Savannah swept her hand swiftly over the fruits in the basket and then looked up at the seller, a gruff man with a sword that rested at his fingertips. This was one of the most daring stunts she had ever tried, and timing was everything. A woman with a baby on her hip sauntered up to the man and he quickly turned his attention on her, maybe because she was a potential customer or for her beauty. Never the less, Savannah crept as close as she could to the nectarines, her heart raced as her fingertips felt the surface. The fingers closed around the fruit and she dropped it into her leather pouch and then concentrated on the next steal. Fierce brown eyes glanced at the seller as his low voice tried to convince the mother his fruits were very ripe and rich, now her fingers were closed yet again over the next victim, so she brought her shaking hand up. His back turned and suddenly his eyes were upon her, luckily only upon her and not the merchandise she had just stolen that hid behind her back" Leave unless you have money to buy," Savannah gave him a slightly tilted smile, nodded and departed; happy with the prizes the day had given her.

Safe behind another building, the feast began. Thin lips bit into the luscious prize and juice dribbled down a tanned chin. "You started without me again didn't you Vanna?" the same woman at the fruit stands remarked. " I was hungry and I saved you one," Savannah cried back and then watched what her sister would do next. Her sister set the little toddler down and limped over to the wall and slid down it until she sat firmly on the hard ground next to the young girl. The toddler ran over to Vanna and laughed as she was embraced in a hug, quietly Sage whispered, "Me want some." And stuck a chubby arm towards the food. Handing her what was left; Vanna stood and stretched with a slight yawn. A loud thud heard nearby scared the three girls and they all heard a scream. It was a shrill scream that made everyone shudders, out of instinct Tabby pulled her child into the shadows were they both crouched quivering with anticipation, and Vanna joined them slowly like a lion approaching his prey.

A strange looking elf rushed by and tried to hide in the shadows, but quickly found they were already occupied. He let out a surprised little squeal and then said something in elf, which wouldn't have made his mother proud Tabby was sure though she didn't speak any languages other then Pmo and Nablit. Vanna could tell he was scared and knowing the feeling of being chased she almost gave him her place, Tabby knowing her too well held her arm and gave her a look which made the idea disappear. His skin was rough and his eyes beady, of course he had gigantic ears, which stuck, out the side of his small head at an alarming angle. In halted Glarmian he said, "Please help me, not much time to explain." he trailed off as the soldiers drew closer to the alley. Again the chubby little creature ran down the Dirt Street, Vanna quite shocked that such a fat, short thing could run so fast, but being a criminal brought the best athlete out in everyone. When she began pick-pocketing she was very weak one of the little girls who danced in the street for gold coins so they could go and spend it on foolish items such as fine candies and flowers to put in their hair. After a couple of weeks being a thief Vanna managed to jump higher, hide faster, run quicker and slide through small spaces such a windows. Once she stole from an important rich man who turned out to be quite a runner himself and she had to crawl over a clothesline, well rather hang from it and shimmy across.

Awaken from her memory by the guards' feet hitting the ground in hot pursuit of the small troublemaker Sage coughed. Neither of them dared to breathe as the last guard stopped and looked for the source of the cough. The boxes made an obvious hiding place so he strode over and kicked them. "Who is there?" he called harshly. With no one breathing the guard couldn't trace the sound and slowly walked back towards the road. He seemed to think they would come out if he hid near. Vanna held them all back seeing the cunning mans attempt to outwit the hidden girls. His eyes darted around to look for signs of a person hidden in the shadows beneath a box. Anything, maybe the stupid lug believed he was going to catch the elf. Ha, thought Vanna, he thinks he will be rewarded and all he will find are one little girl and two women beneath a heap of boxes. After minutes had past, with a sour expression the stupid animal marched off in the opposite direction as the elf, Tabby noticed. The little rascal just might escape. As they emerged from the bottom of the wooden boxes it was beginning to get dark. Tabby smiled over at her sister, gesturing slowly downwards toward the box heap. Following her hands Vanna saw what her friend had thought to be so comical. Sage lay asleep there on the dirt with her little chin stuck out in a stubborn way with her big eyes closed after such a busy day. Tabby winced as she put pressure on her right foot, and nearly fell to the ground from the overwhelming pain. "Does your ankle hurt?" Vanna asked with a tiny bit of panic edged in her voice. "No, I can walk home, let's hurry though, the darker it gets the more danger." "Builds up on the streets and markets of Saphine," finished Savannah, her eyes rolled back in her head, "Tabby, nothing will happen to us. Father taught me how to handle a sword and I am strong. No harm shall find us." Tabby smiled at her courageous sister but she frowned slightly. "You've always been overly confident, and someday my dear sister, it will be the end of you." Vanna smiled devilishly, "That day will come sometime, but I doubt soon." Her laughter echoed down the alley, and Sage stirred grumpily. "Mother, time to home." Tabby nodded, and picked the little girl up in her arms. They began to walk down the alley, and the cities light surrounded them. Several dancers ran by on the way to their next performance, and Vanna winced, with memories of her younger days. Tabby saw the look, and whispered, "Vanna, let's hurry. The town's excitement over the election will be horrid."

