Author's Note: This story was written in response to something called a 'ficathon' Basically that means that a bunch of authors get together, write down what they want to see in a story, and then someone else writes it. So anyway, my assignment was as follows:

Genre: Fantasy with mild romance and action.
Rating: Any
Likes: Something unique.
Dislikes: Same old plots, slightly different characters.
Words/phrases to use: "I didn't know it was going to do THAT..."; sarcastic behaviour; wings.

So here it is for your reading enjoyment! Have fun


Never Knows Best

Chapter One

Distract Them While I Run Away

This is bad...


Want me to bite their heads off?

"Nah, that'll just get us in more trouble."

How so?

"Because! Then the Guard will be after us as well! Really, Faeron, you need to think more."

That's funny coming from you.

"Shut up!" Arvan snapped to his companion. "I think I hear them coming." He crouched down in the brush, listening to the snapping of twigs under the boots of their pursuers. Faeron hovered behind him, his serpentine body twisted around the trees, wings folded and reptilian head lowered to Arvan's level. His breath was hot and loud in Arvan's ear, and the man wondered how those bloody syndicate goons didn't hear the dragon hiding mere feet from where they stood.

Slowly, a group of about a dozen men emerged from the forest where the pair was hiding. They were all dressed in orange tunics with rusting, ill-fitting armor overtop and flat, bucket-like helmets. Both helmets and breastplates were marked with a sharply angled spiral to mark them members of the Hal Moon Syndicate, a group of heartless rogues who had been nothing but a pain in Arvan's ass for the past year. "I can't believe these retards are giving me so much trouble!" Arvan groaned.

You never should have picked a fight with them in that bar, Faeron pointed out.

"Don't you think I know that!" Arvan snarled. "Why don't you stop harassing me with your hindsight and bite their heads off or something?"

I thought you didn't want me to do that. The dragon's lips curled up in what could be considered a smirk.

"Alright, new plan," Arvan sighed. "You distract them and I'll run away."

Why don't you distract them while I run away? Faeron whined.

Arvan rubbed his temples and groaned. The dragon was beginning to get on his nerves. Why had he ever picked him up in the first place? Had he really been delusional enough to think that having a dragon companion would be cool? There was no doubt about it, he'd spent too much time breathing in poppy dust as a child. "Because," He sneered, "You can fly and I cannot. And anyway, if they see a dragon hanging around here they'll probably all wet themselves and take off, understand?"

Faeron looked decidedly put out, but he finally agreed and stretched out his wings. With a final snort at Arvan, he lifted himself up into the air and soared above the Half Moon Syndicate members. Arvan watched with pleasure as they all jumped and started shouting and pointing at the majestic beast making slow circles overhead. Chuckling to himself and silently thanking his partner, Arvan slunk away from the gaping syndicate peons and quietly made his escape. When he was far enough away, he started running towards the distant cliffs, hoping to find shelter there. "So long, suckers!" He called over his shoulder into the night, before promptly running into a tree.

Shanae Nimaar sat against the wall of her small cabin in the forest, gazing at the stars through the trees. Her small home was nestled comfortably against the cliff face where the rest of her people lived. If she cared to look, she would be able to see their homes, built into the sides of the cliffs, with the wooden walks between them and hanging torches to light the way. But she didn't look. Instead she looked in the opposite direction towards the clear night sky. The stars twinkled overhead. She's always liked the stars. Unlike everything else in her life, they shone just as brightly for her as they did for everyone else.

She was tempted to turn around, to look back at all her relatives living on the cliff side without her, but she brushed it away.'Who needs them anyway?' she scoffed. She crossed her arms stubbornly and fixed her gaze on The Lantern, the guiding star, and the brightest in the sky.

A pair of children came flying into her view, their wingbeats clumsy at best, but they were in the air, at least. They laughed and giggled as they played tag in the air, revelling in their newfound ability to soar above the trees. Shanae ruffled her own feathers irritably, and longed to yell at the children to shut up and go to bed. It was too late to be playing anyway, but the Lashrinian children never listened to her. Not her, not the girl who couldn't fly.

