Friday, February 26, 2010


This is a story I wrote shortly after I read Twilight. It is not at all meant to be a spin-off, or in any way based on Stephanie Meyers books, but was inspired by the concept of someone able to read minds. I'm very fond of this piece, and the main character is by far one of my favorites. I would ask something...who is it? I wrote this with no discernable traits, and while I have a vivid image of the character in my own mind, I'm curious to see what others may think of who stars in this piece.

By Keziah Lee

It is no small thing to possess the ability to write one’s thought’s down on paper. Consequently, it is no small thing to possess the ability to read one’s thoughts after they have been placed on said paper. It is a skill that, to the best of our knowledge, only the human race possesses. Therefore, it must be something important—this being able to make markings and have another decipher their meaning. In fact, it must be so important that the entire human race must learn how to do this. But there is another skill, even more important, that very few human beings possess.

To be perfectly truthful, I have only met one other person in the course of my life, besides myself, who possessed this extraordinary gift, and he is long since passed away. But what is this gift? Ah, that is the eternal question. You see, I have yet to decide whether it is truly a gift or a curse. For unlike the ability to make sign on paper and then read what it says, my ‘gift’ is much less appreciated.

For who would appreciate a neighbor who can write their thoughts, not on paper, but on the surface of another’s mind? And likewise, who would appreciate a neighbor who can read the thoughts already written on said mind? That is my gift and my curse. That is my privilege and my burden. It is my doom and my destiny. It is my love and my hate. It is my life and my death.

Without this ability, I would have perished long ago, but with it, I am doomed to a half-life, a half-death. I cannot turn this power off. I cannot choose when to use it and when not to. I walk down the street and I see thoughts hovering above people’s heads. I can choose not to look at most, but some scream out like billboards. If I had the chance, I could put it to good use. I could tell if someone was plotting murder, and I could stop it, but to do so, I would need people to believe me. I would need the help of the police department, the government, and that is something I cannot get.

If I were to hand myself over to the government, I would not be used to stop murders. I would be shoved into the first top-secret laboratory they found and plugged into a room full of computers. That is my doom. I am cursed with a gift that could be used to help people, but to reveal it is to sign my own death warrant. To use it in secrecy, though, I must live in the shadows. If I slip up, if I accidently reveal myself, I must leave. I can never establish any permanency; I must always be prepared to leave the area at the drop of a hat.

But you see, it is a cyclical curse. For if I wish to use it to help people, I must keep it a secret. If I keep it a secret, I must live in secrecy. If I live in secrecy, I become suspected. If I become suspected, I must leave. And if I leave, I see more people whom I want to help.

That is the paradox of my life. Do I use it or ignore it? Am I good or evil? Do I stay hidden or reveal myself? Do I live…or do I die.

Treasures From the Past

Well, I was sifting through the 300 and something old e-mails in my account, and I came upon some documents I'd sent to myself so that I could print them...about a year or two ago. Many of these were stories I'd lost when my hard drive crashed last year, and I was thrilled to find them again.

This one is a poem I wrote for one of my many started projects...the book was to be entitled "Window Soul," and is the story of a young woman who was born with the ability to travel between the nine planes of existence. At the same time, however, a powerful demon is released from his prison, and the girl proves to be the only one who can track him throughout the planes. Maybe someday I'll finish it, but for now, I'll be content with the poem.

By the way, this was written several years ago, and some of the rhymes are...less than what they could be :). I still like it, and it brings back many memories of the stories I wrote back when I had the time to dedicate hours to their conception. Enjoy :)

Window Soul
By Keziah Roy

When planes align, what evil brings
This rare and wondrous sight?
One child born, one hell released
This dark and evil night.

How grand and terr’ble to behold
When crimson eyes did stare
In mental anguish quite deserved
With molten rock for air.

A painful yet life-bringing night,
A window now is born.
With auburn hair and eyes so green,
She sees through ev’ry door.

