Disclaimer: I don't own what everyone knows I don't own, except for Feril, she's mine. Don't sure, etc. Read on peeps

Haruka Tenoh stood glaring balefully at the school in front of her, outlined by rain. The soaked blonde sighed and turned her glare heavenward; as if demanding the sun show itself. Clutching her bag in one hand, a long package in the other, she trudged up the immense set of stairs and into the Main Hall of St. Catherine's Institute of Learning for the Differently Talented.

Chapter 1: Terra Firma

"Dear me, what a night! Listen to that wind howl!" the plump administrator at the front desk chattered. "What a night, you poor thing, coming in this tempest. We'll get you settled in a dorm right away, you'll get your schedule in the morning. Here, sit by the fire and fill this out..." she sat the road weary girl in a big easy chair by the roaring flames and handed her a quill and a paper to fill out.
"I'll bring you some tea." She declared, bustling off to do so. Haruka removed her hood and looked around. The hall was massive, medieval looking and intimidating, but it felt familiar to Haruka, at any rate. She couldn't say it felt like home, because she hadn't had a home since she was abandoned by her parents so long ago. She wasn't sure what home felt like.
"Let's see, name, easy. Sex, female. Country... N/A... parent or guardian... N/A." Haruka muttered the questions and her answers out loud to herself, everything from her name to her favorite subject and any background material she could think of.
"Sexual preference... why's it asking that?" she skipped that but finally filled it in, before hastily scratching it out as the woman reappeared with her tea.
"Ah, I'll take that dear. Well, Tenoh-san, we don't have any open rooms in your level right now, but some other girls from your level are sharing with some younger girls, how would you feel there?" she asked kindly, glancing at the paper as she took it and Haruka noted she hadn't scratched out the last question as completely as she had thought.
"Er... fine. That'll be fine..." 'Not like I'll be here long. Just like everywhere else I go...' The blonde followed the woman out of the hall and up a flight of stairs.
"Now hon, if you need anything, I'm on duty tonight, I'll be at the desk. Or it'll be Nadia-san. By the way, I'm Kiri Oldia. You can call me Oldia-san, or Sister, if it makes you feel more at home." She talked kindly as they climbed up and up. They passed many floors, Oldia going into vague summaries of each as they passed. They finally reached the top floor and Oldia pointed to a ladder to a loft.
"That's yours. I'll send Michiru to wake you in the morning, I'm sure she'll be happy to show you around." The older woman's eyes smiled knowingly and Haruka looked at the floor.
"Arigato. Good night." She murmured, climbing the ladder.
"Tenoh-san? Do not worry, this is a very nice place, with very nice people. You are welcome here, you're one of us, you know." She smiled, and disappeared down the stairs. Haruka threw her bag onto the floor of the loft and changed out of her wet clothes into tattered bedclothes and sat at on the ladder, thinking and staring into the dark.
'One of us?' the blonde shook her head. 'That's just cause you haven't seen what happens around me...' she sunk into dark thoughts of her past and didn't notice with a door opened and a blue-haired girl came out into the hall. The girl jumped when she caught sight of the shadowy figure that was Haruka and held up the candle she was carrying for light.
"Oh, you scared me! You must be the new student, pleased to meet you. I'm Ami Mizuno." She bowed slightly.
"Haruka Tenoh," Haruka decided not to ignore the girl completely. Apparently, her mood entered her tone and Ami bowed again.
"I'm sorry if I interrupted your thoughts. But you should get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning then! Ja ne." she bowed again and moved away down the hall. Haruka sighed and returned to the loft and climbed into the warm bed the school had prepared for her. 'At least the bed's nice...' she thought as sleep claimed her. Her last lingering conscious thought was with the wind, howling with it in the night.

