Chapter One: Training

"Come now, surely you can run faster than that Sylia! Are you not supposed to be a killer? The protector of your former High Princess? Show me what you can do girl! Or are you to scared that I will throw you back down again?" That was Shaorin, one of the more known inhabitants of this camp. Shaorin had taken to training me since I'd come here, for what I still was unaware, but the Elder and Shaorin both seemed to believe that it would be important. Since they saved my life nearly four Red Moons ago, I figured it was not worth arguing. During my elapsed time in this camp I had learned that I was a magae, a female magician capable of great magick workings. With the right training it was said that a powerful magae could awaken the souls of the deceased.

"Scared Shaorin? You should know me better than that!" It's been rough here, but my home village of Ryllishkuv was obliterated in the last storm so I had no where to call home. Besides, jumping through the woods like this with the wind in my hair made me feel whole again. Not once had I felt this way since I completed my training to guard the High Princess. The only problem was that training with Shaorin seemed to be getting harder and harder every day. I think he was treating me as a female of his race, as a draconian.

"Let's go Sylia, get moving before I blast you from that tree!" Shaorin's voice brought me back to reality, and it's a good thing because I just barely managed to dive out of the way of a magick blast aimed solely for my chest and land on the ground in a heap of thorns for all my efforts.

Great, I'm going to be pulling thorns out of my skin and hair for another four Red Moons! Oh well, worry about that later. If I don't get moving Shaorin is going to kill me. Literally. Just when I managed to get out of the thorns another large man came at me from out of nowhere. This time I was ready for an attack and managed to sidestep the blow aimed for my shoulder and grab hold of the assailant's arm to flip him onto his back. The only problem was that this guy was twice my size and easily lifted me from the ground and tossed me like a rag doll across the forest floor.

I hit with an audible thump and a loud sounding crack though I was not sure if it was from something I landed on or one of my bones. Either way, I would feel that later. Grumbling to myself more than ever before I slowly got to my feet, however wobbly they were and slipped into a known defensive position, but my assailant was long gone. Probably he went back into the woods to hide and prepare for my next fall. Well, to bad for him because there was not going to be a next time. At least that was the idea.

"That all you got Shaorin? Some thuggish goons to take me down? You're going to have to do better than that!" But first you have to get off the ground Sylia. No more being nice. Let's show Shaorin what you are made of!

Jumping up I grabbed hold of the branch above my head, praying that it would hold my weight, and flipped up onto it. Well, getting off the ground is a start, but where did he go? I got my answer soon enough because just as I was slipping into a trance to track my prey, as if I were truly the hunter between us, another ball of power came whizzing just past my head and hit the tree behind me. My eyes immediately shot open and I jumped into a higher branch and started moving towards the direction the attack came from.

Branches flew past, and again I felt as whole as a dragon does when first meeting the Mother. One tree, two trees, three trees, four. This became an easy way to track my prey and it gave me another advantage. If I kept track of how many I passed, I would know where I started from incase I needed to backtrack.

"You're mine Sylia!" Then again, maybe using that strategy against the person that taught it to me was a bad idea. Before I had a chance to react Shaorin's strong arms were around me and I was headed for the ground again.

Come on Sylia, there has to be a way to turn this to your advantage! Then it hit me, the Elder told me that I was unlike any human and that I could use magick. All I had to do was look inside myself, or something like that. I closed my eyes and focused, knowing I would hit the ground again any second and be right back where I started unless I came up with something to counter with. Before I realized I had even done any of it the words flowed from my mouth and the spell left my hand.

"Shi'la ish tannik." Just before I hit the ground a flash came from my hand and hit Shaorin square in the chest. The biggest satisfaction however was not my success in the spell or that it actually hit him. The best part of all of this training today was the smile that was plain as day on the male's face as the Dreamland shattered around me and I woke in my tent, at the peak of the moon.

"Well Sylia, it looks like you are finally starting to learn." If only I had any idea what it was I needed to learn for though. . .

When morning came it seemed like it was to early, my body felt rested but my mind was exhausted from the long night of training magick with Shaorin in the Dreamland. I swear, the only reason I was able to get out of bed was that I finally knew this training was paying off. I was getting stronger, at least in a mental aspect. Today however would not be easier than last night, no matter how much I might wish it to be so. Magick training was to begin today in the physical realm, which meant that the danger was real. It also meant long hours of training with the Elder, in a class.

This is going to be a long day, I just know it. Might as well get started. When I finally crawled out of bed after another hour of whining to myself everyone else was already up and waiting. Great, I made the rest wait. The Elder is going to take this out on me I'm sure.

"Sylia, it is about time. What has been keeping you, having a hard time figuring out which shoe goes on which foot human?" Oh great, there was a comedian in the class. I already was starting to not like this kid, and the way that he looked at me made it even worse. Yeah, this was going to be a very long day.