Nine planes of life, nine steps of hell
The same for heavens too.
Nine faerie ranks, nine demons cruel
Nine angels keeping good

The chance of all aligning, though,
Nine thousand times to one.
The chance of balance now restored?
Nine thousand times to none.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


This is the response to my February 15 writing prompt for my Writing the Year Away blog...I'm posting it here due to it's excessive length (most of the other prompts are quite short, and I usually reserve my lengthy ones for here). Anyway, the prompt was "Don't come in yet, I have to put my face on!" I had a hard time with it at first, struggling with the plot. I knew that I could have taken the easy way out and written something about putting makeup on, but I really wanted something unique and very much my own. Finally, I believe I've succeeded. And so, without further ado, I give you my story, Le Masque*.

*Note (and further ado :P): I chose the title in French for a reason currently unknown to me...I think it's because of the spelling...I don't speak French, but I love the way they spell 'masque,' and I think it adds something that "The Mask" simply doesn't have.
Le Masque

By Keziah Roy

"Don’t come in yet! I have to put my face on!" The squeal erupted as soon as the entry light blinked. An exasperated chuckle came from outside the door, but the light stopped blinking. The young woman inside sighed in relief and turned back to the mirror, carefully fitting the iridescent mask over her face. It was the height of fashion—to be seen in public without a mask was simply unheard of, in fact, in most places, it was considered a crime to show your unmasked face anywhere other than your own home.

Xhana’s mask was highly fashionable, made of a new bio-cloth, form-fitting and synched with her facial muscles so as to move seamlessly when she spoke, smiled, ate—even kissed. The mask was iridescent, shimmering like water, and making a smooth transition from a pure lavender in the lower left, to a crystalline aquamarine at the right temple.

Xhana smiled into the mirror, gently arranging into decorative whorls the slender strands affixed to the edges of the mask. She tweaked it carefully, making sure that the spirals trailed perfectly down her elegant throat, drawing subtle attention to her flawless skin and low, angled neckline. The upper strands she entwined in her hair, careful not to upset the complex arrangement as she did so. With a satisfied sigh, she added the final touch—colored contacts that gave her eyes the same shimmering effect as the mask. Giving herself one final once-over, she turned to the door and activated the entry pad.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Dante watched the entry light blink rapidly three times as the door prepared to open. It wavered first, then suddenly winked out, disappearing with a slight popping sound. He sighed, disliking the abruptness of the newest technologies. The sigh quickly turned to a smile as Xhana glided out, twirling gracefully to show off her new mask and gown.

The dress was stunning, created of light, flowing fabric that alternately clung and floated about her like water, the vee of her neckline reaching to her jewel-adorned navel, yet so narrow, it showed only a thin slice of skin. The skirt was dagged, it’s asymmetrical points dancing about her legs in a multilayered cloud of lavender and aquamarine. The decorative tendrils of her mask curled seductively down her throat, drawing his gaze inevitably to the plunging neckline. Slowly, appreciatively, his gaze traveled back up to her face, grudgingly admiring the fashionable mask.

He disliked the custom of covering your face with a mask before letting others see you, it seemed false to him, false and self-deprecating, as if you believed your true face was unworthy of being shown to others. The masks, too, paved the way for deceit, making it easy to present yourself as something different than what you really were. And yet the whole country was filled with them, women wearing decorative, brightly colored ones, and men generally choosing simple, darker ones. Dante struggled with the practice everyday, bucking the system by wearing only a half-mask, one that split his face down a diagonal, leaving visible his left eye, part of his nose, his left cheek, and his mouth and chin. He often got strange looks, and had even on occasion been requested to leave a restaurant or shop.

Xhana flashed him a blinding smile as she completed her final turn, sauntering up to him and leaning in for a kiss. He almost flinched as his lips touched the fabric of her mask. No, he didn’t simply dislike the masks, he hated them. It hadn’t been so bad when he was younger, and the masks didn’t cover everything, but now—now they smothered everything, covering from the hairline to the throat, leaving only the eyes visible. The new cloth was woven in such a way that it could even cover lips, an atrocity in Dante’s mind. There was a certain intimacy about touching your bare lips to someone else’s, an intimacy that was slowly being lost. He knew many couples who had never seen each others’ faces, not even in the bedroom. Dante himself had never seen Xhana’s face, and the two had been together for nearly two years.

