It is a warm evening in Amberfall as the rains wash over the city, blanketed by the glow of the setting sun. The Amberglow is full effect for everyone still walking the streets of city. Clambering road vendors hastily shelter their goods and tavern goers stand in awe with their ales at hand as Mithron’s gaze simmers through the rain drops causing a cascade of colour to fill the sky as the sun beams through the stained windows of the glass towers dotting the illustrious Glass Quarter.
‘It is so beautiful, isn’t it grandmother?’
Little Aeliana, a daughter of House Emberheart, is reluctant to climb in to bed as she stands on the balcony of her bedroom window looking up to the sky. The Amberglow doesn’t happen very often and she wants to take it all in.
‘It is my dear but I think it’s time you got back into bed now. You wouldn’t want your uncle to rile himself up into a temper again, would you?’
Lady Isabelle Emberheart, mother to the late Lord Lothar Emberheart, is sitting patiently on the edge of her granddaughter’s bed.
Aeliana sighs. ‘It doesn’t seem to take much for him to get mad these days.’
‘I know but try to remember, he is a busy man with much to do. Our baroness has taken up quite a bit of his time lately and it is his duty as the head of our House to see that we do our part to aid the war effort.’
‘The Dothylfar, they won’t be coming here will they grandmother?’ she asks as she clambers into bed, becoming quite cosy between her emerald coloured sheets.
‘Very doubtful. The war is far too the east but there is still much that needs to be done. It is not for us to sit idle whilst our countrymen fight valiantly to defend Ayrlaston.’
Aeliana pushes her sheets aside and sits up eagerly, grasping her grandmothers hand as she stares intently into her palm.
‘I hope they do come here.’
Isabelle is a little confused by her granddaughter’s odd desire. ‘Really? Why is that?’
With vigour in her voice and a prideful gleam in her eyes, Aeliana positions herself upright as if she were delivering a message to the people of the city.
‘Command the Silver Legion to stand aside and let the Bloody Horde march to the gates of Amberfall! Then they shall suffer the wrath of Isabelle Pyremane, the greatest pyromancer in the history of House Emberheart.’
Isabelle chuckles to herself as she ushers Aeliana back under the covers.
‘I see you’ve been listening in on meetings tended by grown-ups where little girls ought not find themselves. Anyway, I think your great, great grandfather would have had something to say about that proclamation my dear.’
‘Lucien Emberheart? I’ve read about him but I have seen what you can do. Those burglars never stood a chance when you turned the embers in our fireplace into a flaming wolf. They were so startled when you sent it charging toward them. It was spectacular!’
Isabelle gently presses her finger onto the tip of Aeliana’s nose. ‘You weren’t frightened?’
Aeliana responds by playfully pressing her own finger onto Isabelle’s nose, giggling as she does.
‘But I always feel safe when I am with you.’
‘That is kind of you to say dear, however, I hope to never see you placed into such a dangerous situation as to have to do anything like that again. I would happily trade away all of my fire magicks if it meant you would grow up never knowing the horrors of this world.’
Aeliana looks into the misty eyes of her grandmother and smiles as Isabelle caresses her cheek.
‘I know but if the Dothylfar burst into this room right now, you would burn their bloody bones to dust, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you grandmother?!’
‘Aeliana!? Such language, you surprise me.’
Isabelle tries her best to give her granddaughter a disapproving grimace but she can’t help but smile at her exuberant attitude toward the line of fire magicks running through her House lineage.
‘You bloody bet I would’ she quips as they giggle to each other.
Aeliana squints as she looks out of her open window to see that the Amberglow amidst the gentle rains has all but come to an end. The sky is now almost pitch black but for the stars and a stream of purple light in the distance.
‘Do you know what my own grandmother once told me?’ asks Isabelle.
‘Don’t yell out whilst sitting in the court of the baroness and sit still’ responds Aeliana hastily.
‘They sound more like your uncle’s words to me.’
Aeliana nods with a huff as she has become all too familiar with that phrase.
Isabelle continues. ‘Once she told me, on a warm evening just like this as she was putting me to bed, that you can tell which of the gods are talking to each other just by looking up at the colours of the sky.’
‘Wow! The sky is purple and black so who is talking right now?’
‘Well, a black sky is to be expected. The sun has set over the Summerpeak Mountains after all. When the night veil shrouds the sky, the Aeons, Samaia and Ashyara, begin to talk to each other as they do every night. But we have a bit of purple on the horizon don’t we so who do you suppose has popped in for a visit?’
