Chapter Twenty-Nine: Dancing Explanations

The young lady peering back at her in the mirror was unrecognizable. She had not been acquainted with this stranger. The girl before her looked strong, determined, a force not to be reckoned with. Her eyes blazing with an inner strength, momentarily widened in surprise. She had changed somehow. That awkward self-consciousness that comes with growing up in a society greatly influenced by ones appearance was gone to be replaced with an undeniable confidence. She was suddenly reminded of simpler days when all she'd ever wanted to be was a picturesque beautiful princess, waiting in some far off tower for her Prince Charming to come and rescue her. Wasn't that every young girl's dream? From a very early age girls were taught that they had to rely on a man for happiness, and in order to get a man you had to be beautiful.

What a lie.

The girl before her no longer believed that story. Because that's all it was. A story so strongly believed in that it was almost a truth…but not quite. Was she completely happy? Well, no- not at the moment at least. If only things weren't so complicated. But over the past three months, she'd grown stronger, wiser, and no longer believed the lies of the world she had left behind. But still…Cyri couldn't help the small smile that tugged at her lips while looking in the mirror. There was nothing wrong with enjoying, or desiring for beauty, just as long you didn't rely on that for happiness.

She had been "asleep" for three days, and had just woken up that morning. Her room was huge, ingeniously decorated in green, gold, and black. And the bed- Cyri had never slept so wonderfully, though complete and total exhaustion might have contributed to that a bit. Just minutes after waking, a group of servants entered her room, exclaiming excitedly. Cyri was shocked to realize she'd been unconscious for so long, though she'd had similar experiences. Bad things seemed to happen to her a lot for some odd reason…

Three women led her to a kind of washroom with a sunken in tub. She could have wept for joy at the sight of it, and was only slightly embarrassed as she stripped down and slipped into the deliciously warm water, reveling in the sensation of dirt and grime being removed. Cyri contentedly allowed the women to scrub her down from head to toe in a variety of scented oils, gently combing out her hair once it was washed. They worked out all the kinks and knots in her shoulders and back, exclaiming at the amount of stress she must carry.

As she lay there, Cyri did her best not to look down at her chest, where she knew she'd find a scar where the knife had entered her heart. She'd never gotten any scars from the many wounds she'd received over the past few months, but this one refused to completely heal. Perhaps it was because this one had killed her.

The servant women must have been used to serving royals, for they were infinitely polite, and constantly appraising. One- her name was Ashti- was especially practiced in this area, and nearly drowned Cyri in compliments such as: "What lovely eyes you have!" "How soft your hair is!" And Cyri's favorite: "If only all young ladies we attended to were as lovely and kind as you, my lady."

She knew of course they were trained to do this, but still, it was nice to hear.

After about an hour, she reluctantly got out of the tub. She blushed furiously upon seeing how dirty the once clear water was. Turning away, she picked up her old clothes, about to put them back on. Ashti stopped her, looking rather amused.

"Oh no, lady," she said, taking the shirt from her. "You can't wear that again! Lord Dachi would never allow a lady of your stature to reside in his castle in those rags."

Cyri looked down at her clothes in dismay. They were a little worn, and didn't really smell too pleasant either. But she hadn't brought anything else to wear, and even the silky robe she had wrapped around her body was borrowed, and almost swallowed her.

"But I don't have anything else-"

"Don't worry yourself, my lady," another woman said. "Her Ladyship Etsuko sent something for you."

And that's when she saw the dress. A lacy black shift was thrown over her head first, split at the sides to allow more leg room. Then the dress, a silvery green dream of silk. A low neckline showed just the beginnings of cleavage, black lace spilling over the top. Transparent sleeves gave her arms a kind of misty look. Gold thread was used to embroider a delicate leaf pattern at the hem and neckline. The shift pooled into a lacy black train that whispered across the stone floors when she walked. Accustom to her new life of constant danger, Cyri was pleased to find she could quite easily run or move around with the split sides, and deemed the gown absolutely perfect.

