Farria had a normal fairly day, well as normal as it could be any way. She'd gone to school, like she did everyday, did her work, and was currently sitting on the floor, textbooks strewn about herself in a I-am-too-busy-to-be-doing-this-but-I-am-anyway-because-I-have-a-test-on-it-tomorrow, way. It was Halloween night, and with her mother out visiting with a friend, she was stuck home with nothing to do but give out candy and study for her EMT-P tests. She had started high school as a very young age, barely 12 when she had started in the tenth grade. Someone, she didn't know how, she'd managed to get into the other two classes, EMT-B and EMT-I, at an early age and actually pass her state boards. So she was moving up in the field. True, she was eighteen now, and in collage, but that didn't mean she had to slack off just cause she was a young student out of high school for three years now.

Her mother came home soon after she had seen the last kid leave, she looked exhausted, like I-just-took-my-meds-nighty-night, look and went to bed, but Farria stayed up long after she had zonked. After all, school teachers wouldn't wait for her to feel well rested before she completed the required exercises. After an hour or so she cleaned up, taking a bath to relax, and began her work again in her cotton flannel, blue pajamas afterward.

However, the child dressed up as a witch would not be her last visitor that night. The soft knocking nearly escaped her hearing when she looked up from her work and heard it. Shrugging, she stood, opening the door. The house was small, and she was on the floor next to the door. But the simple reason she was there instead of on the couch was because she had more room to stretch out on. It was better than staying in a small, cramped position for many hours on end. "Can I help you, we've stopped giving out candy, sorry," was what she wanted to say, but the words died in her throat. "Yes?" she asked instead, keeping the door open to a minimum. She had stupidly forgotten to throw the chain lock, so she tried to keep the door way closed. The men standing outside her door gave her the creeps.

"We're looking for Farria Sapphire, or she might be known as Topez Snapdragon," one of the men said kindly, there were three of them in all, all wearing mostly the same thing.

"Huh? Topez Snapdragon? What a strange name, I've never heard of it before," she noticed that their face's dropped a bit, as if disappointed, "But I am Farria Sapphire," she added, watching as their expressions lightened, and then darkened in disbelief.

The man closet to her read from a list he held in his hand. "Farria Sapphire, age 18, Black Dragon Collage for the gifted, blonde hair, green eyes, height 53?"

"Yes, that's me," she nodded, inching slowly toward the door, ready to slam it shut and throw the chain lock.

"Miss Sapphire, may we come in, we need to discuss some things..." the man murmured, shifting to his right slowly, blocking her from slamming the door in his face.

"I'm sorry, it's late and my mother is sleeping, can you come back later?" she asked.

"No, unfortunately, out plane leaves soon and you have to be on it," came the swift reply.

"What? I'm not going anywhere!" she tried to close the door, but she was shoved roughly aside.

"Let's talk shall we?" the man, and two others, entered the house and closed the door lightly. Farria backed up and grabbed the cordless phone.

"If you don't leave, I'll call the police," she threatened, backing away from the dangerous looking men, grabbing the phone from the low table.

"They already know were here, look, just outside your window there..." Farria glared, not taking her eyes off the man until she reached the window and glanced out. Sure enough there were two squad cars and a dark blue minivan. Grumbling she set the phone in its cradle and glared, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Well? What do you want? I don't have all night you know," she growled, digging her socked feet into the thick carpet. It was a bad habit of hers, but it had kept her steady in a fight.

"My name is Aramond, and there two are John and Andy. We're your temporary bodyguards and we are here on behalf of the Sheik Blake. He would like you to be his bride," Aramond said simply, getting straight to the point.

"Who and what? Marry a complete stranger? You've got to be kidding me right? There is no way I'd marry a complete stranger!" she stalked into the kitchen and began making tea. The three men followed her, sitting down at the kitchen table.

"You really don't have a choice. When you signed this form, you signed your life away..." Aramond handed her a piece of paper that looked startlingly familiar. She paled, dropping the cup she held. With lightening reflexes, Aramond snatched it out of the air and began making tea.

"Swear to do everything in your power to prevent war..." was highlights. It was her Navy application.

"This is a big joke right? If I don't marry this guy, he'll start a war on the U.S.? As if!" she dropped the paper on the table and walked back into the living room, where she began cleaning up her books, managing to shove all the ten, thick textbooks and workbooks into one tiny bag. Her notebooks occupied the bag next to it.

"It's no joke, Miss Sapphire, and technically, you are already married, tea?" he handed her a cup, accidentally scratching her hand with his ring. "Sorry," he murmured, not sorry at all.

"What?! I am not married!" she growled, slamming her tea down on the tabile, it sloshed to the side and some spilled out onto the plate it rested on.

"You do not need to be there for the ceremony to be completed, drink your tea," Aramond ordered lightly, sitting down on the couch and sipping his own. Andy and John had disappeared somewhere, probably to the bathroom, because she heard the fan go on. Absently she sipped her tea.

"But I did not give my consent, I am eighteen, I can make my own decisions!" Andy and John returned carrying two bags, her bags, "What are you doing?" she demanded, standing up from her sitting position. That proved to be her down fall. Her head rushed with blood that roared in her ears. Farria tried to regain her balance, but instead she tumbled forward, right into Andy who help an open blanket. "What?!" she growled, fighting the blanket that was wrapped securely around her, pinning both arms and legs. Gently the blanket was wrapped around her feet and she was scooped up. Her shoes and bags found themselves in Aramond and John's arms as they left her home.

The air was bitterly cold and it crept through the blanket almost immediately. Farria was forced to huddle closer to Andy and her teeth began to chatter. Snow was thick on the ground and the temperature outside was worse, barely 15 degrees. One thing that stuck out in her mind was how come her mother hadn't woken up with all the commotion?

Heat suddenly surrounded her and her head was placed on a pillow of sorts, probably someone's lap. She couldn't tell because he eyes were closed and they wouldn't open. "This is kidnapping!" she ground out.

"It's not kidnapping when we're taking you home," Aramond whispered, as soft music filled the car. Her feet were buried under something warm, how she'd moved them she didn't know, and frankly she didn't care. "Let the drugs work, you won't feel a thing and the next time you wake you, you'll be on your way home in your new country..." that was the last thing she heard before she gave into the peaceful soundscapes the radio produced...

Farria woke with barely a headache. She sat up but immediately regretted it, as her headache got worse. "Take this and put your seatbelt on, we're landing," a voice whispered softly to her left. She shoved the cup away and grasped wildly for her seatbelt, snapped it closed, and leaned back in her seat before her stomach had a chance to start rolling around in circles.

