Realm of the World: Beginnings

The Realm of the World. A place where a being of grace lives and controls the World from her home. Where life takes it's source from and the Elements thrive. And, yet, a haze descends upon the Realm and only those brave enough to fight will see a new day.

Chapter One

The rain from the storms had slowly tapered off since the early hours of the day, a light drizzle coming down from the light gray sky as thought the last tears of the night were being shed. There had been no stars out that night since the storms had rolled in during the twilight hours and the sun reluctantly hid behind the clouds with a few rays peaking out from behind a blanket that would not be shed for another several days at the least. It was a shroud that kept the sun from peaking down upon the lands and it seemed like Water favored to keep the light at bay for a while at least; there were reasons for hiding this day and the weakness of the Realm was apparent. This was just the break in the rain fall, the calm before the storm one would say despite the looming clouds overhead and the ones that were to roll in during the next several hours and days.

In the distance the departing storm held only rain and the occasional gust of wind, however the approaching storm held more then that - it held the charges of light, the sounds of drums, and the howling secrets of the wind. Eerie coming of the storm the old wives muttered, eerie storm indeed with the news that the wind brought from the forest that protected the Realm from outsiders that had no business inside. It was a sign of things to come or a passing of those that had been lost years ago to the waves of the deep oceans. If only the skies did not look so fierce then the merchant caravans and the traveling bards would not have to hole up in the small villages that dotted the land south of the desert and take up the room that other visitors to the villages needed. There would be another approaching storm that would bring more whispers and more rain that had yet to come.

There was talk around the township of Konirta that the storms weremeantto hide something especially since the Order had left the town and did not look like they would return soon. Mutters of Sages and Keepers came up through the Market stalls and tales of seeing flashes of lights in the Si'lara Desert would be the topic of conversations for weeks to come, if the Order allowed them to continue. So long as the Manor of the Holy Order of the Sage remained in Konirta so was the fear that the Order would act on behalf of the Sage, regardless if she ordered it or not. And the rumors that something was happening in the Realm were true if anyone looked at the forest and saw a shadow lurking about the edges as though waiting for something.

This shadow was a man who looked like he had never aged a day since his early twenties, countless lifetimes passing since the day of his birth to the present day. All of which he had seen with his two eyes and he would see countless more if the fates of the Realm would have their way; his immortality was a curse and a blessing but he couldn't tell which was worse to him. His blue, black, and white robes fell to his ankles with the bottom of his knee-high boots visible at the bottom of the robes hem; his clothing barely looked like it was worn as they had been mended and changed in the years that had passed. His clothing changed with the passing times as well, molding into their current form which allowed him freedom to move about and to be protected from the Elements of the World.

He stood at the eastern edge of the small forest that surrounded the Realm, or was at least part of the Realm according to the Holy Order, his black eyes staring into the depths of the approaching storm itself. Those same eyes were unfocused, glazed over and bringing in what he saw from the darkness that came. He frowned at the flashes of memory he had not known he had, his mouth twitching at the sides every ten seconds and long breaths coming in through slightly parted lips. The oak staff, with an emerald stone on top, he carried was leaned on lightly to serve as a reminder to those that bothered him in this state that he was seeing something that they could not and that they should leave him be for the time being. He was concentrating on something, not an object in the distance but the things he could see in his mind.

He closed his eyes, his shoulders slumping ever so slightly, and his breathing became ever more slow. With the sounds of the next approaching storm images of the years before swirled into his mind with the thoughts of the present. This would eventually give way to what he saw in the visions of future events that he had little control over. Tides of lost meanings hidden in a sea of ghosts was what he called them and the hellish ways of his abilities. The lines on his face only deepened, his concentration moving him further from the present reality and into a world that had yet to come true if anyone would let them; he had no intentions of stopping future events as long as they did not concern him.

