Serial from the Sanctuary, Texas world: Chronicles of the Veil - Chapter 1

It's here. The story so many have been waiting for. What happened to everyone who went back to the Veil. Diana and Miles and Eira and Killían and Alek and Gretchen and Manda and Jared. And you will see them all, but this is the story of their children. The babies are grown up and war has come. I can't wait to share this adventure with you. --Krystal 

PS. This first chapter of BLADES OF ICE is available to the public. Subsequent chapters will be unlocked only for paid patrons. Thank you for reading!


Blades of Ice

Chronicles of the Veil

Krystal Shannan

© KS Publishing 2020

Chapter 1

DAWN BLACKMOOR

The purple skies of winter were beautiful above my head, the blues of the summer had completely faded. Even the clouds were tinted purple now. Soon the snows would fall, and the green forests would be bathed in a blanket of white. The air tasted wet. My dragon wanted to fly and stretch and scream its frustration at the armies lining the valley below.

Unwise.

I focused on calming the beast within. Frost covered the ground around me, spreading like a fine mist. The green blades crunched under my feet. I stopped at the edge of the bluff and sat, hanging my legs over the sharp drop.

I’d sat here hundreds of times as a young child.

I’d flown over this valley hundreds of times before too.

And now, I couldn’t.

The valley wasn’t ours. Not anymore. This valley belonged to the Incanti now, just like everything else in the Veil. They had taken over region by region, burning it as they went. Killing people and destroying towns.

My parents and their friends were leaving. We’d lived in this beautiful valley for twenty years, undetected and undisturbed. They had always warned us this day could come. I’d hoped that it wouldn’t. This would likely be the last time I looked down at the valley where my brothers and I had grown up. Where Aiyana and Mina and I had giggled about boys and dreamed dreams we knew wouldn’t come true.

We were all retreating to the mountains in the north. To the fortress where my mother’s family resided. The one upside of the move was the chance to meet other Drakonae.

“Dawn, I thought you might be up here.” My oldest brother by three minutes—Elijah—sat down next to me on the bluff and put an arm around my shoulder. He squeezed gently and I leaned into him, putting my head into the crook of his shoulder. “Where’s Maddox?”

“Right behind you, little sis.” Maddox’s voice was gentle to my ears.

“I’m older than you,” I said, teasing him. It was a huge point of contention that I’d been born between the two boys, effectively making me the middle child of identical twins. We were triplets, the three of us, but the boys were identical, just like our father’s had been. I was the odd one out. The one that looked like my mother, except for my black hair. That was from our dads too. But I was an ice breather like mom. My brothers were fire breathers.

Elijah was named for the father we lost before we were born. Mother says he carries his father’s spirit and that she sees her lost mate in him more and more each year. She says Eli would be so proud to see how his children have grown. Miles, our other father says the same. Twin fathers are a thing with the Drakonae, especially with royal lines.

Mother tells us stories of an older brother we had. One who died helping them get back to the Veil. His name was Mikhail. I wished I would’ve had the chance to meet him.

“Saying goodbye?” Elijah asked, nudging my other shoulder. They were on either side of me now, sandwiching me between them like they always did. They might be identical twins, but we were triplets first and forever and they were my big brothers, regardless of birth order.

I nodded. “Did mom tell you anything about the fortress?”

“No,” Maddox said, releasing my shoulder and climbing to his feet. “But we need to go. They sent us to fetch you.”

“I just needed one more look.” I rose from the ground, picking up my staff weapon from the ground where I’d laid it. The clear crystal set in the knot at the top glistened in the setting sunlight.

“We know, but mother is anxious. There have been reports of scouts as far up as the Broken Tree Pass.”

“They know we’re up here,” I said, heaving a slight sigh of defeat.

“They do. It won’t take them long to regroup and come looking. We can’t defend ourselves on the side of a mountain, Dawn. We have to get through the pass before nightfall.”

“There’s a storm coming tonight.” I said, taking a deep breath. I could taste the snow in the air. It was coming and not gently.

“You always could smell winter,” Elijah said, a slight chuckle slipped from his chest. “Just like mom. She said it will be here before the moon is high tonight.”

I nodded, looking at the distant horizon of snow-capped peaks. Moving carefully along the rocky bluff, I followed my brothers back to our village camp. Birds chittered and little animals scampered about. Everything knew the storm was on its way and everything was preparing for the icy blast that would soon blanket this mountain in deep snow.

My brothers and I entered a section of very dense trees and wound our way along the mountainside, emerging into a small clearing about twenty minutes later. The place had been chosen because the trees blocked all view of the camp from every side except straight down from the sky. So far none of the Incanti scouts had been sighted this high, but it was only a matter of time.

Rows of mostly dismantled tents.

No campfires.

People were packing mules and horses. The livestock had been slaughtered before we left the valley three days ago. The meat had been distributed so that everyone had a fair share for journey.

“I already packed your mare, Dawn,” Maddox said, pointing toward the space where our family’s group of tents had stood just this morning. Now there were bare patches of ground and a small herd of horses packed and ready to go.

“Thank you,” I said, glancing down at my feet shamefully. “I didn’t realize how long I’d been gone.”

