Disclaimer:  I do not own any of these characters or places, except for one of them, except I'm not going to tell you yet, because that would kinda spoil it.  Oh yeah, they all belong to the magnificent Tamora Pierce.

A/N:  Um, I know that Alanna had a son named Thom, but I have no idea what he's like, and I kinda wanted to make up a personality for him all to myself, so if nothing seems like what it really would be it's not.  Now that I've sufficiently confused you, on with the story!!!

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Filled with grassy dips and swells, the land was illuminated by the soft light of early dawn.  The few trees that were scattered about hid the tiny birds whose morning song echoed through the hills.  Peace reigned, the land devoid of even a gentle breeze to stir the long grass.

But the tranquility was soon broken by the sound of pounding hoofs.  The earth began to tremble, and the bird's song ceased.

A lone equestrian galloped over the top of a hill.

Long dark hair spread out like a banner behind the figure as the horse raced recklessly onward.  It was a girl, and she rode low on her horse, hands wrapped tightly in the horse's tangled mane.  Her face taught with determination, she whispered encouragements to her tired steed.

Too loud, however, was the disturbance for it to be hers alone.  This was proved as a thundering mass of men and horses pounded over the rise, only minutes behind the dark-haired girl.

They were soldiers, warriors, faces cold and uncaring as they rode eerily silent after their prey; anger wasted energy.

The girl risked a glance behind her, and her heart sank.  They were gaining.

Heavy was her breathing now as she desperately urged her mount to greater speeds.  The horse tried valiantly, but there was no chance.  Wearied by days of constant running, his strength was gone and he stumbled, front legs buckling beneath him.

In a desperate attempt to keep her seat, the girl clung tighter to the horse's mane, but to no avail.  As the horse lunged forward, her legs, having nothing to keep them down, flopped outward; her back cracked, and she cried out in pain.  Time seemed to slow as the horse fell.  She panicked, realizing suddenly that her arms needed to be free!

But they were stuck.  The horse fell, and as his body hit the ground she was flung over his head, hands tightly ensnared.  She landed hard on her left arm, and the sickening sound of breaking bone shot through her.

With a sob, she sat up and pulled herself free, wincing as sharp jolts of pain shot through her body.  Her arm was broken, for certain, but her pursuers were only seconds behind.  She needed to move.  Stumbling to her feet, she ran, blinking away tears that fell for the beautiful animal that had brought her so far.

But even as she ran, she knew that she had no chance.  Within seconds, she was surrounded, the silent men forming a tight circle around her. 

A tall, darkly handsome man stepped forward, a smirk of triumph on his face.  "Little Aliah."  His voice was smooth and oily and riddled with contempt.  "You led us on quite the chase, my dear, but now your time is up.  You, like the rest of your flea-ridden family, will die."  Narrowed eyes bore into her, black and wild and hinting at danger.

Her body quivering with anger and adrenaline, Aliah snarled up at him.  Her mind was a muddled mess of thoughts, of wild ideas, of utter loathing for the man who stood before her now…Kill him.

Her breath hitched, and her chest tightened.  A strange feeling was building up in her; a power that was pushing, straining to be let out.  And deep inside, something was speaking, whispering what to do.  Taking a deep breath, Aliah surrendered to the magic.

And all thought ceased.  Her hands raised, her left arm protesting painfully, but pain was ignored.  A pure, blinding white light surrounded her; emanated from her.  She was the light, the power…

The soldier's uncaring masks slipped and showed real fear; they hadn't expected this.  Hands grasped weapons that they knew would be useless. 

The darkly handsome man grinned wildly.  "You will die," he repeated gleefully.

Kill him.

"No, Tamo Delvin," Aliah said, her voice cold and void of emotion.  "You will." 

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A/N:  I hope that you liked that!  I'll update as soon as I can, but I have two other stories that I'm writing right now.  And flagdiva, if you're reading this, I KNOW!!  You're going to tell me to finish my others first.  But I can write three at once!  Really, I can. 

Oh, and just a note, a 'Tamo' or 'Tama' is a mage.  Thank you!!

Review please!  Thom and co. will be in the next chapter, I promise.