Prologue
-i-
Paracella pulled the telescope down to her eye and peeked through it one last time. She saw a small circle of black-blue sky dotted with sparkles and frosted with a thin layer of clouds. Holding up her left sleeve, she dipped the tan and gold quill into the inkwell on the small wooden table beside her. Paracella recorded her strange new discovery.

"July V, MCCVII
Wedgewood
"Twenty-five degrees widdershins and twelve astronomical units from Venus, I have seen, on this night, four incredible lights. Five, including the one that they merged into.
"Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of my sightings was the arrangement of the lights. Each was exactly the same distance away from the next, and they were arranged like the corners of a perfect diamond shape.
"The northernmost of what I am calling Grand Stars was pale green in color. The eastern was manila; southern peach cream; western ice blue.
"After focusing on the Grand Stars for a minute or so, making notes, they began to rotate slowly desoil. Soon, their movement sped to almost thrice the original speed. They stopped abruptly after four rotations. Each seemed to grow a third larger, then zoomed into the group's midpoint.
"The explosion of the Grand Stars was larger than Venus to its right. It was brighter, too, but only for a split second. It shone glittery silver then disintegrated to nothing."

Eager to see another phenomenon, she set down her quill and gazed into the telescope lens again. Ursa major. A comet. Pisces. The same familiar moon and sky; nothing new.

-ii-
Already tired (and slightly disappointed), Paracella decided to go back inside the Center to sleep. She shifted her parchment into a fairly neat pile and placed a weight on it. He father had given it to her and she had always regarded it as special, mostly because he had crafted it himself. It was composed of copper and beautifully molded into the shape of a sharp square pyramid. Each side had a small gem embedded in its direct center: onyx, quartz, garnet, and lapis lazuli. The base held a pearl from a nearby sea.
Paracella closed her inkwell and sloshed her quill-tip in a clay bowl of water, the water blackening with ink as she did so. She rotated her telescope to neutral position before standing and stretching her arms up. Yawning, she shook her sleeves back towards her wrists and opened the door to her room.
She strolled slowly widdershins towards her inviting bed, ready to retire, when a chill rode up her neck. Her mouth dropped open a bit before she closed it and swallowed. Her breath stuck in her throat as she scrunched her eyes closed. Paracella was not alone.
A shuffling began behind her. She stood in the same spot to the right of the bed for a moment, thinking quickly. She reached a decision and resumed pulling back her quilt. She made as little noise as possible so as to hear where They were and what They were doing. She bent her left leg up, as if she were about to climb into the safety of her bed.
Instead, she suddenly jerked forwards towards the door to the hall. She bounded for it as fast as she could. But she was not fast enough. Her legs were caught up in her robes, causing her to slip and loose only a second.
But in that precious second, They leapt from their positions after her, dark shadows moving with incredible speed. The One in front grabbed the back of Paracella's loose robes. She tried wiggling and kicking away but was not successful. So (mostly to the fault of her robes), It was able to overtake her. It threw her against the hard wall. She only had time to let out a small yelp before grasping her head and losing consciousness.

-iii-
While she was out, she saw black. From this black arose eleven beings. First, three women materialized. They each wore pale, yet glowing silver robes. One looked young and vibrant. Another was muscular and carried a bow and quiver. The last was shadowed by the others and looked grim, yet somehow maintained majestic mystery. The three women looked at Paracella before rising gracefully and silently towards the heavens.
Following the trio was a pair. One cradled an ear of corn as if it were her child. The other was male and carried a sickle, rusty from being used in the earth so much. They stood on the left of the black void. Still, the first trio was watching the others, supervising them.
A young man ambled in next. He wore a hat and a smirk and carried a staff bearing two snakes. A wise-looking woman with piercing grey eyes accompanied him. She sported a shield that she held beside her. These visitors stood to the right of the last two.
A rumbling introduced the next couple. First came a dirty man with broad shoulders and skinny legs. His eyes were gentle, looking at the warm hammer he held. Next came a young woman with long hair and a white gown. Her peach lips were curled into a smile on her innocent-looking face. She was bedecked in pearls. She and He stood beside the four.
The last pair to arrive walked side by side, with their arms around one another. The male carried a trident next to him. His hair to flowed around him in white-blue waves. The woman donned a lovely horse pendant around her neck and wore slightly tattered shimmering blue-silver robes.
So this band of eleven stayed with Paracella, speaking to her in a way that wasn't quite speech, yet wasn't quite silence. The three women mostly watched what was going on, yet seemed to have the most impact on her.
Meanwhile, They dragged Paracella's limp body away to Their place, wherever it may be. Others living in the Center, Paracella's friends, heard all of the commotion. Partly out of worry and partly out of curiosity, a few decided to go to the room to see what was happening. But by the time they arrived, Paracella was gone. The only place with any energy coming from it was the balcony. All that was there was a telescope and a table with a few things on it: a dirty bowl, a quill and inkwell, some parchment, and a curious weight.