Maddox came closer and pulled me into a reassuring hug. “It’s fine. Mother just started to worry.”

“She wasn’t the only one.” My father’s voice was deep and smooth and washed over me like a summer wind’s warm caress. He emerged from behind his big black stallion and smiled.

“I’m sorry,” I said, my tone repentant. “I lost track of time.”

“It’s fine, love, but we have to be moving. The storm is moving faster than we originally guessed. Your mother says the pass will be blocked if we don’t leave in the next hour.”

“Can’t you just melt the way?” I asked and then frowned, knowing I’d asked a dumb question.

My father smiled and shook his head. “You know we cannot leave such a trail.”

“I know. I knew that. I just.” I glanced around the camp. “Where are Aiyana and Mina?” A few other families had joined our little group over the years, but the five of us had all been born the same year. We’d been raised as siblings. Three Drakonae, a Gryphon, and a half-elvin-half-vampire that shouldn’t be able to exist, but she did, and Mina was kick-ass.

“They’re already headed toward the pass. If you hurry, you can catch up with the girls.”

I nodded, grabbed the pommel of my mare’s saddle and swung up onto her back. My brother’s followed suit, mounting their horses and urging them through what was left of camp. I followed.

“We’re not waiting for everyone?” I asked, leaning closer to Maddox. The horses fell into a slow and steady walk up the switchback trail to the mountain pass that would lead us away from the valley.

Maddox shook his head. “Some of the village decided the journey was too far. They’re headed west, to Orin. They’re hoping to blend into the large city and find a place to hide in plain sight.”

My heart leapt in my chest. I twisted in my seat and looked back at the camp. At least a half dozen families remained. They were packing, but not to come with us. I’d known most of them my whole life.

I would never see them again.

At least it was unlikely.

“They will be okay, sis. The Incanti are after our parents, not them.”

I righted myself and looked back up the mountain. “That doesn’t make me feel any better.”

“I know,” he said.

“Dad tried to convince them,” Elijah said. His horse was directly behind Maddox’s and mine. “He told them they would be safe in the Fortress and welcomed.”

“They’re not Drakonae,” Maddox said, speaking the words they all knew to be the truth.

“Aunt Gretchen and Uncle Alek and Aunt Eira and Uncle Killían aren’t Drakonae either,” I said, refusing to believe that’s why the village was splitting up.

“They’re different and you know it, Dawn,” Elijah answered. “They came from Sanctuary.”

I sighed and urged my horse forward. My mother’s white mare was just a few lengths ahead. My friends were far enough along I couldn’t see them on the trail. Aunt Eira road next to my mother. They were rarely far from each other the same way I was always with Mina and Aiyana, except today. Today I’d needed to say goodbye like my brother said. And I’d needed to do it alone.

“Daughter,” my mother spoke softly. “How are you, my sweet girl?”

Eira turned in the saddle and met my gaze briefly.

“Sad,” I answered truthfully. My heart ached that we were leaving our home. It broke for the families that were splitting away from us. My soul considered them all family.

My mother nodded solemnly. “We tried to tell them they would be welcome.”

Figures she would know exactly what I was thinking about. She always seemed to know. No matter what was said, she could tell what people were feeling or thinking.

“It doesn’t make it hurt less,” I said. “I’m going to go ahead and find Mina and Ayiana.”

“Of course. I’ll see you at the pass tonight when we camp. Whatever happens, Dawn, do not stop until you reach the pass.”

The air in my lungs hitched a bit at that comment. “Mother?”

She looked back through the trees in the direction of the valley. I strained my hearing. I searched with my heat vision, looking the same direction. There was nothing. Nothing but us on the side of this mountain.

“D? What is it?” Eira said, her voice tight. She pulled her sword from the scabbard on her back. She always wore it. Everywhere. Every day.

“Diana,” my father’s voice boomed out from the back of the line. “Diana. We need mist.” The urgency in his tone made the hairs on my air stand on end.

Mother was off her horse in an instant. Eira was next to her, sword drawn. Mother raised her arms to the sky and closed her eyes. A cloud of sparkling mist spread from her like smoke from a choking fireplace. I breathed it in…winter.

“Sons, take Dawn. Find Mina and Aiyana. Get to the pass and wait for us there,” Miles’ voice bellowed. Maddox and Elijah urged their horses closer to mine.

“I’m staying with mother,” I said, trying to slip down.

Father caught my arm and growled, his dragon’s flame flashing in his eyes. “You go now, do you hear me? Stay with your brothers. Get your cousins and meet us at the pass. Now. Go.” He righted me on my mare and then gave her a slap that sent her into a gallop. I held on out of sheer instinct and fear of falling. My brothers rode hard behind me and we rushed through the trail up the side of the mountain.

Uncle Alek and Aunt Gretchen passed us, both running their horses the opposite way, running toward my parents and Aunt Eira. Uncle Killían was only moments behind them. “Get to the girls,” he shouted to my brothers. “They’re at the bend in the trail by the old dead oak.”

A scream that cannot be described ripped through the silence of the mountain air. Then another. And another. The sound of pain and death and fear. So much fear.

“Maddox,” I said, my voice broken.

“Keep riding, sister,” he shouted, keeping his horse right next to mine. “We must keep riding.”

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