AN: Yes, this is the first chapter. No, I am not finished editing it. I am still working on this story, and not only am I correcting my grammar, I am adding more to it. I felt like posting this because I was so disgusted with the rough draft I originally put up.


Whisper a Wish, My Hawk

Francesca Huber

Wail of the Orphan Child.

They waved farewell and kissed goodbye.

They put me down and left me to die.

They left me with no name,

To them I was simply a game.

I was born with no purpose.

I was left with no fuss.

I was left at a wall,

With my wail to call,

I was left as a baby,

My life was a maybe,

'Till a lady picked me up,

'Till I was given milk in a cup,

'Till I had a home of my own,

And a mother who was on loan.

CHAPTER ONE: LESSONS

"Stop giving me a soliloquy Amy, we don't need to know everything about your life," Amanda said in exasperation to her friend who wouldn't stop talking about her newest crush.

"But he's a Hawk Rider," Amy sighed in a dreamy voice, her hazel eyes not even noticing her tall friend beside her because they were looking at something that only she could see.

"And he is a horrible Hawk Rider who bought his way in. You shouldn't support the pretense of him being amazing!" Amanda snapped at Amy, her patience being tried to the quick with all this dreamy sighing and long soliloquies.

"Well I believe that he is going to be amazing!" Amy snapped right back, suddenly snapped out of her dreamy state by Amanda's harsh comments. She glared at Amanda for trying to break her dreams of love.

"You won't let the subject go will you? James is so redolent I am not sure how you can stand even being near him!" Amanda replied, almost screaming now in frustration that Amy wouldn't see reality. In Amanda's mind's eye, she saw the red head, rich boy with his unkempt hair, his frazzled blue eyes, and innocent face. He wore the leather armor of a Hawk Rider and he seemed to never have fast enough reactions to get anything done. They were his support team since last month, and Amy decided that she liked him. Why, Amanda would never know because, personally, she thought he stank and he always looked bewildered.

"Come on, we need to hurry or we are going to be late to help get James ready for his flight training," Amy spoke excitedly, as if she wasn't just talking in a dreamy state.

"Now it is my fault if we are late," Amanda was feeling exasperated with Amy. Why did Amy always seem able to make things her fault?

They both hurried down the bare castle corridor. Amy seemed to let the silence hang, and then she finally spoke, "If you weren't berating me for speaking about James, we wouldn't be late." Amanda just sighed and gave up.

They both hurried along, and Amanda saw Amy tuck a piece of escaping short brown hair behind her ear. Amy was always trying to keep her short hair out of her eyes. In many ways the two girls were very different. Amy was about a head shorter than Amanda with her short brown layered hair that flipped out from her neck and hazel eyes. Amanda on the other hand was taller than a lot of people with knee length ashy brown hair with blonde highlighting small parts of it and dark blue, almost gray eyes. Amanda always wore her hair in a thick braid while Amy's was always loose.

Amy opened the door to the tower where all the Hawk Riders were getting ready for practice. They were all randomly assigned to the riders. Some people never could expect to be more than a supporter, but Amy and Amanda were told they might have a Hawk choose them. It looked to Amanda like they would never be chosen, but they weren't permanent supporters yet, which meant that they might still have a chance to ride one of the beautiful creatures

James waited for them, but didn't seem to see them. He had that frazzled look that meant he wasn't sure what he was doing. Amy was ogling him instead of moving. Amanda shoved her toward the waiting Hawk and rider.

"Come on Amy. Put the gloves on and put the pad on Oskalit," Amanda always found herself ordering both James and Amy around. "James, put on your flying vest." Both Amy and James, used to obeying her went to do as she told them. Amanda put her gloves on and patted Oskalit's beak. Oskalit looked like the smaller red-tailed hawk. Most Hawks could talk to people other than their chosen, but Oskalit never would talk to her. Often times he turned away from her as if embarrassed. Amanda picked up his leather harness and put it over the padding that Amy had placed on him. Amy moved over and helped her with tightening the harnesses. James walked over with his protective leather on.

Amy put out her hand to give James a leg up, and he gratefully stepped up. "Good flying," she whispered to him.

James smiled down at her and whispered, "Thank you," even as Oskalit walked to the window. Oskalit jumped out, and Amy ran to the window to watch him fly off to drill. Amanda just rolled her eyes.

Amanda left Amy to stand and stare out the window like a love struck idiot while she worked on cleaning up the Oskalit's nest. The Hawk always liked his nest clean when he came back from drill. Cleaning meant scrubbing down, and Amanda felt like it was a disgusting task, but of course, Hawk Riders were too precious to be doing something like cleaning their own Hawk's nest.

After she finished cleaning out all the soiled straw and scrubbing the nest down, she laid new straw for the Hawk. Every day it seemed like she had the same tasks, but of course, that was probably because she did have the same tasks, and Amy, who used to help her and complain with her, had turned to gushing about stupid James. To Amanda, all the Hawk Riders were the same.

"Come on Amy, let's get Oskalit some food," Amanda walked over to the window through which the Hawks left the tower, and tapped Amy on the shoulder. Amy took a deep breath, glanced again out the window at the shapes flying away, and turned to follow me. Amanda led the way toward the butcher shop at a quick clip.

"Amanda, slow down! We have no hurry. They won't be back for a while!" She could hear Amy, breathless behind her.

"Amy, if we don't hurry, we might get assigned to hunt, and you might not see dear James come back," her tone was annoyed and frustrated, and her pace did not slow down.

"Amanda, I'm not sure what I did. Why are you mad?" Amy's voice was raised in a whine of protest that annoyed Amanda more.

Amanda came to a sudden stop and whirled around to face Amy, "What did you do wrong? We are Hawk Supporters. We are orphans. We stick together. You have no hope of riding a Hawk at this age, and Hawk Riders never love stinking Hawk supporters. You put your heart after one who doesn't love you! You are a fool! You hardly help me with anything anymore unless I order you! You never stop talking about the latest idiot we serve!" Amanda spun back around and continued.

Quietly and softly, Amy replied while trying to keep up, "I didn't realize it bothered you that much, but I really do like James, and I am sure he likes me."

Amanda didn't reply. She opened the wooden door to the butcher shop, and ordered a chunk of meat for Oskalit. They waited in a line with other Hawk Supporters.

One of the butcher assistants walked up to Amanda and passed her a bow and quiver, "Supporter, we need more meat, go and get some." He turned and walked away to pass out more bows.

Amanda turned to Amy and said, "Make sure Oskalit gets the meat." Then she turned and left. She followed the other Supporters down stairs, around winding corridors, and through the maze that made the castle that she knew like the back of her hand. All of them had grown up in the winding twisting castle.

Eventually, they reached the great doors, but instead of taking the time to open the great doors, they opened the side servant doors, and trailed out the door.

In front of them was a road that led to the wall that surrounded the castle and the gate that allowed foot traffic to pass. To the left of the doors was a small trail that led to the stables, and on either side was the forest that helped raise all the meat needed to sustain most of the Hawk army. Often times, Hawks also hunted outside, and sometimes animals were shipped in. Most of the time though, Supporters hunted and took the meat to the butcher, and then later they got the meat from the butcher and took it to the Hawk they served.

Amanda was a fair shot, and she often ended up hunting. She suspected that the butcher's assistants knew this, and that was why she often ended up hunting. Amy, on the other hand was an absolute failure at hunting and couldn't stand killing the innocent animals. Whenever she was given the bow and quiver to hunt, Amanda took it from her.

Amanda quickly found a place to set up in a bush, and waited. A cautious deer eventually made its way near her hiding place. The deer's caution did not pay off though, as Amanda took aim and fired a quick clean shot straight at the animal's eye. The animal screamed in pain, and Amanda took another shot, and this time hit the deer in the chest. She wasn't sure if she hit the heart, so she shot again. The creature was blindly running toward her, and Amanda took one last shot and hit the throat. With a gurgling sound, the deer stumbled and fell. Amanda calmly walked over to the dear, and picked up the deer. She didn't feel remorse for the creature's death, it was necessary to feed the Hawks. She was simply glad it was a small deer and that she could pick it up, and she didn't need to drag it.

