The battle of good versus evil had raged between the Abrasaxons and the evil Braxons since the beginning of time with the mortals of the twin lands of Okana and Okiyarra the collateral damage. Tired of the mortal carnage they were partially responsible for, a high ranking Abrasaxon, Archon Diandon, formed the Abrogative Direktorate with six high ranking Archons to forever protect the mortals of the lands. For five hundred years the Direktorate had kept that promise as each generation of the chosen families took up the charge of capturing, killing or disabling any evil Braxon threatening the people of Okana and Okiyarra.
High in the Sacred Mountains, the Crystal Castle, the living heart of the magical Abrasaxon race, stood stark against the pale light of the six moons rising in the dark green sky, a symbol of the battle against evil. In the silver glow of moonlight, the six members of the Abrogative Direktorate gathered in the softly pulsing chamber of the tower room. The Archons gathered to bid farewell to the first of the old ones to die without an heir in five hundred years. When they sighed in unison with the old man's last breath, Hakon, Grand Archon of the Abrogative Direktorate, touched Archon Donavon's hands and closed his eyes in a ceremonial gesture of goodbye normally reserved for a dying Archon's oldest child.
Something stirred. Hakon lifted his head and out of the corner of his vision, he saw the shadows. A whisper of warning shivered across his skin. He sensed the evil. It swirled, gathered strength, then moved away to wait. The Grand Archon of Okana and Okiyarra knew then what he had long feared had come to pass.
A long history of secrecy surrounded the Abrogative Direktorate of Okana and Okiyarra with each Archon, the protector of his own spells, guardian of previously banished evil entities and useful alliances. Only the oldest child could inherit that knowledge and continue the protective role. Without an heir and no written records, many believed the evil would go to the grave with the owner. It hadn't mattered how much Hakon--progressive, young, and only recently come into his 'gift' and the role of Grand Archon--had argued that evil endured beyond the grave--as did love; the 'old ones' would not break with tradition.
Now, as he had feared, Donavon's death had released the secrets of his battles with evil and the entities they constrained. Entities now free to terrorise and ravage the valleys of Okana and Okiyarra once more.
Hakon vowed, in a hiss of indrawn breath, he would overturn the law that forbade an Archon from revealing the identity of the evil he had conquered. A law that now left all mortals at the mercy of an unknown litany of despicable, power-hungry Braxons whose goal was to destroy humankind.
A sharp pain, a flash, and a deep blackness that throbbed through his head left the Grand Archon in no doubt it was already too late to stop the destruction and death ahead. Hakon thought then of his mortal daughter and her mother, the woman he still loved, and ached with the pain of what was to come... then he felt no more.
The air was thick with secrecy and expectation as the five priestesses filed past the temple altar, their heads bowed and hands concealed in the flowing sleeves of their red robes. Only one spared her a glance, her mother. It was that furtive anguished glance that speared apprehension and uncertainty right into her heart. For the first time in her life, she felt totally alone and afraid for her future.
Her first desire was to flee, but there was nowhere to go and no one to go to, so she forced herself to be still around the turmoil roiling inside her--to continue her task of decorating the altar for the harvest festival on tomorrow's eve.
The oppressive cloying stillness of the temple wrapped itself around her as she placed each item of produce on the Thanksgiving display, all the time her ears were attuned to any sound from the rear of the temple. She arranged and re-arranged almost every item more than once and was almost beside herself when she heard the rustle of heavy robes and footsteps coming towards her. She stilled and watched.
Her mother emerged from the gloom. "A decision has been made, Brianna. Please join us in the Preparation Room."
"What decision, Mother?"
Her mother shook her head, her expression frozen into a grey mask of resignation. "Come, Daughter."
Brianna carefully laid the heavy anjoa fruit down beside the squat white candles on the altar and followed her mother down the dark narrow passage to the Priestesses' Preparation Room. Her heart beat a frantic tattoo behind her breast. She was acutely aware the woman walking in front of her at this moment was a Priestess, not her mother.
A sense of abandonment ran cold through her, over her heart and deep into her soul. Her mother was all she had in this world.
The four head Priestesses sat behind the curved table at the top of the room. Her mother took her place beside them. Brianna stood alone in the middle of the room, abandoned by the one person she trusted to protect her and felt powerless to ward off whatever decision these influential women had made.
"Brianna, daughter of Katrina, it has been decided that after the ceremony tomorrow night you will be inducted into the Initiate of Fledglings. Your training as a priestess will begin immediately." Tennille's voice rang around the room with a sharp edge of authority.
The room spun. The gloom closed in. She dragged in a deep breath and looked straight at her mother. Brianna saw the anguish in her eyes but was still shocked when her mother made no move to dispute the Head Priestess Tennille's, mandate.
Brianna shook her head then looked squarely at the Head Priestess. "I should have two full moon cycles yet before I am inducted..."
"Brianna, daughter of Katrina, it has been decided. The matter is closed," Tennille snapped.
"No! It is an unfair decision that will have serious consequences for me. I am entitled to know why such a decision has been made."
The five women looked at each other. Brianna stared directly at her mother. Her mother kept her eyes lowered, but despite her averted gaze, Brianna could see the tears that clung to her cheeks.
"You are not entitled to anything, Brianna, but for the sake of future goodwill, I will enlighten you. Unless Katrina, you wish to?" Tennille did not even glance towards the woman she spoke to.
Her mother shook her head. It was just the slightest of movements that effectively abdicated her responsibility to her daughter.
Anger sparked to life. Fury fed by confusion and a raw sense of betrayal. "Mother, what is going on here--tell me."
"I can't..." her mother whispered. Her voice cracked into tiny inhuman sounds as she fought to control her sobs.