Artemis Moonstone, the ambidextrous librarian, waved to the two young sprites. “Good hunting, Katar?” she asked. Katar proudly lifted the fish. Katar and Avar’s parents smiled at their children. Mica Moondark, her mother, was the tribe’s best scout, a squirrel Shifter. Her father Tor Moondark was a low order Earth Spellcaster. Spellcasters were similar to ShadeWeavers, except specialized in elemental spells for everyday use, rather than combat magic. Tor smiled. “You’ve caught more fish today than I could in a week! I’ll take this down to the Fire Pit with the others you caught. He swung over the railing on the balcony and vanished. Meals were always cooked in a huge outdoor Fire Pit kept running by Fire Crafter apprentices. It was shared by all the families, because of the obvious dangers in lighting a fire a hundred feet off the ground in a tiny wooden house. The Fire Pit was in the ground of a glade a little ways away from the Treetop Tangle city. When Tor returned with a nicely browned pile of fish, Artemis had coKme over and was speaking to Mica. Katar leaned over the gnarled wooden balcony, feeling bored and rather hungry. Avar was swinging hand over hand through the trees a little way off. Down another story in the tree city, balancing on the thicker low branches, Rhea and a girl with three tidy black braids were playing an old skipping game. “One! Two! Three! Four! Out of the forest two shall rise, One with dark red bloodstained eyes, And one shall rise blue, green, or white! One shall rise! Save the light! SAVE THE LIGHT! SAVE THE LIGHT!” “Katar! Dinnertime!” Katar’s mother called. Katar sat down on the narrow bench. “I heard earlier that skipping rhyme… you know, One Shall Rise. I wondered where it came from.” Artemis usually had an interesting story about songs, riddles, or short stories told around the village. Artemis stretched and looked oddly for a second at Katar. “That rhyme is a variation on an ancient prophecy. Out of the forest two shall arise, But one with dark and bloodstained eyes, And out of three, blue, green, or white, One shall live to save the light, And a child of water with the gift of sight will save us all ere the morning light. There should be more verses, but they have been lost in time.” Artemis turned and left, leaving Katar shifting nervously in the fading light.
Prologue: A lone figure padded through the misty night. “Halcyon! Tharni! Come with me.” The twins were floating in an upright position, eyes locked on a glowing sphere of blue light which hovered between them. They were both wearing high-collared purple jackets and leather leggings- their usual clothing. The mage twins, shocked from their meditative state, climbed down from the branches. “Sun and moon, Artemis, it’s the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!” “Come with me. I was searching through the archives when I found a crystal seal on one shelf. I do have some knowledge of seals- sprites often want their ancient papers and artifacts protected in such a way- but this one is different. For one thing, it appears to have a live scorpion inside it.” The three sprites slipped into the library. Halcyon and Tharni moved to either side of the seal, their green eyes glowing with power. “Vrang! Sha! Djek!” The spellwords trembled on the air… The seal shattered, destroying the half-alive scorpion, which had guarded the shelf for centuries. Artemis carefully reached into the small shelf and withdrew a few crumbling scraps of paper. “What is this?” Halcyon whispered as the librarian spread the scraps of paper on the desk. “Some sort of ancient prophecy-scroll… I need to clear the writing up before I can read it.” Tharni dripped a little sparkling liquid on the paper and parts of the ancient script began to reveal themselves. Halcyon peered at the paper. “Out of the forest two shall rise, but one with dark and redstained? No, blood-bloodstained! eyes, and out of… three, blue, green, and white, one shall lift… rise, that’s it, to save the light.” The mage looked up in confusion. “Prophecy-scroll? This is a child’s rhyme!” Artemis shook her head. “Perhaps this is the original script. Let me see it. Out of the forest two shall arise But one with dark and bloodstained eyes And out of three, blue, green, or white, One shall rise to save the light, And a child of water with the gift of sight Will save us all ere the morning light. The rest of this verse seems to be lost. The next piece says, “Time will stop and stars will slow, something, perhaps spirit from below… Hark the drums in the deep… here there is a hole in the paper…Leopard-bound and girl in green… something else that I cannot make out… shine like beacons in the night… “ Halcyon offered another crumbling fragment. “Thank you, Halcyon. When the day is lost… funny, it almost seems like some of this has been blotted out by someone.” Tharni spoke from the shadows. “Or something.” “Hmmm… Gold will return… and look! Look at the mark at the bottom!” Halcyon and Tharni peered at the glowing sprite-rune at the bottom of the script. “Is that what I think it is?” The rune was shaped like a scorpion’s sting, with three small dots around the tip. It shone faintly golden. “ Sun and moon! It’s the sign of the scorpion!” The scraps were suddenly pulled out of Artemis’ hands. She looked around to see that Tharni had enclosed the document in a vortex of luminous runes. He carefully looked at a few which had begun to glow green, pushing some orange symbols aside, and gasped. “This prophecy is from the time of the last Scorpion War! That… that was two thousand years ago!”