Dark clouds drifted drunkenly across a violet sky, shielding the land from
the pale light of the two sickles and the bright silver orb that were the
three moons. Long strands of dark grass rippled and waved in the chilling
wind, which rattled the fruit laden branches of the trees and whipped back
the hair and cloak of the young girl standing alone on the cliff, looking
out over the wild water which pounded the rocks many feet below her.
Andaren squinted as the wind roared in her ears and buffeted her eyes.
Magic, unleashed by the power of the moons which, waxing full and waning,
respectively represented the three aspects of the Goddess, tore across the
sky above her and rushed across the dark grass and ocean in rainbow colored
This was it, her one chance to prove herself.
Slowly, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves and bracing herself against
the wild weather, she raised her arms above her head and issued the word of
power to the elements.
At first nothing happened. Then a sphere of vibrant violet light shot with
strands of gold and silver materialized between her palms. Andaren braced
herself as the sphere expanded to enclose her entire body and she felt the
power flowing through her, burning her muscles and seeping like liquid
light through her veins.
"That's it!" she heard L'endrin shout behind her, his voice barely audible
above the roar of the wind, "Keep your focus, remain grounded!"
Andaren took another deep breath and focused on driving the magical 'roots'
that were 'grounding' her deeper into the ground; there was a danger that
the powerful magic could tear her soul from her body and there was no
guarantee that she would be able to return. Many who had attempted to
harness this 'Lunar Magic' before her had been lost that way.
The sphere was spinning around her now, alternatively glowing with violet,
gold and silver light. The outside world was now completely isolated from
her and a strange sound, something between wind chimes and tinkling
laughter, echoed around her, filling her ears and warming her heart; it was
the most beautiful sound she had ever heard.
Once or twice she thought she saw tiny lights flutter past her, some of
them enveloping tiny, human like figures with wings like dragonflies and
butterflies, but they appeared and disappeared so rapidly that she wasn't
sure if they were real or figments of her imagination.
"L'endrin!" she yelled, "It's working!"
And then it happened; the sphere stopped spinning and collapsed into her,
sinking into her skin. Andaren gasped and staggered as her newly acquired
magic, just for a moment, robbed her of all control of her mind and body.
And then, suddenly, she felt completely normal.besides a slight tingling in
her skin and throbbing in her temple, which was her body becoming
accustomed to her new powers.
"By the Lady, I think it's worked!" L'endrin cried, moving swiftly towards
her. There was a light in his deep violet eyes that Andaren had never seen
before, and a rare look of pride on his wrinkled face. "Who would have
thought it, my student the first to harness the power of the Lady's magic!"
Then he pulled her into a tight hug that made her gasp even louder than the
Luner Magic had.
"L'endrin..you're choking me!"
"Sorry my dear.." he let her go, still grinning broadly, "It's just that
never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would end up
training the Lunar Mage!"
"I might not be the Lunar Mage," Andaren blushed, unwilling to imagine
herself as the magician the entire planet had been waiting for since the
creation of the five worlds.
"I believe that you might be," L'endrin said confidently. He stretched out
a remarkably strong arm for his student to hold on to, "Come my dear, you
need to rest before you meet the Mentrians tomorrow."
Andaren grimaced at the thought of meeting the counsel of Terraina's most
powerful wizards, but allowed L'endrin to steer her back towards the city.
Her skin was still tingling, although she thought that was more to do with
trepidation than the magic she had .absorbed?
She disguised a sigh, unwilling to worry her mentor. L'endrin may be
exited, but she was filled with fear. If she was the right one then she
had new responsibilities, responsibilities that she had no desire to
accept, responsibilities that yesterday, when she had not really believed
that the ritual would work, she had not really thought about.
She knew that her life would never be the same again. Perhaps the change
wouldn't be so bad.it certainly couldn't get any worse.but she would no
longer have the peace and tranquillity of L'endrin's care and careful
tutorage that over the last few years she had taken for granted.
The old Andaren was gone forever.
