Promise of the Lost Gods

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Of Fire

My feet were immediately beneath me, my hands racing after the flames, scooping them from his tunic and absorbing the energy with unnatural rapidity.

Lord Gareth stared at me, mouth agape, disturbing me.

“You’re of Fire,” he whispered shaking his head in disbelief, “but the House Rourke bloodline has only produced Water and Earth mages for centuries! There have been those of Air, but there hasn’t been a Rourke fire mage in...”

“Almost a thousand years,” I finished for him, tensing, unsure of his reaction. He was staring at the ground, his hand half covering his face in what I assumed to be disbelief.

We both started to speak at the same time.

“Serena, I--,”

“I must apologize, I have ruined your tunic, Lord Gareth,”

I spun around looking for the horses. Of course they were obediently standing a couple meters away from us. I strode over to Obsidian and fixated on my saddle, fiddling with the stirrup leather.

“Serena.”

I turned my eyes upward to the sunlight filtering through, and illuminating, the leaves above me, bracing myself for whatever he had to say.

I felt him walk up behind me and goosebumps rose when he put his hand on my shoulder.

“I’ve only begun truly getting to know you, but I already realize how special you are,” Gareth whispered, his breath warm on my neck,“I suppose your having an impossible Element confirms it.”

I turned, his hands enveloping mine, and met his deep gaze, a bit taken aback.

The few people who found out this way had interrogated me, asking personal questions about my parents, the development of my elemental power, my current capabilities. My existence was supposed to be nearly impossible. A chill crept over my skin remembering their scathing, interrogative voices.

However, no one knew how our ancestors first gained elemental powers, only that every person could wield one, and only one, of the four Elements. Which elemental power you had was thought to be hereditary, although there were some who thought it could be connected to your spirit.

The latter theory was favored by my parents, as they certainly have thought me unruly at times. Well, most of the time.

Supposedly, the pairing of a Water mage and an Earth mage could not result in a daughter of Fire... yet my father was of Water and my mother of Earth.

Even Fire mages who had married into the family could not produce a Rourke heir of Fire. Then my father had come along and swept my mother off her feet. The old crones in the surrounding villages would gossip, saying my father hadn't been the only man to catch my mother's eye, provoked by my occasional visits to the shops.

Only the immortals, our Gods, would have knowledge of matters such as this, and they had forsaken us, or we them, long ago.

“Serena?”

“I apologize, my thoughts were drifting.”

“May I call you Serena, my lady?,” Gareth spoke softly.

“You are very kind, Lord Gareth, yes, of course,” I whispered.

“Gareth, just Gareth.”

“Gareth, are you not disturbed? My family has always treated me a bit differently because of my Element and, well, others who know seem wary of me too. By all accounts, I shouldn’t exist.”

“Nonsense!” Gareth shook his head,“I am no scientist, but here you are, standing in front of me, a gorgeous, intelligent, spirited woman. Clearly someone was wrong.”

I felt the heat rise in my cheeks and a tiny spark of some warm feeling blossomed in my chest. My head was confused and disbelieving. I desperately wanted to believe he was a true gentleman, unperturbed.

My mistrust filled me with sadness.

“Thank you, Gareth,” I smiled softly, wanting to believe him.

“Well then, shall we head back to the castle and figure out which of the magnificent Rourke horses I shall purchase for my dear brother?”

I took a deep breath and cleared my mind. If Lord Gareth wasn’t perturbed, then I wouldn’t be either; but as we mounted the horses, I couldn’t help but wonder why my family was.


At dinner my father inquired about the afternoon’s activities from the far end of the table, although the majority of his focus was on my mother who was whispering to him from his right. Lord Gareth, a fast friend, met my eyes across the middle of the vast table and, with a hint of a wink, explained he had filled my afternoon with incessant questions about the horses and my training program, and even talked me into giving him the pleasure of riding the horses outside of the arena.

