She watched as a warm breeze forced tiny wisps of clouds to float across the sun, causing a purple shadow to meander across the foliage littered floor of the Sesman forest. She loved to sit here in the leafy emerald tree tops on the far side of her home dug deep into the Vertigano Mountains. Loved to feel the early morning breeze drift through her brightly, autumn coloured locks stirring them as it went. The warm red, orange and pink colours of sunrise began to spread across a sky quickly turning to blue, as the sun began to ascend from behind the dark mountains, which had, when she was younger, frightened her far more than she was willing to admit. The warmth of the sun emerged from beyond the horizon and the chill of darkness that was set in the air lifted and she determined that it was this moment that she needed to make her way down from her perch. She swung herself over the branch she was sitting on high up in the tree and slid down the roughly barked trunk. As she went however she lost her footing and careened down faster than she had thought to, reaching the bottom with an almighty thud her hands bloody and splintered.

The water flowed silently under the bridge as Elenia crossed the Ardelle River heading away from the town of Evelin. Her mother would be there, waiting impatiently as usual for Elenia to appear, knowing full well that she wouldn't. Once there Elenia was supposed start the morning meal, whilst her mother laid the fire for Elenia's father and brother Azic. They warmed themselves in front of it before a hard day at work constructing huts at the top of trees in Evelin for those who chose to use the huts to sleep in some nights as a retreat and to be away from the dimly lit halls of their mountain home.

The river looked cool and clear. Elenia looked at her bloody hands wishing that she had the time to swim in it let alone allow the healing waters to sooth her painful palms, but she did not. Already her mother would be thinking of ways to subtly punish her for her daily wanderings. Elenia had to stay out late in the afternoons in the hope that by the time that she got home her father would be there. If in fact he was her mother would not hand out punishment to her daughter until a latter date when Anthony La'frelle would not be in the vicinity. Elenia love her father deeply and much more than her unforgiving mother. However Genevieve La'frelle loved her husband more than anything else on earth. Elenia could tell this just by seeing the way she looked at him. She would not even scold her daughter in front of him for fear that she would be rebuked for it. She doted on him and Elenia was sure that if it were not for him her mother would have given up on life a long time since, though she was unsure as to why she got this feeling it constantly nagged at her and at those times when she was being scolded forced her into submission. After all someone who loved her father so much obviously had some good in them.

"Lena, wake up," whispered Auristela quietly and urgently shaking Elenia awake. Quickly before your mother hears us." Elenia opened her eyes slowly allowing them to focus. When they had she slipped quietly out of bed and slipped over to the window that was cut through the mountain wall. Elenia's family was lucky enough to own one of the few apartments cut into the mountain that was situated on the eastern side, thus allowing a window. There was only one window in each of these apartments however and Elenia was fortunate that her father had placed her in this room. She knew that her mother had been less than happy at the arrangement and she had the niggling feeling that she resented Elenia for it even though she had no choice in the matter. After all she had only been a baby.

She slipped the window shade aside and breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that the sun had yet to rise. Auristela slipped a silent finger over her lips indicating to Elenia to be quite and pointed to the garments that had been laid out at the foot of her bed the previous night. Quickly slipping into them Elenia silently crept into the dank kitchen. Rummaging as softly as she could Elenia finally made the discovery of yesterday's hard leftover bread, she could have done better but Auristela promptly dragged her into the cold empty corridor and through the large, spacious, dimly lit halls of their mountain home. Elenia heard a sound and stopped. Turning around she peered up the stairwell however she could see nothing other than the frosty stone steps so she continued down into the cold fresh morning air of the Sesman forest.

This happened many mornings and all day Elenia and her friends Auristela, Myrna, Marshmead and Tiebalt would do the same thing. They would hide in all the closeted and unexposed places that they could find, in and around the woods so as to avoid the work and chastising that their parents, without fail, gave to them if they stayed at home. It was an idea they had come up with many years ago when they could never see a great deal of each other. Marshmead and Tiebalt as the oldest males in their family, as Azic was, had to work in the fields so that the village could eat the produce grown there. Elenia, Myrna and Auristela, in the chauvinistic society they lived in, had to stay at home with their mothers and sweep the thousands of corridors of their mountain dwelling and beat the millions of rugs that attempted to keep those floors warm. Mind you they weren't particularly interested in spending time working in the fields either. In the first couple of months they had got into trouble constantly for their antics. But now their parents had gotten used to it. They knew there was nothing that they could do. However Elenia's mother still took any pent up anger that she had out on Elenia every night and the small groups' peers within the caverns did not associate with them out of, perhaps jealousy, that they could not do the same thing. In effect the group had become social outcasts. It did not however bother them in any way due to the fact that they had each other and one day when they had to face responsibility, they could take it because they had, in their past, been free from constraint. This being the view of her friends Elenia could do nothing but accept it. Deep down however there was a part of her that knew that when the time came for her to accept maturity and responsibility she did not think that she would be able to face it. For her friends happy memories for a time gone past might be enough to sustain them, but for Elenia these memories would only chafe her as she longed for that time to return.

