Chapter 8

   I woke up bright and early to get ready for today. i bathed in the waterfall and cleared out my clogged mind. i put on my netted tights and my short purple dress then laced up the front of my boots before trimming my hair and packed some necessities. i did my normal checking around, put some food in the mouse's tree and began walking.
   When i got to the Village, i bought a notebook and a pen, then some new clothes with some extra money. i got new boots and tights and a couple of shirts. i kept 220 gold set aside just in case i needed to pay expenses for Classes. Eloch ran up to me and stuck a pinecone in my hair "Yay, you came!"
   I carefully swatted it out. "haha... yeah...so what do we do here? i haven't been to Classes in years."
   "Well, first we get to listen to the principal talk. Then, we get to sign up for what classes we wanna take. we get to choose four for now."
    "Oh, alright. That's simple enough i guess." Eloch and i took our seats. she brushed down her blue skirt with her hands and i noticed something different. She was an elf! Wow, a shape shifting elf. i whispered to her, "Eloch..."
   "Yes, I’m in my elf form —the form I’m usually in is my Anima form. apparently there was a committee meeting last night, they said the only way i could come to classes is if i attend while in elf form. People are so prejudice..." She spun her emblem on her necklace and smoothed down her red and black striped blouse. we turned forward and pretended to listen to the lecture.
   After the principal was done talking, we stood up and i quickly noticed Kero in peripheral vision. Oh no... i hid behind Eloch. "Don't let him see me!"
   "Who? Why? What are you talking about?"
    "Who's Kero?"
     "Ahh! Eloch?!" I wimpered as Kero walked up to me and tapped me on the shoulder.
     "Hey, Esperanza!" He hugged me and my face turned awkwardly red. "Who's your friend?"
      "Th-This is E-Eloch..."
     "Hey, I'm Kero! I'm friends with Esperanza!" He hugged her tightly.
      "I'm Eloch, and i guess you really like hugs, haha."
    "I do!" he laughed.
    Eloch and Kero talked for a while and i just listened. i could hear all of the people talking all around me, until i heard a familiar voice calling my name. "Hi Esperanza! I was hoping i'd see you here."
    "Oh, Hi Yolandsa! Long time no see." We exchanged smiles. "How've you been?
     She looked over towards Kero then looked away. Her smile timidly hid as she frowned, her eyes filling to the brim with sorrow. "I've been...decent." Her soft, pink eyes floated across the ground. i could sense her sadness.
    "Are you sure?" We migrated to a bench and sat down. "Why so down?"
    She brushed her braid from her face. "Well...do you know that guy over there?"
    "Who, Kero?"
    "What about him?"
    "We used to court...but he stopped..."
    whoa...i wasn't at all expecting that. "Wow, why'd he stop?"
    "Well, we went to the marketplace together— the same day i met you, actually. and he...he, i guess, just left.. i couldn't find him anywhere so i went home. The next day he wrote me a note and left it at my house,  it said that he met a beautiful Elvin girl that no one could win up to...then he told me it was over...so i never wrote him back."
    "Oh my goodness..." my hands began to quiver in fear. I really hope that Kero's not referring to me...I’m crushed...how could he do that to her? but at the same time, i guiltily can't help but feel flattered by what he said about me...I’m going to end this now. i feel terrible. "I'm so sorry... i had no idea —hold on for a minute, I’ll be right back."
     "Okay..." she said between sniffles.
    i walked over to Eloch and Kero. "Excuse me Eloch...Kero, i need to talk to you." i pulled him aside/ "you do know that we're only friends, right?"
    "Well, i was trying to court with you, that is, if you hadn't notice. Does my playful nature not give it away?"
   "Don't court me. Erase from your heart any feelings you have towards me."
   "But…why? Why would you want me to do that?"
    "Because, Yolandsa is my friend...you broke her heart because of me...we can't court."
    "Okay...then I’ll stop. We won’t. But just because we can't court, doesn't mean you can stop me from liking you."
    "I don't wish for you to like me in that format. Also, I’m not worth it. i may like you, but it’s not worth losing a friend. Kero, she's crushed. Just seeing you nearly brought her to tears...She likes you much more than you think...i have to get back to her."
   "Bye, Kero." i can't believe i just ended the only relationship i almost ever had...but i couldn't have lived with the guilt. i know i did the right thing. i walked back to my spot on the bench and sat down. "Yolandsa...i have to tell you something."
    "What did you and Kero talk about?"
    "i was that girl...i-i feel horrible...i didn't even know he was with anyone, he never told me much, and i had no clue you guys even kn-knew each other...i—i just broke it off with him. it wasn't worth the pain...I’m so sorry, i can't believe this.."
    "I forgive you, you didn't know...you really are a sweet girl. Most girls won’t do things like this...they'd just hide It." she hugged me. "Thank you...i know we barely know each other, but you're a great friend."
   "The pleasure is mine." i smiled, but still a little sad. She walked away to meet up with some of her friends. by the time i got back to Eloch, Kero had escaped off into somewhere.
    Now, it was time for registration. Eloch and i chose our classes together. "What classes should we take? hmm..."
    "i don't know... let's look at the list."

     Classes ——————— {choose four}
creative writing
WOT training
WIW training
excess prep

We examined the list before us. "I wish i didn't have to choose four," Eloch grunted. "There’s only two i really want, but oh well." we filled our schedules and compared.
ESPERANZA                                           ELOCH
1 {main subjects*}                               1 {main subjects*}
2 {creative writing}                              2 {creative writing}
3 {art}                                                      3 {art}
4 {lunch*}                                               4 {lunch*}
5 {archery}                                            5 {archery}
6 {spellcasting}                                    6 {ecess prep}
7 {free stanza*}                                    7 {free stanza*}

   the first thing we noticed is that we had the same first classes, the only class we didn't have together was 6th stanza, so we basically get to spend three days a week together. I think that would be fun. We were still discussing our schedules, and Yolandsa was excited to show us hers. "Hey! Let’s see if we have any classes together! I’m crossing my fingers!" we compared our papers next to each others.

1 {main subjects*}                       
2 {creative writing}              
3 {art}                                      
4 {lunch*}                          
5 {medical}         
6 {spellcasting}      
7 {free stanza*}    

   "Hey, looks like all three of us have the same two classes for second and third stanza!" Eloch grinned happily, twirling a strand of her hair.
   "Yeah, and Yolandsa and I have the same 6th stanza too." i noticed. so, i have i friend in every class...maybe i have more hope here than i thought...or maybe i just got lucky. i pulled down my dress in the back to keep it from showing anything.
    Kero ran up to us panting. "Hey...Es-Espa-Esperanza! lets-lets see if we have any classes together." he said through his huffing and puffing.
1 {main subjects*}                       
2 {WIWT}              
3 {WOTT}                                      
4 {lunch*}                          
5 {archery}         
6 {excess prep}      
7 {free stanza*}    
   "hey, we have excess prep and archery together, Kero!" Eloch mentioned to him, pointing at her schedule. 
   "I’ll be looking forward to it," he smiled.
   "and, we have archery together." i smiled. "All three of us do. What a coincidence!" we laughed.
   Eloch took a double take at his schedule, re-reading a few lines in curiosity. "So, Kero, what exactly is W-I-W and W-O-T?"
    "WIW is Warriors in Water and WOT is Warriors on Terrain. They're training classes. Anyone who's interested in joining the Militia should take these two classes. That way, when they go to join, they'll already have the credentials to enter with a higher rank! That means you get paid better, more opportunities, leadership and things like that."
     "Oh, wow! That’s really neat. Have you taken it before?"
   "—he took it last year and in Classes 14." Yolandsa quickly added.
   "Yeah..." Kero glanced at her oddly. "I did..." he looked at her like he didn't want her to say it. A couple seconds later, he pulled her aside. i was curious, so i selected my hearing to eaves drop.
    "Landsa, can't you let me speak for myself?"
    "Yes, and i did."
    "You call butting into my conversation and answering a question somebody asked me, letting me speak for myself?"
    "Well...i felt left out so i wanted to join in the talk..."
    "You could have talked to Esperanza! She wasn't in the conversation and she was standing right there!"
    "Do you really think i want to talk to the girl who stole you from me? Really, Kero?"
                  stole. . .? i'm not a thief. . .
    "You can't blame this on her, I’m the one who made the move, blame me! I know it was wrong, and I’m sorry, but you can't be mad at Esperanza."
    "And why not? Wouldn’t you be mad at a guy that i made a move on?"
   "No, I’d be mad at you for making the move. Why are you being like this?"
               he defended me...
   "Because you left me! You kicked me out of your life for that—"
    "Hold on, for that what? What were you about to say? Because i definitely said i wanted be friends and i wanted to be with you again. i just wondered how it would be with Esperanza because i liked her, that didn't mean we were completely over."
   "You really mean it?" i could hear the hope in her voice.
    "i did mean it...now that I’ve seen this hateful side of you, I’m not sure."
    "Kero, i..."
    "Just don't say anything, alright? I don't want to talk to you right now..."
    He walked back to us, and she ran off to cry. when he came back i pretended i didn't hear anything. He looked both sad and angry at the same time. "hey." he said bluntly.
    "You seem upset..."
    Eloch wandered her eyes to his. "What was wrong with Yolandsa? Why was she all in our conversation like that?"
   "I don't know...she said she felt left out..."
   "Hmm...She might be jealous that she's not the only girl you talk to. Some girls are like that, you know."
    "i don't know, she's never done anything like that before, so it was odd."
    "Well..."i added "maybe you shouldn't have tried to court another girl while you were with her..."
    "i know, i know, and i really do feel bad about that; but you can't control how you feel about somebody...you can only control whether you want to take a chance with those feelings you have for them."
    That...actually made sense...i get it now. but i don't get why he chose me, i didn't do anything to him or for him...i feel bad that i accidentally hurt Yolandsa, she was so nice to me and now, she doesn't even like me...i can't believe how horrible and hopeless i am, i hope everything will get better. ...i was silent.
    "Wow, I’m surprised i just heard you say that." Eloch looked at him in surprise. "Most guys won’t admit things like that; they just say 'oh well.'"
   "Yeah...but, I’m an honest guy. I’m not going to lie and cover up, then people wouldn't trust me...all warriors and all people need trust. You have no foundation without it."
   "I think we'll get along." Eloch smiled. We all smiled.