Cyri's hair was then laced with tiny braids, held by gold and silver beads. Heated tongs were used to curl the unbraided hair, and the smell of burning reached her, startlingly familiar. She hadn't actually fixed her hair other than to brush it or pull it back since she'd arrived in this strange realm. Her eyes were outlined in black kohl, eyelids painted a soft golden color. They decided she didn't need anything else.

Lady Etsuko had also sent a pair of tear-drop jade earrings, and silver bangles for her wrists and ankles. Cyri was flattered by how much consideration the lady had put into her attire, and made a mental note to thank the woman.

So now, as she stood before the mirror, shocked by her own reflection, Cyri couldn't help but feel like a princess. She looked… nice. But it was a different kind of beauty than what she was use to. She seemed to shine with her own inner radiance, her skin almost alight with an ethereal glow. Though she couldn't help the small smile on her lips, Cyri's stomach was still filled with an uncertain fluttering.

Her mother was here. All those years, and she had been here, of all places. Cyri still didn't know how to feel about all this. Her mother's departure had had a colossal effect on her life. There was a reason she'd never had a serious relationship, why she didn't trust her feelings. She didn't want to turn out like her parents. They thought they had been in love, and Cyri had thought so too. She could remember a time when they had actually gotten along, still held each others hand, gazed into the others eyes in complete adoration. Though her mom had been a lot younger than her dad, that didn't seem to matter. All that changed somewhere around the age of twelve. Suddenly they got into fights almost every day, couldn't stand to be around each other. Her mom liked to say he just wasn't trying anymore, but Cyri had seen what had happened after she left. It was as if someone had taken all the life out of him, stolen his joy. When Amy left, she took her husband's heart with her.

Anger. Confusion. Grief. Spite. And maybe even a little guilt. Every once and while, Cyri wondered if it had been partially her fault. Maybe if she'd helped out around the house a little more, gotten better grades, been more obedient, her mother would have stayed… would have loved her enough to stay.

Cyri shook her head as if to clear it, and turned away from the mirror. She wouldn't think about that anymore. This was a new day, and soon- or, at least eventually- all those things would be settled.

Ashti smiled at her, and this one seemed genuine. "Something troubles you, lady?" She asked, her voice low so the other women in the room could not hear. She was a lovely girl, luxurious black hair pulled back, honey brown eyes gleamed from a pale, nearly flawless face. She only looked a few years older than Cyri, but seemed much older somehow. For the first time, Cyri realized that Ashti, and all the other servants she'd seen here were human. How odd.

"I'm fine," she answered. "It's nothing. Has anyone been sent to tell my friends that I'm awake?"

"No, but I could send someone now-"

Ashti was cut off by a meek "Excuse me, lady," from the washroom doorway. They looked up to see another servant woman. "I hope I'm not intruding," she continued, eyes downcast, "But there is a man waiting outside for you. He's requested your presence rather urgently."

Moments later, Cyri had slipped on a pair of golden colored sandals, and opened the massive door- with some help from one of the servants; it would seem she was still a bit weak from the incident. Her eyes widened in surprise at the figure leaned casually against the wall across the hall, grinning lazily upon sighting her. His expression was casual, but the deep purple of his eyes never lost their intensity. It was unnerving.

"Kazuyume…" she said uncertainly. "What are you doing here?" Cyri had been expecting Raidon or Shouron, or possibly even Lord Katashi.

He straightened; nodding his head in what could have been a bow. "You seem surprised to see me."

She had forgotten about his voice. Cyri had to mentally shake herself free of the spell it cast.

"I heard through the grapevine you were awake, and thought I'd be the first to greet you."

Cyri forced her lips to move in what she hoped to be a smile. "How considerate of you."

He looked her over a moment, taking in her newly groomed appearance. "I see the servants are treating you well. It would seem Lord Dachi and his Lady are the considerate ones."