# "Another quake? That's the third this month!" an angry voice broke her out of the comfortable darkness of sleep.
"And if we have another wind storm like the one last week, we won't have enough harvest to last it to spring. The girl needs to go!" demanded another, to a murmur of assent.
Haruka Tenoh opened a blurry eye and lifted her head. The other children feigned sleep, though they all listened carefully to the council being held in the room under them. They all knew that Haruka was "the girl". Haruka rolled off of her hay stuffed pallet and put her eye to a hole in the floorboards to catch a glimpse of what was happening. At the young age of 7, she had stayed in 23 different towns, all very far apart, living in the local orphanage or occasionally being taken in, though not always by people with her well-being in mind. She's been run out of town on a regular basis, declared a plague nearly everywhere she went. She was forced to live in the harsh wilderness she traveled through, until severe times drove her to civilization again. "We can't just throw the girl out!" cried the minister. "You're right Father, she's a witch-child and we have to be careful how we deal with them." Declared another villager, a woman this time. Haruka felt the familiar prickle of eyes on her as the other children had decided that no one was looking. Her stomach twisted. Winter was coming and it was going to be hell this year, according to the signs Nature was giving. Some animals had already begun work on their burrows and dens for hibernating. Haruka's blood pounded in her ears. Outside, the wind whistled mournfully and the shutters slammed and the girl felt the comforting caress of the wind across her neck. The adults fell silent. Haruka felt anger against them, for trying to do this to her, forcing her out, like all the rest. The wind grew and a woman screamed as the roof creaked and the shutters blew out wildly on their hinges before slamming shut again. Haruka felt a trickle of satisfaction, a glimmer of... happiness? A feeling like that at least, for the wind seemed to sympathize with her. It understood these people were wrong. The woman that had called her a witch child looked up and caught sight of that vivid green eye watching them, she saw the triumph and defiance in that eye. "We'd be better speaking of this another time," she said curtly as Haruka rolled away and out of sight. 'Bitch!' she thought, ignoring the tears stinging her eyes. 'Going to decide what to do with me, hm? Just like everyone else!' The wind positively screamed outside and the house was very still. Fear was practically tangible in the air, the adults frozen and silent, the children hiding beneath their thin blankets. 'Ha! See how they like it!' the blonde thought proudly, though her anger grew. 'How dare they fear me! After the way they were talking!' Then she felt ashamed. The wind outside gave another, almost plaintive howl and faded into a steady breeze. One by one, the adults left and the children shifted, trying to fall asleep. Long after the others were asleep or gone, Haruka could feel the gaze of the woman through the floorboards and tried to fall asleep, knowing she'd be leaving in the morning. #

"Tenoh-san? Are you awake?" a cheerful, friendly voice called up the ladder. Haruka was fully awake immediately.
"Sure!" she called, pulling on her pants and shirt after quickly binding her chest. The name Oldia had told her last night had sunk into her mind beyond ready grasp and so she climbed down the stairs and stared blankly at the blonde girl in front of her, her hair in odangos on her head.
"Hello! My name's Usagi, but every one calls me Bunny! Michiru said she's very sorry she couldn't show you around today, but she has early practice. Come on, it's time for breakfast." The girl seemed unrestrainedly cheerful and Haruka couldn't help but warm up just a bit to the girl. 'Might as well have fun while I'm here,' she thought to herself, flashing the girl a smile that had melted many a lady's heart. Bunny went starry eyed.
"You can call me Haruka, ok bun-head? Lead the way!" she grinned.
"Ooo, you're going to have fun here Haruka-kun!" giggled the girl, skipping down the hall.
"Hold on." She said, stopping at a door at the end of the hall and shamelessly pounding it with a small fist and yelling,
"Minako-chan! Get up! Time to eat!"
A muffled protest came from inside, sounding vaguely like a grumpy curse. There was a thump and more muffled words and another blonde appeared in the doorway. She had a major case of bed-head, which was scary for her long hair was down to the small of her back.
"Bunny!" she whined. "I told you not to-" she cut off as her bleary gaze locked onto Haruka and her eyes widened. The disgruntled look disappeared in a flash and she said sweetly,
"You must be the new student. I'm Minako Aino, uh, one moment please- " she grabbed hold of the grinning Usagi and pulled her into the room, slamming the door shut behind her.
"Usagi! How could you!? Why didn't you warn me? You did this on purpose didn't you!?" Haruka could here the muffled screams through the door and grinned. Minako's train of thought apparently derailed and changed in a flash as her next words were,
"He is soooo hot!" followed by a chorus of giggling.
"I know! Hurry up and put this on, I'll brush your hair. I hope he's in our house..."
"I think he'll be in Waves at least for a period, Feril mentioned it last time she was here."
Haruka's ears pricked at the sound of the woman's name. Feril had been the one that had told her of St. Catherine's, had enrolled her and given her enough money to make the trip without starving. The woman had appeared out of nowhere, but it seemed she knew everything about Haruka's past. She had offered a chance to the as if she trusted her completely, had vouched for the girl in front of an angry mob. Haruka tuned out the others girls' voices and stood deep in thought, remembering.

