“I know it was hard the first years after we buried Father. We split up and moved half way across the world from each other. But that was a long time ago. It’s time to move on now, to start a life of your own. We did what we set out to do, we created the Five Clans, we built our armies, we created a force that gives this world a fighting chance. It’s time to live now,” Thea said as she brushed a few loose auburn strands out of her face.
The wind had picked up rustling the bright green leaves in the branches above their head. It was a beautiful spring morning but Mia didn’t notice. The world around her could be on fire and it wouldn’t matter to her. Nothing mattered any more.
“We didn’t bury father,” She replied emotionlessly as she picked a fallen twig off the sleeve of her tunic, twirling it between her thumb and forefinger absently, “We left his unconscious body on a slab of rock deep under a slumbering volcano. Not even the iron chains we bound him down with will stop him for more than a second. When he awakes again, the madness will consume him and he’ll finish what he started five hundred years ago.”
“Mia,” Thea said with a heavy sigh as she shook his head, “Please. It’s been five hundred years. You can’t keep doing this to yourself. The rest of us moved away to start a new life, to create a life. Yet you stayed behind, refusing to leave his grave unguarded. I know you’re afraid of him waking up. We all are. But we can’t just stop living. We can’t let this world pass us by. We are immortal. We will live until the end of time. You can’t want to spend that time alone.”
“It doesn’t matter what I want,” Mia said as she let the twig fall from her hand, “It will make no difference. I am too much like father to live in this world. The Darkness calls to me so strongly. I can feel the pull of the madness that destroyed him. It will come for me and then you will have to do to me what you did to father.”
“Mia,” Thea said softly as she reached a hand out to his sister, but Mia knocked it away. She wanted no sympathy. All she desired was an end to looming Darkness, and end to this god forsaken life. She knew nothing of love, of kindness, or gentleness. Everything their mother had taught them so long ago was lost. She didn’t even remember her mother any more. Not her face, not her voice, not even the scent of her favorite soap. She remembered nothing.
Instead, all she remembered was the sound of her father’s bellow of rage, of his empty black eyes, and the cries of her sisters as he killed them all. Too bad his blood flowed through their veins. If they had been lucky, they would have remained dead. Maybe then, they would have found the same peace their mother did. Instead, they were pulled back from Death, back in to a world full and blood and pain. Back to a world that had only brought them sorrow.
“There is good in this world, you just need to see it, to feel it, to experience it,” Thea said passionately, but this time she kept her hands to herself knowing her sister would not welcome her touch.
“There is nothing is the world for me,” Mia said as she pushed away from the tree she had been leaning on.
“I don’t believe that for a second, I don’t believe we were born, created to live in this world alone. Even father found a woman who could love him, a woman who loved him completely and utterly until the very end. It took him thousands of years to find her, but to him it was worth it,” Thea reminded her.
“And look what happened when he lost her,” Mia scoffed as she turned her cold black eyes on her sister, “If we had not stopped him he would have destroyed the world. I would rather live alone for eternity than find someone like that. I saw the pain in father’s eyes when mother died. I saw the heart wrenching pain that drove him mad. I don’t ever want to feel that. If that’s what you want for me, you might as well kill me now.”
Thea let out a heavy sigh as she shook her head. How could she make her sister understand that sometimes some things were worth the pain, that sometimes the memories of those good times were enough to help you survive the bad.
Mia turned away from her sister. She would have walked away too but she knew Thea enough to know that her eldest sister would just follow her. It had been her mission this last week to convince Mia to live, because they both knew she wasn’t. She was surviving which was completely different. She found no joy in life, no happiness, all she felt was the brutal darkness and the call of the madness that had destroyed her father.
Mia wasn’t even sure why she had bothered to come. She hadn’t wanted to, but she had known that if she didn’t, they would have come to her. Her sisters, the only family she had left besides the mad man who lay slumbering deep the in mountains in the northern part of her territory.
Thea had assumed she had never left because she was afraid their father would awake. She was wrong. Mia didn’t leave because she couldn’t. She had tried, many, many times. But there was an invisible line that separated her lands from the others, and the moment she tried to cross it, her body was consumed with a searing pain. The harder she fought it, the worse it grew until blood would pour from her eyes and ears and she would lose consciousness.
When she would wake, she would find herself outside her father’s tomb, naked and burning up. Any wounds she may have had, any blood or dirt she may have been covered in was gone. It was as if she had been born clean.
When she first learned she couldn’t leave, she tried over and over again. She refused to believe she was trapped. She would wake besides her father’s tomb every night for weeks until at last she couldn’t take anymore. After that she locked herself in rooms for days straight, madness tearing at the edges of her mind.
When she finally emerged, something had broken in her. Her mind, her heart, her body, she wasn’t sure. All that she knew was that she was not the woman she had been. Something was lost to her and she knew it was never coming back.
Thea thought she could save her, Mia knew better, it was much too late. The sister she knew and loved was gone and she was not coming back. All that was left was the shell of the woman she had been. There was nothing there to save.
“Mia! Thea! Hurry! They’ve come!” Anna cried as she waved her hand at her older sisters. Her golden braids bouncing against her back as she ran towards them.
