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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Elessar

A Calling: a fantasy story (Solo RP)

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OOC: I love writing and wanted to have a go at a longer than usual (in comparison to normal DM-RPs) written fantasy-story, outside the world of the Wheel of Time. This will be a Solo RP, I have some plot-ideas but some things will undoubtedly be changed/added as the story grows, and I am posting it here on this board so that those who are interested can follow the story as it progresses. Enjoy! :)

 

 

PART 1: To Accept One’s Fate

 

.. Dreams and Hopes ..

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IC: Her name was Fahrina Kahlertan Mohlian, but she had always been called Fahrina Starbreeze. Staring out to sea from the castle-wall high above the city of Lokhira, she was a beauty to behold, her long blond hair streaming behind her, beautiful oval face shining with happiness, her stunningly green eyes striking in their appearance, emeralds glittering as they viewed the ship that was entering harbour. The wind was picking up, making the many banners atop the castle-towers move as one, depicting the dolphin that was the insignia of Lokhira, protector of the Seas, making it dive forward along the waves of air. ”A storm is coming , your highness.” The soldier standing beside Fahrina looked out at the sea and shook his head. ”It is a good thing the ship made such good time; we didn`t expect it before later this afternoon.” Fahrina nodded absentmindedly, her eyes still fixed on the ship, looking for the man she sought, the love of her life.

 

Finally she saw him, walking proudly along the starboard side of the huge sea-vessel, heading for shore. ”Davian!” Her scream of delight was swallowed up by the wind, but even so the man seeemed to have heard something and looked about. He suddenly glanced upwards at the tall walls of the castle and grinned widely, seeing her up there. He waved happily and she returned the wave, hiding the giggles that were forming inside of her. She had missed him so much - and now he was finally here!

 

Running down the long steps into the castle-yard she headed quickly for the castle-gate and the harbour beneath. The soldier kept pace with her, or rather a few steps behind, but as she picked up speed he at last gave up, sighing heavily. The Royal Princess of Lokhira was to be protected at all times. Still, he felt pretty sure she would be allright and soon in better hands than his.

 

 

Holding him in her arms, she wouldn`t let go. She stared up at him with tears of happiness in her eyes and he smiled back warmly, though also with a hint of sadness.. She didn`t recognize the slight ambiguity, however - so thrilled was she to be with him again after two months apart. He kissed her forehead and she moved her face up to his, her lips meeting his in a fond and lasting kiss. ”Don`t ever leave me again”, she said into his shoulder, resting her head on his chest. ”You knew I would be back, I promised you so, my love.” His words were spoken with affection - and also with a touch of something else … regret? but she didn`t notice … - and she nodded happily. ”Yes, but I want to be with you forever and ever.” She giggled at her own words and he grinned, knowing that in his heart of hearts he felt the same.

 

But it could never be, not with the path he had now chosen in life. Or rather the path that had been chosen for him. But he could not tell her so now, that would have to wait.. He could not bear to break her heart now that she was so overjoyed to have him back. ”Come, my love.” He walked with her hand in hand up the street to the castle, passing many commoners along the way who all moved out of their path, recognizing well the Royal Princess and her fiance. They walked in silence all the way up, with her looking at him from the corner of her eyes every ten steps to make sure he did not disappear on her, and as they had the castle-gate in sight he said: ”Fahrina, I must speak with your father immediately. It is a matter of great import.” She stopped and smiled at him. ”Of course father will receive you. Business-talk ?” He nodded, lying with a straight face. He hated deceiving her but this time it was for her own good. The guard standing watch at the gate saluted the Princess as they walked through, heading for the castle-proper.

 

Far above in the sky, a black raven floated on the wind, watching.

 

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.. Changed Destinies ..

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”My King, I cannot marry your daughter. I am now an apprentice of the magician Thergas on the Isle of Ehrian. That is my Calling now. I am sorry.”

 

Davian always came straight to the point when talking with Fahrina`s father, the King - something the Monarch appreciated. He had enough councillors who never came to the point, always talking and talking … He looked, however, with sad eyes at the young man, knowing fully well that this would shatter his daughter`s heart. ”I am sorry to see you go, Davian. And I know my daughter will be devastated.” Davian nodded morosely, feeling a twinge of guilt in his heart, but knowing it was the only way. ”I love her, you know that”, Davian said - his eyes focused on the King where he was seated on the Royal Throne. “And I always will. But she must find another to love and marry. My Calling cannot be compromised, as you well know.”

 

The King nodded in understanding, turning to stare for a moment at the huge painting along one of the walls of the Royal Chamber. It showed a scene from the War of Magi, the destructive war that had taken place 75 years before between Magicians and the Dark Wizards of Moreth, who had ruled the northern part of Lokhira. In those days there had been no Codex of Magus and no commitment on the part of the people, Royals or commoners. All that had changed as that war had come to its conclusion, the forces of darkness destroyed but at a heavy price. Afterwards the Magicians and the King of Lokhira had agreed that a Codex was required, to ensure that the teachings and learning of Magic were done under supervision and in accordance with certain rules of ethics and conduct. A guild of Magicians was created and it was illegal to practice the arts outside of this guild. Also, once a Master found an apprentice his choice was final, whether the apprentice concurred or not. Only a few had the seed of magic born within and once a Magician found one of these few, his future was chosen for him. Davian was one of these few, and he could not change his destiny. That was something both he and the King knew. And accepted. Though he feared Fahrina would never accept it. He hardened his heart and focused his thoughts on the possibilities, on all he would learn.

 

The King returned his gaze to Davian and nodded anew. ”Your Calling is clear, young man. You have been chosen, one of a few. Fahrina will understand, in time - and will be proud of you.” He smiled and hoped in his heart that his daughter would indeed understand. And manage through her heartbreak. Davian nodded and gave a small bow of respect. ”When will you be leaving ?” Davian replied that he would go by ship a week from that day. ”Will you tell her straight away?” The King`s words caught him somewhat by surprise but he answered readily and honestly: ”I can`t tell her right away. I will tell her in a few days.” The King nodded, his thoughts on his daughter. They spoke for a little while on other matters, then Davian excused himself and left the Royal Chamber hurriedly, walking through the halls of the castle like a man whose thoughts were in a completely different place. As indeed they were.

 

Entering his chamber, he closed the door behind him and immediately headed for the balcony overlooking the sea. Opening the door to the balcony he stepped outside where the wind was blowing heavily. His dark brown hair, shoulder-length, framing his roundish but handsome face, flowed in the wind, the fresh breeze causing him to grin despite himself. He loved the sea and always thrived when he was close to the open waters of the ocean. And still, as he stared out at the ocean-blue, he felt a feeling of loss in his guts. Unshed tears formed in his eyes as he pictured the beautiful Fahrina`s face turning into misery and tears when he told her the news. He would miss her much in his heart, he knew that for sure, but he had to follow his Calling now, that was his path in life - just like he had told her father. Still, he dreaded breaking the news to her. It would break her heart for certain and he hated causing her any pain.

 

He stood for a long time looking out at the ocean, his fists clenched and his face bleak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two days later at noon

 

Tears running down her face, shock evident in her emerald eyes, Fahrina stormed off, heedless of where she was running, leaving Davian behind and alone in his chamber. She had taken the news just as badly as he had feared. Damn ! It pained him to see her so hurt, but she had to be told and there was no painless way of doing so. Still, he were sure that she would manage well after the heartbreak had worn off. She was a very capable young lady, and with a very warm heart, and he was sure she would melt another man`s heart in time and find her life-companion. As he stared at her disappearing figure, words whispered in his mind, words he meant to the core of his being.

 

Take care, Lady of my heart. May you find happiness forever.

 

 

 

 

 

Fahrina Starbreeze dried the tears away, holding onto her mother`s arm and trying to compose herself. She had cried, on and off, for almost six days and nights and could not continue doing so. Davian was gone from her life and that was that. It was the hard truth , but even so: true. Her heart had broken and she had several times in the past days almost wished to throw herself off the castle-walls.. Thankfully she had kept her head and not done anything drastic.

 

Be strong, daughter of Kings! An inner voice made her calmer now and she moved away from her mother, feeling the pride that was embodied in every member of her family come to the fore. She would manage, she would find someone else to love, this was not the end of the world. At last she faced her mother, the Queen, who saw her daughter`s hurt and attempt at braveness. ”I will cry no more, mother. I will look to the future.”

 

She spoke the words with such conviction that the Queen had to smile. Only 17 of age, yet the Princess spoke as one with more years on her shoulders. The Queen had never been as proud of her daughter as at that moment; she was truly a daughter of the Royal Family - and she had indeed her future in front of her. She would find her Prince Charming one day, another kind and loving man like Davian, and she would be happy and content. Also , she did not have the burden of Ruling thrust upon her, since her elder brother Nemhir would be King. ”My daughter, I am so proud of you. And I always will be.” Fahrina smiled gratefuly back at her mother and ran to her to hug her fiercely. ”And I will always love you, mother. Always and always.”

 

Outside the Royal Chamber, right by the door, listening in, the King smiled a relieved smile and his face brightened. The past days had been tough as he had watched his daughter’s grief. Now she had started mending and that knowledge warmed her father’s heart.

 

 

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.. The Isle of Ehrian ..

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He arrived finally at the Isle of Ehrian, after one long week at sea.

 

Davian stepped carefully off the ship and walked up the path towards the hills above, where resided Thergas the Magician, his Master now. He had a strange feeling in his heart, feeling both sadness and anticipation. He had tried not to dwell overlong on Fahrina during the week at sea but it had been difficult to control his emotions and he had felt much depressed at times. As the days went by, however, he thought more and more of his calling and the coming years as a Magician`s apprentice. That was his life now. Fahrina would always remain in his heart, but he had to focus on what lay ahead.

 

Striding along the path meandering into the hills he was suddenly surprised to see a cloaked figure come toward him. He had not expected the Magician to meet him. ”Master, I am here at last.” He stopped in his tracks as the figure halted before him, the cloak shadowing his face. ”I am ready to begin my training.” He could not keep the eagerness out of his voice and a small grin painted his lips. The figure did not reply, but instead motioned into the air, and behold! A sphere glowing brilliantly red and pulsating with an inner fire rotated in the air before his very eyes, and he could not but stare at it, even though it hurt his eyes, with great awe.

 

And then he gasped as a bolt of light shot out from the sphere up into the heavens, making a cracking sound as that of a horsewhip but a hundred times stronger - throwing Davian mercilessly to the ground. A voice then thundered at him and he almost swallowed his tongue. It was not the voice of his Master. This was not Thergas!

 

”Apprentice you will be, that is true. But not to your puny Master. You will be My apprentice, young one - and learn the Arts of the Shadow.”

 

 

Davian screamed as understanding came to him: a Magician of the Dark!

 

They were almost a myth, none having revealed himself in many a year, and Davian was shocked to find one here among the mages of the Light. ”No, I will never …” he began, but got no further. The dark mage, throwing back his hood to reveal an ancient and hard face with feverish eyes, took hold of Davian`s head while holding onto the sphere with his other hand and spoke dark words of sorcery. The words were spoken in a guttural language unknown to Davian, but they sounded dreadful to the ear and he tried desperately to move away - but to no avail.

 

His body felt as heavy as lead and he understood with a sinking feeling in his stomack that the magician was using his powers on him. ”You have no choice, young one.” Now the dark mage spoke in the tongue of the lands once again. ”Now, you are mine!” Blackness came and great pain and Davian howled for what seemed an eternity, until the pain seemed to lessen at last.. Tears streamed down his face and finally he opened his eyes to the world again, only to shut them quickly. He was doomed, he knew it!

 

Slowly opening his eyes again, facing his terror, he saw confirmation in the mage`s feverish eyes.

 

”Yes, my young one. I have now made you my tool for all eternity. You will learn much from me in the years to come, but you can never get away. A spell have I laid upon you and from that you can never escape. You are now an apprentice of the Shadow.”

 

The dark mage`s cruel laughter pierced Davian’s inner being right into his very heart and made him scream in horror, a never-ending scream which echoed through the hills. And then, at last, as he had no voice more with which to utter his soul’s pure anguish, no strength left in him in any way with which to resist, he bowed his head in submission - and felt no more.

 

His heart had died - and this was death.

 

 

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PART 2: To Embrace One’s Fate

 

.. The Path of Death ..

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Hate.

 

That was what drove Davian in the time that followed. Hate towards himself for being a weakling, so easily caught by the mage; hate towards his new Master of the Shadow; hate towards Thergas the Magician who had not been there to save his new apprentice; and finally hate towards Fahrina, the love of his life, whom he would never find love with again.

 

Most of all he felt hate toward himself, for being so pitiful and so cowardly.

 

Hate drove him during the long days of studying the black arts - a fate he had reconciled himself to, quickly understanding that he could never escape. That first day, arriving at the dark magician`s cottage well hidden by spells at the north end of the isle, he had actually had a last spark of resistance left in him, and had attempted to escape. To no avail. As he came thirty yards or so away from the magician and the cottage he felt a painful pulling inside of him and then of a sudden his legs lost all strength and he fell to the ground like a useless rag-doll. From the cottage came evil laughter and he felt the words in his mind as well.

 

”You can never escape your fate, young one - so do not even attempt it.”

 

Screaming in futile anger he had pushed himself to his feet and had crawled toward the cottage and the closer he got the more strength he felt returning to his body. He could walk the last few feet though he stumbled through the door and shut it behind him with fury and desperation and tears in his eyes. He had no way out - and after a few days of futile struggle he relented completely and began accepting his fate, looking for anger to keep him going, to give him purpose and strength. Anger fuelled hate and hate was all there was for him now.

 

 

He studied hard, learning spells off by heart, realizing quickly that the dark mage was a harsh Master who did not tolerate a slacker. Beaten with a rod of fire for half an hour every day for a week made him understand that he would never survive if he did not work hard at his studies, if he did not excel, though a small part of him still hated what he was learning, hated the Dark path.

 

Madness almost claimed him several times - when the pain got too strong, too unbearable - but soon he shut out all emotion and ignored all pain. Darkness entered his soul and soon he felt no pity for anything or anyone anymore. That was life for him, day in and day out, for many months. The outside world was of no interest to him and he quickly forgot all about his past, his life beginning on the day when he was apprenticed by the dark mage. The present and the future were what mattered, and Davian cared about nothing except his studies and the hate that was his whole existence.

 

 

And then one day his Master confronted him as he was casting a spell that made a crystal globe rotate in the air far above the cottage, a spell of some difficulty in fact. The Master looked at his pupil and smiled darkly, well pleased with his progress.

 

”My pupil, it is time for you to move on.”

 

Davian stared back at him and motioned in the air, making the globe disappear. He said nothing, his eyes cold as death, his soul a place of ice within him. ”Yes, Master.” Even his voice was totally devoid of emotion.The black magician nodded and said:

 

”It is time for you to walk the Path of Death.”

 

Davian only nodded in response, knowing well what the mage was talking about. ”You must show that you are strong enough to be one of Us, powerful enough in body and in mind to survive. You must show that you are Power.”

 

The Path of Death.

