Foreword

Book2_NewFor those who believed themselves but consort to the hero,
only to find they might yet author their own fortune.

New or forgetful readers consider: The Story So Far: Book I

⁃ ◇ ❖ ◇ ⁃

Into every life there comes at least one moment that defines us.  A crystalline fragment of who we are, refracting a world in which we live.  We do not always chose this moment, but we always make it our own.  In the dead of a spring night, and the fifteenth year of her life, the girl Katrisha Ashton had such a moment.  There was not a thing humble about it.

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Chapter 1

Long after this time has passed,
long after fools breathe their last,
long after waters shimmer here,
long after the mists still appear,
long after blood washed away,
long after the curse shall stay,
long after trees grow all around,
long after the last, shall be found.

– Folk Lore of Avrale, Book II circa 510 E.R.

Into the Forest

Coria 40th, 647 E.R.

Sunlight filtered through the trees, and shone upon a young woman with long raven hair.  She sat against a tall ancient pine, her face and brown robes bloodied and smudged with dirt.  She was a mess, and as the comfort of oblivion slowly slipped away, it took a moment for her to notice she was not alone.  Not a dozen paces away a large silver furred wolf was eyeing her suspiciously.

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Chapter 2

What men walk the Sylvan wood,
these ones of blended ancient kin,

tall slim and proud they stand,
with quick feet and steady hand,

of most little more can be discerned,
but of shining eyes and ears adorned,

yet few of those noble born ne’er to rule,
those great lions broad stout and true.

– unknown origin, circa 200 E.R.

Out of the Woods

Coria 40th, 647 E.R.

A raven haired young woman awoke in a great deal of pain.  Everything was scratched and bruised, and she was deathly cold.  She could rarely remember being cold.  Winters had never bothered her much, and spring well underway.  Though it did not help she she had left her robe somewhere.  Where seemed an overly complicated and relative question at that point.  After a single excruciating breath, and a foolish attempt to move, her burning chest and throbbing leg easily drown out every other sense.

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Chapter 3

We are who once we were,
but never again the same,
as the world changes do we,
and cycles pass without name,

rely not on man to alter his way,
nor on the individual to remain,
we ghosts are believed eternal,
yet even ageless,
I have changed.

– Writings of Theseus Moria, circa 410 E.R.

State Decay

Estae 7th, 647 E.R.

The room was lush yet stark, dripping with showy regal splendor, from the tapestries on the walls to elaborate carpets with floral and geometric patterns.  Fine rare vases held flowers along the walls, if their ancient cracked surfaces could bear water.  Others – often in prominent positions – were clearly too old and fragile for actual use.

A blond haired man with a soft olive complexion considered the priest pacing his quarters.  His expression was hard to read, but seemed perhaps concerned for the agitated older man.  The priest, Idolus, wore a grey robe, and had recently shorn his hair down to the skin.  This in itself was arguably an improvement, as he had been balding for years.  Still, it seemed part of a larger, more unnerving pattern.  One that included the way he was pacing frantically, his arms behind his back, his hands wringing fervently.

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Chapter 4

A silver drop of living light,
that shimmers and shines,
but of true nature lies,

what is this thing that devours,
yet such great worth harbors,
this price for powers gained,

liquid essence of aether,
or be it cold dew of nether,
strange tangible immaterial,

a slow poison to its maker,
and boon to the skilled shaper,
the blood of we mages born.

– Writings of Queen Regent Adria, circa 40 E.R.

Mage Blood

Estae 10th, 647 E.R.

Kiannae pondered the small sprout before her.  It had been a seed not two minutes before, and yet it stood a full two inches tall.  Landri watched expectantly as Kiannae simply stared at the plant.  Slowly she reached out her hand, and brushed a leaf with a fingertip.  She felt for the will of the plant, like she had long learned to seek the workings of a spell.  There was a way it wanted to grow, a pattern to it, it was deep, gentle, and hard to read, so much more complex than the weaving of magic she understood.

