In a time of great darkness, when evil sweeps the land, a prophecy foretells the coming of a savior, a child that will defeat the forces of evil and save the world. She is Kyria, the Chosen One.
Back where she felt that she belongs, Kyria returns to the Mage’s Council and begins making plans for her ultimate escape. She knows that Zoldex is coming, it’s only a matter of time, and she is determined to be ready for when he does.
Attempting to learn as much as she can before the siege of Zoldex, Kyria focuses on her studies and mastering her abilities. She has come far, but prays that it will be enough when the time finally comes.
On the night that Zoldex’s forces finally do march on the Mage’s Council, Kyria takes the first step toward fulfilling her prophecy, becoming a leader and guiding her friends into a new path and direction for life. By returning to the beginning, where she first had her powers awakened, Kyria finds the path to her future, and boldly goes forth, knowing that nothing will ever be the same again.
Feeling more refreshed than she had in weeks, Kyria put on her Mage robes, waiting as they swirled around her and formed the outfit she had come to know so well. The entire time that she was with Arifos, she had been without any of her personal effects, including her Mage robes, her satchel, her dryguard, her talisman of Pirifany, or the locket that she had been given by the pirate Kor.
With everything on once more, Kyria felt more like herself than she had in a long time. Of course, she had not had much choice in the matter: Arifos, one of the Madrew Triad that had been sent to protect and guide her, had found a way to break into the Mage’s Council and abduct her. He felt that it was for her own good, and that she was in danger here, but he did not give her the opportunity to even get dressed!
Her entire time with Arifos was one long conflict of emotions. She knew that Arifos was an ally against Zoldex, and that he had her best interests and safety at heart, but she also felt very strongly about returning to the Mage’s Council. If possible, she wanted to continue her education so that she would be ready to face Zoldex. Even more importantly, if the Council was to be a target, she did not want her friends to be victims of that. If it was within her power to do so, her friends would be saved from such a fate.
Arifos had reluctantly agreed to let Kyria return, but she had to promise him that she would leave at the first sign of danger or threat from Zoldex. Kyria did so. Since coming home, she’d had a tearful reunion with her closest friends, and Pookie, and they all agreed that they would find a way to flee with her when the time was right. Then, interrupting their reunion, there was a knock at the door and a messenger of Headmistress Auria announced that the avarian wanted to see Kyria.
Kyria refused to go until she was cleaned up, and now she finally was. Fully clean and dressed, she was ready to face whatever Headmistress Auria had for her. Since she missed the last month and a half of the academic year, she was sure that the meeting would not be a good one, but Sartir seemed confident that she would listen to reason. After all, Masters Lystra and Korgoth had personally witnessed her abduction, and had tried to intervene—unsuccessfully.
Climbing down the ladder from her room, Kyria saw that Mica, Sartir, Tyrene, and Pookie were all sitting and waiting for her.
Sartir smiled as Kyria reached the bottom. “I bet you feel much better.”
“I do,” Kyria admitted. “Much.”
“You look it,” Mica added, hovering around Kyria’s shoulder.
“Do you want us to come?” Sartir asked. “For emotional support?”
Kyria desperately wanted to say yes. After being away from her friends for so long, the last thing she wanted was to leave them again, even if it were only for a few minutes. But she knew that this was something she had to do on her own. “I’ll be okay.”
“We’ll be here when you get back,” Sartir said.
“I’ll see you then,” Kyria replied, trying to sound somewhat cheerful to give them all encouragement. She walked to the door, opened it, and saw a goblin—who had been leaning against the door—fall in. “I’m sorry.”
The goblin stood up, rubbed his backside, and glared at Kyria. “You’re ready then?”
“I am,” Kyria said.
“Good. This way,” he said.
Kyria followed the goblin, forgiving him for his rudeness—after all, she had just knocked him to the floor by opening the door, and of course, Mica did slam the door in his face earlier. The goblin led her to the room where Kyria and Headmistress Auria first discussed her course schedule.
