Prologue

Beneath her, swirling mists of time and space billowed and spiraled chaotically. Dara slowly passed her hand amongst them creating a circular hole in which she could view her son below. Isil- Ra seemed proud of his creation, spending hours forming, molding and inventing his world into existence. She smiled fondly and drew the mists back into place.

Deverous was harder to find as he never stayed in one place for long, but eventually she came upon him. Her younger son sat above a dark planet, creating small fantasies, which were then destroyed to make room for new ones. The energies surrounding him were raw and uncontrolled, his mind impatient for excitement, yet soon bored, soon yearning for more. Worried she watched for a long time, wracking her brains for a way to access Deverous’s plane of existence. But it was hopeless. She was little more than air around his planet and could not speak and advise her son of the dangers in his game of create and destroy.

If only she had been younger when she had given birth, had more time to educate her sons. She blamed herself for the wait, but in reality neither her nor her peers had been aware of the facts of ascension.

She attempted to reach Isil-Ra, to warn him of his brother’s peril, but even though his mind was calm, her breath like touch could not steal his focus away from his work.

She circled his planet, watching as he made small likenesses of himself and placed them on the landscapes he had sculpted so lovingly, bathing in the luxurious medley of minds that were gradually becoming independent of each other. Pushing her worries aside for a while, she walked his lands, in awe at his masterpiece. By touching her feet to the planets surface she found that she could become more than air, she could replicate the mists that were her lifetimes achievement, she could feel the many new surfaces, the people themselves, birds, animals, plants, rocks. And here and there she found that a small number of these life forms became aware of her as more than air and water. Some minds could actually make out her form. Fascinated she played with these minds, connected with them until at last she found a way of communicating.

Inspiration filled her, and she realised that this might be a way to warn Isil Ra of his brother’s peril. If she could find a human mind that was strong enough to act as a gateway for her own thoughts, and even to act on her suggestions, then Isil- Ra may become aware of her.

The task was a long one, aggravated by the fact that she had to constantly return to her own plane to recuperate her strength.

The emanation of wrongness first became evident to her after one such sojourn. She was heading back to a mountainous land, where she had been working closely with a woman who was beginning to have some understanding of the presence that was Dara, when she hit an area where everything around her appeared heavy with a seething, green mass of malice. Startled she searched for the cause, sure that Isil-Ra could not have created such a place, and found a desolate region that housed, beneath its surface, a tribe of people with hatred in their hearts and minds. It didn’t take her long to sense another energy, similar yet different to her own, another who had found access to Isil-Ra’s space, but who had no finesse in his actions. Deverous.

His plans soon became obvious. In a fit of jealousy at his brother’s creation he had decided to corrupt it from the inside. Isil-Ra was so engrossed in his project that Deverous had managed to become a godhead to a spreading number of people, their worship and will to believe increasing his strength to far more than Dara’s own.

Horrified at the ramifications, Dara hastened to her retreat in the dark caves of Torland where she worked with renewed vigour to enlighten the ageing woman.

After many years, and many efforts to lengthen the natural life span of the woman, Dara at last found a way to speak clearly. She had fashioned an amulet in her own likeness, made from her own hair, hardened to withstand any punishment. When in contact with the chosen women’s skin the amulet acted as a bridge to Dara. In earnest she told all she knew of her sons and the effects of Deverous’s actions upon the people of the land. The woman vowed to revere her, and act as a voice for Dara in the world. Yet the danger to her disciple from Deverous’s tribes was great and so Dara made sure the woman remained hidden, only found by those in great need. The woman could only answer three questions to any one person, and only what was in their heart. In this way Dara protected her disciple from interrogation and harm.

Weakened by her work Dara returned to her own home, leaving the woman with the task of finding the next disciple, and teaching her all she needed to know.

And so began a long line of seeresses, hidden within the Tor Mountains, their location kept secret by the priests of Isil-Ra who had no idea of whom they were really hiding. And all the while Deverous grew in strength, gradually eating into his brother’s world, recreating as he went, upsetting the delicate balance of life that Isil- Ra created.

Until such a time when Isil-Ra became aware of his brother. His anger at Deverous was immense. Ripping his brother’s energy from the planet surface caused severe ripples that became monstrous cracks in the finely landscaped surface. Mountains sunk into seas, the quaking ground swallowed whole lands, and the peoples of the lands were nearly extinguished altogether. At the last minute Isil-Ra realised the consequences of his actions. In desperation he threw his brothers energy into the far-reaching heavens and turned his attention back to the chaos he had caused.

Deverous’s energy dispersed into the universe. Yet it remained Deverous, and so slowly drew back into his form, pulled like a magnet to seething metal. Weakened, but fuelled by his anger, Deverous returned to his own small world to put right the many mistakes he had made, and to plan for the destruction of Isil-Ra’s world.

That was many centuries ago.

Miglais sat surrounded by ornate cushions, watching the fire’s shadows lap the cave walls. The small amulet hanging between her breasts was quite warm now and she relaxed her mind waiting for the Goddess Dara to speak. Mist slowly entered the room, weaving its ethereal spirals with the shadows.

“Miglais,” a seductive voice whispered, echoing through out the cave, or perhaps it only echoed inside the old woman’s head.

“My lady I hear you,” Miglais voice croaked in reply.

“The strands are drawing together, the time is upon us.”

“I am prepared My Lady, with your help.”

“You grow old my friend, and weary. One is in the world now that will replace you. You will know her when she comes.”

“Thank you.” Miglais bowed her head to the voice.

“I will begin my return.”

The mists swirled, but instead of dissipating they parted to reveal a scene.

The moon shone on dark treetops rustling like a green sea, stretching away into the distance.

A figure stood on a plateau that shimmered in the moonlight, the stone iridescent, run through with creeping tendrils of crystal. The soft light touched the face of a young woman, creating an unearthly beauty, shining on long, black hair as she shook it free of all restraints. A slight breeze blew her cloak around her body and she threw back her head to feel the cool lunar glow on her skin. Laughing softly, she held out her arms to embrace the rays. After what seemed like a long time she sat cross-legged on her coarse wool cloak, hands cupped in her lap, breathing air deeply into her lungs. As she sunk down into meditation the mists closed around her until she was completely hidden from view.

The amulet cooled suddenly, and Miglais breathed deeply, trepidation filling her. Was that the person who was to help her? The visions were not usually so simple. Miglais eased herself up onto two weary legs and began her preparations for the task that she, and her predecessors had spent lifetimes in training for.

Chapter 1

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