I shifted fitfully in my sleep. My hand reached out for my familiar comforter and met with air. I opened my eyes hesitantly, afraid of being forced to face the morning-face the world. I wanted to stay in my sleeping haven and pretend that the world didn't even exist.But I wanted my blanket, too, and I wouldn't find it with my eyes closed.

Being a practical girl, there isn't really much that phases me. I've seen plenty of strange things happen in my life, so my definition of normal is pretty broad. Going to sleep in your own bed and waking up to see a bright blue sky didn't really fit in that definition, though.

For a minute I just lay there, knowing I should be surprised, but unable to do anything but blink at the cheerful sky overhead. I sat up and realized I was in a meadow, complete with bright sunshine, flowers, and grazing deer. It was all very storybook. Definitely not even strange by my standards. There was only one phrase that could express what I felt, sitting in the middle of that meadow when I should have been in bed:

What the fuck?!

I closed my eyes and shook my head, trying to rid myself of the stupid dream-it had to be a dream-but it was still there when I opened my eyes again. I bit my lip, it couldn't be real... I pinched myself. It hurt. Crap.

I scanned the area for any immediate threat and found none. I stood, and gave the horizon a good look.

No buildings.

Just......... trees.........

Crap.

This was just too much. This was the kind of thing that you read about in really cliché shojou manga. This was the kind of thing you expected to occur in fairytales, or dreams. Not waking life. Just......... no. But the meadow wasn't going anywhere, and neither was I. I took stock; for some sick reason, I had my backpack. I supposed that was good. It had a sweatshirt in it, snacks, my CD player......... my books......... and my cell phone.

Cell phone!

I picked it up and dialed home.

No service.

I sighed. It figured.It looked like I was good and stuck, now. Maybe I'd been kidnapped? If I had been, my kidnapper hadn't been very smart. It wasn't like anything was keeping me here. And it wasn't like my family would ever pay a ransom to get me back, anyway. I scanned the meadow again, looking for any sign of a trail. Of course, keeping with the way my luck was going, there wasn't one. But if I had been kidnapped, it was probably best I got out of here, I couldn't just stay there in the middle of some random field regardless. So obviously, it was time to do the stupid thing. I spun around in a circle and chanted "eeny meeny miney moe." Judging from the light and the position of the sun, it looked like I was heading west. I contemplated turning around and going east instead, just so I wouldn't have to think of my home any anything the west signified to me. But it was stupid to turn around just because I didn't like west. I hung my head and chuckled to myself. West would do. I gathered my things, gave one last sigh of "why me," and headed off toward the trees.

____________

At dusk, I was just about ready to give up and leave myself for dead. There were plenty of hills in the city, and I had to ride my bike everywhere, so it wasn't like I was out of shape. But after awhile that backpack got pretty damn heavy. And I hadn't found water until well after noon. And even then the pathetic little creek I was following didn't exactly provide bottled mountain spring water. The thing that was really getting to me though, was the fact that the only living creature I had encountered since entering the forest was a mosquito. Just one. There was absolutely no sign of life except for me, and the god damn trees. If I had been kidnapped, I couldn't understand why on earth my kidnapper would take me here, he'd probably gone mad with the solitude and run off. Which was pretty lame. Almost worse than his decision to kidnap me when he would never benefit from it. Most likely nobody would even miss me. I jumped over a short rock in my path and kicked a stone on the other side into my creek. This was so lame. Like not even funny. I came upon a mossy patch by my piddly little stream and decided it was time to stop. I let my bag fall heavily to the ground, and followed it with my ass shortly after. I watched the stream flow fitfully for a while, before finally releasing my mind to the inevitable.

Was anybody worried about me?

It was only a temporary lapse of sanity, but one had to wonder. Did anyone even know I was here? Wherever the hell here was. I shook my head, ridding myself of my own thoughts coming much easier than ridding myself of my surroundings. The police would come eventually. Or a park ranger, or somebody. Then it wouldn't matter if anyone missed me, because I wouldn't be gone anymore.

The thought wasn't exactly as comforting as it should've been.