He spoke the password, and the wall opened to allow Kyria to enter. Headmistress Auria was inside, sitting on one of the larger pillows in the room.
Kyria walked inside, and the wall behind her sealed and, as before, took on the image of a sky with a light breeze blowing the clouds.
“Sit,” Headmistress Auria instructed.
Kyria did not say a word, but did as she was told.
“You present me with an interesting dilemma,” Headmistress Auria said. “Your absence was both lengthy, and well known. I am receiving tremendous pressure to expel you and remove you from the Academy. You are considered a bad influence on your peers.”
Kyria was shocked to hear that. Who exactly was pressuring Headmistress Auria? Who would consider her a bad influence? Prior to being kidnapped, she had grown accustomed to the rules and schedule of the Academy, and had been excelling. Why would someone want to oust her?
“At the same time, I have sworn statements by two respected Masters, a Gatherer, and a handful of students that you were abducted against you will. If that is the case, then I would not feel comfortable with expelling you for something you had no control over,” said Headmistress Auria. “Were you abducted against your will?”
“I was,” Kyria said.
Headmistress Auria sighed. “Then I must come up with another solution. All of your instructors have given me two grades for you, per my request. The first is what you would receive if the year ended the day you were abducted. The grade you received is sufficient enough to advance into your next academic year.”
Kyria recalled how every student must maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average to advance to the next academic year. Last year, she had received a 3.78, and had just managed to make it. “Do you mind if I ask what I would have received?”
“Under this scenario, you had a 4.42,” Headmistress Auria said.
“A 4.42?” gasped Kyria. She never would have imagined doing so well. That was close to the grade point average Sartir had last year.
“If we account for your absences, your grade is substantially lower,” quickly added Headmistress Auria. “Preventing you from advancing.”
“But it wasn’t my fault,” protested Kyria.
“Regardless, you still missed the time,” Headmistress Auria said. “How will you be able to make up the work? Each year, your courses build upon the prior years. You will be lost if you advance.”
“I was lost when I first got here, but I adapted,” Kyria said. “I’ll do it again.”
Headmistress Auria considered this for a moment, and then stood up from her pillow. “I must discuss this with the Review Board, and also with the Council of Elders.”
The Council of Elders? Kyria wondered why they had to be involved in an Academy matter, especially with the realm at war. Shouldn’t they have more important business to attend to?
“After a decision has been made, I will be in touch. In the meantime, if I were you, I would explore course selections for both repeating your last year, as well as advancing.”
“Okay,” moaned Kyria. If she was held back, then the decision to leave as Arifos prompted would be a fairly easy one. If she advanced, then she would be taking mostly Advanced Classes, some of which introduced more magic into the curriculum. She would enjoy that.
Headmistress Auria opened the doorway portal for Kyria to get out. “You shall hear from me shortly.”
“Thank you,” Kyria said. Walking from the Headmistress’s office, the absurdity of these concerns flowed through her mind: Zoldex was conquering the Seven Kingdoms, the Mage’s Council was inevitably a target, and the Council of Elders were more concerned with whether or not she advanced from one grade to the next? Kyria could hardly believe it.
After leaving Headmistress Auria’s office, Kyria realized that there was still one person that she had to tell what happened to, and to confide in. Reaching into her Mage’s satchel, Kyria thought of her trackbar, and felt the small device materialize in her hand.
Holding it in front of her, Kyria said clearly, “Master Lystra.”
A small arrow appeared above the trackbar and Kyria began making her way down the corridors, following each twist and turn that the arrow made. Since it was the week of the Founding Celebration, Kyria was not surprised to see that Master Lystra was not in the arena, but she was a little more than surprised to see that the trackbar led her out of the Tower, around to the far side, and to a large dome that Kyria had never seen before.
The dome was a blend of pink and silver, sparkling and shimmering, and reflecting the light. Kyria thought that it was beautiful, but still was not certain what it was. She saw a Mage with his hands full walk through the dome, and Kyria decided that it must be some kind of passable barrier like the walls to the Tower.