Oh, that voice. It was intoxicating in its beauty, lacing its way through the veins to take complete control. The fake smile still on her face, she reached out a hand behind her for the door. "Yes, well, I'll be sure to thank them," she said. "But I must go back to my room, I- uh, forgot something."

Cyri moved as if to turn, but was stopped dead in her tracks by his laugh, a low rumble in the throat. It was enough to make her want to fall to her knees at his feet. "I make you uncomfortable, don't I?" He said. "You'll have to forgive me, I often forget the effect my voice has on human hearts; I don't normally find myself in such company."

"Well, it's not just that," Cyri faced him properly now. "I also have to wonder about your intentions; it seems that they go deeper than just for propriety's sake."

Kazuyume seemed shocked by her perceptiveness, but quickly covered it with a lazy grin and another heart-melting laugh. "I assure you, lady, though you are correct in your assumption, they are not completely accurate." He paused. "My intentions are not nearly so dark as you think them to be. Curiosity, my lovely lady, is a very powerful force indeed."

Cyri gave him a cynical look, eyebrows arched.

"Why would you be curious about me?"

He flashed a set of white pointy teeth. "You have no idea how staggering your presence in Lord Katashi's court is, my lady. Forgive me, but a human miko as an honored companion is- unheard of, to put it lightly. So many questions have been wondered, you see, my lady, and no answers given, leaving much room for speculation."

"You came here for answers." Cyri concluded.


Cyri straightened, head raised high and decided to play her hand at regal; see if she could pull it off. "I am afraid you will have to wait until my lord arrives," she told him nonchalantly. "Some questions are not truly mine to answer."

Cyri had to hold back a giggle at that. Back in her normal-teenage-girl days, she would have throttled someone if they refused to withhold such juicy gossip. But such were the ways of high school…

Luckily, Kazuyume did not put up such a fight, for they both knew who would win that battle. "As you wish, my lady." He bowed. "I trust you will join us at the welcoming banquet for your lord tonight?"

At this, Cyri felt her stomach do a flip-flop. Katashi; she would see him tonight. How long had it been? Over a week, almost two! She allowed a small smile to grace her lips. "Yes," she answered. "Yes, of course. It would be expected of me, wouldn't it?"

After she'd said her goodbyes, Cyri went back into her room, and jumped right back into the luxurious bed, gazing with unseeing eyes at the ceiling. She lay there for what seemed like ages, the servant women occasionally asking if they could bring her anything. Cyri just silently shook her head, expression thoughtful. Today was going to be chaotic. She could feel it, and she mentally went over her list of inevitable things to do:

Talk to Etsuko about her powers. (Was she strong enough to hold them?)

Confront her mother and demand to know why she'd left her family.

Avoid nosey demons like Kazuyume and their prying questions.

Try not to make a fool of herself at the banquet that evening.

Cyri grimaced at that last one, which was probably next to impossible for her; she was bound to trip and knock something over, or say something stupid, or… the possibilities were endless. But she had to try. For Katashi's sake. People were already beginning to question his authority with her presence. Humans were a sign of weakness, a liability, and that was the last thing he needed right now.

And on top of it all… Cyri had a problem that just might be bigger than all four of those. She apparently couldn't die.

She had been dead for probably about five or ten minutes, and had not intentionally healed herself. Her body had taken over and pulled her soul back to its empty shell… This could prove somewhat troublesome in the human realm. Would she stop ageing, or just keep getting older and older until she was nothing but a living, breathing pile of dust? Cyri shivered at the thought. She had to speak with Etsuko. She had given her these abilities, maybe she would know the answers to these questions, and if needed, even take them away. But she didn't like that idea either. To never feel the sensation of pure magic and power coursing through her veins again? And how could she possibly be of any help to her lord? Then she'd really be nothing but a weak, powerless mortal.

Cyri shook her head, as if to clear it. No. That would be a last resort. She would almost rather die than go back to that life. She refused to return to the helpless, fragile being she once was. Katashi would surely throw her from his household the moment she did so. Cyri knew how much he despised humans and their weaknesses, and didn't think she could bear to see the contempt that he would look at her with in his eyes if such a thing were ever to occur.

