• Close.... I am getting closer... Here, in this town, I feel it... My Rider is here.

         A dream, much unlike any he had ever experienced. In it, he found himself in what appeared to be the foggy ruins of an old civilization, the buildings were gigantic, with moss and vines creeping all over the sides of them. The pathway between the buildings was enormous as well, much larger that it was in the capital city.
         A voice, clear as a bell rang through his mind. It came from somewhere in front of him, although from where he could not see. Ever so slowly, he walked over the mossy stone and deeper into the fog. Ahead, the fog seemed to clear slightly so that he was able to make out a spot that looked as if it had been taken care of, the fountain in the center was clean, there was no rubble to be found, but he also noticed that it looked as old as the rest of the ruins.
    You... you are the one, the one I've been waiting for...
         " Where? Who? What are you? " he asked out loud, looking everywhere, anywhere from where the voice was coming from. There were so many questions he wanted to ask, but there was not enough time to ask them.
    Look, in the fountain. See me here then seek me in the waking world.
         Codali did as he was told. Slowly, he inched his way toward the fountain, and when he had reached the edge, peered over to look at the inside. There was a finely polished white stone floating on the murky water, and when the sun managed to hit it through the fog, it shone a brilliant gold color. " You are a stone? " he asked out loud, bending over to pick it up. As he did so the stone started to sink under the water, and day started to change quickly to night. The fog had cleared and looking up, Codali could see nothing but the inky blackness of the night sky. Looking back to the water, he saw a pale yellow disk, which he recognized to be the moon. In the distance, he heard the howling of wolves, and the angry yowls of cats. There were more noises among them, but he could not make them out. From behind him, he could hear an angry snarling, but when he turned to face it, nothing was there.
    Seek me in the waking world, I will be waiting...
         He heard the voice once more, but it seemed different, softer. The voice was one of someone he knew. His dream world slowly whirled around him as Codali started to awake.

         " Come on, child, it is not like you to sleep the day away. " A kind voice spoke in a hushed tone to the young man that was still asleep in his bed. There were several other beds in the room, but by this time they had all been made and their inhabitants unable to be found. In the occupied bed, the young man groaned and rolled over, pulling his pillow over his face so that the rays of the sun shining in through the window would be harder to see. She laughed and then turned away from the bed, slowly making her way back to the stairwell.
         " You will miss breakfast then, " She warned as she ever so slowly approached the doorway. He stirred, and sleepily gazed about the room, the mention of food having roused him from his sleep.
         " Have I really missed it then, Mum? " He finally managed to say, rubbing his eyes with one hand, and feeling on top of the bed for his tunic with the other. With a smile, she shook her head slowly and laughed.
         " No, but you will if you don't get up soon. " Mum said, still smiling, and then left the room, headed back downstairs to deal with the other children and give the other Caretakers a hand. Getting out of bed, he ran his fingers through his shoulder-length chestnut hair, looked at himself in the mirror with his greenish-gold eyes as he cleaned up his appearance, put his boots on, and then with an self-satisfied nod of his head, walked to the doorway.

         Codali had rushed downstairs to join the other children that were finishing their breakfasts in the dining room. He saw Mum with a plate of food for him near one of the tables that had not been cleaned yet, and he also saw two of the other Caretakers give him a disappointing glance as he strode over to eat his meal. As he sat down at the table, he thanked Mum and then started to eat at his usual pace, which was quick. While he ate, he looked at Mum. She had changed in the years he had been here at the Orphan House; She now had grayed hair and wrinkles around her face, mostly kind ones due to Mum liking to smile so much. The thought of that cause Codali to smile as he ate. Mum sat down at the table, facing him and sighed.
         " You know, you are ten-and-eight years now, we cannot house you for much longer. " Her usually happy face was now serious, with a hint of great sadness hidden behind it with the threat of coming forth.
         " Two more years, Codali. Two more years and we will have to send you out there, ready or not. " Mum said, motioning to the outside of Illirea that was visible through the windows. She folded her hands and placed them both on her lap and shook her head. By this time, most of the other Children had left to go play or attend their schooling, Lady Nasuda had made sure that Children were well cared for in the city, especially those unfortunate enough to have a family. He looked down at his empty plate, letting her words sink it.
         " I know Mum, and I think I can do it, I'll go today to the Farms, ask if they need a hired hand. I'll earn my pay by working hard and honest and I'll build my own home someday. " Mum smiled as he spoke, sure of his words. She left the table as well as the room, and Codali picked up his plate to clean it and put it away in the Kitchen. As he was putting his plate away, Mum had walked back into the room with a medium sized coin-purse. She handed it to him, and he took it confused.
         " Go out today, find that job. You can stay here until you find other lodging, but you will have to buy your own food and clothing from now on. That in there, " She said, pointing to the coin-purse. " That is the amount we are supposed to send every grown adult that leaves this House. " Codali smiled and moved forward, sweeping her up in a hug. She laughed and hugged him back. As he set her down, he noticed that he was considerably taller than she was, having to have to look down at her when they were both standing. With a happy sigh, she placed an arm behind Codali's back and led him out of the room.
         " Plus a little extra for one of my favorites. " Mum added with a wink.