The announcer got onto the podium and announced the next part of the orientation. We have to wear uniforms. "Oh my gosh, are we really wearing these uniforms again?" Kero groaned and sighed with annoyance in his warm breath.
   "That's what it looks like..." Eloch and Kero walked into the line, i was with them. "How much are they?" Eloch asked, "i can't see."
    "15 gold for girls; 20 for guys." Kero told us as he peaked over the crowd.
    "Okay, i have that."
    "Me too," i added.
    "Can someone loan me 5? Anyone? I thought they'd be 15."
    "I can," i reached into my bag and dropped 5 coins into his hand.
    "I’ll pay you back, i promise."
    We went up to the tables at our turn and bought our uniforms. They were folded up in a stack, tied with twine and had a note on the top. The note listed the dress code and requirements, consequences and so-on. The dress code said we have to wear our uniform every time we come to classes. it came with a shirt, skirt, and a sweater. We were allowed to wear anything we wanted underneath, as in undershirts, tights and shoes.
                  i didn't think Classes would be this complicated.
                                                                                           The, it said that if we had any badges, tags, earrings, amulets or anything, they were mandatory to wear with your uniform. i was distraught. Then people will definitely recognize me. Thank goodness we can wear our tags on our bags, that helps a little.
    I heard a familiar voice and turned around, but i saw nobody i knew. This happened several more times and still, no one. It was puzzling; i knew i recognized the voice but i couldn't identify it. i knew it was from somewhere, but it was so faint...i couldn't pin point it, which was really frustrating. Eloch looked at me; she could tell something was the matter. "What are you thinking about? You look really concentrated."
    "There's...this voice, and i keep hearing it. i recognize it, but i...i-i just can't put my finger on it." i had my thumb pressed firmly against my chin, pondering.
    "I know what you mean, that's how it was for me when i found my little brother."
   "You have a brother?"
    "Yes, i do. His name is Soloman. The way i got here was by burrowing. I heard some yelping from the hole I’d dug, and a few days later i went back into the tunnel...i recognized the voice and followed it. i went closer and closer, and there he was, and i got him to follow me out."
   "Wow, so you saved him. And i can't believe you dug a tunnel all the way here! How long did that take you?"
    "About 5 hours... i was young and i cheated death. And that goodness, so did my brother. He lives in the mushroom with me."
    "That’s so cool...i almost killed my sister..."i looked down in despair as the guilt set back in. the normal guilt and pain that haunts me every day.
    "-but you had a reason, i understand, but you didn't kill her and you weren't planning to, or going to, either."
    "that's true..." i sighed. ”i just wish there would have been a better way for me to make her understand—let's just not talk about this. It’s upsetting."
    "I understand." the orientation's final section had begun and the ceremony was finally concluding. All of the students were invited to the cafeteria to eat as they prepared for the next orientation, that which would be for the call of seventeens.
   Eloch and I got our food and sat at a vacant table. I heard the voice again. Eloch recognized her brother's voice...maybe what I’m hearing is my sister...no...it couldn't be, I’m not going to even think about that. That wouldn't be good in the least. But i still miss her so much...I’m just not going to think about it. They gave us the choice of swino or poultra soup and spring water, we both got poultra. It was a thick golden brother with celery inside, flavored with strips of chicken and turkey. It had been seasoned with onions, chives and cloves, i loved it. We had a stuffed pepper on the side. As we ate, Eloch and i had multiple conversations about various things. People that remembered me stared as they passed our table. They looked at me and i noticed the whispering. why me..
    "Because you're special!"
   "Huh? What the..."
    "That was out of nowhere..."
    "Well, you said 'Why me.'"
    "I said that out loud?" i looked around to see if anyone else heard me. Did she just read my mind?
   "Well...I'm not sure..."
    We sat in silence for a moment, and it was awkward. After a little while, we finally started to talk again. From afar, i spotted Erik, the fawn i met at the bureau. it seems like he's a seventeen. I saw him walk into the midst of the crowded ceremony.
    After refreshments, Eloch and i left. Kero and Yolandsa were still in dispute, but it was mostly over Yolandsa's jealousy. Kero explained to me that you can't control your feelings about a person, but she doesn’t seem to understand or accept the concept. I wanted to apologize to her again, but Eloch told me that it wasn't worth it, and i agreed. I just felt so bad that i tore them apart like that, and i didn't even mean to. They had been courting for at least two seasons and that's long for people my age...and what was that voice i was hearing? Who was that? And why can't i remember this person? i need to calm down.
    When i got back home, i sat in the hot spring and played my flute to clear my mind. i boiled cinnamon and rose petals and took in the sweet aromas as it filled the cave. The smell was both spicy and sweet, it was enchanting. As soon as i got out, it entranced me, and i felt into sleep.


Chapter 7

i woke up in the mountain lagoon, feeling both refreshed and renewed. maybe i should sleep there more often. the air smelled sweet and fresh, just like the pure water pool. the oysters released thier pearls which floated to the surface of the water. i thanked them and collected them, dropping in a piece of fruit as a thank you. i found a note tied to the tree. it read:

i had some things to do at home.
see you again soon.

i walked back to the cave and saw the mice were back in the tree. i put on some clean clothes when i got in. The thought of Cascade still crossed my mind. with the way she treated me, so horribly, i shouldn't miss her so much, but i do. she is my "twin sister" after all. but that's no excuse to hurt somebody like that. i wish she hadn't been bothered by the fact that i was stronger. why did she always pick at me for having more developed powers, she didn't pick at our teachers or elders for it? and besides, she was developed in every other way, why hurt me for the only thing i have that makes me special. i wish i wasn't special at all. she took so much pride in being "older" than me, even though she really isnt. they never told her that i cloned her in the womb, and created her, they only told her that she came out first. they didn't tell her that she was gripping my ankle as they were pulling us out, it's said that it's a sign that she needed me, but maybe it was really a sign of betrayal.. she held on so tight, maybe she never wanted me to go. or maybe she was trying to hurt me.. i need to stop thinking about this.
   i wandered off into the woods, collecting fruits, and Cascada was still lurking around in the outskirts of my mind. i went back to the cave and splashed my face with the cool spring water.  i need to clear my mind... i went and got my bow and arrows thenm went to the village bureau.


