Alanna of Trebond, a nine year old girl, watched as her brother Thom practiced archery. Standing only forty feet from the target, toes on the line their manservant Coram had drawn, he could barely hit the target, let alone the center. Alanna laughed, causing Thom to turn around and glare at her murderously.

"Shut up, Alanna! Just because I'm no good with a longbow doesn't mean you can laugh at me!" he screamed at his sister.

"Oh, yeah, just because your no good with a longbow doesn't mean anything. It's the fact that your also bad with a crossbow and a recurved bow," Alanna said, striding down the walkway to where her brother was. Her dress - a black body with red skirts, Trebond colors - billowed behind her. "Not to mention how pitiful you are on horseback, and your poor swordsmanship-"

"Shut up!" Thom said again. "I'd like to see you hit the target!" Alanna glared at Thom; she never let a challenge fall and he knew it. She shooed him off the line, and took the longbow in her hands. Fitting an arrow on the string, she took time to look at the target. It being only forty feet away, this was an easy shot for her. To add insult to injury for her brother, she took a few steps back, then drew the bow. Even in the tight body of her dress, she could still pull the string back to her ear. She took one more moment to aim, then shot. Her arrow flew straight and true, and hit the target dead center.

"Beat that," she told Thom, putting the bow down and turning back to the fief.

Look at me

You may think you see

Who I really am

But you'll never know me

Every day

It's as if I play a part

Now I see

If I wear a mask

I can fool the world

But I cannot fool my heart

Alanna took her time getting back inside the walls of Trebond. Unlike most girls in the village, she liked being outdoors, and she didn't mind getting her skirts a bit dirty. In summer, she would walk the streets barefoot, as most boys did. And as often as she could, which was normally only when she went riding, she wore men's clothing. And she never felt one bit ashamed when she did; she enjoyed it. She enjoyed doing men's things, and she hated most women's things, sewing and whatnot. As Thom had told her multiple times, she would have done better if she was born a boy.

Alanna looked down at the road, and spotted a puddle caused by the last rain storm that had hit Trebond. Looking into it's clear surface, she was almost startled by her reflection. Often times, she pictured herself looking like Thom, with short red hair, a red hose, black breeches, and a deep blue tunic. But of course, that wasn't how she looked at all. Her coppery hair fell past her shoulders, and she wore the tight bodied dress that all noble girls did. The only thing that was the same about the twins was their eyes, both a stunning violet.

Alanna heard someone calling up at the castle, and hurried on. Her bare feet splashed in the water, throwing mud up onto her skirts, but she didn't care.

Who is that girl I see

Staring straight back at me

When will my reflection show

Who I am inside

"Mistress Alanna!" the maid screeched when she saw the girl, "Look at your skirts, they're filthy. Come, let's get you cleaned up."

Alanna looked down at the dress. Spots of brown speckled the shimmering red fabric, and she had apparently split a seam in the body when she drew the bowstring, although she hadn't noticed it at the time. "It's only a bit of mud-" she started to protest, but stopped suddenly when Lord Alan entered the hall.

Alanna's father looked her over carefully, taking in the mud-stained skirts and loose threads of the dress. He shook his head, then turned to the servant who was still fussing over Alanna. "Make sure she changes that dress, it's inappropriate for dinner tonight; we have guests coming from fief Cavell."

"Yes, my Lord," the girl said, curtseying deeply. Lord Alan continued down the hall to find Thom and inform him of guests, and Alanna started up to her rooms, the maid following her.

"I still don't get what all the fuss is about," Alanna commented halfway up the staircase that lead directly into the hall that housed both her's and Thom's room. "It's only a little bit of mud. And whenever Thom gets dirty no one makes a fuss about it."

"Girls aren't sp'osed to be dirty, miss," the maid commented, coming out into the hallway and opening the door.

Alanna snorted. "Girls aren't supposed to do anything fun," she snapped. And with that, Alanna disappeared into her room, before the maid could say anything else.

