The Ruby Key.
"Princess Monoya! I know your father dote on you and can find no fault whit anything you do. You will however find that I am less understanding. Now focus." The dark haired woman said. Her eyes was like those of a hawk. The young princess give her teacher an apologetic smile and turn her attention back from the window and over to the palm on her left hand where she was trying to manifest a cold blue light. The spell already shone around the long fingers of Denan, Vivenka's other apprentice. But then off course Denan was a real mage, one whit the gift for magic born in his blood, not like here that had to reply on the power of an ancient artifact her mysterious grandmother Rosla had left her. It was due to her father the grand Vizier of Yanan that the mighty sorceress Vivenka had even taken on such a second class apprentice as Monoya and the girl knew the mage hated her for it. Like if she knew the princess was thinking about her Vivenka turned her gaze to the golden haired girl. "Your hand is not glowing." The sorceress commented matter-of-factly. Monoya looked down. She was well aware of that. Where a natural, or as they liked to put it real mage, like Vivenka and Denan magic flowed natural. Just like a toddler learned to walk, a mage learned to control the forces that was his birthright. Whit artificial mages like Monoya, men and woman that had gained magickal powers though some artifact or an alchemist's potion however magic was an alien force. One that demanded exceptional will from such an unideal vessel to control. Vivenka had little faith that a spoiled vizier's daughter would possess such exceptional willpower. Monoya looks up at her teacher's old, weather worn face, expecting another lecture on how she must pay attention to her studies, and not let her mind wander to whatever wonder her mind's eye saw outside the window. But not lecture came. Instead the old sorceress merely shrugs and tells Monoya to practice the spell at home. The old mage had finally given up on her unwanted apprentice. Monoya sigh, she knew it would come sooner or later.
Much later that day Monoya sat on delicate, expensive silk pillows together whit her father the vizier and her mother the princess consort Ylen. It was not fair Monoya thinks. Ylen had inherited her grandmother's gift of magic, she was a true mage, while she herself had been bypassed by that gift in the family. Monoya reach inside her blue silk tunic and takes out a small red amulet. Shaped as a key and made of one cut ruby. It had the shape of a key and felt warm against the princess's fingers. This was all she had of magick, the ruby key. Her grandmother had never been seen whiteout this trinket and and passed it to Monoya the day she died. Telling the girl she would do important things whit the amulet. But what? What was she supposed to do? The amulet granted the wearer the powers of a mage, but how could she do grate things if she could not even cast the simplest of spells. Not for the first time Monoya thinks that her grandmother had been better of leaving the ruby key to her mother instead of her. "You are not eating my swan, what is the matter, did it not go well whit your teacher to day?" Her mother wanted to know as she gracefully sipped fine wine from a gold rimmed cup. That was another thing Monoya had not inherited from her mother, her fay like grace. Much more mundanely, and feeling clumsy as an ox compared to her mother's elegant movements Monoya lifted a fine silver spoon to her lips and sipped some of the fine deer soup the palace chefs had prepared for the vizier and his family. The soup tasted of sweet meat and expensive spices. "It is nothing mother...I am just not learning as fast as I would have hoped. In fact, I think it was a mistake of you and father to force Vivenka to take on someone like me, perhaps not even Grandmother's amulet will let me learn magic. I am not like you mother. I do not have the gift. You should take the ruby key for I can not use it." Ylen smiles and shakes her head so her golden curls, so rare for the desert Kingdom of Yanan dance about her delicate features like gold dressed fay woman dancing. The princess consort put her glass down and regard her daughter. "My mother knew what she was doing when she left you that amulet dear one, she could see the future my mother could, she knew she let the amulet of Addan into the right hands?" Monoya looks at her mother over her bowl of steaming soup. Confused she asks. "The amulet of Addan? What do you mean Mama? I believed this trinket was merely called the ruby key, becouse of it's shape. Ylen shake her head and folds her delicate hands in her lap. "Well it is called that now. But long before that name was put on it is was known as the amulet of Addan after it's creator the sorcerer Addan, the first King Superior of Yanan. He made the desert part and streams and green plains grow up so he could found a Kingdom here. King Addan was perhaps the most powerful mage to have ever existed. When he after centuries of life finally felt the rest of death coming from him he created that amulet you have there before he died. It is said he invested his entire magickal gift into that tiny piece of ruby." Monoya sips some more soup, hardly tasting the rich flavor as she listen to her mother's tale. Whit a little crooked smile she says. "Now I know you are joking whit me mother. There are no green plains and rivers in Yanan, water must be broth her by caravan all the way from Najet. That is why our kingdom will aways stay poor. I have learned all this in mistress Benalene's history lessons." Ylen only smiles and make a grand gesture whit one of her thin hands. "But if our nation was always poor, how do you explain the ruins of mount Belk or the mighty palaces of Rahan, or even the vastness of the ruins that surrounds the capitol? If we was always a poor desert kingdom, why are there such evidence of former riches to be found right bellow the sands." Monoya mulled this over for a while. Her mother was right, there was most certainly many indication of former greatness spread around the nations, ruins of what must have been rich wonders at some point in time. "But why mother, if what you are telling me is true, why do we learn we have always been poor? Why do none speak of our former glory?" Ylen gave a most sad little smile at that question. "Yes why indeed? Well my swan, I think it is to painful to remember a glory that is past and will never come again, well will never come again, that is if none unlocks the mystery of the ruby key and brings King Addan's magick back to the land."
