Rowan blinks, unsure what to say to the voice inside his head. He momentarily wonders if it is another intruder, but he somehow is sure it's not.

He asks the voice about its identity. Who are you, strange one? I don't remember thinking in your voice, nor are you the intruder from earlier. If you are another trespasser, please leave me alone.

I am Menta, a Lost aspect. I go into other people's mind's and bring their brain-frequencies to you. Don't ask me any questions, or I'll be caught and your brain will be damaged.

Before Rowan thinks further, the garg-Sandor clears its throat and speaks again. "Did you hear anything I just said, or are you hard of hearing." It releases one of Rowan's arms and shifts it to the other hand, then starts moving the free hand in what looks to be a form of sign-language.

Rowan recovers and says, eyebrows cocked at the ridiculousness of the situation despite the fact that both of his arms are restrained, "No, I'm not hard of hearing, sir, I just am having difficulties accepting the situation. But somehow I can't really deny your statement even though it goes against almost everything Logic says."

Sandor looks at me with more than a bit of confusion. "Who's Logic? I thought that was a property of the average sane mind, not a person."

Rowan shrugs and says, "Well, that is a story for later. Would you mind letting me go? I feel the circulation in my arms being cut off little by little, and it is not very pleasant."

"Not until I bring you back inside, then we have some questions for you."

Rowan sighs, for he was hoping that he could make a run for it when he was set free. But that plan won't work now, and he shouldn't've underestimated the intelligence of his captors.

Sandor abruptly turns and starts walking towards the house, Rowan frantically pedaling his feet as he tries to keep up, not wanting to trip and get dragged the rest of the way.

I hope Sandor got to him in time. It would suck having to grab Rowan again; that kid was able to resist the sedative, the melder, the Ability Inhibitor, and Fitz's intrusion, and I am not sure what else we can use.

I mean, sure the kid did conk out the first time he was subjected to the sedative, but it had no effect on him when we went to bring him in a week ago. He was able to resist the melder's effects twice before being felled the third time, and he was STILL able to talk before nap-time. To be honest, I think the kid is pretty cool, but he freaks me out too much to be ignored.

I wonder why I wasn't able to detect his emotions when I carried him, though. Perhaps it's because he was knocked out from all of the hits from the melder.

I contemplate this conundrum until Sandor finally returns with Rowan in tow. The kid looks like he just got dropped off Silveny at one hundred meters.

I don't blame him, for Gigantor is pretty intimidating, except for his squeak of a voice. His voice is ridiculous, like he had broken into a capsule of helium when he was little and damaged his vocal cords breathing in all of the contents; Dex would probably tell me that helium doesn't work that way, but I can still dream.

Anyway, when Sandor gets through the door, I run over to shut, bolt it, and cover the lock, for this kid looks pretty smart with a wire. He might've even been a prankster back home; but not as experienced as me, of course.

Sandor walks over to one of the plump chairs and drops Rowan on it. He stands guard, but Rowan looks less likely to bolt for it and more likely to have a mental breakdown. I don't really blame him, for a Goblin did just chase him down and grab him.

I sit down in the chair opposite him so that I could keep his attention as we talk to him. I open my mouth, about to say something, then think better of it. I better take it slow with this kid, he's been through a lot, so I don't want to just blurt out something I'll regret later.

I think for a moment, then I catch myself running my hand through my immaculate hair and grab my wrist, for that is a nervous habit that I desperately want to break. The kid looks at me funny, no doubt thinking that I'm crazy, his emerald-flecked purple eyes boring into my own; it feels as though his gaze is Probing, uncovering all of my deepest secrets, my deepest emotions, my very core.

I look away, away from that intense stare yet still feel its focus. This Rowan seems dangerous, but he is just a kid. Well, we've done scary things at his age.

Suddenly, he starts shrinking, and I stand up, a shriek maybe-or-maybe-not emerging from my throat. I watch, my eyes wide with fear, as the kid continues to shrink, his proportions changing into those of a (smaller) child, his eyes filled with unshed tears.

By the time he stops, I stand in front of a seven-year-old boy. I feel a wave of fierce guilt as I look at him. What have we done?

The gargoyle brings me back into the house and pushes open the door. He firmly picks me up and dumps me onto one of the chairs. I land with my feet on the back, my head a couple inches from the floor. Wow, now what is the point of this, exactly?