 

It was the first step for an apprentice of the Shadow on his way to becoming a mage, the first Test of strength, courage and skill. It killed many who tried and only the best survived. He was ready, he knew that - and he replied in his voice which always spoke of anger and hate: ”I am ready, Master.” The mage nodded once and then opened his hand, revealing a small sphere glowing with an inner fire which he threw into the air, screaming ancient words of magic:

 

ENTAHRIEN HUREHN ZEMATH!! VAHRUS AVECTIAHL CALOOHR!!

 

 

The sphere changed.. widening ever more, growing and turning into a doorway to another place.. The doorway glimmered before them, first translucent and then becoming more solid, and Davian stepped through without a thought. A second in time, an eternity for the mind. And immediately he saw that he were in a completely different place, perhaps another world if what his Master had hinted at was truth. He was walking down a gravelled path in a non-descript landscape, feeling as if time stood still, when suddenly a bolt of fire streamed toward him! He glimpsed it from the corner of his eye and threw himself to the right, rolled and threw a shield of power around him in the same motion, a shield which deflected the firebolt.

 

Another one followed right after the first and he rolled further to the right to avoid that one too, feeling part of the bolt hit his shield and disintegrate, part stream past him with whispers of death.

 

”You will die, student of the dark! You are not strong enough ”

 

A shrill voice screamed in defiance and as he came to a standstill some way off he saw a darkly-cloaked figure standing a little away from him, hands raised to the sky. The figure stood in the air ten feet or so above the ground, but it was hard to say as the ground seemed to glimmer and shift before his eyes.

 

”Die, young one!”

 

A fireball came straight at Davian this time and he mouthed a spell which made blue lightning fly from his hands and strike the fireball dead on! He struck at a second fireball moments later and threw himself to the side to avoid a third.

 

It was a close call.

 

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.. The Power of Deception ..

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”You are the one who will die, stranger!”

 

Anger fuelled Davian’s voice as he scrambled to his feet. Grasping the power within him he threw another bolt of lightning at the other figure who shielded himself from the attack, howling in anger and fury, sending new bolts of fire at the dark apprentice.

 

Davian knew he must change his tactics. This fight was becoming too strenuous. Remembering a particularly nasty - and very powerful - spell from one of his books of sorcery, he headed nearer to the figure, as fireballs flew past him, dark fire now floating along his arms. At the right moment, taking the other somewhat by surprise, he hurled at the mage with all the might he had. A Web of Fire - a storm of minute sparkling red flames - caught the mage in its grip and as Davian watched with great exileration, the mage screamed a final time, a scream full of anger and horror, before burning up and turning to dust in a few heartbeats.

 

Gasping for breath, as that dangerous spell had taken its toll on him, Davian whirled about, looking for new threaths. There was only silence. Grateful to have a short respite, he steadied his breathing and readied himself for what was to come. He knew this was only the first test. And not the deadliest by far.

 

 

A few moments later a small sound made him turn his head. Some way off a new figure came toward him, white cloak and hood making him impossible to recognize, though there was a certain confidence in his steps that did not pass the apprentice’s notice. Davian raised his hands, feeling much of his strength renewed, ready to face this new danger. The white figure stopped some way from Davian and then raised the hood, revealing the face of a bearded old man, eyes the colour of silver, a being that without doubt was strikingly wise and powerful.

 

”What is the answer to power, young one?”

 

 

The voice was surprisingly soft but carried well in this place, and Davian was too stunned to answer at first. He was tempted to strike out at this figure straight away.. but something stopped him. He couldn`t say what. Considering the question well, he dropped his arms to his side and stared at the figure warily. At last he replied: ”The answer is survival.” The white figure made no reaction to the answer but followed up with another question.

 

”And what is the answer to weakness?”

 

Immediately Davian replied: ”Oblivion”

 

He began to relax where he stood, seeing no threath in this old man. Why had he been wary in the first place? These were important questions he was answering. There was nothing to be afraid of. Nothing at all.

 

The figure grinned then - he was too far away for Davian to tell for sure, but he sensed it.. - and said:

 

”And what is the answer to deception then, dark student ?”

 

 

Davian frowned. Something tugged at his memory, a small voice inside him trying to grab hold of his attention, but he brushed it aside. He had to focus on the question. What was the question again? He began feeling drowsy, tiredness sweeping over him, and was just about to ask that the question be repeated when the old man spoke again. This time there was a touch of smugness in his voice.

 

”What is the answer to pride?”

 

A great chill ran down Davian’s spine.

 

Something..

Is..

Wrong..

Here..

 

What is happ..

 

Finally he understood. A clear thought battled its way through the mud and mire and mist of his present consciousness.

 

This is a deception.. a trick of the mind.. I am being pulled down, down.. down toward death ..! Soon it will be over..

 

NO!!

 

 

Screaming in fury he threw his arms about him in a desperate move and felt fire tearing at his skin, burning his limbs, weakening him, killing him!

 

His eyes opened with a start and he saw that he stood in a sea of fire, an ocean of death!

 

NO!!

 

He shouted anew in fury and drew upon all the strength and hate within him as he struggled to keep the fire away from his heart. The dark arts he had learned protected him at the moment, but soon his strength would give way and then all would be lost - forever. He damned himself for being tricked so easily, lulled into confidence in this reality where anything could happen. Pride was killing him, pride and overconfidence.

 

Damn, what a fool I am!

 

With a last heave and effort he drew upon ancient magic from deep within, and at last felt the fire give way, and the power being used on him lessen. A final shove - and he destroyed the death spell that had him in its grip!

 

Slowly, ever so slowly, the agony in his body and mind lessened a little and he halted where he was. His opponent was nowhere to be seen but Davian could feel that he was near. The danger was not gone. His lips cracked as he opened them to speak the words of a spell, and his voice croaked - his throath dry as dust. He understood that he was too weak for the spell he had in mind, however, and then saw only one solution. He tried to whisper but failed the first time. Finally - after several attempts - he got forth a whisper: one word and one word alone.

 

SAVIHRA

 

 

The world changed. Everything went black. For a second or an eternity, his reality lost.

 

And then the darkness was gone, as if it had never existed, and he stood alone upon a majestic mountaintop, weak but alive, looking out at a snow-packed scenery, among tall peaks all along the horizon.

 

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.. Creature of Magic ..

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Davian smiled a weak smile, knowing these were not real mountains, but rather a refuge of a kind, a place to recuperate the mind and the body.

 

SAVIHRA

 

It was a place of dreams, a place.. elsewhere.. or so his Master had explained. A place only a few practitioners of magic could reach - those most strongly gifted in the power - and only thrice in a lifetime. No more. And so one should think very carefully before going there, and only in the direst of need.

 

Well, this is such a time, Davian thought to himself. I was dying.

 

Most importantly, he was safe here.

 

He seated himself on a big rock at the center of the summit and closed his eyes. Soon he was in a deep meditative state. During his training he had been taught several ways of regaining strength after periods of great exhaustion. No magician could use his power endlessly without cost. Sooner or later he would need to rest. Davian had found that meditation was a good method of rejuvenating his strength, especially after sustaining injuries. He sat in silence for a long time, his body and mind resting. He ignored the pain he felt, knowing that it would soon be gone. Pain was something he had gotten used to in his harsh period of training. As his strength and power slowly returned he felt a tingling sensation along his nerves as his own magic slowly healed him. Finally he opened his eyes - and smiled.

 

I shall survive.

 

Staring off into the distance at the peaks that were not peaks, at the great illusion that was Savihra, his fists clenched and his mouth tightened.

 

And I will reach my goal!

 

For one thing he had promised himself in the months that had passed: if he couldn`t escape his destiny, then he would use his hate to embrace that destiny and become the best at what he was doing. He was going to be the Master of All, and show the world that he hated - the world that he had convinced himself hated him back - that he was Power!

 

 

Now he was ready to face the next test.

 

He made a small gesture with his hand and a silver gate appeared before him. Inside the gate the mountaintop with him standing in front of the rock, were reflected like in a mirror, but Davian knew that this too was an illusion.

 

He also knew what probably awaited him on the other side.

 

Stepping through the silver gate, he saw that his presumption - based on clues found after endless hours of reading in books of sorcery - was true. Some distance away waited the ancient creature of doom - the Dragon. He studied the creature for a moment before speaking.

 

”Do not stand in my path, creature of magic, or I will destroy you!”

 

Davian’s eyes shone with confidence - and the creature, with its glittering blue scales, huge golden eyes and an enormous head, watched him silently for a few moments. Then it spoke - and the words entered the dark apprentice’s mind though he were sure the creature had not spoken aloud.

 

THEE ARE CONFIDENT, YOUNG ONE. PERHAPS OVERCONFIDENT. IT WILL BE A PLEASURE TO KILL THEE.

 

A roar then erupted from the dragon`s mouth, a roar of defiance, and a great burst of flame erupted from its nostrils heading straight toward Davian. He threw up his hands, speaking words of magic, and a blazing web of crystal smothered the flame. Then Davian spoke more words of power and crystals from the web flew straight at the huge creature! The dragon roared once more, deflecting the web with its own magic, and then took to the heavens above, its wide wings beating around him ferociously as Davian threw fireballs at it.

 

Far above the dragon circled. The air around it seemed to thicken with every second as it used its magic. Then, without warning, a huge mass of thick air consolidated and came rushing down toward the apprentice at an enormous speed!

 

What!?

 

Davian had just enough time to create a shield around him before the mass was upon him. As it was the shield barely held.

 

Shaken where he stood, he gazed up into the sky and readied himself for the dragon itself. He did not have to wait long. With a shrill cry the creature came soaring down towards him, deadly fire shooting forth from its wide jaws, narrowly missing the apprentice. Throwing himself to the side, Davian came back to his feet almost in the same motion and a ring of fire erupted from his hands and spiralled upwards toward the dragon that was diving toward him once again. He hit it on the side, producing a roar of pain, but it was nothing lethal and the creature did not stop its descent. He had to try something else. But what? In the seconds before the dragon was upon him Davian reached into his mind, where dwelled knowledge of the dark arts that few students had ever had, and found a spell. Screaming the words, he gestured at the flying creature:

 

 

HANEHR KEVAT!! SENTEHL MURTH!!

 

 

The air turned to glass above him, with sharp icicles striking upwards toward the dragon. A blast of fire hit the glass, but did not break it, and the dragon shrieked as some of the icicles wounded it. It veered off to the right in its flight to avoid hitting the glass itself and landed with a roar, and another blast of fire from its mouth, some distance away.

 

Weakened, but far from beaten, it stared ferociously at the dark apprentice. Davian stared back, readying another spell. He was tiring quickly and breathed heavily where he stood.

 

I can’t keep this up for long, he thought to himself. I must find a way to end this swiftly.

 

But as he stared at the huge dragon, it suddenly began to shimmer brightly - brighter and brighter it shone - and soon he was unable to see the figure of the gigantic creature. It was as if a sun had descended among them, a star shining so strongly and brilliantly that Davian had to shield his eyes. There seemed to be some kind of movement inside the light - and then the brightness dimmed until all the light was gone.

 

Where the dragon had stood now was a woman of stunning beauty with long blue hair and huge golden eyes. She was clothed in a blue cloak of many lights - and she looked directly at the apprentice.

 

He knew who she was.

 

I know you.

 

 

A Shapeshifter.

 

But he did not have time to react in time. One second she stood some distance away, the next she was before him and magic - the Dragon magic - poured into him from her cold hands. She smiled beautifully at him. And he was shocked to realize that he was unable to move or react at all. Those huge golden eyes stared into his with great power and tried to break his will.

 

THEE ARE MINE.

 

The words sounded in his mind - and he could do nothing but blink in return.

 

The dragon almost succeeded.

 

At the last, something.. inside Davian came to life, a part of him resisting the dragon’s clever magic.

 

Damn it! React Davian, or you will die! A small voice inside him screamed.

 

With great effort he broke the spell that had paralyzed him.

 

And from deep, deep inside he found the strength to shove her - it - away. She flew backwards, landing with a grunt on her wounded side. Quickly she got to her feet, however - and stared darkly back at the apprentice. He felt he was being measured - weighed - by those ancient golden eyes. The moment seemed to go on forever. Finally, the magical creature gave a grudging nod of respect and spoke in his mind.

 

SO BE IT.

 

A shimmering mist encloaked the woman - bending itself around her in ever increasing swirls until her figure could no longer be seen - and then she was gone.

 

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.. To Come Through The Fire ..

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Davian stared silently around.

 

In this dreamworld, this place of no past and no future, things did not exist as in the real world, he knew that. Even if everything looked so real. Had that been a real dragon or just a figment of his imagination, created for this test? What was real and what was illusion? From his studies he had learned that dreams and illusions were a part of a magician’s life, sometimes intertwining. What was dream for one, could be real for another.

 

And sometimes the impossible becomes possible..

 

 

His chain of thought was interrupted by a soft voice. It was.. his mother’s voice.

 

Mother!?

 

“Oh Davian, my dear one. I am so glad I found you.”

 

He turned quickly - and there stood his mother. His eyes widened in shock. She looked exactly the way she had done when last he had seen her alive, many years hence. Before her suicide. Her long brown hair framed an oval face with dark brown eyes and a caring, loving smile..

 

The mother he had loved so much. The mother he had hated for leaving him.

 

“Mother?” No, it could not be. It had to be a trick!

 

“My son. You have grown.”

 

“You are not my mother.”

 

“Davian, I have missed you so. Let me hold you one more time.”

 

The woman stepped toward him, arms reached out as if for an embrace, but he moved away from her, a wary look on his face.

 

“Come no closer.” He readied a spell, though part of him was revulsed at harming his mother.

 

She is not my mother! He thought.

 

“What is the matter, Davian? Why won’t you let me hold you?”

 

“Who are you, impostor?”

 

“Davian..”

 

“Show yourself!”

 

“It is me, Davian..”

 

Tears began running down the cheeks of the woman and she began to cry, pleading for him to believe her. Davian felt anger building in him, great anger at this cruel play.

 

“Be gone, impostor - before I destroy you!” Davian shouted in fury.

 

“Davian, listen to me..” She pleaded.

 

She came toward him again, arms reached out - and her face became filled with shock and disbelief and utter betrayal when he blasted a hole right through her chest.

 

She fell to the ground before him, her brown dress turning crimson, as he lowered his arms.

 

 

A cold hurt spread inside him for a moment. Whatever this being was, it felt like he had killed his own mother! His fury erupted.

 

How dare they!?

 

Raising his head, Davian screamed in fury. Lightning shot forth from his hands, thundering into the heavens above. Blasts upon blasts of his fury - storms of fire spreading across the endless skies - until at last he was spent.

 

He collapsed on the ground - and lost himself in dark memories.

 

 

Some time later he got to his feet and looked around. He felt more calm and collected but part of him still was angry. His mother’s corpse - No, it’s not my mother, damn it! - still lay where it had fallen, but his eyes avoided looking at it.

 

There was only silence. No sound penetrated the stillness of the place.

 

No more challenges.

 

Had there been any more, he was certain he would have been confronted already.

 

Nodding to himself, a pleased smile on his lips, he remained standing there for a while, thinking. Part of him kept thinking about his mother, but he hardened his heart and put the matter of his mother behind him. That was in another life. He had begun a new one and had to focus on what lay ahead. Instead he reflected on all he had learned in the dark arts, all the challenges he had faced and overcome, and was thankful for not ending up as Thergas’ apprentice. He now scorned that man and everything he stood for. Only in the Shadow could he fulfill his destiny. Only in Darkness lay true Power.

