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Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Young adult or teen  ➡  Sci-Fi & fantasy  ➡  Fantasy

Dawn to Dusk: The Road to Age of Shadows

 

Dawn to Dusk

Brittany Oldroyd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the world of Segolia—

Where it all began.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Note

Hello, readers.

It’s been quite some time since I have been able to share something of the story that began the writing frenzy. Segolia: Daughter of Prophecy was the original idea and it started me on a journey I couldn’t imagine missing.

After a few years of working on its sequel, as well as other just as incredibly fun, the world of Segolia has taken a different turn. Segolia: Daughter of Prophecy has become a prequel book, slightly separate from the rest of the Segolia books. Which leaves the book to come, Age of Shadows, the beginning of this new Segolia series called The Daughter of the Dawn.

Dawn to Dusk is a collection of short stories which breaches the time between the end of Segolia: Daughter of Prophecy and the beginning of Age of Shadows. Twelve major points in the five years that passed between these two books are shared in twelve short stories.

So, without further ado, here is the story that falls after Segolia: Daughter of the Dawn and the series now known as The Daughter of the Dawn.

 

One

Rylan

I am slipping into indecision.

My fingers clutch a rocky precipice, struggling to hold onto what I know, struggling to remember that I chose this path, that I have to hold onto it.

But the paths I choose often feel like throwing my body over a cliff side.

I want to pull myself back over the cliff, stand on solid ground again. But I don’t have the strength to do it and I know that there’s no other way of protecting her.

Because the war is over but Reva got away and Nissa isn’t safe.

She said she’d be back. She said she’d return. She said she’d get me and she’d get Nissa.

Not a chance. Not a choice.

Which is what has led me to this cliff. Which is what has forced to choose this path.

Which is why I am running away, which is why I am giving chase.

And now I’m preparing to slip into lands I have never seen and past cities I have only dreamed of.

And the only things moving me forward is what I know is behind me and the black trail in front of me.

I can see the Shadow magic. Slithering through the air, slipping past the trees. Wild and dark and freezing the air into place.

It reminds me of Reva.

Wild and cold and so very dark. When I reach out my fingers, I can feel the numbing cold that I am sure would be torture to Nissa’s light magic.

The black disappears into the trees, fading into natural shadows.

I don’t have to guess to know what the Shadow leads to. Reva uses Shadow magic. She ran in this direction. This Shadow has to be connected to her.

Hold on to what you know. Hold on to what you must do.

But I’m not still running in the direction of the Shadow anymore and I’m standing still and

I have to look back.

And now I can see her. Brown curls falling out of a dark braid, swinging as she walks away. She’s standing tall but her arm is curled around her body and her other hand is clutching her white blade.

Little Niss.

It seems like a lifetime since I teased her about her height and I suppose it’ll feel like another lifetime before I tease her again.

“Be brave, Nissa,” I whisper, watching as she walks back onto the Plains. “I don’t know what comes next but we’re both going to have to be brave.”

I turn away, start to run again.

It’s time to let go of my indecision.

 

 

 

 

Two

Edgeshifter

I always believed that the Prophecy would fix everything. That once it was fulfilled, there would no longer be a war. That once Nissa came in contact with that staff, there would be nothing left to fight about.

I was wrong.

Because Reva got away. Because Rylan is gone. Because, they may not be killing each other anymore, but the elves and the dragons have not stopped fighting.

They’re fighting with their words now.

“That’s ridiculous!”

I sigh, glance at Deepclaw next to me. My brother’s eyes are wary as he shakes his head.

I know what he’s thinking. This argument, this whole council is ridiculous.

They’re all so obstinate. The elves, refusing to let go of stubborn pride. The dragons, holding onto their fury. Neither side giving any, both sides prepared only to take.

“This is never going to end,” Deepclaw mutters. “Not like this.”

“Where’s the enchantress?”

Deepclaw shakes his head. He doesn’t know. “Where’s Nissa?”

I’m opening my mouth but—

“I’m here.”

I turn, see her lean forward on her toes, the smallest of smiles on her lips.

She’s wearing men’s clothes again. Brown trousers, a white tunic, a green cloak wrapped around her body. Her hair is loose of its braid and her hand is on the white sword at her waste and

She looks tired.

Empty.

Ancient.

“What have I missed?”

I shake my head. “Nothing. They’re all still arguing about the same things.”

Lands, fortune, power, anything to give them the upper hand over the other.

Nissa nods absentmindedly, her gaze moving to the increasingly loud argument. Her mouth set in a tired line, her eyebrows raising at the ridiculous show of politics.

The yelling is louder now. And now there are several elves and several dragons ready to fight each other for whatever it is they want. Standing, growling, yelling, swords raised, wings open.

I lean forward, ready to attack, but

Nissa sighs, her fingers curling around the hilt of her blade, body stepping past the Guardians and into the brawl.

I watch the young princess unsheathe her sword with more practice than she should have as she takes her sword and stabs it into the dirt.

The air explodes into light.

Nissa has slipped onto one knee and the ground around her glows with light.

The world around her is silent. No one speaks, no one moves. The elves and dragons previously prepared to start a second war are still.

“A waste,” Nissa says softly. “The Prophecy was fulfilled to prevent more war. And here you stand, ready to throw that away.”

The dragons and elves are looking down and Nissa is standing and I try to keep from shaking my head.

She’s different. More assertive, stronger, wiser. Perhaps a little colder, perhaps a little more distant from the child I met in Idari just weeks before.

She’s a queen now.

“Now,” Nissa says, “Let’s continue this council peaceably.”

She steps back, next to me, and the council continues their previous discussion hesitantly.

“Well done,” I mutter.

Nissa barely looks at me and the courage and bold words fade from her expression. She slips back into exhaustion, with eyes cast downward and lips turned down in an eternal frown.

She crosses her arms. “Where is Alianor?”

I shake my head. “The enchantress has not made an appearance today.”

“No!”

Nissa glances my way, arching an eyebrow. I know what she’s thinking. I can see the thoughts in her eyes.

So this is what I stayed behind for…

I give her a sympathetic look and she sighs, turning back to the council.

“That’s—”

“Not going to work?”

