Dumped in a treacherous Arctic land, Amara Dagon must master her spell craft if she is to survive a year in exile, but fear, doubt and the loss of her family threatens to take hold.
Can Amara gain control of her magic or will she succumb to it leaving her people in the hands of a dangerous tyrant?
Amara was outwardly a very happy child, bright and eager
in her studies, but her nights were filled with terrible dreams of fires, and a
shadowy demon, that caused fits of screaming, which Rosaline left either her
parents or Jeremiah to deal with. In fact, unless it was to scold her Rosaline
rarely ever occupied the same room as Amara, who wanted nothing more than her
love and approval. Keeping with their promise to protect Amara, as Rosaline’s
patience with her was thin as skin upon milk, Nathan took to teaching Amara a
rhyme to help keep the dreams at bay.
“Dreams of sorrow, dreams of pain, shall not linger in
the light of day. Should darkness unfold in memories untold, nothing shall
haunt a child bold.”
This was the last gift she would receive from her beloved
grandfather. For unfortunately, life has a way of breaking the most sacred of
promises. By the time Amara was five, Nathan was gone. Having disappeared on a
fishing voyage, just before she was to begin her studies as a Priestess Initiate.
His demise sent his wife Amaranth into a despair from which she has never truly
recovered. This left Jeremiah, as the only protector to a young girl who was
often made to feel inferior, by the woman who was supposed to love her most of
all. Rosaline never forgave her for bringing the Ravens, or for the color of
her hair. Both, atrocities for which she blamed Jeremiah as well. She often
clamored that had she known, that in his youthful days he too had the omen
color, she would have never allowed their coupling. On several occasions,
Jeremiah had to put himself in between Rosaline and Amara, simply because the
woman would smack her just for being in the room.
For his kindness and his nature, Amara loved her father
dearly. He was a large man, almost six feet four inches tall, just one of his
hands could encase both of her own, but for all of his imposing, he was the
gentlest man she knew. With him in her life, she could withstand the scowling
of her mother, and the poisoned tongue of her teacher Beatrice.
He made her want to be the daughter Rosaline expected. Good,
honest, loyal, and obedient. He told her tales of places far off, of cities
underground, filled with neon lights, and mirrors that brought the sun’s light
to the darkest of places. Places she vowed to see one day.
These stories made her happy; they were the only thing,
which brought her solace.
Two weeks past Amara’s eighth birthday, she stood before
the Elders of the Isle; it was time for her first test as a Priestess. Several
months before she and Beatrice’s Daughter Carmine were made host to the
Hymenopteria Queen’s larvae. A small incision had been made in their right
forearm and the wriggling thing had been put into place. Both girls had been
knocked out and awoke to find their right arm bound. It was a race for the
growth and survival of the Leadership of the Isle. The Decon and Ward Families
each vied for the position, and it seemed that Amara’s family would once again
prevail, for when Carmine’s arm was opened, the larvae was dead. This meant
that she was not to be host to the Queen, and would never have control of the
hives. For once in Amara’s life Rosaline seemed proud. Beatrice however
condemned her daughter to the life of a keeper of the hives. This meant that
she would never marry, have no children, and would live out her days tending to
the rock hive walls of the main house, where Amara’s family lived.
Amara’s Queen had indeed survived, this test was a
success. She now only needed to use the young Queen to call the swarm. If she
could do this then her place as High Priestess could never be challenged again.
In this she failed... Miserably.
She stood with the Queen in her hands, humming as she had
been taught by her tutors. The Queen darted from her hands, flitting this way
and that, as it did so, the other Hymenopteria began to awaken from their long
cold time slumber. The swarm rose, filling the sky. Amara stood frozen, her
fear holding her and her voice at the gate of silence. She could not continue
the hum or the chat that should have followed. Her fear was too great; the idea
that this insect could kill her in moments overwhelmed her. The swarm came in a
rush, down upon the masses of people. Pandemonium ensued. They ran. Ran into
their homes, headed for the water, others high tailed it to the Inn on the
hillside. Rosaline had no choice but to step in, she took Amara’s place in the
center of the swarm, wrapping her arms protectively around Amara.
“Jeremiah! Come take her, wrap her in your garb. Keep her
from the queen! She will seek her out!” Amara’s mother’s voice was filled with
demanding concern. Jeremiah did as he was told, staying low to the ground
avoiding the insects’ stings.
Within a few moments, Rosaline had stopped the swarm, her
presence seemed to be all that was needed, when it was over and all was calm,
three people were dead, including Carrola, Beatrice’s youngest child.
To make matters worse, because Amara was unable to finish
her final initiation, the task of calming them, there was no alternative, their
appeasement could only be held firm with smoke and blood.