Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

Free copy left
You can read our best books
Brie O'Reilly would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review


By Brie O'Reilly All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Prologue: Consequences

Sir Etcher Ryan's feet shuffled softly against the stone floor as he turned the corner.  It was an unsettling noise this late at night, and yet he was grateful there were no other sounds to keep it company.

The hallway was pitch black, full of creeping shadows, and he had been forced to rely on memory to find his way.  At first he had relished the challenge of moving through darkness, but after several stubbed toes and an embarrassing incident that had briefly introduced his chin to the floor, Etcher was beginning to regret such thoughts.  As if reading his mind, an orb of light appeared a mere ten feet away.  A short hiss of breath escaped Etcher's lips as he halted his steps.  The light merely bobbed to and fro, steadily  glowing brighter to illuminate the man who had conjured it.  

"It is rather late, Master Etcher, is it not?"

The silhouette of Etcher's tutor grew clearer as he stepped forward, a familiar look of displeasure hanging grimly upon his face.  Will's blond hair hung loose about his shoulders, his clothes clean and crisp despite the late hour, and Etcher could not help but wonder if Will was truly upset at finding his young ward out at such a late hour, or perhaps because his own plans had been unexpectedly interrupted.

"Well, Master Etcher?" the man urged again.

"I have business to address," Etcher huffed, thrusting his chin out in a poor imitation of his father's authority.  He immediately regretted his words.  Was he so like his father that he would order Will about like a servant?  

"I see."

"I will be in the Library.  See that I am not disturbed," Etcher continued, his voice cracking.  "Please?" he added weakly.

"Of course, Master Etcher," Will agreed, and without another word he turned to walk away.

"Will?" Etcher called after him.  

"Mr. Hartford, milord," his tutor corrected.

Embarrassment welled up within him, and Etcher felt his cheeks flame, but he continued.

"Mr. Hartford?"

"Yes, Master Etcher?"

"Promise you will not tell father?"

"As you wish, Master Etcher."

"Thanks, Will."

The scent of leather and aged paper filled the room, Etcher's nose pressed firmly to a smudged scroll.  His candle flickered a soft gold, illuminating the area around him with its dancing light.  Despite his best efforts, it remained the only light in the room.

After his encounter with Will, Etcher had drawn upon the shadows to cloak his travels.  They had hardly been necessary, although it had been a small comfort to know that he would remain unnoticed for the remainder of his journey.  Now hours later, the shadows lingered despite his best efforts to dismiss them.  Magyk could be slippery that way, especially for the untrained.  It was for that very reason that those who failed to master it were often driven to madness, or so his tutor claimed.  Many like Etcher's father, believed magyk to be nothing more than a figment of the imagination, an ailment of the mind fueled by myth.  Lord Erik Ryan was not the only one to believe such things, and as such, Will claimed there were far more counts of madness than success.

Two full cycles had passed since Etcher had come of age.  Now in his twelfth summer, Etcher had spent the past two years studying under Will's tutelage, although bits and pieces of the craft had come to him naturally long before he had met Will.  Visions had been the first magyk to manifest, a rare talent even for the most practiced of mages.  The visions had plagued Etcher's mind, a series of relentless and incoherent images, appearing with little to no warning and vanishing just as quickly, leaving him clinging to the edges of consciousness.

Etcher's parents had scoured the realms, seeking countless advisers and medicine men, yet none were able to offer any insight as to the cause of his affliction.  It was not until a foreign woman emerged, a young healer who had urged Lord Erik and his wife, Lady Melana, to seek assistance from her homeland, the Bloome Isles.

A distant territory, unattached to the Seven Realms, the Bloome Isles could be found at the center of every rumor and tale of magyk throughout the realm.  Desperate for answers, Lady Melana had sent a small contingent to the Isles.  The group returned several months later, bringing with them the young William Hartford, who after some persuasion had agreed to accept a position as Etcher's private tutor.

Lady Melana had been grateful her son would finally receive the proper training to control his new and mysterious ability.  Lord Erik, however, maintained that magyk was a foolish waste of the young heir's time, and only offered Will the barest of tolerance.  Etcher, ever quick to dismiss the wishes of his father, had accepted his tutor as one of the most gifted, albeit strange people he was likely to meet.  Often firm and direct, Will was not one to accept anything short of success.  In turn, any frustration Etcher experienced only fueled his drive to meet Will's expectations.  Yet, even with the man's warnings, there was little that could curb Etcher's curiosity.

Etcher sighed in exhaustion, lifting his head from the rumpled scroll.  He was certain Will would be more than happy to discuss conjuration during one of his future lessons.  If Etcher could bring himself to ask, and then repeatedly beg for the next few months, of course.  Yet, as he remembered Will's frown of disapproval earlier that evening, Etcher's determination to accomplish it on his own won over.

Closing his eyes, Etcher concentrated on the silence of the room.  Beyond the dim light of his candle, beyond the summoned shadows, there was true darkness.  It could be overwhelming at times, a lingering tide that could invoke fear in even the strongest of men.  And yet, it held no sway over him now.  Darkness and shadows were tools, true, yet he had no desire to hide.  He sought illumination.  Surrendering his thoughts to that simple reality, Etcher opened his eyes and gasped in surprise.

Mere inches from his face, a tiny orb of light flickered.  It faded in and out as if mirroring the will that had created it.  As doubt crept into Etcher's thoughts, his nerves began to stifle his initial excitement.  His focus gone, the orb winked out of existence altogether.  He released the breath he had been holding, overwhelmed by exhaustion, and resigned himself to sleep.

"Etcher? Are you in here?"

