By: Rachel S.
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
* 1st 500 Words
When Fyr was struck, and Vladyslav scarred, the world was shivering.
A blanket of clouds lay across the trinity of nations, and fingers of chill dragged into hearts and bones. Windows were shut, as were jackets. The breath of a hundred furnaces and the smoke of a thousand lungs rose to mingle with the skies.
A handful of bourgeoisie gathered outside the Vlalonnan King’s palace, hoping to warm souls and fill their purses. Ignoring winter’s slaps on their cheeks and voices, they sang.
They looked up expectantly at the massive windows, where they hoped to see the king deigning to pay them mind, or preferably, cash. Instead, a snowflake drifted from above to their feet, as if a promise.
And their ancient carol soared to mist-dusted rooftops, where relentless wind snatched and swept it south to the Grassland Reserves, where “savages,” the tribal Yihhe, lived.
The same clouds hovered in their sky, but different joy in their hearts. One that gloried in their enemies’ disfigured heads, once unfortunate Vlalonnan pilgrims, staked around the camp.
Yihhe children, free of chores, ran out shrieking to catch snow in outstretched fingers and dark lashes. Fyr, about eight, stood on the edge of her people’s territory, daring to poke toes past the invisible boundary, near the dreadful heads. She glanced at them curiously, balancing her infant brother on her hip.
While the other children held the bodiless things in fearful reverence, Fyr was grateful to them. From them had come the book in her hand. St. Thandos’ History of Sayy.
She had read it over in the two days it had been hers, glorying in the mythology it told, even reading it to her brother.
But now together they gazed in childish fascination at the falling snow.
And again the girl recited the poem that opened the precious book:
“What has been written,
Cannot be undone.
When comes the Raven
Symbol of a time
Time after a Time.
Five Hundred Years Past
Those Ships Came Afar
And Raven sent Blue
Back from Whence they came.
Now he sits in stone,
Now he does take flight,
Frees him from the tomb
Five Hundred Years Came,
Those Ships Afar Come,
And look upon War
What has been written,
Cannot be undone.
Ravens bow to Kings
King Elian be,
The left Eye is Dark,
And the Right Eye Blue.
Peace to Warring Lands.
Freedom is not free.
Heart, Strength, Elian.”
Her words, merely voice to ancient prophecy, lifted to blanketed sky, mingling with the carolers’ call, braiding them together with pure snow into something none of them knew would enter their lives in a matter of time.
Time after a time.
But then the moment ended, and the riders appeared on the horizon, warped shadows coming in the name of the dead.
They broke upon the village faster than it could panic, guns blazing, shattering the still air, and clogging it with black smoke and the screams of the dying. In the midst of the cold and chaos, the little girl ran in a forest of waists and belt buckles, clutching her wailing brother.