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Don't leave me now: Attn Rhya


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    “Now in your last lesson in the Dream world you were taught how to jump from place to place, but only on line of sight, tonight we are going to expand on that lesson and you are going to learn to jump to places you have been before and know well. We will start off with somewhere obvious, the stables in the Stedding.” Rhya wrinkled her nose, slightly, at this, and Owen knew full well that many people were not fond of the smell of the Stables, Rhya being one of them,  which is why he had picked the stables.


    “Now, the first thing you have to do is picture the stables in your mind, build up the picture until you can actually see the stables, then step into the stables. It sounds more daunting than it actually is, but once you have done it you will find it is an invaluable skill, would you like me to show you first?” Rhya nodded her head, wondering what Owen had in mind. Taking hold of her hand, the land around them disappeared and in the blinking of an eye they stood on high stonewalls, stonewalls that surrounded a large keep and city.


    “Where are we Owen?”


    “This is the capital city of Kandor, it is not fair from here that I lived most of my early life in a small village on the main road to this city.”


    “So we just stepped a long way, can I do that as well?”


    “Not at first, and maybe never, remember I have been doing this for a long time and so have the control and skill that a novice, that would be you.” Owen smiled as Rhya stuck her tongue out at him. “Just imagine this as you would your first weapons lesson.. Once you had mastered the basics, you started on the path to proficiency with them. It is the same here”,


    Owen paused for a moment and then looked Rhya full in he eye.


    “ I have no doubt you have entered the Dream on your own since our last lesson.” Owen watched as Rhya tried to look everywhere but at him, she had not known that Owen kept watch over his student’s dreams and he had caught her twice entering the Dream without permission. “And I have no doubt you are now stronger here than you were after your last lesson, but remember this, you only know a small part of what you need to know to survive here, so do not let over confidence be your downfall.”


    With that the scene around them changed again, this time they were back in the Stedding, sitting on the bench outside Wolflover’s abandoned cottage. “So, bearing in mind what I have told you, how about you try and move yourself to the Stables, I will be waiting for you there. Oh and Rhya, try not to land in the compost, it does smell something terrible.” With that Owen disappeared from view, quickly reappearing by the stable door.


    As he made his way to the stables, Owen could not but help smile, the last remark of his about the compost had been on purpose as usually the last comment their mentor made was the one that would be fixed in the students mind.



The White Wolf


Ranger Leader


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Proficiency, Rhya mentally snorted at the choice of word given how shaken she’d been after her first Dream lessons. Admittedly, since then she’d visited the Wolf Dream on a couple of occasions by herself, though the first time had been unintentional, and had become a little more accustomed to it. As if on cue, Owen interrupted her reverie in a knowing tone.


“I have no doubt you have entered the Dream on your own since our last lesson.”


Rhya couldn’t quite meet his eyes, shifting guiltily from one foot to the other, a sheepish expression on her face. Drat the man, it’s like he has some kind of sixth sense. It’s uncanny! Thankfully she had done nothing truly stupid, sticking to the places she knew and certainly not going as far afield as Kandor though it had been hard to resist the temptation of  trying to find Maradon. Her gaze scanned the surrounding area curiously. So this is where he grew up. For all she had never been there before, the city held a kind of familiarity for there was no doubting they were in the Borderlands.


Just as suddenly as they had arrived, Owen returned them to the Stedding and the bench outside what had been Wolflover’s cottage before issuing a few final instructions about her current lesson. His remark on the compost heap caused Rhya to wrinkle her nose yet again while her mentor disappeared from view.


She adored the horses and the stables but there was a very distinctive and unpleasant smell that hung in the air around them which she disliked intensely. Her father’s stables had never smelled of anything other than sweet hay, horseflesh and fresh air. They were kept in immaculate condition by the stablehands and if they had not been, her father would have wanted to know the reason why. Rhya could not fathom why the unpleasant scent remained in the stables here. The Wolfkin did not neglect their horses in any fashion. Brushing the wonderings away, she brought her focus back to the matter at hand, taking up a position well away from the cottage and giving herself room to work.


The whole concept sounded so simple the way Owen had described it but if her earlier experiences were anything to go by, it was unlikely to be straightforward. Tamping down on a quivering apprehension in her stomach and hoping this would not be so scary as the quicksand, she began to slowly build up the picture of the stables in her mind. She took her time over the details, ensuring that everything she could recall was included in the mental image. For some reason the compost heap was rather predominant in her mind’s eye and she silently rolled her eyes as she corrected things.


Once she was certain that the picture was as perfect as she could make it, to the point that it looked as real as anything before her, Rhya tried to step as Owen had done. She wasn’t really surprised when nothing happened, merely beginning the process over again. Patience, she had learned, was a virtue in the Wolf Dream.


Her second attempt produced nothing better but on the third try, she felt a subtle difference, almost a blurring of the landscape around her and when things settled she found herself outside the stables... mere inches from the light blasted compost heap! More than a little disoriented, her arrival was hardly elegant and she stumbled a few steps before regaining her balance, relieved that she had not actually landed in the compost. Smirking a little in satisfaction, she chalked up one score to herself on her mental scoreboard, something she’d started doing some time ago in defence against Owen’s streak of mischief. Though she knew his tricks were designed to teach her, to force her to learn from her errors, the results were not always so amusing when he did catch her out... and those times were yet all too common.