# "For the last time, you've terrorized our people with your powers!" a heavily muscled man, this region's champion, threw the girl to the ground and kicked her. The mob cheered and surged forward, but Haruka found her feet again and, though she was loathe to flee a fight, she ran for the church, the only point in town, ironically, could shelter her until she could steal a horse and escape. She was enraged when the mob had swarmed her horse, her only friend and confident in the night, before coming after her. The wind screamed and roared, but the castle mage was warding it off for the most part, with much difficulty. The ground rocked and shifted now and then, as if in angry rumbling, but that wouldn't have helped Haruka now. She knew the church would refuse her sanctuary, even if she claimed it, for she was considered witch-born, but she knew enough of the hiding places to escape the mob's wrath for a time.
Rocks flew past her, some striking their mark. Her left shoulder burned where the razored whips had ripped at it. Arrows were flying now and she knew full well that if one hit true, she'd be done for. But the wind blew so strongly, it lifted off her feet and sent her hurtling forward, the arrows whistling past her to imbed in the dirt.
"There! The church!" she whispered breathlessly and pumped her legs harder. 'So close!'
She felt the impact more then anything else, then the sharp ripping pain as a magically charged arrow buried itself in her side. She was too exhausted, too hopeless to scream. She dropped heavily, sliding to the foot of the church stairs with the force of her momentum. The wind moaned and died and the earth gave a struggling shudder beneath her and was still. She didn't even look up as the mob roared in triumph and the familiar sound of arrows leaving the bow stung her ears. 'This is what dying's like?'
"Hold!" a strong voice roared and the arrows fell to the ground mid- flight. Haruka raised her head and saw a woman kneel down by her and felt strong arms lift her to her feet.
"Lady Feril! This is none of your concern! Out of the way, this girl is a demon-spawn! She has been a plague on our lands and it's time to end it!" a righteous man yelled to the approval of the mob. The woman supporting Haruka gazed serenely out at the crowd, completely unperturbed.
"Then I shall take her off your hands."
"No, my lady! You don't understand! This girl has ruined out crops, lead our maidens astray! She dressed as a man, used her unholy powers to seduce our daughters and bring this devil wind and make the earth tremble. She must be destroyed!"
"Sirs, ladies, understand this. I am taking this girl far from here, giving her a chance to lead a good life. I have helped your land in many ways and I take this girl's life as my payment." Haruka felt an odd prick in her gut at this. 'So she's one of those people...'
"Lady, you cannot. Now stand aside and let us have our justice!" called the champion and the mob surged forward.
"Hold!" she roared again and a blinding light flashed. Haruka could feel the power surrounding her rescuer. She held her hand, palm out, pointing towards the champion.
"I wish to leave this land peacefully, but I have no qualms about killing the lot of you blood-thirsty fools for this girl. Now, I will send my mistress' blessing to your fields in the morning so you will have your harvest, but I am leaving, now, with this girl. Make one more move to stop me and you all meet Death tonight. Understood? Oh, I wouldn't if I were you." She directed the last at the castle mage, preparing a fireball, which fizzled and burned his hands. The mob was silent.
"Good." This woman, Lady Feril, as the man had called her, lifted Haruka as if she weighed no more then a doll and carried her undisturbed through the crowd. As Haruka faded from consciousness, she saw her rescuer's face smiling down at her.
"My lady will be quite pleased with you my dear. You're a tough one."
#

