Chapter One

"Hey, stop - you can't touch that!" the Ixi cried, as the Eyrie advanced on the cool white oblisk.

She paid him no heed, walking until she was within a beak-lenth of the marble monument, then settling onto her haunches, arching up to touch the names etched in its side. The guide rushed over to stop her, but her faerie companion intercepted him.

After talking to the guide, the earth faerie idled over. "You've never been?"

"I couldn't come back."

"We've missed you, you know. And where've you been?"

She ignored him, still standing and staring at the name under her paw.

Liliander...

The students in Mrs. Bloomwick's eleventh grade class murmured amongst each other. According to Sally, the daughter of the head of the Parent's Association, they were getting a new student, a transfer, and halfway through the year to boot! Of course, half of the class had already come up with theories about who the new student was, and they were eagerly telling these tales to the other students, who were listening with varying degrees of indifference to each wild tale.

Finally, Kate, who was watching for their errant teacher's return, new student in tow, hissed at them "She's back! Sit down, everyone!" The blue Hissi slid smoothly to her seat as the rest of the class hurried back to their desks.

The door opened. Mrs. Bloomwick walked in and eyed the class suspiciously. Obviously, she was not deluded as to her student's behavior. However, she declined to comment in favor of looking back out the door and urging her companion in.

The class held their breath, waiting. After all the wild stories they had heard, who would the new student be? A draik? A painted pet? Maybe she was from Maraqua!

An orange beak peeked through the door. Finally, the new student entered the class, and everyone went still.

It was an Eyrie.

A large Eyrie.

The largest Eyrie any of them had ever seen.

White, with pink and blue stripes covering her body, she stood shoulder to shoulder with their Uni teacher. However, where the Uni was slender, the Eyrie was muscular and sleek.

"Class, this is Aard Rinn. She'll be joining our class for the remainder of the year. Aard, why don't you introduce yourself?"

The Eyrie held back, hesitating, for a moment, then bowed her head and stepped forwards. "My name is Aard. It's a pleasure to be joining you..." The Eyrie trailed off when she realized that the rest of the class was ignoring her.

The rest of the class was staring at the one thing that they had all failed to notice.

Their new classmate was large, yes. She was even painted one of the rarer colours. And her name was a bit odd. But the thing that had now caught their eye was the fact that on her right flank, there was a long, jagged scar...

And no wing.

A scant hour later, Aard Rinn was the talk of the lunchroom.

"Did you see? Her wing-"

"I know, right? Gone!"

"What do you think-"

"Attacked!"

"Fell off a cliff-"

"-Eyrie, you idiot, she would've-"

"SHUT UP!" Hissed one of the students, "She's almost here!"

The students in the lunchroom shifted uneasily, but stopped talking about their classmate only seconds before she entered the room. The Eyrie looked around calmly, seemingly unsurprised by the silenced that fell every time she entered a room. Shrugging her shoulders, she moved forward to the lunch line, then rolled her shoulders back and sat on her haunches. The students from the other two eleventh-grade classes, who had been only half paying attention to Mrs. Bloomwick's students, now turned to stare at the new student themselves. However, she steadfastly ignored them, seeming to pay attention only to the lunch line and her current place in it.

When she finally had her lunch tray, Aard turned and gazed out over the room, the Eyrie's signature golden eyes casting about for a spot to sit.

Idling over to a mostly-empty table, she shrugged the bag off of her shoulder and sat, placing the heaping plate in front of herself before beginning to devour it's contents. After clearing about half the plate, still ignoring the stares of her peers, she looked up at the other students at the table, nodded a greeting, and introduced herself to the younger girl sitting across from her, a island Xweetok who had moved to Neopia Central from Mystery Island in third grade. "My name's Aard. You?"

The shy Xweetok froze up, alarmed at being put on the spot in front of the entire lunchroom. Finally, she stammered out an answer. "I'm Zwillo. I'm from Mystery Island originally. And... how about you?"

The Eyrie grinned and replied, "I'm from Fairyland, originally, but I spent the last two years or so in the Haunted Woods."

The Xweetok gave a *meep* of surprise, looking in astonishment at the pale Eyrie. "The Haunted Woods? Isn't that scary?" she squeaked out, looking up at the taller girl.

The older shrugged. "Wasn't bad," she said. "Lots of interesting folks to meet, if you know who to stay clear of. Edna's alright, and Balthazar's nice enough once you get to know him."

"Balthazar! But... doesn't he eat faeries? He's, like, super-scary!" cried the younger, shuddering at the thought.

Aard shrugged and returned to her meal. "Never much liked faeries."