The Mage's Council
As she followed the golden steps that led to the crystalline dome, Kyria tried to recall what she had learned to prepare her for this moment. The moment when she would be called upon to be the savior of all—the Chosen One, the child of prophecy who was destined to confront the vile Zoldex and his forces of evil, returning peace and prosperity to the land.
Only a few months prior, she had known none of this. She was merely a normal twelve-year-old girl, living in a small fishing village and experiencing the joys that life had to offer. Of course, life had not always been an easy one, she recalled: her father had been plagued with a chronic illness that had left their family struggling to even put food on the table, but the three of them had been happy.
That was before her life had taken a radical turn, sending her spiraling out of control on a path of danger and destruction. It all began with invasive visions of events that boggled her mind: she witnessed and experienced the adventures of a small group of Madrew elves as they tried to find her, their elders having prophesied that she was the one to face their ancient foe.
This foe, she soon learned was twofold. The first was a man that the Madrew had considered a god, and later overthrew. His name was Zoldex, and he had been cruel, vicious and unforgiving. He subjected generations of Madrew elves to fear and turmoil; when he finally fell before their might, he summoned an even greater threat to seek vengeance upon his former subjects.
Kyria remembered Zoldex all too well. She had heard his icy voice and felt his cold shadowy touch upon her. After leaving the land of the Madrew, he came to the Seven Kingdoms, organizing vast forces of evil and besieging the land.
The other threat was a demon lord whose name she did not know, a creature she had never met. In fact, she had only heard a short tale of the history of Zoldex from her mentor and friend, Kai, the simple telling of which seemed to make the elven warrior shudder in fear. How anyone could be worse than Zoldex, Kyria was uncertain, but she knew that she would one day learn.
In her travels, she had made many allies and friends: from Arkham, there was her best friend Nezbith, and her former adversary, Nezbith’s older brother, Nerellin. She feared both were killed when the retaliating forces of the Imperium had destroyed their village.
She could not blame the Imperium for the destruction of her home, though everything she ever knew and cared for was lost in the onslaught. She knew that Zoldex had consumed the people of Arkham and that they committed great travesties under his influence, thus inviting the wrath of Lord Braksis and his troops.
Kai had managed to rescue her nearly lifeless body from the destruction and brought her north where she was able to heal her with a potion from the waters of Shimendyn. From the first moment she opened her eyes and set her gaze upon Kai, they were thrust into constant peril, fleeing for their lives as they confronted threat after threat.
At first, the two of them struggled against hobgoblins that were also under Zoldex’s influence. These warriors had been advancing into the Suspintian Forest with the single goal of destroying the ancient races that lived within. Though Kai led them away from the forest, Kyria knew that there were elves, centaurs, gnomes, fairies and several other races within the forest that would soon be attacked.
Their travels soon brought them in touch with a pair of centaurs, Atlija and Jabrenn, who were searching for allies in their war against Zoldex. The four briefly traveled together and faced off against a variety of creatures that would plague Kyria’s nightmares for years: a slitharell, kriverlings, brooswar, barls, a metamorph, and a torogon. Far too many threats for such a short amount of time.
Atlija and Jabrenn both fell before the spell of the torogon, which turned them into stone. Unable to revert the spell, Kyria convinced Kai that they should continue the mission to try and find allies in the war against Zoldex, but fate had a very different plan for them.
Before they moved on, Kai performed a ritual known as the Awakening. Although Kyria had already experienced some random powers and inexplicable intuitions, she did not truly become a mystical entity until the ritual had been completed. This process brought her latent powers to the forefront, and with each passing day her powers grew stronger and stronger.
Even with these ever-increasing abilities, she was unable to overcome her own destiny. Kyria, Kai, and the minotaur Grazlin were hunted by the Gatherers, sent to bring her back to the Mage’s Council. Their attacks were relentless and hostile, and the trio feared for their own safety.
In their final battle together, Kai had been severely injured, and though Grazlin fought well, he too would have succumbed to the superior numbers led by Tarwas, a vicious sarnal. That was when Kyria knew that there was something that she could do. An option that she had been unaware of previously.
