Prologue I

When Anhia embarks on a journey to become a Gemkeeper, she doesn't even know what that entails--nor is she aware of the political chaos in which she is about to become hopelessly entangled. She'll have to mediate between enemy Gem Tribes or risk getting killed herself. Did I mention she also has to make sure the princess remains safe?

It was a silent cry, a sensationless pain, an invisible fork of lightning. And they all felt it.

By the time Pyra reached the cavernous ledge that was the Only Strip, Fria and Accenda were already there, Accenda hunched over a book of some sort and Fria casting searching spells, looking for the others. Pyra materialized with a flash, walking through a personal portal and straight over to the other two. 

"Who was it?" she demanded of the others. 

"I'm looking right now," replied Fria, sending out another netlike spell. 

"Look faster," demanded Pyra. Fria turned to match her gaze. The two were the same height, both human, but that was where their similarities ended. Pyra had curly black hair, flopping behind her in an unruly mess, while Fria's hair was shoulder-length, light brown, and neatly kept, although pleasantly wavy. Fria's eyes were a pale grayish green, but Pyra's were emerald and sparking like flint on steel. Fria was slender; Pyra was tanned, toned, and powerful. 

"I'm searching," Fria repeated evenly. 

"Why don't you change, Pyra?" called Accenda. 

For a moment, Pyra's eyes changed, glowing orange like embers. Fria returned her gaze unflinching. Pyra shook her head, teeth clenched, and marched toward a stone archway. She emerged completely transformed; stretching enormous batlike wings and carrying an aura of darkness that was terrible to behold. 

The other two also had wings—Fria's were pointed and blue, like sharpened dragonfly's wings, while Accenda's were as golden half-moons on her back. 

"Where are the others?" demanded Pyra. 

"They're on their way," Fria answered, turning away from her spell, face downcast. 

Pyra stopped her pacing. "Who was it?" 

Fria's voice was barely a whisper. "Amoris." 

The dark cavern was barely illuminated by flickering torches. In an instant, Pyra's entire body was blazing with fire; with a roar of fury, she ran to the edge of the Strip, toward the bottomless abyss. 

"No!" shouted Accenda. 

Pyra stood on the edge, still burning brightly. "Give me a reason," she spat.

The End

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