The old crone Norinade looked at the faces of the women before her. 'Sisters,' she said quietly. 'Does ye knowst what is happening in our land of late?' Her way of speech was archaic, but that was expected considering how old the crone was. The crone was in a cave, which had been her living chambers for the past years of 3 score and five. Surrounded by her proteges, all eager prophetess wanna-bes, she shut her eyes before opening them again.
Norinade sat up straight. No one answered her. Norinade continued. 'As ye can see, Shaera is fast fading under the power of that vile knave, Sitheirian, and his Gnostic army, that accursed knave! And what are you laughing at?' This last bit was barked harshly to the young ladies that were trying their best--and failing--not to laugh.
'So, ye thinks this is funny, dost ye?' Norinade smiled wickedly. One of the ladies gave a little shriek. 'No, Lady Norinade, of course not. But we all wonder about the words of the prophecy. We cannot understand it, but if someone will explain to us the meaning...' she gave a hopeful smile at the crone, who sighed. 'Very well then, Welinta. First we shall recite the prophecy.
"In the time of dark,
Where the vile shall rule over all,
Fear not, for help is on its way,
Yet it will take ten years and four,
For the Mages to receive their gifts,
And go and save the world!
These Mages of the Gems,
Each hold a mighty power.
Agate, Amber, Ruby, Sapphire,
Hyalite Opal and one Emerald.
They will come of power
At ten years and four,
And it will increase,
When they are two winters more.
Battling evil as they go,
Finding comrades that they know,
Will help to save the earth and all,
And bring peace, once and for all."'
Norinade shut her eyes, and looked around at her protege. 'Dost ye not understand now the words of the prophet?'
They shook their heads. 'Nay, old crone. If thou would be so kind to explain to us, perchance we may.'
Shaking her head, the crone said, 'The prophecy tells of a dark age in the lands of Shaera and its neighbouring countries. It is during this dark age that six children are born, all in the same year, and they will come into power at fourteen winters, where they will meet each other. To save the world, they must travel to the furthest ends of the earth and reclaim back a gift that can save all--The Phoenix Song.'
Everyone's eyes grew wide. 'Yes,' the crone continued. 'The Phoenix Song is the only thing more powerful than the Mages that can fully contradict the Reign of Evil for all eternity. If the Mages fail, however,' she shook her head. 'That will be the end of the world. However,' she said, creating suspense.
'However,' she continued, 'for the Mages of the Gems, their journey is just beginning.'
14 Years later.....
An aged Norinade looked up blearily. 'What time is it, Welinta?'
'Just after sunrise, milady,' Welinta answered, pouring tea into cups. She handed one to Norinade, who sipped at it hesitatingly. 'Child, set up the looking pool. I want to see something.'
Obediently, Welinta took a basin and filled it with water from the little stream at the back of the cave. Taking care not to spill any, she took the basin and knelt in front of Norinade, who took the basin from her and set it on a large slab of rock that served as a table. Chanting some words, she threw some herbs into the pool. The moment the herbs touched the water, they exploded, causing Welinta to cough from the smoke produced. Norinade, however, was silent as she looked at the image of two girls in the pool.
Both of them were dressed in plain cotton, and it was clear that they were herdesses, who sheperd the rua, a type of deer-like creature with a thick coat of wool. The wool was manufactured in the village of Brystanlow into a fabric known as ruan cotton. By their conversation, Norinade discovered that one of them was Skye; the other was Shoe. She smiled. 'Look, Welinta, these are the Mages of the Gems; or two of them, at any rate. This--' she gestured at Shoe, '--is the Keeper of the Booke of Magick, child. Skye, on the other hand,' she paused for a moment. 'There is another passage of the prophecy, Welinta.'
'What passage?' Welinta asked curiously. Norinade sighed. 'The prophecy so claims that each Mage has a special title. The girl, Skye, is Lady Combat. Looking at her, child, do you not think she has the features of a mighty warrior, just waiting to be forged in battle?'
'And the other Mages?' Welinta injected in her excitement. Murmuring a soft spell, Norinade waved a hand over the pool of water, which rippled from the center out, erasing the first image with another. This one was of two girls laughing with each other. By the looks of the clothing, they were of the highest society, and it seemed that they were at a gathering. Welinta thought she recognized Lady Telia, her ex-mistress before she came to live with the crone, laughing in the background.
'The girls,' Norinade's voice jerked Welinta back into reality. 'The one on the left, the one with the fine long hair, that is Lady Juno, while the girl beside her is Lady Wise. Juno is said to be the most beautiful Mage of them all, and Wise is the one who has the most knowledge about magic, which is quite appropriate considering the girl's father is an alchemist.' She have a hacking laugh.
Welinta thought a while. 'So, Lady, are the Mages all girls then?'
'Whaddya expect?' Norinade snapped at her. 'Mages are always females. It is part of their birthright. Now, as to the final two,' she gave a third wave over the water, and it was now divided into two. One side of the pool showed a young girl being treated as a servant in a rich family, while the other side showed a girl running in the woods with a bow, a quiver of arrows and a sword. Welinta smiled in amusement at the second girl's antics.
Norinade noticed. 'You think her young and naiive, don't you, Welinta?' She immediately made to deny it, but her mistress cut her off. 'Welinta, child, you still don't understand. Yes, the girl had a good measure of a child's innocence and mischievousness, but she is far more mature than you give her credit for.' She looked back at the pool. 'The girl is cynical and neurotic, but she is also impulsive, and yet she believes that we are fighting for a world that does not exist. She truly believes that there will always be a battlefield, and that she would die in battle, just as her forefathers had done. As she travels with the Mages, she will come to realize that what she believed is true, despite others who deny it.'
Welinta looked in dismay. 'So, milady, you mean to say that we are never to be free of the dark curse upon us?'
'That's where the first girl comes in,' Norinade said, gesturing to the other girl in the pool of water. 'Lady Mystique. She is the most talented at magic, even though she is raised in a family of Gnostics. It is her and the other Mages, along with a little help from a childhood friend, that will convince Lady Icefire there to change her views about the world. Only then,' Norinade smiled softly. 'Can we be saved.'