I’m suddenly tense. Because Nissa is moving forward with suddenly hot anger and a very purposeful stride. Because she is so put up with this council. Because I don’t know if this bold Nissa is emotionally unstable or brave enough to end the fighting.

“I suppose the question would be,” Nissa says as she strides across The Plains, “Is there anything that will work?”

Silence slips through the council.

Nissa clasps her hands behind her back. “Are we doomed then? To never find peace of mind?”

For a moment, there is nothing but the uncomfortable quiet. But then a single form slips through the throngs of people, coming to stand near Nissa.

“Only if that is the life they choose for themselves.”

The enchantress and Nissa share a look, the young Guardian and the ancient enchantress looking equally exhausted.

The enchantress steps forward, that knowing gaze flicking between the dragons on one side and the elves on another.

“Perhaps, it is time your races allied yourselves together. Perhaps, that will be your only chance for peace.”

A dragon speaks up. “What are you asking of us, enchantress?”

The enchantress clasps her hands together in front of her. “Allow me to confer with the Guardians and their Partners. I believe we may be able to come up with a solution.”

The dragons and elves look amongst themselves before a single elf nods and a single dragon bows his head.

The enchantress turns, sweeping off in the direction of the forest without a word, with Nissa right behind her.

I push myself up. “Come on,” I mutter, before following in their direction.

The enchantress kneels down in the grass but Nissa remains standing with arms crossed and gaze flicking across the forest. She looks like she’s in pain.

Perhaps, she is. This is where Rylan left her.

“It has become evident the Council cannot and will not come to a decision on their own,” the enchantress begins once everyone comes to a standstill in the forest around her. “We must provide an option for them. They need guidance.”

Because the prophecy should have ended the war. Because it doesn’t seem like it has. Because if we don’t come up with a solution, nothing is going to change.

It could happen so quickly, so easily. A single insult could lead to a second war, potentially just as long as the first war was. One drawn sword, one swiped set of claws could turn a council into a battle.

“They’re afraid,” Nissa says quietly, still not looking at anyone. “Both races are terrified of another war. They don’t want one leader to cause more war.”

They don’t want to let the other race take charge because they are afraid of what it could mean.

And so everything begins to knit itself together.

They can’t rule each other. Dragons cannot rule elves and elves cannot rule dragons. They don’t understand each other. They never will. But they couldn’t just be left to rule themselves. Isolation will tear them apart.

Unity is key.

The kind of unity that brings together all kinds of people. The kind of unity that brought us together.

I glance around me, at the dragons and the elves who managed to come together against impossible odds. We were united in a cause. We all wanted the war to end. And it pulled us together.

Nissa, finally pulling her eyes away from the forest, meets my gaze and I realize she’s thinking the same thing I am.

“A compromise,” Nissa whispers. “With both races getting some and giving some.”

“The two rule together,” I add.

For a moment, it feels like it’s just Nissa and I standing here. Her smile is slight and I’m grinning and

It feels like we’re a team again. It feels like space between us, created by her concern for Rylan, is smaller right now.

The others are staring and the enchantress pushes herself to her feet, looking at the two of us with a knowing smile.

“Your partnership is proof that this can work,” she says. “Though your races were enemies, the two of you have become very close.” The enchantress smiles. “Close enough to share ideas without speaking.

“Perhaps, this is the answer everyone is looking for. A way to bring together the two races without one in control of the other.”

Nissa is frowning. “What do you mean, Alianor?”

The enchantress smiles, answering the question with another. “Would it not be fitting for the Guardian Order to rule? You represent the union of the races. Would it not make sense for that union to set the example for everyone else?”

There is nothing but silence.

Everyone is quiet, lost to the implications. None of these dragons ever expected to be anything but a warrior. And very few of these elves expected to rule anything. Nissa, perhaps, but only of a small peaceful country. Rylan was the only Guardian who expected to rule Segolia and now he’s the only one not here.

Do we dare take that throne? Do we dare lead two countries torn apart by war for so long we don’t know that they can stop fighting?

Fireheart speaks up. “We ended the war. We could make a case that it is our right to lead.”

“They won’t be able to argue,” Fendrel adds. “There will be representatives from both races.”

The enchantress smiles, nods. “Then are we agreed?”

I glance at Nissa, watch her bite her lip, feel the same anxiety I can see in her eyes.

We never intended to start a revolution. But to have the Guardians rule would destroy past governments, combining to governing races into an order. In all of our recorded histories, I don’t know that it’s ever been done.

Nissa looks back to the enchantress, nods curtly.

I suppose, if she’s ready, I will have to be ready too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three

Nissa

Seven days comes far too quickly on wings far too large.

He’s not here. He’s not back. He didn’t keep his promise. And now I have to face this day—a day I had hoped to be able to lean on him—alone.

I stand in front of a mirror in a dress I never expected to wear on a day I never expected to come.

A tall servant girl, from the Idarian Palace, stands behind me. Combing through my curls with trembling fingertips, she keeps her eyes down and her mouth closed.

Once she finishes combing through my hair, she steps back and gingerly picks up my circlet. She stands in front of me and gently presses the circlet down on my head.

I sigh at my reflection, swallowing hard, and the hesitant servant girl looks up at me. I don’t have the heart to force a smile and she must notice because before she can stop herself she takes my hands in hers.

“It will work out, Your Majesty.”

I force a smile. “Thank you.” I put my hand over hers. “What is your name?”

“Juliana, Your Majesty.”

“It’s just Nissa,” I say softly. “I’m not queen yet.”

Juliana’s returning smile is slight. “You will be soon.” She sighs, reaching up to push a curl away from my face. “Are you ready?”

I stare at my reflection, trying to keep emotion out of my face and out of my voice. “No one is ever ready to be a queen.”

Juliana squeezes my hands once before stepping back. “I haven’t been in Idari very long but there are many rumors about you, miss. You’re a hero and your people will follow your lead.”

That’s what I fear most of all. Because if people follow me, they could lose their way. Because if I go astray, so could hundreds of others. Because far too many are counting on me.

You’re going to be fine, kid.

I smile at the voice I am growing more and more accustomed to.

He says he’s a ghost. He says he’s been dead for hundreds of years. He says that his people, the ghosts of enchanters known as Enchanters of Old, assigned him to me the day I was born. He says he’s been a guiding force in my head my whole life.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that he chose to speak up.

