The young girl awoke with a start. A nest of pale gold framed her young face as it swam through a series of emotions in an instant—sleepiness, surprise, longing, loss. After a moment, she settled on determination, throwing off the thin covers granted to all initiates and rushing over to the narrow desk that was the only other piece of furniture in the room.
Laid out in two rows, a series of bright white candles covered its surface. She picked one up slowly, reverently and cupped a hand over the top. A quick prayer was followed by a quick curse as bright red flame shot from the tip of the candle just a little too quickly. She stuck her singed thumb into her mouth and made her way into the hallway.
The cloister was dark and cold in the middle of the night. The only sound was her bare feet padding against the stone as she made her way slowly down the hall. Shivering slightly in her shift, she gripped her candle close to her chest for warmth.
She almost turned around when she saw the chapel candles were lit. Mother Beatrice would have her trimming wicks for a week if she disturbed a Sister’s nightly prayers. But some half-remembered thought pushed her forward, and after a moment’s hesitation, she creaked open the great wooden doors and slipped inside.
The chapel was warm and fragrant. Smoke and cinnamon swirled around her, and the thick wax coating the floor was almost hot against her soles. The Scion herself sat on a waxen pew, head bent in prayer, as the light of a thousand candles flickered in her golden armor. The stern visage of Lyvaanth stared down at them both—majestic, draconic, inscrutable.
The young girl was about to flee—forget a week, Mother Beatrice would have her on wick duty for the next year for interrupting the Scion—when the armored figure spoke.
“Don’t be afraid, Child.” Her voice was warm and rich, comforting like a banked hearthfire. “Come in.”
As the young girl made her way meekly down the aisle, the Scion gave a quick pat to the seat at her right. “Burning the candle at both ends?”
The young girl gave a quiet nod as she clambered onto the waxen pew. This close, Lyvaanth’s statue cast gentle shadows upon the hall, like the dragon was shielding the prayers of the congregation from the cold winds outside. Its burnished surface sparkled like embers in the candlelight.
“I keep having these dreams.”
The Scion was quiet for a moment. “That’s not so surprising, times being what they are.” Her sacred staff lay unlit across her lap, its candles at rest. She traced patterns across the warm metal absently as she spoke.
“Sometimes the path of Enlightenment burns. War rages in the west, but is joining in the wise choice? I too, have had some troubling visions.” Her armor clinked as she made a sudden fist. “I have this unshakeable thought that the answers we seek have lit a flame to the north.” Though worry lurked in her brow, the Scion managed a gentle smile for the young woman seated beside her.
“As Lyvaanth is the messenger, we are the hand, so Lumos shines bright upon the land.” The Scion stood. “Enjoy your prayers, Child. But when you are done, light the votives. We must pray for safe travels before we leave.” She took a long look at the golden dragon statue in front of her before turning her back on the altar. “We have a long journey ahead of us.”