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Old July 30th, 2007, 10:52 AM
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silverfrost
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: NY
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Chapter 5- The Starlight Guardians


Eralynn clutched the reigns as Aerance wheeled around suddenly. She gasped in horror at what she saw before her. She blinked hard, hoping that when she opened her eyes once more, the terrifying creature would just be gone.

A gigantic serpent rose in front of her, like nothing she had ever seen before. It’s body was completely ivory in color, with smooth scales that reflected the light of fire off at different angles. The tail end, however, was made of an alternating pattern of red and blue scales. The very end formed a fin that appeared to cleave into four different sections. The creature’s head had a long point on the very top. Its eyes were a deep red, with reddish fins that seemed to be eyebrows of some sort. These continued down off of its face and draped elegantly at the sides of its neck. It had a frightening dragon-like appearance, and was very mysterious.

The creature did not wait for Eralynn to speak or try to run before it had wrapped its body around her, removing her from her seat upon Aerance. Eralynn felt its surprisingly smooth, white-ish scales around her arms and midsection, and she felt the slender creature's hold tighten around her, so that she could barely move. Holding her with the end of its tail, it raised her to its eye level, examining her closely. She still struggled to get free, but its grip remained tight on her. She felt her breaths shorten, not able to expand her chest to its full capacity.

“Argh... What do you want from me?” Eralynn asked while striving to free herself.

Aerance whinnied and kicked wildly at the giant dragon-like beast, trying to shake her friend from its grip. The ivory serpent merely looked down at her, then back at Eralynn, hardly fazed by the Ponyta’s attempts to save her companion. When it said nothing in response to Eralynn’s question, she spoke again.

“Please, I mean you no harm, and hope you will let my friend and I be,” she pleaded, but she felt rather stupid after she said this. Perhaps she and Aerance had been trespassing on its land, and Eralynn realized she would be quite angry and frightened too, if someone had just walked into her own home. Also, why would mere words make the creature trust her well enough to just let her go? Anyone could say anything, but that didn't mean they always meant it. Surprisingly, however, someone actually answered her.

“What is your purpose in these woods?” a mystical, feminine voice asked.

Eralynn looked around to see who had asked her. It couldn’t have been the creature that held her tightly, since its lips did not move. The sound seemed to be coming to her, not through her ears, but from within her own mind. The voice echoed within the girl's head as a dream that only the dreamer could be aware of. It was like nothing she had ever experienced before.

“Who are you, and what is your reason for being here?” the voice asked again, and this time angrily.

“My friend and I only wanted to see what lay in this forest... and we were pulled in by the light,” Eralynn said nervously, looking around to find the source of the voice as she answered it. “And now that I think of it, it is rather late, and I was hoping to find some sort of shelter within the forest...”

The creature still seemed suspicious and stared at her for a moment, examining her. Its gaze settled on her face, then, and for a moment, it seemed to be pondering something. Then, suddenly, looking closer into her eyes, it seemed to gasp. Its eyes widened, and it released her from its grip. She fell a short distance, landing on her back.

Eralynn put her hand to where a bruise would inevitably end up. “Ow... what do you think you’re doing, dropping me like that?” She groaned loudly, forgetting her fear.

The creature before her began shaking its head. It closed its eyes for a moment, thinking hard about something. Then, it opened them, and the voice sounded in Eralynn's mind again. “You... You look like...” it could not seem to finish its sentence.

From the way its actions and facial expressions clearly matched up with what it was saying, Eralynn had to assume now that it was indeed the creature talking to her. But, how was this happening? How could someone speak without moving their lips? And how did the words so readily reach Eralynn's mind?

“I demand to know who you are,” the serpent said firmly, and then began to change its tone. “I’ve seen one like you once, but only one...” the creature said these words as if they wounded it in the chest, hitting it straight in the heart.

Eralynn did not know what to say at this. She was completely taken aback. What was this creature on about? “Whom do I resemble?” She asked defensively. “And... what on Earth are you?!”

“I am of a race of Pokemon known as Milotic,” the large creature said. “We dwell deep within this forest, and our home is the lands surrounding the sacred waters of the stars.”
Then, she (Eralynn realized she was a female from her voice) eyed Eralynn some more, watching her pull the hood of her cloak back on her head. “You seem harmless, so let me bring you to my lands,” she said, still filled with a hint of doubt.