Night settled as I watched my stream, and I exhaled a long breath. I arranged my backpack and put on my sweatshirt to make a bed. It sure wasn't any motel 6, but it wasn't like I really had another choice. Christ, what I wouldn't do for a motel 6. It was useless hoping, but jeez, camping with nothing but your backpack and a sweatshirt was just sad. I put on my headphones and lay down. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew sleeping next to a creek was just asking for pneumonia, but I really couldn't find the energy to care. Maybe it didn't get dewy in the mornings around here. I was considering the chances of it actually being warm enough in the morning to eradicate dew, when sleep took me. Who knew? Maybe I would wake up safe in my own bed and find it all a dream after all.

When morning came, I had no such luck.

It was FREEZING.

I could not, in all my wildest imaginings, have ever thought that a fricking forest could be so god damn cold. It was as if somebody had made a skeleton of ice and replaced all my bones with it. And not only was I cold, I was wet. I hated being cold, but being cold and wet was comprable to a root canal. I shivered violently, my body pathetically trying to warm itself up. I sneezed: definitely getting a cold from that smart move. Just why had I slept next to a fucking water source last night?!

Oh, right.

Too lazy to care.

.........

Things could not possibly get any worse.

Just where the hell was I anyway?!

I rubbed my eyes, angrily scrubbing back tears of frustration that threatened to burst from them. Now was not the time to cry. I was already plenty wet enough. I sighed yet again and shoved my stuff in my bag, then hauled the bag onto my back. The feeling of wet and heavy bag against my equally wet and heavy sweatshirt created a squishing sensation that I thought I could have lived quite contentedly for the rest of my life should I have never felt it. I began to trudge forward, rubbing my arms, hoping the movement would warm me up. Why was it that whenever one was cold and wet, all ways of drying off and warming up were like, far away? I walked aimlessly, muttering angrily to myself and trying to imagine a single place on earth I could hate more than here. I couldn't think of any.

The scenery was so unchanging on my trek that by noon it seemed I hadn't even moved. My moss patch was gone, but the stupid creek was still at my left, the trees on my right. The only thing that had really changed was my degree of dampness. The sun had begun to dry out my jeans and tee shirt, and I had been able to ditch my sweatshirt in hopes of drying faster. I was still incredibly cold. I was so cold, in fact, that I might even kiss my mother had she suddenly appeared with an armload of cozy blankets. Ugh, or a shower. The dew had not exactly been a refreshing experience. When was the last time I had showered? This stupid forest was so lame and maddening that it almost felt like I had been wandering through it for months instead of days. My hair was an untamable mass of waves and curls by now, and I didn't even want to think about how many brushes I would break on it trying to comb it out later. To think, before this I had been sleeping in a nice warm bed with a down comforter. I had a shower and conditioner. Now, all I had was my creek, the occasional ground-cover, and the fucking trees. What did I ever do to deserve this? What could I have possibly done?! I made myself take a deep breath. It wasn't really like me to get worked up about anything, but this was just unbelievable. I was going to die lost and alone in this stupid forest. This just sucked!

I was forcibly jolted out of my angry reverie by a very disturbing growl. From my stomach.

I didn't reach for my snacks. Who knew how long they would have to last? Of course, I'd probably get eaten by a bear before I needed anything anyway. Then again, I still hadn't encountered any cute and cuddly forest creatures. Maybe they didn't have any bears here. Or maybe the bears ate all the cute and cuddly creatures. A flash of white ahead made me break my train of thought and look up.

I stopped as if hit by an invisible wall. I had finally come across with another living creature. Either that or I'd finally gone insane. I was betting on insane. The figure before me could only be described with a name that doesn't usually apply to real animals. They were supposed to be imaginary. But it was the only name that fit. There, drinking peacefully from the creek.........

Was a unicorn.

I may not have had a cute dog to accompany me, but I definitely wasn't in Kansas anymore.