That’s not to say that he had never seen her skin, no, Xhana preferred the simple half-masks when she was at home—she said they were more comfortable—but even though he’d asked her, she simply refused to take it off completely. She wasn’t harsh or angry when he asked, she just laughed and shook her head, as if she found it comical that he would want to see her paltry features. Why would he want to see her face when he could look at a beautiful mask, designed specifically to give pleasure to the viewer?
Dante had given up trying to explain to her that he would find her face more beautiful than any mask, and had reluctantly accepted the fact that he lived in a world where the human face was considered an abomination.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Dante and Xhana left the show almost as soon as it was over, both with differing opinions of the performance. It was a new show, a historical romance that took place back in the 2100s, a time when, historically, there were no masks. Dante had been frustrated from almost the moment the show began, for although the time period was maskless, the actors were not. Granted, the costumers had given them masks that closely mimicked human features, but still, they were masks nonetheless. Xhana, on the other hand, had gushed about it, admiring the ‘accuracy’ and ‘detail’ of the costumes. Not wanting to upset her, or waste his energy on a futile battle, Dante remained silent on the matter.

When they arrived back at Xhana’s apartment, Dante went in with her. He usually spent the weekends with her, as his apartment was near the Industrial Sector, where he worked as manager of one of the many automated factories. Xhana’s home, on the other hand, was in the University Sector, only one block away from the Entertainment Sector. Xhana was a student, but had the entire weekend off, so that was the time they spent together.

After settling in, taking off their coats and such, Dante excused himself, going into the bedroom to change. The first thing he did upon closing the door was rip the mask off his face and sink down into the hoverbed. He lay back on the soft blankets, allowing the bed to cushion him gently. It had been a long day, and it was a relief to get the stifling fabric off his skin.

He allowed himself a few deep breaths before standing and stripping off his suit. Comfortable sweat pants were tugged on, and he went to stand in front of the mirror, staring at his face in the silvery glass. He had dark brown hair, almost black, and his skin was a light tan. His eyes were the color of dark chocolate, deep and thoughtful. His nose was straight, his cheekbones well defined, his mouth expressive. It wasn’t an unattractive face, he thought, but attractiveness was governed by different rules now. Rules that didn’t include an actual face.

The soft popping of the door startled him, and he turned swiftly, just in time to see the stark look of shock on Xhana’s features as she beheld his naked face. Rather than snatch up his mask to hide it, he met her gaze, holding it, refusing to feel ashamed of himself. Her face slowly turned from shock to wonder, and she took an unconscious step forward, then another. In moments, she was standing before him, her eyes wide under the glittering mask. She reached out, brushing her fingertips lightly across his cheek, brow furrowing slightly as she felt the roughness of his unshaven skin.

"You’re…you’re beautiful," she breathed.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Xhana stood enraptured, her eyes fixed on Dante’s face. So this was what was underneath the mask! Why, there was nothing hideous about it, no reason to cover it up. He was right, had always been right, someone’s face was truly important, it was truly who they were. She could tell just by looking at his face, at his proud cheekbones and strong nose, that he was a man of strength, of courage, of independence. His mouth, however, was softer, prone to sudden smiles or laughter. These were all elements that were lost when a mask was worn, even a half-mask like Dante’s.

She leaned forward, cupping his face, her mouth inches from his. She feathered a kiss across his cheek, then frowned, sensing that something was wrong. She stepped back, lightly touching her fingers to her mouth, to the mask covering her lips. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she raised trembling fingers to the edges of her expensive mask. In one swift movement, before she lost her courage, she snatched it from her face and tossed it to the ground. Her eyes stayed shut, unable to look at him, unable to see the inevitable rejection in his eyes when he saw that she wasn’t beautiful, that without her mask she was just Xhana, not the brilliant student, not the life of the party, just Xhana, the young woman.