"Haruka-kun? Are you ok?" Usagi touched the taller blonde's shoulder in concern. Haruka looked up.
"What? Oh, yeah, I'm fine bun-head. Let's go eat." Haruka pulled out of her thoughts.
"Right, we'll meet the others down there." Minako declared happily. 'Others?' Haruka thought. 'There are more like these two?'

By the time they reached the floor where the Dining Hall was, Haruka was back to normal and flirting shamelessly with the two girls, who were all over her. As they reached the door, another girl barreled through it straight into Haruka.
"Oh, I am so sorry! I was looking for someone. Where is that baka-" the raven-haired girl cut off as she caught sight of Usagi, who blushed and tried to hide behind Minako.
"Usagi! What took you so long? You're an hour late! Did you sleep in again?" the girl scolded.
"I'm sorry Rei! Don't yell at me! I was showing Haruka here around our floor and Minako had to get dressed! Geez, Rei, you're such a hothead!" and with that she stuck out her tongue at Rei. Rei did a double take of Haruka and switched modes in an instant. Pushing Usagi out of the way, she bowed to Haruka.
"My name is Rei Hino, and welcome to St. Catherine's. Not all of us are as immature as Usagi here." Usagi turned red.
"Immature?! You're just as bad, Rei! Yesterday you pinched my cheek so hard it left a mark for hours! You mean old bag!" she declared, sticking her tongue out even further.
"Old bag?! Why you! How dare you call me that you stupid airhead!" Rei screeched and stuck out her tongue equal to Usagi.
"Frumpy harpy!" Usagi's tongue was further out then Haruka had believed humanly possible.
"Crybaby! Look at this tummy!" Rei grabbed Usagi's skin around her stomach to show the excess. Usagi shrieked and tackled the other girl and they pulled and pinched at each other, yelling insults and incidents that proved the names fit. Minako sighed and stepped over them into the doorway and called,
"Makoto! They're at it again!"
A tall brunette appeared and sighed. She bent down and pulled Rei away from Usagi and Minako pulled Usagi away from Rei. A blue-haired girl hovered in the doorway, shaking her head.
"Oh, hello Tenoh-san. Sorry, they do this a lot. You just get used to it. They're really close, but just show it in an odd way." Ami explained. Haruka nodded, eyeing the girls, amused.
"As if I was friends with someone like her!" Usagi protested, pouting.
"Yeah, why would a popular girl like me want a crybaby for a friend?" Rei said. Usagi looked shocked and stuck her tongue out at Rei, who did the same to Usagi. Minako, still holding Usagi, got an evil glint in her eye and exchanged a look with Makoto, who was still holding Rei. Both girls had their eyes closed, faces screwed up in grimaces with their tongues out. Minako pretended to trip forward, pushing Usagi face-first into Rei and the inevitable happened. Both girls opened their eyes in surprised, then jumped apart with a scream. Minako was laughing on the ground and Makoto hid a grin behind her hand.
"Minako! What the hell?!" Usagi seemed at a loss for anything else to say and Rei was currently wiping her tongue off in exaggerated movements on her sleeve. Both stopped as Haruka cracked up. The looks on their faces had been too perfect. Ami took this chance to derail any further arguments by pulling the group into the Dining Hall, where the girls received knowing looks from assorted groups. Apparently, these two fought on a regular basis.
Haruka was receiving her own share of interested looks as she sat down with a tray in front of her. The other girls sat around her.
"Haruka, this is Makoto Kino and Ami Mizuno. They're from our floor. Ami's a genius," the blue-haired girl blushed and opened her mouth to protest but Usagi continued, "And Makoto is a master chef! She made the desert!" Usagi said that like it made you the most wonderful person in the world to make her desert.
"I've met Ami, but nice to meet you Makoto." Haruka flashed her a smile. These girls were obviously insane, but cute none the less. 'Make the most of what you've got...' she thought, digging into the marvelous food.

