Dark clouds nestled low over the horizon. A
storm was brewing. The air was thick and heavy
with its energy. Aeryn stood next to the window in
the high tower, her mood as dark as the clouds that
hovered near. She leaned her hip against the
window ledge and wrapped her arms about her waist
watching the sun disappear in the west. Shivers
crawled up and down her spine as if little needles
pricked along her flesh. There it was again, the faint
sound of echoing voices whispering on the breeze.
I see nothing, but I hear them. She
holding her hands to her ears. The
the back of my mind, tugging at some elusive
memory. Aeryn turned
from the window and took a
deep breath. How many times had she come here for
solace? Too many, and this night was no different,
except for the voices. She walked to the door, opened
it and called for her man, Fergus.
“My lady?” he asked appearing around the
corner of the hallway.
“I have seen Stalkers rummaging on the forest
floor. Tighten the guard but otherwise do nothing, at
least until we know what has awakened them.”
“Yes, my lady.” Fergus spun on his heel and left
Why have the stalkers risen again? If
know better, she would swear evil had returned to
the realm of the living. Studying the woods she could
barely make out shadows moving restlessly between
the trees. Stalkers were half dead creatures that
roamed in the night. Usually they did not pose a
problem as they fed upon the carrion in the woods,
but there was a time when Stalkers had hunted
man. If something awakened them, there was a
chance no one would be safe.
When Stalkers and Orcs alike had been pressed
into service of the evil that once walked among
them, many people lost their lives. Aeryn had hoped
the evil was gone. But now she wasn’t so sure. Aeryn
left her tower behind. Perhaps some rest would
alleviate the voices. She walked down the winding
staircase. Shutting the door to her bedchamber, she
prepared for sleep. The voices haunted her until
darkness took over. Later that night, more than
voices disturbed her rest.
A swirling mass of energy surrounded Aeryn,
making her skin tingle. Coming fully awake she
realized she was floating above her bed. She had no
time to think, because in the next instant, she was
sucked through some kind of gateway, or eddy. She
wanted to scream with the intensity of the pressure.
The vortex burned her skin as though it were being
flayed from her body. Just when she could no longer
stand the pain, she was spit out onto a hard rocky
surface. The portal disappeared, leaving her in the
Groggily she got to her feet and looked around.
She stumbled over some rocks trying to get her
bearings. Her skin still tingled from the friction of
the portal. Her heart thumped so fast it was hard to
catch her breath. Where
am I? The air felt cool and
drafty. A whiff of mossy fragrance caught her
attention and then the stench of sulphur. She
reached out and touched the dampness spread
across the wall. It felt like a cave, but where…and
A rustling noise to the right made Aeryn jump.
They came out of the darkness, a brilliant light
like a million fireflies, formed a circle around her.
She raised her arm to shield her eyes. Her heart
pounded; fear gripped her insides until she could
barely breathe. Slowly she lowered her arm. Shading
her eyes with a cupped hand, she took in her
surroundings. Twelve embodied figures
encompassed her within their mighty grasp. Though
she was afraid, she could not deny the beauty of
these creatures. They were so ethereal, Aeryn
couldn’t be sure they were even real.
Their bodies were encased within a swirling
energy of flames, yet they generated no heat. She
had never seen anything like them before.
Instinctively she knew she would never look upon
their kind again. They were magnificently beautiful
in an awe-inspiring way. Their bodies shimmered
from red to orange to green and blue, and shades of
colors that mingled with each other. You could
almost see right through them…and yet not. They
stood tall as oaks and towered above her, yet she did
not feel threatened, though by all rights she should.
She trembled as she stood before them. “Who
are you? What are you, and why have you brought
me here?” Aeryn asked in a near whisper, warily
keeping an eye upon them. Her magic was for
healing, not battles, though she was fair with a
knife. But alas, she had not even that to protect
“You know who we are, Aeryn of the house of
Talyn. You have known of our existence all your
Suddenly Aeryn knew. The voices! These were
the voices that niggled in her mind these past days!
They did not speak as she spoke. It was as though
the words appeared within her mind. Trouble was,
the voices spoke all at once, though the one behind
her was more prominent. She rotated to face him
and continued her thought, “You are mistaken. I do
not know who you are or where you come from, or
why I am here.”
Aeryn pushed back a stray lock of hair. Flames
shot out from all around him—at least she thought it
was a male. His eyes—or where his eyes were
supposed to be—were hollow circles with a dark void
within their depths. There really wasn’t much of a
mouth though the line was there, but no shape of
lips could she see. She shivered. Who were these
“Search your deepest memory, Daughter of the
Light, and you will know.”