Since Master Lystra was inside, Kyria walked up to the dome, put her hand on it lightly to make sure her theory was right, and after a little pressure, she felt her hand begin to push through to the other side. Stepping forward, she went through the dome, a sensation that was electric, invigorating, and euphoric, making her feel like she had just fulfilled her prophecy and the realm was safe from all evildoers. She never felt so happy and alive in her life. She wondered exactly what kind of spell would cause such a reaction.
From the outside, the dome was deceptively small. Kyria had been able to see the entire structure. Inside, the dome looked huge. It appeared as if the ceiling of it was miles high, far higher than she would have expected. After being in the Academy for so long though, Kyria recalled how the Tower had entire corridors and rooms that from the outside should not be there. Some things were just better left a mystery.
In addition to the vastness, Kyria saw round banquet tables elegantly arranged with glassware, china, crystal, and centerpieces that looked extravagant and out of place for the Mages. Kyria doubted that even the most prominent king in the Seven Kingdoms had a table so finely arranged.
Hanging in the air, detached from the dome, were large chandeliers with candles lit upon them. The chandeliers themselves were intricately and ornately crafted, set with a variation of glass, minerals, and gems. Kyria saw that the light struck the chandeliers and created a sparkling effect that was breathtaking.
A large section in the middle of the dome was completely open, with a marble white and gray floor resting there. Kyria wondered what it was for.
“Excuse me,” a Mage said, rushing past Kyria with his palms flat up and half a dozen musical instruments floating above him.
Kyria stepped out of his way, watching him as he brought the instruments to a small stage that had others as well. Was there going to be some kind of performance?
Deciding that Master Lystra could fill her in, Kyria glanced back at the trackbar again, and then followed it until she saw the mystral Self Defense instructor. Master Lystra was arranging a bouquet of white roses, lilies, snapdragons, mini-carnations, and an assortment of greens to help the white stand out. Kyria could not help but smile as she saw how happy Master Lystra looked.
Master Lystra paused, as if she sensed something, and slowly pivoted around. When she saw Kyria, her eyes lit up and she ran over. “Kyria! You’re back! You’re okay!”
The two embraced for a long moment, and then Master Lystra pulled back and examined Kyria, looking her up and down. “Everything looks to be in place. Are you well?”
“I had a leg injury, but Tyrene saw to it,” Kyria said.
Master Lystra frowned slightly—probably, Kyria thought, because a trained professional and not another student should tend to an injury—but the frown faded and she was smiling again.
“I’m so sorry that we could not stop them in time from taking you,” Master Lystra said. “Was it horrible?”
“I managed,” Kyria said. “Besides, they thought that they were helping me.”
“Helping you?” asked Lystra. “This I have to hear.”
Master Lystra led Kyria over to one of the tables that had not been arranged yet, and listened intently as Kyria told her the entire story. She finished it by going into the reason why Arifos had come for her—the fact that the Mage’s Council was no longer safe. Kyria hoped that it would be a good lead-in to broaching the topic of leaving the Council forevermore.
“I would not worry about it if I were you,” Master Lystra said. “With the sheer number of Mages here now, any army would be foolish to attack us.”
“Unless they were specifically prepared to take on Mages,” argued Kyria. “Zoldex is here. He will come. The Mage’s Council will be a target.”
“I agree,” Lystra said. “Eventually.”
“Have you been listening?” asked Kyria. “His forces are decimating the south and north. We’re being squeezed and cut off. He’ll attack here soon!”
“Kyria, there is nothing that we can do,” Lystra said. “At least not right now.”
“What do you mean?” asked Kyria, growing somewhat impatient. She thought that Master Lystra would be open to listening.
“Ilfanti has yet to return,” Master Lystra said. “Anyone who even mentions Zoldex or the state of the realm since his departure has been scrutinized heavily by Master Pierce. He even went so far as claiming that he may disband the Council of Elders for their constant whining and bickering about a subject that is ancient history. You will not find people very receptive of what you have to say. Even if people were, they would not openly admit it. When Ilfanti returns, that will hopefully change.”
