Janette Dagohr was not an ordinary child.
Yes, her family was ordinary enough. They lived in peasantry in the year 997, in England. Her father, Leonardi, was somewhere fighting a war for the king.
But that was the year that Janette began to have the dreams. And Janette created worlds.
Worlds beyond reality were laid bare before her mind's eye. There were fantastical creatures – dragons, griffins, unicorns – and magical people. Gallant, virtuous people. And Janette believed in these worlds.
Nobody else believed her – a trick of the mind, they said. The dreams continued for years. Three distinct worlds had formed themselves in the young girl's mind by the time she was fifteen. She wrote down everything about these worlds in a notebook – a small, leather-bound tome that never left her side.
One night, Janette fell asleep as she was writing, her head falling to the book clutched in her hand, her quill resting beside her. When she awoke again, she was no longer in England. She still had her notebook, but she now stood on a grassy hill, looking out over a plain. This was a world. They were out there.
A young man found her out there, as she began to feel lost and alone. From the waist up he was a man, but below that he was a white stallion – a centaur. Roderic guided her to the castle, and she learned that she was in Dilianus, in the world of Luxor. She spent days with the people there – the Hao, as they were called – but at length, she returned to the Iron World, so quaintly called 'Earth'.
In the years that followed, Janette visited another of the worlds she had imagined, Shayla. She took her friends, Iris Sai and Winston Benoth, to the worlds with her. For once, Janette was happy. For once, someone believed.
Through many trips, Janette built up Luxor. As more wars come in the Iron World, she lived there with her two friends. Dilianus became a glorious kingdom, the ribbon-like stairs of the castle, spiraling through the sky, were an awe-inspiring sight.
However, other worlds existed. Dark worlds. Hostile worlds.
To protect her beloved worlds, Janette brought together her eight most loyal companions to help her fend of the dark forces. They were referred to as the Eight Bailen – the Eight Knights.
Iris Sai was the first Bailen. She had been a close friend to Janette as long as either of them could remember. She was a kind, fragile creature, but there was no end to her love of the people.
Winston Benoth came second to the Bailen. He had eyes for Janette, but he was rash and harsh in manner. He had known Janette for years; not as long as Iris, but still for a good deal of time.
Roderic became the third Bailen. He had personally guided Janette through everything that she had created, cautious and perceptive every step of the way. He was valiant and courageous, unwilling to back down from his beliefs.
Dragoon deserved to be the fourth Bailen. He was a valiant soldier who vowed his life to Janette and her creation the first time he met her. He was loyal but fair. Possibly too fair.
Tallow Benoth, Winston's half-brother, became the fifth Bailen. He was silent but powerful, and protected what he cared for with a vengeance.
Sept was named the sixth Bailen. Grave and saturnine, he turned his back on the glorified world, willing to do what needed to be done.
Arthur Benoth, Winston's brother, submitted to his role as the seventh Bailen. He embodied all that the Bailen stood for – justice, peace, and the unification of all peoples.
The eighth Bailen was Oreburos. Young and handsome, he won the hearts of the people. However, he was still greatly a mystery – nobody really knew anything about him. And yet, Janette trusted in him, thus did everyone else.
For years, the Eight Bailen protected Luxor – and the other worlds – from coming to harm. And then, along with Janette, they disappeared in the Luxor year of 900 (1850 in the Iron world).
They left behind only four things. Clues to their disappearance, or something else?
Janette's daughter, Liyra, became the queen of Dilianus, attempting to rule it fairly. She did well, but the growing unrest in other kingdoms brought war to the nation's walls. When asked, she claimed to know nothing of what happened to the Bailen.
Sept, the sixth Bailen, left behind a ring inscribed with the words, "Pana tangum eita pana – eita nida," Hao which means, "All which is all – is nothing." Even more ominous, the ring was spattered in dark splotches – blood.
Dragoon left behind his two legendary swords, Dragoon – named after him by the people – and Destiny, its twin. Both were highly powerful magic items, and Dragoon never left them. But now he had.
The last relic was a cryptic prophecy given by Dragoon to Liyra. It prophesied of four great figures, which would bring peace to Luxor.
However, what happened to the nine – Janette included – remained a mystery.
Some believed Janette was dead. The prophecy pointed to four new leaders, did it not? And the ring – weren't the Bailen 'all'? And if they were nothing, they must be dead.
Others believed that Janette had left for a time. She could have returned to the Iron World. Or she could be watching Luxor in hiding, to see if the world could be independent of her direct influence.
And yet other skeptical Hao believed that Janette had been no more than a falsity. Janette had been someone else. She tricked them.
Doubts and theories abounded, all of them focused around the one central prophecy that Dragoon had given. Who were these four? And why were they so important? How did Dragoon know this would happen?
And if there was a Janette…if she was watching…if she cared…was her heart to be broken by the division of Dilianus?
And if it were, how would such a thing be learned?
"I speak first of
The Two that are one,
One of the moon,
One of the sun
The one of the moon
In darkness long stood,
Saw his ways
And sided with good
The one of the sun
The queen of Fairies,
Her father buries.
But what of the one
Who before them comes,
The shining Star
The oldest one?
She gave her life
For it all to be free,
The Sun and the Moon
For still to be
And then of the Night
Black heart from the void,
In him lies our hope
Lest it all be destroyed
In him we must trust
The last yet the blest,
He will in good time
Lay old foes to rest.
You understand this riddle now
As dark it is clear
Prepare yourself now,
The Hour is near."
-Prophesied by Dragoon, the fourth Bailen,
on the day of August the Eighth, LT 900.