Author's Note: Achmed, Meridion and Rhapsody, as well as any other Symphony of Ages characters, ideas and places belong to Elizabeth Haydon. Please read and review :)

Meridion pushed his glasses aside and covered his face with his hands. No matter how hard he tried, he could not forget her face or put her out of his mind. She was never supposed to exist; born out of one of many mistakes that had plagued his manipulation of time. He watched her through the fractured glass of the destroyed time line and sighed. How could a mere possibility be as strong as reality?

Chapter 1: Achmed's daughter

Thalia slowly trudged below a scorching desert sun as she made her annual journey back to her father's kingdom. The arid, dry air enabled her to pick up vibrations from hundreds of leagues away. However, she had no concern whatsoever about what was going on a hundred leagues away. As it stood, she found the incessant prattle of the neighboring nomadic groups to be an irritation at best. To that end, a sheer scarf was tied around her neck; muffling the mundane sounds the air normally carried to the sensitive skin around her throat.

She was three days from meeting up with the caravan that would carry her to her father's domain; and she valued the time alone. There were no expectations or demands, no tasks or obscure studies -- just her and the white sand stretching from horizon to horizon. Thalia was alone. Many would believe a young woman traveling without escort in the desert would be extremely vulnerable. Those people had never met Achmed's daughter. Two long, slender daggers were sheathed at her hips ready for use at the slightest provocation. Intelligent people avoided provoking Thalia. Idiots received flesh wounds, though at her aunt's insistence she refrained from further damage.

A ghost of a smile hovered briefly on Thalia's lips as she thought of her beautiful, golden-haired aunt. She hoped that Rhapsody would visit during Thalia's stay, she had seen little of the woman the year before when Thalia returned from her sojourn with her mother's people.

Thalia stretched the kinks out of her arms as she continued to walk. The young woman had her father's rail-thin frame and her desert mother's tawny complexion. Her dark, wavy hair was tied up on her head in an complex coil of braids. Thalia had wanted to shave all her hair off, but her mother's people recoiled from such an idea. She remembered Jetasan's horrified look and laughed aloud. Perhaps she should shave her head; seeing Jetasan's reaction might warrant the accompanying lecture.

The day wore on as Thalia crossed her desert homeland, distant Teeth Mountains on the horizon, nothing but her thoughts for company. As evening approached, so did the familiar oasis that marked the halfway point of her journey. Through her sheer scarf her skin prickled with the vibrations of movement and speech. Thalia cursed inwardly, there were several people making camp at the secluded oasis. She sighed, resigned. It seemed that she would have to be civil for the time being, the oasis being too small for her to disappear into the shadows as was her wont in such situations.

All of the sudden Thalia stopped. One of the scents was obnoxiously familiar. What was he doing here?