Purified by trials of ordeal and long vision quests, some Irekei come to hear the voice of the dragon. The Irekei call them "Khanarch'alarl," or Blood Prophets. By embracing dragon magic, these magi learn to use their powers to heal and provide for their tribes.
I went into the desert to silence the voices.
Since the time of my Testing they had plagued me, whispers half-heard by day and a confused babble by night that haunted my dreams. My concentration wandered, my strength ebbed, and the Elders of the Virakt whispered of madness. But the Eldest Singer stayed their blades, and told them that my Testing was not yet over. I turned my back on them before the Blade Wielder called for my blood. As I walked into the empty sands, the voices mocked me, laughing at my fear.
I walked until I came to the Black Plains, where Khalikryst's fury has turned the sands to glass. I walked over them until my feet bled, through heat that burned me despite the khar'ika in my blood. There was such torment, such agony that the whispering voices grew silent. I saw the steam rising from my bloody footprints, and I was unafraid.
After three days I walked again upon sand. I drew a circle in the sand and sat down at its center, beneath the empty sky. After ten days more the ache of hunger left me, and thirst became a comfort. Each day the Holy Mother burned me, but I sat still and endured her fury. On the twentieth day the voices returned. With them came the visions.
The Manticore came first, and whispered that his was the voice that plagued me. He mocked my weakness, growling that I had failed my tribe, and that my Virakt would never mourn me. He offered me death, dripping from his barbed tail, and called it mercy. I refused him, and bid him leave me. As he vanished, I felt the khar'ika, the holy fire of my blood, burn hot and pure. I had never guessed at the strength that lay hidden within me.
My flesh withered, my mouth bled, and my skin darkened. Days later (how many? I cannot tell, for I had lost all hint of their reckoning) the Serpent came to me, and whispered that his voice was the one who had plagued me for so long. He offered me food, to aid me in my Test. But I heard the lies that lay hidden in his words, and bid him take the food away. He did so, but in his spite the Serpent lashed out, biting my hand. And then my blood ran cold, as cold as the pale dead waters legends tell of, as cold as the dark between the stars. I writhed in agony, and screamed until my voice was gone.
But in time my khar'ika, my fire, mastered the ice, and my sinews thawed. I saw the power of the Holy Fire to transform: sand into glass, wood into charcoal, mud into hard brick, flesh into food. I saw the power of the soul flame to heal and cure, mending flesh and blunting venom. But I felt no joy at the revelation, for my ordeal had left me as barren as the sands.
Finally, a Fly came to me, and its voice buzzed within my ears. He buzzed that he was Death, and that his was the voice that had plagued me for so long. He praised my strength, saying that he had not the spirit left to vie with my soul any longer. He had tried since my birth to corrupt me into madness, but now I had won. I was free. The Fly whispered many things to me; ancient secrets, chants and charms of great power, tidings of the buried past and hidden future. He offered me water, so that I could regain my strength and return to my Virakt, where they would praise my Wisdom and beg me to command them. But I laughed, refusing him. "You dare defy me?" the Fly buzzed. "Do you know who you are, and who I am?"
I laughed again. "I am nothing," I said. "I am the least of your children, not fit to bear the gifts you give me. But your fire is in me, and so I live to serve you. For you are the Kryquo'khalin, the Holy Source of the Sun, and now I can see through your many masks. You have kindled the sacred power within me, and for that I shall praise your name forever."
And then the Dragon laughed, for I had passed its Test. The fly was gone, the Desert was gone, and before me there was only the Dragon, terrible, pure, and omnipotent. I looked upon the immensity of the Dragon, whose Terror has no ending, just as Darivastor the Prophet had looked upon it on the plain of Hennan Gallorach. And like Darivastor, I looked and was not afraid. My eyes were opened, and the Kharikryst, the Magic Fire, sprang forth from my hands, and all my hurts were healed.
I left my tribe an Irikhan, low of status, and returned a Khanarch'alar, a Blood Prophet, one of the Dragon's Chosen. It has been centuries since my Virakt had the guidance and aid of a Blood Prophet, and in all that time we walked in darkness. Now the Dragon shall guide our path, and its fire shall ever renew our strength.
I went into the Desert to silence the voices.
Instead, I learned to listen.