Sunlight streaming through a gap in the curtains woke Andaren the following
morning. She groaned and sat up, coaxing stiff muscles to work, rubbing
grit out of her eyes and quickly getting dressed. An odd little creature,
rodent like but scaly, with a long, tapered muzzle, dragon-like tail and
wings regarded her reproachfully from it's position at the end of the bed,
large, liquid cerulean eyes still half closed from recent slumber. It's
scales, which were dark blue, fading to a lighter turquoise shade on the
underbelly and around the face, shone brightly in the sunlight, as did the
golden claws. It had long, hair-like fibres - actually a primitive form
of feather - around its neck and drooping like whiskers from its muzzle,
and a light down over its legs and down the length of its back.
"Sorry Yoli!" Andaren apologized softly for disturbing the animal and
scratched it between its large, fan-like ears. The young alundi purred and
batted a blue-scaled claw playfully at the girl's face, then fluttered up
to her shoulder and snuggled against her neck, claws gripping the material
of her shirt for support.
Still gently stroking the alundi, Andaren made her way to the kitchens,
where she knew L'endrin would be waiting for her. She was filled with
apprehension; the Mentrians, by all accounts, did not approve of magicians
who came from common families or were subject to constant bouts of
sickness. Andaren fitted into both those categories.
Suddenly she winced and placed her hand on her chest as pain shot briefly
through her torso. Yoli chirped anxiously as her owner lowered herself
into a chair in the hall then, as she had been trained to do, she spread
her wings and flew off in search of help.
Andaren had been born with a heart defect and, as such, had not been
expected to survive past her first birthday. Maybe it was because of this
that her mother had been so willing to let her go when L'endrin had offered
to take her on as a student; with one less mouth to feed she could
concentrate on raising her four healthy children. The most she had ever
done for her only daughter was to give her Yoli, the runt of the litter she
had bred for the mages.
Alundis were useful creatures which were not only good companions and
assistants for the permanently sick; but good fighters that were often kept
by the army; guard animals and, due to their magical qualities, often kept
"Andaren, are you alright?" L'endrin was suddenly beside her, pushing a
potion into her hands. Yoli dropped back onto her shoulder, fluttering her
wings in an agitated way.
"I'm..fine," she gasped, not sure who it was she was trying to convince.
She had not yet quite come to terms with the idea that her condition could
prove to be terminal. She drank the potion, knowing that it would help
restore her heart to its regular rhythm, "What will the Mentrians say when
they hear about this?"
"Never mind the Mentrians; we've got hours to go before you have to meet
them and they don't need to know about this."
Andaren's heart sank. "You've scheduled an appointment then?"
"I had to, you know that. If anyone absorbs any kind of natural magic the
Mentrians have to be informed. And last night was a big event for the
"They're going to be pleased....a Lunar Mage who could drop dead at any
moment!" she snorted contemptuously, "That's if I am the Lunar Mage!"
"Don't talk like that!"
"Why not, it's true! Even my mother accepts that it's true; Andaren.the
sickly daughter who will never have the chance to amount to anything!"
"This is your chance, young mage," L'endrin said gently, laying a hand on
the shoulder that wasn't occupied by Yoli, "Here's a chance for you to
"She'll come up here, you know," Andaren continued, ignoring him, "All
smiles and hugs, pretending that she never really abandoned me at all,
dying to be able to tell people that her daughter is the Lunar Mage!" Again
she laughed, thinking of her mother clamoring to get her hands on all the
privileges high-ranking mages were awarded.
"Leroni can't get anywhere near you unless you want to see her," Andaren's
hatred of her mother was well known to the old tutor, and he couldn't blame
her for feeling that way; Leroni wasn't a maternal person.
"That won't stop her!" Andaren said sullenly, raising one hand to gently
stroke Yoli, who was whimpering with concern, "Or my brothers!"
"Oh, now by all accounts you get on quite well with your youngest brother."
"Luin's alright," Andaren admitted, "Leroni doesn't have much time for him,
either. not since he decided he wanted to become a travelling musician."
L'endrin sighed. Luin was exceptionally good at playing the harp, flute
and guitar.but his ideas of travelling would indeed upset his mother, as it
did not offer a constant source of money. Indeed, most bards and musicians
bartered their songs and music in exchange for food, clothing or shelter.
"I'll tell the guards not to let your mother or your brothers into the
Hall," he reassured her, "Except Luin, of course. I think you're going to
need his support more than you realize."
A clear, melodious voice suddenly came to his ears, singing an old, popular
song. Yoli stood up on her back legs, wings outstretched for balance,
whiskers twitching as she warbled a welcome.
