"I'll quickly head to my room, and show you what I did find." Alisabet, true to her word, returned momentarily, bearing sheaves of papers.

"Oh, gods, I didn't mean for you to bring your entire library," Kirona sighed. Alisabet leveled a cool look at her, having insulted her work and staunch belief in the gods and goddesses. Personally, Kirona believed they did exist; simply far off and with more important things to worry about than herself. "Just spare me the lecture this time, please."

Lis shook her head and continued, thumbing through the journal. "I found one passage very interesting, and something with it that was interesting as well. Some of these words and references are… esoteric at best, things I can't even decipher right away. That much gives me pause, that and descriptions sounding like a sort of a magical apocalypse." She looked up, meeting Kirona's eyes. "You know the histories; you received the same basic tutoring as I did." Kirona nodded and let her continue.

"Magic used to be more focused on learning and application, and very few people had natural accumulations of it. Ley-lines and runnels of energy existed all over the land. But due to some event, unknown to almost all historians, the magic simply…exploded, for lack of a better word. Every person has an amount of energy in them, to a certain extent, some more than others. In some, it's negligible, unnoticed. Instead of focuses and pools like there used to be, the energy was distributed evenly over the world, and that's how it is today."

Alisabet leaned toward Kirona, lifting the journal. "Kirona, this describes what happened that night. Every detail. Then it just stops, in the middle of a word. But that's not the most important thing. There was one power behind this. I would say man, but I don't believe there was enough human in him to be mortal any longer. The narrative becomes choked and muddled with the author's obviously flagging strength and mental abilities, but it was particularly clear on this part. One name is mentioned over and over again: K'Azret." She closed her eyes, brushed her hair from her face with a shiver. "I really haven't a good feeling about it, what happened or that name. I've never felt more frightened in my entire life, even just reading it." A rook's harsh croaking split the night; Kirona jumped slightly, and Alisabet shivered, hugging herself.

Several minutes of silence passed, each woman left to her thoughts. Finally, Kirona motioned toward the journal. "May I?"

"Certainly," Alisabet replied, shaking her head once, as if to clear it. "I know I needn't remind you to be careful."

"You just did," she murmured, paging through the book. She stopped at a map. "Hey, what's this?"

Lis looked at the page, and replied in a falsely absent-minded manner, "Oh, just something about a drake. Nothing to worry about, really—" She broke off when she saw it was no use; Kirona already had that manner about her. iDamnit, damnit, damnit. Just when it was getting nice and quiet, too. /i

"A drake? What kind of drake? I haven't killed something challenging in a while."

"Can't we keep it that way?" pleaded Alisabet. "The Tchakar was really enough for me for about ten years…"

"Ooh, yeah, that shape-shifting bird-thing."

"Tchakar," Lis automatically corrected. "And you almost died."

"'Almost' isn't 'did'. Whatever it was, now that was fun," Kirona replied, still looking at the map. "What kind of drake is it, and where is it? You still haven't answered me."

Alisabet slumped back in the chair, sighing. "An ice drake. And I can't be certain, but several of the land formations on that map lead me to form a logical guess as to where its lair might be located."

Kirona looked up, eyes dancing. "Guess where we're going after this thaws?" Alisabet simply groaned.


The rook perched on the small overhang near the window cocked its head to the side, cold eyes glittering intelligently during the break of the conversation of the two women. It clacked its beak once, then launched with a short, raucous call, the tips of its murky wings blending with the night. The Master, eager for news of this world he had awakened to, would want to know of these two mortals, and the one who dared to speak his name.