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    Many years ago…

    The hurricane raged. Howling winds and waves battered the large island. People and animals huddled in burrows, caves and depressions seeking shelter.

    Far above, soaring to great heights, Aji the Ancient swirled with the winds, his elemental form dancing with the cadence of the storm. He was indifferent to the plight of the land bound creatures below. The creatures survived on Akadi’s whims, wrath and blessings on their own. It was as it should be.

    Werj the Elder was not so indifferent. The water elemental was vicious and cruel, and took great delight in the suffering of the land bound. He reached out with his watery form and pulled a hut into the sea, their denizens shrieking briefly as they slipped below the waves and drowned. Werj paid homage to his cruel mistress Umberlee, for he revered her.

    From his lofty perch in the winds of this great storm, Aji watched. As the land bound suffered at Werj’s watery cruelty, he grew concerned. There was no balance here. The land bound should live or die by their own care, and not Werj’s whims. With a thunderous roar he alighted on the beach and forced Werj away. Werj sneered as he retreated. There would be no contest on the beach. Aji was much older and far more powerful.

    Aji turned to where the hut has been. There, amongst the wreckage was a tiny female from, its clothing drenched and torn. Tiny arms wrapped futilely around a support. Her lifeless eyes stared up into the sky. Aji would have turned away, except perhaps for those eyes.

    They were blue. Not just any blue, but the color of a cloudless sky over water. Like many of these island people, her hair would be the color on sunlight, bright and yellow. Aji turned and hovered over her, suddenly sad that Werj had taken this life…

    …except that he hadn’t.

    A tiny heartbeat fluttered weakly, near stilled by the water filled lungs. And in that moment, Aji decided that perhaps, balance should be restored. With great care he reached inside those lungs, and forced the water out.
    The little female suddenly drew a breath and gasped. A tiny insignificant piece of Aji was drawn in as she breathed, and went … missing. Aji pulled back as life returned to those very blue eyes and looked up at him. Aji looked back.

    There was a brief moment that went unspoken, a subtle bond between them. Then the child screamed.

    One year ago…

    Brother Seamus walked quietly down the hall on sandalled feet. Brothers Michael and Daniel approached ahead and stopped in his path. Brother Michael reached out and unceremoniously, draped a belt on Seamus’ shoulder.
    “It’s your turn to watch Sebrienne this week”, he said with a grin. Then with a slight snicker, walked past. Brother Daniel just shrugged and smirked, patted him on the shoulder and left. Seamus groaned inwardly.

    Sebrienne had been brought to the mission as a small child, one of the few survivors of the hurricane that had ravaged the southern islands over ten years ago. She was simple minded, and the healers said it was likely due to being underwater for some time before somehow miraculously recovering. It was said that lack of air for an extended time left the mind weak and feeble.

    Unfortunately, she also had a gift

    Sorcery has many origins. Latent dragon blood, divine touches, or deals with nefarious powers often presented themselves at youth. Sebrienne appeared “weather attuned” and when upset or angry, would lash out. The belt protected the wearer, and had been created specifically to aid in her care. Now it was Seamus’ turn. With an audible sigh he changed course, and exited into the courtyard.

    Sebrienne stood there facing the western sky. She was of medium height, with sunlit tresses for hair and startling blue eyes. Seamus often wondered if the eyes were the telltale mark of her sorcery, but he knew that many folks of the southern islands possessed that feature. “Perhaps not quite that blue”, he said, possibly to convince himself.

    He glanced up at the quickly darkening western sky in concern. The wind was picking up, and lightning flashed in the distance. He put his hand on her arm gently, and with some hesitation. Being this near to her made him uncomfortable. Other than the concerns for his own safety, which the belt should have alleviated, he had taken vows, and she was alluring to the point of distraction.

    “Come Seb, it’s time to go inside. It’s going to storm soon, and you’ll get wet”, Seamus coaxed

    Sebrienne shrugged him off. “He’s coming”, she said simply.

    Sebrienne was usually compliant. This was unusual. “Who’s coming?”, Seamus asked curiously. Sebrienne just stood there in silence.

    Seamus firmed up his grip. By the rate the storm was moving, it would be here soon. The trees were bent to the wind, and the time between the lightning and the thunder grew smaller. Seamus tugged harder. Sebrienne pulled away harder.

    “Seb, please”, Seamus coaxed again. A storm of this caliber could be quite dangerous. With determination he grabbed her arm to yank her inside.

    “NO!”, she screamed, and suddenly Seamus’ world lit up. Despite the belt, he was thrown backwards across the courtyard. While Seamus lay in a heap amongst the roses, head and limbs tingling he watched with horror as something appeared over the walls. It was vast, the size of a small manor … and it had eyes.

    Aji looked down upon the people below him. There was only one he cared about, the human child he had touched now grown. He watched with pride that while the others scurried into the stone structure, she stood still and looked up at him with arms stretched. Though she could not articulate it, she knew where she belonged. With care he scooped her up and departed.

    There were better places in this land for a young one to grow. Places full of old magic, a land full of power. Narfell. Yes, that would be a good place.

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