April 19, 396 A.T. (Formation of the Angkora Treaty)

Lomadia shuffled through the library, scanning the books for a book she had been reading a few days before - a book about runes, and their powers. She looked quickly from left to right, making sure that her mother or any of her servants were nearby. If she was caught in this section of her father's library, her mother would not be happy.

Sure that no people were about in the library, Lomadia found the book she was looking for and started to read. She became absolutely engrossed in the book - despite the fact of it being very dry and somewhat boring. This subject was one of Lomadia's favorites. However, this time of freedom was short to last.

"Lomadia, come here this instant!" her mother shrieked from a few doors away. Lomadia turned around, and saw a glimpse of a maid scurrying away quickly. Lomadia sighed and tossed her book on a table nearby. "Coming, mother."

The dinner table was unusually silent that night. At least, until her father walked in.

He kissed her mother on both cheeks, more like an old friend than a wife. He totally ignored Lomadia. In return, she ignored him, also, but not what he was saying to his wife. "Mother will be coming tomorrow, she says. She also warns of danger in the main road, and not to let anyone leave the village."

"Edward..." started Lomadia's mother, "Do you know what one of the maids caught Lomadia doing today? She was reading another one of your rune-study books." He smiled widely, clearly proud of his daughter's exploration into those books. Her mother glared at him, and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat, pulling a mask of indifference on his face.

"What's the problem with Lomadia reading my books? I think it's rather--"

"Unladylike," Lomadia's mother finished. "Edward, you are encouraging behavior that should not be encouraged in a lady of her status. She should be working on her needlework, or how to become a good wife to her future husband, or..." Edward again shifted uncomfortably. "Speaking of marriage..."

"Let's leave that to my mother, Callïn. She knows the best for Lomadia, seeing as she's the closest female to her."

"But I'm her mother!" said Callïn indignantly. "This is my decision, not my mother-in-law's!" Unnoticed by her parents, Lomadia got up and left the dining hall, heading for the library. Her mother was occupied by her father, meaning that Lomadia could now read that rune book. In secret this time. As she passed through the great hall of the manor, a servant rushed pass calling out her father's name. "Edward Palunè! Your Grace!"

"Palunè," Lomadia whispered to herself. "'The noble family that has power over light.' Yep, that's me. Just a noble girl that can use light. Nothing else." She walked into the library, muttering, "Palun can also mean the study of runes, thus our mage name, Runelight. So right now I am Lomadia Rhosyn Palunè, soon to be Lomadia Rhoslyn Palunè Runelight, the light mage. Now where's that book..."

April 20, 396 A.T.

"You demented little brat! How dare you befoul our precious water with your hands! Now we will have to spend hundreds of gold pieces to hire a wisewoman to cleanse the well! You will be punished for this, I swear!" The boy looked down, his dusty face now muddy with the water that he had taken from the well. A tall, muscled man looked down at the twelve-year-old, and pulled out a knife. "Everyone knows the penalty for stealing, brat!" The boy cowered, no where to run.

"Is there a problem?" asked a voice behind the man. An old lady stood there, a simple brown dress and cloak were the only clothing she wore. Leather slippers were on her feet, and she carried a rough wooden staff about her height, which was around four feet seven inches.

"This is none of your business, granny." To the man's surprise, he said anyway, "I caught the cursed child stealing from my family's well. This was theft, so I must invoke the proper punishment."

"My, my..." the old lady started. "Have you contacted the authorities about this? Assault isn't very tolerated in this realm."

"Heh. How would the duke find out, granny? Would you go to his grace and tell him personally?"

"Well, he would find out. Come here, boy, don't be shy," she said to the boy, and he rushed towards the motherly figure.

The man grabbed the boy's arm. "I don't care if you can pay tenfold that amount! This boy will be punished in the way I see fit!" He gripped his knife tightly and held it ready. Just then, the old woman held her hand out and a bright light emanated from it, making the man scream and cover his eyes. The boy, however, seemed unaffected. The woman smiled. Just as I expected...

April 21, 396 A.T.

Fulio - as he was now called - wandered through the Duke's library, looking for something that looked... interesting. He only had a rough knowledge on how to read, so many of the books looked rather foreign with strange writing on them. As he was looking through the books, he felt a slight tug on his mind, pulling him towards a certain book. It looked very intricate and expensive, with gold leaf on the pages.

"I would suggest you put that back," said a girl's voice from behind him. "It's a book on darker magics. You know, just in case." Fulio turned around to face the person who was talking to him. She was only a few years older than himself, dressed ordinarily, in a simple blue dress, but the way she held herself he could have sworn she was noble. The girl had darker blonde hair, but the most extrodinary thing about her was her golden eyes, so different from the normal colors of blue and brown, and his own green.

