• An eerie green glow filled the room as a figure cloaked in black entered it and shut the door behind him. He lifted his arms and began to chant. The odd words seemed to drop like lead out of his mouth as his voice steadily became louder. A small circle began to form in front of the figure. It was a pitch black that seemed to suck up what little light there was in the room. It began to grow as the green glow entered it; spiraling in thin threads and disappearing into the seemingly bottomless pit of the black circle. The circle soaked up the green light until it was almost as big as it’s creator.
    “Vixtem ofther yournxt dheir!” the figure said. As soon as the words had left his mouth, the thick blackness of the circle began to dissipate, revealing a fuzzy, moving picture. As the picture came into focus, sounds began to come from the circle as well.
    About two feet in front of the cloaked figure, the portal showed the form of a man. The man was tall and menacing. His boots were capped with silver that had been sharpened into an almost knifelike point. He wore a black cloak that was ripped at the bottom, reaching down to his shins. His hands were ghost white and topped with long black fingernails. His hood was pulled down across his face, shrouding it in shadow.
    The figure that had conjured the portal spoke into it with a strong, lordly voice, “ Cythe, can you hear me?”
    “Yes, my Lord Melkor,” the figure replied as he reached up and pulled back his hood revealing his face. He had no eyebrows and his eyes were abnormally large and black. He had no iris or pupil, only a small slit of red stretching from the top of his eye to the bottom. His thin face was deathly white and horribly clammy. He had thin, wispy red hair that reached his shoulders. His black lips parted to reveal yellow teeth, each filed to a sharp point.
    Cythe tilted his head as words left his mouth; they seemed to drop off his tongue like thick poison, “What tidings do you bring your servant?”
    “The Mark Bearer hasn’t detected my disguise,” Melkor announced, “She is young, naive and poses no threat. Destroying her would be no problem, but controlling her is more difficult than I had originally thought. Although, I was very disappointed to hear the rumors in the village.”
    “Rumors, my lord?” Cythe replied in his snake-like voice.
    “Someone has spotted a Kaurlg in the forest,” said Melkor.
    “I was not aware of any such mishap, my lord, but I will find the one responsible. It will never happen again,” Cythe responded cooly.

    “I want his head; mistakes will not be tolerated. See to it on pain of death,” Melkor ordered.
    “Yes my lord,” Cythe replied as his figure began to go out of focus.
    The portal absorbed what was left of Cythe’s form, and when the picture was completely gone, collapsed in on itself. Melkor left the room and closed the door behind him with a loud, resounding thud.

    * * *

    Ky jolted awake in a cold sweat, visions of a burning city still fresh in her mind. It was the same nightmare that had plagued her for years now. Every now and then, about once a month, Ky would have a dream. In this dream, she was in a burning city, fleeing for her life. She always awoke right before a large building collapsed on her. As the reality and fear of her dream faded away, Ky laid back on her pillow and drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep.
    Morning arrived and Ky awoke before Ahnna had come into her room to wake her up. Since she couldn’t fall back asleep, she washed her face and put on a white, short sleeved shirt and a dark green jaylash. The sun had just begun to peek the tip of its head up above the horizon when Ky walked down the stairs to find Joe. As she suspected, he was already awake and busy trying to cook enough food for the bulk of the servants. Ky walked over to the bar, sat down on one of the high stools, and waited for Joe to notice her.
    Billows of smoke and steam rose from the kitchen into the brisk morning air as Joe hustled around stirring this, then chopping that, then flipping this, and tasting that. It was a good five minutes before he noticed the small figure sitting at the bar intently watching his every move.
    “Good mornin’ Ky. To what do I owe da’ honor?”Joe asked without looking up from his work.
    “Oh, nothing really. I woke up early this morning and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I decided to come down here. Besides, I love to watch you cook,” Ky replied.
    “Why thank ya kindly miss. Will you be wantin’ any breakfast soon, ‘cuz I have a few omelets here, fresh off the skillet,”Joe offered.
    Ky gladly agreed and was given an omelet on a large white plate. By the time she was finished, the sun had risen above the horizon and a few servants had entered the dining hall. Ky shoved her plate into the large washbasin at the end of her table and ran out to the courtyard.
    Mr. Zaphin was very pleased Ky had arrived early, so he was in considerably high spirits during the entire lesson. He did, however, lose his temper when Ky’s lack of hand-eye coordination made it especially hard for her to pick up on what he considered to be one of the easiest attack moves.

