The characters belong to David Eddings.

Divine Aphrael surveyed the world, or at least the important bits, from her alabaster temple, on a perfect island on a rainbow sea. Between one blink of an eye and the next she saw a rush of images incomprehensible to mortals, but to her a harmonious chorus of impossibly complex music, each individual contributing something of their essence to this perfect symphony.

Sephrenia, her beloved sister, guiding a meeting of the Thousand to respond favourably to an olive branch proffered by the Church of the Elene God. The originator of the proposals – Dolmant –giving an uncharacteristically short sermon on the importance of forgiveness. Even her father, Sparhawk looked as though he'd stay awake for the duration and she saw her Mother, Ehlana squeeze his hand in acknowledgement of the achievement as Dolmant thundered to a close. Nearby was Sir Kalten and Lady Alean, married now and still blissfully happy. Further away – Mirtai the Tamul giantess rode into battle alongside Kring, husband and great chief among the Peloi. Back in the Basilica Princess Danae's eyes bored holes into the back of Talen the apprentice knight; he shifted slightly in his seat, sure that once again he was under scrutiny and profoundly unsettled by the intense regard upon him. And Sir Bevier, piety shining in his eyes prayed...

Aphrael's eyes narrowed. A discordant note had sounded; it was scarcely audible but hinted of unexpected destiny and danger, and of a growing threat. The sound circled Bevier, resonating off him, but he was not the cause – the sound's root was vastly distant. She drew in closer to the Cyrinic knight and there, between one instant and the next, she beheld Bevier standing on an unfamiliar world, strangely dressed with his axe holding, at least temporarily, a horde of creatures only too familiar back; and behind him crouched something – precious, impossibly beloved. Dark shapes shifted behind Bevier, he hadn't noticed. Aphrael called a warning into the nothingness of a possible future, and amazingly Bevier swung round... and the window on the other world slammed shut.

Aphrael rocked back on her couch. The sense of threat in that brief vision had been overwhelming, as was her new sense of who Bevier really was – the champion and protector of two worlds. She shook her head to clear the daze and blinked several times.

Aphrael gathered in her essence and reached out to the home of Elene God materialising in his study to sound of delicate fanfares. She took in the perfect order of the documents and the piles of mathematical calculations and sighed.

'We each have our way to see the world, Aphrael' a rich, deep voice chided her from behind, 'you see the world as a grand orchestral production, with people as actors for you to direct.' The reproof was gentle, but unmistakeable all the same.

'And you see life as a series of probabilities. Destinies to be calculated and weighted – where is the beauty in that!' Aphrael retorted, whirling round before she could stop herself.

The Elene God frowned and ran his hand through he dark hair, before taking a deep breath to respond, but Aphrael's urgency in her mission, and her manners, had reasserted themselves. She smiled, stepped across the room and greeted her fellow divinity with a spectral kiss on the cheek. She could feel the tension drain from him through the hands that lightly gripped his arms. His smile appeared, like sun through stormy clouds, warming but liable to disappear again without warning. He gestured to the well stuffed armchair and raised an eyebrow in invitation, 'To what do I owe the pleasure, divine one?'

Aphrael gave a half smile and nodded. The Elene God took her arm and seated her before the roaring log fire and waited, sitting forward expectantly.

'I noticed something disturbing at the Basilica today.' Aphrael said, and then winced as she heard her own words and saw him settle back in his chair, arms folded.

'Oh?' was all he said, but she could tell he was not amused.

'I'm sorry, I was checking all was well, I'd didn't know that my Mother and Father would be at Church. I didn't disturb any...' her apology trailed off as his expression darkened further.

'You, were, there, Aphrael – as Danae I admit – but there all the same! Don't insult my intelligence. You promised to ask permission before entering the Basilica.' Aphrael could deal with his anger, but the almost undetectable note of hurt at the end was too much and she impulsively took his hand.

'I'm sorry, really, it was just a quick survey honestly, I didn't think to check, but I heard this discordant note... and then, well and then, I saw this.' Aphrael spun an image recreating all she had seen in Bevier's future. The Elene God's eyes jerked up from their clasped hands and took in everything in the brilliantly clear image she had cast. Aphrael bit her lip, 'I just don't understand any of it and thought you, well, you...'

'That I might?' He finished for her and she nodded mutely seeing the concern in his dark eyes, 'I've never seen anything like this,' he continued, 'there's something profoundly disturbing about that image, but I can pinpoint it.' He drummed the fingers of his free hand, 'Can you?'