The things he saw would make even the most rock solid heart weep, for death held a steady hand in his vision. These images were blurry yet he could still understand what hell reigned in the battles of blood, ash, and lives lost. Smoke would rise from underneath jagged cliffs to the west, bodies of innocence thrown into the waste of the Si'lara, homes burned to the ground out of spite, and the shorelines colored crimson by the dark taint of blood. Flashes of war danced across his mind, spears going into the hearts of men and women alike as children cried in the streets. Swords clashing together, metal scraping against metal and cries of war overshadowing those for mercy. The songs of hunger sounded in the distance, then...

"Sir Trent?" A voice called from behind him, jarring him from the visions. His eyes flew open before his back straightened, his free hand running through his short light brown hair and the frown not letting up. At this point he would have sighed with annoyance and demanded whoever had disturbed him to leave but this time he silently thanked them that this disturbance came. He was not willing to see this particular vision through, none the least.

"Yes?" Trent responded in a softer voice, turning around half way to see who had called to him. A male figure stepped out from the shadows of the trees, brown robes moving with every step that he took. He was not older then the age of twenty although lines of premature age were already upon the edges of his eyes. Trent's face softened slightly at the familiarity of the young man named Tal Mai, if he remembered the name correctly; the face of the man in front of him had been in his visions before. Even if he hadn't known who he was the robes and bald head gave him away as a monk of the Holy Order.

"The ceremony is about to begin," Tal Mai said as he stopped short of the man before him. Their eyes locked briefly before Tal Mai turned his gaze to the rain-soaked ground and shuffled his feet. Trent remained silent for several minutes, watching the young man as he shifted his weight and feet and his gaze remained either downward or elsewhere. There was a certain nervousness about him, like he didn't want to be standing in front of this being unknowing as to what was seen for his own future if it had been seen. He had been told before the red aura that symbolized blood and anger once before but not by Trent, and of the glancing silver lights of an unknown future. "What did you see, if I may ask?"

Trent regarded this question for a moment and frowned deeper, rubbing a hand along the back of his neck. If he were to tell anyone of the visions he saw they would be encoded in a riddle for those he told to find out. Even if he was to be more direct with his answer and visions he would still get blank looks and wondering gazes; the beauty of what he saw was that he did not have to tell what he saw. If he told the monk what truly lie in the future, the details of something he did not get to finish seeing, then he would make it seem like it was abouthim. True it could be but then what about the rest of the vision? It could have been about anything and nothing.

"Death," was all that Trent responded with, placing his staff into his right hand and faced the forest entirely. The monk was no longer in his sight, just another part of the wild meadows that surrounded him and invisible to his eyes. Just as Trent started to move towards and into the forest, his left arm was grabbed forcibly and pulled back slightly.

"I don't mean in the land's future, anyone knows that. I meanmine." Tal Mai's voice suddenly became cold, his words crackling with drops of anger. "Tell me, prophet.What did you see?"

Trent stared straight into the darkness of the forest, the wind of the storm moving the trees before the rain was even close enough to come down upon the lands. He wouldn't look at the monk not for being forced to see the shadows dancing in the eyes but to see the anger that fueled them. No, because he would then be asked to say the riddle of a future he had seen so many times before, one that still haunted his dreams to this very day. It was mixed with the young man's past, one that had been torn apart and had the taint of blood to it so much so that it made him shudder again. Even at the mere thought of it made him shudder, a sigh escaping his lips and his face became expressionless.

He had half of a mind to pull his arm out of this grasp and walk away without saying anything, to keep a wondering mind at bay long enough to make his escape. He wouldn't get far since the Temple grounds of the Realm was in the middle of the same forest he stood at the edge of, three miles away to be exact from all directions and the entire Holy Order of the Sage was on the Temple grounds. It wouldn't take them very long to reach the walls of the Realm once they were inside the forest, an hour at the least if they hurried; distance in the forest surrounding and in the Realm itself had a way of allowing a two hour journey to be cut in half, shorter still if one knew the correct path. Both were going in the same direction and would find themselves face-to-face once again and with the same questions as well. No, he would answer the question and leave it be until another point in time.

