I often dreamed of taking to the skies on gyrfalcon wings- of being able to grow the black-patterned white wings of my Demi form. Being a quemak- a mongrel-, I was grounded. I could only transport myself by foot. My magic was far too unstable to be allowed to take wing and fly. I was also not allowed to assume the sleek grace and deadly power of my leopard form. But then again, why would I want to? It was that silver leopard's blood that prohibited me from taking wing as a normal falcon, poisoning my magic and my mind. I could not learn to control my magic because I was quemak, and so therefore it overwhelmed me, consumed me, devoured me. It ate at my flesh and burned out my mind until I could no longer take it and collapsed into unconsciousness on the best of days. The magic of Ahnmik is based in stillness and stability and power- but the magic of the snow leopards is based in motion and time. Both domains are icy cold, but they are also very different. Ah'Aluanha bases their magic in the ever-changing world of the present- as well as that of the fixed past and constantly-changing future. I would never be permitted to weave spells with this silver-and-black magic or take on the shape it lent me.

It was a dream of mine, to learn to dance under the arches with the choirs, but I never could. not long ago, just after I had been born, there had been a quemak falcon that had been permitted to learn to dance. She had fallen from the sky and succumbed to Ecl. But later, Ahnmik's prince, Nicias, had pulled her from the void. She had eventually severed her connection to the island and chose to live as a cobra. Whenever I had heard the story as a child, as the children were fond of hearing it, I had been told "Of course, Hai was a special case. You could never learn to dance, Chimera. Keep in mind she was as good as a traitor as well."

They just had to crush my dreams. But the biggest difference between Hai and me was that Hai had possessed both Ahnmik and Anhamirak's magic. I did not. I only had Ahnmik's power andthat of Ah'Aluanha. I was less often lost in sakkri, and though I was often swarmed by things only I could see, sometimes I knew they weren't real.

"Shm'Ahnmik'la'Chimera," a voice spoke behind me, breaking my pondering; "shouldn't you be in class?"

"No, Riadne, you know they wouldn't accept me." I told the pureblooded peregrine standing in front of me. She was allowed to wear her wings because she was not quemak like me, even though she chose to associate with me. Most falcons my age refused to be seen near me- if I entered a room, they would leave it. Aside from Riadne, the peregrine in front of me, I had no friends. And because of me, neither did Riadne.

"You know I was joking, Chimera." She laughed and clapped me on the back. "Come on, let's go visit my brother."

Riadne's brother, Reade, had been taken by Ecl years ago, but Riadne still visited him frequently, often skipping school to do so. Most falcons who lost family to Ecl forgot about them completely. "Alright." I agreed. I had always agreed to whatever my friend suggested. After all, she was a pureblooded falcon and I was but a mongrel, and besides that, I had always been follower to her natural leader position.

I did not like to walk the halls of the Shm'Ecl. It reminded me far too much of my own destiny- I would not be able to resist the pull of Ecl forever. I would be pulled in eventually.

I was terrified of what would happen should I fall. My mother, who has never had much time for me, would forget me entirely. My father, who likely does not even know of my existence, would never know what had become of me.

I pondered this fate solemnly as I was led along the shining streets towards the tower that served as the prisons of the mad.

Would either of them care if the daughter that could never truly be theirs fell to the void?