Home > The Clash of Yesterday (Chronicles of the Stone Veil #0.5)

The Clash of Yesterday (Chronicles of the Stone Veil #0.5)
Author: Sawyer Bennett

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

The AltVeritas of Brevala

Southern Border of the Meadowlands and Bluffs

Cernian Falls

1027 AD

Arnus, Overlord of the Meadowlands, locked his jaw tight, his hands clenched in fists. He stood still, breath calm even though he was enraged beyond belief as he stared down at the large pool of water that was fed by the Cernian Falls. Those waters came down from the Rivelle Mountains, through the bluffs, and straight into the crystal-blue lake that straddled the border between the Meadowlands and the Bluffs, aptly named Cernian Lake.

The water was off-limits to all inhabitants of Brevala as the clans of both the Meadowlands and the Bluffs claimed it as their own, and if the other were caught in it, blood would be shed. Countless wars had been fought throughout the centuries to carve out an exact border between the two lands, but the lake straddled it dead center.

Over the last few hundred years, they had come to a silent agreement to stay out of the waters and avoid a battle that would probably lead to death, yet Arnus watched with disgust as the man and woman below frolicked naked in the cool lake.

Twisting to look to his right, he made eye contact with the top-ranking colonel in his militia, who was there to bear witness to the justice Arnus had to dole out. He merely nodded his ascent that punishment had to be born.

When he looked the other way, Arnus’ gaze locked with his youngest daughter’s blue eyes. Her golden hair was done in a crown of intricate braids to keep it out of the way since she came along with Arnus in anticipation of a fight. She held her iron sword in one hand—the hilt wrapped in leather so as not to burn her skin—and a dagger in the other. While not asking his daughter’s permission to do what must be done, he was relieved when she also nodded her head. He knew this was difficult on her, given that the woman swimming down below was her cousin, and they were close. Arnus couldn’t afford to be a father right now, but rather a warrior who must teach his daughter how to put her feelings aside. This was a learning experience more than anything.

Examples had to be made; otherwise, the fragile peace that Brevala had enjoyed the last few hundred years would be destroyed. That meant more raids and battles, which meant more bloodshed and death.

The rocky cliff they stood on was high enough up that it would have taken them a good half hour to traverse their way down on foot. As Light Fae, though, they didn’t need to attempt anything as mundane as using their feet for travel.

Not all Light Fae could bend distance, but those from Brevala could as they were gifted that power when their realm was created over three thousand years ago.

“Let’s go,” Arnus grunted. With their magic, they left the craggy outcropping and appeared at the edge of the lake in as much time as it takes to blink.

The couple swimming in the lake didn’t notice the three Meadowland clan members dressed in battle armor with weapons drawn. They were too busy locked in a passionate kiss to notice anything at all. Arnus glanced at his daughter, and he could see her expression was filled with disgust, not at what they were doing, but rather that they were doing it with each other.

A moment came when the couple pulled their mouths apart, and the male caught sight of the Meadlowlanders. In what some might think was a sound display of bravery, the male pushed the female behind him to protect her. But Arnus thought him incredibly stupid even to think he could so much as touch the female in the lake with him.

He was a Bluff dweller and his niece, who had the same golden hair as his daughter, was a Meadowlander.

The two clans did not mix.

They didn’t talk.

They didn’t even look at each other.

If they were in proximity to one another, they were likely to battle to the death.

That’s just the way it was unless it was during the truce called for the Festival of Creation. Thankfully, that came only once every hundred years.

There was no need to wait for the male to exit the water. The Bluff Dwellers weren’t cowards, and the male exploded out of the lake as black wings erupted from his back. He was naked only for a moment because, with his magic, he called forth battle armor to cover his body. An iron sword in hand, he hovered forty feet above the three Meadowlanders, his great wings slowly flapping to hold him there as he tried to calculate who was the biggest threat to take on.

Sadly, for the Bluff dweller, his biggest threat wasn’t on the ground.

It was crouched behind a boulder on the stone outcropping where they had been moments earlier, watching the scene play out down below.

And it was Arnus’ oldest daughter, with blonde hair braided the same as her sister so it wouldn’t get in the way.

No one saw her, certainly not the Bluff Dweller.

He had no clue as he hovered there that she was nocking an arrow in her bow.

Pulling the string back to her ear.

Aiming down the shaft.

She let it fly.

The iron tip penetrated the Bluff Dweller’s left eye, entering easily and slowing dramatically as it came out through the back of his skull. The Meadowlander female in the lake released a piercing shriek as she watched her lover topple from the sky, instantly dead once the iron penetrated his brain. He felt nothing as his body hit the ground with a loud thud.

Arnus tilted his head, shielded his eyes from the bright sky, and spotted his daughter on the rocks above them. She grinned down, proud of her shot.

He was proud too.

Giving his attention back to the woman in the water, he uttered a short command. “Get out.”

Tears pouring down her face, she swam to the shallow end and then stood naked to walk the rest of the way out. She didn’t call forth magic to clothe herself and hide her nudity because she knew her back would need to be bared for what was coming.

Without needing to be told, the woman approached Arnus and fell to her knees in the soft grass. She didn’t try to beg for leniency; instead, she merely bowed her head and sobbed quietly as she awaited her fate.

Arnus studied her a moment before turning to his youngest daughter beside him. He was proud her sister took the kill shot on the Bluff Dweller, which made him realize he couldn’t coddle his other daughter any longer.

Her gaze met his, and she didn’t flinch when he said, “Do it.”

A curt nod was given, and his daughter moved behind the fae female kneeling on the grass. She rotated her wrist a few times, which caused her sword to arc in a circle as she prepared to do her duty.

“Let them out,” his daughter commanded of the kneeling woman.

With no hesitation, the woman did as she was told, her blood-colored wings springing from her back. Her head remained bowed, her sobbing muffled.

Arnus watched as his daughter reached out to hold the wing closest to her at the bone joint where the appendage made its arch. She raised the sword above her head, gritted her teeth, and brought it down hard to sever it from the woman’s body.

She shrieked, not so much in pain, but in loss. Black blood poured from the wound down her back, seeping into the ground. With keen eyes, Arnus watched not the woman on the ground but his daughter.

He carefully gauged her for any signs of weakness or distress over what she had just done. Unfortunately, he could see a slight hint of sorrow in her blue eyes, which did not sit well.

“The other one,” Arnus ordered his daughter, nodding at the other wing.

His daughter’s gaze rose, locked with his, and turned cold. She gave another curt nod of acceptance, all signs of empathy gone, and grabbed hold of the other wing.

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