(Further backdated to show up correctly chronologically, actual publish date: Sept 17, 2006)
It was raining. The dreary sort of rain that many books end up starting with when the mood is dire and spirits dark. It was a rain that grasped the day in a viselike grip much like the rains that occur in the country called England on the ethereal world known as Earth to its inhabitants. But unlike most rains this rain crossed planes, and in the plane of shadows, the true storm brewed. It was a storm of storms, and it was ready to spew and drain any who would try to pass and then throw them where it willed.
The sudden precipitation was different things to different people; and like all events, it caused an infinite set of reactions. Some rejoiced in the rain, others cursed it… and there were still others that observed something else in the heart of the storm. These unique individuals had a deeper perception of the weave of space and time. Thus, when the lightning began, they observed in the mind’s eye a scintillating point of light, just beyond their tangible senses.
In the infinite forests of Arboria, elemental plane of trees, the shifting light caught on the water. The luminescent sheets of rain cascaded gently through the foliage and as it pooled on the forest floor, rivulets of water began to build into a stream. The water slithered silently through the leaves, mud, and stones until it found a crack in the bedrock, and with the consent of gravity it made its way through the stone into the crystalline bowels of the plane.
The light that the droplets carried refracted in the crystal and with each bead the cave grew in brilliance, waking the chrysalis’s inhabitant. She had slumbered dreamlessly for five years, overcome by the sorrow she had carried for three quarters of a century. It had caused her to sink into the cold depths of the Elementian Sea, and the swirling current had carried her to this sanctuary.
She was an elf, and though her kind was long lived, it had been unwise of her to forego mourning for so long. It stilled seemed to her that it had been necessary, when the first losses had occurred there was no time for thought, just action. After that, it had just been easier to carry the burden than let it go.
She let out a sigh and pulled herself up gracefully. In a moment of introspection she found that her pain was now only a whisper of the heaviness that had brought her to that place. She knew she could function again, and it was time to move on, and with a silent prayer to her god, she began her long climb.
When she emerged from the caves, the rain felt welcome on her skin as she gazed at the storm clouds that brewed over the vast sea of trees before her. When her eyes met the form of the sphere, her mind soon lay only on the path ahead.
She had always known of the presence of the beacon, but she never imagined she would ever witness it. It was fabled to be the birthplace of the gods and their creations, wrought from raw elements to be a world of perfect balance by Khurnak the Architect. A shiver went up her spine; the legends also told that it was a forbidden place, the gods had been banished from it after their quarrels had brought imbalance.
Thoughts raced through her head, to obey what she was tempted to do was impulsive and risky. Crossing the shadow plane during a storm could kill her or worse, but in that moment it no longer seemed to matter. If not now, then never. She cast her dice, and with a motion of hand and a flash of light, she hoped they landed in her favor.