In a clearing The Seven waited. The moon was rising and soon it would be time for the conclave. Prodigy paced around the circle, wearing a path through the grass. She was impatient to begin. As the eldest it was her role to start and end the conclave. She had the power to overrule any one of The Seven and she had used her power only once in her long life. She wrapped her cloak more closely around her thin frame and ran her fingers through her greying hair. Auspice sat on a three legged stool and stared glassy eyed before him. It was many years since his sight had been taken from him and he had finally accepted his blindness after many years of anger and bitterness. He now saw the wisdom that had been granted him when his vision was lost. The ropey veins stood out on his arthritic hands and he rubbed them together against the cold.
Sign lounged against a tree with his arms folded, observing The Seven. He was bored and wished this evening was over soon. There were things he needed to attend to and he had no time to waste hanging around in this ancient wood with the others. He scowled at the others with contempt in his ice cold blue eyes. These were not the powerful mages he had expected when joining The Seven and he had little time for any of them.
In the centre of the clearing stood Portent rubbing her swollen belly. She felt serene and calm despite the bad vibes pouring from Sign. She smiled at him and he turned away. He was an angry soul and Portent sighed. There had been a time when they had been close but he had withdrawn into the company of thieves and vagabonds. She hoped that they might be close again soon but even the impending birth of her child had failed to touch his cold heart. The child quickened and she rubbed more slowly, calming the life within her and singing to it. Augury drew close to her and took her hand. He felt her pulse and stroked along the length of her fingers. He smiled and nodded at Portent. The healer within him tapped into the life force of her child and told him that all was well, the child was strong. He closed his kindly hazel eyes and listened to the life-force of Portent’s daughter. This one was strong and Augury could feel the old magic surging through the child.
Presage sat cross legged on the ground plucking and weaving flowers into a braid. She hummed an ancient tune and watched as her fingers twisted the stems into a plait and saw it grow. When it was the right length she twisted the ends together and formed a circlet. She rose effortlessly and placed the garland on Auspice’s head. He smiled and reached for her hand. Presage held his hand and lifted it to her lips. The old man smiled and pulled her hand to his cheek, savouring the cool smooth flesh against his wrinkled skin. Presage tossed her golden curls and threw her head back to stare at the rising moon. She felt great peace in this place, a sense of well-being despite the sneering of Sign.
‘We are only six, ‘ said Prodigy. ‘We cannot begin until we are seven and the moon is nearing its zenith. We must begin soon or lose the perfect time for another year. Where can he be?’
Sign snorted and strode across the circle to join her.
‘If I have wasted my time here I will not come again next year. Many plans were cancelled so I could be here and my time is precious, even if yours is not.’
‘Heaven forbid you should miss a chance to make another soul’s life unhappy!’
Sign turned towards Auspice and scowled at the old man.
‘Please, think of the child,’ whispered Portent. ‘She deserves peace and good will, not negative thoughts and words.’
A chill wind blew through the clearing and ruffled the robes of The Seven. The moon shone brightly through a gap in the clouds and a hooded figure walked slowly from between the trees.
‘Welcome to conclave. Make yourself known.’ Prodigy spread her arms and all eyes turned to the hooded figure. Auspice leaned forward and listened to the breathing and the rustling of the robe. The figure stood tall and still.
Augury shivered as the temperature dropped. The figure dropped the hood from his head. A gentle face, shaved head like a monk and a smile. Augury moved towards him, circled and nodded.
‘A gentle soul, well worthy to join The Seven. Welcome!’
One by one the others approached and examined the stranger. Presage guided Auspice and the old man ran his hands lightly over his features. He also nodded. Prodigy was the last to face him and he raised his eyes to meet hers. They looked deeply into each others eyes and eventually Prodigy nodded too.
‘We are seven and may begin. The moon has risen, the time has come. Join us.’
They stood in a circle, joined hands and waited. In the distance a wolf howled and a bell tolled. Prodigy dropped the hands she held and raised hers to the moon.
‘We welcome the seventh, to take the place of Foretoken. Share your name with us and become one of The Seven.’
‘My name is Omen. I join The Seven with joy, with humility and with gratitude. Accept me, make use of my gifts.’
They began to walk slowly widdershins and chanted.
‘Welcome to The Seven! Welcome Omen of Seven!’
The conclave of The Seven had begun.