She took the carcass back to the gate, where a butcher's cart waited for the carcasses. At the cart, a young girl was crying over a bunny she placed into the cart. Amanda threw the deer's body in the cart, and patted the girl on the shoulder. "Come on, Let's go get cleaned up."

One of the butcher's assistants would put the carcasses on a lift that would take the meat up to the shop. The hunter's left the bows, and quivers with however many arrows were left, and they would go to the baths to clean up. Only Hawk Rides and above were allowed to regularly use the baths. Once a week, and after hunting were the only times Supporters were allowed to use the baths. Otherwise they made due with a bucket of soapy cleaning water, if that.

"What's your name, girl," Amanda asked the young girl who walked beside her.

"Tasha. I… I'm an orphan. I was left at the wall. My foster mother was Keisha, and I was taken from her side about a week ago now, and made part of a-a-a…" at this point the girl started to seriously cry. Amanda understood. She could still remember her own foster mother, a woman named Natasha. The foster mothers were older women; retired Hawk Supporters who raised the orphans left at the wall that surrounded the castle. Amanda hadn't see her own foster mother in years.

"It's ok. My foster mother was Natasha. Is she still around?" the question seemed to shock the girl, and her crying subsided into hiccups.

"She – hiccup - died right before I was found. I was named after her. That's - hiccup - why I was named Tasha. I was named after her." The girl stumbled through speaking, and Amanda could tell how untutored she was. All the older children got training in speaking properly. The girl was so obviously young; Amanda was surprised that the butcher's assistants gave a girl this young the task of hunting. What surprised Amanda even more was that the girl actually shot a bunny. It meant the girl was a natural shot.

Amanda turned a corner, and the pair arrived at the baths. They turned into the first door which was the female baths. She was surprised at the liking she took to this little girl. Normally she didn't talk to anyone except Amy. Of course, it might be natural motherly tendencies that women were said to have when seeing a depressed child.

"That bunny," the girl whispered as she stripped and soaped down, "I felt so horrible for killing it. It was simply going about it business and I aimed and took it life."

She could tell that it was more quiet horror that the girl felt now. She put her arm around the girl, "You know what I tell myself whenever I kill anything?"

"What?" Tasha asked quietly, as if going through the needed routine words.

"I tell myself that nothing goes to waste. We hunt because we need to for the Hawks, and we use the skins for clothing and the feet for glue. At least we do not hunt for sport." She felt sorry for this child that looked to be about eight. Eight year olds shouldn't be out killing things.

"It is one step from being a warrior to killing for joy. We are all trained to fight, but some people seem to like the idea of killing others," wise words come from a child's mouth.

"I think there will always be people like that. I think there are people who use fighting to kill, and there are people that simply do their duty to their country," it was so refreshing to talk to someone other than Amy.

"But what if I like to kill? When I shot that bunny, I felt a desire to show my skills, to kill more. I felt joy and pride that I could shoot so well. Then I felt ashamed because of the joy I felt at snuffing out another life." She looked down at her feet in shame, and Amanda felt sorry for the girl.

"Tasha, at some point you have to come to terms with yourself. If you control yourself and kill out of need or kill in war, then you are a good person because you control your want. Being proud of your work is nothing to be ashamed of. There are many people here who like to kill, but control it by being part of this place," With that, Amanda jumped into the cold bathing pool to wash of the soap. She hated the cold water, but only Hawk Riders and above got it heated for use. She wanted so badly to have her own Hawk and to become a Rider. Above all things she wanted to be a Rider and to show the rest of the Hawks that hadn't chosen her, just how good she was.

Behind her she could hear Tasha jump into the pool of cold water and began scrubbing. Others were finishing up hunting and coming into the baths. Some came in groups chatting, and others came by themselves.

Once she finished scrubbing down, she jumped out and grabbed a drying cloth. She went to her clothes, and put them in a pile for laundry. Then, she went over and picked up a pile of clothes from the piles along the wall for Hawk Supporters. All Hawk Supporters wore drab colored shifts and breaches. They put a tunic in their Rider's colors over the shift.

She went to a pile of tunics and found James' red and brown tunic. Anyone who was not a Rider shared clothing. Normally at the big, once a week bath, all non-Riders received their clothing for the week, but if one got called to hunting or some other dirty job and was allowed to use the bath afterward, they would pick new clothing up there. It made no difference to Amanda whether she wore her own clothing or wore clothing that belonged to the Supporting community. To her, it was all simply clothing.

Seeing Tasha almost ready to leave Amanda walked over, "remember what I told you, killing out of necessity is not a bad thing." She clapped the girl on her shoulder and walked off, out the door, and began the winding trip up to the Hawk tower.

On her way to the tower she mulled over the past month. Before they knew James, Amy was different. She used to work harder, and be as desperate for a Hawk as Amanda, but once they started working for James, Amy grew dreamy and didn't care about a Hawk except that it might help James to like her.

She gently opened the tower door to the chaos of the Hawk Riders finishing practice. She made her way over toward Oskalit's nest, and stopped suddenly in mid stride. There, almost hidden by Osklit's wing, were a two heads of hair, and bellow the wing were two pairs of legs. One head had brown hair the color of Amy's, and the other was a red head that reminded her strongly of James. The tops of the heads were very close, and she felt a wave of embarrassment wash over her as she realized they were kissing. Oskalit didn't notice her, so she coughed and started walking toward him. The second she coughed, the pair sprang apart and pretended to be grooming Oskalit. She knew better though, and planned to talk to Amy about the proper subservience of a Hawk Supporter to the Hawk Rider.

Meanwhile she would help James finish up, as was proper. "So, do you have everything done," she looked around even as she asked James this question, knowing he probably wouldn't know.

"Umm," he scratched at his head in thought, "I think so."

Amanda noticed Oskalit's harness dumped in a pile and sighed, "I'll clean your harness and put it up."

"Oh, um thanks for noticing," he looked so frazzled and uncertain of himself.

With a sigh she turned toward the harness, "it's my job to make sure everything is looked after." She wasn't sure if he heard her because he never responded, but she had work to do anyway. She grabbed the bar of leather soap, a cloth, and some water from a nearby cleaning bucket, and began the job of scrubbing down the nasty leather. She didn't let her thoughts drift like she normally did because she didn't like the direction they were drifting toward, Amy. Focus she told herself. She focused on scrubbing the dirt away. She focused hard enough that the harness was quickly cleaned.

"Um, thanks," she heard James tell her has she hung up the harness. He truly had no clue how to be a proper Hawk Rider. He was such an idiot.

She turned around, and watched as Amy and James finished brushing him. The second they were finished, Oskalit began attacking his meat that waited for him on the ground. Everything was finished, and she noticed the look that passed between Amy and James. With another small sigh, she grabbed Amy's wrist, and gave it a sight tug, the symbol for "I need to talk to you privately."

Amy looked back one more time with longing at James, "I have to go, I'll see you tomorrow."

His face looked sad and his voice was soft, "Tomorrow." It was a simple word, but it carried much meaning. The way his words caressed it made it into a promise tht was something more than the innocent meaning behind the word tomorrow which simply meant the next day.

Amanda saw this, and it bugged her. She wanted a Hawk so badly, and she was scarred that she might not be allowed to bond if she made just the slightest misstep, even if it was her friend making the misstep.

"What do you want," Amy's voice issued from her mouth heavily as if a stone weighed it down. She was tired of her friends pestering, and even though Amanda could hear the weight of unhappiness, she couldn't stop herself from criticizing the one person who brought Amy such joy.

"You should know better that to kiss a Hawk Rider!" she couldn't help the fact that she practically shouted. She couldn't help her anger at her supposed friend's stupidity.

"How did you know we kissed?" Amy's eyebrows scrunched up as if in shock from what Amanda told her.