I don't know how long I simply stood there staring. Part of me knew I was hallucinating, but the part that controlled my eyes couldn't look away. Maybe I'd been drugged when I was kidnapped? That made sense. It would explain why I hadn't woken up until I was already in the meadow. Why I would start hallucinating now though? The unicorn looked up slowly, eyes almost bored. Yet they seemed to see right through my very soul. I shivered, and this time it had nothing to do with the cold. Then suddenly it occurred to me to be frightened; I mean there was a two and a half foot horn pointed in my direction. I swallowed hard. All it would have to do was run at me, and I would be dead, skewered on that glittering white horn like some perverse shishkabob. The unicorn started to move toward me, and I panicked. I'd never assumed myself particularly brave, but I'd never thought myself the deer-caught-in-the-headlights sort either. The creature gained speed, and my fight or flight instinct kicked in. I tried to pick up my feet, and found they were quite effectively stuck. Like anchors in a sea of quicksand.

Shit.

"Oh for christ's sake! Somebody, anybody! HELP!!!" I screamed, glad at least that my voice still worked. I don't know who I expected to save me, but I screamed my very heart out. "HEEEEEEEEEEEELP!!!!!"

The unicorn reared, and I shut my eyes tightly, expecting to be stabbed or trampled.

"Woah! Kirin, woah! You stupid beast, calm down!"

My eyes sprung wide open. There, holding down the unicorn, was a boy. A boy. Holding down the unicorn.

What the hell?!

Well, I guess I wasn't hallucinating...

After the unicorn was sufficiently pacified, the boy turned and glared at me. He couldn't have been any older than thirteen, and at second glance I wasn't so sure he was a boy at all. He was certainly adorable enough to be a girl.

"Who the hell 're you ter be stupid enough ter scare a unicorn?!" he demanded. "What're you wearin'? 'Re you even from 'round here?!" he didn't pause to let me answer. "The prince will have yer head if you be a foreigner, you know! I ne'er expected to actually find any a' you foreigners on this jaunt. What a surprise! You must be awfully stupid, I suppose. Jus' walkin' around, askin' fer your head ter be cut off. You know I-"

"--JILL!"

The boy cringed and bowed low. I blinked. The owner of the voice that had interrupted my savior so abruptly emerged from the trees, and I gasped. He was somewhere around my age, older. Black hair, olive skin, blue eyes. He was wearing an outfit I would expect on a prince from some medieval festival, the jacket hanging open scruffily in the front. He looked annoyed. And tired. And he was riding a horse. What I wouldn't kill for a horse to walk for me right about now... I think he noticed the greedy look in my eyes as I thought of my heavy bag and tired legs, because he gave me a once over, and turned the stallion sideways.

"Jill, help the girl up. She looks like shit. And keep Kirin under control, damn it. We came all this way just to fucking find her, and I don't really feel like doing it again." He comanded, rubbing his forehead like he had a bad headache. Jill blinked, and I tried not to growl. Looked like shit, huh?!

"But, yer Highness, she be a foreigner-" Jill began to protest, but cut himself off. The Prince-I assumed he was 'the prince'-was giving him a dry look that clearly told him to just shut up. Jill bowed and scrambled over to me, "Your bag, miss." He held out his arms and kept his head down in an imitation of perfect servitude. I caught his eyebrow twitch; he didn't look like the type to serve just anybody. I looked at the prince questioningly, but he just nodded toward Jill, motioning that I should give him the bag.

I handed it to him hesitantly, and he took it quickly, stringing it up with the saddle bags already on the prince's horse. Then he knelt on the ground, making his back into a table I could use to climb up onto the horse. I gaped in open mouthed shock.

"The Miss should hurry." Jill said flatly. "The Prince is somewhat rushed today."

I shook my head to signal my refusal and to clear away some of the initial shock, then made my way around to the other side of the horse and scrambled up on my own. The Prince peered at me over his shoulder, considering me. I couldn't be sure, but he seemed to half=smile. In jest at some stupidity of mine or in approval, I would never know. He brought his eyes forward and switched the reins, and his stallion trotted obediently forward. I looked behind for Jill, and found him atop the unicorn, trotting energetically. The creature seemed to like him, and he laughed and stroked the animal's broad neck when it decided to play. Jill's eyes immediately turned suspicious as he caught me watching, though. I turned my gaze forward and exhaled slowly.

