In a space removed from time, three cloaked individuals circle an altar of crystal and stone. Their white, glowing eyes peer at a book resting at the altar’s center. Around them tower thirteen statues of various forms. Each statue’s arm lies outstretched towards the center of the expanse. Hovering in the space where their hands meet is a blue and green globe—the world of Altaris. Three of the statues hum with life, their eyes glowing with the same bright white light as the cloaked trio. Nine are faded, their eyes haunted and dark. The last statue has been destroyed; a pile of rubble lies where it once stood.
“Gather around, all who hear this tale,” the central figure mutters to herself as she writes in the book, the fresh ink drying quickly on the withered page. Above the scribbled text is an illustration of a boy in his late teens kneeling in front of a scared child. His right hand is on the child’s shoulder, and around this arm is a gold-plated band with an emblem of a raised fist surrounded by a rising dawn. Directly behind him stands a group of young men and women who each wear this same emblem.
“It is the saga of one of the greatest guardians Acadia has ever known.” Her soft words and the faint scratching of her quill are somehow deafening in an otherwise monumental silence. As she writes, new pictures appear below the text. In the image, one of the boy’s companions, a young woman with fiery, amber-red hair, approaches him. Her body glows in the same vibrant hue. She is accompanied by a massive, flickering cat made of golden flames. Awestruck, the child reaches out to touch the blazing cat, and miraculously, it remains unaffected by the fire. The boy with the armband lets out a loudly hearty laugh as the cat nuzzles against the child.
“The Order he led…”
The boy and the girl return to the group. Each member is now surrounded by their own colorful auras. Out in the distance, a large army led by a monstrous being has gathered. They writhe and howl, craving an unstoppable violence that would see fit to devour all in its path. On the battlefield, the bodies of countless mangled casualties are already strewn around with new ones created as the monster rampages on.
“And the adventures that changed the world!”
The writer flips to the next page, and new images quickly populate the space. The first is of the boy as he walks to the front of his Order. As he passes by each member, his aura mimics theirs, shifting from light green to pale, icy blue, to a dark, steel grey and a fierce red, before finally returning to a colorless form. He pounds his fists together and smiles. On the back of his left hand is a tattoo of a black cross surrounded by a purple, nine-pointed star. He breaks into a run, his face still plastered in a smile as he races towards the monster. His Order members follow suit, releasing their Arts in bursts of color and elements. As the boy approaches the chaos, he leaps into the air with his left fist raised, prepared to throw a punch. From the angle of the image, it appears as if his fist is enveloped by the sun.
“This is the legend of how it all came to be: The Epic of the Atlas Dawn!” The writer sets down her feathered pen and steps away from the altar to allow her companions to view her work. They quickly move in closer.
“Is this all going to happen, Fi?” the figure on her left asks, her voice tinged with skepticism. “You are completely sure?”
“Of course I am,” Fi replies, slightly offended. “Have a little faith, Amare.”
“Yes, I know,” Amare said, although she still sounded unsure. “It’s just, I can’t see this happening. It’s all too soon. How can they bear so much in such a short amount of time? Even Humer...”
“That does not matter,” the third figure, Sae, states, silencing Amare. “It will all pass just as Fidem has foreseen.” He picks up the book and flips back through its pages. “So long as the bonds they forge sustain them and their hearts remain steadfast, they shall not fail. We must at least place our hope in that potential of human nature. Weren’t those your words, Amare?”
“Yes, they were,” Amare agrees, pacified.
Sae closes the book and places it back on the altar; on its cover is the emblem of a fist surrounded by a rising sun.
He turns to his companions. With a nod they all close their eyes, and their forms begin to break away, leaving behind three nebulous afterimages of bright white energy. The energies return to their respective statues, whose eyes begin to glow more brilliantly.
A fourth cloaked figure appears from the shadow of the demolished statue. In contrast to the other three, his robes are in tatters. He walks to the altar and opens the book. Slowly, he begins to flip through its pages.