Alanna The First Adventure

one

Twins

“That is my decision. We need not discuss it,” said the man at the desk. He was already looking at a book. His two children left the room, closing the door behind them.

“He doesn’t want us around,” the boy muttered. “He doesn’t care what we want.”

“We know that,” was the girl’s answer. “He doesn’t care about anything, except his books and scrolls.”

The boy hit the wall. “I don’t want to be a knight! I want to be a great sorcerer! I want to slay demons and walk with the gods—”

“D’you think I want to be a lady?” his sister asked. “‘Walk slowly, Alanna,’” she said primly. “‘Sit still, Alanna. Shoulders back, Alanna.’ As if that’s all I can do with myself!.” She paced the floor. “There has to be another way.”

The boy watched the girl. Thom and Alanna of Trebond were twins, both with red hair and purple eyes. The only difference between them—as far as most people could tell—was the length of their hair. In face and body shape, dressed alike, they would have looked alike.

“Face it,” Thom told Alanna. “Tomorrow you leave for the convent, and I go to the palace. That’s it.”

“Why do you get all the fun?” she complained. “I’ll have to learn sewing and dancing. You’ll study tilting, fencing—”

“D’you think I like that stuff?” he yelled. “I hate falling down and whacking at things! You’re the one who likes it, not me!”

She grinned. “You should’ve been Alanna. They always teach the girls magic—” The thought hit her so suddenly that she gasped. “Thom. That’s it!”

From the look on her face, Thom knew his sister had just come up with yet another crazy idea. “What’s it?” he asked suspiciously.

Alanna looked around and checked the hall for servants. “Tomorrow he gives us the letters for the man who trains the pages and the people at the convent. You can imitate his writing, so you can do new letters, saying we’re twin boys. You go to the convent. Say in the letter that you’re to be a sorcerer. The Daughters of the Goddess are the ones who train young boys in magic, remember? When you’re older, they’ll send you to the priests. And I’ll go to the palace and learn to be a knight!”

“That’s crazy,” Thom argued. “What about your hair? You can’t go swimming naked, either. And you’ll turn into a girl—you know, with a chest and everything.”

“I’ll cut my hair,” she replied. “And—well, I’ll handle the rest when it happens.”

“What about Coram and Maude? They’ll be traveling with us, and they can tell us apart. They know we aren’t twin boys.”

She chewed her thumb, thinking this over. “I’ll tell Coram we’ll work magic on him if he says anything,” she said at last. “He hates magic—that ought to be enough. And maybe we can talk to Maude.”

Thom considered it, looking at his hands. “You think we could?” he whispered.

Alanna looked at her twin’s hopeful face. Part of her wanted to stop this before it got out of hand, but not a very big part. “If you don’t lose your nerve,” she told her twin. And if I don’t lose mine, she thought.

“What about Father?” He was already looking into the distance, seeing the City of the Gods.

Alanna shook her head. “He’ll forget us, once we’re gone.” She eyed Thom. “D’you want to be a sorcerer bad enough?” she demanded. “It means years of studying and work for us both. Will you have the guts for it?”

Thom straightened his tunic. His eyes were cold. “Just show me the way!”

Alanna nodded. “Let’s go find Maude.”

Maude, the village healer, listened