The soft touch of his hands on her cheeks caused her to open her eyes slowly, looking up at him through the haze of tears that threatened to fall from her eyes. He was smiling softly, tenderly, and as he bent to touch his lips to hers in a gentle caress, he whispered two words, just two, and her world was changed forever.

"Thank you."

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Well, I hope you enjoyed it, and thanks for reading!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Sonnet

I was sitting in Kim Napolitano's AP English class this morning, and was thinking about sonnets. She had her students write them for homework, as they're reading Macbeth. So as I sat listening to the students read aloud, I began to write. This is the fruit of my labors.

Un-Finding God
A Sonnet

This pond'ring mind is wond'ring, What Is God?
A being omniscient, all powerful,
And wondrous, too, is he. Where he hath trod,
Supposedly, bloom flowers sweet and full.
Yet still I'm wond'ring, doth h'exist at all?
He seems quite contradict'ry, 'tis not peace
He wants to bring. 'Tis Love his preachings call,
Yet with fiery swords he threatens, and seeds
Of discord he spreads. Neighbors 'gainst their friends,
And mother 'gainst child pits he. Sayest he,
"Me thou canst follow, lest thou hateth i'the end."
This seems quite awful and vicious to me,
And now my belief I find firm, secure.
In denouncing this 'god,' I've found my cure.

I'd like to point out briefly that sonnets are not my forte, as I'm sure you can tell. Also, as far as syllabic structure goes, each line is in iambic pentameter (10 syllables). One must read the words with apostrophes as having one less syllable, seeing as how the vowel is removed. Also, several words are slurred together so as to make them one syllable. And if there are those who think this is cheating, I learned the technique from the greatest of all--William Shakespeare. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Writer's Block

Writer's block is never a fun thing. We all hate that feeling, when you're staring at a blank page, not knowing what to write, or even how to write. It's the moment when all ideas seem to fade away, to leave you behind as they run through star-lit skies that you can't see. The following story is something, ironically, that I wrote while in the middle of writer's block. I wanted to write something, but didn't know what, and this is what came out. It's not very long, and seemed a lot longer on the small pieces of paper on which I wrote it, but it serves its purpose. Sometimes it is not the length of the story, but the content which shows its true meaning. And so here it is, my story, my little bit of a world outside of our own, a world that may not truly exist anywhere but in these few words.

Unblocking the Block

By Keziah Roy

She sighed, looking down at the blank sheet of paper before her. It was perfect, no lines, pure white, and unblemished. It was one of the most daunting sights she'd ever seen. With what words could she mar this perfect page? Surely they must be wondrous, if they were to cover the pristine paper in squiggles of blue ink. Could she really find the right words to fill the page?

She held the pen poised to write, hovering just above the paper. But still, she couldn't bring herself to mark the page. Long moments stretched by, moments filled with indecision. The pen hovered, never touching the paper, never making a mark. Finally, she closed her eyes, took a breath, and wrote. One word was all she needed, and the wall crumbled, freeing the words in her mind. Her pen flew, dancing across the page, filling it with wondrous sights and glorious words.

Time flew, became elastic, then ceased to exist entirely. Her world contracted, focusing in on the words rapidly filling the page. Nothing else mattered. Her words were alive, leaping from her pen to create a world of bright colors and tinkling bells. Music filled the air, bringing the heady scent of incense along with it. Characters came alive with the words, moving through the streets, conversing with each other, living their lives in their own world, the world created from nothing but pen and ink.

The silvery threads of imagination wove through the words, binding them in a living magic, keeping them alive for ages to come. Finally, the pen stopped. She lifted her head and smiled. Four pages sat before her, each one filled with writing. She blinked several times, ridding herself of the leftover images. She set the pen down and gathered up the papers. As she left the table, she smiled. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she could still hear faint strains of music, and the scent of incense still wafted faintly through the air.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Smoke in the Sand: Part Two

Here's the next part of my story....I have no idea how many more there will be--at least one, but I'm not sure how many after that. Anyhow, enjoy!