A woman's voice came from above, yelling to the children to come inside for bed. 'About time,' Shanae thought. She watched as the children groaned and took their time going back in, doing loops in the air and flying as slowly as possible. The woman calling the children caught sight of Shanae down below and shot her a look of pity that made Shanae scowl. She didn't want their pity! She didn't want anything to do with them!

'Then why do you stay so close?' a voice in her head wondered.

"It's convenient!" She told herself, standing up from her spot on the ground and straightening her clothes hurriedly. She spun on her heel and stalked back into her cabin. She was sick of watching the stars! Especially when noisy brats kept interrupting her! She grumbled to herself about the other Lashrinians living high above as she burst into her washing chamber and stomped over to the mirror and washbasin. She splashed some water on her face and scrubbed hard, her fingers still twitching with rage. How dare they treat her like some charity case! "I don't need them! And I don't need to fly either!"

Shanae's fingers tensed around the worn piece of cloth she was using to wash her face. Her taloned nails dug into to fabric and tore holes in it. She could feel her shoulders shaking and forced herself to take a few deep breaths to calm down. "I don't need them." She told herself. "I do just fine without flying. They have nothing to do with me, so why should I let what they think bother me?" The answer was simple; she shouldn't.

Slowly, she straightened out and gazed into her mirror. The woman that gazed back at her was Lashrinian to the core, but Shanae didn't feel like it. Shanae was in every way a beautiful Lashrinian woman. A humanoid figure with crystal clear skin and a tall, willowy body. Her eyes were pure gold and birdlike, with a diamond-shaped pupil. Her hair was snowy white, tipped in black, twisted together in clumps to resemble feathers and pulled up out of her face with a black strip of leather. Her nails were thick and strong, and sprouting from her back were a pair of large white-feathered wings which, like her hair, were also tipped in black. She definitely looked Lashrinian, but she didn't feel it.

Shanae forced a smile at her reflection and tried to picture herself without the wings. She would look mostly human then, except for maybe the eyes. But humans rarely noticed things like that. If she could just get rid of the useless growths on her back she could live with the humans in peace. However, years of growing up believing humans to be inferior and pitiable had left her somewhat reluctant to join the lesser race.

She shook her head sadly and slumped out of the washroom towards her bedroom. There was nothing she could do about her situation now. She would live on the ground, separate from the rest of her race and die a bitter old hag. It was sad to think of it, but she would probably live out the rest of her life alone.

Shanae kicked off her skirt and threw aside her poncho, leaving her only in a pair of loose slacks that cut off just below her knees and a tiny sleeveless top. She pulled aside the blankets on her bed and yawned loudly. All she wanted to do now was sleep. She had a lot of things to do the next day and she didn't want to be worn out for them. She was about to crawl in to her comfy bed when she heard a small racket outside. She paused, blanket still in hand, and strained her ears to listen.

The noise came again, the sound of trees rustling and twigs snapping underfoot. She knew the sounds to be similar to those of an animal being chased, but whatever was outside was definitely much longer than the occasional rabbit or deer she usually encountered. Curious, and a little bit confused, Shanae dropped the blanket and started for the door to see if she could figure out what kind of animal was jumping around outside her home.

However, before she could even get to her bedroom door she heard a loud crash, followed closely by a thump and a slam that announced that someone had just burst through her front door. Shanae's heart nearly stopped and constricted in terror. Before she even had time to think a man came bursting into her room and slammed into her, sending them both sprawling to the floor.

Shanae opened her mouth and started to scream, but a course hand was quickly slammed over her mouth. Shanae squirmed and fought against her attacker until a surprisingly soft and almost desperate sounding male voice cut her off. "Please don't scream." The man begged, "Please?"