"When your anger calms down," Trent started, yanking his arm free, "then ask me again."

He didn't let any more words be spoken, his own words ending the short and pointless conversation between monk and prophet. Trent calmly strode into the forest walls, intent on slowly walking the three miles to the outer edges of the Realm then heading south to where the large entrance to the Temple lay. He would be allowed into the grounds as he always had, the young monk right behind him with a sullen and defeated presence about him; he was unsure if the magical barrier surrounding the archway would allow such anger to pass through. If it took longer then an hour then it took him normally to get into the Realm, so be it. He was in no rush to be there.

He would be right on time to see the process finished, as he usually was and did, and the process of bringing in a new rule would start once again. Why his presence was needed there he still could not figure out - the Order could do the ceremony with or without the old mystic. It was just drawing of blood, a speech of words, then he would leave, free to roam the land once again until the Sage requested his presence. That is, if he ever got there at the beginning of the ceremony like he should and he hadn't been there with the last two Sages; had the Order really been around for that long? Two thousand years was a long time for anything to be around that had been man-made.

Oh how he hated the passing of the title.

XXXX

The handing down of a title held the least amount of excitement one could possibly enjoy, the words of how well the ones before them had ruled and how it would determine the line years later. Most went without acknowledgement, handing down a role to a younger mind and allowing that mind to mold the future in their hands without the words said to a crowd of strangers. Others, however, were more important than to ignore, celebrations going hand-in-hand with the ceremony of the title. And this one was one of that few would forget in the next century, if they knew that it was taking place.

She stood at the entrance to the towering ancient temple, twin double willow doors towering over her like strong twin giants. She had her hands and arms at her sides, red hair pulled into a bun at the back of her head and blue eyes transfixed on the rather large courtyard in front of her. She hardly even took notice of the events that were going on around her, choosing to look elsewhere instead of at the faces of people that she most likely would never see again or would forget who they were in the coming years. The stone courtyard, with all of the puddles and leaves blown in from the surrounding forest, held her interest more then a group of monks.

Monks of all ranks were busy about her, moving around the grounds like they were at home in the Manor of the Order as they touched the bushes in the gardens with a prayer or two. There were several monks within the temple itself, moving about the kitchens as though the food inside was for them; if she had her way at the present time, all this would have been over before it even began.

Almost all of the Holy Order was present, if not all of them, save for the leader of the Order and a younger monk who had gone to search for the prophet. Why he was needed at this ceremony she didn't know and hadn't challenged the decision of the Order's leader since his third visit to the temple some six months before. Oh he had been in the Realm since then but she had never spoken Trent's name since then and wouldn't unless need be.

The monks that passed her did not even take heed of her blank stare or her fidgeting with her robe; if they did, it was assumed she was nervous, scared, or a little bit of both. In essence they were wrong - she wasbored. She had heard lectures about her title, information on those that had come before her, and what to expect in her role that she was undertaking from others that were about to give up their powers to a new generation. She had understood what she had to do months before any of the monks had bothered to start giving her more details of what was to come yet the Order had insisted upon the ceremony. It wasrequiredthey had said, of one who was ascending into the position she was going into and would give her the power to continue on.

Regardless, she had ignored half of what she had been told by monks and listened more to Trent; she could trust what he had to tell her when he decided to stop speaking in riddles. From what he had told her, the ceremony was just for show and that her true powers would be given to her before the Order's ceremony was to begin. That suited her just well since the transfer of power had left her rather dizzy, disoriented, and weak; if it had been done the night before she would have refused to do anything until she felt ready to so and she would be in the right power to refuse anything the Order did or said. What they said was nearly as good as a king or queens but it still did not overrulehersor theKeepers; if the rulers of the other lands had their way as well, the Order wouldn't even exist.

