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We all have demons.

By Nim Felton

Adventure / Fantasy

Prologue

In the hidden world of sorcerers and magic a cult formed many centuries ago. Dozens of families forged the Zenith of Creation, so named because they believed that it was only through the breeding of pure, magical blood that the greatest sorcerer would be born and he would be the one to marshal in the New Age. An age of dominion to those who believed and one of pain for those who didn't. (The usual arcane mumbo-jumbo that these religious freak types conjure up, no biggie.)

The Kings firmly believed that their first born (it's always the first born, isn't it) would be the epitome of the cults' work. The breeding lines on both sides were impeccable. But when the child was born, it was a baby girl. A girl, unwanted in the eyes of the cult and a constant reminder of failure in the eyes of her father; a girl, shunned for her gender in the backwards views of the time; a girl, named Georgiana Patience King and issued into training to become a bride for another of the cults' family.

Born a year later, Silas Clayton King, was ushered into the world, and became the prodigy his parents had been waiting for. Like all of the cults' children he was placed into discipline trails to determine his strongest magical attribute. He showed no results. his parents, disappointed and humiliated, shut their son away like they had their daughter, and tried again for another child, to no avail. The cult moved on from the Kings, delving into other families that showed promise, and both children were forgotten. It was a mistake that cost the cult dear.


When the siblings were two and three years old they discovered their talents in the family's library. Left to roam unchecked in the unused vastness the siblings became friends, allies against their father's rage and their mother's admonition. Silas, though not an obvious magic user, was a highly intelligent child, developing an adult mental capacity far earlier than most magical children. Within the towering walls of books he found the lessons his parents had never bothered to bestow, and secrets that they hadn't been bothered to find - the Future Tomes. Books written in a language few could read, and even fewer could understand became bedtime stories for Silas. Though the blood breeding of the cult hadn't produced an elemental master or an adept genius it had forged a boy able to read the future from books that were thousands of years old. The only soul he told, however, was his sister. While Silas learned an unborn language, Georgiana sat beside him, head dangling out of the tall windows, feet kicking the air, giggling as she made the flowers bloom outside.


At the age of seven Silas began to teach Georgiana the future. At first hindered by his sister's stubbornness, he succeeded, battling past the fact that the language could only be understood if the person either already knew how to speak it or if the future event had already come to pass. While Silas consumed the Tomes on inventions and events, Georgiana was captivated by those on literature and music, reading songs that hadn't been sung and stories that hadn't been written, much to the dismay of her brother, who wanted to discuss what flying in an aeroplane would feel like. Alas, it was at the ages of eight and nine that the siblings' carefully constructed world crashed to the ground and in its place rose a vicious effigy.
It was the second of February, at a celebration of Imbolc, that Portia King was informed that her children had left their dinner and removed themselves to the library. Before a request to retrieve them was given, the nanny was called away by her husband. So, fuming, Portia swept through the tall bookshelves to scold her offspring. As she walked silently through the dusty room, the shadows curling around the hem of her gown, she stopped at the sound of voices.
"True, but the blue ones are prettiest of all."Her daughter's voice replied in a garbled language."That may be so, but the fact is, no flower floats, so the matter of its colour is redundant. Also, elongate your #~%@'*."Intrigued Portia rounded the corner to find her children curled on the window seat, blue flowers opening and closing their petals rhythmically as they rose in the air alongside open books, whose elderly pages flipped lazily at reading height. Gasping for breath Portia was frozen in a mask of incredulity until her shriek shattered the quiet calm of the library, shocking her daughter to drop the floating flowers and her son to slam shut the nearest Future Tome. Both children protested vehemently against the magic lessons neither wanted but their dissent fell on deaf ears. Silas, in a way, was lucky. Try as they might, Silas simply could not learn magic. He showed neither adept talent nor control of an element, his power came from language and though he dutifully learned them all his parents remained disappointed that their son had not become the sorcerer they'd wished for.Georgiana suffered differently, try as she might her affinity for all things magical prevented her from doing badly at any trial they placed in front of her. As the years passed her skill and intelligence grew, but so did her stubbornness and anger. Her parents were stuck in the arcane views of the cult while both she and her brother were enlightened by the ideals of the future. Fights with her parents became louder and more violent, each ending in a stiff drink for her father and a chilling punishment for Georgiana, from flogging to starvation. At twenty-one Georgiana was forced to take the name Veleno, meaning poison, only her brother called her by her real name. The hour a day they were allowed to meet was the only relief Veleno had in those dark years. The siblings laughed at the size difference between them now, whilst Silas had grow up, tall and lanky, Veleno still had the body of an eleven year old, her decreases aging process had started early, much to her chagrin, and her brother's amusement. Both her days and nights were spent in a heated maelstrom of training, fitness, testing or punishment - shackled to the ceiling of the cellar and beaten for disobedience.At thirty Veleno was taken from her brother and enrolled in the Academy, an elitist preparatory school for pure, upper-class families with 'problematic' children. Silas was informed that his sister had died and promptly ran away from home, taking with him the entire collection of Future Tomes and some choice jewelry from his mother's dresser. Her years in the Academy were hard, as unkind and as punishing as her parents' house had been but without the sting of constant rejection that had occurred when her mother had pushed her away or her father had refused to look at her. Veleno refused to speak whilst at the Academy and was nicknamed Echo because of it. She endured every punishment the instructors could think of, her thoughts were only of her brother's fate and of the consequences if she should speak in the language of the future or use the power of the earth.Years turned into decades, time into nothingness. Echo lost count of how many times she had tried to escape, both into the city beyond the high walls of the academy and into the next realm of man. To Echo, her life was hell, trapped in a pit of punishment but too fearful to use her powers to escape, in case she killed innocents, in case she lost control. To Echo the city was heaven, bleak, dirty and cold as it was, for it offered freedom, possibilities and a future that didn't contain shackles and a whipping post.The umpteenth time she fled was a Thursday. It was winter and very, very cold.
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Chapters
1. Prologue
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