Chapter 1: Endings

Wind whipping through her hair, Satile stood motionless in the storm, even now seeking a hint of the ones she sought. To the ends of the earth and beyond she would go to find them. Sensing nothing, she kicked off from the ground, battling the wild winds as she took flight.

"There's no way a girl can handle that."

"She's crazy."

"What is she trying to prove? That she's stupid? Cause we already knew that."

Hira ignored the voices behind her as she faced her long-time nemesis Odoric. Gripped tightly in her hands was the weapon she'd been working with ever since she'd finished designing and building it. From the look on Odoric's face he agreed with the whisperers' opinions of her double-ended spear.

"You honestly think you can beat me with that stick of yours?" Odoric sneered.

Refusing to be goaded, the only sign the comments were heard by Hira were her now blazing grey-green eyes. "Well if you're that sure of victory you won't mind fighting me."

Odoric smiled nastily. "Alright but to make it interesting, the loser has to leave and is never allowed to return."

The crowd gasped. Master Iye was the only trainer willing to take on female students. Everyone waited with bated breath for Hira's response. The girl in question was shocked. If she left she'd never be able to finish her training. If the smirk on Odoric's face was any indication, he knew this and was waiting for her to back down. What he didn't know was that Hira no longer had a choice. If she failed to defeat him again, she'd never be able to complete her training as his face and the sense of failure would follow her for the rest of her life.

"Fine. Just remember there are plenty of witnesses."

Odoric snorted. "You're the one who's going to end up leaving."

Hira let the last comment slide, moving carefully into her fighting stance, body loose, spear held diagonally at her left side. Odorice drew his broadsword and levelled it at her. For a few minutes no one moved then, as Hira knew he would, Odoric got impatient and rushed her.

Hira side stepped him and brought her spear up in defense as Odoric swung at her as he ran past. He wheeled about sharply, just in time to jump back as Hira slashed out with her spear. She pressed the attack, whirling her spear back and forth, alternating ends while slashing at Odoric who was forced into the defensive.

She stumbled as her foot found a loose rock in the hard earth of the yard and with a cry of victory, Odoric lunged forward. Hira brought her spear up allowing his blade to slide down its length before flipping it up, sending the sword flying. Before Odoric could move, Hira had one of the blades pressed lightly at the base of his throat. "I win." She panted, lungs afire.

Odoric looked up at her, completely stunned, the rest of the gathered students equally shocked. Hira had often been the buts of jokes being so tall and solid. Most of the students were shorter then her. But mostly it was her sex that counted against her. The boys just couldn't handle the loss of pride that came with losing to a girl, so she became the scapegoat for everything. No one had abused her more then Odoric. Hira had challenged him a dozen times and lost every fight until today. Now that she'd switched from a long sword to a double-ended spear, she was triumphant.

Hira lowered her weapon and took a step back. Everything was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

"Sevilen!" An enraged voice cried.

The young man looked up as Magus Vere strode into his room. "You were supposed to hand in your final project today."

"I handed it in." he replied, not bothering to turn around.

"You mean your final project is a box?"

"Oh but what a box it is." Sevilen replied beaming a he turned around.

"What's so special about your box?" Vere asked, still slightly suspicious.

"Why the lines are completely mathematically straight and of equal length, not to mention how many weeks it took me to dye it that exact shade of teal and…"

"Sevilen your final project was supposed to be something magical! This is a mage school." Vere hissed.

"I know that. Are you telling me you didn't open my box?"

"Yes I did. There's nothing inside."

"You were obviously doing it wrong then. See the little blue marks in the sides? Keep your fingers on them and then open the box."

Following his directions, Magus Vere opened the box and was surprised to once again to see the box was empty. "There's nothing here!"

"What were you thinking when you opened it?"

"Nothing."

"There's your problem. You actually have to think while opening it. Pick an item and think of it then open my box."

Glaring at his student, Magus Vere thought of a rope to strangle Sevilen with and this time when he opened the box, the end of a rope was visible. He pulled and pulled and was soon in possession of a lengthy coil of rope.

"I call it my thought box. It even works with people without magic. It uses the energy of the person opening the box so the spell never has to be re-cast or re-powered." Sevilen explained happily.

Vere just stared at the rope in his hands. He knew Sevilen could be a genius when he wanted to be, so he'd expected something incredible but not something like this. This could change the world. However, before he could say anything, Sevilen took the box from him and stowed it away in his pocket.

Sevilen's normal air of eccentricity disappeared as he spoke to Vere. "I'm going now since I'm a Magus. I doubt we'll ever see each other again so goodbye." Without a single backward glance, Sevilen left the Mage Academy.

The breath in Lena's lungs exploded as she hit the ground hard. Before she could get up she was surrounded. "Please," she whispered, breath still wheezing into her bruised lungs. "Please, I haven't done anything."

"Some kids told us you're the source of the storms, which makes you a mage. All mages must go to the Academy." The lead Magus aid harshly.

"Please. I'm not a mage." Lena was crying now, leaving streaks of clean over her dust covered face. She was starting to get scared. If she really got scared… It'd be bad.

One of the younger Magi grabbed one of her arms and roughly hauled her to her feet and then slapped her. "Stop crying. You're a mage." He hissed.

With teas of pain and fear sliding down her face, Lena felt the first subtle shift that indicated a storm was on its way. The earth bucked, sending all five Magi flying. The ground under Lena remained firm as winds began swirling and gathering dust and sand. Soon a small storm was raging about the Magi giving Lena the opportunity to escape.

The girl ran, crying. Now she was going to have to leave.

