In the far east, across a barren sea in a desolate and forgotten place, a light emerged in an empty sky. At first it shone lazily, moving without purpose. An ancient one took notice. Weary eyes that had witnessed the beginning, and the end of what once was, observed with astute clarity. In anticipation her arthritic hand tightened around a cane fashioned from bone. The light grew brighter. It descended against the backdrop of nothingness, a vast shroud that stretched from one bleak horizon to the other. A flaming tail emerged as an orb accelerated over a land laid to waste. It drew nearer. Then a cosmic roar erupted and rosy hues of streaming light burst outward, throwing the ancient one to the ground when the orb impacted bone-riddled earth.
Slowly, the ancient one clambered to her feet. All that remained of the brilliant light was a ray of shallow radiance originating from the impact site. Waddling from one foot to the other, she carefully navigated a heavily damaged landscape. She coughed, clearing her airway as she pushed through the settling dust. On the edge of a crater she paused, staring eagerly at the fallen object while listening to its familiar hum. It cooed, pitching high and low. When her hand stiffly rose from her side, the recently born testalar throbbed.
Her coy smirk faded as an ominous gust tried to smother the testalar’s brilliance. Loose soil spilled over the crater’s rim, covering the marquise-shaped object, and subduing its droning signal. The ancient one’s hand shot out. And in an elder tongue, using a forgotten language, she proclaimed in a gravelly voice, “Ash-car-ah—Awaken.”
The ground shook and splintered around her. Light particles raced outward from the dissolving testalar. The ancient one’s skin changed from dull gray to arctic white; her tawny eyes radiated between their natural color and that of rich green; a heavily worn and soiled cloak turned white with gold-colored stitching along the seams; stubby horns that grew from her upper forehead lost their patina, becoming youthful in the transition; and thinning white hair grew silver. Her cane lengthened and thinned, morphing from animal bone into a crystalline staff. Curved prongs formed at the top. As the particles coursing through her body reemerged, they coalesced at the top of her staff again into a testalar. Her appearance was one of youth while she still possessed the keen mind of experience.
Obscure lightning flashed across the sky, signaling displeasure with her transformation. She ignored the warning with a pestilent stare. The ancient one turned from the impact site and stared wide-eyed over a ravaged vista. Another gust slammed against her, pushing her back. With gritted teeth and a clenched fist, she dug in. The wind howled. The ancient one used both hands to firmly clutch her staff. The testalar flashed green with short pauses between. Her eyes glowed in sync with the flashes and then the cane’s tapered end was driven forcefully against the ground. A circular pulse shot outward, silencing the land. She smoothed her tousled hair.
The ground trembled in a final warning. The ancient one responded with a simple nod and a pursed smile as if she were acknowledging the existence of an old friend. Then her staff was driven downward again, the act consuming her in brightness, and leaving in her place a white raven. The bird’s rocking call softened the grasp of perpetual darkness.