Mystically, she conjured a shimmering sword, and she instinctively knew that with this blade in her hand, she was able to manipulate the fabric of reality itself. She took the sword and sliced a tear in time and space, sending Grazlin through with the injured Kai. As Kyria was about to join them, she was struck from behind and rendered unconscious.
Now, she finds herself here, in a hallway of marble and gold, leading her to a crystal dome. A man named Zane told her that her fate was to be decided within. As she slowly walked up the golden steps, she realized that she still had not learned enough. She did not feel that she was ready to confront her destiny. If Zoldex were indeed inside this jeweled hall, she would not be able to fulfill the prophecy of the Madrew.
Realizing that she had no choice but to face her fate, she ascended the stairwell and stopped, defiant, before the crystal dome. It extended throughout the hall with golden braces holding the individual crystal panes in place.
Reaching her hand out reluctantly, she felt the solid crystal wall in front of her, and then it gave way, her hand passing through it as if it were no more solid than maple syrup. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and stepped through the crystal, ready to face whatever her destiny may bring.
Walking through the crystal wall was an interesting experience. Kyria felt as if she were submerged in a highly viscous liquid. The sensation was awkward as she continued straight through, but she felt the resistance lessen and stop, with her safely on the other side.
Opening her eyes, she was not at all prepared for what she would see: rather than having the dreaded Zoldex before her waiting to confront her, she saw nine individuals from a myriad of races standing by chairs that were of various shapes and sizes. All nine of them gazed at her intently as she entered the chamber.
The room itself was a large circular chamber, completely encased within the crystal dome she had just walked through. As she had observed on the outside, a detailed web of gold held the crystal in place and circled at the peak of the chamber.
The floor of the chamber was also ornately decorated in golden patterns, a spiral of white marble leading to the center of the room. There at its heart was a large nine-pronged star that sparkled and glimmered, each point leading to one of the chairs that encircled the room.
The people themselves all wore long robes and cloaks that were white with varying degrees of golden patterns and designs weaved through them. As she entered the chamber and approached its center, she saw that before her was a man whose robes were entirely gold with no signs of white at all. His emerald eyes not only focused on her, but she felt as if he could see into her very soul with his piercing gaze.
Gradually turning clockwise to see all of the people in the room, she looked to the next individual. Unlike the bald man with entirely golden robes, this mans robes were white with large golden designs of different animals flowing throughout his outfit. He wore a solid gold mask that covered his face from his forehead down to his nose and cheeks; Kyria noted that the mask did not have any openings for his eyes to see through. Below the mask, he had a long white beard that flowed in disarray down his chest. Upon his shoulder, a small furry creature that could fit in the palm of her hand was perched. It had a small pink face and nose that was bobbing up and down as it was studying her.
Continuing her slow appraisal, Kyria noted that the next man was like the golden-clad warriors in her vision of the battle when she foresaw herself faltering. He was an avarian, with long golden blonde hair and a matching beard and mustache. His wings, protruding from the back of his robes and cloak, were currently folded behind him. Like the man in the mask, his robes were mostly white with golden designs, his composed of harps, hearts, and various floral patterns. As she looked him over, she saw him smile at her with a very welcoming gaze, his ice-blue eyes twinkling at her like a star.
The next individual made her drop back in shock, stumbling towards one of the other members. It was a lupan, as large and ferocious looking as the one that the Dartian hunters, Boudie and Drew, slew as it charged towards them. He was the largest in the room with white fur, deep-set blue eyes, and sharp predatory teeth protruding from his open mouth. As she stumbled backwards, he reached out a clawed hand, and she turned away from him, stumbling into a centaur.
As she looked up at the centaur, she could see fury displayed on his albino face. His skin was pure white, like snow, as were his eyes and the long wavy hair that trailed down his back.
“Get off of me, human!” he barked in disgust.
Crawling backwards and away from him, she stopped and looked over her shoulder remembering the lupan that awaited her on the other side of the chamber. Seeking a friendly face, she quickly glanced around at the others in the room.
To the left of the centaur was a rather striking and attractive individual, but her head had burst into flame. Her face was pearl-tinged, leading up to light-blue flames that emanated from the top of her head, her eyes of a hue slightly lighter than the flames. The golden marks upon her robes were waves of flames surrounding a golden volcano on the center of her chest.