"Oskalit's wing couldn't hide your brown hair and his red hair, nor could it hide how close you were, nor how guiltily you sprung apart, and both of your lips were the swollen red of kissing." Her voice was quiet, but it was the dangerous quiet before a storm.

They were walking through the twisting stone corridors that lead to their rooms, but Amanda didn't think about the chilling cold wall.

"James and I love each other! Why can't you except that?" A single tear dripped down Amy's cheek, and Amanda wanted to comfort her, but she focused, "You know how taboo it is for a Hawk Supporter to love a Hawk Rider."

Amy shook her head, "James is worth anything, and he tells me he thinks I am going to get a Hawk."

"Is it worth losing him forever to kiss him before you ride a Hawk?" Her eyes starred down at her shorter friend, and the very question made Amy squirm with unhappiness.

"No one will find out," her steps were uneven and unsure of themselves as Amanda's arguments got to her.

"I found out, what is to stop other from seeing something you don't want them to?" she could see Amy shaking with insecurity, and she stopped bugging her smaller friend for a second and allowed her point to sink in.

At this point, a platinum blond girl opened a door and walked into the cold hallway. Her hair went to her hips and it swished as she walked. She wore light armor and a cloak to keep her warm. She walked over toward the two friends, and smiling sweetly at Amanda she sneered, "I see you are on the best of terms with you friend here." Then she stopped for a second and then added, "Wait, there he is now!" The blond girl pointed at someone behind Amanda. She turned around in time to see a male opening a door into the hallway and walking out into it, toward them. He looked alike and yet different from the James she knew. This James wore Hawk Knight amour, his long red hair was carefully styled, and his frazzled look was gone.

James smiled over at the blond and he said toward Amanda and Amy, "Ah, my support crew. Elena here told me that you were the best crew around right now, so as a Knight I get to choose my support crew, and I chose you two until you have been chosen to become Hawk Riders." James had pointed at the blond when he spoke of Elena, and now the girl smiled sweetly. She looked to be older then them, maybe 18 to their 16, but if Amanda was correct in what the armor meant, it meant that this Elena was an assassin, and Hawk Assassins were always bad news, especially if they were young.

Amy looked like she was in heaven. She loved being noticed by higher ranked and older people. She seemed to think that it meant something.

"Of course, they are of an age where one might believe that they will always be support crew," Elena smiled sweetly as she said this as if she spoke in innocence. Amanda wanted to snarl but she held her mouth only daring to shoot daggers of hatred at the girl. Elena noticed her foul expression and said, "It is only the truth. Please don't be upset." The entire time Amy looked out of it. She didn't seem to notice James' confusion, Amanda's hatred, or Elena's sickly sweetness.

"Come Amy. They don't want to deal with the likes of us. We are only Hawk Support. We obviously are just valued for our ability to work." Amanda hissed at Amy trying to get her friends attention as she spoke. She watched Amy's face as Elena walked over toward James and slung an arm over his shoulder and kissed him. Everything seemed as if to spite her and Amy, yet why would the Hawk Assassin want to spite them?

Amanda had to drag the stupefied Amy away. The girl was totally out of it. Finally, after shaking Amy for awhile, Amanda got some sense out of her. "Where are we?" Amy asked as if awaking to her surroundings.

"I am surprised you don't remember with the look of love that you had for Elena," Amanda snarled. At the moment she didn't feel like dealing with silly friends who wouldn't wake up to what people were actually like.

"Elena? Who is that?" Amy whispered in slight shock, "We were walking along talking about James… and then we were here."

Amanda starred at Amy in wonder. She couldn't have blanked out there talk that quickly which meant she was lying.

"I had a fainting fit. I remember now. You were joking weren't you?" Amy said with her sweet laugh at Amanda's 'Joke'. Amanda smiled because it seemed like Amy was so correct. She must have imagined the whole silly thing. It must have been that Amy fainted and she had a strange dream while Amy was fainting. James would never have looked so neat and he wouldn't ever be able to make Hawk Knight.

Amanda could feel the memory trying to slip and she grasped it and held. Something desperately didn't want her to remember this which meant it must have been real. She remembered that Assassins normally were given charms that had been made by witches to keep people from remembering them. If Elena was a Hawk Assassin, then she might be protected from discovery. In that case, Amanda knew that she should be in the same state as Amy, and she wasn't. She was still remembering.

Maybe the charm was old. Most witches were killed nowadays if they were discovered. Witches had good charms but most of their "charms" caused nothing but trouble for everyone.

The hold on the memory slipped and she held onto it easily. Then the thing yanked and she stumbled but grimly held her memory. She would have to write it down to not forget it. Smiling she said to Amy, "Let's go back to our room and enjoy the warm fire there. I can't remember why we went into this dreary cold hallway anyway. The winter is too cold to be out at night without a fire."

Amy responded quickly, "We were going to go up to the Hawk tower to check on the Hawks." Amanda smiled and nodded. She was having trouble concentrating and holding onto her memory of Elena. "We can go back to our room without visiting the Hawks. It is quite cold out," Amy finished her comment after a pause.

Amanda nodded again and let Amy lead the way back to the dorm room where they were housed. Their room held 16 Hawk Supporters. It had a central gather room. The gather room had worn couches that formed a U shape around a hearth fire. Off of the gather room were two dorms off of the gather room with 8 beds each. The beds were in bunks so that the room could be small and hold four bunks. Parents who paid money for their child to get nice dorms got nice dorms, but the ones Amy and Amanda shared with 6 other girls and 8 boys were for the poorer students at the Hawk School. Amanda and Amy were the oldest in the co-ed dorm. Most of the kids were around ten years old which was the age that most kids moved up to Hawk Supporter level. Most of them were chosen by 14 by Hawks, but Amy and Amanda still had not been chosen.

Amanda hated being in a dorm with a bunch of little kids. They were annoying and they got angry at petty little causes. They were stupid idiots. That was the reason that she and Amy normally went wondering the drafty halls instead of staying in the cozy dorm.

Amanda felt the memory slipping, but she held the memory and didn't allow the false one of Amy fainting to take over the whole way back. She held it and allowed Amy to give her little Monologue on how amazing James was. Amy didn't even notice that this was strange and that Amanda wasn't responding.

Amanda was glad when they finally reached the dorm and went in. The warmth helped her keep the memory. She ran to the girl's room in the dorm and went to her stuff. She yanked out a piece of paper and started writing. As she wrote the memory down, the thing slowly stopped tugging on the memory and let her keep it. Once she had written it all down the thing stopped pulling altogether. The memory was firmly hers and nothing about Amy fainting tried to pull it away.

She smiled slightly at the release of tension and left the room for the common room where Amy sat comforting a crying boy. One girl was preparing to practice story telling for her class. She remembered when she was in the story-telling class, but that was awhile ago. After she had memorized the proper stories she was "graduated" from the class.

She walked over to one of the worn couches and sat down beside the girl called Cat for her cat-like behavior and the looks she inherited from her tribe. Cat was from a tribe of people that were said to serve giant Cats. If Cat was anything to go by, her people worked hard to look like the creatures they served. Most people tried to stay away from the silent Cat but she didn't care today. She just sat down beside the girl not even noticing the tired world weary look in the girl's dark slanted eyes.

"Whisper a wish, My Hawk." The girl telling the story, Emily, began. "'You have served greatly and with intelligence and compassion in these sad wars and I will grant you a wish good Hawk.' The great witch cried upon the winds. There was always one great wish and one great spell. The great witches were known for their spells that were only for good. This witch would give her life and last spell to the Hawk for his actions without an apprentice.

'My lady you honor me with a great spell.' The Hawk called upon the wind to the witch. He flew to the witch and he settled on the ground in front of her. He was taller than the woman, as the great Hawks are. The witch smiled slightly and her fair unblemished skin crinkled around her eyes in amusement.

'My Hawk, you make your greatness less! Ask of me anything and I shall grant it to thee!' The young great witch stood with her white blond hair blowing in the wind against the backdrop of the field covered in melted snow, blood, and bodies.

The Hawk bowed to her and said, 'I ask one thing My Witch, that a Hawk might bind to a person other than a witch. That Hawks could help others than witches and their riders.'

