Crown of Feathers
In the beginning, there was light and dark, sun and moon—Axura and her sister, Nox.
Axura ruled the day, Nox ruled the night, and together there was balance.
But Nox, ever hungry, wanted more. She began sneaking into the sky during the day, unleashing her children, the strixes, to spread shadows over the world.
To combat Nox’s devouring ways, Axura’s own children, the phoenixes, joined the fray. Only light can defeat darkness, and so they did, beating back the strixes again and again.
The war lasted centuries, and the world suffered under such a regime. But Axura was wise, and in humankind she saw not beings to rule over, but allies to fight alongside.
Atop Pyrmont’s highest peak, Axura took her phoenix form and made contact with the Pyraean communities who lived there.
“Who among you is brave and fearless?” she asked.
“There is no bravery without fear,” said Nefyra, leader of her village.
Axura was pleased with this answer and offered a trial for Nefyra to prove her worth. As a test of faith, Axura lit a fire as tall as the trees and asked Nefyra to enter the flames.
Nefyra did so, and burned alive. But her death was not the end.
She went into the fire a tribal leader and emerged as an animage, a shadowmage, and the First Rider Queen.
—“Nefyra and the First Riders,” from The Pyraean Epics, Volume 1, circa 460 BE