She sniffed delicately at the thought and then hastily slapped a hand over her nose, regretting the move as the offensive scent of the compost assailed her nostrils. Hastily, she moved to the stable doors and walked inside the long, low building to find her sneaky teacher.



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  Owen could not help but smile at the expression on Rhya’s face, as he opened the stable door. “Well it was your first attempt Rhya, and you did get to the stables without any mishaps, but only just.” Owen pointed to the rather large pile of manure that they had narrowly missed. “That I am sure was not where you intended to land, but it is a good example of why you need to know your location exactly.”

    Owen could not but help notice the expression on Rhya’s face, obviously she had realised just in time that Owen’s parting remark about the compost heap had been intended to distract her. “Concentration is everything here Rhya. If we can be distracted by something so simple as a phrase then we are a danger to ourselves and to anyone that relies on us. Before jumping to even a well known location, we must ensure our minds are fully focused, our concentration total.”

    Waiting a moment, Owen let Rhya absorb the full portent of his words, then continued speaking. “Now it is time to leave here, i will meet you back at our starting place, mind the water now.” With a mischievous grin Owen vanished from Rhya’s sight.

    Owen did not have to wait too long before Rhya appeared outside Wolf lover’s cabin and sat down next to him, looking slightly ruffled. “Well I think that is enough excitement for one night, I think it would be best if we returned to the waking world and let our bodies rest, I will meet you here again tomorrow night and we can continue. What I want you to do when you wake up in the morning and throughout the day is memorise three locations, the Inn, the main room of the Ranger Barracks and your room in our house. Tomorrow night we will keep trying until you can move us to each location without any mishaps, then I will give you three more locations each night for the next three nights, if you can move us to all of the locations on the final night, we will move on to the second part of this lesson, is that clear?”

    Rhya nodded her head in response, doing her best to stifle a yawn that seemed to be trying to encompass her head.  “Now get yourself back to your bed, and no more unauthorised trips into the Wolfdream, unless of course you need another lesson about following my instructions?”

    Doing her best not to start yawning again, Rhya smiled at Owen and then disappeared. Owen doubted she would stay out of the Wolfdream, and he knew he would catch her in there again, but he hoped she would continue to be careful as he could not be everywhere at once. Just then a sound off to his right alerted him to a presence and without turning his head Owen spoke. “Good evening my old friend, it has been a while.”




The White Wolf


Ranger Leader


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Rhya sat bolt upright in bed, shivering despite her hair being plastered to her head with sweat. Her amber eyes were wide and she stared around the half lit room as though expecting an intruder for many minutes before wilting in place like a puppet with its strings cut.


The nightmare was still fresh in her mind, the details clear as day and she shuddered involuntarily at the feeling of helplessness the memory engendered. It had been months since she’d had these dreams last but over the past few nights they had begun again, more immediate than before and Rhya could only attribute it to her current training since nothing else had changed in her daily routine.


The first time had seemed merely an echo of her earlier Dream lessons, finding herself caught once more in quicksand that wouldn’t let her go until she awoke. The second, on the previous night, had more sinister overtones as she was bound and cold, deep in the ground and unable to move more than a couple of inches in any direction. Tonight had been a repeat performance of that, only with additional smells and sounds, which had her struggling to wake.


Wiping palms across her face in distress, Rhya forced herself to get out of bed and padded over to the washbasin in the far corner of her room. The greying light of dawn trickled through the shutters across the window and she knew Owen would be out of the house already. Splashing water into the basin from the large jug on her dresser, she bent, submersing her face completely for a few moments before straightening and washing hastily in the chill air.


Refreshed, dressed and with her hair smoothed back into a tight knot at the nape of her neck, nobody looking at her those few minutes later would know aught was amiss. Inside, however, her thoughts were in turmoil. She was under no illusions that her nightmares were simply bad dreams. They were too clear, too real and patently memories of past events. She had thought as much the first time it had happened. Somehow, her lessons were shaking things free in her head and she had several times debated the wisdom of telling Owen but had dismissed the idea given his own recent accident, not entirely convinced that he was completely recovered no matter what he said. What convinced her further of the truth of her dreams was that the only identifiable voice this past night had belonged to none other than her father.


Rhya chewed her lower lip as she worried over the implications of that and busied herself with the makings of a hasty breakfast before taking the fresh slices of bread and honey out to the balcony with a cup of hot tea.


This had become her favourite place to sit first thing in the morning and last thing at night, not only because of the view and the happy times spent there but for the peace that seemed to pervade her soul, perched up among the trees and this day was to be no exception. Putting aside what was, for now, a mystery, Rhya focused instead on her lessons. She had the whole morning ahead of her to memorise the final three locations but the afternoon would be taken up with helping Aislyn to re-organise the Infirmary’s stores. There was no point in letting all of the skills she had learned in the world of business go to waste and there remained that niggling need to repay the ‘Kin as a whole for allowing her to be here, even after so many months.


Her goals for tonight were the silversmith’s workshop, Erik’s cottage and the Archery grounds. These points would be added to the others she had learned and one by one she would have to step to all twelve of them, a feat she had serious doubts about achieving.


Her second night had gone rather well she thought but then there had been the added advantage of knowing the chosen locations in detail already. Her own room had been a breeze and neither the main room of the Ranger Barracks nor the Inn had posed any difficulty once she focused hard enough. The crux of the problem was in the minute details that would otherwise be overlooked. The second night had not been such a stroll through the woods and Rhya scrunched up her nose in a habitual gesture, recalling the disastrous landing in the Lake. Luckily for her it had only been in the shallows but, soaked up to her thighs, the knock to her pride had been unpleasant.


