A boy sat in his cell looking up at the roof. This was torture. He longed for the days when he was the esteemed Vorclaen prince, in richly made clothing, plastered in jewels of all sorts, eating great food, flirting with the gorgeous court women … He put his head in his hands. Something had to give. A dream once told him he'd be free. Well, that was a long time coming. The guards had a nasty habit of sending him to the executioner's block, then cancelling at the last minute. Every day he was told he would be killed and every day, he would prepare to meet his maker. Every day he would be told the execution was off, he wasn't going to die.

Stupid Fortesei barbarians… he thought. The same butterfly that had flown into Eliza's room flew into his and landed upon the wall. He smiled. Butterflies hardly ever came into the cell. A band of light grew around the butterfly and it changed into a man with light orange hair.

"Greetings your highness," the man said. The boy jumped. The voice from his dreams was speaking to him!

"You've come," he rasped. The boy knelt down before the fire god(if you looked closely, tears were forming in his eyes, although later he wouldn't admit it happened).

"I am Quelaen, god of fire," The man replied. "And I have come, Prince Selluail Heydren Eli Lithril Kossier."

"Lithril," The prince rasped. "It was my mother's maiden name." Quelaen nodded.

"I have been sent on behalf of King Helian and Queen Virana, rulers of the gods and goddesses," Quelaen explained. "We must bear you away, if it's to your will."

"It's my will!" Lithril answered quickly. "Take me away your holiness.Take away from this, I'm begging you." There was a long pause before anyone spoke.

"Very well," Quelaen replied. "Come Lithril… take my hand."

Eliza felt something soft covering her body; something warm and completely luxurious. She knew it was a dream and didn't want to awaken to the dingy little country cottage she lived in. She felt her eyes flicker upwards

Oh no… She thought. But the warmth still remained. Eliza immediately sat up in bed.

"Good morning Oriana," A woman said. Eliza dared to glance her way. The woman was beautiful. She had long, straight cornsilk white hair, which Eliza swore she could see a tinge of mauve in, stunning violet eyes and milky white, perfect skin.

"M-m-my name's Eliza," She stammered. "I haven't b-been called Oriana in y-years."

"Your name IS Oriana," The woman told her sternly. "That's not up for debate."

"Who are you?" Eliza choked.

"I am Virana, Queen of the Gods and the immortal world," She replied. "Also your grandmother."

"But my mother wasn't, no…" Eliza spluttered, shocked. "How could I be?"

"Have you ever noticed how gems call to you?" Virana asked. "Ever heard them chanting or dripping with energy? Ever managed to heal the sick with your stones?"

"Y-yes…" Eliza replied. "I healed my niece Mari once with my obsidian."

"Well done," Virana applauded. "Obsidians are often far too temperamental for healing use."

"Why have you brought me here?" Eliza wanted to know.

"I thought it was about time," Virana scoffed. "After all, who knows what many years in a mortal world can inflict upon those of immortal descent. Oh, and you need to be trained now that your powers are developing." Eliza nodded uncertainly. She could cope with this.


"Where am I?" Eliza asked, after a period of silence.

"The name is too long and complicated to pronounce in my tongue," Virana sniffed. "You will learn it soon enough. But to satisfy your curiosity we are in the city mere mortals from Vorclaea call Crystallé." Eliza's mouth fell open in spite of herself. Crystallé was mentioned in at least 50 different Vorclaen legends, and hardly anyone ever saw it. You had to be god-chosen or immortal to have access there. Eliza recalled times when people in her village had been ensnared by the gods' messengers to train as god-chosen. If you succeeded in your field, you became a high priest or priestess and you had access to Crystallé in life and death. It overwhelmed Eliza that she'd gotten access to it without being god-chosen but a goddess herself. There was a soft knock on the door.

"Come in Quelaen," Virana said lazily. The man with the fire hair entered.

"Good morning sister," Quelaen said. "I have ensnared the former prince of Vorclaea." Eliza suddenly realized who this man was.

"M-m-marinoed!" She exclaimed, using an old Vorclaen word meaning 'Fire master'. It was his common name where she came from.

"No need to apologise," Quelaen told her. "After all Quelaen is a name not often used where you are from."

"Didn't you give him due respect?" Virana wanted to know, her eyes gleaming.

"I didn't know who he was," Eliza murmured, feeling very small. Virana roared with laughter.

