Running Toward Destiny

Chapter 1

Time Running Out

Adena de'Sanery Aderian looked out of the window in the dining room of the castle that she lived in.  She knew that she had less than a week to find some way to stop the curse, but how was she going to with so little time?  She hated to admit that she had also had a part in the curse.  She hadn't known what was happening until it was too late.  She had been told nothing of the spell Tarone had cast that day, and it hadn't been until about a year ago when a letter had mysteriously arrived at the castle and placed upon the banquet table.  Now, with no time remaining and the location of the Staff of Ages and the Orb of Life still a mystery, it appeared that their lives were about to be cut short.  Somehow, they had to find at least the Staff, for with it the spell could be set back some, enough to find the Orb or recreate it.  She had found a woman to search out someone qualified enough to wield the Staff, though fate would truly choose.  Her name was Selenia, and though she'd been given the job, she didn't know why.  Adena was her "foreteller," but she wasn't really foretelling anything.  She was merely trying to save the world.  Some of the odd spell signs were scattered about the land, but she didn't know where they were.  Even if she knew their locations, it did her no good without the Staff and a spell book.  She would have another talk with the other five women occupying the castle tomorrow.  They had reason to believe that Selenia was the seventh woman - her mother had been one, but she was killed, and that was astonishing, considering that all of them, including Adena, were immortal.  It had to have been someone who knew a great deal about them.  Not one living person today could have that knowledge though, and no clues had been left as to who the killer was.  She absently fingered the ornate ring on her right hand.  It was one of the Rings of Fate, one of only seven created.  They primary use was to aid the Staff with some of the larger spells by feeding it the energy that it needed.  They also had certain side effects that weren't considered bad.  Adena had been gifted with the ability to hear a person's thoughts, if she tried.  Normally she would block it out because of the loudness of some people's minds, but she would use if it would give her valuable information.  The other women also had various abilities, but she didn't really know them all that well.  The ring that Selenia's mother, Landrine, had worn was lost now, gone with her life.  That would probably need to be found also before the week was over.  The killer could have it for all she knew.  Adena needed sleep though, time to sort out her ideas.  The next few days might very well be her last, and she was either going to stop the spell or die trying.  With any luck, the right person would find the path on time.

She walked up the flight of stairs and down the long hallway to her room.  She used to admire the paintings hung on the walls, but now was not the time.  She still noticed them though.  Most of them had pictures of waterfalls on them, and a few had castles in them.  The rest of the pictures depicted various other scenes of Zenuor long ago.  She opened up the door to her room, stepped in, and closed it behind her.

It was a plain room, with only a bed, a chest of drawers, and a washstand.  There were very few decorations in the room.  There was also a small desk in one corner, and it was covered with papers that had been read many times.  Some of the papers were interesting, others she didn't know why she held on to.  She walked over to the tallow candle that had just about lived out its usefulness and blew it out.  Then Adena carefully made her way to her bed in the dark and crawled into it.  She was asleep and dreaming too fast.

The next morning was almost as difficult, but as the women sat down at the banquet table, there appeared to be calmness amongst them.  None of them wanted to say anything, but they all knew what was happening.  Saccria finally came forward to say something, though it was not what anyone had expected.

"Today looks wonderful, doesn't it?" she started with a smile on her face, but the grim looks on the other women's faces quickly abated that, and she sat down.

"Although I find it hard to believe that any of the past few days could be wonderful in any way, we know that it'll only get worse.  If what this note," and Adena shook the small crinkled paper in her hand, "says is true, then we only have six days now.  That's not nearly enough time to do what must be done.  Already there are signs of the prophecy coming true, and you can't ignore that fact.  We have tried for the past year to stop this, and we're running out of options.  We have to find someone now."  She stopped speaking for a moment to let that information sink in.  They all shook their heads, slowly, accepting the speech reluctantly.  Adena sat back down in her chair.  "Now, Amera, do you have any idea where the staff could be located?"

"I have no clue.  If we had the original spell book, it could offer some clue as to where it is, but I can't find that either.  I've scoured almost all the libraries to find it, but I'm sure it isn't there.  Tarone would have kept it somewhere secret, but it is enchanted.  It couldn't be destroyed.  If it is, we're all doomed anyways.  It's only a hope now that the staff is still somewhere on this world.  We've looked in a great many places with no luck.  I don't know…."She trailed off.

"We can't give up luck yet.  Amera, I want you to go to every library that you haven't been to yet and look for it.  Saccria, you should take a walk through the countryside today.  You've been so tense, I know that you need some time away from this.  You've been the most dedicated to this search, especially since our loss."  She didn't want to bring up the past, nor did anyone else.  Saccria looked up briefly from her plate only to nod, then averted her gaze to the window.  Adena went on.  "Now, the rest of us are to go into town today.  We need supplies, badly.  I'll see to the library there, hoping that we missed something."  She stopped talking and sat back in her chair, observing the women's faces.  They held mixed reactions.  Amera suddenly stood up and walked out of the banquet hall into the kitchen without saying a word.  She stood up and followed her.

"What's wrong?"  Adena asked when they were alone.

"I don't know if we can possibly stop this now.  It's getting too late.  We're running out of alternatives.  This all feels like a lost cause."

"I know, but what else can we do.  There is no way that we could possibly leave.  We don't have that much power.  This is the only thing that we can do."

"Something just doesn't feel right, that's all.  It feels like someone is waiting, ready to ruin our last hope of saving the world."

"We'll cross that bridge when it comes, if it comes.  I can't afford to worry about those things now.  You can't either.  We have to find the staff, or at least the book.  If we get those, we still have a chance.  I need you to help in any way that you can."

"I will," and Amera walked out of the back entrance to the kitchen.  Adena turned and went back into the dining room.  She had a long day ahead of her.