"Auristela, I'm going to watch the sunrise," "Lena, can't you live without it for just one day? We have spent lone enough dawdling due to the fact that you were intent on gaining far more sleep than you really needed. The boys will be wondering where we are, and quite frankly I'm not too keen on leaving Myrna with those two. She's such a little flirt and you know they can't say no, after all their male!" "I'm sorry Stella but I have to, it just makes the day far more worthwhile, time to myself, you know." Auristela rolled her eyes at Elenia and without looking back ran toward the old forbidden waterfall that they had come across during their wanderings the day before. No one knew why exactly it was forbidden; however for generations children had been taught that is was a horrible dangerous place to go. Those who went there did not return. Elenia and her friends had been so bored and to their overwhelming disgust their parents had found most of their hiding places during their carefully orchestrated midday raids. They needed a new hiding place and they knew that their parents would never think to look here. Elenia knew that her mother in particular was scared to death of the place. She had always been a superstitious woman and the memories of what she had been told as a child had never left her. For Elenia however this was not so. Her father was a much more accepting worldly man and he had influenced Elenia far more than her mother ever had or would.

"Lena" called Teibalt. Elenia turned her head away from her contemplation of her hands as she bathed them in the glistening waterfall. They were still red and blistered however she had managed to remove the splinters, allowing them to float away. The cerulean pool of water that surrounded the waterfall was encircled by waving willow trees that blew gently in the breeze. To the left there were olive coloured thickets. Here Teibalt had placed himself whilst Myrna and Auristela lay in the midst of flowers in the clearing, linking them together and laughing with mirth. Marshmead had completely immersed himself in the thicket, his head in a rocky opening in its dark recesses and was crawling further in. "What's he doing?" asked Elenia trying to peer past Marsh's struggling form. Teibalt's eyes found hers with a mixture of sarcasm and humour at a question with such an obvious answer. This sarcasm merged with anger infused his tone as he replied, "There's no place like home and his mummy is calling him for dinner. What do you think Lena! He's found a tunnel of some sort and he's trying to get in.," turning back he continued "wether or not he is going to fit is the question however as he appears to be struggling a little too much for my liking." "Marsh honey, don't get stuck" called Myrna in a tone reminiscent of the slovenly women that prostrated their wares on the lower levels of the mountain complex. She looked at Auristela and began giggling again. Elenia turned back in disgust. Those two amazed her sometimes; there was just something about their overly girlish habits that goaded at Elenia. She always shrugged this off though because she knew that it came from her good relationships with men such as her father and Azic. She understood them more and she did not think that she would ever be able to absorb all that was required to become a "successful" woman.

She was not expecting the sight that greeted her, Marsh was nowhere to be seen and Teibalt was down on his hands and knees looking into the opening Marsh had managed to disappear into. "I can't see him" came Teibalt's muffled and slightly worried voice "maybe I should go and look for !" he yelled and Elenia could hear his scream reverberating around inside the opening. She decided that it must lead into the cavern that was surely behind the waterfall. She was about to say this when she realised that Teibalt had struggled out of the opening and was facing her. "I don't want to leave you girls here alone. There is obviously a reason why this place is forbidden." He looked around as if scanning for danger and opened his mouth to say more when further giggling came from Auristela and Myrna as Auristela crooned "Come and sit with us Teibalt. I'm sure Marsh will be back in no time. You just need a little diversion." Teibalt took one last look into the opening in the brush and scanned Elenia's face. She gave him a quizzical look. It was if he was asking her permission and for some unknown reason she nodded in acquisition and watched as he moved to seat himself down with Auristela and Myrna. Elenia moved to sit with them but hesitated and thought better of it. The call of the water she had felt earlier still infused her mind and she moved back over toward the waterfall and waded into the cool pool surrounding it, running her hands through its calming embrace as she went.

"Lena" Teibalt called out in an uneasy voice. Elenia sighed, she did not know what made him so apprehensive; however she did not want to upset him more than he already was so she turned around and made her way back to the opening in the brush. Auristela was now braiding flowers into Teibalt's hair and humming a carefree tune. Teibalt looked to be relaxing, obviously enjoying the attention of the girls. Elenia did not want to know what he was thinking with his eyes closed and his head resting in Auristela's lap. Myrna continued to link the miniature white flowers together. Elenia looked at them and then at the opening. She made a quick decision and crawled into the brush. Perhaps Marsh had found something that could keep her occupied that wasn't quite as frivolous as flowers.