Layna Surya Valden learned long ago to hide what she is, out of self preservation. Keeping her secrets hidden, she wandered, hoping to find a spark of home...of The Fire. She had no idea she would wander into a flame. **I have changed this from collaborative to solo. I already have so much written that I'd like to share the rest. I may just have to start another story with these two characters just to see where others might take it though. :)

  “The world is not ready for one such as you. You must promise me, Layna, to walk among others unchanged until the time is right. They would fear you only for the simple fact that they don’t understand just what you are. Promise me that, daughter...” 

Those were the last words her mother whispered just before she took her last breath. Layna was now all alone, never knowing her father or friends or family. Her mother had kept her secluded in their mountain home most of her life, only going to the village below when it was necessary. She understood the part about their fear. She had seen a glimmer of it in the villagers’ eyes when they went to down the mountain for supplies. Layna was always made to wear her hooded cloak and her mother never allowed her to look up, lest she catch a stranger’s eye. The children stayed away from her, whispering and pointing as she walked by. As she grew into a young woman, the day came when Layna understood why she was different.

“You come from an ancient race, my daughter..and you are the last of their kind. They are strong and powerful and your father would have been proud to know you as his own. Others feared them because of their power or wanted to steal it from them. Remember all I have taught you, for one day you will know
what you are meant to do with yours.” 

Her mother spoke those words to her on her 15th birthday just after the change started. Layna could feel it. She could feel it in her heart and body, like lightening and fire coursing through her but it was exhilarating. It was also frightening.
She now knew why the villagers kept their distance from her.    

After putting her mother’s body to rest under the old twisted willow on the ridge behind their home, Layna decided that it was time to leave this place. Although it held the precious memories of her mother, it also held a great deal of sadness. If she was to ever know more about herself and what she
was, she need to leave this place.

Taking her few precious belongings, some food and what clothing she could carry, she closed the door and stepped outside.  Closing her eyes, she whispered a few words and flames began to dance across the roof of the house. They would soon take over the small wooden building, leaving nothing but ash behind. The villagers would come eventually, out of curiosity and some secrets were best left to themselves.

For what seemed like thousands of miles and more seasons then she would like to have counted, Layna wandered, only following her heart. It was strange but as she traveled, it seemed as if she was a following an unseen map. Layna was now 21 years of age. Most girls her age had already settled down with a husband and started a family. She was not most girls and never would be. She was tall and voluptuous with an olive complexion and green eyes that seemed to swirl like the clouds above. Her black hair hung in waves down her back and although she would often try to tame it into a braid, it seemed to have a mind of it’s own. The villagers near her childhood home, as well as her mother were all fair in both complexion and hair color.

Layna realized, for her looks alone, why her mother had kept her hidden under that cloak. Now as she traveled, her appearance often brought on wanted attention from men and icy glares from women.  

“Thank you, Father...I am really fated to walk alone forever, aren’t I? No human man would ever want me for what I truly am...”   

Layna had no idea just how correct she really was.

Once again, they were in the same village. This time he could almost feel the woman before his eyes found her walking down the small path behind the market. Most would not have even noticed her under the dark and tattered cloak she wore from head to toe. Those who might have would have suspected her for nothing more then a beggar or traveler. Her eyes were hidden from view. It didn’t matter to him, for he had seen them once before. Although two winters had gone by, it seemed like yesterday to him.

Adrastos, like her, had been wandering alone. He kept to himself, only stopping for supplies when needed. There was no need for friends or to stay in one place. His restlessness kept him going, although he wasn’t sure why. He had never had anyone else for as long as he could remember. As a child, he could remember the hurtful words and punishments from strangers as they pushed him away.

“Get away from me, you wretch....Do you see his eyes? He is cursed! Better that he just dies now.”

Now that he was grown, they tended to move away from him, keeping their words to whispers, with never more then a quick glance at him. He had been sitting under a tree just outside a market area, watching the last bit of snow melt away under the warmth of the spring sun. Something caused him to notice a cloaked figure in the market area. They moved through as if they floated, their feet barely touching the ground. It was almost ethereal. Even if he tried, it seemed as if he could not take his eyes off the figure. After a few more moments, the figure stopped and turned towards him, a slight breeze shifting it’s hood and that’s when he saw those eyes, her eyes. The woman caught her hood, pulling it down and disappearing into the crowd. He was unable to move, the image of her eyes caught fast in his mind. As green as the first leaves of spring but with the power of a storm swirling inside.

This time he would not lose her to the market crowds. Adrastos had to see those eyes again. Making his way past the market stands and through the crowds of people distracted by their shopping, he closed in on her quickly. She was standing to the side of a merchant’s booth, inspecting a small gold necklace. Her eyes never lifted towards the merchant but she managed to keep his gaze on her hands while she spoke. Reaching in her bag, she retrieved something and handed it to him in exchange for the necklace. Adrastos watched her from only a few feet away. He couldn’t help it this time, the pull she had on him taking over.

As the woman finished with the merchant, she headed out of the marketplace and towards a back street in the village and Adrastos followed after her.  

Layna smiled to herself as she traded the silver wrist cuff for the necklace. This fool of a merchant had no idea what he was in possession of or the power that it contained. But why would he, he was just a mere human and a greedy one at that. She could have gotten the necklace for nothing with a look into his eyes but it was midday and the market was filled with traffic. Someone might have noticed her and she didn’t need the annoyance of a scene.

Tucking her purchase into the pouch hanging from her neck, she made her way to a back street, hoping to find a quiet place to rest and maybe a bite to eat as the skies above began to darken.

Suddenly Layna realized she was not alone.With her head still cloaked, she spun around towards him.
“Why are you following me..what do you want?”

She could have just lit him ablaze in that moment but something inside stopped her and now, although cautious, she was intrigued.

