"It's an honor to, as it were, meet you," Pryderi said, glancing around the room. "I must
say this is an odd experience. We are several hundred leagues from one another, yet I can see you
all as if we truly sat at the same table."
"It makes planning a war much easier," Gideon commented, obviously amused with the
young King's amazement. "You've read the reports sent to you by Randle Fairimor detailing the
nature of the danger we face?" he asked, and the five Kings nodded.
"I realize you each face difficulties of your own," he said, gesturing to King Reiekel,
"such as the Shadan'Ko attacking the Wall of Aridan." He looked at Tohan Nanda. "Or the
Kunin massing along your southern border. But my heart tells me these and many other things
like them are but small pieces of a larger danger." He paused and looked at each member, flesh
and glowing image alike.
"The Earthsoul is dying, and Maeon's power grows. The Shadan Cult, Kunin, Riak, the
Shadan'Ko, the Con'Kumen, and every other group massing to fight against us are part of this
war. All are being stirred to anger by the Dark One."
He made a fist. "We can, and must, fight all these smaller battles -- preserving our
freedom is essential if we are to address the larger fight -- but winning these smaller battles is
pointless if we fail to accomplish the true task."
There was a touch of desperation in his voice as he added, "We need to heal the
Earthsoul. We must find a Talisman of Elsa."
"What does this Talisman look like?" Lord Nanda asked.
Jase looked up as Gideon turned to him. "My young friend here has the Blood Orb that
Areth took on the failed mission twenty years ago. It was rendered useless to its true purpose by
shadowspawn when we were attacked, but it remains a powerful weapon nonetheless. Show
He did as Gideon asked and held it up so the red-gold orb glimmered as it spun in the
"It is an orb of purest gold," Gideon told them. "Perfectly round and heavier than gold
should be. It cannot be melted down or damaged in any way. This one was located in the temple
here in Trian. It was in the inner sanctum in a small three-legged stand of silver, placed there by
the hand of Fairimor himself after the temple was completed."
He shook his head. "The Temple of Elderon in Andlexces had one as well, but Siamon
Fairimor carried it into battle against Shadan in A.S. 1407. Some believe it was the reason
Shadan was defeated, but I consider Siamon's actions to be the biggest blunder in Kelsan history.
That Talisman was also rendered useless to its true purpose. It was lost a few years later." He
pursed his lips. "I've been to other Old World temples -- in Chunin and Elva -- but those
Talismans were missing as well, probably carried off by someone else who didn't understand
their importance. Most of the temples we know about are those built after the destruction of the
Old World, such as the temple in Chellum, and none of them contain a Blood Orb. They were
built to worship Elderon. The Old World temples were built to facilitate the Rejuvenation by
keeping the Talismans safe."
"Are we sure these Old World temples still exist?" King Agisthas asked.
"Yes," Croneam Eries said. "The scriptures speak of them several times." He glanced at
Gideon. "May I?" At Gideon's nod he continued. "When Maeon killed Elsa, her blood mingled
with the dust of the earth and sprang forth in diverse places as Talismans of great power.
Wherever those Talismans were found, a temple was built; both to keep the place sacred and to
hold the Blood Orb until it was needed. But remember, that happened more than six thousand
years ago. The destruction of the Old World changed everything. Of the hundreds of temples
built in honor of Elsa's blood mingling with the earth, only those Gideon mentioned are known
to us today."