'You are unselfish as always my dear Hawk. Your wish is my command. Hawks are given the power of Speech through bonding to witches; witches are given the power to speak to all Hawks. This bond uses the witch's own energy. Now the bond shall use the energy of the Earth and be available to all humans and all Hawks. A Hawk can bind themselves to one they choose, but a human cannot choose their Hawk. The Hawk can speak to all once bound, but they are bound to their human and will perish with their human just as the human will perish with them upon death. The bind will hold pain when there is pain and it will hold love. It will give the pair the Earth's power of silent speech with each other's races. The human in return will care for their Hawk and will be bound by the love of the Earth. The human will be given the ability to speak to all Hawks whether they are bound or not. The exception shall be the rare witch Hawk. A Hawk that holds magical gift shall only be able to bind to a human who holds the magical gift. In this way I bind you my Hawk and I bind all of your kin.'

The winds rode howls of furry and the witch's voice and will of magic was carried on the wind to all great Hawks. 'My Witch, you give the greatest gift to my kindred, in return I promise you remembrance for all ages!' The Hawk shouted over the wind to his. He could feel death approaching and he stood in support at his witch's side. When death came, they bowed their head as one and said, 'We are ready to go, and our job is done.' The story flew on the winds to all the Hawks and forever after the story rides on so all may remember the self sacrifice that gave the Hawks their ability to bond."

Emily finished up the story and bowed as everyone in the room clapped. Emily had a sweet sounding lilt to her voice that made stories ring and made them sound pleasant no matter how poorly they were written.

Amanda listened with only a half ear as the rest of the children recited their stories. In her head she kept hearing "Whisper a wish, My Hawk." It would not leave her alone. The school had been set up to train those who hoped to be chosen by a Hawk. She had heard those words often for people would say them when you asked for something that you wouldn't get. They would also say them if they were going to give you something. They were the words recited at every formal bonding ceremony, but for some reason they continued ringing in her head today. It seemed as if someone was nagging her with the words, "Whisper a wish, My Hawk." They kept going as she sat there listening to the other children recite there stories. She fiddled with the end of her braid, but she couldn't refocus her mind to what the children were saying.

She started trying to decide what she would reply to the words. It was hard. If she was given any wish in the world to be granted, then she would have to choose something good. The only thing she could think of though was that she wanted a Hawk. She worked on the work assigned for class, but the thought of a Hawk kept with her. Class seemed unimportant since it was the work of high level math for life time Hawk Supporters, and she didn't want to be a Hawk Supporter for the rest of her life.

When she finished scribbling answers she prepared for bed, and took out her long brownish blond braid of hair. She went through the motions of cleaning and braiding back up the knee length hair, but her mind didn't focus on the task. She scrubbed away the light amount of dark black make-up that Hawk supporters were allowed. Everything she did without the use of her mind, for her mind wouldn't release those darn words!

She walked as one in a dream and didn't even hear Amy whisper goodnight, and she did not notice as she climbed into bed, for her ears now heard a woman's voice that whispered, "Whisper a wish, My Hawk. Be quick for this must hurry. They blame us." A woman stood in front of her with pale blonde hair tossed in a breeze that threw snow around like dust. The woman smiled and whispered to her, "Would you be willing to do anything to gain a Hawk?" Then Amanda realized that she stood beside the woman in this dreamscape. She looked around and then back at the woman.

"Yes," Amanda spoke confidently and with longing for that untouchable dream.

"What if I asked you to leave everything you knew behind and to come to me? Would you still wish for a Hawk, little fledgling?" The woman spoke calmly and quietly now. Her eyes spoke the truth of what she was offering.

With a gulp at the enormousness of the decision, Amanda nodded; she was too overwhelmed for words.

"You must let me borrow your body for this. Would you agree to this?"

Amanda again nodded for anything was worth while if she could ride a Hawk. The woman nodded grimly and stepped toward Amanda. She placed a hand on Amanda's shoulder and then she merged with Amanda's body until Amanda could no longer see her. Then, Amanda couldn't move anymore for someone else had control of her body. "Don't be alarmed. I am controlling your body and I won't let it be harmed," the voice that issued out of her mouth sounded like her voice, but she hadn't spoken. It was the other mind that was connected into her that spoke.

The woman changed the body's form into that of a forest hawk, also known as lesser or hunter's hawk. Then, the body flew across the dreamscape and into a bank of fog. On the other side, Amanda found that she was starring at her bedroom. In her mind a voice said, "We are now in the physical world. Please don't fight me now or else this could hurt both of us."

It was a strange feeling to be a passenger in her own body. She watched from her eyes as someone else controlled her body and moved it into the dark common room and then out into the darker and colder hallway of the stone building. The woman made her body follow the winding passages as if the woman was a student herself and knew the passages like the back of her hand. Amanda even found herself getting lost as the woman took confusing turns as if to throw someone off her trail. Then, Amanda recognized the Hawk aerie. The woman put Amanda's hands on the lock and Amanda felt something rush through her mind and suddenly the woman opened the door easily as if it hadn't been locked.

Amanda wondered if the woman was a witch and that was how she could control her body and open doors. The woman went into the main circular "meeting room" where you could get into any of the different Hawk aeries. The woman placed her hands on each lock, tested it, and moved on until she found one that she liked. The woman stretched Amanda's face into a grim smile and opened the door. The first thing Amanda saw was a guard who jumped up in surprise and shock. Before he could do anything, Amanda felt something reach out from the mind within her mind, grab something in his, and twist. Suddenly the man fell over unconscious.

Then, she saw the Hawks pitifully chained to the wall. Amanda had never heard of such a horrible treatment of the great Hawks. The woman grimly took her body to each and unlocked them. She heard the woman whisper to the Hawks, "My dear friends; leave and save yourselves! I know you had hopes to bond with unacceptables, but now you must leave so that the woman can not kill you. The woman took Amanda's body to the window and opened the lock that held it closed. Then she freed the window so that the Hawks could fly out.

One Hawk was left. It had the look of its lesser cousin, the peregrine falcon. It turned its large head toward her and whispered calmly in her mind, "You control one that I had claimed to want to bond with." Its voice was distinctly feminine and had a silvery whisper to its tone.

The woman bowed her head and said, "I control her so that you can have her." The Hawk nodded and said again in the mind, "Will you harness me for her?"

The woman controlling Amanda's body nodded and went to a small alcove near the back of the room where harnesses hung from the wall. The woman picked a silvery harness and started harnessing the Hawk.

Suddenly, Amanda heard Amy's voice issue from the doorway, "Amanda, what are you doing."

The woman snapped her head toward Amy and snarled as she said, "I am leaving the dang rats rest."

"bbububbbbuuuttt…." Amy whispered in shock, "You can't…"

"Don't worry, they won't suspect you. Stay. Help those here. They will allow you to have a Hawk. Remember me though and be ready for when I return, for I will return," the woman spoke in a nicer voice as if feeling pity. She reached out with her mind and touch out at Amy's mind. Amy fell sprawled in a way that made it look as if she had been running to try and stop them.

The woman quickly finished harnessing the Hawk and made Amanda's body jump on. The Hawk leaped for the window, clumsily at first but gaining ability as her muscles stretched.

Amanda could hear footsteps running into the room as they left. The woman turned her head just in time to see the Hawk Assassin Elena standing at the doorway in anger. Some energy lashed out from Elena, but the woman blocked it.

Elena ran to out of the room furiously, and then it seemed to Amanda as if they would get away.

Suddenly, a Hawk burst from another window with an armored assassin on its back that had to be Elena. Elena shot bolts of power and threw things at them. The woman blocked the mind power with her own power, and the Hawk dodged the flying objects.

Suddenly Elena's Hawk stopped chasing them and Elena shouted, "You will die girl! I swear it! You will die!" Elena flew back toward the Hawk school and Amanda, the Hawk, and the woman controlling Amanda's body flew into the night.