Thank you, Lightkeeper, I think back.

“You’re Majesty?”

I sigh, look at Juliana, still at the fear in her expression.

“Yes? What’s wrong, Juliana?”

The tall servant girl swallows hard, looking down at her hands. “They said that she got away. The woman who was controlling King Stefan. They say she almost killed you. Is…is that true?”

I shut my eyes tight and I’ve been fighting to forget and perhaps it’s impossible to let go of memories like these.

Memories like these haunt us.

She was wild out there on The Plains, alive with an insane kind of hatred. She screamed at Stefan and laughed at my coming death. And when Rylan showed up and we freed Stefan, she grabbed me.

I remember that moment the very most. Her cold hands grabbing my shoulders, a blood-spattered blade against my throat. I remember the panic passing through my head and my heart and—

Nissa.

I shudder, open my eyes. “Yes, Juliana,” I whisper. “It’s true.”

Her eyes are wide. “Is she going to come back?”

I pause, watch those big brown eyes fill with tears, wonder where all this coming from. No one has taken time to consider Reva’s return, no one but Rylan.

She’s intuitive, Lightkeeper notes. She’s heard rumors of what Reva did to Stefan and she’s scared of what someone like that might do next.

More people should be, I think.

Regardless, Lightkeeper replies, This girl needs some comfort. She’s terrified.

Not as terrified as I am.

I sigh, take on of Juliana’s hands in both of mine. “Listen to me. It’s a dark world we live in. All of our histories show that. Thousands of years of war and it doesn’t seem to be getting a lot better. But there’s still some light out there and we owe ourselves a chance to find it.

“I don’t know if Reva is going to come back. I can’t guarantee that she won’t cause any damage. But I can promise you that she won’t be here to stay.”

I can feel a smile spread across my cheeks, small but sure. “Someday, Juliana, you and I are going to find that light and not even someone like Reva can stop us.”

Juliana, silent, steps forward and throws her arms around me.

I still. When was the last time someone touched me? When was the last time I let someone?

“I keep having these awful dreams,” Juliana whispers, “About this impending darkness. It seems so inescapable.”

I hug her tight. And now I understand. Because I’m not the only one who has been suffering. Because I’m not the only one who has been afraid.

There are hundreds of people in pain. Those afraid of Reva, like Juliana. Those afraid of change, like any of those elves or dragons who opposed this new kind of government.

All suffering and trembling in the dark.

Two whole countries are suffering, Nissa, Lightkeeper says softly. They need someone to show them the light. They need someone they can follow into the dawn.

I grip Juliana’s shoulders. “Juliana, you and I are both going to have to be very brave now. Regardless of what comes next, this world needs people to lead it into the light. Will you help me do that?”

Juliana nods. “How?”

I smile. “By being happy. Let’s show the impending darkness that it cannot win.”

Juliana smiles too, nodding again.

I grip her hands for another second. “You can go now. I need a moment to gather my thoughts.”

Juliana leaves and now I’m alone and I’m watching my reflection very carefully.

The girl there in the mirror doesn’t look like me. She’s far more beautiful, far more regal than I could ever dream of being.

Her hair is twisted intricately around a gold circlet and her skin is pale like porcelain, her lips fragile like a doll, and her eyes hold a cold kind of regality that turns a young girl into a soon-to-be queen.

I smile at the girl in the mirror and her expression slips into a kind half-smile. I brush my hand across the skirt of my gown and the queen in my reflection smooths one hand across gold fabrics dancing with complex designs.

Despite all our differences, the queen-to-be in the mirror and I are one in the same.

Nissa, Lightkeeper interjects quietly, It’s time to go.

I sigh, turn from the mirror, pick up the white blade laying on my bed. I strap it across my waist and turn back to the mirror one last time.

I don’t know if I’m ready to be a queen yet. But I do know one thing:

I have to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four

Fearcharm

The future is an uncertain thing.

Just a matter weeks ago, if someone were to ask me if I thought there was any chance for Segolia to survive I would shake my head and tell them no. But now? Now, Edgeshifter, once exiled, is about to become Dragon Leader and Nissa is going to be queen of the elves and I’m about to become a part of a completely untried form of government.

I stand in a line of six dragons. Six dragons standing across from six elves. Or rather, five elves and one blue-skinned naiad.

I look at Rhiannon and the small naiad smiles.

Every dragon and elf falls silent as the enchantress approaches. She walks across the Plains barefoot, holding her white staff in both hands, with Alistair and Stefan walking on either side of her.

The elves and dragons surrounding our Order on the Plains are all silent.

“For thousands of years,” the enchantress begins. “We have fought amongst ourselves and allowed blood to rain down on our people. But the time for peace has come.”

She looks at Stefan. “King Stefan, will you renounce your throne and place as the king of Segolian elves, allowing the Guardians to rule in your stead?”

Stefan nods solemnly. “Yes.”

The enchantress turns to Alistair. “King Alistair, will you renounce your place as king of Broen and allow the Guardians to rule in your stead?”

“I will.”

The enchantress nods, turning her attention to the elven Guardians. “Mitchell Rogersson,” she calls.

He steps forward and the enchantress sets a crown on his head. “As the Air Guardian,” she says, “Do you swear to work with your fellow Guardians to protect all peoples in Segolia and Broen?”

“Yes.”

The enchantress nods before calling, “Fireheart of Tresed, the Warrior Princess.”

Mitchell falls back into the line and Fireheart approaches the enchantress with a confident stride.

“Fireheart, as the Fire Guardian, do you promise to work with your fellow Guardians to protect the people of this land?”

“I do.”

Again, the enchantress dismisses her with a light nod. She calls Fendrel next, followed by Rhiannon.

I watch as my Guardian steps out of line, walking up to the enchantress. I can hear the murmurs of surprise and I’m tempted to use my sight on the elves and dragons around.

Rhiannon clenches her hands tightly but keeps walking, ignoring the fact that it’s her skin being spoken of in the crowds.

After Rhiannon, there is a long silence.

We all know why, though no one would dare to voice the reasons for this quiet moment. Rylan. The charismatic young prince never returned. Their Shadow Guardian is lost.

