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The crowd of children and parents stood around, laughing and talking, but subdues. His father was strapping this saddlebags to the pony's saddle, and the others were all wishing him luck, and expressing their sorrow that he was leaving at last.
Alys, stood, refusing to look as the only person she'd been able to call friend (despite him being much older) left her here. She stared determinedly at the muddy ground, churned by the feet of cattle, dogs and the people who lived at the isolated holding.
She heard slow footsteps, the crunching, as he walked slowly over, and looked away- at the building which so many of them called home. It was large, containing a large meals hall, and shared rooms for all the children, and some of the families who lived here. Some familes chose to live in their own small cottages just next to the large main building, and store sheds and amimal shelters ranged in ever widening circles to the edge of the cleard land and tended feilds.

"Scry-baby?" he teased gently. Ever since she had shared a secret with him so long ago, he never called her by her name. She only scowled, now. "Come on," he coaxed. "I'll be back. I will- the new year's eve, for all the celebrations. And after that i'll be here even more often." she knew she shouldn't sulk. it was a rare event indeed that the community had managed to raise enough money to send their brightest young lad off to town to school. She knew she should be glad for him- but she wasn't. She shuddered to think of so many years alone, and did not reply. "Well. Good luck, then, eh?" she nodded in silence, still not facing him, and he ruffled her hair, then turned and walked away.

She dared look up. He swung her little brother into his arms as she did, and the little boy and other children squealed in delight. The adults would miss him. He could control the children, and didn't even mind watching them. Now, with him gone, they'd be under everyone's feet.

Jonovan enbraced his father fondly, and then shook hands with all the others. Alys felt a pang, and watched him mount the tiny pony with increasing despair.

Suddenly, everything went black.

***

Jonovan looked up and back over his shoulder, hearing his name being called. Alys was running towards him, as fast as her small legs could carry her, her long braid swinging wildly down her back. He reined the pony in and jumped down. She skidded to a halt in the mud before him, and after a terrified glance at his face, she began staring at the ground again.

"You alright, Scry-baby?" he asked gently. She looked pale, her eyes wide in her face.

"Be... be careful." she managed, and looked away. He blinked, then caught her shoulders.

"What did you see?" he asked determinedly in a low voice. she was not nicknamed for nothing- not only had she been a cry-baby, but she could see- into the future. She shook her head, tears stinging her eyes. "What did you see, Alys?" He demanded urgently. "Tell me what you saw." He wondered, in the breif instant before she opened her mouth, what the others would do if they ever found out. She was an orphan after all, and had no one to protect her- and they had never bee particularly caring or kind.

She drew a deep, shuddering breath. "I see flames." she said, and he could see suppressed sobs threatening to overwhelm her. "I see blood and flames and heath." her small hands were shaking.

Jonovan hugged her, shaken by the intensity of the vision- the doom. Never had one of her visions not come true.

"Hush," he whispered, hiding how shocked he was himself. "It may come to nothing." he tried to convince her.

she shook her head. "No. they never go away- they're always true, and if i try to stop them, then i always make it happen by mistake- a different way- i can't-"

"Who?" he asked her quietly. "Where? When?" she hung her head.

"I don't know. But... People are screaming. And it's a wooden building burning, and i'm there, inside it, next to the flames... and... blood. Blood running dow legs. My legs." she began shivering. He held her a moment, feeling ill.

"Come on," he whispered to her, and hefted her into his arms. "We'll tell mum you're sick."

***

Jonovan rode out not long after. He couldn't delay his departure, but he wondered all the way, with nothing to distract him from his thoughts of Alys- the small, frightened child, and the terrible things she bore witness to.

------
Ez


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