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Chapter 1

The rain fell in large droplets blurring her already unreliable vision. Tears salted her cheeks, and mingled with the blood that pooled there in four large gashes. If she tried to move pain lanced through her in such a way that it stole her breath and made her vision fade to black. It had been only three hours since her life had ended. Since her whole world was ripped by fiery claws and teeth. The past blurred into a tumultuous blur of images, and nothing could be grasped clearly. This must be what it is to die. She though for a moment, before even that thought was stolen by pain. She desperately wished that she could vocalize her pain, for once in her life the inability to speak was a burden that made her suffering worse.

Help me! She cried out mentally without even meaning to. Control was beyond her now, and the fiery torment continued to tear at the tenuous edges of consciousness. She dreamed that a man was beside her, and lifting her gently. None of this could be true, but she liked the thought that she wouldn’t die alone, betrayed by those she trusted, even if she didn’t like them. Her vision faded to black and when it returned, still blurred by rain and tears, she could have sworn that she was on a horse, moving away from the massive wall that guarded the Compound, her home since being ripped from her parents at the age of five. Once again her vision faded to black, and then a jolt of pain…

She woke with a gasp from the dream that had haunted her every nice since it had actually happened. Every time she slept the rain and memories assaulted her. Making sleep a hated necessity, not the escape it used to be when she was still in the Compound. No matter how much she had hated the place, it was the only home she remembered. Vague flashes of memory were the only remnants of her time with her parents, and even that ended in blood and darkness. She stood carefully and moved over to the window by the door.

Taru looked out across the misty field that lay outside her window. It had been a month and a half since she had been rescued from the compound and brought to the rebel’s camp. Her wounds were mostly healed at this time, but the ache of them still lingered, especially on the colder mornings that were becoming more common. She shook her right hand out and flexed her still stiff fingers. Doing a quick mental survey of her body, she found the few trouble stops and carefully stretched them. Shrugging on a shirt and pants, she walked out into the soft dawn sunlight.

She moved with the care of someone who has not been moving much in recent weeks. Jaki had finally let her off bed rest just last week, and she had yet to adjust to full use of her body. She moved towards the largest building in the small clearing, figuring that was the main building that everyone spoke of. The simple wooden structure jutted awkwardly out of the ground, and did not look all that sturdy. Taru had been told that there had been no real planning of this camp, and in fact most of the rebels still slept in tents near the edge of the clearing. The Cheveyos of course didn’t need any shelter, but they still had a small camp. She fervently hoped that they stayed there for the most part.

Intellectually she knew that not every one of the creatures was as evil and sadistic as her unit mate, but it would be quite some time before she would be able to be near one without being extremely uncomfortable. She entered the only door she could see and was immediately assaulted by more noise then she had ever heard in her life. The compound did not allow speaking like this. Everything was controlled, and any stepping out of the strict lines set for all members would result in very painful punishments. Taru had been on the receiving end of many of those, but not for speaking out of turn. That had never been a problem.

She was jolted out of her shock by a hand on her shoulder. She wheeled to face whoever it was and was thankfully met by the friendly face of Dayn. His soft brown curls framing his babyish face made his smile and open and friendly one. Taru found it impossible not to smile back at him. Dayn’s twin sister, Alye joined him a moment later, and the similarities between them still made Taru have to glance at them more then once. The only difference she could see was their hair length, Alye wore hers a little longer then Dayn, but that was it. Taru glanced around the room, and saw that her entrance hadn’t been noticed by many of the people there, if any, and she moved closer to the leaders of this small but loud group.

Dayn had been the one to drag her broken and half-dead body from the Compound after Blue Sky had finished with her. Taru had known that her unit mate didn’t like her, but it wasn’t clear until that terrible night how much he truly hated her. His teeth and claws had ripped flesh from her body, and his snarling words had torn deep into her soul. Her body would heal in time, many beatings and injuries had taught her that, but she didn’t know if she would ever be able to live past the words that he had spoken that night. She shivered a little at the relentless memories that even now continued to torment her. Alye must have noticed because a calming breeze flowed through her mind, wiping out the torturous thoughts. Taru returned the mental brush with an internal smile. She was still learning a lot about her abilities.

Even now, over a month later it was hard to think of the abilities she had as anything but a curse. They had taken her from her parents, and eventually caused their death, they had forced her to the Compound, and had bonded her with Blue Sky. So far she could not see any good that could come from the strangeness that lived inside of her, but Alye, Dayn, and even Jaki were trying to change her mind about this. Those three were the only ones that she had met so far in the camp, but she had a feeling that was about to change shortly. Dayn gave her shoulder a little squeeze, and gently led her over to a small table on the edge of the large room. There were two other people sitting at the table, and after sitting down, Taru made another quick sweep of the room with her eyes. This time she noticed that there were Cheveyos in this room, but they kept to the edges for the most part, and were making no noise at all.

“We didn’t expect you to be up this early or we would have sent Jaki to get you.” One of the new men spoke. His voice was a soft baritone that had a musical quality to it. His eyes were a staggering sea green, and his raven black hair was tied back in a neat knot. If Taru were to be thinking of such a thing, she would fid him beautiful, but she didn’t know if she would ever be able to think of a man that way. She gave him a small smile in reply and turned to Dayn. He realized her question before it was asked.