"It's not drugged, it's just water," she heard Andy say.

"What time is it?" she demanded to know.

"Mid-afternoon," Aramond spoke from across the table between them.

"What...Where am I?" she asked, fearful of the response.

"The Sahara Desert..." John began, but was rudely cut off by Farria's exclamation.

"I'm in North Africa!?" She sat up straighter and opened the window blinds, wincing at the bright light, but able to see the barren land where they landed. Her face blanched and she learned back in her chair once again, resting her head on one of her arms.

"When we land, you'll need to change into something other than nightwear," John said softly. As the plane bounced down, she was able to get a good look at her bodyguards. Aramond was tall, thin, but muscular, and had dirty blonde hair. She caught a hint of doe brown eyes, but she wasn't able to see for sure as his head was turned away. Aramond wore casual black slacks and a jacket. His gun was cleverly hidden, but she still saw the indention in his jacket.

John was the shortest of them all, with red hair and green eyes. He was clean-shaven and wore the exact same thing as Aramond.

Andy wore gray slacks and a black shirt, but she could tell he was Aramond's twin, an identical twin at that. Each one was armed with a gun and each was looking everywhere but her.

"Fine," she conceded, looking down at her wrinkled clothing. The plane finally slid to a halt and Farria stood, grabbing one of her bags that looked familiar, she walked into the bathroom, shutting the door in Aramond's face as he was about to say something. She turned the water on and quickly stripped out of her soiled clothing and climbing into the freezing cold water. She cleaned hurriedly, looking around the room for an escape and found it in the form of a maintenance hatch off to the side of the sink. Quietly she locked the door, leaving the shower on, and grabbed her pack. Through the tight opening, she shut the hatch. It was dark and damp, but she didn't care. She came out, finally, near a landing wheel.

Her three bodyguards had obviously found out she was not in the bathroom because they were stationed at strategic positions around the private airport. It looked like she was gonna have to sit and wait until nightfall. Squirming back upwards into the wheel compartment, she was prepared to wait...

Three hours later...

Farria groaned softly, she was dehydrating and the little bit of water that she had consumed in the shower came back to haunt her. Dusk would fall soon enough though.

She had just about lost her nerve to stay put another three hours later, when a nondescript jeep pulled up. "Farria!" a deep voice came over a fog horn, "Come out right now and stop acting like a child," the voice growled out.

She observed Andy as he loaded her bags into the back compartment of the jeep. "I'll give you one chance, you have ten minutes to comply!" the voice abruptly cut off. The voice that'd spoken stood up in the jeep and waited for her response. From what she could see, he was tall, wore white, and had tan skin. He didn't move for the first seven or so minutes, and on the eight she saw his chest rise and fall deeply, a sigh of impatiens. Knowing she couldn't wait much longer, she dropped her back on the ground. It hit with a loud thunk and she couldn't help but feel every eye focus on her bag.

Grasping the edges of the hole, she dropped down ten feet to the ground, and landed on her ankle wrong. Farria groaned softly as she hit her butt. She was quick to get to her feet though, scooping up her bag and walking toward the jeep.

"Just what were you trying to prove?" the man asked softly, opening the door for her.

"That I do not like my life being ruled by a man. And one that I do not know is even worse," she replied, scowling.

"Get in, we'll talk on the way," the man ordered. Avoiding putting weight on her ankle, which was hidden by her jeans, she swung up into the jeep. Andy, John, and Aramond squished themselves into the jeep, smashing her up against the white clad figure. "You'll have to sit in my lap so Aramond can fit safely in," and before she could protest, she was placed in his lap and forced to lean back against him as a seat belt folded across her chest. It was a tight fit and when his feet brushed against her rapidly swelling one, she tried to keep her reaction to a minimum.

"You are not wearing the clothing I provided for you, why?" the man asked, curiosity tipped his voice.

"I do not wear the clothing provided by a man if I can provide it for myself," she answered smoothly.

"An independent? Well, that can't be helped. Do you know who I am?" he whispered. His breath tickling her ear.

"I can only assume you to be my kidnapper," she replied, moving her ankle carefully away from his.

His laugh rumbled against he back and rang in her ear, "You are my wife, and I am you husband, you may call me Blake. Kidnapping is not a role played in this."

"Taking a person against his or her will is kidnapping, and I signed no papers saying I was married, or that I consented to anything. I specifically said 'no' as I recall," she argued.

"You will find, in this country, that a woman is not always allowed to consent, or their consent is not always needed, in a legal matter..." Farria interrupted him before he could continue.

"But in America, it is!" she half turned to glare at him.

"But when you signed this, you gave up that right..." he help up her navy contract.

"A million people signed those things, why did you pick mine?" she growled, removing his arms from around her waist.

"You fit the criteria I set forth. You and few others fit it. Therefore, you were chosen because of your age and location..." his arms came back around her, pinning her arms to her sides and giving her a trapped feeling.

"Will you drink this now? It's an unopened bottle of water," Andy handed her the bottle.

"If it will make you stop asking!" she growled out, though she took the bottle faster than she would have liked, which took the sting out of her words. Her body twisted slightly to the side and she winced as her ankle moved. She drank half the bottle in slow sips, then waited five minutes, according to the watch on Blake's wrist, the guy that was her 'husband', then drank the rest.

"Why don't you sleep? It will be a long drive," Blake murmured in her ear.

"I wouldn't want to stain your white clothes," she said sarcastically, "I'm covered in plane grease, and some of it is corrosive I think..." she smirked mentally as she felt the man try and back away. She leaned forward a bit to make him comfortable, though she didn't know why. Her hair, which was still nearly sopping wet in it's tightly confined braid, made her shirt just as wet as the grease. With the sun skinning low, the degrees dropped just as rapidly. She shivered once, but then controlled the action by tensing up. The grease actually only coated her front and some of her hair, but it was dark so no one would really notice. Her face sported a smudge her and there, but they were random enough not to be worried about at the moment in time.

A ripping sound caught her attention, and she realized that her shirt had just been cut up the back. "What in the hell are you doing?" she demanded, squirming away, or trying to anyway.

"Changing your clothing," he answered promptly.

"I am not changing in front of a bunch of strangers, or on one for that matter!" she growled, twisting away.

