Chapter 27: The Path of the Five Sisters
The five noble sisters of House Khaleem had always seen the world differently. There were two sets of twins: Elika and Anobi were sixteen; Dreena and Naidi were seventeen. They were led by eighteen-year- old Cassyva, the eldest, who, although impulsive, had recently begun to display the beginnings of a great gift in magic. Descendants of Atar Starstrider, members of the Order of Staar, and distant cousins of Ziros, they were known for their unrivaled beauty and keen intelligence, astounding melee skills, and most of all, their boundless compassion. Distraught at the suffering caused by Draug’s burgeoning wars, they decided that regardless of Ziros’ decrees, they needed to help. They were planning to smuggle an assortment of Star Crystals into Xenkai to help the Songhai people, when their grandmother, Regent Visala, discovered their plan. Although heartbroken, she pledged not to stop them. But first, she told Cassyva that there was a secret she must share, in case this was her last opportunity to do so.
When Regent Visala was a young girl, her father, Lord Khaleem, took her to the Grand Trianon, where she saw the famous Lord Marshall Rasha. Fascinated, she followed him into the newly built enclosure of the Weeping Tree. He seemed angry, so she hid, watching as he plucked a twig from the Weeping Tree and tasted the bright red sap that oozed from the ancient bark. He seemed to enjoy it so much that when he left, she tried it herself – gaining a measure of the same great magical powers as the Lord Marshall himself. Terrified, she had never told anyone. But recently, Visala had seen that Cassyva was developing those same powers, and she suspected her sisters would too as they grew older. Such power can be a burden, Visala said, and it comes with an even greater responsibility.
After a tearful farewell, the sisters of Akram travelled to the continent of Xenkai. The people were devastated, and the Songhai government in ruins. The sisters helped where they could, but Cassyva grew increasingly frustrated. Helping people one at a time was not making a difference fast enough. They were powerful nobles with extraordinary abilities, and Cassyva impatiently decided they had to work on a broader scale, as part of an organized effort. So the sisters decided to seek answers to their questions by embarking on a journey into the Saberspine Mountains to find the only Old Empire institution still left standing, the Chakri Monastery.