Ashti, the only remaining servant- the rest had left some time ago- cleared her throat, as if to get her attention.

"Ah-hm." She said. "My lady, forgive me, but the healer- she wishes to speak with you, and has requested that you meet her in the west wing of the castle." She looked uncomfortable when Cyri did not respond. "I know you are not properly acquainted with the many passageways of the castle; I could lead you there, if you'd like."

Silently, she nodded, and stiffly rose from the bed. On the surface she struggled to appear cool, and composed, indifferent to this new information, but inside she was trembling like lost kitten. How did Katashi do it? How was he able to completely conceal his thoughts and emotions from those around him, to keep up the mask of impassive apathy? Already she could feel her poised façade slip, and Ashti looked at her with concern.

"My lady?" Ashti questioned uncertainly when Cyri's knees began to shake.

Cyri forced what she hoped looked like a smile, but probably came off as more of a grimace. "Don't worry," she assured the other girl. "It's nothing, I'm just still a little weak from the accident. "

As Ashti lead her down the long, twisting hallways, Cyri barely noticed the other servants milling about, rushing hurriedly past them, but at some point, realized they all had the same torturously panicked expression, barely pausing to nod their heads respectively her way. Surely this was not normal. They looked as if their lives depended on the unknown task that lay ahead of them. Finally, Cyri broke out of her nervous daze to the persistent call of curiosity.

"Ashti," she said, her voice low. "What's wrong with them? Why do they all look so panicked?"

The older girl's eyes flashed with sudden pride. "Not all are as lucky as I to serve a lady of the court," she explained. "Most must attend to the soldiers. Lord Dachi does not normally have so many people residing within the castle at once, and many must work three times as quickly to get everything done." Her voice suddenly lowered to a whisper. "And as I'm sure you've noticed, most of my lords servant are humans, and as I'm sure you're well aware, demons are not nearly so kind to us as the elves. We are unaccustomed to such treatment, and must be extremely cautious, least we want to provoke them. They are not the most civilized of beasts."

Her eyes filled with a kind of hatred. "I can only imagine your relief at finally escaping their brutality after three months with their kind, my lady. If you don't mind my asking, was it terribly horrible serving under Lord Katashi's hand? I've heard fearsome stories about that one. Is he really so cruel as they say?"

Cyri felt a sudden burst of protective indignation.

Oblivious, Ashti continued quietly. "Is he really as heartless as I've heard?" She asked. "He's known for those cold silver eyes of his…" The girl shivered suddenly, but Cyri felt no draft. "I'd hate to be under that merciless gaze. But forgive me for my ramblings, milady. I'd imagine you wouldn't want to reminded of such things."

She was nearly shaking with disbelief and shock. "You're wrong," was all she could manage to get out. Her mind was clouded with incensed emotion. "You couldn't be more wrong about him."

Ashti looked up at her, confused. "My lady, forgive me, have I offended you?"

"He's not like that at all, Ashti." Cyri didn't know why she was getting so worked up. From a distance, Katashi could be mistaken for all those things. There were times when she herself questioned the presence of his heart. Was it really so icy as his demeanor let on? But there were moments when she'd catch a glimpse of something in his eyes. For just one short instant, the frozen silver would warm just enough so that a hint of emotion could be seen. Unrecognizable and mysterious though it was, Cyri's doubts disappeared in these rare moments.

"Forgive me, lady, but how can you be so sure? His lordship is known in many realms beside this one for his fearsome reputation." Ashti looked at her as if she'd grown a second head.

She took a moment, unsure of the right words to say. "He has a heart, but… it often confuses him." It's as if the messages it sends to his head are in a foreign language, and so, mystified, and probably somewhat frightened, he rejects it, Cyri silently rationalized. His heart beats in short, rare spurts and does not often shine through, but she was sure it was there.

