Elda watched the merchant closely. She studied his stand and where it looked the easiest to grab the fruit from. Something shimmery around the stand caught her eye for a moment, it looked like a sparkly woven cloth with rich colors, but then she blinked and the shimmer was gone. it didn't seem to cover the whole stand so she decided she would take the fruit from the area she didn't see any shimmer. As soon as the loud talkative woman approached his stall she snuck slowly around the edge and carefully removed a small fruit from a stack at the same end. She then strolled away toward the alley and her pile of blankets. 

She ate slowly. Not to savor the taste, she actually disliked the bitter fruit immensely. No, she ate slowly so that she could feel less hungry for longer.

She pulled the cloth over her knees and noticed a new hole starting in the fabric. She would have to steal a new produce sack to turn into a dress before long.

She saw a man doting on his little girl. She felt pangs of sorrow and her brown skin rippled with bright pink. She wished she knew where her parents were. They never came back. She was tired of hiding and missed her family. She was scared. Father had told her to run if she smelled death. 

She closed her eyes to rest. Soon she dreamed of a clearing in a forest. She was standing in the middle. She heard movement on the edges in the shadows.

"Who is there?" she called out while trying to visually chase the figure.

"Your destiny." The whisper caressed her and sent chills up her spine.

"I don't have a destiny." She stuttered. 

"We are connected. Prophesized. Call me Itzal, The First Shadow. Come to me." His words seductively hung in her mind. Her skin rippled pink continuously all over as her body slightly tingled.

She woke suddenly, her hair standing on end all over her body as the pink ripples of color subsided. She looked around to see if anyone saw her affliction.

She sighed in relief and quickly gathered her blankets and draped them around her like a wrapped dress. She covered her head. She walked toward the edge of the city. The gates were closed. Soldiers guarded them heavily. The war made it necessary. She looked at the walls and could not see a way over and found that they too were guarded. She saw the shimmer of the light shield the Draconi had put into place. She could feel it's slight vibration, like a pattern, it called to her like a heartbeat. For a moment, she saw the same woven cloth in different colors, and once she blinked it was gone.  Initiates in white robes, though powerful in their own rights, stood to the side feeding the light shield. She puzzled over it just long enough, then remembered why she was really here, at the wall around the city.

She quickly appraised her situation, between the soldiers and the Draconi wizard Initiates, she knew she was stuck inside the walls. She realized then that she knew she shouldn't go outside the city just because of a silly dream. This time, when her skin rippled with pink, no one could see. The blanket covered it all. 

She walked back toward the stalls of the market looking for an alley that might be more welcoming than the last. Most were well lit and clean, but she needed dark and a place she could disappear in. 

It was oddly quiet. Then she noticed that no one was on the street. No people or pets. Just nothing. Then a bit of steam, or was it smoke began to flow in front of her and as it got thicker, it became the form of a man. He was smoking a pipe and the smoke seemed to flow into the bowl, in a backward sort of motion and then the man smiled and let out a large breath of smoke that wafted like a cloud.

Elda began to wonder if she were still dreaming. She rubbed her eyes and pinched herself. The man chuckled and she could hear his silk robes rustle in movement and the clack his sandals made on the cobblestone and tile sidewalk. The smoke smelled sweet and light. Like a spring day, and Elda smiled and sniffed and she let imaginary sunlight touch her skin and it was blissfully warm. She could feel the slight breeze and was just starting to see the meadow flowers when the man touched her.

"I was sent to get you out." The man said as Elda startled back to reality. 

She was confused for a moment, "Am I dreaming you too?"

"No. We must hurry, you are no longer safe here."  The strange man said and he opened a portal that did not shine gold but shimmered black. 

Elda hesitated at the mouth of the portal. It was so different and dark, and hungry. She could feel cool damp air from the other side, and smelled the moss and water. She closed her eyes and forced herself through and she was alone. The forest was dark. And a crow sat on a branch above her cawing and flapping, and was it laughing? A dark brown stag then walked slowly up to her, his horns adorned in feathers and trinkets. He kneeled and the crow flew down to land on a branch of his horns. She only hesitated for a moment, then put her arms around The stag's neck and got on. He got to his feet and slowly walked on the mossy green logs and stones that seemed to make a path through the forest.

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