Drelen was still thinking about the odd light she'd seen in the sky as she walked through the aisles of the charms section. As always, she had walked to the Library rather than fly, for Drelen spent the time imagining other times and exotic places. She never noticed the interested eyes that followed her, young and old alike. Everyone was interested in this young prodigy, who noticed no one at all.

Once she'd reached the library, she settled in for a long morning lecture from one of the Classmen, and then had her own small room where she taught basic magik principles to the young children. However, in-between, she explored the rest of the library searching the texts for useful magiks to practice.

Drelen pinned up her long wispy hair into a knot on top of her head, and smiled, as she looked at all the dusty books in front of her. She turned, shut the door, and whispered:

"Aiou eyuiee aaeaeie," ascertaining the door was sealed tightly so she would have no interruptions. Before she began teaching, Drelen loved going through the ancient spells to see what she could uncover to practice herself. However, just as she cracked open a book she heard Kiera's voice through the wall. Curious, she stood, for her sister had never come to the Library before while Drelen was working. She undid the spell on the door, and poked her head out to see what was happening. Kiera was walking down the corridor towards her, and almost missed seeing her sister until Drelen called to her.

"Kee, what is it?" Drelen knew well the look that Kiera wore; worried, but attempting to disguise it behind an overly merry expression given to everyone she chanced to meet.

"Drelen!" Kiera walked over to her with short, quick strides and Drelen knew she was extremely agitated about something.

"What is it?" Drelen repeated.

"A Cloudsmagi came to our house today. He wanted to talk to you about a Trial, and then Aunt Arias wants you to tutor Marvis, but I think you should go see him and find out what's really going on…"

"Kee, slow down! What is this about a Trial? You aren't allowed to participate until you're a Kelsman, you know that." Drelen looked inquisitively at her twin, who recounted the events of the morning to her, and left Drelen shocked.

"You mean he wants me to enter a Trial? How? Everyone else is already so advanced by then, and…"

"You know you'll be fine, you can already out- spell your teachers! They just don't want you to move up so you can still teach here," Kiera said encouragingly.

"I still don't…"

"Come on, just go and see the man, after all, it will only be a meeting." Kiera wore a steely look.

"I know. I'll go," she conceded. "How am I to find this Cloudsmagi?"

Kiera smiled encouragingly at her twin, she knew it was hard for Drelen to agree to see him, for as much as Drelen wanted to improve her magic, she was excruciatingly shy. She was happiest when Kiera did all the talking for them both.

"I don't really know, he only talked to Aunt. I'm sure she knows where he is, but that means we have to go home first, and Aunt wants you to help with Marvis again."

"I don't mind."

"Drel, doesn't it make you mad at all? Marvis is such a brat!"

"She's just a little girl. Anyway, let's just go so I can get this over with. Otherwise, I'll get too nervous and won't be able to go through with it."

Kiera noticed Drelen did look a bit pale, so hurried her out, and tried to distract her on the way back to the pavilion.

"Aunt Arias, I'm back with Drelen," Kiera called upon entering, but rolled her eyes at Drelen when she heard not their aunt, but Marvis, answering their hello.

"Drelen, Drelen, Mama said you were going to help me with my magic!" A small girl with short brown hair came running in with a possessive smile on her face.

"Where's Aunt?" Drelen asked gently, adding, "I'm going to have to leave but I'll be sure to help you later."

"She's on the porch. She's talking to someone. I don't know who he is; I think he's a stranger."

"That could be him, come on." Kiera practically pushed her twin out to the porch where her Aunt sat facing them, speaking to the Cloudsmagi that had been there earlier.

"Oh! Here she is," Aunt Arias exclaimed, and walked over to stand by her niece. No one spoke for a moment, and then the 'stranger' as Marvis referred to, said:

"I'd like to speak with Drelen alone. She will be back soon."

Aunt nodded, and when Drelen didn't move, Kiera gave her another push. Drelen and the Cloudsmagi flew off, and Kiera turned to her aunt with an anxious expression. She was always a bit protective of Drelen, though she was the younger twin by a measure of four moments.

"I'm sure she'll be perfectly fine," aunt said, but Kiera was not reassured. Drelen, though extremely well endowed with skill in magik, was not very well endowed in confidence, and Kiera fretted. Drelen was the only thing she fretted about, but she worried about her enough for three of her. And it seemed her worries were not unnecessary, for when Drelen returned, she was pale, and very quiet. Kiera inquired quietly as to what was wrong, but Drelen merely shook her head.

"Darling, I'll tell you later." And she refused to say another word about it. It was not until Kiera and Drelen went upstairs to bed that Kiera found out Drelen's worry.

"The Cloudsmagi does want me to take the Trials. And I'm meant to leave tomorrow. I don't know when I'll be back."

"Drel, this is such a chance for you! I know it's probably scary, but I still think you should try." Kiera reached over and patted her twin's shoulder. "I mean, it'll be better than getting stuck tutoring Marvis all week."

Drelen smiled weakly at her sister's attempt to cheer her, but Kiera heard her toss and turn late into the night.