 

I am begun on that Path. My Destiny awaits.

 

He walked by his mother’s corpse and never looked back. Speaking the words of sorcery his Master had taught him, he gestured in the air.. and reality changed.

 

A doorway appeared before him and he stepped through.. and once again he stood before his Teacher who in turn stared back at him with undisguised pride in his eyes and a wide grin on his face.

 

”I have mastered the Path. I am come through the Fire.”

 

Davian spoke the words, bowing to his Master - and waited in silence. The Master`s grin widened even further and he nodded.

 

”You have walked the Path and you have survived. You have done what must be done. That is well. The first step on your path to becoming a Magician of the Shadow. Let me teach you the next step, my young apprentice.”

 

Let me show you ‘The Book of Beyond’.

 

The Forbidden book.

 

Davian nodded eagerly, a glimmer of pleasure in his eyes, and he followed his Master excitedly up toward the cottage. He had embraced his new fate, taken the first necessary steps toward his destiny, and now he cloaked himself in Darkness.

 

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.. What Is Destined To Be ..

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Fahrina stared long at the falcon which soared high up in the sky - and wished she were as free as that bird, free to fly away and see new places, free of responsibility.

 

Free of heavy burdens.

 

The falcon glided on the air currents, elegant in its free flight. What burden it carried the Princess did not know, but she imagined it was light.

 

Only a week before she had celebrated her 21st birthday, with due ceremony as befitted her station, but in many ways she still felt a child. Wasn`t an adult supposed to be mature and non-complaining, understanding and content with one`s duty and fate?

 

She dried a tear from her eye, the teardrop shining on her fingertip, and for a second it seemed to her that she could see a rainbow in its depths. She shook her head and turned to face her father who stood nearby.

 

”Must I, father?”

 

The King could hear the sorrow in his daughter`s voice and it broke his heart. First she had had to come over her long lost love, Davian, 4 years earlier - something which had been harder for her than she had let on. But he was her father, her own flesh and blood, and he could read her like a book.

 

Then, 2 years later, the devastating death of her mother, the Queen, who was thrown violently from her horse while out hunting with her husband. Her life could not be saved though the King had summoned the best healers in the land. The death of her mother had broken Fahrina`s heart completely.

 

 

And now, this.

 

She was to be sent to Anixhar to become a Priestess of Minthan. She had been chosen by the revered Oracle of Lehr - to everyone`s great astonishment, not the least her father`s - who spoke the wishes of the Gods, and there was no way out. This was one instance where even the King could not overrule the Oracle, however much he right now wished he could do so.

 

”I am afraid so, my daughter.”

 

She ran to him and threw her arms around him, sobbing into his chest for some time, letting the tears spill from her eyes without shame, treasuring this last moment with her father. For this was the last time she would ever set eyes on him, in accordance with the edicts of the Priesthood of Minthan.

 

The three chosen Priestesses in the lands were forbidden to leave the holy grounds of Minthan ever, or at least that was the belief, giving their lives over to serving the Gods, to gain their favour for all. Nobody knew exactly what that service consisted of, but then again that was the business of the Priesthood and the Gods and not for any outsider to question.

 

”Father, will I ever see you again?”

 

Her voice shook and she could not stop herself, and he hugged her tight as he replied in a whisper: ”You know the answer to that question, my beautiful daughter. You must be brave, just like you were after your mother`s death. You are strong, Fahrina. I am proud of you and always will be.”

 

She sobbed even more at those words, loving her father more than she could express. As she calmed down she dried away her tears from her cheek. Her father looked at her and smiled, though it was a smile tinged with sadness.

 

”You start a new life now, my beautiful Fahrina Starbreeze.”

 

She looked deep into his eyes and a smile began to appear on her face, though a weak smile in truth. Still, it was a beginning.

 

”You have a great responsibility thrust upon you, my daughter - it is important that we are in good favour with the Gods. But I know you will attend to your duties well. You will make me proud, of that I am sure, and know that your dear mother will be looking down on you from the heavens above and will be mighty proud too.”

 

“ You will never be alone, Fahrina Starbreeze, daughter of Kings. We will always be with you - in our thoughts and in our hearts.”

 

She looked at her father and her smile widened.

 

”I love you, father.”

 

The king stared back at her with watery eyes.

 

”And I love you, my daughter - and I always will.”

 

They embraced one final time and then they walked arm in arm back into the castle, while the falcon continued its circular flight high above, looking for prey and an afternoon-meal.

 

 

Five Knights of the Royal Order, in white shining and resplendent armour, accompanied the Princess as she left northwards toward Anixhar. It was going to be a long journey and the mounted Knights were happy to be underway. From her carriage Fahrina waved a final time back at the castle where her father stood watching, and then, willing herself to be brave, she fixed her gaze pointedly on the horizon, wondering what the future had in store for her.

 

The King watched until the travelling party were gone from sight.

 

“May the Gods truly shine upon you, my beautiful daughter”, he whispered. “And may they guide you on your path."

 

 

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PART 3: To Follow One’s Fate

 

.. The Temple of Minthan ..

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On the isle of Ehrian many leagues away, the dark mage Davian stared out at the sea with hard eyes. It was late afternoon and he could see seagulls and many other birds flying in circles, then diving into the sea for fish. No ships were to be seen, however, not that he had really expected any. He grinned with amusement as he thought once again - as he had done so many times before - of the magnificent spell of power that kept this home of the Master invisible to the eye of any passerby. Not that there were many, but still. They would see only a hillside with flowers and grass, nothing more. That spell never failed to impress Davian. It was an awesome spell, and one he had - of course - been taught in his close to 4 years at this isle.

 

He shook his head. Had it truly been 4 years only? It seemed forever - and how far he had come in those years! His power had grown as his knowledge had grown. Countless hours of studying and experimentation in the dark Arts had borne fruit. His prize had been the dark cloak of a Magician of the Dark which he now wore proudly.

 

Now I am ready for what is to come.

 

 

It was soon time, he knew that - and he awaited it with great anticipation. Turning at a sound behind him, he saw his Master stare at him with his ice-cold eyes.

 

”Well, my young mage - what are you thinking about?”

 

Davian stared back at his Master - he would always be so to Davian, even if he was no apprentice anymore - and replied cooly: ”I was thinking how foolish I was those years ago when I became your apprentice. I had no idea.”

 

The Master nodded and grinned. ”All apprentices are, I must say. Some more than others, of course. But they learn better after a while. You have changed in many ways, Davian.”

 

Davian nodded in agreement, knowing the words for true. He had changed much. At first he had been cold and hard and empty, then as he progressed in his training he had dwelled on hate and anger sustaining him through hardships as a dark Magician`s apprentice. And then at last. he had laid that hate aside to be replaced by an evil determination and a hunger for power and mastery of the Art.

 

The Master nodded, very satisfied at what he saw in his former apprentice`s eyes, and beckoned him to follow. Davian walked beside him back to the cottage and as they entered, the Master simply said:

 

”You know what to do. You will not fail, Davian - dark Mage.”

 

And then he did something which took Davian completely by surprise, he gave him a bow as if to an equal - and that had never happened before. Davian couldn`t stop the proud grin that came upon his lips and he bowed back, a little more deeply - in respect.

 

”I shall succeed, Master.”

 

He motioned once in the air and with that he was gone, borne on the winds of magic, far away from the isle of Ehrian.

 

♦♦♦

 

Twenty days after the journey`s start, Fahrina Starbreeze arrived at Anixhar and the Temple of Minthan. She was met at the Temple gates by servants of the Order who lead her to her quarters. Fahrina stared in awe as she walked through the temple grounds. She had never been there before, as none in fact had who were not connected to the Order, and it was just as magnificent as she had imagined during her journey here. The Temple was of shining marble with huge pillars decorating the front of the enormous structure. It was situated in a valley up in a hilly area above the small village of Anixhar and dominated the surrounding area completely. Inside, it was just as magnificent, if not more so, with paintings of the Gods on the walls and small statues of value everywhere, depiciting the faces of the many Gods and Goddesses of this world.

 

There were, in fact, both lesser and greater Gods, several dozen in all, but the three main greater Gods who were worshipped, were Anithar, the Goddess of Light (and by many considered to be the most superior Deity of all), Manthian, God of Fire, and Numihr, God of Wind.

 

The new Priestess stopped for a second and stared at a small statue of Anithar - a Lady of incredible beauty, indeed Divine beauty, with large eyes and flowing hair - and then she gasped! She could have sworn that there had been movement in those eyes! She pulled her eyes away, thinking that it was tiredness from the long journey which played tricks on her mind, but then she looked back into those huge eyes … and heard a whisper which made her drop her jaw in amazement …!

 

MY CHILD ….

 

She took a step back, her hand going to her head, feeling nauseated for a second and the servant looked at her perplexed.

 

”Is anything the matter, Priestess ?”

 

Fahrina shook her head and smiled, though it was a weak smile.

 

”No, it is nothing - I just felt dizzy there for a moment.”

 

The servant nodded in understanding.

 

”Yes, you have travelled far. You need rest before the initiation.”

 

Fahrina nodded and moved away from the statue, heading quickly down the hall and trying to forget whatever had happened just then.

 

I must indeed be exhausted to be imagining such things. Fool Girl!

 

She scolded herself, but the whisper did not leave her mind as she arrived at her quarters, sorted out the few belongings she had brought - just some clothes, in truth - and went to sleep for a few hours. Her dreams were, thankfully, free of any more whispers.

 

 

That same evening, the initiation took place. Walking in the middle of a procession which consisted of her two fellow Priestesses, several of the higher ranking servants of the Order and the Master of Ceremony , she stared around the great Hall of the Gods in wonder. This all seemed somehow very unreal, as if she were walking in a dream, a dream which she on the one hand never wanted to wake up from but which she on the other hand was very afraid of too. On the journey to Anixhar she had gone over and over in her mind her fate, crying silent tears for hours on end, and then in the end she had had no more tears left to cry and partly atleast had reconciled herself to her fate.

 

It was no use running from her destiny; if the Gods wanted her, she had no way to refuse - perhaps no right either. This was an honour, perhaps the greatest honour any woman could gain, so why did she feel afraid and doubtful and inadequate to the task? Much of her doubt was replaced by wonder, however, as she walked down to the circular area set aside in the middle of the Hall. She wore a long silver dress, just as the two women at her side, and walked barefeet as had been the custom for generations for this ceremony. As she had been told to do by the Master of Ceremony in a long talk an hour before, she came to a standstill in the middle of the circle and with her two other Priestesses she knelt there, head bowed. The rest of the procession halted outside the circle and positioned themselves around it, while the Master of Ceremony walked to stand before the three.

 

He paused for a moment, looking down at the three kneeling women. He studied each in turn. Satisfied with what he saw, he raised his head and began to speak.

 

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.. Child of the Gods ..

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”You have come into the Hall of the Gods to do service.” Said the Master of Ceremony.

 

His voice was reverent and it reverberated in the huge Hall. He turned to face a huge statue behind him, a marble statue of the Goddess Anithar. It was twenty feet high and showed the Goddess of Light in all her glory. She was a magnificent sight.

 

“Anithar, Goddess of Light, before you I bring your three chosen Servants. They are ready.”

 

He turned to the next huge marble statue which was of the God of Fire.

 

”Manthian, God of Fire, before you I bring your three chosen Servants. They are ready.”

 

The third statue was on the other side of the Goddess, the God of Wind.

 

”Numihr, God of Wind, before you I bring your three chosen Servants. They are ready.”

 

He gave a deep bow to all three Deities and turned back to face the three women who still knelt with their heads almost on the marble floor.

 

”Rise, Chosen Ones of the Gods.”

 

Fahrina and the two other ladies rose but remained in the middle of the circle. The Master of Ceremony`s voice rose in volume then as he shouted:

 

”Gods of the world, do you accept your Servants?”

 

 

 

 

Fahrina could not help the shivers running down her spine just then, just as she were sure was the case with her two sisters of fate beside her.

 

What if the Gods now rejected her for some reason?

 

It seemed unlikely, after the Oracle’s proclamation, but the Master of Ceremony’s words seemed to imply that some sort of approval was necessary from the Gods. Would she return to her home in shame? Thoughts went wild in her head.

 

Oh Light, do not reject me …

Oh do, I want my old life back …

Oh no, why do I doubt so? ...

Why? I am not worthy, not worthy

 

An unshed tear in her eye, she got control of her emotions after some moments but held her breath as they waited for the Gods’confirmation. A whisper crept through the great Hall then, a whisper not of this world, and behold!

 

The three giant statues began to glow, shining with inner life, and the eyes in the faces of the Gods seemed to take on a small portion of life, an instant of mortality, in a never-ending moment of truth. And then, words formed in her mind, words not spoken by any mortal in a mortal tongue, words just like the whisper she had felt when passing that small statue of Anithar.

 

WE ACCEPT YOU, CHILD OF THE GODS.

 

That first was a female voice, Anithar`s. The voice she had heard in her mind before. The two other Gods also spoke in her mind, two males voices. She couldn`t say how she knew they were male, but they were.. different, somehow. They accepted her too.

 

And at that moment all her doubts were swept aside, as if they had never been.

 

She now knew her Calling. This was her Destiny.

 

A feeling of exuberance beyond anything she had ever experienced started in the middle of her being, growing out of her heart and soul, a feeling so great that she wanted to weep with pleasure, to cry in delight - a feeling of perfection.

 

Tears streamed unashamedly down her cheeks and she thanked the Gods with all her heart for her acceptance. The moment lasted perhaps a few seconds only, but to her it seemed an eternity, and a moment she would never forget in all her life.

 

As she dried her tears away with the sleeves of her dress, she saw that her two sisters - she thought of them as such now - were drying tears away as well, and she smiled happily.

 

Her attention was drawn to the great statue of Anithar again, a beautiful sight to behold, and then she stared into those huge eyes of the Goddess. She almost felt as if she were drawn into those eyes … drawn into their depths … depths of wisdom and love and Light … depths of Power …

 

MY CHILD …

 

The voice did not startle her quite as much this time, but she still felt goosepimples along her arms and shivers down her back.

 

OF ALL, YOU ARE THE TRUE CHOSEN. I HAVE FAITH IN YOU.

 

Tears started leaking once again from Fahrina`s eyes and she felt euphoria once again in her entire being.

 

I HAVE CHOSEN YOU.

 

 

And with those simple, but significant, words something inside her changed; something.. undefinable. Something.. fundamental. Something.. eternal.

 

Visions suddenly flashed in her mind.. visions of places she had never been, visions of people she had never known, with knowledge from forgotten times and infinite wisdom from the Ages. She felt, somehow, connected to all that is … and all that will be ... for a second in time … for an eternity ...

 

She was all and nothing. She was everything. She was Power. She was ready to Serve.

 

I am One.

 

And then Fahrina`s knees nearly buckled, the experience almost too strong for her mortal mind, and she had to steady herself to regain her balance. There was a soft murmur among those who watched outside the circle but she did not take notice. She raised her head, feeling her strength returning, and then stared calmly at the statue of Anithar. A warm feeling began to spread throughout her body - and she smiled happily as suddenly streams of light surrounded her..

