On Monday, all was normal, and I began to wonder about the accuracy of my hunch. Nothing was wrong, everything was absolutely fine.

Too fine.

I was uneasy all day, a result of my nerves and the excitement of the day before. The next few days were more of the same, but sill, the feeling remained. One thing I did notice, though, was that the number of fights in he school was increasing. Things were starting to get out of hand. The principal came on our school news program and addressed the class about it. Cheerleaders were starting to steal, things were being broken on a daily basis, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before something worse happened.

Have I mentioned before that I hate it when I'm right?

A fight broke out in the lunchroom around me. Insults flew, and I listened closely to the mudslinging for clues as to the reason.

Two girls were fighting over some boy, I guess. One of them was his girlfriend, the other was just some friend of his.

"I heard from a reliable source that you are chasing after my boyfriend!"

"Oh? This is one of those girls on the gossip chain who tells you every other 'reliable' thing you've ever passed on?" the other girl quipped sarcastically.

"He's way too good for you!" she screeched, grabbing at the other girl. "You'll never have him!"

It crossed my mind that maybe she should be confronting the boyfriend about this, not another girl.

"How could you say that?" asked the other girl, backing away. "You and him have been together since seventh grade! Why would I interfere with that?"

"You want him for yourself, bitch!"

"Knock it OFF!" The other girl pushed her away forcefully.

"You're ON, bitch!" She threw a punch, knocking the other girl to the floor, sitting on top of her and trying for her throat. The other girl scratched at her face and hands, trying to claw her way out of her hold. Where's the security guard? I thought frantically. I jumped in, trying to pull the crazed girlfriend away. Two of her friends had snapped out of the trance they were in and came to help me. Together, the three of us managed to pull her hands away from the other's throat, and Kiira rushed to the girl's side, helping her up and making sure she wa all right. I noticed she did so with all the precision of someone trained to act in emergencies.

Security finally showed up and took the girlfriend away. I sighed, shaking my head. Kiira walked over to me.

"Why didn't they show up sooner?" she asked. "That was at least a minute or two. Why did you have to come pull her off?"

I shook my head again. "I don't know. It just… happened."

Softly, on the edge of my hearing, so low I couldn't even be sure I heard it, I heard a chuckle. Looking around, I saw Samen leaning against the wall. When our eyes locked, I had a sick feeling in my gut.

He smiled. "Hi, Kayra," he said in his soft, low voice, and I could feel a shiver run down my spine. His eyes spoke to me, called me, but I could see the cold fire in their depths and I resisted. The pull stopped. He looked puzzled briefly, then said, "Good fight. Didn't realize there'd be so much action here when I transferred. I can't wait to see what happens next. Right, Kiira?" he asked, turning to my friend, another smile on his lips.

"Bastard!" she said. He tisked at her.

"Temper, Kiira," he said. "I have no clue why you're insulting me. You'd better watch out, before you catch this violence bug that's going around the school." Kiira's eyes widened in shock, then she returned to her usual cool demeanor.

"Of course," she said coolly, but he was already leaving, laughing softly, and I realized it had been him, chuckling after the fight.

"Who is he?" I asked, completely freaked out by now. I could see Kiira weighing all the possible answers.

"An enemy," she said, then walked away.

That Saturday, Kiira and I met in the park for practice. "You need training, just in case we ever have to fight." I heard the 'I hope not' in her voice, but I also knew that she knew a fight was inevitable. So we practiced.

We both wielded foam swords I had bought at a Ren Faire the previous summer. They weren't great weapons, but they worked.

She charged me, thrusting at my gut. I parried, then slashed at her while her sword was out of the way. She hit me in the arm and side while my weapon was occupied. "Wide open!" she barked. "Moves like that only work if you're faster than your opponent – don't use them unless you're sure. Let me demonstrate a better move. Charge me."

I copied her move. She stepped aside, then caught me in the back as I ran past her. "Heartless are fast, but generally stupid. A trick like that works easily. Now, try it."

It went like that for two or three grueling hours of techniques, exercise, and orders. Kiira was a good teacher, but she was also demanding. Finally, we stopped, and sat down next to each other on the grass.

"Where did you learn to shout like that?" I asked, panting.

She smiled. "Same place I learned how to fight – my dad, and the teachers at the Traveler training academy." She smiled. "My martial teacher was a tall, thin woman named Stala, who reminded me of nothing more than a falcon – and I swear she had X-ray vision, because she picked up on every mistake, even if you were at the opposite end of the training room." She laughed. "Nevertheless, she was my favorite teacher."

"Wow," I sighed, looking up at the sky. "I wish I went to a school like that."

"No, trust me, you don't. Unless you want to go home tired to the bone every day and still have to do homework, chores, and anything else you want to do." She sighed. "It's draining – but it's just an example of what a hard life we can be expected to lead once we become full Travelers."

"Must be really tough," I said. I turned to her, a little bummed. "My mom says she doesn't like me being around you. Says she makes you nervous, and I can't go over to your house without another friend." I smiled a little. "She thinks that your family might be kidnappers or perverts or something."

She laughed a little at the thought, then sighed, looking down at the ground. "A lot of people reacted that way to me back home. Especially people who are receptive to energy."

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"I have a dark aura. I know that sounds weird, but because of who I am, I radiate darkness. Travelers like me are often called Ravens, because we are protectors of darkness, rather than true light." She sighed. "People who are receptive to auras and things like that tend to feel uncomfortable or creepy around me."

"I don't feel creepy around you."

She really laughed then. "You're just really used to them. I mean, have you looked at your friends lately? You could be part of a fashion magazine for dark and rebellious people."

"What does that have to do with it?" I asked, a little miffed.

"People like that tend to have darker auras. That's why a lot of people feel uncomfortable around them, although in places like this it's usually blamed on the clothes."

"That explains a lot," I said, laughing. "Hey, Kiira?"


"Will you… have to leave, once all this is over?"

Her face fell. "Maybe. Only the Lady would be able to tell you that, and she's not here right now. It could be I'm assigned to this world, to protect it, or I could be assigned another duty."

"I hope you get to stay," I said.

She smiled. "Yeah. Me too."

After we left the park, we went to go see a movie. We both loved it, although Kiira said she figured out the plot. I told her that that was because she had seen a lot more stories unfold than I had, and we both laughed. We just ran around town, doing stuff, taking pictures, meeting up with friends along the way. For a while, life was good, and normal. When I got home, I was happy. I pulled out a CD, stuffed it in my player, and lay back on my bed, letting the beat of the drums and the rhythm of the guitar carry me away, and for the first time in a long time, I just forgot everything, and listened.

A/N: Hello, y'all! Finally, Kiira is updated, and the inspiration is flowing. A little bitter in spots, but it was a lot of fun to write. I know the whole aura thing is a bit cheesy, but I couldn't think of any other way to put hat I was trying to say… Hope you guys liked the chap, and there'll be more soon!

Oh, yeah, Kiira's sword teacher was named after a similar character in a book. If anyone can tell me what book it was, they get a brownie. Yay! Don't forget to review.

Thanks y'all,

PS: Y'all remember to review, now! Nothin' warms an author's heart lahk a big ol' nice review. Peace, y'all!