*Oh, little warning, there are a couple cuss words in this part, but he kind of deserves to say them...the situation calls for it :)

Smoke in the Sand

Part Two: Trouble

The problems started when stopped at Erisan, the second largest city in the kingdom. We were en route to the capital, and Erisan was our last stop before we arrived. Matay'an, myself, and another seer, Kash'ira, were telling fortunes in the bazaar. Others were there, with music and dancing, but our wagon was off by itself.

Our clientele ranged from the poor beggars who'd scraped up just enough money for a readings, to the heavily veiled wives of powerful rajahs. It was one such woman who changed my fate. I did not know her name or station, only that she was arrogant, and wealthy beyond belief. She had a very high opinion of herself, and was greatly disappointed, I think, to find her fortune being read by a scrawny sixteen-year-old boy. I am sure she would have preferred Matay'an, the wise and venerable woman, but alas, she was landed with me, a boy she must have viewed as a novice at best, and an ill-gotten bungler at worst. But that was only the beginning of the trouble.

She wanted me to do the most complex reading for her--a five star pentacle. This means that I needed to use five sets of tashin cards, each laid out in the shape of a pentacle. Each pentacle formed the point off a greater star, with special runes forming the intersect points and pure sugar tracing the lines of power. She also demanded that I do an energy reading, a palm reading, and a crystal reading. For a veteran seer like Matay'an, to do so many complex and varied readings in such a short time would be tiring to say the least, but for me--suffice it to say, this was my first big bazaar, and the first time I was doing the readings without Matay'an's guidance. I did myself proud, though, and managed to successfully complete each reading. Unfortunately, the woman was highly displeased with the outcome. I can't imagine why, but although I worded it in the politest fashion possible, the fact that all the readings pointed to her being a selfish bitch whose beauty would fade and leave her alone and reliant on the charities of others--well, that must have upset her a bit.

She flew into a bitter rage. I still have the scar on my cheek from where her ring cut me. She tried to skip out without paying, but Matay'an makes a formidable figure when she's angered. I think simply the sight of her, eyes drawn together and magic boiling around her, scared the woman off. It didn't, however, scare her speechless. I still recall her words, telling me that I would pay for 'spreading such vile falsehoods about a woman of such importance.'

I didn't give her diatribe much thought, assuming that she was like the other nobles I'd come across--arrogant, but soon to forget a commoner. Unfortunately, I couldn't have been more wrong. Apparently she was a woman who nursed vengeance like a child, but feeding it hatred instead of mother's milk. Regardless, that night was the last I spent with the caravan. Had I known what was to happen, I probably would have lied just a bit with the readings, but I was young, and still believed that honesty was the best course of action. When they came for me, I was beginning to seriously consider lying as a profession--it got you into much less trouble.

They came shortly after midnight, two of them, both powerful mages. Matay'an and I, although we were strong, were only seers, not mages, and we stood no chance. They set up wards first, so no one could disturb them, then they came for me. I tried to fend them off, but my paltry conjuration skills were no match for their battle spells. In mere minutes, I was led off, bound in a thick shell of stifling magic. I couldn't see, I couldn't hear, and I couldn't feel. I was scared shitless.

It seemed ages before they finally put me down and released me. I found myself in a dark and cramped cell, many feet underground. It was cold and unexpectedly damp. I didn't know where I was, or how far away I was from the caravan. All I knew was that I was much too far away from my golden deserts with their fiery heat and burning sands.

They left me in the cell for many days, giving me barely enough food to stay alive. Because of the darkness, i didn't know exactly how long I was in there, but after a long while, they came back. I was sleeping when they pounded on the door, bursting it open in a cloud of dust and cobwebs. I was jerked roughly to my feet and bound with iron manacles. Apparently they had decided I was not enough of a threat to encase in the magical shell. I kept my eyes open, watching the turns we took, trying to get my bearings. It didn't work. All I could figure out was that I was still underground and still very far from my beloved deserts.

