Chapter One: The Dream
"Dreams are simply reaching into
Lila tossed and turned in her sheets, restlessly trying to shake the dream from her sleep. It was always the same . . . A girl, running, shouting for help . . . Someone was chasing her. Then she would stop and say, "Lila . . . Help me! Find the Great One!" Then she would scream again, and run. That's when Lila would wake up.
"What does it mean, mom?" she asked, eating breakfast the next morning. Her mother, Sita, seemed out of place and bewildered, somewhat hurt.
"I think it's time for school to start, dear. Better get a move on." Sita whisked away her daughter's plate and shooed her out the door.
The tiny sprite stood outside her house for a moment, thinking hard.
What in Mana was that about? she thought. Lila shrugged it off and walked to school, eager to start the day.
Soon, Lila reached the old building that served as the school. It was a large, gray stone building, covered with ivy. Time had worn away some of the rocks and made it defy its true age. The huge wooden doors had also worn with time, and were no longer a handsome, deep brown, but somewhat splintered and eroded. She pushed them in and walked inside the damp hall.
The doors shut gently behind her with a soft thud, and her footsteps echoed off the timeless walls. This building was famous for its elaborate history, although much of it was unknown. It had been a church, or served as something of the sort. It all came down to faith and what you believed. Lila soon came to a aged door, like the first, and pushed it open. Inside were her classmates.
" Lila! The Elder wants to see us! " Her friend Lily, another sprite with dark red hair and dazzling green eyes, bustled over to her. " He says it's life or death. " Lily's expression was amused, and excited, as always. Lila was grinning, but she wasn't sure why.
" Let's go then, shall we? " Lila sat her small leather sack full of parchment and quills on the floor, and then she walked quickly to the Elder's chamber. Lily followed, and together they opened the door and stepped inside.
The room was amazingly cool, unlike the outside, where it was summer. Its shelves and tables lined the outskirts of the walls, each of them filled with whirring silver contraptions. Some made funny noises, some emitted tiny puffs of smoke, and others made clinking noises. Books and papers sat on the polished desk and made everything look somewhat ascatter. Ink blots and bottles were everywhere, and there was a tiny model ship battling the angry waves of the sea inside its bottle. If they weren't there on orders, the girls would have been very glad to have a poke around.
" Sir? You wanted to see us? " Lila squeaked, somewhat nervous. Her companion looked at her, eyes dancing and a smile playing on her lips. Lila wasn't sure whether to smile or hide -- what did the Elder want?
The Elder had his hands behind clasped behind his back, his eyes directed to the cool purplish-blue fire blazing in front of him. " Yes, Lila. Lily has come to me for guidance... She told me that she has been having dreams involving a chase and a girl of some sort. All the girl would say -- scream, rather -- is for help and to find the Great One. Do you have the same dream?"
The color began to drain from Lila's rosy cheeks, making her look sickly and pale Her blue eyes twinkled more than ever. But this wasn't a happy expression in her eyes -- it was scared, frightened.
" Y-ye-yeah," Lila stammered fearfully. Her mother had been right about this morning, her mood had been right on the dot -- this dream was a bad thing. The reason... Lila didn't know. The tall man before them turned around to face them, the lines on his middle-aged face creasing in concern.
" Well then. Do you know who either of those people are? The girl or the Great One? " The Elder sat in the chair at the desk and hesitantly began to search through its many drawers.
" The Great One assisted the Queen of Altena almost a decade ago when her daughter disappeared... why? He is the wisest man known to anyone on the face of this earth, " Lily answered promptly, her eyebrows furrowed in concern.
The Elder pulled out a few sheets of parchment and laid them atop the many books and papers on his cluttered desk. " Lily, that is exactly right. The stars have foretold us of the three with the power to -- well first... Who do you think the girl in your dream is? " He looked at them and sat back in his chair , putting the tips of his delicate hands together.
Lila and Lily looked at each other in confusion, and then back to the Elder with bemused expressions and troubled, anxious faces. " We -- we don't know, sir. "
He handed them the parchment, which they looked at carefully. The girl they had seen in their dreams was on the sheet, smiling, with an arm around an older woman that looked almost exactly like her. The girl had long, shimmery blond hair and sparkling green eyes. The other woman had light brown hair, and the same green eyes twinkled up at them.
Lila gasped. " That -- That's the Queen of Altena! And that must mean... " Lila and Lily both looked at each other. " That's her daughter! Serenity! "
The aging man nodded. " Right. And are you aware that the Queen of Altena is the Mana Queen, and her husband, Cain, is the King? Serenity is the Princess, and hence her disappearance the world has been troubled. We believe the Underworld is working full blast. So far we have received no word from her -- until your dreams started. Are you also aware that Serenity intended to have three saviors born?"
" Are you trying to tell us that we -- us -- no way... That's ridiculous! We're much too young to conquer the world! We have no training! No magic practice! Their king will surely kill us! " Lila shrieked, hiding behind Lily.
" I'm afraid so, Lila. I wish it wasn't so, but she marked you as destiny. It was foretold, and therefore, you must fulfill this mission. It was also told that if she did not return within the nine years of your birth and her disappearance, the world would perish, " he said, looking at them sympathetically. " I wish it wasn't so. "
Lily's expression had changed from fearful to hard, determined. " What should we do? What is to be done? " she said, her voice confident.
The Elder nodded solemnly, got to his feet, and then went over to one of his many shelves and pulled down some bottles. He also brought a few books over to an empty table, and motioned them over. " Now, these books have traces of an ancient magic that may be able to help you find the third. They are in the world, somewhere. No one is sure quite where. That is why it's your job to find them. This powder-- " He held up a tiny bottle with a shimmery powder inside.
" This powder will determine the truth of one's words. Use it wisely. And this -- " He held up yet another oddly shaped bottle with a quicksilver like substance inside. " This will determine the third. If you have suspicions, slip some into his or her drink. They will give you some sort of a sign, don't worry. And these books, take these with you."
He held up two old, aged books, one bound in a dark blue, the other in a forest green. " These will help you whenever you wish. They are very important; take good care of them. That is all."
Lily and Lila took the things in their hands, bade the Elder farewell, and then walked back into the classroom. They put the books and bottles in Lila's sack, and headed to their houses. Not before the Elder had one last word.
" Lily, Lila, there is one thing you must never forget, " he said hurriedly, scratching his head.
" What is that, sir? " Lily asked curiously.
" You are the Messengers of Serenity. Grace will be with you. " He ran back into the school and shut the door.
" So, we are the Messengers. Great. "