Selene stood, her heart racing with anticipation, at the center of the town. Her mother wrapped her arm around her shoulders, catching her slacking body. She was so nervous she had forgotten how to stand straight. Smiling at her mother, Selene reached into her pocket to rub her little marble. The warmth it emanated made it feel like she had the sun in her pocket.
Two horses brought forth the first deep red gold-lined carriage. The driver tipped his hat to them before pulling the horses to a halt. Stepping down from his perch, he approached the carriage. The gold runes along the walls and door of the carriage glowed with power. From behind, two carriages followed, and the drivers repeated the process of the first. Selene watched the magical glow as they unlocked the door, muttering spells as they did so. The protection shield shattered, breaking apart in the air like a vase shattering upon the ground. The double doors opened, and the Queen glided out, taking Selene’s breath away.
The Queen’s ebony skin and green feathered wings shimmered in the sunlight. Her driver held his hand, helping her down the steps that had popped out from underneath the carriage. Her golden brown hair popped from beneath her gold crown in an elegantly braided bun. As the Queen approached, Selene saw that her eyes looked like melted gold and stared at the crowd bent down to one knee behind her. Selene rushed to copy them, her cheeks burning. The Queen’s long blue gown brushed against the road’s dirt as she approached.
“Rise, my people, rise.” Her voice was gentle and matronly, reflecting her inner beauty. Rising alongside her town, Selene looked over the Queens’ shoulder at her two fellow Reborn companions. One was a male, who barely looked older than Selene, with a sword at his side and the armor of the Royal Guard hiding his skin but not his brilliant blue wings. He caught her staring and smiled back at her. It was the purest smile she had ever seen and made her blush. The more her cheeks burned, the more she found herself willing to look at the other Reborn, who Selene assumed was the Queens’ Lady-In-Waiting. Her wings were pure white and angelic, making her long brown hair shine brighter as it fell in waves over her shoulder. She winked at Selene, catching her staring, allowing Selene to see a glint of mischievousness in her eyes. Selene suddenly felt like she was a kindred spirit.
“Welcome, Your Majesty. We are graced by your presence,” said Lucita taking her hand and bowing again.
“No, it is I who is graced by your presence. Please tell me, which one of you is the young Selene Sintas who has assisted in easing the worry of the kingdom?” Selene, swallowing her nerves, looked up, catching the late arrival of her brother. Eris gave her a reassuring wink, silently telling her she could do it. At the same time, her mother urged her forward, her hand on Selene’s lower back, pushing her forward.
“I am Selene Sintas. It is a pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty.” Selene tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and blushed under the Queen’s warm smile.
“The pleasure is mine, and please call me Naavah.”
“Very well, Naavah. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
“This is my escort Uriel, Captain of the Royal Guards, and my Lady in Waiting Ranita, who has a Touched Born daughter. It is she who asks for the presence of your brother. May I ask where he is?” Nodding, Selene looked over at her brother, who stood stunned, his eyes wide. Naavah followed her gaze and looked over at Eris. Selene held her brother’s gaze as he warily stepped forward up to Selene’s side. His nervousness showed in the flexing of his hand. Eris always said stupid things when he was nervous. Finally, Selene made a silent prayer.
“It is a pleasure Lady Ranita.” Ranita stared at him, stunned, slow recognition filling her eyes. She exchanged a worrisome glance at Naavah, who kept her face still. Selene didn’t understand the look and worried even more about the unease painted in Ranita’s eyes.
“The pleasure is mine. My daughter will be pleased to meet another Touched Born.” She bowed her head, and the soft waves of her hair bounced and circled her face.
“Please, your majesty,” began Lucita, “let us go to the Great Hall and speak. I would be more than pleased to show you to your rooms.”
“That will not be necessary. I need to speak with young Selene quite urgently. We Reborns try not to live in fear, but at the end of the day, we are grateful for yet another day of life; from what we’ve heard, Shadowlings are near.” The trio of Reborns shared an uneasy glance.
Selene looked at Eris, her fear rising, hoping the Queen would agree to her wishes and whisk them away. It was a selfish thought, but it was a dire time, and since the attack, Selene’s fear continued to grow.
“Selene, please lead us to your home so we can talk privately.” Naavah looked at Lucita and bowed. “Forgive me if I seem disrespectful or ungracious, but I did not think ahead to bring my two High Witches. I thought we would be safe, but fate has proved me wrong, and I do not put your home further in danger.”
“I understand. Selene lead the way,” said Lucita, her face tight with injury. First, the town had turned against her, and now the Queen had unintentionally spurned her. Part of Selene wanted to be sympathetic, but she was not. Lucita’s secret was why Selene was missing her memories. So she bowed innocently and obediently and kept her eyes off of Lucita, looking only at her brother before returning the Queen’s gaze.
“This way.” Eris’s hand gripped hers as they headed home, their parents following them.
The knob of her front door felt colder as Selene turned it, opening the door to her home. Looking around the house forlornly, wondering if today would be the last day she could take it all in. The wooden floors, walls, oil light fixtures, and worn-out leather furniture. The chips in the door frames and tables, the memories of dinner, laughter, and fights.
“Selene?” Selene looked back at her brother and the Queen. Smiling away their concern Selene held the door aloft, keeping her gaze towards the ground. Eris knew that it was time for him to take charge.