"Well, you don't have much of a choice," Blake said rather lightly, removing the last remains of her shirt and tossing them in a plastic bag. She was very thankful she'd decided to put on a bra. There was a rustle of cloth and something white descended over her head. She regretted having to force him to give up his shirt. It was nice and warm though, and smelled of sandalwood. She loved sandalwood. The heat from the shirt warmed her up and it made her self-conscious that the man behind her had no shirt on. So, leaning back, she tried to keep him warm, but instead she got the exact opposite.

He gasped quiet loudly and grasped her arms. "Your like ice!" he exclaimed, pulling her roughly closer, "Why did you not tell me you were cold?!" he demanded, anger in his voice.

Farria took a deep breath and prepared to argue several points at once. "According to you and your country, woman aren't allowed to do anything with or without the approval of a man, or a man's consent..." she was roughly shaken by Blake, which surprised her enough to stop speaking.

"I did not mean it that way and you know it!" he growled, grabbing a blanket and wrapping it around the both of them.

"It is what you implied! How am I to know anything if you do not tell me? I know nothing of your customs or your culture but what you have already told me and what I can infer or discern from that. If woman have no legal rights, what would make me think that they had any other rights? And if I have no rights, then I most certainly don't have the right to complain about such trivial things as being hot or cold, being in pain or hunger?" She kept her breathing normal purely by her will, but inside she was shaking, afraid of what might happen next.

Between the blanket and the body she sat snuggled against, heat penetrated her skin and soaked into her bones quickly. A sleepy haze filled her mind, but she was shaken from it, quiet literally.

"That is stupid talk, you understand?!" he shook her again, as if to get his point across.

"And my point is proven, is that your home?" she pointed vaguely to the large mansion not far away. But she was thinking about what she had just said, and the different responses Blake had given her.

"Your home now too, dear wife," Blake whispered, taking the change of topic in stride. "I have lived here all my life. My father was raised in this home, as well as my mother. Now, your adult life shall be raised here..." Blake trailed off, looking up at the house.

"Home is where the heart is," she murmured softly, settling back down.

"And yours shall join mine soon. We're here, come on, up you get," with a silent moan of pain, she unfastened the seatbelt and managed to stumble out of the jeep. She turned and handed her end of the blanket to Blake and headed toward the door to the large building. She tried not to favor her left foot too much.

Blake came up behind her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, leading her inside. They entered the house, but she didn't really look around. Instead she closed her eyes against the bright lights and allowed herself to be led upstairs and into a dim hallway. Blinking hurriedly she barely noticed the room that they'd entered. Blake dropped his arm and tossed the blanket onto a couch. A fire burned in the fireplace and cast a warm glow to the slightly lavish room.

She spotted a large walk in closet, which Blake headed too immediately. Farria headed to what looked like the bathroom. There she closed and locked the door. With only a large candle to light her way, she stripped and got into the shower stall.

When Farria was positive all the gunk was out of her hair, she stepped out and dried off, rebraiding her sopping wet hair and wrapping to large, fuzzy towels around herself. She left the relative safety of the bathroom in search of clean clothing. She found Blake already sprawled out on the bed, wearing nothing but a pair of slim, black pajama bottoms. Entering the closet, she found her bags piled nearly next to each other near the back. None of her clothing resided within them. Growling a curse, she searched through the woman's underwear she had found in a small drawer, and noticed that they were all in her size, but definitely not her style. Who would want to wear a string up their butt? She managed to find one, plain white bra, which she donned quickly.

With a smirk, she opened another drawer and found boxers. Farria grabbed a plain, black pair and slipped them on, then she eyed the gauzy strips of cloth that looked like the old harem outfits she'd always read about. With a grunt of disbelief she a found billowy, long sleeved white shirt, in the male clothing section of the closet. She also snitched a pair of loose fitting, black cotton pajama pants. When she was dressed, she went back to the bathroom to search for a medical kit. Thankfully, she found a fully stocked one. Her ankle would be fine in the morning with proper care.

Finding a mini-fridge, she snitched some ice and finally settled down to tend her ankle and a few, minor cuts and bruises. Farria made an ice pack with a washcloth that had been in the kit and set it on her ankle. It was a little late to try and control the swelling, but she had to try.

"What happened?" Aramond whispered behind her, tossing a log in the fire, which she sat next to for warmth. "I brought dinner..." he motioned to the table.

"Okay, I'll be done in a minute, if you could wait on waking him up please?" she hurriedly wrapped her ankle and cleaned up her supplies. Farria made sure that she put everything back where she had found it before returning to the main room. There, she found Blake already sitting at the table, lighting two, long stemmed candles.

"When we're done eating, I want to see your ankle," he motioned toward the chair across from him.

"Okay, you can see my foot, but directly after you look at it, I'm going to bed, agreed?" she compromised, knowing that the men here were stubborn and probably weren't afraid to hit a girl.

"Agreed," he picked up his fork.

"You heard him Aramond, make sure he does as he says he will," she smirked, picked up her own fork and proceeded to eat slowly. Halfway through the meal, she noticed her sluggish movements and sighed quietly, setting her fork down. "I'm done," she picked up her water glass and finished it off, completely ignoring the wine set before her. She held up her uninjured right foot for Blake's inspection. "Blake, meet my right foot, right foot, meet Blake. Night all," she dropped her foot and picked up the blanket from the couch, sinking down onto the fluffy hearth and wrapping the blanket around herself, trying not to smirk.

"What was that about and what are you doing, you've barely touched your food and now your lying on the floor?!"

"One, that food is drugged so there is no way in hell I am going to finish it, two, you asked to look at my foot, I even introduced you so don't complain," she yawned, snuggling down. "And three, I don't like beds, I prefer futons," she tucked her legs close, shutting her eyes and preparing for sleep. It didn't take long, so she never felt her body being moved or heard the laughter of her body guard. Nor did she feel her ankle being checked over, rewrapped, and iced...

Cypress stared through the window at his enemy. With a glare, he focused his attention on the woman. She was pretty, and she was his enemy's new wife. That would change though. He was jealous damn it, and he couldn't help it. But that would all change, and soon...

Farria winced as sunlight streamed through the large windows and hit the bed. "I never got the chance to ask you last night, but why are you wearing my clothing?" a voice whispered near her ear.

"Cause the clothes in their didn't come with instruction manuals, I wouldn't wear them anyway cause they aren't mine, and yours just looked more comfortable," she scooted out of the bed, rubbing her tense shoulders. "I hate beds," she grumbled, picking up the bag of ice at the end of the bed, or rather bag of water, and headed to the bathroom. She dumped the water, washed her face and decided to go and get coffee. "Where's the kitchen?" she asked from the closet, picking up a pair of jeans and a belt from his side of the closet.