Her eyes came back into focus, her lips moving with unheard and unspoken words - she could feel the excitement coming from the monks but couldn't feel it herself. There had been excitement over her new role when she had been first told it seven years before just as she had been yanked from her life and placed into training that had taken the bulk of those years. Everything had to be relearned, new knowledge placed into her mind, and new allies forged over the crystal blue lake that sat on the temple grounds. Her eyes darted to the right, a soft smile coming upon her lips as she watched the lake move quietly in the drizzling rain and changing wind. The lake itself sat about three hundred and fifty feet from the seventy foot by seventy foot courtyard that sat in the front of the temple. Memories of that lake would cross over with her when she gave up the title in a thousand years and carry over into the new rule then as well.

Several large drops of water fell from the sky, landing upon her head and shoulders. Her eyes blinked, her head moving up towards the sky with the same look she had on when she had looked around the grounds. The clouds moving from the east were growing darker and the wind grew slightly more fierce, indicating that the full force of the second storm was at least an hour from reaching the temple grounds if that long. To her it was a sign that something bad was about to happen or had already; if she could get a spare moment with Trent she would ask what was going on. She couldn't read the way wind made the leaves twist or the hidden messages within the clouds as well as the Keepers did, just the feeling and the chills that ran down her body made her sure that something was brewing outside the confines of the temple grounds. Even so, she smiled and laughed into the wind that swirled around her and the rain that started to begin to pour.

"We should postpone the ceremony. The weather is too much," she heard a female voice say, her head jerking down from the sky and all laughter and expressions left her face just as blank as before. Monks were still scurrying about despite the rain and wind yet two were walking towards her without so much notice as to what was going on around them.

They were in their late age both wearing white robes with a purple flower on top of a golden sun stitched on the front of the garments and boots that were all but the bottom were hidden by these same robes. The woman walked to the right of the man, who had his hands clasped behind his back and eyes cast downward to the courtyard ground like he was considering the woman's words. He hardly seemed to take heed that the rain was coming down as it was or that there was a pair of eyes watching him come towards temple. The woman was more aware of her surroundings and held a large cloth over her head and shoulders; not that it did much good to keep the rest of her body dry, but at least her hair remained less wet.

"There is nothing wrong with the weather. It is just fine," the man responded, raising his eyes up. Unlike the other monks present, his eyes gave the young woman the first look she had all day and a soft smile from his lips. She didn't respond to that gestured, instead held a neutral look upon her face. It didn't deter the man's smile, just made him smile more broadly.

"Trent and Tal Mai aren't even here!" The woman shouted as the two came closer to her. Any monks that had been the closest to her jumped and scurried off, glad that those word were not directed towards them. "In the years since the beginning of the Realm, the prophet hasalwaysbeen at the Sage's ceremony."

The girl standing at the entrance to the temple had to force her eyes from rolling and to keep herself from laughing out loud. Since Trent becoming prophet, which had been after the forming of the Realm or so the tales go, he had not been atallof the ceremonies that had seen Sages taking their places in the Realm's history. The Order wasn't eventhatold - maybe around three thousand years if that long and the Realm, Sage, and prophet had been around countless generations before the forming of the Order. Still she wasn't one to correct the mistake of the Monks; it was better to let them believe what they wanted to believe and keep the facts within those that knew better.

"I am perfectly aware that neither one is present at this time, Leiko," he responded, stopping as soon as they were within two feet of the woman. "However I am quite positive that Trent hasbetterthings to do then to watch. After all, how many has he seen in his lifetime?"

She could have sworn that there was compassion in the old man's voice, something that had not been in his voice the last time he had mentioned the prophet in her presence. The assumption was that he did not care for the mystic and thought that he was trying to disband the Order rather then let them go about their own ways, and it was more correct then the leader of the Order would say to anyone, even to himself. He didn't trust Trent farther then he could throw him and Trent most likely felt the same way. Still, to hear the man in front of her speak like it was nothing that Trent hadn't come through the archway quite yet was something she would have to remember for later and hopefully throw back at him later.