Each time she made a mistake it was, to her mind, not just a black mark against her ability but also a failing to do justice to Owen’s teaching and she was wont to berate herself mercilessly afterwards. The only bright spot in that was rarely being one to make the same mistake again.


Brushing crumbs from the dark green material of her trousers, she took her cup to the kitchen and, ensuring her daggers were in their usual place, was soon swinging to the ground below the house and calling for Shadow. Images of the silversmith’s came to her mind and realising that he was already there and waiting for her, Rhya set off at a determined jog. This time she would be well prepared.


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    It had been several days since Owen had set Rhya the task of learning several locations around the Stedding well enough that she could move herself to them without any major problems, however moving two people, for the first time, could be problematic and tonight this is what Owen was going to have Rhya practice.  Of the three locations Owen had asked Rhya to memorise, he thought the easiest for her would be her room in his house, so that was the first location Owen had Rhya jump to. All went well, except that Owen found himself standing on Rhya’s bed and banging his head on the low ceiling. “Perhaps we should have chosen somewhere with more space Rhya, if I carry on banging my head like this what few brains I do have will soon be bashed away.” Rhya thought Owen couldn’t see her expression but he knew she was smiling at his discomfort and he quickly turned his head and saw the smile, as she could not wipe it off her face fast enough

    “Oh I see, you find my discomfort amusing do you young lady?” Owen held his stern expression for a few heartbeats, and then a wide grin split his face. “If I did not know better I might think you had planned this to work this way Rhya, but I know you are not as mischievous as that, well not with others anyway.”

    Owen had come to admire the young girl for the stoic way she had handled her Howling, and her transition to living in the Stedding, he knew it had not been easy for her, the trauma of leaving her home, and family was never easy, even if the parting was on good terms. “Now, I think we will move onto the other two locations I asked you to study for this lesson, which first, the Inn or the Barracks?”

    Obviously Rhya was feeling more confident now and instead of answering she closed her eyes and a moment later they were both stood in deserted main room of the Inn. “Very good Rhya, but I have one question, when you memorised this location was Wall moping the floor?”

    It took Rhya a moment to understand what Owen meant and her immediate reaction was to raise her hand to her mouth to try and contain the laughter that threatened to bubble up at the sight of Owen with one foot in a bucket of water. Gingerly he removed his right foot from the bucket and theatrically shook it to shake the water off. “I am sorry Owen, there is more to this than I at first realised, maybe on my next try I will get it right.” Owen was not totally sure how sincere her apology was considering the big grin on her face, but for now he would accept it at face value. “Well at least it was not something far worse, but for now let’s sit down a moment and go over what you are doing wrong.”

    Moving over to the bar Owen walked round it and retrieved two glasses and a bottle of Lentrian Red, returning to where Rhya was sat on a stool, Owen opened the bottle and poured out two drinks. “Now as I see it, you are over complicating things, you do not need to include ever object, certainly not the mundane ones like buckets anyway. Just make sure you know the location and leave the rest alone. When you are more skilled at this you can start to add more detail to the location, but for now just concentrate on the major points of where we are going.” Owen and Rhya talked for a while, going over how she could improve her technique, when Owen was sure she understood what he wanted, he put the bottle back, making sure it was well corked and then signalled to Rhya to take them to their next destination

    Upon reaching the Ranger Barracks, Owen was pleasantly surprised to not find his foot in something it should not have been, nor to find his head brushing the ceiling of the room. Looking around the room Owen was pleased to find that Rhya had listened to what he had been saying about detail and congratulated her. “Well now you have done this one, how about we go back to your house, only this time try and keep my head from getting bashed.”

    The rest of the lesson consisted of Rhya moving them to one of the three locations that Owen named at random and with each jump she got better and faster, obviously the repetition helped but that was how Owen had designed this lesson, a person needed confidence and usually the best way to instil that was to start with simple tasks, as the week went on the tasks would get harder.




The White Wolf


Ranger Leader


OOC:Rhya, for your next post, pick three locations and move us to them in your post, then the night after that again pick three locations, but at each one Owen will ask you to include a certain item to be found there. That will complete this stage of the lesson, when I post next it will be to teach you to use “need”, ok?


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Light but she was tired. Between the recurring nightmares and spending so much time in the Dream world each night, she found herself lacking her normal energy. For someone used to rising early, if not quite so early as Owen, it was an unusual situation to be in and one that concerned her deeply enough that she had considered visiting Aislyn for advice. It was a brief consideration however as she suspected the Sage would want to know too many details and would be likely to tell Owen about it to boot. Rhya wasn’t ready for those kinds of questions nor did she want to risk missing out on her lessons because of it.


She paused in her labours, admiring her herb patch for a few seconds and then leaned against the nearest oak tree, palms flat against the rough bark of its reassuringly solid trunk, her face tilted up to catch the sunlight and her almond shaped eyes closed for a few blessed minutes while she ran over the picture of Erik’s cottage in her mind once more. Rhya was certain she had not missed anything. She’d thought that the first time though and soon discovered it was possible to be a little too thorough! Today, she’d taken Owen’s instructions into account, trying to ignore the unnecessary details and paying more attention to the general look of places and the main objects in each.