It was late night and the princess Monoya lay sleeping in her luxurious bed chamber. Beside her her old hand maid sat slumped over in a large upholstered chair. Her gray head resting on her chest. Sleep had claimed her even if her duty was to watch over the princess as she slept. Wrapped in her silk bed sheets the vizier's daughter was dream uneasy dreams. She saw a land laid out before her. A beautiful land full of lively rivers and green forests. An oasis in the desert, a small paradise that house a glorious kingdom. This must be the Yanan that her mother had told her about Monoya thinks and suddenly she was aware that she was awake inside this dream, the scene displaying them self before her like some juggler's act while her mind was free to take it all in and remember it. The dream images shifted, instead of the beautiful kingdom from moments ago instead Monoya saw her homeland as it was now, a dry, desolate land, full of the sick, the starving and the miserable. Then the princess heard it, a voice that seamed to come from everywhere at once. A woman's mild voice...her grandmother's voice. "Go to the tomb of Addan my child, there the magic I have given you will be the key, the key to unlock the future of this nation..." Then there was silence. Monoya screamed her grandmother's name, not wanting the dream to be mover, not wanting to loose the old woman all over again. But there was no more answer, and as Monoya awoke in her bed it was as if the dead sorceress had never spoken.
The vizier's daughter knew she had to do as her grandmother had said, she felt in her soul that this was it, this was the opportunity she had waited for, an opportunity to be more than a spoiled little princess, to be someone that mattered. Carefully so she would not wake her hand maiden the princess dresses in a long plain black dress and ties her golden hair into a braid to keep it out of the way. Monoya know there are no reason for her care. Old Gatel will not wake up once she had fallen asleep if the roof was falling on her head. But Monoya did not want to take any chances, her mission tonight was to important to risk the old woman waking up and sounding the alarm. It would be tricky enough to get past the palace guards whiteout such cries of warning, and Monoya just had to get out of the palace, she had to follow her dream, she had to reach Addan's grave. Exactly what she, a failed sorceress's apprentice would do once she got to the grave of a man she a few hours ago did not even know had ever been alive Monoya did not know. But she would find that out once she got there.The princess wished again she had her mother's grace as she slipped out of her room and begun the long and difficult round out of the vizier's palace. Sneaking past guard after guard, whit her hearth in her throat of fear Monoya also felt wondrously alive. Tonight she would prove herself worthy of her grandmother's ruby key, she just knew it. To night would be the night, her night.
Once Monoya had gotten out of the palace it had been an easy job to bribe the stableman on guard for the evening. Jhal to ready her camel Juju and then she just rode out of the large alabaster stone gates and out into the cool desert night. The princess did not need to have a map or even a torch to see where she led Juju. She somehow knew where she was going. And she rode through the night. Monoya felt a bit bad about the uproar that would come when the sun rose and she was found missing. She hoped old Gatel would not be punished for sleeping on duty, or that Jhal would not be whipped for helping her. Monoya regretted the trouble she was causing but there was no other way. While her mother might support the young princess in her current endeavor, her father the vizier would never accept his daughter putting herself in danger and riding out to the middle of the desert hunting some legend of a long dead magician. Monoya decides to try to make it up to the servants later, she did what she had to do. And besides, if all went well, she would be back in the palace come evening again, and perhaps by then she would have found her destiny. That idea filled Monoya whit a giddy joy and made the long ride more easy.
Finally as dawn was coloring the dark skies a deep red, mimicking the color of Monoya's amulet the princess came upon the tomb. It was a simple affair. Constructed of smooth alabaster stone like the gates to the vizier's palace. It appeared like a large, square box. in the lid was carved the words "Here rest the King Superior. The High mage Addan. The Gods rest his soul." Right under the inscription was set a large oval ruby. The princess let her finger play over the large red stone. Brushing sand away from the tomb as she did so. The place was halfway inside a small cave so it was not buried as it would have been outside on the dunes, but there was a fair amount of dust in here non the less. Monoya looks at the ruby. Now what? Then she felt it. That tingly feeling starting at her gut and working its way through all of her body, making every limb feel like a sand storm raged inside it. Monoya recognized the feeling Vivenka and Denan had spoken of it often. The feeling a mage get when her body is filled whit magick and she is ready to cast. Holding her palm against the ruby set into the mage king's tomb the princess closed her her eyes and released the magic. There was lightening inside her as something awakened inside her soul and in the lad itself. As Monoya savored the sweet after glow of her first spell rivers rose them self in the dry desert landscape around her. First just a few, but then many, shooting up like veins in an old man's arms. Forests and green plains shook of the desert sand and appeared where before only unfruitful sand had rested, and slowly the ruins of mount Belk and the palaces of Rahan and all the other former wonders of the land repaired them self and stood like before, proud and glorious. And what had moments before been a poor desert nation again appeared like a green paradise, an oasis amidst the death that was the desert. And in the center of it all stood a woman. A woman that would later been known as the Queen Superior Monoya. The High mage of the oasis kingdom of Yanan. The reign of the mage queen had begun.