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The Cindalquai had spent her first night away from her underground home freezing in a snow-filled ditch. She had fled her home because of the on-going civil war between the Cindalquai and the Saibhra. The two were more like different races in the way humans were, but most believed they were entirely separate species.

Now, as she stiffly climbed out of the earth's scar, it was a clear dawn. She covered her eyes partially with her hand - like the rest of her, it was a light grayish-blue; because of skin's color, some might mistake her for an Elf - to bloke out the sun. Since she had spent her entire life living in semi-darkness, her eyes weren't used to even the most muted forms of the sky's light. Yet, she thought. I will adapt to this world soon. I have to. With that thought, she stood straighter and felt more confident. For now, I should be thankful that I'm not blinded. The reason she wasn't blinded was because she had practiced weaving Light for so long that her eyes weren't as sensitive as others'.

She had no chance of returning home even when the wars stopped. Returning when she had exiled herself would mean removal of her connection to her magic. Her gemstones would be taken, and she might even face imprisonment or execution. Even her status as the Empress's daughter might not protect her.

Aislinn sighed. Her breath crystallized in a white cloud, and she automatically tiled her head. Frost breath, she thought. She knew the world she now stood in had eternal winter. She ran her fingers over her Light and Fire gemstones, assuring herself they were stay there. She could warm herself if it got too much. So far, the fur she wore helped ward off most of the cold. Aislinn also thought her Water/Ice and Wind/Air gemstones also helped. She had all the gems: Water/Ice, Wind/Air, Spirit/Quintessence, Fire, Light, Earth, Shadows, Time, and Chaos. Chaos meant destruction of any kind; Time meant . . .well, she wasn't sure, but it was very dangerous.

And one of the Academy's few Guardian-Warrior Healers. . .

People rarely trained in all three now since doing so wasn't just magically and physically exhausting, but also gave you many different responsibilities. Aislinn had received General Tenzin's request to join his army days before she left. Another betrayal . . . She shook her head. I have to focus. I have to stop thinking of the past.

Aislinn walked across the snowy forest floor. She wondered if she'd ever find civilization here, or if the whole dimension was simply an empty place. She knew how to track, how to kill, because of her twenty years in the Academy. She was 365 years-old - a perfectly normal age for her to have great skills in all gem-weaving. Compared to other Cindalquai, she was barely an adult.

A sparrowkeet chirped somewhere far in the distance. Like all Cindalquai and Saibhra her senses of hearing and smell were the stronger than sight.

The dracovari shifted from serpentine dragon form to human form quickly. Her dark violet eyes had slit pupils instead of round ones, she kept her fangs, and instead of skin, her hard pale lilac-periwinkle scales covered her whole body. From a distance, she could be mistaken for an Elf since their skin always had some sort of pale tint. Except her giant wings would sort of give her away.

Aoife shrouded herself in glamour just as the angel landed in front of her. Now that he couldn't see her eyes, scales, or wings she reasoned she should be safer. The angel was still a fledgling, so she wasn't worried about him killing her. She remembered her history lessons: the Anyeli, or Celestials, were mostly neutral. Sometimes.

"You are Aoife?" he asked. He had the silver hair of most Celestials, along with the pale blue-green eyes and pale skin. She nodded, and he went on with, "A dracovari?" She nodded, again. Where was this going?

"Warn your tribe of the demons. A Cindalquai has been spotted aboveground. It's reasonable to assume the Cindalquai and Saibhra are trying to force each other aboveground. They'll be blinded, but they'll still live. They're dangerous. They have lived in isolation for so long they don't remember how to interact with non-demons or land-walkers." He stepped toward her. Faintly, he smiled. Aoife flinched: the angel had sharp teeth. Normal sized, sure, but they looked like they could seriously hurt someone.

Except me, she thought. I have scales for skin. She took a deep breath to steady herself. "I don't have one. My family . . .they died in a battle. A . . .," she trailed off, unsure how to tell him that draki hunters had killed her family so they could sell various pieces of their bodies . . . "They died," she repeated. She crossed her arms and lifted her chin to try to appear calmer. "My whole village did, actually. They thought they killed me, but obviously they didn't." She pulled her shirt up to show him the real scars that crisscrossed all over her abdomen. Draki were extremely territorial, so they fought; full-blooded dragons were worse.

He looked at them for a long, tense moment, before lifting his head to nod once at her. "One survivor? What village? What killed them?" And then, bluntly, he asked, "What are you?"

"The one near the river. I don't know what killed them. And what I am isn't any of your business. I'm obviously not a Cindalquai or a Saibhra or one of your kind." Aoife shrugged. "Are we done here?"

"Yes," he answered, and she sighed with relief. "Lady Musa, the Creator of the Anyeli, has seen a potential war in the future for us. Be careful. Your kind is already near extinction. There are so few of you who can shift."

And with that, he flew off. It happened so suddenly that Aoife didn't even have time to realize that he knew exactly what she was all along. Of course he does, she thought. Why else would he warn me? Other draki who can shift all over the world are probably receiving warnings from other Anyeli commoners right now. Wouldn't want an entire species to go extinct, right?