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Subject: WARNING: This is a flashback. Do not be confused

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Date Posted: 19:25:31 10/26/02 Sat

The rope in his hands tightened as the horse circled him. Blocking out everything else, Lia focused on the young animal’s movement as it ran. A slight flick of his hand sent a signal down the rope, the mare picked up her speed. Another flick. She was running now and he spun fast in order to follow.

The shout distracted him, the rope slipping from his fingers, its kiss running over his hands like fire in a forest of dead trees. Quickly he grabbed at its trailing end and bellowed “stop!”
The chestnut skidded to a halt and he moved quickly over to it, stroking its silky nose in reassurance but the animal’s sides still quivered and its eyes darted nervously.
“Its OK” he whispered, ignoring the one who had broken his concentration.

“Aralias!” Erlian’s voice cracked out like a whip and grudgingly his son turned from the horse.
Disapproval was written all over the hard face. “Your mother wants to see you.”
He tried to disguise how unwelcome his father’s visit was and failed. “Later,” he tried moving back to the chestnut.
“Now.” So it was not a request.
“It is over then?”
“If what you refer to is the birth of your sister,” Lia scowled, “then yes, it is over.” His father’s face softened as it always would in the future whenever he talked of his daughter. “She’s beautiful.”
“Lucky her,” Lia said, aware that he sounded like a sulky child.
Sharply that soft look was gone. “Don’t you want to meet your sister?”
Aralias pondered the idea of replying “not particularly,” but dismissed it just as swiftly, the risks far outweighed the pleasures of seeing his father livid with rage. Instead he answered “oh course,” took the horse’s reign and walked it back to its stable before following his father into their home.

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