Michiru Kaioh was having a hard day. And she hadn't even had breakfast yet. She had woken up way too early and decided to get a jump- start on her violin practice, which normally calmed her nerves. That failed miserably, for she couldn't concentrate. She had tried finishing her work from the night before, only to encounter the same problem as with her violin. Finally, she had asked Usagi to lead the new student around this morning and went for a swim in the bay. She had it all to herself and swam in the nude, trying to clear her mind. As she swam, the sun had risen and now she was soaking and looking for her clothes, which had disappeared suspiciously.
"Really Michiru, I thought after the last time you'd learn to hide them." Laughed a familiar voice. Michiru sighed.
"Good morning Feril. Clothes." She held out her hand and the other woman shrugged and handed them over.
"I was watching them for you."
"Right..."
"I did ask you to show the newbie around today for a reason." Feril said, disappointment in her voice as she watched a hawk circle over the forest. Michiru sighed again, pulling on her uniform and tying her hair up.
"I know, and I will. I just asked Bunny to show them to breakfast, I'll do the rest." She said, and pulled on her shoes. "It doesn't matter." Feril gave a suffering noise and Michiru raised an eyebrow.
"Look, it's just important that you show the newbie around today, ok?" Feril asked.
"Yes." Michiru paused before asking, "They're one of us, aren't they? One you found."
Feril nodded, smiling.
"This one's the best yet. Stronger then I've seen! Two elements as well. That's all of you then, all I'm supposed to find. That's all the Queen asked of me."
"You mean your job's finished?" Michiru questioned. Feril had talked with her about a mission she'd been set to by her mistress before, but never enough to satisfy the girl's curiosity. No one really knew Feril's place in the Institute. She came and went as she pleased and all the instructors and even the headmistress spoke almost reverently of the woman. She had rescued half the students in the Tower Dorm, the one Michiru herself belonged to and had enrolled every one in that dorm into the school. Everyone knew Tower Dorm was different from the others.
Michiru herself had been rescued when the ship she and her family owned sunk and she was the only survivor at the age of 8. She'd been at the Institute ever since. And she trusted Feril with everything. Feril had helped her through confusing times, and hadn't shunned the girl when she discovered she was attracted to others of the same sex. She still hid the secret from the other girls in her dorm, but she knew that at least one other same gender couple existed in their circle, in secret.
"No. Far from it. I have to leave again soon, but after that, I'll be around a lot more, helping you guys in your training." Feril skipped a stone across the water.
"War's coming, isn't it? We're not completely shut off from the world here, we've all heard rumors." Michiru tested carefully, not sure how far Feril would let her get this time. The woman was silent.
"The Queen, she wants you to stop it, doesn't she? Is that where we come in? All this training?" she continued.
"Don't concern yourself girl," Feril laughed, but it wasn't a normal laugh. "Let's get to the Dining Hall before Usagi and Minako eat all the good stuff. At any rate, it feels good to be on terra firma again, after traveling through portals all the time."
"By the way, what's the newbie's name?"
"Tenoh. Haruka Tenoh."
Michiru felt an odd tingle run done her spine, but ignored it and set off after Feril.

******** R&R Peoples. Tell me where to go from here! Actually, I got kind of an ideas where to go... Haruka: I sure hope so! Why'd I get beat up so much? Author: Because that's your dark past. You've got to have one for this. Michiru: It's an AU, my Ruka could have a bright and cheerful past, but empty until she finds moi. Haruka: Of course dear. Author: *sweatdrops* uh, right. Anyways, this AU is like medieval times peoples and weapons, with technology not extending to weapons or some appliances of today. R&R! Feril: I'm a servant now? Wtf? Author: Uh... later peeps! *********