A sheepish expression crossed her features as she recalled Owen standing with one foot in a bucket of water but her annoyance at the error did not prevent an involuntary chuckle from bubbling up.


In spite of her earlier doubts, she had managed to transport herself to all of the locations as required but, never one to be predictable, Owen had changed tack, informing her that she was to move both of them to the first set of locations he had chosen. After a couple of mishaps, he had set her straight on what she was doing wrong and with a little more practice, Rhya had eventually done it correctly.  Tonight she was to repeat the exercise with three more from her list; Erik’s cottage, a small stretch of sand beside the Lake where the youngest ‘Kin liked to play in summer and the Archery grounds.


Standing upright, Rhya patted the oak tree affectionately and moved forward to collect her tools. With a last appraising look at her work, she nodded in satisfaction then headed back towards the house for her lesson.




Rhya stepped, more confidently than the previous night, taking them both to the Archery training ground first.


This concentrating takes so much effort, she thought in dismay as she swayed a little, thankful that Owen was not looking directly at her just at that moment and wishing she’d eaten beforehand. Aloud she said, “You were right, this is much simpler when I don’t try to add every little thing into the image.”


“It is certainly simpler for me when I don’t end up with a bashed head or a wet foot,” Owen replied, his smile denying any censure in the comment. “Now take us to Erik’s.”


Rhya quickly built up a picture of the log cabin in the woods with its thatched roof. She waited till she could clearly visualise the two Douglas Firs standing sentinel over the building and the small pond near it and then focused all of her attention on being there.


“Good. To the lake next.”


She nodded, beginning the process again, seeing the way the bank curved, the patches of reeds along the water’s edge and the shine of wet shingle at the far end of the sand, with the Inn seen only at a distance. The image complete, it took only seconds for them both to be standing there. Well back from the water this time, Rhya noted in relief, expelling a breath that she hadn’t realised she was holding.


For what felt like hours, Owen had her go over and over the exercise, naming their destinations randomly until she could step quickly and with ease, moving them both without mishap. Rhya was surprised to discover that familiarity also meant she expended less effort as time went on but still she was exhausted when they finished.


“For tomorrow night your locations will be the kitchen in the Infirmary, the silversmith’s workshop and the Armoury. Now it’s time you were asleep Rhya. This has been a longer session than normal. Off with you.”


Owen’s final words still ringing in her ears, Rhya found herself returned to the tree house and, needing no second telling, she headed straight to bed torn equally between relief that the lesson was over and trepidation at what waited in her dreams.




They sat on the bench outside Wolflover’s cottage as usual while Owen outlined Rhya’s first task.


“I want you to move us to the silversmith’s first but, this time, include an item for us to find when we arrive, a silver bracelet set with a single amethyst like the one Aislyn wears,” he instructed.


Rhya looked at him quizzically, wondering about the point of such a thing but out of habit she obeyed. Taking a calming breath, she brought her mind to a state of calmness and bit by bit painstakingly thought of the workshop and its contents. There were the workbenches, the tools of the silversmith’s trade, the large water barrel set in the corner, the tall solid wood doors at the entrance with their well oiled hinges … the scene came to life in her head. Rhya then added the final touch, including the silver bracelet lying on the central work surface… and stepped.


Everything they could see was just as she had pictured it and she raised her eyebrows in silent query.


“The Armoury next Rhya and we shall find a bunch of mixed herbs hanging inside the door. Include one of each type that you grow in your own garden and one that you do not.”


Perplexed, she said nothing in reply. That was something more suited to the kitchen and seemed an odd choice for the Armoury. Yet again, she did as bid, deciding that it was a small enough thing and didn’t really warrant querying. Creating the place in her head was becoming, if not second nature, certainly easier but including the herbs proved awkward. Probably because they don’t belong there, the idea dawned slowly and she wondered if that was perhaps the point. Distracted with her train of thought she lost the carefully constructed vision and had to begin again, eventually succeeding in getting the herbs where they should be before transporting herself and Owen to their destination.


With a quick glance around the room, Owen nodded, “Lastly, the Infirmary. Take us to the kitchen and this time the item to find is a tooled black leather scabbard.”


Rhya complied more quickly and before long they were standing in front of the large scrubbed table in the kitchen looking at the scabbard.


“Why those particular items Owen?” she queried at last looking for confirmation or denial of her earlier suspicion.


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    “Each item, in and of itself, has nothing special about it, but when combined with their locations they stand out all the more. That adds another level of difficulty to the lesson and allows the trainee, that would be you.” Owen winked at Rhya as he said the last part. “To move forward in their training in a safe and secure way. When we come to the next part of the lesson, however, that is where things will grow, shall we say, more interesting. Anyway, that will be all for tonight, tomorrow we will take a break then the next night,  we will start with the next part of this lesson, it is much more difficult, and has more pitfalls, we will need to be very careful.”  Owen was silent for a moment, then bid Rhya good night and after she had faded away Owen jumped to Wolflovers old home by the lake and sat down on the stone bench underneath one of the windows. A large white female wolf emerged from the undergrowth and regarded Owen with her ice blue eyes.


    Young pup should be resting. Too soon to be here. White Fang should know this.


    There were no words, just images, but that was what Owen interpreted the Wolf’s message to be.  “Yes thank you Ice, it is good to see you again as well.” The large wolf walked over to Owen and stood looking at him, her eyes almost on the same level as Owen’s. Owen reached over and started to run his hand along the sleek coat of the Wolf, then turned his head to observe the distant figure. “Good evening old friend, it is good to see you again.”


