry..." he repeated, drawing further and further away.

"Wait!" Brianna cried, trying to rush forward; she found that she could not move her feet, and remained in the same spot as the boy pulled further and further away, now just a spot of light in the distance. "Don't leave me alone again..." she said softly, reaching out toward the light.

The glow shifted slightly, then began to fall. It took the girl a moment to realize that it was no longer a speck of light in the distance, but something small, glowing, falling to the ground just before her. She reached out and snatched it from the air, then slowly opened her hands to look at it.

It was a single, small, orange feather; it glowed slightly, and was warm to the touch. Brianna looked at it with wonder, being completely certain that this feather had come from the boy. She looked around again and found that he was now completely gone from view, then looked back at the feather.

"I'm all alone again, aren't I?' she asked.

"No," the boy's voice replied, high and musical as it echoed through the shadows. "Not you - no one would ever leave you alone."

She looked about, but still could not see him. "Why do you say that?"

"Because," the boy said, now suddenly before her again, his eyes closed, head cocked slightly to one side, both hands behind his back, "you're clean."

She blinked several times. "What do you mean?"

"You haven't done anything wrong, he said, his eyes now open. They were bright orange, glowing more intensely than the light surrounding him, and had slit pupils. "You've done nothing wrong, as of yet. You will not be alone, so long as you remain clean." He looked down at his hands. "I am alone."

"Why?" she inquired.

He sighed, closing his hands into fists once more. "Because I am dirty. I am filthy and terrible. I am a monster."

"But you look like a little boy to me," she said quietly, her voice quavering.

He shook his head. "I am a monster, so I am alone. I will always be alone."

"I'm here, aren't I?" she asked.

He chuckled. "You are only here because I wanted to see someone. I wanted someone to see me like this, how I really am..." He sighed and shook his head. "I didn't think anyone would actually come when I called. I suppose we're kindred spirits."

She nodded. "I guess." She held out one hand, the one with the feather in it. "Come on, you can come with me. You don't need to be alone anymore."

He looked at her hand as though shocked, afraid of where she might lead him. Slowly, tentatively, however, he reached out and took her hand. As they met, there was a flash of light, and Brianna was blinded. She could still feel the boy's hand in hers, and took comfort in that. At least neither of them would be alone anymore.

* * *

Brianna awoke with a start, and immediately had to close her eyes again to shield them from the pale morning light filtering through the trees. She rubbed one eye as she rose to her feet, dusting off her slacks and looking about. She almost expected the boy to be there with her, but he was not; she looked into her hand, and found nothing.

She sighed sadly; it had only been a dream. As she turned to wake Keane she froze, the looked down at the ground by her feet. Lying there, shining slightly in the pale light, was a single, small, orange feather.

* * *

Dominyk shook his head as he awoke, running one hand through his hair. He looked out over the forest from his place atop the highest tree, and let out a long sigh. "I'm always alone," he said, as though trying to explain something. "I've always been alone - nothing can change that." He looked into his hand, running one finger over the scar on his palm, and sighed once more. "Nothing."

* * *

"Where's Dominyk?" Brianna asked, looking around. She turned to Keane, to see his eyes turn slightly frantic.

"Lord Dominyk!" he called. "Lord Dominyk, where are you?"

They listened for several seconds, but there was no reply.

Brianna looked about with concern once more. "Where could he have gone?"

Keane shook his head, his breath shallow. "I don't know, but we had better find him before he loses himself."

"No need for that, Keane," a high voice said. They both turned to see Dominyk climbing down a tree to the left. He leapt from one branch to the next as though he was a bird, used to life in the air more than that on the earth. When he leapt out, landing before them gracefully, he bowed slightly. "I am sorry for being late; I woke up early and had something to think about - I did not realize the hour had grown so late."

Brianna looked up into the tree. "You slept up there?"

He shook his head slowly, although Brianna could detect the hint of nervousness that denoted a lie. "I went up there late last night and just stayed up there all morning."

"Oh, all right then." She smiled and turned to Keane. "So, should we be off?"

The unicorn nodded, but did not take his eyes off Dominyk. As they gathered up their things and headed deeper into the woods, the unicorn continued giving the boy confused, dark looks.

Finally Dominyk sighed and looked at his friend. I had some thinking to do, that's all, he said, his mouth not moving. Only Keane would hear this, for which he was grateful. They did not need Brianna overhearing this particular conversation.

I'm certain there was more than that that kept you in that tree all morning, Lord Dominyk, the unicorn replied.

The boy nodded. I was not feeling well, he explained. I decided to go find somewhere to...relax. Up a tree seemed the least likely place for me to be found.