 

Changing her..

 

Her long blond hair turned Silver in colour. Somebody gasped but Fahrina was unable to see who it was from the piercing light encloaking her. Her green eyes turned violet and she grew taller and more imposing. Her dress became one of pale blue silk. And on her forehead there now was a small symbol, the sacred mark of the Goddess Anithar.

 

She should, perhaps, have been shocked by this miraculous change.. but in a way it felt so right to her, and necessary. It was a new life for her and a new life meant changes in all ways. She was to serve the Gods and as such it was only right and proper.

 

And there was more.

 

Smiling beautifully and confidently, still surrounded by the Light of Anithar, Fahrina Starbreeze, daughter of Kings, faced the Master of Ceremony and said in calm and certain tones:

 

”I am Benahlia, High Priestess of Anithar.”

 

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.. Chosen of Anithar ..

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The Master of Ceremony`s eyes widened only slightly, but he knew it for truth. The Gods had chosen the High Priestess among the three Servants and she now cloaked herself in her new name in honour of the Gods.

 

He bowed to her and so did all the others assembled in the room, including the two other Priestesses.

 

”My Lady, we are here to serve you, greatest Servant of the Gods. The initiation is ended.”

 

The three Priestesses, with Benahlia in their middle, came to stand before the great statue of Anithar and the assembled party bowed abjectly to them. Then the High Priestess spoke and her voice was now filled with knowledge and purpose and great determination. Above all, it was filled with power.

 

”We do the work of the Gods, my children. It is begun.”

 

The air around them shimmered for a moment and there was a loud sound in their ears - and then all was still.

 

♦♦♦

 

Davian stared at the white cloaked old mage seated in front of him and smiled.

 

Outwardly he smiled. Inwardly he detested this weakling before him who thought he was so wise in the Arts of magic but who in fact was little more than a child of Wizardry if truth be told.

 

”Mage Whrizzen, I am impressed by what you have told me.” Davian lied.

 

He spoke the tongue of Nimhrad fluently.

 

”I am, as you know, gifted in the Arts and was an apprentice back east, but have moved here now and would be honoured if you would take me on as your student. I have heard that you are the most esteemed Wizard around these parts”

 

His flattery was not lost on the older man, who seemed very pleased with the praise.

 

”Well now, I could perhaps do with an apprentice, now that you mention it.”

 

The magician looked shrewdly at the younger man as if weighing him in his mind.

 

“Back east you say? Who was your Master again?”

 

Davian gave him the magician’s name - a false name, of course - another time and it seemed to satisfy the older man.

 

“They are apt practitioners back east, yes.” The old man said. “But sometimes a little full of themselves.”

 

The magician chuckled to himself as he lead the younger man into his study and closed the door behind him. He bade Davian - whom he only knew as Dehrim Thinar - seat himself while he got a cup of herb tea for them both. Seated with the cup in hand a little later, he then asked the apprentice-to-be to speak more of his previous apprenticeship back east.

 

Davian sipped from his tea in silence for a long moment before replying. Finally he spoke.

 

“Nothing much to tell. I studied hard, strong in my ambition, persistent in my quest for knowledge.”

 

The old magician nodded, expecting such an answer.

 

“In the end my Master had no more to teach me. And so.. I killed him.”

 

This the older man had not expected - and his eyes widened in horror.

 

And widened even further, when a moment later he suddenly felt paralyzed from the neck down.

 

What..!? He stuttered in shock.

 

He could not move! For the life of him, he could not move an inch! He tried to reach his magic within but something blocked him.

 

A black grin came upon Davian’s lips as he saw his spell immobilizing the older magician. The man’s eyes met his and the dark mage chuckled.

 

“Yes, old man of the White Robe”, he said with scorn. “I am not one of you. I am no apprentice either. I serve the Dark, where true Power lies.”

 

The other man struggled mightily in his magical bonds, screaming obscenities at Davian, but was unable to break the dark spell holding him. Davian’s grin grew even darker.

 

“Now it is time do die, White Robe!”

 

Davian spoke a single word. The old magician’s body stiffened. The white robe was white no longer.

 

♦♦♦

 

The Master of Ceremony - an ancient man who had held that office for many long years and who had initiated several Priestesses in his time - felt her power and took a step back in spite of himself. Never before had he witnessed such might in a High Priestess. This was indeed a Child of the Gods.

 

And as if mirroring his thoughts, the eyes of the statue of Anithar, the Goddess of Light, began to glow softly with power. He bowed to the High Priestess once again, and then the ceremony was over.

 

The procession began leaving the huge Hall while the Master of Ceremony remained with the three Priestesses who were talking in low tones before the statues.

 

”High Priestess, I believe we should have a talk, if you can spare a moment.” He said.

 

He bowed in respect and she nodded back, a smile upon her lips.

 

”Yes, I believe we should, Master of Ceremony.” She replied.

 

And so they left the Hall together, heading for the Chamber of the High Priestess at the north part of the Temple.

 

 

When the Hall was empty of people, a small whisper drifted among the statues, as if a soft wind had come among them. The words whispered were in the ancient language of the Gods.

 

 

WE HAVE CHOSEN WISELY, MY BROTHERS.

YES, WE HAVE, SISTER. SHE IS STRONG.

HER STRENGTH WILL BE NEEDED IN THE DAYS AHEAD.

MY BROTHERS, SHE WILL NOT FAIL US. I KNOW IT. SHE WILL BE OUR CHAMPION.

YES, OUR CHAMPION OF THE LIGHT.

 

 

And with that the whispers of the Gods ended and all was silence once again in the Hall of the Gods in the Temple of Minthan in Anixhar.

 

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.. Danger is Coming ..

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Benahlia, High Priestess of Anithar, who formerly had been known as Fahrina Starbreeze, daughter of Kings, walked slowly along the path that lead out into the great Temple gardens.

 

There were many places of contemplation in the gardens and she chose her favourite one. It seemed to her as she sat down beside a small tree with the sun sending warm rays down on her that she had been here all her life, when in fact she had arrived only some months before. She had learned much in those months, much that she had never believed was possible. At the same time there was so much she did not yet know. Feelings of competence and a fear of being unprepared fought inside her, side by side, as the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months.

 

Time seemed to pass differently here than in the outside world, as she now considered all that was outside the Temple to be. She had changed much too, she knew that - since her first meeting with her Goddess and her initiation, and now sometimes her previous life escaped her mind, as if her memories of her previous life were leaving her behind somehow … Not all was forgotten, true - but many things, many memories … She had a new life now and she had embraced it fiercely with love and devotion.

 

She had a great responsibility and had to stand ready to face the coming Shadow. For it was coming. Her Goddess had told her as much in her dreams. She did not know what the threath was, yet, but she knew that she had to be ready to face it.

 

I must be ready.

 

 

It was some time later. She stared silently around her, enjoying the light breeze which touched her cheeks.

 

MY CHILD …

 

The voice was suddenly in her mind again and she jumped in spite of herself. This was the first time her Goddess had spoken to her outside of the Temple. She felt a thrill go though her as always was the case when Anithar spoke to her, and she smiled.

 

”Yes, my Goddess. How may I serve?”

 

She whispered the words but knew that Anithar would hear every word as clearly as if she had shouted them from the top of her lungs. She probably would have understood her thoughts, as well - but Benahlia preferred to speak her thoughts out loud. The alternative seemed too strange to her..

 

DANGER IS SOON APPROACHING, CHOSEN ONE. YOU MUST CONFRONT IT.

 

Anithar explained in part what she could expect, but it seemed, somehow, to Benahlia that her Goddess kept some information from her. She kept her thoughts to herself, however.

 

Am I strong enough?

 

She felt a tear spill from her eyes and she stared toward the Temple in the near distance, considering well her reply.

 

”My Goddess, I will always serve. You can have faith in me.”

 

She almost didn`t add what was on her tongue, but changed her mind, adding:

 

”But I am afraid sometimes. Am I strong enough? Am I wise enough?”

 

Though she felt strong in her faith and in mind, she was, truth be told, new to this.. and still felt some doubt … the coming threath seemed daunting to her … frightening …

 

I WILL GIVE YOU STRENGTH AND WISDOM, CHOSEN ONE.

 

 

The words were spoken with love and assurance and made Benahlia swallow much of her doubt … the tear rolled down her chin though …

 

BUT YOU MUST USE THAT POWER WISELY.

 

Her hand shook slightly and she brought it up to her chin, wiping the tear away …

 

AS YOU KNOW, YOU WILL BE MY CHAMPION IN THIS BATTLE SINCE I AM NOT ABLE TO INTERVENE DIRECTLY IN THE COMING CONFLICT.

 

Another tear leaked from her eyes and then a third one but these she let flow down her chin, small rivulets streaming down into her mouth, the salt of her tears easy to taste …

 

I MUST ABIDE BY THE EDICTS OF THE GODS. BUT SO MUST ALSO MY ENEMY. DON`T FORGET THAT.

 

For a long moment Benahlia said and did nothing, letting the words or rather pictures - they were more in a way like pictures of clarity - sink in.

 

Now she dried all the tears away with her shirt-sleeve and brought her chin up as if in defiance of her own weakness and mortality.

 

I must be strong! They have put their faith in me!

 

She stared around her with more self-assurance than before. She nodded at last, not understanding all her Goddess had said, but understanding enough: the Gods could for some reason not play a direct role in what was about to happen. And so, much depended on her.

 

I am their Champion …

 

BE STRONG IN YOURSELF, CHOSEN ONE. LOOK INTO YOUR HEART AND YOU WILL FIND THE COURAGE YOU NEED. I WILL BE WITH YOU, DO NOT FEAR. I HAVE FAITH IN YOU.

 

She nodded once again. She would manage. She would show herself worthy of the trust put in her. It was her destiny - and she would not fail.

 

”Anithar, Lady of Light - I will do my utmost, that I promise.”

 

I KNOW YOU WILL , CHILD. STAY STRONG. IN HEART AND MIND.

 

And with that the voice of Anithar, the Goddess of Light, was gone from her mind.

 

▀▄

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.. A Mission In The Dark ..

►▼◄

 

Staring coldly at the corpse of the White Robe Magician, Davian nodded to himself.

 

“Perhaps you wonder why I killed you, old man?” He spoke into the open air. His eyes darkened as he relplied to himself:

 

”Well, the answer is simple: it came to my attention that you and a few others of your Brothers were the glue which held the Guild of Magicians together - and that without you they would no longer be a united force to be reckoned with.”

 

“So”, he added smugly, “a few clean deaths and your Guild is paralyzed.”

 

He laughed inside.

 

Then he turned away from the scene of death, waved once in the air - and disappeared.

 

 

In another place, many leagues distant, the senior Magician Seith Groaden closed the book of spells on his table before going to bed. He was tired after a long day’s meeting with the local Guild. They had sat for hours and hours, the debate heated, and Seith was not best pleased. Why was it so difficult to agree on matters these days? In earlier years they had found good solutions to problems, but recently it seemed to him that a consensus on matters was almost impossible. If he did not know better he would have suspected that their enemies had infiltrated their group to sabotage their proceedings. It was a true and utter mess.

 

Placing his White Robe on the back of a chair before turning off the lights, he jumped into bed, his mind still on that terrible meeting earlier. Perhaps it was because he was preoccupied in his thoughts that he did not detect the spell placed upon him before it was too late!

 

He gasped as pressure was put on his throath. His hands flew to his sides and he was swept around to face upwards. The pressure - of magical means - softened for a moment and he took a few long breaths. Staring up at his attacker in the dark he only perceived a dark cloaked figure standing there. It was impossible to see who it was, but he had his suspicions. He threw a spell upwards toward the cloaked figure but it was blocked by the other person. The pressure on his throath increased again, his body froze, and he started suffocating.

 

Davian looked down on the old mage and chuckled scornfully.

 

This is, somehow, too easy. He thought. There is no fun in this.

 

Softening the pressure a little, Davian watched in silence as the older man started coughing heavily. It took a while before the magician collected himself. Davian kept him bound in dark weaves and waited for the curses which he knew would come.

 

The old man did not disappoint him.

 

As Davian turned the lights on in the room and saw recognition ignite in the magician’s eyes, his grin broadened.

 

Cursing repeatedly at Davian, the old man became so angry that he went into another coughing-fit which lasted for quite some time. Davian waited until the man had collected himself, enjoying the torment, before he spoke.

 

“Oh, stop your rant, fool!” Davian said. “All you fools of the Light will soon be vanquished. You are next.”

 

The mage replied in brave tones, meeting the younger man’s eyes:

 

”You evil practioner of the Dark Arts. You are the one who is going to lose! I spit on you, dark mage - there are powers in the world even you are not aware of. We are stronger than you think!”

 

“What do you know of strength!?” Davian said scornfully. “You turned your back on true strength long ago!”

 

Demonstratively, he turned his back on the spluttering old mage - and snapped the string keeping the old man alive. The rant stopped in mid-sentence.

 

His mission was going well.

 

He had killed three more magicians in the past few months since leaving the isle of Ehrian and his Master, and these were indeed the leaders of the Guild. Now the path lay clear and only one obstacle remained. An obstacle which should not prove too difficult to overcome, but which he would have to take seriously even so.

 

In his heart of hearts he was jubilant!

 

He was daring the greatest of all dreams, a dream which no sane man would ever even consider, but then again, truth be told, he was not sure anymore that he was completely sane. What was more important, however, he did not care!

 

The ultimate challenge for every practitioner of the Art lay before him.

 

The ultimate prize.

 

♦♦♦

 

It was a dream.

 

Benahlia knew it was, but at the same time it seemed so real that she almost disbelieved it.

 

”You must draw power from within yourself.”

 

The Unicorn stared at the young woman in front of her with intelligent eyes, full of ancient wisdom. A golden horn protruded proudly from her head and a silver mane cloaked her back there where she stood, a magnificent beast, a shining beacon out of legend.

 

She spoke in the mind, just like Anithar did - but though Benahlia did not know who this being was, she knew it was not her Goddess in another form. She could not tell how she knew, but she did.

 

You must focus, the power is within you now.”

 

Benahlia tried to feel for the power, the glow which the Unicorn had described to her, but couldn`t find it. She shrugged.

 

”I don`t have it, I am sorry.”

 

The Unicorn`s thought hardened.

 

”You must not give up so easily, young child - you need all your stubbornness and determination in the days ahead.”

 

Benahlia shook her head.. but then took hold of herself and tried to smile.

 

”I am sorry, ancient one. I will try harder.”

 

She closed her eyes and felt for the fire within her … it was there, almost within reach but not quite … She reached again and failed. Another try and this time she almost managed it. She smiled weakly and got encouragement from the Unicorn. At last she succeeded and let out a yell of triumph, and she almost - almost - thought the Unicorn laughed with her in her mind.

 

”There you go. You must never give up, child of light. Now try again.”

 

For a long time she tried to reach her inner fire again, that place of power within her which she had been enriched with by her Goddess, the immortal part of her soul perhaps, and she succeeded more and more often and gained valuable experience.

 

In the end, quite exhausted from the ordeal, she stopped what she was doing and looked at the shining beast before her, a question upon her lips. The beast replied before she had even asked.

