Chapter 1

41.9K 1.4K 647

Dedicated to the wonderfully talented H4Y13Y, who painted my cover for me (yes, that's an original painting).

Tesni had never seen the Wilde until they appeared in her front parlor.

They didn’t look like she’d expected. The Wilde were supposed to be savages, and these men looked like, well, men. Their hair was ragged and their faces were covered in dirt and too much beard, but Tesni had seen her father, the General, look much the same when he came home from battle. Only the chains around their wrists and ankles distinguished them from her father’s men.

They must have had her father worried, these Wilde. There were six of them, and eighteen of the General’s soldiers to guard them. It seemed excessive to Tesni—what harm could they do in chains without the rays of the blue sun? On Oldfall soil, they were as ordinary men.

Gareth, her father’s first lieutenant, stepped in front of the smallest of the Wilde and inspected the chains that bound his wrists, running his fingers over the metal links. The Wilde beside him, a large man with straggly carrot-colored hair, growled menacingly.

Gareth ignored him and continued his inspection. The large Wilde shifted in his chains, and then butted the lieutenant with his head.

Gareth screamed, clutching at his face. “My nose! The bastard broke my nose!”

Perhaps not so ordinary, these men.

“Take him outside and kill him,” her father ordered. Tesni winced at the harsh command. Death did not sit well with her, but the General only had Oldfall's interest in mind. He had not become the king's first general through indecision and regret. When he donned his military cap, he was a man to be respected and feared. Even by his own daughter.

Especially by his own daughter.

Three soldiers moved towards the red haired Wilde, approaching him as they would a rabid dog. One gripped him by the left elbow, another by the right, and the third soldier held the Wilde’s head still.

“Na muk man, Bavol!” the smallest Wilde cried out. His voice cracked, like a boy on the onset of becoming a man. He twisted his neck, watching the Oldfall soldiers drag his friend outside. With his head raised, Tesni could see that he was a boy, of maybe fifteen or sixteen. Not any older than she.

Her mother crossed her arms under her breasts and glared daggers at the General, but stayed seated on the settee next to Tesni. A tray with freshly brewed tea and several porcelain mugs rested on her lap—Mared Kendrick was ever the good hostess, even in the worst of circumstances. “Andras, why have you brought these heathens into my home? And with Owen away, too!”

The General pinched the bridge of his nose. “Dearest,” he began. Her father had faced thousands of enemies in battle without trembling, but Tesni’s mother terrified him. “It is only for a short while, until the gaol is ready for them.”

Her mother sniffed. “Really, Andras, you couldn’t have brought them elsewhere? They’re getting blood all over the carpet.”

Tesni rolled her eyes. Five of the North’s greatest enemies stood in the parlor and her mother wanted to complain about the carpet? “Is it true?” Tesni asked. “They are without magic in Oldfall?”

Her father nodded at one of the soldiers. “Show her. Careful, now.”

“Yes, General.” The soldier pulled a palm-sized, translucent orb from the pocket of his trousers. Tesni gasped. A yag! The fire-making devices were contraband north of the border. Anything touched by magic was. It must have belonged to one of the Wilde.

Blue SunRead this story for FREE!