Chalania slowly drew the shape she wanted. The lines of magic hung in the air before her, glittering brightly.
When she was satisfied with the figure, she picked up a handful of the ground mix of silver and Giliv's Star then
threw it on the magical construct. For a moment a winged unicorn, an alicorn, hung in the air, slowly flapped his
wings and tossed his horn. Chalania spoke a word of power, clapped her hands together and the alicorn vanished
in a brilliant flash of light.
When her vision cleared, the sorceress studied the silver alicorn design now inlaid on the floor. She nodded her
head satisfaction with the power contained in the glittering shape and spoke another word of power. A silver tray
appeared before her carrying twelve black star-shaped stones.
She picked up one of the stones and traced a design on its surface with the tip of her finger. "Afelassi," she said
as a silver dove etched itself into the glossy surface of the stone. She cupped both her hands around the stone and
felt the cold surface grow warm. A slender tendril of mist snaked its way from between her fingers and moved to
anchor itself at the base of the alicorn's horn. Chalania placed the stone at the point where the mist merged with
the alicorn, then picked up the next stone from the tray.
Twelve stones, one to represent each of the Gods of Salamacia were placed on the alicorn. The magic imbued in
the stones connected and merged with the magic contained in the figure. Chalania closed her eyes and studied the
power fields. Everything was balanced together and ready for the final casting.
She reached for the parchment with the words of the ancient prophecy she had discovered years ago, when she
was still the High Priestess of the Isle. A prophecy buried in the deepest levels of the temple along with
knowledge that was forbidden to all but the High Priest or High Priestess, but forgotten over the centuries.
Knowledge that at one time there had been only one God. One God, whose sacred symbol and avatar was the
alicorn. Just as the twelve had their sacred animals, which also served as their avatars, so had the One. However,
alicorns had not been seen in Salamacia since the cataclysm that had sundered the world and the Pantheon.
Chalania had found the information in one of the texts hidden in one of the deepest rooms of the temple. An area
only the High Priest and High Priestess were allowed to enter. She had almost passed the small room by except
for the glint of silver in the dust on the wall that had caught her eye. Cleaning the layers of dust and grim from a
small plaque, she had found these words:
That Which was Complete
Then Torn Asunder
Must Be Rejoined
The Many Made Two.
Twelve Stones of Power
All Parts of a Soul
Two Shall Join Together
The Many Made Whole.
Chalania recited the words of the prophecy and felt the power build in the casting chamber of her tower. The
pressure threatened to crush her with its weight and force. She raised her staff and held it in front of her, parallel
to the floor. Slowly, she circled the alicorn twelve times, reciting the prophecy as the power continued to build.
When she was done, she brought the tip of her staff down to rest of the point of the alicorn's horn. The pressure
vanished and Chalania staggered from the sudden release. She smiled as a gray mist filled the area of the alicorn
and twelve tendrils formed and connected with the stones.
The tower shuddered and Chalania fought to maintain control of the magical energies still at work. Another
shudder and a crack appeared in the floor, splitting the alicorn. The mist vanished and with it all but one of the
stones. The stone representing Draykon, the God of Deception, whose avatar was a dragon.
The tower shuddered a third time and Chalania fell to the floor. The last thing she saw as the stones of the
building began falling around her was a flash of lightening and a large blue dragon coiling itself around the
remaining stone. That and the thin tendril of mist still connected to the black stone bearing the image of Draykon's
Dwynia looked up from the black hoof she was examining on her horse when the temple bells began ringing. It
was time for those participating in the games to assemble to receive the blessing of the Goddesses. She glanced
around the stable and saw no one else there with her. She knew she might be missed, but she had a more
important task than listening to the chants of the priestesses this night if she expected to win at the games.
Her best horse, Moonmist, had picked up a stone yesterday and was still having problems with his right foreleg.
If he was to run in the races, he needed to be sound. If she was to win the races, she needed him. While she
intended to compete in most of the combat categories, Dwynia knew it was in the equestrian events she would be
able to excel. Provided she could get Moonmist healed in time.
"Dwynia!" A commanding voice yelled across the stable. Several of the horses snorted and began pawing at the
straw in their stalls at the intrusion. A few neighed challenges and kicked at the doors of their stalls. The voice
echoed in the large stable making it difficult to identify who had shouted.
Moonmist threw up his head and started to rear. Dwynia caught his halter and pulled his head down. She talked to
him in a soft voice, as she dodged his dancing hooves.
As she calmed the high-strung stallion, Dwynia caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of her right eye.
She turned to face the intruder. "What were you thinking, yelling like that in here?" she demanded. She froze
when she saw her mother, Larissa, standing there.
Her mother was in her formal robes, with the golden staff and crown. Her crown sat easily on her head, holding
the mass of black curls from her face.
"My apologies for my tone," Dwynia said with a bow. She had learned long ago to treat her mother with the
respect due her position as Queen when she was in full formal mode.
"You were not among those going to the temple for the Goddesses blessing. Why?" Larissa leaned her staff
against the wall as she watched her daughter and the silver-gray stallion.
"Moonmist picked up a stone yesterday. I needed to check him."
"Is it healing?"
"Not as well as I would like. He's still tender in that hoof. I don't think he'll be able to run; not after the trip to the
Her mother stood quietly for a moment. "Find Rigodia. Ask her to prepare a poultice of crushed Gwewien's
Tears. Apply that to the bruised area. Take another mount for the trip and allow Moonmist to travel without a
rider, gear or packs. If you let him take it easy on the trip, he should be able to compete."