"Down stairs, why?" came the mumbled reply from the bathroom. She snitched a shirt and her hiking boots and hurriedly got dressed. Her ankle was feeling much better, it was time to test it out! She left quietly when she heard the shower turned, making sure to close the door just as silently.

It took nearly ten minutes, but she finally found the stairs. "Farria!" she heard John yell across the room. She smirked and broke into an all out run down the stairs. By the time she had thoroughly lost her guards in the maze of the house, and gotten lost herself, she was trying hard not to laugh and give her position away.

Farria turned the corner and ran smack dab into a stranger. "I'm sorry, it was my fault," she helped the gentlemen to his feet. "Could you perhaps point me in the direction of the kitchen?" she asked politely, adding a "please" at the end.

"Sure, it's just down that hallway, to your left," the brown haired man pointed. With a quick thanks, she rushed off...

Cypress groaned, he'd nearly been caught. But it was amusing watching the girl take her guards on a marry chase. With a smirk, he left, already making plans...

Farria had just finished flipping the last piece of bread on the stove when the three guards burst into the room. "Coffee's on the table, breakfast is done," she smirked at their disbelieving looks before they sat and looked questioningly at the proffered food. With a shrugged, she dug in, lingering over her coffee so that the others could finish...

Cypress watched the estate for one week, memorizing the guard pattern, which changed everyday, to try and catch the elusive Farria who seemed hell bent on making her breakfast run, literally.

Cypress was also busy planning small attacks on the city and stealing men and woman, old enough, for slave. One month from now, there would be an attack on the actual estate. Only one month away...

Farria wandered down the halls, something was on her mind because the young woman wasn't looking where she was going and ran into her "husband". "Hey, Farria, I was looking for you..." He grasped her arm and led her off to his study.

"What'd I do this time?" she grumbled. She'd only attempted escape 14 times that week. Farria had even made it to the city once, but she'd been found looking at a strange outfit and dragged back to the house.

"In a months time, I realized that one of your American holidays are coming up, Halloween I believed it's called. The American Embassy is coming to visit. I figured a masquerade would be appropriate..." Blake set down a stack of papers in front of her.

"So what do you want me to do about it?" she questioned sarcastically, "U don't know how to plan something like that..." she flipped through the stacks of papers.

"Don't worry about planning it, that's already done. What you have to worry about is dress and etiquette..."

"Ohh no, you've got to be kidding me. I may be forced to be your wife, but I sure as hell aren't going to pick up that crap here. I don't need it, don't want it..." she glared, he glared; it was a stale mate.

"You don't have a choice. Ferdinanc Winenburge, Meet Farria. Farria, have fun," and Blake disappeared, locking her in the study with Ferdinance Winenburge.

"YOU BLOODY BASTARD!" was the only there words heard for hours. There was a gargled scream of rage, but that didn't count as a word...

1 Month Later, 10/31

Blake was nervous. For one month he'd heard neither hide nor hair from his reluctant wife. True, her escape attempts were getting more common, especially before her lessons. But all in all she spoke to no one. The masquerade started in half an hour and he had yet to hear from her.

"Farria! Get out here now!" Blake banged on the closet door, and was startled when it suddenly opened and there stood Farria, at least he thought it was her. Before him stood a woman dressed in thick, gauzy pants that he had provided her first night here. They were a deep, rich green that matched a tight, elastic-like top, which had no sleeves. A wooden stick, or staff, however you look at it, was strapped to her back. Wicked looking daggers that had previously adorned the wall above the mantel were now attached to her sides by a leather strip. She had also found, he didn't know where, tan hiking boots, leather by the looks of them. Her mask was simple in design and nearly hid her eyes. Her long, blonde hair was pulled back into a thick braid.

"Nice," was all he could manage. He himself was dressed up in black cotton pants, a white shirt, and looked like the phantom of the opera. His tall, 59 height and black hair, he actually made it look good. "Let's go," he stepped asides to let her pass.

Farria simply rolled her eyes and left the closet. "You are going to speak at some point!" he burst out indignantly, grabbing her arm.

"John, Andy, and Aramond have been teaching me self-defense. I'm a quick learner, if you want that arm, I suggest you remove it," she glared at it, shook it off, and stalked down the hallway. Blake caught up with her and led them to the rather large dining room turned ballroom.

They mixed and mingled for the first hour or so, and then there was the dancing that they had to start. Blake was actually surprised that she allowed him to touch her. When that was over, he turned to meet some guy, military by the way he walked, and she disappeared.

Farria made it out to the garden where she was able to drop the fa├žade of being happy. The cool, night air helped to chill her fevered skin; after all, it was stifling in that room. Farria's green eyes wandered up to the unfamiliar constellations and she sighed. Her depressing mood didn't last long as she heard a scream in the ballroom. When she got there alls he saw was pandemonium. Strange men dressed in tan, brown, and white desert robes were attacking men, woman, and the few children that had come. She leapt into action, diving over people to knock the man aside, the one that was getting ready to strike one of the little boys

The children, three in all, huddled behind her. She grasped her staff and started to prepare, mentally, for a fight.

Farria couldn't grasp the exact number of men she'd sent cowering away with injuries, only that her stamina was not enough to hold out for long. She just happened a glance behind her, to check on the children, who were missing by the way, when a fist came out of no where and plowed into her stomach.

The wind whooshed out for her in a great puff of air as her knees hit the floor. Her staff clattered to the ground as her arms went around her middle, trying to inhale the precious oxygen of which she was deprived of at that very moment. She couldn't breathe! Her lungs burned for air, but she couldn't relax enough to allow the commodity. "Relax, take a slow, deep breath," a voice whispered in her ear. She did as instructed, one arm going down to brace herself, instead her hand closed around her staff. Her eye caught the edge of the white robe and she didn't hesitate to lash out at the figure.