Aeliana thinks hard as she tries to recall her lessons about the gods and their influence upon the world of Ayl’gard.
‘Erm, is it Mithron?’
‘I’m afraid not. Mithron is the god of the sun so he only appears during the day. At night, he rests so that his sisters may rise. Have another guess.’
‘Is it Siroth? Lucrecia? No, is it Amon?’
‘Three guesses eh? Cheeky girl.’
Isabelle moves in closer as she points to the purple hue in the sky.
‘It is Lucrecia, she has joined her sisters for a little gathering.’
‘That sounds delightful.’
‘I dare say it is. Perhaps they will have tea and cakes.’
‘And raspberry jam on toast?’
‘And raspberry jam on toast.’
Aeliana pauses for a moment to think further about the last few nights and the colours she saw in the sky whilst trying her best not to become distracted by thoughts of tomorrow mornings breakfast.
‘Last night, there was a bit of green as the sun set I think. Who would that be?’
‘Green? That could only be Ysana, goddess of the rivers, the forest and all that dwell within.’
‘What if it is orange? Like it was last week when you took me to the Festival of Summers End?’
‘Ah yes, I remember that. Your uncle tried to scold me for letting you stay up so late’ Isabelle says with a knowing grin.
‘I reminded him of the time I took him to that same festival when he was your age. He soon shut up about it.’
Aeliana delights in the knowledge of her uncle’s childhood, which she has heard little about up to this point.
‘Regardless, orange means fire. It represents the roaring flames of the twin gods of war…’
‘That would be Kohnar and…. erm!’
‘Come on Aeliana, you know this. I mentioned them last week when I read to you that story from our library.’
‘Kohnar and Morighan’ Aeliana responds as quickly as her memory will allow.
‘Precisely. Well done.’
‘What if it is still a little blue? A deep blue like from the sea, is that Maellor?’
‘Excellent my dear. Using your good common sense, are we? That’s my girl.’
‘And if it is red, like blood, the sky is bleeding as Moloch has emerged from his eternal tomb. Is that right?’
Isabelle stops for a moment, rendered speechless by her granddaughter’s words as her skin prickles and the colour drains from her face ever so slightly.
‘Where did you learn that Aeliana? Answer me!’ demands Isabelle sharply.
Aeliana sinks slowly into her bed sheets. ‘Did I say something I shouldn’t have grandmother? I’m sorry.’
Isabelle embraces her granddaughter, wrapping her arms around her to reassure her whilst scolding herself with a sigh for reacting so firmly.
‘You haven’t said a word that I would consider to be wrong my dear. You just, what you said took me by surprise. The name you just mentioned, Moloch. It is one that I haven’t heard in many years.’
‘Cousin Tristan told me about him. That he was once a brother to the gods until he betrayed them.’
‘Your cousin is correct but that shan’t stop me having words with the little imbecile! There is a reason Moloch is referred to as the dead god. His name and everything that was once associated with him was buried, along with his followers, many thousands of years ago. By bringing his name back from the ether of the Hollow Plane, we breathe life into a dark, very distant memory. One that ought to be left forgotten.’
‘Spooky!’ says Aeliana with wide eyes.
‘One day, when you are much older, I’ll tell you all that I know of the Treacherous One. Right now, it is time to go to sleep.’
‘Very well grandmother.’
Aeliana jostles with the covers as she lays her head upon the soft pillow whilst her grandmother begins to dim the candlelight in the room, one by one.
Isabelle lays her hand upon her granddaughter’s head before she leaves. ‘Good night Aeliana. I’ll come and wake you in the morning. I’m taking you to the city market and we’ll pick up some of that raspberry jam that you like so much.’
Aeliana beams with a smile as she struggles to contain her excitement. ‘Can I ask one last question before you go?’
‘One last question. What is it?’
‘What does it mean when the sky is pink?’
‘Pink? Well, that is colour your cousin’s cheeks will turn once I’m finished slapping some sense into that dim-witted fool of a boy who thinks he can fill my granddaughters head with such nonsense.’
‘Is there a little pink in the sky right now grandmother?’
Isabelle walks over to the opening overlooking the balcony and gently closes the stained-glass windows before slowly drawing the curtains shut.
‘Why yes Aeliana, I believe there is.’