You put yourself in danger, nevertheless, the white-haired man snapped. You could have been seen and struck down by some renegade hunter -

Dominyk shot him a dark look. I do not need you to admonish me, Keane. I know the danger I was in; perhaps I wanted someone to strike me down. At least then I would not have to worry about all this Afirihen business anymore. I would be much easier to be dead, I think.

The unicorn sighed. "I am sorry Milord; I did not mean to upset you."

Brianna turned from her place in the front. "What are you talking about? You two have been awfully quiet this morning..." She was silent for several seconds, then her face lit up. "Oh, look at what I found!" she displayed a bright orange feather proudly. "Isn't it lovely? I've never seen a feather so vibrant before."

Keane looked at Dominyk, whose eyes were wide. "It is lovely, Princess," the unicorn said, then turned to Dominyk who still looked shocked. "Isn't it pretty, Lord Dominyk?"

He started, then nodded shakily. "I-Indeed. Lovely."

* * *

It took nearly three hours for them to make it completely out of the forest, and Brianna was considerably worse for the wear. Her hair was tangled, with leaves and twigs trapped within its curly locks, and her arms and face were scraped from branches and thrown. Of course, the other were in the same predicament, but Brianna was certain they were used to it. She was Princess - she was not properly trained for this sort of travel and that was all. Her legs hurt, she was thirsty and turned, and felt dirtier than she had ever felt in her life; stifled by sweat and dirt she herself had accidentally kicked up.

"That's it!" she cried. "I know there's a river around here somewhere, there are rivers all over Edyth-haar!" Dominyk and Keane exchanged a wary glance as she continued. "We are going to fund it and I am going to take a bath!" She stormed off.

Keane looked down at Dominyk. "You must admit, we do look like a rather sorry group of travelers." He sighed. "Perhaps we should go find a river and get ourselves cleaned up..."

"How about we forget about the river and just head down there?" Dominyk suggested pointing down the hill. Keane could see something, far off in the distance.

His magically enhanced sight slowly brought the shadow into focus, and he smiled. "Why, it's a town!" He turned the direction Brianna had run to. "Brianna, Dominyk has found a town for us to stop in - if you ride me we should be there in about a mark!"

She turned. "Oh, thank goodness!" She rushed back to him and Dominyk, and looked over the landscape. "I don't see a town anywhere," she said. "Are you two sure there's one out there?"

Keane nodded. "I saw it, so you needn't worry about its existence. " He took a deep breath. "We will be there faster if you ride me, princess." There was a sudden flash of light, and Keane was back in his true form. He shook his head slightly, his moon-white mane flying back and forth, and then turned to Brianna. Get on, Princess, we haven't a moment to lose.

Dominyk nodded. "Indeed. If the Afirihen are on to move, then we must not waste any time. You are the one who wants to go wash up, so we won't stay long."

The princess nodded and mounted the unicorn, who turned to Dominyk. Are you ready? He asked. The boy nodded, then they both turned to face the town. Let's go!

"Wait, Dominyk isn't going to ride you?" the princess inquired. Her question was left unanswered, however, as they rushed off down the hill. The unicorn was at full gallop. and Dominyk was running - the boy passed them rather quickly but slowed down to remain even with them,.

The girl marveled. "You're really fast! Is that some of your mage magic?"

He nodded, but remained silent.

* * *

"You're Highness," a girl said, kneeling before the young woman's throne. Her hair was bright blue, as were her glowing eyes, and her long pointed ears were decorated with several silver earrings. Her skin was gray, save the thin membrane stretched out between each long digit that formed her wings; that part of her was as blue as her hair. "They are on their way the village bordering Edyth-haar. They should be here in two days, maybe less."

The girl on the throne, who had hair of deep azure, several shades darker than that of the kneeling girl, nodded slowly. "Delay them; we are not yet ready to take the full force of the young boy, Dominyk, nor are we sufficiently equipped to kill the unicorn."

"Highmother Kortha, must we do this?" the girl asked gently. "After all, the humans have left us alone for some considerable amount of time - why do you still hold such terrible feelings toward them?"

Kortha narrowed her glowing eyes, clenching her sharp teeth. "You were not yet born during the War, Tsohar you have not seen the terrors I have. You have not seen what they did not us..." She shivered slightly. "Delay them, Tsohar. I want you and you alone to perform this task."

"But, your highness, I am no warrior," she protested. "I keep records and tell tales. How ca you expect me to be able to - "

"That is precisely why I want you to do this, my young daughter. I know that you do not have a warrior's heart, so you will not kill them. I do not want them dead, I want them delayed." She smiled. "Follow your orders."

The Afirihen girl called Tsohar bowed. "Yes, your Highness." She backed out the room, pausing in the hall, clenching both hands into fists. "She's making me fight because she knows I'll batch it and not kill them." She ground her sharp, silver-tinted teeth. "Maybe I'll prove her wrong, for once."