    Two nights later, Owen and Rhya were sat on the balcony of his house, the sun having set over the Stedding and the sky was going from a deep blue to purple, with full darkness only moments away. “Tonight we are going to break all the rules I have taught you so far. Tonight we could be heading into danger, we could find ourselves in serious trouble, and we will be vulnerable to attack. So we must both look out for each, guard each other’s back so to speak.” Owen stopped talking, seeing the look of doubt and concern on Rhya’s face. It was a lot to take in, especially as Owen had been adamant that Rhya should adhere to all the rules he had been teaching her, but this was something, a skill, albeit a dangerous one, one that needed to be taught. “What I want you to do when we are in the dream, is to use your need to jump us to something that is important to you, maybe something that you need to resolve, or you need to find. Whatever it is, it will be a strong emotion that guides you, and this is where you have to exercise the utmost care”


Owen and Rhya were stood outside Wolflovers cabin, Rhya looking nervous, and Owen offering words of encouragement. “I know you can do this Rhya, I have faith in you even if you do not have any for yourself. Now focus on need, and don’t let go of my hand, otherwise I will lose you and that would be something you do not want to do.”




The White Wolf


Ranger Leader


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  • 1 month later...

Rhya couldn’t quite believe her ears and stared at Owen in disbelief. He wanted her to break rules? That was like telling her that the grass was blue after her punishment for doing so. She did not dwell on it long though as he outlined what she was supposed to attempt during the lesson and disbelief was replaced by trepidation.


“I know you can do this Rhya, I have faith in you even if you do not have any for yourself.”


Owen’s voice was a distant sound, barely registering through Rhya’s muddled thoughts. She had absolutely no faith that she could do this… half convinced it could only result in something bad, but there was no way out of it. She had to complete the lesson.



“… and don’t let go of my hand, otherwise I will lose you and that would be something you do not want to do.”


Normally she would not have missed the opportunity afforded by that comment to tease him, but on this occasion Rhya took the instructions to heart, slipping her smaller hand into Owen’s, bolstered slightly by the contact, and then had to ignore the urge to clamp her fingers to his like a vice, instead contenting herself with a firm grip. She trusted him even if she did not quite trust herself and that would have to be enough.


Need. There was only one thing she felt any need of and that was to see her family. No, not the entire family, she amended. She needed to see her father. She needed answers and reassurance… mostly answers.


Calming her breathing, Rhya focused intently on that need and, fully expecting nothing to happen on the first try, was surprised when the landscape blurred around them. It was nothing compared to her surprise when the Dream steadied once more however, and she found they were standing at one end of a tiny clearing in a forest… somewhere. They should have found themselves in Maradon, in familiar surroundings, not in some unknown location.


With a baffled frown, she glanced at Owen, shaking her head slightly in response to his unspoken query. “I don’t know this place.”


Facing them was a small run down hut, not big or solid enough to be called a cottage, the door hanging rakishly off its hinges and the wood looking decidedly rotten in places. There was an air of desertion about the place, a smell of damp and mould that spoke of months of neglect. There were certainly no signs of recent habitation.


What on earth does such a place have to do with my father? Rhya scanned the surrounding trees and the old fire pit off to the left of the hut as they moved further out into the open. She didn’t believe they were even in Saldaea, never mind Maradon.



Slowly, they walked round the clearing ensuring that the hut was truly empty, checking there were no fresh tracks, all senses on alert… but nothing occurred to disturb the peace and Rhya eventually pulled Owen down to sit on a large fallen log not far from the fire pit. It was time for some explanations.


“I should have told you before,” she began with an audible sigh. “I’ve been having these... dreams. Bad dreams. They started about the time we did my first training...”


Her words cut off as Owen stood again abruptly and when she turned to see what had caught his attention, she could see nothing. Then she too leaped to her feet, staring at what Owen had sensed sooner; a dishevelled figure emerging from the trees and approaching them cautiously. Her feeling of apprehension grew as the man got closer, something familiar in the way he moved, in his features, sending prickles down her spine.


The stranger stopped several feet away, eyeing Owen warily. He half lifted his hands showing them to be empty as though letting them know he was no threat and Rhya finally realised what she was seeing… a mirror image of her father… almost. There were differences, subtle but there; the line of the jaw, the nose that had obviously been broken at some time, the lines around his eyes that marked him as older... “His eyes!” she exclaimed softly. Those eyes were as golden as their own.


The man’s gaze swivelled, focusing on her face as she spoke, looking her over with a studied intensity and possessiveness that shook Rhya to her core and had her hands settling defensively on the daggers at her belt.


“Lianna?” the man’s voice was raspy, sounding long disused, forced from a dry throat.


How does he know Lia? Rhya’s mind raced, trying to work out what this person had to do with her nurse. The resemblance to her father was too striking to be ignored and she knew that, coupled with her need for answers, his presence here was no coincidence. “I’m not Lianna. My name is Rhyannon,” she paused, uncertainty causing her to speak stiffly. “Lia was my nurse though... and who are you?”


As the demand forced its way out, the man’s legs seemed about to give way, his hand raising shakily to wipe across his face. “Kyril Chaede,” he spoke the name haltingly as though it was strange to his tongue, “and Lianna… was not your nurse. She was your mother. She was…my wife!” The last shot from his lips like a bullet, his anger palpable though his eyes never left Rhya’s face.


