Late that night, after returning home with my mother, I sat on my bed thinking. What was that cat thing? How do I know its name? Where does it come from? To me, one thing was certain. I had to find that cat, and I would do it tonight.

As I sink down into my soft bed, I hear the gentle creaks of the steps as my mother enters my room. As usual, she looks beautiful, elegant, and imposing. My mother was wearing an ankle length emerald gown that seemed to move hypnotically. The neckline of the dress cut modestly low, low enough to be pretty but not edgy. A thick chain of gold encrusted with diamonds hung from her slender neck. The differences and similarities between my mother and I are obvious. We both are slender and fair but have opposite personalities. The thing that really sets us apart is the way we carry ourselves. Also, my mother's ears are more tapered toward the end. It's easy to see she is of elven descent.

I stiffen and pretend to be asleep. "Larai? Are you awake dear?" she whispers quietly. I give a little groan and pretend to sit up slowly as if ridding myself of fatigue. "Oh, I'm sorry. I did not mean to wake you." my mother chuckled and she gently pushed my head back down. I sighed. "Goodnight . . ." she said as she pulled the covers up over my neck. I waited till her footsteps ceased. I lay there for an hour until the house fell silent. The room was pitch black and still. Silently, I slip from bed and open my window.

I am greeted by a cool sea breeze. I let my hair unfurl and it becomes a flag behind me. I shiver. This is the first time I will ever be out of the house without being accompanied.

I grit my teeth. The drop is not far, but far enough. Instinctively, I want to close the window and go back to bed. But I can't. I grasp my silver stone. It reacts with a warm pulse of light, reassuring me. I can almost hear it saying, Go Larai! You can do it . . . You are not coward enough to back down now! I peer into the darkness. I am teetering precariously on my window ledge. I take a deep breath . . . and – jump. The fall is short and quick. Wind whips by my ears, biting my face. I brace myself for impact. I fall in an awkward heap on top of a sack of grain. I spit out straw and dust form my mouth. I peer over the edge of the bags, making sure no one is there.

Behind me, the house looks dark and imposing. No lights are on. I leap up and swiftly run. My feet make a terrible racket on the cobblestone pathing, so I remove my shoes. I begin to laugh. I laugh at the freedom, feeling the wind in my hair. I laugh at the freedom of wearing pants and running loose. Things are changing. And soon, my parents must realize this.

In Ravenswood . . .

"Kara! I swear when I get my hands on you . . .!" screeched a black haired teen. The stone on her wrist flashed a dangerous amber and silver. Laughing, an arc of blond whizzed by holding in her hands a letter. Barreling down the stairs, Adriane Charday leaped after her friend Kara Davies. Sliding down the banister in hot pursuit, Adriane's followed by a magnificent black and white wolf. A mistwolf. Dreamer. An unsuspecting Emily Fletcher just happenrd to be at the bottom of the stairs when . . . "Ouch!" "Eeee!" "Kara!" Landing in a heap, the three mages ungracefully recovered. Adriane rose unsteadily to her feet, followed by Kara. Emily sat stunned on the floor.

"See Kara, this is what happens when you . . . when you . . . When you're here!" Adriane finished lamely, waving her hand vaguely.

Kara rolled her eyes and dusted of her skinny jeans and creamy lace blouse. In contrast, Adriane wore dark shorts and a chocolate brown t-shirt embroidered 'Smash Fish' Smiling coily and tilting her head, Kara replied, "I'm sorry you're so uncoordinated. Hmmm let's not forget what started this little argument!" With that, Kara pulled out the letter from behind her back. She waved it teasingly in front of Adriane.

Taking a menacing pose and stone ablaze, accentuating every syllable, Adriane said, "You-wouldn't-dare." Smirking, Kara said, "Try me." And with that, ripped open the letter. Out fell a crumpled piece of parchment. Kara picked it up and read out loud, "Adriane, I hope you're faring well on Earth, or at least better than me! I've been traveling Aldenmor with Drake and have seen an alarming amount of dark magic. Sorry this letter is so short but I don't have much time. Drake says to tell you he loves you! Your friend and admirer, Zachar-"

And with that, Adriane lunged.

