Prologue

“War is coming.”

Mia’s hands stilled, the lump of dough she had been kneading forgotten as she turned to look at the still figure before the fire. He sat with his back to her, his long flax colored hair shimmering gold in the firelight. His back with stiff, the knife in his hand still. His other hand gripped the half peeled potato tightly.

“We knew it would,” she replied softly as she turned back to dough in her hands, rolling and kneading it into a ball.

“Not this soon,” His voice tight, as gripped the potato even tighter, “I thought we would have more time.”

Leaving the ball of dough on the wooden table top, Mia grabbed a cloth and wiped her hands as she walked across the small room, her bare feet silent against the wooden floor. She was no longer the woman she had been, but the things that had made her that woman still remained. The way she moved, the silence she wrapped herself within, the deadly instinct with which she could kill a man in a blink of an eye, they still remained. The monster she was, it would never leave her.

It didn’t matter how far she ran, it would always be with her. She pretended to be someone different, to be a good person, someone that deserved this kind hearted man, but in truth she knew she didn’t. When he was near, she was able to fool herself into believing that just maybe they could have that happy ending she had always dreamed of. But deep down, she knew it was nothing more than a fool’s dream.

Wrapping her arms around his wide shoulders, she lay her cheek against the top of his head and inhale his scent, pine, wood smoke and tongue tingling scent of cooper that always surrounded him.

“We can run,” She offered as she tightened her arms around him, “Tonight if you want. We can disappear. No would even know we were gone until we were far away.”

He dropped the potato in the bucket at his feet, raising his starch covered hand to place of her own.

“For you, I would do anything. Just tell me what you want and I will make it happen,” She told him.

“I know,” He told her, his voice soft and hoarse, “And that it what I fear the most.”

Tossing the knife in to the bucket of potatoes, he pulled her in to his lap in one swift move. She easily folded herself into his warmth, resting her head against the crook between his neck and shoulder. He wrapped his arms tightly around her, his lips brushing against her forehead.

“I thought we would be able to escape all the death and blood shed,” He said softly, sorrow tinging his every word. Her heart broke. She had brought him this pain. She had caused him this sorrow. If not for her, he would have been safe, he would have been happy. If he had never come upon her, he would had remained in his village, safe and sound, probably married to that pretty girl who had been chasing after him since they were children.

But she had come, and she had brought death and destruction. There was nothing left of the place he had been born and raised but bones and ashes. That pretty girl was dead, along with his entire family, his best friend, and the village where he had grown up. It was all gone.

She may not have taken a single life, yet she was still to blame for all their deaths. They had followed her, they had come to bring her back to them, but she had refused. She was weak by then, she had not taken a sacrifice in months. She had no power to use against them, nothing to protect his people with. She was as helpless as they were.

And because of her, all those people had been slaughtered, the village set on fire, and their young used as sacrificed to power the magic of their very attackers. If only she had been stronger, if only she had been quicker, she could have saved them. Instead she watched as they sacrificed them all. Watched as the cut them open and bleed them dry.

The angry tears that had gathered in her eyes rolled down her cheeks, wetting his wool tunic.

“Shh,” He told her, as he ran his hand up and down her back comfortingly, “I will not let them hurt you. Even if I must start this war myself, I will not let them have you.”

This just caused her tears to roll faster. He was too good for her, too kind, too generous. She knew without a doubt that he would die for her, and that was something she could never live with. She couldn’t live without him, even if it meant he would hate her for the rest of her life, she could never let him die for her.

“Shh, everything will be all right. I will never let them harm you again,” He vowed.

And I will never let them near you, she vowed silently. Even if I must release the evil within, I will never let them take anything else from you again.

“Mia, my love,” He brushed his lips against her forehead.

“Kai.”

Next: Chapter One

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