by English

Juliana and Andrew sat in the open glade, happiness surrounding them just letting the day float slowly by without them. "I love you." Andrew leaned over and kissed Juliana on the cheek.

"What was that for?" Juliana looked at him, Andrew rarely did that unless Juliana provoked him, he rarely did anything without being provoked.

"Juliana." She looked at Andrew. "Will you marry me, I want us to be together forever."

She looked at him expressionless, which turned into her soft delicate smile. "Of course I will." They hugged and slowly kissed. They separated, Andrew stared into her soft delicate sparkling blue eyes.

"I will love you forever." A horse came crashing through the woods towards the glade. The couple stood up as an old man on a horse came into the clearing. "Master Galanus." Andrew looked at his old mentor.

"Come on, we have three months before, you take my place as fire mage of the kingdom. We must finish your training." The usually kind face went stern. Andrew knew when the mage of a kingdom takes an apprentice, the apprentice will obtain the kingdoms magic upon turning eighteen.

"Coming." Andrew turned to Juliana. "I'll be back."

"Oh come, on you make it sound as if you will never see her again." Master Galanus let out his bellowing laugh. "Let's go."

Juliana watched as the two went off. She picked up her belongings, and started home. She sang tunes so often sung she knew them by heart. She went into town still happy as a child.

"So Andrew finally asked didn't he?" Juliana drew back, startled from her singing.

"Oh, Chris, it's you." She grinned at him, Chris was Andrew's best friend, he put his hand on her shoulder. "Yes, he did. I'm so happy."

"I can tell, come the king is about to address the village." Chris started walking pulling Juliana behind him. They reached the castle balcony just in time.

"All hail the king of Tintagel." The guard announced as the king stepped into view.

"Greetings subjects. I have some news you may not like. The kingdom's treasury has gone bare in paying for relief efforts in the recent war, so taxes must be raised to make up for it." Boos and hisses raised from many people in the crowd. A man next to Juliana threw rotten vegetables at the king, they missed, but upset the king nonetheless. "That girl there threw those." The king pointed to Juliana. "Arrest her for treachery to the crown!"

Juliana turned and ran as fast as she could, she ran for ten minutes into the woods, where she stopped to take a breath. Someone found her and grabbed her by the shoulders.

"Shhhh. It's Chris, I know where you can be safe, there are consequences for staying there but none as great as your life. The king has banished anyone from going there. Go to the north, there is a place called Metamor Keep. You will be safe there now go."

Juliana turned and looked at Chris. "But, Andrew."

"I will tell him, he will come for you one of these days. Now go!" Chris watched as Juliana ran off into the distance. "How will I ever tell Andrew."

"Andrew, today the fire magic of the kingdom will be placed upon you. Do you swear to bear it in honor and grace." Andrew was kneeling in front of the king.

"I do." He stood up and Master Galanus handed him the staff holding the fire diamond, the only source of fire magic in the kingdom.

"I'm proud of you kid." Master Galanus beamed with pride and happiness.

"Now for your first task." Andrew looked at the king. "I want you to show your loyalty to me, I will mind link you to another mage, he will know where and what you are doing at all times. You are to seek out the traitor Juliana, and bring her to me."

"Please your grace, I still love her, and the wound is still fresh, please don't make me...." The king raised his hand to stop him.

"It is either that or you will also be killed for treachery." Andrew looked at the king.

"Never." Andrew looked at the king.

"Arrest him!" Andrew pulled his knife and cut the oncoming guard across the gut. He pointed the staff towards the door while running to it, he let go a blast of fire, and ran out.

Another mage started after him, but the king stopped him. "Let him go, we will find him, and he will find Juliana, then we will have them both."

Andrew had been on the run into the woods for ten minutes, when he was stopped by Chris. "Chris, I have to...."

"I know, Juliana went north to a place called Metamor Keep, you can find her there." Andrew grinned at his old friend and took of after his love, three months behind.

Andrew had been traveling for two weeks going from village to village, and finally his next stop was to be the keep. He was traveling through the woods in a thunderstorm, and would be grateful for any shelter. He heard a growling from behind him, he spun around. He saw the light of lightening dancing on the eyes of a wolf.

Andrew ran and the wolf gave chase, he came out of the woods, and in front of him was the keep he was searching for. The wolf was closing in, the wolf leaped and knocked him to the ground, he hit his head on a rock. He heard to people come up, and the wolf ran.

"Come we must get him into the keep." He felt him self being lifted and everything went dark.

Andrew awoke to the same darkness he had remember when he left. "You're up! You must leave here."

Andrew looked into the darkness. "How long have I been out?"

"Seven days. You haven't changed yet, you must leave. I'm doing this for your own good." The unknown lady pushed his clothes into his arms and pushed him to the door.

"For my own good?" Andrew stopped and turned around.

"Yes, anyone who stays here too long will become part animal, a child, or the other sex, you must leave." He felt a slight push again.

"At least let me see the person who cared for me." Andrew turned to the invisible face.

"In the hall there are torches." Andrew went out and looked at the lady. She was half white tiger half human. Her eyes were soft and had a familiar sparkle to them.

"You're Juliana, I know by your eyes." The tigress looked at him.

"Yes it's me." She closed her eyes and bowed her head.

"I came here for you." He kissed her on the head. She opened her eyes.

"Oh no, we're too late." She lifted his arm looking at the tan-gold fur growing on Andrew's arm. "I'm so sorry."

"I don't mind I'm with you. You still love me don't you?" Andrew lifted Juliana's head.

"Yes I do." Juliana nuzzled him being unable to kiss. "We might as well sleep, you are changing there is nothing we can do, we will deal with it in the morning." With that they went back into the room, to let the peace of sleep take them.

Andrew woke late in the day. "Good, you think after being out a week, you wouldn't be able to sleep ten minutes. You are allowed to stay. Of course." Juliana sat at the foot of the bed.

"Thank you so much." Andrew looked into a nearby mirror, he was changed enough to tell what he was becoming, a lion. He was already walking on his toes, with a tan-gold fur coat, a short muzzle, and some mane.

"You're so handsome." She nuzzled him. Andrew looked out the window, and saw one of the kings mages coming for him, arguing with the guards.

Andrew got dressed, grabbed hi staff, and went down to talk to the mage.

Andrew reached the gate and looked at the mage, and the mage looked back. "Who are you and why do you have that staff!"

"Deamon, you don't recognize me." Andrew looked at the sky mage. "Leave me and Juliana here in peace, anyway you are banned from here."

Deamon looked at Andrew. "So you have become one of these freaks. I ‘ve come to challenge you."

"Very well." Andrew stepped out of the gate into the open field in front of the keep. "Begin."

Deamon sent a gust of wind towards Andrew, who dodged and sent a wave of flame to Deamon. Deamon was knocked on his back. Andrew placed a foot on Deamon's chest, and pointed his staff at his head. "Now go and leave us in peace." Deamon scrambled up and ren back to the forest.

Juliana ran up to Andrew. "Come on let's go." Chris turned and followed her in and looked back only once to the fleeing figure in the distance.