Notes: Friendly fire welcome!


Amris awoke to the sound of beating wings.

Her brother was leaning over her, his wings fluttering anxiously, one hand poised as though to reach out and awaken her. Seeing that she had woken already, he pulled back his hand and stood at a quivering attention beside the bed. "Well?" he asked.

She nodded wearily, too tired to speak.

A grin split his handsome face, and Brennach moved a few steps towards the balcony. Beyond him, the evening sky was cobalt, littered with distant constellations. A horse pranced, a wary hunter kept an arrow at his bow, and a serpent stalked an unwitting winged child. How long ago had it been that she and Brennach had listened to their parents telling the stories of the stars? Years. Decades. Their parents had been dead for nearly half a century, finally claimed by the death goddess after long lives. But Brennach and Amris were young as of yet; neither had children to tell the stories to.

"I will go and bring Amyned to hear your prophecy," he began, turning and gathering his wings, ready to burst into the evening sky.

"Wait," she said, freeing her own wings from the tangle of silken bedclothes. As Brennach turned back, she smoothed the feathers, soft and warmed by her body heat. She had slept for nearly two days—it had been a hard prophecy. "I do not think that Amyned will wish to hear this."

The look of expectancy and excitement in Brennach's face vanished. "Sister?" he said gently, questioningly.

She just shook her head, tears filling her eyes. "Go, Bren. Fly. Your apprentice must be waiting for you."

"She is doing exercises from the textbooks," he said. "Sister, what is it?"

Amris bit her lip, rebelling against the swell of emotion in her chest. Making a hushing sound, Brennach sat down beside her, one arm around her shoulders. She let her head fall against his shoulder, her tangled mass of golden curls falling down his back and mingling with his grey feathers. The wizard just held her, understanding that she was in great pain, but not aware of why, or how he could help her.

"Amris, you can tell me. You can trust me," he said after a hand of time had passed.

"I know," she said, sitting up and wiping her eyes. She felt even more tired for the hot tears that had, moments before, spilled down her face.

"Did you see the next High Sovereign?" he prompted.

She nodded. "And the next Eldest."

Brennach frowned. "Both? Together? They are not—"

"No, they are two separate entities; but their paths lie together, and it is a hard one. I fear for them, Bren. They are only children...."

"All the men and women of the world are children to the likes of you and I, sister," he said. It was true; Brennach was three and eighty years old, and in the prime of his life. His sister was five years his senior. "Tell me who the m'Lord is. I will go fetch him from his family, and we will raise him properly. There will be no mistakes with this one."

"The High Sovereign is already past the age of choosing," Amris said in the sing-song tones of prophecy, repeating what she had seen. Brennach's frown deepened. "The High Sovereign must find the way here, and cannot be fetched."

"Amris," he said sternly, and she swayed for a moment before shaking her head.

"It's—it's coming, Bren," she said.

"Then I must bring Amyned—"

"No!" she said, grabbing his wrist as he rose to leave. "Don't you see? The next High Sovereign is true, unlike this one—but must be allowed to grow by the terms of the prophecy. And the prophecy says that this one must find the way here with no interference from the Council of Seers or the Elder Circle—this High Sovereign must claim destiny, and not be claimed by it. For the love of Golwynen, Brennach, fetch parchment and a silverpoint! It's coming and you must take it!" There was a tinge of desperation in her voice now, and fear in her eyes as she struggled to withhold the prophecy until he was ready to copy it down.

Cold adrenaline prickled down Brennach's back; his wings stood erect behind him as he found a silverpoint and some treated parchment, and then nodded. There should be a trained stenographer standing here, not an Intermediate Master wizard! He knew the flows of magic, hundreds of spells and as many potions—he could transform himself into any shape necessary—but for all of his years spent by his sister's side, he knew little to nothing of prophecies. This was Seer's work.

But the prophecy was indeed coming, and as his sister intoned the words of foretelling, the silverpoint scratched with frantic speed across the surface of the parchment.

In a small corner of his mind, Brennach recognized the danger of the situation. Amris had gone renegade. She had refused to submit her prophecy to the Council, had told him not to fetch the stenographer. It was sacrilege for anyone but a Seer and the High Master wizards to have access to the prophecies. Brennach was only an Intermediate Master. They could both be punished for this—but to have the prophecy lost because he was too cowardly to copy it down would be an even worse fate. With redoubled effort he attempted to write it down faithfully. They had been together since his birth, Amris and Brennach; he would not forsake her now.

Then it was over, and Amris had fallen back in a heap on the bed, wings spread wide behind her like a feathery blanket, weary eyes closed and chest rising and falling rapidly as she fought to regain her breath. Brennach bit his lip, laid the silverpoint aside, and watched as her breathing deepened and evened out.

He turned his back to the writing desk and the scrawled prophecy and pulled a soft, lambskin blanket over her. Despite the wizards' abilities to withstand low temperatures, it was still winter, and it had, indeed, been a hard prophecy. He dropped a kiss on her cheek and tucked her in, just as their parents had done when they were children together.

For safe keeping, he tucked the scrawled prophecy behind the tapestry of the night sky that hung beside her bed. He perfunctorily scrutinized the woven constellations in the Sewardian piece before turning his face to the real stars. Something must be done before word of this terrible prophecy reached the m'Lord and the Eldest; someone must know.

He gathered his wings and leapt into the sky, headed for the plains of Southshire, Athdaragh, and the camp of a Wayfarer clan.