).0.(

"We must find the child! There is no other option."

"How can we know what the Seer Foretold is true? How can it be true?"

Footsteps interrupted the conversation of the two mages and both turned toward the doorway. The High Lord Mage's Seer entered the large, airy room in a beryl cloak made of a heavy skin, despite the warm weather.

"What I have seen will come to pass. It always does." She spoke slowly, pronouncing each word with care. Bylardianese was not the seer's first language. She hailed from one of the harsh Deserts of Kihsmurr, to the far South, and with her dusky skin the color of pine bark and startling round white eyes, none would mistake her as a native.

"How can it be true? There has been no magic of Kyrĭais since…" the dark haired mage was cut off by the elder, whose tone spoke not of disbelief, but of sudden enlightenment.

" Since the War of the Aeld? "

The seer broke in again, a frown upon her angular face, pressing her lips into a thin line.

"I can not control the Visions I receive. What must pass will come, and I simply view part of it before it occurs instead of looking back upon it. Think of it as a forward memory if you must." Her voice was harsh, like gravel on steel, and her eyes held the mages immobile, for when staring into them you traveled through the abyss of time itself. Finally, the older mage, a man who had joined the Tower Mages long ago, Derek of Menkiesh, squinted off into the distance while his apprentice, Rithard of Kenthe, continued to quibble with the seer.

Derek cut them off abruptly to ask,

"And what does the High Lord Mage think about this? Does he wish to have this handled discreetly, or will we rally the others?"

"Maybe you do not understand my seer. It must be done discreetly; this is a raw power we are speaking of. If we fight openly, the people will run to the King and all we worked for will be lost."

Rithard paled, and Derek whipped his head around, with some effort not to wince. The High Lord Mage Denyl was an impressive sight- mantled in black and gold robes that signified his station, and the torch of silver that shone with the light of great power. Standing tall, though of middling height, he gave off a menacing air. But even if her were shorter than a child, and dressed in rags, Denyl would still awe. He had an air that gave of assurance and power, even to the most oblivious.

"The people- and our ignorant king believe us still to be weak. If we reveal ourselves publicly fighting a Kyrĭai, then all of our plans will be laid to waste."

Though these plans were only partly known to him, Rithard decided to speak.

"Well, High Mage, where shall we look?"

A thunderous look appeared on the High Lord Mage's Denyl's face as he replied:

"You weren't listening to my seer, were you? She saw a child hunting among the glaciers, a child of fair complexion and hair a silken flame. Where would you find such a child as this?" The High Lord Mage was not a patient man.

"In the mountains. The Bentuk-Karr," Derek said, shuddering with trepidation. He knew what such an icy climate would act upon his old bones.

"I expect you shall not fail me," Denyl directed at his mages, and turned to the seer. "Come. We have much to do." He and the esoteric seer left the room, leaving a pair of disgruntled mages behind them. Derek recovered first, and started walking, quicker than advanced age usually allowed.

"Well. Come on, lad," he said to his apprentice, "we must prepare for a journey."

).0.(

The sky was a vast slab of gray marble, dull and flat outside the Bylardain Court of the Lordking. Though it had drizzled earlier that morning and the hills and grassy fields had been covered in a thick mist, the day was clearing up and seemed brighter to those out in the fields picking the wheat and the Gis-riyn. It did not, however, seem any brighter to the Baron Lord.

Inside his chamber, the dark haired man was slumped over a table, pressing a hand to his forehead and muttering to himself in strange and forgotten languages. He flipped the pages of the vellum frantically, scanning the pages with light brown eyes for an ancient secret.

"Where is it?" he mumbled, trying to ignore the fluttery, panicky grips squeezing in his chest, which were growing stronger with every passing second. He was running out of time.

A heavy knocking brought him to a halt, and he slammed the book shut, darting glances around the room as if the visitor could have walked through the door and was lurking in the shadows, waiting. He hid the book in the drawer under the window in the wall, and locked it.

"Hold!" he called, and surveying the room to make sure it was free of any traces of what he done that morning, he moved to open the door. He widened his eyes at the guest, and then frowned.

"GreatLord Chadswick."

"BaronLord Merdswith." The visitor inclined his head, and walked past the BaronLord into the room.

"Where is the book?" Gene jumped at his tone, and winced, but resumed his haughty visage in an instant, and replied,

"I don't know what you're speaking of? A book?" His voice squeaked high, though he bid it remain even.

GreatLord Kislain Chadswick snorted, and walked to the window. Confidant, arrogant. Gene wanted to shove him straight out the window and into the courtyard below. It would be quite a long fall.

"I think you do. And the consequences for you shall be dire if you don't heed me. I work for a harsher master than yours, and He demands more than paper as payment. When I am ready, I will have that Book."

With that, he exited the room, leaving Gene humiliated, scornful, and…puzzled.

'What did he mean? Harsher master? He wouldn't, no, no," Gene shook his head, and pushed the notion from his mind. No one sane would pact with a Blooddaemon. No one.

Gene retrieved the Book, and once again began to search. He would find it. He had to.