Slumber Page 1

Prologue

When I was a child the world smelled of summer.

The heady perfume of the dancing wildflowers would hug my senses every time the breeze rattled their song and took them with it on its journey to soothe my cheeks from the heat of the afternoon sun. The relieving scent of the damp soil when the sun had pushed the sky too far and it wept rain for days on end, before wearily turning the world back over to its golden companion. The refreshing aroma of lemons in the thick air of the house, mixing with my mother’s baking as she prepared our afternoon repast of bitter lemonade and thick warm bread, slathered with creamy butter made cold from the sheltering shade of the larder.

And my father’s pipe.

The sweet odour of tobacco tickling my nose as he held me close and whispered the stories of our Salvation and the mighty Kral who lived in the grandest palace in all the land with his beautiful daughter the Princezna... how kind and gentle they were... the reason my private world was one of innocence and endless summer.

My memories of that life never leave me. The sounds of my brother’s laughter carrying back to my young, happy ears as we ran through the fields of purple and gold, racing over the farm to the brook that ran behind our land. The gentle trickle of that stream drew us each day; my brother for the rope swing he had looped around the strongest tree, the one with the trunk that seemed to bend towards the water as if thirsty for a taste of its pure relief. For me I was drawn to its coolness on my skin, its moisture in my dry mouth, its familiar smell... like damp metal and wet grass.

Sometimes I hear my mother calling our names in my dreams.

There was no warning to summer’s end. Its end began like any other day. I lay with my brother beneath the shadow of an oak by the brook’s edge, my young voice barely heard above the babbling water as I recounted the story my father had told me over and over, to my little brother. I could hear my father’s rich voice in my head, had memorised every word, and as I recited it, I remembered to speak in the hushed, awed tones my father used to make a story sound as magical as this one really was.

“Aeons and aeons ago, our people were the most blessed of mankind. Powerful and beautiful we could tap into Mother Nature and draw from her powers; magical beings, spiritual and wondrous to behold. But mankind grew envious of us, and wise as we were, we knew mankind, with so many wars already brewing between its people, could not withstand a war with us. The wisest of us persuaded us it was time to fade from mankind’s earth, to fade as one into a world of our own. We drew from the earth and imagined a paradise. Mankind began to melt around us as we fell deep, deep into the fade. When our people awakened it was to find themselves here, in the Phade, in a new born land; a sky, a moon, a sun, trees, plants, water, and all animals familiar to them awaiting them; awaiting them to begin the new world in peace. Fearful of our emotions betraying us as they had to mankind, it was decided that the Dyzvati, a clan of magical evokers, with the ability to lull the people and the land with peace, would reign as the royal family. The Dyzvati named our land Phaedra, splitting it into our six provinces, giving a province to the clans with the most powerful magic. Sabithia, in the south, was taken by the Dyzvati, and they built a beautiful palace in the capital city of Silvera, where the shores of the Silver Sea edge its coast with its vibrant silver surf. To the Clan Glava, the largest and most powerful of the mage with their many psychic abilities, whether it be reading the past, present or future, or shifting objects and summoning elements with their mind, was given Javinia to the east of Sabithia and also Daeronia in the northeast.” I turned my head to smile at my brother who gazed at me enraptured by the story. “And our own slice of haven, Vasterya, was given to the Clan Azyl; seekers, mage with the ability to seek whatever their hearts desired. Eventually, the Azyl became servants of the Dyzvati, using their abilities to seek whatever the royal family wished, helping the upkeep of the peace in Phaedra. Many centuries onwards and the Azyl’s magic had evolved with their position; no longer able to seek that which they wished for themselves, only what others wanted sought.”

“That’s a little unfair.” My brother frowned and I nodded in agreement. I thought so.

“Anyway, the province of Daeronia, beyond the northern borders of Sabithia, was given to Clan Dravilec, the healers, to keep them close to the Dyzvati.” I thought on how much a fairytale this sounded now, a many millennia on from the beginning of Phaedra. “Now there are so few mage left. Papa says there are none left in Vasterya at all. And now only the Kral and Princezna Haydyn remain of the Dyzvati.”

My brother hadn’t been listening to me anymore or my woe over our people’s sad evolution. “What about Alvernia?” My brother asked instead in a hushed voice.

I shivered at the thought of Alvernia; the stories I’d heard of the rough, uncivilised northern mountain people, terrifying tales of their macabre misdeeds and unsettling lifestyle, all because the power of the Dyzvati began to wane towards the middle of their province.

“It was given to those of middling magical abilities. A few of the Glava went with them, as there were so many, and set themselves up in the southern most point, in the city of Arrana.”

“Where the Vojvoda lives?”

“Where the Vojvoda lives.”

“I wish I was a Vojvoda. Or a Markiza. Or a Vikomt!” He cried excitedly, pushing himself up into a sitting position. “I’d have horses. Lots of horses. And gold! We could play treasure hunt!”

I laughed and pushed him playfully. “All those titles and you didn’t choose the best.”

“What?!” He pouted.

I stood up, bracing my small hands against my youthful hips, legs astride, chin defiant. “Why… Kral of course!”

“Yeah!” He jumped to his feet now, mimicking my stance. “I am Kral of Vasterya!”

“And me?”

“My servant.”

I growled in outrage. “Servant indeed.”

I still remember the sounds of his beautiful laughter as I chased him for his teasing.

At the grumbling of our bellies, my younger brother and I reluctantly ceased playing and began walking back towards the house. I remember holding his hand as we wove our way through the fields. I remember the gust of wind that shook the gold and purple and blew my hair back from my face, sending shivers of warning down my spine. My feet moved faster then, tugging on my brother each time my heart beat a little quicker.

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