"That's hilarious," She choked through bouts of laughter. "She's definitely my granddaughter. Well done Oriana." Quelaen looked irked, but ignored them.

"I was wondering if Goddess Oriana would like to meet our newest initiate," He said through clenched teeth. Eliza opened her mouth to speak.

"I suppose she'll have to," Virana answered for her. "But let her make herself decent Quelaen, for Crystallé's sake."

"All I can ask for sister," Quelaen said indignantly. "I'll go inform him of your presence and wish to meet him."

"Sorry," Virana said. "Ignore my little brother. We'll go see this prince, although despite all the reports, he's actually not much to see. But first, my dear, we must bathe and dress you." Eliza looked cautiously around. There weren't any wardrobes or baths around that she could see. "Come. The bathing room is this way."

Lithril stood in the white palace of Crystallé looking curiously out the window. So… He thought. This is the legendary city of crystal…

It was a very beautiful place. The glistening silver streets shone below as initiates, high priests and priestesses and gods and goddesses strolled peacefully along. Beyond the silver streets were gardens and fields filled with rare roses and lilies and lakes, rivers and oceans which were still and a sparkling blue. He hadn't felt this peaceful in aeons. He let the breeze tussle his raven hair as he breathed in the sweet smell.

"Good morning Lithril," A voice said from the middle of the room. Quelaen had suddenly materialised. "Enjoying Crystallé?"

"Very much," Lithril replied.

"Would you like a tour of the kingdom?" Quelaen asked eagerly.

"No, thank you," Lithril replied.

"Or at least a bath?" Quelaen asked again, hopefully. Lithril forced a smile. The hospitality thing had been way overdone. "So matters of purification can be completed?"

A bath wouldn't be bad though… He thought.

"All right. Yes please," Lithril conceeded. "That would be brilliant." Quelaen motioned for him to follow and they walked out of the palace through the halls. They walked to a large room made of marble. Water reflected in irrational patterns on the walls.

"I have been consulting with my sister," Quelaen said. "She's going to let you set eyes upon her precious granddaughter." Lithril grinned. He liked Quelaen's sarcastic humour. He also wasn't too keen on meeting this particular goddess. She was probably Virana's clone.

"I'm not looking forward to it," Lithril demurred.

"Now now," Quelaen scolded. "She isn't that bad." Lithril responded with a shudder. Ever since Virana had met him, she had insisted on calling him Shelk, which meantsomething really insulting in some ancient tongue. It was unfortunate he couldn't change his initials.

"Isn't she?" Lithril asked. "She is related to Virana, after all."

"In case you've forgotten, I'm related to Virana so all her relatives aren't quite that bad," Quelaen reminded him. "Ah here are the bathing chambers. Grothrene, Lythera, Viellen, come help our young guest undress." Lithril watched as maids descended upon him and peeled off his clothing. He then lowered himself into the water and felt every particle in his body relax. Heaven. He let his eyes close and he drifted off into a semi-state of sleep. He was taken back to the palace where he was born by the sea. He could almost smell the salt air, taste the water, feel the wind flitting across his face… Lithril was in the bathing bowl for sometime before he decided to get out. When he did, three fairy-like creatures flew a towel to him.

"Thank you," He said to the tiny creatures and they curtsied and flew off bringing back a cream linen pair of breeches, a crisp white shirt and light, masculine slippers. He made his way for what he thought was the door when he collided with a girl about his age.

"My lady, I'm sorry, but if you'll allow me to..." Lithril abruptly stopped as he stared directly into eyes the exact same colour as his own. Her hair was like liquid gold and she was wearing a long gown encrusted with diamond like jewels and a simple sphere around her neck that never stayed one shade. Her headdress was simple with one single pearl on a chain hanging directly in the middle of her forehead. Lithril had never set eyes upon an ethereal being, but today he was sure he had.

"Allow you to what?" She asked.

"Be of service," He gulped. Her voice was so cadent and pure. "I wasn't watching my step." She smiled.

"You are forgiven," She replied. "I didn't catch your name, Master…"

"L-l-lithril," He stammered. "And yours my lady?" She hesitated.

"Oriana," She replied confidently. "Once Eliza, but now Oriana. I prefer it though."