i walked up to the registration counter. there was a fawn running the register and quivered at the sight of me. i guess she knows who i am too.. i'm not surprised, i guess. She gulped, "h-how may i help you?" i would like to get my archer's tag and test for rank 20 in pishing, but maybe i should just completely test out for sword mastery. i guess i'll do them all.
   "i would like to apply for sword mastery, arch's and fishing tag, please."
   She stamped a sheet of paper and held it up to me, pointing over to the hallway at the left with a shaking hand. "right this way." i walked on over to the hallway, feeling a little down at the fact that she felt i was a threat.
   after a dragging trail down the hallway, i found the archery room. about 5 minutes later, the evaluations started. i looked around to see the others trying to get thier tags. there were a few trolls, they were really buff and muscular, you could tell they were going to be warriors. there were a sparse number of elves, some centaurs, cyclops', and fawns. they were all male. one of them decided it would be a good idea to trip me. he was uncanningly enraged when i walked straight through his foot. he broke his bow and arrows, roaring in anger and charged toward me, growing even more furious when i still stood there like a phantom and he ran himself into a wall. he was eventually disqualified for breaking his equipment, causing him to be inelidgable.
   the instructor had us shoot different ranges of targets and sooner or later it was only me and a Centaur from Decaya. he glared at me. "I will beat you." he said.
   I hope you know this isn't a competition. This is for our liscence ranks and nothing else."
   "Trust me, this is a competition. i am not going to lose to some puny, little, Elvin girl."
   "Want to make a bet?"
   "Ha Ha Ha! You are foolish. i will bet you my best goat and 100 gold currency."
   "I'll give you my entire house if my time is better than yours. I'll give you my home and 200 gold currency if you get your liscence and i don't."
   "It's a deal." the instructor called him up first. the final test was to shoot 10 targets from 200 units away in less than 15 seconds. the time is recorded on your tag, which is a button you pin onto something that you wear, such as a tunic, boot, or bag.  this cocky centaur gloated his on a platinum plated sash.
   He steadied his bow.
   He picked up one arrow.
   He began shooting at the targets one by one.
"TIME!" shouted the instructor. "11.7 seconds."
   "I bet you can't beat that, 'elf girl.'" he laughed, as did everyone else.
   "Well, you bet." i walked over to the dotted line and stood in front of the middle of the range. i picked up 10 arrows and hooked them onto my bow all at once.
   "What are you doing? what a stupid decision. This little speck thinks she can shoot all 10 targets at once! theyr'e just going to fall!" they all snickered at me once more.
i ignored it.
i kept my focus and checked the angles briefly.
    "Go!" the instructor yelled. "TIME! .2 seconds." he took a double take at the timer. every jaw in the room dropped. i turned around and walked up to the centaur. "it appears you owe me 100 gold coins and a goat, sir.
   "No, it appears i do not." he snooted. "i pay to no one."
   "You made a bet. Stay true."
   "Why should i?" quiet, mocking laughter lingered in the background.
   I brushed my hair with my fingers to behind my ears, revealing them. "i could kill you, sir." i smiled and batted my eyelashes.
   He took the gold from the pocket in his sash as the room silenced. The coins clanked together as he dropped them softly into my hand. "here is the gold..."
   "Tell me where your home is."
   "—tell me."
   "It is the only orange building in Decaya."
   I teleported us both to Decaya, conveniently to infront of his house. "Show me your goat."
   "Here." he walked over a young gray goat, shimmering in youth, with blac horns and hooves.
   I took the leash and teleported us back to the bureau. everyong was staring at us. "Thanks!" i exlaimed happily. "Oh, and my name's Esperanza!" i skipped away. 100 coins, wow. i wonder if i'll get any more good bucks today.. was that even luck? oh well, money is money.  i entered the fishing course. i practically breezed through it. they tested us with spears, nets, safety and rods. i passed the final test with 10 minutes. the time limit was at most to be an hour, and i caught the biggest fish. i felt really proud of myself. i think it was the choice of bait, it was something i made myself. A fawn ran up to me after the evaluation.
   "How did you catch that fish so fast! I must know!"
   "It was a little thing i made up, that's all."
   "What did you do!? Oh—i'm so sorry, i didn't mean to be so rude. My name is Erik, i'm from Thorn Valley." He held out his hand.
   I smiled and shook his hand. "My name is Esperanza." it was nice to meet a friendly face. "I put a mixture of different herbs, the kind you find in the water, then strengthen thier scent with bluvines by wrapping them in it. the sent appeals to the senses, including that bluvines glow in the water, which attracts fish quickly."
   "Wow, that's a really great idea! I wont tell anyone, i promise!"
   "thanks," i laughed. "well, i have to go to sword mastery now, so i guess maybe i'll see you... uh.. later?"
   "Sure!" he smiled "well bye!" he frolicked away.
   I walked to the door of the sword room and looked down at the floor. i took a deep breath, then walked in. i was nervous. it was a blank stage in an empty room. was i the only one testing for mastery? a man walked in from behind a curtain and greeted me. "ah-ha!" he said theatrically. "you must be the feared 'Esperanza.' I;m Keruu, the Sword Master." he walked towards me slowly. "I'm surprised to see you here, yet at the same time, i'm not."
    "Why do you say that?" i asked, giving him a skeptical raise of a single brow.
   "No one's ever entered through these doors hoping to master the art of the Sword. The only way to earn the elblem of Sword Mastery is meerly to touch me with the tip of a sword, only once. A task so very simple, yet no one has ever completed in all 700 of my years."
   "I'm up to the challenge, sir. i think i can possibly do that. Although, this is purely for recreation and my own personal satisfaction. you could say that i meerly 'collect' tags. though no one has to know, i would love to share your title."
   "Very well. You are a very witty girl." He tossed me a sword. "but, let's make this fair: no powers, but tricks are always welcome."
   I smiled. "Fair enough."
   "Begin!" He stabbed his sword at me and i blocked his every hit, as did he to me. left, right, up, down, around, and everywhere, at the blink of an eye; this man was as quick as i was. He jabbed, i dodged, but only barely. I sliced, he blocked it. it was a two hour spar, it was so much fun. i think he was starting to get tired out, and soon enough, i had him flustered. because he was getting weaker, i used a trick to mess with him, only slightly. he tried to get me, but i flipped my sword so that when he swept his back, he tapped the handle, which is a feel similar to my boot, thinking that i would have been beat. i swooped around and gently touched the sword to the tip of his nose.
   "i win."
   "you do." he smiled and shook my hand. "i'm proud of you. i knew you could do it."
   "thank you for having faith in me, Keruu." I smiled.
   "You're very welcome." He bowed. "Please, come back so we can spar again, just for fun. You're the only real challenge i've had in ages, it gets boring sitting in this empty old room!" we both laughed. he walked me to the door and opened it for me. "until we meet meet again."
   "For sure." I smiled, and waved goodbye.
I went to the registration counter. The girl who was working it left me a bag on the front desk and i spotted her hiding behind a bookcase. "I'm not going to hurt you.. i wish you wouldn't hide..." i shook my head and watched the gound, taking my bag of tags and my new goat as i left the bureau.
   I began walking to the cafe closer to the village. There was one on the outskirts calle "Melt." I left to it. As i walked up to the bar and sat down, i noticed Eloch was here, writing and eating wheat toast with a cup of coffee. the cafe was very dim-lit, i noticed her eyes glowing. i was happy, i went over and said hi.
   "How are you?" she looked up and smiled. "Sit down! Heeheehee!" she giggled as she forcefully shoved a slice of toast into my sleeve.
   "huh?.." i took it out and set it on the table, then sat next to her. "I'm pretty good." i laughed, brushing the crumbs from my arm. "i got some tags today and won a bet. so i've got 100 gold and a goat."
   "sounds pretty nifty! What tags did you get?"
   "archery, fishing, and sword mastery." i took them out of the tiny sack and showed her.
   "sword Mastery?! that's amazing! it's probably going to be all over the news!"
   "Oh, I really hope not.. all i need is one more reason for people to fear me..."
   "No! Its good news! Gooood!" I began to yawn and Eloch shoved a piece of toast into my mouth. "See, Good! Like toast! Heeheehee!"
   I coughed a little and the toast fell onto the table, quite pitifully. we looked down at it, then started to laugh. "Eloch, you amaze me." i brushed my hair from my face. "Do you think i'll really make the news?"
   "Yes, definately. I do. No one has ever beat Sword Mastery. True story." She wrote something down onto her paper.
   "Hmmm..." i ate a piece of toast, conveniently and unnknowingly the one i just coughed up. what if i did get onto the news.. what if it does good and not bad? i could finally get the chance to explain to people that i'm not as bad as everyone thinks, that i'm a good person! i don't know.. i'll just not think about it. i leaned my chin onto my hand.
   "Well, i'm going to have to leave soon, i have to stop at the store and do some things at home."
  "Aw, alright.."
   "Oh! are you going to Orientation tomorrow for Classes?"
  "Oh! Yeah! I had forgotten almost entirely. i'll be there." i grinned.
   "Ok, well then i'll see you tomorrow!" She places some coins on the table to pay for her food.
   We walked out at the same time, but i noticed her fly away in the form of a bird. i gasped in amazement. eloch is a shapeshifter?


   I was alking through the village and i passed Eloch's home. I had an urge to poke the giant mushroom, but i held it back. i kickd a rock into the grass then over to the Village Centre as i walked. I watched the flames burning brightly. there must be a Committee Meeting tonight. i walked to the pillar to readthe discussion issues.

  • village safety
  • classes and schedualing
  • village garden
  • new bans
new bans? who are they going to ban? i chose not to let my curiosity overtake me and continued onto my usual route home. i was slightly excited for tomorrow. the first day of classes.  