Taru, this is Shet, he is one of the mages here. He was very interested in your abilities, and wanted to meet you this morning. The woman to his left is Kren, she is here to keep Shet in line. Dayn’s soft mental voice filled her head, and Taru had to hold herself very still to keep from flinching away. She didn’t think she would ever get used to people talking directly into her mind. She did have to smile at the last comment however, and Shet glared at Dayn, letting Taru know he had been speaking out loud and not privately. She nodded politely to Shet, but didn’t meet his eyes.

“Don’t listen to Dayn, he just likes to give me a hard time because he knows I’m prettier then him.” He glared over at Dayn again, and she couldn’t help a small smile at his antics. “We don’t have to do anything today, but I did want to meet you Taru. According to Dayn you could have a serious potential for mage craft, and there are far too few mages in our ranks. Demerita has so many powerful mages under his thumb that if we want to be able to hold our own we will have to find more with talent.”

Taru shuddered at Demerita’s name, but as far as things went that was a mild reaction. She was pleased with her self-control, and nodded to Shet. If there were anything that she could do that would help defeat that evil bastard she would do it; even if it meant learning more about the abilities that had cursed her. She thanked him using the hand signs that we were forced to use in the Compound, and he seemed to understand. Taru was glad, because she knew the conditioning that occurred in the Compound would not be easily shaken. Speaking mentally was the main reason for her many beatings, and circumstances like that taught one quickly and thoroughly.

Karn would you mind getting some breakfast for Taru? I’m sure I can keep Shet under control until you get back. Taru heard Alye’s voice, again in her mind, and she smiled. Alye’s voice was rough and deep, the opposite of her brother’s. Mentally they were vastly different, and it was almost impossible for Taru to see that they were twins at all from their mental voices and personalities, but she could hardly refute what was before her eyes. Karn was gone for what seemed like only a moment, but she returned laden with a plate full of food. Even though she had eaten well ever since she had been here, she could never seem to get enough food. She quickly took care of the eggs and meat on the plate, but savored the bread slowly. Good quality bread was something she had never had much of as a child, and even less of during her time in the compound. The soft loaves that were served here were easily her favorite food. The others waited patiently while she ate her food. It unnerved her slightly, but not enough to make her stop eating.

“Taru, now that you are up and about we do need to tell you some rules of the camp. We won’t restrict you, but some things must be stated so that problems don’t occur.” As Kren spoke, she watched Taru carefully, and she knew that the frail girl in front of her was not up for all of the rules today. “The first and most important is that sleeping areas are out of bounds unless invited. Cheveyos have their own camp to the west of camp, right inside the boundary of the trees; the humans for the most part are to the north. Everyone has a small portion of land that is theirs, and that area is theirs alone. A lot of people come to this place in a similar situation to you, and many need their privacy.”

Alye and Dayn looked down at this, and Taru knew that it was because they regretted not being able to save more people from the Compound before they were in such a situation that their life depended on it. Taru couldn’t help but feel the same way. She wished desperately that she had been given the option to join this group before her life was hanging in the balance. Again shaking her head to clear it of the lingering shadows of the past, she looked at Kren.

“The only other rule is that you let someone in charge know if you are going to leave the immediate area. This is for all of our safety, and if is it disobeyed we might have to take strict action.” She glanced at Alye and Dayn, who both nodded and smiled at her. They understood Taru’s discomfort with mental speech, and so they had asked Kren to forward all this information to her. Taru could not immediately see why Kren was with the rebels. She knew that Malaquent took all children born with any type of disability and forced them to serve the government after some very harsh training. Kren had no visible disability, so Taru couldn’t see why she was here.

As if reading her thoughts, Kren looked at Taru and smiled. “I may not have a s gift that Malaquent and Demerita sought to use, but my brother did. He had the gift of future sight, and the teachers at the Compound destroyed him mind, drove him into insanity so that he would be a better tool for them. When he was no longer of use they tossed him back to my parents and me. He died not three months later, unable to even bring himself to eat because of the visions that haunted him. I swore revenge, and when I heard stirrings of what was happening here, in Buenasha, I sought out this place, and was greeted rather harshly by Hawk and his patrol.” The last was said with a wry smile, and a glance to Dayn who smiled in turn. There must be more of a story there then Kren was telling, but Taru’s head was already spinning with all the information that had been given to her this morning already.

She thanked Kren for her story, and turned to Dayn and Alye who seemed to be in a conversation with Shet. Private mental conversations were quite annoying to Taru, because she could always tell when they were going on. She didn’t know if it was because of her own gift, or because of all the times she had been caught in the Compound and punished for it, but she hated it. She would rather have been ignorant of it, but she waited patiently until the other three finished. Then she scowled at Dayn to let her displeasure of his silent conversation be known. He smirked at her innocently, but made no apologies for his actions.

Come on, enough talk. I’ll show you around the camp, you need to build up your strength again. Hawk will want to start your training as soon as possible. Dayn’s voice made Taru jump a little, she was not expecting him to speak to her, but she gathered herself quickly and nodded. She did want to know more about this place where she would be living. She smiled and waved a goodbye at Shet and Kren. Dayn led her from the still very noisy room, and towards a flight of stairs that was almost hidden in the corner of the room.

Onto Chapter 2

 Malaquent is completely fictional, any relationship to real people, places, or events is purely coincidental, and is in no way ment to offend. All pictures of the Cheveyos are Emy Rothenberger. Any use of names, places, or images from these pages is strictly prohibited. Other images may be other artists, and all rights belong to those artists. Use without permission is prohibited.