“I am no Daughter of the Light. I am a mere
mortal who has never seen the likes of you before.”
Aeryn spun around at the sound of a second
voice; this one a bit different, a bit more melodic, if
that were possible. She flinched as he—it—reached
out and touched its flaming hand to the top of her
head. An explosion of memory blasted through her
brain. Dropping her to her knees, deeper and deeper,
the pain grew all-consuming. Her bones felt as if
they had turned to liquid. She fell forward, scraping
her hands on the sharp rocks of the stone floor. She
cried out. And then suddenly, there was no more
pain, just amber waves of memory bursting one upon
the other; her mother, the ritual, the binding to
these creatures. She inhaled sharply with the
suddenness of it.
The voice spoke again. “Yes, you remember
“Aye, I remember all of it.” Aeryn rose from the
ground, hoping she hid the wobbling of her knees.
Until this moment, the memories had slept
peacefully within her mind. She was a Daughter of
Light. The ceremony her mother performed left a
birthmark in the shape of a flame behind her left
ear. She’d never actually seen it, but as a child,
when she wore her hair pulled back, people pointed
and whispered about it. She’d forgotten all about
that until now. Many more memories vied for her
attention. Aeryn shook her head to dislodge them.
She would sort things out later. Now there were
other matters to attend to.
“You are the Circle of Twelve. What the
Daughters of Light call the Ancestors of Fire.”
“Yes, our daughter,” they said in unison.
“Why have you summoned me?” she asked,
shimmers of pure magic coursing through her veins,
renewing the energy within.
“We have need of your services in this world, our
daughter,” the collective voices rang out.
“Could only one of you speak at a time? It is a
little unsettling to hear you all at once.”
“Of course, we are sorry to have to call upon you,
but we are in dire need of your help,” the original
Aeryn faced the spokesperson, his brilliance was
nearly blinding and again she cupped a hand to
ward it off. “What has happened that you need my
“You are familiar with the Stone of Destiny?”
“Aye, any man who would be king came to the
Stone of Destiny for as far back as time itself. It is
said that when a true king is found the stone is
supposed to sing. I have heard men say no true king
has yet to be found.”
“There are those who have wished it to be so,
but they do not carry the blood of a true king. There
has not been one upon the throne for nearly a
thousand years. The Circle of Light has kept its vigil
upon the Stone of Destiny awaiting the heir’s
“Are not the Circle of Light and the Stone of
Destiny hidden deep within the Cavern of Desperate
“Is that where we are? In the Cavern of
Desperate Souls?” Aeryn was stunned. She peered
over his shoulder at the darkest recesses of the space
but saw nothing of which they were discussing. The
Cavern was many leagues away. She had never been
here before and was a little disappointed she could
not make out the relics they’d been talking about.
Then his words penetrated her senses. “Wait. You
said it was hidden here. Where is it now?”
The Council looked at each other then back at
Aeryn. She felt apprehension wash over them all.
Something was dreadfully wrong.
“The Circle of Light has been stolen. If it is not
returned soon, both our worlds will be destroyed.”
How could that be? Only an Immortal could
touch the Circle of Light and live, or could they? She
had heard that Immortals roamed the world, but
why would they have taken such a sacred relic?
Would it not behoove them to protect such an
“Who could have taken the Circle of Light from
its bed? Is it not magical? No mere mortal would be
able to take it, would they?” She supposed it was
possible thieves found its cradle by chance and had
no clue what they possessed.
“No, they would not be able to take it if they
were made of mere mortal flesh. The instant they
touched it they would perish.”
“Then you are saying an Immortal took it?” She
didn’t want to believe it.
“No, he is not an Immortal, though his powers
are great. He can be killed.”
“Then why haven’t you already taken care of
“For reasons I will not go into at the moment, we
cannot touch him. It is written that only the
bloodline from the houses of Talyn and Dravon can
“Why me? I am but a healer. I have no battle
skills to draw upon. And who is this Dravon? I do not
understand any of this,” Aeryn cried. She wanted to
go home. She did not want to be around anyone, let
alone go on a quest to vanquish some creature who
had stolen the Circle of Light.
“This is your destiny, Daughter of Light. You
have powers you have yet to unravel.”
“So I am to find this creature, destroy him and
return the Circle of Light in order to save both our
“Yes, but you cannot embark on this quest alone.
