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The Flames That Bind Us (Daughter of Fire #1)

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Summary

A girl whose powers are drawn from legends must play a role in an upcoming war that links her to a dark King who she deeply loathes. After all, fire burns brighter in the darkness. Lydia Voltaire only longed for one thing; to complete her training and become the ancient, powerful wizard she was born to be. But there is only one problem...well, two problems, actually. First, no matter how hard her guardian, Lucius Voltaire, trains her; she still remains weak. And the second, there's the little matter of being destined to the King of Imarnia. Lydia understood nothing of it. All she knew, is that when she turns eighteen, she is to be delivered to King Gabriel. And all the while she must remain a virgin until he comes and claims her. Both Lydia and the king detest their written fate and wish to be ridden of it, but the will of the gods is final. With the looming threat of a war and a prophecy that links Lydia to it, she isn't sure of what she's getting herself into. Old enemies are rising, allies are being made, new powers are being discovered, and Lydia finds herself being in the center of it all. The only way she can ensure the end of the war is to trust the king she deeply loathes, but will it be too little too late?

Genre:
Fantasy / Adventure
Author:
Suri Sabri
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
40
Rating:
4.8 2 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

Prologue


Lucius Voltaire walked through the ancient cave known as The Seeing Mountain. Although the mountain didn’t actually have eyes, its current and only residents had the power to oversee everything. Surprisingly, the cave was warm as he traced his gloved fingers over the rocky walls, admiring how detailed the drawings scattered across it. The black paintings were of events in his world; Ignolia, and what it has achieved through its history of magic.

They were mostly about how the mighty kings and queens fought the dangers that threatened their kingdoms or the significant accomplishments wizards have done over centuries, and the magnificent creatures they discovered.

He bit back a snort when his eyes caught a drawing of himself, resisting the urge to smear whatever dirt surrounded him over the tiny black figure that stood before a dragon-shaped one. He remembered that day very well. The day he slew a golden-winged dragon with a chain made of pure energy. But he couldn’t find any reason to be praised for that. Or maybe he didn’t care for any of his past adventures?

He ignored it and the other artworks that his summoners had done and continued on his way. As he moved closer, the cave seemed to illuminate further, even though there was no visible source of light. And the air was becoming warmer, despite the fact that The Seeing Mountain nestled between chains of icy hills.

Spires of rocks hung from the ceiling and stood erect upon the floor, their sharp peaks capable of piercing through any form of flesh. Oddly, he didn’t hear any sound that indicated any living thing took place in here. He had heard that the cave is barren from any creatures except its three inhabitants.

Lucius realized that his steps were descending, his legs leading him towards a large opening. But his mind was somewhere else entirely.

Not a half-hour ago, Lucius stood at the window of his small kitchen with a half-empty bottle of wine in one hand and a neatly-written letter in the other. He had thought it was a joke from the teenagers in his town, but clearly, the elegant handwriting (the words had been written in pure silver) and the sweet-smelling parchment paper didn’t belong to a scrawny 15-year-old.

None other than the Watchers of Fate had sent a request for Lucius Voltaire, asking him to meet them as soon as possible. But the question that puzzled him was; why in Ignolia would they ask such a thing?

The Fate Watchers have never called for someone in all their existence. If they had summoned him to tell him about the future, then that’s impossible, for it’s forbidden by the gods to do so.

Their mission was only to send out warnings and quests for a carefully selected groups of individuals. No regular wizard had been to the mountain for centuries, and all the wizards who had come here hoping for the sisters to tell them about their future had failed miserably. Some died before they reached the mountain, and some came back to their homes disappointed.

The journey took about six months, but with Lucius being able to teleport, his trip to the mountain wasn’t as challenging as the others before him. Still, it was very unusual for them to summon him to their home, a wizard who had been inactive for years.

Lucius halted in his steps, sucking in a tired breath as a clearing was presented before him. He just hoped that whatever they summoned him for wasn’t too serious.

Yeah, right! The Fate Watchers only summoned me to admire my new hat!

The first thing he saw was a large, hallow throne room made entirely of blue-grey stone. In the center was a single stone altar with white, closed-eyed faces carved at the bottom.

He suspected that this was where the sisters feasted their eyes upon the fate of others. An archway engraved within the walls was just behind it, and Lucius’s eyes drifted to what lay after it.

Three similar thrones lined beside each other, and sitting on them were three identical women. They all looked calmly at their guest, and Lucius felt that his very soul was being pierced by their silver gazes. He had to avert his eyes to the tall, marble pedestals placed at each side of the thrones.

The one on the right had a bright, white orb of what seemed like energy floating above it. The sphere was the only source of light, and Lucius noticed that it would jerk like it was about to explode at any second when he stepped closer.

He turned his attention back to the women. He had to give it to himself; they were one of the most beautiful, ethereal beings he had ever laid eyes on.

