Jovraan opened the ancient wooden box, and checked the stones once more, his eyes glistening at the sight of each of them. There were five stones, one for each of the four elements, and one to center them. They were small, about the size of a marble; Jovraan could fit all five in his palm. They appeared to be perfect spheres at first glance, but a closer inspection revealed that their entire surface was actually tiny triangular facets that caught the light like dazzling diamonds.
Each was a different natural gemstone, but these were no mere gems. An ancient magician or creature unknown had imbued them with their individual power. One could just make out faint pulsing glows from the center of the stones.
If put in the hands of a capable sorcerer, their energies could be wielded as a most formidable weapon and soon they would be in the hands of a most capable sorcerer, Emperor Shrinan Tlo'an.
Satisfied that they were snugly packed, he relocked the case, and slid it into his satchel with a knowing smile. He skipped lightly down the stairs and informed his secretary that she shouldn't expect him back for quite some time. At this she beamed, because it meant she'd be paid the same to do even less work, only to keep her mouth shut.
T'resh went out to meet his carriage and set out for the long trip through Houvet to circle the mountains and enter Itriscia. He was very skilled at disguise, but he did not want to risk traveling through Enora with the treasure he just stole from her. He would be in Itriscia in a few days, and in the capitol a few days after that. Plenty of time, he told himself, plenty of time.
Meanwhile, in his capitol city, Itrisal, Emperor Shrinan sat idly at his window, hypnotized by the swaying ash trees in the court yard. The hillsides were just losing their fall color, and he found it soothing to lose his thoughts in the falling leaves of the trees.
A soft knock at his door roused him from his meditation, "Come," he called disinterestedly.
The messenger cracked the door politely and informed him that Jovraan had just left Enora, and was expected in Itrisal within the week. Shrinan nodded and dismissed him.
Soon everything would fall into place. His daughter, Malynna, would marry Jovraan T'resh in the spring, and in the summer, Itriscia would begin its invasion of Enora, using the Sky gems to conquer her. Empress T'resh, daughter of his old nemesis, would be defenseless against him – he a great elementalist, and she a mere psychic. He smiled at the thought. Finally, after decades of failed attempts to defeat Enora's defenses, he would have the power to overcome them, and secure the empire's riches for his daughter and her children.
* * *
Search for it, my child, the answer is there...
"Mother!" Malynna woke with a panic, her mother's voice ringing in her memory. When she realized she had been dreaming, she lay back and curled up under the fluffy duvet. Her stomach hurt, and her heart pained her even more.