Kyria was relieved to see another race that she was familiar with on this woman’s other side. Like the pirate, Kor, this man was an aquatican. He had blue skin with well-groomed lime-green hair and beard. He had pointed ears poking through his hair that reminded her of her elven friend Kai. Returning her gaze, he appeared to be a very bold and proud man.
As she turned to look to the individual on his left, she saw a very striking and attractive elf. Though she had pale skin, unlike the distinctive light-pink shade of Kai, she did have long, flowing pink hair. The elf was looking to her right and whispering to a dwarf. As the elf turned her light blue eyes back to gaze at her, Kyria took a startled breath as she saw half of the elf’s face severely scarred, as if burned.
The dwarf was the final occupant in the chamber. Although she had only seen dwarves in her visions, she knew that this man was a member of their race, even if he did lack the beard that Thamar and his companions prided themselves upon so much. Completely clean-shaven, his white hair was short in the back and flowed towards his temples like waves that lifted from his forehead and looped out slightly to the sides. He, too, had light blue eyes, and nodded briefly to her as she looked at him. With the exception of the first man she looked at, he had the most gold stitched in his outfit, showing only a few slight strands of white woven within.
After she had finished examining each of the individuals in the room, they all stepped in front of their respective chairs and sat down. Kyria scanned their faces for some sign as to what she was supposed to do or why she was here. Their eyes all remained fixed upon her, and with the exception of the centaur that was looking at her with pure disdain, their expressions were unreadable.
The bald-headed man at the head of the chamber leaned forward. Kyria felt as if he were looking even deeper inside of her. “My name is Pierce,” he declared in a deep and demanding voice. “Do you know why you are here?”
Kyria turned her own attention directly to the man speaking to her. “No sir, I do not.”
“Do you know where you are?” he asked.
“No sir, I do not,” she repeated.
Leaning back in his chair, Pierce crossed his fingers and tapped his chin with his two index fingers.
“If I may ask, why was I brought here?”
“You were brought here because you are an enigma. You are like no other Mage, yet I can feel the power and potential that flows through your veins,” Pierce explained. “You were brought here, because we wish to uncover this puzzle and determine precisely what you are.”
“I am a girl,” Kyria replied quickly. “From the town of Arkham,”
“If only that were so,” Pierce somberly replied. “Nevertheless, you are here to have your fate determined.”
Kyria scanned the chamber again to see all nine faces studying her. What gave these people the right to determine her fate?
“We are the Council of Elders, and we determine all that is to transpire with magical entities in the realm,” Pierce declared, an unyielding edge in his voice. “That gives us the right to determine your fate.”
Kyria paused with a puzzled expression on her face. Could this man actually know what she was thinking?
“Yes,” Pierce replied. “There are no secrets that can be kept from me.”
“You can read my thoughts, but I am in the dark about you? Could you please explain what is going on? Who you all are?”
“Very well,” Pierce agreed. “As I said, we are the Council of Elders. We are the ruling body of the Mage’s Council, and as I said, we determine the laws and rules for all magical entities. This Council is composed of only the wisest, the strongest, the most experienced and diplomatic members of the Mage’s Council.”
Pierce extended his arm in a wave to take in those around him. “As you can see, the Council will only allow one member for each race to represent, though not all races are represented on the Council. I am an eternal, the founder and leader of the Council.”
He then looked at each member in the room, moving in a circular pattern starting with the masked-man on his left. “This is Master Jeffa, a human.”
Jeffa nodded slowly. The small furry creature upon his shoulder began bobbing its head up and down again as it tried to see her from different angles. “It is a klatia, my dear. He serves as my eyes, for I am blind.”
Kyria smiled at the pink-faced klatia and thought that it was adorable. In response, she watched as Jeffa returned her smile with a welcoming one of his own.
“Master Senix, an avarian,” Pierce declared.
The avarian that had smiled at her earlier did so again. Leaping from his seat with a beat of his wings, he reached out for her hand, bent over and kissed it gently. “Welcome to the Mage’s Council,” he said as if reading a sonnet.
“Thank you,” Kyria returned, not certain what reply would suffice.
“Master Hergzenbarung, a lupan,” Pierce said.