Chapter 6

I went outside and Eloch followed. the ground was wet and soggy. it was dark outside, but the mushrooms glowed and glimmered, highlighting the forest floor blue. the smell of fresh rain misted through the air. i could feel the energy of the plants pacingly growing. a moon peaked from behind a cloud, i could see the reflection in the waterfall. i stepped over a bunch of puddles over to the big tree, then brought Eloch along with me to the side of the mountain. we stood before the narrow path, jagged with pebbles. "here's the path." i pushed my hair back behind me. "You ready? it's gonna be a little wet...but you'll be fine, right?"
   Eloch messed with her hair. "yep! lets go!"
   I led her up the path as it zig-zagged up the mountain. i could hear little chirps from the crickets and blue foxes passed by a couple times. we stopped a couple times for Eloch to talk to a group of Ursa cubs then once more when we found a rabbit stuck in a thornbush. she had some kind of conversation with it; she said the rabbit had been in a painful relationship and that lizards creep her out. sooner than we knew it, we came to a small cave; small enough we had to crouch down to go through the entrance. "This is where we go to get to the fruit. but trust me, it's worth it. this little cavern is definately a site to see." Eloch nodded and followed me in.
   "woah -this is beautiful." Eloch examined the crystal paradise around her in awe and admiration.
the little cave was covered from edge to edge in glowing crystals and aura stones. blue lilies sprouted from the between the cracks in the ground and glistening puddles shined with reflections. green and yellow fireflies blinked back and forth in the tunnel. i could see the light at the end and crawled faster along with eloch.Little glowing fish leaped up to greet us. 
   we crawled out, one after the other. "here it is." it was a small lagoon in the side of a mountain. there was a tree with a striking resemblence of a palm tree, with raindrop-sha[ed blue and purple fruits hanging from its top. there were 3 bushes next to each other, one had the star shaped fruits, the others were shaped like crescent moons, the last like suns. the leaves were jeweltoned emerald green. there was a little pool of water beneat the tree, there were little clams and oysters resting at the bottom in all sorts of beautiful, vibrant, glowing colors. the moon reflected on the grlowing water as we gazed out at the beautiful view of the sea and shore. weeping moon bell flowers pouted over the cavern entrance the mountain stones gated us in. "its probably the most beautiful place in the entire land."
   "it is beautiful. how did you get so lucky, to find a mountain and live in it? your cave is beautiful, and you practically have your own private beach." She picked off a Star and ate it.
   "i guess being lonesome has its upsides.. but, you're welcome here whenever you want, remember? whatever's mine is yours." I picked off a Crescent Moon as we exchanged smiles, then ate together. We stood by the stone and looked at the Rainbow Sea. It was so late and we were both so tired. we watched the water until we dazed away.


Chapter 5

Eloch and i talked almost the whole night, 
then we both parted ways and went home.
i slept soundly through the night.

   i woke up and walked outside. i looked over to the east, then the west. i sighed before i soon readied myself, and went to bathe in the waterfall. once more, and as usual, i began to think to myself.  i am lonely. how exactly did i end up being so lonely? although, even when life was normal for me, or as close to that as it could be, i was also lonely then, too. i wonder how Cascada's doing.. What if she's lonely too? i smoothed down my hair and stepped out from the waterfall, tip-toeing back into my cave. i hope she's alright... i slipped on a pair of stockings, a skirt and my boots and laced them closed.

Ri-i-i-i-i-i-eeng! Rieeeeeng!

   The mice had rang the bell. i covered my torso with my deep brown tresses, waving and wet as it was. it hung far past my knees. i rushed outside. "What seems to be the problem, my dear mice?"
   The tiny mice began to squeak and squiggle, bursting into chatter. Mallory spoke up. "Esperanza... we can't get food. This cat chased us away and all that we could manage to get was a walnut, and that will only feed a couple of the little ones...can you help us?"
    "Of course, come in." I stepped back up into the cave. They followed after me, hopping, and jumping up and down. i took down the shelf of food i had and set it down on the ground to their level. "Take whatever you want." They squealed and scurried, taking a good portion of the dried fruit.
   "I still don't know how i can thank you."
   "It's nothing, really."
   She smiled and pounced away.
   I went back in and laced up my vest.  i want to go somewhere today... i think i want fish. I'll go fishing! i filled my bag with a few things i deemed necessary: my flute, some dried fruit and nuts, my knife, my fishing rod and a harpoon. i tied my hair up halfway back and braided the top half. i started to walk out from the cave until i stumbled after spotting a young mouse. i stopped in my tracks. that was really close. "What are you doing all the way over here? you alright?"
    "Yes..." she said quietly"I,well, i just wanted to tell you something."
    I knelt down and let her crawl onto my hand. "What did you want me to know?"
   "Well, Esperanza...i..i-i stole from you..." she looked away. "and I'm sorry..."
    I was completely caught off guard. i didn't realized any of my belongings had escaped from my view. "You did?" i asked.
   "Yes.. i did..." she pulled out a kernel of corn from behind her back. "I'm sorry, i really am!" she shut her eyes tight as she held it towards me.
   I giggled. "Mela, its only a kernel of corn. It is of no use to me anyhow. i don't even have much of a liking for corn! haha!" i smiled.
   "So.. i can keep it?"
   "Yes, of course." i laughed. "and you can even eat it, too!"
   "Thank you Ranza!" she hugged my thumb. "can i really eat it?"
    "Yes." i smiled.
    I laughed and let her down from my hand and she hopped down into the hole in the tree.
    I finally began my journey down to the Rainbow sea. when i thought about it, it really wasn't much of a journey at all. the only journey-like thing about it is that i have to make sure no one sees me, or they'll find out where I've been living. i decided to take the long way.
    As i finally got there, the sun was in just the right position for me to see every single ripple in the water. i could see every beautifully vibrant hue of the sea water, making the meaning of it's name so rightfully apparent. i sat on the cliff and strung up my rod, and cast it out.
    i hung my legs over the edge of the cliff. as i leaned foreward, one side of my hair drifted along with me. i felt a tug  and dragged it up the rod. i had caught a catfish, my very favorite to eat. i stabbed it and made sure it was down, then wrapped it in the biggest leaf i could find. soon enough, i reloaded my rod and cast out again. i hummed a subtle tune that i normally play with my flute, and as i reeled in yet another fish, i noticed a sea shell sitting near me. it highly resembled an ocarina. i had always wanted one, so i stashed it.
   the sun shown down heating the sea with all it's might. i left as the fish seeked shelters under rocks and caverns, and shadows by the trees as the sea became too warm. today the clouds moved fast. there's a storm coming. i can sense it. i took quicker steps back to the cave. i was walking as fast as i could until a blueberry smacked me right in the middle of my forehead. i wiped it off with my hand. "what the..."
   "heeheehee!" i knew that giggle anywhere. there was eloch poached on a tree branch, holding a bamboo pipe and a bag of blueberries. "Gotcha!!"
    I smiled. "wow, a blueberry?" we laughed as i walked up to her. she jumped down from the tree and smiled to me. "how are you today, eloch?"
   "I'm just dandy! How about you?"
    dandy? "I'm fine. i just caught a few fish." maybe i should invite her over for dinner...she will find out where i live though... but, i find her to be a trustworthy person, but what will she thinks after she sees where i really live? what if she doesnt like me anymore... maybe i should stop thinking so negative, or maybe i should stop thinking alltogether... but what if she says no? damn it! no. I'll ask her. i trust her and i want to show her that. but we just met... maybe I'm taking this too seriously.I've never really had a friend, at least not since.. well, actually, never. i never had any real friends. i had my sister and of course the animals... well, Eloch is sort of an animal... ugh, I'm so heartless! i can't believe i just thought that to myself. there's a storm coming... a cave is much safer than a mushroom. maybe she could sleep here tonight. wait, no no no... what am i thinking? who would want to sleep in a cave? i think too much...I'm gonna go out on a thin limb here. here goes nothing... "Would you like to come over for dinner?" please say yes, please say yes!
   "Sure!" she grinned, "Sounds great!"
   Yay!! my whole body tingled in a burst of excitement. "alright, well, lets go!" I tried not to blush, but i was so happy she accepted my invitation. i had never had someone over before. "I'll lead the way." we started our walk down the way, weaving through trees and tripping in ditches, making jokes and laughing all the way there. the darker clouds began to roll in faster as we arrived. i brushed away a sheet of leaves and let her walkin under them. "Well, ehre's m home..." i hope she likes it...
   "Waaah-ow!" she blinked her eyes twice and looked from one side to the other. "it's amazing..."
   In my mind, i was squealing with glee, but humbly smiling on the outside. "Thank you, i like to think the same."
   Eloch walked around the area. she ran her hand through the waterfall and stroked it with her finger, then took in the mountain spring mist. she signed in relief. "it must be like heaven living here."

Ring-a-ling-ling! Ring Ring!