The books he read about them didn’t give them justice, nor did the description of the men and women who claimed to have seen the sacred witches. Hearing about them was one thing, but seeing them in person was another.

They had silky, white hair that reached their knees. It seemed like it was glowing, and Lucius was sure that if he moved any closer, he would have to squint his eyes to look directly at them. Their skin was the color of dark honey, and their lips an even darker shade. They were dressed in silver robes that hugged their slender frames, the sleeves dangling from their wrists to their mid-thighs.

The one in the middle rose slowly from her throne. Lucius assumed she was probably Severina, though he wasn’t sure, for they all looked alike.

Out of unpolished gentlemanly, he took off his black, pointy hat and pressed it to his chest. The woman smiled faintly at the gesture. “Lucius, we are glad that you have agreed to meet us. My sisters and I have something urgent to share with you.”

“It’s been a long time since we saw anything about you,” the one he thought to be Liegia spoke, tilting her head with amusement. “Seems like you’re not as you were before.”

Lucius let out a smile that resembled more of a grimace. “I have been busy.”

Though the truth was something else altogether, he knew they were acknowledged of it. It brought a slight sense of shame to know that witches like them were aware of his drunken and isolated state.

Back in Vera, Lucius Voltaire was a former wizard who abandoned magic for a reason unknown to others. But the people in that small town didn’t care for his reasoning. The thought of throwing away the use of magic was a valid excuse for them to treat him as an outcast.

“I remember how fun it was to watch your countless adventures, Lucius. It’s a shame that you had to give up using magic,” Varinia, the last one left, remarked from her seat.

“I had a reason, as you all know,” he replied, his face impassive.

“Do you ever think of taking it back? After all, it wasn’t your fault—”

“I’m a man of my decision, M’lady. I believe it was for the best to take such action.” He wasn’t sure why the conversation steered towards his personal life, but he didn’t like it and hoped this wasn’t why they requested his presence.

The three of them exchanged looks before Severina fixed him with a determined stare. “Well, I do hope that you might reconsider, for this particular task might require magic for it to be delivered safely.”

“Pardon me?”

“We have a mission for you, Lucius. One of extreme importance for our world,” Liegia announced.

“A mission? But I’ve long left the life of an adventurer. I don’t do tasks or missions of any sort!” He was trying hard not to sound irritated, but this was the very thing he didn’t want to happen.

Surely the witches would know not to burden him with such things when he has made it clear he doesn’t wish to do it any longer.

“I’m sorry, Lucius, but I’m afraid this order doesn’t come from us. It comes from the gods, and you know that the will of the gods is not to be questioned,” stated Severina.

At the mention of the gods, Lucius stilled. Nothing good ever comes from them; many wars were the witnesses of that. Especially his last one.

“Besides,” added Varinia, “this task in particular only requires magic if it’s absolutely necessary. If you take care of it well, perhaps you won’t even have to use any drop of magic.”

“I’m confused. What is this task exactly?” He was being curious now. What was so important that the gods themselves thought Lucius was a better candidate than any other wizard?

The sisters looked at each other again, a hidden smile playing at the corner of their lips. Before Lucius could say anything else, the three raised their palms and faced them towards the white orb. There was a tinge of magic in the air, but its force was so intense that the hairs on Lucius’ arms rose.

Suddenly, the sphere jerked widely and jolted as a small portion of it split and floated away from the bigger half. It hurled past Lucius’ face, making the messy locks that reached his chin fly backward and his long, brown coat hang momentarily in thin air.

His eyes followed the burst of energy until it settled in the middle of the stone altar. Soon, the bright orb melted away, shaping into something even smaller. His eyes widened as a sound he didn’t think he would hear in this place echoed through the entire cave; it was the sound of a baby’s cries.

There, lying on the hard surface, was an infant, barely a day or two old. It was wrapped with a beige blanket; its cries and squeaks were the only things to be heard, except for Lucius’s drumming heartbeat.

He couldn’t remember the last time he heard a baby’s cries. He didn’t go to town much, and the only time he went was to get booze, and clearly, there weren’t many babies there.

But whatever he was feeling, it was unsettling.

Severina went down the stone steps towards the alter, her long robe trailing after her as she gave an opened-mouth Lucius a reassuring smile. He watched her pick up the baby and hold it to her chest, rocking it gently back and forth.

The image of a woman holding a baby in her arms brought unwanted memories for Lucius, so he looked anywhere else.

“Lucius. My sisters and I have received a Slifer from the gods of creation.” He snapped his head towards Varinia, who took note of every small reaction he made.

A Slifer? Those kinds of wizards were basically fairy-tales. Some say that a couple of them were sighted centuries ago. But nevertheless, they mainly existed in children’s stories.

Slifers were wizards who could control one of the four elements of nature. They were considered legends because elemental-based magic was something only gods could do.