Eralynn sighed and got up. She looked over at Aerance, who was just standing still and staring blankly at the two of them. The flame horse seemed not to understand what was going on, so she waited for Eralynn to decided whether or not to go with the serpent Pokemon.

“Just walk right in front of me and I will tell you which way to go,” the Milotic instructed, probably thinking it would be best to watch the human and the Ponyta and make sure they didn't try anything sneaky. It was her species' homeland, after all.

Eralynn did not trust this strange Pokemon very much, but she did not really have much of a choice. She listened to the Milotic, and, after throwing a nod towards Aerance, turned around, walking towards the mystifying light again. Aerance began to walk slowly, and soon, she caught up, walking closely at Eralynn's side.

They could hear the ivory serpent following close behind, its slithering body rustling against the forest floor. What would it do to them? Where was it taking them? Eralynn was lost in confusion, she had no idea what this was all about, and she shuddered to think that in this position, the Milotic could finish them off very easily. Their backs were to it, and they wouldn't even have the chance to react if it attacked them. Still, Eralynn and Aerance kept walking as they heard the Milotic's instructions to keep heading for the light.

They were now very close to the very thing that had originally drawn Eralynn and Aerance here. Soon, they were near enough to see it in detail. Looking down, Eralynn saw the origin of the great, white light. It was a small pool of water, bordered by rounded light grey stones. The water was absolutely pure, and looked rather deep.

Eralynn stared for quite some time, unable to take her eyes away from it. She had never seen anything like it, and its beauty exceeded that of everything else. Completely clear from bottom to top, it seemed to absorb the beautiful, glittering, white light, capturing it and holding it in place somehow.

“Stop,” the cool, female voice stated inside her head.

Eralynn pulled her gaze away from the light, finally noticing where they had been. Once again, it had seemingly put some sort of spell on her. She did not even realize which way she had been walking, nor for how long.

Now, finally able to break her gaze away from the pool's light and looking around her once more, she could see that she was standing directly in front of the pond of water that had entranced her. She could see, not far away, a much larger body of water. Other Milotic, resembling the one directing her, were slithering out of the lake and onto land to look at her and Aerance. They seemed quite frightened, but curious enough to stare.

Once she could see them all in the light of the brilliant pond next to her, she could see that they were actually much more beautiful than they were frightening. They had an elegant and enchanting look to them, leaving her to believe them to be less dragon-like than she had previously assumed. And, if they were like dragons at all, it was certainly not in any traditional sense.

“I found this girl wandering in the woods, probably lost. There is nothing to see here, so go back to your homes,” the Milotic that had found Eralynn said to its kind.

The rest of the Milotic did not seem to want to stop watching, though, and they gaped at Eralynn and Aerance in awe and concern. They did not speak or look at each other for a few moments, they only stared at the human and the flame horse.

“I said,” the Milotic behind Eralynn began again, this time much more sternly, “go back to your homes.”

Hesitantly, they did as they were told. From their eventual willingness to obey, Eralynn could tell that the Milotic that had found her must’ve been their leader, or some other position of authority. They watched as the others turned and disappeared back underwater.

The Milotic slid across the grass and went in front of Eralynn and Aerance. Noticing their confusion, she began to explain. “Like I said, you seem harmless enough, so we can give you shelter until you set out again. There are caves about these woods which my people do not occupy. We live in the water, only, and so you may sleep in one of them tonight,” the leader said.

Eralynn did not dare to reject the creature’s hospitality. However, there was something very suspicious about this entire situation. Why was this Milotic so willing to simply give her shelter for the night? How was she sure that Eralynn did not mean them harm? And, although she kept a watchful eye on both Eralynn and Aerance, she seemed to hold some kind of trust in them.

Also, why did the other Milotic stare at her and Aerance so much? Had they never seen humans or Ponytas before? Eralynn decided that it must have been that, and shrugged the thought off.

She followed as the serpent turned, leading Eralynn and Aerance away from the water. They did not speak while they walked, but every few moments, Eralynn would glance nervously at Aerance. They were still quite scared, and they felt more like prisoners being escorted to a jail cell than guests being welcomed to shelter.