"what was that?"
   "The family of mice." i told her. "I gave them a bbell and said to ring it whenever they need me." i pointed to the bell and we joined in walking to the tree. "yes?" i said to them.
   Mela hopped out from the hole. "Ranza who's that?"
   Eloch smiled at her, squeaked, wiggled her nose, and squeaked again, waving to her.
   Mela's face lit up. "Nice to meet you, Eloch, I'm Mela!"
   "Nice to meet you too."she smiled.
   Mallory popped out of the hole. sniff-sniff, "it smells like rain out here..." sniff-sniff "anyways...we were curious to know if we could help you with anything. and.. if i could stay..."
    "What do you mean, 'if you can stay?'"
    "Well,mom left and so did everyone else...and the only ones of us who are still here are me, Mela and Muna, but they're leaving too. but..i-i really like it here...can i stay? please?"
    "Of course you can. you can stay forever if you'd like, i don't mind."
     "Thank you!" she squealed.
    Thunder pounded through the ari. "Welcome." i heard it againa nd it quickly began to drizzle. a cold breeze chizzled the air. "Mallory, Mela, Muna...you guys should sleep in the cave tonight. it's going to storm."
   They nodded and carried out their nest from the hole. Eloch looked at me. I picked up the nest with the three mice sitting inside and brought them in, gently setting down the nest on the cave floor.
   I pulled out a cushion from under my bed and motioned for Eloch to sit. i slid the mouse nest near my bed and let them feast on some left over fruit. Eloch explored the cave with her eyes. i took out my knife and the fish i caught. "Which one would you like?" i unwrapped each one and set them out for her to choose what she watned. she pointed out the catfish. that was my favorite as well.
   i set up my stove and let it heat up as i cut and seasoned the fish. she was still looking around. i fried the fish with vegetables.  i hope she likes this. i concentrated impeckably on not cooking it too long and making sure the tea didn't overboil. i finally finished and put them on a dish, as the warm tea was pured into cups with honey. she took in the herbal scents as i set up a tray for her to eat on and some utensils. "i know it isn't much, or fancy, or anything...but i hope you like it." Eloch smiled at me and began to eat. I began cooking for myself and joined her.
   i could hear the rain tapping on the leaves outside. a little mist blew in from time to time, making the fire sizzle and steam. it was chilly and humid outside, but inside the cave, it was warm from the hot spring. the fire stayed bright as the day turned to night. eloch and i talked the entire time. everything rom animals to marketing, harvesting and more. eventually, the subject of Classes came about. "So, are you going to Classes?"
   "I don't know yet." she sighed. "probably. i havent paid my tuition yet." she brushed her bangs from her eyes. "are you going?"
   "Yeah, i am his year. i haven't paid my tuition yet, either."
   "What group are you in?"
   "16th rotations."
   "me too! heeheehee!"
   "Ha, yeah." i looked over at the mice and they were sleeping. i created a forcefield around them and placed an aura stone in the nest to keep the magic alight. Mela snuggled closely to Mallory. "So, did you go to classes last year?"
    "Yeah, I've gone every year since i came here."
    "Well,how is it? Do you like it? What's it like?" my eyes widened as curiousity leaped up my spine.
   "its a good oppourtunity, i can't say i 'like' it, but its not bad."
    i poured us both another cup of tea.  "Hmm...what do you do there?" i hadn't been to Classes in forever.
   "it really depends. last year, we couldnt choose what we wanted to take. everyone had to do the same thing and we had an hour break to go and do whatever we pleased. this year, for us, is supposed to be totally different." she sipped some tea and set the cup on the ground. "this year, we get to choose what we want to take for our classes, so it should be fun. for the first three days we have schedualling, then it should be normal. i think it sounds like fun."
   "So do i. i wonder if they have an art class, or archery...or scribing or music..."
   "They have all of those. I'm doing scribing for sure, i love to write."
   "As do i, i love to create poems and stories."
   "i love writing stories. maybe one day, i will finally finish one." we laughed together. i knew what she meant. most of the stories i started were unfinished as well.
    a loud burst of thunder struck on the other side of the mountain. the sound echoed through to my side and awoke the sleeping mice. "its getting late..." Eloch implide scratching her head. "...but its raining so hard, theres so much lighting and wind..."
   Here's my chance! Go for it! "y-you can stay with me, here, tonight--if you want to... i dont want you to get hurt or anything."
   "Really? I can stay here?"
   "Yeah, if you want to..."
    "alright!" She smiled widely. "i didn't expect that, since we just met...i would have never though i'd be this welcomed! Heeheehee!"
   "its fine with me" i laughed. "you can come over when ever you want!"
   We sat near the opening of the cave and watched the rain fall. it hit the puddles on the ground making ripples and waves. soft tapping sounds accompanied the whispering wind, soothing as it was. a leaf fluttered down from the tree and landed in the center of a puddle.
   It was pretty late, but neither of us were tired. Eloch was fiddling around with her necklace, i was relacing my boots for the seventh time. we may not have been tired, but we were most definately bored. then i began thinking. its been a while since we've eaten. maybe we could eat again. "are you hungry?"
   "Eh, yeah, kinda." she was playing with her hair.
   "Alright, I'll make something." i went and got some rice i had cooled and mixed in some milk and cinnamon sugar. Got some fruit and put it all in a separate bowls, then split the portions and brought them back up front to where we were sitting. Eloch was reading something. it remains a mystery to me as from where she got a book from. "Well, here's something..I'm not sure what to call it. it's just a little sweet something i make on occassion." i set the bowls down and pointed to the bowl of fruit. "and there's some apples, purpleberries, cantaloup, watermelon, and this new fruit I've found that i call 'stars.' maybe you'll like them." i smiled hopefully.
   I could see her closely examining the star as she picked it up. she smelled it then ate it. "Wow! i like it!" her eyes were rich in pleasure and excitement. "its sweet, but kinda citrusy, but it tastes like it has some spice to it too...like, it hits all of your sences, like BAM!"
   I jumped as she screamed, startled, but i laughed. "They're my favorite fruit." I looked back to check on the mice; still sound asleep. "I have never sold them, though."
   "Why not?! you could make a fortune from these! They're great!"
   "Yeah, but they're kind of secret...I'm the only one who knows where they grow. There's a few other fruits i have like that, too." The rain began to slow down, turning from a blurry sheet to little sporadic spots. "i could show you, if you'd like."
   "Sure, sounds like fun! and i wont tell." she smiled.
   "Alright, lets go!" i got up and noticed the rain had siesed. just in time.


Chapter 4

   A few days later, i awoke. I went through my usual daily things. I thought alot today too, mostly about my sister. I miss her so much, the good things, but i'm still trying not to think about it so much. i wonder where she is right now...i wonder what she's doing... i wonder if she's alright... i wonder if she's changed at all... i better not think about it too much.
   The time for the next Gathering is approaching. i grabbed some clothes and walked warily through the woods and swiftly through the village and soon came to the registration counter. I looked around to make sure no one was around and quickly signed the papers. As i noticed another elf near by, i disappeared into a thin cloud of lavender smoke, teleporting  myself into the tree i normally sat in on this day. I gazed at the village from above. there wasn''t many people, so i decided to start walking around.
   I trotted down the dirt paths and roads, looking around at all of the houses and people. I spotted a little mushroom shaped house in a patch of grass. It had little round windows and a white pickett fence. it caught my eye just at a glance. All of the other homes were mostly cabins, huts or stone. Now I'm beginning to wonder about that whimsical little mushroom house.
   I finally began my way home, back through the woods again, but i almost i Had heard my name. my hears perked up as i thought I'd heard it again. "Esperanza" i listened deeper for closer reference. "Esperanza!" they called again. the voice sounded really familiar, but i just couldn't pin point it.
   I heard footsteps swiftly approaching, growing closer and closer to me. I switched my direction hoping to myself that they'd lose out. The footsteps stopped, and i sighed with relief. i sat against the wall of the trading center, thinking everything would be fine. and it was, until Kero dropped down from the roof. I gasped and shut my eyes tight, becoming transparent in the product of my own nervosa. I didn't want him to see me. "Esperanza, it's just me..." he unknowing put his hand on my leg, frightened and uncomfortable, i blushed and turned back into color. He did the same when he noticed his hand placed on my thigh and jerked it back, scratching his head awkwardly. "sorry about that.." he looked away. i nodded to tell him it was alright. "I...I saw you walking and i just...i thought I'd just, ya know, say hi." I laughed subtly at his stuttering and the way his voiced cracked between pitches.
   "I didn't think you wanted to see me..." i said still sitting on the ground. i poked my index fingers together.
   "Well, why wouldn't i want to see you?" he asked almost as if he was completely oblivious. is this some sort of act?
   "Because you know who i am."
   "Yeah, you told me, right? You're Esperanza!"
   I smacked myself right in the face. why was he acting this way? "...well, you felt my earrings-"
   He excitedly cut me off. "I know! There are so many! I was so in awe of how powerful you were! Almost scared, really. I never thought someone so small and so timid could be so strong!"
    No wonder he seemed oblivious. he was! And I was feeling embarrassed over nothing. i feel entirely stupid at this point in time. i went back to my sense, attempting to forget i was ever upset, since he wasn't upset at all. "Thanks, haha!" I should have know. now that i think of it, he didn't seem to have even originated from this  region. his accent is a little different, his skin texture is different too, its soft all beside his hands; the characteristic of a common fisherman. He did say he lived by the sea.. his cheek bones rose high, but not enough to slant his eyes. His complexion is a pink-tan, obviously by the sun which highlighted his thick and wavy hair, blowing like the ocean. He was tall and slender, yet muscular, just effortlessly. his eyebrows curved perfectly to the lines of his face, and is lips were just full enough. If he didn't know who i was, then there is only one explanation for where his home is. it has to be Westshell Island. an island isolated in the far west green of the rainbow sea, that explains the color of his eyes.  there are no other islands around it and its far from most any land. its a beautiful place built on the wandering remains of a gargantuan clam shell. the other half of it had floated off to the opposite side of the sea, simply known as Eastshell island. This thought may seem like it took long, but i only thought about it for a second. it's so easy to tell where someone is from, just because i've seen so many people. "Where are you from, Kero? I'm just curious."
   "Westshell island. How about you?"
   i knew it. "I'm from Crescentwood." i got up from the ground and he followed. we engaged in more conversation until we heard the Horn blow.
   "The Gatherings are starting!" He squealed in excitement. it reminded me of a little girl getting her first taste of warm honey. i remember when i did. "Are you going?" his eyes widened as his smile grew at the same pace.
   "Why not?"
   "Because, i can't."
    "Because, Just.. i don't want to talk about it."
   "Oh.. alright, i understand."
   "You really don't..." I caught myself before i said anything further. he looked at me a bit confused, leaning his head down and kicked a pebble across the ground as we walked. i felt bad for snappin gat him and apolgized. i brushed my hair out of my face, but that didn't help the guilt.
   "Well, i'll see you later then...i-i guess..." and he walked off into the distance. i walked the opposite way.