After some time, the passageway opened into a large cavern. Well, I call it a cavern, but it was more akin to a massive throne room carved out of the earth. Ornate tapestries hung on the walls, covering nearly every square inch with depictions of various beings writhing in agony, or trapped in shock. Strange runes glowed golden around the borders of each piece, but I couldn't make out their meaning.

The guards shoved me forward, towards the center of the room where the mysterious woman sat in a throne-like chair. My mind was working overtime trying to piece it all together, and as the guards tossed me at her feet, the last bit clicked into place. I was in deep, smelly, diarrhea-ed, camel-crap.

This was no ordinary noble. No, with the throne, the robes, the black iron crown she wore, the sheer power she commanded--I had the grave privilege of pissing off the Rut'ya, the high-priestess of Rutar, the Jinshi god of the underworld (the hell part, if you catch my meaning). My heart just about stopped dead as she turned her onyx gaze on me. In that moment, I knew the true meaning of the word despair. The Rut'ya was evil, and took delight in it, in the torture of her enemies. I was doomed, I had been since the moment I first read her cards.

Panic gripped me, its icy fingers trailing down the back of my neck. I bolted, thinking I could make it to the tunnel, make it far enough away to hide from her, but I was too late. I had only a second's warning--a sharp cracking sound--before her writhing tendrils of magic pierced my body, lifting me into the air and casting me against the wall like a child's discarded plaything. I watched as if in a dream. My body cracked against the wall, loud crunches signifying broken bones and probably internal bleeding. I was as good as dead, but I felt no pain. Strange sensations bubbled through me, as if someone had filled my veins with champagne instead of blood. I tried to shake my head to clear it, but I couldn't move. My body slid down the wall, landing in a sickening heap, but I remained where I was, floating, hanging suspended in the air.

The Rut'ya cackled and sent another bolt of magic at me. It made contact with the incorporeal me, wrapping itself around me and sending me hurtling towards the tapestried wall. I never made contact with it. Instead, I practically melted into the tapestry, my very spirit melting with its woven threads. That is what the faces in the tapestry were--the faces of the enemies of the Rut'ya, unfortunate souls locked forever in a woven world. And I was now one of them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Smoke in the Sand--Part One

This is a story I started writing back in May...I got quite a bit done before my muse took an extended vacation. I just recently picked it back up, and I'll be posting it up here in installments--it's not quite a novel, but it is written in sections. This was fun to started like many of my stories with two words: a story. I had no idea what it would become, but I'm quite thrilled with the direction it decided to take. Anyhow, here it is, and I hope you enjoy it!

Smoke in the Sand

Part One: A Story

A story. Two very simple words to start a very complicated tale. Allow me to introduce myself. I am A'hala A'lak'bar, and I am six hundred, sixty-six years old. I see you chuckle, or perhaps your eyes become shuttered. The number of the beast, you think. I say don't be ridiculous. There is no association with numbers other than what you give them. But I digress. My age is nearly irrelevantat least, the specific number is. The simply fact that I am several hundred years old is what is relevant.

I have been around for a long time. A very long time, as you can see. And unless something miraculous occurs, I will be around for an even longer amount of time. I am a djinn, and this is my story.

I was born to the maidservant of Her Excellency, Sultaña Dazh'ta the Beautiful. She was secretly married, my mother, to a lieutenent in the sultaña's royal guard. Fortunately for my mother, the sultaña was a romantic at heart, and assisted Maman in keeping me a secret. Unfortunately, the sultaña's father was not so romantic. When he discovered my existence, and my mother's secret liason, it was all the sultaña could do to have him exile our little family instead of throwing us to the mherons, his preferred executioners.

My mother used to tell me stories about the mherons, great and terrible beasts who would come and get me if I didn't go to bed, or finish my supper, or listen to the Amah. I never knew what they were, only that they were big, scary, and dangerous. Our caravan--we joined a caravan after our exile--traveled through the Northern Desert, where the only dangerous creatures were snakes and people. The caravan that took pity on us was of the Baz'hir clan, nomads who made a living breeding horses and telling fortunes.