The Milotic led the two to a steep-looking hill. From a distance, it looked like there were many tunnels dug into it, but Eralynn could now see, closer, that they were just small cave entrances.

“You may have to duck down,” the ivory creature said, easily slithering her thin body through. Eralynn watched as her head disappeared first, then her midsection, and then her cloven tail.

The girl and her Ponyta followed. Eralynn did not need to crouch much, being so small, but Aerance had to lower her head a bit. It was an uncomfortable walk, but it was very short and they were thankful for some shelter, so neither of them complained at all.

When they had walked the short distance of the tunnel, they reached the end of the cavern. The small entranceway before it opened up into a great, hollow room. Eralynn looked up at the top, which was quite far up, and sighed.

“You are to sleep here, tonight, but hopefully, you will be leaving in the morning?” The Milotic inquired.

“Um, yes. Thank you... Oh, I never got your name,” Eralynn said. Did these Pokemon even have names? Although the Ponyta standing next to her had a unique title, Eralynn had known that many warriors chose to just call their Pokemon companions by their species' name, which also worked just fine. Eralynn had to assume that, in this case, yes, they did, since there were multiples of the same species. She turned out to be correct in that assumption.

“I am called Malkaline,” the graceful Milotic responded.

“Okay, and my name is Eralynn. Thank you, then, Malkaline,” Eralynn had struggled to pronounce the unfamiliar name. Then, before Malkaline had had a chance to exit, Eralynn quickly spoke again, “Um, may I ask you a question?”

“I suppose you may. What is it?” Malkaline answered after a moment of indecision.

“How are you speaking to me? I’ve never known a Pokemon to be able to speak,” Eralynn wondered.

The light from the flames on Aerance's body bounced off the cavern's walls and ceiling, and it made Eralynn's, Malkaline's, and the Ponyta's shadows waver upon its stone floor.

“We speak only through our minds. Milotic are creatures with highly developed brains, even more so than those of humans,” she answered simply, as if it was a very well known fact of the world.

“Oh. I was always told that humans were the most intelligent on Earth,” Eralynn said, dumbfounded.

The Milotic chuckled somewhat mockingly. “You have also never been far out of Derelon. Am I correct?” Malkaline asked her.

Eralynn nodded bashfully. She did not yet realize how much she had to learn about the world around her. Derelon had always been her home, and she had always wanted to leave, but now that she had, she felt she should have been much more prepared for what laid outside.

“Well, many humans are only power-hungry. They do not seem to desire peace, but to conquer the world and all of its wonders,” Malkaline corrected her with a sad, pitying tone.

“You’re right. There are many evil people about...” Eralynn answered, instantly thinking of the trouble that Team Devastation had caused her people alone. “What is... that light I saw?” she then asked Malkaline, changing the subject.

“That is starlight. The shining pond you saw contains the power of our stars. We, Milotic, are the assigned guardians of the stars. We were given the intelligence and endowment to protect them, and that is why we live in these waters,” Malkaline answered.

“Is that why you attacked me when I tried to come so close?” Eralynn asked, wide-eyed.

“Yes, it is. We protect the sacred water of the stars with our lives, because that it our purpose on Earth,” the beautiful creature replied.

“Oh, I see. So what would happen if you failed, and someone else got hold of the stars’ power?” Eralynn asked.

“Then things would not be as they should. Although, I’m not sure of exactly what would happen, I just know that it is the most important task for my people. We all feel that if we failed, the world would collapse because it would no longer be... right,” Malkaline tried explaining to her.

Eralynn stared at her, confused. How did they know that this was their purpose? And, who gave them this task? How important was the power of the stars, anyway? She did not like being overly curious, but she felt as if she needed to know these things. But, to her surprise, the Milotic continued on, seemingly anxious to tell her the ways of her people.

“We protect these woods carefully, since they are both our home and our responsibility,” Malkaline went on.

“But, why are they your responsibility?” Eralynn asked her.

“Everyone in the world has a purpose, and I suppose that this is just ours. I have heard many times in legends that every element of the world is guarded by someone...” Malkaline spoke quietly.

“The Protector...” Eralynn muttered under her breath.

Her thoughts flashed back to what the King had said to her. Since the Milotic were guardians of starlight, was it possible that The Protector, too, was some kind of Pokemon? And what sort of Pokemon would this prophesied creature be?