She knew Trent only from the times they had spoken over the last few years, her training, and before that by reputation alone; when she had been chosen to succeed the former Sage, it was him that had taken her from her home. From what she understood, the Order had not chosenherfirst but rather another and Trent had, for some reason, gone against the request. But that was all it was - a request. The Order had little to no say what went on in the Realm and with what the Sage and Keepers did and said; they could only give suggestions to the Realm, nothing more. The Order was only there to be messengers for the Sage, not to keep order in the Realm nor to be the Keepers of the Elements. Their power was limited to their own knowledge and network of spies that ran secret deals with those that could keep the world safe.

"Lucien, pleasure to see you again." She dipped her head towards the man she had greeted and held a stiff smile. She had spoken before either one could continue their conversation and was not inclined to break into it when it became an argument. "Leiko, the same to you."

"Now, now Child. There is no need to be prim and proper." Lucien waved a hand as he turned towards her. "After all you are no longer in training and you're leagues above me."

"She isn't the Sageyet," Leiko muttered, putting the cloth she held over her head upon her shoulders and adjusting it around her neck so that the rain would not go down the neck of her robes. She stared hard at the woman in front of her with a frown. "The ceremony will have to wait until the weather clears up. The rain is..."

"A little water never hurt anything. Besides, it's all been prepared fortoday," Lucien said mildly, walking up to the younger woman and placing his hands upon her shoulders. She gave a quick shudder when his old hands touched her around her neck, a swift coldness emitting from his fingertips. "The ceremony will start shortly, rain or not. Trent can afford to missoneSage's ceremony, can he not?"

She saw the edges of his mouth twitch barely, and had to do that without Leiko taking notice. Instead he gave Leiko the same stern look she was giving him in return as he placed an arm over the girl's shoulder and led her towards the center of the courtyard. The two women locked eyes when they passed her, both frowning at each other before their gazes broke and Leiko turned to follow them. The girl turned her head forwards long enough to glance towards the entrance of the Realm as though she expected Trent to be standing there, waiting for the ceremony to be over with. She didn't believe he would be and had no indications that he would bother himself with something that, to him, was trivial.Had he predicted I would ascend to Sage in the Order's eyes, on a dark day?She wondered to herself.Or had that been something else entirely?

"I hope you are ready for this, Child. Few Sages have had second chances," Leiko muttered in a low voice, following behind the two as they stopped in the middle of the courtyard. The monks that had been scurrying about with final perpetrations were moving along the edge of the courtyard and going into a kneeling position where they once stood. They were spread out along the entire edge of the large courtyard, almost enough bodies to completely go around the large slab of stone. It would amaze anyone who saw them to know just how many monks there were in the Order and how few were ever out at any other time.

Lucien placed the woman in front of a medium sized glass bowl that sat upon a black marble pedestal that came up to her chin and looked like it had more then dust and dirt faded into it. Water had gathered inside the bowl where a small curved dagger rested inside, his left hand reaching into the bowl to fetch the dagger. The blade didn't appear to be sharp enough to be of any use in battle or daily use in other trades, it's purpose solely for ceremonies such as this.

Her eyes flickered to the small blade then back to Lucien's unreadable, age-hardened face. Leiko stood not far from him with her hands holding the fabric around her shoulders and clearly not happy about the weather or something else entirely; if she was unhappy about the choices in Sage and Keepers then she didn't speak up. The monks present held their kneeling positions, their eyes closed and hands laying upon their knees; they would remain this way until the ceremony was finished or their knees gave way from being on the hard stone.

"This day marks a new era of Elements and wisdom, a time when the old blood becomes stronger and flows into the veins of the young," Lucien began, holding up the dagger to the darkened sky. "The ways of the Sage will continue with her and the blade of a thousand years shall touch her skin."

