Prologue - The Palantir

It was pouring with rain outside, as Xamira sat curled in a corner of her Aunt's office crying great heaving gasps as if her heart was breaking. It may as well be she thought. The only mother she has ever known was gone. Killed. She heard the door to the office creak and the sound of soft feet padding across the wooden floor towards her. She felt a soft furry head nuzzle her arms, trying to separate them from their place firmly locked around her knees and encircling her head as she cried.

Xamira lifted her head to see her familiar, Xera. Xera was an unusual familiar for a witch to have, she was a Daemon, a two-tailed cat that could change from the size of a small domestic kitten to the size of a fierce tiger with enormous strength. As a Daemon Xera also had a command of fire, which Xamira had once thought meant that she was a fire witch, but it was not so. Xamira was unclaimed as a daughter of the flames. She was unclaimed by any element. Something unheard of for a witch of her age. Cursed. black witch. Scourge. Where among the many names her kin called her for having not found her element. It was only her Aunt Argenta and her cousins Elektra and Mirala who did not care that she was truagh. Hollow.

Xamira lifted her arms from their place around her knees and raised her hand to stroke Xera.

"It's not fair." She brokenly whispered "Why did she have to go. She promised she's always be there. She promised she'd teach me how to use my element. But I haven't found my element yet, so she shouldn't have left. She didn't her promise, she always keeps her promise."

She knew that Argenta hadn't chosen to leave her, that she had just been returning from a visit to the Stone temple when she had been ambushed and killed. But the fact remained that her Aunt was gone and Xamira missed her.

She heard the front door of the large house open and heard her name called, and she realised Mirala and Elektra were looking for her. She had after all run away from the procession at her Aunts burial, unable to face the fact that the woman who raised her and loved her as her own daughter was really gone. So, caught in her own grief she hadn't paid any thoughts to her cousin. Mirala, who whilst the daughter of her eldest sister, Argenta had practically raised as her own; caught up in politics as Mirala's own mother Geraint was, she had paid little attention to her only daughter. Elektra, Argenta's actual daughter. Xamira was not the only one to have lost a mother.

Sniffling and wiping her eyes Xamira rose to her feet to call out where she was, but she had been crouched for so long she had lost feeling in her legs and rising as abruptly as she had caused her to stumble. In her attempt to catch her self from falling she reached for the nearest surface to steady her, her Aunts bookcase. The force of her falling onto it caused the shelf to shake and a large black round orb fell from the highest shelf, hitting the floor with a thud that caused Xera to hiss and arch in startled displeasure. The orb was black and polished smooth. It rolled towards the desk as Xamira's eyes followed it. Looking into the orb, Xamira found she couldn't draw her eyes away, she felt a pull towards the object. As she looked closer at the sphere she noticed a white light in its depths, enraptured she fell to her knees and reached for the globe as the light grew brighter. Xera arched her back and hissed violently at the orb again.

By now alerted to the fact that there was something wrong having her heard the loud thud and Xera's hiss Elektra and Mirala hurried to reach the study with their young cousin inside. Xamira's eyes could not look away as they too began to fill with a brilliant white light like that within the orb, as her hand slowly reached for the polished surface of the sphere. As her cousins reached the open door of the office they caught a brief glimpse of their cousin hypnotized by the black orb pulsing with white light on her knees reaching for the object, before the door slammed in their faces and locked itself. They were unable to break through and Xamira was deaf to the thuds and to their cries as they attempted to reach her, she was too enthralled by the Palantir in front of her. Finally, her hand contacted the orb and with a surge and swirl of white light she was gone from the room, Xera pouncing towards her mistress just in time to be swept away with her. By the time Elektra and Mirala were able to breach the now unlocked door they found only the black orb, no longer glowing and with no trace of their young cousin or her familiar.