   i paced down the alleyway and kicked a pebble along the way. it skipped and hopped like little crickes. as i neard the end of the alley, the pebble had bounced off and escaped into a patch of grass. i didn't bother to go find it.
   i started to walk ack the way i came and there was that little mushroom house, again. i was still curious about that little house, who lived in it and what it could be about. it was such a mystery to me. i crept closer and closer. i wonder what happens when i touch it...
    i rose to my toes and poked the top of the mushroom, and it turned from a glowing pink, to a blue-green. my eyes grew large as i poked it again, to see that it had now changed over to a bright and shining orange. i giggled with glee and continued to amuse myself, poking this house perpetually until i noticed in my periferral vision, a small child staring over my way. i blushed in embarrassment and slowly walked away. i was destination-set as i went down the road, staring at it most of the way. i hadn't realized where exactly i was walking and i didn't know i was as close to The Gathering as i really was. An officer saw me and looked down to his wallet, and back up at me. "Excuse me, Miss! Miss!" I snapped away in a cloud of dust in fear he would arrest me.  that was a close one. i had teleported to the area just behind the village gates. i conveniently started on my way back home.
   Its lonely, cold, bleak and dark. not a creature was lurking the ground and not even a moon in the sky. dark gray and purple coulds blanketted the night sky. aura stones lit the path home and i collected some for myself, dragging my feet against the dirt making thick lines to follow after me. i heard a few crickets chirping in the night, singing thier lullaby to the trees. i came across a chipmunk crawling across the clovers. i nelt down and give it a purpleberry i'd picked from a tree. all of a sudden i heard a swish and saw a shadowy drak figure swoop across my vision. it sounded like an animal. i followed after the creature, leaving the chipmunk behind. it moved swiftly through the forest and had animal like movements, but i was sure it was more of a being such as i, rather than an animal. i could sense it. the creature began making animal calls, many of them. i could have sworn i'd heard a hawk, a chipmunk, a mouse, cat, dog, and even possibly a frog. i turned around to see the shadow behind the leaf, thier two eyes glowed like a scavenger in the night. i pulled down the leave warrily and she spoke to me. "heeheehee! You found me!" she clamped a closepin onto my nose and hopped away. OUCH!? my nose turned red in its pain as i ripped off the clip from my face. i couldn't tell whether or not i was angry, enticed, or amused. "Betcha can't catch me! heeheehee!" i was charmed by her playfullness and immediately chased after her, and i caught her yet again. "Fine, i give in." she announced, panting, and out of breath.
    I giggled at her. She was a little smaller than i and sat on all fours. she was wearing a purple shirt with a big red heart on it and a green skirt. "nice to meet ou, i think." we laughed. "whats ypur name?"
   "Eloch, what's yours?"
   "pleased to meet you, Esperanza." she shook my hand. "Heehee!" she was a cute one.
   Eloch had perfect brown skin and dark brown hair, it was a pretty much. she had the face of a person, but the ears of an animal. her hair was in a short, bob-like style and her eyes were yellow and glowing at night, but i'm sure they're brown during the day. she had a spacey little gap between her two front teeth and her insisors were short, but sharp, fangs. She had a long tail with a small tuft of hair on the ends, like the light tufts near her ears. They were sort of a mix between animal ears and elf ears.she had double earings on the tips of her ears. one dangled with a yellow bead and the other was brown. the yellow ones were a tear drop shape. she was an animal specialist. she also wore a necklace with the land's emblem and an aura crystal. there must be something important about her. i wonder what it is...
   "Eloch looked at me with a hint of curiousity in her eyes. "why aren't you at the gathering?"
   "I can't go."
   "Well, why not?"
   "I'm...banned." i sighed and ran my hand through my hair.
   "So am i."
   "Really? How come?"
   "Because i'm 'different.'" she sat up and slumped over. "Somehow, the king favors me for my talent to talk to animals and my power towards them, but the Village i live in, wont accept me." she twirled the emblem on her necklace. "My mother was mix between and elvin and a fawn and my father was an elvin and centaur mix. together, the two of them, and i'm assuming a variety of eccentric recessive traits, created me. i naturally look Elvin, if i want. I can disguise myself, quite easily actually. bit i still look different, or at least that's what i've been told. my parents were sacrificed a few villages over after a war between our village, Seriana and the centuarian Village of Koriann. I managed to escape before they got to me. i dug a tunnel all the way from Koriann, to here, where i happened to hit my head on a mushroom attempting to come up from the ground. You know that glowing mushroom cottage in the village?"
    "Yeah, i love that house. I just noticed it today!"
    "That's my house. I hollowed it out and made it my home when i was about 5."
     "You only noticed it now? Its been there for about 11 ears. Heehee! Now that i think of it, i did just cut the grass. it was kind of hidden..." she laughed.
   I laughed along with her. "I'm kind of an outcast.. i've been banned since i was really young. me and my sister got into a fight at classes and i may have overdone it-"
   "I've heard about that."
   I gulped. "i bet..."
    "You taught her a lesson, i heard. the hard way... but i have also heard she had got you to the point where you really had too." She looked at my ears then over to my earrings. "Wow.. You really are her."
   But she wasnt scared of me. she looked at mee in the eyes and smiled. i couldn't help but smile back. i ws surprised at myself. i cant believe how friendly she was and how open i was with her. we had just met today, and we are talking and even lauging together. it feels like things are really getting better.. i'm excited about this, i think i made a friend.