She had seen the dagger several times during her walks in the temple, asking once what it was and what it was used for, a purpose that she didn't understand at the time. Trent had explained it was used for more the ceremony then it was for anything else; the Holy Order believed that the dagger gave the next Sage her powers from the Sage before when that Sage had placed those same powers into it. It was a myth played out to them since the previous Sage had to physicallygiveher powers to the next in line every thousand years and that gave whoever was next to have control of the Realm and the World before the Order knew anything about it. It was done up to a year before the ceremony day came and the first of the monks had even stepped foot on temple ground; if the prior Sage could leave behind excuses for herabsencethen the Order would never know of what had come before. Hers had been done a week and a half prior to this day and it was more then enough time for her to reclaim her bodies functions before the first few monks had started to arrive.

It had been a painful experience for her to receive the gift of an extended life and powers exceeding that of her own but she was still standing and alive after the exchange of power. It hadn't been such a bother to have something given to her in that manner, other then the fainting spell and awakening the next day with her whole body aching and everything around her spinning. Trent had been the only person she had seen after that, excluding the monks, and he had to guide her through the last steps of the journey from regular child to the Sage of a mystical Realm. Those steps were done rather quickly but quietly and with patience; one could not hold onto a flame or a breath of wind while bringing up breakfast from the morning behind a bush. Once the initial shock had worn off, and she could go about her daily duties, the last step was taken and she held onto the power of the Realm.

The exchange of power came with a price - the last Sage lost her life in preserving the line of watchers of the land and ensuring that there would be someone to keep the balance should there ever be a struggle for control. She would do the same in a thousand years when the time came to give her powers to the next Sage, regardless of how that played out in the uncertain future. She had made a vow while standing over the former Sage's body that she would be just as strong as she had been and would try to bring the Realm into a new age, all with tears in her eyes; even Trent had to step away so that no one would see the mists of tears rolling down his cheeks.

She held out her both of her arms in front of her, Leiko stepping forwards and rolled up the young woman's sleeves. The rain had started to come down a bit heavier then it had before, lightning crackling overhead and thunder booming in response in the distance. She winced at the sounds the storm brought and wind, Leiko's eyes glancing up at her for a second, her hands pausing before she resumed. The silk fabric of the sleeves was rolled up to her elbows, light enough so that she sleeves would not fall down once everything came to a close. Leiko stepped back, tugging at the makeshift shawl around her as Lucien lowered the dagger.

"Today, amongst the wind and rain, we welcome a new Sage into the line. May she rule the Realm in peace and spread her wisdom throughout the land." Lucien smile was forced as the new Sage's interest was real, as he took her right arm and turned it so the palm faced upwards. She knew what he was going to do and the look on his face told her he much rather put the point of the dagger elsewhere.

The dagger plunged into her wrist, a searing pain moving up her arm and into her body, rippling throughout her nerves. It wasn't as bad as her receiving her Sage powers but having a blade pierce her skin and into the muscle wasn't something she would brush off easily either. Lucien pulled the dagger from the wrist and turned her arm around so that the blood coming from the wound dripped onto the stone below. He then placed her bleeding arm over top the bowl, blood and rain dripping into the water already inside of it so that a small puddle would form. She watched the two liquids meet and swirl inside the bowl, the pain from the wound becoming a dull, throbbing ache. By the next day it would be gone, wrapped neatly underneath bandages for the rest of the world to see what had happened.

Lucien let go of her arm and preceded to repeat the process a second time for her other arm. Any being would have pulled her arm away at this point in more then pain, however she had to go along with the ceremony no matter how false of a front she had to put on. In her mind she already made plans to dissolve this ritual, her teeth gritting together so she wouldn't scream out in pain when the dagger went into her left wrist and allowed blood to flow for a second time.It is not worth standing here and having this done to my arms,She thought to herself, her arm moving over top the bowl. Lucien didn't seem to take notice the flash of anger that was on her face, even when the lighting above illuminated the area for a brief moment. Instead he went on with moving her arms to the side and placing the dagger back into the bowl. There it would stand for a month until one of the monks removed it and placed the dagger and bowl back into their respected resting places.

"The bloodline of the Sages now flows in your veins and their power now is yours to command." Lucien turned her around to face the monks who were now moving their upper bodies to the ground to bow down to her. "My lady Sage, I give you the Holy Order of the Sage. We are your advisors and your guard."