Rhya sat back down on the log with a thud as the words hit her ears with the force of inevitability, feeling rather than seeing Owen shift protectively in front of her. She could sense the stark truth behind Kyril’s words, a distant part of her unsurprised by his revelation and heard her father’s voice in her mind telling her of other relatives effected by the golden eyed curse as he called it. So... family indeed... but Lianna? She recalled her nurse as a comforting, nurturing presence from her childhood but the woman had died, when Rhya was about nine, of a fever that had swept through the city one winter. Her memories of Lia, though fond, were blurred by time and perspective.


Her own voice was calmer than it had any right to be when she replied, “You had best sit and tell me why you would say such a thing.” Rhya looked up, expecting the objection that came from Owen, but this was something she had to do. She had to find the strength to see this through. Wasn’t that why they had come? So she could find answers? She lifted her hand to Owen’s arm, squeezing gently. “I have to do this…I have to know. Would you… give us some space to talk please?” Her eyes silently pleaded with him for understanding. She could not leave now, not without the solution to all the puzzles plaguing her dreams.


Owen’s nod, when it came, was brief and she could clearly sense his reluctance but he moved off a ways affording them some privacy and as he did so, Kyril approached hesitantly. Close to, Rhya noted small inconsequential details like the line of his eyebrows and the jut of his chin that were so reminiscent of her father. She tried to smile, to seem friendly, but it was a weak attempt and she couldn’t quite disguise the wariness she felt. She had no premonition of just how justified the feeling was.


“My father is Paitar Chaede and my mother’s name is Fionnda… I presume you are related to them somehow?”


“Paitar is... was... my younger brother,” Kyril acknowledged, “but he is not your father.” His eyes seemed to be trying to bore into Rhya’s skull, the feverish light glinting in them filling her with a disquiet that had her fidgeting uncomfortably.


She opened her mouth as he seemed about to lower himself onto the log, intending to ask for further explanation, but instead found herself held in a grip too strong to break. Everything happened so quickly that there was no time for more than a startled exclamation before the clearing disappeared in a blur and panic settled over her like a shroud, the only thought in her mind that she didn’t know enough about this strangely lit world to do anything other than comply. Even if she could break free, she had no idea where they were and wasn’t in any frame of mind to attempt a safe jump home.


It seemed like minutes but was in fact more likely only seconds before the blurring ended. Time seemed to move differently in the Dream. Rhya stumbled slightly, but even off balance instinct had her reaching for her daggers only to be foiled as her arms were suddenly pulled sharply behind her and tied tightly with something… not rope but something strong. Calm, I must stay calm, she tried to quell the fears racing around in her head. Owen will find me. The thought came to her with such complete faith, without any doubts, that it was more reassuring than anything else could have been under the circumstances. Squaring her shoulders and tilting her chin, she turned her head carefully to see Kyril pacing back and forth, muttering in a low tone. When he saw her watching, he strode over quickly, screaming as he moved.


“That man is NOT your father. I am your father. HE STOLE YOU… stole you away like a thief in the night... took my Lianna too... tore you both away from me... because of these...” he gestured wildly at his eyes as his voice softened. “So long ago now… she was so beautiful my Lia...” he paused looking at her. “You have some of the look of her but you take after me… yes, a Chaede for certain...” Kyril returned to his pacing as his rambling continued, hands tearing at his short hair in a frenzy. “Paitar’s men came at night... took you both while I was away. Do you see? They burned the house down. Left me with nothing... NOTHING!!”


Rhya stared at the man before her in horrified fascination, shaking her head in denial as her mind tried desperately to refute his tale. There were too many things that made sense, too many details that made her dreams a reality. He kidnapped me... they put me down a well, left me alone in the dark... “No...no, my father wouldn’t lie to me for all those years,” the protest was a pained cry. “Lia was only my nurse.”


Kyril seized her shoulders, shaking her hard enough to make her teeth rattle. “She was your mother… what happened to her? Where is she now?” Rhya had no need to speak as he read the answer in her expression, the sound issuing from his throat one of agony and lost hope. “She was mine... and he took her... but I have you now,” his gaze sharpened, fixing on her face. “You’re mine too... MY flesh and blood.” A hand raised, stroking her hair absently and causing her to flinch as he whispered, “I won’t let him have you again... I won’t.”


The blurring came again so suddenly that Rhya was disoriented, fighting off dizziness and shock. Gradually, she gathered her wits enough to scan the surroundings, and was stunned to discover they were in a large room in what appeared to be a mansion house in the Saldaean style, only the wall at one side had crumbled away leaving it open to the elements and the remains of the roof were charred and black. She knew without asking that this must be Kyril’s old home...her old home... and she shivered despite the lack of either heat or cold inside the Dream.


Her eyes followed his renewed pacing, keeping him in her line of sight as she brought her breathing under control and went over her lessons in her head, trying to think straight. She could change things here and she doubted he knew even as much as she did herself. He’d obviously never been to the Stedding, had got through the Howling himself somehow.


“Tell me of my mother... of Lianna... please,” she spoke loud enough to gain his attention. If she could keep him occupied, it would give her time. Time to focus and get free. Time to plan. Time for Owen to find us.







