Chapter 1

Meetings in the Dark

The night was dark. The kind of dark that makes most people want to lock their doors. At least most humans. But the one of two companions walking that night was not human. They were wandering together. One had an idea where he was going. The other was too tired to care.

"Why in the world did we have to leave the palace?"

"I already told you. I'm going to go find an adventure."

"Again? Why won't you just accept that you're going to have a boring life full of chores and sucking up to nobles? I would like to . . ."

"But you're stuck with me." In the dark, a girl the size of a child's hand nodded dismally. "I'm afraid you're coming too." The girl groaned. "Well, I'm not that happy about it either, Marjral. I'd much rather go alone."

"And I would much rather be at the palace licking boots clean!" the tiny girl announced loudly, standing up. "I'm sick of your stupid adventuring!" She accented every other word by jumping hard on the boy's shoulder. He winced. Even barefoot, the girl was stronger than she looked. "And I would simply like to go back to the palace while you still have your job!" She hopped once more before swooping off to avoid the boy's hand. She hovered in midair, her tiny wings barely visible in the light of the slim crescent moon. She playfully avoided capture for a few moments before her eyes widened, and the only things moving were her wings.

"Marjral?"

"Be quiet, Eric!" the tiny creature hissed. The boy knelt silently in the dark, and the girl alighted on his shoulder.

"What is it?" the boy whispered. The girl shook her head. "Who is it?" he asked again. The girl shook her head forcefully, motioning for him to be quiet. Eric looked around in the dark around him. Nothing was there. Nothing that he could see anyways . . .

Something rustled behind him. Eric whirled around, the tiny girl barely holding on to her precarious perch. A small black cat appeared. Eric aimed a kick at it, missing completely as the cat slunk around him. "Go away, witch creature!"

A voice behind him said, "I would think that with the company you travel with that you would be kinder to creatures of Faery." Marjral nodded angrily. Whoever this stranger was, she had to be smarter than Eric. "As it is, Capron is not one of those creatures," the voice continued. "He's just a kitten, but it appears he's smarter than humans." A hooded figure stepped into the pale light of the moon. "But that's not very surprising."

Marjral laughed. "Nice to know there's someone who agrees with me, whoever you are. As a true creature of Faery, I request that you show us your face."

"And I grant this request for moonlight does not reveal the secrets of her daughters." The girl pushed back her hood, revealing a pale face, dark blue eyes, and long black hair.

Marjral chuckled again. "Tis as I thought. A human after all! What is it that makes you speak against your own race, child?"

"The secret I mentioned before," replied the girl.

"At least tell us your name," said Eric imploringly.

The pale girl stared at him for a long moment, deep in thought. "I'm Danae. And I assume you're Eric?"

Eric nodded. He had heard her name before, but he couldn't recall where.

"And I'm Marjral," interrupted the pixie, "this idiot's protector, although why he can't just look out for himself like the rest of you humans is beyond me."

"Merry meet," said Danae. "But I'm afraid I must continue on my way."

"And where is your way?" asked Marjral, ever the inquisitive pixie.

"I am afraid that I cannot say, for I do not know myself." The girl looked at the sky. "The moon will guide me."

"But why are you going?" Marjral didn't like not knowing.

"I . . . I cannot say," the girl answered hurriedly. "I must leave you now. Farewell!" The girl rushed away from them quickly.

"Hmmph." If Marjral didn't like not knowing secrets, then she hated when people walked away without telling her what she wanted to know. "Come on!" she said to Eric, flying off in the direction Danae had gone.

Soon Eric was alone and dumbfounded. And with Marjral gone, he was lost too. He began wandering in the direction he thought he had seen Marjral go.