Dark Fey: The Reviled

By Cynthia A. Morgan

Fantasy, Young adult

Paperback, eBook

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321
4 mins

Chapter Six

The forests of Jyndari were vast and Hwyndarin was set nearly in the heart of the ancient woodland: with good reason. On the coast, storms and high winds could sweep in from the oceans or roll off the heights of the Trynnari Mountains and threaten both the stability of essential Light and the equally indispensable treasures of learning collected through the ages, but deep in the center of the primordial forest storms were seldom a threat or even a consideration. Hwyndarin had been chosen millennia ago as the seat of all learning and artistry for this especial reason, for here the precious tomes from thousands of years of wisdom could be housed safely and here the artisan’s treasures could be protected. Yet infrequently, a significantly powerful tempest would press back the borders of the forest and shatter the tranquility of that peaceful village.

The late November day had been extraordinarily fair, but the night brought with it gales and pouring icy rain of unparalleled fury that tore at the canopy above Hwyndarin like a giant running its hand over a field of wheat. Boughs and branches crashed down on the village rooftops, rain pelted down like daggers in blinding torrents, and blazing bolts of jagged lightening with resounding clangors of thunder tore the sky repeatedly asunder.

Ayla was guarding the infant of a family called away in grief over the loss of a loved one and had been enjoying a peaceful evening in the quiet solitude of her home with the child. Now, as a bellow of thunder shook her small cottage and the hammering of rain pounded over their heads she held the child close in her arms. She hushed his wailing with a soft, melodic tune, but a furious gust of air blasted open the shuttered windows and shredded her voice. Instantly, her glowing home was pitched into darkness as the gale extinguished every lantern and the child’s shriek of fear mimicked her own.

Her thoughts spun in a panic. A mirror stood in darkness in her boudoir, the child’s cribroom lay in shadows, and the corridor along which she had to travel to reach either held no window, only darkness that could conceal The Reviled, yet, she knew she had to light at least a single candle and she had to brighten the mirror immediately. Each second it stood in blackness was an opportunity for crossing. Racing to the nearest cabinet, she fumbled with the beeswax taper she found there and whispered one of many, simple spells she used frequently in her daily life.

“Luxay,” she said in a commanding tone and the wick popped into flame. The room flickered between shadow and light, yet, it was only a single candle. Should she light more or should she race to the mirror? A mirror left in darkness cries out to be crossed. The recitation she had repeated for years in her youth now played over and over in her mind, but she could not risk entering a room with a darkened mirror while holding a baby in her arms, ripe for the taking. She was a Guardian; her first duty was to protect the innocent.

Clutching her candle, she drew a deep breath, kissed the tot’s head reassuringly and darted along the hall toward his cribroom. A small lantern stood upon his night table, she only need reach it and light it in order to keep him safe. She stopped at the darkened doorway and peered inside, her sight piercing the ebon shades and her own glimmering aura lending illumination. Stepping into the dark interior, she reached immediately for the lantern, yet even as she touched its cool, brass sheath a shadow contracted in the far corner of the room and she froze in instinctive terror.

The shadow grew darker, denser, then spread outward into the dimness of the room not brightened by Ayla’s small candle. Roshwyn in her arms squealed and began to cry louder and she cradled him more tightly, protecting him with her diaphanous wings as her mind spun in alarm.

Light the lantern! Speak the words of protection! Flee!

It was too late.

A Dark One stepped out of the shadows and glared at them with ophidian eyes. The flame in her hand guttered and threatened to go out, but she had no other means of protecting it than repeating her lighting spell with a timorous tone. Shadow swirled about the Dark One like smoke curling around embers and she watched in perfect dread as he slowly reached out his hand toward them.

Light the lantern! Speak the words of protection! Flee!

Years of training screamed at her from within the spiraling depths of her mind, but fear held her transfixed. He stepped closer, his dark eyes glimmering in the fluttering light of her candle, his hand outstretched toward them, toward the child. Light the lantern! Speak the words of protection! Flee!

“Luxay!” Ayla turned toward the lantern and shouted her lighting spell, gasping in relief when the wick snapped into flame, but the Dark One flexed his immense wings and directed a current of air across the room that extinguished both flames, the one she held and the one inside the lantern, in the same moment. Roshwyn screamed and Ayla jerked backwards toward the door, but in an instant, the Dark One was upon them and she stood, paralyzed by dread, her aura shrinking to a feeble glimmer in her terror. The Dark One stared down at her with unreadable eyes, then reached for the squalling child.

“Do not take him.” She pleaded; her voice a mere thread. Remarkably, the Dark One paused, regarding her with his snake-like gaze, but the wailing child could not be ignored. He raised his hand once more and uttered a single word in the vile Dlalth tongue, the language of The Lost.

“Gvyndlal.” Ayla stared at the demon-fey standing before her with utter surprise. As Roshwyn’s wailing subsided and his squirming ceased, she shook her head and struggled to translate the word he had spoken. Gvyndlal? Sleep? The Dark One had said only Sleep?

“Sleep?” She gazed down at the quiet babe in her arms in amazement, then back at the Dark One still glowering over them. Her aura expanded, illuminating his dark silhouette and she beheld, for the first time, one of The Reviled.

He dwarfed her diminutive stature by at least fourteen inches and had a lithe, powerfully muscular physique. His shoulder length hair was the color of shimmering ice, both white and silver. He wore a full-length coat with burnished gold lacings and buttons, with armor-like plates embellishing his broad shoulders and with dark crimson and vibrant silver silk accentuating the deep lapels of the coat he wore open across his broad chest. The multiple belts and chokers crisscrossing his close fitted vest, his pants and boots; all were black leather with similar burnished gold fittings and, although she never would have imagined a Dark One dressing so strikingly, he wore a double flounced cravat and golden choker with an enormous ruby glimmering from its heart.

His vast dragon-like pinions were deep black and blood-red, stretching fully twice his height in length, yet with vicious spines at each joint and tip they seemed even larger and were hideously frightful to behold. His complexion was the unmistakable sallow pallor of the Reviled.....

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