"Who are you?" he asked.

The girl smiled. "My name's Lomadia. Yours is...?"

"Fulio," he said with a nervous chuckle. Lomadia walked up to him and took the book. He looked at her in shock.

"I'll be taking that, now that introductions are over." She started to walk up some stairs to the Duke's study, but Fulio stopped her. He already knew the rules of this manor - not to get in the way of the Duke, go mess with his things, and a few other things he couldn't quite remember. He was surprised that this girl didn't know the rules.

"What are you doing? Nobody is allowed in the Duke's study," he stated. "You do know the punishment, right?"

"You're wrong about that, Fulio," Lomadia said, pulling her hand from him and returning to climb the stairs. "There are two people other than the duke allowed in his study. The duchess, and me."

Fulio glared at her and rushed to the top of the stairs, blocking her way. "That's not fair. Who do you think you are?"

"Lomadia Rhoslyn Palunè Runelight, heiress to this estate."

Fulio stared at her dumbly. This girl? The future duchess? "I don't believe you," he said indignantly. "The daughter of the duke would be..."

"I know, I know... I should be off doing needlework in fancy gowns, having my servants tend to my every need, getting ready for a future marriage, etcetera." He nodded in agreement. "I'm," Lomadia said, pointing at herself, "not like that. So don't make assumptions, okay?" She walked over the the door of the study and opened it.

"I don't believe you're the heiress. You're too... ordinary for that, even if the heiress is as you claim. Anyway, the duke doesn't have golden eyes," he said, pointing out her obvious feature, "you two can't be related."

She narrowed her eyes and turned away from him. "Ever heard of a mother?"

Fulio crossed his arms. "Yes, but..." She didn't let him finish. Lomadia walked into the study and shut the door behind her.

"The duchess doesn't have them either..."

Afternoon Teatime (Three o'clock)

Pulling out a small scrap of paper, Fulio walked nervously though the manor, hopelessly lost. The old lady who was called Gran by nearly everyone had given him a small map of the manor with his room on it, but he couldn't seem to find the correct way. He turned into yet another hallway, but then he saw Lomadia, so he tried to escape, remember the way she had looked at him before. However, she saw him before he could get out of sight, and caught up to him.

She noticed his predicament right away, and pointed down another hallway. "Your room is that way, second door on the left," she said tersely, and then walked down the corridor. Fulio glared at her back, and then proceeded to walk down the hallway she had directed him towards. Okay... so it's second door to the... right? He opened up that door and walked inside.

"Wow... this is rather big..." he said in awe of the bedroom. It actually was the size of an average room, but to Fulio, who had never dreamed of living in any type of luxury, this was rather extreme.

"Who's there?" asked a feminine voice. A man aged around 20, holding the hand of a older, middle-aged woman, walked into view.

"Um..." Fulio blushed in embarrassment. "I must've went into the wrong room. Sorry, sir. And ma'am." He rushed out the door and across the hall, remembering then his room was on the left. He went into his room and closed the door, locking it behind him.

He could hear the man and woman saying farewell in the hallway. Rather loud, isn't it? He thought to himself with a slight smirk. One of them returned to the room across the hall, while the other left for the labyrinth of corridors.

April 25, 396 A.T.

The Duke sat in his study, examining the papers that were scattered across his desk. Lomadia sat in a chair across from him, looking downwards. This conversation was about the marriage that would happen soon. She knew it. Father had found an appropriate suitor, who had been allowed in a few days before. Lomadia hadn't meant him yet, but knew from gossip that he was a handsome fellow, the son of a duke or count of some sort from far away. This was going to be a marriage of convenience, not love, to join the two noble fathers.

The reason for this joining? There was a threat to many of the provinces of Cath'alan. A rouge, or group of them, was attacking villages throughout the plains, taking all animals and villagers for slaves, apparently. The ones unable to be sold were killed. The plan was that the partnership would discourage the bandits from attacking the two areas.

Lomadia rushed though all the reasons she had heard over the days that she was getting married. To her, although she was marrying a relatively young person, it would never feel quite right. If she had a choice, she would have waited until she found someone she judged to be appropriate. But this was the way, and she dared not to oppose her father. Lomadia looked up as her father cleared his throat.

"Lomadia, it is time that you be allowed to meet your suitor." His face looked a mix of grimness and sadness. The door opened as on cue and the man walked in and sat down. "This is Demerg Facil Naciphis. You two are to be married in half a month."

Demerg stood up in surprise. "So soon?" He looked alarmed.

The Duke motioned him to sit down. "We must. The rouges are on the move. They seem to be coming closer to our province." He walked over to a large calender and flipped it over to the next month. "On this day," he pointed on the twelfth day of the month, "is the ceremony. Any questions or concerns?"

