Talia sat forlornly on the edge of the wall, looking down over past the gates to the palace, her eyes hidden behind her thick glasses, preventing the sun from blinding her. As the light hit various alleys many grotesque things were made plain for the world to see, though it seemed the townspeople were so accustomed to such sights that they had grown up with the inborn knowledge that the suffering on their streets was irrelevant to them. Even small children, playing sweet games of innocence and youth, merely danced around the torment, treating it as one would treat a small scrape on the arm.

          She was well aware of the eyes on her back, seemingly piercing through her skin and bones to brand her soul, as if they could read her mind. Talia gave hardly any notice of her awareness, except a brief glance and an uncaring sigh. With her heightened senses, the reek of the town, and the pain of the glaring sun on her white eyes caused her to shrink down, desperate for open foliage in a thick canopy forest.

          Rising, she turned to the figure below her, descending the stairs unhurriedly. It was a young adult from earlier; his boyish yet sharp face curious in the noon light even as auburn eyes observed her with the utmost attention.

          " Is there something you want, human?" She hissed, her voice unusually indifferent. She was not something to be gawked at, like a fresh catch or a fine mare. He looked hesitant for a second, before determination rushed through him, twined with the slightest colorings of embarrassment.

          " Actually, yes. If I can be so bold, but you are a Downcaster are you not?" He asked, his eyes narrowing perceptively as Talia raised an eyebrow, stepping away from him in irritation. 

          " I care not if I interest you, human. My lineage and my race is my own to share. Go find your humor elsewhere." She brushed him off flippantly, sounding as though she were scolding a defiant child.

          " Wait! That isn't about--- Hey!" Her raced after her, hoping to at least get the rest of his speech out before she grew angry with him. After all, the fury of a Downcaster was legendary, as was their ability to make one suffer.

          " I just was curious about her homeland, Ryndox. Across the Black desert and over the Dragon's coop, so far from here that not even a bird to survive the flight." He exclaimed and the woman paused, suddenly her interest peaked as well. " Where the grass is bluer than the sky and the dirt softer than water. Where the sun is never too bright and the moon never too dark. A place many people claim you can find paradise."

          Talia said nothing for the longest time, her thoughts silent for once until suddenly a dry smirk crossed her lips and she laughed loudly. The boy looked crestfallen and humiliated, his face falling drastically as shame burned his cheeks.

          " You forgot the fact that mountains of gold and jewels appear magically at your feet and poverty is an unknown word to even the poorest of Downcasters." Talia shook her head, an amazed smile still gracing her lips. " I had heard of the wild tales you humans create with your minds, but that? Only in Heaven or in a dream can one find such a place. Paradise is an illusion, you'd do well to remember that."

          The boy nodded, unable to stare at her face. Instead he turned away.

          " I'm sorry to have bothered you miss. I'll leave you to your peace now." He was just beginning to walk away when a soft, lilting voice called after him.

          " I thought you want to learn of my homeland." Talia cried and he turned, hope etched painfully in his eyes.  She was still amazed at how humans wore their emotions so openly, for all to see, including enemies.

          " I must go check on my mount at the moment, but if you would accompany me, I would love to speak of my home. It is quite the tale." Talia smiled at his eager face and gestured that he follow as they made their way to the stable.

                                                .          .          .

          ~ I simply refuse to eat that disgusting grass humans call hay. It tastes like pond grass from a beaver dam.  This kind of treatment is appalling. ~ Winter's flame curled his lip, snorting indignantly as Talia watched him in amusement. She was well aware that the food wasn't that bad, as any of the other horses in the stable found it rather enjoyable. Talia resisted the urge to snort back at him, very conscious of the boy behind her.

          You will eat this, Flame. Or you shall starve. Talia knew her threat was a mere bluff, but the stallion didn't call her on it and instead grumbled, sticking his head down to chew thoughtfully.

          ~ So maybe it isn't so bad.~ He amended and Talia laughed out loud at that, her amusement a relief from the miserable town.  

          " So what people say is true." The boy whispered in awe and she turned to look at him in shock. Now what was he on about?

          " Rumor has it that Downcaster's can communicate with animals. I had no idea it was true." He explained quickly, seeing the way her face scrunched up in bafflement.

          " Of course. I had forgotten just how much you humans knew about my lands." A somber look filtered through her eyes, though he didn't know, and her lips fell in to a deep frown. She missed her home greatly.

          " You know," A soft, almost understanding look came in to his eyes. " You do not have to tell me anything if you don't want to. I don't want to drudge up any bad memories or anything." For a wild moment, Talia seriously wondered if perhaps the boy had some psychic abilities but immediately tossed the idea to the winds. No human had ever carried such a gift, to be empathy towards her emotions.

          " No, I shall tell you of my homeland, someday soon. You are correct though, to think that now would be hard for me to speak on such matters. So why do you not instead show me around this place? If it is no bother to you, of course." Talia bit back a sincere smile, but let her frown fade and her face relax almost trustingly.  

          The boy grinned madly, a happy-go-lucky smile forming across his features.

          " As you wish, milady. It is not often I get to show a woman such as yourself around. If you would kindly follow me." Bowing dramatically and letting pass with a sweeping gesture, Talia felt blood heat in her face and she went stiff, her steps small.

          She was so distracted, that she never heard Flame's response to the barrage of light colors that danced through his mind.

          ~Two-legs and their pathetic mating rituals.~  With a drastic rolling of his eyes, Winter's Flame went back to his food, content to eat it despite the lack of true taste.