The men suddenly began to chant, and a balding man stepped out onto a balcony. Vanna shuddered and thrust through the crowd to find a place to hide. Tabby felt her sister's hand upon her back and looking back almost screamed. The man lifted his hands to quiet the crowd and then laughed deeply as he looked down on the men and women gathered to hear him speak. "Your presence gives me comfort in the faith of our people, and what they will grow to be." The sound of his oily voice made both, Vanna and Tabby, weak. Sage noticed her mother's discomfort, and began to cry softly. They hid behind a vegetable cart and watched the man prepare to say more. "I am very pleased that our people have faith in me. The men here shall vote for me, and then if all goes well, I can become your ruler." Cheers rose from the audience, and the men almost beamed with greed. "I can tell that we are ready for a change, and we will have one. So enjoy tonight my friends, and tomorrow we prepare to change Saphine." A thin woman stepped out onto the balcony, her hair swept up beautifully and her cheeks dotted with rouge. She waved at the crowd, and a small tear ran down her cheek when she caught sight of the dancers. "This is my wife, as many of you are aware. She and I will be celebrating tonight, as shall all of you." Vanna let one silvery tear fall down her cheek, and took in one last sight on the woman before she grabbed Sage out of Tabby's hands.

"Tabby, come on. We're leaving." Tabby looked at her sister's face through the flickering candlelight, and shook her head no. "I won't leave without speaking to her. Vanna, she's our mother." Vanna kissed Sage's messy hair and looked back at her sister with hot tears of anger in her eyes, "No, mothers love their children, and care about them. Our mother never did. She used us, and made us fight for freedom. That is something mothers never do. You should know that now that Sage is here. You should value what you give her, and what our mother never did." Tabby leaned against the old, brick building for support as her emotions took over. It hurt her so much to admit that Vanna was right. She looked straight into Vanna's eyes that were rimmed with tears, and spoke "I know that she hurt both of us, Vanna. She sold us. I need to see her though. I must tell her, I have married, and that she is a grandmother. I owe her that. She should know about Sage." Vanna clutched the toddler to her chest, and said, "Go. Tell her, but don't let him see you. Tabby, he would hunt us down, if he knew we lived. You go, get her alone, and tell her about Sage. Don't tell her where we live." Tabby kissed her daughter's forehead, and tried to take her from her sister. Vanna shook her head, "I don't want Sage to meet her. I'll see you at home." Then she walked down the alley, one hand supporting the baby, and the other fingering a blade.

Vanna walked to their home in silence, until she reached the tent and set the baby down in a pile of grass. She patted the grass down, laid the baby on it, and covered her with a quilt. The moonlight painted the girl's face and Vanna almost wished she could capture the scene. She opened the tent door, and went to stand beside the fire. A handsome boy walked up behind her, and took her hand. She pulled the blade from inside her cloak and put it to his throat. "It's only me, Vanna." Her grip on the blade didn't relax, until she turned and stared into Jordan's deep, blue eyes. She smiled at him, and slipped the blade back into her cloak. "You are home late tonight." Jordan commented as they took a seat by the fire. She nodded, but he saw a shiver shake her shoulders. "Why is that?" He asked, as he used a stick to wake the fire. "Jordan, I saw my Mother tonight. She was with my Stepfather in the square. Tabby wanted to speak with her, to tell her about Sage. I couldn't stand looking at her, so I took Sage home with me. Tabby promised not to tell where we live, or how I am. I don't want her to try to use us again. Not this time, especially not, because of Sage. Tabby almost thinks she can change. She can't change. Jordan, I am so afraid." Jordan moved around towards her, and placed his arm around her shoulders. "I won't let her use you again, Vanna. You should know that. Don't worry." Confidence shown through him, and she felt reassured. Jordan couldn't stop Tabby. "Where are they, Tabby?" The shrill sounding voice asked, dripping with fake sweetness. Vanna shuddered at the sound of her voice, and her stomach twisted unpleasantly. Jordan kissed the top of her head, and pulled both Sage and Vanna into his arms. They sat there, Sage sleeping and Vanna shivering, in the dark of the tent, watching to see what would happen. Tabby pointed to the tent, in which they were hiding, and Jordan thrust both of them down, whispered, "Go out the back, Vanna." And walked out with his sword readied. Tabby saw Jordan exit the tent, and frowned. Vanna bundled Sage in a blanket and opened the back entrance. She could hear Jordan argue with her stepfather. Her stepfather drew his sword; she could hear the cold metal scrape against Jordan's silver dagger. Her heart beat faster and faster with each step. She didn't know where to hide, but she ran into the forest and took sanctuary underneath a weeping willow. An elf was already there.