After a moment, the enchantress clears her throat, moving past the silence.

“Nissa Serenitysdaughter, Daughter of Prophecy, the Daughter of the Dawn.”

I watch as Nissa steps forward, one hand on the sword at her side, another tightly clenched at her side.

The enchantress places a gold circlet on her head. “Nissa,” she says, “Do you promise to lead your fellow Guardians, Segolia and Broen to the best of your knowledge and abilities? Do you promise to protect all those who stand in need of your protection?”

“I promise to lead and to protect,” Nissa answers, sounding far more weighed down than any who spoke before her.

Nissa returns to her place in line and the enchantress turns to the dragons gathered. “In Stormblast’s absence, we are in need of a dragon to coronate the dragon partners.”

I watch as an old dragon steps forward, with dull gold scales like the walls of a majestic palace, fading from a different century.

“Youngseeker,” he called in a voice that boomed like thunder.

Youngseeker steps forward. “Do you agree to act as one of six Dragon Leaders?”

Youngseeker nods and the old dragon dismisses him with a look. Venomsting comes next, followed by Deepclaw and Echosong. All agree to the terms of becoming a Dragon Leader and

It’s my turn now.

I step forward, feeling a weight on my shoulders I’ve never felt before, a certain responsibility I never expected or wanted to own.

“Do you agree to act as one of the six Dragon Leaders, Fearcharm?” asks the old dragon.

I nod. “Yes.”

The old dragon moves on, dismissing me without a word.

“Edgeshifter the Lightwanderer.”

The world falls still at her name. The dragons are quiet, thinking of the once exiled, always opinionated healer who never backed down. The elves stilled by the knowledge that she protected their people just as much as the dragons.

Edgeshifter steps forward, flicking a white tail across the Plains. She stands before the old gold-scaled dragon.

“Edgeshifter,” the old dragons says, “Do you promise to act as the Head Dragon Leader, ruling over both Dragon Leaders and dragon kind, leading Segolia and Broen alongside Queen Nissa and the Guardians.”

“I do.”

The old dragon nods and Edgeshifter steps back and everything erupts into chaotic celebration and that’s it.

The Guardian Order has been gathered.

 

Five

Rhiannon

I’ve never cared much for attention.

For fifteen years, I lived as an outcast. Mocked by every naiad, whispered about by fake friends.

I may not be in Awaida anymore but old habits die hard. I feel just as out of place here as I did there.

Standing in the middle of a celebration, I am a stranger.

It’s the coronation of the Guardian Order and now I’m part of a new kind of government, with Edgeshifter as Dragon Leader and Nissa as Queen of Segolia and Broen and I don’t know how I feel about playing such a large role in this country.

A little overwhelmed, little afraid.

I suppose what I feel is only a piece of what Nissa must be feeling right now.

It barely shows. Wearing that beautiful gold dress and a gold circlet. Standing tall, head high, a still expression. She looks so calm.

But I know she can’t be. Because she’s just become queen of an entire realm. Because she has to be missing Rylan. Because now she has so much more responsibility than she could have ever expected to carry.

She glances in my direction and that still expression is transformed into a kind smile.

I return her smile, lift up the sleek dark blue fabric around me, and step toward her. Slipping between elven nobles and sneaking past prominent dragons, I walk over to where she stands.

Hands folded in front of her, her eyes never straying from the party around us, Nissa nods. “How does it feel?”

“Overwhelming,” I admit.

Nissa looks at me now. “I understand. I didn’t intend on ruling two countries and I certainly didn’t intend on ruling any time soon. It’s a lot to take in, for anyone.”

“You still accepted when they asked you to be queen,” I point out.

“And you didn’t argue when it was suggested that the Guardians become the new government.” Nissa smiles. “We do what we have to. Segolia needed a change and we were that change.”

I nod, glance across the party. “Do you think this will work?”

“It should. Look at them. Every dragon in Draconia, every elven noble from Broen, Segolia, even Segarim. They all agreed to this. They all know what the alternative is. No one wants another war.”

“Do—”

“What are you girls doing?”

Fireheart stands with her hands on her hips, looking far less warrior-like than I have ever seen her. Red chiffon pulled around her and gold gauntlets on her wrists give her a strangely feminine side none of us have seen thus far.

“Is something wrong?” Nissa asks, still wearing a gentle smile.

Fireheart grins. “Both of you are just standing here. Are you trying to hold up the sky?”

Nissa shakes her head. “Not everyone dances, Fireheart.”

“Are you saying that the great Warrior Princess can dance? I would have thought those soldier’s feet would make you clumsy on a dance floor,” I tease.

Fireheart scoffs. “I’m never clumsy.” She jabs a finger at us. “Go find someone to dance with.”

Fireheart prances off, grabbing a young desert soldier as she walks.

Nissa glances at me with a knowing smile. “You could always ask Fendrel. I know for a fact he hasn’t danced with anyone in years. And all the women think he’s still completely blind.”

When the prophecy was fulfilled and we each took a turn touching the staff with Nissa always holding on to it, Fendrel received some form in sight, even if only in shades of green.

I bite my lip. “I don’t think so.”

Nissa rolls her eyes. “What do you have to lose, Rhiannon?”

I sigh. “What about you?”

She shakes her head, glances down for a second. “There’s only one dance partner for me and he has yet to make an appearance.”

“Only one?”

Nissa turns to see her father standing there with a small smile and a hand outstretched.

Glancing at me one more time, Nissa takes her father’s hand. “Go ask him to dance or I’ll ask him for you.”

Nissa and her father dance off together and I sigh, standing on my tiptoes, not sure if I’m going to take Nissa seriously, not sure if I’m just going to stand here and hope she doesn’t say anything to—

“Rhiannon.”

As it turns out, I don’t have to say anything to him and neither does Nissa.

Fendrel smiles crookedly, holds out a hand. “Would you dance with me?”

I take his hand, hoping he can’t feel my pounding heartbeat through my wrist.

And as we begin to move, I can’t decide how this moment will end.

Perhaps the heart is too fickle to know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Months Later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five

Deepclaw

I’m standing back where it all began.

