Prologue: The First Born Again

A child cried out in fear, a scream that tore through the dark to bring the dawn. Soft petals of light spilled over the bed as the sun rose over the hill visible through the child's small window. Sighing in relief to see that she was home, warm in her blankets, the girl's stiff body relaxed into her pillows. When the door to her bedroom opened and a burly man with dark, unruly hair and an axe stepped into the room, she sat upright, blankets falling about her waist and turned to him while his dark, roving eyes quickly searched every corner of the room from where he stood in the doorway. He saw no one but the girl and allowed the grip on the axe to loosen and stepped toward her.

"This, my dear, is the fourth time this month," the surprisingly soft voice spoke. The man shook his head in disbelief. "The fourthཀ"

The girl smiled up at him. "I am sorry Papa, I did not mean to interrupt your chores, but..."

She tore her eyes to the window, her words trailing into nothingness. Staring outwards, she could only see people beginning their morning routines: Sadie Blerntei was gently hitching aging mules to that cart needing more than a few repairs; Tron Ra'tane was firing his forge, she could see the smoke rising from his shop; and several women were at one of the town's several wells drawing water for the morning's cooking. She was certainly at home, not at that...place, she now knew as well as the necklace inherited from her grandmother hanging about her neck.

"It was the dream again?" Her father's frown brought the girl's attention back to the room. "Honestly, Kiline, I don't understand where you get such dreams, I never knew any girl with such an imagination." His voice dropping to a playful whisper he added, "It's certainly not healthy, maybe I should stop letting you visit the Cardane so often."

"Noཀ Oh no, Papa you wouldn't do that, would you?" Kiline, pushing away her bedcovers, got to her feet and ran to her father. Grabbing one of his large, rough hands in her small ones, she pleaded, "I know you don't wholly approve of Master but, but–you wouldn't stop me seeing him, he tells me stories, and teaches me from the Songs of Creation, and–oh, Papa, you couldn't." Tears fought to spill from her eyes.

Her father took one look at her and smiled. Chuckling, he lifted her in his arms and whispered in her ear, "No darling, I would not do that. I know how much you love the old man, and no matter how crazy I think he is, I know he's not such a bad teacher for you. A girl has to learn of the world somehow, right?"

Kiline wrapped her seemingly fragile arms about the man's neck and kissed his cheek. "Oh, I should have known better than to think you would." Her dark eyes gleamed.

"Now, my dear, if you do not mind, I need to get back to chopping our wood and you," he set her gently on the floor, "need to get dressed and help your mother with breakfast.

---

"And Lymna knew it was time to create a new order, now that the First had been defeated and had passed from the world. He journeyed far and wide, gathering all those who would follow until he came to the lush fields of Trekan, where he set down his staff and proclaimed to all those who would listen, 'A new day has -

"Kiline, are you listening? You've done nothing but stare out the window for the past two marks."

Startled from her thoughts, Kiline quickly returned her gaze to the old man. "Forgive me Master Sardion, I am just a little distracted today."

The Cardane raised a white eyebrow. "Distracted? The stories of the Cardanic Order are your favorites, I've never known you to pay anything but the utmost attention to them, especially the tales of Lymna and Ferica. Unless..."

He paused, taking a sip of steaming tea. "The dream?"

Kiline nodded slowly, looking into her lap. "Master, I–I don't understandཀ It's always, always,the same place, it's beautiful. But then..." She shook her head, unable to go further.

"Kiline, look at me." The girl raised her head to meet the man's undying eyes. "Sometimes–there are things that don't make sense, at least not until the world sees fit to give a person the ability to see the answers. I don't understand either."

Eyes widened, and Kiline's disbelief led to a short gasp. "You don't understand? But–you are supposed to be a great Dream Readerཀ"

"Yes, I am supposed to be, aren't I?" Sardion pushed back his chair, standing to walk to the bookshelf. With his back turned to Kiline he continued, "I puzzled over it, and you can bet no one is more surprised than I that I cannot find an answer. This place you describe is not in my memory, it is not in my books, but something tells me that this dream means something." He turned again to the young girl sitting at the room's only table.

"There is something about you Kiline, you have an air about you. You, my child, are destined for greatness, I know not how, or when, but you will come into your powers someday, and they will be powers unlike any seen in this world in an age of man." He closed his eyes a moment, opening his senses to the currents that surrounded all things, sensing that now all-to-familiar pulsating strength of half-faded light that surrounded no other living creature. It was the pulse of death. The pulse of renewal. Her aura... she had the presence of the First.

The First born again...

Sardion forced the thought aside. Such a thing was impossibleཀ The return of the old order, could only mean the end of the new one, and, though he did not like to admit it, the Cardane was certainly not ready for the end of his importance in the world.

He opened his eyes to see Kiline looking upon him with concern etched on her face. He smiled. He had missed having someone near him to show concern.

"How would you like to go for a walk, child? A trip to the caves, perhaps?"

Kiline grinned eagerly, all concern vanishing from her fair face. "The cavesཀ Oh, yesཀ Please, let'sཀ"

Before Sardion could reach the worn satchel hanging near the door, the girl was outside, the door standing wide, rays of the afternoon sun pouring into the otherwise dim room.