“Over the coming months, the Order of the Tempest began to take shape as we prepared for our mission. Our objective was simple: to prevent annihilation of our world by a heavenly body we came to call Elgorra, the Hard-Hammer.”

“The three muses guided us in every step of this endeavor, their organization proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that their beauty and majesty was not mere surface glamour, but was integrally bound in the depth of their character and being. We weather workers reveled in this time, and the days and nights passed rapidly in a state of almost rapture under their governance.

“Of we who worked the wind and waves were there gathered one hundred and forty-four souls in total, on the lonely island whose name was Edeb, and which we soon discovered we shared with an intelligent race of telepathic leptoms, whose true import we were later to learn. We were organized into twelve cohorts of twelve, and all trained in rotation during the early months with the captains and crews of each of the twelve cloud ships of the sky lords which had arrived to aid our Order.

“Though the exact composition of each cohort varied, each was split internally into four vocal sections, with the average consisting of three bass voices, three tenors, three altos, and three sopranos. For each part, there was a First, Second, and Third. Of the Firsts, one was elected captain of the cohort, as I became in mine. It was an Ancient Quatrian system of organization, which the muses now taught to us. A few cohorts were more specialized in one vocal part, and were correspondingly more gifted in the manipulation of those corresponding frequencies of wind and rain and wave and storm linked to those sonorous enchantments. In working together thus, we formed well-rounded chorales, which uplifted the weather work of each of us through the synergy and harmony of the complementary voices of our counter-parts from far off places. The experience thrilled us.

“What we could only rarely achieve as individuals, we learned as a group to maintain as open and active channels. Our weather work became clearer. We cast our enchantments as songs sung together, with the power and beauty and majesty of the muses flowing through us as inspiration. And we drank of the sweet ambrosia of their fountains as our only sustenance in those days. And in the nights we traded stories from our respective lands, and occasionally on very magical nights, one of the muses would tell us tales from their history and legend. And thus we came to understand that our deeds would pass after us some day into legend. But some would have to survive first for it to be so.

“As we came then to mastery of our craft, the muses revealed to us their grand plan against the Hard-Hammer, Elgorra, whose presence now in the sky became larger and plainer night by night, though we could not yet see her during the daytime hours.

“Iluora told to us the following story. ‘We three sisters were once nine, many eons ago. We naturally formed three Triads according to our birth order, of which Lustra, Ileafa, and myself are the Third and final. In the beginning, we cohabited in the Temple of Our Mother, and though we varied greatly in age, we all ate at the same table, and served at the same altars, sang the same songs, and told the same tales. But as ages passed, there came the Changing. The world that was one was drawn out into the three, and each was peopled by their children. Our Mother bade us to go out as Triads and look after them, and so we did. For many countless seasons, we sent messengers between our lands, and could traverse back and forth on short visits to share songs and stories with one another, and share in the beauties of the others’ worlds. Until certain of our sisters began to fall silent. No messengers came out of their lands, and those we sent to them never returned. So we sent no more, and sought not passage ourselves. And we were very sorrowful. The third time this happened, a messenger escaped from the court of Elona, the third eldest of the First Triad. She told a tale of a heavenly body in the night sky, raining fire down, which struck the land, and broke it, utterly destroying that world and its children. And thus had the Three Eldest Sisters died. And so countless seasons passed again, and our sorrow grew less, but not our memory of our sisters.’

“‘The Second Triad took to the idea of trying to prevent such a cataclysmic impact on their world, of the same nature which had ended that of our sisters. And so they inspired the earth-wrights of those lands to rise up and join together to form the Order of the Shield. From rock and the bones of the earth, they formed a giant shield, and lifted it up into the sky, and the Three Middle Sisters, muses of that realm, sanctified it. And a day did come after many peaceful centuries, when a wanderer in the sky appeared, and sought them out, becoming each day larger and larger. But the people and the Sisters trusted in the shield to protect them from the impact, and felt vanity for their clevereness and forethought. But when the day came, the body struck and clove the shield, passing straight through in a great cloud of dust and broken rock, impacting with undiminished force into the sheer face of the earth. And thus that world and its children was destroyed, and the Second Triad was no more. No messengers were sent out by them, as in their certainty, they believed not they would be destroyed, nor that they could be. But they were. And so we Three Youngest Sisters, the Third Triad, face now with you today the same doom which as gone before us twice, and laid low our sistren. We have prayed to Our Mother, but her Temple has gone away, and she has sent us no messengers. Thus we have relied on our own dreaming, and together returned in our collective memory to our early childhood, living again the tales passed down to us by our mothers and sisters for some seed of wisdom. Passing thus deep in thought, we remembered at last the tale of Tirnunen, the Smith, and his mighty Hard-Hammer, the Elgorra. And how during his crafting of the head of the Maiden-Spear, the changer Wormwood caused the mischievous memlen to replace Valgorh, the anvil of Tirnunen, with a bucket of water. A veil of mischief cast over his eyes, Tirnunen struck the burning hot point of the Maiden-Spear against what he thought was his anvil, and the spear head flew away out of his hand into the air. And the hammer smashed the bucket of water, which burst absorbing the force of the mighty blow, and striking the earth, the hammer Elgorra sank down into the hard-packed soil of his shop, double the height of the Smith himself. He had to dig it out to retrieve it.’

“So we weather workers came to understand the intention of the muses was to adapt the trickery of Wormwood the Changer to our present plight. From the experience of their sisters, whose own worlds had been destroyed — the first through lack of awareness, the second through wrong preparation — they decided to try to absorb the impact of the heavenly body which drew inexorably closer to us, rather than trying to deflect it. And so our plans were drawn up, to form our own sort of ‘bucket’ to take the blows of our own Hard-Hammer, which threatened to destroy us.”