Summary: Aloet Haycien's world is crumbling beneath her. Having her brother is captured by the raiders that plague her villiage and discovering that she is at the center of an ancient prophecy send her life spinning out of control. She is driven on the wildest quest ever, where only love, courage, and her unexplored new magic can see her through. "For Thaen and all of Ashtohlyn!" My first entry ever! PLEASE R&R!

Author's Note: Please enjoy my story! Part 1 may seem a bit slow, but I promise the pace will pick up! Please let me clear something up: some people think that my main's name is a typo. It's not. Her name is Aloet, but she is simply called Alet for short. I know that one letter would not make such a difference for a nickname, but in this case, it removes a syllable. I would just like to give major credit to my one-time-co-writer, who helped me edit the first two paragraphs of this chapter. Thanks Jeri! Her fiction press username is Theonetheycallbeaver if you'd like to check out some of her work. I'll accept flames, criticism, anything! Just don't forget to review!

When You Review: Ok, I'm struggling to decide what title to use…The two I've thought up so far are: A Fire That Burns Within, & Traces of A Lost Legacy-Both of them fit the story if that's what you're wondering, just-which one sounds better and catches your attention? Or if u like neither of these, any fresh suggestions? One thing though, I prefer vague titles, similar to the ones above, for example, NO: "How Ashtohlyn was saved" or anything along those lines. (You catch my drift, I want titles with an element of mystery lurking in them, nothing quite so simpleton as that. Reviewers! Please vote! Thanx! J !

Part 1- Chapter 1 -Smoky Dwelling

In the dead of night, the hooves of thirteen great horses pounded through the village of Beislar. Tall, ominous figures sat atop the mounts, their faces hidden by the shadows. With a hand gesture from their captain, the company came to a halt in the center of the village.

"Orders, Capt'n?" asked a soldier.

"Yeah," replied a large, dark shadow of shadow of a man. "Burn it." He threw a bundle of torches into the awaiting dozen and lit one for himself. "Burn it all," he said as his men set their own torches ablaze.

The group scattered, and soon, most of the thatched roofs of the village houses were alight with fire, and horrified screams filled the night air. With shouts and wicked laughter they set fire to everything and trampled all in their paths. Some of them freed animals only to murdered them with a swift sweep of their fine quality swords. They continued on, without slowing or stopping but to destroy something else. Pedestrians cowered from the roadsides and ran for the cover of the Forest of Craded. The raiders were cold and unfeeling. With malicious cackles they remained unmerciful, bearing down on the poor unprepared bystanders. Riding through homes leaving destruction in their wake, they stole any items of value and set the rest to fire. A layer of green smoke engulfed the village.

"P-p-please!" and elderly woman stuttered, "Do whatever you like with me! Just spare my babies! I beg you! Have mercy!" she cried, weeping openly.

She was kneeling in front of her two small children clothed only in rags and huddled, trembling in a corner.

"Move aside woman! You're a disgusting pathetic tramp!" the raider snarled and seeing her refusal to budge, knocked her aside with a harsh backhanded blow. Reaching down with reins in hand he swung her screaming daughter into the saddle behind him and rode off, leaving the woman in a crumpled heap pounding her tiny fists on the dirt floor, sobbing and screaming for all of her worth. Within only a few hours, the proud village of Beislar had burned out of existence.

Three miles down the road a twelve year old girl lay asleep on a straw pallet, shivering with no covers. "Aloet!" a raspy voice whispered urgently. "Alet child, wake up!" Aloet Haycien's eyes fluttered open as reality began to soak in.

"Hmmm.." she mumbled incomprehensibly, rolling onto her side. Finally, sitting upright and taking a deep breath, she tasted the air. Finding it to be thick with smoke and ash, she began to cough heavily. A steady thump on the back silenced her.

"Wha-what is it?" she asked dozily, rubbing eyes still hazy with sleep.

