Aakuta: the Dark Mage
had never seen the man before, and her mind whirled with questions. As she heard the man coming closer, a knife slipped from its sheath on her arm and slid smoothly into her waiting hand. She looked around frantically for a path of retreat, but the area was far to open to slip away. Bravely, she stepped out from behind the tree, her knife rising menacingly as she faced her opponent.
    “Not one step farther,” Mistake warned. “I do not know who you are, but I am sure that we have never met. How do you know who I am?”
    The man stopped and his eyes narrowed as he stared at the petite thief. Finally he shook his head in confusion.
    “I am sorry,” he apologized. “I mistook you for someone else. Now that I can see you clearly, I know that you are not MistyTrail, but you look an awful lot like her. You move like her, too.”
    Mistake dwelled on the man’s last statement. She had never known that her swiftness was a product of magic until the mages at Fardale had told her. Now this man was saying that he mistook her for another. He had to be lying, or was he?
    “Who is this MistyTrail?” questioned Mistake. “Who are you?”
    The man held up his hands to indicate that he was not a threat. “I am HawkShadow,” declared the man. “I am Sakovan, and MistyTrail is a friend of mine. I mean you no harm. I will leave you in peace and apologize for my actions.”
    “No, wait,” Mistake blurted out. “You didn’t tell me who this MistyTrail is.”
    “She is a Sakovan like myself,” shrugged HawkShadow. “That is why I was surprised to see her here in Fardale. She should be back home guarding the Sakova.”
    “And I look like her?” questioned Mistake.
    “From a distance,” HawkShadow nodded. “Now that I am closer I can tell that you are not her.”
    “And she moves like me?” probed Mistake.
    “She does,” HawkShadow nodded as he gazed questioningly at the small Fakaran. “She moves faster than anyone I know. She is also an excellent knife thrower. I would appreciate if you would put that knife away.”
    Mistake nodded distractedly as she slid the knife into its sheath. She reached into her pack and extracted her carozit. She held it upside down and watched as the balls fell. They did not swing down and touch each other as gravity demanded, but they also did not stand out at right angles to the stick as they always had in the past. Instead the balls hung at an angle between the two likely positions.
    “How far is this Sakova?” questioned Mistake.
    “It is several days of riding to the south,” answered HawkShadow. “I cannot be more accurate than that. What is that thing you are holding?”
    “It is a carozit,” answered Mistake. “It is meant to help me find my family.”
    “Your family?” echoed HawkShadow. “I doubt MistyTrail could be your family. If you were Sakovan, I would know you. What is your name?”
    “Mistake,” she answered. “Some people call me Missy. Is that what you call this MistyTrail?”
    “Close,” HawkShadow shook his head. “We call her Misty for short at times. They do sound alike. Now we know why both of us were confused. Do you live here in Fardale? I have not seen you around before.”
    “No,” answered Mistake as she returned the carozit to her pack. “I am from Fakara. I am visiting Lord Marak.”
    “As are we,” smiled HawkShadow.
    “We?” asked Mistake. “Is the Star of Sakova with you?”
    “No,” HawkShadow responded. “She was here, but she left last week. Just StarWind and I are left. You must know Rejji, the Astor?”
    “We are good friends,” Mistake nodded. “I help him with everything he does in Fakara.”
    “Then we have much to talk about,” smiled HawkShadow. “I would like to learn everything about Fakara that I can. Come. I would like you to meet StarWind.”
    “I have not yet told Lord Marak that I have arrived,” Mistake shook her head. “I must deliver something to him first. Perhaps later you can tell me about the Sakova

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