I am now

In a world where I

Have to hide my heart

And what I believe in

But somehow

I will show the world

What's inside my heart

And be loved for who I am

Alanna threw the few sweaters that were on top of chest to the side, then began rummaging around inside for a new dress. She stopped for a moment, fingering a shimmering silver tunic that would go beautifully with a green hose she had (she could always borrow a pair of breeches from Thom), then decided against it. It would only make Lord Alanna angry if she showed up for dinner in men's clothes, especially when they had guests. She put the tunic to one side, then drew out a navy dress embroidered with green flowers. Alanna ducked behind a screen to change (it wouldn't do for anyone to enter her room while she was dressing), and when she emerged, someone was tapping softly on her door.

Alanna opened it, to find her maid standing there again. For a brief moment Alanna wondered if the girl had even left, then asked if there was anything she was needed for.

The girl grinned at Alanna. "No, miss, I only need the dress you was wearing earlier so's I can fix the seam and wash it." Alanna went to fetch the dress (she had thrown it in the corner when she had taken it off), then handed it to the maid. She chucked slightly. "I think I'll iron it too. Just let me drop these things in my quarters, and then I'll be back to fix your hair."

"What's wrong with my hair?" Alanna wanted to know, but the maid had already disappeared behind the corner. Whether the girl hadn't come back to answer on purpose or not, Alanna didn't know.

The girl returned five minutes later, bringing with her a hair brush and comb. Alanna twirled a lock of hair around her finger for a moment, saying in her own way that she preferred to keep her hair either down or tied at the back of her head like a boy. But when the maid didn't show any change of mind, Alanna went to sit on the edge of her bed. Almost immediately she felt the feel of the comb parting her hair, and she complained very loudly every time the maid pulled, hoping the servant would back off. Unfortunately, she had no such luck. After ten minutes of much pulling on the girls part and much screaming on Alanna's part, the maid handed Alanna a hand mirror so she could look at herself. Alanna frowned. Her hair was drawn up in an eloquent knot at the back of her head, with two little curls coming down on either side of her face. Reaching up to touch the bun, she discovered a hairnet studded with gems of some sort held the worst of the frizz in place. Alanna continued to scowl a bit, but other than that didn't voice her displeasure.

Who is that girl I see

Staring straight back at me

Why is my reflection

Someone I don't know

There was another knock on her door, and Alanna turned to see a stocky boy in his late teens, Thom's servant, there; Thom was behind the boy, dressed just as he had been earlier, excepting the fact that he now wore a tunic with the Trebond crest sewn on it. "Mistress Alanna," the boy bowed to her, the continued, "The guests from fief Cavell have arrived. You and Master Thom are to join Lord Alan and his guests for dinner." Alanna rose from the bed, and went into the hall to join her brother. In response to Thom's snickers, which Alanna guessed were about her hair, she punched him in the shoulder.

Once in the hall that served as dining room (the largest of the rooms had been converted into a second library for Lord Alan) Alanna and Thom were introduced to the Lord and Lady of fief Cavell, as well as their son Wyldon. Wyldon of Cavell was only a few years older than Alanna and Thom, and a senior page at the royal palace in Corus. Alanna and Thom sat on either side of Lord Alan, who was seated at the head of the table. The Lord and Lady of Cavell took seats next to Alanna, and Wyldon sat across from his parents next to Thom. He immediately asked Thom what he liked to do, and Alanna groaned to herself. Thom was interested in Sorcerery, and he spent most of his spare time reading about it. Knowing she would now have to sit through Thom talking of magic again, Alanna did her best to appear interested. Wyldon did not. Maybe the manners they teach the pages aren't as good as they should be, Alanna thought to herself, noticing how Wyldon's eyes were drifting all around room.

"So you want to be a Sorcerer," Wyldon concluded, when Thom stopped to take a breath.

"Yes, I do," Thom said, looking a little put out that he hadn't gotten to finish what he was saying.

"But you won't be learning that," Lord Alan told Thom sharply, "You'll be Knight, all noble's first born son's are." Thom looked like he was going to comment, so Alanna kicked him under the table while Lord Alan continued to tell the Lord of Cavell his plans for his children.

"Why'd ya stop me saying that," Thom demanded in a whisper, not wanting to disrupt his father.

"Because you would've gotten in trouble," Alanna retorted. Thom was about to respond when Alanna kicked him again. Her attention had been drawn back to Lord Alan, who was telling his guests what Alanna was to become.