Ashti was silent as moment, doubtfully taking this in. "If you say so, milady." She was obviously quite skeptical. Cyri held back a sigh. She supposed this kind of talk was to be expected, and some of it, maybe more of it than she was willing to admit, was true. Maybe because she'd desired it, wanted so badly to believe that he cared, even a little bit, that she had imagined it all…


That voice. She was suddenly ripped from her thwarted thoughts with a painful clarity. How many nights had she spent, unable to sleep, thinking of that voice, longing to hear it again. The yearning for that voice, the agony of it had nearly shredded her to pieces inside. It had been three years… three unimaginably long years since she'd heard it; since she'd seen the face it belonged to. Already, Cyri could feel her eyes stinging with unshed tears, a knot forming in her throat, choking her. She couldn't speak for the effort of trying to swallow. It was several moments before she was able to even turn around, and slowly, she did.

"Mom…" She mouthed the word, no sound coming out of her anguished throat. Cyri had to press her lips firmly together to keep them from trembling. Amy looked at her with warm, sparkling green eyes. Cyri's eyes. More than anything Cyri wanted to run to her, to hug her and never let go, to explain how much she'd missed her. But she couldn't.

This woman had left them, leaving their broken hearted family in shambles. An image of her father flashed in her mind. She saw his laughing, happy face as he spun her around the room by her arms; how he used to be. And then another image, the current one. Sitting in the living room armchair, dark circles under his dull, lifeless eyes; if he smiled now, Cyri feared his aged face might shatter into a million pieces. It was the image of a broken man; not her father. She hadn't seen her real father in three years. When Amy left, she'd unconsciously taken him with her.

Amy stepped forward, as if to take her in her arms, but Cyri stepped back, silently shaking her head. She seemed puzzled at first, but one look at her daughter's narrowed eyes told her everything. The look of hurt, anguished, betrayal couldn't have been clearer.

"Oh, honey," she said, and Cyri winced. It hurt to look at her, to listen to her. It reopened so many wounds that had never completely healed. It reminded her of things she'd rather leave forgotten.

Finally, Cyri found her voice. "I don't want to hear anything from you unless it's an explanation." For the first time she realized Ashti had lead her into a room of sorts, more like a large alcove. A couch and chair sat facing each other. Cyri took the chair; she wasn't leaving until all her questions were answered. Reluctantly, Amy sat on the couch. It sighed with her weight.

An awkward silence stretched for several minutes, her mother sometimes opening her mouth as if about to say something, but then abruptly closing it again.

"I was born here," she eventually said. "In this very castle in fact. My mother was the miko here, and when I showed signs of possessing the same ability, she began to train me." Amy paused, her gaze locked on her fuming hands in her lap. "I suppose you could say I was a stubborn child. I didn't want that life, at least not right away. I wanted to explore the world a little before settling down here for good. But… it was so very dangerous, with the demons slaughtering every miko that crossed their path, and knew that if I left the safety of Lord Dachi's then I'd surely be killed too."

"So you asked to go to the human realm," Cyri guessed.

Amy looked up in surprise, meeting her eyes for just a fraction of a second before looking quickly back down. "Yes. They said that I had learned all I could from my mother, and I was free to explore, but only if I promised to return once my mother had perished. Lord Dachi could not allow his household to go without a healer." Her mother's nails dug into the couch as she spoke, her knuckles white with the intensity of her grip. "I met your father there, and of course fell in love. Please, Cyri, you must understand, I didn't even stop to think of the consequences. All I knew was that I loved him, and that nothing was going to keep me from him while I was there. So, we got married, and had you…" She stopped, and was quiet for a long time.

"But then you had to come back."


Cyri shook her head. How could her mother have been so selfish? Didn't she realize what she'd done to the man she supposedly loved? To the daughter they'd created with that love? Her mother's idea of such emotions was clearly clouded.

