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Prologue, A Faerie Gathering

"I expect one of you to secure a place among the humans and help prepare for this vision’s time to come."

Lorynne turned in shock at the Queen’s words. Queen Asantha of the Faeries stared out over the men and women deliberating all around the forest clearing. The Queen wore no expression at all. Never in Lorynne’s lifetime had such a gathering been called. Seated facing her place on a raised dais were one hundred high druids and priestesses, all talking amongst themselves. If it bothered the Queen that they’d begun talking, she didn’t show it. Lorynne thought she understood. After all, how many of those gathered had ever been asked to take such a risk before? Few faeries ever entered the mortal realm.

The Queen stood without saying a word. The action was enough to cause a stir in the crowd. One by one the men and women fell to silence under her gaze. "Kalthero Beldonas, please rise," she said.

A druid lord seated toward the back of the clearing stood uncomfortably at the attention and approached the front. An aisle of brightly colored leaves ran down the center of the clearing. Beldonas was younger than most of the other men here. Lorynne didn’t take much interest in the druids, but even she had heard tales of this man. He stood among the handful born in the mortal realm.

"I have chosen you for this duty. Few here know more of the humans than you." The man looked saddened by the Queen’s words, something foreign to Lorynne.

"I would ask of you to find another, my Queen," Beldonas said, bowing low. "I do not mean to be ungrateful." His head dropped in shame.

Surprised whispers spread through the group. Who would deny the Queen? Lorynne turned to the woman again in wonder, but that motherly smile never faltered.

"You know of their ways, my son, their behaviors," Queen Asantha said.

"Yes, I do know these things." He paused in thought before going on. "I know too of their hurt and their anger. I have learned firsthand of loss, and of hatred. Never will I forget what they took from me." His sadness became more apparent with every word. Lorynne wondered what they could have taken.

"Events did not unfold quite as you remember, Lord Druid," the Queen said. Beldonas looked up from the ground for the first time, surprised. "He was not taken from you as you thought for all this time. He will have need of you again for he has aged much more than you in his considerable time away from our home."

"This is truth? How do you know of these events?"

"This novice," the Queen gestured toward Lorynne, "she has seen it." Lorynne looked up in shock, but Asantha was smiling to her soothingly. She said a bit softer, "I wish for you to speak what you have seen to them, young one."

Lorynne swallowed hard; she had no idea her vision had been important. It explained why she had been asked to come today--something she had never been asked before. She stood and approached the lectern.

As a novice, Lorynne tried to stay out of the way of her superiors. Seeing so many priestesses staring at her, expressions blank, was unnerving to say the least. Even still, she had to admire the clearing they all sat in. The trees themselves had given them room to meet. Each of the towering trees, aspens they had called them, created a makeshift ceiling of brilliant yellow and orange leaves. The trees had lifted roots to provide benches for those in attendance. The trees gave her strength.

"I... I saw a man with scars holding a small child," Lorynne began, slowly. "They were in danger, being chased. The child had the spirits of the trees around him." As she spoke more of the vision whispers spread like a current across the crowd. She didn’t know what all of it meant, but some of them must have suspected more than she could see. She stared down at the druid named Beldonas. There were tears forming in his eyes.

"Go on, Novice, please, I beg of you." He said the words just loud enough to hear.

She took a breath and made her voice calm and strong before continuing. "I saw a group of buildings surrounded by three tall towers, a river to the south, and mountains to the north. The child is meant to go there. The boy, he is one of us."

"That is good, Lorynne, thank you." Queen Asantha placed a calming hand on her shoulder and turned her head to address the crowd. "Illana, please speak of what you have seen." That was a surprise; Lorynne didn’t realize there was any more to be known of her vision. Visions that were closely related happened very rarely. It helped support the need for this meeting which was also so very rare.

"Thank you, my Queen." Illana said officially, "The vision we discussed was of a child, of human blood, entering our realm. The child will enter upon his naming day. Because of the connection, we believe the child is one and the same. His arrival will mark a great shift in the connection of our worlds." The high priestess sat as she finished, a perfect image of the obedience of her order.

Silence fell even more sharply among the gathering. For many minutes nobody could find any words to speak it seemed. Finally, Kalthero Beldonas broke it.

"It is apparent to me now, my Queen. The gods set me on this path long ago. I have witnessed the war these American’s called, ‘Revolutionary.’ I thought it took my brother from me. If Darstan still lives, then I will see him and his offspring to us safely should the Mother allow it."

Lorynne couldn’t help but consider the truth in his words. Was this path for him set by the gods? Or had it been set by Queen Asantha? She looked up at the youthful woman in absolute awe. It had never been so apparent just how good her mother was as Queen of the faeries.

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