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    It was not a request that Owen was happy to grant. Rhya was out of her depth here and needed his guidance. However, Owen was not totally insensitive and from his own experiences he knew that closure was always the best option. An open wound could kill you as surely as the blade that made that wound, and Owen would not deny Rhya the opportunity to salve a wound.

    However, he was far too experienced to just walk away and leave her unprotected. As soon as Rhya was out of sight, Owen made himself invisible, but did not know enough about her father abilities here, and so would not take any chances of being seen or sensed.

    Carefully, Owen masked his scent and using all his experience to avoid any tell tales he inched closer to Rhya’s position.  It was just as well he did, because no sooner had he than Rhya and the person she was talking to disappeared. Without conscious thought, Owen went after them. Remembering all that he had been taught by Wolflover, Owen was determined not to lose Rhya and subject her to whatever torment this person had in store for her.

    Within moments, although those moments stretched into years for Owen, Owen had found Rhya and settled in to listen to what was being said. From the snatches of conversation Owen overheard he pieced together what was being said. Then, without warning. Rhya was gone again.

    However, Owen was beginning to get a feel for this person who claimed to be Rhya’s father and this time he was able to find Rhya that much quicker.  Owen was about to intervene when he heard Rhya ask a question.  “Tell me of my mother... of Lianna... please,”

    Owen recognised the barely concealed anguish in those words and decided it would be better to say his hand for now and allow Rhya to pursue this line of enquiry. For now he was confident that he could prevent any physical harm coming to her.  However, he was not so confident that he could stop any mental harm. Only Rhya could do that and this seemed the best chance they had of preventing that happening.




The WhiteWolf


Ranger Leader


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  • 2 weeks later...

Kyril’s eyes cut to her briefly before sliding to the floor as though contemplating her request and Rhya held her breath, suddenly struck by the fact that she did want to know. This might be the only chance she had to learn about her real mother. Dragging her mind to some semblance of calm as she waited for him to speak, Rhya focused on her wrists, on whatever was holding her bound and imagined it gone. It took her three attempts but at last she was free and worked her fingers slowly to get some feeling back in them but was careful not to let her captor see.


“Yes... yes you’re right. You should know of her... of your real mother, Lianna Rashadi. Not that milksop Pait married,” Kyril’s voice was a hiss of disgust and Rhya, to her shame, could not find the least impetus to contradict him. “We grew up together Lia, her older brother, me and Pait. Her father was our neighbour and did business with your grandfather. She was a quiet girl, easily overlooked in her younger years, spent much of her time reading. Then her father sent her to stay with an Aunt for several years in Mehar and when she returned...” his expression was distant, lost in his memories as Rhya drank in every word, “she’d grown into a very beautiful young woman. There was something about her that was quite distinctive and when she sang... she could steal hearts with that voice. We were married almost immediately and she fell pregnant with you soon after.” Kyril’s voice became quieter. “We were so happy then, a family... until this happened.” He indicated his eyes, the anger in them holding an edge of madness that she would have recognised had she not been entangled in her own thoughts.


Rhya could recall Lia singing to her, indeed that was how she’d learned her first songs, but now it occurred to her that her own voice and love of music must be something that came from her mother. Everything was making so much sense suddenly, much as she wished it were otherwise, slotting into place like the pieces of a scattered puzzle coming back together.


“Why... why did you not... come for us both? You left us there!” the cry that forced itself out was a pale reflection of the depth of Rhya’s pain as she tried to come to terms with a sense of being bereft. All those years of loving a man who was not truly her father yet was the only father she knew, of feeling guilty over not loving her mother… it could all have been avoided. Surely there had been no need for this. Could they not have just explained it to me? I was the only one who didn’t know! She tried to imagine how Lia had felt, forced to act the servant and not allowed to openly acknowledge her own child. Forcing the woman into such a situation, having taken her from her husband and home, was beyond forgiveness in Rhya’s eyes.


“I TRIED!! More than once,” he bellowed back at her, his face turning red and his fists clenching sporadically as he strode back and forth. “I crept around at a distance, trying to find a way to contact Lia… but my eyes... they were too noticeable and I couldn’t get past those guards of Pait’s. They drove me off and eventually... things were happening to me… strange things. I didn’t understand what it was and I had to leave... had to get away... and then when I did go back, looking, searching... Pait had gone. I didn’t know where... only that he had taken you both too.”


Even through her own anguish, Rhya could recognise his description of his Howling. She could not blame him for that, aware of how much worse some experiences could be compared to her own and that, unlike the ‘Kin of the Stedding, he’d had no such help. “We lived in Maradon,” she interjected, loss and sadness lacing her voice. “I don’t remember ever living anywhere else but... since my own eyes changed I live there no more. Father made me leave. I was a danger to the family... and in danger myself had I stayed.” 


“HE IS NOT YOUR FATHERRRRRRRR,” the shrill shriek that issued from Kyril’s mouth was accompanied by the back of his fist connecting with her temple in a wild swing that still had enough force behind it to slam her head to one side and knock her off her feet. Rhya landed in dazed heap, as the blood drained from her face in shock leaving her lips edged white. Nobody had ever raised a hand to her in violence and that it should be her own father that did so, for she doubted his story not at all, increased her shock tenfold.


He was not about to stop either, his words unintelligible in his fury as he saw her hands were free and launched himself at her. Rolling away, Rhya was no longer thinking, driven purely by fear and a sense of disbelief. Deep in her subconscious was the knowledge that anything happening here could have dire consequences in the normal world but she was acting completely on instinct now, disconnected from reality. She reached desperately for her daggers even as she rolled. Hands grasped for her throat, found purchase and squeezed, causing spots to appear in her vision as her breath was forced out of her by his weight crashing on top of her.


