There was darkness.
In every direction, all she could see was total darkness. She was Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, and she was also thirteen-year-old Amy Winston of Hudson, New York. But her identity at the moment was being defined not by who she was but by what she felt. What the beautiful blonde in the purple tunic and skirt felt were fear, loss, and — above all else — an awareness of darkness.
She could not see — she was blind. The darkness stretched all around her like a vast void. Reaching out with her hands, she could find nothing to offer her comfort or assurance that she had not somehow been irrevocably separated from anything or anyone she had ever known. There was simply a terrible emptiness.
And yet… she also felt the exact opposite was true. She was not in a void, but she was being smothered by a heavy darkness that would drown her if she could not find some way to break free from the moist and smothering shadows into the light.
“It’s not supposed to be like this!” she whispered as she sank to her knees once more and fought her fears.
Gemworld had never before been a terrible prison of inky blackness where her options were limited and her very existence felt threatened. Gemworld had offered terror and danger, but it had also gifted her with romance, magic, and the wonderful, thrilling sensation that anything was possible. And she, as the beloved Princess of Gemworld, could be the agent that would defy the odds to make anything possible.
“Topaz,” she said with a soft sob. “I’ll never win him back now. I’ll never see his face again.”
She shook her head, her long blonde hair cascading to one side as she fought to remember once more what Gemworld had always been for her and should still be — what it must be. As Amy Winston, she had received a gleaming amethyst gemstone on her thirteenth birthday almost a year ago, but that surprise gift had been less of a present than the swiftly following revelation that she was more than a student at Emerson Elementary School. She was actually the royal heir to the magical House of Amethyst, and an entire mystical realm of fantasy was hers for the taking. The magical dimension of Gemworld existed far from Earth, separated by vast gulfs of time and space. However, Amy could enter the realm through use of the amethyst she had received. It was magical and would allow her to open a portal that would take her from the mundane but loving Winston home at 995 Maple Street into the remarkable realm of wizards, royals, unicorns, ogres, and fairies. In this realm, she was transformed from the teenage daughter of English professor Herb Winston into the adult and magically gifted child of royalty.
Even in the darkness, Amethyst smiled as she recalled how she had been changed by the news that her Earth parents were not her true parents and that she was a real princess in a fabulous land out of fairy tales and myths.
It’s like Lucy going through the magical wardrobe into Narnia, or Alice falling down the rabbit hole to Wonderland, or Dorothy Gale’s tornado powered trip to Oz, she had thought.
It was beautiful and romantic, and she had met friends and loved ones like Citrina the Witch Mother who first sent her the magical amethyst that had made it all possible. Citrina was like a fairy godmother. There was also the handsome Prince Topaz, who had been her dream image of a Prince Charming… at least at first. There were also wonderful allies like poor dead Granch and the awesome unicorn Max. Of course, there had also been enemies like the oily Sardonyx, the mocking Carnelian, and the evil Dark Opal, but she had triumphed over all of them. She had won victories and mastered skills ranging from swordplay to sorcery.
Now, she was still Princess of Gemworld. And she was still within the magical Gemworld, but everything had changed. She was blind. The injury to her optical nerves had occurred when shadowy creatures had attacked her during a strange Crisis on Earth itself. This crisis had involved real super-heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman as well as strange unknown beings like Doctor Occult and Doctor Fate from some other parallel universe.
They had rescued her from a mob in Salem, Massachusetts, who thought her Amethyst form was merely the guise of a witch. She had only been in that adult form on Earth because certain magical residues from Gemworld had been pulled into Earth’s dimension at that time. Still, the damage had been done. She had lost her vision, and the only comfort the inhumanly cold voice of Doctor Fate could offer her was that she would soon be able to adjust to this minor handicap.
Doctor Fate had brought her back to Gemworld and left her within the empty temple of the Ancient Ones. These beings had originally enabled Citrina to create the realm in exchange for her promise that, upon her death, they could reclaim the magical energies within the raw elemental void that would be shaped into Gemworld.
Citrina, how I need you now! thought Amethyst.
Doctor Fate had left her alone in that hostile place high above the snowy and windswept Stormy Peaks. He had left her alone, blind, and troubled by a story that she was not only the daughter of deceased royals, but was also somehow a child of a super-powerful inhuman being known as Pantagones, a Lord of Order. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Hand of Fate,” Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld #13 (February, 1986).]