 

”You will be strong enough when the time comes, yes. Never doubt that.”

 

As she smiled back happily, breathing hard, the beast seemed to disintegrate in front of her, as it told her:

 

”The time is coming, and you must be ready. Have courage, chosen one.”

 

And then it was gone - and before Benahlia had time to think any further, she woke up with a start in her bed, gasping slightly.

 

 

 

 

Her eyes were wide and her heart pounded in her chest.

 

What a vivid dream!

 

And yet, even as she had that thought, she knew that it had not been a dream, or rathernot only a dream. She laid her head down on her pillows once again, her silver hair embracing her face, and closed her eyes, her pulse slowing, her body relaxing.

 

Even as she gradually fell into ordinary sleep, the memory of the Unicorn remained in the far recesses of her mind - and whispers of trials to come.

 

▀▄

Edited by Elessar

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PART 4: To Meet One’s Fate

 

.. A Test of Power ..

►▼◄

 

The following night the High Priestess of Anithar had another dream - and this one was, if possible, even more vivid, and she remembered it clearly for many a night thereafter..

 

In the dream, she was walking along a narrow mountain path with her two Priestesses by her side, on their way to a shrine near the mountain top. There was snow in the air and the wind was blowing, making it rather slippery and dangerous along the path.

 

Suddenly, a man-like figure but huge, at least 10 feet tall and powerfully built, appeared in front of them, some way up the path, clad in a red cloak and with a deep hood.

 

Benahlia and her two sisters stopped in their tracks. The High Priestess studied the huge figure closely.

 

This was clearly no man.

 

Not only did she know so by its size, but she also felt the danger coming in waves from this creature, whatever it was.

 

”You may not pass!”

 

The voice coming from the figure sounded odd to Benahlia, but she did not think any more about it as she asked the figure to move out of their way. It remained where it was, however, and repeated its warning.

 

There was no way they could get past it along their narrow path and so Benahlia replied in cold tones:

 

”Move, Stranger - or you will be moved.”

 

 

The figure cackled in reply and threw back its hood - and cold red eyes stared down at the High Priestess from the distance separating them. Her sisters remained behind her, their eyes widening at the sight of the creature.

 

”Perhaps I will remove you, High Priestess - into the void!”

 

The shining evil eyes took Benahlia aback and she stared in quiet horror at the Werakhen.

 

They were dark beasts, half reptile, half man - created by dark mages in bygone years, she had only heard of them in stories - until now.

 

This is a dream, she told herself - but she also knew that was not all the truth. This was a test also, she knew that - and she had to prove herself.

She gathered the courage in her heart and faced the beast.

 

”Evil beast, let me pass! I command you - in the Light!”

 

The Werakhen only stared back with those reptile-like eyes and grinned evilly from its human-like mouth.

 

”Do you think you are stronger than me, High Priestess?”

 

There was both resentment and amusement in that voice, but also a touch of … hidden unease? She couldn`t tell for sure. but would have no more of this. She took a step forward and raised her hands.

 

”Evil one, know the power of the Light!”

 

She reached inside of her to that fire within.. and drew on the energy there, and a bolt of fire left her hands heading straight for the creature`s chest!

 

It threw up its reptilian claws and showed that it too had powers of magic. A shield of magic came into place about it and it deflected the firebolt with seeming ease.

 

Anithar, Lady of Light - give me strength!

 

 

Her prayer gave her added confidence and focus - and a ball of fire swept out of her hands this time, flying directly toward the shadowspawn. She also attacked with a stab of air aimed for the creature`s legs, a strike so heavy that the creature stumbled as it tried to deflect the fireball.

 

Benahlia spoke another prayer to her Goddess - and lightning flew from her hands at the beast. It managed, somehow, to shield itself as it crawled back to its feet and threw a stream of fire at the High Priestess.

 

She blocked the attack, readied herself, and then with a scream of power - as her two sister-Priestesses watched in awe - with the Light of Anithar cloaking her, energy streaming out of her in a dazzling display of might - she cast lightning down from the heavens, in continuous bursts and surges, straight at the evil creature which howled in pain, unable to stop this onslaught, and finally fell to the ground, burning like a torch.

 

Only then did the Light and Power surrounding the High Priestess of Anithar diminish and die out.

 

She stumbled in exhaustion and was caught by her sisters who helped her to sit and rest for a while.

 

The test was done.

 

 

 

THE POWER YOU DRAW FROM ME, MY CHILD. BUT THE POWER IS ALSO WITHIN YOU. YOU MUST FIND IT WHEN YOU NEED IT, AND DO NOT DOUBT. DOUBT CAN BE THE DEATH OF YOU - AND OF US ALL. REMEMBER WELL.

 

The whispers of her Goddess in her mind made her smile.

 

She was more rested now and could think clearly again. She felt both thrilled and exulted, but also a little frightened, after what she had accomplished. Mostly, though, she felt very relieved that she had managed to draw on her inner fire - her magic as it were - when in grave danger.

 

When it was needed.

 

She had passed this first real test. For it was a test.. a dream but also a test.. She knew that with certainty. A test to prepare her for what was to come.

 

Her thought went back to the evil creature she had killed. She remembered its shining red eyes.

 

Eyes of Death..

 

Suddenly those eyes took on a new life in her mind. She was drawn toward the creature, somehow, toward those eyes. She tried to resist but was unable to stop it! Closer and closer she came to the beast and then she was right in front of it. It looked right into her eyes - and then spoke three words in her mind which sent a chill down her spine.

 

 

 

I know you.

 

 

The words crashed into her like an avalanche - and she woke abruptly from the dream, sweat pouring from her face and arms, her pulse racing and her head swimming in a sea of deep concern.

 

There was something about those words from the creature’s mouth that disturbed her more than she could explain. She did not know why, or have any idea why those three words disturbed her more than her battle-encounter with the beast, but it was so.

 

She shook her head, running her hands over her face.

 

I know you.

 

She shook her head again, calming her breathing, and walked out onto the balcony outside her chambers to get some fresh air. Her mind replayed her dream in her head time and time again, her memory catching onto every little detail. She was, of course, overjoyed with what she had done in the dream..

 

If only it were that way also in real life.. a small voice spoke in the back of her mind, but she ignored it, holding onto her belief that what she learned in dreams would be of use to her in real life.

 

The disturbing thoughts were, in the end, put in a compartment in her mind - to be considered later - and she focused again on the test in her dream. And on her inner fire.

 

I must have faith.

 

She knew that she had learned something important, something she would need to remember for what lay ahead. Reaching inside her she felt the glow, it was dormant at the minute but ready to be called upon, and she knew that Anithar was with her.

 

Always.

 

”I will not fail, my Lady of Light.”

 

She whispered to the night.

 

Then she returned to the bedchamber, closing the door to the balcony behind her. The darkness outside seemed to echo her thoughts, because a whisper on the wind remained long after she had fallen asleep once again.

 

NO, YOU WILL NOT FAIL, MY CHILD. SOON YOU ARE READY TO FACE YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE, CHILD OF THE GODS. I PRAY THAT YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH IN YOUR HEART TO PREVAIL. YOU MUST PREVAIL. THE WORLD DEPENDS ON YOU. WE ALL DO.

 

The whispers of Anithar, Goddess of Light, disappeared into the night, leaving flickers of light where before was only darkness.

 

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.. The Fire of Ambition ..

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To shield his thoughts from anyone, even the Gods, was perhaps Davian’s greatest accomplishment.

 

He had found the secret in an ancient book of sorcery long thought lost.

 

“Mirrors of the Mind”

 

The book had been on an old shelf at the back of a discarded underground library on an island far to the north. Another book, already in Davian’s posession, had given mention of secret books of dark sorcery lost in the north and so the young mage had gone on a journey to try and recover some of these lost treasures. It had taken both time and resources - as well as a good portion of luck - to find some of these lost texts, but he had been successful - as he most often was with all tasks he undertook - and “Mirrors of the Mind” had been the most precious book of them all.

 

Perhaps the Key to everything..

 

To manage this spell, for a spell it was, the practitioner had to be extraordinarily strong in mind and in the Art. Few had been strong enough up through the centuries. Davian presumed that was one of the main reasons why this ‘spell of thought-shielding’ had remained hidden.

 

This special ability given him by the spell, gave him the greatest of advantages.

 

His ambition was a fire burning inside him and he kept feeding the flames, going over the plans in his mind time and time again to make sure nothing would go wrong.

 

Staring into the cold night, his eyes almost turned feverish with desire as he thought about his destiny.

 

The ultimate prize awaits!

 

The greatest of dreams.

 

He was going to do the unthinkable, the impossible.

 

Nothing is impossible if you have strength and ambition, he thought eagerly.

 

Gazing at the stars above, at the darkness blanketing the heavens, Davian grinned greedily. Madness shone in his eyes, but he brushed it aside as if of no concern - all that mattered to him was Power.

 

Ultimate Power.

 

And for that he was willing to do anything.

 

For the ultimate prize I will sacrifice everything. The whole world if need be.

 

His eyes shining, his whole body quivering with delight, he thought with burning passion of what he was about to do.

 

He, Davian, was going to challenge the Gods!

 

♦♦♦

 

Staring silently at the great statue of Anithar in the Hall of the Gods, Benahlia, High Priestess and head of her Order, wondered why her Goddess had abandoned her.

 

Her prayers had not been answered for several days and it was as if her Goddess had disappeared for good.

 

I am all alone.

 

She discarded that foolish notion quickly, however. She felt the dormant fire in the middle of her being and knew that in a way Anithar would always be with her, even if she were not always able to speak to her greatest and foremost disciple and follower in the world of mortals.

 

Benahlia was alone in the great Hall and it seemed to her even more immense than before, even more overwhelming, even more daunting and impressive. Turning to face the two other great statues of the Gods in the Hall, she for a second felt slight doubt creep up on her.

 

What can I do that the Gods cannot?

 

Even as the thought left her mind, she scolded herself.

 

Believe in yourself, daughter of Anithar! You are the chosen one, show your strength in yourself!

 

She grinned to herself then, a grin which grew into a wide smile as she imagined her Goddess speaking to her in tones of reproach. A chuckle passed her lips and she left the Hall behind thinking wryly that Anithar had perhaps heard her disciple`s foolish doubt.

 

 

She walked regally and with great self-assurance along the corridors of the Temple, passing several servants on their way who all as one bowed deeply to her as she passed, and finally she entered her quarters and shut the door behind her. She sat down before the huge bronze mirror which took up half of one wall and looked carefully at her own reflection in the mirror. Her long Silver hair flowed down her shoulders and back and the violet eyes - which it had taken her a good while to get used to - stared firmly back at her from her own reflection.

 

You are strong enough, daughter of Anithar. This is your destiny and you know it.

 

She nodded as if in confirmation to herself and started to turn away when suddenly there was another reflection in the mirror! She gasped, taken completely unawares, and turned to look for the Unicorn behind her, for that was what she had seen! Her eyes swept over the whole room but there was nobody there but her! A shiver ran down her spine and she turned slowly back toward the mirror, expecting the reflection to be gone..

 

It was not!

 

What is happening..?

 

There was something familiar about the wonderous creature but she could not at first say what. There was something she was supposed to remember, she knew that … something ….

 

DAUGHTER OF ANITHAR, IT IS SOON TIME. YOU MUST BE READY.

 

The voice in her mind was softer than that of her Goddess, soft and clear and..

 

.. familiar somehow..

 

”Who are …?”

 

Her question was never completed. The Unicorn understood, however. There was clear intelligence in those eyes and they stared at the High Priestess with intensity and purpose.

 

I AM LAVINDHAR, CHILD OF THE GODDESS ANITHAR.

 

 

The words imprinted themselves on her mind. She still looked questioningly at the creature, memory returning to her.. of.. a dream..

 

”But why …?”

 

I AM ONE OF THE CHILDREN OF THE GODS . WE ARE IMMORTAL BEINGS WHO SERVE OUR MASTERS AND MISTRESSES. AND NOW I HAVE BEEN CALLED UPON TO GIVE YOU A WARNING.

 

A warning …? Benahlia mouthed the word silently …

 

THE TIME OF DESTINY IS COMING, MY CHILD. BE READY, FOR YOU ARE THE LAST HOPE OF THE WORLD. BE READY FOR YOUR GREATEST NIGHTMARE.

 

With that the Unicorn was gone.. and as its reflection disappeared from the mirror the High Priestess finally recalled where she had seen the creature before..

 

My dream.. It was in my dream..

 

The dream that had been more than just a dream.

 

Getting to her feet, she walked slowly out onto her balcony and stared quietly out at the mountains ranged all about the region.

 

The time is coming

 

Anithar had told her so and now one of her chief servants - one of her immortal children - had confirmed it.

 

Darkness was coming, and she, High Priestess of Anithar, was the champion of their cause.

 

A cold wind swept over the Temple and she shivered and put her arms around herself, shielding herself from the cold.

 

She remained standing there for a long time with a determined look on her face.

 

♦♦♦

 

Far away, on the island of Panthiar, in the secret Hall of Darkness, the young dark mage stared up at the statue of another God, but this one the God of Death, Xunthir.

 

”Greatest Master, I have done your bidding. My Master and I have prepared the way.”

 

The huge black-marble statue reverberated with power. Its black eyes slowly opened and Davian went to his knees.

 

A cold whisper spread through the Hall and chilled all those present.

 

Then the dark God spoke.

 

▀▄

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.. The God of Death ..

►▼◄

 

Kneeling on the marble floor in the Hall of Darkness, Davian remained silent.

 

Inside his mind, on the other hand, his thoughts were very much alive and active. And above all, they were hidden from his God.

 

YOU HAVE DONE WELL, YOUNG MAGE.

 

The voice in his mind was very powerful and Davian had to concentrate hard to avoid letting the God into his thoughts. If there appeared cracks in the shield protecting his thoughts the God of Death would be able to read his plans - and that would probably mean the end of Davian. He was almost as strong as Xunthir, but a direct confrontation at this time could prove fatal for him. He would fight the Gods, but at the right time and place of his choosing.

 

OUR POWER IS GROWING.

 

As the God spoke through the statue, a transparent fog cloaked them all in darkness.

 

IT WILL SOON BE TIME.

 

Then suddenly his God spoke to him and him alone.

 

DAVIAN.

 

For a second, as the voice in his mind paused, the young mage had a frightening vision of having been discovered. His nerves calmed, however, as the God continued.

 

YOU HAVE DONE WELL.

 

OUR GOAL IS CLOSE AT HAND. YOU WILL BE WELL REWARDED, AS I HAVE PROMISED.

 

Davian bowed where he knelt, keeping his thoughts to himself.

 

YOU KNOW I CANNOT CHANGE THE EDICTS OF THE GODS, FOOLISH THOUGH THEY ARE - AND SO I CANNOT INTERVENE MYSELF. BUT YOU WILL BE MY HAND OF DARKNESS, DAVIAN.

 

”Yes, Master. I am ever grateful. I shall succeed.”

 

GO NOW, DISCIPLE OF THE SHADOW - AND DESTROY THAT REMAINING OBSTACLE TO OUR CONQUEST. DESTROY THE TEMPLE OF MINTHAR - DESTROY THE HIGH PRIESTESS OF ANITHAR!

