Morning on Dondar was a beautiful thing. Shatteringly violet rays streaked across the virgin sky, painting long shadows across the grass. The smell of dew and the promise of a sunny day hung heavily in the hollows of the trees, hiding from the encroaching sunlight. Helaine quietly accepted her surroundings and breathed deeply.
Summer's golden touch had finally awoken passion in Dondar, causing scorching days and mild, scented nights. The endless fields were pregnant with the hope of a ripe harvest and hard work, but for now there existed only the blissful stretch of lazy days and the idle contemplation that accompanied it.
Lazy and idle were not in Helaine's vocabulary. She arose, pre-dawn, every morning in order to complete her physical training before the sun's kiss truly parched the sky. Score and Pixel, the ninnies who were her dearest friends, were of course uninterested, so she labored through her exercises alone.
But not today.
Fully dressed and carrying two glasses of orange juice was Score, leaning against a withered old tree outside the clearing. Helaine hadn't even noticed him until now, and wondered how long he'd been studying her.
"Hello," he said, smiling and offering her a glass of orange juice. Helaine gratefully accepted and wiped the sweat out of her eyes.
"What are you doing here?" She asked, panting slightly. Score ignored her question.
"It's kinda nice out, before the sun is up. Not too hot yet. We should do this more often." He picked up the crude quarterstaff Helaine had hastily fashioned from a dead limb and haphazardly swung it around.
"Put that down," Helaine muttered wearily, knowing her words to be of no avail. She watched him spin the wood around clumsily a few times and added, "Besides, aren't you the one who said no normal human was up before noon?"
Score shrugged and slung the staff over he shoulder in a bizzare parody of a hobo. "I knew you'd been doing something every morning, and I was curious." He tilted his head up to the morning sky and let the soft light warm his face before continuing, "are you done being the karate kid? I'm starving. Want some waffles?"
Helaine, as usual, was baffled by his Earth colloquialisms, but she definitely understood and sympathized with the concept of hungry. "I'm famished," she agreed, "breakfast sounds wonderful."
A few minutes later, in the grand kitchen of the castle, Score conjured up flour, butter, eggs, and milk, as well as a beastly-looking metal object with iron-black jaws. "Wouldn't it be more convenient and faster to create these 'waffles' as you do all your other food?" Helaine complained as her stomach did likewise.
"What's the matter? You think I can't cook? I'll have you know I've made myself breakfast many times." Score added a pinch of salt and stirred some more. Helaine pushed back from the round table and stood behind Score, peering into the bowl.
"It looks rather..." Helaine groped for the word, "...pasty."
Score laughed and nudged her out of the way. "It hasn't gotten cooked yet, smart one!"
Helaine ambled back to the table and summoned the Book of Magic from her room. It was amazing, she thought as the tome thudded to the table, how it had already been five years since she had first touched her book, her baby. Shannara had explained this phenomenon to her gently during her last visit. Apparently, as magic-users, they were gifted with abnormally long lives, which prolonged their youth but also had the nasty side effect of making time fly faster. "Great, so we're stuck in eternal puberty," Score had half-whined, half-joked at the time. The five years had felt more like two.. if even. Helaine hadn't even noticed Score or Pixel getting older. Certainly, they were taller, and broader, but-
"Waffles are ready!" Chirped Score eagerly, seeming quite un-Score-like, and interrupting Helaine's thoughts. He set two plates down on the table and pulled his chair up next to hers. With an easy word he transformed Pixel's flower vase into a bottle with a definite feminine cast, filled with amber, viscous liquid. "Aunt Jemima," he commented, as if that explained everything. Helaine poked gently at the round, pockmarked food.
"Oh for heaven's sake Helaine its just a waffle. Eat it already." Score was already scarfing, as was usual for him and his voracious appetite. She tore off a piece and gently bit into it. It was surprisingly good. She took another bite, and another, until the lovely waffle had disappeared from her plate. Score laughed.
"Aren't these great?" He asked. "I magicked the waffle iron to keep churning these puppies out until it runs out of batter, so-" Score ducked as a waffle soared out of the metal thing to flop on Helaine's plate, "-so dig in...here,try some with syrup."
Helaine, normally fastidious in her eating habits, found herself dripping the sticky sweet substance down her chin and licking it off her fingers. "Gods...this...lovely..." she managed to choke out between bites.
"What's going on?" A sleepy-eyed Pixel, still in his floppy pajamas, had wandered into the kitchen. "Mmm..." he added tiredly, "something smells good."
The Author clears her throat, and begins her traditional post-chapter talk, when she is suddenly and violently seized by the next chapter and decides to skip this whole silly thing and waltz right into beautiful chapter two...