Disclaimer: If I owned Pellinor… that'd be the day, wouldn't it?

Notes: As you can see, this is coming out very (very, very, very) infrequently, probably because I need more motivation to write. And what gets me motivated? (Aside from Laramie's monthly reminders- see, I edited it eventually, after six months, but still!) Reviews! That way I know that someone is actually reading this, and I'm not just writing to myself, which by now, I probably am. So, please! Review!

The stars were wrong. I didn't know how I knew that, only that I did. But, that was what dreams were for, rationalizing the irrational without a second thought.

Lying on my cot, I really couldn't tell how far away they were or how many there really were, only that they were beyond my reach. I also knew that, rationally, I wouldn't be able to see the stars from my cot and that my cot was safely back in the slave barracks- safely and slave, two words I never thought I'd see together- and not in the vast wilderness. A part of me knew this was a dream, and I wasn't anywhere close to the barracks. Yet, as always, the dream was real while it lasted.

I tried to remember, though what I didn't know. I knew there was something- it seemed that I knew so much, and yet so little at the same time. Although I was in no danger, despair flowed through my body, weighing it down. For some reason, I felt numb. And afraid. I was alone… but didn't I usually treasure the scarce moments I grabbed for myself? And yet, I felt… nothingness. I was insignificant, and the stars were telling me.

It was almost amusing how much nothing could weigh on me. Nothing could wound more than nothing wounded, even physical pain.

The stars were wrong. Or was it me?

"Hey, can I sit with you?" a voice asked. The question was posed casually, but still, I jumped at the suddenness. The soft voice echoed in a whispery tone. Turning, I spotted a girl silhouetted in the moonlight, her short dark hair loose in the wind. Her figure was much like mine, thin, though not so painfully so. In the distance, a wolf howled, but its cry wasn't an aggressive one; somehow, both of us understood its harmless nature.

"Of course," I answered, moving aside to leave space for the girl. She didn't smile, but she came forth. It wasn't until she was right next to me that I could discern her features clearly. Her hair was clearly a mousy brown, plain at first sight but glimmering in a layer of silver moonlight. Her eyes sparkled like the stars above, and her skin was a pale white like mine, although perhaps that was only the light. Wordlessly, she joined me, staring at the shining sparks of brilliant radiance millions of miles away.

Nothing made sense- the setting, the star-watching, the bond I felt with the girl. But, in those moments, nothing had to.

"Which one is yours?" the girl finally asked.

I pointed to the brightest star. "Ilion. It was my mother's too."

The girl nodded as if she had already known the answer but had asked it simply for the sake of conversation. "I have one too." I followed her gaze to one of the northern constellations. "It's called Virgo."

"Virgo. I don't know that one."

"And most people where I come from don't know about Ilion," the girl admitted. "We call it the North Star."

"We?" I questioned, wondering what distinguished her from the rest of the world, for clearly she was different somehow. Exotic, almost, though nearly everything new seemed exotic to me. "Where do you live?"

The question was simple, but no immediate answer came. She was silent for a time as she stared back at the stars. Obviously and unintentionally, I had invaded her privacy, and, with a wince, I wondered if she would walk away, if I had offended her more than I thought.

"Somewhere far away," the girl finally answered sadly, and I was simply relieved to hear an answer no matter the tone or vagueness. "It's very different than here." She paused once more. "I think I miss it. And Nathan. My boyfriend," she added with a flirtatious smile. "Though, it's not like there's any shortage of hot men here."

"Hot?" I asked, an image of burning men trapped in a raging fire going through my mind. What did she find attractive about them? Of course, it wasn't as if the thought of burning some of the brutish members of the Gilman's Cot had never crossed my mind; the mere wish seemed an attractive action, however impossible. Somehow, I imagined this wasn't what the girl had in mind.

"You know, cute," she explained with a small giggle. "There are so many! And they talk weird. Formal. Of course, that only makes them even more hot. Have you seen Cadvan when he's trying to restrain himself from reacting? He does this weird thing with his eyebrows, and…" She trailed off at my blank stare. "Uh, never mind. That happens later, I suppose. Not that I've been studying Cadvan, or watching him. In fact, I haven't even been looking at him, he's so not my type…"

At this point, I couldn't do much but stare ahead into her penetrating eyes, completely uncomprehending. Whether she thought this Cadvan, whoever he was, did anything with his eyebrows or not was no concern of mine.

"Uh, so, what about you?" the girl finished, and somehow, it wasn't awkward. "You got any crushes… er, guys you find visually pleasing?"

"I do not know any 'hot' men," I answered stiffly, wondering why in the world someone would describe handsome men as 'hot.'

"Oh, come on, there's got to be someone," she replied with a nudge, and now it was her prying into my personal life. Oddly, I didn't mind. Much. "Someone from the cot, perhaps? Anyone who might miss you?"

"Most of the men where I come from are cruel," I explained to her. "Brutes like Lothar, or sadistic creatures who take pleasure in raping a woman." I shuddered, the memory of my own near rape fresh in my mind.

