ATTENTION: This book is continuously getting revisions and readjustments. There is a lot of world-building ahead! For anyone curious: I have designed a map of Terralnyn. It appears too small on Inkitt to justify posting it. I hope you enjoy this world I have created, and these characters that are very dear to my heart!
NOTICE: If you are unhappy with the way I’ve represented groups or characters in this book, please tell me in some constructive criticism so I can improve. Thank you :)***
Damn it all.
Skye pensively glanced around her suite, ruminating on what she was planning to do. No one in their right mind would do what she was thinking, and sometimes she wondered if she was actually in her right mind. Was she really going to betray the Archmage?
What is wrong with me?
Her thoughts were distracted by subtle movement in the room. With a wave of her hand, the thick drapes that blocked the windows slid apart, welcoming the blinding sunlight. She squinted, and the creature beside her cringed when the light touched him.
“Please,” he begged, dragging the word into a dramatic whine, pulling the sheets to his face in protest. Skye ignored his request and waved her hand once more, opening the drapes at every window in the room, and there were many.
Scoffing, he opened his eyes. They were a divine, crepuscular green but quickly glowed a playful red at his ‘anger.’
Skye grinned. “Time to greet another fantastic day.”
“Gods, you’re so bitter.”
It wasn’t the first time someone had used that particular word to describe her. After everything she’d been through, she was bitter.
“Shut up, Aries,” she said, flicking the tip of one of his horns. They curled forward from his forehead like a ram’s and when her hand lingered there she felt a tug in her stomach. They were both aware of the consequences if the Archmage learned about their intimacy. She would be stripped of her Astral Magic. Skye thought of the tattoo on her arm, the magical piece of ink that connected them. Aries was one of the twelve Astral Beings of the Zodiac and had become one of the few people she’d ever cared for. Though, she couldn’t call him a person. At least he wasn’t afraid of her.
Neither was Sicarius. She thought of how she would soon betray him, and felt a tinge of guilt. But she couldn’t endure another day in his presence. Skye recalled the burning look in his eyes when he spoke to her.
“Why did the gods give such power to you?” he’d asked.
She laughed at his question with obnoxious pride. “The gods? Don’t give them credit for my accomplishments. You aren’t becoming jealous, are you Archmage?”
Using the proper term Archmage after addressing him with such a contemptuous remark sent a thrill of fury through him and his eyes darkened. She smirked at the rage she’d instilled. As usual, they’d trained for the majority of the afternoon, and within a few hours he’d exhausted himself, and his shield faltered. The torches that lined the walls of the Ignis Arena flickered and highlighted the most insulting aspects of his face.
“That’s enough,” he proclaimed, an echo resonating from his voice.
Skye bowed. “Thank you, as always for the lesson, Archmage. I have much to learn from you yet.”
He scoffed. “I should hope not. Your initiation is in two days. Or have you forgotten? I trust that you have not.”
“Of course I haven’t,” she replied, dismissing her staff. It disappeared in a cloud of dust, and she saw the glare of incensed passion in his eyes. She hoped that she never looked as grotesque as him. His skin was wilted, resembling a corpse that had long been in the ground, and she swore the old man would fall dead within minutes based on his appearance alone. But for the first time in decades, there would be a new Archmage…
...and in one fleeting decision, she was going to throw it away. The power, and all of the money and opulence that came with it. But the honor that was so graciously bestowed upon her was nothing more than entrapment, a death sentence.
Aries droned as she raked her fingers through his ambrosial blonde hair.
“If you keep touching me like that we’ll never make it out of here in time for your initiation,” he threatened playfully.
She scoffed. “My initiation is tomorrow.”
He laughed and took her in his arms. With a flicker of malice in her eyes, an ornate longbow materialized above them, angling a sharp, pointed arrow to his neck.
“Let me go,” she demanded.
The longbow pulled the arrow tight, threatening to spring at any moment. He loosened his grip and the bow and arrow disappeared. She rolled over to her side, and they locked eyes.
“You can’t kill me with that,” he reminded her.
“No, but an arrow to the neck will still wound you. You’re not immune to pain.”
He winced. “Your words wound me enough.”
She shrugged. “Don’t hold me hostage and you won’t be threatened.”