 

♦♦♦

 

Benahlia held the Sphere of Anithar in her hand.

 

It was a blue glowing object of power and it bubbled with energy. She spoke words of power and the sphere rose into the air emitting a loud buzzing sound. It then started rotating and a web of light streamed out from its centre, soon covering the entire room. The High Priestess screamed a new command and lightning flew forth from the sphere, hitting a wall of air at the other end of the room with a boom. Moving her arm she directed the lightning at another corner of the room. Sparkles flew and the energy in the room could be be felt by all. Off to the side, her two sister-Priestesses watched in awe.

 

She spoke more words of power.

 

The sphere grew in size and energies shot out from its centre again, making for a dazzling display of light. The High Priestess directed the flows with increasing confidence and her eyes glittered as she worked. She increased the power and the sphere now glowed like a star in their midst, producing a loud gasp from one of the sisters! The other sister shielded her eyes. Benahlia then reduced the energy coming from the sphere and watched as it gradually dimmed in power.

 

At last the High Priestess lowered her arms and the glowing sphere returned to her hand, its inner power disappearing. She nodded in satisfaction, pleased that the training session had gone so well. They needed all the help they could get before the coming battle - it was going to be ferocious, of that she felt sure - and she had insisted that they train as much as possible with their powers so that they would be as ready as they could be.

 

“Your powers are growing, High Priestess.” Said one of her sisters. She smiled, nodding approvingly..

“Yes, they are formiddable.” Said the other sister. She seemed still in awe and a little afraid after the display.

“I feel the powers growing in me, sisters.” Said Benahlia with a pleased smile. “I just wish Anithar were here with me.”

 

They nodded, understanding her meaning. The Goddess had not returned, or at least that was the way Benahlia had explained it, and the High Priestess was a little concerned. She felt the touch of Anithar in her heart, and knew she ought to focus on what lay ahead, but she really wanted to feel her Goddess’ presence right now, to speak to her, to confer.

 

I must be patient, she thought to herself. Trust has been put in me. I must focus.

 

She looked at her sisters and smiled reassuringly.

 

“Sisters, we must keep practicing. Come join me!”

 

They came to her eagerly - and soon the air was full of magic.

 

♦♦♦

 

Leaving the Hall of Darkness, Davian headed for his quarters.

 

On his way through the corridors beneath the Temple of Shadow he passed several Priests of Xunthir in their dark robes who stared in partial awe, partial disgust at this First Servant of the Shadow. Many feared, rightly, that he thought primarily of himself and would betray the cause if he thought he could benefit from it. He was too powerful, however, to be confronted with the accusation, but whispers about him floated around the priesthood. Davian knew of this and, frankly, did not care. It pleased him to know that they feared him and held him in some awe. It was no more than he deserved, he thought.

 

He had bowed abjectly to his God in the Hall and had promised to do his bidding. Now he grinned darkly, certain that the mighty Xunthir had no suspicion about the young mage’s private designs and ambitions.

 

Entering his bedchamber, he put a ward on the room and threw himself on the double bed, his face gleaming with pleasure.

 

They have no idea. No idea at all!

 

He laughed to himself until there was no more mirth left in him.

 

Staring fixedly at the ceiling, his fists clenched and unclenched. His eyes became fierce and his face set.

 

I will serve as long as His mission is the same as mine, Davian the Magician thought. Then, I will do what must be done - and I will become a God! It is my destiny!

 

But first I will destroy you, High Priestess of Anithar, whoever you are!

 

Beware, Lady! I am coming for you!

 

▀▄

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.. Facing the Shadow ..

►▼◄

 

Davian, dark mage and disciple of the Shadow, stared hatefully up at the Temple of Minthan, which shone with an unnatural glimmer up in the mountains.

 

Now, the time is come.

 

He readied the spell he had in mind. A feverish glow came upon his face, a thrill going through his entire body, a feeling of ecstacy burning in his soul.

 

I will be Master!

 

His most destructive spells he saved for later. They were ready for him to use if necessary, but he would need to conserve his strength until his clash with the Gods. Removing the obstacle that was the High Priestess would be the easier part; destroying the Gods would be the true challenge.

 

But I have learned the secrets and power to do exactly that! He thought with certainty. The secrets are mine to exploit. And I will do so!

 

He had indeed become much more powerful than his Master and even his God knew, having searched for and found through the past few years knowledge undecipherable even for most dark mages. But not for the very clever and extremely resilient Davian.

 

And dearest of all his findings, were the Scrolls.

 

He had no idea who had written them and did not really care. The important thing was that they revealed the forbidden secrets of Unmaking.

 

The Scrolls of Unmaking will make me a God. Oh yes, glory is at hand!

 

His eyes glittered with ambition.

 

With a motion of his hand, his dark cloak fluttering in the cold wind sweeping down on him from the mountain-reaches above, he disappeared into thin air.

 

♦♦♦

 

She stood in the Temple gardens once more, this time with her two sister-Priestesses beside her. They were praying, as afternoon flowed into evening, the dark enveloping the mountains and all of Anixhar. Benahlia could still not feel her Goddess’ presence and that worried her a little, though not overmuch. Anithar was with her in her heart, she knew it - and she would be there to lend her strength when the time came.

 

A cold wind touched her blue dress, making it swirl around her where she stood. A chill pierced through to her skin and she shivered slightly. She saw her sisters feeling the cold as well and considered going inside for the remainder of their prayer.

 

Just as she was about to speak out to the Priestesses, her eyes widened.

 

A feeling came over her.. of recognition.

 

Anithar.

 

Then a whisper broke through her thoughts..

 

MY DAUGHTER, THE SHADOW IS COME. STAND READY.

 

A warm thrill ran through her, both at her Goddess’ return and at her words. She stared around her carefully and spoke quickly to her sisters, warning them too. They all gazed around them but it was not easy to see much in the falling darkness. Benahlia spoke words of magic then and a ball of brilliant white light erupted from her palm and rose high into the air, coming to a standstill far above the Temple grounds. It shone brightly, illuminating the whole area.

 

The High Priestess took in her surroundings but saw nothing to alarm her. She shook her head and probed with her senses, letting her magic float out across the gardens, seeking some hint of danger. She knew she was attuned to the Light of Anithar and so would feel, or so she believed, if there was something of the Shadow there.

 

There was nothing.

 

Still.. she heeded her Goddess’ warning.

 

”Sisters. Our enemy is out there somewhere.” She spoke. “Be ready..”

 

As the words passed her lips, she suddenly sensed something far off to the south of the gardens - and her face tightened. There was something there..

 

Something..

 

Out of nowhere a bolt of liquid fire streamed toward her and she barely had time to throw herself to the side and scream a warning to the others as the bolt missed her by a short distance.

 

Gasping, she got to her feet and threw a fireball in the direction from whence the attack had come. Another bolt of fire came toward her and this time she was more prepared as she conjured a magical shield around her which deflected the attack. She was pushed back, however, and retreated a ways to get her bearings. Over to the right she saw one of her sisters throw bolts of light in the direction of their enemy while fire rained down on her. She screamed, only partially shielding herself, and sunk to the ground in pain. On Benahlia’s other side the other sister was faring better, returning fire with fire, bolt with bolt.

 

One thing was clear to the High Priestess: this enemy, whoever it was, was very powerful since it was able to fight on three fronts simultaneously, against three magically very able Priestesses.

 

Anithar, heed my prayers. I need you, my Lady of Light!

 

 

The thought swept though her mind.

 

The attacks continued for a few moments more and then stopped altogether.

 

Only silence remained - and burning fires.

 

Benahlia ran across to her wounded sister, making sure to avoid the plentiful fires littering the Temple grounds, and bent over her to take a look at her injuries. The sister had burns down her one side but nothing seemed critical. The High Priestess sighed in relief. Praying to Anithar for healing powers, she spoke silently to her sister, holding her tenderly, as she healed most of her burnt skin. When she was done, she waited with her sister in case the attack would commence. Nothing happened - and finally the High Priestess lead her sister inside the Temple for further care.

 

Whatever threath remained, she and her second sister would have to deal with it on their own.

 

As she walked back into the gardens, keeping a wary lookout for any danger, she wondered why the enemy had stopped his attack. Was this some ploy to catch them unawares? She reached her second sister and they spoke in low whispers as they considered the situation. Should they wait, or should they go on the offensive and try to find their attacker? Part of her urged for caution, but Benahlia felt impatience gnawing at her. And with impatience came anger. Anger at this violation of the sacred Temple grounds. Anger at the attack and injury of her sister. Anger at this assault on the forces of Light.

 

It was necessary to act.

She was certain of it.

 

As if in affirmation of her decision, her Goddess chose that moment to give her her support.

 

MY CHILD, BE STRONG. I AM WITH YOU.

 

 

Moving slowly and purposefully, Benahlia, High Priestess of Anithar, headed for where she thought her adversary was hiding. Her sister remained behind to guard the path from the Temple gardens to the Temple itself. She had wanted to come, but saw the reasoning behind the command. Benahlia had a second`s warning out of the corner of her eye before the strike of lightning flew at her from a little way to the east, and she threw a strong shield around her just in time which deflected the strike and it dissipated in a swirl of flames.

 

She had to stop for a moment and take a breath, however.

 

Mouthing another silent prayer to Anithar, she then continued on her path. At one point, a little later, she gathered the power inside her and pointed into the distance, striking out with the force of light. Her eyes shone with determination as she watched the resulting explosion.

 

▀▄

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PART 5: To Trust One’s Fate

 

.. A Battle of Power ..

►▼◄

 

Davian cursed under his breath as the deadly bolt of light struck not far from where he stood.

 

This High Priestess, whoever she was, was more powerful and resourceful than he had anticipated. More importantly, however, he did not dare expend all his power now. The war with the Gods was what really mattered, for war it would become, but first he had to remove this bothersome obstacle.

 

He moved a little off to the east and called upon his dark magic. The spell was hardly mouthed before a strike of lightning flew from his hands, aimed at the half-seen figure in the distance.

 

He saw the figure - was it blue-cloaked? - throw up a shield around herself and deflect the strike, though staggering a little. Cursing again, he readied another spell when suddenly a bolt of starlike white fire came straight at him, and he had to throw himself onto the ground and roll to the side in order to avoid it.

 

She is even stronger than I thought! I must not underestimate her again!

 

The angry thought burned in his mind as he erected a strong shield around him.

 

It deflected a second strike moments later.

 

In the few moments as he saw the lightening-bolt come toward him, he heard the High Priestess’ defiant shriek over all the clamour - and felt a strange instant of recognition..

 

That voice.. how can it be familiar..?

 

The moment passed quickly, however, and his thoughts returned to the danger at hand.

 

Real danger.

 

I have to change strategy, he thought darkly. Too much of my power is being spent this way.

 

He considered his options and then made his decision.

 

Sending another lethal bolt of fire toward his adversary, he spoke a single word of power - and disappeared.

 

His voice, however, reverberated across the Temple gardens and Benahlia, standing focused in the distance, heard the words well despite the thundering noise all around her.

 

”High Priestess, stand down or you will be destroyed. Your power is no match for mine. If you continue with this foolishness, you will meet your death!”

 

♦♦♦

 

Benahlia stopped in her tracks.

 

For some reason the voice coming at her from the distance seemed a little familiar..

 

How could that be?

 

Who..?

 

She pondered on the strange recognition for a few seconds, but then the moment passed and she put it out of her mind, having far more important matters to focus on.

 

She, herself, had screamed in defiance at her enemy a little earlier, her anger building and her frustration growing.

 

There was much destruction in the Temple gardens and she considered returning to her sister to coordinate the defense of the Temple grounds, but something inside her pushed her onwards.

 

She had to continue. There was no other choice for her.

 

I need to finish this!

 

 

Pulling the Sphere of Anithar from her dress, a ferocious smile came upon her face. With her Silver hair flying behind her in the wind and her face glowing fiercely she almost looked like a Battle-Queen out of Legend.

 

Her mouth and jaws were set in a stubborn line and her violet eyes gleamed with dedication as she called upon her Goddess to aid her.

 

”Anithar, it is time.”

 

She whispered the words but she knew that her Lady of Light would hear and understand.

 

MY DAUGHTER, YOUR WILL IS MINE. WE ARE ONE.

 

She held the Sphere of Anithar high and its blue brilliance grew as it filled with power. Before long a star was in their midst, shining so brightly that she was barely able to look upon it. The blue sphere glowed stronger and stronger - and then it left Benahlia’s hand and shot upwards into the air with a crash of thunder!

 

ANITHAR, MEAS TELISIHR!!

 

The High Priestess’ scream pierced the thunder above. Light enveloped her and she radiated power.

 

She was ablaze - and her heart burned with the Fire of Anithar!

 

With a fierce look upon her face, she faced in the direction of her enemy, raised her one arm - and was gone!

 

Thunder cracked across the heavens.

 

 

A whisper remained on the wind, when the heavens finally went silent.

 

An echo from Beyond..

 

AND SO IT IS BEGUN. THE TIME OF DESTINY IS HERE. BE EVER STRONG, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. REMEMBER, WE ARE ONE.

 

♦♦♦

 

Davian finished the spell - and reality changed about him.

 

Damn, this is not going according to plan!

 

Muttering darkly, thunder cracking about him, strikes coming at him from that deadly blue object of power in the sky, he bent reality - that was the way he envisioned it in any case - he bent the here and now and stepped into a place inbetween..

 

Into darkness.

 

Only then was he safe from the deadly strikes from above.

 

 

Benahlia, the High Priestess of her Order, stepped out of thin air - with the blue Sphere of Anithar burning brightly high above her - and headed straight toward the place where her foe had stood.

 

As she arrived there she sensed the residue of the dark spell in the air. She was sensitive to such spells, her Goddess had empowered her with many abilities, and she used her knowledge to detect what the dark Magician - for it had to be a dark Magician, and one of great might! - had done.

 

Giving another silent prayer to Anithar, she waited as the spell that she needed to follow the Evil one came to mind. She spoke the words of magic, thunder striking the skies another time, and then the air before her shimmered as if it were bending in on itself..

 

She could not have described it any better..

 

She immediately stepped into the nothingness behind, and was gone from sight.

 

As she entered the blackness of this new reality - wherever it was - she screamed defiantly.

 

The Fire of her Light made her voice become an avalanche of sound.

 

”You will not escape me, pawn of the Shadow. I am the High Priestess of Anithar - and I am coming!”

 

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.. The Moment of Truth ..

►▼◄

 

Davian stepped out of the nothingness and closed the way behind him.

 

He stood now atop one of the mountain tops high above Anixhar, a summit with space for fifty men at least abreast. It was windy and cold up here but he cared nothing for that, cloaking himself in his spells. His eyes shone with fury and he readied the spell that would destroy this impertinent High Priestess, once and for all!

 

He did not have time for this nonsense, the clash with the Gods was coming!

 

Cursing for perhaps the twentieth time since leaving the Temple grounds, he waited for his adversary to appear. He knew she would not be far behind. Brave she was, this Servant of Anithar, however foolish! He sensed the opening of the way before he saw anything and knew that she was coming out on the opposite side of the mountain top. He mouthed the words to the spell he wanted, and …

 

 

Entering through the corridor between.. Benahlia spoke to her Goddess and stepped carefully onto the mountain top. Protected, she did not feel any of the cold from the freezing winds. She stopped and stared around her carefully. She could see noone.

