259 The Legacy of Ligh
Devina Lightbringer had spent much of her eighteen years of life in the Crystal Towers of Havellion. The Capital and centrepiece of the Holy Order and it's Empire, she had been sheltered since the moment the High Priestess had passed her beggar-self attempting to create shadow puppets for money. She'd only been practicing, her affiliation with the light element still new as the white life lines on her wrists.
She never could recall exactly how she'd gotten them. She remembered that one day she'd tried to sneak away from the other beggar children with a bit of extra bread, and been cornered by three of the older ones. She recalled when the first one had hit her, but that was it. The scar that was hidden beneath her then dirty and tangled white blonde curls was indication enough to the Priests and Priestesses at the Towers.
The High Priestess, the great Seraphina Silver, had taken one look at her shadow puppets, projected on the wall from where the light tried to shape them, and descended from her carriage to place a warm and gentle hand on Devina's head.
"Come child. The Legacy of Light should not be left to play with shadows".
Devina had never gone back to the streets. She'd been housed in the Towers. She'd been trained to be a Priestess of the Holy Order, and when she'd shown potential beyond others that were training, had been taken to the High Priestess herself for training.
When she'd turned sixteen, in the 11th year of the Twelve Years of Unholy Reckoning, as the Order called it, the High Priestess had chosen Twelve Sparks. The Twelve Heirs whom would have the chance to become High Priest or Priestess after the current High Priestess passed. Devina, against the odds given her age, had been chosen all the same. The youngest in over two centuries. It was a great honour, but Devina had been left to wonder what it was she had done that had influenced the High Priestess to make such a decision. Yes, she was exceptional with her element, but there were few who had a residence in the Crystal Towers that weren't, and many far older and more experienced than herself.
So, despite the great honour, Devina had asked why.
The High Priestess, frail in her old age but still beautiful as ever, had shifted across the room where they sat and had retrieved an old weathered book from a cabinet in the corner before bringing it back.
"Do you know where we retrieve all our auspicious dates from, Devina?" she had asked as she had placed the book on the table.
"The Holy Calendar?" Devina had asked with a frown.
"And who could have possibly constructed that Holy Calendar?" asked the High Priestess as she took a seat once more.
Devina hesitated before answering, "…the teachings say that the Six Great Gods wrote it in the stars for the Order to find when the time was right".
The High Priestess nodded, "Aye, they did, but does it not make you wonder why then we do not train you all to read the stars for the words of the Great Gods?"
Devina nodded, her eyes glancing to the book out of curiosity. The High Priestess placed a careful hand on the book.
"You are not trained, because in truth none of us can read the stars. No one has been able to do so for thousands of years. But the last one who could, the Great Oracle, wrote down all he saw. This book is but a small facet of that, but it is the origin of our Holy Calendar," said the High Priestess, "It is also the Origin of the Oracle's warnings".
"Warnings?" asked Devina, "You mean the shadows?"
The High Priestess, and all of her teachers, they always spoke of the shadows. Devina had always thought of it as metaphorical, as it had been made clear to her and every other student early on that they were not referring to Shadow Magicians.
"Aye the Shadows," said the High Priestess, "They have another name in the Oracle's Predictions though. He called it Chaos. It was said that in the final year of the Unholy Reckoning, that Chaos would begin anew, forever a path presented to this world".
"And we know nothing of this Chaos?" asked Devina.
"Only that the Gods themselves decreed that it should be eradicated, and that our Ancestors followed through with their Will," said the High Priestess, "The Oracle mentions nothing on what form it will take, nor what we can do to defeat it, but defeat it we must".
Devina turned her eyes from the book back to the High Priestess, "But if we do not know what form it takes, how will we know how to defeat it? Where it even lies?"
The High Priestess nodded, "All questions that we strive to learn answers to. And one of those answers came to me in the first year of the Unholy Reckoning when I found a newly formed Magician in the streets of our own great city mixing Shadows with her Light".
Devina's eyes widened, "Me? But it is only now that I learn of this Chaos".
"Nevertheless, the Oracle was clear," said the High Priestess, "Devina Lightbringer, she who bends light around shadows, shall be the first to uncover a strand of Chaos".
Devina opened her mouth, words of protest forming but not moving past her lips in her surprise before she looked back at the book, "The Oracle wrote of me?"
"He did. I knew who you were the moment I saw you, and your potential shone through unconditionally," said the High Priestess, "Now that you have been named one of the Sparks, you will inevitably be given a task to prove your worth. When the new year dawns, one by one, you and the others will all be sent to find the Strand of Chaos before the end of the Unholy Reckoning. I pray you do not disappoint the Order".
"It only says that I will be the first to uncover it, then, not what I will do, or even if I will survive it," Devina stated carefully.
The High Priestess leaned forward, placing her hands on Devina's cheeks, "You are Devina Lightbringer, one of the holders of the Legacy of Light and a Spark of the Holy Order. You will do your duty. You will spread light where there are shadows".
Devina hesitated, then nodded.
A year later, when she was sent out at the height of summer to track down that strand of Chaos, it had been the first time she had ever left Havellion. Her entourage consisted of Six Holy Paladins. Priests and Priestesses trained in combat, and over the past year, assigned to Devina to become her bodyguards and servants.
So, when the final month of the Twelve Years of Unholy Reckoning dawned and she was still no closer to her pre-destined goal, Devina could not help but feel a sense of absolute hopelessness. Was the Oracle wrong? Surely he had to be wrong at some point. He'd been reading things in the stars that the gods had predicted for thousands of years after his time.
A knock sounded on the door of her rooms and Devina turned to watch as Aina, one of her Paladins, entered.
"The Priest is asking if you would be willing to offer blessings today. Several in the city have heard of your arrival," Aina stated.
Devina took a deep breath, looking out at the streets around the Holy Order's Church here in Estode. Then, knowing her duty as she'd always been taught, Devina stood, "Help me into my robe would you, Aina?"
Aina stepped forward to do just that.