"Eek!" It screeched, and prepared to do again louder, but Vanna shook her head desperately, and he hesitated. "You girl, who hid behind box, yes?" Vanna nodded slowly, trying to remember her knowledge of Glarmian. "I did, I need your help. My stepfather and mother are trying to catch the child and me. They want to do us harm. Please do you know of any shelter that is safer?" The elf looked at her, and croaked, "Let me see your hand, please." In the back of her mind she remembered that elves could tell if someone is good or not by touching their palm, so she placed it in front of the small creature. When he touched it, a small spark leapt up and danced around the tree. " Come with me." He motioned upward; she nodded and followed, though her skirts caught on the branches. At the top of the tree, where the branches began to blossom out, there was a large tree house. Vanna lay Sage on the cot inside, and looked around herself. It had a fire in the stove, and many different portraits of famous elves throughout the house everything of course, but for her he would try. "Jordan, I am not afraid of her. I am afraid of him, and what he would do for her. He is evil, and his power is building. There were so many in the square cheering for him. I felt like an outcast, he talks about changing Saphine. I can't imagine what that means, but I doubt the change will be good." Jordan stood to stretch his legs, but she could see him thinking over something serious. "You see the danger in his power too." She whispered, and she knew it was true. The villagers hadn't supported the Sultan, and now they were supporting him, if he reigned over Saphine, trouble would come. "Jordan, he could win. I never thought it possible, but he could." A shiver ran through her body, and she winced. It was the feeling of pure evil setting in she glanced around. No one was standing there, but Jordan. He saw the look of terror on her face, and then heard wagon wheels banging toward them. Swiftly he grabbed her by her waist, and thrust both of them down into the tent, next to Sage.

Her stepfather emerged from the carriage, and looked around. When he saw no one, he signaled for someone in the depths of the carriage. Vanna's mother stepped down, with. The elf rushed in and cried, "Miss, you should look outside. A man and a boy, they are fighting!" Vanna saw a glimpse of Jordan's crystal eyes, and pushed the elf aside and pushed through the leaves. Her stepfather stood, rage in his eyes, the tent was knocked down to the side, and all of their things had been torn apart. Vanna's mother and Tabby were watching the battle from the carriage, and Vanna thought she saw a tear glistening on Tabby's cheek. "They are not here. The child and Vanna haven't returned yet. They don't want to see you." Jordan called bravely at the furious man. "I know they are here somewhere near. I can feel her presence." Jordan gulped nervously, but didn't budge. "They are not here, take Tabitha and go home. I don't want a traitor in my Father's camp." Tabby hid in the depths of the carriage, but Jordan's fierce gaze still found her. "Tabby, don't return here. We don't take to your kind." Vanna sighed deeply; Tabby had abandoned and lied to her. How could her sister have betrayed her? The elf saw her pained look, and whispered, "You know these people?" She took a deep breath, and nodded her head yes. "My step-father is the man, and that boy is my dearest friend. My mother and sister are in the carriage." The elf nodded sympathetically, "They are evil, but the boy seems to be good. I will make you some tea while we wait, does the baby want milk?" Vanna looked back towards the home at Sage, and smiled. "That would be very kind." He nodded and ran inside.

Jordan stared at him and whispered, "Never come here again. I will not allow Tabby to return and if she chose you over Vanna, then you may take her with you." Tabby whimpered inside the cart, and reached out to Jordan. "What? You seek forgiveness from betraying your sister, who would give her life for you or your child? She is worth more than these people, more than anything." Tabby cried out, "Jordan, why should you forgive me for something I have done, when it wasn't wrong? It wasn't. They just want to see my child, Guy's baby girl. Don't deprive them. I know she is here, and I know you love Vanna, I know you love her." Vanna leaned on the rail for support, her stepfather's eyes lit with fire, the fire she had seen too often in her youth. "So, fool. You love her? That's grand; you're what she's always deserved. A poor, little boy who can't make his way in the world, right? She deserves you." His words dripped in venom, and Vanna knew that Jordan was hurt. She could see it in his shaking shoulders, and she wanted to comfort him. "You are right, Tabby. I do love her. I used to love you, you were like a sister, but now." He threw his hands helplessly in the air and turned and walked away. "Where is my child?" He heard Tabby whimper, but he didn't stop. He only yelled, "Where she is safe, with Vanna." He heard the man turn and enter the carriage, seconds later it rumbled away. Tabby's wailing echoed through the forest and surrounded him, but he couldn't stop. The man's words stung him, and he felt drained of energy. Was he worthy of Vanna? Was he a poor, little boy?

Vanna ran through the forests to find him, knowing how hurt he must be, and wanting to help. She felt thorns scrape her legs, and felt the sting of branches whipping her arms, but she didn't stop. She saw him walking quickly, with a slow and steady duty. When he saw her, he tried to smile, but it came out a grimace and she sighed. They embraced briefly, but he released her too soon, and walked in silence. She took his hand and tugged him to face her. "Don't be fool. I love you and you love me. Just, because of one thing he said you are not going to forget about me. Understand? Because I won't lose you, to his mockery." He looked at her shining eyes and tousled hair, and leaned forward with a gentle kiss. When he pulled away, she was smiling. "I love you, I just thought you might think." He ran his fingers through his hair and his cheeks reddened, "Might think that he was right?" She asked, amazed. "Yes," He said and looked up into the sky, quietly. She jumped into his arms, and wrapped her arms around his neck, tightly. "Oh, I love you. I would never think that, you fool." He spun her around and tickled her sides. "You know it's the second time, you've called me that." She smiled, "Then maybe it is true." She giggled and cocked her head to the side. He tilted her chin upward and looked at her face. He brought his lips down to meet hers, and a growing pleasure raced through her. He kissed her gently, but as if he was glad to still have her. "I love you, Vanna." She kissed his cheek, "It's, because I'm a good kisser." He shook his head, "No, that's not it, I think it's, because you pull knives on the men you love." She pushed him away and cried, "Man that I love. Only, you." He smiled and they walked hand in hand back to the Elvin lair where the baby was sleeping.