"Men can be stupid at times. Like when you're trying to get them to notice you, but they can't get it through their thick skulls that you're flirting and simply think you've got some dust in your eye, which they point out in front of everyone, and then you get all red, which someone else always points out in front of the guy to compound your humiliation. But, I suppose most of them are simply shy. And then there are those really oblivious ones who really don't understand. They're the worst." She huffed, which didn't go unnoticed by me. Clearly, she was thinking of one particular man. Maybe Nathan. But she said she missed him, so maybe not. Maybe Cadvan- the name rolled around pleasantly in my thoughts.

"I wouldn't really know," I stated, not completely certain what to say in this situation. "I really don't know anything."

"Oh, sure you know stuff!" she argued. "Don't worry about men, they're clueless at times. You'll find the right one eventually- I think you'd really like this one guy I'm traveling with." She smiled as if she knew something I didn't, which she probably did. "I've mentioned him before. Cadvan."

I looked at her skeptically.

"Except you can't have him, he's mine," she continued in an imitation of a territorial voice. I couldn't help but giggle- a sound I had long since forgotten. She joined in, and for seconds, we were little girls again, without a care in the world.

"No, really, you know stuff," the girl continued. "Just different stuff. We are from different worlds, you know."

I was about to smile when her words hit me. Different worlds…I whipped my head up, staring at the girl, whose smile was also fading.

"Different worlds," she muttered once more. The enchantress. And I remembered.

The stars were wrong. This was her sky, not mine, and I was not in my bunk but in some godforsaken alley in the middle of a strange world. Studying her, I wondered if she saw my sky, my bunk.

"Who are you?" I asked finally, and with that, the torrent of questions waiting so patiently inside finally spilled out. "Are you trapped? Have they hurt you? I didn't mean to do anything, I swear by the Light, please don't hurt me!" As she raised her hand to silence me, I uttered one final, rapid question, the most prominent of them all, "Can I go home?"

Instead of answering, the girl slowly walked past me, staring at something behind me. When I turned, I noticed the scene had changed to a brilliant landscape. On the left, there were valleys full of trees of ripe fruits. Paths strung through the forests, and there were various settlements, some small and simple, barely dots on a map, while others were giant and golden, like the enormous Citadel by a glimmer of blue light, which I assumed was the sea. But there were dark shadows too, and they were gaining land, especially in the south, where a black tower rose above everything.

On the right, there were inhabitations everywhere, much like I had seen in the city. It seemed more magical than the left- my world. And yet, it was dirty too, with rundown shacks and busy streets. Here as well, there were shadows, although not so dark and evil. Perhaps these were more natural, like the grey fog that had clouded the stars.

"The two worlds are very different," came the girl's voice from behind me. Only, it wasn't the girl's voice anymore but a deeper yet majestic sound. Turning, I found that, instead of the enchantress, I was accompanied by a beautiful woman that seemed bathed in light rather than garments. Her eyes were yellow, wild, and yet I felt as if I could trust her all the same. Or maybe not quite trust. I wasn't sure if there was a word. "Very different," she continued, "and very disorienting. But the enchantress, as you call her, has knowledge of your world. You do not share her comprehension."

"I… I don't understand," I stammered, feeling as if I were an insignificant child against such a goddess of purity.

The woman smiled gently. "Exactly." She walked forward, placing her arm on my shoulder and guiding my gaze back towards the landscape. "Yet, the worlds are kin." Staring at me, she continued, "And, sometimes, being kin is being as different as possible." From her gaze, I guessed that there was some hidden meaning in her words.

Perhaps hearing my thoughts, the woman, the goddess of moonlight, sighed. "It was not supposed to happen this way. But, that is in the past, and there is little we can do about that now. Now, we must play our cards as they are dealt, take one step at a time. Who knows? Perhaps this is for the better."

"What is for the better?" I asked. And then, "Please, I was simply a slave before. I don't understand what happened, but can't it be undone? I'm not very useful for anything. I'm not an enchantress."

The woman gave her a grim smile. "But are you? Had all gone as planned, you would have learned sooner. As it is, you will have to learn for yourself. But, perhaps, I can help…"

Her words made me uneasy. "Found out? Found out what?"

"Hush, child, you needn't learn yet. But, one day, you will." Taking one last step towards me, she closed her arms around me, pulling me into a strange yet not awkward position. "Who can tell whose peril is truly greater? You cannot face this alone. But you will not be alone."

"Face what?" I asked, getting slightly irritated but mostly desperate that all of my questions were going unanswered. "Will you be coming with me?"

"Alas, I cannot. I must stay in this realm and you in your realm."

"But it's not my…"

"For now, it must be." She gestured behind me. "Look up."

I obeyed, spotting a spherical orb lined with silver and violet, shining brighter than I'd ever seen it before. "The moon," I answered her unasked question.

"The worlds share the same moon. And, although I lay no claim to it, it is, in a way, my realm. My origin. When you are lost or confused, look to the moon, and perhaps you will find some guidance there."

The lands within each realm began disappearing at a rapid rate, but the shadows that lined both lands never moved, though they seemed to shrivel slightly at the sunlight. At this, the goddess stiffened.

"I cannot keep you here any longer," she said. "It is time, or as best of a time as we will ever get."

She reached for me, twisting me around and circling her arms around my head. "May the Light watch over you, my daughter."

Slowly, everything blurred, and my vision faded into blurry darkness, but not before I could hear her final words, "You will need it."


So, please, help me get motivated, or Maerad's going to stay stuck in our world- which, I suppose, several of us wouldn't mind…