Amanda had no clue where they were going, and she fell asleep within her own mind. When she woke, the woman was gone and she was on a Hawk. It was dark, cold, and beginning to snow again. She wrapped her long braid of hair around her neck trying to keep it warm. The Hawk continued to fly, but weariness seemed to touch every stroke. Then, suddenly, the Hawk's wings just sort of stopped and they were in an uncontrolled tumble toward the ground. Amanda could hear herself screaming as the Hawk seemed unable to grab back control of her wings.

Even in the dark Amanda could see the ground and her death looming ever closer, and then suddenly the Hawk reach out her wings and glided before the muscles gave again. It was enough though to save the pairs life. It was not enough though to make the ground any less hard. The Hawk fell on her side and Amanda hit her head and lost consciousness.

Amanda felt groggy and dizzy. There was a something at her side and she groped with cold fingers at the thing providing warmth. The think squawked and she stopped trying to grasp at it. She wondered why there was something warm at her side and why she was cold. She should be in her warm bed and normally she woke up quicker than this.

Finally, she opened her eyes to find a white expanse glaring back down at her. Was she dreaming? What was the whiteness? Finally, it clicked with her brain that she was laying in snow.

She wondered what the warmth at her side was. Why was there warmth in the snow? She tried to turn her head, and found that she had a pounding headache. She groaned in pain as the headache crippled her thought. The warm thing beside her moved and came around into her blurry focus.

"I see you are awake. I am your bonded Hawk Kilana," The Hawk spoke to Amanda. Amanda lay there in shock just starring at the Peregrine Falcon colored Hawk. "I know you might not remember me, but I don't have time to explain. We must keep moving." Then, with a touch of worry the Hawk added, "Can you get yourself on me somehow? If you strap yourself to me it might help you stay on."

Amanda thought that she might be able to get on. She slowly moved her arms and felt pins and needles coming from the bruised arms that she had fallen on somehow. The Hawk got as close to her as it could, and she crawled onto it back. Then she somehow managed to drag her arms to buckle herself into the safety harness for dangerous flying. Then, all her strength was gone and she collapsed on the Hawk's neck whispering, "ready."

With that, the Hawk took off in a leaping and jerking motion that caused Amanda's skull to feel like it was cracking open. Luckily, the pain soon caused her to loose conscious.

Amanda woke from time to time with the bouncy ups and down of Hawk flying. Sometimes she threw up, but soon there was nothing left to throw up. It came to be simply dry heaving into open air.

Sometimes she woke up to find the Hawk resting on a ledge. Sometimes she woke up when the Hawk took off. The events all blurred into a strange and fantastic dream that seemed unreal to Amanda as she came in and out of consciousness.

Then came the time where she was moved off the Hawk and everything was blurry and strange. She faded in and out of thought through that time. She touched the edges of dreamscape and weird hallucinations.

There was a lady that she was sure she had seen before. There was a Hawk, and she wasn't a Hawk Rider. She was only a supporter.

Sometimes she could remember that she wasn't at the school, and sometimes she couldn't. Sometimes she would ask for Amy because Amy was the one who always took care of her when she was sick.

The strangest thing was that sometimes her dreams showed her a face that was sad and sick with tangled black hair falling around it. It was the face of a year mate at the Hawk school that became a Rider, and then was never seen again. It was assumed that he had died.

Her dreams also showed her dreams of people dressed in green of the eccentric cult of people that worshiped some strange Earth Mother.

Sometimes her dreams were of people being tortured and begging for peace. These were the strangest and the most blurred of the dreams. She could see random colors fluctuating throughout the room and it was disorienting and upsetting. This often caused her to throw up.

Sometimes, she came to full consciousness to find the Lady feeding her and the Hawk standing guard over her bed like a mother. She never managed to ask questions in these times, for she soon fell asleep.

It was a strange and peaceful existence that was interrupted by the dreams. Sometimes her mind would rest in darkness to be upset by the dreams or by the short waking periods. Sometimes her mind would float on clouds and just take a break. In everything it felt like she was frozen by a coldness that refused to leave.

The coldness upset all balance and got into everything. It was what made her existence seem the most dreamlike because it removed her from everything that went on around her. With the coldness nothing mattered. Everything just was. It was the land of unicorns and rainbows, of pink clouds and perfect blue skies with artificial blue for the water like a child had drawn the land. It was a land of fluctuating color covered in ice. A thick layer of ice that encased everything it touched. Peace within the ice as one dies.

But all things end and the ice was melting. It was going to allow her to leave this strange world within her mind. She would be free.

Finally, the last grasp on the world she floated in was gone and she at last fell into a healthy and true unconsciousness of sleep.

It was a slow waking. First, her ears could hear something moving about, then; her body could feel the warm bed covers around her. Then, slowly her mind began to recognize that she was in a bed. She could smell sharp herbal odors, and she could move her body some. Her mind was working and it was trying to process where she was. Was she back at the school? No, it never smelled like herbs there except for in the infirmary, but the blankets in the infirmary were scratchy and uncomfortable. These blankets were too soft for anywhere in the Hawk school. Moving slightly, she could feel the softness of a feather bed under her. The school had always insisted on straw mattresses for those of lesser rank.

Finally, she opened her eyes to find herself in a blurry, dark cave room. There were shelves with things on them, but with everything being blurry she couldn't tell what they were. There was a person in the room and something else. Was that something else a Hawk? No, it couldn't be. She didn't have a Hawk.

The person spoke with a woman's voice, "The sleeper finally awakes." The person gave a small laugh, but Amanda couldn't find anything funny in what the person had said.

The person slowly came into focus to show a young woman with pale white-blond hair and icy blue eyes. Her eyes were icy in color, but her gaze was warm and a compassionate smile lingered on the corners of her lips. The room around the woman came into focus even as the woman herself moved and caused her outlines to blur.

The shelves in the room had bottles of some kind on them, and some had herbs and other things on them. The room itself was strange with a smooth curved roof. And there was a Hawk.

The Hawk had a slim body type, and it looked like an extremely overgrown Peregrine Falcon. Even the slightest movement of its body caused it to blur, but when it held still she could see it's beautiful and refined body type.

"Stop moving, I can't see you clearly," she tried to speak clearly, but it came out as a jumbled mumble from her laden tongue that refused to work with her. She could hear herself say, "op ooin, e an' ee oo ea ea." She wanted to scream because her tongue wouldn't work with her and yet she could think. What use was thinking if you couldn't speak what you thought? It was senseless and yet she had to. She couldn't not try to speak. She frowned and then said, "blurry," which sounded like, "urry," but maybe they would get what she was trying to say.

"Sleep a little longer dear. When you wake up again you should be able to see and speak better." Amanda didn't want to sleep, but it didn't seem like that was an option. The woman came up to her with something in her blurry hand and forced Amanda's mouth open. A fowl tasting liquid was poured down her throat. It took a couple of minutes as the Hawk and the woman looked on, but soon Amanda was fast asleep, again.

Again she woke up, but this time her senses were quicker. She could feel herself cuddling into her blankets, and she forced herself awake quickly. As soon as her sleepy brain let her, she threw open her eyes to find herself in the dim room again, but this time everything wasn't blurry. She still couldn't remember how she had gotten here.

With the awakening came the fading memories of a dream. There was a year mate locked in a cell and a large Red-tailed Hawk was chained beside him. His curly black hair covered his eyes until he looked up at her. His blue eyes showed shock, and she could see tear stains on his skin. He tried to say something, but she couldn't remember what. The dream had faded away and she had woken up.

She knew that she knew him, but she hadn't seen him around since he had turned twelve. What was his name? It evaded her and that annoyed her. She struggled to remember, but her musing was interrupted by the woman with the pale hair and the icy blue colored eyes.

"Ahh, you're awake again. How does your head feel, and can you see straight again?" The woman spoke slowly as she asked her questions.

Amanda picked up her leaden tongue to find it less leaden. She still had to speak clearly but at least she could speak the words properly, "My tongue is slow, but I have no headache and the blurriness seems to be gone."