Startling upright, Etcher scrambled to his feet, sending the scroll fluttering to the floor.  He bent to retrieve it, stifling a yawn as he turned to face his mother. 

"There you are," she sighed.  "Have you been here all night?"

"No," he said quickly, but his mother's expression clearly showed her disbelief.  "Not all night." he amended.

"I do not understand why you insist on sneaking about," she chided, pulling the woven cord to open the room's heavy draperies.  Sunlight flooded the room, causing Etcher's eyes to water, his cheeks flushing at his mother's admonishment.  "You are aware the Library is available during the day?" she continued.

"I am sorry, Mother."

"I have certainly heard that before," Melana laughed at her son, shaking her head.

It was a sound of pure humor, and Etcher allowed himself relax.  If his mother could laugh at the situation, then no matter her mood, she had no intention of sharing her disappointment with his father.

While Melana frequently disapproved of her son's actions, Etcher's father, Erik, was much more likely to give voice to his disapproval.  Despite his father's best efforts, and countless lectures, Etcher could not bring himself to care for becoming heir to Wynwood Hall or to carry out the behavior that was expected of a young Master.  Lord Erik was happy to live in ignorance of his son's talent with magyk, and with it he had come to an uneasy acceptance of Will's presence within his home.  In truth, it often seemed as though Lord Erik blamed both for his son's shortcomings.

"What was it this time?"

"I was practicing for my next lesson with Will."

"I may not be a mage, Etcher, but I know a lie when I hear one.  You know how dangerous it can be without Mr. Hartford's supervision.  You - "

"I am sorry, mother, truly," Etcher interrupted, ducking his head.  "I promise it will not happen again." 

"No, my son," Melana pulled him into a fierce hug, her tone now serious.  "Do not make promises you have no intention of keeping.  Whether you are Master or commoner, your word carries weight.  It has a value that not even magyk can sway, not in truth.  Swear to me that you will remember that."

"I swear, mother," Etcher replied guiltily.

"Oh," Lady Melana sighed.  What am I to do you with you, my Etcher, heir to Wynwood Hall?"

Etcher wrinkled his nose in disgust at the title.  It was at that moment the visions came.  His entire body froze, eyes held wide as his mind was taken over by the magyk.  

A young girl ran along a dirt path, her frizzy black curls trailing behind her in the breeze as she turned, a full smile gracing her lips.  A man with short cropped silver hair lounged casually in an expensively upholstered chair, fingering the scruff of a beard before lifting his gaze.  The expression in his tear filled gaze sent a shiver up Etcher's spine, but the force of the visions held him.  Lastly, a familiar sight appeared, the master suite of Wynwood Hall.  It was the chamber his parents had shared for years, yet it was different.  His parents lay pale and lifeless in a growing pool of red.

Finally the images ceased, and Etcher slumped forward, held up only by his mother's frantic arms.  Lady Melana quickly summoned several members of the Hall's staff, giving them hushed orders to see Etcher straight to his room, allowing him to sleep off the aftereffects of the magyk.  He would wake later, remembering nothing of the flashes but the sight of blood on his hands.

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...

RubyScars: I absolutely love your story! It killed me when I finished, I read it all at once and then it stopped at the epic cliffhanger! Uggggggh. But, that said, it just means that you have done such a lovely job. I am so in love with your complicated characters, and even the ones I didn't like you slowl...

Alice Liu: Whoa! I've been wondering how would the Maurauders react to Harry's life and here we go! YOU ARE THE BEST! All the characters are consistent with their personalities shown in the book! I love how you compare Lily with Molly and it's definitely true for her being a mother! I wish Peter comes have ...

Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...

ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...

Ro-Ange Olson: Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward.

dd1226: I love reading about other countries and I think this story about Cambodia after Polpot creates awareness of the tragedy that happened there and the actions of the U.N. to hold elections. The heroine of the story is easy to relate to, a modern, middleaged woman looking for an adventure, wanting t...

Felisa Yoder Osburn: I really enjoyed the story. Civil War stories are some of my favorites and the intertwining of the past with current times was wonderful. I look forward to reading the next stories.

summerstone: Seriously this is one of the best books I've ever read. The plot is intriguing, I love the narrative style. Its very descriptive and unique, with minimal cliches. It makes for a great read and the sequels are amazing. Totally worth reading. ^^ That's me trying to be professional. But in all hones...

More Recommendations

Usagi Kita: This story is emotional from beginning to end. You get to watch the characters struggle and grow, maturing in different ways so that they come to be the people they are meant to be. Inea is insanely adorable, and his antics made me laugh more than once, and Kaedon is perfect for him in so many wa...

Lacey Schmidt: The Trouble with Super is that you can't stop reading it. Mr. Barrett's characters are all to easy to relate to even if you don't have a super quirk of your own, and their plight is both heart-rendingly funny and heart-warmingly sad at the same time. It's a bit like Office Space meets the Matri...

Lauren Suzmeyan-Raine: I'm so glad you found a place to post your stories. I was horrified when I saw yours had been taken down, they are definitely the best 'reading' stories I've ever read. And I've made it my business to read every one I can. Well done.Lauren

marycombs14: This is a very interesting book - mostly because the heroine is quite charming and well rounded, and has very real issues to manage in her life. Most of all,. I loved the view inside of the life of a South Asian girl/woman, the emotional self-talk, the customs and preferences, the expectations a...

ga1984: I really enjoyed it! Characters were deep and plot was pretty complex. A bit on the violent side but it doesnt detract from the story. Very dark but situations make sense. Ends kinda abruptly and later chapters will need some editing work. I'm assuming there's more in the works?

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral stories!

FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral story!

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."