"Whoa, is that any way to treat the guy trying to help you...hey WAIT!" he called out, as she dove head long into the crowd, streaming with panicked people trying to get away from the robed figures who were carefully rounding them up into groups, taking them away just as quickly as they were fighting. Farria nearly ran smack dab into Aramond in her mad dash to get away from the figure. Winded, she collapsed against him and, clutching her staff in a death grip, gulped oxygen into her deprived lungs and used her staff, still clutched in her hand, to hold herself upright. With a deep breath, she allowed herself to be led away to the garden. By the time they got deep enough into the over grown garden, he permitted to her rest. But they didn't get a break for very long. No, things just had to go from bad to worse, didn't it? Nothing could ever go Farria's way without the most extreme circumstances. First getting kidnapped, being forced into an unwilling marriage, and now she had to fight for her life. Ohh joy, what next, will the sky turn blood red and will fire rain from the sky? Will the world end now? Her thoughts abruptly ended as she heard the tall tail signs of being surrounded. With a groan, she clutched her staff, preparing herself with her meager fighting skills. After all, Aramond hadn't taught her past the basics with any of her weapons except with her daggers.

One white robed figure and several tan and brown robed figures came crashing out of the preverbal woodwork. Bushes were trampled as they raced to get into a position of fighting. Farria had her back to an ancient oak tree and that oak tree was probably the only one living thing that she could rely on at that moment. She attempted to get to closer to Aramond, so that they could fight together, but he held up a hand, stopping her in her tracks.

"Farria," a voice called out softly, she turned to find John and Andy, but she was shocked to find their clothing was that of the invaders. Then it clicked in her exhausted mind. Her bodyguards had helped the invaders to gain access to the house, and the inhabitants. Betrayal flooded her body as she gazed at her former friends. Never had something so trivial pierced her soul so. She had come to think of these men as her friends, as her comrades and confidants. Her only friends in this strange world she'd been thrust into, were nothing more than betrayers of her trust, using her to gain something they needed. Farria felt used, dirty, as if she were unfit to walk this earth now. Quickly she shoved those feelings to the back burner, trying to pay attention to her surroundings. She tried to find a way out of the situation she found herself currently in. A plan slowly formed in her mind, but she felt she was missing some pieces. Something Aramond had once told her to watch out for, but she couldn't remember. "Just drop the staff and we'll go easy on you..." Farria blinked, back up against the old oak until her shoulders were brushing against it with her movements.

"Really? I just drop my staff, you go easy on me, does that include everyone else?" she asked quietly, not believing her luck.

"Ya, sure, don't worry about it, you won't get hurt, you know me, I won't lie to you," John said soothingly, as if to a frightened animal.

"Do I really know you? After all, this is something that I wasn't expecting, you could have at least told me, then it wouldn't have had to come to this, not like this anyway," she responded just as softly, making them strain to hear her words. "So I have your word of honor?" she questioned, sighing and relaxing her muscles slightly.

"Yes," Andy nodded.

"Ya hear the Aramond? I drop my staff, you guys go easy on me and I don't get hurt...alright I agree!" she answered, just as Aramond figured out what she was doing.

"Crap!" he shouted, charging her as her staff dropped from her fingers and settled against the trees. She'd been better with knives anyway. Quickly she grabbed her four, meager knives, and threw them toward the white robed figures. Grabbing the staff, she sheathed it and secured it to her back in less than ten seconds and started running, rushing deeper and deeper into the garden. Farria didn't get far before a white robed figure came flying out of the tree, knocking her to the ground, and for the second time that night, having the wind knocked forcefully from her lungs. Farria couldn't do anything but lay there as the person's weight bared down on her. She felt he wrists being bound behind her back. That's what she had forgotten! Desert foke, though not raised around trees, loved to give surprise attacks from them when possible.

"Come on, take a deep breath," the voice soothingly told her. Farria was helped into a sitting position and it did help her take her first, short and gasping breath. When her color had returned, she was hoisted up and over the person's, a man she discovered, shoulder. With a grunt she was transferred to a horse, stomach down. No saddle adorned this mount as the rider swung his leg over and seated himself behind her. With her body draped over the horse, it was a difficult journey to wherever they were headed.

Farria knew without a doubt she'd passed out during the jarring ride because instead of cobbled streets, there was sand. She groaned softly as her stomach muscles clenched. Farria attempted to twist around to see her captor's face, instead she found herself falling of the horse. With a cry of surprise she hit hard and landed wrong. The impact caused her to dislocated her left arm. She nearly screamed in pain, kicked up dirt trying to evade the man trying to get her back onto the mount. Her arm throbbed in agony, and the rider could see that was her main problem. Two other riders helped the first to recapture her, she'd been backing steadily away from them, and relocated her arm in one agonizing move. She panted in pain, ignoring them as it eased slightly. Soon she found herself seated before the rider again, a firm arm around her stomach, which still ached from before, and the started off again.

"Bastard," she grumbled, slumping in pain, but not as bad as it had been a few moments before. Farria closed her eyes and thought about her next move. Nothing plausible came to mind. So she blinked her eyes and was startled to find the sun rising and a stone formation in the distance. With a start, she shifted, noticing she couldn't move either of her arms as they were still bound, but numb now.

They reached the stone formation, which turned out to be a set of vast, underground caverns. The horses slowed, then stopped. Farria was dragged from the horse and set on her feet. They weren't alone, it seemed. A whole band of horses had been riding with them, she just hadn't noticed it before. Shoved toward the cave, she had no choice but to stumble along after a group of similar prisoners. Inside the cave shocked Farria into a start of unease. The tunnel they had to use in order to get underground was so small they had to go single file. Normally this wouldn't bother Farria, but never had she been bound and shoved into a small, dark cave either. Her claustrophobia hadn't kicked in on the plane because she had been in control, and now it kicked in full force, she couldn't move.

She felt the like the walls were closing in on her. She spun around to flee, finally regaining possession of her body, but already a blindfold was sliding over her eyes and she was spun back around. In that short span of seconds, she had already lost her way and had no clue as to where she was going. It was fuzzy for a while and then she was knocked to her knees. The blindfold was removed and she blinked, falling back onto her butt and pulling on the her knees to her chest and looked around. A small crowd had formed around the group of prisoners. Many stared at her open act of defiance, but she didn't really care. She was going to look her fill whether they approved it or not. She watched as robed figures embraced woman and children. One figure stood off to the side, looking with kind eyes on the people around him. With a grunt, she got to her feet and settled back down next to the stonewall. Self-appointed guards carefully watched her movements but her eyes were for the longer only, who was now walking toward the group of captives.

He spoke in what sounded like Arabic, then he switched to English when he got nothing but blank looks. "Who here is the wife of Blake?" Farria just sat there, looking at the man wondering just what he was thinking. "Come now, show yourself, or I shall start the process of branding slaves now, starting with these three children...." he pointed to the three children who sat huddled next to each other.

