Hmmm-hmmmm-hmmm-hmmmm. Dimmer . . . brighter . . . dimmer . . . brighter . . . the purple glow around the crystal orb pulsated continuously, the strange humming melody it created buzzing in the air. The room was empty, devoid of sunlight. The purple glow hissed. Smoke curled up from the sheaves of paper on other tables and desks.

The door flew open. In stumbled a wizened old man, long grey hair unbound and streaming over his shoulder, grey beard nearly touching the floor. His midnight blue robe was half undone and falling off. He stumbled at the door and stared up, grey eyes wide.

"Viviane," he called, "Morrian, Chess . . ." Footsteps resounded in the hallway and he walked in, hesitantly and mouth gaping.

He stopped several feet away, hands outstretched to the glowing, pulsating, humming orb. Into the room ran the three he had called; a stately lady with a fall of golden hair, a smaller woman with ebony locks and dirt on her face, a man with red-brown hair and a sword on his waist.

"Great Teller," breathed the man. "What is the meaning of this, Merlin? What is happening?" His grip tightened on his sword and he shifted as if sensing danger.

"I sense darkness," said the lady with the golden hair.

"Yes, Viviane." Merlin's voice was broken. "Great darkness . . ." he stepped forward, wincing as the energy from the orb continued to dance and sing. "Darker than any to have ever faced this land."

The women with dark hair planted her hands on her hips. "Teller's Tongue, Merlin! How can there be more darkness? The princesses have all reached their endings, as they have many times before, and all in the same years! Darkness should not exist in this era."

"Do you forget, Morrian," the man said tightly, "the greater the good is in the world, the greater the darkness there is." Morrian opened her mouth. Merlin's rasping voice cut her off.

"He is right. Darkness has never been so strong. The goodness of the princesses cannot fend this off. It had already seeped into here, through the Glass Eye, as you can plainly see. Only one source can stop this now."

Viviane inhaled sharply. "The Teller's heir," she breathed. "Great Weavings, Merlin! She has been missing – or maybe dead – for nigh on nineteen years! Her power is as good as non-existent!"

Merlin backed away, shoulders hunched, hands dropping limply. "Then you just pray the Teller is a more cunning Weaver than ever, else we are all doomed." He turned dejectedly and walked past the three and out of the room. "Come, we must seal this room to prevent any leakage of this taint. And then we must find the Teller's heir. Or at the very least, her body."

With faces so solemn one would think the body lay mutilated before them, the other three turned and left the room, closing the door behind them. It shut with an ominous boom. The orb continued to radiate its purple aura, humming notes of deadly proportions.