Chapter 1

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On a high plateau where the grass was kept in check by sheep, a small child was dragged by her hand. Her grandmother's face looked down on the child in disdain and thought how much she looked like her mother. They walked down the narrow path that headed to the edge of the plateau. Villagers did not go so close to the cliff edge. Everyone knew how the edges of the high cliff could give away unpredictably. Only those who were required to go near it did so.

In the distance, the old woman could see a small hut far away from the village. This flyer lived away and alone. As she came upon the hut, she could see an old tattered kite that was left outside.

"Open," The old woman knocked hard upon the door.

Silence.

"Open!"

The door opened, but only for a small gap.

"What do you want?" an angry voice came from behind the door.

"I have a student for you."

"I'm not the Guild. I don't take students. Go away!" And she the door shut.

Tatana watched her grandmother leave. She wanted to go home. But there was no home, and she told her to stay. The grandmother took the scrip from selling her mother's hut and used it to go to the big city. Halfway through the trip, the scrip had become short, and she now was leaving Tatana in front of the flyer's hut.

As she looked up the village's narrow path, she could see the zep making its gray smoke, leaving in the distance. She knew that her grandmother was gone from her life for good. She stood. After a while, she sat, getting her faded thin, white wool dress dirty. She pulled the white ribbons from her long black hair. She cried, thinking about how much she missed her mother, wishing that she had never died. Evening came. Tatana tried to fall asleep, tired and hungry.

She was cold. No one who stayed outside at night lived very long. The cold of the night had killed others and soon would kill her. Tatana waited for the chill of the night slowly to take her too. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a rollie. It was pink. All the rollies she had seen were green. That's the color they were in the day time if you can see them. A blue one soon joined it. Rollies avoided people. Someone once told Tatana that rollies are real good eating. You skin off the thick fur and boil them for a whole day for a delicious rollie stew.

The blue one left, and the other pink one stayed, curling up next to Tatana. Rollies have no feet or hands. They move by changing their muscles, kind of like a round snake with thick fur. Tatana used the pink one to warm her hands.

In a short time, the blue one returned with ten or more other rollies. Tatana couldn't count them all. They were pink or blue, not the green that she was used to seeing, covering her like a thick blanket. Tatana slept well, using her clothing bag as a pillow with her chamois shirts and pants she normally wore every day.

In the morning, all the rollies were gone.

"You still here? You've been outside all night long?" the flyer asked Tatana.

Tatana rubbed the sleep from her small blue eyes and nodded yes as she looked up.

"You have any clan that'll take you?"

Tatana shook her head no. Her face was red from crying most of the night.

"So, you want to join the Guild?"

Tatana gave no response. She looked up at the flyer, trying not to stare at the woman's cleavage, more then most women have. The flyer's face was still pretty. She was still young. Too old to be a flyer, she had made enough scrip to retire at twenty summers.

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