"I knew I would have to leave soon," Amy continued. "So, I tried to get him to stop loving me. I deliberately picked fights, made it seem like I was seeing someone else. I would have brought you with me, but I saw that you too would follow in my family's footsteps. The power is strong within our blood. I couldn't let you come to this realm. You would have been killed, I was sure of it- in fact I don't know how you've survived as long as you've been here; two whole weeks, right?"

Cyri opened her mouth to correct her, but Amy was already talking again.

"Anyways, before I left I sealed your power, in hope that you would never discover them. And, I guess that's the end of it." She hesitated. "How is your father, by the way?"

She looked up, fury in her eyes. "Terrible." She ground out between clenched teeth. "You killed him. He hardly speaks anymore."

Amy looked up, sadness in her eyes. "I'm sorry to hear that. If only I could take it back I…"

Cyri snorted in response. "It's a little late for that." She stood turning her back to leave. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I must speak with General Shouron and Prince Raidon-"

"Wait!" Amy called. "Please, I must know- how is it you've become so deeply involved with Lord Katashi's court? Why do you travel with them?"

"I am now a part of Lord Katashi's court," Cyri answered without turning. "I've been here almost four months; Lord Katashi discovered my abilities and I've served him ever since." And with that, Cyri left, leaving her mother to watch her go, open-mouthed.

It had been a somewhat stupid move. Sometime during the conversation, Ashti had left, immensely uncomfortable, no doubt. It was only after several wrong turns that Cyri realized she had no idea where she was going. She was tempted to stop one of the many servants making their way effortlessly through the corridors, but they all seemed to be in such a big hurry, she decided it would be best to just let them go their own way. She wondered the hallways aimlessly for the better part of an hour, her mind still reeling with her mother's words, repeating the conversation over and over in her mind.

Etsuko had to have known that Amy's daughter was in Arextelia… Why hadn't she told her?

Finally, Cyri was pulled from her musings as she smack right into a heavily armored chest. The effect was something like running into a brick wall, and Cyri was sent sprawling across the floor; her cheeks burning, she looked up with mortified eyes.

"Cyri!" A male voice exclaimed in surprise.

Oh, thank goodness it was only Shouron. She smiled up at him sheepishly.

He shook his head incredulously. "Where have you been?" He demanded. "We've been looking everywhere for you!"

Cyri opened her mouth to reply but he cut her off, reaching out an arm and practically carrying her down the hall. She stumbled more than once and if it hadn't been for his grip on her arm she would have fallen.

"Cyri, I want you to listen very carefully." His expression was taunt, eyes staring straight ahead. "Tonight's banquet is going to be a very important event for our lord, and as I'm sure you know, many have their doubts about you." He paused, casting her a quick glance as he hurried her through the long hallway. "You must do your best to prove them wrong. We cannot allow any questioning of our authority."

"Yes, but-"

"Lord Katashi and Shiyu are mere hours away from arrival," he continued. "But we will not see them until tonight…" His voice trailed off, a thoughtful look in his bejeweled eyes. He was silent a long expanse of time, and Cyri concentrated on keeping her footing, though her feet scarcely touched the floor.

"What do you know about dancing?" Shouron suddenly asked, his expression carefully guarded, which worried her even more than the question itself did.

Was she expected to do some dancing at this banquet tonight? The very thought made Cyri's stomach heave. She'd been to parties, and school dances before, and had always gone out of her way to avoid the dance floor. She could hardly walk a few paces without tripping over her own two feet, much less move them around in elaborate patterns… and the cold, hard truth was, the girl had absolutely no sense of rhythm.

"Not much," she admitted, trying vainly to keep the consternation from her voice. 'Not much' was a vast understatement. Her friends had tried to teach her a few basic moves, but… it hadn't turned out so well.

Shouron muttered a few unintelligible words, and Cyri winced. Shouron rarely cursed.

"Do you think you could learn?" He asked, and groaned when she made no reply. "Well, you're going to have to try."