"Ah, speak of the bard and he will appear!" L'endrin grinned, "I'll leave
you to it." He bowed and left, just as a boy of about nineteen years with
short cropped black hair, dark eyes and dark skin entered the room.
A harp was strapped in its case on his back, a flute was hanging by a chain
from his neck and he held a guitar in his hand.
"How're you doing, sis?" he began cheerfully, then spotted the empty potion
flask and suddenly looked concerned, "Are you ok?"
"It was just a little heart flutter...nothing serious," Andaren lied, not
wanting to upset him by telling him that the 'little flutter' had in fact
been one of the worst attacks she had had in years. Yoli uttered a little
scandalized yip, sensing that she was lying, then flew to Luin's shoulder
and nuzzled him affectionately.
"Hello little one, is your owner feeding me lies again?" Luin tickled Yoli
under the chin, smiling as the alundi made a little amused sound very much
like a giggle and half closed her eyes, enjoying the attention. Then he
turned back to Andaren, his expression and voice serious. "Don't think I
don't know what you got up to last night; everyone knows there's a meeting
regarding the Lunar Mage this afternoon."
"And how exactly do you know its me?"
"Because I just saw L'endrin's rather guilty expression as he left the
room. I'll kill him! You know that power could have put a strain on your
"I'm not an invalid!"
"I'm not saying you are..." Luin looked about ready to explode, "But
Andaren, you can't afford to go taking risks like that. you can't gamble
you're life for a few extra powers!"
"Look Luin, the Lunar Mage will most likely be needed soon...It had to be
done. Anyway...I might not be the Lunar Mage."
"You absorbed the Lunar Magic...of course you're the Lunar Mage! And that
means you're going to have to put yourself in harms way!" he was almost
shouting now, suppressing his voice for fear of causing his sister to have
another attack, "You're.you're vulnerable enough already!"
He dropped into a chair beside her, carefully resting the guitar against
the wall and lifting the harp from his shoulders. "You know I'm leaving
soon, don't you?"
"I was thinking of leaving at the end of the week.I just need some time to
gather all my things together, decide which direction to go in." he looked
agitated, as if there was something he wanted to tell her but couldn't
quite work up the courage to do it.
"What is it?" Andaren's skin chilled, "You will be coming back at some
point, won't you?"
"No..." Luin replied, "...I never want to see this city again. Andaren..."
"You can't leave me alone!" Andaren's stomach turned to ice.
"I know I can't, and I don't want to loose you; I can leave everything else
behind me, but not you.. that's why I'm asking you to come with me."
"What!" She gasped, "I can't, you know I can't...not after last night!"
"Andaren, even if you are the Lunar Mage the Mentrians aren't going to
accept you; you're not from a magical family and you have an incurable
illness. What's keeping you here?"
"Luin, I want to go with you, I really do...but..."
"Talk to the counsel later," Luin rose, throwing the harp back over his
shoulder and depositing Yoli on his vacated chair, "See what they have to
say. Send a message to me if you change your mind."
Andaren dropped to her knees on the cool marble floor, a new pain gripping
her heart. Except for L'endrin, Luin had been the only person she had felt
she could trust and the one member of her family she thought truly
understood and cared about her. The thought of loosing him terrified
her.and yet she knew she couldn't go with him.
For a brief moment, and for the first time since she had come to the Hall,
she felt hatred towards L'endrin and her powers. The feeling faded almost
as soon as it had appeared; she had always been drawn to magic, she liked
having her powers and it wasn't L'endrin's fault that she had absorbed the
"Brrr?" Yoli landed on her shoulder, humming anxiously, and nuzzled the
side of Andaren's neck. Andaren reached up to stroke the alundi, gently
pulling the feather-like hairs around Yoli's neck.
"You'll stick with me, right?" she murmured, earning a little chirp of
affirmation and an affectionate slap of the alundi's tongue against her
chin. "What am I going to do, Yoli? I can't loose Luin...and I don't want
to leave L'endrin either!"
Yoli's eyes were sympathetic, but she could not speak and so could provide
no answer. In desperation Andaren called out to the Goddess - the only
other beside L'endrin and her brother that she had faith in.
"Lady...what do I do?"