Beyond the Vision:

A quiet girl with sad eyes, about 1.63 meters tall, walked down the cold hallway with a tray of food in her hands. Her hair flowed about her, the first layer cut short and fell wildly about her head while the rest flowed strait down her back in a silky brown. Her walk was both that of confidence and one of meekness, as if she was trying to be both at once.

She turned down the hall and heard laughter echoing off the steel walls. For a moment she hesitated before continuing, but with her next step she transformed herself. She straitened her shoulders, raised her chin, and no longer kept her eyes on the ground but directly ahead with a fire that had been hidden by despair.

Walking steadily she passed a group of eight boys lounging about a waiting area, talking. As she passed one spotted her and smiled an evil grin. "Hey, look who it is. The bitch woman of Strategos," he whispered and all turned to her. "Ah, gone to give him his meal, heh?" another called out. "That won't be the only thing he'll be tasting, I bet!" yet another yelled out. They all laughed. The girl stopped in her tracks and gripped the tray until it shook under the pressure of her hands, but she didn't turn back but continued on.

"Ya! See how she rushed to Strategos! She wants him bad!" they yelled after her but did not follow her like she had feared and secretly hoped. "Damn Dragonslayers," she murmured as her anger rose, "They're so cocky because Dilandau-san hand picked them for his personal guard. But they no nothing."

Then she took a deep breath and continued on, the fire of her eyes growing until it spilled out of her entire body. Finally she reached her destination - the Hall of Windows. It was here that Dilandau had told her that she could find him. It was there that he practiced his sword fighting in order to clear his mind.

"Master Folken?" she said quietly, all her fire extinguishing from her save a small sparkle in her eyes. Folken turned from his sword exercises and the girl slightly jumped. He was adorned for once without his black robes and it was the first time the girl had seen his right arm, his rebuilt arm that carried but a simple sword.

"Ah…Folken-san. I'm sorry to disrupt you but…" she said but stopped as her Master walked up to her and, taking the tray, put it aside. "Master?" she asked and he grabbed her hand, leading her to the middle of the hall. "Have you ever used a sword before Aira?" he asked and she shook her head. He then took his sword and put it in her hand.

"Hold the sword gently but firmly," Folken instructed, placing her hands in the correct position, "The sword should become one with you - an extension to your arm." Aira nodded and felt the sudden weight of the sword as her master let go of the sword.

"Close your eyes. Become used to the weight of it, its balance, its grip. Clear all other things from your mind," he instructed. His voice was quiet but spoke louder than any voice she had ever heard. It was soft like silk yet it bore no emotion save an endless patience and perhaps a raw kindness that had been stripped down by the world. But there was a permanent sadness that echoes in every word, a pain so deep it ruled him and that lovely voice. A voice of a man whose lost everything and blames himself.

She lost all concept of time and space. All she knew was the feel of the sword and her own rhythmic breathing. Nothing else existed, not even Folken. His voice had become a faint whisper that had become apart of her, her own mind speaking to her.

"Without opening your eyes strike as close as you can to the floor as hard as you can without touching it," her mind said, "Now!" Her arm came down with all her strength at once without even thinking and stopped just as quickly on pure reflex. She had not even had time to contemplate the words, nor think of where they truly came from, she only did what they had told her as if the words were already connected to every muscle and controlled them more precisely than her own brain. It was like there was a spell on her.

"Open your eyes Aira," the voice said and she did it as one in a dream. She gasped as she saw how close the sword was from the ground - no more than a millimeter from the marble. The sword didn't even shake in her hands as she held it. She looked up at Folken in surprise. He was smiling coolly and for once his eyes truly sparkled.

"So, I was right," he said at last and then took the sword from her. "I knew you were unusual. I saw it from the moment I laid eyes on you," he said and sheathed the sword. "Saw what?" she asked, watching him as he went to the window and stared out to the setting sun. "That you were different, girl with no past. I saw it in your eyes; you are like no other person I've seen before almost as if you are from another world entirely," he whispered. Aira swallowed and gripped her chest.

"Come now," Folken said at last, "we will continue the lesson tomorrow. You have great promise mystery child, but now other matters must b settled." "Hai, Folken-san," she said and followed behind him as he put on his dark robes and left the Hall.

He had not yet eaten a bit of his food.

"Where are you from, girl, or have you no past? Do you even have a home?"

A quiet girl with sad eyes slept uneasily against the wall. Her master had told her to wait for him there while he took care of the attack against that Dilandau insisted on, a task she could sense that he thought was unnecessary and bloody, but while waiting she had gotten sleepy and fell into a disquieting dream of half-visions.

Suddenly she woke up. "Hn? A dream? But…oh! Folken-san!" she exclaimed as she saw what time it was. Surely the attack was done with now? She got up and went searching for her Master. If he didn't need her she was certain that Dilandau or the Dragonslayers would probably need her to help tend to any wounded or any prisoners. 'Stupid Dragonslayers. IF I had a choice I would beat them senseless!' she thought to herself. Then her anger lifted and she sighed, "What am I thinking? I don't have a choice anymore, do I? If I dare to disobey them…"

She shivered at the thought. She still remembered too clearly the day she was captured by the slave traders and beaten into submission. Her body was still bruised from that day…was it only two days ago? It felt to her a lifetime ago. So much had happened to her…and it was only Folken who had been nice to her besides the Wild Men. Was that why she allowed herself to be his slave?