The lessons were perhaps the most mortifying things Cyri had ever experienced in her short life. Her instructor would be lucky if his toes ever fully healed. But after a few excruciatingly long hours, and many embarrassing slip ups, it had not been a total failure. Cyri now knew the steps to most of the common dances of Arextelia. She'd never be able to do them quite so gracefully as some of the elfin or demon females, but at least she wouldn't make herself out to be a blundering fool… And Katashi might be a little less humiliated by her lack of coordination.

But she found, after months of training with her lord, and the constant threat of death, her reflexes had improved drastically. Not to mention her new ability of awareness. She no longer needed to worry about knocking into or tripping over the people around her. The result was actually quite impressive, or at least in her opinion. Cyri had thought herself to be a lost cause and now, she was a decent ballroom dancer. But once she got back home, that did not mean she'd be hitting any clubs. The Arextelian dances were distinctly different from the bopping, swinging, swaying motions of the Human Realm. Most were either a series of dips, spins, and sweeps, all breathtaking when done right.

By the end of the tortuously lengthy hours, Cyri was feeling pretty good about herself. It was a shame she probably wouldn't get to try out her new skills at the banquet. What demon would want to be seen associating with Lord Katashi's freaky human girl. Though her dress and bath had given her the slight confidence of knowing she was not completely hideous, she doubted anyone would choose her over the goddess-like women of the fey. Every other woman she had seen so far looked as if they'd just stepped off the cover of a magazine. They were all far beyond international supermodel beauty. It almost hurt to look at them they were so gorgeous.

After watching another of the fey women pass, a strange thought popped in Cyri's head. Would Katashi ask one of them to dance? She had yet to meet a demon more attractive than him these past months, and had caught the excited whispers and giggles of ladies in the hall. They were certainly interested in him. And unless the storks had dropped Takara off at his doorstep, and that story about her mother was a lie, then he'd definitely had his share of experience with the opposite sex. What if one of those devastating women caught his eye? Compared to their illustrious grace, and vibrant splendor, she might as well have been the most revolting creature to ever walk the face of the planet.

She quickly shook her head, as if to clear it of these absurd thoughts. Why should she care if her lord became romantically involved with someone? Excluding that one little incident with that kiss, they were nothing but… Cyri's train of thought was suddenly lost to a sea of confusion. Honored companion seemed too formal, and friends didn't really seem to fit either. Yes, she admitted he was beautiful, and honorable, and even caring… when he wasn't being an unpredictable, insufferable, callous, emotionless jerk that is. But she had even sought out Shouron's council on her puzzling emotions towards him. And maybe he had been right; maybe it was just a crush.

But something, buried deeply within the confounds of her mind disagreed.

A/N: Hey, I know this chapter wasn't all that exciting, but just wait till the next one. That's when things really start to heat up. I promise you, you will not regret waiting for the next one. Hopefully. I'm feeling SO frustrated with myself! I don't like how this one turned out AT ALL! Please, don't spare my feelings, I don't deserve it. Tell it to me how it is, and don't suger coat it or anything. I am inviting you to confirm what I already know to be true. That this chapter sucks eggs. (sad face).

Icy Vampire Chick- Thank you. That really means a lot. Sometimes when I go back and reread earlier chapters, it makes me wonder why in the world people would continue reading such crap. Maybe I just expect too much out of myself? Whatever, but I will definitely go back and change A LOT of things on the earlier chapters, once I've finished the entire story that is...maybe sooner. Anyways, thanks so much for the review, it was greatly appreciated. hells666angel- I'm glad you think so. I've been indecisive about whether her mother should have more of a role in the story or not. This chapter was kinda centered around her a bit... I don't feel like I really captured her though... (heavy sigh). Oh, well, I'll just have to keep working at it. Thanks for the review! jenjen-0- yeah, I think I have a problem. Why am I ALWAYS putting her in those situations? GAH! But anyways like I told hells666angel, I wasn't sure I wanted to continue with her mothers story or not... I hope you like this chapter, because I sure don't.