"Keir," so that was the brat's name? The Elder sounded like he was as happy with the man as I was. "Do not antagonize her. She is a student the same as you, so treat her with some respect or I will personally punish you." The way he said that made me sure that he was not talking about giving Keir a paddle. Note to self: Stay on the Elder's good side.

"Yes Elder. As you wish." There was no mistaking the hatred in Keir's voice, but whether it was for the Elder, me, or both of us had yet to be determined. I definitely needed to make sure this kid did not become a problem for me, otherwise he would probably kill me without a second thought.

"Excuse me, Elder, this is all nice and everything with the introduction between Keir and I, but are we not supposed to be training? Are you not the one that said we never know when we will need it?" As soon as the words left my mouth I knew they were the right thing to say, sort of. The Elder seemed to like it, but I think it just made Keir more angry with me. Strike two.

"Aye, we need to get to work. Keir, seeing as you seemed to take such a strong affection to young Sylia here, why don't you take her aside and train her today instead of Shaorin? I need to have a word with Shaorin before I let him train the human again." Uh-oh, were we in trouble for our nighttime training sessions in the Dreamland? Or was the Elder more upset than he showed with my comment, seeing as he paired me with Keir? This day just keeps getting longer and longer. . .

"Of course Elder. Keir," please don't kill me. "Where are we going today to train with magick? I'm not good yet, so I don't think the camp would be a good idea. The last thing this place needs is me blowing it up or something."

"Agreed, follow me human. Don't you dare fall behind." And that was it. So much was said with so few words. "I will kill you", "I hate you", "You are scum", and "You should not be here". I managed to make an enemy here before I was even sure that I had a friend in anyone. Great Sylia, just great you're going to be dead before today ends at this rate. Where the hell was my strike three?

Before I took ten steps Keir was already in the trees and starting to run through them like it was as natural to him as flying to a dragon. I had no choice but to ignore my instincts and jump into the trees to follow him, or try to. Except there was no way I could ever keep up with Keir, he was the fastest in the camp and probably one of the strongest as well. Then before I was able to get out of the way magick hit me so hard in the chest that I fell to the ground with my entire right arm numb.

"What the hell?" Another blast, this one I barely managed to get away from as a third hit me in the leg. I went down as fast as I got up and could barely get back to my feet again. Looking around me was useless, the third blast was meant to do little damage but disorient me. Which is exactly what it did. I guess I skipped strike three after all. He is just going to kill me here.

Since I could not tell where Keir was with sight, I had to use magick to find him. Truth be told it could have been anyone, but something in the way the spells were meant to torture and hurt not kill made me believe it was Keir. Then again, from what I had been taught by Shaorin and the Elder these kinds of spells were common with the inhabitants here.

"You foolish creature, you have no idea who you are do you? Very well, I will have to force you to see." Keir's voice sounded as though it were inside of my head, but that should have been impossible for even him. This is just getting worse and worse, I'm going to die out here. . .

"Shi'la ish tannik!" Oh no, this is going to hurt. I need to focus, now! I closed my eyes and tried to draw from within myself for whatever it was this man told me I would find, but it was useless. I was going to be as fried as a hen before dinner. That was when it came to me, I needed to shield myself.

"Xir ka'leth!" Just in time a shield bubbled up around me, and it's good that it did because if it had not done so Keir's blast would have most likely blown a hole the size of an apple in my chest. I had no idea how long the shield would hold against Keir's relentless magickal barrage, so I had to act fast. I threw my hands out in front of me and shot light from them. I had no idea what it was, and probably never would know because that kind of magick was only supposed to exist in legends of the Old Times. At least that is what we were being taught here by a race that is not supposed to still exist.

Regardless the blast hit Keir, but he just kept coming. That did it, I was officially out of ideas. My mind was shattered from the exhaustion of my last attempt at salvation and could no long keep the shield around me. It vanished with an audible pop just as Keir's staff streaked by my face. I did not know if it hit me or not, I only know that I fell to the ground after. At this point I felt nothing, if Keir's staff did hit me I never felt it. Nor did I feel the collision with the hard ground or the ribs snapping. I only knew what happened because I heard it.

"No, you can't let him beat you Sylia. Keir can not be as strong as you think he is. Defend yourself Child, you are capable of besting this man." What the hell was that? Am I going crazy now? Is this what it's like to die, you hear voices in your last moments alive? I barely managed to roll onto my back, still unable to feel anything now. I do not know how I did it, but I was able to get one last spell off. I just hoped it would be enough to save me.

"Anish syi selenium." That was it, my world went black. I had no idea what the spell was going to do, I just know that my very soul was screaming for me to use it. I just know I lived, but as for Keir I had no idea. Within the next ten heartbeats I was unconscious.

To make matters even worse, I still had no idea what the voice I heard in my fight was from or if I was still in the forest.