“Unless Pierce throws him into the dungeons,” Kyria grumbled.
“Master Ilfanti is far too popular to be locked away without consequences. If that happened, it would most likely split the Council,” said Lystra.
“I promised Arifos that when Zoldex began his assault, I would not be here,” said Kyria. “I would like to have the people that also believe that Zoldex has returned be with me, so we can band together to fight in the future.”
“Kyria, don’t even think like that,” Master Lystra said. “Tonight is the Founding Ball. You should be getting ready to have a good time. If I’m not mistaken, since you just got back, you have some major catching-up to do with course selections, too. The threat isn’t here yet. We’ll face it when it is. Together.”
Kyria could not believe what she was hearing. Of all of her professors, even Master Balfour, it has always been Master Lystra that she could confide in and speak openly about her prophecy and what she had to do. Now, Master Lystra was as blind as everyone else, worried more about some dance than the fate of the realm.
Course selections? What good would course selections be if Zoldex struck the Council and destroyed it when everyone was so unprepared? Kyria had desperately wanted to return here, to finish her training and prepare to confront Zoldex, but now that she was here, she wondered if her decision was all that wise. The people here were in some kind of mass state of denial. Could they not see what was happening beyond the barrier of the Council?
“Do you have a dress for tonight?” Master Lystra asked.
Kyria decided that arguing the point would not resolve anything. Master Lystra may not agree with Master Pierce about what he was doing, and she may believe that Zoldex had indeed returned, but she was not going to defy the rules of the Council. In a way, Kyria had to respect that Master Lystra maintained her ideals and believed in them so strongly.
“I just got back today,” Kyria said. “I didn’t even realize that tonight was the Founding Ball. I think I may just pass this year.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Master Lystra. “Hopefully this year there won’t be any students trying to kill other students.”
“Hopefully,” Kyria agreed, remembering what happened with Kruskall one year ago on this night. “Is that what this dome is for?”
“It’s for the Masters,” Lystra said. “There are more of us here now than ever, so we made the dome instead of the normal hall. I volunteered to help with the arrangements this year.”
“It’s very beautiful,” Kyria said. “I’m sure you’ll have a great time.”
Master Lystra regarded Kyria for a moment, and then got up. “Well, I should get back to this, and I’m sure you have things to do as well, being your first day back and all.”
“I do,” Kyria said.
“Let me know if you need any help with your course selections. You’ll be going into your new Advanced Classes this year.”
“If they let me,” groaned Kyria.
“What do you mean?” asked Master Lystra.
“They haven’t decided if I have to repeat last year or not because I was kidnapped,” said Kyria.
“That’s ridiculous,” Master Lystra frowned. “It’s not your fault you were abducted.”
“We shall see,” Kyria shrugged.
“Well, start looking at the fourteenth years’ schedule,” Master Lystra said. “Quite a few classes are already filled, so you may have some difficulty.”
“Great,” mumbled Kyria.
“Remember, I’m always here if you need me,” Master Lystra added.
“I know,” Kyria said, though she still could not understand why Lystra was not willing to really discuss the whole Zoldex invading the Mage’s Council topic. “Thanks.”
“Think about tonight, too,” Lystra said as Kyria began to leave. “I’m sure your friends would love to have you there with them.”
“Maybe,” Kyria said, but she did not think so. She had no date, and that would make things awkward. Other than the reference of Sartir being with Traina, Kyria had not asked how her friends little romances were going, but she was almost certain that they all had dates. The last thing she wanted was to ruin the night for one of them by becoming a tag-along. They would all have a better time without her, and she could use the time to herself to review the course selection packet.
Joy, Kyria thought sarcastically. Come home, skip the Founding Ball, and worry about classes to take in a year she doubted very much that she would actually complete. But that was life as an Academy student—focus on the rules and structure, regardless of what else was happening. No flexibility at all. It was not the first time that Kyria questioned how good the Mage’s Council really was; she was certain it would not be the last.
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