1. The Albria Council

 

The luscious nectar steamed in its cup. Known for its healing properties, she clutched it close, her eyes distant. She did not want to talk about Mount Hadati, but he needed to know. About the past and the prophecy.

 

She pursed her lips, furrowed her brows, and tucked her snow colored hair gently behind her pointed ears.

 

The sky was dark and the wind breathed heavy. As always, the stone house stayed still. The room was silent, eyes of all colors; blues, greens, browns, grays, purples, and more; stared up at the throne. They anxiously waited for their Queen to speak.

 

“Children of the Valley.” She paused, put down her cup, and began to stand.

 

“Thank you for journeying to the edge of Albria.” Her gown clung to her figure.

 

With each step, petite lavender flowers, sewn carefully to the matching gown, grazed the ancient floor lightly. She seemed to float across the stage. In chairs carved directly from the stone, the Queen floated by her council, the elders sat in three chairs on either side of her throne.

 

She continued to speak, “For centuries, our family has lived in Albria under the protection of the Ravens. Winter is ending. It is time for our people to return to the Valley Forest.”

 

Murmurs erupted from the crowd. Mothers held their newborns tightly. But all eyes remained focused on her.

 

The Queen held up her hand for silence, and nodded to Helios.

 

The council elder stood. “Our alliance with the Ravens was known to be short-lived,” as the Queen’s most trusted advisor, he echoed the wisdom of a millennia. “When the sun rises red, the children must leave.”

 

The words hung in the air like a black fog.

 

Helios sat still, and his shoulders remained straight. “Spring will guide us, the Trees will shelter us, and the True Prince will protect us. Head back to your dwellings and prepare your young ones. We begin our way home in a fortnight. If you do not comply, your bloodline will bear the burden.”

 

The eyes widened throughout the crowd, and the room quickly began to clear. The Queen sat, her eyes once again distant.

 

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