"Nice," she muttered, her eyes moving along the lines of monks that were still bowing to her. As she turned her head to the right side of the courtyard, a brush of movement caught her eye. She turned her head towards the entrance, two figures entering the temple grounds but staying away from the courtyard. She knew who they were, a fleeting smile coming onto her lips before it vanished just like it had appeared. Lucien didn't seem to take heed of those that had entered, leading her off to the temple with Leiko in tow. The rest of the monks would stay in their position until she left the courtyard and out of their sight. And she was glad to get away from it.

XXXX

Trent and Tal Mai quietly stepped into the grounds of the temple, their presence unknown until they reached the courtyard in front of them. There they would find the monks still bowing to the departed Sage or standing up to make sure that the seals on the pedestal were still intact so it wouldn't fall over in the rain or wind of the storms that were sure to come. Rain would have deluded her blood to a point where it was barely usable to keep any and all protective spell alive around the temple and Realm but it would do until a later date; or so said the Order.

The prophet had purposely made himself and Tal Mai late for the brief ceremony, partly due to the lack of interest in seeing blood spilled untarnished and because the true power of the Sage had already been handed down to her already. It was all but needed in a time when the image of the Holy Order was already at it's peak and there was little use for the monks to hold a useless ceremony that only cause more pain then it was worth. In a way he felt sorry for the Sage to have to go through another jolt of pain in less then two weeks time and would have to tell her so when there were no other ears to hear him say so. He hadn't exactly warned her of what the ceremony included except that it was requested by the Order to be done and that it included the use of the dagger.

"Looks like it's over," Tal Mai observed as they drew close to the courtyard. Indeed it was, as bodies were moving into a standing position and were slowly going into the center of the courtyard. If they had come during any other time in the short ceremony then the monks would still be kneeling on the hard stone or would have been bowing to the Sage.

"Don't sound so disappointed," Trent said with a smile. "You missed nothing that happened in these walls. All it requires is some blood, a few words, and she become Sage. That's all it is to it."

"Just like that?" Tal Mai stopped walking entirely and stared straight at the temple like he had never seen it before. Trent had taken several more steps before he stopped as well and turned around. He expected the monk to look disheartened at the revelation that there was nothing to the ceremony but two cuts to the hands or wrists, a sentence or two about the old and new blood, and then the Order believed that the Sage gained her powers.

"You were expecting something grander?" He asked, the smile fading. "You know better then I that this many Holy Order monks can't be absent for a long period of time even though the majority of them have been gone up to a week already. It's not like the coronation of a king or queen where everyone can attend and those take less time to prepare then a Sage's. I'm surprised half of the monks could get through the archway."

"We all aren't without our faults now are we?" Tal Mai only glanced at him before he started for the courtyard. Trent stared at his back while fighting the urge to hit him on the back of the head with the oak staff he carried; his grip fighting on the handle was proof that he was fighting it hard.Had I been angry as he is at that age? Or do I not remember that time?He wondered, his head tilting upward towards the coming rain.

Normally he would have found a nice little spot to come out of this kind of weather and wait it out until it passed but he was in no hurry to run to the temple quite yet.How many Leaders of the Order have I seen and will see that wanted to see this ceremony done more often? How many were too ignorant of the exchange of power from one Sage to another?

"Too many," he told himself out loud, lowering his head. The temple loomed ahead, a structure that had seen it's fair share of Sages, wars, and changes to the land just as he had, if not more. It had been rebuilt at least a dozen times in his long lifespan and it would be rebuilt a dozen times again and more before the end of time, if that little bit of rebuilding had to be done. He knew it would happen again, he had seen it through his visions, dreams, and the rumors that barely made it past tavern talk. Those were unclear and uncertain, just as the coming years appeared to be. A new Sage had begun her time in the Realm and new protectors of the Elements had already taken their first steps into their Keeper roles.

It would be a very uncertain beginning indeed.

The End

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