"I am already arranging for Alanna to be sent to The City of the Gods. The best convent school in Tortall is there. I believe they could turn even Alanna into a lady."

The Lady of Cavell looked at Alanna, saw only the girl who showed on the outside. "Turn her into a lady. She looks womanly enough already, my Lord."

"Ahh, yes, she looks womanly," Lord Alan said, looking at his daughter, "But Alanna has some interesting pastimes for a girl."

"Do you?" the Lady asked, the amusement plain in her voice. "And what plans did you have for yourself?"

"To be a Warrior Maiden," Alanna said before she could stop herself. Wyldon snorted into his soup, and the Lord and Lady of Cavell shared a hearty laugh. Alanna meanwhile, turned beet red under her father's stare. She began tracing her finger around the outside her bowl, thinking - not for the first time - that she must be the only one in her family with insanity.

Must I pretend that I'm

Someone else

For all time

When will my reflection show

Who I am inside

"You?!" Wyldon managed when he had finally got himself under control. "You want to be a warrior. You're a girl!" Alanna looked up into his laughing brown eyes, and for the second time let her tongue get the better of her.

"Just because I'm a girl doesn't prove anything!" she protested, half screaming. It was now Thom's turn to kick Alanna under the table; Thom knew very well that if he didn't stop his sister soon, this would either end with Alanna challenging Wyldon to a duel she couldn't fight, or with Alanna showing Wyldon just how hard a girl could hit someone.

"Girls can't fight. They're weaker than men. Everyone knows that," Wyldon retorted. Alanna stood, her anger showing fully in her poster. Both hands had clenched themselves into fists, and her face was almost as red as her hair. Thom quickly tried to grab Alanna's sleeve before she hit Wyldon, and knocked over both his and Alanna's bowls of soup.

"Enough of this!" Lord Alan bellowed. "You have shamed me! To your rooms, the pair of you!" Alanna and Thom looked at each other. Finally, both twins left; Thom taking the time to bow even though his sister did not.

"Why do you have to do stuff like that?" Thom inquired when they were safe in the hallway."

"Because I don't get it," Alanna replied.

"Get what?"

"Why everyone thinks that way. That girls are weaker than boys. It's not right. I'm just as good if not better than you at what's classified as boy things, and I'm awful at what most people call girl things."

"That's just the way things are, I guess," Thom said.

"So sensible, that's just like you," his sister snapped.

"Well, there isn't anything you can do about it, is there?" Thom asked, when they had reached Alanna's room.

Alanna thought for a moment. "There is," she said finally, and decided once and for all that she was insane. "I can prove that girls are just as good. I can become a warrior." Before Thom could respond, she had opened the door and disappeared inside her room.

There's a heart that must be free to fly

That burns with a need to know the reason why

Why must we all conceal

What we think

How we feel

Must there be a secret me

I'm forced to hide

I won't pretend that I'm

Someone else

For all time

Alanna readied herself for bed, changing into a nightdress and soft velvet slippers, both a light petal pink. She climbed into her bed and threw the covers over herself, falling asleep almost instantly.

In her dream, Alanna was standing in the square of city carved entirely of black stone. Beside her was a boy of about seventeen, give or take a year. His sapphire eye's were sparkling with excitement. Or was it fear? Alanna couldn't tell. Both she and the boy were dressed in the scarlet hose and gold tunic that was worn by pages and squires at the palace in Corus. He drew a sword out of his belt, and Alanna drew one as well; here's was lighter than his, with a single jewel set into the handle. As the boy started up the steps of what appeared to be a temple, Alanna felt something prickle the back of her neck. Something wasn't right, she could sense it. And yet, she hurried after him. As they entered the temple, the feeling only got stronger. Suddenly, by the alter, a yellow-green light was gathering.

Alanna awoke in a cold sweat. Her nose itched; usually that meant magic was being used. Why she was warned in this way, Alanna never understood, but she had come to know what it meant. Alanna didn't know as much about magic as Thom, and decided to ask him in the morning. Placing her head on the pillows again, Alanna went back to sleep.

When will my reflection show

Who I am inside

When will my reflection show

Who I am inside

When she woke the next morning, Alanna didn't remember the dream at all and it would be almost a year before the vision was shown to her again.