Unaware of anything but the impulse to survive, Rhya stared into golden eyes so like her own, registering only the blankly insane look of a man who had lost his mind utterly. “He can’t have you. I won’t let him have you back.” The words repeated over and over, echoing through her pounding skull. Everything was turning black and in one last effort, Rhya curled the fingers of her right hand tightly round a familiar hilt and thrust upwards... once... twice...seconds dragging into hours in her mind at the horror of her action.


Strength gone, she was on the verge of losing consciousness, but as quickly as it had started, the pressure on her throat and the weight pinning her in place were suddenly gone. She was in no state to fathom that out ... had no will to do anything other than lie there, eyes closed against the dizzying blackness, dragging in air for long minutes; great gulps that burned her throat and refilled her starved lungs with life giving sweetness. Then came an insistent voice that penetrated the fogs clouding her mind. A familiar sound and one that demanded a response.


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  • 2 weeks later...

    It happened so quickly, than Owen had no advanced warning and no time to react.  First the sound of angry words spitting forth all full of venom and pus, then the gargled scream from Rhya.

    Without conscious thought Owen moved, and in moving suddenly appeared at the side of Rhya’s assailant. Owen did not waste any time with words, instead he gripped the man’s hands and prised the fingers from around Rhya’s neck. Once he had broken the grip Owen seemed to flick his hand and the man suddenly flew across the room and ended up in a crumpled heap against the wall, looking like the pile of garbage he truly was.

    Without waiting, Owen strode over to Rhya and bent down to pick her up. Sliding his arms around her he effortlessly stood up, Rhya cradled in his arms.

    And again there was an almost imperceptible flicker and the world around them changed.  Owen and Rhya were stood facing a stone wall, but when Owen turned around, it was not a wall but the back of a cave. Owen walked over to the cave opening and set Rhya on her feet near to the fire that was burning in the night.

    Owen was sat on a large rock holding a mug of tea, his gaze alternating between Rhya’s huddled form and the brilliant night sky. Eventually she would talk, would offer some explanation as to what had happened.

    But not yet and Owen was not going to rush her. He had reproached himself for leaving her with that man, even though she had asked him to. He knew better and it was only through sheer chance that Rhya had not been hurt. “ Some hurts here do not show in the waking world, and they are usually the hardest to recover from.”




The WhiteWolf


Range Leader


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  • 2 months later...

There was no heat or cold in the Wolf Dream but nobody would ever know it looking at Rhya’s shivering form. It was the kind of shivering that was involuntary, that didn’t want to stop and it seemed to start at her toes and end with her teeth, which she clamped tightly together in an attempt to reassert some control.


Part of her mind knew that this was a reaction to the shocks she’d received and another part knew that she should speak to Owen... but the major part of her was focused purely on all that she had learned in the past few hours. At least, she assumed it was hours. Time flowed strangely in the dream.


What troubled her most was that her life, the life she had spent so many months missing, was a fraud and worse, a fraud perpetuated by the man she had adored all her life. His lies, his actions, made a mockery of almost everything she’d ever believed and it had shaken Rhya to her core.


Rubbing her hands briskly across her arms as the last of the shivers subsided, she dragged herself back to the present. There was little point to wallowing. What was done was done and she had finally discovered the answers she had sought if not in the way she would have wished.


“Did I kill him?” the words were uttered before she even realised she was going to ask the question, her tone hard and flat, sounding unnatural even to her own ears. Her eyes cut slowly towards Owen’s, the dread in them belying the lack of emotion in her voice. Rhya had felt the impact of her dagger and knew it had hit deep... but she was unsure as to the result.


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  • 2 weeks later...

    “No you did not kill him Rhya and neither did i although i was tempted, but for once i erred on the side of caution.” A small smile flickered across Owen’s face as he said this. He was not a vindictive man, although there were those who would disagree with that. “He is more than likely trying to explain how he got a dagger wound to whomever he lives with, that is if anyone would have him.”

    Owen passed a battered pewter mug to Rhya, indicating she should drink. Mechanically she raised the mug to her lips and drank, almost without realising what she was doing. “It is no good dwelling on something like this Rhya. Tonight you have learnt a valuable, if painful, lesson. When using need to find something in the Wolf Dream we do not always know what is going to happen next. We must always be on our guard here and no matter who we meet we cannot lower our guard. If we do we face situations that we might not be able to free ourselves from.”

    Owen and Rhya stayed by their fire for some time before Owen indicated it was time for them to return to their bodies. “We can talk about this later, but for now you need sleep. While we are here we do not get as restful a sleep as we would if we were not here.” Standing up Owen offered his hand to Rhya and pulled her to her feet. Then after a moment Rhyablinked out of existence and a moment later so did Owen.

    It was some time later that a shadow seemed to detach itself from the other shadows and make its way over to the remains of the campfire. Glancing down at the remains of the fire, one boot slowly moving through the ashes, the person was obviously deep in thought.

    “So he has another one of his brats around now does he, well he knows where that will end, the same way as the others.”

    For a moment there was silence, and then a cold, mirthless laughter could be heard, echoing across the valley until it faded into a silence more chilling than what that laughter promised.



The WhiteWolf


Ranger Leader


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