Author's Note : This is my first story on fictionpress, so please read and review… it would be very helpful.

Prologue

Aurelia Kaltain was only four years old when her parents mysteriously disappeared. She had kissed her mother and father goodnight, and when she awoke the next morning, they were gone without a trace. Aurelia was always a very quiet child, who preferred to spend her time with the animals more than people, but she loved her family very much.

The sky was grey that winter morning, but that was not unusual for this land. The housemaid found Aurelia playing behind the family's small house. She had found a small nest of field mice and was crouched quietly in the tall, brown grass, watching the activity of the small family. The housemaid would have missed her completely, if it weren't for her brilliant copper hair blowing in the breeze. Her hair and complexion was very unusual for this country. With her fiery hair and fair skin, she looked very different from the darker looks of the more common race.

"Aurelia!" the housemaid, called Vereth, shouted. She did not want to sneak up on the small girl and startle her.

Quickly and quietly, Aurelia made her way towards Vereth. The latter was once again awestruck by the uncommon grace that the child possessed. When Aurelia reached the maid, she expectantly looked up at her with large aquamarine eyes, waiting for Vereth to speak.

"Such an innocent child. It's really a shame that tragedy has to befall such a sweet creature so young," thought Vereth, sadly.

Crouching down to meet Aurelia at eyelevel, Vereth began slowly, "Aurelia, you're mother and father have gone away. You must go to live with your Uncle Falsivir in the big village."

The child looked at her with deep, soulful eyes, and implored, "Where have mama and papa gone? When will they be back to get me?"

Vereth drew in a large sigh. She had been afraid of this. Trying to shield the child as best she could she said gently, "We don't know where they've gone, and it doesn't look like they'll be coming back. You must live with your uncle now."

"Did someone take them?" Aurelia asked, silent tears falling down her face.

Vereth sighed, "Such a wise child. It would be better for her if she were not so wise. Some things are better not known", she thought.

"I don't know, child, but we must go, quickly."

Vereth led Aurelia to a wagon at the front of the house. Aurelia's few possessions had already been packed. With one last look at the only home she had ever known, Aurelia climbed into the wagon and started her journey.

The ride to the big village, called Falcomore, was a long one, and soon Aurelia was lulled to sleep by the swaying of the wagon. She dreamed of specters and phantoms, chasing her through a dark wood. She could hear her mother calling, but Aurelia could never seem to find her. As soon as she would get close, the voice would move further away. The wagon came to a rough stop, and Aurelia woke with a start. She saw a large stone house through a hole in the wagon's canvas covering. She could hear voices, but she couldn't see anyone. The sky had become darker since she left her home, and the wind was howling. Soon, the sky parted and it began to pour. She was roughly seized by a pair of burly arms, and jostled into the house.

Once inside, Aurelia looked up into the face of her captor, and saw someone who looked very much like her father with his large black beard and long graying hair.

"Papa?" she shakily inquired.

"No, I am your Uncle Falsivir," he said gently, while setting her down in a chair by the fire.

Aurelia curled up and fell asleep by the fire.

Five Years Later

Aurelia awoke with a start. Today was her birthday, and Uncle swore he had a wonderful surprise for her! She ran to the window, looking to see if her uncle was working in the woodshop like he was most mornings. She saw him putting the final touches on an intricately engraved dining table. It had been ordered by the master of the town. He was rarely seen, but he was much talked of. Not only was he master of the town, but of the whole area. Not much was known about him, except that he rode a horse as black as the devil, and he never seemed to age. Some imaginative townsfolk said he was seligre voi, one of the damned ones. Aurelia thought on this and shuddered involuntarily. However, the gloomy thoughts were soon gone as the excitement of the day overtook her.

After a hasty breakfast, she raced outside to find her uncle and receive her birthday gift. She found him putting away his tools and preparing to polish the newly finished table.

"Uncle! Do you know what today is?" she inquired excitedly, bouncing from one foot to the other.

