Prologue

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The single flame of the lighted candle flickered and danced an elegant dance, its soft orange light finding footholds on the wall and across the floor, reaching up towards the ceiling with little effort. The white wax slowly melted into a hot, fragrant syrup, trickling down the un-melted wax, collecting at the bottom of the circular wooden tray, to reflect the dancing light into the eyes of any who stared too long.

The silence of the intruding darkness as it combated the candle’s flame was broken only by the soft scratching of a quill on parchment, the black-inked tip held aloft above the surface of the wooden writing desk that supported the slim, pale-skinned arm of a lovely hazel-eyed woman with golden locks, her gaze focused entirely on her work, her lips drawn into a purse, so intent was she upon her work.

She took no notice of the candle as it began to unexpectedly sputter and die, unable to hold itself against the crushing weight of the silent darkness. Suddenly, the woman looked up, unexpectedly disturbed. There was a flicker of confusion in her eyes, as she reached out with her mind, seeking out the tremor in the threads of an invisible web that she had felt. It had been strong, unnaturally so, compared to what one could usually sense along the delicate lines of energy.

In a great round room lit by pale white fires that floated along in midair of their own according, dancing and swaying in tune to a softly-playing melody, a little boy of maybe four years prepared to begin coloring in a drawing, his sweet child face drawn into an innocent smile, as he held the colored wax in his hand, poised to turn nothing into something, his blue eyes sparkling with delight.

Just as suddenly, he stopped as well, and the melody stopped, the fires going still. The little boy rose to his feet, his gaze suddenly and unnaturally serious for one his age, letting his eyes travel across the high-arched stone ceiling, reaching out to find the source of this disturbance, this greatly-confusing tremor in the web that he had only just now heard.

On a stone balcony overlooking a great forest, a young woman, of maybe only twenty years, with long, sweeping black hair, and brightly-lit silver eyes watched the midnight forest life below, as the streams and creeks tumbled and twisted cheerfully over one another, bearing with them great loads of silt and small fish, perhaps a salamander or two, running over glistening rocks, and between mossy banks.

The red light of one moon hit the backs of the trees, lighting them up in a blood-lit radiance, while the white light of the second moon bathed them in liquid silver, outlining them against the struggling darkness of the night.

The woman’s high, dark eyebrows came together in a swift flex of her brow muscles, her trance-like meditational state broken by something that felt oddly familiar. She inhaled deeply, casting her senses about for the source of this disturbance, attempting to pinpoint the memory, lodged millions of years in the past, that might explain this.

Sitting on the lap her mother, a little girl of four years laughed and giggled as she was bounced up and down, her dark hair finding no suitable resting position, preferring instead to drift this way and that with the swishing motion of the woman’s rhythm.

The little girl’s bright blue eyes sparkled with joy as she held on for what in her eyes was dear life, letting loose a high-pitched, childish squeal every now and then.

She suddenly stopped, and so did her mother, out of surprise at her daughter’s reaction. “Maggie?” She asked out of concern, her eyebrows knitting together. Maggie reached out with one hand, and slowly curled her fingers into a fist. “You feel that, Mommy?” She whispered out of awe, listening to the strange disturbance with newfound wonder.

A brown-eyed woman, twenty-four years of age in appearance, with long dark hair and a black leather trench coat stood before a wooden training dummy, flicking out a long, curved sword in a swift, simple hand movement, adjusting her stance and her grip on the sword in a few deft, decisive movements. Tomorrow she was due to “test her metal” against the ex-demon. A sly smile crossed her face, as she cut through the wood of the dummy like butter.

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