a/u: So it has been a very long time since I read one of Mercedes Lackey's stories on the Heralds of Valdemar. I have just finished reading the Vows and Honor series as well as the Dragon Jousters books so my mind in not exactly in Valdemar at the moment. Therefore, please forgive any technicalities that are incorrect in this story. Also, I apologize for the poor quality and short length but I seriously wrote this in about thirty minutes on a whim so it is not perfect. I do plan on continuing, though.

Talia, the Queen's Own Herald and bonded to the Companion Rolan, leaned back in her chair and suppressed a sigh of annoyance. She really didn't understand why she had to be there. It wasn't that she disliked watching and listening to Bards, but there were other things she could be doing. Elspeth and Queen Selenay were sitting on either side of her. The heir saw her friend's exasperated expression and grinned.

"It really isn't that bad," she said. "Some of the Trainees are actually quite good."

Each year, the graduating Trainees of the Bardic Circle performed for the Court. This would be the first year that Talia would attend, though the queen and her daughter attended each year to show their support for the young Bards. Upon hearing her daughter speak to Talia, Selenay turned to look at them.

"She's right." The queen was dressed as every other Herald, with only a small circlet to show her rank. "I heard that this year's Trainees show promise. One girl in particular though her name escapes me."

Talia said nothing and simply leaned back in her chair, trying to get comfortable. They were not the only Heralds here. Many people could be made out wearing Heraldic Whites along with the Bardic Reds and Healer Greens. Some of the Court had also decided to attend. The Queen's Own sighed, and wondered how much longer it would be before they started. As if to answer her unspoken question, music began to play and actors began to enter the stage.

The performance, to Talia's surprise, was actually quite good. The two main characters were girls attending the Collegium as Unaffiliated Students. Both were complete opposites, one being petite, blond and annoyingly perky while the other was tall, raven haired, and, unlike her peer, was more focused in scholarly interests than in her own appearance. In the first part of the show, the two girls loathed each other in every meaning of the word. As it progressed however, the two grew closer and even became friends.

While the play was spectacular and the Trainees threw their hearts and souls into their performance, the young bard playing the part of the peppy blond stole the show. Nobody could keep their attention off of her for long. (though these may be because she was quite attractive, not her performance, at least as far as the male portion of the audience was concerned) When she sang and danced, she did not seem to be acting, but truly living what she was portraying to the crowd below her.

All things ran smoothly until the later part of the second act. It was during the scene in which the blonde's fiancée threatened his betrothed in order to save his lover, who happened to be the blonde's best friend.

The audience laughed as the man swung onto the stage using a rope, an impressive trick that would have gotten him killed in real life. It was then that mayhem seemed to break loose.

Shouts could be heard from backstage and a sound which curiously resembled the neigh of an angry horse echoed through the building. As any well trained Bard would do, the actors on stage ignored it and continued in hopes that the audience would forget about the commotion. It was not to be, however. Without warning, a white horse burst onto stage, startling both audience and actors. It reared up and let out a fierce challenge.

All of the Heralds present, including Talia, stood up in alarm, for it was obvious to them that this was no horse, but a Companion. What it was doing here, was beyond them.

The stage was in chaos. Actors tried to get away from the Companion and only succeeded in tripping over each other. The Companion made this worse by pivoting around, obviously looking for something. Or someone. Suddenly, the Companion found what it was looking for. It made a dash for the young, blonde Bard who has previously been captivating the audience.

Seeing that the Companion was headed toward her, the girl bolted in fear. Talia didn't blame her, for to them, this was just some crazed horse that would trample them as soon as look at them. The girl yelped as she tripped over a set piece and tumbled off of the stage to land in a heap on the now deserted chairs in the front row. She lay there, dazed while the Companion moved to stand over her. Then, both girl and Companion froze.

Seeing their sudden stillness, everyone else present stopped moving to watch the pair. The girl's eyes were round with shock. Her sky blue eyes stared into the matching eyes of the Companion. Talia knew what was happening, as did every other Herald in the room. This Companion was choosing the young Bard.

"No!" shrieked the girl, as she shoved away form the Companion. Everyone present jumped in surprise at the girl's scream.

"I can't be a Herald!" she cried. "I…" She was never able to finish her sentence. She stumbled forward several steps and promptly collapsed at the Companion's feet in a dead faint.

a/u: I will make a deal with you. If you review my story, I will review one of yours. Isn't that better than cookies?

Rebellious Faerie