“You’ll have to forgive my sister. With all the anticipation going on, she’s a bit tired and overworked. Please, follow me into the living room.” Leading the way, Eris stole a glance at his sister. Then, shaking her head, she followed after. Uriel bowed to her, standing guard over Ranita and Naavah as they took their seats.
“Miss Selene, I am here for many reasons. My main reason is your magic and skill. When word first reached me several years ago, I heard that there were two extraordinary young siblings with potent magic. They said that your brother was a Touched Born. One who could play with shadows. I thought, at first, that you were Touched Born as well, but it would seem you are equally extraordinary, blessed by the Gods. They said that you first thought up the idea of the barriers. Do you remember how old you were?”
Selene nodded, her cheeks burning further with embarrassment. “I was six.”
Naavah nodded. “A very bright child. From then on, I decided to keep my eyes and ears open for you both. As you grew, so did your abilities. At such a young age, your magic has blossomed and continued to do so. It has reached my ears that you are an exceptionally gifted fighter, as is your brother. For this, I have come to offer you a gift.”
“A gift?” asked Selene, her brow furrowed in confusion. Naavah’s head tipped coyly to the side.
“Yes, dear one, a gift. One you are welcome to refuse.”
“To deny a gift—” began Selene looking down at her hands that clasped each other nervously.
“Hush, child,” interrupted Naavah, “do not speak hastily. I offer you and your brother a home at my palace. Would you like that?” Selene’s breath caught. The Queen was offering her exactly what she wanted—no, needed. Looking deep into her pure gold eyes, she saw the knowing look. The Queen knew, had known. She knew of all the danger. She knew their lives life were at risk. Yet, the Queen was offering to save them and their home.
Selene looked at her brother, who must have sensed what she did. His fists were clenched at his sides, turning his knuckles white. He looked angry but also very scared, and when his eyes met hers, they gave her the confirmation she needed.
“Thank you, Naavah. We would be honored to have a place in the palace and graciously accept this precious gift.” Selene bowed her head.
“That is good.” Naavah’s gaze was sad and warm. Selene was leaving her home. She left with no knowledge of when or if she would ever return.
Eris folded his shirts and pants before placing them in the suitcase, holding back the tears that stung his green eyes. Every now and again, he would stop and look around the room, slowly emptying around him. He squeezed his hands against the bridge of his nose to keep the tears at bay.
Then suddenly, the door below opened, and her voice filled the air. Eris made a futile attempt to pray, hoping against hope that she wouldn’t storm up the stairs. She did anyway. One of the things he couldn’t stand about Jeanette was that she let her emotions get the better of her. He didn’t bother looking up when his door slammed open, hitting the wall of his room. He snapped his fingers, closing it back up, partly hoping it would slam into her face. It didn’t.
“So it’s true then. You’re really leaving?”
Eris continued to pack. “You knew this was going to happen. We talked about it last night.”
“Yes, but—I thought we had more time!” Eris sighed, imagining how she looked behind him, her eyes wide, her arms stretched out, trying to grasp something of the moment.
“Well, we don’t.” Eris continued to pack his belongings until her hand snatched one of his neatly folded shirts from his hand. Then, looking up, he met her pathetic and sad gaze evenly.
“Don’t you get it, Eris? I love you! Don’t you care at all! Don’t you care about me at all?”
“I do. It’s why I’m leaving Jeanette. Why can’t you understand that? If I stay here, they will destroy this town to kill me. Don’t you understand that?”
“I do, but—stay Eris, please don’t—”
“Jeanette, you need to leave,” he said, shoving her off. He couldn’t stand her when she got this way.
“Why? Tell me why!”
“Because you’re selfish and spoiled. Now get out of here.”
“Yes, Jeanette, you are. You want me to stay and risk everyone’s lives to keep me. That is selfish. You act all high and mighty, but inside you are spoiled and selfish. Now get out of my room.”
She stared at him, fuming, her eyes darkening, turning into dark pools of water on a moonless night. “I hate you, Eris Sintas,” she said, throwing his shirt to the ground.
“Good,” he said, picking his shirt up. “Will you please leave now?” The door slammed, and he sighed. He drove his thoughts and mind into the shadows to watch her leave. She didn’t even stop to say goodbye to Selene. Selene, who was heading to his room, ready to knock. Eris waved the door open for her.
“You shouldn’t have said those things,” she said, closing the door gently.
“They were true enough. Skoob kcap flesru.” He flicked his hands over his books and watched them pile into another smaller suitcase. Selene shook her head and sighed.
“Well, they may be true, but we’re leaving. We should leave on a good note, not an ill one.”
“Being nice would not have made her leave nor shut up.”
“Probably not.” Selene looked around. “The sun is at its apex. No Vampyres out there now.”
Eris shrugged. “I’m ready…I guess.”
“No use saying goodbye. Blake…he’ll be as fun to deal with as Jeanette was.”
“Not worse, though.”
“That’s true.” Selene headed to his window. Eris could see the defeat in her eyes. She was not taking this well. Eris made his way to her side and held her hand tightly, reassuring her that they would be all right, that this would keep their home safe. He wondered if it worked as she continued to stare out the window.
Blood Hunger (Eclipsing Trilogy, #1)
Eris and Selene Sintas thought their menial Witching lives were simple. That was until the magical barrier protecting their small town vanished in the night, attracting not just the Vampyre’s that go bump in the night. Suddenly, the two siblings discover that they have been dragged into a war between the sisters of light and darkness.
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