Prologue

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EARTH, 6 MONTHS AGO

‘I want you here with me.

“Where are you? Why can’t I see you?”

‘Because you are on Earth.

“And you?”

‘Aster.

“So just what are you?”

The slow beating of his heart grew a steady louder, until it was loud enough to cause her whole body to tremble. It took only moments for it to drown out all other sounds in her ears. 

Her heart slowed in turn as Sybl watched the street from the ledge she lay on. It seemed as if the creature speaking to her were powerful enough to stop all Time, as the cars twenty-five stories below stopped.

Then like all her strange dreams, this one was gone on awakening.

The sun came up and touched the rooftop of the highrise as the sounds of the world faded back in. It promised the light of a new day, but Sybl knew there was no light for her future. If she chose to stand up and go back, there would be nothing but an even longer fall waiting for her. 

She continued to watch the street, as her brown waves fluttered like torn strips of a sail against the wind. Time was normal again. If she didn’t have a shot at a miracle, she might have tried to see if Fate could be stopped twice. But it was that miracle of a heartbeat who stopped her grief from taking her over the edge.

Again.

The fact that they had not fixed the lock to the roof was proof to what was truly going on. For now she knew that her mother hadn’t thrown her into foster care for being crazy; but because Sybl was no longer loved.

‘Stop it!

She sat up and rested her legs on the side of the ledge and took hold of the trinket the creature had left behind after saving her. The golden fairy was listening to her thoughts, and somehow, sending them to the voice in her head. Now it was refusing to let her talk herself down. He was real…wherever he was. She held the proof right in her hands. For if she had at any point wanted to buy something so beautiful in her unawareness, she would have had to mug someone first.

The dark brown claws that had caught her could have easily torn her to pieces if it wanted, but didn’t. Maybe, it even felt sorry for her.

Or maybe, the fairy in her hand led to a world of heartbeats similar to his.

A world of dragons.

She waved the gold before her face, trying to pierce it deep enough with her eyes to open a path to such a place. Nothing happened.

When the door to the rooftop opened by her worker’s hand and voice in follow, it was clear that there was only one set Fate before her now.

One without her say in it.

ASTER, 6 MONTHS AGO

The pluma charged down the hall for Cirrus and Nafury. The giant brown cat carried its razor-sharp feathers at its sides like fans of colorful knives.

Cirrus grabbed his Prince by the back of his gold-plated armor and pulled him against the stone wall as the berserk creature raced past. The Regal having missed, let out an angry snarl as it stretched its wings and turned around to try again.

He didn’t let Nafury go just yet, as the Prince waited trustingly for his judgement on this one. Cirrus used the aeri in the air around them to cloak them from sight, by bending the light of it within to match the color of the brown corridor wall. With the right amount of concentration, Cirrus alone had a talent that served to make them invisible.

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