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The Godstones

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PROLOGUE

 

 

Chalania slowly drew the shape she wanted, the lines of magic sparkling in the air in front of her. Her fingertips tingled with the power that passed from her into the shimmering design. The magical construct hung before her, glittering brightly. Satisfied with the figure, she picked up a handful of the black and silver powder she had prepared earlier. A ground mix of Giliv’s Star and Lotharelia’s Eyes, the powder shimmered with the power of the stones it was made from. With a whispered prayer to the One, she tossed the powder onto the construct.

The powder coated the figure, giving it shape and dimension. For several heartbeats an alicorn, or winged unicorn, hung in the air. It slowly flapped its wings, stirring the air in the casting chamber. Chalania sneezed as dust and powder swirled around her. The alicorn tossed his head, the spiral horn reflecting silver in the flickering torchlight. She spoke the words of power, clapped her hands together and the alicorn vanished in a brilliant flash of light.

When her vision cleared, she studied the gray alicorn design now etched in the floor. She nodded her satisfaction with the power contained in the glittering shape and spoke another word of power. A silver tray appeared, floating next to her, holding 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 was etched into the glossy face of the stone. She cupped both hands around the stone and felt the cold surface grow warm. A slender tendril of mist snaked its way from between her fingers 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.

She picked up another stone from the tray and repeated the ritual, inscribing a different figure into the ebony surface. Again, a thin ribbon of mist linked the stone to the alicorn. Once all the stones had been etched and placed on the construct, Chalania stepped back and studied the arrangement.

Twelve stones, each representing one of the Gods of Salamacia, bearing the image of the creature chosen by a particular God to be its avatar and linked through that image to the God represented.

The larger image, the alicorn, was a creature not seen since the world and the pantheon split and was believed to have been the avatar of the One. The magic imbued in the stones now connected and merged with the power contained in the alicorn figure. Chalania took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and focused on the magic in the chamber as she read and studied the power fields. Everything was balanced for the final casting.

Her mind reached for the words of the ancient prophecy she had discovered years ago, when she was still the High Priestess of the Isle. It had been in the time before she was stripped of her title and place on the Isle of the Gods for pursuing the magic to create this construct and the linkage between the stones and the Gods. Her voice was soft as she began reciting the words of the prophecy. Her voice grew louder as the power built in the casting chamber. Despite the forces pressing against her, she raised her staff parallel to the floor and held it steady. Slowly, she circled the alicorn twelve times, reciting the words as the power continued to build until the pressure threatened to crush her under its weight. Sweat dripped from her brow and stung her eyes, but she could not pause to wipe them. She would not risk losing control of the forces she was calling into existence.

Her last circuit complete, Chalania brought the tip of her staff down on the point of the alicorn’s horn. The pressure vanished and she 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. Chalania shivered as the mist swirled around her ankles, cuffing them in its icy grip.

The tower shuddered violently. “No!” Chalania dropped her staff and brought her hands up, grasping to maintain control of the magical energies still at work. Something was blocking her. She could see the lines of power swirling, but could not touch them. Nothing should have been able to block her from controlling her own magic, except possibly the power of the Gods themselves.

Another shudder and a crack appeared in the floor, splitting the alicorn design. The mist vanished and with it all but one of the stones. The stone representing Draykon, the God of Deception, whose avatar was the dragon.

The tower shook a third time and Chalania fell to the floor. Sharp pain stabbed at her hands and knees. The last thing she saw as the stones of the tower fell around her was a flash of lightning and a large blue dragon standing protectively over the remaining stone. His long serpentine tail fading to a tendril of mist that curled around and connected to the black stone bearing the image of Draykon’s avatar.