"I am Blake's wife, what do you want?" she demanded, relaxing against the wall. The loner, as she'd dubbed him, walked toward her.

"You are Blake's wife, truly?" he asked.

"I would not have spoken up otherwise, I try not to lie," she responded. The loner reached down toward her face, and she thought he might slap her, so she did the first thing she could think of, she kicked his hand away with one of her legs. After all, she was a woman and therefore very flexible, she was allowed to bend the ways a man could not. Cradling his hand, he smirked.

"Yes, I can see why he chose you, Topez Snapdragon," he whispered lightly, nodding to some robed figures. "Aramond tells me he trained you in the basics of fighting, well, we shall perform a standard test of skill. Should you win, they go free, should you loose, you all become slaves." Her hands were cut loose and she stood, glaring through her mask, which has somehow stayed in place the whole night. "Their freedom, but not my own?" she questioned, allowing her formerly lost weapons to be replaced.

"Quick thinking, but no, we cannot release the combatants. Someone of equal rank shall fight you, Jai perhaps? Our healer shall look you both over before you begin, in here please," he motioned toward a covered cave area that looked like a medical station divided by curtains.

Farria was quickly sat down on a small stack of pillows. "Wait here," the healer ordered, showing a fiery red head to another part of the cave. She returned seconds later carrying several bags of...stuff. Bandages, ointments, and other assorted things used for healing.

"Come, come, take off your shirt and let's get that arm set..." The healer spoke softly, soothingly. It was very painful, but most of it went away when it was finally relocated. Freezing cold water packs were placed to stop the swelling, and after maybe half an hour, the swelling did go down, but that didn't stop the healer from continuing on her journey of Farria's body to uncover assorted hidden injuries, like her sprained ankle she didn't know about, or the heavy bruises on her ribs. She was given a small amount of water at a time, so that she wouldn't get sick and throw it all up. The healer was quick and efficient, clucking like a mother hen over her bruises and more serious injuries. She was given a tea to drink after she had finished the water, and she was glad for the taste of the sweetened stuff. It wasn't five minutes later that the kindly old woman whom had cared for her started yelling in Arabic at someone.

Farria, however, did not wait for the kindly woman to finish chewing out the Loner. She stood, setting the cup down, and walked out from behind the curtain. "I am ready for your fight," she stated calmly, taking a deep breath. The Loner nodded his head, motioning to a circle of people who would be her fighting ring. With her staff clutched securely in her hands, she stepped into the silent ring and waited. The red head, Jai, soon appeared as well, carrying weapons of the same caliber as herself. "Are you ready?" she murmured softly, and the girl nodded, not saying her word. Farria thought her a mute at first, but then she let out a battle cry and charged forward.

Farria easily side stepped the attack, allowing the girl to throw her momentum forward, and tripped her with her staff. The girl was quick though, and was on her feet in seconds. There was a furious clash of staves and no one really knew if anyone was getting any hits in because of the way Farria was using her staff. She had learned long ago to move her staff in an erratic way because not only did it confuse her opponent but also it confused whoever was watching at the time.

Staves clashed again, and Farria soon had to give up on her confusing tactics because Jai was moving to fast for her to do what she wanted to do. At one point or another, Farria had lost her mask, but she didn't have time to worry about that because Jai may have been faster than Farria, but what Farria lacked in speed, she made up for in experience. Both staves suddenly clashed in an almighty standstill, and one second later, promptly shattered into splinters. Each girl dropped the broke pieces still held in their hands and pulled twin daggers from side sheaths. The clash of metal was defiantly a lot faster than the staves. They made mad attacks, things that normal people wouldn't have done, but Farria could not use most of her skill that she possessed. Her side ached and her arm hurt even worse. Too many staff hits had nearly numbed it, and she could barely grip her left handed dagger.

In the moment that she was distracted with her thoughts, Jai dove in and took the opportunity to take a jab at her injured arm. She barely suppressed a scream of agony before her right arm took the opportunity to slice the girls wrist. Already she could see that the radial artery in her wrist was cut. Good thing she hadn't aimed for the ulna, or she would have probably lost the fight and her hand. The girl was on the ground, silent tears coursing down her face, clutching her now dagger less wrist with her free hand. Farria was quick to rip part of her costume off and tie it tightly around the girl's wrist, effectively stopping the blood flow by raising it above her heart and pinching the brachial artery in the upper extremity, or her upper arm. To say that this shocked anyone didn't surprise her at all, after all, she had been in an EMT Paramedic class, and she was a certified EMT Basic and an EMT Intermediate, she knew her stuff to say the least.

When the bleeding had apparently stopped for the moment, she ripped more pieces of her costume to make a sling. She now had what appeared to be a sports bra on and nothing more. Her shirt now supported the arm of Jai. She reached down, handed the knife to Jai in her good hand. "Don't move that arm much..." she whispered, "Or you'll bleed to death," she added for good measure. Getting to her feet, she turned her back and picked up her own knife, holding it in the ready attack position. The fight continued, and her injured arm was no longer hit. Still, in the end, it was Farria who won, disarming and pinning Jai. In turn, Farria was tossed to the ground like a sack of meat, and proceeded to have the worst hours of her life dragged out of her as her arms and legs were held down and someone sat on her lower back.

"If you move, or even think of moving, everything that Misoka is doing, will be scraped off and she'll start from scratch, understand?" a dangerous voice whispered in her ear. She stilled immediately and tried not to cringe as she was dragged to her feet. Faster than she could blink, or run with both of her arms pinned, and several nicks and cuts, she was dragged into a chamber deep into the heart of side caves. She couldn't fathom what they wanted to do to her now, but it didn't really matter because she found herself on her stomach once again, her top being cut away and thrown carelessly to the sides over her arms. Then the real torture began. Trying to stay still as the person once again found purchase on her lower back. The needles were plied mercilessly, slowly, and in a steady rhythm of back and forth. Something cold and smooth was placed in the center of her back, and this caused her to shiver once on her over warm skin. Her arms were still held down, as well as her legs. Her face was shoved down into a, surprisingly, soft pillow, which quickly grew damp with tears of pain.

She didn't move much, however, only a few toes, or her foot, to keep it from falling asleep. Misoka drew whatever design slaves had on their backs and placed it on hers. Eventually having to move Her seat to Farria's butt, so that the design could dip down into her lower back. Minutes stretched into hours, hours slowly stretched into an eternity, and Farria felt like she was going to go mad with the way these people calmly anticipated her every thought. They felt when she could not take it any more and held her down more tightly when her arms or legs tensed, slapped her when she thought she might pass out from it all, or tried to calm her silent sobs down when they shook her body. All in all, it was an emotional rollercoaster and it was no fun.