I can feel the wind blow the salty air across the ocean and I can hear the crashing waves hitting the cliff side and it’s been so long since I stood here that I’ve forgotten that I loved it here just as much as Edgeshifter does.

I close my eyes and listen to the sounds of the ocean, thinking about all that’s been lost, all that’s been found.

It’s been six months since the Coronation of the Guardians. Six months since the end of the war.

“Deepclaw.”

I glance back, watch the white dragon padding across the cliff to stand next to me. “Edgeshifter.”

“It’s been so long since I was here,” she says softly, glancing out at the ocean.

“I would have figured you’d been coming here every day.”

Edgeshifter shakes her head. “I’ve been avoiding it. So much has changed. I was worried it wouldn’t be the same. I was worried I wouldn’t love it as much as I used to.”

“And has anything changed?”

Edgeshifter looks out at the ocean. “No. I’d stay here forever if I could.”

I look across the waves of the ocean, understanding completely. Things were a lot simpler before. We weren’t responsible for so many people. We hadn’t yet stopped the war but we also hadn’t thrown out the old governments yet.

Edgeshifter grows still and a shudder runs down her spine.

“Edge?”

She looks at me, blue eyes on fire. “We have to go. Now.”

Edgeshifter gives no other explanation. She unfolds her wings and takes off over the ocean. Confused, lost, I sigh and follow her.

Edgeshifter flies over the ocean, making her way over the forests around Draconia, crashing into bunches of trees.

I follow suit, sending branches to the ground as I land in a grove of trees, just barely far enough for Edgeshifter and I to remain in our dragon forms.

“Edgeshifter—”

I clamp my mouth shut, instantly understanding the panic that caused Edgeshifter to fly here without an explanation.

Nissa is here. Curled up in the grass, shivering violently, skin pale, eyes closed tightly. A small trail of blood slips past her lips.

And she’s not alone.

Wearing a sleek black gown, inspecting her blade, Reva Bloodkiss stands close to Nissa.

Edgeshifter reacts much faster than I do. She lunges and I can’t decide if she intends to attack Reva or help Nissa but she stops the moment Reva lifts a hand, waving her fingers through the air.

Nissa screams.

I still and Edgeshifter stops. Reva looks at Nissa’s crumpled form with disdain. “You’re as weak as he was.”

Nissa clenches her jaw, cutting off her screaming. “Where is he?”

Reva smiles. “Haven’t you figured it out, little light queen? He’s dead.”

I growl and Reva looks away from Nissa. “You couldn’t have honestly believed he was alive still, any of you. It’s been six months. What did you expect?”

Nissa glares, jaw still clenched. There’s grief in her eyes and agony on her lips but she doesn’t move and she doesn’t speak.

Edgeshifter snarls. “What do you want?”

Reva shakes her head. “I would have thought that would be obvious. Your Shadow Guardian is dead. Who is left to protect you from the night?”

There’s a roar in my throat but I hold it back when I see Nissa. Suddenly so defiant, so angry. She’s grieving but it’s that grief that is pushing her into the fire now in her eyes.

“There may not be a Shadow Guardian anymore,” she says very softly, “But there is still a Light Guardian.” Light starts to radiate off her fingertips. “And she will defend the day.”

Reva’s lips curl up and she bares her teeth but it doesn’t matter. It’s too late.

Nissa grabs her sword, stabs it into the ground. And even though she’s shaking, light still sparks off the blade, sending Reva stumbling back.

“Leave,” Nissa whispers. “I am queen of these people and I will defend them.”

Reva is still for a moment, watching Nissa carefully. I watch her, waiting for any signs that she might strike. Finally, Reva throws her head back and laughs.

“Oh, you’ve changed, little light queen. You think you’re a warrior now.”

“Go back to wherever it is you’ve been all this time,” Edgeshifter snaps.

Reva grins. “Not quite yet.”

“You intend to take me with you,” Nissa says matter-of-factly, “But that’s not going to happen. I’m not going with you but you are definitely leaving.”

Reva’s face grows dark and I tense and she lunges for Nissa but the young queen throws his sword down again in another flash of light. Reva stumbles back again, hissing angrily, and Nissa shakes her head.

“You think you’re a soldier now, Nissa of Broen?” Reva snarls angrily. “Perhaps, it’s time the little light queen learned about the consequences of war.”

“I already know the consequences,” Nissa says coldly. “I learned them long ago.”

Reva takes a step back. “I will be back, I promise you, I will. And when I come, you’ll understand what it means to be responsible for a thousand deaths.

“You won’t be so brave then.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six

Fireheart

Nissa looks the most shaken up by the experience.

Eyes frozen, hair disheveled, skin pale, she stands with her arms wrapped around her body, looking straight ahead. I wonder if she’s listening to a word being said or if she’s too lost in her mind.

Is this what grief does to people? Turn them into ghosts that cannot rejoin the living but cannot be with the loved ones already gone?

“Reva is going to be back,” Edgeshifter is saying, concern in those blue eyes of hers.

She must be dealing with her panic differently than Nissa. Because, while Nissa looks like a ghost, Edgeshifter looks more alive than I’ve seen her in months, electrified by her fear.

“We have to find—”

Nissa’s head snaps up. “Finding Reva now will do no good,” she says. “She’s determined to win this time.”

“What is it that she wants?” I ask, leaning back against the wall.

“War,” Nissa says grimly. “She wants war and I don’t think anything will stop her from getting it.”

“So what do we do?” Fearcharm asks.

Nissa sighs, rubbing her forehead. “I don’t know that we have much of a choice. Either we let her slaughter us or we give her what she wants.”

Slow clapping reverberates off the walls and everyone’s heads turn toward the sound. Automatically, my fingers close around my bow, one hand reaching back for an arrow.

It’s a wise choice.

Because as I turn, I can see her leaning against a wall. Wearing a skin-tight black gown and a dark cloak. Wielding a dark red blade and black magic on her skin.

“Well, well, the all-powerful Light Guardian has spoken,” she sneers, “Expecting everyone to follow her to death.”

My fingers tighten against my bow. “Better to die a hero than live a coward,” I say.

Reva smirks. “A foolhardy thing to say. Particularly when you don’t understand what it means to truly sacrifice for a cause.”

Edgeshifter growls. “And you do?”