You must find the man from the house of Dravon
and join forces. Without him, all will be lost.”
“If you so wish it, I can do this on my own. I do
not need a man—”
“Silence! You will fail if you do not heed our
warning. It must be the blood from the house of
Dravon who accompanies you or there is no hope of
completing your journey.”
“But why? I do not understand.” Aeryn did not
want to do this with someone she did not know.
Especially a man. If she must take a man, she would
take her guardian, Fergus. He was a great protector
and an able bodied warrior at that.
“All will reveal itself at journey’s end. I can say
no more on the subject.”
“Very well, then. How can I find the one called
“Look to the west. That is all I can tell you.”
“Can you tell me who this creature is or where
this Dravon and I should start our journey?”
“All we can tell you is that he came from our
world and must be stopped at all costs.”
“ENOUGH! You have until the moon has risen
three times past the spring equinox. If the Circle of
Light is not restored within these walls, both our
worlds are doomed for destruction. Do not tarry
Aeryn, our Daughter of Light! You have been
Aeryn awoke with a scream upon her lips. She
gasped for air and her whole body felt on fire. By the
Goddess she was back…and in one piece, her flesh
tingling from the return ride.
“My lady! My lady, are you all right?” a deep
voice bellowed from the other side of her door.
Aeryn trembled as she invoked a soft
incantation, relaxing visibly as she spoke the words.
It had not been a dream. It was real, the creatures,
the cave, the smell, oh that smell, something like
sulphur that would be forever embedded within her
nostrils and time was ticking away. The loud
pounding beating against her temples matched the
urgent banging on her door.
“I am fine, Fergus,” she called, hoping her voice
remained even and confident.
“Are you sure?”
“Aye, ‘twas only a dream. I will see you upon the
morrow. We have much planning to do then.”
“Planning? For what, my lady?”
“I will explain later. Good night, Fergus.” Aeryn
listened for the sound of fading footsteps upon the
stone floor. Tossing hair from her eyes, she lay back
on the bed and took a deep breath.
Aeryn closed her eyes and forced her body to go
limp. Her mind swirled with all the new memories
embedded there. Memories she had not known
existed, now buzzed heavily like bees pollinating the
garden outside her window. It was difficult calming
the fury roaming in her head. Aeryn rested her arm
across her forehead in thought. So much to absorb.
She hadn’t thought of her mother in years. She was
an infant when her mother died. So they’d had no
real connection. Father always refused to talk about
her, his pain remained raw for so many years.
When the Ancestor laid its hand upon her head,
it was like a book of fire opening and blazing new
pathways through her mind. She saw clearly the
ritual giving her as a Daughter of Light to the
Ancestors. The words spoken that day were now
embedded within her memory for all eternity. A
great sadness gripped her heart.
Since her ravishment and brutality at the hands
of Harper Glendaugh last year, she could not see
herself with any man, which meant no children to
pass on her heritage. The thought left a horrid pain
deep within her soul, but her conviction was strong.
Clearing her throat of the lump, she rummaged
through more pebbles of memory. Their bloodline
had been kept pure. The Daughters of Light only
mated with a specific male. One whose bloodlines
were also pure and, in that fashion, each firstborn
daughter inherited the powers of her ancestors.
Though how they knew each other eluded her. But
the information was moot as Aeryn was not looking
for a mate.
She reached farther down into the recesses
buried in her consciousness. It wasn’t as though she
could actually see or hear anything, but the feeling
that there was more was deeply rooted. More of
what she did not know, and vowed to pursue it
further, when time permitted. Her heart slowly
eased its rapid pounding and the tingling sensations
through out her body diminished. What the Circle of
Twelve demanded was beyond belief. What right had
they to drag her into their fight? But even as she
wondered, Aeryn knew, as the Daughter of Light it
was her responsibility. One she accepted quite
Tomorrow she would hunt the one called
Dravon. Fleetingly she wondered if the Ancestors
had called upon him as well and how he had taken
the news. It mattered not. Together
search for the creature and restore the Circle of
Light to its post. Then she could return home. Aeryn
heaved a ponderous sigh and turned on her right
side. The moon rose through the dark clouds as she
gazed out the small window of her room. It was but a
sliver passing through the night. It would sleep now
before showing its brilliance again. Once that
happened it would turn full and then they would
only have three risings past the spring equinox to
reach their goal. Two, perhaps three, weeks at most,
was not that long a time frame to do what had to be
Aeryn attempted to contemplate her next move,
but the exhaustion took hold and sleep enveloped