Shanae glared at him but stopped her attempts to fight him off. He had his head turned towards the bedroom door, and it seemed to Shanae that he was holding his breath. From what she could see, he was a human. His hair was light brown and tied back in a ponytail not unlike her own, although his hair was considerably shorter and straight. He had a pleasant, boyish face and tall, almost wiry body although Shanae could feel his firm muscles tense as he watched the door. His blue eyes were wide with fear.

After only a few moments, the sounds of metal clanging and heavy footsteps followed the man into the clearing where her home lay. The man squeezed his eyes shut and started muttering under his breath. "Please go away, please, please, please go away!"

There was a sharp knock at her door. "Dammit!" the man cursed. He removed his hand from her mouth and looked at her pleadingly. "You have to tell them I'm not here." He said.

"Why should I help you?" She hissed.

"Please?" He begged, "You just keep them distracted at the door and I'll sneak out the window, okay?"

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't just turn you in. You could be a criminal for all I know!" Shanae growled, "Is that the guard at my door?"

"No! No!" He promised, "Not the guard, I swear. They're bad guys and they're after me! I'm not sure why! Just help me get away and you'll never see me again!"

Shanae growled a curse under her breath but nodded sharply at him.

"Thank you!" He gasped, getting off her and helping her to her feet.

"Just get out of here!" Shanae snapped, storming towards her door. If he had lied and it was the guard at her door, she would gladly hand him over. How dare he barge into her home like that!

Still fuming, Shanae stormed over to her front door and flung it open. "What!" She roared at the group of men standing there. The men seemed to jump and took a step back from her. There were six of them, all dressed in a uniform that Shanae didn't recognize. Of course, living among the Lashrinian cliffs her whole life left her rather sheltered. There was one thing about them, however, that stood out: the sharply angled spiral on their armor that made her search her memory for where she'd heard of a symbol like that before.

"We are very sorry to disturb you, M'lady," The man in front said, giving her a short bow that was proper for a human to give to the higher races. "We were pursuing a wanted man and were wondering if he had come by this way." He coughed uncertainly and turned his face from her. 'What's his problem?' Shanae wondered before looking down at herself and blushing. She was in her underclothes! No wonder he looked so uncomfortable! Damn that man for making her answer the door this way! "I haven't seen any man!" She snapped, trying to cover her embarrassment. "Now go away." She moved to slam the door but the man's meaty hand stopped her.

"Beg your pardon," He said, "But would M'lady protest to a search of her home?"

"Yes, she would." Shanae growled. "Get lost. There's no one here." She wondered if the man had gotten out the window yet? A soft thud followed by a curse answered her question. That idiot had probably fallen out her window!

Unfortunately for him the men heard it as well and raced around the house to catch him. Well, all except the man who'd spoken to her, who was now looking at her with dark eyes. "So you lied, girl." He growled. 'Girl? What happened to M'lady?' "The Half Moon Syndicate doesn't take liars lightly." He reached for the sword hanging at his side and started to unsheathe it. Shanae gulped in terror. The Half Moon Syndicate! Of course that was what that symbol represented! Tura, she was such an idiot!

"Why were you trying to hide him?" The man questioned, advancing on her. "Are you working with him? His whore, perhaps?" He took out his sword and swung at her, but Shanae managed to sidestep away from him and dodge the blow. The man wheeled around to face her, glaring coldly. "Well little birdie, you've messed with the wrong man today!" Shanae couldn't believe her misfortune. She'd only heard stories, but the members of the Half Moon Syndicate, or HMS as it was casually referred to, were known to be vicious and quick tempered. They expected everyone, everywhere, to grovel at their feet no matter what race they belonged to. But despite their arrogance, they were ultimately some of the best fighters and villains that could be scrounged up. She'd insulted this one's pride by taking them so lightly and now she was going to pay for it.

Shanae squeezed her eyes shut in terror as the man dashed forward, sword raised and ready to come down on her in a killing blow. But before he could slice her in half she heard a grunt and the strike never came.

To her surprise, when she opened her eyes she saw the strange man attack the HMS grunt and slam the pommel of his sword into his head. The grunt moaned and slid down to the ground, unconscious. Shanae was relieved, but it was short-lived. The rest of the syndicate men came running around the corner of her cabin and ran for the man...and her as well!