She smiled. "Yes, perhaps I'll prove to her that I'm worth more than letters and the volumes of history I've written." She rushed off down the hall. "I'll kill him with my bare hands if I have to!"

* * *

Henthima turned from her bed as one of her younger sisters ran in. The girl - Tsohar - grabbed up her sword from its place on the wall, pulled on her fingerless gloves and then rushed out the door, grabbing up a long black cloak as she went. She was smiling as she closed the great black door.

"What's she so excited about?' the green-haired girl asked. The one sitting next to her, who mirrored her appearance in almost every way, shrugged.

"How should I know?" Rholk - Henthima's twin sister - replied. "She probably found some new manuscript to translate, you know how she is."

Henthima nodded. "But she grabbed her sword..." She leapt off the bed, opening her wings so that she glided down slowly. She thought for several minutes, facing the closed door. "You stay here, tell Kortha that I went to see what Tsohar is up to." She rushed out. "I'll be back soon!"

"Be safe, sister!" Rholk called.

"Always!" Henthima's voice echoed from down the hall.

* * *

Brianna let out a long sigh of relief as they stepped into the town. Keane had once again assumed human form, not wanting to be seen for what he was by any elves traveling around the many border towns, of which this was only the first. There were people here that Brianna had heard of in stories - mercenaries, merchants from far lands, a few elves were making their silent way through the crowd.

"Look!" She said, nudging Keane. "What kind of elves are those?" she asked.

He looked them up and down, examining the careful stitching of their dark clothing, all shades of brown and gray, and smiled. "Wood elves; a rare sight outside the forest. They usually travel together with a friend or family member - there, look, a woman. His sister or betrothed, depending."

Brianna watched as the young man, with black hair and small pointed ears like her own, not at all like the long ears that most elves had, bent down over a stall set up on the street corner. He smiled and turned to the slightly younger woman beside him and pointed,. She looked down and her face lit up; she lifted up a tiny, shining object that might have been made of silver, and then nodded. The male elf paid the merchant and then they disappeared into the crowd.

"Why don't other elves dress like them?" Brianna asked, referring to the leather cloaks that the two elves both wore; the thick, hand-woven black tunics, under which was a slighter thinner brown shirt, and long gray slacks. "It's more practical, isn't it?"

Dominyk answered this time, speaking with the same air of knowledge that he always seemed to have. "They dress in such a manner as to be able to disappear into the underbrush, to turn into trees or rocks, a patch of soil on the ground. The Wood Elves are a race that is fairly reclusive, so they all dress like that to be able to hide on a moment's notice. The other elves do not dress out of necessity, but out of ceremony. Mountain Elves are given a patch of snow lion fur upon completing their rite of passage, Sea Elves all wear polished metal scales on the sides of their face when they come of age." She shrugged his narrow shoulders. "The Wood Elves have no rite of passage, so their dress does not change no matter how old they are."

Brianna nodded. "It's kind of silly, isn't it? To dress differently to prove you're an adult." She looked out over the crowd of people and sighed. "Just because someone doesn't dress certain way doesn't mean they aren't an adult - after all, I'm already well older than the common adulthood age of sixteen, and I still dress the same." She looked down at the boy. "What do they do in the Afirihen lands when someone comes of age?"

His azure eyes went dark. "We do not come of age in the Afirihen, Brianna. We are born, we live, we die. There is no age there, nothing to prove your adulthood. We are considered fully grown when we die." He shook his head slowly. "It is a horrible place, Brianna. I am sorry that we are leading you there."

Keane nodded. "Come on - you said you wanted to rest for a while, let's go find a decent inn before we head out again." He smiled. "Come on."

Dominyk looked around as his companions headed forward. "I will catch up with you later - I have some personal business to take care of." He turned and headed into the crowd, disappearing instantly amongst the adults.

"Why do you let him do that?' Brianna asked.

Kane raised one eyebrow. "You're certainly full of questions aren't you?"

She flushed slightly, her cheeks turning pink, and chuckled nervously before speaking again. "I was just thinking, he's only a little kid, but you let him go off and do whatever he wants. Isn't it dangerous to let him out all alone in the border lands?"

"Why would it be any more dangerous here than in another town?" Keane asked. "He's more familiar with this place than I am, after all. It's much closer to him homeland."

She sighed as though exasperated. "He's still a kid, Keane. He's a mage, yes, but he's still just a kid. If there really are demons about, then wouldn't they be hunting down all the mages they could? You know, o make sure they don't have any resistance when they attack."