“You would think five hundred years would teach that girl to stop acting like a child,” Thea said shaking her head as their youngest sister hurried towards them, a large smile on her lips.
“Anna, be careful! You’re going to trip and fall,” Adeline called from the house.
“She is the youngest. She stopped aging when she was only fifteen. She will always look like a child, so she might as well act like one,” Mia said with a shrug as she turned to her sister, who’s smile only grew as she drew up next to them.
“They’ve arrived, they’ve arrived,” Anna pronounced as she came to a stop before them. “Emily said to hurry. They’re heading down the lane and will be at the house soon.”
“They’re not here to me us, poppet,” Thea said with a pat on the head for the youngest of them, “They’re here for Emily. We’re just here as witnesses. The ceremony isn’t even until tomorrow. We have plenty of time to meet them tonight.”
“But Emily wants us all there to greet them,” Anna argued as she brushed Thea’s hand off her head.
“You would think this is her house the way she commands us all around,” Thea said with a heavy sigh. In truth it was Mia. Since Mia couldn’t leave her territory, the only way this could have the binding ceremony with all five of them was to come to her. Besides, the man coming to meet her sister lived in her territory. It only seemed right to have the binding ceremony on her land.
Of course the binding ceremony wasn’t a for sure thing. This meeting was just to have to the two meet. If they were both agreeable to a match, then there would be a binding ceremony of the two clans, Emily’s Chens and the Stormrider Clan, a powerful family of magic users who mostly controlled water, air and lightning. Mia had heard of them but never bothered to meet with the Clan Head or his representatives. They were aware that Mia ruled this territory and knew enough about her to know to fear her. They respected her power and made sure never to draw her attention to them.
It had been Thea who had reached out to them. When Emily had let it be known that she sought a Mate, someone to help her rule her clan and to be her companion, Thea used her sight to find a man that would be the perfect match for her sister.
Her vision had brought her to the Stormrider Clan Head’s grandson. A man that was to be his grandfather’s heir after the older man passed away. This young man was strong and his powers great. They had never seen one like him in their clan before. He could control the lightning as if he was a part of himself. They had much hope for him. But even as powerful as they were, they couldn’t say no to Originator’s daughter when she called upon them.
So they agreed to the meet, but they also made Thea give them a Promise of Protection if the young man chose not to go through with the binding. Thea had immediately agreed. Mia had thought that was highly foolish of her sister, to promise these mortals her divine protection, but Thea swore that this young man in her vision was meant to bind to their blood line. He would not refuse.
Mia said nothing, but agreed to have them meet on her territory. But instead of having the meet at the Dragos Clan Home, she instead choice her home, her sanctuary that none of her Clan were allowed to come. It was the safest place for this type of thing and it was the only place she could guarantee the Stormriders’ safety. Thea would never let it go if one of her Clan forced her to follow through with her Promise of Protection.
But deep down Mia wondered if it was something else. This place was more than her home away from the clan manor. This was her sanctuary, the only place in the entire world where she could find even a small bit a peace. This was the place where she didn’t have to Mia Dragos, or the daughter of the Originator, this was the place where she could just be.
Normally, this would never have been a place she would have offered up for this sort of thing. Until her sisters had arrived a week ago, no one had walked this property but her since it was built four hundred years ago. She didn’t even have servants. She had cast so many spells on the property and on the house that not even a speck of dust had a chance of survival. It had taken her days to caste all the spells and weeks afterwards to recover from the casting. But it had been worth it. No one could even find the place unless she wanted them to. Not even her own clan and that was just the way she liked it.
So why had she offered Thea the use of this place? The words had just popped out of her mouth before she knew what she was doing. She had regretted it instantly, but she wasn’t able to take them back either. She would be glad when this whole thing was over and she would have the place to herself once more.
“Thea, come on,” Anna said as she latched on to her sister’s arm and began to drag her back to the house.
“Fine, fine,” Thea said as she allowed Anna to pull her away.
“Mia, you too,” Anna said as she turned back to Mia who had yet to move.
Mia made a non-committal sound as she watched Anna drag Thea away. She didn’t want them to know her palms were sweating and her heart was pounding. What was wrong with her? What was with this strange feeling that had come over her?
“Mia!” Anna whined as she stopped in halfway between the house and the place where Mia stood, finally noticing that her sister was not with her.
Mia though paid no attention to her sister. Instead she stared at the hands, what was happening to her? What was this?
“Mia!” Anna cried.
Mia looked up, ready to snap at her sister when she saw him. He stood with a group of other men just at the edge of the house. They had just ridden in and where getting off their horses. The group of men around him looked around them warily, there was no laughter or smiles from them. They knew they were in enemy territory.
The young man in the middle though stared right at her. He paid no attention to the group of men around him, instead all his attention was focused on her. He watched her, she watched him back. She saw his lips move but heard no sound leave his lips, even with her enhanced hearing she heard nothing.
But it didn’t matter, she didn’t need to hear him to know what he said. She knew exactly what he said because she felt it too.
Next: Chapter One