"Listen, you must be hurt, because of what Tabby did. You can't let her know where the baby is though. She betrayed you, and her child. Don't put Sage in danger, Vanna." Jordan lectured her as they looked out over the forest, twenty minutes later. Vanna sighed with a rolling feeling of hopelessness shooting through her. "I won't put Sage in danger, or you." She added and saw his jaw tighten. "I helped you, Vanna. I know you would do the same for me." She nodded and then felt like screaming. "How could she do this? She put her own child in danger; she put you and me in danger. You could have been killed, or Sage could have been." Her words trailed off as the hurt and possibilities rose. He snaked an arm around her waist and whispered gently against her ear, "Sage is fine. So am I. I won't let him hurt you or her, don't ever think that." She leaned against him and let tears run down her cheeks. Suddenly, she heard Sage whimper. She pulled away from Jordan and went to the child's side. The child grabbed at Vanna, and asked, "Where's Mama?" Vanna said nothing, but took the frightened girl in her arms and rocked her back and forth. Her eyes gleamed angrily, because she knew that the tiny child wouldn't understand the word betrayal and no one would be able to explain her mother's mistakes.

Savanna woke earlier than everyone else and was sipping quietly on some herb tea when the elf came out to the balcony. "Hello, shadow girl." He greeted good-naturedly while stirring his own honey tea with a silver spoon. She waved and gazed across the forest, looking at the Saphine palace, and the markets. He sighed, "Saphine is in great danger." She looked at him with wide eyes, "Is it?" He nodded gravely and she knew to listen to his words for they were the only truth she would find, he could read the future clearly. "Saphine will become terrible if your father is Sultan. He will bring a great shadow, and terrible times that will come swiftly. Famine, drought, disease, hunger, death and above all sadness will haunt every child, women, and man. This is Saphine's fate." Savanna stared at the swirling steam and let it awaken her senses. She looked at the batty creature and then smiled, "I know all of this as well. You are correct in your words." He looked startled, but then he grinned too. "A mind reader, eh?" She shrugged, "Sometimes, or maybe I'm just magical." He looked at her with a slow curiosity and then whispered, "Perhaps, or perhaps you are not human." She laughed merrily at the thought, but saw the seriousness hiding in his darkened features. "You think that I am a fairy, may hap?" She asked with a playful gleam in her eyes. His eyes crinkled as he smiled his kind smile and he looked like some sort of old man from the village. "I think that maybe you could turn into one."

"She already is." Jordan came out to the balcony with the statement and the elf looked at him. "Really? Can she move mountains?" Jordan looked at Savanna and shrugged, "She can do anything, maybe that. She's excellent with a sword, however. That I found out almost immediately." The elf nodded, and Savanna turned back to gazing at the palace, which in her youth she had longed so to see. Jordan followed her gaze, "We have to leave soon." He stated. She turned towards him, "I know that. I heard it in your slumber." Jordan winced, "I had forgotten your gift. Still, he will be back for Sage and you. We have to go someplace that will be safe." Savanna shook her head, "There is no place safe. He is a monster, and if he wins many more will be tracking us." Jordan shrugged impatiently, "We have no other option that I can see. Do you want him to find you?" She looked at him sharply, her fiery eyes sharpening. "I think you should listen to your own words before speaking. Of course I don't want to be found. I just don't want you to sacrifice everything to run with us." Jordan looked at her intently, "I won't leave you." She looked at him, "Then, I will leave you. I won't let you throw away your career, because of him. Then, he is still ruining our lives. I can return later, after you have made yourself a name and a life." The elf nodded, "Her words are true. In the end, she will abandon you, but return later on." Jordan stood shaking with anger, "Why do you want to leave me?" She set down her cup and stood to face him, "If you come and lose everything, he wins. He is clipping your wings so that you cannot fly. I will not allow this to take place. You know I am pig-headed. I will not let you find us."

His eyes glinting with raw anger and frustration Jordan left the porch and went to play with Sage. Savanna and the elf were left alone, and the elf spoke then. "I think you are very wise to leave him behind. If he came, more trouble would come, because of his Father." She nodded, "His father is a very important figure who could send even more to search if his son disappeared. I know my decision is the right one, but he doesn't understand." The elf sipped on his tea, and a faint breeze rattled through the forest. "I know that he might be angry now, shadow girl. I think in time he will find the real answer to your demands. That is love. I know that you love him, but adventure and great destiny waits you." She leaned forward loving the thrill of the words adventure and destiny. "I have longed for adventure, but Sage won't be in danger." The elf shook his head, "She will live a great many years, and your travels will make her better rounded and capable to face the adult world when it comes time to." Savanna smiled, "I am glad for words. I cannot believe that this is about to happen." Her excitement shimmered around her and the elf shook his head, "Ah, but you knew something was to happen. You felt it in your bones even in the market." She grinned. "I have always felt things before they happen. I am glad for my gift, but sometimes I think about what would happen if I lost them. If I fell into fate blinded and didn't know what was to happen." The elf shrugged.