    Ky took a well-deserved break after lunch and finished the book she had been reading before heading down to Roklem’s class. Learning to read glows was much harder than Roklem made it sound. They had spent the past few weeks of classes together trying to get Ky to read Roklem’s glow. Ky arrived at Roklem’s door a bit early so, in accordance to the rules he had set, she waited outside of his door until the precise moment her class was scheduled.
    Ky sighed and sank to the floor, being careful to stay clear of the “223" inscribed in the marble. To pass the extra five minutes before class, Ky opened the book Roklem had given her and sifted through the pages. Roklem treated it like a text book, but it seemed much more important to Ky. The entire book was handwritten in a cursive so beautiful you almost forgot to read the words, and when you did they were so descriptive they seemed to come to life. Each picture was hand drawn in colored ink. Some were sketched, others were outlined, and a few were full pages of uninterrupted color.
    When her five minutes were up, Ky closed her book, tied the leather straps, got up, and walked over to Roklem’s door. She pushed it open to find him writing at his desk, as always.
    “Ah, Miss Rose, glad to see you’re finally picking up on the idea of punctuality,”Roklem commented as he finished writing and put away his quill.
    “That is one of the rules, isn’t it?”Ky answered as she sat down on her favorite stool,” I like to believe that I have picked up punctuality only because it is forced on me.”
    “And that it is ,”Roklem replied as he sat down on the stool next to Ky. As always, a fire burned in the fireplace behind the three small stools and, as Ky had learned earlier in the week, a thin magical barrier kept the heat from entering the room.
    Roklem pulled his hands out of his cloak and offered them, face up, to Ky. Accordingly, she placed her hands on top of his as he coached her through the process of nonmagical reading.
    “Now Miss Rose, close your eyes and empty your mind of all thought,” Rokem said to Ky in a low voice, “Relax and let yourself be free of any mental picture or random idea. Relax..... Relax...”
    Ky did as she was told and chased away every thought in her mind. She was on the verge of sleep when Roklem spoke again.
    “Now that your mind is empty of distractions, let us begin,” said Roklem,” I am going to release a small amount of energy to my hands. Concentrate all of your mind on your fingertips.”
    Ky began to worry and almost lost her concentration -this is where all the other attempts had fallen flat. She concentrated with all her being; so hard that a small bead of sweat rolled down her forehead.

    Then slowly, she began to feel something. At first she thought someone had walked by and accidently brushed their clothes against her fingertips, but that didn’t make any sense, no one else was in the room. Ky concentrated on the small rubbing sensation and it began to grow. It covered the whole underside of her hand until she felt as though she was rubbing her hands up and down a piece of wool. The Rubbing sensation was quickly replaced with a static tingling that seemed to pop and fizz off the surface of Roklem’s hands.
    As though a wall had been broken down, something burst in Ky’s mind and her being was swept over with a warm, green glow. Ky almost screamed with joy. She had done it! She had read Roklem’s green glow! Ky was so excited; she couldn’t wait to tell Roklem. She went to open her eyes and tell him the wonderful news, but all of the sudden, she realized that something was terribly wrong.
    She couldn’t move. She couldn’t open her eyes, she couldn’t move her arms, she couldn’t even scream; nothing worked. As the green glow began to fade away, she was overcome with fear. A horrible tingling sensation took ever her body as she began to fall into a pit of utter darkness. Suddenly she made contact with the ground. Her eyes jolted open and she gazed around.
    She was no longer in Roklem’s room, but rather in a small hut. To her great disappointment, she was still unable to move. Without warning, her body jumped to its feet. Ky felt like a puppet on strings as the body she couldn’t control ran to the door of the small hut.
    It was night, but it was not dark. A few of the huts near Ky were on fire. People screamed as arrows whizzed through the air. This city was under attack. As her nightmare came vividly back to her memory, she raced down the packed dirt street, unable to control herself.
    Ky caught a glimpse of her reflection in a broken mirror sitting by a lavishly decorated tent. To her utter amazement, her reflection was not that of a 14 year-old girl, but rather a nine year-old boy. Ky wanted to gasp realization, but again she was unable to make her body move as she willed it. This body had a will of its own.
    “Mom, Dad!” Ky’s body screamed into the confusion of the raging battle,” Mom, Dad, where are you!”

    Ky was overcome with joy as she spotted a man and woman hiding behind a stone wall. Apparently they were her, or rather his parents. This joy was cut short, however as a tall soldier with a sword looked over the wall his parents were hiding behind. The soldier caught sight of the nine year old’s mother and raised his sword to run her through. In a gallant attempt to save his wife, the man leaped in front of her and intercepted the fatal blow. Agonizing grief swept through Ky’s body as his body covered his face and looked away. He began to cry as he heard his mother scream. As soon as the first teardrop splashed on the ground, the horrible anguish and pain of loss instantly converted to deep, uncontrollable hatred and anger. The anger burned through her body as it jumped up and grabbed a piece of the broken mirror. Hatred fueled her every move as he screamed and rushed at the soldier that had just killed his parents. With the broken glass poised above his head, the boy prepared to attack the man before him. Just before the makeshift weapon made contact with the soldier’s head, time seemed to come to a stop and Ky’s vision began to fade as the tingling once more took over her body.
    When the horrid tingling finally disappeared, Ky was overcome with fatigue and she collapsed to the ground. To her delight she was once again in Roklem’s room, but she still found herself unable to move.
    Roklem rushed over to her side and placed his hands on her body, uttering a short string of odd words. Ky saw a green flash and felt an electric charge rush through her body. She opened her eyes to see Roklem’s face, bent with worry, looking back at her. She tried to speak, but was too weak to move her mouth. As Roklem reached down to pick her up, darkness crept into the corners of her vision and she knew no more.