What the hell had I gotten myself into NOW?!

I yelped as the stallion unexpectedly jumped over some tall undergrowth and clung to the body seated in front of me to prevent myself from falling off. Jill laughed openly, and the prince gave me a confused and slightly annoyed look over his shoulder again.

"You sit like you've never been on a horse before. For christ's sake, at least hang on. I've already gone enough out of my way giving you a lift, don't embarrass me and fall off like an idiot now." He said stiffly. I flared up, every female defensive instict I had screaming foul play. Who the hell did he think he was, talking to me like that?!

"So I've never been on a horse before! It's not like I asked you to give me a ride, anyway. I was doing just fine by myself." I hissed. He turned to get a better look at me, surprise written all over his face. I could tell Jill had nearly died behind me. I held my ground and glared at him, all of my insultion clearly visible in my eyes. He seemed to read something in my eyes that I wasn't showing, because to my surprise (and Jill's), he threw back his head, and he laughed.

"You walk through Reicain Forest alone on foot, wear strange clothes, and carry obviously worthless supplies. You scream in the presence of a unicorn, and don't run when foreign travelers have been exiled from my kingdom and you've been found by it's prince. Then you refuse to step on my servant, and yell at me. All of this, and you've never been on a horse. My my girlie, aren't you something." He shook his head and made the horse gallop, forcing me to hang on even tighter and laughing at my expense. I knew that this guy had just saved me from walking aimlessly for what could easily have been the rest of my pathetic existence, but a girl could only take so much. I held on to his jacket so tightly that my knuckles went white.

"Look, I don't know where the hell Reincan=whatever Forest is, you're the one dressed funny, and it's not my fault I got stuck hauling my fricking books! And so what if I screamed?! What was I supposed to do?! Unicorns don't exist, and it was pointing that damn horn at me! And I don't even know where the hell I am, I didn't even know there were people here until Jill showed up! And excuse me for not wanting to step on him! He saved my life, I'm not just going to step on him! And why shouldn't I yell at you?! And damnit, there aren't any horses where I live! How would I know how to ride one?!" All throughout my tirade, the prince's face became more and more shocked and confused, and Jill's eyes widened to unimaginable startlement. I didn't notice. By the end of it I was crying, and I didn't care. The stupid prince had no right to insult me. I hadn't asked for any of this! Not a single bit of it! I wanted to go home. I wanted to take a bath, change into my warmest, softest clothes, crawl into bed and never wake up. I hated this place. I just wanted to go home!

It started to rain, and the prince turned away, face shadowed. He stopped the horse and got off, walking around to the saddle bags. At first I thought he was going to make me get off the horse and walk again, and I couldn't say I blamed him. But he didn't make me get off. He pulled out two cloaks from the bags, threw one to Jill, and draped the other around me. He climbed back on behind me, and I stopped crying I was so surprised. What was this?! Was he apollogizing for being such an asshole? I couldn't believe it. He slid his arms around my waist to hold the rains, and I was tempted to feel insulted again. Was he hitting on me now?! I started to cry again. I think even if my mother came just as she always did I would be happy to see her now.

"Won't you catch cold?" I asked, hiccuping slightly. I blinked. Where had that come from? I didn't want to say that!

He didn't look at me, "Don't worry about it, stupid. You're the girl. You can sleep if you need to, I won't let you fall off." He said, voice gruff, and somewhat insulted. Suddenly the prince seemed to be an open book. He was a guy. He had to act like an asshole, it was an image thing. Maybe. But it was the only good explanation I could think of for him being nice at all. And at least he wasn't hitting on me, though I wasn't sure whether or not to be insulted about the 'falling off' bit. The worst part made me blush in embarrassment. He was warm. I was still freezing from my camp out, and shaking from the combination of crying and the cold. I couldn't help but appreciate the little added warmth the cloak and his body gave.