After packing her things away, and accepting food and water from the curious elf, Savanna was ready for the road. She was letting the horse refresh in the pool, while Sage napped, when the elf touched her elbow and asked her an odd question. "May I come with you on your journey, shadow girl?" She gasped at the question, but knew he would not tamper fate. He must have seen himself being a part of the fate, and known that he had to come. She smiled; a companion would make a nice addition to the troupe. Someone she could discuss things with a second-guess her own instincts. She also had heard of healing powers from elves and if the road was to be bumpy she wanted to have a healer. She nodded, and tried to ignore Jordan's look of hurt that crossed his face. He still was furious with her for making him stay behind, but she knew eventually he would understand it was her sacrifice too. She wanted him to come, to comfort her and make her happy. She was giving that up for him, because she knew that it was too dangerous.

When it came time for the two to separate Jordan was nearly crazy with annoyance at his love's stubborn confidence and unyielding faith that she was right. The horses whinnied and made the situation seem hasty and quick. Her heart was heavy at the look in his eyes, and she wondered for a split moment if this was the right choice. Then she heard it. The voice in her head that knew she was right, and knew that he should stay behind. "Savanna let me come. I can protect you, and make everything okay." His pleading tone almost made her sick. "Jordan, no. I can take care of myself. If I fall sick, or am hurt, the elf will help me. Otherwise, you are not needed." Jordan looked at the packages being loaded into the small wagon, and frowned. "Will he replace me in your heart, too? Eh, Savanna? We will be away from each other long enough for you to begin wandering eyes toward the braver souls you meet." She shirked away from him, and tried not to let the pain flood her. How could he not trust her to remain true? She had declared her love to him, and still he was pouting like a child. She could not mend his tattered pride, so she walked to him, and silently kissed his cheek. He tried not to waver, tried to stay strong as the three; Savanna, Sage, and the elf, started down the road. When they reached the bend however he called after her, "My eyes shall wander if you are away too long. I am only a man."

Savanna whirled around and called back to him, "You are, but a boy to say such cruel words. If you do not love me, let your puppy eyes find sanctuary. But if you do, you must remain true to me, as I will to you." His conscious picking at him, her back upon his eyes, he felt helpless. But then again he was.

Savanna smiled at the elf as they sat around the flickering fire and gazed up at the stars. He smiled back at her, "You are a very strange sort of human." He commented using a small twig to pick dinner from his teeth, not even wondering if this would be offending in anyway. She laughed, "Thank you, should I take this as a compliment?" He nodded, "I am glad to have met you. I always thought that humans were a daft, annoying race. I much prefer fairies and ogres." Her eyes filled with excitement and she leaned forward letting the fire cause shadows to mark her pretty face, "Fairies and ogres? Tell me about them." He sighed, "You are very curious. I suppose a tale would do. I will tell you first of fairies for they are not as people normally think. You think a fairy is a little girl with wings and flowers everywhere. Horse dung! Fairies are mystical creatures, fair maidens who are beautiful, but also very intelligent. They love puzzles, equations, problems to solve, hearing stories and poetry. They are very well rounded, and their company is much appreciated in the kingdoms for they entertain the courts. They are normally pretty, and smaller than most. Their feet are very small and they give off a warm feeling that makes you feel toasty all over. I think that they are an agreeable sort. Ogres are simply clever. The stories of daft creatures with slow minds and a foul stench are far from the truth. They are in fact very into hygiene and rather touchy on the subject. They enjoy many things, but not one is eating humans, in fact they find human flesh revolting, and the snail like process of the human mind even more so. They like tarts, cakes, cookies and pies. They are very good at jokes and like riddles immensely." She sighed happily at the acquired knowledge.
He patted her on the hand kindly, and pointed to the tent. "You had better rest for tomorrow promises to be a busy day." She nodded, and a large yawn shook her. He grinned, obviously pleased with his prediction and gave her a very know-it-all type look. She just finished the yawn and went to lie down next to Sage. He sat for a while looking up at the stars, and then began to sink into sleep himself.

She felt like she was floating. To be honest, it was the strangest thing she had ever felt before in her life, just floating there. She smiled, giggled, sang and everything else. It felt so good to be suspended in mid-air there, just dancing in the air. It was so much fun in fact that she hardly wanted to look around. It was funny, she looked down and all under her was thousands of people screaming. They looked frightened and some were crying out for help. She was too afraid to swoop down to help them, for they began to pick stones up and cast them towards her. Suddenly, a word shot into her mind, Sage. She looked around desperately looking for her, and a large, black cloud was abruptly in front of her. It had her stepfather's eyes. She screamed when she saw that inside the cloud was her niece, screaming for her mother and sick. She screamed until breath would no longer escape from her mouth. She began to fall, screaming for someone to help, into the enraged crowd. She felt arms lock around her waist, and she turned to see Jordan's handsome eyes staring at her. She fell into them and tried to embrace him, she was so grateful for his presence. Suddenly, he thrust a blade deep into her stomach. Pain ripped through her, and she awoke slathered in sweat.