"No, sir," Demerg said stiffly and walked out of the room. Lomadia stayed. She wanted to discuss something with her father.

When her father nodded his head, Lomadia asked, "Is this the man Gran decided on?"

"Gran... decided not to decide on anything. She said to let you stay the way you are, unmarried and a free spirit. However, that is not what is traditional nor is it..."

"... what you and Mother wanted. Isn't that right?" Lomadia asked a bit harshly.

"I'm sorry, but it's necessary. The only way..."

"I know, I know." Lomadia settled in her seat. "So... what should I wear for the wedding? Mother's dress?"

"Yes," the Duke agreed. Lomadia nodded a bit and left the Duke to his thoughts.

May 12, 396 A.T.

Lomadia plopped herself down on the only chair in the room that she was in. Although uncomfortable, it was a welcome relief to be able to sit down after being changed into the ornate wedding dress.

"I think Father should have just kept us apart until this day," she muttered to herself, smoothing out her dress. Remembering how Demerg had acted around her, uncaring and aloof, leering at every young maid that walked by, made her grimace. She sighed and rolled her eyes.

Her father walked in a few moments later, so she stood up and curtsied to him, as what was required. That reminded her of another thing that irked her about Demerg. He never once acted respectfully towards her father or even her, but acted all gentlemanly towards Callïn. That little dark cloud in her thoughts shattered when the Duke said to her with a smile, "You look wonderful in your mother's dress. She would be so glad to see how much you have grown." His eyes looked slightly sad after saying this, but soon regained the joyous shine.

"I'm glad it looks good, Father." Lomadia looked around. "Where's Mother? I thought that she was going to check me over before the ceremony." Her father looked concerned.

"I thought that she had already come. This is strange..." He went out of the room and talked a bit with a servant, who soon rushed off, and in a few moments, returned.

"Sir, and ma'am, the Duchess Callïn seems to have disappeared." The Duke looked absolutely surprised, and Lomadia frowned. Callïn wasn't like that. Another servant rushed in and whispered in the main servant's ear. His eyes widened a bit and proceeded to tell the Duke and Lomadia what had be found out. "Um... The young groom, Demerg Naciphis, seems to have left a little less than an hour ago. It seems that..." the man started to look around nervously, and then continued, "the two were together, somehow."

The Duke collapsed into the chair Lomadia had been in a bit before, dumbfounded. He then managed to say, "Send all the visitors home with our sincerest apologies. If they ask, tell them that an emergency has come up and that the wedding is canceled." The servant nodded and left. Lomadia walked over to her father.

"Why not send someone after them?" she asked.

"They're most likely far away by now," her father answered, and then stood up and straightened his jacket.

Lomadia looked at her father, surprised. "You're just going to let them go? But she's your wife."

"It doesn't matter now that she's gone. I now know that she never wanted to be here, and if I bring her back, it would only be torture to her. I'm not willing to do that do another human being." He looked straight at Lomadia. "Anyway, with the recent attacks, there's a large chance that they will..." The final words were left unspoken, the Duke seeming not to want to admit that fact. Lomadia nodded grimly as her father left. She kept the grim face on until she was safe in her bed, where nobody could see her. She was actually a bit glad that Callïn was gone.

Nightfall

Callïn laughed. "Pour me some more of that wine, Demerg!" She chuckled as he poured her more, his shaky hands spilling quite a bit on her dress. Both were clearly drunk, and the chattering of the carriage didn't help anything, either. They both gulped down glass after glass after glass in celebration of escape.

Snuggling with his shoulder, Callïn giggled a bit before falling into a deep, drunken sleep. He soon followed, and as soon as the driver was sure that both were too deep to notice anything, he stopped the carriage. A lone, cloaked figure met him on the edge of the road.

"Sir, what should I do with these two now that they are out of this duke's protection?" asked the driver. The cloaked one climbed up onto the step of the coach, and peered inside.

"What a prize you got me. Paluné's wife and Naciphis's son. How did you get these two together?"

"They did it themselves. It seems that the wife was tired of her hopeless marriage and the boy was not to excited at a similar fate. So the similar problems pulled them together."

The cloaked one walked back to the driver, and pulled out some coins. "Good work. I'll take the rest from here." Another man walked out of the forest, leading a horse. "Here's your payment. 12 pieces of gold and promised horse." The driver rubbed his hands together greedily, collecting the coins. He rode away on the horse.

After the cloaked one was sure he was gone, they called for more men. They came slowly out of the forest, and then assembled in front of the cloaked person. The seeming leader of the group stepped forward and asked, "Do you want us to write a ransom note to Palunè?"

"No. If he had cared, then these two would already be back in his care. Take all things of value, and kill them." The man set his men on the carriage, them carefully taking it apart. The cloaked one nodded, then disappeared back into the forest.