“Do you know anything about Derelon City and its legends?” Eralynn asked Malkaline suddenly.

“I once knew a woman who lived there. She was a great friend of my people. I... don’t believe I know anything about its legends, though,” the Milotic eyed Eralynn nervously, wondering what the strange human girl was up to.

“Well, a queen from a long time ago, named Oleander-” she began, but was interrupted.

“Ah, Oleander is the woman that I once knew,” the beautiful Pokemon said excitedly.

Eralynn's eyes grew even wider with this news. This Pokemon knew the great Queen of the past? Why would Oleander have traveled here anyway? Eralynn's mind raced with questions, but she tried to remain calm. This Milotic obviously did not fully trust her, and asking too many questions could have easily been the way to drive Malkaline away. Even worse, Malkaline could have taken the only chance at shelter Eralynn and Aerance had had all night.

“I see,” Eralynn said, pondering these awful thoughts and answering the Milotic simultaneously. “That’s an odd coincidence that I know of her, then. Well, she told of a Protector that would save ‘all of pure heart’ right before her death.” She paused before asking, wondering whether or not it was worth it. She soon decided that it certainly was, though, and went on. “I was wondering, since you seem very wise, if you know anything of this?”

“Right before... she died? Well, she knew about it all along, actually. She had an eye for the future, and she knew what was going to happen to her precious city. She always wanted to tell us of it, to teach us more and more,” Malkaline explained, to Eralynn's relief, not offended by her questioning.

“She seemed so brave,” Eralynn whispered.

“Yes, indeed, she was. She was a generous, kind-hearted woman. She taught us many things about the world, and about hers specifically. We now know much of mankind, thanks to her,” Malkaline said gratefully.

“She taught you everything? Wow. Why did she do that, anyway?” Eralynn questioned.

“I believe she knew... She knew about the attacks that were coming,” The Milotic answered.

“Attacks from whom?” Eralynn asked, eager to know what the serpent Pokemon was talking about.

Malkaline sighed sadly. She turned her head away from Eralynn, and the girl suddenly felt foolish for asking so many questions. But, she was answered, nonetheless.

“Oleander used to warn us about those that were evil. She told us that not all humans would be good to us, like she was. Of course, we were naive, and only knowing Oleander made us love humans. Sometime after hearing of her death in the city of Derelon, however, my people were attacked by men with ropes and nets. They captured some of us, but luckily, many escaped through the water, where they could not grab hold of us as easily.

“You see, Oleander did not always trust her powers. We all believe now that she saw that attack coming, but she did not want to scare us, or make us panic. So, she tried to warn us with hints, teaching us the ways of humans, both good and evil. I wish we could’ve just believed her...” Malkaline said sadly.

Eralynn felt a lot of pity for the elegant creatures. Although they were very intelligent, they were also innocent and had probably been living in peace when evil people had attacked them.

“Probably Varlo’s followers,” Eralynn muttered to herself quietly.

“Now, we don’t trust human beings as well as we used to during the days of Oleander’s visits. Although it has been years since we have been attacked, we always have lookouts surrounding the land, scanning for threatening humans, which is what I was doing tonight,” Malkaline explained.

Eralynn looked around nervously, thinking for a moment.

“After you caught me, why did you show me mercy? I am, after all, human. So, why would you trust me to stay with you so quickly?” Eralynn asked.

“You remind me of her, my dear,” Malkaline said sweetly, and with that, slithered from the cave, leaving Eralynn and Aerance alone to wonder.


* * *

Eralynn awoke before dawn the next morning and left the small cavern to go and find Malkaline. She thanked her for allowing her to spend the night on the Milotics’ land, and requested permission to return and visit them someday. After Malkaline had said yes, Eralynn bowed graciously and hopped on Aerance’s back, ready to depart.

As Aerance galloped away from the land of the Milotic, Eralynn noticed that many of them had emerged from the water, once again, to look at the girl. They seemed astonished by the presence of her, and Eralynn could not find a way to fully understand it.

While Aerance found the way out of the woods they had come from, Eralynn thought hard about what Malkaline had said the night before. She reminded the Milotic of Oleander, and that’s why they were all so amazed by her. That’s the reason Malkaline had let her stay in their cave without too much hesitation. She had never resembled anyone before, and now Malkaline said she seemed similar to Oleander, the hero? Of all people, it couldn’t be.