Kyria turned and looked up at the lupan, determined not to be scared this time. Though she felt that the lupan she saw slain was unjustly so, she still knew that they were ferocious and bloodthirsty beasts. To be so close to one was frightening. As she looked into his eyes, she could see a distinct tenderness, as if he were a harmless soul trapped in the body of a ferocious beast.
“My friends call me Herg,” he declared in a surprisingly pleasant voice. It was not at all what Kyria suspected, and in truth, was very clear and almost musical. “I do hope that one day you will be kind enough to consider me as such.”
“I am sorry for my initial reaction,” Kyria uttered apologetically.
“No need for the apology, child. I understand all too well that many beings see lupans as beasts. I have grown accustomed to this,” he said with a slight hint of sorrow. “Please, consider it forgotten already.”
Kyria smiled sweetly to him and nodded in respect. She hoped that she had not hurt him at all. His words were encouraging, but his tone and his eyes told another tale. She did not wish to add to his torment, and hoped that she would one day be able to make amends somehow.
“Master Ilfanti, a dwarf,” Pierce continued.
Ilfanti nodded but did not say anything. As she looked at him, she felt that he was a very honorable and respected dwarf, but he was reserving judgment on her.
“Master Cala, an elf,” Pierce interrupted her thoughts.
“You should consider yourself fortunate, Master Ilfanti rarely stops speaking in our presence. To hear him speechless is an oddity,” Cala teased as she smiled toward the dwarf.
Ilfanti returned her smile as if they shared a secret between them and then returned his cold gaze to the child before him.
“Master Ariness, an aquatican,” Pierce said.
Master Ariness peered at her and pointed towards her neck. “I see a symbol of aquatican aristocracy: to be presented with it is a great honor,” he explained in a calm and even tone that demanded attention.
Gently caressing her necklace, Kyria remembered when Kor had presented it to her. It was shortly after he saved them from the drelenkin and they then shared the swordfish that the Last Hope had ensnared. “Yes, it was a gift from a sea captain I met,” Kyria replied.
“A sea captain?” Ariness questioned with interest.
“Actually, he was a pirate. A man named Kor,” Kyria admitted.
“No doubt the necklace was stolen then,” the centaur sneered.
Ariness raised a single finger to his lip to beckon the centaur to be quiet. Then he slowly replied. “I do not believe this was stolen, for I know of a Kor. Poor decisions have led to hard times, but once he was the ruler of a proud and mighty aquatican family. It is quite possible that he is one and the same as the pirate that young Kyria encountered.”
Looking at her necklace with a new admiration, Kyria gently tucked it underneath her blouse.
“Master Cinzia, a photon,” Pierce announced.
Cinzia lowered her head in a slight nod, but like Ilfanti, said nothing. Kyria returned the gesture and then looked at the final member, the centaur that clearly disliked her.
“And finally, Master Promethisus, a centaur,” Pierce concluded.
Kyria turned away from him quickly; she could see a raging inferno in his eyes, as if he wished she were burning in Tanorus, the fire pits of the underworld.
“Now that you know who we are,” Pierce said, “we shall determine your fate.”
“How will you do this?” Kyria asked, a slight tingle of fear in the back of her mind over what they were going to do to her.
“We have all had the opportunity to peer deep inside of you. Nothing has been hidden from the Council. We shall discuss your future with great interest and inform you of our decision.”
“That’s it? You look at me and then decide what is to be done with me? You’re not even going to ask me any questions?” Kyria pleaded.
“You will return through the crystal barrier and await our decision,” Pierce instructed. His words were final and left little room for discussion.
Kyria glanced around the room again at the Council members, and with a sigh of defeat, she slowly walked back to the crystal wall she entered from, and pressed her hand against it. As before, she slowly moved through and appeared back in the golden hall.
Sitting down on the top step, she closed her eyes and thought of Kai. She wondered if this was the path that she truly was destined to take. She knew that Kai felt uncertain of her own ability to tutor Kyria because she herself had not been gifted with mystical abilities, but was the Mage’s Council truly her destiny?
As she looked back at the crystal wall, she decided that she would have to be patient as the Council of Elders deliberated and decided her fate.
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