She didn’t understand it. She couldn’t grasp it all — especially while she couldn’t even see her hand in front of her face.
And yet — she could.
Moments before Doctor Fate had left her, she had somehow tapped into the magical ability to see through her mind and not with her eyes. However, this ability was fleeting and required concentration and an inner calm that had deserted her as panic had filled her young heart.
“Feel the power surge through you! Let it create the spell!”
Those words of advice had come from wise and withered Citrina upon Amy’s first visit to the Gemworld, when anything seemed possible. Now, Amethyst swallowed her fears once more and tried to use the magic to “see” through her mind once more.
In truth, only moments had passed since Doctor Fate had departed, leaving her with an awareness that evil creatures were desperately fleeing the temple in the wake of a hot, crackling wave of living energy that meant to consume the Gemworld.
“What should I do?” she had screamed as this realization broke through the darkness of her blindness. “What should I do?”
Now, Amethyst stood up and focused her magical energies once more as the world around her became less dark, and she was able to somehow “see” not with her damaged eyes but with her mind’s eye.
A rustle of fabric caught her attention, and she smelled an aromatic fragrance of incense and leather. She whirled to see a handsome black man in a brown hooded cloak step out of thin air.
“Prince Garnet!” she cried as she recognized her old ally. “Praise the Homestone!”
He smiled and spoke in his familiar soft voice. “Princess, I don’t know what you should do, but I have come in advance of my masters, the Ancient Ones whose energy forms now threaten to ignite the very skies above us.”
Amethyst clasped his hand and said, “Garnet, I’m blind. I only see you through magic, not with my eyes.”
“I am so sorry,” said Prince Garnet. “You must be terrified, but my long years in the misty realms with the Ancient Ones taught me that there are entire realms around us but ever out of view of merely mortal eyes. You will overcome this. Indeed, you are coping well even as we speak.”
She nodded and said, “Why have the Ancient Ones come back? I thought they had accepted my suggestion that instead of claiming Gemworld upon Citrina’s death, they would merely accept small bits of magic on an annual basis. We Gemworlders would rent to own instead of just leasing the land.”
Prince Garnet smiled. “You have a peculiar way of speaking. It is the Earth girl within you.” He shook his head as wind swept his hood backward. “You recall what I once told you of my masters? They know of Order and Chaos. They are chaotic, but they are not Lords of Chaos. They are, in truth, separate from either Order or Chaos. Still, when the Lord of Order known as Nabu entered this realm, they saw it as a violation of the ancient bargain they had made long ago with Citrina when they allowed her to form Gemworld out of the raging raw magic of their dimension. They want no part of a true Lord of Order, and his presence here has angered them beyond all reason.”
“Nabu?” asked Amethyst. “I don’t understand. Who is he? Where is he? For that matter, Doctor Fate said my true father was not Lord Amethyst but some Lord of Order named Pantagones who had possessed his body. He said I am also a child of Order. Why didn’t they react so when they met me?”
Prince Garnet said, “Nabu is the Lord of Order who inhabits Doctor Fate’s golden helm. As for you, you are possibly an heir of Order, but the Lords of Order do not procreate and know nothing of mortal relations. That is why Fate seems so inhuman, while beneath that helmet rests a hero with the heart of a healer. That mortal doctor could have better answered your questions than the otherworldly Lord of Order. I say that, while you may be a child of Order and may have access to their power, you can’t claim to truly be fathered by this Lord of Order merely because he controlled your mortal father at the time of your conception. In truth, I suspect the claim to be a mistruth meant to sway you over to embracing the cause of the Lords of Order, when in reality you may merely have the potential to access Order magic because of the proximity of the inhuman Lord of Order to your mother at the time of your birth.”
He shook his head and said, “In truth, I can’t say what such a story means. It may be true, but my masters certainly aren’t Lords of Chaos, nor did they ever react before to either your presence or the alleged presence of this Pantagones at the time of your birth when you say he inhabited Lord Amethyst. It is a mystery even to me. It was Nabu who angered them so, because Gemworld has never been a battle ground for the Lords of Order and Chaos. It has always been merely Gemworld — nothing more, but certainly nothing less.”
As the storm howled around the empty temple, Lord Garnet pointed at the red energy bursts that shattered the skyline. “All I know is that the Ancient Ones are angry, and they mean to reclaim this realm again or see it perish. Should you, in fact, bring down Lords of Order as well to battle them, I fear that outcome could only result in the destruction of Gemworld itself.”