The young woman was leaning so far over the large pool of water that it seemed impossible that she did not fall and break its tranquil, glass-like surface. She was staring with dark eyes into the depths, so deeply into it that she seemed to be breathing in time with the gentle rippling at the edges of the marble basin.
Then she jerked herself back, so fast that she lost her balance and had to grip the edge of the basin to steady herself.
She inhaled slowly, her tousled dark brown curls falling around her shoulders as she stared down at the water, the picture she had been gazing at still dancing just underneath the surface, though from this distance it was so distorted it was impossible to see. Still, she knew what it meant. She'd been a Scryer for long enough to know.
Turning, she swept from the small room, the thick satin curtains curling out as she passed through them before falling silently back into place.
"She did it," she said even before she was fully into the room that was her destination. It was brightly lit by floating balls of light that seemed to follow people around like meandering stars, illuminating piles upon piles of scrolls, books, manuscripts, and papers that reached nearly all the way to the high, towered roof of the room. The only other occupant raised her head, silver eyes that seemed to shift like the twinkle of stars in the sky resting on the Scryer.
"I know," she said, in a voice as old as sound itself. It was a voice that was beautiful in its ancientness, in which each crack or fall of her tone told a story as old as time itself. "I knew she would."
"You knew she would? You didn't even know she was going to be, much less that this would happen. No one knew. She's... she's an accident."
"Like an ink splotch on the pages of the Story?" The crone's time-whitened brow arched as she regarded her younger companion. The woman flushed at the other's pointed tone.
"That's not what I--"
"I know, Nigelle, I know." She shifted stacks of papers off of her lap, setting them on the ground as she pushed herself to her feet, a task that her great age should have made nearly impossible, but one that she complete without any real strain. There was great strength in her age, great power in her timelessness. "Do you have the Scarred One?"
Nigelle frowned, then nodded. "She's still sleeping..."
The old woman let her wizened fingers run along the spines of the books on the shelves in front of her. Such old tomes, nearly as old as she herself, but for so many she'd watched the words on their pages be penned.
"Take the Scarred One to Gem."
"The Elf Queen? But..."
The woman turned to the dark-haired beauty in front of her. "Ask Gem to take her to the Princess. The Princess will need her. And..." She paused, running one hand down the side of her neck, where a faint irridescent pattern like the lacing of scales glimmered under her skin. "... I do think the Jade Lady is right, Nigelle. I feel this one will be putting to right a good many things that should be put to right."
"Like the dragons?" Nigelle suggested, watching the old woman with scrutinizing, dark eyes. She could see her mentor stiffen, then smiled faintly.
"Yes. Like the dragons. That wound, my dear, has been festering for far too long. It is only fitting that it was love that caused the sundering, and now it will be one that is loved who we hope will fix it." The woman reached up and took a slim volume from the top of the bookcase in front of her. She flicked the pages open until she found the one she was looking for, running her fingers along the words that said The Betrayal of the Dragons... across the top.
"She's still an accident," Nigelle cautioned. "Are you sure you should be putting so much faith in her?"
The old woman smiled, staring at the words for a moment more before abruptly shutting the book and returning to its place. Then she turned to the young woman. "Accidental or no, she is still a Princess, Nigelle. Look what she has already accomplished, what she has already fixed. The Heart Tree blooms again, something that not even Rosalinde was able to accomplish."
Her gaze followed one of the floating balls of light, lost in the world of her thoughts beyond the small dot. "I look forward to seeing what else she accomplishes, our dear accidental Princess. I'm sure it'll be quite the Chapter in the Story, indeed."
Nigelle smiled. "There you go again about your Story."
The crone cackled. "Off with you, child. You have things to do, and I... Why, I have stories to read." She returned to her chair and settled down again even as Nigelle ducked in a curtsey before leaving the room, only a whisper of curtains to herald her exit.