Rippling black robes spread like gigantic wings. Two pale hands reached out from beneath, palms facing forward in grand welcome. White as marble, rigid as bone, the face of Agate Melchior I seemed to glow in the half-darkness.
"Heir my third: I call to you," his voice echoed off the high stone ceiling, "When the power I foresee finds you, let it bring you before me in this moment."
He paused and closed his eyes, breathing slowly. Melchior IV stood, back ramrod straight, ignoring the black feathering around his remaining vision. The portraiture had not done his great grandfather justice -- although the statuary came astonishingly close. There was an aura of terrible power about him, like a glacier ensconced in a canyon it had carved through millennia of sheer will.
The great seer brought his wings together, flicking his index fingers towards his chest. From behind the displaced visitors, an immaculate white leather tome floated by. Both caught sight of the Melchior family seal branded on the cover. The difference of three thousand years' weathering was not enough to keep Agate from recognizing the Melchior Grimoire. Its author caught it with one hand and opened it with the other.
"You may speak," he said, eyes in the book.
His descendant raised an eyebrow -- his right, what remained of his left seemed completely paralyzed. "And you may respond?"
"I may just," his great grandfather replied, reading aloud.
How curious, thought Agate, walking towards the desk. "What do you know of the Scions?" he asked.
Melchior I flicked his finger through the air like a conductor, still focused on the tome. Leyah and her uncle were now close enough to recognize what was inside: a transcript of this very conversation.
Apparently satisfied with his pause, the seer spoke again. "In my age, they are legend long dissolved into myth. In yours they are the single-greatest threat to the continued existence of our Tower and the world we have created around it."
With anyone else, Melchior would have rolled his eyes -- eye -- but he exercised restraint with his ancestor. If anyone deserved the leeway to state the obvious, it was him. It's what came next that would be interesting. Besides, stating the obvious three thousand years in advance was hardly a mean feat.
"You would like more specifics," continued the senior Melchior, "I'm afraid the details are difficult to come by. You are familiar with the concept of a causal nexus?" he asked, turning to the next page.
"My father's explanation for why it became harder and harder for Black Flame soothsayers to see the Fall," said Agate, "Events of sufficient historic impact create uncertainty. That uncertainty acts like morning fog. Immaterial up close, but from a distance of a couple millennia: impenetrable."
The robed Melchior smirked, still absorbed in his book. "That, I'm afraid, is where my grandson's little theory is incorrect. Your soothsayers do see something. They see the void of unrealized realities."
Agate frowned, not yet understanding, although beginning to recognize this may not be information Leyah should be privy to.
Melchior I continued, "Don't be upset. It's much easier to understand looking forwards than back. All you see is black void, but from my perspective, the potential timelines have not yet collapsed."
He tore several pages from the book. Illustrations fluttered in the air: the Tower abandoned, the Tower conquered by Wasted, a thousand Towers spanning the horizon.
"An entertaining variety," said the old seer, "However, it creates certain problems for our mission."
Agate tried to catch several of the sheets, but they simply flew through his hand. Foolish. He was but a shadow here. He looked back at his forefather and said, "You don't have any idea what effect the Scions will have."
"Perhaps, perhaps not," they replied, "It is fortunate you are here alone. More so than any other message in this book, this is for your ears alone." With that, he tore out the pages he had been reading -- then several more for good measure.
Agate's eye flashed, turning to Leyah.