As she entered the hanger she saw that the Dragonslayers had just returned and that one of their Melefs had been damaged while bringing in the prisoner being docked on the main gangway. 'Hn…can't even handle Master Folken's Guymelefs, heh?' she thought. "Hey! Wipe that smirk off your face, slave-woman, and get me some food!" Shesta yelled, the only one of the Dragonslayers that she had managed to be introduced to. "Or perhaps you want to give me something stronger, eh, slave?" he smiled and looked her up and down. Aira turned and glared as fiercely as she could at him. "Ah, a woman with attitude! So that's the way Strategos likes his women? Don't you know it's rude to stare!" Shesta sneered and raised his hand to strike her.

"Shesta!" one of the Dragonslayers yelled and grabbed Shesta's arm before he struck her. "Huh…Miguel," Shesta murmured. "Leave her alone," Miguel instructed and though Shesta was shocked, he shrugged it off. "Fine. Have it your way Miguel but I think you're going soft. She is just a slave woman. But do teach her some manners before she gets into real trouble and doesn't have any knight to come rescue her. She's starting to act like she's actually a free woman," he said and the rest laughed as they all departed. Aira's eyes blazed but she dared not yell back at them or to strike them.

"Are you all right?" Miguel asked her when the rest were gone. "Ah…hai," she said, "Thank you." He smiled and nodded. "Aira, is it?" he asked. "Oh, yes," she said, surprised he knew it. "It's an unusual name…like the girl who wears it," he said and Aira stared at him with wide eyes. "I don't think we were ever really introduced. I'm Miguel…Miguel Lavariel of Zaibach," he said. "I'm…" Aira began but then she stopped. Far down in the hanger she could see her Master and Dilandau walking towards the strange Guymelef that the Dragonslayers had captured.

"What is that?" Aira asked, goosebumps going up her back. "It's Escaflowne, the 'dragon' that Folken and Dilandau have been after, the one that escaped us in Fanelia," he answered. She looked up at him and saw a strange look in his eyes. "'Dragon'? Why is it called the 'dragon'?" she asked, but right then Folken raised his hand to the energist on the Melef's chest and a great light emanated from it.

"What the-" Aira exclaimed and then the Guymelef opened and its samurai fell out to the ground. She was too far away to see who it was or what he looked like but as soon as he came out Aira got a strange feeling that gripped her heart.

"You better go get the prisoner's room ready for him. Folken said he wanted to question him," Miguel said, "but as soon as he woke up." "Oh…right," Aira said, finding it hard to tear her eyes away from the Escaflowne, but eventually she managed to tear herself away. But the feeling that had gripped her did not go away.

'Who…who is he?'

An angel with raven hair…I see him in my dreams.

By the time Aira had prepared the room it was very late and Folken ordered her to go to bed. "But what about you, Master Folken?" she asked as they brought the prisoner to the room. She tried to catch a glimpse of him but Folken's body was blocking her view. "D not worry about me. Now go to sleep Aira. I will see you in the morning," he said and disappeared into the prisoner's room.


What is he to you? Why is he so important?

A quiet girl with sad eyes sat on a cliff looking out onto the star-lit lands. To the north a wind blew her brown hair, and ahead of her to the east the Mystic Moon was rising above the mountains. "Where are we?" a man next to her asked. He was 7 years older than her and had the same brown hair but instead of her brown eyes he had green. The girl didn't even turn to look at him but stayed perfectly still, watching the Mystic Moon rise.

"Gaea," she answered.

The man with green eyes looked upon the expanse of land, his emotions and thoughts unknowable, even to the girl who knew him so well. Then he sat down next to Aira and watched her. "You like this place, don't you Aira?" he asked finally. She smiled, "It reminds me of home and the mountains." He only chuckled softly. "No, not the cliffs. You don't want to go home," he corrected and she turned to him for the first time. "What?" she asked, "How can you say that?"

The man just smiled. "You know it's true. For you, this is actually much better from home," he said and she turned away. Her eyes wavered as she bit her lip. How could he say that? How could he? Her gaze returned to the Mystic Moon.

"Things are moving quickly Aira. Soon everything will change. You must be strong like you always are but you must be brave and defend yourself too. That you must learn to do," he said suddenly. "Joseph-" she began but suddenly the ground beneath her jolted and she fell into the abyss.

"Joseph!" she cried and reached out to him. He jumped without thinking and went after her but suddenly there were white wings like an angel's and he was no longer Joseph but someone else. Someone else who was familiar to her and yet not. Someone…

She woke with a shock out of bed. She was breathing heavily and sweat covered her. Suddenly she gripped her shirt and tried to calm down. Her mind was all a flutter of images and half-visions. "Joseph…" she whispered.

A huge boom crackled through the ship and Aira was flown from her bed. She landed with a thud on the hard floor. "What the-" she could hear the alarm outside and many shouts coming from the crew and soldiers that scurried in the hall outside her room. She got up and went to the door. She hadn't even taken the time to get undressed for bed but still wore the same white pants and blue shirt.

"Hey! Choto! What's going on?" she yelled, grabbing one of the soldiers but the arm. "We're being attacked!" he yelled back and hurried on to his post. "Attacked?" Aira whispered. She bit her lip and thought of what to do.

'They'll want me to help with the wounded,' she thought. The doctor always wanted her help with the wounded. He constantly complained about there not being enough help on this floating fortress - just him, three nurses, and a silly slave girl who knew a little about medicine. "Well…I'm better than nothing," she said, quoting the doctor, and began to fight her way past the chaos up to the upper decks to find the doctor.