Reva smiles. “I have lived for hundreds of years, healer. I know more of true sacrifice than you could imagine knowing.”

“You’d sacrifice two nations to teach me a lesson?” Nissa asks through her teeth.

Reva is laughing and Nissa is glaring and I can’t stop looking at the two of them. Reva’s gloating expression, her smug smile, like she knows this war is already over. Nissa’s angry face and lips set in frustration, like she already knows where this road is going to lead.

She’s changed. Just a couple of months have passed since the Coronation of the Guardians and she’s been turned from timid child to a warrior willing to do absolutely anything to protect her people.

She’s a lot more like me than I would have thought.

“A crucial lesson,” Reva says, still smirking. “A lesson that you must learn before I can allow you to die.”

I’m not the only one who steps forward to protect Nissa but I am the closest to Reva. I pull back on my bow, aiming an arrow.

“You’re not touching her.”

Reva’s smile is dark. “Oh, I never intended on touching her, my dear Warrior Princess. I don’t need to touch her.”

She flicks her gaze toward Nissa, smiling intently at the young queen.

Nissa is suddenly frozen, back erect, body clenched in sudden and unexplainable pain. Her jaw is clenched and her eyes are hard but she doesn’t move and she doesn’t speak.

I can feel my eyes narrow, fingers tight around the string of my bow.

Reva smiles, her gaze turning away from Nissa. The young queen gasps, falling to her knees.

With her no longer looking at Nissa, I have no problem with releasing an arrow. Breathing in, I release the arrow.

With the kind of speed that can only accompany a monster like Reva, she unsheathes a red blade, slicing the arrow in the air.

I lower my bow, not sure if I’m more disappointed or more surprised that she cut down a speeding arrow.

“Dear Fireheart,” Reva sneers, “You didn’t really think you could kill me with an arrow, did you?”

It would have killed her if she hadn’t cut it in half.

Her gaze turns cold and cruel and now I understand why Nissa seemed to be in so much pain. Now I can feel it.

The pain forces me to my knees and I let my bow clatter to the floor, all energy focused on containing the agony inside my body.

Still, even racked by this foreign pain, I watch as Nissa stands shakily behind Reva, unsheathing her white blade.

“That’s enough,” she snaps, taking the blade and slamming it against the ground.

The floor explodes into vibrant light and Reva scrambles back a few steps with a hiss.

“You think you can send me running away with a burst of light?” she snarls. “You’ll have to do better than that.”

Nissa’s expression is cool. “It’s worked in the past.”

I can’t fight a smile as Reva hisses at the young queen before stepping back. “I’m not running this time,” she says in a low voice. “This time, little light queen, you’re going to learn the meaning of war.”

I raise an eyebrow and, even though everyone else seems silenced by fear, I will not stand by. “Oh?” I ask. “How do you plan to do that? You may be powerful but even you can’t fight a one-woman war.”

Reva’s fury turns to a cruel smile. “What makes you think I’m alone?”

I open my mouth but my words are lost to the sudden screams of the outside world. I shut my mouth and Nissa’s eyes are suddenly wide and Reva is laughing.

She steps back, running out of the room, and I, along with every other Guardian and Partner, rush to the window.

Outside, below the castle, there’s a black and white shape forming just inside the city of Idari. It’s an army. Of black-clod soldiers with pale skin and red eyes.

Just like Reva and her brother.

An army of monsters ready to fight for her, ready to start a war far worse than any before it.

They’re here to start her war and they’ve already begun to destroy the peace we’ve kept for the last six months. It’s already happening.

They’re invading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Months Later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven

Fendrel

A red-eyed monster shrieks in pain as my spear tears through his side.

I pull back, swinging the emerald javelin around to meet another enemy’s sword. A woman in all black armor, wielding two short swords.

She swings the sword not blocked by my lance and I jump back, swinging the spear again, cutting through her shoulder, slicing through the black armor.

I push her back, turning again as another red-eyed elf swings a blade.

It’s beginning to feel monotonous, the spinning and swinging and clashing of weapons, the hisses and yells and screams. The world is at war and it’s like I’m a soldier again, in the Great Dragon-Elf War.

I keep fighting, keeping swinging my javelin, but isn’t long before there isn’t much between me and the wall separating a battlefield from the city of Idari.

Just some soldiers, just some dragons, just the Guardians.

I don’t know that we’re enough to keep Reva’s armies at bay.

It seems like those doubts are being realized with the more time that passes. Soon enough, we’re inside the city, pressed up against the palace.

I glance over, looking at the other Guardians, and realize that one is missing.

Four elves here, even with Rylan gone, there should be five of us.

I look at Echosong, realizing the black dragon is thinking the same thing I am.

Nissa isn’t here.

In a flash of light, Echosong transforms before darting inside the palace. I glance at the others and Mitchell gives the slightest of nods as he swings his sword.

It seems that everyone has noticed our queen’s absence.

I dart inside the palace after Echosong, gripping my spear tight.

We find her in her quarters. Unconscious, she lays across the floor, head against her arm, blood spilling down the side of her face. Around her lay the shattered pieces of a mirror. And above her, stands Reva Bloodkiss.

Echosong is quicker to react. He dives forward, putting himself between Nissa and Reva.

I swing my javelin and Reva sneers. “I’d pay more attention if I were you. It’s believed that once she touched the staff, Nissa became directly connected to your precious countries.”

Reva looks down at the unconscious Nissa and, when I look, I can see the cuts and pieces of glass in her skin.

“You see, don’t you?” Reva laughs, looking at me now. “According to this myth, if I kill Nissa, the whole country falls.”

I clench my javelin hard. “You’re not going to kill her.”

Reva smiles. “You can’t protect her. This city has fallen. My armies are within the walls now, even within the palace.”

Right on cue, chaos erupts in the hall. Reva’s armies have breached the castle.

Reva steps back, stepping toward the door. “Even if you manage to get her out of here, I will find her. The little light queen will die.”

She slips out of the room and I turn my attention to Echosong, who is picking up Nissa.

“Do you think she’s telling the truth?” he asks. “About Segolia and Broen dying if Nissa does?”