Falsivir pulled a thoughtful face and said, "Saturday?"

"No, silly! What is special about today?" Aurelia giggled.

"Hmm… let's see… are you getting married today?" he continued the ruse.

"No, today's my birthday!" she exclaimed, her childish patience finally spent.

"Ah, you're right. Well, I suppose that I should give you your present then, shouldn't I?" he waggled his bushy eyebrows at her.

Aurelia nodded ecstatically and began prancing around.

Falsivir went to the corner of his workshop and picked up a tiny basket, which he handed to Aurelia. She shrieked with glee when she lifted the lid and saw the contents. Curled up in the basket was a small white kitten with sapphire eyes.

"A kitten! My very own kitten! I shall call her Kicha and I will teach her to be a lion."

"Now, she is your responsibility. You must remember to feed her and care for her. You are all she has now," said Falsivir, seriously.

"I'm gonna be the best mama in the world!" she cried.

"I know you will, now run along."

Aurelia carefully put Kicha back in the basket and walked slowly down the dirt road towards the center of town. She paused every few seconds to peek in the basket. Falsivir watched her with warm eyes until she could no longer be seen.

Near the town square, Aurelia found her friend Magaly playing a game of jacks. Both girls became so enraptured with the kitten that the game of jacks was soon forgotten. Suddenly, Kicha sprang from Magaly's arms and bounded into the street. When she got to the center, she sat down and began bathing herself. Aurelia ran into the street and scooped Kicha up in her arms. When she looked up, there was a black horse barreling toward her at an impossible speed. She was terror stricken and could only watch the horse bore down on her. Seconds before she was trampled, the rider reined in the horse, causing the steed to rear up, it's hooves pawing the air and foam frothing out of it's mouth. Soon, the Apocolyptic horse and rider settled, and Aurelia saw the horseman for the first time.

The man was dressed solely in black, and in much finer clothes than any Aurelia had ever seen. His shoes shone like twin mirrors. His skin was almost transparent, and his onyx hair cascaded to his shoulders, where it blended with his attire. His eyes, however, were what had Aurelia transfixed. They looked as if emerald fire had been trapped within them, and she briefly glimpsed an unspeakable coldness in their depths. She could not move as he dismounted and moved towards her.

"What is your name, girl?" his voice was a rich, silky baritone.

"A- Aurelia. Aurelia Kaltain," she hesitantly stuttered.

"Interesting, quite interesting," the mysterious man mumbled to himself.

"And who is this?" he gestured towards Kicha, who was nestled in Aurelia's arms, seemingly undisturbed by the whole ordeal.

A large grin made it's way on to Aurelia's face, and just like that, the spell was broken.

"This is Kicha. My Uncle gave her to me for my birthday, and I am going to teach her to be a lion," Aurelia proudly stated.

"A lion, eh? She doesn't look like much," he said, incredulously.

"She can be whatever she believes she can be!" Aurelia admonished.

Just then, a loud thunderclap tore through the sky, and it began to pour. The stranger scooped Aurelia up, and concealed her in his cloak. He mounted his horse and directed them to Falsivir's home.

When they arrived, Aurelia darted inside and ran upstairs to change into some dry clothes. She gave Kicha a saucer of milk and bounded back down the stairs in search of her uncle. She headed towards the study, and noticed that the door was closed. She was about to move on, when she heard hurried voices.

"--with me," she heard the stranger say.

"She is but a child! Please…" her uncles voices became too soft for her to make out what he was saying.

After a few minutes of standing by the door and hearing nothing, she began to turn away, until she heard the stranger speak, "As you wish, I will return when the time is right."

Aurelia heard someone jiggle the doorknob, so she scampered away so as not to be caught eavesdropping. Falsivir emerged about half an hour later, and the rest of the day passed without event. That night she dreamed of the mysterious stranger, and he would continue to plague her dreams for several years.