Only a mage worthy of the title Archmage could summon and form a magical bond with an Astral Being. That is, after all, how they met. Though neither of them would’ve guessed that seven years after their armistice that they’d be sleeping together. It just didn’t happen. They didn’t feel emotions the same way. Astral Beings did not feel love in the romantic sense. Mages, while mostly human, possessed a unique link with magicae. One could tell a mage apart from humans merely by the way they looked and carried themselves. They were taller, more regal. No one would ever refer to Skye Blossom as a mere human.
Skye continued to run her fingers along his jawline before gently tugging his face closer to hers, engaging him in a light kiss. She felt his fangs brush against her lips. His stubble caressed her cheeks. He could almost be human. No, he could almost be a mage.
She rose from the bed, taking her robe from the floor and wrapping it around her body. Her hair was arranged in a mixture of loose strands and braids and dropped long past her shoulders. It swung to her sides as she walked gracefully to the nearest window. It was thick and voluptuous, with each braid adorned by a silver cuff at the end. Pushing one of the locks behind her ear, she took another glance around her suite. It was located atop The Spiral, the central tower in the city. The Spiral City was home to all of the mages in Autumnus, the most powerful region on their continent, Terralnyn. At least, that’s what she’d been taught to believe. Skye had no actual notion of the outside world because she’d never been allowed to leave The Spiral City. She longed more than anything to leave. If Sicarius had been a decent mage and treated her with respect perhaps she’d feel guilty about her decision to run, but she didn’t. At least, not enough to stay.
She would surrender her sumptuous lifestyle and prestige for her freedom. Was it worth it? Her eyes scanned the abundance of books on the floor and the walls of filled bookshelves and prided herself on her keen mind. The more sagacious the mage, the better.
Her attention was drawn back to the window when Aries arrived beside her.
“Nervous?” he asked, delicately nuzzling her neck.
There was no point in lying to him. “I’m not confident that I’m making the right decision,” she admitted.
His eyes met hers. “You’re running out of time to decide. The moment you’re initiated, you’ll be bound to the Magicae Centrum. How long has that old man been in charge? A million years?” She could tell that he was trying to lighten the suddenly damp mood with humor but it didn’t work. She didn’t answer.
“Unless, of course, you’d enjoy living the rest of your life as a decepto,” he reminded her. It sounded like he was reading from a sad, tragic novel. His words were nothing new, and his habit of repeating what she already knew was tiresome.
He pulled her closer. “You’ll have me of course.” Would she?
She fought his embrace and dug her fingernails against the battered cuff on her wrist as the truth and reality of his words set in. She had considered running away for a long time.
“I’m sorry. I just feel like this is goodbye,” she said, closing her eyes, finally giving in to his hug. “If I do this, I’ll be around humans for the rest of my life. I don’t know if I’ll be able to summon you again.”
She said the words with such melancholy that Aries’s breath caught in his throat. She’d always been guarded in her emotions and it wasn’t like her to show them so blatantly. He gently turned her head so their gazes met.
Her eyes were blue like the sky, true to her name. He was staring at them with such eagerness that she slightly backed away. Astral Beings were always intense, even to mages.
She sighed and traced Aries’s Zodiac symbol, imprinted near his left eye in small, diamond gemstones. “I should get dressed. And you should probably go,” she said reluctantly, dropping her hand.
He caressed her cheek for a moment before speaking. “Do what you need to do, Skye. Call on me when you are ready.”
Aries kissed her forehead one last time. Then, his body dissipated into a pop of silver dust. It resembled the swirling of the galaxy as he returned to his realm amongst the stars. She would miss his company, but she had to do this alone.
She didn’t dwell on his departure. With a small gesture of her hand, the closet opened, revealing her wardrobe. Without much effort on her part, her hair arranged itself into an ornate, braided bun and small curled strands framed her face. The cyan-hued robes stopped at her knees, giving full visibility to her black boots. They were covered in dried mud and specks of it broke off the heels as she walked across the tiles. Her apothecary bag was latched securely to her belt, jingling with each step. She took a stroll around the room that she’d long called home. The bookshelf was overflowing with magical texts and candles. Grazing a finger on the glass bottles that busied the workspace, she accidentally knocked around the dried herbs and alchemy supplies. Something spilled, and the musky scent of incense and lavender filled the room. It was cozy and she loved it. She closed her eyes and took it in, picturing it in her mind exactly as it was now before she packed it all away.