"Hush now!" came her grandmother's whisper, firm, but yet soothing. "I'll explain everything later! We must go, please hurry and dress!" and with that, she turned and left. Alet sensed a slight quaver in her grandmother's voice. Something was definitely wrong. Could it be.. her thoughts trailed off. No! that's impossible! she contradicted herself with false confidence. Quickly, she stuffed bare feet into thin moccasins and pulled badly tattered breeches over a damaged nightshirt. In this freezing weather how she wished she had warmer things! Or at least that there weren't such brutally large gaps in between the bits of straw and mud that gave life to their tiny hut. Curses on Drythdon! Aloet thought heatedly. Ever since those idiotic rebels broke away from Ashtohlyn and formed their own country, Anseth, led by "King" Drythdon, an outspoken young adult, her life had been nothing but endless poverty and hell. The civil war destroyed almost everything good in her life. Not that their was an extraordinary amount of happiness before, either. This is the life of a commoner in Ashtohlyn, She thought bitterly. Since the beginning of The Useless Rebel War, as it was better known to her and her folk, King Nydireth "despite his best efforts" as his council said, was too "busy" to pay attention to the poverty that destroyed a large chunk of his people. How could any ruler possibly be so blind? It was her own secret belief the Nydireth was a complete moron who hid behind his council and ordered folk about like a good little king. I despise monarchy.

Minutes later, Aloet emerged, stumbling from the hut and into the biting weather.

"Hush!" This came from her grandmother. She was standing next to a tall, thin woman with waist-length hair the color of charcoal and piercing blue-green eyes. The woman hummed a gentle lullaby to the three year old child she bounced on one hip, who looked to be only half awake. He had short, curly locks colored much in the same fashion of his mother and sister.

"Mornin' Ma, Thaen." Alet whispered softly to the woman and the child, Nethaenial.

Everyn Haycien emitted a soft chuckle and sighed, saying, "Why, it's barely past the dusk, but then, that's my Alet, always the optimist." She smiled warmly at her only daughter, who returned the look, pleased to have made her mother happy. Anything to keep her from the darkness! But her smile faded into an expression of worry when her mother's quiet chuckling turned into a nasty hack.

These cold nights and poor conditions were no good for Everyn's health, she knew. But what could they do? As it was, (despite her protests) Everyn slept with the most covers and was given the largest rations available. They hadn't the coin for a doctor, and how could they possibly take charity from people just as poor as them or worse? With each passing day the family prayed that the Darkness would not claim her. Everyn frequently assured the others that she was perfectly fine, but that did not stop the premature lines of worry from forming on Alet's youthful face.

They slipped away into the night. Each of the four seemingly becoming one with the shadows. Like cats they glided on stealthy feet, creeping silently through the night.

A rush of air hit Aloet head on as she began to move, nearly knocking her over. A dreadful stench of burning wood and flesh conquered her senses, while the smoky air stung her eyes and throat. Burying her face in small chilled hands, she moved faster and faster still. This air, suffocating, choking, stinging, all at once. It was too much to bear.

After what seemed like endless passage of time, the group came to a tiny door. Not a door as though one might think of, leading to a room, but a door, on the ground, that lead to a room-underground. The cellar.

With great difficulty, because of the massive wind, Everyn, who was still balancing the small boy, flung open the shutters leading into the small, hollowed out storm cellar.

After each member of the family had climbed inside the dark musty room, the shutters were closed and the group huddled together in a corner.

It's warmer in our storm cellar then in our own house, if you could call it a house… Alet thought miserably, a scowl appearing on her face as she peered around the dilapidated dirt room. Standing up she spoke with lack of sleep and fleeting patience. "Alright then, we're here. Now will someone please tell me why we are here? Before the moon begins it's next cycle, if you please?"

Estella and knowing her present condition, Alet's mother and grandmother ignored her rudeness.

"Alet child, the soldiers are here." A gasp, and then silence. "They've already run clean through Beislar and Joiden, and they'll be here in the blink of an eyelash. We must practice patience and silence if we're to survive. "

"Beislar…." Aloet repeated dumbly, her mind still registering. Then it hit her, and a panicked scream escaped her throat. "Claella….where's Claella?" she asked, mind numb. Her eyes had glazed over with the look of one disbelieving. "N-not…..Claella….."she repeated again, the knowledge sinking in. Glancing up at her grandmother, she saw that she was wearing a look of utmost sympathy and sorrow. "Well? Is she-alright?" Alet asked again, still with a detached look.

"I-I'm unsure…"

"Oh." With that, she re-took her seat next to Estella and stared miserably at the cold dirt floor. Claella was her closest friend, a girl of 11 with a heart of pure gold, that lived in Beislar, and now, she wasn't even sure if Claella, her only and dearest friend, still…existed. But a spark of hope lit her mood as she settled in for the long night she knew she would be spending there.