I pull myself up and turn until I'm upright on the chair, feeling sorrow at the failure of my attempt to escape and shock from being chased down by a rock pile with legs. From behind me, a figure rushes to lock the door and cover the lock with some sort of plug. Great, that won't work. And I don't have a plan B.

I sit there, sorrow turning into frustration as I watch the figure sit in front of me. It is the teenage boy with ice-blue eyes, the one who shot me with that insufferable pain. I look down, angry at the sheer injustice of the situation, angry at the boy in front of me, angry at my own constant success in failure.

The boy in front of me starts to run his hand through his immaculate blond hair, obviously nervous; then, to my surprise, he seizes his wrist, stopping it for the moment. He brings it down to his leg, where it was tapping at a steady 150 bpm.

He notices that I'm watching him and looks away, anxiety in his eyes, but also something else. Perhaps…guilt? But why would he look that way, his eyes ancient, like they had witnessed terrible things? He probably caused most of them, to be honest. I feel tears shoot to my eyes, but I refuse to cry, to give the little ground I have, to lose myself in front of my enemy.

But I'm hit with a steady increasing rain of hopelessness, and I feel small. I feel like a mere child, like the boy I was in Kindergarten, surrounded by bullies that called me freak and thought me as a monster. What is the use anymore? I'll probably die anyway.

I feel my heart dimming, as though I'm indeed dying inside.

Suddenly, the world starts to grow, and the boy shoots straight up, staring at me with shock-filled eyes. I look down, and realize that I'm shrinking. But I don't care, the situation is not important anymore, so why bother.

The boy looks stunned, his eyes filled with guilt and regret. Then his eyes go into the back of his head, then he falls, hitting his head on the coffee table. Pain goes through my head as I watch him, my insufferable empathy working even though he is my enemy. I hope he doesn't have a fainting history, for that could cause some damage, murmurs BioMed.

I stand, secretly hope\ing that he is okay. But instead of walking like I intended, I collapse, the nerve in my neck hitting the edge of the chair, agony spreading through and leaving a fog. Crud. I take back what I thought earlier, I hate you, Fortuna.

As my vision grows white, I look at my little(r) hands and faintly think, I haven't seen these in a while. Then my conscious winks out, my eyes empty as they reflected the world around me without seeing.

I am in the middle of getting ready to explain things to Rowan when I hear a thud from downstairs. I figure that it is probably Iggy causing mischief, so I rush down the stairs, hoping to catch the pest before I talk to the boy.

I come down, expecting to find a knocked-over lamp or a shredded sock only to find the prone bodies of Keefe and Rowan on the floor. Keefe's body is collapsed by the stiff chair while Rowan's is by the plushy one.

I look over them and gasp at the sight of Keefe's head, the back of which is bleeding; he is face-down, so I turn him over and stifle a scream.

His eyes are open, but they are wildly spinning, sometimes facing the back of his head, sometimes facing me but never seeing. He's broken.

I put him into a comfortable position so that I could heal him, then face the boy whose face is also to the floor. His head looks okay, but there is a nasty bruise on the side of his neck, probably from a fall. Hmm…he looks different. Wonder why-

My eyes widen at the sight of the face I see when I turn him over. It's that of a little kid, about the same age- As my sister was when I left.

I sit down and cry, the memory of my fingers spinning the disk, of my family collapsing from the drug, of their false trust in me when I promised to tell them what was going on. I never said a real goodbye.

I feel the cracks, but I fill them up, reminding myself that I did and am doing this FOR my families. All of them.

I pick up Rowan's body, gritting my teeth as I stagger towards the couch, avoiding looking at the child's face the entire time.

I walk back, kneel by the body, and delve into Keefe's mind, bracing for a chaotic cloud of shards.

After an hour, I finally fix Keefe, and he finally rests, his eyes closed and still. I pull out my Imparter and call Mr. Forkle.

After only a second, which seems like an hour, he picks it up, his grumpy face looking at my own. "What's wrong, Sophie Foster?"

I don't speak, I just show him Rowan's face, which he had seen the day before.

"I came downstairs this morning to find his and Keefe's bodies on the floor. Keefe's mind was broken, but I fixed it." I show him Rowan's body.

"The boy looks younger, though, don't you agree?"