We traveled constantly, never stopping for more than a week, and then only at an oasis or city. The caravan was divided into a specific heirarchy, with each person assgned a role. There was an Amah who watched over all the children, a group of hostlers who cared for the horses, our leader of course, and his advisors, and all the other necessary positions. My father was part of the caravan's defenses, and my mother played the citar when we stopped at cities and villages.

As a child, I helped gather scrub brush and animal droppings for fires. When I reached my tenth year, it was time to find my calling. The three Di'xhas, the ancient women who chose people's occupations, discovered that I had an aptitude for the magical arts of conjuration and divination--in other words, by the time I turned ten, I had accidentally conjured an oasis, spoken with the ghost of one of our elders, and caught a glimpse of our next stop in the shimmering heat waves along the road.

Matay'an, the oldest of the Di'xhas, took me under her wing, doing her best to teach my the diviner's art. It was difficult, for our magics were of different elements. I was a hot, dry, desert magic, full of fire and gusting winds, while Matay'an was from the mountains, and her magic was the moist, wet magic of root and loam. We came up with a method, though, ta ht didn't cause the clash of our respective gifts. She would explain the process and demonstrate the effect, but allow me to find the best path for my magic to take.

My most precious memory of this process was teh first day I intentionally used my gift. I was two months past my tenth rain, and Matay'an had been trying to teach me for the past month. To both of our frustrations, everytime she laid her magic on me or tried to send it through me so I could see how it felt, everytime, it tried to smother me, filling my lungs with dank earth. Likewise, my magic burned her, drying her powers like a fiery kiln. But one day, after a month of this fruitless frustration, Matay'an came up with a new idea.

When I arrived in her tent, she bade me sit on the opposite side from her. Then, when we were settled, she began to speak.

"A'hala," Her voice was as rich as the fertile earth of her magic. "Your magic is as different from mine as the night is from day. And yet, it is similar. Now, close your eyes, and breathe." She guided me through the breathing excercise, helping me align my magic with my mind. The feeling was incredible. I could feel the golden-hot threads of my gift unsnarling and smoothing out, binding together in an unbreakable cord that ran through my entire body, flowing up from my feet, passing through my center, and culminating in two pulsing points of power nestled in my hands.

Matay'an smiled. I could feel it rather than see it, but I also felt something else, something green and damp. I opened my eyes slowly. Laced with the red-gold threads of my power, my vision focused on the figure across from me. Matay'an was wreathed in a sparkling nimbus of green, with the brown roots of her gift twining through it. Surprised, I looked down at my own hands and gasped. They were wreathed in a similar glow, only a brilliant gold instead of green, and the lines streaking through it were burning red.

I looked back at Matay'an and she met my gaze with another smile. I could sense the pride rolling off her, and I smiled back. Then she spoke again, her calm voice guiding me gently.

"Now, focus on an empty space, wherever your magic will be most comfortable, and let it go. As you release it into your space, concentrate on what you want it to show you. You must concentrate."

I closed my eyes again, focusing on the empty air in the center of the tent. It was hot, as always, and my gift loved the heat. As I centered my gift on the space, I thought of my mother, and wondered what she was doing. The pulse in my hands stretched, lengthening into narrow cords that fanned out, covering the empty space. I opened my eyes to look, loving the feel of magic pulling out of my body. There, in the once-empty air before me, was a shimmering golden window, and inside that window was the image of Maman, sitting out in front of our tent, her glittering needle passing swiftly through a pile of fabric on her lap. Her head turned slightly, as if she heard something. A smile graced her features as my father walked into the picture. I watched for another several seconds before my concentration wavered and I lost the image.

Mildly irritated by my loss of concentration, I glanced over at Matay'an. She was watching me with great pride, and I could feel her approval washing over me like a gently waterfall. My disappointment faded as she told me how impressed she was, and how proud she was that I managed to maintain a clear image on my first try.

After this experience, I practiced every chance I got. My skills grew, and after a few years, I was one of the most skilled seers in our caravan. My conjuration skills were growing as well, but I focused more on the divination. The real fun, however, started when I was about sixteen years old, and I learned that divination could lead to all sorts of interesting problems.