Of course, Eralynn had never really known of the Queen's many triumphs and her one defeat before the King had discussed them with her very recently. Come to think of it, she had only heard the name Queen Oleander before then. Even after the King's telling of the legend, Eralynn still did not know much about the great Oleander, she realized. Only that she was brave and had the ability to see some of the future, and that she had died at the hands of the evil Varlo when she tried to kill him and save Derelon.

As the young girl thought, she and Aerance broke through the forest’s edge, once again, able to see the rolling, smooth plains. It was still before dusk, and the sun had not yet risen, so it remained slightly dark. Eralynn directed Aerance to turn and head South, keeping on the path to Norsillon.

Eralynn yawned, tired from barely getting any sleep. She had left Derelon early in the night, and had arrived in the forest for rest a few hours later. Then, she had to wake up very early to continue on her journey. She hardly got three hours of sleep that night.

As they rode onward, Eralynn kept thinking about her father, and how he would react to her leaving the city. Obviously, he wouldn’t be too happy with her, and she wondered if she’d even be allowed to return, since she had broken the rule that said all citizens of Derelon City had to remain within its walls. She watched in her mind as visions played of Orriso yelling at the guards to throw her out and never let her back in. She saw the once kind King, who seemed to respect her so long ago, shaking his head in disappointment as he watched this scene. She watched Rhylan scoffing at her, happy to see her leaving Derelon...

“Rhylan...” Eralynn suddenly whispered as Aerance galloped underneath her. Pangs of sadness throbbed in her body as she wondered if he was alive. She wondered if he would ever even have the chance to laugh at her getting kicked out, and she suddenly forgot about her fear of not being allowed back into her home city.

She kept a look out for anything out of the ordinary as she and the Ponyta traveled, now. She had been informed, when she was younger, that the area of Norsillon could be found easily. Eralynn would have to travel through an entrance at the edge of the trees which contained a large boulder that resembled a Magikarp. All she could see for miles so far, though, were trees. She looked around herself every so often, but the scenery never seemed to change.

Suddenly, Aerance stopped and whinnied, shaking her mane. She turned towards the East, facing the forest, directing Eralynn to look this way.

In front of them was a large, gray rock, sitting between the normal-looking grove of trees. It was oval-shaped, but came to a sharp point at the top. One side of it was rather smooth-looking, continuing the oval shape, but the other side jutted out into what looked like a tail fin. This was it: the large boulder that looked like a Magikarp!

“Wow, Aerance, good eyes,” Eralynn complimented. For if it hadn’t been for Aerance spotting it, she probably never would have seen it herself. She felt even more pleased, if it was possible, that the flame horse had come along for this journey.

Aerance turned, walking the way towards the Magikarp boulder. She walked around it, and they could both clearly see some sort of pathway that led deeper into the woods. The trees surrounded the walkway, which was made of short grass that had been matted down somewhat with the occasional trodding of warriors' heels upon this place. The area of forest wasn’t very dark, and Eralynn could see rays of the now rising sun peering through the thin treetops.

Eralynn and Aerance slowly crept down the path, wary of what lay ahead. All was quiet, however, except for the occasional chirpring of Swellow and Spearow here and there. They hadn’t been walking for very long when they came to a circular clearing. It was a large, plain-looking field with a small, odd grove of trees towards its center. The grouping of trees was also circular, and had a mysterious aura surrounding it.

Eralynn suddenly felt her memories flooding back to her. She felt as if she had actually been here before, but she did not know why. Even if only for a moment, she had once gazed upon this area, and she was sure of this.

“Oh my,” she looked around herself wildly, disbelieving. “This was what I saw in my dream... or vision,” she told Aerance. Eralynn now realized that what she was being shown was real, so that meant... “They were captured here!”

She directed Aerance to advance toward the grove of trees, so as to investigate. Closer up, she could see a hole in the trunk of each tree. Inside the hollow trunk, she could see some things that were very sparkly. She assumed that these were the magical gems that the warriors were assigned to bring back in order to complete their training.

