Chapter 1

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Albera had, of course, followed Uriel the entire time. When he stumbled and fell into the bramble, she concealed herself nearby, on the other side, close to the unicorn. She noticed the unicorn only ten minutes before when Uriel came past the very spot but had been able to avoid the bramble and was unaware of the unicorn lying there. Albera knew at that time the unicorn had already expired, but very recently, within the past few minutes. She could relate to the sorrow Uriel felt over the unicorn. Unicorns were few in Khaballe and the loss of a yearling would be grieved deeply.

She had heard Uriel screaming and couldn't understand his anger. All along she thought that Uriel was just one of Athar's wizards who had misused a teleportation spell and was lost. Why he didn't use another spell to take him to his desired location was beyond her. But then she heard those Words. Although she did not know their exact meaning, she knew they were Words of supreme power. She unconsciously backed away from the thicket. She could feel the atmosphere tense as Uriel drew energy to himself from the surroundings: the air, the bramble, the trees, even Albera herself. There was a noticeable drop in the temperature and Albera shuddered violently, not entirely from the cold. The tension built for long minutes before there was a crackle in the air and a piercingly loud snap caused by the very rending of the atmosphere within the circle that shook the ground slightly. Simultaneously, a white flash emanated from Uriel and with that, still clutching the staff, he fell backward. Albera waited, then cautiously inched closer to Uriel and examined his appearance. His complexion was a ghostly white and wisps of smoke arose from his body. He did not move nor did it appear that he breathed. Albera was just about to check Uriel more thoroughly when she heard a rustling behind her. When she turned, her eyes were met by the gold and silver ones of a unicorn.

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