Dwynia nodded then smiled. "Thank you. I'll go find Dia right away." She patted the horse's neck then opened the
"She is at the temple -- where you should be." Larissa frowned at her daughter.
Dwynia bowed deeply. "I'll go there immediately. Again, my apologies." She hurried past her mother.
"Cerigan, the procession to the temple will be beginning in a few minutes. Are you ready?"
The crown Prince of Gwelidan looked up from the book he was reading and sighed. "Yes, father, I am ready." He
carefully shelved the book, buckled on the sword he was expected to carry as a symbol of his position and
smoothed his dark green tunic.
Cerigan stepped out of his library and looked at his father. Johakor was a large man whose presence filled any
room he was in -- no matter how big. He was dressed in his full formal gear, including the large silver ceremonial
crown he hated wearing. He was taking his son's participation in his first games very seriously. Cerigan hated the
idea he might disappoint his father by failing to be named one of the hundred to go to the Isle of the Gods.
However, since all he wanted to participate in were the scholarly events he doubted the High Priest would deem
him worthy. At his father's urging, he had agreed to participate in several of the tactical contests, but he didn't
expect to do very well. He would do his best, but he knew there were others with more knowledge and skill in
those areas that he.
Cerigan walked with his father down the steps of the castle and looked around as the procession waited for them
to take their places at the head. Young boys, too young to be allowed into the games, stood with the torches that
lit the way to the temple. As the last person in the procession passed each pair of torches, the lights were
extinguished. Last year, he had been one of those with the torches, this year he led the procession with his father.
The King and Crown Prince bowed to the High Priest, who met them at the entrance to the temple. "We are here
to ask for the Gods' blessing for those who would honor them at the games," Johakor said.
The High Priest raised his arms. "May the blessings of the Gods be with you and those that accompany you to the
City of the Gods. Enter in and let their spirit fill you as you take this last step in preparation to honor their names."
Johakor bowed again, then he and Cerigan stepped aside to allow the other participants to enter the temple first.
Dwynia ran swiftly through the dark streets of Gwewien. She reached the temple and entered as quietly as she
could. Before she could go in search of the healer, she was stopped by one of the junior priestesses.
"The temple is reserved tonight for those participating in the games," the young woman said.
"I am one of the participants," Dwynia snapped.
"That you come so late to receive the Goddesses' blessing is not a good sign, Princess," the High Priestess said,
as she walked up. "There is still space in Theliria's Chamber, which you may use."
"Thank you, but I am here to find the Healer Rigodia. It is important," Dwynia said.
"The healer is in Areani's Chamber. Cirella, please inform her that the princess wishes to see her."
The younger priestess bowed to Dwynia and the High Priestess, then hurried out of the room.
"Princess, it will be several minutes before the healer arrives, perhaps you would like to make use of the Great
Mother's meditation chamber while you wait." The High Priest drew back a gray curtain, revealing the small
alcove dedicated to Gwewien -- the Mother Goddess. Within the small room was a silver mirror mounted on the
wall. Under the mirror was a gold stand holding a single candle.
Dwynia nodded and stepped past the High Priestess into the small alcove. This room was normally reserved only
for the ranking priestesses of the temple and she wondered why Miana had offered to let her use it to wait from
Dwynia sat crossed-legged in front of the candle and cleared her mind as she entered a meditative trance. She felt
herself relaxing as the warmth of the meditation alcove surrounded her. The silver mirror on the wall misted then
cleared with a bright flash, flowed by several images. Most of then vanished before she could properly register
what they were, but a couple managed to stay in her mind. Images of a black star-shaped stone guarded by a
dragon, of a golden alicorn rearing before her; its wings spread wide, and of a young man with golden brown hair
and dark brown eyes.
Dwynia shook her head, clearing it of the visions. She stood slowly then stepped out of the alcove. "Here, Dia."
She nodded to the red-haired woman waiting for her.
"What's wrong? It isn't your mother, is it?" The healer stood there, twisting her hands and shifting her weight
"No, although she did tell me to talk to you. It's Moonmist."
"Moonmist? You interrupted my mediations because of a horse!"
"Moonmist is as much a participant as I am and he needs your healer's skills," Dwynia said. The princess glanced
down at the floor. "Please," she said softly.
"Come on, let's take a look at your favorite stallion," Dia said, putting an arm around Dwynia's shoulders. "What's
Dwynia hugged her friend tightly. "Thanks, I'll explain on the way."
Cerigan stepped out of the small alcove as the midnight bell rang out, ending the evening meditations. Both he and
his father had planned to evening in the Chamber of Freinnor, but the High Priest had intercepted him and guided
him to the room dedicated to the Great Father. He was contemplating the visions he had seen in the silver mirror
when his father touched him on the shoulder. Visions of several dragons; each one guarding a black star-shaped
stone, of a golden alicorn that bowed to him, and of a young woman with midnight dark hair and flashing green
"An unusual honor, Cerigan," his father said. "Perhaps, it is a sign that you are to blessed above all others in the
"Perhaps," Cerigan said.
"It is now time to rest, we must start early tomorrow if we are to reach the city at the appointed time. The rest of
the participants are making their way to the gathering area, we should join them."
Cerigan followed his father out of the temple to the area outside the city where the travelers would leave from at
Dwynia and Rigodia led the tall silver-gray stallion through the streets to the gathering area. His right front hoof
was wrapped in a shimmering cloth and his hooves rang in an odd three beat rhythm.
"Dwynia, remember, you are not to ride him during the journey to the City of the Gods. I'll check the poultice
when we camp tomorrow." Rigodia gave the princess a quick hug, then left to find where her tent had been set