Tales of loathsome tyrants and prophesied saviors aren't nearly so appealing when you are a royal bastard with a prophecy hanging over your head.


Liathen turns left rather than right out in the hall. I hesitate at the fork in the hall. "The exit…"

He glances at me. "Our Crystal."

I freeze for a long moment before I shake it off and quickly follow him further down this hall. "It's here?"

My newly-discovered half-brother moves carefully, leaning against the wall for support. My offer of my arm he either ignores or doesn't notice. "So they have taunted me."

I wince. To be so close, for so long, and unable to do anything about it… "You don't look hungry," I blurt before my mind catches up to my mouth.

He shrugs, slightly enough that I'm sure his back hurts him. "They have to keep me healthy. It would hardly do for them to anger the Bynd by causing the death of its rightful heir."

…If he's who the Bynd wants, and he's from before Father forced Mother, then Father had to sire me so he'd be able to control the Bynd.

But I'm younger than his other children, so he didn't have control of it when he sired them, so—

"Carling and Drake can't control it!" I gasp at my accidental volume. It sounds loud, far too loud in the quiet of the hall. And I know Drake is up the hall.

Liathen sees my horror and understands. I sense him awkwardly pull on air magic to aid him as he quickens his pace towards our goal. "Come!" he snaps in felvish.

After a fear-frozen moment, I yank the fire around me to thaw me so I can continue. I don't fully release the magic as I follow his swift pace—something tells me I'm going to need it.

The door ahead shimmers, inlaid with naril. Liathen looks at me. I stare at him.

"You obviously know more magic than I do."

I flinch at the reminder. Letting my teeth chatter so I can concentrate, I check the magic on the door. It's a ward, which I recognize as identical to the one around the door to Liathen's old cell.

If I'm caught here, if they realize who I am, Aidan will die. I draw a quick breath. Silva will die, too. Faed Nirmoh is letting his fiancée risk her life for… for me?

My head starts hurting. I gather my wits and shove the door open.

I gasp at the view. Scrolls, stones, tools of magecraft fill the room. The far end glows faintly.

Liathen gently pushes me in and enters. He lets the door latch behind us. I stare all around, awestruck by all Father's line has gathered.

Was it only Grandfather who began his family's journey into magery, separating themselves from other men? Or has this family studied magic from far before Grandfather's day?

The source of the glow is under glass. I approach it, following after Liathen.

My breath catches at the sight. It's… beautiful

The many facets glow with an ethereal light that I feel more than see, for what I see in it is Father's grand hall, where Aidan and Silva per court protocol engage in idle chatter with Father and Carling.

"Beware the theft's fulfillment, for then death will come," murmurs Liathen.

At that quote of one of Gaylen's prophecies, the reality of where I am hits me. I chill, glancing fearfully around. This must be the elf Crystal. The scene it shows centers on the Bynd Father wears.

I edge forward. Liathen nods at the glass lid of the chamber containing the Crystal. I flinch when the lid creaks as I lift it.

Liathen nods again—does he fear to touch it due to his faery blood? Faeries are sensitive to this kind of magic. I tentatively touch the Crystal, the one that the Creator Himself gave to my grandmother's people.

It's warm.

In its center I see Father redden and Carling stiffen at a comment of Aidan's. Gryphons adjust their stances on their perches, which line the walls of Father's hall like plants once did King Aldrik's.

I grab the gem, startled when a light flares behind me at the wards around the door. I blink at its afterimage, then return to studying what I hold.

I stare into the Crystal in shock as the Bynd's light flares grey, consuming its usual orange as flames consume Father like they did Mother. The orange returns, stronger than before and edged by green.

…He's dead?

Something—one—lunges into me. I let out a cry, the gemstone flying from my hands. I hear it skip across the floor.


I scratch at him, yank at his hair, struggling to get away. Magic-fueled fire surrounds us, my purple dancing with his orange. Mine destroys the few roughly-aimed curses he manages to fling into his foolish attempts to burn me, a fellow fire mage. The fire smolders my clothing, instead.

Sidelong I can see movement in the view the Crystal provides, but that's all I can see as I fight Drake.

He muzzles me with his arm. I bite it, shoving fire into his eyes to block his vision.

He growls, releasing me. I scramble over to the Crystal and scoop it up. The sight it reveals makes me freeze. Silva is fighting Carling?

I gape. Silva can't fight! Killing drives Hearers mad!

The gryphons aren't helping her, but they aren't coming to the princess's defense, either. One seems to be preening whenever Carling falters, but it's hard to tell with its grotesque form.

Aidan casually reaches in his sleeve, retrieves his knife, and stabs Carling's torso from behind. Surprise is all that shows on her face as she falls, blood pooling on her gown, and I know it does on mine, too, that Aidan could so easily kill—

But then he grimaces and swallows, looking a little green, and I know he's going to have nightmares from that moment. Suddenly, he looks around the hall frantically. He grabs the Bynd from Father's ashes and runs out.

Drake pries my people's Crystal from me. I hit him, sending it across the room once more. He grabs my wrist and twists. The pain makes me scream. I pull the magic around me, try to fight him…

I cannot— He's too strong! Yie! "Fael Honovi!" My screeching petition is useless here. Someone in Father's ancestry had a care to make Grehafen castle so faeries couldn't shift planes here.

Someone topples Drake. Abruptly he and Aidan are in a tangled heap of limbs and grunts, smearing blood on the floor. I hastily stagger to my feet.

The Crystal flies my way. I barely catch it. I clutch the elves' freedom to my chest.

Aidan bites back a cry. Is he hurt?!

He breaks free of Drake for a moment; flings the Bynd at me. "Flee!"

Tears freezing on my cheeks, I immediately obey.

I must get out!

My feet carry me past Liathen restraining the willing but unfortunately bespelled Jenna, out of the castle, out into the forest…

I splash through a creek, slipping and falling hard against the stepping stones. I taste blood.

Seeing my tattered and burned gown's reflection, the welts on my arms, my hanging wrist, I realize just how close Drake came to subduing me. I gasp, curl up in the frigid water, and sob uncontrollably, clasping the now freed Crystal and Bynd…

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This web novel is listed in Web Fiction Guide and Muse's Success. (Both are directories of online novels, stories, etc.)