Excerpt from Chapter 1
A young man with pale skin and unkempt red hair sat opposite his sister, mirroring the same look of exhaustion on her face. He sighed loudly and slumped down in his chair.
“Do you think they’ll ever get it Kiræ?” he asked as the young woman opposite leant back against the bench, clearly trying to relax.
“I hope so Tom,” Kiræ replied taking a large gulp from the tankard in front of her. “Do you think we were ever this bad?”
“I don’t think so,” Tom shook his head. “But I’ve certainly got a newfound respect for Brean and his limitless patience. It still seems strange to think we’re not the only ones with magic anymore.”
“We were never the only ones with magic Tom,” Kiræ pointed out twirling her loosely curled red hair round her fingers.
“You know what I mean,” Tom replied waving his hand dismissively at his twin. “It’s just strange knowing there are so many others like us out there.”
“And so many others not at all like us,” Kiræ pointed out. “There are so many different types of magic out there.”
“That’s true,” Tom agreed. “I feel bad we’re not able to help more, you and I are only able to train those with elemental abilities.”
“I know!” Kiræ agreed. “I can’t even imagine what Brean is dealing with, at least we have each other to spread the load, and Aurora has Draogo to help with all the new dragons who …” Kiræ trailed off as the door to the pub flew open and a trio of well-armed men walked pointedly towards them.
“Thought we might find you here,” a tall man with a strong build, dark skin, and short black hair stood before them with a stern look on his face.
“So you’ve found us, do you want a medal or something?” Kiræ asked, her question laced with sarcasm.
“This really isn’t the time to be making jokes,” the man said leaning towards them. “Not when you’ve committed a crime.”
“Crime?” Tom asked, suddenly full of confusion. “What crime?”
“The crime of drinking without us,” he replied his expression breaking into a grin as he sat down beside Kiræ, nudging her over on the bench and taking a swig of her drink as he did so. She shot him a mock annoyed look, then grinned.
“When did you three arrive in Vuncorr?” she asked.
“Just now,” a slightly shorter, bronzed man with scruffy brown hair replied indicating to the barman that they wanted more drinks. “We probably would have arrived yesterday if Hazime here hadn’t insisted on taking the scenic route.” The twins rolled their eyes and the man with short black hair looked affronted.
“Exactly how much trouble did you get yourselves into this time?” Tom asked and Hazime threw on an innocent look.
“Trouble? Me? I can’t imagine what you mean.” Hazime replied. They laughed as the drinks arrived and Hazime almost downed his in one go. “Anyway, it wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting if Keo here hadn’t decided to take on three giant rebels at once.”
“I’m not sure that’s how it happened,” Keolan laughed, running a pale hand through his chestnut hair.
“I’m pretty sure you and Gary grabbed the four smallest and left me with the rest.”
“I’m certain it was your idea,” Hazime said as he drank the remainder of Kiræ’s drink while she looked at him sternly.
“And I’m pretty sure that was my drink,” Kiræ said shoving him hard.
Hazime shrugged, “You snooze you lose.” He indicated to the barman that they wanted another round and shot Kiræ a grin. “There you go your majesty.”
Kiræ folded her arms in annoyance while the others laughed, “I miss Ror,” she said sulkily.
“Oh please, I bet you’ve been counting down the days until you could see us again,” Gary said.
The group continued chatting jovially for a few minutes before they were cut off by several terrified screams coming from the street. They raced outside, all thoughts of drinking and relaxing forgotten. Hazime, Gary and Keolan drew their swords while the twins silently called on the elements. Kiræ grasped Tom’s hand and they shared a look.
A family of five cowered in front of an armour-clad, dark-skinned woman, while a small group of citizens, unable to tear their eyes away, watched in horror from a distance. There was an eerie silence as the onlookers stared at a ball of bright swirling light hovering above the woman’s upturned palm.
“Who are you?” Gary asked firmly. The woman turned sharply and the family took the opportunity to scurry away. It was then that Kiræ saw several scorch marks around the doorframe. Whoever this woman was, she was using magic unlike any the twins had ever seen.
“Who are you?” Gary asked again as the woman stared at them menacingly.
“Where are they?” the woman asked almost growling the words in anger.