His face betrays nothing but cold calculation as he thinks for a moment. "This looks like it's going to be a problem. Initiate Phase 2."

Sarcasm watches Rowan as he tries to escape, as he meets an elf, as he falls and hurts himself. Rowan's avatar falls, his eyes glassy from a broken connection. He watches as the brown-eyed teenager finds them, does something to the ice-blue eyed boy, then calls one of the Outer Lost Collective.

He curses himself, wishing that he could save Rowan, not because that is one of his reasons for existing, but because Rowan is his light and his joy, the focus of all of his emotional output and the reason for all of his inner turmoil.

He loves him as a friend, not as a lover or brother, just as a friend. But sometimes a friend's love burns deeper than that of any lovers' passion, longer than that of a brother. He could feel the stab in his shoulder, beckoning him to sleep, but Sarcasm refuses, wanting to watch over Rowan for one last time before the end of the old life.

But what will happen when Rowan discovers the Dryadic folk, and who he is? Will he shun all of his protectors, if so, what would be left? The protectors have become something more, something that depends on Rowan and Rowan on it, a symbiotic relationship.

He rushes Rowan and embraces him, hoping that he feels this small gesture even in his sleep. The pain only deepens, forcing Ironia to take in a deep breath as his vision grows blurred, an earthquake alerting the rest of the mind to Rowan's danger as the Fire's Bane grows closer.

A star-dusted tear splatters on Rowan's band shirt, then another, until Ironia finally breaks down and cries, cradling his friend's limp body as he laments the boy's inevitable fate. "I swear upon my life and my care for you that I will save you; I will stop at nothing, NOTHING, to help you through this madness and get you through alive and safe," he whispers to the child, tears leaving white trails on his cheeks.

"Keeper of the Sun, Phoenix of the Night, Project Flaredon, these are all names forced upon you, but I see you as the Morning Dove that brings light to the world where there is none. I see you as the boy I grew up with, the boy who talks to me, the bright spot in this dark place. Secrets and lies, little Dove, are hidden everywhere. Finding them can bring you joy, but they can also bring you sorrow. Be careful, Rowan, and I will see you again. I love you, and I will keep you safe."

Ironia's eyes blur with tears, then they go white, and he collapses, Rowan's body beside his as his own fades until it is transparent. Then it vanishes, leaving platinum spots where his tears had landed and dried.

When Sarcasm will come back, no-one knows, but one of those promises will never be fulfilled.



Okay…I am not sure if no-one's enjoying this, is skimming it or something. But I'll ignore that and, first of all, recognize Cressida123 as my top reviewer for Rowan Dryadalem. In fact, your reviews are WAY more detailed than any on any of my other stories, which is both awesome, sad, hilarious and…wait, what was I saying? You rock! Also…Sophie is a bit of a jerk. *avoids deadly sharp knives* But I still find the concept interesting. School sucks, but at least I can hang out with my friends. I hope you find a way to enjoy the beauties of dreamland more often, it is a wonderful place to visit.

Anyway, my favorite book is Ender's Game, but Keeper of the Lost Cities is a very close second. *I watch the security monitors with disinterest as a hoard of KOTLC fans storm through the tiny upstairs hallway looking for blood*

Dex is the best character in KOTLC, for not only is he cute, but he is intelligent, honest, compassionate, loyal and is cool.

*Watches part of the hoard head back home because they like Dex as well.*

*Smirks as part of the mob tries to fit in the bathroom*

*Suddenly cracks up*

"I really was tempted to have Rowan complain about what I've been doing with his life, but I decided to make him oblivious for the time being."

*Rowan pokes his head through the door and sees the monitors*

"I was trying to do homework, but I heard noises upstairs. It's not them again, is it? Also, who are you talking to, and what about? I heard my name."

*Me suddenly putting down and darting in front of the device*

"No peeking, Lego Boy!" (looks like no matter how old he gets he still loves those Legos and the power they give him {figuratively})

*Sees his hand immediately dart behind his back*

"Seriously?! I thought I told you to build somewhere else, I'm trying to work. I don't want to get my room messy again."

*Rowan looks down with disappointment*

*I break down, feeling guilty at my retort*

"Okay, what do you want to play?"

*He perks up*

"What about Legora?"


*We run off to his room to play with Legos, the device shut off for the time being*