[ PROLOGUE ]

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prologue | a little dialogue about the night it all began

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The night I disappeared, everything was different.

I might have been taking care of my younger siblings, as usual, tucking them into bed with the promise of a special story. That night, for some reason, I'd decided to recite the Legend of the Fall of Boeken.

It was a long tale, shortened and condensed into a bedtime story, and it held the interest of my siblings far longer than anything had in the past. They asked more questions then they had before.

I can only hope I told them enough.

"Once upon a time," I'd begun, as always, with those magical words. "There was a powerful city in the country of Dutkans, full of magic and light--"

"Why light?" asked Andrè, his eyebrows raised and his brown eyes curious. "And magic isn't real."

"It's a story, silly." Jean-Luc interrupted him with the most exasperated eye roll I'd ever seen.

I'd leaned closer to them, lowering my voice into a whisper. "It's real. Magic is real. And good magic is full of light." Clearing my throat, I straightened up. "In the city of Boeken, there was a library full of books."

"Long books?" asked Andrè. "About animals?"

I grinned. "About everything. Their library was bigger than their castle, protected by more guards than the royal family. Every book was special, full of magic. Even more than our books."

"And the princess had a guard, too," Julienne interrupted with her assertion, assuming knowledge of a story I'd never told them before.

"Of course," I laughed, ruffling her curls. "But one day, Dunska's magical city was attacked--"

"By monsters?" Andrè was the one to interrupt.

"Uh, some of them were." I bit my lip, unwilling to explain further. "They tried to steal the royal family and burn the magical books. When they broke into the library, all the books were gone."

Andrè blinked his wide eyes at me, Julienne frowned, and Jean-Luc tilted his head to the side. "What happened to them?"

"The books were shrunk by the magical soldiers that protected the books and locked inside a necklace." I pulled out my long-chained, bronze necklace, the back of the pendant scuffed by wear. The front of the pendant was covered with glass, shelved books visible beneath the thick crystal.

Julienne took it from my hand, pulling the necklace towards her and the chain taut against the back of my neck. I leaned forward uncomfortably, twisting my features into a look of incredulous amusement. After allowing her to examine the artefact the story was about, I pulled it out of her hands.

"Why do you have one?" asked Jean-Luc, narrowing his eyes at me, not quite believing the story I told.

I adjusted my legs, twisting them into a pretzel shape. "I'm a human. There's no magic inside of me. Or you." I poked Jean-Luc's knee. "Or you." I tapped Andrè's nose. "Or you." I tucked Julienne's curls behind her ear. "So, they gave the book to me so that I can keep them hidden."

"Can you open it?" asked Julienne, her eyes on the necklace.

I bit back a smile. "No, I can't. When someone magical touches it, it activates, and they can open it. But it also lets the... the bad guys know where the necklace is."

"Why do they want it?"

I sighed and stood up, bending in half as I remembered we'd been crowded inside a fort. "I don't know why they want it. I just wear it like a normal necklace."

I'd left them after a goodnight prayer and a kiss on the cheek. Julienne smiled at me, Andrè scrunched up his face into a silly expression, then into a pouting one as he asked me to stay for a bit.

After gently refusing him and untangling my hand from his grasp, I moved to Jean-Luc. He was already hiding but I managed to pull away his blankets, duck his flying fists, and plant a kiss on his cheek.

"Sleep well, little dreamers!" I called as I exited the fort and left the room, hurrying down the stairs and towards the front door.

I remember the laughter from their room as Andrè made a joke and Jean-Luc took it to the next level. I remember the silence emanating from Marie's room as it stood empty, and the sadness that curled in my stomach.

I remember the darkness of the night, how it had swallowed me as I stepped outside. My rare impulsivity spurring me on to take a late walk in the evening air.

When I'd reached the street light around the corner from our house, there had been movement. The pounding of my heart quickened with fear. I stayed absolutely quiet, reaching for my necklace as a shadow moved.

It materialised before my eyes.

For some indiscernible reason, I did not scream. I watched the shadow curiously, horrified that it resembled the haunting whispers that had followed me since I was young.

Before it could do anything other than stare at me, I felt someone grab my hand and tug me away from the shadow-beast.

Light surrounded me.

Sound disappeared.

The necklace crumbled into dust in my hand.

And I didn't come back to earth for a long time.

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a/n: ready for the first chapter?
dedicated to mars because it's tradition
& she made my lovely cover.

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