In the Winterealm, a group of men in hooded black robes had gathered in a large room. Each sat in a chair that looked like it had grown from the stone floor itself. The chairs were arranged in a circle, and at one end, a larger, throne-like chair was occupied by another man, but the hems of his robe were trimmed with silver. When it became apparent that everyone had arrived, the man in the throne began to speak:
"Many years ago, we were charged with the task of guarding a madman, one who threatened the lives of the Un-Gifted ones. We took a sacred vow, swearing that we would keep him contained in our realm, a prisoner to his own magic. We have failed. Three days ago, one among us, allowed him to escape," at this, the man gestured to an empty chair, "he has been punished by the laws of our order, but the matter of Wolram's escape still exists. So tell me, brothers, what are we to do?"
No one spoke, and the room was silent. The hooded man in the throne spoke again, "We have honor, but he does not, and if we allow him to roam free and wreak havoc on the Un-Gifted, the honor of our order will be reduced to dust."
This statement moved one of the others to speak. His voice was deep and gruff, but one could tell that he wasn't old.
"It is clear we must track him down, but if one of us leaves the Winterealm its barriers will become weak. We established this place for the Gifted over a millennium ago, and none of our number have left since. The world has undoubtedly changed much in that time, and magic has become less common there. We would not be welcome."
The others began to mutter among themselves after this comment. And the man in the throne had to bang his staff on the floor to regain order.
"We should send one of the younger to go. A particular student of mine has showed much promise. I'm sure you all know of the charming Arianwen. She is talented and well taught in our ways. I wouldn't have to worry about her leaving and not coming back."
This led to a complete breakdown of the assembly. Men shouted and waved their arms about in a futile attempt to make themselves heard.
"This is unheard of."
"...one that young..."
"...and with barely any training too..."
"I AGREE WITH GWYDION."
A voice bellowed out of nowhere and caused immediate silence in the chamber. Out of the shadows, a teenage girl appeared. She had short brown hair and her eyes were a deep blue. She was short, and accustomed to being ignored, but now, all eyes were on her.
The leader of the assembly, Gwydion, looked sternly at her and said, "You should not be here Jeremi."
"I was curious, that's all. But now that I'm here, I just figured I should add my opinion."
Gwydion looked at the girl with curiosity and mild amusement. She was looking at her feet and blushing fiercely, clearly regretting her intrusion.
"Well, Arianwen is my best friend, see. And I think she's really talented, unlike me. But she's always been real nice, even though the other talented ones always make fun of my Gift and try to get her to talk with them. I think that if you want to get something done, you should have her do it. She's determined and won't quit."
Gwydion recognized the loyalty of friendship that Jeremi showed. He knew that her words were true and that both Jeremi and Arianwen would make good choices to go. Jeremi with her loyalty and bravery, and Arianwen with her talent and determination.
"I think you should both go. We shall now have a vote. Those who agree with this plan of action, raise your hands." A hand or two went up around the Circle, but no one spoke. Jeremi was stunned. Gwydion himself was stunned, but knew that everyone there realized that there was no other choice.