Chapter 3

A tear ran down my cheek, like a crack in my face. i rolled away my wheelbarrow all the way down to the mountain side. i brought everything i had and undressed and sat in the hot spring in my cave. i couldnt help myself, and began to cry a little. i thought to myself, why me? why did i have these powers? i hate them...they say when you have power, people look up to you and respect you...but they don't do that for me. they're afraid of me, the look down on me, outcast me... you would think they would be proud of someone, and Elvin especially and of my age to have mastered every element and gone over and past all expectations... i have learned powers that most people have to inherit... having mastered every power at its highest level by the age of 9, you would think they would respect how hard i worked. i may have learned my powers out of pure curiosity, but that doesnt make it wrong... i want to know what i did wrong...
   i hugged my knees and brushed my hair out of my face, letting it sink down into the water. it was warm, almost hot, but not so hot that it wasn't calming. Just thinking about that boy, Kero, and how he almost kissed me...he had only known me for a few hours, and he may have actually liked me...i think... i shouldn't have gotten my hopes up, something always goes wrong.
   i stepped out of the water and dried myself off. i looked down at my feet and over to my bag. i picked up my new archery set and slid my hand across the wood of the bow and my finger along the detail of the grip. i picked up one of the arrows and touched my finger to the tip, only lightly, but it still drew blood. i've never touched an arrow so shar, i was curious to try it out. maybe later...
   i' thinking of going to Classes. Classes, like the other Elves my age. I'm longing to just be a part of something, why not school? The sign up is before the next gathering, so i'll have to be quick since i'm band from them.
   I layed down in a soft clover patch, just outside of my cave. i watched the two moons glow in the endless sky. tonight it was a deep purple-blue like the west end of the Rainbow Sea.
   I blew on my finger and drew pictures in the air with smoke. i drew a rose, and i blew it away. i drew another picture, one of a woman or girl. It was my sister, Cascada.
   Long ago, Cascada and i were separated. After the fight between our parents...we were adopted by a couple from this Village, called Crescentwood. When we were little, we started to play with our magic. We figured out how to make ice and fire, water, how to grow trees and grass, and to create waves and soon even windstorms. we are twins, but unidentical. most people think i'm much younger than her, maybe by a couple rotations, but in reality i'm hardly older. When the doctors began looking into our mother, one day they saw something remarkable. My mother, Belinda, was two months pregnant with me as they were viewing by a projector on her stomach. They watched me, as only an Unborn, managing to clone myself while in the womb. I created Cascada. They saw it happen with thier own eyes.
   As the months passed, the clone grew now at the same pase as me. it developed it's own personality, then it's own features. when we were born, we had come out with her before me, her hand was gripped tightly around my ankle. We grew up, both of us, like normal Elvin children. Well, relatively normal. She and i got along except for when it came to competition.  She was constantly angry with me for the fact that i had stronger magic than she. I began earning my earings at 5 rotations, she began earning hers at 8, which is still impressively early. Sometimes we had fights, and they always got physical. She would always challenge my abilities and say she was stronger. I told her many times, that it's not about who was or was not stronger, but she insisted on quarrelling with me anyway. she would always fight me, and she would always lose. often, our battles would last for days, weeks, on occasion. we ended up destroying our home, some trees surrounding, and even the marketplace a few times.
   When we began attending classes, our classmates and teachers were afraid of us. Casccada took pride in it, but i didn't at all want people to fear me... i wanted to be liked, i wanted friends. when we were both at  rotations, during classes, a boy; i'm unsure of his name, had started making fun of my sister. he told her "she wasn't strong enough to beat a little 'troll' like me and that she should be ashamed of herself." i didn't care what he said, i took it in and breathed it out. Cascada, on the other hand, is short tempered. she hadn't challeneged me, this time... i was doing work at the lunch counter, since i was done eating my food. i guess i didn't want to waste any time. i was daydreaming until i was woken up by hearing a huge blast. i quickly got up and blocked it with a forcefield.
   I look over, and it's Cascada. I continued working. "Cascada, right now is not the time." she kept on trying to hit me, but i just continued to work. i didn't want to fight. i had to get this flute done. She continued her efforts to distract me. After every burst of energy she shot, i could hear her panting and tiring out.
   "Why wont you fight back?!" she screamed at me.
   "I'm not finished carving my flute..." she looked at me in disgust. "We're in Classes, why must you challenge me? especially here an now, this is not the time and place..."
   "Fight me, you Troll! What? Scared you will lose?"
   "No, i'm sure i'll win, ut i don't need to be fighting with you... you're my sister, we should spend more time loving eachother and working together..." I smiled as i let down my forcefield and held my hand out to her.
   "'loving eachother,' 'working together?'...ha! 'Love.' i hate you! Someone as small and ugly as you doesn't deserve  to have magic like yours! I should. I'm tall, and beautiful, and you're just a little troll. trolls shouldn't have magic." my heart shattered in my chest as i glared at her in both sorrow and anger as tears filled my eyes. in hers, glowed pure hatred. an unruly fire, uncontained, but i still wasn't afraid. "They don't deserve to have flutes either!" She snatched my flute and burned it to a small mound of ashes on the ground. i had been working on it for so long, it was my prized possession. whiler her and her 'friends' were laughin in my pity, i struck her with a thorn blast of ice. she wailed as the pain of every frozen needle sharply stapped every unit of her body.
   "So i'm a troll, eh? Tha makes you a troll as well." i pressed the needles farther into her skin. "You...You are my twin sister. you're a part of me. If i am a troll, you are a troll." i walked closer and closer to her, nearing her face. "A filthy, stinky, weak, ugly, stubby, rank and rancid troll. Just. Like. Me." she glared at me with the deepest of disgusts. i sank them in deeper. "but, i am not a troll; and niether are you. we have been blessed with the power of magic, you should be grateful we both have it and sop worrying about who is more powerful. maybe, if you did, you could become stronger." i grew the thorn covered vines from beneath the school floor and summoned lightning upon her, wrapping the vines even more around her, pressing farther the needles through her skin, stabbing her like millions of microscopic daggers. "Learn to appreciate what you have. Stop boasting of yourself. Dont call me a troll. Quit being so selfish and Never challenge me again." i impulsivly lit the vines on fire. i watched the thorns begin to burn inside of her as she pitifully attempted to break free. the ice still unmelted, pressing farther and father.
   "Esperanza, stop!" she cried "You don't need to be doing this!" She wailed in pain "I'm your sister!" She screamed "Your sister!" Tears and blood ran down her face, and for the first time and maybe only time in my life, i didn't feel sorry.
   I had her surrounded in a vortex of everything i could throw together, she was slice, and burned, and torn as i listened to her screech in agony. "I do need to be doing this to you, becaus you are my sister. 'My sister.' Now, do you understand?" she just looked at me and cried. Deep blue flames rose from the gound as my anger grew. I screamed at her "DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
   "yes..." she sobbed and murmured.
   "yes." she said as she sniffed.
   "YES!!" she sobbed, and i let her go. the storm left, the ice melted, and the vines grew back into the ground. the lightning cleared and Cascada dropped like a sack onto the ground, wimpering pitifully, like a sick puppy. Our entire class was looking at me in awe, but i had forgotten in rage that they were even there. I looked down at her, sickened at the site.  "and by the way, Cascada," she looked up at me sadly, "Never, touch my flute." i gave her a sharp kick in the stomach. she jerked foreward and convulsed, coughing up an unhealthy load of blood. i walked away with no remorse.
   They had me contained in the Asylum for what i did, but it didn't last for long, i broke free. As i walked the streets, people feared me. they always had, but now, more than ever. the village had casted me out completely. i traveled from village to village and still couldn't find a home. everyone in the Land of the Blue Sun knows about what happened between my parents, and what happeed between me and my sister. its one of the reasons i'm an outcast.
   i cried a little, thinking of her. i was so harsh, but she deserved it... it was the only way to get it through her head. i was sick of being inferior.

i created her...
i miss her...

Chapter 2

   I woke up only moments before dawn. I put on my work clothing and boots then went outside to watch for Mallory and prepare thier new home. I placed a good amount of food in the hole under the tree and attempted to make a home-made nest for the mice. As i finished up i went back into my cave.
Dawn has arrived.
   As i grabbed my bag, Mallory came scurrying in. "You ready?" she looked up at me and sniffed.
   "Yeah, I'm ready. I was just getting some things."
   "Alright! Let's Go!"
    Mallory led me thorugh a dense valley path; i never imagined Hollowlog to be so far. We walked through another forest, it was shady and cool. It was a sweet relief from the sunrise's harsh glare. We came onto a small stream and followed down to the cozy yet crowded animal village of Hollowlog; a sweet little town full of trees, nests and burrows. We arrived at the village gate and Mallory's family were already waiting close by, all with wide and friendly smiles on thier face. I grinned back quietly and waved as they did. "Good Morning!" Mallory greeted them with hope and happiness written all over her face.
    "Morning!" They all said. I showed them to my bag and gave them some food to eat for the way back to thier new home. Mallory made her way up to my shoulder and took a seat. "Bye, Mama Muskrat!" they called out in unicent.
   "Bye!" Mama Muskrat waved us goodbye and then we were on our way. Back the way we came... The sun was all the way up by now. By the time we got home, the weather was nice and the sun had gone cooler. i let them out of my bag and showed the mouse family to tree, thier new home.
   "I hope you all like it here," i prayed to myself as i showed them the whole beneath the tree and everything in it. "I've got food and nesting supplies included in there for you already. I have to go to the Marketplace to sell some things today, so i'm going to gather food then i'll be getting ready to leave. If you need me, just ring the bell 3 times, alright?"
   "Uh-huh! Thanks again, Esperanza."
   As they went to make themselves at home, i took my bag from my cave. this one i made especially for harvesting. i stuck in my knife to the pocket of my boots and journeyed off into the woods. i watched around the ground to make sure i picked off the brightest mint leaves. I was off to the purpleberry tree and gathered enough to fill the pocket, starfruit by the rainbow sea on the opposite side of the mountain, then onion grass by the brook. i should have a good selling today,  i thought, its been awhile since my bag was this full and heavy... maybe, after today, i can sell enough to buy some better clothes...and i'm in need of a new pot too. i stopped thinking as my ear twitched; i heard the bell ringing, echoing in the distance. i rushed back to the cave hoping that nothing was wrong. "Do you guys need anything?"
   "Uh...Yeah..." the little mice mumbled. "We were wonderin'...can we play in the puddle by the mountain spring?"
   "Of course you can," I laughed, "Thank you for asking. The mountain put the spring here for anyone who wants to use it, including all of you!" I smiled to them as they cheered. I was telling them i was going to get ready to go to the Marketplace before going back into the cave to grab my wheelbarrow. i took out the wooden crates from under my bed and organized each crate to have a different item in each one: purpleberries, onion grass, starfruit, mint leaves, dried purpleberries, and star fruit slices. I put the thirty flutes i had carved out into my bag then went to the spring and bathed. I got into the most decent clothing i had, a flowing purple dress, and i let my hair loose. i looked at my skattered reflection in the half cracked mirror hung up to the cave wall. it was only a faux mirror, a contraption i'd made from quartz crystals and slate. i looked better than usual, but still not beautiful. Big, light purple eyes. My hair curled every which way all the way down to my legs, it was black and brown, like wet dirt. i was small and skinny, but that didn't effect my strength. my ears were pointed, as all elves' are, but my nose was flat. it's an effect of being crossbred, as i'm not fully elvin. None of this suited me well.
   "I rolled my wheelbarrow out from the cave and was ready to leave, with my bag on my back, when the mice came out. Mallory immediately grabbed my attention. All of her younger sisters and brothers were sitting in a line.
   "Esperanza! We got you something while you were inside!" I looked down at the tiny animals in a bit of a conundrum. They stood up, one by one, each taking a gold coin from under thier bottoms and holding them foreward, and out, to me. "We wanted to thank you for letting us stay here." There was 10 of them, so i was truely shocked. How could they find that much money?
   "Thank you so much! I don't know what to say!" I was still looking at them, with my hands over my face, covering my dropped jaw.
   "We found these buried near the brook and we thought maybe you could use it."
   "You guys are the best, thank you."
   "Anytime, you deserve it. Whenever we find money, we'll give it to you."
   "Thank you, so much...that really would help alot."
   "Well, you should get to the marketplace now. the earlier you go, the better spot you get!"
   "That is very true." I picked up the coins and put them in my bag. "I'll see you all soon! bye!"


