Um... this was just a weird plot bunny bite. Yes, I KNOW I should update my other story, but I can't get this out of my head. Don't worry - it's a one- shot, so I can get back to the will to live ASAP.

DISCLAIMER: I own the Mel and her parents, except for their last name. Tamora Pierce owns everything else.



My parents had managed, somehow, to drag me on a hiking trip. Don't ask me how - it's the eighth wonder of the world, now. I mean, I don't mind hiking when we're somewhere pretty, like Scanra, which has snow-capped mountains, or Tyra, which is filled to the brimming with marshes and flowers, but my home-country, Tortall, isn't all that nice. Well, it is, I suppose, to people who don't live here, but all the forests look the same to me. Big trees, chirping birds, the works.

Let me explain. It's the year 1894 H.E.. My parents are well-off citizens of Tortall. Mom's a manager of something-or-other in an engineering company, and Dad's a scientist. I go to a regular public school, and am getting an education so that I can become a scholar. My family line has a lot of scientists and scholars for some reason, but I prefer the latter over the former.


My mom called me over to help with the tent, but I ignored her. It's always amusing to test her patience.


So much for that. Apparently she was in a testy mood, so I decided not to push it. Shrugging, I went over to her. "Yeah?" I said in my best I'm-only- doing-this-because-I-want-to-not-because-you-made-me voice. She rolled her eyes, and handed me a large water bottle. "Go to the nearest stream and fill this, please. We'll boil it when you get back, and then we'll be able to cook with it."

I rolled my eyes, and recited in a monotone, "because the heat will kill the bacteria. I know, I know." I took the bottle and walked off.

Following the sound of a nearby stream, I came upon an open field. There was a statue in the middle of it. I glanced at it, curious, but decided against investigating until after I got the water. Mom could be scarier than a raging spidrin, when she's pissed. Too bad spidrin repellent doesn't work on her like it works on normal spidrins.

I filled the bottle and gave it back to my mom. She smiled, and said, "Thanks. Now, will you help your father build the fire?"

I shook my head. "I saw an interesting..." I paused, but there was no reason to lie to her, so I told the truth. "Statue when I went to get water. Can I go check it out?"

"Statue?" she looked pensive, for a moment, but then nodded slowly. "All right. But be back before sunset, and don't wander too far."

I grinned, but then rolled my eyes. "Overprotective," I said, still grinning.

"Irresponsible," Mom said, also with a grin. She tweaked my nose, and said, "go away, just come back soon."

I waved good bye and trotted off to the field.

When I reached it again, I headed off to see that statue. I've always liked old structures, and I seem to have... a knack with telling how old they are. I'm not sure how, or why, but I can generally tell how old something is, sometimes to the dot. Mom used to tell me that it was magic, when I was younger, but everyone knows that there's no such thing as magic.

When I got close enough to see the statue, a couldn't help but gasp. It was old, dating back to the 400's, I could tell, but in great condition, and breathtakingly beautiful. Under it were two graves.

A dancing man and woman, seemingly frozen in time, with a badger at the woman's feet. The woman's head rested on the man's chest, and he gazed down at her, a soft smile on his stone face. The badger watched them, one claw almost protectively on the woman's-


Women didn't wear breaches in the four hundred's!

Well, it didn't matter. I still knew that it was from the four hundred's, even if it didn't seem right, and it was still a lovely statue. The sunlight just touched them, making them almost glow.

I knelt down, still slightly in awe, and gazed at the grave stone, nearest me. It was written in Old Common, but that wasn't much different than the Common that we spoke these days, and I took a class in it, anyway.


Veralidaine "Daine" Salmalìn, Wildmage of Tortall 435- 485

May you rest well, amongst your beloved People,

Tortall is forever in your debt for your great service,

Forever, you will be in our hearts

May the gods grant you an eternity with Numair.


I stared. Veralidaine SALMALÌN?

Oh. My. God.

I checked the spelling twice to make sure. It was spelled the same. Oh, did I mention? My last name's Salmalìn as well.


Sweating, I looked at the other grave, beside Veralidaine's.


Numair Salmalìn (Arram Draper) 421- 485

Rest in piece, great mage, beside your beloved

For whom you gave the ultimate sacrifice,

And so we bury you side by side.

Tortall is forever in your debt for your great service,

Forever, you will be in our hearts

May the gods grant you an eternity with Daine.


I gulped, then turned back to the statue, but not really seeing it. Numair Salmalìn, Arram Draper. Had this guy, standing forever in stone, frozen in time, started my family? Was he the first Salmalìn?

I walked over to the statue.

"Only fitting, then," I whispered, "that the last Salmalìn should meet the first and second." I knew that I was the last. A depressing thought, yes, but when women got married, they change their names. Even if I didn't get married - it wasn't number one on my priorities list, anyway - I still couldn't continue my line. I wasn't obsessive about it, normally I was all, "oh, boo hoo, I'm the last. I think I'll go get some ice cream," that's how much I cared. But... I stood on this sun-kissed field, with the statue of the first two people of my family, looking so much in love...

But as I gazed at the statue, somehow, I knew that they wouldn't mind. The man, Numair, seemed to smile at me, and I knew that he didn't care that I was the last. The woman, Veralidaine, seemed to somehow tell me that it didn't matter that I was a girl, and couldn't carry on my family line. She seemed to say, who cares? Live out your life, and children, if any, of mine would still be family, even if they did have a different last name. Names didn't matter, my happiness did.

I smiled, and wished that I had known them. I looked back at the graves. Wildmage and great mage. I wondered what that meant. It said that Tortall was in their debt...

They were great people, then. And I could tell, by the statue, that they had married for love... for why else build a statue with them dancing, if they had married for something other than love? The statue also emphasized their value to the country - for the country, maybe even the king, had paid to have it made. I smiled happily, and looked at the grave of my, apparently, long-lost relatives.

Turning, I raced back to my mom and dad's camp for the camera.