Prologue: The Search Begins

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"And from the House of Ironstorm are they called,

Wielders of the Weapons of Power and mighty warriors.

Chosen from the beginning of Time, brothers three,

To stand against the Return and the destruction of all.

In them will all hope lay, and salvation everlasting."

- from the Norak Utterance, 2nd Stanza

Larengor turned from the window with a grimace. While the view from the office he had selected from the many available on Palace Hill, was nothing less than spectacular, today of all days, it wearied him. From where he sat in a comfortable chair in front of the massive honeywood desk Larengor used for work, Darkfin smiled faintly as he watched Larengor's gaze drop to thoughtfully stare at the ground in front of him instead.

<<Something on your mind, Master Larengor?>> the stout Merisin asked.

<<You know there is, councilor,>> the lean Voice of the Voice tiredly replied without looking up, continuing his study of his boot tips. <<The signs have become increasingly clear.>>

<<That, they have, master,>> Darkfin agreed without moving, his smile slipping back into his customary thoughtful frown as he folded his arms across his chest. <<The question is, now that our efforts in the war have given us enough of a breather to finally begin our search, where do we actually begin looking? Our covert operatives in Tal Morun confirm two sons of House Ironstorm are there, but two are still missing. We have no way of knowing which of those four will be Wielders, or where the two missing ones are.>> His frown deepened.

<<Without even the slightest clue as to their whereabouts at our disposal, our searchers don't even know where to start looking for the missing two.>>

Larengor slowly nodded in agreement. It was a problem they had gnawed upon for the last eleven cycles, and they were no closer to discovering its solution this day despite having the resources of the Var Ethisdil to call upon in their quest.

And, just as it had every time they addressed the issue before, it came back to the same thing: their only hope lay with Cephanon the Seer. Only he had the power to discover the whereabouts of the missing sons of Ironstorm. If only he were willing to look.

<<Perhaps now, with the signs so clear, Master Cephanon will, ...>> he began.

<<Agree to look for our missing Ironstorms?>> Darkfin finished, his thoughts running along the same course as Larengor's. <<Perhaps, master; it wouldn't hurt to ask him.>>

<<No, it wouldn't.>> A faint smile touched Larengor's lips. <<That is, if we don't count pride, old friend. Twenty seven refusals in a row may actually hurt my feelings.>> The smile vanished.

<<Contact the Lord Commander of the Coer'thane. I want a company of Coer'thane Ben'havid skimming the elftrails to Caeba within the watch to put the question to our master seer. Hopefully this time we'll receive a more positive response.>>

He paused to look back out the window at the spread of Elvenfast as it reached towards the distant Bay of Hajsinlus, where ships flying the colors of the sea elf nations and distant Hydrayan and Uepoluan kingdoms were legion. Here and there in the city he could still see workers' scaffolding around the odd structure, repairing damage left over from the Battle of Elvenfast.

Eleven cycles since the horrible, street-to-street fighting raged in the wake of the council's final deliberations, launched by a power-hungry cleric and fought with dark soldiers pitted against the city guard. Fighting that only stopped when an army sent by the kings of the Aeshin'laur arrived to help drive the dark soldiers into the ground. Eleven cycles and the city of the high king still bore the scars of those devastating days of combat. As did the Master of the Voice, graying and aged by the cares garnered in guiding the Var Ethisdil over the tumult of the past 11 cycles.

It had been the beginning of the Diaspora and the whole of elvendom was forever changed in the chaos that followed that battle. 'And now we stand poised to bring new chaos to our weary and worn people,' he darkly mused. 'With the Wielders approaching their ages of Ascension, soon the Weapons of Power will choose who will take them into the Final Battle against the Horde. The signs point the way: the Return is imminent!'

<<Once we have the Seer's reply, we'll press on as we've planned,>> he quietly said with not a little determination before turning to look over his shoulder. <<I'm counting on you, my old friend, to insure that things will happen as they should.>>

Darkfin smiled and stood.

<<Have I ever let you down, Larengor? Don't worry, master. We'll find the last two sons of Ironstorm and have plenty of time to not only know which three will be Wielders, but to prepare them for their fated duties before the Return as well.>>

<<I hope so.>> Larengor looked one last time out the window, his heart pounding in his chest.

<<For the sake of our world and the Universe, I hope so!>>


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