The shroud of night covered all as I wandered through an enormous labyrinth, hopelessly lost. I had lost count of how many twisted and tangled paths I had gone down, how many dead ends I had run into, how many deserted courtyards I had found. Fearful confusion had begun to take hold of me, its chilling grip only disorienting me further.
There was nothing I wanted more than to find another lost soul roaming that maze…though I would prefer that they knew how to get out. I needed a companion to show me the way; I yearned for someone to lead me away from that lonely, desolate place.
Suddenly, I stumbled upon a courtyard, different from the others. It had such a tranquil air about it that my panic-stricken state slowly subsided. When I looked ahead of me, I saw a tall figure standing in the center of the courtyard.
The moonlight shone down upon his tall, slender frame. He wore elegant, blood-red robes that touched the ground. His outer-robe was especially long, with a small train trailing behind it. Simple yet intricate gold embroidery adorned each article of clothing he wore. He had near-black, shoulder-length hair, which seemed as though it would be dark brown in better lighting.
As I watched, he began to recite an incantation under his breath.
I gasped quietly.
It seemed like ages since I had encountered anyone with magical abilities, excluding the wizard of the First Order, Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander (and, of course, myself.) I hadn't spoken to another wizard or sorceress since my parents, Edgar Sardonyx and Airmid Foxglove, died…and I couldn't even attempt to recall the last time I encountered a sorcerer.
Without warning, the ground began to tremble violently. Emerald-green flames sprung up from all corners of the courtyard. Involuntarily, I gave out a terrified scream.
Instantly, the sorcerer ceased his chant. The flames vanished, and I could see him clearly once more—
—to discover he was staring dead at me.
My heart stopped as he beckoned me to come closer. Inhaling deeply, I complied, seeming amazingly calm and collected.
As I stopped before him, he said, in bewildered awe, "Airmid Foxglove?"
I smirked. I could see where he could easily be mistaken; I'm practically an exact copy of my mother, save that I have my father's eyes.
Looking at his face for the first time, I froze. He was devastatingly handsome, even though I'm not partial to facial hair; he had a demon-esque mustache and a faint beard (just around his chin.) Yet, what captivated me the most were his eyes, which were absolutely breathtaking: ice-blue, with a great deal of expression in them. I suddenly found it difficult to speak.
"N-no," I forced, failing miserably at masking my apprehension, "she was my mother."
He smiled slightly. "You must be Ember."
I nodded, arching an eyebrow.
How does he know my name?
As if to reassure me, he reached out and gently grasped my hand; his embrace felt warm and inviting.
I feel as though I'm not supposed to trust him…and yet, I feel like I can trust him.
Taking a step closer to me, he whispered, "Don't be afraid."
In response, I tightened my hold on his hand, folding my fingers over the back of it.
My hazel eyes meeting his, I inquired, "Who are you?"
His reply was anything but expected:
His eyes widened, and his free hand reached up to grasp his throat. I cocked my head, puzzled.
Panic overtook his face, and I took an unsure step away from him.
"Clara! Let Ember sleep!"
My eyes snapped open just in time to see Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander lift a chicken off my pillow. Bringing it to eye-level with him, he scolded: "How many times do I have to tell you, Clara? Ember needs her rest! She had quite a long ride in."
I had crossed the boundary early that morning, and I was exhausted by the time I reached Zedd's shack. I had a feeling that the Seeker would soon be named, so I decided I had no choice but to shack up with Zedd for a while; the man was practically a second father to me.
"It's alright, Zedd," I replied, slowly sitting up. Grabbing a sheet of parchment and a quill from the floor beside me and beginning to draw, I continued, "I just had a really unusual dream, that's all."
Setting Clara down on the floor, Zedd replied, "I told you not to eat those wild mushrooms."
I chuckled, continuing to draw. "Not unusual like that, Zedd. It was just so…real."
Furrowing his ivory eyebrows in concern, Zedd cautiously sat down on the edge of the bed. "Do you want to tell me about it?"
Maybe he can tell me who that man was.
I gave a half-nod. "I was in this enormous maze…it was nighttime, and I was utterly lost. Then, I wandered into this moonlit courtyard…and in the center of it, there was this man I've never seen before."
Zedd instantly seemed much more interested, grinning in amusement. "Oh really? Well…?" he elbowed me jokingly. "Tell me."
I giggled; Zedd sure was easily excited. "He was tall, enigmatic, and evilly charming," I responded over-dramatically.
Zedd rolled his eyes and scoffed.
"And his voice," I elaborated, ceasing my sketching and becoming alarmingly distant, "his voice was…impossibly seductive: sinister, yet soft."
Involuntarily, I trembled at the memory of that voice…and those eyes.
"His eyes," I breathed, setting down the quill, "his eyes were unlike any I've ever seen before, Zedd…it's like he could read my thoughts."
Zedd chuckled. "I doubt you dreamt of encountering a Listener, Ember."
"I know he was no Listener," I said, "but he was a sorcerer."
Suddenly seeming more curious than before, Zedd reached for the sheet of parchment. His hazel eyes locking gaze with mine, he asked, "Is this him?"
"May I see it?"
He grasped the parchment and held it in front of his face, studying it closely. I watched him carefully, feeling increasingly uneasy as his expression changed from confused, to shocked, to alarmed.
His eyes the size of wagon-wheels, Zedd managed, "I can identify your mysterious sorcerer, Ember."
I tilted my head in sincere interest, despite the sudden wave of worry that had crashed over me.
He exhaled slowly, but refused to speak.
"Who is it?" I persisted, leaning forward.
I have to know.
Zedd's face hardened; his warm eyes grew cold and serious. When he spoke at last, his voice was grave and gravelly:
"Lord Darken Rahl."