The ship rocked gently as Numair leaned again the doorway, watching as his student, his magelet breathed in time to the waves. In and out. A perfect rhythm. He sighed. If only he could love her. Daine deserved so much. She was perfect for him, a match made in heaven... except for a single flaw in his own nature. Numair couldn't love. Oh, he could give affection, and he could love his friends... but it wasn't the kind of love he wanted, that he NEEDED. It wasn't the kind of love that he could share with one special person. What Numair was striving for was far out of his reach and there was nothing he could do about it. Or was there...? Numair slipped out of the room with catlike grace in search for the captain of the ship.

"Aye, only two more days 'til we reach Carthak, Master Numair." The captain replied to Numair's query. "If the winds keep up as good as they've been, mayhap the Gods will let us arrive sooner." Numair thanked the man and crept back to his cabin and his dilema. There was only one solution, and Numair knew it had to come down to this.

"I may not be able to love you magelet, but I know someone that can." With his heart heavy in his chest, Numair contacted the mages in Tyra. After the mages that were working on a project for him heard his plea and agreed to help, Numair fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

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It was so dark. So cold. Where was he? Why was he locked up? He could feel himself being loaded... onto a ship? The gentle rocking of waves confirmed this for him. "LET ME OUT," he screamed. But all that met him was silence. He cursed, he pounded the walls of the crate, but to no avail. He slumped down the side, defeated. How did he get in here? His memory was scrambled. Who am I? The man wondered. Why couldn't he remember? Willing himself to hold back his tears, the man slept, unaware of the black magic that was gathering in his large hands.

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"Numair? Are you alright?" Daine stood next to her friend of the last 3 years, just before they were to be seated for the banquet. "You seem rather pale."

Numair glanced down at his student, "It's nothing magelet... just an experiment I've been conducting. It's tired me out, but I'll be fine give another few days."

Daine looked down at Numair, as much as she could to the six foot five giant. "No mischief," she scolded, "it's bad enough having to look out for myself let alone for whatever player antics you're getting up to!" She glanced around to see if anyone was listening. "You know Ozorne will have your head if you step even one foot out of line."

Numair held his hands up in mock defeat. "We can't have that can we? The Gods help me if I don't bow down to the supreme ruler of the mightiest kingdom in all the lands and make like everything is just how it used to be."

Daine's fierce glare at her teacher put a stop to his tirade. "Your voice is carrying," she scolded him. She softened her expression. "Please be careful Numair."

Numair saw the look on her face and sighed. "Fine. I'll behave. But don't expect me to be too happy about it." He glanced about, and the sick expression returned to his face as Varice came to escort him to his place.

Smiling as he was lead away, Daine shook her head. She knew why Numair looked queasy. It was nothing about experiments. The shipride on the way to Carthak must've made ill. He's just too proud to admit it, she thought to herself. Mages!

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He could create light! A sparkling globe appeared in his hand, sending out black sparks to light up the corners of the crate. Now he inspected his prison for the first time. Spacious enough for his large frame, the man stretched out and played with the light. Three balls of light appeared in his hands and he playfully tossed them in the air, juggling them.

What was that? A memory? He remembered juggling for a young girl... A woman? Someone he loved? But how long ago? A year? Maybe two? The man was left to wonder about his newfound past as a black mist crept upon him, sending him into a deep slumber. Three men carefully opened the crate and carried the unconscious human out. Silently they transferred him into his new quarters.

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Numair was tired. His Gift was draining. But he knew he had to go on with his project, even if it were the last thing he ever did. Numair grinned ruefully at that thought as he worked away in one of Lindhall's secret rooms. A turtle in the next room snapped in the direction of Numair, but he quickly silenced it with a touch of his depleting Gift. Almost finished... Numair heard Daine's voice drift towards him, and he cloaked himself with magic, hoping that the little he had left would be enough to throw off Kitten. Being only a dragonet and nowhere near her full potential, Numair had been able to stop the young dragon from noticing his shrouded presence through sheer power. But this time would he have enough?

Lindhall, Kaddar and Daine entered the room, the two males quietly conferring and Daine marvelling at the wonders in the room. Numair scowled as the young heir moved a tad too close to his Daine - that would not do! Numair made a mental note to warn Kaddar to stay away from Daine just as a trill caught his attention. He looked down to see Kitten staring at him, whistling indignantly.

