Prologue – The Beginning

Kagphnati crouched uncomfortably on a beam supporting the stable roof, directly above the door. With controlled breathing patterns, she was pleased of how silent and quickly she had prepared this ambush for her sister. Pride before it was even done. She should have been more careful there.

Any minute Lishaealda would arrive and fall before sensing the danger.

The corners of Kagphnati’s mouth twitched, though she bit back the forming smile. She squinted at the door below her, her bad eye already starting to water from keeping her focus for so long. If only she could stretch her black dragon-like wings to ease both tension and cramps from being in the same position for such a long amount of time. Her eyes darted to the far side of the stables, near the roof, a window. Based on the fact that the sun had almost fully set behind the horizon, Kagphnati concluded that she’d been waiting for eighteen hours, thirty-four minutes, and approximately fifty-two seconds. Her feet were burning, and the back of her throat was long since extremely dry. She blinked a few times, then slowly swallowed a pool of saliva, bringing not even a percent of relief to the forming desert in her throat.

She leaned back slightly, just a sliver, and the old beam groaned. She froze, hands shaking.


The door inched forward.

Kagphnati held her breath, completely tense and motionless. The stables were so silent, Kagphnati could hear the the Valistail Sea waves crashing on the lands above the Core.

Below her, Lishaealda crept inside, staring ahead to confirm she was truly alone.

Kagphnati grinned, pleased and also quite relieved.

Lishaealda drew back her waterlogged hood and ventured further in, glancing into the first stall for a horse.

Within an instant, Kagphnati had a dagger in each hand and a knife between her teeth.

Lishaealda’s ears pricked towards her sister, but by then it was too late to escape.

Kagphnati leapt down and Lishaealda lunged forward and away, turning to see her sister grinning in the doorway, daggers ready and knife now in her right hand.



Both acknowledged the other, eyes locked and jaws clenched.

“This is your choice, Kag.”

“You know I hate nicknames, Lish.” Kagphnati pressed her sister deeper into the stables. Lish drew her bow from over her shoulder and nocked an arrow, steadily retreating but ready to fight back. Kagphnati flung a dagger at her, which bounced off Lish’s bow, who knew her sister was ready to fight; that she had only missed Lish because she was taunting her.

Kagphnati hissed, eyes glowing slightly in the dim stable.

Lish let fly an arrow, another instantly on the bowstring in its place. Her sister scowled; her retreat almost looking like a dance as she darted to dodge it.

Both had been trained equally; Lish an expert with the bow, and Kagphnati master of blades. They had only fought each other one time before, and that had been a year ago. Neither was sure how the other fought, preferring offense or guarding themself, but Kagphnati had attained a key piece of information: Lish did not fight her best in close combat. She shot more accurately from a distance, aiming for a target far, over hitting a target closer to her. Kagphnati grinned wickedly. Lish would aim too high, expecting the arrow to be dragged down. But Kagphnati would seize that chance, use her sister’s Weakness for her own eventual victory.

“Why do you fight me?” Lish asked, holding her position.

“You are a traitor. You are ungrateful and rebellious. You have turned on them, so you betray me.”

“No, Kag. I was never for Vatyn. I chose at the Great Separation to remain with Lord Havom. You can still make that choice as well.”

“Never! I’m not like you!”


“I have to strike you down.”

“I know.”

Kagphnati glared at her. A battle was not to spoken lightly of. Immortals especially fought harshly, and as neither would feel extreme physical pain, it could last quite a long time.

What in Irtaa Kertgo was Lish thinking? For a brief moment Kagphnati wondered how amazing it would be to have mind reading abilities. She nearly laughed at herself. Shadows. Those were the most powerful and most important elements. All the others were weak.

She dropped her blades, allowing herself to be vulnerable for little less than a second as she called shadows to her hands, twisting and forming something. Once the shadow had been shaped, she threw down inky darkness over herself, feeling the usual ice cold texture hide her from sight. If she moved, her sister would see her. If there was any light near her, Lish would be aware.

Lish fired, her second arrow piercing the shadows, striking the front of Kagphnati’s shoe.

“Kingdoms!” Kagphnati put her hand beside the arrow to steady it, then pulled it harshly from where it had hit. If Lish had aimed the arrow slightly higher, it would have shot Kagphnati’s foot.

Lish took aim again, her sister’s position now known.

Kagphnati growled softly, moving away, protecting herself but leaving the cloud of shadows, which melted as soon as she left it, spilling down through the air to the dusty ground.

Lish released her bowstring a third time, and Kagphnati raised her arm to block her face. Her teeth clenched, grinding into each other. The enchanted arrow scorched pain, raw and burning, which spread quickly from where it had struck Kagphnati.

She jerked it out quickly, tearing a strip of her shirt and tying it tightly around her wounded arm.

Unlocking a stable door, Lish swung it into the hall just as an enchanted knife from Kagphnati sunk into the wood, quivering.

The horse blinked at her, awake immediately. Lish stroked its neck, pleased to see the stable boy had tended to her request of keeping the horse ready to move. The only thing that worried her now was that her sister would slay her steed.

Kagphnati’s forehead frowned, wrinkling as her eyebrows hung low against the tops of her eyes. She drew a sword from a sheath on her back, relishing the sound of metal on the case.

Lish, mounted on the horse, snapped the reigns and nudged the horse’s sides. It walked from the stable, building into a canter as it sped towards Kagphnati.

She pointed her sword at Lish, fuming but stepping to the side, avoiding the horse’s powerful legs. A blade was not the only weapon she held. Kagphnati called shadows to her hands, forming giant boulder of darkness, spinning it and sending it towards her fleeing sister with a triumphant snarl and eager eyes.

The horse bucked and Lish flew from its back, landing roughly on her side in the hall. The horse tore through the door, racing into the night.

Kagphnati was there in a flash, holding Lish to the floor with her arm pressed near her neck. “Run, sister. I will track you down.”

Lish stared up at her. “Be sure to bring cake.”


Lish kicked up, her feet shoving Kagphnati’s chest, and rolled to the side as her sister stumbled back.

Kagphnati slammed against the wall, furious. She scanned the stable for her sister.

But by that time, well, by then, Lish had gone; fleeing into the night.

“Never return,” Kagphnati spat. “Come to me and I will end this fight between us. With my blade.”