From within the shadows, the only things visible of Nourk were his eyes as he watched his target pace the room. There was a knock at the door and the portly merchant opened it and was nearly bowled over by two children shrieking. "Papa! Papa!"

Nourk recoiled, hiding himself deeper into the shadows. This shouldn't be! He'd been assured that Merchant Megon had no children. His contract was quite clear. No women, no men with children.

Well if his employer thought he was going to continue anyway then he was in for one hell of a surprise.

Nourk was forced to wait nearly an hour before he had an opportunity to leave. He slipped out through the window in the attic. He made his way swiftly and silently across the roofs. In only moments he was sliding through the window of his own rooms and taking off his black work-suit. He shook his head as he pulled the tie out of his black hair, letting it hang loosely about his shoulders.

Finished changing, he headed back out to a nearby inn for a late dinner. In the morning he would speak to his employer about the contract he'd agreed to as well as showing him exactly what happened to those who broke his contract.

The door to the inn opened and a young woman entered. Her white blond hair tumbled in waves about her shoulders and back. She was glancing around nervously, looking quite frightened.

Smiling himself, Sevilen got up and walked over to her. He bowed to the woman and said. "Sevilen Guife. At your service."

The girl looked taken aback. "My name's Lena Asperid." She stammered.

Sevilen grinned, blue eyes bright with amusement. "Would you do me the honour of joining me for lunch?"

Lena didn't know what to do. This strange man with his dark green hair seemed harmless but…

The decision left her hands as Sevilen grabbed one of her arms and gently toed her towards his table. He pulled out a chair and handed her int it as if she were a grand lady and he a lord.

Sevilen ordered another chicken pie and salad for Lena, who just stared down at the table too shy and nervous to say anything. When her food arrived she merely stared at that too.

"It's quite good you know.: Sevilen told her.

"Who are you?

"Sevilen."

'But why did you buy me lunch?"

"Because I like rabbits."

What?"

"When you came in you looked like a scared little bunny."

Lena flushed.

Sevilen grinned. "Don't worry about it. So you on the run or something?"

"What? Why would you ask that?"

"Well you keep twitching and looking around as if you expected someone, or a hawk, to be after you."

"I'm not a criminal."

"So then who's after you?"

Lena shocked herself by answering truthfully. "Magi." She whispered.

"Why?"

"Everyone thinks I have magic?"

"Really? Why?"

"Because sometimes weird stuff happens around me."

"Like what?"

"Mostly storms. Dust, fire, ice storms. Sometimes earthquakes. Mostly storms though."

"Interesting. And you say you have no magic?"

"No. I was checked out with all the other children. No magic."

Sevilen's eyes lit up. "Would you permit me to study you? I may be able to ascertain the source of the odd events you described."

"How?"

"I'm a recently graduated Magus. However," He said placing a restraining hand on her arm to prevent her from fleeing. "I am in no way interested in carrying you off to the Academy. It is a stifling place and if as you say you have no conventional magic then it would be a useless exercise to escort you there. Besides, I do not believe the Academy would be pleased to see me so soon after my rather abrupt departure."

"Are you an outcast?"

"I wouldn't have used so blunt a word, but yes. I am something of an outcast." Sevilen replied with a smile. "Not many people at the Academy were…supportive of some of my ideas." Changing the subject completely he asked. "So where are you heading?"

Lena shrugged. "I don't know."

"Well then you will accompany me. It's safer in larger groups as well as this will provide me with an opportunity to study you."

Despite her better judgement, Lena agreed.

Nourk was sitting comfortably in his favourite chair when the door to his rooms burst open. His current employer, the Merchant Perkis, rival of the Merchant Megon his target, strode in, anger etched in every line of his body.

"You said Megon would be dead by morning." He accused.

"And you said he didn't have any children." Nourk snapped back. "That constitutes a breech in my contract so I no longer have to kill him."

Perkis spluttered with rage. "That…that's insane. No decent assassin refuses to kill people."

Nourk snorted. "Then by all means go hire one of these 'decent' assassins."

"Damn you, damn your contract but most of all damn your stupid honour."

Before Perkis knew he's moved, Nourk was behind him, a blade pressed to his back. "Watch you mouth." He said in a deadly whisper. "I don't like people who attempt to trick me and breech my contract. The only reason you're still alive is because Megon is still alive. If I'd killed him and then found out he had children I would have killed you. Now leave before I change my mind."

Perkis whimphered and Nourk stepped away, allowing the merchant to scamper away.

"My, my Nourk. Still getting into fights over your honour?" A mocking voice asked.

"Teslin I'm not in the mood for your games today." Nourk replied not bothering to turn around.

The other assassin appeared in front of him without a sound. "I wasn't planning on any games but if you're offering…" Teslin let the sentence hang, unfinished.

"Go away." Nourk responded, turning around and heading back to his chair.

Teslin beat him to it. "Why don't you sit down and tell me all about it."

"I don't know how many different ways I can tell you this before you get it. I. Want. Nothing. To. Do. With. You. Now please leave."

"You wound me to the core." Teslin replied. "I'll leave you now but I will come back. Eventually you'll se things my way." Two heartbeats passed and then Nourk was once again alone in his rooms.

Hira kicked a stone as she trudged down the road. It's already been a week since she'd been kicked out of Master Iye's. Odoric's father had complained and painted her as the bully leaving Master Iye no choice but ot expel her. That miserable little bastard, she thought venomously as she gave the rock an extra hard kick.

The young warrior was heading for the city of Yemich where it was said you could find anything you wanted and have anything you desired for the right price. Right now all Hira was interested in finding was a job.

Slowly the city appeared down the road, its huge walls dominating the surrounding landscape. The closer to the city she got, the more congested the road became. This had better be worth it the young woman thought.