Amanda was still lying back on the bed. She hadn't made the effort to lift herself off it yet and she was scarred that she would be too weak. It was that fear of weakness that kept her stretched out and immobile in her bed.

"Oh, I should have remembered. I am Emma. Do you remember Kilana, your Hawk?" The woman spoke suddenly to the surprise of Amanda.

Even more surprising was that she supposedly had a Hawk. "I have a Hawk?" She asked rather stupidly considering the woman had just told her that she had a Hawk.

"Yes dear, you happened to acquire the Hawk that has been waiting for you with my help. Do you remember the escape?

That seemed to trigger the memories and they flooded Amanda's mind. She could remember the escape all the way to where they were flying, then she had memory of the cold and pain, and then it moved to the time of strange dreams that she couldn't really remember, then there was the time she had awoken and gone back to sleep. Then she reached the awakening. Cautiously, she replied, "I remember some things now, though I have large strange holes in my memory."

The woman smiled and replied, "That will happen when you get hypothermia and a concussion."

"How did I get a concussion?" she asked, tilting her head and allowing curiosity to line her voice. She couldn't remember doing anything that would hurt her head.

"Kilana told me that you hit your head on a rock when she fell out of the sky out of pure exhaustion. You really shouldn't have let her exhaust herself," the woman spoke as she moved around and changed out warms packs that had been placed against her and on top of her. "Kilana is a dear and will go as long as she possibly can, but her body isn't made for hours of strenuous flight in bad weather. Also, she had been stuck in that cell. With work her body will strengthen, but you must always think of her before yourself."

"I can look after myself quite well," said a silvery whispering voice that Amanda identified as her Hawk's voice from the memories she had.

"Yes, but you are young and over estimate yourself," The woman, Emma, spoke toward the Hawk. Evidently Emma could also hear the mind voice of the Hawk.

Amanda turned her head and tried to locate the Hawk. She thought she might have seen her, but she couldn't turn her head all the way. Struggling, Amanda tried to lift herself.

Emma noticed and quickly helped her lay back while saying, "You aren't ready for that yet. Maybe next time we can start moving you around some. Why don't you sleep?"

Amanda could feel leadenness come to her limbs, and she tried to fight it. She wasn't tired and she didn't want to sleep yet, but that strange force from the fight was putting pressure on her to sleep, and she soon blacked out with the protests on her lips unspoken.

Amanda slept deeply, but near the end of her sleep, she dreamed. The black haired man that kept invading her sleep stood beside his Hawk with his head buried in the Hawk's soft feathered chest. Then he moved away and looked with anguish upon the Hawk.

"I wish, above all things that I could free you to fly," she could hear him whisper to his Hawk.

The Hawk shook its head sadly, causing chains to rattle, and gently preened at his hair with its beak.

He stepped away from the Hawk, only to trip over his chains on the floor. "SHIZA!" he cursed with fervor.

Then, he pushed himself up, and turned toward his bed and her dream presence.

She realized that he was looking straight at her as if he could see her. "What are you? Who are you?" He whispered toward her.

She tried to answer, but no sound would come out of her mouth. She knew that he could not hear her when he said, "I am not sure what you are saying apparition, but I cannot hear you."

She frowned. She tried to think that she was Amanda at him, but it didn't work or else he didn't show a reaction. What was his name? Gabriel! That was his name! A shocked expression came over his puzzled face and he stumbled backward, "Do I know you apparition that you know my name?"

That though was the last she heard for the room was fading along with him and his Hawk. A dreamless sleep took over from their.

She awoke again within the cave, but now she was starting to get used to it. Her vision wasn't fuzzy this time. Everything felt sore and tired, but otherwise she figured she was ready to get up.

Tiredly, she forced her arms to prop herself up, and then pushed her legs to the side of the bed. With the legs over the side and touching the floor, she pushed up on her arms and forced herself to stand, which she stood triumphantly for about two seconds.

The world went roaring out from under her and she collapsed backward onto the bed. "AMANDA!" Screamed her Hawk as it ran toward her on its two legs with its wings flapping slightly with worry. She, Amanda reminded herself. The Hawk's name was Kilana, and she was a female, and she was Amanda's Hawk. It was a lot for her tired mind to remember, but it trudged through and remembered.

Kilana was beside and nudging her. Amanda reached up and absentmindedly preened at Kilana's feathers with her fingers. Kilana moved her neck and body till they were leaning against her human. Then she brought herself under Amanda and lifted th sick girl onto her back.

"Don't try that yet. You might be feeling better, but you are still too weak to get up and walk around. I will tell you when you are ready to leave your bed. Please stay in your bed until then," the worried look on Kilana's large hawk face reminded Amanda of the way the dorm mothers looked whenever a child did something wrong.

Seeing and feeling how worried Kilana was, Amanda nodded. Maybe it would be best if she didn't try to fight the weakness. With a deep sigh, Amanda stretched back out across bed and was soon asleep again. Maybe she hadn't realized just how tired she was.

Again she could see Gabriel within her dream world. He was starring straight through where she seemed to be watching him from. He jerked when he noticed her, but this time he didn't freak out. Instead, he did something that made Amanda doubt his sanity, he laughed. It was the laugh of someone tired and weary, and the laugh of someone who knows they are insane, but is sane enough to recognize it.

A crooked smile appeared on his lips and he whispered at her, "Apparition, you haunt me now? I realize that I am insane, speaking to an invisible image only I can see, and at the same time I would swear that I was still sane, but obviously that is the sworn belief of a mind that has gone crazy. Of course, I don't blame myself. Anyone would go crazy down here."

Amanda was horrified that this man thought he was insane because of her. Then, she realized he was not real and was simply something thought up by her mind. Indignantly she spoke up, "I am too real! My name is Amanda. You are a figment of my imagination."

Gabriel laughed and said, "Now my images speak and say I am not real. How hilarious, my own mind tries to convince me I am not real."

Gabriel disappeared from view and Amanda stood on the snow plain where she first met Emma, and from where Emma had taken over her and freed her. Kilana stood beside Emma, and so did another Hawk.

"This is Shila, Emma's Hawk," Kilana introduced the other Hawk.

"Nice to meet you finally, Kilana's rider," the other Hawk spoke to Amanda. Shila's voice was sweet and pure like the sound of a small bell tinkling. The voice almost sounded singsong.

Amanda bowed to the other Hawk, and then Emma interrupted formalities, "Alright, I brought you to this plane of the mind because you need to begin training, and your body isn't there yet. Do you know the history of the Priestesses or anything of the Earth Mother's power that runs strongly in your veins?"

"The whata whata?" Amanda inquired in confusion. She had heard of the Earth Mother, some supposed goddess that a small cult worshipped as being the mother of magic and Earth.

"Well, we have a lot to learn. I was smart to bring you here. We will start with who the Earth Mother is, and then we will move into her hierarchy and why you are here.

To start with, the Earth Mother is the creator of magic. She is the magic. She infuses all nature with her magic, and some humans have the ability to manipulate the magic that has infused the nature around us. To some of us she gives greater power, and to some she gives lesser power. She is not the creator, she is simply the magic that allows us to manipulate things around us. We who touch her magic are her people.

The first level of magic manipulator is the witch and the warlock. The witch can only manipulate nature's magic through potions that call the magic. The warlock can only manipulate the magic through weapons. He must crush plants on weapons and call on the shape of the spell he wants to make the spell on the weapon.

The next level is a blur line between priest hood and the congregation. This level has Sorcerers and Sorceresses or they may be called Priests and Priestesses. All of these are simply the same title for one level. A person of the second level may cast spells upon objects without the use of the natural things that carry the magic.

The third level is the Great Priest or Priestess. They deal within the more abstract. They can feel the magic in the nature around them. They can call on and manipulate the Earth Mother's gift through their very mind. One of them could suddenly create a ball of real burning fire or create a shield that will stop everything with simply the magic around them.

