"A Beacon of Hope"
Soaring high above the Moonlands, leaving the cloud-sprawling city of Arderial behind, the Starkeeper had been left to her thoughts and an expansive view of the moon below. Orothe was uneasy, still recovering from its battle with Cald, and was rife with dark waters that hid growing horrors. The volcanoes of Cald angrily spewed forth lava and columns of smoke that reached up to choke the skies of her homeland. To the west, the Weave was discolored and sickly, an unsettling sight unto itself. The fog of war had thinned around Paradwyn and Bograth, but both lands?colors were dimmed and muted, much like the trees of Naroom. It was with weary eyes that Delia surveyed this, while a sullen spirit carried her home.
A warm breeze greeted Delia as she swooped down upon her balcony. The air upon her face was refreshing, as the trip home had been lonely and had chilled her soul. Often Delia wondered why she kept her home so far from the capitol, but as she stretched and took a deep breath she remembered how the tranquility of her small museum-library would get trampled under the feet of young Arderians and wayward lowlanders. Her smile quickly diminished as thoughts of the turbulent times rose in her mind like storm front.
Delia sighed as she dispersed her guide-wings. Though the magical wings greatly enhanced her flight abilities, it made navigating through a home full of breakable knick-knacks extremely tricky. ? Running fingers through her cloud-dampened hair, she noted that she had gone more than a week since having it cropped. ? You can’t be so busy that you can’t get a haircut, can you young lady? She sighed again as she realized that she truly was. The Arderian skies were seemingly the only place safe from the encroaching shadows—and long forgotten allies were raising voices with close friends, a pleading chorus asking for the help of Arderial.
Delia’s mind began wandering in and out of various proceedings as she drifted through stacks of books and innumerable displays of ancient relics that were little more than toys. For countless days Delia had been in council with Jaela, advising the Regis on matters of state. She would still be there now, had Jaela not noticed how long it had been since the Starkeeper had slept. Delia began running her fingers along the smooth wall as she descended the spiral stair to her humble kitchen. The sun would be setting soon and she intended to begin her little vacation by enjoying her two favorite things: the sunset and a cup of steaming baloo tea.
In short fashion, the exhausted Magi returned to her balcony with a book under her arm and a saucer in her hand. Atop the saucer was a crystalline cup filled to the brim with hot emerald liquid. Sitting carefully in her reading chair, Delia settled in to while away the few minutes before sunset by starting the book Evu had lent her years ago. Better get this read, her optimism struggled to shrug off the weight on her soul, I should very much like to return it to the old man when we free him. Setting her tea on top of the stack of books that had been resting next to her chair for many months, she opened the well-made Naroomian tome and began to read.
"Call me Ish? She would gladly have continued, but the light was gone.
As Delia raised her head to see where her last few minutes of sunlight had gone, an imposing silhouette greeted her. ? Towering above her was the frame of a gargantuan Hyren, blocking out the sun and blackened by the halo of light surrounding it. As her eyes adjusted, the shadowy creature lowered two serpentine necks that each supported a pair of glowing azure eyes. The Hyren then leaned back, resting on its hindquarters, allowing the sun to peek over its massive shoulder. Like a cascading waterfall, cobalt color washed over the noble creature’s shimmering hide.
Delia remained as composed as she could, and spoke with dignified tone. "King of all Hyren," she blinked hard, making sure of what she saw, "what brings you to my door?"
"Dreams of better days," the Monarch Hyren spoke with two voices at once. Delia found it hard not to be distracted by the light flickering across her balcony. ? The glowing furnaces within the Hyren’s twin mouths cast lightning-like flashes as it spoke.
"I hope to have such dreams, myself." Delia smiled at the Hyren Lord. For a creature so intimidating, its very presence exuded calm.
"We have been watching things come to pass, wise Magi, some with our eyes and some from the plane of dreams. You children of El have made war on one another while your true enemies crept upon you."
Barely noticing the once relished breeze, Delia moved to the edge of her balcony as her majestic guest continued.
"Our kind have long been friends to your people, wherever they may call home, and it is clear to us now that we are needed by our friends."
Delia was humbled by the Monarch Hyren’s tone, and found herself speaking equally soft. "I thank you, great Hyren King, but I fear that we would misuse your aid. ? You have witnessed how we have wielded the power of our ancestors. We go to battle over missing trinkets. When suspicions arise it is to the sword we turn, not words." Crossing her arms, she turned to face the sun. "The sun is setting on the Magi Nation, and in the hour when we need your help the most we have merely proven we are not worthy of it."
The mighty Hyren leaned both of its powerful heads close to Delia. "This is why we have chosen a worthy vassal to carry our aid."
Delia’s heart leapt into her throat, but she dared not to presume.
"In her hands, our gift could be a banner to which the righteous flock: Magi and Hyren alike…if she but chooses to bear it."
Delia again faced the imposing figure. "She would have to be strong to carry the fate of two peoples."
"And if she is afraid?"
"It is from fear that hope is born."
Delia closed her eyes; she wanted to cry but would not allow herself. The Monarch Hyren’s breath was warm and smelled of sweet berries. Having forgotten until now how tired she really was, she fought back the urge to wrap herself in the Hyren’s breath and sleep away time. Opening her eyes slowly, she nodded slightly. "She is ready."
Without hesitation, the pair of cobalt heads lifted high above Delia’s home and loosed a harmonic call toward the heavens. ? Delia looked up in awe as in response a rainbow began stretching from a distant cloud. As it neared, she could make out the form of a Hyren at its head. ? This newcomer glided effortlessly through the air as it made its way past the Hyrenlord. Its powerful form was not wrought by lightning, nor was it made of starlight; but it was one of the most impressive sights that the skies had ever offered her eyes. In size it rivaled the oldest Vellup she had ever seen, and yet it moved with the grace of an Alaban while leaving a feint rainbow in its wake.
Delia took a step backward as the great beast settled itself upon the railing of her balcony, its prismatic presence towering over her small form. The Hyren was much too large for the railing to support, and Delia feared it would crumble. But instead of hearing her old home groan in complaint, she watched in amazement as the creature shimmered and faded from view as it came to rest. All that was left behind was a diminutive, multi-hued Hyren smiling at up at her from barely the height of her waist.
Astonished, she gently offered a hand to the multi-hued Hyren. It laid its chin in her offered hand.
The two melodic voices of the Monarch Hyren spoke again, "From the farthest corners of the land will come our Hyren, and with this? The Monarch tilted one head to indicate the Rainbow Hyren, "…they will know our mind. Use their power well, wise Magi, and we may yet again see peace in this world."
With a single beat of its colossal wings, the Monarch Hyren launched itself into the air before diving down through the clouds. ? Delia’s eyes followed until its form vanished from sight. Looking back to her new companion, she found that it had vanished, leaving only a twinkling shard of animite rolling around in her hand.
Thoughtfully, she backed against her reading chair and sat. ? The tea at her side was still warm, and the sky was turning red as a blushing Calder while the sun blazed on the horizon.
Lifting the animite before her, she watched the rainbow dance across her skin as the shard split the last rays of daylight into millions of colors. Smiling warmly, she turned the animite back and forth in her fingers.
Giddy with a sudden rush of renewed spirit and energy, she thought to herself: Jaela is never going to believe this.
With that, she dashed from her chair and summoned her guide-wings.
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