   I rolled my wheelbarrow down the path in the forest until i finally came to the village gate, The guard gave me a glare when he saw my earings, but he still let me in. As an elf in our land, the number of earings you have and the colors of the beads on them are a sign of your powers that you've mastered. if you have powers at all, earings are mandatory, so you can't hide, no matter where you live or where you're from. I have every color on both of my ears, most elves don't have more than two colors. although its hard to tell from my actions, out of all of the elves in this land, i'm the most powerful. I'm the youngest elf to have powers from every element and i'm only aged at sixteen rotations; just one more thing to make me different. i rolled through the village, and i was given looks by the people, as always. i tried to keep a cheerful mood, it was needed.
   I arrived at the marketplace and went straight to the rental center. There was a troll working the booth today. He was stumpy, but seemingly friendly. "May i rent stand 12 until the sevent hour?"
   "Of course." I gave hi a rental token. He smiled and changed me out with my pass. it's a liscence you get to sell in the marketplace. It says the time i was allowed to sell, my name and my race among other things.
   I set up my stand and put all of the crates in color order in my wheelbarrow, then set the flutes up on the table. i brushed down my hair and set my back up straight, took out my prized flute and played a song as propoganda. I swayed and twirled around my stand as i played my flute and affer a few minutes, an ice elf stopped by. She has short, white hair and her skin was tinted blue. Her eyes were pink, as were her clothing. "...Oh, Miss! Miss!" She called to me, "Could you tell me please where to find a flute like yours?"
   "yes, you can find one right here. I make them myself." I handed her on and she examined it, running her index finger across the floral design carved into the side.
   "It's beautiful..."
   "Oh, thank you." I blushed slightly.
   "How much would you like for it?"
   "However much you would be willing to give me/"
   "Well, you won't make much selling things that way!"
   "That's alright with me, i don't need much."
   "Hmm...I like the way you think. you let the people choose the price for you beautiful flutes and you even make them yourself... even the food you have priced doesn't cost much. the people here must love you."
   I looked down wth slight despair. "You're very kind, thank you, but the people here, they actually don't like me at all..."
   "How can this be? i can tell just by meeting you, that you're a sweet, generous and thoughtful young Elvin girl. they're so hard to find here."
   "i try... I try so hard, but they don't appreciate it. i-i guess.. they've outcasted me, that's all. I don't mind really, as long i know that i'm doing the right thing."
   "i know what you mean. Well, i'll give you twenty golden coins and i wish you much good fortune." she grabbed my hand and sprawled it out, dropping the coins into my hand and curling my fingers onto it. "You deseve it." She looked me in the eyes and smiled.
   "Thank you so much! Would you like anything else? Really, you can have anything you want, just take it."
   "I'll take your smallest starfruit. i hope everything gets better for you soon."
   "Thank you, i wish you the best as well."
   She began her departure but stopped briefly to turn back and looked at me. "My name is Yolandsa, by the way."
   "Esperanza." I replied, as we waved eachother goodbye.


   Hours and hours flew by. I played my flute and sold many more, in fact, i sold them all. I was really surprised at how much business i had gotten today. i sold all thirty flutes and nearly all of my harvested fruits and vegetables. That almost never happens for me. I looked over to Timekeep Tower; the seventh hour had approached. I packed up my crates and went shopping for myself. For the first time, i had enough money to buy more than one thing, and nice things. Today i had made two hundred and twenty in gold currency. That, and a really nice compliment. and possibly, a friend.
   I began pacing my way through the Marketplace. I was looking around at all the nice things and thought to myself, i want a new bow and a set of arrows... As i was thinking, something caught my eye. I looked at the price, reading "20 gold." it was immensely inexpensive for its kind, i was very surprised. i bought it and set it in my bag. i thanked the salesman, and he said i was welcome, but gave me a strange look. i began my way down the line, glacing at every stand as i went. i spotted a stand filled with clothes. i walked up and looked around. i always looked, but now, i could actually have something. i spotted a beautiful lavender dress, it flowed like rippling water in the wind, even on a hanger. it was a light, blue-ish lavender and hung all the way down the floor. it was just my size, and the color of my eyes.
   "That dress would look beaufiul on you."
   I was startled a little and jumped. "M-me?"
   "Well, of course, you...i don't think i've ever seen anyone as beautiful as you."
   My face swiftly reddened. "Um, sir...i think you must be mistaken, no harm meant, but do you happen to be bllind?"
   "No, i am definately not blind in the least. I'm an archer."
   I turned even redder. "I'm...I-I didn't mean that an...i'm-i mean as...i didn't mean to insult you." i cringed to myself in embarrassment.
   "Aw," he smiled, "it's alright, i know you idn't." he had the most enthralling green eyes.
   I giggled and smiled awkwardly and giggled to myself, as i'm not used to people saying things such as this, not to me. No one ever has to me. "Well, are you going to buy it?"
   "Oh, Um, I'm-I'm not sure."
   "I'd love to buy it for you."
    I was red once again. "Oh! No, no! It's fine! I'll buy it, you don't have to, i mean, you don't even know me or anything, it would just be-"
   "Well then, my name is Kero, nice to meet you." he bowed. "What's yours?"
   "Esperanza... Nice to meet you as well..."
   "Well, now that we know eachother," he handed me the dress, "I'm buying you this dress."
   "He gave the woman at the stand a hundres red gold coins. i was in shock, and i of course blushed once more."Thank you," i said in shock, "i really don't know what to say..."
   "Say you will come out to eat with me? This endings?"
   "Oh, um.. Sure!" i laughed. did he just ask to court with me? no...no, no, no...he's just being nice.
    "Alright, let's go!" he smiled. i grabbed my wheelbarrow abut he took it and rolled it for me. how sweet of him... Kero. What a nice name. He was tall and slender, like the trees by the sea. his sandy-brown hair flowed like the ocean down to his broad shoulders.
   We arrived at a restaurant. it was cozy and warm. there were two moon emblems on the front door. The building was carved into the side of an enourmous oak tree. he parked my wheelbarrow on the side and opened the door, entering chivalrously behind me. every table had a tiny candle on top with either two or four chairs. we sat at a table for two.
   A waitress walked up with a set of warm purpleberry jam and toasted bread, and put it on the table infront of us. kero smiled at me and i smiled back. we both ordered tea and rice, then the waitress left. i spread some jam on a piece of bread and ate it.
   "So, do you like it here?" asked Kero as he too ate a piece of bread.
   "Yes, it's really nice."
   The waitress came back after a few minutes and set our orders on the table. She glared at me. "Do you know her?"
   "No... I don't..."
   "Then why did she just glare at you?"
   "I-I'm not sure." i looked down and ate some rice. i lied to you. i know why...but i don't want to lose my new friend. he;ll find out sooner or later whether he hears it from me or from someone else... its been all over the village for years. i just want to hang in here as long as i can... i fiddles around with my fork, then sipped some of the tea. it was warm and calming. the steam and mint leaves energized me.
   "So, where do you live?
   should i tell him?...no....i wont be specific. i don't fully trust him...i don't want him to tell anyone... "i live near the mountains."
   "Ah, sounds nice."
   "It's alright, i really love it."
   I'm glad you do." he smiled. "i like where i live too, i live by the water, my house is almost right on the sea."
   "that sounds amazing."
    "It is. you should come see it sometime-"
   "no, no...i don't know..." i unintentionally cut him off.
   "Are you alright?"
   "Oh, yeah..." i cleared my throat. "yeah, i'm fine."
   "...Alright." he took in a big scoop of rice.
    There was an awkward silence between us. I blushed out of embarrassment. i hid it by tilting my head down and letting my hair flood my face. i finished my tea. We engaged into small conversations over time, but about nothing necessarily important. we both finished our food and walked outside. the waitress told Kero "thank you for coming." and he smiled at her as she did. i smiled to her as well, but she, of course, just glare at me, then rolled her eyes in a circle. i looked down and away, eventually back to the side of the tree to fetch my wheelbarrow.
    It was dark outside. everything was covered in a sheer sheet of blue. the trees made crazy shadows on the ground, crazy, but beautiful. stars sparkled up in the sky, like owl eyes, glowing in the night sky. the two moons glimmered bright. no fog or coulds. it was perfect.
   "Would you like me to walk you home?" Kero offered as he looked at me with those glowing green eyes.
   "Oh, um.. no, thank you." i bent one leg to balance myself. "its...getting dark...i-i should be leaving..."
   "So, i guess this is goodbye." He hugged me. It felt odd. I hadn't been hugged in a very long time. i got up the courage to hug him back. His hands had slid down to my lower back before he loosened his grip and looked me in the eyes. i felt the blood wash out of my face and my eyes grew wide. He was leaning towards me, his face nearly touching to mine. The closer he got, the more nervous i became. His lip had almost touched mine, as he brushed my hear behind my ear, almost like he was going to kiss me. His hand brushed acrossed my ears and he stopped. My ear rings jingled. I looked up at him. his eyes got wide. My stomach tossed in my body. I quickly let go of him and looked away as my eyes began to water. He didn't say a word.

He felt all of my earrings...
He knows who i am...