The white-haired unicorn shook his head, his hair moving slowly, as though his was underwater. "No, he's safer here than he's been since we ran into him. He's almost home, Brianna; he won't have any trouble here. The Afirihen won't attack the border towns; they'll fly over and attack the capital, unless we can stop them."

She ran a hand through her twig-tangled black hair. "You were around back in the war, huh? I guess you would know how they operate." She smiled. "All right as long as you say Dominyk's safe, I guess I'll have to believe you."

The unicorn smiled. "It's not as though you'd give up a hot bath to go looking for him, anyway." She chuckled to himself.

* * *

Dominyk turned and entered the alley to his left, the simple movement fluid and silent as a shadow flitting across the ground. He walked backward deeper in the alley, still facing the bustling street, as though he was looking for someone. When they came into view he smiled. "Miklar," he hissed, knowing that his former acquaintance would hear him.

The black-haired Wood Elf started, looked around, then caught sight of the boy in the alley. His gray eyes lit up and he bounded into the dark pace between the houses. "Lord Dominyk!" he exclaimed, embracing the boy tightly. He turned to face the girl, who was looking bewildered. "Rieniach!" he called, pronouncing the almost guttural last sound with his odd accent.. "This is Lord Dominyk; the head of the Star Council!"

The girl's eyes grew wide and she stepped deeper into the alley, reaching out to grasp the boy's hand for a moment, as was customary. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Milord - Milar has been talking about you ever since he petitioned them all those years ago." She smiled, her brown eyes bright. "I'm Miklar's little sister."

"I didn't think you'd still be alive!" The elf called Miklar laughed. "It's been years, hasn't it? And you haven't aged a day!" He let out a short laugh. "What are you up to, this close to the demon lands? I thought you tended to avoid those folk, considering your background with them."

The boy smiled and shrugged. "I just happened to wander into this area at the right time, I guess. What about you?"

He shrugged. "We got a bit bored with the woods, so we decided we'd do a bit of traveling in the nearer towns before we both went stir-crazy. Rien begged me until I let her go." He grinned wickedly.

The girl shot him a dark look. "I only came because I know you'll get yourself killed unless you have a guard at all times."

Dominyk's smile broadened. "It's good to see you again, Miklar," he said. "I didn't think you were going to make it back from the Council in one piece!" He laughed. "You were all bruised and battered from the journey. I'm glad you did, though." He looked at Rieniach. "How old are you, miss?"

"Fifty," she replied. "Why?"

Dominyk nodded slowly. "No reason; just curious." He looked at the dark- haired elf's older brother. "Miklar, may I speak with you in private for a moment?" The man's eyebrows drew together, but he nodded and they stepped deeper into the alley, out of the girls earshot. "I am going to tell you why I am really here, Miklar - and you must take it to heart."

The elf nodded, determined.

"I would suggest that you and your sister get as far from the border as you can, as soon as possible," the boy continued. "Kortha is massing her armies in the east, and Keane and I are on our way to try to hold them back. Hathrinn is going to meet us there, but we've all been expelled from the Council, so there's no one else to help us fight. If we are unsuccessful, then I need you to rally all the soldiers - elves and humans alike - that you can and have them set up a defense around the Edyth-haar castle."

The man had gone pale, but nodded slowly. "Milord, what if they attack somewhere else first?"

The blue-eyed mage shook his head. "Don't worry - they're still using the old strategies, I'm sure of it. They will attack the castle first." He smiled. "I hate to bring bad tidings, me old fried, but everyone that believes in this danger must be ready to fight against it in case Hath, Keane and I fail."

"Where shall I have the princess taken?" he asked, taking every order that the boy gave him.

"Do not worry about her - she is safe with Keane and I right now. If we fail, she will be sent back to the castle, where she must stay. It is imperative that she stays there, all right?"

He nodded. "Yes Milord." He stood straight once more. "I will head back home as soon as possible and let the others know." He turned around. "I won't let you down, Milord." He smiled and bolted, grabbing his sister's hand as he went, brown cloak flowing behind him as he disappeared in the street.

Dominyk let out a faint sigh of relief. At least there were still a few who were willing to take his orders - although it was no wonder that a Wood Elf would listen, they were the most downtrodden of all the elf species, treated worse than humans. Their love of the earth outweighed their love of magic, something that all elves had in common; because of this, most of them had forsaken it and the power had begun to fade in their blood, making them a middle place between elves and humans. They were the only full- blooded species that was treated worse than half-breeds.

Well, almost, Dominyk thought. There are always the Afirihen. He sighed and shook his head. The word Afirihen came from the old language, meaning, literally, "a race that was made," showing that they had been constructed by mortal hands, not evolved from a lower race or born from the planet, as some races believed.. It had changed into a word in elven that meant something simpler, easier to grasp.

Afirihen meant "nightmare."