Preview Chapter: The Temple

Chapter One – Once More, Into the Void

It was always dark in the Underworld, but today was different. Ikara could feel it. Something was afoot in the world above. It had been a long time since his useless progeny, Eh’soi, had promised to restore him to his former glory and power. She promised to find the orb, break the curse…restore his magic. None of that had happened.

A bang sounded, followed by an incredible rush of air. Ikara lifted his head for a moment, cloudy eyes raised to the ceiling. A massive crack swept from one side of his throne room to the other. Perhaps the old girl was imploding after all? He wiped the dust and rock from his face and squinted into a strange shaft of light that trickled in like water through the crack. Ikara stretched out his fingers into a singular pool of moonlight in front of him. He muttered words rarely heard aloud anywhere in Orana and his wrinkled greyish skin shifted and straightened, regaining the deep indigo color and suppleness of his youth. The transformation moved slowly up his arms and onto his shoulders; from there, it traveled up onto his head and down his spine, straightening it. His hair, scraggly and white, grew long and luxurious as it darkened to a midnight black. Ikara stood up from the table and held his hands out in front of him, admiring the change. Those above would never see this coming, not even with a scrying pool. It had been a long two hundred years, and it was now his turn.

A scream split the silence that fell as soon as the rumbling ceased, and Ikara felt it ripple across his skin.“Eh’soi?” That had been the scream he’d heard, he was certain. After a few long moments, Ikara raised his eyes to the ceiling and smiled. The small crack was a chasm now. Plenty of room to escape, but how to get up to that hole? He raised a boney arm to try to judge the distance and as it passed into the curtain of light he gasped – his arm was restored. Muscle fibers engorged and wrapped themselves back into familiar winding shapes from his hands up to his shoulders. He flexed his fingers and smiled at the lack of crackling sounds from his joints. He quickly stepped all the way into the light – something he had not done for hundreds of years – and the rest of his body followed his arm in restoration. His scraggly hair smoothed out. His face filled in and once again had room for his eyes to be safely hidden behind eyelids. His skin, an almost sky blue, darkened to its former indigo glory as he watched, fascinated.

Was his magic restored as well? Ikara held a hand out in front of himself and willed a blue flame to appear above his palm, cackling as it not only did but grew to a small bonfire before he willed it to disappear. What was this magical light? He did not care, nor did he worry about whose magic he was using to make all of this happen. Orana? Sephine? Ikara narrowed his eyes. Oh, he hoped it was Sephine. She was the one that did this to him all those centuries ago. She would be the first one on his list to pay for that. He stepped into the circle of moonlight and lifted his arms toward that silvery moon, then disintegrated into a mist that swirled upwards through Ikedria and further still until it wound around the trees of the Great Forest. Bark and leaves withered and died as the mist continued its course southward toward the coast. Swathes of the Grasslands blackened and as the mist headed east, the Dark Sea swirled and churned.

Finally, the mist coalesced on the shore of Strektu D’veeyr and Ikara stepped forth onto the sand. Lookouts signaled an intruder, but by the time he reached their towers all they saw was another of their own kind, another elf battered about by the sea in tattered clothes with no possessions to his name. This happened often, as those from the mainland arrived having set off to search for adventure on the dark side of the world. They welcomed him into their colony with open arms, promising him food and shelter and new clothes until he was well enough to set sail again, and he was ever so grateful. He looked back over his shoulder one last time toward the mainland and smiled.