The sound of her voice stopped Adrastos in his tracks. It wrapped over him like silk and held him fast where he stood. After catching his breath, he managed to speak. “Your eyes....why..why do you hide them? I’ve seen them know...for just a brief moment, two winters ago in Anilysta.”

He stood waiting for her to either run or attack. His body tensed as she took a step towards him, slowly pulling back her hood, her eyes still towards the ground.

That voice....Her hand went to her hood, as if it was being controlled by something else. In any other situation, she would have ran, not wanting to reveal her true self. It had been fight or flight since she left that small mountain home. Her mother’s words began to play through her mind. One day you will know, my daughter..

Adrastos could sense her hesitation as she lifted her hood from her head. Black waves of hair cascaded down the sides of her face and he had the sudden urge to reach out and wrap his fingers through those ebony tresses. Her gaze still rested on
the ground as he waited for her next move.

Layna had never felt so exposed but yet something in the back of her mind whispered that she had little to fear with this one. Most of those she had encountered in her travels had either cowered from her or wanted to use her to their satisfaction.

“I will ask for the last time. What do you want? I do not have time for games..”

The woman lifted her gaze to his and within an instant, he was caught in the chaos that swirled in her green eyes as they met his. There was something so familiar and intimate in them that it almost terrified him. Adrastos had never, in all his years, felt such a wave of emotion blanket him so completely. Soon his mind was awash with images of dark shapes snaking through the skies, a mountain that burned and he felt a power that shook him to his very core. He had seen such things before in his dreams. He sensed that he knew what the shapes and power were but the name still somehow escaped him. It had been something he had always searched for.

It was as if she looked into the mirror and saw those same eyes she had always hidden staring back at her. Her heart began to race and the fire began to creep through her. It took everything in her not to allow the change. No, not would be the end of me..

Her eyes narrowed. “Who are you.......You seem.... familiar.....”

Stepping closer to him, she was now at arms length from this being. Layna could suddenly feel every thought and emotion that ran through his mind and the intensity of them almost shocked her. She had never felt such power and strength and knew he was not human. There was no way a human could contain this power. The impulse to reach out and touch him, to feel his power was almost staggering. Underneath her cloak, the change had already begun. Red metallic scaling began to snake itself around her arms and legs. The dust around them spiraled into small funnels in the warm winds that poured off of her.

“I am Adrastos, nothing more..I need to know..what........”

He went silent as she stepped towards him, feeling the same power she had. His muscles tensed and spasmed as he clenched his fists tightly at his sides, his him with the urge to touch her, within her. Without warning, he pulling her towards him and as his lips touched hers, fire seemed to run through his body.

Layna lost her control the moment he pulled her in. Every inch of her reacted to him in such a way she had never experienced before and it both excited and terrified her. Adrastos...His name echoed in her mind. Realizing she would soon be lost, she pulled away, shoving him with such a force that he stumbled and hit the ground with a thud. Turning to run, she disappeared into the darkness.

“ name, that is all you need to know. Stay away, I do not want to hurt”

Her words ran through his mind as if she stood in front of him and spoke them out loud. They held a twinge of fear and sadness as they trailed off and she disappeared into the shadows. He was not expecting to be thrown on his ass in the dirt but then again, he didn’t expect to feel the pull or power she seemed to carry.

Taking a moment to catch his breath, he knew he had to follow her, to find her. The need to touch her again now consumed him and never in his life had he ever wanted something more.

We will meet again, my not be afraid of me..I only want to know you..”
His words played in her mind as she ran.

“How, how can I hear him in my head? What did he do to me? I will kill him if he so much as ever breathes on me again...”

In her frustration and confusion, she paced back and forth, almost burning a path in the small clearing in the woods where she had stopped. She was now on the far edge of the forest outside the village and would have went further had she more focus. Her mind was a writhing ball of emotions and in this state, she was capable of almost anything with little control.

“He could not have been...I am the last! There are no others, Mother would not hide this from me! "
The ground was now smoldering as she stomped back and forth.  

“I will know..he will tell me what he is or I will destroy him. He knows too much..others will find out and I will be hunted again..”

She indeed had been hunted, not long ago. Villagers in another town had seen her eyes and fearing that she would bring evil upon them, hunted her for what seemed like weeks. Layna could never hurt an innocent, although she could have dealt with them quickly. Word would have spread about her and soon there wouldn’t be a place in the world she could have hidden, so she ran.

Her legs now tired, her mind exhausted, she slouched against a tree. Covering herself with her cloak, she curled up in the darkness as sleep and dreams began to take over.

She started to slow down a bit, his words pulling on her as she tried to run. Layna still had no idea where he was but could feel him now and knew he was close. She was glad she did not have to look in his eyes at the would have been to hard for her to tell him to go. “ must leave me be..forget about me, Adrastos”

A tear ran down her face, leaving a mark from the heat it contained. Her mind told her to disappear but her heart held her here. He was almost upon her as they ran through the forest.
“I can't simply erase you from my mind, Layna...”

Suddenly he side-stepped a tree that was directly in his path, reacting too slowly. Stumbling to catch his balance, she was now ahead of him once again. Layna stopped dead in her tracks and spun around, her eyes flaming brightly. For a brief moment, Adrastos could almost see the faint outline of a dragon wrapped around her and then it was gone...

"What do you want from me???" !
Her voice filled with confusion and sadness. Her hands went to the sides of her head, as if trying to block everything around her out and she dropped to her knees.

His eyes widened, and he came to a sudden stop... "I..." He lowered his head, and made sure that he had the right answer this time...the true answer...He strode quickly over to her, then dropped to one knee in front of her...Softly he gripped her hands in his, lightly pulling them away from her ears and
lifting her gaze to his...




The End

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