Disclaimer:  My name is not Tamora Pierce.  Therefore, I do not own any of these characters.  However, my name is AerinBrown (well, not really really, but let's pretend) and Aliah is my creation.  Just don't sue me or anything.  It's pointless.

A/N:  hehe, I updated!!  Surprise!  *jumps around and cackles* Thanksgiving VACATION!!  HAHAHA!!  Four days WITHOUT SCHOOL!! Ahem.  Thank you for still reading.  On with the story!!!

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"Run, Aliah!"

"No Papa!  No!"  Strong, familiar arms wrapped around her, lifting her up, placing her on a broad horse.  "Papa!" she cried, clinging to his hand.  She could see his face, eerily orange in the flickering light of the fires; their homes were on fire.    

 His dark eyes held hers for a moment longer. "You must go, my child. You are our last hope."

Tears streaming down her cheeks, she shook her head.  "No Papa," she sobbed, trying desperately to block the sounds of the screams, of her friends, her family.

"Go!"  He slapped her horse into motion, and with a shake of its head, it took off into the night.

* * * * *

She woke with a start, sitting up straight and drawing a deep, shuddering breath.  Another nightmare. The screams, the fires, the running…it was always the same.  Her family…with a shake of her head, she firmly pushed all thoughts of that night away as she pushed off her blankets.  Dwelling on the past wouldn't do anything for her future. 

Climbing out of bed, Aliah crossed over to the window, peeking through the curtains to determine the time.  Just past five o'clock, if her guess was correct; the sun was barely poking its bright head over the horizon.  Turning back to the room, she glanced at the straight-backed wooden chair that she had laid her clothes on the night before and sighed.   Gone. 

Well, she thought, suppose that's to be expected.  They were rather worn and stained.  But a week of running for your life through the desert can do that to one's clothing. 

There was, however, a stack of unfamiliar clothing sitting in their place, and she could only assume that they were for her.  With another sigh for her lost clothes, she walked over to the chair and picked them up.

As she dressed, she mulled over yesterday's events.  During their discussion in the library, Alanna and George had come to two conclusions: Aliah didn't speak or understand their language, and she could stay here as long as she wanted because there were plenty of extra rooms. 

Aliah grinned, thinking of the extensive game of charades her hosts had gone through to try and make her understand that she was welcome here.  Of course, Aliah hadn't been much help, shaking her head and pretending to be confused until Thom was practically tearing his hair out in frustration.  Finally, Aliah decided to show mercy and had nodded that she understood. 

Thom had looked so happy.  Had hugged her, even.  And jumped back, flushed as red as the back of a desert poisoner.

Then, Alanna had led her off to the kitchens for some food and then to the bath, two things that embedded the red-headed woman in Aliah's heart forever.  It felt so good to be clean and well fed once again.

With a final tug on her boots, Aliah straightened and examined herself in the full-length mirror.  The boots were black and came up to her knees; the leggings, brown and loose, went nicely with her flowing cream colored blouse, and a long tunic of a lighter brown than her pants went over it all.  All in all, it was a comfortable little outfit and went well with her coloring. 

After running a brush through her waist length curls, Aliah slipped out the door to do some exploring.

* * * * *

Thom stared disconsolately at the rising sun.  He had been up for two hours, unable to sleep and feeling extremely stupid.  And confused. 

Ever since he had seen little black-haired Aliah, glowing and beautiful, over the top of that hill, his heart had been behaving strangely.  He had been behaving strangely.  In fact, he had been behaving so strangely that even he had noticed it, which meant that his mother and father probably noticed as well.  Which meant that they were probably talking about him and smiling behind their hands when he wasn't looking.

Thom frowned, lightly kicking the stone wall with his foot.  He sighed, wishing that he could tell Aliah how he felt.  Actually, he probably could tell Aliah how he felt; it wasn't like she would be able to understand him anyway. 

With another heavy sigh, Thom leaned against the wall until a musical voice broke through his thoughts.

"Szia, Thom."

Thom's heart skipped a beat, and he quickly smoothed his face before turning around.  "Hello, Aliah.  Good morning."

Aliah smiled.  She had a beautiful smile, Thom thought, unaware of the goofy grin that grew across his face.  He was, however, aware that Aliah's smile got wider.

"Dobar jutro, ráno." 

Thom nodded.  "I wish that I understood what you're saying," he said wistfully.  Aliah peered into his face, cocking her head questioningly.  "Well," he said, as though she had asked him what he meant, "I would ask you who that man was you were fighting.  And what kind of power you have, and how much.   And why you are here; who was after you."

Aliah smiled softly and stepped up next to him to lean on the wall.  Throwing her hair behind her, she began to speak.  "čovjek je čarobnjak," she said, her voice soft and soothing.  Thom turned and leaned on the wall next to here, watching her face as she spoke, the dawn light making it shine. 

"On je gonjenje mene to ubiti mene…" She had the most beautiful voice he had ever heard.

"Ja sam ovdje jer te spas mene i ja osjet siguran ovdje….." 

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"Hey, George," Alanna called softly, holding the white curtains away from the window and peering through.

"Hmmm?  What is it?"  The ex-King of Thieves slipped up behind her, encircling her waist in a light embrace. 


Pulling the curtains back farther, George leaned forward to look outside.  Frowning, he looked down at his wife.  "What?"

Alanna rolled her eyes.  "It's so obvious that Thom is smitten with the mysterious desert girl.  Just look at the way he's looking at her."

George shrugged, kissing the top of her head.  "So?  She's a pretty girl, and mysterious to boot.  She seems nice enough."

"Yeah," Alanna said with a sigh.  "It's just…we know nothing about her."

"Eh, don't worry about it, lass.  It'll all work out.  Don't things always?"


George laughed.  "Come on, o wife of mine.  Let's find some breakfast."

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*groans*   Why, oh, WHY!, is this story being so stubborn.  Sorry if this chapter bored you to tears.  If you are wondering what Aliah was saying, she was saying "The man was a wizard.  He was chasing me to kill me.  I am here because you rescued me and I feel safe here."  Cheesy, but it doesn't really matter because no one can understand her anyway!!

Charmgirl, Lady Arabian Knight, and lilleehunee:  Thanks so much for reviewing!  Glad that you like it.  Hope that this chapter was okay!!

Please review people!  I like reviews.