A.N. Wy and Jessie: Haha. You guys were mean to me about having too many stories, now I'm going to be mean to you by writing more! More storylines for you to keep track of. *laughs evilly* :P Too bad, too bad. Lalalaalalaaaala. Hehehehe. Serves you right, you big meanies. lol. jj

Thaliana

Arianna Wings

Prologue

            The day that King Rolg of Leon invaded the city of Corvus, many fled by way of ship – the only route where Rolg bore weakness. Among them was a child, no taller than a large dog, with short cropped blond hair and large grey eyes. A youth of similar colouring held fast onto her hand as they ran from shipyard to shipyard.

            "Athdar, I'm tired," the child whined. "I don't want to run anymore. I want to go home."

            "Not now, Tilla," the youth replied impatiently.

            "But –"

            "Hush."

            They continued to run, the youth hurriedly questioning each shipmaster and receiving a shake of the head before continuing down the docks. Finally, they came to the end of the row.

            "I need you to take my sister to Leon," the youth said.

            "Leon? Are you crazy, boy? Besides, I've no room left in any of my ships. Half of them are already headed down the river," the shipmaster replied.

            "I don't care if all you have left is a dinghy. Bring her to Leon."

            "You're daft, boy. If them in Leon see a Cornixian ship sailing down the river, they'll loose the catapult stones for sure."

            "That wasn't a request, sir. Yours is the last shipyard in this town and you're damn well going to do as I say."

            At this the shipmaster froze and stared at him, his face slowly turning red with anger as he stepped threateningly towards the youth.

            "Now listen here, sonny. I don't care if you're the king himself. Nobody talks to Jack Ronsheir like that."

            The youth narrowed his eyes and nodded slowly in acknowledgement. "How much do you want?"

            "A man doesn't put a price on his life," the shipmaster scoffed.

            "Not on that of his sister. I said name your price, man."

            The shipmaster stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Twenty silver."

            Athdar scowled and took out his pouch, shoving it into the man's hands. If he had had a choice, he would never have entrusted his sister to this man.

            "I only have gold. You'll find thrice the sum you want in there. Take her to Mallick's Forest and leave her by the Oak Spring. Her name is Tilla. That is all you need to know."

            The shipmaster frowned at the cryptic instructions, but said nothing. Dar knelt down beside his sister, as he pulled a small vial from his vest pocket.

            "Here, Tilla. Drink this," he told her.

            The child obeyed meekly. As soon as the liquid reached her throat, her eyes drooped and she fell forward. Dar caught her and lifted her up gently.

            "When she wakes, she will remember nothing of her past. Tell her only her name," he instructed, handing the limp form to the shipmaster.

            The man nodded dumbly and watched as the youth disappeared back into the crowd.