Standing right outside of the grove, she stared at the gems. She longed to reach out and grab one, just to see which color it would transform to, but she dared not. Too much rested in the color of these stones. She wasn't sure if she really wanted to know her own destiny... It might have been too overwhelming for her to take in... She decided that she would only hold one of the gems if she was going to officially become a warrior, although this was only an excuse she had made to herself in an attempt to make the stones' power seem less appealing.

Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a sound overhead.

“Pidgeot!”

Eralynn looked up, pulling at Aerance’s reigns so that she’d back up. They both watched as a large bird Pokemon zoomed through the air high in the sky.

“Hey, wait!” Eralynn screamed as loudly as she could, but the creature was far too high and had already flown nearly out of site. “Rhylan must be nearby, if that’s his Pidgeot...” Eralynn thought aloud. “Come on, we have to go find him!”

Aerance nodded in affirmation, and ran around the circular grove of trees. She headed in the direction from which the Pidgeot had come, and they were now running back through the woods. Eralynn looked around her desperately, scanning every inch of the forest floor for signs of anyone she’d know.

Then, she saw him. Her heart raced and panic stabbed at her. She wished that Aerance would move faster so that she would know... Was he...?

On the ground lay Rhylan. The hood of his cloak was over his head, and he was laying on his side, completely limp. As they rode closer, Eralynn and Aerance could see that his arm lay in a small pool of blood. He was clearly unconscious, but whether or not he was alive, Eralynn was not sure.

They sped towards him immediately after spotting him. Eralynn hopped off of Aerance and kneeled down beside Rhylan. She put two fingers against his throat, underneath his jaw, to see if he had a pulse. She felt herself relax a bit more when she felt the rhythm in his veins. He was alive.

She still worried, though, as she glanced at the blood surrounding his arm. How badly was he hurt? Would she be able to help him? Sure, he was always rude to her, but she did not want to see him actually die. (“Especially since he is next in line to be Prince,” she tried to convince herself.)

She lightly tapped him on the face, but he would not wake up. She looked around, unsure of what to do. “Aerance, do you think you could carry us both comfortably?” She asked her.

Aerance nodded her head and smiled with her eyes. Despite her appearance, she was quite strong. She was also used to Eralynn riding her, especially now. It seemed she could endure more from this point, even if it was just to get away from this spot.

Eralynn sat for a moment, thinking. She did not know where they could go. Aerance could certainly carry them both for quite a while, but Eralynn wasn’t sure it would be such a smart idea to travel with and unconscious Rhylan for miles and miles. They would have to find somewhere to stay, at least until he woke up. If he’d wake up...

She shook her head, still thinking about the situation. She had only found Rhylan. Where could the others be? She assumed that they might have escaped, or possibly worse... Perhaps they were captured, or even killed. She felt nauseous at the very thought of it.

She rose from her position, grabbing Rhylan’s uninjured arm, and tried pulling his body over her shoulder. It took her quite some time, but she finally gained control, and began walking towards Aerance so that she could put him over her back.

Suddenly, from behind her, there came a low growl and a snap of jaws. Her motion hindered by Rhylan hanging over her shoulder, she turned slowly to see what it was.

At the site in front of her, she nearly dropped the Prince's limp body. She tried her best to keep him from falling, as she saw six Mightyena emerge from their hiding places within the trees. They all looked rather satisfied with themselves, sneering and snarling at her. Their noses were crinkled in anger, as they snapped at the air, trying to intimidate her.

All Eralynn could do was back away from them. She walked backwards slowly, feeling her feet crinkling the soft grass below her, until she felt Aerance’s side against back.

“What do you want?” She asked them harshly. “I don’t want to hurt you, I only wish to take this boy and keep him safe for a while.”

She watched as they closed in on her. It seemed there was really no way out of this. She could let herself survive and drop Rhylan for the wolf Pokemon to have, but she would never do something like that. However, if she tried to run now, with Rhylan over her shoulder, they’d catch her easily, without a doubt. Then, they would most likely kill her...

Her eyes darted frantically about the evil Pokemon approaching her. She felt the weight of Rhylan straining her shoulders. She felt as if she would collapse, both from fear and physical stress.

With barely any warning, a Mightyena directly in front of her lunged, and she knew instantly that her journey would come to an end.
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FanFic: Stir of The Thunderstorm (Please R&R.)
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