    By this time, they had entered the Main Room, where couples would come in to look for a boy or girl they could adopt to add into their own family. Before the war, it may have been seldom when people would stop by, but since so many people had lost their sons or daughters, adopting a child was quite common now. Mum walked over to her rocking chair, where she slowly began to move back and forth. Codali sat down in a spare chair next to her, watching the people talk.
         " I am glad that they have come to seek us out. These children need loving homes. " At the mentioning of the word 'seek', Codali remembered his dream.
         " Mum, I have to talk to you... " he explained his dream, where he had found himself, the voice, the weird colored stone, and then the moon when it had changed from day to night. At the mentioning of the moon, she stopped her rocking chair and stood up.
         " This all seems strange, " Mum sat in thought for a moment before her rocking continued. " Perhaps this dream is a sign that you are strong in magic? " Codali hadn't thought of that possibility, and what if it were true? It would be much easier for him to get a job if the Farmers knew he could heal their sick livestock, and help their plants grow. He told the possibility to Mum, who nodded in agreement.
         " Yes, that very well might work. You always were a smart one Codali. " She said with a happy smile. As she rocked, the moments that followed were silent except for the talking of the couple who had decided on adopting both a small girl and a boy. The two children were ecstatic that they were being adopted, and even happier because they were good friends.
         "Codali, " Mum started, gazing at him with her soft grey-blue eyes, " Did you know that there is a festival tonight? " He shook his head. " The Riders are coming in, and they are bringing eggs to the town. " Codali sat back in his chair, hanging his arm over the side.
         " Eggs? Why eggs? I am sure that we have enough Chickens to produce plenty of eggs for the town. " He was confused, he knew that the Riders had helped in the war, but he had not seen or heard one in his lifetime. Mum laughed and placed her hands in her lap.
         " Dragon eggs my boy, not chicken eggs. " She winked at him. " Why don't you go see the festival aye? They should be setting it up near Lady Nasuda's Castle. " Eager, Codali quickly got out of his chair but found himself dizzy, so he grabbed the edge of Mum's to steady himself, causing her chair to stop rocking and lean backwards a little.
         " I will, and on the way I'll see if I can't find someone who is looking for any hired help. That way, I can enjoy both the festival and I will have a job come tomorrow morn! " On his face there was a wide grin; it all seemed so perfect to him, so fool-proof. Nothing would foil the plan he had set for his life. Mum smiled and removed Codali's hand from her chair and patted it.
         " You have fun, and remember to keep a close hand on your purse, there is still some crime in this city, no matter how hard Lady Nasuda and her Guard may work. " With a grunt, she stood up from her chair, smiled at the couple in the room and the two children and left. He nodded and headed to the door where the Couple was leaving with their new son and daughter. Before he could leave, one of the Caretakers, whom he had never liked, stopped him.
         " And where do you think you're going? " She asked in an impatient tone. Codali grimaced and turned to face her. She was a bit taller than Mum was, and her brown hair was tied up in a bun. Her brown eyes gazed angrily at Codali, and he thought to himself that he had never seen a more terrifying gaze, not even the bedtime stories of the great snakes with their looks that could turn people to stone could match it.
         " I am going out Gilda, and I am in quite a hurry if you don't mind... "
         " Oh no you don't, you may think that just because Mum likes you that you're more important than the rest of the Children here, but you're not, you still have to clean as much as the others do! " She stamped her foot down on the ground as she said this, and with her left hand pointed down at the ground as if to say 'come here'. He was very glad that she was not in charge of the Orphan House, and that Mum and her relatives were. She would make for a horrible Head Caretaker, and could never take Mum's place in the children's hearts.
         Angry, Codali shook his head. " No, I am a man now, I ask to be treated as such. " To this, Gilda laughed and crossed her arms over her chest.
         " You're about as much a man as the other little scraps that we have here. Get in the Kitchen and scrub the floors, now. " Her eyes were fixed on his, as if by pure will alone she could force him into the Kitchen to clean.
         He contemplated what to do, he could clean, and maybe miss his chance to secure a job and miss the festival. Or, yes, that seemed like a better alternative to him. Mum might be mad that he would be causing trouble, but he was leaving the House soon enough anyways. With a sly smile, Codali waved good-bye to Gilda, and walked out the door and into the streets of Ilirea.