Prologue: Where Mystics Converse and the Scales are Tilted

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Night had arrived in Blossom River.

A warm breeze swept through the blossoming trees and carried the rich scent of perfume through the air. The moon wasn't full tonight, but even the sliver of silvery light nestled against the blackened sky was enough to illuminate the world below. No souls but the night animals stirred, and even they were not very active tonight, so lulled by the warmth of the evening. It was a peaceful quietness, unbroken by the chaos of the day.

The temple of Blossom River, however, was the lone exception. A fire still burned within the altar set upon its roof, a beacon against the overall shadows obscuring the rest of the area. At this point in the night, it would have long been extinguished, but there was no one awake to question such an oversight. The flowering trees surrounding its exterior still bloomed, but there seemed to be a wilt to them, as if they knew something nefarious were to come. The fire threw its light down from the roof, painting the blush blossoms in a sea of orange and red, as if burning with a nonexistent flame.

The fire's flame illuminated the lone figure sitting on the temple steps as well. 

 The mystic of Blossom River stared at nothing in particular in their position, eyes fixed on an invisible point in the air. While it was rather warm, they had not yet shed their thick red robes. It was justifiable, since they never really felt such changes as normal souls did. Their hands were clasped together, settled atop the bony surface of their knees. With their eyes closed and the hum of breath that escaped them, it could almost be said that they were meditating. 

"I've sent them."

The voice was soft, low with a melodic quality, and had not been there in the previous minute. The mystic of Blossom River opened their eyes, raising their head to look to their right. The woman who had appeared beside them looked back steadily, her knowing gaze holding theirs. The mystic of Blossom River sighed, tilting their head in an acquiescing gesture.

"Alright."

The woman's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, not at all pleased with their neutral answer. 

"We are playing the Fates themselves," the woman continued, "As our siblings would say. You of all people should know not to interfere in the ways of these lands."

Her friend chuckled at that, a deep sound that reverberated from their chest cavity. "So should you."

They rose from their place on the stone steps, absolutely towering over their companion. She, however, held no fear; they were, after all, dear old friends. The mystic of Blossom River heaved another sigh, looking down at the woman with firm eyes.

"This will only bring more heartbreak, more suffering. What will happen will tear apart wounds that never truly healed."

"But if this doesn't happen, he might get out," they continued, "And if that happens, these lands will be destroyed. He will lay waste to them and soak them full with the blood of innocents."

The woman chuckled at their words, although there was no humor to the sound.

 "That would be rather dramatic phrasing, if you weren't absolutely correct," she told him. 

A moment passed before she hung her head, clasping her hands together in front of her. Her brow creased with worry, her gaze apprehensive.

"What if we are making a mistake, old friend?" she asked, "We took so many precautions before, it seems rather risky now to put so much faith in a small hope. What if everything falls apart?"

"That is a risk we simply have to be willing to take."

The mystic moved away from her then, taking three steps up towards the temple before stopping. The woman turned to regard them, her unseeing eyes alight with much trepidation.

"The madness only aggravates his anger, his sorrow, his despair," they went on, "What he has planned has already been put into motion, and there is no stopping what will soon occur. All we can do is tilt the scales a little to our favor, and see whether Fate or free will conducts the next actions."

Their companion didn't look at all assured by their words. "As I said before, we are putting much of our faith towards a slight hope. We may very well be completely wrong."

The mystic shook their head. "It will happen as I predicted it, Solari. Have faith."

She blew out a breath, turning her head to look out at the area below them. "I had faith once, but...well..."

"I'm aware," they said as she trailed off, knowing full well what she was implying, "So did I. So did all the other mystics."

"Should we tell them?" the woman asked, their answer sparking another question within her, "The other mystics, I mean? They should know what will happen, and what we plan to do."

"No," they shook their head again, "We should not."

Solari raised an eyebrow. "And why's that? They'll catch on soon enough."

One nimble finger raised at her question, the light of the altar illuminating the white bone. "We've done enough interfering as it is, don't you think?"

Their companion scoffed, but, all the same, she did not press them for answers. Instead, she turned and started down the steps of the temple, knowing full well that their conversation was over.

"I hope you're right, truly," she called over her shoulder. They nodded their head, although she could not see them do so.

"As do I."

The mystic watched her go, watched her walk across the gardens and slowly disappear in a flurry of black-tinted leaves. In a few moments, there was nothing left but the disintegrating remains of the magic she had used, blending into the shadows of the night. The mystic took their gaze to the surrounding area, looking out at the place they had called home for ages. One hand rose up to curl at the front of their robes, directly upon the place where a heart still beat strongly between exposed ribs. While the mystic was completely sure of their doings, a little doubt couldn't be helped at the moment. It was a momentous event, what would soon happen. If everything went wrong, if everything fell apart, even they didn't know whether these lands could survive such a blow.

A voice, the voice of a friend they had lost so long ago, a name nearly erased from the lands, echoed in their mind. 

It echoed with their very last request.

Please, don't let him escape. Don't let him hurt anyone or anything else. 

Yasahiro could only hope their friends would be there in time.

For now, they could only wait. 

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