I shake my head. “I don’t know. Regardless, we have to get her out of here. Reva thinks she’s the key to destroying Segolia. She’ll kill her the first chance she gets.”

Echosong nods. “We all need to get out of here. At this point, I would say that Idari has fallen.”

“Get her out of here,” I say. “Go into hiding for a while. We’ll find you once we get out of Idari.”

“I’ll take her to the Enchanters’ Palace,” Echosong says in a low voice. “We can regroup there and decide what our next move needs to be.”

I nod and Echosong turns toward the door. We both peer out, hearing the chaos. I look at Echosong, gripping my javelin tightly.

“Get her out of here,” I say. “I’ll keep their attention on me and away from you. I’ll get everyone out of here and to Giarda Isle.”

Echosong nods curtly. “After you.”

Swinging my javelin, I step out into the hall, calling at the red-eyed elves. With their gazes on me, I start to run, darting around a corner and waiting for them to take the bait.

Within seconds, they’ve followed me and I’m swinging and stabbing and

I can see Echosong slip behind all of them, carrying a still-limp Nissa in his arms.

Good luck, Echosong, I think. Of all of us, you’ll need it the most.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine

Echosong

She looks exhausted.

Sitting on the floor, head against the wall, Nissa stares off at nothing, eyes focused on a space, perhaps a world, that I cannot see. I wonder if she can even see it or if she’s simply too tired to look at anything but too stubborn to close her eyes.

“I shouldn’t be here,” she whispers.

I frown. “What do you mean?”

She tilts her head back, glaring up at the ceiling. “People are dying, Echosong, because of me, because Reva is looking for me.”

“Nissa—”

“Don’t you dare make excuses for me, Echosong,” she snaps. “Don’t patronize me. I am connected to Segolia. I can feel our people’s despair. They’re suffering. Because Reva wants me.”

I shake my head. “Nissa, how you could you possibly know that?”

Nissa looks at me. “Something happened to me when I touched that staff. I didn’t notice it for a long time because I was so determined to keep my mind elsewhere. But once I started paying attention, I realized that I could feel their pain. As if I can hear our people screaming.”

I sigh, crouch down next to her. “Nissa, you can’t do this to yourself. Trust me, I know. Guilt doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Nissa looks down, closes her eyes tightly. “I can’t sit here and do nothing anymore, Echosong.”

What would Edgeshifter do?

Strong, brave Edgeshifter, who always says the right thing, who always knows how to make the despair vanish.

I take a deep breath, put a hand on Nissa’s shoulder. “If you’re right, and you’re fate is tied to our people’s, then you have to keep yourself safe. If you were to die or be captured, Nissa, it would be over.”

She turns away, glaring at the wall. “I’m useless here, Echosong. I can’t just sit here anymore.”

“You don’t have to leave to be useful,” I say quietly, mind whirling to find more ways to convince her to stay. I can’t force her to remain in the palace but I can’t imagine she’d survive very long outside them.

“Oh?”

There are tears streaking down her cheeks but she ignores them, continuing to glare at the wall.

“There are plenty of soldiers, Nissa. Segolia has plenty of warriors, magical or not. What it doesn’t have is someone to lead all those warriors. We don’t need a soldier, we need a queen.”

Nissa shuts her eyes again. “What are you suggesting I do, Echosong, if not lead the Guardians into battle?”

“You are a queen of two countries, Nissa. And all the people in those countries are dependent on your survival. But that doesn’t mean you have to cower in the corner.

“Your people need someone to lead them back into the sunlight. They have been in darkness for so long and I doubt many remember what the sun feels like anymore. They need you to guide them.”

She is staring at me with wide eyes and a dumbfounded expression.

I’m just as surprised. I don’t know where any of this is coming from. I don’t know anything about the sunlight. I’ve been lost in the shadows for too long.

Still, I keep talking.

“Be our leader, Nissa Serenitysdaughter,” I say. “Not another soldier to fight our battles for us but a queen to show us the way back into the light.”

Nissa’s fingers curl around the hilt of her ice-covered blade. “And if I don’t know how to do that?”

“But you do. You know as well as I do that sending us to fight for you, the Guardians working as the army of their queen, is the best way to bring the light back into this land. Let the light of the sun guide you and guide us.”

Nissa looks down, suddenly thoughtful, a sudden driven determination lighting up her eyes. She holds out one hand and I can see the faint gold sun on her palm, the mark of her magic.

Within seconds, the sun begins to glow and pale white light dances off her skin. A few more seconds and a small orb of light hovers just above her hand.

“What—”

“If I can’t ward off the darkness with the light in my skin,” Nissa says thoughtfully, “You will have to ward it off for me.” She holds out her hand. “Give me your hand, Echosong.”

I do as she asks and she lets the orb move forward, hovering over my palm now.

“What do I do with it?”

“Anything it touches will be tainted with light.” She smiles ruefully. “Help me show our world the light, Echosong.

“Help me show Segolia the dawn.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten

Youngseeker

There’s something different about the way she carries herself.

Regality follows her every footstep. When she walks, she looks like a queen, far wiser than she could be old enough to be.

She’s been queen of Segolia and Broen for months but she’s never looked this way before. And she’s certainly never commanded attention like this before.

Now, when she brushes through the palace with balls of light on her fingertips, everyone knows how she’s shaped the world.

“They’ve infiltrated Draconia,” Fendrel says, looking worried and impatient.

Nissa sighs, holds up a hand, forming one of her light orbs. She holds it out for Fendrel to take.

“See what you can do to help.” Nissa frowns, rubs her forehead. “I wish there were others to go with you but everyone else is spread out across Segolia and Broen.”

I shake my head. “They’re all busy. Fendrel and I will handle this. It won’t be easy for Reva to take. Not with your light orb and all the dragons’ help.”

Nissa nods curtly. “Then go.”

 

“You know why she’s after Draconia, don’t you?”

I start to glide, letting the air carry my wings. “Think about it, Fendrel. We don’t know how she does it but we know that Reva kidnaps elves and turns them into her red-eyed soldiers. We know she’s been after dragons for quite some time now.”

“You don’t think…”

“That’s exactly what I think,” I say. “She’s made hundreds of Shadow Elves. She wants a Shadow Dragon now.”

“We need to hurry.” Fendrel says, worried.

