Home > Embracing Destiny (The Fae Chronicles #6)

Embracing Destiny (The Fae Chronicles #6)
Author: Amelia Hutchins

Chapter One

 

 

    An eerie, deafening silence had fallen over Faery since Ryder and I returned home. It was like the entire world was holding its breath as war made its way toward our doors. The fairy glens were vacant of the life that once flourished within them. Meadows that had once fought off intruders or stray humans were barren of flowers and devoid of life, long since crunched beneath the heavy feet of those who marched into battle. The horde stronghold was now teeming with warriors, all honed and created for battle, and we all held our breath to see who would make the first move.

    Fires from the many encampments around the fortress spread miles out in each direction, burning brightly throughout the long, cold nights. Battle cries filled the air, inciting the need to fight as more and more refugees came by the early morning light to join the horde against the invaders who wanted to destroy our home, ruining our way of life.

    I should have felt safe, but I didn’t. I’d never known war, and yet I knew the cost of losing this one would be too high a price to pay. If we lost and Faery fell, we, along with all its inhabitants, would be forced into a world that would never accept us for what we were. I knew that much after having been one of the enforcers who had hunted the fae down, punishing them whether they’d committed the accused crime or not.

    My children were being protected by my father in the Blood Kingdom when not here with us. More and more, I brought them home to remind them why we were fighting. To understand what was at risk if we lost. It was selfish, but soon enough, they’d go with Destiny, safeguarded in a place they couldn’t be reached. Ryder and I had taken extra measures to protect them and to ensure the safety of their innocent hearts. Yet I still felt a deep foreboding within me that twisted my stomach, making me feel ill as drums pounded with the impending reality of what we faced. War had come to Faery, and it came with an ugliness that would touch every corner of this world.

    I was neither blind nor stupid enough to think there wouldn’t be heavy losses on both sides. We wouldn’t make it through this war unscathed; to assume otherwise would, well, it would be a colossal mistake, one I wouldn’t dare make. War was messy; it was brutal and unforgiving. It tore worlds apart, turning children into orphans, leveling villages, and leaving destruction in its wake.

    I slowly moved my gaze away from the remarkable spread of tents, warriors, and campfires below to peer into the shadows of the balcony. A dark figure silently surveyed me. A soft snort escaped my lips while my stare swung back to the commotion happening around my new home. It was beautiful chaos that showed courage and strength in the face of insurmountable odds.

    I felt the turmoil of the world around me. The endless pain that was ripping Faery and me apart as the mages made their way toward us, leaving a trail of bodies behind them. Even now, Faery screamed so loudly with the need to be avenged, it sounded as if war drums were pounding in my ears, deafening me. Slowly, I pushed my long, platinum-blonde hair off my naked shoulders, lifting my head to the stars sparkling in the midnight skies. I prayed silently to the gods to forgive me for what I was about to do.

 

        “Is it done?” I asked, sensing the shadow’s unease.

    “It has already begun. I fear what you are doing and that the path you’ve taken will destroy you, goddess. If you continue down this road, there is no undoing it. What once was can never be again if you do this. Do you understand that? If you proceed, I cannot help you, nor can anyone undo what might happen,” the shadow warned, concern lacing her words as a current of unease and apprehension shivered through me.

    I shook off the uneasy feeling, knowing that if I backed out now, it would all be for naught. “I’d die for Ryder. I’d also destroy worlds to find him, and I won’t chance it happening. That creature is my entire universe, and without him, I’m willing to slay them all; happily, more than eager to do so,” I replied firmly.

    “But would he die for you?” the shadow asked carefully, aware should she speak out of turn, I’d take her life. “Men are wishy-washy creatures controlled by their baser needs. You are certain he is worth this?”

    “It doesn’t matter if he would or wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want Ryder to die for me. I want him to live.” I turned, staring at the figure concealed by shadows that swayed around her lithe frame. “The God of Death is here, and he will not take that man from me. I have tasted life without him, and I would always choose a life with him. Do you understand what I am saying? You offered me a way to avoid that cost, and now you question if I should take it? I chose to walk the road you proposed, and I’m moving forward. I will not change my mind after the fact, if that’s what you fear.”

    “What if the God of Death isn’t here for just your husband? What if he is here for all of you? Your mother is gone, and without her, this world is nothing. What if this is the end of Faery?”

    “Then we will die fighting to prevent that from happening,” I returned bitterly. “Do you hear me, Death?” I demanded of the second shadow that had appeared on the balcony, scrutinizing me from behind the first. “If you think to take those I love, know this: I will fight you with my dying breath to keep them alive. I will do everything within my power to protect my family.”

    I didn’t back down as blue flames peered at me from beneath a black hood. The wind howled, matching the turmoil in my soul as if sensing my unease at Death’s presence and what it meant. My anger fueled the world, creating gusts of wind that whipped my hair against my face as my white gown ruffled, lashing harshly against my skin while I stared Death straight in the eye, promising a fight.

    “If you are thinking of taking my family, Thanatos, I suggest you change your plans quickly. I will rip you apart and enjoy every cut you endure at my hands. I’ve not gone through hell to lose them now. I will fight you, even at the cost of my soul.”

    Thanatos exhaled as the blue flames burned brighter against the midnight, regarding me carefully as he stepped out of the shadows, strolling leisurely toward me. “War is coming, Goddess. No one is guaranteed to survive. Both sides will carry the heavy burden of loss. Pray to your gods I don’t get carried away reaping the souls of immortals. Hell is empty, and immortals are always collected to rebuild the walls once broken. You’re about to wage war, and in war, the only certainty is death.

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