Author's note: OK, this is my first fanfic, so BE NICE! Lol. Please review – all comments welcome.

A tall girl of fourteen years strode with purpose through the crowds of one of Summersea's many marketplaces, the skirts of a typical commoner swaying around her long legs. As she waved greetings to the many stallholders she had befriended over the past years, her long, golden-brown curls caught the sunlight, showing off a reddish hue. She was off to visit one of the many food stalls manned by a particularly close friend. She was paid to play music in front of the store to attract customers.

Anticipating her visit, Stephanie wasn't watching her path or the people on it. She bumped into something hard and toppled over backwards, her bag flying out of her hand.

"Watch where you're going!" snapped an irritable voice.

Steph snatched her bag from the ground and stood up. Before her, a plump girl around the same age as her was gathering books that had spilled from her hands. Her red hair had been braided and coiled in patterns on her head. "And these were new…" the girl muttered.

Steph knelt and helped the redhead collect her books. "Sorry."

The two teenagers stood. The girl was a few inches shorter than Steph, but held the impression that she was much taller. As Steph passed the books back to the girl, one pair of storm-grey eyes met another.

"Thanks. It's just that I'm late meeting my teacher, Niko, and –"

"I know who you are!" interrupted Steph. "You're that lightning mage! I've heard some pretty barbaric stories about you."

"So has everyone else." the mage replied with a twisted smile.

"I'm sorry, but I have to go. I'm late meeting a friend, and I've got the shopping to do…" Steph trailed off. And with that, she hitched her bag higher on her shoulder and walked away, engulfed by busy shoppers in seconds.

oOo

As Trisana Chandler was about to walk away in the opposite direction, a faint glimmer on the ground caught her eye. She looked down and saw a small, wooden flute lying on the cobblestone road. A pail, silver glow surrounded it.

"Magic." Breathed Tris, picking it up. It must have fallen out of the girl's bag when she fell, Tris reasoned. She turned the flute in her small, nail-bitten hands, curiously inspecting it. Inscribed near the end were the words 'Stephanie, room 3, Miriam's Inn'.

Tris sighed. She would have to return the flute to the girl another time. Niko was to continue to teach her and her foster-siblings how to scry. In the few lessons she'd already had with her brother and two sisters, she was the only one to actually be able to see anything in her bowl of liquid, and even then they were only flashes of colour.

Tucking the wooden instrument into her own bag, Tris began the slow walk back to the main square, where a wagon heading for Winding Circle Temple was waiting to pick her up.

oOo

Ordina looked up as Steph stumbled behind the counter, plonking her bag on the sturdy, wooden table.

"Sorry I'm late, Ordie," the girl apologized. "I – oh no!"

"What is it?" asked the older woman.

"My flute's missing. I must have left it at home." Steph admitted. "I guess I can't play for the customers."

"Aah, think again, girl." Ordie smiled and reached into a box behind her. She pulled out a fiddle and passed it to the girl. "You forgot about this."

Steph smiled. She walked to the front of the stall and slid into a tailor's seat. The moment bow struck string in the first long, quavering note, heads turned and passers-by stopped to listen to the beautiful song, tossing the occasional coin into her lap.

Ordie listened with wonder as this young girl's amazing talent showed itself to these many people. Every weekday, Steph came to her stall and played music. As soon as she played the first note, shoppers stopped what they were doing to come and listen, swaying in tune to the melody.

When the sun had crossed the middle of the sky and was starting to edge towards the western hills, Steph stopped playing. When she had carefully stowed the fiddle, Ordie approached the teenager. She pressed a silver coin into one hand and handed back her bag filled with wrapped up food.

"Ordie, remember that girl you told me about? The one that plays with the weather?" asked Steph, pulling a pear out of her bag. Ordie nodded. "Does she come here a lot?" she continued, biting into the fruit.

"Often enough." Ordie replied with a shrug. "Why?"

Steph chewed thoughtfully and swallowed. "Never mind." And with a friendly wave, she turned and left.