• Chapter Three

    Opening his gold eyes Aiyo saw the bright green leaves of the trees that only grew in the One Forest. He sat up rubbing his eyes and slipped out of the crook of the still sleeping Ebony's wing. Aiyo peered about him and sighed. Before walking into the trees to explore the prince patted Ebony's head lightly and lovingly.

    When a safe distance away Aiyo turned to the direction he thought the palace was and cheered, "Ha, ha, ha! I'm not there anymore and you have no hold over me Dad. Take that!" Aiyo turned away and continued his small exploration of the forest until he found a river that distracted him. "Oh! I didn't know this was here! Jeez I've missed so much time in here. I wonder what is in here too," he mumbled kneeling down and splashing the cool water that came from the roaring waterfall into his face.Aiyo sat back, simply gazing around. And jumped severely.

    Standing on a rock sticking out from the water was a girl, partially hidden in the mist. Bright silver hair fell to her mid back and framed a small pale face. Her blazing red eyes stood out against her pale skin and her mouth was opened in a shocked expression as well, exposing two fangs. She looked like she wanted to say something, but quickly changed her mind and turned and fled to the opposite bank.

    "Wait!" called Aiyo bouncing to his feet and crashing through the water after her. "Please!" Aiyo couldn't believe it. Another person his age was out here. And she was an elf! A close relative to the dryad. "I just want to talk!"

    The running sounds ahead of the boy stopped and he continued running until he burst out of the shrubbery and nearly into the elf girl. "Oh." Aiyo blushed faintly and stepped back a few steps. "Sorry and...hi."

    "Hello," greeted the girl in a light voice smiling. "I'm sorry I ran. You just surprised me and I...really didn't know what to do. You see it's been a while since I saw some one my age. It gets-" she clamped her mouth shut, realizing she was rambling. Sticking out her hand she mumbled, "I'm Raysina."

    Aiyo gladly took her hand his smile broadening. "I'm Aiyo. It's nice to meet ya Raysina!" he said cheerfully.

    Raysina looked Aiyo up and down and, resting her eyes on his, uttered, "So you're the Young Master who constantly tries to escape and seems to have succeeded now? Neat!"

    Releasing his held breath he nodded. "Yep that's me! And Ebony's with me as well. You can meet her if you want. She's a Shifter."

    "I know who she is," stated Raysina tucking her hair behind a pointed ear. "Is that how you got away?"

    "Yeah it is. That and I finally blew the bars out of my window and jumped. But Ebony did most of the work and really owe her. She's as amazing as a pair of multicolored socks!"

    Raysina laughed. "Really? I can't wait to meet her then! Where is she right now any ways?"

    "I'm right here now siting on Aiyo's head," answered Ebony, now a small black raven now. "Who are you?"

    "I'm Raysina. It's nice to meet you Ebony!" Raysina could barely keep her eyes off of the shifter, but when ever they looked at Aiyo's eyes she didn't want to look away. "It's amazing that you're a Shifter! I've always wanted to see one."

    "And now you have," chuckled Ebony fluttering over to the elf's shoulder. "I'm not as amazing as most people say I am. Just 'cause I can turn into anything I want and am rare doesn't make me special. Well it does, just not like that!"

    Raysina beamed at the pair. "You're nothing like I'd imagined you two would be like," she breathed.

    "What? Did you think we would be stuck of snobs and thought that everyone else was beneath us?" joked Aiyo, already knowing the answer.

    The elf turned her gaze to the ground, ashamed and murmured, 'Actually at first yes. But then Noko found me and told me all about you two and I changed my opinion and I'm glad I did." She looked back up smiling again.

    "That's very sweet-hey you know Noko?! Noko Sandrian right?!" asked Aiyo hopping up and down.

    "Umm does he have red hair and brown eyes?"


    "Then I do! He's at our camp! C'mon I'll show you!" Raysina grabbed Aiyo's hand again and darted forward quickly, expertly dodging around the trees and other plants.
    In no time at all they came to a huge clearing where Raysina stopped running.

    Three huts made out of what looked like river stones stood not far from a brilliant lake. The roofs were made from straw and wood thatched together and had small chimneys protruding from them. The shutters and doors to all the houses were thrown open to let the cool wind fill the inside. In the middle of the lake was a crowd of yellow lilies and lily pads, dragonflies hovering over them. The trees that surrounded the entire space were some what tall and laden with blue and purple stripped fruit that seemed to attract the many birds that filled the air with their song.

    Aiyo sighed contentedly and was about to flop on the soft grass when Raysina called out, "Hey Noko! I'm back!"

    Seconds later a tall man in his twenties with messy blood red hair walked calmly out of the hut closest to the opposite side of the clearing saying, "Hey Raysina. How'd the...walk...go..." He looked at Ebony and Aiyo, then Raysina, and back to the partners again. "I see you've made friends. Very good ones at that." Noko smiled and approached the trio and hugged Aiyo and petted Ebony's head. "So you've finally escaped eh? You'll have to tell me about it some time," he chuckled happily.