I skitter along the streets, hiding in the shadows. Aquatania is so different at night. During the day, its filled with rushing crowds, jolly venders, and smells of hay, sweets, and the sea. At night, everything is so eerie. Pull yourself together Larai! I tell myself fiercely. I slacken my pace and begin my decent down Maplier Street. All of Aquatania is slanted in a gentle decline that finally levels out when it reaches the sea. This means if you lay a knook-noot (*Book 10) that it will roll downwards.

My favorite part of Aquatania is the canals. Because the city is slanted, it means that water runs easily downwards. In the center of the heart of the city, lies the main canal. It branches off into all the other canals. No one really knows what the source of water for the canals is. Some say it's a magical underwater spring. Others claim it to be a sea cave. And even still, others believe its an ancient sea serpent breathing, the water a result of bubbles coming to the top. Can you believe the nerve of some people?

Of course, since we are far from the heart of the city, there are not many canals by us. The only one I know about is about fifteen blocks away from our house . . . I was too absorbed in thought that I didn't notice my stone beginning to glow. At first it shone a light silver, then deepening and brightening into a dazzling white beam. I stared mouth agape as my stone heated up and began to shake. I remember hearing a faint pop! – before I found myself sitting in a gondola.

Adriane and Kara sat face to face, slouching with moody faces in the library. Emily glanced nervously between her friends. Her healing jewel was pulsing with blue green light. Ozzie, who was back from the glade, folded his arms. "So, what's going on?" he questioned narrowing his eyes. Adriane glared at him. "Ask the Blazing Blond, because she's oh so great enough to be looking through other people's personal mail!" Adriane said sarcastically, with a smirk set on her face. Kara glowered.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Thanks, I am pretty great and you know what Adriane? You started this, okay? So don't give me any of that, 'Kara's this, Kara's that' attitude because as your 'friend' I don't have to take it!" Kara retorted. Adriane's jewel shone like an evil light. Her eyes had taken on a harsh glint. She gave Kara a look reserved for slaying shadow creatures and serial killers. Slowly, Adriane rose. Dreamer materialized beside her, fur bristling. Kara concentrated and her jewel shone pink and brilliant white. In a flash, Lyra was at her side, along with the D-flies. Fred and Barney squeaked and his behind Kara's hair, but Fiona, Blaze, and Goldie landed defiantly on Kara's shoulder.

"Oh, it's on!" Adriane said whipping a ring of golden and silver light. Adriane fired and in one instant, the room erupted in pandemonium. Ozzie flung himself in between the mages, but dashed away just as quick. Emily muttered words and tried to summon a fear spell to get the other mages to stop fighting. Adriane ran straight toward Kara who nimbly stepped away and pushed Adriane. With an extra boost from the unicorn jewel, Adriane went flying across the room crashing into a table. Unfazed, Adriane leaped gracefully to her feet. Books and globes went spinning around the room as Blazing Star and Warrior magic clashed.

Kara and Adriane screamed in rage at each other as they fought to get the upper hand. Adriane fired a ring of silver that hit Kara full on and she was slammed backwards. Lyra and Dreamer stood yowling at each other refusing to attack one another but angry none the less. The D-flies swooped around the room trying to avoid flying books. Kara heaved herself up, clutching at her side. She gritted her teeth. "You crumpled my outfit! I ironed it just this morning!" she said outraged. Light flared dangerously from her jewel. Perfectly timed, Kara through a tight ring of fire at Adriane. At the last moment, gnarled roots and vines exploded from beneath the library floor, shattering wood and spraying dirt everywhere.

The fire dissipated as it hit the roots. Silence filled the library. Both mages, Kara and Adriane stood facing each other. Both were breathing heavily. "Y-you fight pretty okay Barbie." Adriane said half smiling half grimacing as she clutched her chest, "Not, so- so- so bad yourself." Kara stuttered gasping for air. Lyra and Dreamer flopped down onto the rug, occasionally growling or hissing and spitting. Kara swooned and collapsed onto the soft rug. Adriane did likewise. "Look, I-I'm sorry okay?" Kara said tiredly.

Adriane was silent. "Aren't you going to say something?" Kara said annoyed. But much to Ozzie and Emily's shock, Adriane was fast asleep.