Jill pulled the unicorn up next to the Prince's horse and bowed his head, smiling apollogetically. His whole attitude had changed when he realized I figured he'd saved my life, and I didn't mind a bit. I smiled back at him. He was a cute little boy, even if he talked a bit much without the prince around.

"Miss, what's your name?" Jill asked.

".........Kadelia. Call me Kady." I offered feebly, feeling sleepy in the warm folds of the cloak. Jill smiled brighter, and I felt as if my clothes had just come out of the dryer.

"Have no fear, Miss Kady, you don' have t' worry your pretty lil' head one bit from here on out. The prince migh' not seem ter be a thrilling travelin' companion at firs' but he'll warm up. An' Kirin'll make sure you stay good 'n warm until we get back ter the palace. She likes you."

I studied Jill, not really intending to. He reminded me of my little brother-suspicious until he thought he knew you, then yours for life. I liked Jill a lot for that. I don't think he'd ever been treated as a person by anybody besides the prince, it made me happy to think that I was one of the special people who got to be "taken care of" by such a sweet little boy. My eyes grew distant unintentionally, and I think Jill thought I was doubting his care, because he continued with, "The prince an' I won' let anythin' bad come your way, will we, Lyr?" He grinned in self-assurance. Then his eyes widened, and he covered his mouth as if he'd just said something he could have his tongue removed for. "I mean' ter say your Highness! I did!" He defended, looking panicked.

The prince turned his head slightly to acknowledge Jill, and this time I did catch his semi-sarcastic half-smile. "We don't have anyone to please here, Jill. Miss Kady has no expectations of us as royalty and servant, we can't let her down by acting regal around her." He didn't sound arrogant or condescending at all. He sounded almost happy actually. Huh, so he was a rebel. Didn't like the whole prince gig, eh? I couldn't really say I understood, I wasn't even sure if he really was a prince, but hell, I'd already seen unicorns today. Prince was perfectly reasonable. "My name is Lyren, but you can call me whatever you want." He informed me casually. He kept his voice nonchalant, and I got the feeling he really could care less what I called him. But I knew better, because I was the same as him. Anything but Kadelia, anything but highness. I gave a sarcastic chuckle.

"Sure Lyr, whatever." I said groggily. My eyes fluttered closed and I yawned. I must've really caught a cold if I was sleepy now, but the cloak and Lyren were so warm, and my eyelids were so heavy.........

The last thing I felt before falling soundly asleep were Lyren's exceptionally strong arms positioning themselves just right so my weight wouldn't shift and send me tumbling off the horse.

Maybe he was a prince after all.

"Is she asleep?" Jill asked Lyren, drawing Kirin even closer to the prince's horse. Lyren just nodded. "Where d'you think she came from?" youthful curiosity bubbled out as Jill peered over at his find.

Lyren looked down at the sleeping lump of flesh beneath him and shrugged. "I have an idea." He said darkly. Her hair put her somewhere in Vianell, but her clothes were completely foreign. Not to mention she thought unicorns weren't real, and didn't treat him like a prince. No Vianellian would ever act as she had. She could have been from the lands across the Grenin mountains, but she had the wrong colorings and language. And they were a horse people. None of the surrounding countries were capable of producing anything like this girl, which left him with only one option. He couldn't get his hopes up yet, though. There could be other explanations.

"Do you think......... do you think she's......... from the Prophecies?" Jill asked, not wanting to say anything inappropriate.

Lyren scrutinized the girl carefully, "No," his eyes grew hard. "She's not," he slumped, too tired to sit upright, but still making sure the girl was secure. "She's just lost."

Jill looked at the prince with sad and knowing eyes.

"Let's just get back to Via." Lyren said, not wanting to see the look in his servant's eyes. He spurred his stallion on, and didn't slow down until he reached the neon lights of home.

A/N: Yo. Long time no......... anything. Here you have it, another of my strange and twisted fairytales. Heh, it looks like a fantasy, doesn't it. Hell, this chapter is even good fodder for a shoujo manga. But I promise it doesn't stay like this for long. And if you like it this way, don't worry, I'm not so random I won't come back to it. Please review and let me know what you think so far. ^_^