Prologue

 

I wish to tell you about the hidden land of Arcashala.

It was a world where snowlions prowled, yetis roamed, and dragons soared to the sky and back.

Winged elephants drank in water from the sea and sprayed it into the clouds, where it turned into rain.

Arcashala was a place of magic and mystery.

Its human inhabitants were called Artisans. 

Artisans looked every bit like us on the outside, except for one extraordinary feature: the Gems on their foreheads. In their youth, this gleaming precious stone constantly changed colors according to their emotions. Needless to say, it was embarrassingly easy to know when children lied to their parents, though they frequently tried to anyway.

You can understand why young Artisans waited eagerly for the day their Gem settled on one color and revealed their true character. 

Arcashala was a world comprised of three kingdoms, two of which had mastered a form of magic called the Art.

The Kingdom of Crea produced an Art that Created. The Kingdom of Destris used its Art to Destroy. 

Strangely enough, the Third Kingdom had no apparent Art.  

Well, some chuckled, since no one knew what the kingdom did, it must have been useless, which is why they never gave it a proper name. But others whispered that the Third Kingdom had the most powerful Art of all. In whichever statement the truth lay, everyone agreed that Third Kingdomers were pleasant and prosperous.

These three kingdoms were so intertwined that no one quite knew where one started and the other ended. And they all lived happily.

They acknowledged they were lucky, for Artisans had heard fearful things about their neighboring world. That was why Arcashala was hidden behind an invisible magical veil. 

Every Artisan shuddered at the thought of living in our Artless world, filled with continents and countries constantly at war since the beginning of time.

Africa, Asia, the Americas, Antarctica, Europe, Oceania. These lands sounded like a nightmare, and no Artisan ever dared to wander there. 

So the Artless world, our world, was unaware that, right beside it, Artisans lived in peace. 

It is thus that the two worlds cohabited, one blithely ignorant of the existence of the other, while the other did not envy its neighbor’s destitution and left well enough alone.

Then things changed. 

Arcashala as the Artisans knew it died the night Seraphyne de Montesang seized power.

Few Artisans had heard of Montesang before she destroyed their peace.

She had grown up in Destris and, unlike its other inhabitants, used her Art to acquire power and wealth.

With a wand clenched in her hand, Montesang burned the land and tore the magical curtain hiding Arcashala from the rest of the world. The earth quaked and quivered, the skies turned to ash, the dragons crashed to the ground, the elephants stopped drinking, and the smell of charred rose petals filled the air.

Many magical creatures became extinct, never to be seen again.

As for the unfortunate three kingdoms, Montesang decided she would rule all three. 

Starting with Crea, the kingdom with the most sparkling treasures.

Some Creans resisted invasion, but Montesang’s power was too strong, and she punished those who opposed her, spreading fear and horror.

The Creans who could fled. They abandoned their homes, taking few possessions save for their loved ones. 

But they could not hide in Destris or the Third Kingdom. For wherever magic existed, Montesang’s power could reach them. 

So, instead, they crashed into our world. 

The continents were surprised to discover the existence of Artisans, dragons, and so many other magical creatures that they had ever imagined.

The desperate Creans promised that they wouldn’t remain here long.

They explained that an ancient prophecy told of an Artisan who would master the three Arts and save the world from destruction at a time when they needed it the most. 

The Creans believed the savior to be Master Gesar, the last man to have mastered the three Arts before Montesang ascended to power and forced him into hiding. Everyone knew he was secretly building his army in a magically concealed village, just waiting for the right moment to overtake the evil queen and bring all the scattered Creans home.

So the Artless continents agreed to keep them safe while they waited for their savior. 

But as more and more Creans arrived over the years, the Artless’ patience turned into resentment, for they loved magic in books, stories, and fairytales, but they quickly tired of it as their next-door neighbor.

This is why our story begins here, one hundred years later.

In modern-day Paris.