CHAPTER 1: A New Dream
Disclaimer: This disclaimer will go for this and each following chapter, which means I will not be writing one again in this story and yet will always be going by the same terms. If someone is not happy with this disclaimer, please tell me and tell me why. I hold ownership rights to the new characters and the plot, but everything else belongs solely and justly to Ms. Tamora Pierce. I swear that I will under no means so much as dream of making money off the following works.
If anyone possibly knows how to indent or skip lines (in between scenes, for example), could you fill me in, please? I'm struggling with the Edit/Preview system. Thanks!
Summary: Alanna of Trebond's eccentric life at the convent leads to far more unconventional adventures elsewhere. She thought her dreams for becoming a heroic warrior of Tortall were unachievable, but, apparently, the Goddess still intends her Chosen One to travel a thrilling path, though not the exact same as previously planned.
This is rated T for swearing and romance.
Okay, onto the story!
Alanna of Trebond, feeling lost and confused, stared doubtfully up at the gray building looming over her. According to her plans, she should be disguised as a boy and heading south towards Corus to spend eight years training for knighthood in the royal palace. Now, though, she found herself cowering in the intimidating shadow of the Convent of the Mother of the Mountains, where all noble girls went to study the role of a lady in society. In the place she wanted to be was, instead, her twin brother, Thom, who would drive his teachers to Chaos and back again with his overwhelming interest in sorcery and lack of the slightest curiosity in the fighting arts. She didn't understand. Why was she here?
I'll tell you why, she growled to herself. Your father is screwed, that's why. If he hadn't bloody overheard us! I would be a knight in eight years, not some old, brainwashed, married lady. Gods curse him, I hate that man.
"Alanna! Hurry up!" Maude, Alanna's guardian, called from the courtyard ahead of her.
Alanna sighed, and trotted forward, past the Daughter Doorwarden who allowed them inside the high, confining walls around the convent. She paused again, and glanced behind her at the setting sun just now sinking into the mountain peaks that formed the horizon.
And then the iron gates slammed shut.
A half an hour later, Alanna and Maude stood alone in one of the convent's many parlors, both waiting for the other to say the first good-bye. Maude was leaving and taking Alanna's pony with her—the convent provided horses for its students—and therefore leaving her all by herself.
"I'm sorry," Maude murmured, clearly heavyhearted at their situation. She knew how much becoming a knight had meant to Alanna.
Alanna glanced up from the ground, startled at the unexpected apology. When she saw the old woman's pitying gaze, though, she felt her eyes burn and throat catch. Angrily and without a thought for the First Daughter who stood just outside the door, she cried, "What in Mithros' name am I doing here? Everything would have worked out fine! Thom would come here and become a great sorcerer, and I would go to the palace to become the first woman knight in a century. But oh no, that wouldn't do at all! Father would never go for something reasonable in this country, even if he weren't scared of us—"
Maude reached out to the ranting ten-year-old. "Alanna, stop! The gods—"
"Them!" she shrieked, stepping back out of reach. "Yes, let's talk about the gods, the freaks! Always playing with mortals' emotions, always treating us like pigs, always making us suffer for their amusement, aren't they? Well, I'm sick of it! I refuse to be tossed about simply because they want to have some fun!"
"Don't you 'Alanna' me! You helped! Where were you when father made servants keep a double eye on us, hm? You helped! You made sure that our plan wouldn't work. And you let Coram teach me to fight, and you brought me here, and you—" And then she burst into tears, and had to stop.
Maude closed her eyes to accept the tantrum, but then opened them again a moment later and replied firmly, "They didn't."
"They did!" Alanna shrieked, still crying. "They did, they did, they did, they did—"
The woman was firm and quiet—too firm and too quiet, Alanna decided, to protest. So she simply glared furiously with eyes that consistently shed warm tears, and waited.
"The night your father caught you and your brother, I Saw something."
"But you're not allowed—"
"I know!" Maude snapped, looking terrified at the memory. Then she took a deep breath and repeated more gently, "I know. I didn't do it on purpose; I don't know how it happened. I was just looking into the fire and... I Saw. I Saw so many things—the majority of which I didn't understand, of course. I know this much, though: the gods never intended for you to come here. Your father's move that afternoon was an unexpected and displeasing surprise. The gods wanted me to tell you something."
"This can't be good."
"First, they wanted me to tell you that your father will be punished. Second, you are a Healer. Learn to use your Gift. Things will happen where… where you'll have to be able to use it, I think. Third, things will happen to Thom: he will cause problems. More problems, even, than if your plan had worked. Fourth, very little will change—they hope—even though your plan did not carry through the way you wanted it to. Fifth, don't be afraid. Just wait."
Maude paused, and glanced out the window. "It's getting late. I should go. But I want to tell you, you should use whatever you have to your advantage. The gods only know—your lessons may come in handy in the future. Perhaps spying? Think of a simple, harmless lady dancing… and yet she has deadly sharp knives and delicate bottles of poison hidden among her swishing skirts.
"I shouldn't be saying this, of course—putting ideas in your head." The woman shook her head, and smiled. "I'll keep in touch, to see how things are going. But I need to go if I'm going to get anywhere tonight. Good-bye, Alanna." Maude turned and strode to the door.
Alanna blinked, not truly acknowledging the last few words. She found herself unable to think straight, with Maude's advice ringing in her ears as if she were repeating it over and over and over again. The gods never intended for you to come here... You are a Healer... Thom: he will cause problems... Very little will change... Don't be afraid... Perhaps spying?... Good-bye, Alanna—
Then it clicked. Alanna jumped slightly as she surfaced reality. Thirty-year-old fingers were turning a doorknob, their owner preparing to depart.
The woman half turned to show she was listening.
Maude nodded, smiling slightly, and opened the parlor door. And then she was gone, and Alanna suddenly felt very alone.
First Daughter Rinnesia stepped into the room and studied Alanna for a moment. Finally she asked in her usual serene manner, "Are you ready?"
Alanna blinked again. Ready? Ready for what? Ready to become a lady? No, no, she wasn't. Ready to become a lady spy? Alanna grinned. "Yes. I'm ready."