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Scrap of a Dream

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In her dream, she sees herself, but it is not herself.

It is a woman clad all in gold-washed armor, who walks like a man and bears a shield with a great gold lion rearing on it. Her hair is bobbed short, and her eyes are prideful.

About the only three things Alanna recognizes are the ember, the sword (though she knows, in that inexplicable way of knowing that comes with dreams, that the sword her double carries bears a different name), and the feel of Thom's magic that radiates from the shield.

The other her looks her up and down, surprisingly cold, and would turn away, but turning away only brings them face to face again.

"So this is what I would be like if I hadn't switched," the dream-double says, sneers really, and in that sneer Alanna hears the banked rage that only strange, thwarted fears can bring on.

"And you are, I suppose, what I would have been had I gone for my shield," Alanna replies. Her voice is neutral.

Her other self takes the simple observation as a slight, and as Alanna watches her bristle, she wonders if she was ever that prickly, or if the weight of secrecy broke something in her other self.

"You can't honestly tell me it was worth it," the other Alanna snaps.

Alanna twitches aside her courtly cloak, revealing Fire belted snugly to her side. The ember glows at her throat.

"You have learned to be a knight," Alanna says solemnly. "But I have learned graciousness."

This time, she is the one to turn and walk away, and this time, the dream lets her.