Chapter 1- Dominic's Children's Home

This is a story about friendship. It's also the story of a great battle, but we will get to that later. This is a story about love and pain, sorrow and joy, and finding one's place in the world. And it all started with a journey. How did this journey start? Well, for me, it started, naturally, on the day that my life changed forever.

Dominic's Children's Home. 'We try to keep them alive'. I'm serious, that's their motto! They don't exactly starve us, but we're not feasting either. Every child in Dominic's is an orphan, some lucky ones who know their heritage, and other 'no-names' – 'Blanks' who turn up on the worn doorstep in front of this drab, cruddy building. Poor things. They were better off starving on the streets.

And then there's me. Elaine Blank. To the rest of the world (or the ones that cared, anyway) I am the weird little no-name who can do strange things. They say she was the child of a black magician. Alien, a cruel play on my name and my, ahem, special abilities.

To me, I'm an orphaned girl who turned up as a baby on the doorstep that frigid winter's day with nothing but a card with my name 'Elaine' scrawled on it, tucked up in the dirty blanket wrapped around me. I had nothing but the card and an odd bird-shaped crystal dangling on a rope necklace around my neck to link me to my past. The crystal had been deemed invaluable, and thus I had been allowed to keep it. I have spent hours fiddling with the crystal, trying to discern a clue about my past. The stone was a warm orangey colour, and when I was at my lowest, I felt, or imagined, the stone exuding a type of comfort. It became my lucky charm, a security blanket which I never took off.

Oh yes, I forgot. I'll bet you're all curious about my special abilities. Well, the thing is, I can talk to animals. They find me and keep me company and I can, somehow, understand them. Maybe those 'black magician' rumor weren't so far from the truth after all.

On the day that my life changed forever, I was sitting on the steps at the back of the orphanage, listening, captivated, to the twittering of a little mynah bird. She was telling me about her exciting trip to and from another town. Now, you must understand that we were so starved for entertainment at the home as the little 'library' only held dusty and thick leather bound history book that no one had touched in years, and there was no television. So the little mynah's story was one of the most interesting stories that I've heard in my life.

However, my short little moment of bliss was naturally doomed to be short lived. Mandy Gringe, a tall spindly girl with mean shifty eyes, stepped out into the yard. I could feel the burn of her hostile gaze as it landed on me. Her eyes narrowed in an attempt to look intimidating, but frankly she merely succeeded in looking like an old lady who'd lost her spectacles. I was tempted to laugh, but the last kid that had done that… Mandy's knobby knuckles packed quite a mean punch.

Mandy stalked towards me in the slow, measured, confident strides of a hunter who had cornered its prey. I suppressed a shiver of apprehension as I tracked her warily with my eyes, thinking about how I really like my face the way it was and had no plans to have any immediate changes done.

Mandy stopped a few paces away, a smirk of triumph on her face. "Alien, waddaya doin here?"

My fists clenched involuntarily at the despicable nickname. But I was too much of a coward to say anything. Much less retaliate with a punch. Mentally, I screamed at myself, "Fight back you jelly-spined creature!" However, I could only stare as she advanced, cracking her knuckles with sharp, ominous noises.

My saving grace came in the form of the head caretaker. A bony old hag who vehemently held fast to the belief that all children were spawns of the devil. She spotted me seconds from my imminent death-by-knuckles and called in a sharp voice which you would not have expected, by looking at her, you would have been less surprised by a croak.

"Elaine Blank! Get yourself in here and look sharp about it! You have visitors!"

I shot to my feet and took off running. Thankful to escape from Mandy. I was also buzzing with excitement. Visitors! Who could they be? The only visitors anyone got were couples who desperately wanted kids but were unable to produce any. Could it be that I was finally going to be liberated from this miserable place? My heart leapt at that thought. Although, the curl in the caretaker's lip as she had said the word 'visitors' had me wondering if I should be running in the opposite direction, instead. And screaming my head off, for that matter.

A/N: Hi guys! Thanks for reading this. It's my first story, so it's not great. Constructive criticism is welcomed:) I know it's kind of short. I'll try to write longer chapters next time, but, like I said, I just started, so please be patient! *Smiles nervously at room full of stonily staring readers* It is okay if you don't want to review, I understand. But it will be a great help if you do. You are also welcomed to correct any grammar mistakes you find.