Aphrael shook her head and smiled grimly, 'There's something missing' she said and saw him nod earnestly, 'it's as if,' she paused, her breath caught in her throat, 'as if there is no magic there'. She felt his hand tighten around hers in a crushing grip and their eyes met, firelight dancing within, she saw him swallow and then speak the words she'd feared as soon as she'd identified why the vision had distressed her so much.

'The lost dimension – it seems it will be found.' He gently pulled her to her feet and tucked a lock of her lustrous midnight hair behind her ear, his hand lingered, briefly, to cup her cheek and she felt herself lean into it taking strength and comfort from contact. Again she saw he swallowed, and she thought she saw the ghost of a smile on his lips before, he dropped his hand and his eyes. When he looked back up the smile was gone, replaced by iron resolve, and Aphrael wondering if she'd imagined it. She shivered and said:

'Let's assume, for a moment, that we're correct and that was the lost dimension,' her reluctance to accept it was clear, 'what does it mean, what are the followers of Phronus doing there, how does Bevier get there, who or what was he defending and how does he become the champion of two worlds!'

The Elene God smiled faintly, 'Don't stamp your foot divine one, I can't answer those questions at the moment anymore than you can, but those answers are what we need to find, and soon.' The smile was gone, replaced with grim determination. 'I'll run some calculations on Bevier - you see if you can trace the link to Phronus'.

Time did not pass in the mortal world as they worked. Aphrael sat back on the armchair, her grass stained feet tucked underneath her, her eyes staring unseeingly into the fire as she traced the sound of the symphony of life outside those beloved to her. It was a cacophony of noise, but still largely pleasant as each destiny was mapped were known to one of another of the Gods. It seemed to take forever to find, but she became conscious of a discordant note in the South. Her awareness sped to investigate. She saw Phronus' priests swaying as they incanted drawing their master's presence to them. The shadowy form of the god took shape and spoke:

'Hear my will. Our prophecy comes to fruition. The world is complacent, safe in the knowledge that Anakha and the Blue Rose have protected them from Kael. They sit counting their blessings,' Phronus sneered, 'no-one has looked for the coming of the lost dimension, and now my disciples, it is upon us. Bring forth those judged worthy.'

At the God's command a troop of warriors stepped forward from the shadows. They were the elite of his guard, brutal and violent and trained in his perverted arts. The God clapped his hands and a shimmering, sickly green portal opened.

'Go forth' he commanded, 'You know your mission, bring me the powers of the lost dimension that I might assume my proper position of supremacy over this world and that dimension and your rewards will be beyond your darkest fantasy.'

The soldiers clashed their swords to their armour and stepped through, as the last one left the dimensional rift winked out of existence and Aphrael heard the triumphant laughter of Phronus. She gathered her wits to return and found the Elene God kneeling at her side, calling her name desperately. Her returning senses blazed through her form. She sensed his flare of hope and relief as he gathered her in his arms. When he opened his eyes he was under control again, but he did not release her from the circle of his arms. He opened his mouth to speak but she placed a gentle finger to his lips and shook her head.

'Later, we have no time. Phronus has sent his warriors through a dimensional rift. We have to send defenders.'

He looked at her in horror, 'How can he have acted so quickly?'

'We were complacent' she answered echoing the shadow God's mocking words, 'and now we must respond and send one of our most beloved into the unknown.' Her words faltered, but she took strength from his presence, 'we must send Bevier without delay, but he must have all the information we can give him. What did you find?'

He was reassured by her more business-like question and rapidly outlined what he'd found out about the lost dimension and had gathered about Bevier's role there.

'Some of what he will need to do to will be a great test of his character and faith,' he concluded, 'we can only hope we have wrought him strong enough to cope.'

Aphrael nodded, fearful for the young Cyrinic and furious that the ancient prophecy that her companion had dusted off had been so specific about who, or rather how many, defenders could be sent. A single hero, pure in heart would hold the fate of two worlds in his hands and stood a chance of protecting both - all other routes led only to darkness.

She stood up decisively and said, 'we must go to him now.'

He nodded, 'the Basilica seems best, I'll make sure your father is there and Dolmant, can you bring Sephrenia and Vanion?' She nodded, determination infusing her.

He stared at her, the brave set to her features and found himself leaning over and kissing her full on the lips before he could help himself. There was an eternity in a split second as she stared at him before they both disappeared on their desperate mission.

tbc