 

But of a sudden out of nowhere a stab of lightning struck right where she stood, throwing her to the ground. She just had time to erect a shield of protection around her, an act which in fact saved her life.

 

As it was, with the second lethal strike on target, she was stunned for a long moment as she tried to regain her senses. Carefully she scrambled up and onto her feet and stared off toward the other side of the mountain top. There she could see some movement and part of a figure - and she raised her hands. Praying to her Goddess she mouthed words of magic..

 

 

The stab of lightning struck just where he had planned and he saw the figure of the High Priestess fall to the ground. He threw another deadly bolt at her but the strike was deflected.

 

Grinning with glee, he waited to see if she was beaten. He sensed more than he saw that she was still alive, and so readied another spell. As he was about to throw a fireball at her, he sensed a great power-surge from where she must be and then a ball of light came right at him!

 

He swore under his breath and just managed to deflect the powerful strike with a shield of magic as it hit him, thowing him to the ground nonetheless. Thunder cracked high above and then lightning struck at him where he lay and he rolled to the side to evade the blast. He threw a bolt of lightning back at the High Priestess and saw it crash down close to where she stood.

 

The skies opened then and bolt after bolt struck at them both, in a dazzling display of destruction, as if the Gods were at last tired of this mortal game of power.

 

Climbing warily to his feet, he erected shield after shield around him, deflecting the blasts. He did not want to expend his power in this battle, but he seemed not to have much choice anymore - and so he mouthed the words to one of his more powerful spells. He could see the High Priestess coming to her feet as well, and facing him in the distance …

 

She came closer … She was brave , that was for sure … Brave and foolish …

 

 

Protecting herself from the multitude of lightning-bolts striking down at her from the heavens above, Benahlia wondered indeed if the Gods were trying to destroy her where she stood.

 

Anithar, I cannot make it much longer. Help me!

 

MY DAUGHTER , BE STRONG.

 

Getting to her feet as the last strike was deflected off her magical shield, she breathed heavily and felt utterly exhausted. She stared with a fatigued look toward where the other figure stood on the other side, and by intuition - or perhaps it was something else.. - she started walking toward him, determination struggling with tiredness in her eyes.

 

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. IT IS YOUR MOMENT OF TRUTH, CHOSEN ONE.

 

The whispers of Anithar registered in her mind and she took courage from them as she neared her adversary. When she was still fifty feet away from him she stopped and raised her hands.

 

”I will destroy you now, evil one!”

 

Her scream reverberated among the mountains and her harsh warning gave her added strength in herself - and she directed a fireball of light straight at him! She saw him motion in the air and the fireball struck an invisible wall, evaporating.

 

She looked closer at him.

 

There was something familiar about his posture …. something she recognized … something …

 

 

Davian threw up a wall of protection and the fireball struck and was gone. He looked carefully but with hate in his eyes at the woman who neared him and ….. something about her made him hesitate …

 

There was something … something familar.. about the way she walked ….

 

He shook his head, and raised his hands to end her once and for all, a deadly spell on his lips … but then … then …

 

 

She drew on all her power and hurled it at him, but just as she did so she saw who he was, recognized his posture for what it was, and a memory of a memory deep within her pushed its way through, making her scream in shock and agony..

 

”Noooooo!! Daviaaan!!”

 

 

He stared and for a second in time, which could have been an eternity, his mind reeled as he watched the woman standing some way off, hands raised …

 

She was familiar …

 

A memory dragged itself up within him ... a memory and emotion …

 

It cannot be!

 

He struck out with his power just as reminiscence took him, and he cried with a mixture of fury, hate, love and loss, a wrenching scream which shook the surroundings..

 

Noooooo!! Not you! Fahrina !! Nooooooo!!

 

Their powerful strikes both missed their targets, whether as a result of fate or simple luck..

 

But for both, the world went spinning …!

 

 

Benahlia felt her legs give way - so stunned was she by the revelation - and dropped to the ground like a sack, unable to pick herself up again.

 

Anithar, nooooo!! She begged of her Goddess. Don`t ask this of me!! Noooo!! Not this!! It cannot be!!

 

She shook as if all the power within her was streaming out of her, as if all the energy was driving through her and killing her, and her heart was tearing apart.

 

Tears ran in streams down her chins and her eyes overflowed.

 

CHOSEN ONE, I AM SORRY BUT WHAT IS, IS. YOU MUST DO WHAT MUST BE DONE.

 

Anithar`s whispers in her mind almost did not register at first, so shaken was she by this impossible revelation.

 

And in that moment, as she lay in despair on that mountain top, she realised in her heart that she had, in truth, never stopped loving Davian after all.

 

And that fact now almost destroyed her sanity.

 

Anithar, I cannot.. She cried. It is too much..

 

▀▄

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.. The Words of Unmaking ..

►▼◄

 

Benahlia, High Priestess of Anithar, cried tears of despair.

 

In her mind, the voice of her Goddess tried to give her new encouragement.

 

BE TRUE, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH. HAVE FAITH.

 

Benahlia - Fahrina.. - felt despair greater than any she had felt since her mother’s death. She shook from internal pain and hugged herself.., but slowly, as the moments went by, she realised deep inside that her despair was just as much for Davian having forsaken the Light.

 

Her sobs continued for a while, and she wiped tears of sorrow from her violet eyes, but then her despair ever so slowly changed into a feeling of anger and betrayal.

 

Davian..

 

He had betrayed everything he had stood for.

 

Everything she believed in.

 

He was the threath to the world - and she had to stop him …

 

Stop him..

 

Those two words remained in her mind as she slowly got to her feet.

 

She raised her arms, hardening her heart, spears of light ready to be hurled at him.

 

But..

 

She hesitated..

 

No..

 

Clenching her fists, she focused again. She thought of the evil that was in Davian. The evil that had to be confronted. She thought of her duty. She thought of the trust the Gods had put in her.

 

She could not fail them.

 

Tightening her lips, focusing her mind, she tried again.

 

But no.

 

She just could not do it.

 

I am so sorry.

 

 

Her arms lowered to her sides, her face lost all its colour, and she just stood there in quiet anguish.

 

Waiting..

 

as if in a daze..

 

..as a web of light crashed into her - and tightened around her body, making her unable to move a muscle..

 

Anithar. Forgive me..

 

Far above her, something was happening. Something terrible. She knew it.

 

But she was only able to watch passively as the sky opened up above, fear gathering in her soul..

 

She could do nothing to prevent what was about to happen.. and she knew it would be horrible..

 

In her soul she cried unending tears of shame.

 

 

Davian crawled to his feet, the great explosion still lingering in the air and throwing sparks all about, and he shook his head..

 

Fahrina..

 

But it could not be! She could not be the High Priestess!

 

He had buried his old life deep within him as he had studied the dark Arts, hate and loss moulding him into a creature of darkness, a man with steel for heart and stone for soul... His past had become non-existent for him, a dream within a dream that gradually had disolved in his mind until there was nothing left at all.

 

Nothing.

 

Or so he had thought.

 

But now, confronted by this impossibility that clearly was the woman he had loved so much, all those memories he thought he had buried for good came flooding back.

 

And they tore mightily at his dark soul.

 

Not Fahrina!! Noooo!!

 

He knew it was her, whatever she now called herself, and though he now had become a man without compassion, a man without the ability to love, part of his heart still remembered … and hated the thought of having to kill her..

 

There was a conflict of emotions within him and it paralyzed his actions for a moment.

 

Cursing at this turn of events, he shook his head in confusion and tried to collect himself. Part of him demanded that he get on with it and destroy this final obstacle to his plans, but an other part of him screamed ‘no’.

 

His internal struggle went on for some time, until the stronger part of his will won out.

 

The darkness within him was just too powerful; his descent into evil had changed him too much.

 

Brushing aside all thoughts of who she was, removing those memories from his heart and soul, he gathered all his powers as he faced the High Priestess and started speaking words of power..

 

He saw her raise her arms but then lower them again. Puzzled, he watched as she just stood there, but he could not believe that she would avoid defending herself. When his spell was ready, almost unaware that he had in fact gone for a capturing-spell rather than one of destruction, he directed it at the High Priestess - and released it.

 

To his astonishment he saw it strike the woman - and remain.

 

She had not deflected it!

 

She was now bound in a ‘Web of Holding’.

 

A small part of him screamed at him to undo what he had done, but he quenched the small fire of memory and instead, jubilant inside, prepared himself for the next part.

 

There was no need to kill her just yet. She was immobilized and would not be able to interfere with what he was going to do. He would kill her later.

 

Gathering his strength, he was ready for his main task: it was time to challenge the Gods!

 

Focusing on all his knowledge and spells, he brought forth from his memory the spell he needed.

 

The forbidden words.

 

The Words of Unmaking

 

 

Drawing on the ancient and forbidden powers deep within him, he struck with all his might, with monumental force at the heavens above, mouthing the words of Unmaking!

 

Breaking his way into the Realm of the Gods.

 

Awesome thunderclaps shook the world - and the skies slowly turned red as fire, as the forbidden spell was released.

 

At last, it is time!!

 

Davian burned with passion and euphoria. And with enormous anticipation.

 

He gloried in his action.

 

A force of tremendous power erupted from within him, shooting into the sky, carrying him ever upwards. He was surrounded by brilliant light, almost too dazzling to behold.

 

Another thunderclap shook the skies, and yet another, and lightning flew forth, striking down at the mountain below, where the High Priestess watched in stunned awe and fear, powerless to act!

 

She saw Davian carried ever higher and higher, a figure wrapped in power mightier than any other mortal. Then he suddenly stopped his ascent, faced upward and she heard him scream a command of incredible power, after which came a crashing sound loud enough to level mountains - and then the world went black!

 

▀▄

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.. War with the Gods ..

►▼◄

 

A darkness more complete than any she had ever experienced enveloped all and she almost forgot to breathe..

 

And then all sound stopped … silence was everywhere as if every living thing in the world had stopped breathing … waiting …

 

Waiting …

 

For the end …

 

 

Davian the Magician’s voice pierced the stillness.. and the world took another breath.

 

Opening the Gate to the World of the Gods, Davian taunted them, called upon them, challenged them.

 

Challenged the Gods.

 

And they answered him.

 

He had done the impossible, he had done what even the Gods, in their infinite wisdom, had never thought any mortal would be able to - or dare to - do. And in so doing he had violated the Edicts of the Gods, opening a portal into their world.

 

It was an affront that could not be tolerated.

 

They came at him in anger and to destroy him!

 

First came the lesser Gods, beams of light streaming at him with incredible power. He shielded himself from their attack and struck out at the immortal beings. He used every piece of the dark Art that he had laboriously worked hard for and sacrificed much for over the past years. He made use of all his powerful spells. He showed why he was the most powerful Mage who had ever lived.

 

Back and forth it went, cracks of thunder shelling the skies, awesome energies being spent, with neither party gaining the advantage. In the end the lesser Gods drew back, wary and impressed by this unprecedented power for a mortal.

 

I WILL DESTROY YOU ALL, IMMORTALS

 

His words were frightening to the ear and even the older Gods, the stronger ones, were careful as they now approached him. One of the older Gods warned him in stark tones:

 

MORTAL, YOU CAN NEVER BE ONE OF US. FLEE WHILE YOU CAN.

 

Davian remained where he was, watching the approaching older God with spite.

 

 

The God of Fire struck at him with oceans of fire but Davian deflected the awesome power directed at him. He struck back at the God with lightning but the old God deflected the bolts with seeming easy. Even so, he looked upon this powerful mortal with wary eyes, understanding that he would not be easily destroyed.

 

Another of the Gods came at him with small burning stars in his hands, hurling them at this upstart Magician. Davian erected shield after shield to defend himself and struck back at the divine being with all he had. A third God bombarded him with strong winds and glass fragments of deadly hue but Davian withstood it all, though he did start to tire a little, something he hid well and ignored.

 

The Gods shared looks of concern as they considered how to overcome this threath to their domain, without too much damage being done.

 

Davian’s eyes burned fanatically, glorying in his ascent to Godhood.

 

Then there was some noise as the Gods stepped to the side to let someone through.

 

A new figure came toward him - and Davian could but stare in awe. He was not able to stop himself.

 

She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life, a Marble-faced, Silver-haired woman of such stunning beauty and perfection that he was awestruck.

 

But then.. she was not a woman.

 

She was a Goddess.

 

Of course.

 

And then she spoke.

 

MORTAL, YOU ARE ENDED.

 

The voice of the Goddess Anithar entered Davian`s maddened and powerhungry mind, but he hardly registered the words, so completely lost was he in her incredible beauty.. and in the glory of power that streamed all through him, burning him..

 

THE GLORY ….. THE POWER …… I AM A GOD! ……

 

 

A whisper entered Benahlia`s mind again and she recognized her Goddess` voice.

 

HE HAS DARED CHALLENGE THE GODS, CHOSEN ONE. AND HE IS INCREDIBLY POWERFUL … WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW, YOU MUST NOT DOUBT.

 

Me..? But I am bound..

 

No sooner had she spoken the words than the sorcerous web around her lessened - and disappeared.

 

She was free to move again!

 

Exileration streamed through her and relief at being free of the bonds. She stared upwards at the cataclysmic scene in the sky: she saw the figure of Davian, burning with power.. there at the Gate into the Realm of the Gods. Above him there was dazzling light..

 

What can I do..?

 

DO NOT DOUBT, MY DAUGHTER.

 

Anithar’s voice returned in her mind.

 

WE CAN DESTROY HIM, BUT OUR COMBINED MIGHT MAY DESTROY THE WORLD. THE RISK IS TOO GREAT. IT IS YOUR TIME, CHOSEN ONE. YOU ARE THE HOPE OF THE WORLD. DO WHAT I SAY AND WE MAY HAVE A CHANCE.

 

You are the hope of the world.

 

She gathered her strength inside her and readied her power. Her self-confidence returning, she remembered the trust they had put in her. This was what she had trained for. She could not let her feelings for Davian let her - everyone - down again.

 

She pushed all doubt aside, opened herself to her Goddess, and stood ready to fulfill her destiny

 

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PART 6: To Fulfill One’s Fate

 

.. To Fall into Cataclysm ..

►▼◄

 

There was a smile upon her face - and she was One with Herself.

 

I am Benahlia, High Priestess of Anithar. She thought. My time has come.

 

She reached within her for that fire she knew was there. The heart of the fire, the fire of truth. The truth of her life.

 

My destiny.

 

This time she felt Anithar’s power envelope her in a stronger way than had ever happened before, and she embraced her Goddess’ touch with all her heart and being.

 

And became.. power incarnate.

 

She blazed like a sun, becoming a vessel of pure energy, her Silver hair streaming behind her, gleaming with brilliant light as she was carried upwards on winds of magic.

 

Raising her hands as she ascended, she uttered a scream of such might that made the earth and heaven shudder - and the darkness was replaced by dazzling light amid unending thunderclaps!

 

And in that second, Davian looked down at her.. and understood.