“We’re there.”

I dive between the trees, toward one of the cavern entrances of Draconia. I can hear Fendrel whip out of his javelin and I leap forward.

On entering the cave city, a dragon pads over, looking both relieved and surprised. “Youngseeker! Fendrel!”

“We heard you had been infiltrated by Shadow Elves,” Fendrel says, still gripping his spear firmly.

The dragon nods. “We were. The Shadow Elves left but they took one of our own with them.”

Fendrel and I share a look. “How long ago was this?”

“Three days ago.”

Fendrel curses under his breath and I flick my tail. “We’re too late then.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that.”

I turn slowly, look at the dragon standing in the tunnel. Dark like a shadow, with bright crimson eyes.

“It’s never too late to find what you’re looking for.”

I glance over at Fendrel, see him grip his javelin in one hand, his other hand on the pouch at his waist, where Nissa’s light orb rests.

I flick my tail. “Shadow Dragon.”

The dark dragon nods. “One of a kind.” Taps a claw against the ground. “For the time being.”

“For the time being?” Fendrel snorts. “How do intend to make more like you?”

The Shadow Dragon bares his teeth. “Any dragon who refuses to be changed will be killed.”

I snort. “And how do you intend to do that?”

The Shadow Dragon smiles toothily. “Oh, it’s already begun.”

“I…”

I stop talking, glancing around the large cavern, watching as dark dragons with bright eyes creep from other tunnels.

Shadow Dragons.

Glancing at Fendrel, I dig my claws into the earth beneath us. We’re in trouble. Surrounded by Shadow Dragons, underground.

This does not bode well.

Fendrel’s fingers are tight around his javelin. Nervous and angry and analyzing our chances like a good soldier. He looks at me only briefly before reaching a hand back

And throwing the orb of light into the center of the room.

Chaos erupts and he runs to climb onto my back. I dive, barreling past a surprised Shadow Dragon and into the tunnel.

Behind us, I can hear shrieks and roars at the light that exploded in the room.

“Quick thinking,” I say as we push back off the ground and into the sky.

“It wasn’t enough.”

I fall silent. I know what that means, I know what he’s saying.

Draconia has fallen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Year Later

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eleven

Venomsting

I’m used to confrontation.

I grew up in a city just a few miles from the largest battlefield any of our kind had ever seen. My parents taught me how to fight. They taught me to be ruthless.

But none of that, nothing of my past, could have prepared me for the life I now lead.

War was an everyday part of life in Draconia. But here, now, it’s the only thing I know.

It’s been two years since Reva’s return to Segolia, two years of the bloodiest war any of us could have imagined, two years since Rylan left and Nissa became queen and Reva decided she was going to take Segolia by force.

And now Segolia is falling apart under her influence and Draconia is swarming with dark dragons and Reva is tearing apart every village looking for Nissa.

“Venomsting!”

I whirl, watching an arrow go straight through a red-eyed elf. Nearby, I can see Fireheart, bow drawn, eyes cold.

I nod, diving back into battle, driving my claws across my enemies, whipping my tail across the battlefield, stabbing lethal poison into any who come too close to me.

It’s mindless, this kind of war. Murder without a thought, killing without a conscious. They may be the enemy but they weren’t always the enemy. These were once elves and dragons of Segolia.

I drive my tail through the chest of a Shadow Elf and he crumples.

“You were named well, Cruelkiller.”

I still. No. Not here, not now, not after all this time. It’s been two years since he disappeared. Two years since I’ve seen my own father.

I growl. “Stormblast.”

I won’t call him father. Not after everything he did, not after everything he tried to do.

Stormblast taps a claw against the earth, thinking, calculating.

“What are you doing here?”

Stormblast cocks his head. “Show a little respect, child. I am your father.”

I can’t help myself. I laugh. “My father?” I shake my head. “You threatened your children’s lives, you tried to use us to kill Edgeshifter and Nissa, and you almost destroyed our countries.”

I bare my teeth. “You are no family of mine, Stormblast.”

He snarls, I sink into a crouch. When he lunges forward, there’s only one thing I’m sure of:

War tears families apart.

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve

Mitchell

They’re coming.

An army far larger than any Reva has been able to assemble in the past. An army far more vicious than any of us can imagine. An army brought together for only one thing:

The death of Nissa Serenitysdaughter.

This is what Reva has been searching for all these years. For two years, she’s been gathering her forces, searching for Nissa, torturing anyone and everyone to find her.

And now that she has, she’ll do anything to make sure that Nissa falls and that the whole country falls with her.

I glance at Deepclaw. “They’ll be focusing on getting Nissa.”

Deepclaw nods. “Reva will make sure of that.”

I start to nod, looking across the hundreds of pale soldiers in the valley below the palace.

“I don’t see Reva,” I realize.

Deepclaw stills, thinking the same thing I am. “She must have come ahead of the rest of them.”

I nod. “Which means she might have already found Nissa.”

Sudden screams and shrieks erupt across the courtyard. At first, I think it must be a young enchantress, unprepared for the coming battle, but then I realize that shriek came from inside the tower. And it was one of fury.

And then I understand. All the chaos, all the commotion. I can see the pale form slipping from a tower, tumbling through the air before slamming into the ground.

Shock churns in my stomach. Because I know who it is that fell from the tower, I know who jumped.

“Nissa!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happens next?

 

Find out in

Age of Shadows


Dawn to Dusk: The Road to Age of Shadows

Two nations torn apart by war. United by a young princess. Barely held together by dangerous hope. After the war of the dragon and elven races, Nissa assumes things can only get better. The prophecy creating the mythical Guardian Order should have ended any kind of battles going on across the country. However, even with the Guardian Order put in place, the fight isn't over. With Rylan gone, Nissa's closest friend, lover, and a member of Guardian Order, everything spirals into chaos. The dark elven woman, Reva Bloodkiss, returns to wage war against Nissa and her people, determined to turn this long awaited dawn into dusk.

  • ISBN: 9781311206008
  • Author: Brittany Oldroyd
  • Published: 2016-01-14 02:05:11
  • Words: 9794
Dawn to Dusk: The Road to Age of Shadows Dawn to Dusk: The Road to Age of Shadows