This story is an original and so are all the concepts for the characters/plot line. Any similarities between real people/events or other stories are merely coincidental. Though, if any of you know of such people, places, or events ever occurring in real life, please let me know!

As I have stated on my profile page, this story spun from an alternate idea I had for "Dragon's Gift" and then took on a life of its own. There's not much that would otherwise link the two stories, really, other than me stating this fact. The stories are very much different with the two main characters having quite different lives and experiences. But I do hope you enjoy this story!

Chapter #1 – The Child with Bright Eyes

When she had been born, her parents had called her Boriage, "child with bright eyes," for her eyes were a brilliant blue-green. She was the second child and second daughter for the Nivenns. This was not seen as a bad thing in their society, except for the poorer folk, and her parents were some of the poorest in that part of the kingdom. Her father, Banel, was a simple farmer, but he held over ten acres of land, which was where most of his wealth lay. Her mother, Layma, was a cook in for a wealthy merchant that lived near them in the town of Valyid.

Her older sister, Troterea, was four years older than she was. She was a child with fine light brown hair and a nose for trouble, but her parents thought she was the most darling thing and hardly chastised their elder child no matter what she did. Troterea saw her little sister as her chance to never, ever be blamed for anything again…"just blame it all on her," she always thought with a cruel smile.

Her parents knew that it was going to be a hard thing, raising two daughters and having to set aside dowries for both of them, but they were sure they could manage. Many other families had done the same, after all. They simply had to work hard and have no more children. It was the latter of this that ended up failing for them.

Their third child was born hardly a year after Boriage. This time they had a boy – someone that could rightfully inherit their property. This made their hearts leap. They named him Deiggi after his father's father. But they now had three children, and two were girls. The years ahead were sure to be hard ones if this remained the case. Both parents honestly thought of killing their second daughter, openly discussing it in front of Troterea, who hung on every word, looking at her baby sister, who was usually playing in the same room oblivious, with her all-too-often cruel smile. Three children were going to be enough to raise and worry about, but they would not have enough money for their daughters to have decent dowries. After all, the larger the amount of money and property the bride had, the more likely she was to get a wealthy husband. They did want better lives for their daughters than they had.

In the end, with infanticide being illegal in any case, they decided that Boriage would just have to do without a large dowry (hardly a silver piece and a few linens the way her mother spoke). They doubted if their second daughter would grow to be anything lovely anyway, so a good marriage would probably not come her way. Troterea would have the larger dowry, as that her parents hoped to marry their charming eldest child to one of the sons of the wealthy merchants in the area. And the elder of the two girls was already a lovely thing to behold and was already beloved by much of the town.

By the time she was three (and Troterea a very horrid seven), her parents had started calling Boriage "Irdotis," a name that did not carry a very pleasant connotation and was very rarely used because of that. It was more seen as an insulting way to refer to the daughter of a poor family – "without a dowry." Troterea loved calling her sister this, and soon it was common knowledge in town that Boriage was not a child that would have a large dowry when she came of age. By the time she was four, this is what everyone called her – though at that age, she did not know that she was being insulted each time she was called by what she came to think of as her real name. She had forgotten that she had once been called Boriage…she was only Irdotis now.

Irdotis was a bright and intelligent child, and her eyes still shown as brightly as they had when she was born. She had so longed to learn to read and write as her older sister had, but her parents denied her that right. They told her it would just be wasted on her, that she was not smart enough to learn her letters. Still, she said that she would try her hardest. She wanted to learn! She was determined to be as good as her sister, but when she was six and her parents were still denying her wishes to learn and began to teach her brother instead, she feel into a fit of depression.

What was so different between her and her sister? Was it because she was not as pretty a child as her sister? She knew she was smarter than her sister, regardless of what her parents had told her so many times. Her sister was perfect and lovely and brilliant in her parents' eyes. Irdotis wanted the same thing. She wanted her parents to look on her as they did her two siblings, but she had a feeling that would never happen. For some reason, they seemed to hate her. She had no idea how she could change that, though.

Many nights she spent silently crying herself to sleep. Though she was only six, she was far more mature than her sister, for all the things her parents had pushed onto her. They laid so many more responsibilities onto her. She had more tasks around the house than her sister. She tended the garden and cleaned the house while her sister had the joy of not having to do a thing but learn her letters and words and work on her penmanship. And while her parents would only slap her sister's and brother's hands when they did anything wrong, they gave her a more severe punishment for similar things.

The only thing that Irdotis found pleasure in was the bedtime stories. Though her mother told them more to her sister than to her (but they were in the same room so she heard them all the same), she reveled in them. Night was her favorite time, for it was when she could dream. It was the only time she felt was just hers. Many of the tales her mother told were of the faeries that long ago had lived in the forests throughout the kingdom. And it was one of those tales she loved the most – "The Tale of Piráne." Though she never understood why her mother told it, consider what the story was about…

In this tale, Piráne, a child that was unloved by her parents was stolen away by the fae and brought to live with them in their hidden palace deep in the forests near the mountain city of Habrig. She had been brought up among the faeries and taught their songs and tales. She was the jewel of the fae with her golden voice and abilities with a harp and flute. After thirteen years, she asked to leave from the faerie's palace and return to her home, for she wished to see her mortal family again. At her return all the people there were shocked. Her three older sisters had all married horrible men and already had several children each. They all looked so much older than they really were. Laughing, she returned to her true home among the fae. There, she married one of the faerie queen's sons and was granted the eternal life that the fae themselves had.

The few times she had heard this story her sister had laughed at the end of it and proclaimed she wished the faeries would take Irdotis from them so they could be rid of her. Irdotis silently hoped her sister would have the same fate of Piráne's older sisters. And when she went to sleep afterwards, she always dreamt that the faeries did come and whisk her away. She dreamt of all the lovely places that the faeries lived and danced in the stories she had heard. She would wake most of those nights, crying silently in the darkness, wishing that those dreams would come true, for anywhere was better than home.

But everyone knew the faeries did not exist in their world anymore…