Sage jumped, and looked around. "What the matter?" She asked, groggily in her toddler speech. Savanna tried to clear her head, to think, but she kept seeing the dark cloud and the blade ripping into her. Jordan? The dream was an awful cruel trick that she had known too often in her childhood slumber. Her stepfather was sending the dreams through his mind to hers, and he was using it to weaken her resolve. He knew Jordan, and thought Jordan was still with her and Sage. He wanted to plant a seed of doubt into Jordan's faith to her, but she knew the game he played in her mind. The sweat was still trickling down her forehead, and her heart was pounding. Sage looked at her with concerned eyes, not understanding in the slightest what her aunt was so afraid of, but knowing it must be horrible. The elf peeked his head inside the tent, saw her face, and nodded understandingly. "He is sending you dreams, is he?" She nodded, wondering how he could possibly know who was sending the dreams. He laughed, a dry bittersweet laugh, "Of course I know, shadow girl. I have known of his dark magic before I met you." She pulled Sage into her arms, "He thinks we are still with Jordan. That should buy us some time, hours. Maybe days, I don't know. He might hurt Jordan." The elf nodded, "I have seen his pain, he will be hurt, but we cannot stop that from happening. I think he shall however remain faithful." She shrugged, while smoothing back the babe's damp hair and humming a little song. The elf said his farewells and then turned to leave, and whispered, "He would never harm you, this Jordan. The knife was trickery; he has had this dream too. He feels horrible that this would make you doubt him." Her eyes clouded with tears, because she knew even though it was magic the doubt was there. She wanted no pain. The elf saw the look in her eyes, and left with a touch of disgust in his features for fickle humans.

The next morning came with rude sunlight and grinding gusts of wind. The sand shifted and made her feel groggy and disorientated in these heavy dunes. The horses helped bare the hills, but had to stop often to drink. The sand seemed to sit in her mouth, and she was irritable. Her coats were caked with the reddish grains and made it harder to move. She was hot and tired, and Sage was constantly fussing. The wagon wheels were caught many times, and it took all of her strength to loosen the wooden wheels enough to turn. She was so tired of traveling, and the slight thought that she must continue on like this for weeks was so depressing. They saw no other travelers in the desert that day, and this calmed her somewhat for that meant that spies were not near. She had no doubt that they were coming, for her stepfather was a very powerful man. She knew they would come, and she knew trust was not something she could give to anyone. The elf was the last one, and Sage was too young to have earned it. They ate in silence, except for Sage's whimper of complaint at the salty meat and dried fruit. A thought lay before Savanna tantalizing and intriguing and so she spoke, "I have heard that elves possess wonderful magic. If it is true, could you make us a better meal, maybe some sweets?" The elf fixed her with an angry eye, "I do not use my gift for pleasures. I only use it for essential healing and to stop pain. I can prevent evil, and I will never use it for nonsense such as candy." Sage whimpered at his demanding tone, and Savanna didn't even bother to hush her. She nodded at the elf and murmured her apologies. The elf grunted and turned to set up his shelter. Savanna turned and began to pitch her and Sage's tent in the shifting sand. It was tedious work, but soon it was finished. She lay Sage down wrapped in a blanket after laying blanket and cloth down to cover the sand. She was concerned for scorpions or spiders, but then she noticed a fine powder that the elf had sprinkled and knew instantly it was here to prevent these animals.

No more dreams came to shatter her faith in anyone close that night, and she slept peacefully. When she awoke, she noticed strange clouds floating all over the valley, but not storm clouds. She looked at them with skeptical eyes and kept a fierce gaze on them until the elf came and calmed her suspicions. "They are rain clouds, but not storms. The fairies send them once and a while to comfort people traveling in these dry lands. They are friends of mine, take heart." She smiled and almost wanted to run to meet the clouds. They were coming at a fast enough pace though, so she set about her work, her heart lighter than the previous day. The rains came with a gentle kiss, and she swore it tasted like lemonade falling from the sky. She had danced in the rain and stuck out her tongue in her youth to feel the gentle coolness in her mouth. But this was the same with a lemony sugar taste and it made her insides dance with joy. She set out pans to catch the rest, knowing it would please Sage. The elf looked on to her delight with satisfaction and a smug happiness that he was partly the cause, and very proud of it as well. She felt light hearted and ready again for the adventure they were sure to face. The dark cloud and betrayal of her love seemed so distant, and almost forgotten. Sage awoke and came out to see why her aunt was singing and skipping about in the rain. She instantly felt happy at the sight of the falling mist and the sweet smell that tickled her senses. She giggled with a carefree air that suddenly reminded her aunt that she was still a child. Savanna felt horrible all at once, it swept over her, and she wanted to cry.

She had completely forgotten that Sage was still a child, and that Sage was afraid and wanted her mother. She had forgotten it all, because a raw fear had been gnawing at her. It had been chewing away her feeling of security and the loved trust she took such comfort in. In this daze of fear and apprehension and fighting with Jordan, she never stopped to think how small and naive Sage really was. After all, she was a mere baby taken from her Mother and thrown into a hard trip, never knowing what was happening and the only thing she was sure of was confusion. Guilt swept over Savanna, as she watched the small girl running and dancing in the rain truly innocent and a child. The mist seemed to shimmer with magical colors, but her mood was firmly disgruntled. She was an inconsiderate, clumsy girl who was totally incompetent of doing a single thing right, she thought with a frustrated sigh.

