prologueYue paced back and forth, mind racing. Her maid would wake from the sleeping potion any minute now. Violet eyes darted from the mountain faintly outlined outside her window to the moonstone staff propped up against her bedside table. Which to choose?
Screams jerked her from her reverie. With one last look at the staff, she took off to find the source. Her tiny feet made no noise as she flew through the twisting stairwells of the palace, taking her closer to the Queen Mother, who she knew would be praying in the Moonstone Courtyard.
The Queen Mother was kneeling towards the moon and Yue felt a wave of relief. As long as Mother was safe, there probably wasn't anything bad happening. The older woman turned to look at Yue as she approached. "Why are you here? You should be getting to the…" she froze, fear paralyzed her face. "Go. Now. Take the staff and go far away now."
Yue blanched. "Mom, what-?"
"Run!" The Queen Mother said fiercely, pushing her youngest daughter back towards the door. "I love you, Yue. Buna fera tseyri. May your Spirit live on." It was the traditional death prayer of their people. That's when Yue saw the dark figure advancing on her mother, red eyes glowing. She squeezed her eyes shut.
She had to protect the staff; without it, she wouldn't survive the night. She ran as fast as she could away from the Courtyard, but the shadow was following her step by step. Oh, please, Yue prayed silently. Do not let them get to the staff before I do…
Yue burst into her room, eyes lighting upon the staff. She started to unwork the protective spells, all the while fervently praying that she would make it in time. Open for me, open for me…
Just as the man with red eyes burst into her room, Yue punched through the last of the spells and swung the staff at her would-be attacker. A bright flash of light illuminated her room, not unlike the lightning that had filled the formerly peaceful skies above the castle. The wraiths had felt the energy, Yue saw. Shadows were swarming in her direction, hundreds of glowing red eyes searching hungrily for the source of the bright moonlight that had ended the shadowy monster.
Yue's maid, who had been lying unconscious on the floor, started to stir. As she opened her eyes, she nearly screamed at the sight of the shadows rapidly approaching. With no time for goodbyes, Yue leapt out of the window with the staff, hurtling towards her doom. Her maid had only time to scream, "Yue!" before the shadows descended and the castle burst into black fire.