I looked down at the child before me and smiled. "Good work today Josh. Just remember to keep your head up and trust your instincts more. They'll serve you well when you're older."

"I will Teacher." The twelve year old boy grinned broadly as he gave the sign of respect and turned to go, his training done for the day.

I turned to the rest of the training ground and watched in approval as the rest of the trainees practiced their skills diligently. I went over to one girl who looked like she was having a little trouble. "Julie." Quickly, the girl halted her exercises and looked up at me with wide eyes. Smiling, I took her hand and guided her through the motions of the form she was learning, one that had given me trouble when I was training at her age as well. After watching her practice, I nodded my approval and went on my way.

After an hour more, I saw a few children begin to tire and lose interest. Noting that, I quickly called today's session to a close and a few jumped for joy. Laughing inside, I glanced over to those children and waited until they had calmed down. "What did I tell you?"

"Sorry Teacher. No emotion." They struggled to stand still and wait to be dismissed.

With that, I waved them off and they all scrambled to go.

"Good job Teresa."

I jumped at the voice, like I always did whenever I heard it. Smiling, I turned around and found Marc standing nearby. "Hi Marc. What are you doing here?" I asked as we began to walk slowly back to my house.

"Not much. I just wanted to see how things were going at training."

"Is that all you wanted to see?"

"Of course not," he smiled. "You know I wanted to see you again. With your constant training and my daily patrol, I never see you anymore."

"That's true." I gave a sad sigh.

"Don't be sad. I'm here now. Let's make the best of it."

"And how do you propose that?"

"Well why don't we go back to my place and you know. We could-"

"Marc!" I gave him a playful slap as I followed his drift. "You're not going there again."

"Well I just felt like trying my luck again. You know I love you."

"Yeah, I know." I smiled, happy to hear those words from him. I could never stop loving hearing him say those three words. "So how's the patrol?"

"Boring. Nothing's been going on. Only small skirmishes to deal with. The warriors are itching to fight."

"I hear you. It's been way too peaceful here."

"Something's going to happen soon, huh?"

I gave a slight shrug. "As you said, there haven't been any battles in a few months. Either everything's settled, which it's not, or we have a major battle coming up."

"Let's just hope you're wrong this time."

I gave a wry smile. "Let's hope so. This logical brain of mine can only know so much. I can't predict the future. I can only guess at what's going to happen."

"Well that makes two of us."

"What do you mean?"

"Didn't I tell you what the seer saw?"

"No. It's been a week since I last saw you."

"Right. I forgot that. Anyway, he saw something coming. Something major. I don't know if it's going to be a war or what, but he did mention that quite a bit about it dealt with you."

That got my attention. "What about?"

"I couldn't understand. You know how he is when he's in a trance. His words become hard to decipher. What I could catch though, was that you were going to be very troubled and undergoing a lot… Something about a black future."

"I wonder what he could have meant," I said as I opened the door to my house. "Care to come inside?"

"No, I don't think so. Not this afternoon anyway. Maybe later tonight though."

"All right. I guess I'll see you later then."

"Yeah." He gave me a kiss on the cheek and was soon off walking down the path towards the village.

Turning into the house, I yelled out to my sister. "Kimberly! I'm home."

"Hey Tess. Was that Marc?"


"He couldn't stay over?" I could hear the disappointment in her voice.

"Sorry. He was busy. He said he might make it later tonight though."

"That's good."

She emerged from the cellar where she'd been putting some of the provisions away. Once again, I was amazed to see how well she'd grown up. Living on our own hadn't been easy. After our parents had died in a war some seven or eight years ago, I had had to raise her on my own. It was difficult. Being an outcast among the children, I had to rely on only those who pitied my sister and I. I had to let her stay with neighbors most of the time.

I had vowed that I would train and live my life as a warrior leader, protecting Kim from harm when my parents died. So there I was at thirteen, raising a three-year-old sister. I moved into this abandoned house on the edge of the village, bordering the wealthiest family's plot of land. I was so stressed out. There were times when I just wanted to give up. But then Kim would look at me in that knowing way of hers and I'd have to go on for her sake. I was all she had left and I wasn't about to let her down.

So I lived two lives. One as a sister and mother figure to Kim. The other was dedicated to my life in training to become the best warrior I could be. That's where I met Marc.