“Where are who?” Kiræ asked trying to remain calm.
“The demons that terrorised our lands and stole our people!” she screamed throwing the ball of swirling light towards the group. Kiræ instinctively threw up her protective shield and the ball of light crashed against it. Kiræ felt a sharp pain run through her and the protective shield flickered before she let it fall.
The woman raised an eyebrow, “What sorcery do you possess?” she asked with curiosity and took a step towards them. Hazime, Gary and Keolan blocked her path and raised their weapons. “You can’t possibly think swords can defeat my magic,” she snorted and another ball of swirling light appeared above her palm, hovering like the other.
“What is it?” Kiræ asked, her curiosity getting the better of her as she let go of Tom’s hand and sidestepped so she could see the woman clearly. She had long, braided black hair and looked to be well built under the armour.
“It’s energy,” the woman replied. “Pure unfiltered energy.” She turned back to Hazime. “Now where are the demons?”
“We don’t have any demons here,” Hazime replied, making sure he didn’t lower his guard.
“Don’t lie to me!” The woman screamed and threw the ball of energy towards him. Kiræ lunged for Tom but the energy ball reached Hazime before she could throw up her protective shield. There was a bright blinding light and the smell of smoke; Kiræ’s heart stopped as her eyes struggled to readjust. She heaved a sigh of relief when she saw Hazime was unharmed, then gasped as she saw what remained of his sword, which was now smouldering on the ground. The blade had melted. Hazime looked shocked and his face and clothing were blackened from soot. Kiræ grabbed Tom’s hand again and readied herself.
“What do these demons look like?” Gary asked, lowering his sword slightly to try and diffuse the situation. The woman created another energy ball in response, and he raised his weapon once more.
“They’re tall,” she spat. “They’re brutal. And they stole our men.”
“I think she’s talking about the mingual,” Kiræ said with sudden realisation.
“Is that what you call them?” the woman asked and Kiræ nodded.
“But they’re dead,” she said before the woman could speak again. “The woman who created them was killed, the mingual died with her.” Kiræ was suddenly thrown back in time to their first and final meeting with their mother Bælana. She had promised to teach Kiræ and Tom dark magic, had promised they would rule the land together, and they had killed her in return. Kiræ shook her head and returned to the present.
“Dead?” the woman asked, half in anger and half in relief. “Then where are our men?” Kiræ opened her mouth to reply, then shut it, the woman noticed this action and took another step forwards. “Speak!” she commanded. “Where are our men?”
“I…I think they’re dead,” Kiræ said slowly and immediately raised the protection shield as the energy ball hurtled towards them. She felt another jolt of pain and the shield shuddered again but she managed to keep it raised Tom readied himself.
“What do you mean they’re dead?!” the woman yelled.
“Bælana, the woman who created the mingual,” Kiræ explained frantically as she felt her energy draining away into the protective shield. “She used men to make them, she altered them and turned them into something vicious and evil. When she died, they died too. She made them from her, they were part of her.” The woman screamed in fury and hurled two energy balls towards the protective shield. Kiræ screamed in pain and collapsed as the shield dropped leaving them exposed.
“You will pay for this,” the woman said, her voice suddenly deep and menacing. “You will all pay for this.” She pulled a vial from her sleeve and downed the contents, then closed her eyes and vanished in a violent whirlwind. The moment she had gone the group turned to Kiræ who lay on the ground breathing heavily.
“Kiræ what happened?” Tom asked crouching beside her.
“I don’t know,” she replied shaking her head. “When that thing hit the shield, it hurt.”
“What do you mean it hurt?” Gary asked helping her to her feet.
“I mean I felt it. It was as if that thing had hit me and I couldn’t focus, it’s why I dropped the shield, I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Tom assured her. “We’re all okay,”
“Her magic was strong Tom, couldn’t you feel it?”
He shook his head, “We need to find Brean, he’ll want to hear about this.”
“Where’s the old God hiding these days?” Keolan asked as they walked back towards the pub.
“Last we heard he was staying at Tzasin in Cyptxon,” Tom said as they asked the barman for another round of drinks to calm their nerves.
“Damn,” Keolan said. “That’s a real long journey.”
“I really miss Ror,” Kiræ said.