 

♦♦♦

 

The God Xunthir was shocked to find out what his foremost Servant in the world of the Mortals was intending, to supplant all the Gods - him included -, and so he joined the other Gods in defying this unheard of challenge against them!

 

Xunthir also felt shame at having been fooled by a mere mortal, and angry at Davian’s betrayal of their plan. He had not suspected his Servant capable of treachery - who, after all, dared betray one’s own God and Master? - and having been played so by the mage only made the God feel even more bitter and furious.

 

How dared he!? It was simply intolerable!

 

He attacked his former Servant with vigour and fury, but was pushed back by the mage. Storms of lightning flew back and forth between them but the mage was not overcome. Davian taunted and insulted his former Master as they fought, something which infuriated Xunthir even further.

 

How could the mortal be so strong? Xunthir wondered.

 

In the end he retreated in anger and positioned himself in the background, letting his brothers and sisters do the main fighting.

 

 

Anithar, Goddess of Light, threw deadly lightning-storms at the enemy.

 

At the same time she berated herself for her mistakes.

 

She had known that Davian was a great danger to the world below, and so had prepared her Champion for whatever was to come there. But even she, the wisest of the Gods, had not imagined - or prepared for the possibility - that Davian could be powerful enough - and knowledgable enough - to dare attack the Gods.

 

The dark mage had destroyed the Edicts using the Words of Unmaking, which no mortal should have had access to in the first place since they were thought destroyed generations before by immortals, and which noone should have been able to understand.

 

But this Davian was extraordinary, mad for certain but extraordinary, a true Master of Power, more powerful than any mortal in the generations since the Beginning - and so he had found a way.

 

And therefore he had to be destroyed.

 

 

She spoke to her sisters and brothers as she fought.

 

I SPOKE THE TRUTH TO THE CHOSEN ONE. OUR COMBINED MIGHT COULD DESTROY THE FABRICS OF THE WORLD. HOWEVER, SHE CAN AID US, FROM HER WORLD, AND WITH HER WE CAN CONQUER.

 

IF SHE IS STRONG ENOUGH.

 

She felt sure her Servant was strong enough in her heart, but there was no guarantee, no way to tell for sure..

 

The moment of truth was here - and she called upon her foremost disciple, called upon Benahlia, filling her with her power.

 

STRIKE, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. WE WILL BE WITH YOU.

 

♦♦♦

 

The High Priestess heard her Goddess’ command - and she struck with all her might!

 

Her scream tore the air, and Davian stared with horror down at the woman - the Silver-haired High Priestess who was somehow Fahrina, his Fahrina.. - who was about to destroy him.

 

He had forgotten all about her in his battle with the Gods, believing her incapacitated on the mountain, and now, for a long moment as the world seemed to stand still, he turned to face her - and knew that Anithar was throwing her might against him also through her Servant!

 

It was too much.

 

His power was now concentrated in the world of the Gods, that other dimension which he had half-stepped into in the heavens above, but he was also half-existing in the world of mortal men, and he was unable to defend himself from a powerful strike from both worlds at the same time.

 

In that timeless second, while he stood on the brink of death, sanity returned partially to him, and he screamed!!

 

Fahrina, noooooo!!

 

He conjured several shields, but in vain.

He reached for spells to protect him, but he was too late.

 

Too late.

 

▀▄

Edited by Elessar

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.. To End it All ..

►▼◄

 

A beam of light wider than her arm poured out from Benahlia’s hands, widening as it shot upwards, fed by Anithar’s Fire. Her inner strength and courage also gave it added power, streaming directly towards the screaming mage..

 

Toward Davian

 

And she felt all her power drain from her body as a monumental crash of thunder made the sky explode as the power-beam hit the dark mage, at the same time as a similar blast came at him from the Gods above, channelled through Anithar.

 

The combined colossal blast destroyed him, throwing energies and matter all through the skies, as if a star had exploded in their midst!

 

 

IT IS ENDED.

 

Daviaaaaan!

 

Benahlia’s scream tore her soul apart - and then she slowly lost conciousness. The last thing she remembered before blackness took her, was that she was thinking about him.

 

Why Davian..? Why did it have to be you..??

 

 

The Goddess of Light assembled all her brothers and sisters in their Realm and spoke with them. She told them of her guilt for not having anticipated the threath that Davian had constituted.

 

She told them of her special connection with Benahlia - and how the High Priestess had helped them destroy the evil Magician.

 

She told them how proud she was of her Daughter.

 

And when the High Priestess awoke some time later, with a heavy head and some tiredness in her body but otherwise unscathed, she told her of her pride.

 

MY TRUST IN YOU WAS NOT MISPLACED, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. YOU WERE STRONG ENOUGH. I AM PROUD OF YOU. CHOSEN ONE.

 

Benahlia smiled gratefully at the praise. She was still somewhat thunderstruck at what had happened, but inwardly relieved that she had performed well when it mattered.

 

She still felt some guilt at her behaviour on the mountain when she had been unable to strike at Davian, but she felt she had redeemed herself in this final battle.

 

Anithar came toward her then and took her in her arms, giving her a warm embrace. Benahlia was taken aback at first but then felt joyful feeling the loving embrace of Anithar. In the arms of her Goddess she floated down toward the earth as the Gate to the Realm of the Gods closed above them. The entry into the world of the Gods was closed once again.

 

Down below there were many signs of destruction and upheaval everywhere but not the cataclysmic, monumental destruction the High Priestess had feared from the gigantic battle in the skies. It would take time, but the world below could - and would - be rebuilt.

 

Gazing around in silence, her thoughts returned to Davian. She found now that she would be able to let him go. She had, perhaps, in some way loved him always, but his descent into Darkness had taken him beyond her in all ways and it was time to put the memories of him behind her.

 

He had tried to destroy the world and such a madman did not deserve her respect or love. He had destroyed himself and noone should feel any guilt for that.

 

She knew that it would take some time for her heart to accept what her mind was telling it about Davian, but she had started on that path as soon as she had awakened. She would get there, she just needed some time.

 

 

Anithar, I have served you well, I hope.

 

MY CHILD, YOU WERE OUR CHAMPION. IN YOUR DEEDS AND THOUGHTS YOU SHOWED THAT YOU WERE WELL CHOSEN.

 

Benahlia thanked her Goddess again. It was time to return to the Temple and her sisters.

 

With a last look up into the sky, she clapped her hands once - and was gone.

 

A whisper remained in the air, until it drifted away on the soft breeze.

 

BE WELL, MY DAUGHTER.

 

 

▀▄

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.. A Reward and A Responsibility ..

►▼◄

 

I understand better now, my Goddess. Thank you.

 

Benahlia sat in her favourite place in the Temple gardens and stared silently at the rebuilding of her Temple. She was alone and the sun was shining down upon her.

 

Her sister-Priestesses were inside the Temple, at the rear where there had been least damage. She had spoken with them several times since her return and they had been overjoyed to find that she was unharmed and proud to hear of her accomplishments.

 

Her entire Order was, in truth, in awe of her and to be honest she found the adoration a little uncomfortable. She therefore spent more and more time on her own, going often to the Temple gardens for solitude.

 

She had listened well to Anithar’s explanation of what had taken place in the world of the Gods, of Davian’s incredible power, and of how close he had been to victory. Anithar had also told her why the Gods had not combined their powers to destroy the Magician; their fear of destroying the world.

 

She still could hardly believe that Davian could have become so powerful … he was a mortal, after all …. but he had been near Godly in strength when utilizing all his power.

 

That thought made her shiver, thinking back on her battle with him right here in the Temple gardens and knowing how he could have killed her so easily had he dared use that strength and power against her and not saved it for the Gods.

 

 

 

It was twilight.

 

Her Goddess sat opposite her with folded hands. Staring at Anithar, Benahlia was struck - once again - by the Goddess’ ethereal, stunning beauty, her perfect features and her radiance. She was also struck by the love she felt for this divine being.

 

Looking away for a moment, she asked one of the many questions she had thought about since her return.

 

Will another come who will challenge the Gods like he did ?

 

MY CHILD, THERE IS ALWAYS THE CHANCE. BUT DAVIAN WAS UNIQUE, MORE UNIQUE THAN ANY OF US KNEW.

 

Benahlia nodded, pushing aside the picture in her mind of a younger Davian in her loving embrace.

 

Then the Goddess added:

 

AND ALSO, WE ARE RESTORING THE EDICTS OF THE GODS, CLOSING THE PORTAL THAT WAS OPENED INTO THIS WORLD.

 

AND THIS TIME.. WE ARE SEALING THAT PATH FOREVER, COMPLETELY.

 

 

Forever …? Completely? Does that mean that you …

 

WE WILL BE GONE FROM THIS WORLD COMPLETELY, EVEN IN THOUGHT … YES, MY CHILD.

 

WE CANNOT RISK ANOTHER UPHEAVAL AND DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD.

WE - THE GODS - HAVE DECIDED THAT WE WILL LET THIS WORLD BE.

 

THE DANGER WE REPRESENT TO THE WORLD IS SIMPLY TOO GREAT.

 

But … but … we need your guidance …

 

MY DAUGHTER, FOLLOW YOUR HEART AND YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH.

 

But ... but ...

 

YOU -. SHALL BE THE ONE TO GUIDE THE PEOPLE OF THIS WORLD.

 

WE LEAVE YOU BEHIND.

 

Me …? But I am just a High Priestess and … and … you, my Goddess will be gone, my powers gone … How can I …

 

MY DAUGHTER, YOU WILL BE.. THE ONE

 

The one …? You don`t mean … you don`t …

 

THE ONE

 

Do you mean …

 

CHILD OF THE GODS, WE BELIEVE IN YOU

 

 

 

Benahlia had no words as comprehension dawned on her at last.

 

She could not have been more stunned had the world ended right there and then!

 

How is that possible..? She asked in stunned disbelief.

 

WE ARE THE GODS. WE CAN MAKE AND UNMAKE.

 

But …

 

CHILD. IT IS YOUR TIME NOW.

 

Tears flowed down Benahlia`s cheeks.. and she did not care to brush them away.

 

A feeling of utter euphoria came over her..

 

This is now my destiny!

 

She screamed inside in pure exaltation..

 

ASINADHA ANITHAR!!

 

I love you, Anithar!

 

..and she wanted to scream her endless joy at the world!

 

▀▄

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.. To Fulfill One’s Fate ..

►▼◄

 

KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE A GODDESS, MY DAUGHTER.

 

With those words reality changed.

 

Day changed into night, the sun gone for a moment in time and replaced by a dark blue night sky. Benahlia felt enormous power flow through her from Anithar, drawing all life out of her and rearranging it in a way.. and she burned like a star ….

 

Burned and shone and … changed … evolved …

Never to be the same again …

 

Thousands of pictures flashed in her mind and she rose slowly from the ground, floating upwards high above the Temple. The light burned her but she did not feel any pain. She did not feel anything.

 

Except the otherworldly rapture!

 

Like a star in the sky she blazed, like the hope of a thousand years manifested in this one being.

 

 

All the colours of the rainbow radiated around her and from her then, from purple to yellow, from green to red, from blue to brown - and it was an awesome sight indeed! Those were eternal seconds, moments where she was connected to the core of the universe; to life and death, to happiness and pain, to the magic of all that was and had been, and the pictures in her mind kept coming with all the wisdom of the Ages, all the memories of what had gone by.

 

TO BE ALL

TO BE ONE

TO PROTECT ALL

 

The earth shook far beneath her, light streamed out from her in heavy waves in a monumental display of power, and a thunderclap ran across the heavens, a herald of what was happening, a herald of the glory of rebirth.

 

And then there was silence.

 

And the blazing star..

 

..descended slowly, and as it did so the burning power lessened, until at last it faded away completely.

 

As Benahlia was once again on the ground her eyes opened - perhaps they had been open all the time, she could not tell - and the darkness was slowly being replaced by daylight once again. The sun was soon shining up in the day sky, and what had happened but a memory within a memory. A memory outside of time.

 

IT IS DONE.

 

How she could not say, just that when an eternity had passed, or perhaps just a few seconds in time, she felt the same and yet not, looked the same and yet not, spoke the same and yet not, was the same and yet not.

 

She was different.

 

Changed.

 

She was Eternal.

 

 

She knew it without needing any explanation. Her heart filled with such happiness and exileration and love that it felt as if it would explode - and at the same time she felt such awe and wonder as was undescribable!

 

She was immortal.

 

She was now a Goddess.

 

It could not be … but it was.

 

YES, MY CHILD. YOU ARE NOW TRULY MY DAUGHTER. AS THE ONLY GODDESS OF THIS WORLD, WE LEAVE YOU BEHIND TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD AND CARE FOR IT AS YOU WOULD FOR YOUR OWN CHILD.

 

THE WORLD IS YOUR CHILD NOW.

 

WE KNOW YOU WILL DO IT WITH WISDOM AND LOVE.

 

Benahlia, formerly High Priestess of Anithar, now a Goddess of this world, replied in soft tones:

 

MOTHER, I HAVE NO WORDS …NO WORDS …

 

NO WORDS ARE NECESSARY. GIVE GUIDANCE TO THOSE WHO SEEK IT, MY CHILD.

 

AND REMEMBER THAT WE CAN’T SEE INTO THE FUTURE. THE FUTURE IS A PRODUCT OF OUR ACTIONS, A PRODUCT OF OUR DEEDS. WE ARE WHAT WE DO. MAKE SURE YOU DO WHAT IS RIGHT.

 

WE WILL REMEMBER YOU FOREVER. YOU ARE NOW ONE OF US. AND ALWAYS WILL BE.

 

You are now one of us.

 

One of us.

 

The words echoed in her mind …

 

GOODBYE, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. GOODBYE, MY CHILD.

 

GOODBYE, MOTHER. I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER IN MY HEART.

 

AND I YOU, DAUGHTER. I WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU, IN YOUR HEART.

FOR ALL ETERNITY.

 

 

And then Anithar the Goddess of Light was gone, forever gone from this world - and in her heart Benahlia, new Goddess of Light and only Deity of this world, knew that the gateway to the Realm of the Gods was closed forever.

 

She was left alone in this world, to guide, to care for, to protect and to love - but she would never be all alone. Anithar would always be with her. In her heart.

 

And the new Goddess would be a part of all that was; a part of the sky, a part of the earth, a part of the oceans - a part of the world. She felt the love and wisdom and knowledge given her by her Mother and she smiled beautifully.

 

She was immortal - and she would care for the lands ‘till the end of time.

 

AND NO MORTAL SHALL RISE AGAIN TO CHALLENGE HIS OR HER GODDESS. I SHALL MAKE SURE OF THAT.

 

I SHALL LOVE AND PROTECT MY WORLD FOR ALL TIME.

 

She flowed into the earth at the Temple grounds then, becoming one with all that was in this world, one with her Child, to hold and protect, to love and care for, and was never seen again by mortal man.

 

Only a whisper lingered on the wind as she disappeared, and it was a whisper filled with purpose, a whisper filled with certainty, a whisper of a fate fulfilled.

 

I HAVE FULFILLED MY DESTINY.

 

I AM BENAHLIA, THE GODDESS OF LIGHT.

 

THIS IS MY CALLING.

 

▀▄▀▄ ▀▄

 

THE END

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