"Oriana," He whispered.Her nameseemed to float off his tongue. "A very pretty name my lady." He saw Oriana's cheeks almost turn pink.

"Thank you Master Lithril," She murmured. The pair stoodopposite each othersilently, not knowing what to say.

"Ah. Shelk, Oriana," A voice from behind them said. "I believe you two have just met." Lithril and Oriana turned to see Virana standing behind them. Lithril cringed at Virana's referral to him.

"You believe right grandmother," Oriana said quietly. Lithril facefaulted.

She cannot be Virana's granddaugther! Lithril thought frantically. They don't even look alike!

"You do know this is Prince Shelk do you not?" Virana asked.

"Prince Selluail Heydren Eli Lithril Kossier?!" Oriana exclaimed, her eyes lit up.

"Yes, I am he," Lithril replied warily.

"I'm shocked! I've heard so much about you!" Oriana gushed. "Your parents were kind and just rulers your highness, Vorclea was sad to lose them."

"Yes," Virana drawled primly. "Oriana has things to become acquainted with." She grabbed her granddaughter by the arm. "Quelaen will attend to you shortly." Lithril snapped back to reality when Virana talked. She didn't have the purity and clarity in her voice that Oriana had. He stood in one spot and watched as he saw Oriana and Virana float out the door until Quelaen came.

"I see you've been… enchanted by Virana's newly discovered relative," Quelaen drawled. Lithril nodded dazedly.

"Yes sir," He mumbled almost incoherently with very glazed eyes.

"Young men and their hormones," Quelaen muttered. "You'll be seeing her in training soon enough."

"Tr-training? Shouldn't she know everything there is to know about magic?" Lithril wondered aloud, becoming more alert and focused.

"She is but a very young goddess," Quelaen replied. "And she has at the extreme disadvantage of being with mortals and therefore not being able to develop her goddess incarnation."

"Ah," Lithril murmured in understanding. "How young is she? I know your concept of age differs to ours."

"She's barely one hundred and sixty one," Quelaen informed him. "Still a godlet, to tell the truth. But she'll appear around your age, though. She ages quickly, aging as a one mortal does in oneyear every ten years, due to her father's underworld heritage."

"One hundred and sixty years of age appearing as old as myself?" Lithril spluttered. "And she was residing with mortals? How in Vorclea did they manage to conceal it?"

"Virana's daughter revealed a part truth to her husband," Quelaen continued. "He received a longer life than most mortals, as Lossiera granted him a goddess favour, and he died aged 200. Most of his life was spent as a hermit though trying to protect his supposed daughter from being discovered."

"Surely this girl must have known," Lithril muttered in surprise.

"Apparently not," Quelaen replied. "Her surrogate father kept it a secret and gave guardianship to his niece, whom he implied was her sister."

"Very complicated," Lithril sighed. "How have you acquired this knowledge?"

"Through much counsel through my dearest sister," Quelaen demurred. He winced. "I should go. Virana is sending me irked mind messages again. One of the initiates has tried to force themselves in here. You see, no initiates nor high priests and priestesses are allowed past these gates without enchantments. They'd die you see." He bowed to Lithril and walked out the door.

"Morose little creature isn't he?" Virana remarked to her granddaughter while they were in the palace gardens.

"He seems all right," Eliza told her grandmother mildly.

"You've been under the influence of mortals for too long," Virana scoffed. "He isn't even remotely handsome." Eliza smiled briefly and turned her attention toward her tea that she was drinking.

"I couldn't agree nor disagree," Eliza musedstaring into the beverage. "I don't know much about handsome princes."

"Of course you don't," Virana sniffed. "Comes with years of experience."

"But shouldn't you look at the inside and not the outside?" Eliza wondered aloud. "Imagine he were handsomebut had no brain. What happens then, Grandmother?"

"Dearest Oriana," Virana said slowly, as if talking to a two year old. "Men have no brains anyway, handsome or not."

"But what of personality and compassion?" She continued earnestly.

"What of them?" Virana asked, not knowing what Eliza was talking about.

"They're important…" She murmured. "How could you live without a sense of humour or a loving hand?"

"I see you are going to be one of the kind goddesses," Virana sniffed. "Not that it's a bad thing, not at all." Eliza grinned at her grandmother over her cup. A gorgeous prince, a crazy grandmother, and a sarcastic uncle in one day… she could grow to like Crystallé.