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Chapter 5

Had I not known you,
I would be a lesser man,
even should I now reign,
in this unimagined land,
I would not be even half,
of who this day I stand.

– Alexander Durandal, circa 380 E.R.

Friends in Need

Rhaeus 26th 647 E.R.

Kiannae looked up at the sound of approaching footsteps, and found Zale walking somewhat cautiously towards her.

“Strange breeze today,” he remarked glancing around.  Kiannae let out a long slow breath, and the direction of the wind dramatically shifted.  “Oh,” he said an almost startled look creeping over his face as he fully appreciated what had happened.  He could feel it then, but far more subtle in action and profound in result than he was used to.

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Chapter 6

In spring the living world breaths in,
bright summers turn leaves to fire,
cold fresh autumn winds exhale,
in winter all such vigors expire.

– The Breath of Seasons, 91 E.R.

The Winter Frost

Styver 37th, 647 E.R.

Snow settled on silver hair, and Katrisha stood arms outstretched in the in a courtyard of the cloister.  She was alone, as few ventured out in the evening on winter days.  Though loneliness was an ache far colder to her than the snow melting on her skin, for the moment she was unmoved.  She let the cold in, and while it was enough to make even her shiver, it made her feel alive.

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Chapter 7

As winds whip past,
lightning cracks around,
the meek shall tremble,
before a deafening sound,

midst the maelstrom stands,
blood of south wind’s own,
the terrible bound wrath,
a child of the storm.

– Druidic Proverb, circa 75 E.R.

The Passing Storm

Vhalun 3rd, 648 E.R.

Kiannae tugged at the blindfold she had been told to wear.  It wasn’t terribly effective, as she still knew roughly where she was.  She could count the feeling of passing trees, and turns.  If she memorized them, getting back would be easy.  It was annoying, nonetheless.  She was nudged, she assumed by Zale for tugging at her blindfold, sighed, and put her hands back behind her.

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Chapter 8

Laeune the moon,
daughter of night,
glorious barer,
of tranquil light,

she soothes us all,
that we might dream,
and takes harsh color,
from all we’ve seen,

Laeune the lover,
rhythm of womankind,
who’s gentle grace,
now guides my hand,

she brings us wisdom,
that we might yet see,
what lies before us,
there yet waiting to be.

– unattributed, circa 200 E.R.

The Moonlight

Vernum 1st, 647 E.R.

It was very late, and the corridors of the cloister were lit only by what moonlight could find a way through skylights, or the occasional window on the upper tier.  Katrisha knocked for the second time at Celia’s door, and waited uncomfortably.  She knew another Sister shared the room with Celia, and did not know quite what to say if the other girl answered instead.

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Chapter 9

It is oft spoken of fruits forbidden,
that they be sweetest of them all,
yet love that’s worth lay forsaken,
be a bitter thing bound for our fall,

what pain to adore upon virtuous merit,
yet be condemned of novel frivolous vice,
what can stand before such blind hearts,
who reprove by err more cyclical device.

– Allara Vera, Circa 140, E.R.

Summer Glades

Coria 30th, 648 E.R.

Kiannae sat in a dark clearing, and waited.  The moon was no more than a pale sliver in the sky, providing little more light than the stars.  In the morning she would leave, and though Taloe often seemed to know most of what she did, there had been no discussion of the mater.  Taloe had not visited her in the night for over a week.  She had been too distracted with preparations to seek him out.  At first there was a awkward relief, but slowly this shifted to worry for the spirit that shared her physical bond to the mortal world.

A harsh unintelligible whisper cut through the air, like the sounds of the dryad forest, yet harsher, and more unnerving, for they were not at all familiar.  They did not even sound quite Sylvan.  Kiannae opened her eyes, and what stood before her was not Taloe, but something else.  An old woman glared at her in the moonlight.  She was as naked as the boy always was, but somewhat less substantial, like a hollow shell of thin threads.  The harsh whispers repeated, threatening, demanding, but beyond comprehension save the emotion behind them that could be felt in the bones.

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