Finally the design seemed finish, but her world quickly turned into more pain when she heard the voice of Misoka say casually, "The outline is finished, it will take maybe fifteen or so minutes to mix the colors...." Farria quickly lost consciousness at the words and nothing would wake her from her seemingly dead sleep...

Farria stirred slowly, blinking open her eyes to the rather dim room around her. Her back, shoulders, and arms felt like they had been stabbed with a million needles that were quickly spreading down her back in seemingly random intervals. She groaned softly, the first sound she'd made in what seemed like days. Her butt was numb, as were her feet and her arms. Her back seemed to be one achy mass that wouldn't stop hurting. She raised her head up slightly, remembering the words of her tormentor. She turned her head to the side, only finding jars of what looked like colored ink. However, her view was cut off when her head was turned back to where it had previously lain.

"If you move again, I will have the entire think scraped off and redone, in the same day. So don't move," the voice growled.

"Stop being so mellow dramatic! I've already finished the outline and I already have a third of her back finished! That's pretty good for such a complex design. You should be thankful I even consented to do something this complex because you know I can't sit still for more than five hours, I've been here twelve, and the girl is probably starving, I know I am," Misoka shot back, hopping off of Farria's back so that she could stretch her legs. "She can stand up and stretch a bit, as long as nothing touches her back, she'll be fine," Misoka ordered. "Hey you! New Guy, go and get dinner for two," she called out into the hallway.

Farria was grasped by her numb arms and dragged into a sitting position. Her arms were not released however, but with the blood rushing to her head, she didn't really care at the moment. Tingling sensations were running throughout her body, and it hurt worse than the needles. It was agony, pure and simple. So she sat hunched over her drawn up knees, when that had happened she didn't know, and tried to regain feeling in her body. After a few seconds, she was hauled to her feet, but she had no footing, and actually had to be held that way until all the blood stopped rushing to her feet in an attempted to regain it's proper blood flow. The two guards realized about five minutes later that she could hold her own weight, and helped her to walk around the room. Never had walking hurt so much before. When the food arrived, she was allowed to sit and eat the meager offering. Gruel had never tasted so good before, and she briefly wondered why before she finished off the meal and was led to the privy to use. Once she was done, scrabbling to keep her shirt together, it was back to lying down and allowing the torture to continue.

Many more hours later, her back went numb and she no longer felt the pierce of the needle unless it was directly in a nerve cluster, then she tensed and gasped slightly into the pillow before the needle moved on. She actually fell into an exhausted sleep, trying to regain some semblance of strength before she woke up to her chest being stripped of her shirt and quickly swathed in white bandages. A piece of leather covered stick had been in her mouth and it was removed. How it had gotten there, she didn't know, but at that moment she didn't care.

"No work for a week, you here?" Don't let them bully you into working either!" Misoka ordered, cleaning up her pots of ink and soaking her needles in what looked to be clean water. Farria just sat on the ground until the Loner returned for her, he had previously left after her meal, and took her to her new sleeping quarters.

"Your new name shall be Topez Snapdragon, and you shall know no other name. You are being placed in the Labor cave, mostly cooking and cleaning, occasionally helping with cave-ins. Your pallet is in the far corner, left wall third cave back. There aren't many people back there because we try to keep the slave population down because food gets low in the cooler seasons. You will be summoned to work every morning by someone, more than likely Radclif. Big guy, you can't miss him. Do as your told and you won't be further harmed."

Cypress had briefly looked around for Radclif; the chubby man was really hard to miss, before he tuned back to Farria. He was shocked to say the least. Never had he seen a slave fall asleep so fast on their first, conscious day here. But here she was, sprawled out on her stomach. He winced, noticing the dark bruise on the back of her neck. Gently he tossed the thin, ragged blanket over her, cringing at the thought of her waking up in the morning on the thin, stained, and worse for wear futon. With no pillows, luxuries were earned and given as rewards, taken away when they were bad, her muscles were sure to be tense and tight. He would have to make sure the blonde had a nice soak in a tub of steaming hot water and rubbed down with a healing salve. With a weary sigh, he reached deep into his robed pocket and removed a thin, emerald green collar and knelt down next to Farria. Gently he clasped it around her neck, locking it and then leaving her to her dreams...

Farria dreamed very strange things. The first dream was of her staring up at the full moon, and actually recognizing the constellations; she was home. Before she could grasp onto the dream, it filtered away and another took its place, her reading a book very carefully. She could actually read the words, but they made no sense to her befuddled mind. It too filtered away to bustling crowds and gaudy clothes. She longed for something, but she didn't know what. The dream faded and she saw nothing, but she felt the wind kiss her skin as water tickled her face. The dream faded and she opened her eyes, shocked at where she found herself.

She was in a steaming bath, and everything, all her muscles, her mind, everything, was relaxed in a blissfully unknowing way that only sleep could eventually bring to a disturbed or overtaxed body. A girl knelt over her, wide grin in place as she scrubbed her dirty body with a warm, wet cloth that smelt heavenly of sandalwood. "My name's Rei, I'm going to help clean you up!" was all she said before continuing her task. Blood washed gently away and a soothing massage with some salve or another that added to her comfort. Breakfast was served to her in the tub and she quickly ate what she was given, not tasting anything, before relaxing back into the bath. It was long after she had rested that nightfall came and went. Dinner was being cooked and she was being called off to work. With a weak shrug, new bandages in place, she headed off to the kitchens, or what she thought were the kitchens.

The kitchens were nothing more than heated rocks in brightly lit caves, with a pool to wash dishes in. A small current in the bottom of the pool insured that the water stayed clean and fresh. It was tedious work, but she managed to finish before several other slaves entered and begin to do their own work, throwing anything and everything into a large pot, adding water, and calling it dinner. Farria didn't even want to consider what they might be cooking on the hot, flat rocks that were still in use long after the sun had set. She actually picked one and then promptly dropped it. "What is this, shingles for the rocks? You use this stuff and they'll never be another cave in again!" she exclaimed, getting a few laughs from her now silent audience. "What is this supposed to be?" she questioned on of the slaves.

"Dinner," was all she replied, giving a casual shrug. "The instructions on how to make it is over there..." she pointed to a cook book that looked like it had never been opened.