My father looked up now, no doubt attempting to measure our regard for each other.“I’m sure it was not too hard to talk Serena into taking the horses out, Lord Gareth,” my father rumbled, “she is rather fond of riding off around the Rourke estate.”

Josi and Eli snickered, and Riselle blatantly batted her ice blue eyes at Gareth when he glanced her way.

My three sisters hung on Lord Gareth’s every word. Josianna and Elianna, my youngest sisters, were still five years from receiving suitors. However, Riselle, whose eighteenth birthday was only a couple moons away, already thought she could use my suitors, as well as stable boys, and the young lords of neighboring houses, for flirting practice before then, by flipping her ashen blonde locks and whispering provocative promises, much to the dismay of her lady-in-waiting and my mother.

I raised my voice, “Lord Gareth purchased two Rourke horses today, Father.” Lord Rourke raised an eyebrow at this.

“Is that so, Lord Meliorn?” he questioned Gareth.

“Lady Serena is quite a saleswoman,” Gareth complimented me in return, before detailing his purchase to Lord Rourke as I had recommended on our ride back to the castle.

“Yes, my lord. Garnet Celosia, a fiercesome mare, for my brother, as a wedding gift, and Obsidian Dusk, a gelding, for my own mount, both of the same sire,” Lord Gareth announced.

“Lord Gareth was also kind enough to help me finalize the selection for the Meliorn wedding,” I added, “since Lord Gareth has purchased Garnet Celosia for Lord Meliorn, we agreed the mount to be gifted should be something that might suit his bride-to-be.”

“Ever so prudent and smart, my daughter,” my mother chimed in, smiling with pride, “I am positive you chose a handsome match.”

“Lady Serena has most excellent taste, her choice is an elegant gelding with a snowy coat sure to charm,” Gareth extolled me again.

“Good,” my father barked, “I am sure you made Master Ekial aware of the choice?”

“Yes, Father.”

“I will make the arrangements for transport with our party tomorrow then.”

“It is already done, Father.” I met his eye quickly before returning my gaze to the remnants of my meal. I pushed a few vegetables across the plate, chewing a piece of roasted potato slowly.

"And Lord Gareth, we hope you intend to remain here at Castle Rourke until the wedding?"

"If your lord and ladyship will have me, I would remain here and accompany your family when it comes time to travel for the wedding."

"We are gladdened by your visit and would be honored to travel with you." Lord Rourke nodded and returned to whispering with his wife.

I strained to hear, but my sisters’ loud inquiries and demands of Lord Gareth prevented me from picking up anything but the feathery breaths of my parents’ whispering voices. I gave up, joining in and attempting to quell the vocal volley between my sisters as they vied for Gareth’s attention. Once the plates had been cleared Gareth stood to excuse himself, refusing my mother’s offer of dessert.

“Dinner has been most enjoyable, but I am afraid I find respite necessary after so many days of travel and a long afternoon of...” he met my gaze, a twinkle in his eye, “... negotiating sales.”

I stood, also ready to retire for the evening, closely followed by my sisters.

My father bade us all a good night. My mother suggested that we four girls escort Lord Gareth to his quarters and the twins skipped to his sides, taking him by the hand and tugging him toward the doors. Riselle offered to lead the way, sauntering in front of him.

As we wound our way through the castle’s corridors, a chill came over me. My sisters’ incessant chirping as they led Lord Gareth down the corridor in front of me sounded far off and the air in front of my eyes became hazy.

The air around my body felt thick and seemed to tighten around my throat. The hair of the nape of my neck prickled and stood on end as I stared down the hall after my sisters and Gareth, who then rounded the corner and disappeared from sight. Suddenly, it felt as if my body were trapped in invisible quicksand. Flames grew in my hands defensively.

Within the haze, I thought I saw a pair of ghostly silver-grey eyes flash and then, the faintest hiss of a whisper came to my ear.

“...I see you...”

Suddenly, there was no air, only a velvety crush of black on my vision and I crumpled onto the cold flagstones.

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