The fourth and final level is that of the High Priestess and Priest. At the moment the High Priest has disappeared, and I am the High Priestess. The difference between me and a Great Priestess are four things. The first is that when I was born, my life span would last about thirty years. The second is that when I finished training, I received my teacher's life span, which is infinite, and she went on to join the Earth Mother in the glory of final death. Third, I have one spell which is so large and uses so much energy that most could not carry it out, but I am granted this as the High Priestess. I have already used this. Last is the way of death. I can take an enemy into death with me and pass on my life to my apprentice. This is what my own teacher did long ago.

Outside of the levels are the Rogues, those who refuse to be bound by the Earth Mother and her rules. Those are the ones we must defeat," Emma finished on this note.

"Wait, what about the Great Witch, and what do you mean by life span?" Amanda asked, confused by the levels. They were taught that there were witches, and they were petty and evil. The Great Witch was the one witch with enough power to actually do something, and she was good, but she died for the spell binding the Hawks.

Emma sighed and shook her head, "What do they teach you these days? I swear… Well, they lie about Great Witches. There are only witches and the other rankings. That story is a silly story. Life span though… it is what designates how long you will live. Later you will learn the sight to see people's life lines on their hands. For now though, it will suffice for you to know that life spans differ, and they can be stolen through death."

Amanda's eyebrows furrowed in thought as she processed this information. It surprised her to learn that her life had a predestined mount of time. Would she suddenly just die when her life ran out? That was an interesting thought, but a gruesome one also. She brought her mind off that track and looked up to see Emma fading. She felt herself fading, and then she was in true sleep.

Amanda woke up to find Emma and Kilana in her room. "Morning," She whispered out of habit. Her mind was already remembering the dream training.

"Morning Amanda, do you remember your training last night?" Emma asked

"Yes, I also had another dream…" Amanda left her sentence hanging as she pulled herself into a sitting position.

"You can tell me at breakfast. Kilana wants you to leave the room so you get to ride on her to the dining room."

Amanda nodded. With Emma's help she managed to slip onto Kilana's back. Kilana followed Emma out of the room. Amanda kept expecting to hit her head on the ceiling, but she didn't even the doorways were always tall enough and wide enough to pass through. After twisting through passageways, they finally emerged in a large chamber.

Kilana kneeled and Emma helped her off and helped her slide onto a nearby chair. Shila was already at the table and tearing into a much destroyed carcass. Kilana looked at Shila in disgust and moved over to a cow haunch. Gently and delicately she began to tear pieces off.

Amanda couldn't help herself, she began to laugh. Kilana favored her with a particularly dignified glare, and Shila didn't notice.

Amanda hadn't notice that Emma had left until she brought two bowls of porridge in and put one in front of her.

"They always do that. Kilana disapproves of Shila's waste and untidiness, and Shila doesn't care what people think about her manners. In Shila's time being bonded meant that you were beyond being allowed to be chastised for manners, and sadly I bonded her when I was young. Kilana disapproves of a Hawk without eating manners even though she is much younger and should not disapprove of her elders.

If an elder eat like that and has table manners like those, then she does not deserve the respect to be treated as an elder at a table but rather as a child. Kilana was carefully chewing her food in a dignified and disapproving manner.

Without pausing in her tearing apart the carcass, As an elder and bonded I can behave however I want. If I choose to tear part my food to eat faster and be on to other things more important than table manners, then that's my thing. Manners are unnecessary when other things are more important.

Amanda started laughing harder, but Emma just sighed. "So Amanda, what about your other dream?"

Amanda immediately sobered up. "Well, I saw a guy that I used to know named Gabriel. I've… Well, I've been seeing him in my dreams for a while now. The previous time I could see him in a cell, and I could hear him. When I tried to speak to him I couldn't. When I tried to think my name at him, he didn't seem to hear it, and when I finally remember his name I think my mind gave a mental shout of joy and he asked me how I knew his name. He thought I was a figment of his imagination. This last time, we spoke, though we each seemed to believe the other not real."

Emma nodded, "I think I have a new starting place for your education. I think that the guy you speak of has magic and has called to you unknowingly in despair."

"What do you mean?"

"Sometimes magic can take on its own sort of life to take care of its person. It is part of the gift of the Earth Mother to those of us who wield the power of life, magic. He used to know you, and the magic remembered you. Once you were out of the confines of the castle his magic could reach you, and it has grabbed onto yours. You can hear him, but he couldn't hear you, until you made your own connection by remembering his name. Dream world connections are rare, but sometimes happen between strong priests and or priestesses. I think we could use this connection to train a new priest and have an ally."

"How would I train him, I myself am just learning. Should I go back into his world as solid?"

"No, if Elena comes she can follow your form back to your physical form and cause you to be lost in the dream world until your body dies. You keep a connection to your body when you travel through the dream world to a place in the real world, and she can break that connection. As long as you stay in the dream world she won't be able to find you because the dream world fits for a person, and if you invite Gabriel into your dream world, she cannot follow him into the dream world and find you. I will teach you how to create your own dream reality and hold it. Then I will help you bring him to it, and I will leave you to explain what I have told you. Your best teacher is explaining what you have learned to someone else. Come; let us journey into the dream world."

Kilana walked over to Amanda as Shila went over to Emma. Shila lay down on the floor and Emma stood up and walked over to Shila. She leaned against Shila and seemed to go to sleep.

Come. You must also sleep to enter the dream world. You should be able to walk to me, it isn't that far. Kilana spoke to her from where she was lying.

Unsteadily Amanda pushed herself into a standing position. She didn't collapse, and so she made her way over to Kilana and leaned against Kilana. "What do I do now?"

Do you remember the well of power Emma used when she helped you out of the castle?

"Yes."

"Call on it. Then think about dreaming, and think about Emma."

Amanda nodded and closed her eyes. She reached into the power and pulled a strand up to herself. She thought about sleep, about the dream world, and Emma. The first time she met Emma, and the snow world.

There was snow all around and Emma was looking at her curiously. "Grab my hand and I will take you to my dream world which will be stable, yours won't stay stable yet."

Amanda reached out and grabbed Emma's hand. The world seemed to morph, and suddenly they were in a land of summer. Emma still held her hand though. Into Amanda's mind entered the information about creating dream worlds and holding them. She learned about how to sleep and bring herself into a dream world that she wanted. She learned about holding the dream world and about controlling it, or being controlled within it.

Then Emma spoke, "It is best if I tell you what I mean to say, but some things cannot be described and must be passed mind to mind, like the knowledge I just gave you. On the other hand, the rules for the dream world do not need mind to mind communication. You must always have Gabriel in your reality, if you are in his, Elena can find you. You must not bring yourself into his world, but stay in the dream world. If Elena were to find your dream form in the real world, she could follow it and cut you off from your real body so you would be stranded in the real world. Last of all, never enter the dream world when your body is unprotected, if your body is killed, your mind wanders in the dream world for eternity."

Amanda nodded and then asked, "Can I bring him here?"

"You must create your own reality to hold wherever you bring him. I will come with you the first time, but I will not talk to him. First, think of the cell and him, once he is in the dream world, you must think of a place to bring him. If he goes elsewhere you must quickly catch him and take him to your reality."

Amanda imagined the cell as Emma told her to, and she imagined Gabriel and his Hawk. She could see him sitting on the rough floor of the cell. She didn't know how to call him without entering his reality, so she turned to Emma with a pleading look.

"You have a connection; call his name quietly in your mind. He sleeps, but he has not entered the dream world. You must entice him to come here."

"Gabriel?" Amanda thought questioningly at the ragged man who sat sleeping in the real world.

She could feel when he entered, and she could feel his mind heading to a nightmarish place, but she grabbed onto him with her mind, and held to thoughts of spring, and a meadow full of flowers that were in bloom.

It startled her to feel his shock as he awoke to the dream world in a meadow full of flowers instead of the nightmare place he usually visited. It startled her to know this.

She could see him next to her, looking at the bright field in shock, "What is this place?"

"It is the dream reality I created to teach you in. I am Amanda," she could see him on her right and Emma on her left. Emma gave her a nod of approval.