“I still do not know why you summoned me?” he asked the witches. Sure it was extraordinary to witness the existence of a Slifer, but what good would a Slifer do him at this point?

He had heard stories of a couple of them roaming around centuries before, but they had nothing to do with him nor held any relevance.

Severina frowned, moved closer, and lifted the baby to him. “Hold her.”

At first, he was hesitant. He really didn’t like the idea of holding another baby, for it brought nothing but painful thoughts. But it seemed like the witch wasn’t asking. She was demanding him to do as told, and he knew better not to be stubborn with beings like her.

He took the now-quiet baby and rested its head close to his chest, taking a glance down, and couldn’t help but be surprised at its appearance. He had never seen something quite like that. He had lived in this world for nine hundred years, and he had seen so many peculiar creatures, but something about this baby took his breath away.

He had heard that Slifers differed in appearances from other wizards, but he didn’t quite put an image to those differences. But now, he had a pretty solid idea.

The baby was gazing at him with big, gleaming eyes. He tried not to dwell too long at the feeling of his chest tightening. Her skin was a shade of light brown, and her lips were small and a darker pink. However, her eyes were the most vital asset to her features.

They were the color of fire, a mixture of gold, red, and orange. They were large and framed with dark lashes, the fiery shades swirling and dancing like real flames.

Her hair was soft, though there was little to look at. It was the color of the night, pitch black. And near the middle, it changed to a color similar to her eyes.

Lucius knew he was currently holding a fire-elemental Slifer in his arms. Just knowing what this tiny, little thing could do in the future was beyond imagination. Slifers didn’t just control their elements; they were their elements...

Yet, he still did not understand any of this.

“We want you to take care of her, raise her and train her,” said Liegia, making his eyes snap from the child to her.

“What?” Lucius gaped.

“Lucius, this girl is important. She’s a Slifer, and she’s not the only one. We had received them from the gods. But as you know, we cannot tell you why.”

“But we can tell you this,” Varinia moved with Liegia by her side to stand next to their sister.

The triplets lined together, moving closer towards Lucius to the point that he had to blink several times due to the sudden glow emanating from the ancient beings before him. His heart seemed to drum with anticipation.

“When that child turns eighteen, the very king of Imarnia shall come to claim her. She is for him and him only. Make sure that she has to be untouched for her body only belongs to the king,” chanted the sisters.

“And what if I refused?” He knew it was a far shot, but he would question this with all he’s got.

“You can’t. It was decided by the gods that you would be her guardian.” There was a finality in Severina’s voice that told him he was in no way going to argue his way out of this.

“Relax,” Liegia leaned her chin over her sister’s shoulder, grinning. “It’s not like you’re the only one. We’ve already handed three other Slifer babies over to their promised guardians.”

Lucius didn’t know what to say. But he knew that if they decided to let him raise the child, there’s no turning back. Their will was the gods’ will, and no one could disagree with them. But he was shocked at this information.

Destined to be with the king of Imarnia? King Gabriel James Imarnia...

He had seen him and his father before he moved to Vera, after the war that happened upon Imarnia centuries ago, in which he took part in fighting alongside Prince Gabriel and King James. Sadly, his father died shortly after the war, and Prince Gabriel was crowned king.

Though he hadn’t spoken to him for years, Lucius knew that he was a fair, wise, and a just ruler -at least that’s what he heard in the taverns of Vera. But what does this have to do with him?

“Why me?” he found himself asking the question that had been roaming his mind ever since they informed him about this. He was once a great wizard, but now he spends his entire days wasted away in drunken despair.

He was pretty sure that any other wizard would be honored at the opportunity to raise and care for a Slifer. But for him? He just found it to be another burden to carry around.

“Because you’re strong enough to protect her,” answered Severina.

“But I’m not the only one...”

“True,” she smiled. “But you are the only one in need of this.”

He wanted to ask her what she meant, but the child had stirred, and he looked at her. Her lips curved into a smile, and she let out a squeal, reaching her chubby little hand to grasp one of his brown hairs.

This brought a pang to his heart, and, with a heavy sigh, Lucius decided to do as told. There was no way to avoid this, and the only thing he could do was raise the child to his full potential.

However, he would promise himself that he would never get too attached to the girl no matter what. He will protect her and provide her with everything she might need. He will fulfill his task of raising her. Then, when it’s time, he’ll hand her over to the king.

To him, she was just a task he was stuck with for eighteen years. Nothing more, nothing less.

It was simple, raise the kid and then deliver her to the steps of Imarina’s castle. Though he wasn’t sure how he would explain this to the king? But that’s all in good time. For now, he needed to think of a name for the girl.

One name appeared screaming in his mind, and he couldn’t think of another for the life of him. The name demanded to be used, leaving him wondering whether this was a sick joke from the gods. Though, he had to admit that it suited her, and he nodded slowly as it registered in his head.

Little did he know that ‘Lydia’ would be so much more to him than a name.

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