Disclaimer: Characters belong to Alison Croggon.


Maerad sat at the edge of a great cliff overlooking the Western ocean. She watched the azure waves crash upon the jagged rocks below, and spray white foam into the salty air. The sound was calming, and she stretched herself out on the ground, listening to the rumbling reverberate off the stone. The sun shone brightly across her body, shielding her from the slight chill of the ocean breeze. In perfect contentment, she fell fast asleep.

When she woke up, Maerad found that someone had laid a dark, roughly woven cloak over her. She sat upright and realized that Cadvan had joined her at the precipice; his feet dangled over the side and he was leaning back on his arms. Smiling, she got up and joined him.

"You didn't need to give me your cloak," she said, and passed the item back to him.

Cadvan refused, and instead wrapped it around her shoulders. "I wanted to. Besides, you must be freezing with that dress!"

Maerad grinned, and peered back at the ocean. On the horizon, she noticed tiny dots of massive cargo ships passing by to deliver goods to some nearby port. "Do you think they enjoy sailing all the time?" she questioned.

Cadvan studied her curiously. "Well, if they didn't, why would they continue to sail?"

Maerad took a moment before answering him. " I know someone has to do that job, or else goods couldn't be transported. I just think that it must get tiresome."

Cadvan picked at the swale-grass that poked up through the cragged rockface. "Well then, I suppose they would find someone to replace them, so they could go and find something that is pleasing. Why do you ask?"

Her dark hair blew in a flurry of wind; her eyes blazed with passion. It reminded Cadvan of Lady Ardina when he had first beheld her, and her unprecedented beauty.

"I just feel like I should be doing something, instead of idly sitting here. I feel like I should be out fighting Hulls, or figuring out how to find the Treesong," she whispered. He could barely hear her over the thunderous water below."I need to help, Cadvan," she finished, throwing a pebble. She watched it land in the abyss below.

He stood, and she followed suit. "I assure you there will be plenty of time to do just that, Maerad. For now, relax."

Offering her his arm, they walked away from the sea.

"But how? I don't understand how you manage to drop all your cares when you enter the safety of a known School, despite the ever present danger." She gestured with her free arm before them.

Cadvan smiled. "I still have my worries, but why fret when there is peace and much beauty to be enjoyed?" Maerad just glanced at him.

They continued walking until the high towers of Norloch came back into sight. "Do you think we'll be needed, after this war is over Cadvan?" she asked. She withdrew her arm and made him stop midstep.

"Needed?" he asked, confused by her question.

"What will I do? I've know nothing except fighting for my life. The world won't need me once my use is spent defeating Sharma," she continued with depression apparent in her words.

Cadvan grasped her hands gently. "Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Maerad looked into his deep blue eyes, and found understanding. He was her best friend, and she knew him well enough to heed his advice. "I don't know what makes me come alive.." she said to herself.

"Do you know now what you will do?" he said, gazing intensely back at her.

"Well," she began, biting her lip, "I love to learn, and to sing. Perhaps I could teach?" she asked. She raised an eyebrow.

"It sounds like a plan, although I hope you let me come with you," Cadvan laughed. His sincerity made her beam with happiness and she understood why he could forget his worries here.

"By the light, of course you're coming with me! Do you honestly think I can learn how to teach on my own? I have to learn from the best first." She sent him a sidelong grin full of mischief.

"You shouldn't mock me, Maerad. I was being serious!" he exclaimed.

"So was I."

Cadvan swallowed hard and allowed his gaze to travel to her lush lips as she spoke. "Love also makes me alive Cadvan. Without it, I wouldn't be alive. That is why you must come with me." Before he could react, she wrapped her arms around him, and kissed his cheek.

"Then I am satisfied. I, too, would be dead if I didn't have you," he whispered before kissing her back, this time on the mouth.

Maerad smiled inside, finally knowing that no matter what happened, she would have Cadvan. And with Cadvan she would have a life; a life full of happiness and meaning.