"You are the apparition, the one I keep seeing… Esel Says you are real…"

Amanda wondered for a second who Esel was, and then it clicked, Esel was his Hawk. "I am your apparition, at the time I was not controlled in the dream reality, and I thought for some reason a person out of my past was invading my dreams. Like I stated already, I am to teach you. The magic in your mind reached out to me and formed a connection, and when I remembered your name, I confirmed the connection."

Emma nodded and faded away. Amanda was on her own.

"I'm not a witch!" He shouted as he started to back away from her.

"No, you are not. Having magic is the Earth Mother's gift, it does not mean you are a witch. Witches are a lower rung of the ladder." Amanda started. She explained the levels of ability, and she started on the history when she noticed his image getting faint.

"I feel like I am being pulled," he spoke faintly.

"I… I think you are being pulled back to the real world. Let it pull you." She watched sadly as his dream image faded away. Then Kilana was beside her, and the Hawk told her, "Come, it is time to go back."

Amanda touched her Hawk and allowed herself to be dragged back to her own body. Once she was back she had a moment of regret, she hadn't thought to look in on Gabriel.

The teaching continued in this manner. Amanda would learn something from Emma, and then she would teach it to Gabriel. Kilana learned from Shila and taught Esel. Eventually, Amanda started to move on her own. She started slowly, but more and more she was able to do more and go farther. She and Kilana would walk around the cave system exploring on their own time. Amanda guessed she had lessons about once a day, though it was hard to tell in the cave system. The world was ruled by eating when you were hungry, lessons, and exploration. Eventually, Amanda came out to the sun, and both she and Kilana hid their eyes from the bright daylight of midday sun.

"It looks like you are ready to begin more physical training. We will start with flying today. Also, all of your lessons in controlling your magic will be in the real world now, though you will still enter the dream world to train Gabriel in what you learned." The voice came from a silhouette turned into Emma riding Shila.

"We were visiting the people of the Hawk. They will support us in a war against the Hawk school where the some Hawks are treated badly. They assure me that they only do this for the Hawks," Emma still seemed like a God outlined by the sun.

Amanda felt like an idiot as she asked, "Umm, who are the Hawk People or whatever you called them?"

Emma sighed which brought her closer to human level, "The people of the Hawk worship the giant Hawks. Every one of the intelligent species has a tribe of people that worship them. The Cats to the south have the people of the Cat. The northern Bears have the people of the Bear. There are many more, but these are just a few of them. The people of the Hawk live near us, and have agreed to help us fight the school."

"Why are we fighting the school?" Amanda asked, her mind having missed that earlier.

"Again, Emma sighed, "I decided I have let this land go to long without my guidance. This Ella person needs to be checked, and I plan to save the people and Hawks in the dungeons you found. Now do you understand?"

Amanda ducked her head and nodded. She was slowly starting to see the bright world around her better. She had been a long time without the sun.

"Now, go get Kilana saddled and we will begin your flying training."

Again, Amanda fell into a schedule, except now she practiced flying with Kilana in the morning, magic in the afternoon, and taught Gabriel in the evening.

Time went by, and slowly the sword was brought in, and Amanda was learning to fight with her sword from Kilana's back. More weeks and passed, and the bow was brought in. In magic training she went from making things glow, to fires, to controlling fires, and finally to growing things.

"The Earth Mother gives us power to do many things, but growing things makes up for the havoc we make when we destroy things to protect or fight. As a priestess of the Earth Mother, balance must be kept between war and life. If you fight a battle, you must make something out of the destruction. The Hawk bond was what I made out of the battle where my teacher died to defeat a Rogue who did not care for balance. Now, focus the energy you feel from the Earth around you into your eyes, and use your eyes to shape the power into a dandelion seed; imagine the components of the seed. Once you have built the seed in your mind, use your power to feed the plant and make it grow," Emma explained one day. Amanda focused, found the power, and saw the seed, and made it grow.

"I did it! I made something grow!" For the first time in a while, Emma smiled.

"Yes, making things grow is delighting. Make the plant flower, and then go to your lesson with Gabriel. It is almost time for it."

Amanda found the power and made the flower grow by giving the plant more energy. Then she laid herself down and slipped easily into the dream world. For the first time she found Gabriel already there. She didn't have to call him. "I came without hitting the nightmare world! I did it!"

Amanda smiled and said, "Good. Now I don't have to waste time calling you."

"I didn't mind you calling me. But this is faster. So, what are we learning today?"

Amanda proceeded to teach Gabriel about the plant magic. He picked up quickly using the power of the dream world to create new flowers.

"Amanda, can you have… Emma… hurry with your lesson? I am worried. She kills off anyone who might show magic potential. All the people that were jailed from our class have been killed. I am the oldest in this jail, and I don't know why Ella has killed me. The next oldest is Kama, and she was two classes bellow me. I can tell she knows she will die next," Gabriel's face showed worry and unhappiness.

Amanda fiddled with a piece of grass. She didn't want to have to tell Emma to do anything, but they did need to hurry. "I'll… I'll ask her to hurry the training. Knowing her she won't."

Contrary to Amanda's belief that Emma would refuse Gabriel's request, she nodded and said, "He's smart. We will speed up everything and pack more into your classes."

Amanda learned to fight, throw knives and shoot from Kilana's back while Kilana made complicated maneuvers in the sky.

In her magic, Amanda learned to use the air, to control water, to pull dirt from the ground, and lighting from the sky. She learned to shoot daggers of lighting from her eyes, and to create electricity.

Gabriel never spoke again about the people who were killed in the dungeon, but when Amanda thought to ask about Kama, he simply shook his head sadly and changed the subject.

Then, Emma changed things again. In the mornings, Amanda practiced combative magic combined with fighting on Kilana. In the afternoon, she learned about the body and anatomy so that one day she would be able to heal. In the evening, she still taught Gabriel.

One day Emma asked her about her lessons with Gabriel. She hadn't asked in a long time, and Amanda was slightly surprised, "Gabriel progresses well, but he refuses to speak of people now. I think all the people he knew well have died."

"I forgot to tell you earlier, but I think all of the people in there should learn the Earth Mother's power before we invade so that all of them can help. Tell Gabriel he is to teach the people of the dungeon in the same way I teach you," Emma spoke, but Amanda could see her mind was on other things. "We don't have much time," she mumbled. Then clearer, "Go now to teach. It is almost time."

Amanda slipped into the dream sleep, and met Gabriel who paced a storm lashed flower world. Amanda took control of the world they were in, and forced the storm away. Before she could say anything though, he turned to her and shouted, "Why do you not come and fight yet? People are dying! We both know combative magic. What does healing have to do with anything?"

Amanda gripped his hand in hers and told him what Emma told her. "Emma refuses to fight until we can heal others and ourselves. Also, if at all possible, can you teach the other people in the dungeon and prepare them for battle? Emma wants all of your prepared, but she wants you to learn all the way to healing magic. She told me that no one else in the dungeon will be able to learn it or the harder magic. They won't have the energy for it."

"I can do that. Why did she not ask earlier? I am supposed to teach in the dream world right?"

"Emma didn't think you were ready to teach for awhile, and then she forgot about asking until today. Yes, she told me you will teach them in this world."

"Well, I better get started. See you tomorrow."

Amanda smiled slightly and waved. As she took her leave she saw Gabriel grimly calling battered people from the dungeon they lived in to the flowery dream world she taught him in. She could see the same wonder on their faces as she saw on Gabriel so long ago when she first called him. She slipped away and left him to the training, the same as Emma left her.

When she came out of the trance, Emma was waiting, "It is time. You will continue practice while we travel, but we must move soon. Tomorrow morning we leave to find the Hawk Tribe. They will follow my lead and fight for the freedom of the Hawks they worship. Do not be surprised by them; they are like the Cat people, except they look, well, Hawkish." Emma seemed to be seeing them in her mind. Then she snapped out an order, "Clean you amour, make sure your trail food is packed and ready for tomorrow, and check over Kilana's straps. Prepare yourself tonight, because we leave at first light tomorrow."