"Kit, no!" Numair hissed, but it was too late. The air shimmered and he appeared. "You had to inform everyone," the mage said ruefully...

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He could remember the past! His memory was still patchy, but slowly he was piecing it together. And slowly, but surely, his Gift was coming to him as well. Black fire spiraled around him as the mage twitched his fingers. He smiled. Soon... soon he would be able to return to the child. the woman in his vision. He could sense her nearby. So close. She had been there recently, but he, fool that he was, had missed it.

A cloaked figure entered the room.

"No!" He yelled and lunged at the figure, but it was no use. "Not again!" The hooded person cast his spell and sent him flying across the room, already asleep as he slid down the wall. The hooded man then went to work.

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Numair sighed. He hoped he was doing the right thing. All the right seeds had been planted, the knowledge sowed and grown. Ozorne knew that Daine was his weak point, and knowing Ozorne, he had used that information to his 'advantage'. What Ozorne hadn't known was that Numair was always thinking ahead, always planning. The people of Tortall had been sent home, his 'project' almost complete, save from one final touch, and Daine would escape. Sadness crept around his heart. "It has to end this way," the man whispered to himself, "it's the only way. He must be stopped. She deserves to be loved." The mage looked up at the clear skies as a tear trickled down his pale face. "It's the only way."

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Daine. Her name is Daine. The lovely creature in his vision. His heart, his soul, his love, his future... she had a name! The knowledge that she had been taken by his greatest enemy, Ozorne did not sit well with him. If only he could escape this room, this prison! A turtle snapped at the man as he pondered his thoughts. He knew his past. He knew the present. He knew what would hopefully be his future. But he still didn't know his name...

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"For crimes against the great Emperor Ozorne you shall pay with your life Arram Draper!" Numair couldn't pinpoint the voice, but it came from outside the wall. He had been captured that day and was sentenced to die. His gift was almost non-existent, but the mage didn't need his magic to tell him that his end was near. "It's the only way," he whispered to himself. "It's the right way." From outside his prison cell, Numair could hear the crowds chanting, preparing for his execution. He hung his head, "It's the only way."

The prison door slammed open. Two guards accompanied by two mages dragged him from the cell, out of the prison and onto the execution platform. Unafraid, Numair met the eyes of his once childhood friend, his gaze pure and strong. There would be no regrets.

"I was always greater than you Arram," Ozorne spat at Numair, "always." Stepping aside, Ozorne let the executioner step onto the platform. He hefted a heavy double bladed axe. Numair began chanting, building up the final part of his spell, watching in slow motion as the axe came down upon his neck.

With the last of his gift, Numair sent his final message out, just as he died.

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The man shook his head. He had woken up to find thoughts, messages and memories in his head. Memories that made sense, not the jumble that he had witnessed over the past few weeks. These memories were his. They were whole and complete. He knew who he was. He had a name. Numair Samalin. He was the greatest mage in Tortall, perhaps the entire world. And he loved Daine. His magelet. The mage marvelled at the life he had lived, each of his memories seeming fresh and new, almost as if this were the first time he had experienced them... He shook the thought away. He had to find Daine. He had to show her that he loved her, TELL her that he loved her. The mage blasted his way out from his prison and crept out of Lindhall's rooms.

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Numair the mage lay dead and crumpled on the executioner's platform, his head decapitated from his body, a wistful smile and his pale, lifeless face.

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Numair's simulacrum, his exact copy, hid under his invisibility spell to look for his magelet. As he searched the crumpled remains of the palace, the memory of a dying man's words whispered around his ears.

"Love her. Just love her."

1 THE END

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AUTHOR'S NOTE

Phew! That only took me a day to write, but the ideas have been swarming around for a while. I've always wondered if it were possible that Numair was actually just the simulacrum from their adventure in Carthak and the real Numair dead. Hopefully this wouldn't be the case, but I think it's interesting to wonder. I hope I didn't confuse anyone reading this too much with the switching back and forth between Numair and his Simulacrum. Please give me any feedback that you might have on this fan fic and let me know if you enjoyed it. Even if you didn't like it, just e-mail me and tell me why not. Thanks for taking the time to read this! Much appreciated!