"That is not editable," she stated, tossing the brick like thing off to the side. "It's not fit for pigs and it's not fit for humans, no wonder you're all suffering from malnutrition and are heavily underweight." Farria looked into the pot, taking out the salvaging the things that had not melted into the water, like some of the dried vegetables. Minding her recent injuries, she went about opening the cookbook. "Can any of you read English?" she asked.

"No," everyone coursed. Farria sighed, no wonder everything was horrible, no one could cook, and no one could read. She picked up a seemingly forgotten can of flour and yeast and began to cook dinner, instructing everyone on the kitchen to do her work. By the time they were done, they were an hour late serving, but no one complained, not even the slave owners, who were pleasantly surprised by the food that they received that night.

For many weeks, Farria did nothing but what she was told, ignoring what Radclif said about not working too hard because Misoka would have his head. Farria discovered many new wonders of the kitchen that the slaves had never thought to use, like knives for instance. She taught the slaves how to cook bread, make stew, and bake the different meats they were given. It was hard work, but she managed. However, it was the day her bandages were finally removed, her back washed of all the dried blood that had accumulated through the tattooing of her back that people started to notice her. When her bandages had been removed, she'd been given a slaves tunic instead of her harem like costume. The shirt was little more than a sports bar, slightly bigger, and the pants were baggy enough to hide many knives, of which she was kept from except when she was cooking.

She was always kept under a close watch, though, and never would she be allowed to go anywhere without some type of escort except the privy, which had no way out other than the way you went in, and the bath, for the same reasons. However, sense everyone she had fought for was gone now, she could focus on possible escape routs should something happen that she didn't want to happen, liking being beaten near to death. She constituted her tattooing as a very bad thing.

However, as she left the kitchens after one very grueling day, and she was headed back toward the third slave cave where she slept. However, fate seemed to have other ideas. The ground beneath her feet trembled slightly, and she frowned, noticing a few rocks as they fell from the ceiling. The cave was packed with people, and she felt another tremor. "EVERYONE GET OUT! CAVE IN!" she shouted. Her words brought about the desired effect and everyone ran toward the main cave in. That is, all but one woman. "My son!" she cried out as Farria dragged her backward, "My son is outside and a sandstorm is coming!" she yelled, pointing to a freshly opened walled toward the outside. Farria squinted hard, shouting at the woman that she would find him. She grabbed a fallen blanket, big enough to cover two, and raced outside. What she saw would haunt her for a very, very long time.

She saw two little boys instead of one, racing toward the main entrance to the caves. One was obviously old than the other and supporting the younger of the two. They couldn't be more than fifteen years of age. But one thing struck her clearly in her mind, they would never make it to the main entrance, and the cave behind her was collapsing, but it was their only choice. As she raced toward them, intent of cutting them off before they got too far, the large, tan sand cloud rose up over a large dune and raced toward them. In seconds they were consumed by the raging winds, and she soon followed, but she never let up on her pace.

Farria quickly realized her mistake, but she didn't care, she always tried to keep her word. The sun was setting, but the winds grew fiercer, catching anything on her, clothing, hair, the blanket in her hands, and using it against her. Belatedly she knew she was lost, but that was beside the point, she had to get to those boys, no matter what. Her eyes stung with the sand, and she was forced to close them. Her nose was clogged with the same, thick, deadly stuff, and couldn't breathe properly even with her mouth open, it quickly filled with sand. She finally resorted to using her blanket.

"This way," a voice called to her left. Without a thought she raced toward that voice. "Further, come on, this way, they are over here," the voice whispered softly, somehow cutting straight through the horrible wailing of the winds. Farria hadn't gone more than five feet when she tripped and stumbled over the two boys, fallen to the ground, huddled against the winds. Quickly she brought the blanket over them and tucked it around them as best she could. With the meager cover they had, all three began coughing and sputtering, grateful for the reprieve, no matter how meager it was.

Minutes turned into hours, and hours turned into the next day, and on the dawning of the day after that, the sands finally settled. Farria couldn't hear properly, and neither could the boys. They all sat huddled under the blanket until finally the ringing stopped long after the winds had ceased and the sands had fallen. All three stood up shakily, looking around for any signs that the caves were nearby. They found the ruined cave that Farria had left to rescue the boys, which had collapsed much to her amusement. All three had faces rubbed raw, were dehydrated and hungry. They were found stumbling into the main entrance by guards, who quickly dragged them below to be seen by the healer.

"Just what," an angry voice growled at them minutes later, "Gave you the right to leave the caves? Hmm? Hisoka! Michiru! Boy, Girl, you two are grounded to your living pallets until further notice..." Farria was momentarily shocked that they were in fact a boy and a girl instead of two boys, before the loner turned on her. "And you!" he seemed to battle with his emotions briefly before his face went carefully blank. "As much as I would like to scold you for your idiocy at what you attempted, I must first thank you. Not only did you save a cave full of people, people who imprisoned you, but you saved my niece and nephew." He nodded his head, as if coming to a conclusion. His face took on a reprimanding look, "You acted like an idiot going out into that sandstorm like you did. Not only could you have gotten lost, died, and probably wasted a lot of time looking for your long buried carcass, but you could have gotten those two children killed! They know what to do in a sand storm..."

"They would never had made it to the main cave," she whispered softly, not able to speak much higher than the faintest whispering sound, "They had just gotten to the bottom of the dune when the storm overtook them...I had no choice but to go after them..." she closed her eyes and winced as the healer applied more salve to her raw skin. "Punish me if you will, but I will sleep better knowing I at least did more than you did," she growled, closing her eyes and taking a very bad moment to fall into a nice, deep sleep.

"Bloody girl!" he growled to her unconscious form, "There are some things in this desert world that you are ready for, and there are somethings that you aren't!" he suddenly stopped his triad, "You should be dead, but I guess you aren't ready for that, now are you?" he murmured, much to the amusement of the healer.

"I wonder how she found them in a storm that thick? We haven't seem something like that in almost ten years," she murmured. "The worst storm of the century, it was strong enough to peel the skin from their bones within seconds, and yet they survived with minor injuries, how is that possible?" the elderly lady wondered allowed.

"I don't know, but she is obviously favored by Ra if she can survive something like that," the loner replied ruefully, leaving the two children and Topez, formerly known as Farria, to the healer...

Topez glared ruefully at the ceiling. It was not an hour later that dinner came. She at the mush, slightly over done, but really it was the only thing she could eat. The two children were sleeping peaceably, curled up next to each other. The room was silent except the scrap of the wooden spoon on the stone bowl.