The elf frowned, and Savanna knew that he had been listening to her thoughts and disapproved of her pessimistic self-assessment. She didn't care what he thought; he didn't truly know her for the oaf she was, for the true cad of a human being she was. He had simply judged her by a pretty spark flittering around the tree that said she was good, well the magic was wrong. She was a horrible person to think only of her safety and not the others feelings. She wanted to take back the whole thing, and right from the beginning been more loving and capable when it came to her confused niece. She had acted a mistake out to the last degree, and she was in a battle with Jordan. Jordan, who in his stupid pride couldn't understand that she, was protecting him. Or maybe, he knew it and was angry that she was being so impossible in trying to be his savior. It didn't matter which to her, but she knew that it mattered a great deal that he was angry. The hollow look in his eyes when they parted was enough to pain her, but the words he spoke hinting his betrayal hurt worse than anything. What if she died on this voyage? Would he be sorry that they parted with such harsh cruelties towards one another? Would he? Or would he simply fill the void with another lass, someone that was prettier and didn't have pasts to run away from. Someone who wouldn't pull a knife on the man they loved, because he could be a threat. Someone who trusted him, maybe that is what he would find. Her thoughts flickered on about Jordan and her blunder with Sage. Like a storm she thought longer while the child danced in the rain, and then she settled herself by packing their luggage.

Jordan tried not to think about Savanna, but his thoughts shifted once again to her ringing words through the forests. About him being a boy to make such a low cut to someone he cared for, he remembered those especially. He had been a fool to mock her, and to try with words to cast invisible stones. He was hurt that she was leaving him and riding away to face the unknown. He hated the forlorn feeling of being left behind, for he had once watched his brothers ride to war without him as a boy, and they hadn't returned. Would she? He saw her sparkling eyes in his mind, remembered the fierce grip she held onto the blade with until she saw his face, her smile so open and free, and the way her hair would fall to frame her face. Her face, that was so pure and beautiful, that he now dreamed about. Yes, he remembered all of this, and knew that his "puppy eyes" as she had called them in her bitter retort would never wander. He could never replace her, for as much as her pig-headed ways wounded his pride as a man; he was beginning to think she was right in leaving him behind. The men had been to see him today, and he had a colored eye to settle anyone's doubts. They had come in and badgered him into telling where she had gone, and he had endured pain until he finally gave them a false claim that calmed their nerves. They didn't want to leave him unmarked though, and once had thrust a fist into his face. The sting was something horrible, but he was content in the fact that Savanna would be safer. The blue and black eye meant nothing compared to Savanna's well being.

Tabby lay in the large bed, and sobbed with a harsh, new hurt. She was a traitor. A traitor. That was all she knew, and that was all that she could think about now. The look in her friend's eyes, Jordan's eyes, when he had realized it was she that had betrayed them. That it was her who had risked her sister and daughter's lives for a deceptive man who had once hurt them both. The look of anger in his eyes had made her terrified, but what was more the look of disgust and utter rejection. She would never be welcomed there ever again, never be loved by Savanna. Oh, Savanna! She thought of her so often, thought of the hurt her sister must be feeling and the sacrifices she was making in running away from the man. Ever since they were younger, Savanna had felt the need to protect Tabitha from harm. They would play games and always Tabby would fall into danger so that Savanna could swoop down and wrestle with ogres to free her. It was always the same, but neither tired of the game for Tabby loved the look of determination setting upon her sister's beautiful face. The face that would never again look at Tabby the same way, because of her longing to be loved and her treacherous mistake that would cost them both everything.

Their mother had been so distant in their childhood. Oh, it did hurt to see the other girls run to their mothers and receive special pampering and admiration towards their little girls. Their mother had never laid a kind hand on her children, never really stroked a forgotten lock of hair or kissed their brows when they were scared. She had simply shrugged them off to someone else, for surely she shouldn't be bothered with children. She hadn't even wanted the grubby little beasts who clung to you like monkeys and cried for you every second of the day. Their father had been the one ready to have daughters, children to pet and to pamper, and to teach Papa's ways. He had pressured her; Tabby was sure to have children, to make their family expand. Father had always been the one with a sweet to pop in their mouths when they took a tumble or their feelings had been stepped upon. Always the one ready to listen to whatever new adventure had taken part during their days, and the only one who let them speak and cared what they thought. Life near Papa was grand, and they had loved him so. Savanna always wanting to be like him, a fighter and a rider on the bigger horses they couldn't ride, though Tabby was content with their ponies. Tabby had simply loved the attention.