"Run away!" The man screamed, grabbing her wrist as he dashed into the forest. Shanae yelped in surprise but quickly found her footing and ran after him. In the beginning he was half dragging her through the trees but soon she was taking the lead. She'd found that if she pumped her wings slightly and lifted her feet she could leap great distances and skim over the ground, giving her a burst of speed. It was the closest to flying she'd ever gotten, but she used the technique often when hunting rabbits and deer for food.

"Hey, slow down! Where are you going?" The guy called.

"Follow me," Shanae replied. She didn't have then energy to explain, but she knew the man would follow anyway. She knew these woods like she knew her own cabin, and she knew all the best places to hide. She veered to the right and started heading down a barely-there path that winded up the side of the cliff face. It was rather steep and harder to run up, but the HMS guys would have a harder time of it in that heavy armor. The man behind her panted and groaned, but kept up surprisingly well as she followed the path upwards, using her wings to make it easier. She knew that on the top of the cliff there was a small cave that went underground and the entrance was well hidden. It was a common place for Lashrinian children to play, but the humans wouldn't be able to find it, especially not in the dark.

The men's voices behind them were slowly dying down and Shanae nearly laughed with relief, but didn't stop. She continued bounding up the mountainside, giving little thought to how tired she was. She was surprised that the man didn't even stumble on the thick underbrush in the dark. He must have had exceptional eyes to be able to find his way down the path.

"Here!" Shanae hissed suddenly, veering off the path and sliding between a few tree roots and into the cave hidden below. The man followed, probably seeing her wings disappear into the ground and use them as a guide. After a few seconds of hurried shuffling, he joined her in the cave, missing the larger gap between the roots and winding up getting stuck at the shoulders. "Ah, crap." He cursed.

Shanae rolled her eyes and grabbed his shirt, giving him a sharp tug that freed him from the roots but also sent both of them toppling to the ground once again. "Well, this seems vaguely familiar," the man chuckled and he hovered over her.

"Shut up and get off." Shanae scowled. He chuckled softly again but rolled off her and settled further back in the cave, his eyes focused on the entrance, and her eyes focused on him. He glanced over briefly and flashed a smile, and Shanae wondered how he could see her in the dark like that. "Your eyes," he commented.


"Your eyes," He repeated, "They glow in the dark."

"And yours don't. What's your point?"

"If they come this way you should close them. If anyone looks towards us they won't see us, but they will see those eyes."

Shanae frowned but nodded, "If they come this way," She agreed, "I will."

The syndicate men did come that way and poked around for a bit, but didn't find their hiding place. Shanae let out a long, audible sighed of relief when one of them suggested they head back to the clearing and they all trudged off.

"They'll hang around for a while." The man said when she poked her head out of the hole to make sure they were really gone. "We should wait it out here."

Shanae agreed and sat back down across from him, glaring. "You said I wouldn't have to see you again." She grumbled at him.

He seemed amused, "You can close your eyes if you don't wanna look."

Shanae bristled but said nothing. She watched him carefully and noted that his eyes were wandering...right down to her chest! Shanae growled at him and quickly crossed her wings over her barely covered body.

"Don't give me that look," the man grinned, "You're the one running around in your undergarments!"

"It's your fault!" She shot back. "You're the one who dragged me into this mess!"

"What were you doing in your undergarments anyway?"

"I was about to go to bed!"

"Ah, terribly sorry about that."

"Yeah right," Shanae scoffed.

"What's your name?" The man asked randomly.

"Shanae," She grumbled.

"I'm Arvan."

"That's lovely," she sneered, laying down in the soft dirt of the cave. "I'm going to sleep now, so keep your hands to yourself!"

Arvan raised he hands in a defensive gesture and swore he would be a perfect gentleman. Shanae barely believed him, but after running around in the forest all night she was too tired to care. She yawned and stretched out into the dirt, using her wings to keep the chill off and fell asleep.