Her mother had never given her that attention, that special reverence or even love. Tabby had always been in a firm denial however of her mother's flaws. She longed so badly for a feminine figure to swoop in to show her the ways of becoming a woman. When she had turned thirteen and begun to truly blossom, her mother was disgusted at her curious questions. Tabby had gone reluctantly to the maid and found more help there. She still had longed however for her mother to be satisfied and happy to answer and aid her baby's nervous mind. Then, the illness had come like a dark cloud and descended on the household swiftly. Tabby had nightmares so often about the illness, for she remembered the burning feelings and the tortured hunger that had poured through her. She remembered so much about that time that when the others said she had been gone, lost in her own world, well delirious, she was confused. She had remembered her Father sitting by the bedside and singing to her. She remembered Savanna's screams at her to wake up, her reddened face and her hopeless tears. She remembered Hanna, the old maid spooning her broth, which later she would toss up. She could remember this all, but never her mother came to comfort or see her child. Tabby wondered if that was the reason that she chose to give in to the darkness, because her mother hadn't been there.

Then, Papa had gotten sick. Tabby had awaken from her state when she realized this fact, and no one was more surprised than she when she sat up and requested her Papa. The doctor was astounded, and claimed it could only be a strong connection and love that had made her better. Miracle child that was what they had called her, a miracle child for surviving the disease that none others had truly conquered. Papa was delirious. It was hopeless really. Everyone was praying that when he saw Savanna or Tabby that he would be cured of his illness, as Tabby had. It was a risky chance, but nothing happened. Savanna was in a flying rage and wouldn't talk to anyone. She was incorrigible. She would fly into fits and not listen to anyone, but Tabby. Tabby felt lost for a while, but really didn't think her Father was leaving. He had though. And then, their mother had shipped them off to live in the markets of Saphine as dancers. Tabby's eyes burned with fresh tears as she thought of the horrible thing she had done in risking her sister and daughter's lives. Her Father would be ashamed. She curled in the blanket and tried to forget everything, knowing very well it wouldn't work.

Savanna lay in the shady valley underneath a tree looking at the elf and Sage playing in the bubbling stream. She was happy that the elf had found this remote paradise, so unlike its surroundings, for she needed to feel at peace. Her mind was troubled at Tabby's betrayal and it had come to face her lately. She had tried to pretend it hadn't happened, but every time Sage mentioned her mother a whirlwind of emotions came to haunt her mind. How could Tabby risk their lives? Was she forced into telling or was it of her own will? Was she very sorry, or more annoyed? Did she understand the horrible mistake she had made in revealing their whereabouts? Did she even care about Sage or her? What about Jordan? She felt almost sick when thinking of her beloved sister's treachery. It was like her though. She always wanted her mother's attention, because of the distance the woman had firmly placed between them. Savanna had been content in being Papa's girl, for she liked boyish things and adventures. Tabby had wanted a mother to talk about girlish things with and help pick out a dress for festival. She had always wanted that bond, but in telling did she have it now?

Cornelia listened to the sounds of the ocean, the waves lapping the shore and the rush of water, with a worried expression on her face. "What's the matter, Miss?" Her attendant girl asked, clearly seeing her mistress' distress. Cornelia turned, "I don't know. My heart is heavy, for I miss my husband and I am nervous to see my other daughter. She never really understood my rules, or my form of discipline. How's Tabby?" The attendant shifted uneasily, "She's crying again, Miss. She's very distraught about her sister being upset with her for revealing their house. She's upset, but I think asleep at the moment." Cornelia sighed, "She took it to heart, poor dear. Send some warmed cocoa into the room, and some muffins as well." The girl nodded, and left to tell the cook of the Miss' wishes.

She felt guilty. It was a perfect way to describe the shame that had overcome her when faced with her older daughter. She had tried to hide the truth from herself, and say that she cared nothing for the beasts she had shipped to the markets to dance. She had been busy with Vincent and hadn't let the guilt settle upon her. But when Tabby had shown up there, her eyes shining with tears and her face almost a mirror to what she herself had been like in youth, she had felt that pain. She was a horrible mother. No one in the world could deny that, for she had shown the girls no love or affection. She had not wanted them after all, and lost her figure and her years with them. Their father had been an arranged marriage, and she had wanted out since the very beginning. He wanted children, ha! Let him bear the pain and weight, and then be the one's they bother constantly. Children? Men do not know children, they know the fun and pride, but not the irritation and real pain. Still, all her reasons for refusing them seemed little in the light of her daughter's sudden appearance. Then the news, she had a grand daughter. She was old enough now to not be as shocked at the news. Still.

Vincent was angry, and his rage was barely contained. He didn't want to find Savanna, but his wife did and that was all that mattered. She was his everything, someone that he had to baby and play along with and spoil rotten. That was the game they had played since their marriage, and now she was regretting leaving behind two daughters. He thought it was a horrible time to simply pick back up with them in light of his recent news of his nomination for election. He was to be the perfect man, the one everyone trusted and now his wife was showing up with two children that were not his, but her deceased first husband. He was enraged, but nothing could be done. His hand struck down upon the cool balcony in rage. He couldn't understand why she was letting the guilt captivate her now. She had certainly felt none when she had given them away. He sank into a chair and looked over the glistening city. It would be his. He would win the election, even if it meant risking everything. Saphine would feel his hand over it, he would be the leader, and he would contain the power. That's the real truth, he thought. I am power.

END OF CHAPTER ONE